Sunday, December 8, 2013

Voices...Ownership... reflections...

I was very fortunate to be able to take part in 1:1 International Computing Conference in Atalanta Dec 2nd &3rd. international11computingcon2013  (please visit conference schedule for presentations).  I would like to thank the Canadian Educational Association an amazing team who speaks to learning and thinking for accepting my proposal to take part in the conference. I am proud to have had this opportunity to meet many educators from around the world who put students voice and thinking first.

Jane Hill my principal at St. Gabriel School also presented with me. She set the tone as how principals need to trust their teachers and support their learning and students' learning.  Every student,

  • should feel he or she belongs, feel safe, be a valuable contributor and have the opportunity to succeed

1-Yes students need to own their learning as teachers, we need to step back and have a classroom without a front podium.
2-Students need take risks, have clear expectations that they have deconstructed from the curriculum. Students need to  have a purpose for learning with rich tasks that allows  ownership of learning.
3- Many tools could amplify students' thinking like Google Apps, IOS Apps. Teacher need to weave these tools with a purpose for thinking and for students to speak to their thinking. (metacognition)
4- Learning is visible though consolidations and pausing for reflections in order for students to learn from each others and  build a community of trust and ownership.

I am also fortunate to have a large PLN online support through twitter from educators who I have also  learned and reflected from their experiences. @shareski @KristinZiemke @gcouros @KleinErin @permillripp @HeidiSiwak @soxnevad @kathyschrock @tombarrett  and so many more including all Learning Connection Team from Ontario my colleagues at school and at the board office who listen and appreciate students' thinking.  I would also like to thank my colleagues from the board office who invite me for many opportunities and ministry initiatives projects throughout Ontario. I owe my learning to my students who engage me in thinking and learning from them. My students who open up their hearts and minds to learning and enjoy our time together in the classroom. I am trying to keep up to my professional reflections, and time is speeding and hoping to catch up. I am focusing on the classroom blog on a weekly and sometimes daily basis than daily tweets this year. The blog is by the students, their voices on learning and how we learn.

My thinking that I shared at 1:1 computing conference that I will also share on this blog.  My learning is like a working document that requires updating and enhancing on a regular basis. Today I am following many colleagues in Montreal at #gafesummit who are confirming my experiences in the classroom. This presentation is a summary of my learning with my students. 

What amazes me is when you invite students to interact they do take ownership in planing, decision making and even voicing in class "I love school"!

Examples of students communicating and planning. Google presentations are attached to the classroom calender that becomes part of the daily plans. 

Comments on the presentation become reflections to our daily plans. 

Students also reflect on a daily basis what I have learned, I have accomplished and what to improve on. 

I continue to explore and learn on a daily basis and I almost wish I had Google Glasses to capture all my learning. I need to take notes as I observe my learning from my students and update my blog. Thank you to all colleagues and educators who share their learning online. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Students Should Not Raise their Hands?

As we focus on students' engagement and verbalization, mentioned in previous posts, I am sharing an example of how effective conversations are for learning and as learning . Of course a purposeful conversation provokes thinking and engagement. Our conversations are designed on the co-constructed criteria of listening and speaking that were established at the beginning of the year. 

Our conversations are provoked through pictures, newspaper articles, videos ... and questions or any authentic experiences. This activity was based on the following question: 

If biodiversity is the balance of all living things in ecosystems, what will happen if the balance is threatened? 
Si la biodiversité est l’équilibre des êtres vivants dans des écosystèmes. Qu’est ce qui arrive si l’équilibre est menacé?

Before answering, students on their own in their teams started questioning and clarifying what is a balance, what is an ecosystem-all curriculum based expectations. Once they clarified, each student took time at writing their own thinking and making connections to their own background knowledge and experiences from our field trip to a local protective endangered community Beaver Pond.  In teams they shared added new learning took the responsibility of  team thinking and new learning from one another. Students were dependent on each other to explore and learn through conversations-giving students a chance to explore learning together in order to  increase their responsibility of thinking, sharing and risk taking. Lastly I shared with them a short French paragraph to confirm what they have learned in teams and apply annotations when reading. for confirming, for new information and for clarifications. (check sample in the second pi-collage).

I could have given them the text without the steps of conversations. Instead I wanted students to explore the authentic collaborative thinking experience for learning, for responsibility of thinking, making connections, risk taking in speaking French and adding new learning from each other. That is why I introduced the text at the last stage of the conversation. In their group students wrote their new understanding by applying the new learning in French. A longer process for learning that leads to more engaged learning.

Once the Classroom blog is updated students will share how technology amplified their thinking. During their conversations I used Reflector for sharing teams audios of conversations and proof of teams' thinking orally and in writing. I will have students update the blog.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It Does Take Time!

I always have to remind myself  that building the classroom community always takes time!  I am trying to always put myself in my students' shoes and be a reflective learner from their conversations during tasks and their feedback about the learning process. I am trying to keep up and share my reflections regularly. From the beginning of the year in September up to October 14th.  Here is what I have learned!
  • Building a relationship with students, where students feel that you are more like a friend in order to feel free to share any thoughts and life experiences. Students wanting to stay at recess and come in early to have more time to visit and talk. Building a relationship of trust and value for learning and expressing voices. 
  • Remembering to give time for reflections through out the learning  process not just at the end of the day.  
  • Scaffolding throughout the process by constantly sharing new learning and augmenting thinking for students to curate learning from each other that would encourage more conversations and thinking.
  • Encouraging students to take control and ownership of learning using many tools to design learning. Taking time to learn to facilitate this independence. Many scenarios and skills are still being applied and reflected upon this learning process. Many classroom management experiences are still being developed.  
  • To see the teacher as a mentor than the expert. It is a good shift that is taking time to explore. I sometimes still have to facilitate the explorations of strategies and skills by focusing on scenarios and hoping full ownership by the end of Octobre.  
This is the infograpic that I designed for my approach with the students for the beginning of the year.

Howtostarttheyear title=

Building a classroom community and one of the activities is setting up Human Treasure Hunt:

Best way is starting with projects for deconstructing collaborative skills. By building a team structure students discovered what is listening? what is speaking? what are components of collaboration?  We worked on collaborative ideas for 3 days and we continue to reflect on the co-constructed criteria.


Scenarios of a good and bad example around the classroom and the school. 

Tellagami was used to demonstrate scenarios.

I requested from students for suggestions of what would they like to keep or change in class after few weeks of designing and establishing classroom culture. Involving students' and making sure that their opinion matters in our classroom culture. 

We are just beginning our curriculum inquiries. Provoking students' questioning and curiosity: Grade 6 students exploring Beaver Pond Nature walk to explore  Biodiversity in our community and assessing the human impact on nature. Grade 5 students exploring organs from a butcher shop and videos on diseases to provoke their curiosity on the functions of the human body.

I enjoy learning and changing my pedagogy for students' purpose of  learning and letting go to give them ownership.  Throughout the process technology amplifies students' thinking and new learning. to be able to share and reflect.  Students  build their confidence by amplifying their thinking as it is an open process and a concept of critical views and ideas that need to be meshed together with the team in order to create innovation.

We also focus on conversations, agreeing, disagreeing with purposes. Students need to verbalize before they internalize not only in a French learning environment also in all learning environments. I will soon be posting examples of our academic conversations through the inquiry process.

I will be sharing on the next posts students' inquiry process, ownership of learning and capturing the thinking and managing the assessment process through eporfolios.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Looking forward to the start of the new academic school year next week. Very excited to meet the Grade 6 and 5 students. This infographic represents the path of explorations for setting up ownership of learning and building our classroom community of respect to sharing and reflecting. As we go along the path I will be attaching evidence of our explorations.  More infographics will be developed covering the process of many skills and strategies of learning.  Very exciting to explore, reflect and share with a new community of learners this year.  We will embark in our own learning journey and we will be sharing our pedagogical process.

Howtostarttheyear title=

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It Is About Time!

While running today and reflecting on my training,  I was also reflecting on my academic year and what I have achieved and would like to achieve.

It is about time to reflect on my learning before the next academic year. During the year my students and I share our learning experiences and reflections on twitter which is only 140 characters and I did not storify the tweets.  I appreciate bloggers who share their experiences that connect to my learning I have many posts not published due to timing, over reflecting and  I am not much of a writer!

  I feel I should share my learning journey from my students. As I go through many pictures and video files it is amazing how short and enjoyable the year has been and how much we have accomplished, learned and explored together. 

What do I remember about my year? 

  •  Assessment of for report cards is transparent to the students as it is based on many criteria throughout the learning process applied to the achievement chart categories in  a rubric. The rubric was for report cards at the end of the learning process. Categories of Knowledge and Skills p. 17    Students managed eportfolios that housed their curiosities and learning process.   Gr 6 students eportfolios were linked under the classroom site. Gr 4 students used Google drawing for gathering evidence.  There were no grades throughout the learning process only grades were given for report cards.

  • Capturing their voices and scaffolding by sharing the thinking and reflecting on next steps.  Tellegami on next steps
  • Many web tools and IOS apps capturing thinking, learning and enhancing our pedagogy for reflecting, sharing, publishing and capturing the learning process.  Our favourites: Skitch, audioboo, fotobabble, Showme, educreation, Picollage, sandbox, scribbles press,imovie, GarageBand.  all Google  Apps, Google extensions PicMonkey,,  Voice comment, youtube, edmodo, minecraft & twitter
  • We base our ownership of learning tasks through curriculum curiosities which allows the students to deconstruct the curriculum overall expectations and categorize their questions in relation to the expectations. This year I introduced curiosity blocks on Fridays. The students loved it and something that I will continue with next year  Student's curiosity
Learning is a process that we have to embrace with our students. The process composes of many layers including; building a culture of collaboration, respect for listening, speaking and learning from each other, empathy locally and globally, ownership of learning, reflection is learning, supporting curiosities and freedom of exploring and sharing. Students' comfort with the use of technology is important  in order to capture their thinking and the learning process.  

I am looking forward to exploring more with students' thinking and continue with the focus on students taking ownership of learning. What would education look like if every classroom practiced the ownership of students' learning?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Last Chapters of "Who Owns The Learning?"

Chapters 5 &6: "Who Owns The Learning"

Very true! Students only remember learning experiences that relate to true life learning tasks. The history textbook wiki is a great example of involving students in work that matters to them and others by collaborating and committing to the project. As mentioned by Garth, "Reflecting on my own education while growing up, I don't remember any of my tests." p.86

For students to become global learners, they need to embrace global empathy and be able to appreciate and understand others point of view. To be a global collaborator and communicator there is a need for them to understand the internet searches and the source of information. Students need to learn to take control of the technologies that they are using. "It’s important to remember that we can’t broaden our perspective if we let technology do our thinking for us. Teaching students a sophisticated use of search-engine technology is just one step in developing their skills at critical thinking." p. 72

Driving collaborative life long learners should also apply to teachers by becoming learning partners and exploring with other teachers in embracing the learning process with the students and adapting to changes while learning together. Students and teachers are both learners exploring and collaborating as the unexpected in learning develops. Through engaging tasks students commit to learn to explore, create and apply many skills.

Garth continues: “ Mike and I are just kind of playing, We're taking risks every year. What can we do now?” p. 84 As teachers we need to take risks and be innovative by knowing our students and engaging them in real life learning tasks. As mentioned in the project when students added cartooning , videos and visual images, they were developing higher thinking and critical skills.

Teachers and students need to dive into the process of  learning experiences that evolve around real learning tasks by reflecting, analyzing, creating and applying new experiences throughout the process. Michael agrees, “The kids are realizing that learning is a natural process of life.” p. 85
Technology is beyond being just a tool it has opened a culture of change in teaching and learning.  What technology has done it has opened up the collaboration of the learning process. In order for this process to be successful, students need to be contributors and collaborators of the process. They become co-creators of all expectations by co-constructing criteria of the learning tasks for ownership and application of the process. Accepting the sharing of the thinking and reflecting on others’ learning is key to success throughout the process .

Every year through twitter I search for French classroom global collaborators I hope to pursue finding collaborators before the start of the school year.

I am looking forward to my new learning with my students and to continue building a collaborative learning culture by sharing and reflecting globally than just the school board community.  

My students filled out a Google form reflecting on our learning experiences this past year:

  • Global Initiatives through Free The Children and attending Me To We day have left a great impact on their lives
  • Exciting to have blogged about the initiatives and having Global audience viewing their activities
  • Appreciated collaborative learning, daily reflections  and using many tools for capturing their learning
  • Leadership opportunities in  participating in many school events.
  •  Being a friend more than a teacher
  • Giving feedback and not being graded during the learning process.
  • Independent curiosity blocks not related to the curriculum
I will continue to learn with my students and hoping to flatten my classroom walls for a global audience. Twitter has also contributed to my professional learning as I am presently following many sessions from around the world and reflecting on discussions  presented by global learners. Thank you for this great opportunity #cyberpd. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Owns The Learning Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3-  Students as scribers in groups collaboratively share class notes and give their feedback . I like the idea of high school students taking notes as it was evident that the students who struggle to take notes get better by studying using students’ good quality note taking.

The students scribers became reflectors of what has been accomplished and clarified any unknown information. Feedback from colleagues and from a global audience motivated students and encouraged more ownership and strong believe in achievements. I like the term Blowing the classroom walls and reach a global audience. By giving the students an audience and encouraging opportunities to share and give feedback they become confident life long learners and take pride in learning.

What really struck me from this chapter that I tweeted last night :

I like how the focus is on the learner and not on the technology and the shift from teachers by giving students ownership of learning and a voice. It is a shift of control and pedagogy, the technologies are again tools that facilitate the sharing, feedback and collaborative learning community.

This past academic year, the students and I continued to focus on ownership of learning and sharing learning using many tools and apps, like Google Calendars for daily reflections that were shared with students and reflected on what has been accomplished and needs to be accomplished.

 We have also applied all Google apps for collaborative learning like Google Docs, Google drawing and forms. Edmodo was also a collaborative web tool for feedback and collaboration. IOS apps were tools for capturing students voices and thinking, Showme, audiboo, fottobabble, pic-collage and educreation, skitch, imovie, tellagami, audinotes, became common tools for explaining,applying and sharing learning.

Developing a learning community where students take ownership, share learning and comment on each other learning will build responsibilities. As mentioned by November" Blowing the Classroom Walls" or we also hear the term flattening the classroom walls, my goal will to reach a global audience on students voices not only within our board. The students shared global blogs on empathy and initiatives through Free The Children and they were always excited to know that their blogs have been visited from around the world. My class next year not only they will have an eportfolio they will also have blogs connecting to the global community.

Chapter 4- The student as researcher needs to be critical about the sources of the information and gather multiple perspectives. As students become responsible for their own learning they also learn to be critical researchers to ask better questions, find real answers and apply and analyze the information. 

I did this year share the following posters from Google about searching techniques. We practiced the techniques and it did help the students focus on quicker searches.

I teach French Immersion to junior students grades 4, 5 and 6. The students search in English their curriculum inquiries or curiosities. French is a second language for them and it is difficult for the students to read the French version of the search. We focus on note taking strategies at the beginning of the year and how to read and determine the essential ideas in English and transfer their learning to French. some of these strategies involve annotation on Google docs and many organizers.

I am excited about the coming year as we are learners with our students and to be part of a learning global community. Reflecting, consolidating ,ownership of learning, student voice, self-assessing, peer-assessing are part of the learning pedagogy and technologies support and reach classroom and global audiences of the lager community of learning. I look forward to reading the last 2 chapters and reflecting on #cyberpd blogs of the larger community of learning.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Owns The Learning

I am finally catching up to the #cyperpd2013 Chapters 1&2 of "Who Owns The Learning" by Alan November.

Alan November focuses on authentic tasks in which students encounter success and work harder to achieve. November refers to “The Digital Learning Farm” is the use of technologies for more active participation and to give more ownership in the educational process.Where students are contributors and students acquire more skills that will motivate them to collaborate and connect globally.Technology enhances the power of collaboration and students work together in a classroom community and global community.bringing the world into the classroom.
November stresses on the importance of autonomy/ownership of learning giving students a purpose that improves their learning outcomes. When students design their learning the teacher is able to spend more quality time conferencing with students and understanding their learning styles.  

Students will be motivated not only to share learning with their teacher and classmates as well to share their learning with a global audience. November give examples of students creating tutorials explaining class topics that generate creative and an innovative learning experiences.

This an important shift in the classroom culture where teachers build a culture of collaborative respectful learning that is shared and reflected upon. This culture has to be set and adapted at the beginning of the year. Students need to co-construct criteria that leads to this collaborative learning environment.

It makes me reflect on my year how students value purposeful learning and continue with their inquiries & sharing learning after school and weekends on edmodo. Students gain confidence and grow stronger through the ownership and sharing of learning. Technology is a tool that captures learning and makes thinking visible. Through technology students are able to reflect, give feedback and collaborate and learn from others. Creating a culture of creative thinkers and reflectors through authentic tasks students will be engaged and will take pride in their purposeful learning that is shared and reflected upon it.

I am looking forward to reading and reflecting on the rest of the chapters. This is a pic-collage of some ios apps and Google Apps that I have used for collaborative learning and capturing thinking.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Grade 1's are capable...

As a Grade 1 teacher at St. Gabriel School, I was inspired by Rola's ability to involve her students in curriculum based inquiry. I wanted to learn more about student ownership of expectations, and  how I could gather valid and reliable evidence of student learning. I wanted to know how this process would unfold in a Grade 1 classroom that was also trying to bridge the gap between full day kindergarten by incorporating play based learning activities.

My goals were to develop a better understanding of assessment and evaluation in the primary classroom by involving the students in planning the learning goals and success criteria.  I also wanted to begin collecting more reliable evidence of my students' learning, and establish methods to assess on a daily basis. I decided to begin with our math unit in Geometry, with a specific focus on two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures.

Unpacking The Curriculum in Grade 1:
We began by learning about the curriculum documents and why teachers use them. The Big Ideas for Geometry were shared with the students and "dissected" to examine what they really mean, using more familiar and comfortable Grade 1 language.

The dissected expectations easily became our learning goals and success criteria.

In hopes the students would take ownership of their learning and be motivated and excited about the learning activities, I provided them with the opportunity to assist in the development of play/learning centers. I showed the students what materials we had that could help us learn about shapes (i.e.: Play-Doh, geoboards, pattern blocks, building blocks, books). The students were invited to bring their own materials from home as well.  Using the materials and keeping the learning goals in mind, we decided together what activities could be done at the different centers (i.e.: using pictures from books and magazines to help us build structures using 3-D shapes).

Co-constructed learning goals and success criteria allowed students to identify their learning and also made the assessment and evaluation transparent. The students knew how to demonstrate  they were learning. Students also decided when they were both ready to be evaluated by putting their names in the assessment bubbles. They also decided how they would demonstrate their learning (i.e.: during a center activity or through and conference with the teacher).

Ideas for each learning center were co-constructed with the students. Using the activities, materials and learning goals, the students and I worked together to create success criteria in the form of  'I can' statements. This not only helped to motivate the students, but also helped them stay on task and do their best - holding them accountable for their learning.

Students assisted in the creation of vocabulary charts, helping them to use geometric 
vocabulary in their dialogue.

Mind maps were created with the students throughout the unit to document the learning process. Students added something new to the map each day, helping them to identify their learning.

Learning centers like this building block center allowed the students to collaborate, and communicate using math vocabulary, to build structures that matched with the pictures provided.

The Play-Doh center was a perfect activity for the students to create products through play. They decided on the success criteria and informed me when they were ready to display their knowledge and communicate their thinking.


My Grade 1 students enjoyed co-constructing learning centers using ideas, activities and materials they were familiar with and genuinely interested in. The students took pride in co-constructing the success criteria, allowing them to recognize that they were "playing" in the learning centers to help learn concepts. The learning centers provided multiple opportunities to assess students and gather a triangulation of data - reliable evidence of student learning based on products, observations and conversation. Most students easily conversed with me about their learning while they played at the centers. They were engaged, motivated and using their hands and imagination to inquire about the concepts we determined were important from the curriculum. Natural and genuine conversations between peers about the concepts occured easily at centers that required students to collaborate with eachother (i.e.: the building block center and the pattern blocks center). Assessment and evaluation was natural and on-going due to the nature of the centers. Similarly, feedback was natural due to the genuine conversation and questions about products and obseravtions. The learning centers also provided opportunity to evaluate those students who were ready, and assess those students who were still building their knowledge. The nature of the learning centers provided opportunity for inquiry based learning, and allowed me to assess and evaluate all categories of the achievement chart using student products, observations and conversations.

When students are given the opportunity to participate in the planning, and when assessment and evaluation is made transparent by co-constructing learning goals and success criteria, students are more likely to be engaged in the learning tasks, and motivated to experience success. Furthermore, co-constructed learning centers allow teachers to collect a triangulation of evidence using examples of students products, conversations and observations.

Lisa Blue Grade 1 St. Gabriel @mslblue

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Real Learning... Thinking through Inquiry

 I am publishing this inquiry post sharing how students take full ownership of learning.  We have been pursuing ownership of thinking and learning of curriculum based curiosities since September. I am reflecting on the inquiry process of the Middle Ages that began in April. It always amazes me how  excited and motivated students are when they own their learning and how curiosity drives learning. My role was just to guide not to instruct.

Curiosity is always provoked (in class we call it frontloading) through objects, news, pictures, read aloud, videos or a speaker. This Social Studies journey began through a picture of a modern knight in Ottawa who last year traveled across Canada preserving the love of culture. 

Students' discussion focused on the knight and the importance of preserving a culture. 

Students were aware that they would be exploring the Medieval Time in Social Studies. They individually began writing curiosity questions on the Middle Ages. In teams students shared their questions on chart papers. If team members were able to answer some questions sticky notes with an answer were added on, followed by group discussions that provoked more curiosity.    

Our curiosities are generally curriculum based, we do dedicate a curiosity block not curriculum oriented once week. Students unpacked the curriculum by focusing on the big ideas and the overall expectations. The purpose is to align their curiosity with the curriculum expectations for full responsibility and ownership of learning in achieving the big ideas. 

Students consolidated on their inquiry questions and categorized them based on curriculum expectations. 

What is important is to let students experiment first before I step in with required skills and strategies. I let the students find their own way first.

From the beginning Students took responsibility at building the French language through tasks and activities. In groups they explored, compared and co-constructed French language vocabulary supported by oral discussions. Students selected images off Google and wrote about their journey through medieval time. Students shared and compared their learning through a gallery walk of images and gathering learning. 

Oral, reading and writing strategies are applied throughout the inquiry process. Through many resources students analyze, annotate, determine important ideas and summarize. 

After reading and analyzing the information. Teams summarized to share their curiosity on a story board that was recorded using iMovie trailer or educreation. Teams went public sharing the process with their classmates. 

Every journey throughout the year has demonstrated that when students are given ownership of learning, learning is persistent, enhanced and easily amplified in class. What inspires me, is how I can always learn from my students and from each other in a never ending learning experiences on metacognition and the inquiry process. 

Here are some samples of team ideas on organizers: Using chart papers and Google extension Murally. 

During shared learning classmates took notes on organizers and confirmed learning by using audio Boo. 

iMovie evidence:

La vie en ville Pendant le Moyen Age

L'art de la joute

videos les maladies

video sur l'attaque

Audi Boo oral discusiions:

Audi Boo on La vie en ville.

Team discussion La ville en ville.

audi boo sur les maladies

I will continue updating as students continue sharing their learning process in class.