Monday, July 28, 2014

More Than Interactive Cardboard Boxes!

What do you get when you give students a chance to explore their own curiosity, plan for fundraising to make a change and science tinkering with electricity! Interactive arcade cardboard boxes for the whole school to participate and play for making a change.

I have shared a blog post about the curiosity blocks where students lead their own curiosities. Being involved with Free The Children, students decided to create arcade games during curiosity blocks and fund raise for building schools. Blog about Curiosity

This blog post   by the Gr 6 students documents and explains all initiatives that they have organized For Free The Children. The students were also featured on Free The Children Blog about their creative fund raising. St-Gabriel-plays-change Free The Children

Students have already created the arcade games for the First Initiative for Play For Change . As a class we decided to keep the arcade boxes and turn them interactive to apply electricity (Science curriculum for Gr 6 students). We started with the fundamentals by exploring through several tasks at discovering what is static electricity and how is it applied in everyday life? What are circuits and how do switches activate circuits? What are the different kinds of switches? The overall expectations of the curriculum were unpacked by the students. Please see previous posts from this and last year explaining how students unpack the curriculum and set their learning. 

Students take ownership of learning when they are creating and producing. Through making students seize control of their thinking especially when they are reflecting during the process on what they have learned and how they have accomplished their creations. Classroom Blog on Electricity by Gr 6 students

As teachers we have to keep in mind that the work should be done by the students. We need to give students the chance to have a voice and control of their thinking, share learning, create, fail and learn from each other. These Interactions are about the assessment and the reflections that are part of the inquiry and thinking process. Through making, collaboration, problem solving and the sense of wondering are ignited which it reinforces skills to solve real problems.

This Padlet has some examples of students' creation on electricity:

Propelling Curiosity!

The focus of this post, is to share some examples that created opportunities for thinking and provoking curiosity leading students in ownership of learning.  During this process, I become a mentor, a listener, an observer and an activator while students developed their curiosities. Students' questions always lead the inquiry process. Provoking focuses on students' questions, which is a very important step in letting them engage and take leadership and ownership of the process. The process is carried on with categorizing of the the questions then comparing them to the overall expectations of the curriculum.

These questions are a routine in activating conversations:

1- What do think is going on? Background knowledge
2- What makes you think this? Students support background knowledge and share the how and the why of their knowledge before searching to confirm and proceed to new learning. It is very import to give students this opportunity of building on each other's background knowledge and engage in conversations to pursue thinking and inquiries.  I love this stage as it solidifies their dependence of learning from each other then it provokes more thinking and further questioning actions and new inquiries through discussions. This is a very important step to takeby encourage listening, speaking and respecting other opinions and knowledge for further clarification of concepts.
 3- What would you wonder about? (After their discussions). What new learning are you wondering about? Throughout the year students develop searching skills, annotation for reading and choose ways to share new learning.

It takes time to immerse students in skills by providing exciting learning opportunities.We spend time building skills at the beginning of the year which become the core for our success and reflecting on these actions during the process to improve accountability.

There is so Much to share I will post some and every year I keep focusing on getting better at capturing the process through blogging. Some of the process captured on the Classroom Blog by the students  We focus on French daily that typing the process in English lags a little.

I seek the subject related examples off the news and social media.  Some examples of Science and Social Studies for provoking curriculum inquiries:


Gr 6 

Ottawa's Great Forest  Before our walk to Beaver Pond



Social Studies:
Gr 6
infographics-on-nelson-mandela  classroom Blog post about Mandela



If the-world-of-100 villages


Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry' For Gr 5 on refugee and citizenship

Indian's exploited child cotton workers For Gr 5 on refugee and citizenship

etats-unis-malala-yousafzai-inspire- Gr 6 & 5

Gr 5
-confederation-line Ottawa’s world-class light rail


Comment organiser une cérémonie de citoyenneté

An example of students contribution after deconstructing the curriculum expectations:

Provoking learning does matter for curriculum inquiries. Students become so engaged with daily issues that themselves will continue searching and sharing realistic examples in everyday life experiences. What will you do to provoke your students curiosity this coming year? 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

SWAT Team! How to search?

The SWAT team, Students With Advanced Technology my Gr 6 and 5 students implemented technology with teachers, students and parents.  They created a site and a Google Calendar for booking.

They have explained many apps ( pic-collage, iMovie, Green screen, fotobabble, Audio Boo...) and Google Docs, GAPPS.

The students have covered many skills and applications for capturing the learning process through tech tools in class. It is important in class to give and allow time for students to explore how to use the tool, learn and reflect on how tools are useful for capturing learning.  These skills are important for students during production to minimize time and focus on the learning process than the tool itself. 

The SWAT team also prepared series of videos on Google searching. The students have uploaded some videos by Screen Capturing the search skills using Snagit. I have uploaded some videos from the Snagit Library on YouTube to share effective research for students by students. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chromebooks in Kindergarten

Are you wondering how Kindergarten students might be using Chromebooks? 

This year, we received one tech tub with five Chromebooks in our class.  The students loved using these fast computers to learn all year. 

First, the students have learned to take their log-in information cards and independently type in their usernames and passwords. Next, from the home page that has been set up by our learning technology department they can choose Raz-Kids or Dreambox by clicking on the icon. The students can go read a book or master the key concepts of elementary math anytime during learning centers. Then, they have learned to use Google Voice to ask various questions. They can discover how to say new vocabulary in French (e.g., Say friend in French), get answers to their wonders (e.g., Caterpillar picture), learn how to spell words (e.g., Spell dog) or discover how to represent numbers using numerals (e.g., What is 5?). In addition, we have caught students going to YouTube for purposeful learning.  The students found the YouTube icon, typed various titles of songs that we had previously learned, had fun singing and dancing to them. 

The students are using the Chromebooks very well. They are responsible!   No Chromebooks have been accidentally dropped on the floor.  They share and work together to problem solve when they encounter difficulties (e.g., typo in username when logging in).  Observing how the students use the Chromebooks is impressive and I realize that there are many possibilities for 4 and 5 year old children to use them to learn.

Here are more possibilities that I will explore with my Kindergarten students: 

  • explore Google Drive-Drawings (e.g., make a plan before building at the block area)
  • explore Google Drive-Document-Research-Images  (e.g., labeling the doctor's office at the dramatic play area) 
  • show them how to navigate to the class blog and select learning links (e.g., ABCya)
  • explore apps (meegenius, pbskidsplay, scootpad, spell up)

How are you using Chromebooks with your Kindergarten students?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Metacognitive discussions on determining learning goals!

I am sharing the process of metacognitive learning by determining individual learning goals and classroom learning goals.  This process is the base of a valuable connective platform of reflective conversational classroom community encouraging thinking, communication on learning and being clear about what we have accomplished and what needs to be accomplished.

On a daily basis students are given opportunities to engage in reflections on their learning and determining their next steps. The individual goals are shared with their teams, this collaborative thinking promotes questioning, ownership of learning, clarification of any content misconceptions and students converse about their goal setting of inquiry learning and next steps. This process makes learning transparent and it solidifies the classroom as a learning culture based on what individuals have learned and will reach. 

Using a chrome book per team students share their daily documented learning on Google Calenders that is embedded in their sites. As mentioned in previous posts Google is our Learning Platform for all activities. 

This connection also takes place face to face and digitally by inviting their colleagues to reply on next steps during learning tasks. They embrace each others' learning by having students voice on how to meet goals and share learning skills and strategies.  This creates a nurturing social, transparent and intellectual culture of learners committed by caring about each other's learning. 

The following are samples of connective learning:

Teams gather to listen, react and learn about reflective learning goals. 

Student on site sharing her reflective learning.

Students reflections on Google Calender

We have le "professeur du jour" detrmining our whole group goals.

Not all reflections are digital some students to choose to write them on a daily basis 

I wished I had Google glasses as I always miss capturing many rich students ownership moment. I might invest in a pair this summer! 

All this learning is also articulated in French not only they are reflecting on their learning that is written in French also enriching their oral French through conversations. Students take risks in second language and respect all entry levels of learning. Through this process as parents and students admit not only they have learned skills, strategies and content from each other, it has also improved their oral and written French. Through rich conversations on goal setting students take full ownership of learning during their tasks.  I will soon be posting more example of oral rich conversations learning tasks. 

 We need to provide students with these reflective opportunities online, in writing and  face to face to constantly expose perspective of learning through an engaging community.

Students' partnership in learning!

As teachers we all look for partnership to grow professionally with colleagues and connecting with professionals on social media. I have always appreciated many blogs and tweets that make me reflect on many pedagogical learning experiences.

As mentioned in several posts on voice, inquiry and the ownership of learning, all credits are given to students for their partnership in learning. I was reading Aviva Dunsinger's post on Celebrating Learning  addressing students showcasing their work and how students are amazing teachers when given the choice. In recognition of #AboutThekids and catching up to my reflective blogging this post is dedicated to my teachers of Grade 6 and Grade 5/6 who make me celebrate and reflect on a daily basis.

I am sharing an example that took place with the whole school where students were to lead learning. The reason I am sharing this learning activity  is to demonstrate that every opportunity in class or out of class should always be  reflected on with students, by focusing on learning skills and how learning skills are always applied to any situations.

Students had an opportunity for a day mentoring the primary students through Math activities organized by Mathletes.  As students were mentoring, I had them reflect on their experiences on the classroom Twitter account. I have gathered their responses and videos of the day on a padlet. I am unable to share the live link as the videos are of many students from all grades.


All students' reflective tweets during the Math stations are the exact reflections that makes a classroom a learning space. 

The tweets were about:
  •  The importance of collaboration when teaching and learning
  •   Positive feedback during activities
  •  Motivating students by giving them a hint or a question to provoke their thinking.
  •  Learning the Math content with the other students while teaching and explaining
  •  Learning is fun when students are talking
  •   Lots of fun when students were engaged with learning
  •  Students listened and persevered when they were challenged
  •  Students were accountable at completing their tasks and never gave up
  •  Learning through games is motivating.

 Students' reflection mirrored what happens in the classroom and how important to always take advantage of all learning situations and reflect to improve learning skills. I enjoy watching students every year take full ownership and responsibility of learning and perseverance to inquire for learning and share their learning. Teachers who regularly visit my classroom or see my students in action at school or out of school wonder, how do we do it! It is about reflective learning on a daily basis by focusing on learning skills and actions taken to master tasks through skills.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Student-Led Persuasive Writing

Example of student persuasive writing during Literacy Centers
Students ready to show their expertise at our Open House
A fabulous persuasive writing opportunity to persuade our parents to come to our school's Open House during Education Week began when some students in our class Teacher Center wrote that they will try to convince their parents to come. Our class goal was to come up with reasons for why our parents should visit our classroom. Many of the reasons the students came up with was to showcase their technology expertise. We have been using many tools all year with a focus on student voice and students have turned into Tech Experts as a result.

Throughout the week, students worked on their persuasive letters to their parents and used the Teacher and Writing Center during Literacy Centers time to add more ideas. When we completed our persuasive letters, we sent them home to our families. Students were tasked to read their letter to their parents with the hope that the letter might sway them to join us for our Open House. Follow this link to view what their letters sounded like.

Our after school Open House arrived and an excited group of students arrived in our classroom with their families. Students were enthusiastic to announce their their persuasive writing worked because they were able to convince their families to join us!

Throughout the classroom visit, our mandate was to have the student voice in our room be the guide. Students led parents around our classroom to show some of the great projects and assignments we have worked on over the past few months. Students used their persuasive reasons to show their families all of the exciting learning in our room

It was lovely to see the pride by the students and the parent engagement as well. Our class is blooming with tech experts who showed their parents how to scan QR Codes, how to Tweet, how to record on the AudioBoo app, how to log into the Chromebooks and so much more! Students are leading much of the learning that takes place during our Literacy Centers, and our Open House evening highlighted some of the student-led inquiries within our room. For instance, the Teacher Center expert got to show her mom what we can do at the Teacher Center. She even showed her how to record on the AudioBoo app.

The QR Code expert showed his mom how to scan a QR Code! He showed her where some codes are around our room and how to add her thinking to our Padlet using the QR Code link. Please feel free to add your thinking to our Open House Padlet below!

We also had some class tweeters and guest tweeters add to the fun too. Students showcased how to compose a tweet and what we can share on Twitter. The parents were happy to watch their child guide the learning of the evening. It was apparent that many more experts are emerging in our classroom! The idea to have student experts is to allow their voice to dictate how we can post and to show their parents that there is a purpose to the technology in our room. My hope is that students continue to let their student voice shine. They were happy with the opportunity to finally showcase some of their learning to their families. I am grateful for the successful turnout and the parent engagement that evening. My goal is to continue to have my Tech Experts lead the way in our room. They are taking ownership of the tech tools we are so fortunate to have in our classroom, and becoming leaders by demonstrating their strong skills with other eager learners

A future tech expert during our Open House!