Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Creative Complexities!

Giving students learning opportunities to grow and experiment with the learning process of complex ideas is the architecture of the why and how of problem solving. Our thinking is always provoked through current events from scientific inventions, social entrepreneurial to international, national and local political issues,

 Many events from September began unveiling from the United Nations Global Goals to world issues and national elections. I continue to explore and learn with my students by applying the thinking models from the Rotman School I think Initiative.: the Ladder of Inference, Visual Alphabet, Open Ended Conversations, Pro- Pro model, System Thinking and Causal Model. Keeping in mind the academic commitments to all curriculum concepts, we engage through cross disciplinary and many tools, we began exploring the thinking process through the causal model.

The students and I began exploring the causal model by referring to our classroom experiences of speaking French; Grade 6 students are motivated to be bilingual...



We continue to learn together and experiment. Thanks to Nogah Kornberg (from Rotman School) who has been my learning partner after school and even late nights for consulting about the thinking process since September. We also had an opportunity of working with Nogah live through Google Hangout on the causal model with a group of students.

Below are samples of the causal model on terrorism:





The focus of the Grade 6 Social Studies is Canada's Interactions with the Global Community. The concept of  disciplinary thinking across subjects are causes and consequences of politics. The students began their inquiry by using the arts to search and learn more about their chosen global goal UN Sustainable Global Goals. We were fortunate to follow the development on twitter and had a chance to speak online with the COP21 Youth delegation about indigenous representation of Canada.  

Through the arts, the thinking process was to focus on visual literacy to portray the facts and communicate the purpose of the goal: to see, to describe, to analyze and to interpret through the elements and the principles of visual arts. The visual literacy enabled students to research and understand the facts in relation to the developed and developing countries. 





Students individually built a causal model to continue exploring the causes of their goal from developing and developed countries.  


To construct knowledge of the Global Goals students combined the goals while creating team causal models. Each causal began with a statement: the consumption of resources, problems of poverty from around the world, living in poverty, to stop poverty by 2030. 






I tried capturing some students' conversations during the causal model discussions of the Global Goals. 




This architecture of learning through the causal model developed the critical thinking and communication skills of the students.

Critical thinking: interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information while making meaningful connections to the issues and the facts of the goals, and collaborative meaningful knowledge construction. 

The students' communication skills were also developing during the discussions by connecting the facts of the goals during the group causal model: explaining clearly, considering multiple and diverse thinking, communicating in detail in order to understand contexts. While communicating the students were analyzing, synthesizing their thinking together building on what they know and new meaning together through these discussions. The process of communication was not based on judgement of each others perspectives, rather it was based on unpacking thinking from each other.

Below are some audios captured by students connecting the causes of their goals. As we continue exploring with the causal model we will be recording the conversations during the designing process of the model. 




Coding was part of the process by using Scratch to create the targets for sustainability by 2030 .




The students also implemented green screen to capture the full process about the sustainability of each goal.






Technology integration is used to amplify the thinking process and demonstrate learning in multiple ways, valuing and empowering the pedagogical process.

Through designing thinking, students' motivation is authentic in breaking down the thinking process. The students are advocating, innovating and problem solving throughout the causal model. They take ownership of scaffolding complex skills. The 6 C's of New Pedagogy for Deep Learning Competencies are amplified throughout the process: Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Character, Creativity and Citizenship,

I should have blogged while we unpacked the learning together. The students have reflected and documented the process that I will be sharing with their permission in the New Year. Since we already know that learning is messy and embracing the process by reflecting and iterating with the students then we don't shy away from complexity and maximize our learning together.

As we learn we continue to reflect on the process of learning,we ask ourselves:
  • Are students creating their own questions for the passion of learning?
  • Are students focusing on thinking?
  • Are students taking control of their thinking?
  • How are students reasoning complex problems?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Making is a Thinking Process!

 I continue learning with my students by applying designing thinking strategies and the thinking process of the 6 Cs . We keep on evolving with the process where the students become the specialists as they apply and reflect on their thinking progressions. As we unfold the process through designing and making, the students embrace the development of skills and perseverance along their daily explorations.

Students are experiencing multiple steps during their learning from digital tools to collaboration with each other and the community while exploring design elements and habits of learning.

From a previous post  on integrative thinking using open ended conversations, integrative thinking models for valuing of ideas, combining designs and interpersonal skills for knowledge building on the concepts of electricity.




Following up on the process of thinking skills from the last blog post; the students were able to use technology to capture the thinking process of iterating from visualizing their combined ideas to the prototypes of the cardboard games.  

This video represents the revision history of the students' design and iteration of ideas while producing the prototype. The students used google drawing to update the drawing while constructing the cardboard game. I asked a couple of students to produce an English version of their process since all of their learning is in French. 




Students also explained the materials used during the process.



From the Kevin Brookhouser presentation at Ottawa GAFEsummit we applied the life of a project into our version and students reflected on the life of their project that required iteration and problem solving skills along the way.



This is the bilingual students language version of a life of a project. 




The evidence of a life of a project when designing and reflecting on the prototype.



Throughout the process students also reflected on their progressions of collaborative, character and  creative thinking skills. 






Making is so much more than the space it is:

  • About the engagement phases and capturing the learning journey. 
  • Building students' skills on collaboration, Character, Communication and Creativity. 
  • A journey focusing on problem solving, metacognition by reflecting throughout the process on  skill building.  
  • It is knowledge building of new concepts that are valued among the classroom and school community. 
  • Generating ideas about the experiences, sharing them and synthesizing.
  • It is about the thinking and rethinking during the process at every step. 
  • It is student centered focusing on questioning, iterating when inventing and making. 
  • When students are immersed in risk taking with perseverance and problem solving at every step by improving and changing ideas along the journey. 
  • It is about building a community of seeking feedback and giving feedback.
  • It is a journey of problem solving and creating with a collaborative mindset for innovation.

Making  is about embracing the process where students love their learning and discover the relationship of the thinking concepts of science, technology, engineering, math and the arts. It also is more than STEAM, it is about building partnership of collaborative thinking skills and motivation for learning.

I continue to reflect on:
What skills and concepts are the students acquiring, experiencing and reflecting on during their learning journey?
Are the students leading their learning through problem solving, reflecting on the process and sharing collectively their learning?
Are the students focusing beyond the content on citizenship, creativity and interdependence?
Are students aware of their own criteria through thinking habits?


Monday, October 19, 2015

Learning Opportunities #GAFESummit

 Two days of focus about the purpose of technology supporting pedagogy and thinking skills. It was a gathering of a shift towards the applications of thinking skills rather than just tools. Summit Schedule

 The Keynote speakers Jaime Casap and Kevin Brookhouser had me reflect about the importance of learning as a society of partnership with our students and community.


  • The future of education as a model of thinking about learning.
  • Giving the power for students to become problem solvers.
  • Focusing on students' innovation and iteration of learning without an end point.
  • Preparing students for the future through global learning.
  • Building the passion for learning through innovation for the transformation of the future that never stops.
  • The school becoming a model of partnership with parents and the community.
  • Persevering with the mindset and breaking free from the functional fixedness.
  • Students would endorse real world problems and there are no bad ideas.
  • Students to be risk takers, problem solvers and design to create ideas with a passion.
  • Students share knowledge for making a change and celebrating risk taking.
  • Celebrating learning through many stages.





  • Students realizing the importance of passion when learning.
It was great to see so many colleagues from across Ontario and Canada and meeting new ones from the United States. 

It is always a great opportunity to be among so many educators, learners and leaders sharing the passion of risk taking to take back and apply with our students.

Learning is always a shift of risk taking. On Saturday with my colleague Patricia Fiorino we presented Learning By Doing documenting the process of the makers mindset with Kindergarten and Grade 6.


Thank you for the participants who took time to stay for the last session and go over time sharing students' learning. The presentation was about analyzing and thinking using a variety of tools.




If we need our students to have the desire to learn then we need to provide them with time and support to pursue innovation, passion and interest in learning. What skills and talents will we allow to emerge from our students?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Creativity and Students' Thinking!

How do you get students to think for themselves?

As I continue to explore integrative thinking strategies through problem solving, the students are continuously reapplying thinking strategies while learning new ones.

The Grade 6 team and the students are pursuing Free The Children campaigns of We Scare Hunger and We create Change.

The students have incorporated Scratch to describe their commitments to the 4 campaigns. From the Imagination Foundation, we signed up to incorporate Caine's Arcade games with our passion and empathy project to science.  Our #cardbaordchallenge will take place on the week of 19th to the 23rd, due to the Thanksgiving long weekend. We will be holding a day for the school and another day for the neighborhood community.

As mentioned in the previous blog on provoking students' drive to be passionate innovators and introducing them to tools to think not to do the thinking for them. The focus is on integrative thinking and  NPDL competencies that are character, collaboration and creativity. We are reflecting on some of the dimensions in each competency and relating it to the integrative thinking strategies.

Starting with online unique and creative products from young students, we co-constructed the criteria of what is creativity as described in former post.

This blog post focuses on how students examine two designs and combine designs to come up with one. We are combining the individually designed cardboard games and combining both creative ideas to come up with one game.

We began by experimental thinking strategies by exploring the value of a creative and unique idea and the logic with two creative products competing models.

I presented the students with this image of both cups models that we are already familiar with.




This video details the process


During the process students reapplied and reinforced the thinking strategy of  open ended conversations. The purpose of this process was to apply the thinking into action:
  • To identify two different ideas or creative products
  • To define the benefits of each product
  • To analyze the possibilities of combining these models  
  • To apply the benefits of both models
  • To create an new product combining both models 
Each student has already designed on Google drawing their own vision of their arcade game based on the concept of circuits and switches that they have been exploring in science. Before the students applied the thinking integrative process of combining their own individual game in one, We further shared possibilities of circuits and switches, pressure switch, pull switch and open and closed switches using copper tape, and conductive thread.

Before the students sat together to apply open ended conversation, we focused on these possibilities:

  • Making connections between the 2 options
  • The points of tension between the conversations
  • How could one game be created from 2 ideas?
  • The benefits of the 2 games to generate one game.


These Drawing are examples of combining both ideas to create one game




This week students will continue to create the prototype of the combined ideas that was generated benefitting both. They will reflect and transfer the knowledge of problem solving and understanding of the application of the knowledge to a structure/game.

The students will also reflect on this transformation of integrative thinking and monitor their progress by focusing on the dimension of the competencies of collaboration, creativity and character from NPDL.

This shared ownership will be transformed into action by also inviting an export an electrical engineer for feedback.

As I continue learning with my students I also need to focus on: 

  • How do I develop a mindset of thinking that suits  the specific task and the stages of learning? 
  • Which skills sets or competencies and tools that help develop the thinking process? 
  • Am I giving students opportunities to translate their thinking into actions? 
  • How do students become divergent thinkers through the curriculum?


Sunday, October 4, 2015

So What Is Creativity?

I am still pushing my thinking forward when students are in the role of designers. As educators we read a lot, we connect online and face to face. I need to learn and move forward with my students' thinking and their ability to decipher the process through them than just through what I know. I needed to question more and listen more as well as reflect with them. My students are my partners in moving my learning forward!

As we continue to unpack the process of the skills through daily applications of learning tasks, We consolidate and reflect for determining next steps about what is making through: coding, 3D printing, robotics, designing, of course including concepts from science, the arts and math when designing. This blog will reflect on our present learning process.

As I embark on this journey with my former students.  This is important, when we are unpacking strategies we are not only referring to the present, we are also reflecting on last year's experiences. We are connecting what we are already know and unpacking the thinking.

The students already highlighted that creativity:

  • Is designing with tools like craft materials and tech tools
  • It takes perseverance and growth mindset (Grit)
  • Imagination
  • Suggestions
  • Causes
  • Brainstorming and using strategies with colleagues for unpacking ideas
  • It is critical thinking as problem solving
  • Ideas
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Repeat, improve and retry
The students are excited about printing objects with the 3D printer this year. We are beginning to reflect on the causes and passion projects for the use of the printer and how can we be empathetic with the tools and make a change to someone else not just for ourselves?

All Grade 6 students will participate with the cardboard challenge and will apply the concept of circuits to their games and coding, also fundraising for Play For Change for Free The children.

I have shared with the students the following image to reflect about the process and the journey of the process. 


We reviewed some examples from last year about empathy and creativity as well as some new ones:



Ipad Keyguard shared by Nancy Khalil


This is our second week at unpacking the process of creativity with empathy. We are starting our passion project with our school community. From our resource teachers for our special needs students, one class is designing sequenced puzzle pieces that could be reused and the other class is designing sequenced numbers grooved puzzles. Of course the students began with their own visual and continue to apply communication skills, solving problem strategies including mathematics with the prototype and designing on Tinkercad for 3D printing. 




The key to guiding our learning is our daily consolidations of unpacking the thinking process, reflecting on misconceptions, new learning and determining our next steps. 

New learning guiding questions: : 
  • Am I capable of finding or suggesting a solution? This was a huge learning with opposing ideas and finding a solution
  • How am I building on to existing solution?
  • How am I  applying creative thinking strategies?
  • How am I taking the responsibility or my part of the project?
  • How am I dealing with opposing views?
  • How might I ...?
  • Am I applying open ended conversation in order to  understand my colleague's suggestion? 
  • How are we gathering our ideas?

These are the reflective questions that we are presently focusing on to be explicit with our thinking towards our creative thinking process and building experiences for our learning.  

As we continue to explore and reflect many circumstances are occurring throughout our process. This is a critical shift in educators' learning in combining projects with skills, concrete procedural knowledge and having students to think for themselves. 

This is not a tidy process or a lesson plan, it is a transformation of learning and understanding. How are we giving the opportunity for our students to be creative problem solvers? How are we encouraging students to think critically about ideas and situations?

The following example of designing with a purpose for Kindergarten students to record themselves without having to touch the laptop. 


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Why A Relationship?

I have few unpublished posts from the summer regarding how the classroom might be changed for this academic year. I have decided to wait for the students to be part of this process that I was designing and imagining. Yes, it was just a visualization of many changes that I wanted to pursue and apply this year. I have always focused on ownership and visible thinking with the students.

This summer I was lucky to take part in many community events of learning. From the University of Ottawa art engineering with Little Bit to the makerspace and connecting with the makermobile engineering and designing staff. With professor Hanan Anis whom I have connected with by deciding to learn together in combining university students to work with the Grade 6 students on designing thinking prototyping learning. Also attending ISTE this past July has confirmed many learning opportunities with makerspace. Reading "Invent To Learn" By Sylvia Libow Martinez and Dr. Gary Stager has also confirmed students' ownership through making.

This blog focuses on my new learning journey of makerspace in the classroom. My colleague Patricia Fiorino and I are working on TLLP (Teacher Learning and Leadership Program)of a Makerspace in the classroom.  My new learning focuses more on students' decision making with strategic thinking of designing and integrative thinking.I enrolled this last spring with I-think Rotman school Educators Institute on Integrative Thinking in the Classroom. I also embraced the process of sketchnoting that helped me reflect on the process of learning and thinking through visualizing.

My blogging journey for this year begins with this post.

As always at the beginning of the new academic year, building the classroom relationship is and has been the focus. We have in the past applied the cups and the elastic team building task by towering the cups when collaboratively only using the elastics. Another activity is the tower of marshmallow with spaghetti as well as building a structure with few tools and leaving step by step instructions for other groups. Last year's highlight was the scribble bots for team relationship activities. The focus has always been the collaboration with conversations among team members. We co-constructed the criteria of conversation and collaboration.

I am so lucky this year that I have my previous students form last year and only ten new students of two Grade 6 French Immersion. I am working this year with my partners Carolyn Bramble and Jennifer king whom we connect our learning and students' learning. The students are so eager and we are all excited to embrace this year and continue with past year experiences of Free The Children and entrepreneurial projects and new ventures. Since we have unpacked many skills( 6C's)last year my purpose this year is how can we take our thinking further and apply more thinking skills and strategies or routines.

New learning:  Through the activity of making a clay sculpture or symbol representing each student We added the six word story describing the choice of the design. The purpose was to reconnect together while sharing the six word stories in teams. In turn each team member had to present their colleague. We aimed at authenticity and not perfections when presenting each other. Through the conversations students made connections and continued the conversation by asking Tell me more....

New learning more than just a conversation, non judgmental conversations by just listening and connecting.





Collaborative conversations were also unpacked through chak talk strategy of adding on to each other's ideas without judging. We started with the topic of why school? We provoked our thinking by looking at schools from around the world. First students presented their own ideas of what they know. Each member writes his or her own idea on a sticky, then students within the team read and add on to other team members' ideas. The process is written conversations of analyzing and adding on. All voices are presented and the team would come up with a conclusion or a summary. Video 2 has the sample of Chalk Talk.

New learning of written conversations, all voices are included without judging and building knowledge with evidence of all voices.

New learning of open ended conversations  students sharing their favourite objects based on Tell me more... letting their thinking or story be shared without judging and only adding the five w's about the object and how it made them feel.


The students also unpacked more collaborative skills by figuring out how to make stick bombs and catapults. The students revisited the collaborative skills by focusing on the interpersonal and interdependent skills, on perseverance, tenacity and resilience as well as learning partnership and the learning environment.

This video highlights the six word stories and sharing for building relationships, chalk talk and collaborative tasks of stick bombs and catapults.



This video highlights the process of chalk talk and reflecting about the process.



This video covers the open ended conversations and how we are applying the thinking strategies to unpack electricity.



Reflecting on learning is the key to the success of our learning process. The students have always practiced reflections on a daily basis. The students need to be given the chance to take ownership and a purpose of the application of their learning process. These are some students' reflections about the chalk talk and open ended conversations.





New Learning The Visual Alphabet application for visualizing our ideas. We began unpacking the the process by having every student draw a visual of a house using the alphabet. After representing their ideas visually every student was to reflect on their drawing before sharing with their team, what would they like to keep of the drawing and what will they change.

While sharing the students applied open ended conversation by listening first to the self reflections of the visual before adding on tell me more..., asking further questions without judging and offering suggestions on the visual 

The visual alphabet is already being applied for the designing prototype project for 3D printing. I will be blogging about this process soon by also exploring designing with a passion and empathy for 3D printing.  




Through visual thinking each class decided on a class team name.








New learning the "ladder of inference" for uncovering explicit thinking. My colleague Jennifer King who also attended the I-Think Rotman school with me began applying it to Terry Fox. We did the same in our class. It was interesting to listen to students' conversations of identifying the difference between author's opinion and the actual data.





Our new learning journey is just beginning and I need to discipline myself to blog weekly for my reflections.

As educators, we are bound in the relation and the trust we have with our students. We need to build this trust not only with the students but with us as well. Not only saying we believe in them and having the trust and the faith in them but actually building this relationship of the community.  This community should always start with the co-construction of criteria on collaboration conversation and feedback based on criteria without the feeling about being judged. It is so important to give students time to have room to prototype and unpack what is a collaboration and positive relationship. Also giving students time to have room to apply their thinking and be motivated to learn to take actions, and risks without being judged. This is the beginning of our learning journey as we take risks in new learning of deeper thinking of skills and tools for the makespace and our thinking routines that support our prototype of empathy and passion for learning.

Questions to reflect on for this year:

  1. How intentional will my teaching be to design learning that engages students intellectually and academically?
  2. Will the learning tasks be worthy of students' time and will they be personally relevant to the world they live in? 
  3. Will the interdependent relationships in the classroom promote learning and a culture of learning? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Is It purposeful Thinking For Learning?

I always get asked how do you get students thinking? If students are analyzing through reflections and feedback then they are thinking. The process of analyzing begins at the start of the year by allowing time for students to continuously reflect by breaking down information into parts and reasons.  Also allowing time and tools for students to speak and document what they have learned, how they have learned through self and peer assessment.

It involves many layers of co-constructed criteria starting with comparing and contrasting from background information or new learning. Students also immediately reflect on their learning and thinking. Analyzing through reflections allows students to become focused thinkers.

I will speak to the process from recent examples that we completed in June on Social Studies. Social studies is as engaging as Science or any other content. The Grade six students unpacked the curriculum through issues between Canada and international communities.The Grade 5 students were investigating issues with all three levels of governments from federal, provincial and municipal.

Of course having access to all Google apps (video notes, Snagit, Screencastify, Kaizena, CleanSave, Text Help Study Skills) and IOS apps (audioboom, Explain Everything) does affect the ability for students to analyze and express their thinking through tech tools. At the beginning of the year through various tasks students unpacked the purpose of technology for their learning. In my previous blogs I have shared many examples on analyzing.



Analyzing information online by using extensions and Add on like CleanSave and Text Help Study Skills.


Using Kaizena for peer feedback.

Students also shared their learning by using Green Screen and iMovie.  


Co-constructed criteria for the argument
Co-constructed criteria when analyzing classmates argument 

Students self assessment using screencastify for the choices of text and images representing his argument through Meme visual on Google Drawing . 



Videos demonstrating the process.










When students are analyzing:
  • They break down information into parts and reasons
  • They are problem solving by self questioning, which could further present with more inquiry and critical thinking. This process of questioning begins developing from the beginning of the year
  • The students are also thinking about their content and the main idea
  • All assumption could be confirmed or revised to explain
  • The students are thinking when self reflecting or self-analyzing
  • The students also understand their point of view of their reasoning and learning by explaining
  •  They are assessing colleagues work they are also knowledge building. they are comparing and contrasting against their own thinking
  • Learning is exciting and engaging and purposeful 
  • They are building empathy and understanding of a classmate's thinking
  • They are documenting and making learning visible
  • They are building confidence through the metacognitive loops of reflecting and giving feedback
When planning, I question what authentic purposeful learning should my students experience? It is important to give students choices of tasks based on the big ideas with clear co-constructed expectations. A daily ritual to keep in mind: Am I giving students time to reflect, consolidate as a team and give peer feedback? 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

ISTE A great Impression!

My mind is still at ISTE while still recovering and catching up from an exciting and exhausting five days of reflecting, learning and connecting. It was very organized with an online schedule, an app and a booklet of program and expos guide.

Philidelphia is a beautiful city surrounded by history and friendly people. Thanks To Shauna Pollock @misspollock who booked a small place near the waterfront that allowed us walking to and from the conference centre through the beautiful historical independence parks. It was great to be a roommate with Shauna and have early morning and late nights discussions about innovation and learning.  Shauna is also an inspiration and passionate educator who is innovative and creative. She is passionate about students' thinking and she shared her passion at an Ignite session about Imagineering of  imagination and engineering of Walt Disney. Can't wait until you have your own Imagineering Dream School!

Saturday was a great way to start the conference with Hack Education like Edcamp conference. Before the other fifteen thousand educators arrived it was a day to connect with teachers and learners from around the world with small group chats. I followed my passion on coding, programming, 3D printing gamification of learning and designing learning. 2015 HackEd Schedule

I began publishing videos of everyday images. Video one includes arriving at registration and HacK Education. No music on the videos!


As Sunday arrived it was the lens of many powerful educators who are all on the journey of learning, visioning and sharing.

Sunday was also the day that myself and my colleague Karen McEvoy @kmcevoy50  who is a consultant for Learning Connections and New Pedagogies For Deep Learning presented our poster session. It was a very busy session,  Karen sharing the capacity building at the board level and I shared the classroom learning environment and the partnership of learning. Karen has developed planning quadrants for the inquiry cycle as well as digital tools and resources accelerating and deepening learning skills. Karen's focus is always on building teachers capacity with students' voices. 

A link of our presentation is found on the ISTE site. 




This blog is not about the retell of the scheduled day by day sessions at ISTE. It is about the powerful learning and connections that I made with people from around the world.  All sessions were amazing and so many to choose from. I mostly enjoyed the playgrounds and the poster sessions as well as panels. It was a way to have conversations, share evidence and interact with the evidence, ask many questions, take pictures and videos, no time limit with the learning. My favorite panel was the Connected Educator Panel. Not only it was a starstruck moment with famous educators, it was set that all authors shared with teams of attendees,  It was more of conversations about passionate topics.

This video highlights the panel and more playgrounds.



Going to ISTE confirmed my confidence in continuing to explore and learn with my students to take more leadership with my own voice and learning experiences as I focus on my learning environment and my partnership with my students, my colleagues locally and globally. I sure will not be just watching, I will be sharing with educators without worrying about judgments of ideas and thinking. I will allow myself to truly connect and build a tribe of learning. At ISTE it was very magical to be part of a great community of educators and what is important is to continue discovering creativity. As educators we should always say: I can learn ..., I can do... and I will be...  What will drive your passion to the I can's...?

Colleagues at ISTE





More videos if you have time to watch, 










Sunday, May 24, 2015

We are all educators!

On a Saturday morning with many events in Ottawa from the Race weekend to the arts and family events, our IT department gathered with many colleagues for an edcamp. The day was rich with many questions, applications, the how to, the why's and problem solving with differentiated application to all levels.

With a set up from an amazing team by our department and differentiating the needs for the participants. It was a landscape of exploration focusing on the process and how tools enhance students' thinking.




 The inspiration started from the opening of the edcamp, that learning does not stop in June!  June is an opportunity for teachers to continue exploring and try tools to enhance students' thinking. Give students and teachers a chance to continue learning alongside each other, try new explorations with a purpose to be comfortable and set new learning to further apply in September.  It is also a time to continue taking risks alongside our students who are our coaches for feedback of evidence of learning.

The first session was on coding. An eager group who not only wanted to learn coding, also to be able to apply to students thinking supporting curriculum expectations. I was so excited to be among this group of teachers from middle school and high school who wanted to roll these ideas today with the students. We finished our discussion about the importance of tapping into the students and take their expertise with the coding process. To reach thinking and learning, teachers need to scaffold the reflections throughout the designing of coding and to have students share, reflect and build on each others learning.  A document was created and shared with links from online sources and connecting to communities in Ottawa. http://code.org/learn  http://code.org/learn
 http://www.smokelabs.net/  https://www.raspberrypi.org/

The second session so motivating with a large number of educators who had an interest in the Makerspace from a classroom to school wide. It is exciting to connect and share a vision of ideas and innovations. Many communities in Ottawa could be reached for support as well online from around the world. Thanks to Lisa Brennen for taking notes.







At the last session a full room of educators interested in exploring documentation for learning. The group was separated in order to differentiate the exploration. The room was buzzing with so many questions, so much sharing and so many happy celebrations at solving ideas from all levels.

I shared an example on how I observe and document in Junior by using a Google form while students are at task and how I use the add on Save as a Doc to view responses from Google spreadsheet to a Google document. https://goo.gl/FrDcuu

Bill shared Hapara and accessibility for assessment, sharing GAPPS, viewing students' learning tasks and organizing folders.

Primary teachers explored how to upload videos and photos onto drive from the iPad. During the session with a small group  of primary teachers we explored using blogger for documentation.

All teachers had many ideas to share and reflect on with others. Even when the session was over teachers continued sharing in groups. With a team of teachers, I shared  Kaizena for feedback and documentation of learning https://kaizena.com/  for students' accountability.  Snagit from TechSmith https://goo.gl/RkWR40  and Screencastify https://goo.gl/su66JK for students' ownership of learning documenting and explaining their thinking.

A great learning opportunity took place yesterday with conversations of learning and for learning. It was hands on for learning and sharing. As educators for us to continue exploring and learning, it  will take a team of collaboration from colleagues and from our students.

 What will be your next learning adventure?



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Taking Risks Without Hesitation!


This post is a combination of unpublished posts regarding teacher and student relationship of unplanned learning. This post combines a learning journey for me as a teacher and as a learner with my students discovering so much more than just learning skills, it is building real life skills experiences for us together as creators and learners.

The first reflection is about the social entrepreneurship that we embarked on this year with the Grade 5 and 6 students.  This entrepreneurship program through The Learning Partnership Adventure has  been and still is a learning journey for me and my teaching partner Carolyn Brambles and our business  BMO partner Gordon Mills.

Since the last post Student Lead Innovations  students' experiences persevere from failing to moving forward, from  progressing to regressing with acceptance and pride. The engagement among teams goes beyond tears, laughter, disappointments, reorganisation, commitments, readjustments, ideas, creativity, making, recruitments, marketing and accounting experiences.

Once a week the Grade 5 and Grade 5/6 students gather as a large group to reflect on the progression of the enterprise and determining next steps. Sometimes students choose  to meet at recess to work on their products. The students' experiences have been very rewarding  in discovering unplanned rich experiences bubbling with problem solving, conversations, thinking, decision making, reflections and planning next steps. What an experience! It lead students to bond their creative ideas and to come up with innovations from the designing to the production, ordering, purchasing, the marketing and best of all the fundraising. This real entrepreneur experience embarked the students with the best lifetime learning that could never be taught if planned.

The final teams are: Lip balm Golden Glow makers from natural products,  Activities Book designers and publishers, Cards designers and makers, Paper Makers created from natural products, the tea makers, researchers and producers of dry herbs for Cups of Hope and the Pencil Case Devil designers. These experiences lead students to sewing, designing, creating, making products through a rich process. The students took full ownership of persevering and continuing to prove by reflecting and learning new steps to apply and build on experiences. The hands on experiences are definitely learning skills from imagining, designing, exploring, creating, trying, analyzing reexamining, reflecting to sharing with the community for fundraising.

As an educator this journey confirms that learning is chaos with rich experiences that embeds more than just concepts. Learning is an eruption of skills that builds new experiences in an environment of perseverance, communication, questioning, listening, conversations of  re-examining the how and the possibilities of reaching for success with a purpose.  It is an experience so realistically rich in effective partnership of a learning enterprise with a passion. of an engaging community. The students have developed characteristics that enhance the ability to analyze based on team based implementations with character developments of ownership and visioning. It continues to be a true adventure!




The students have reached more than curriculum concepts, real skills that they learn to nurture and gain for life. As a teacher it is very important to provide students with skills by having them experience,  reflect in order for them to become aware of these fundamental skills.

I am sharing some students' reflections,  if you take the time to read them you will hear students voices!




The students enjoy programming and coding. The school day is too short, we decided on an after school club for innovations to give opportunities for further experiences and implementations with coding. In January we decided to explore together this venture, by building robots using Makey Makey with Scratch. Our school Improvement Plan focuses on mental health, therefore the robots were to interact with the students and gain feedback about their emotions.  Alison Evans Adnani from http://makerjunior.com/  and her sons were able to join us few times for this expereince.

These unplanned experiences of self-building skills and self directedness of motivation and innovation has also flourished in a life long learning experience for the students. This platform of innovation started from building up conductive materials with the Makey Makey to robots that interact when buttons are pressed by the students for checking about their feelings.

The students for the first time presented the robots publicly at the Director Forum on Tuesday April 7th. They will be presenting to the school as well and they will be getting feedback from the students.

The following videos explain the process of building the robots and I the video of the robots at the Director Forum.









The students are always inspired with opportunities to learn. The Entrepreneurship and the robotic experiences have given students opportunities to be more than just creative, an opportunity for life beyond the classroom. We value creativity on a daily basis, this opportunity has been full of unexpected creative challenges for all by building on our ideas. It is a creativity on the teacher part as well as the student and the ability for us to communicate respectfully and grow. It is the ability of learning how to learn with a growth mind set to continue learning together,