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I have few unpublished posts from the summer regarding how the classroom might be changed for this academic year.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? 


  1. Another excellent blog post that carefully considers the learning of the students, yourself and your colleagues-myself included.

    The importance of encouraging reflective conversation and relationship building speaks volumes of the communities you are nurturing in our school, and beyond. Imagine the future with these 3D thinkers at the helm? It invigorates an already interesting profession to a new level!

    Thank you for always sharing your progress, your successes and your "works in progress". Your students are teaching me something new everyday.

    1. Thank you Jennifer for your comment. For sure we are a learning community and looking forward to embarking on many new ventures wit my students and with you and Carolyn.