One resource to initiate engagement in multiple areas.

ondergedokenAs Christmas break ended and we returned to school, our class finished reading and working with the novel “Raven Quest”. Although this novel looked at over coming adversity, thinking over others and understanding aspects of writing such as setting and sequencing, there was only engagement from all of my students when I was reading the text (Story Time). I wanted a text that would engage my grade six students in multiple areas and in multiple ways – simply put I wanted do do something that was as inclusive as possible.

After some lengthy conversations with my colleagues that I would consider literacy Guru’s, i decided to choose “The Diary of Anne Frank”. There are variety of ideas, concepts and activities you could do in relation to the story. For the students in 6C we will be beginning with the following and hope to hear of some other great ideas which we may try.

To incorporate numeracy we will be looking at the two time lines that exist within the span of the story. The time line of Anne Frank and the time line of World War II. We are then going to examine how the two relate to each other and therefore determine how one timeline effected and influenced the other. This will then be combined with students looking, with their parents help at their parents time line and overlapping that with the events that occurred both nationally and internationally, which may have effected their lives.

In respect to citizenship and community, the students are going to examine the issues between Nazi Germany and the Jewish community and how the role of Nazi Germany effected surrounding communities and countries. This will also relate to Social Studies, looking through the lens of government, national identity and relationships. nazi_flag_581 - Copy

Although we are only in the first forty pages of the story, I am really looking forward to working through this story with my students. We have already had some great conversations about equality, integrity, social justice and right & responsibilities, but I am sure that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

If you have some ideas or have previously tried, please share I would love to make this an expereince my 6’s will never forget. Also please stayed tuned as we progress through the story and display our learning and our adventures.

New Year, New Assignment ohhhh the possibilities.

What an amazing summer.  After three years being in charge of the reins and making sure that everything was always ready to go and that everything was set for the first day,  I was able to and took full advantage of the so called “two months off” during the summer. I must say that it was fabulous. I enjoyed every part of it especially the five days of fishing, twenty feet from my back door.

This however is not the reason for this post, first I would like to apologize to all of my friends and colleagues for my absence, but would also like to pass on the assurance that you will be hearing a lot from me both from this location and others that I will connect you with shortly.

 

blog classroom

This year, I am excited to teach grade six and while teaching my #youngpadawans (Star Wars is my class theme) I will be actively using what I have learned about over the past three years and encouraged other educators to use. I will be working with my kids to tweet out questions and to make global connections to learn and connect using our classroom twitter account.

I am thrilled that I have the privileged to walk my students through their initial trials and discoveries using Google Classroom 

In addition to keep my students parents connected to the classroom and aware of what is being covered, what is expected and the experiences of the students. I will be using Remind, our Rams Class Facebook account and our PSDBlogs class blog.

Please come and join our adventure as we navigate the universe and make memories and connections that will change how we work, influence how we learn and fuel our need to be challenged.

 

Creating #KidEdchat for Sharing, Comparing and Collaborating

Like many Twiducators, I have participated in many #Edchats and have found the topics,images (3) conversations and discussions engaging and very insightful, not to mention the ideas and resources that are shared.

However, I have found that there are times when, as an educator I am seeking, not only information but ideas or suggestions. Ideas relating to a specific grade level or grade focus area, such as:

How to integrate technology

Current Pedagogy

Professional Development

Classroom Ideas

Literacy ideas and innovations

. . . to bulletin board examples

For this reason and thanks to the help of amazing mentors and colleagues @shellterrel @shannonmmiller @courosa and @gcouros I have arrived at the hashtag #KidEdchat

It is my hope that #KidEdchat will facilitate all the areas that I have mentioned as well as conversations specifically directed to teachers from grades 3-6, which will occur every Thursday at 8 pm Easter and 5 pm on the West coast.

By no means is this a new concept or idea, thanks to @shellterrell (Shelly Terrell ), @web20classroom (Steven Anderson) and @tomwhitby (Tom Whitby), the creators of #Edchat, educators around the globe have been given a forum to discuss and focus on topics that are affecting educators. Topics such as current teaching trends, transforming teaching practice, as well as education policy and education reform.

#KidEdchat is not something to replace #Edchat, that is not the intent, nor would it be possible. It is simply a sharing, collaborating and learning location for teachers that work with students from grades 3-6. For the first #KidEdchat, on July 12th There will not be a specific topic.  I will leave it as an open format Meet and Tweet where educators can connect and share some ideas. Following #KidEdchats will be determine by polling all that have participated and shown interested.

Please pass this on to all the educators that you know would be interested and that could benefit from the connecting. It would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to connecting with numerous educators. Remember to share with #KidEdchat and we shall tweet with you on Thursday evening.

 

Combining Synergy, Creativity and Citizenship in Leadership a day at Greystone



Although the weather was not the most accommodating on Friday, my adventure and experience while visiting Carolyn Cameron and the students and teachers at Greystone Centennial Middle School was wonderful. My time at Greystone was a great learning experience, however before I go into what I learned and my take-aways from my visit I am going to provide a short section about Greystone and Mrs. Cameron.

Greystone Centennial Middle Schools belief is that middle years is a time to exert extra effort to make school appealing by engaging students in learning and by offering them a variety of activities to keep them connected to the school community. The schools highly collaborative teaching teams who remain with the same group of students for 2-3 years establish strong supportive relationships that promote individualized, personalized learning for students. The teachers really get to know the unique learning needs of their students.

Carolyn Cameron, is the Principal of Greystone Centennial Middle School. She states that she is inspired, daily, by the passion and energy for learning that she sees from the staff and students at Greystone. She is always open to sharing ideas that cause her to question, explore and build her knowledge as it relates to Inspiring Action in Education and how she, along with her amazing team at Greystone, can continue to make the dream of meeting the needs of today’s learners a reality in their school community.

My day at Greystone was filled with some great experiences, however the learning was also excellent. One of the items that is required as an administrator is to observe teachers in their practice and assist them in their achievement of the Professional Growth Plans. I was  able to sit with Mrs. Cameron and observe to classes. The first class was Mr. Dhaliwal’s grade nine Science class and the second was Mrs.   Nicholls grade six Math class. Being unaware of the backgrounds of the classroom I was lucky in the sense that both subjects are areas in which I am familiar and enjoy teaching.

Both the observations were great in that I was able to see how Mrs. Cameron did her teacher observations. There are three very important things that I noticed. First of all in both settings Mrs. Cameron ensured that she was not in a position that would cause distraction from the lesson or to the students. In one we sat away from the students allowing us a fish bowl view, while the other one had us placed in the classroom sitting among the students. Secondarily, Mrs Cameron stated that she is always looking for the answer to a specific question which she either listens for during the lesson or asks students directly when it is appropriate and that is “how does this apply to students lives?”. Lastly, I learned that although Mrs. Cameron takes into account all of the TQS standards, that her primary focus in her observations relates to teachers Professional Growth Plans, something that I did not place more of a focus on.

Observing Mrs. Cameron in her observations as well as being able to participate in a post conversation has shown me the process in action from an administrators point of view, something that I had not been able to previously witness. I would like to thank Mrs. Cameron, the staff and students of Greystone for the wonderful learning experience, for inviting me into their classrooms and for allowing me to participate in some excellent learning opportunities and activities. I am looking forward to making some of the changes at my school from what I have observed at Greystone.

Student learning is enhanced by the use of community resources.

 


community1


On my journey to understanding Instruction Leadership one of the sections under the Principal Quality Standards is supporting the use of community resources to enhance student learning. It took some time to wrap my head around this, I pondered, does this mean the use of guest speakers, of presentations that are motiviational or should they focus primarily on academics.

I came to the conclusion that any resource that adds to the understanding, learning and building of a student would fit into this catagory. Like many schools, Seba tries to have as many outside resources come out to the school to add or supplement the learning of our students, the only limiting factor is the distance that Seba Beach school is from a large metropolis. This being said I am excited to say that I have made some direct connections and additions to our school and our students experiences by inviting or soliciting exteranl resources to add to student learning and experiencing. Although the students, for the most part enjoy these presentations and activities, I do know that some of the teachers have not always been excited because my planning takes away often from class time that is vital and essential to our teachers in delivering the curriculum.

We have had many activities throughout the year, from the first day of school to our Remembrance day celebration, however for this post I will be commenting about the three most recent activities at Seba Beach that have been amazing opportunities.

The first is the CLICK presentation to our junior high students. This was a presentation that is put on by the Alberta Government , assisting students to determine what they apt at doing after they finish high school. The facilitator was a student at University of Alberta completing her degree in sociology, but was able to keep the students engaged and curious about the activity. The students worked, answering questions about personality, preference and choice and eventually arrived at a range of occupations. For most of the students the results were generally accurate.

The second, this was a community resource that was able to work both with our students but as well with the parents of our students in areas such as cyber-bullying and digital awareness, no name the two covered most recently.  I am referring to the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) workers that we are connected to through Edson. We have a pair of great, energetic and commuted ladies that are willing to work as much as possible with our parents and with our students to provide programs such as Parenting, Community relations, and baby sitting courses.

Finally, due to some previous relationships, I was able to use some connections to start a boys group at the school for our middle years boys. Through communication and planning with members of Native Counselling Services, I was able to arrange that three individuals would come out once a week and work with our boys on citizenship goals. One worker is Howard, I never had the opportunity to work with previously, but the other two I have had the pleasure of working closely with. One as a colleague and one as an elder. Our first session / meeting was great, the boys in the group asked many questions and learned about choice and responsibility. The students also, to integrate culture, focused on discovering the 7 First Nations Teachings. It was great to see the students working each other trying to figure out all the elements involved while looking at ones self.

community2

I am a strong believer in the old saying that states, “it takes a community to raise a child”. This is a truth that I have experienced, lived in and taught with, understanding that everyone has something that a child can experience and learning from. I believe that we should use our outside and partner agencies to ensure that our students, have access to the most possible resources” I also believe that there are somethings that others can convey and teacher better than I. Therefore by embracing Humility and having a willingness to learn like my students I call upon others to work with my students and myself to increase their understanding and tool kits for their future.

Twitter Connects and Educates – even from space

I have been meaning to write this post for some time now, however as with many of us the Christmas season was hectic and then a blur, and before I knew it I was back to work. Trying to get back into the swing of things, organizing, preparing and well everything else. However, yesterday I was helping a new colleague get started on her digital portfolio and it reminded me that it has been some time since I last posted.

Although it has been some time since the occurrance, the significance is still quite impressive and pertanant.

sws_hadfield01

I do not remember what morning specifically it was, but I was making the long drive from the City (Edmonton) to my school (Seba Beach School) listening to the radio, when I heard about Commander Hadfield. Hadfield is a Canadian Astronaut, who is currently living in space aboard ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34. He is also expected  to be the Commander of Expedition 35. The commander is also Orbiting Earth on ISS. O.k. so this is not an amazing News Flash, however the broadcast mentioned that the commander was tweeting.

He was tweeting what he was doing, he was tweeting what he was seeing and he was posting pictures of what he was seeing. This now impressed me, especially as an educator. The Commander was providing the world with a chronological account of what he was seeing and when. Talk about an educators dream come true. Real life, real time pictures from space. This however was not the limit of what Hadfeild was doing. It was commented that Hadfield was responding to tweets by students and educators and answering questions about his life, adventures and experiences in space.

As an educator in the 21st century this was and is profound to be able to learn about geography, current events, social studies, current events, space and astronomy in the moment. Not reading a text, not seeing pictures that have been processed and in a paper or text, but to learn from an individual that is experiencing it first hand and in the moment. What I would have done to have this when I was a student and upon reflection I can truly say that my motivation for learning some of the curriculum in school would have be so much more if learning had been like this.

I have heard many arguments about the use of Twitter in education. These conversations are both for and against. I would not say that Twitter is going create a fundamental change in a students learning, but I will say that it will make a change in how students learn, what is available to students and teachers as well depending on the resource the quality of the resource being used. What I am saying is that using Twitter in the classroom would be a valuable tool for teachers, students and administrators.

I encourage teachers to check out and follow Commander Hadfield, and that if it applies to your class and what they are covering to connect with him and ask him questions, you never know the door and conversations that it could open up.

Changes, even small ones are noticed.

Recently I had completed a post that shed light about a decision I had made at Seba Beach which changed our options program as well provided some insight into how the schools in the western end of Parkland School Division were working together to provide more opportunities for our students.

On October the 4th, The Stony Plain Report/ Enquirer made a visit to Seba Beach when all of the schools were present for the WEST options, and rather than try to summarize what was said I have just pasted the article here of you to see.

W.E.S.T. Option benefits multiple schools

http://storage.canoe.ca/v1/dynamic_resize/sws_path/suns-prod-images/1297305850509_AUTHOR_PHOTO.jpg?quality=80&size=38x&stmp=1346343111552

By Lee Butler

Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:39:40 MDT AM

Entwistle School Principal Les Worthington and Seba Beach School Principal Shawn Ram stand proudly in the Seba Beach shop class. Seba Beach is home to the W.E.S.T. Option program which also includes Wabamun School and Tomahawk School.

ChangePARKLAND PARKLAND COUNTY – The Wabamun, Entwistle, Seba Beach and Tomahawk schools have continued their W.E.S.T. Option program into the 2012-2013 school year.

The initiative gives students in each of the schools a diverse variety of education and helps form a sense of community within the Parkland County School Division.

Seba Beach School serves as the main hub of the project, due to its bigger size and array of academic amenities.

Seba Beach Principal Shawn Ram explained how the W.E.S.T. Option is increasing learning opportunities for all of the schools involved.

“It provides more opportunities for the students of each school. Seba Beach used to be a full high school so we were fitted with a full shop, kitchen and home economics lab. This allows for the other three schools to come in and have some of those options that they’re going to see when they get to Memorial Composite in Stony Plain,” said Ram.

The program has been running for half a decade, with the Tomahawk School re-joining the fold last year.

It opens the doors to rural students who are picking up real-world skills from farms and acreages. W.E.S.T. Option gives them a format to apply these skills so they are properly trained and also prepared for higher levels through high school.

“It gives them an insight when it comes to career choices, especially the junior highs. They’ll be looking at things like woods, cooking, outdoor sports, first-nations, music and robotics. So the gambit is there for what can be taught,” Ram explained.

Entwistle Principal Les Worthington has seen first-hand enthusiasm from his own students about the W.E.S.T. Option initiative.

“For our kids it’s super unique and for our kids the buy-in is huge. They know it’s a unique opportunity that a lot of kids won’t get,” said Worthington.

W.E.S.T. Option allows for instructors to collaborate together. They share ideas and strategies during their time together and build lasting relationships within the school division.

Students are able to build a sense of community between the four schools that will last far into their high school years.

“It is unique for schools to come together to do a set of options. This also allows for familiarity between students and the different administrations. They know we’re administrators, and they’re comfortable talking to any of us throughout the year. If we see them in town or at sports games, we’re not unfamiliar. It brings a sense of community for the kids by coming together it shows them they’re still the W.E.S.T.,” said Ram.

Worthington is excited to give his students an opportunity they wouldn’t receive without the combined efforts of each school.

His students have been optimistic and positive about their new opportunities, even though the commute can take a fair amount of time.

“They see the bigger picture that they’re part of Parkland School Division and not just part of one small rural school. They’re part of the bigger vision and this gives them the opportunity to see that. The school division wants to provide them with as many opportunities as they can. Although the bus ride may be a little bit lengthy, it’s worth it for the opportunities that they have,” said Worthington.

lee.butler@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @Lee_RepEx1