Simon Sinek could define school as a finite game that you choose to play. It has an agreed set of rules that must be followed to win. Do the work. Pass the test. Win with good grades. Graduate. Gordon, Renee and I were taking the win as we traipsed across the stag. However, Life is an infinite game. There is not an agreed upon set of rules. How do you know if you’re winning?
Teachers have a special role in helping students to meet with success at school. Teachers hone a skill set that takes their own personal interests and desire to teach children while focusing on ways to develop the skills for students to win at life. This includes engaging in learning, developing healthy relationships, demonstrating resilience in the face of loss, and the flexibility and thinking skills to cope with change. If the teacher is from British Columbia, they are challenged to consider how content can be used to develop core competencies (thinking, communicating, personal/ social) to succeed in the requirements of daily personal and social life, currently defined jobs and those jobs that will emerge as possibilities in the future.
The most basic premise of self-regulation is the ability to manage your own emotions. Accomplishing this task is the very basis of success in every aspect of life. The flight or fight response is a basic instinct in animals in response to perceived danger. This response is helpful to human beings when faced by a predator. However, this response is not at all helpful in resolving conflicts with peers or persevering to solve a difficult math equation. Teaching children to regulate their emotions, allows them to take control of the response of the reptilian brain to fight or run, and use strategies to calm down. Only when students are calm, are they able to problem solve and learn effectively. Dr Stuart Shanker isolates five domains of self-regulation:
Considering the strengths and areas for development in all of these five domains requires a different approach to writing curriculum, teaching and reporting student learning to parents. The old rules of playing the game included defining a specific body of information to memorize, testing to demonstrate mastery and grades to rank performance. The playing field has broadened and so have the rules and the complexity of the game. The intention of reporting student learning is to provide a teacher perspective about learning at a specific point in time that incorporates student voice.
Areas of strength are presented and often reflect student enthusiasm and focused attention. Areas for further growth may reflect a need for repetition and practice, persistence, or use of strategies to focus attention. Including the ways to support the student in developing the weaker areas or nurture burgeoning talents, keeps us responsible to attending to the specific needs of each child. The ultimate goal is for the teacher, child and families to engage in celebration and goal setting in response to this information.
The British Columbia Ministry of Education mandates a minimum or five reports to parents. The intention is to take into consideration the diverse ways that teachers engage parents in participating in the learning of their child. It capitalizes on the research by John Hattie et al. that emphasizes improved student learning when parents are involved. Conferences, formal report cards, celebrations of learning, phone calls, interim reports, notes home, and student agendas are all possible ways that teachers structure communication to involve parents in the learning of their child. If you still have questions, call the teacher. They undoubtedly will have more to say.
Educational change is an exciting topic with he promise of many pro-active, positive changes in educational systems around the world. I am working with secondary teachers at Royal Bridge Education Group in Coquitlam today. We will be engaging in learning about educational change and responding to the ideas using strategies and tools to engage learners in other contexts. I will be encouraging participants to set up a Twitter Account and respond to the ideas and the strategies and tools on a Twitterchat @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange #bcedchat with a corresponding A(nswer)1 if a Q(uestion)1 is asked. It would be great if interested blog readers also participated.
I will be providing front-end loading about educational change, in both global and British Columbia contexts.
Enter provide your feedback in our TwitterChat @CarrieFroese #edchange #edchat
In our discussions of educational change, I will be focusing on the following thinkers and content from a number of sources. The following links provide some extension materials to supplement materials presented in class and to provoke deep thinking.
Inquire2Empower The Indigenous Voice carriefroese.wordpress.com
John Hattie and Helen Timperley
Making learning visible with John Hattie – Know Thy Impact
The Research of John Hattie
In 2009 Professor John Hattie published Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. This groundbreaking book synthesized the findings from 800 meta-analysis of 50,000 research studies involving more than 150 million students and it built a story about the power of teachers and of feedback, and constructed a model of learning and understanding by pointing out what works best in improving student learning outcomes.
Since then, John Hattie has continued to collect and aggregate meta-analyses to the Visible Learning database. His latest dataset synthesizes more than 1,600 meta-analyses of more than 95,000 studies involving more than 300 million students. This is the world’s largest evidence base into what works best in schools to improve learning.
The Power of Feedback – A PowToon explaining the ideas of John Hattie and Helen Timperley with respect to providing feedback to learners.
David Istance /The OECD – The 7 Principles of Learning
OECD – Centre for Educational Research and Innovation – The Nature of Learning (2010) – Using Research to Inspire Practice, Edited by Hanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides / Practitioner’s Guide (2012)
A variety of strategies, processes and tools will be used to prompt learner engagement with the materials and support collaborative practices in class. They may include the following. We will be discussing the possible teaching applications for these strategies, tools, and processes. All ideas are welcomed @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange
Welcome. As a member of the VSB, I would like to acknowledge that we live, work and play on the unceded and traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Coast Salish peoples. We are fortunate to be nestled in the Pacific Spirit Park and in walking distance of the beach. Teachers and students are able to explore how learning indoors can be consolidated through outdoor learning experiences, and also how learning experiences outdoors can be consolidated indoors. Questions generated are authentic and the learning is vibrant.
Our school currently welcomes 330 students from Kindergarten (5 years old prior to Dec. 31, 2018) to Grade 5 (10 and 11 year olds) in 15 classrooms. Our student tour leaders are delighted to be able to show you around our school and encourage you to ask lots of questions. The following challenges are to help you engage with our students and staff to understand some of the priorities at our University Hill Elementary School. The staff and students touring you around the school will be able to give you some understanding of the history, our peer helpers program, Indigenous teaching and breaking down the barrier between learning outdoors and learning indoors.
Parents of students in British Columbia sign a media release if they consent to their child’s picture being taken for the school website or blogs. We understand that photos allow you to remember many good ideas that you will be seeing today. Please be respectful and do not include student faces in your photos.
The following challenges have been designed to help you better understand the British Columbia Curriculum and it’s implementation at our school. Information to meet these challenges can be derived during your school tour and visits to the classroom. Some organizational information:
Please divide yourselves into five groups for your school tour. Students leaders have prepared tours for small groups.
Most classrooms are open for visitors. If it is not a good day, please respect the sign that says “No Visitors today, please.”
A maximum of 3-5 visitors are welcome into classroom at one time.
Several teachers will be joining you at lunch to tell you about their programs, the learning community and answer any questions you may have about our school.
The OECD has pointed out that the rapid advances in ICT have resulted in a global shift to economies based on knowledge, and an emphasis on the skills required to thrive in them. At the same time empirical research on how people learn, how the mind and brain develop, how interests form, and how people differ has expanded the sciences of learning. The result is that the educational community is now “rethinking what is taught, how it is taught and how learning is assessed”.
The OECD’s work on innovative learning environments was led byHanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides. Their 2010 report “The Nature of Learning” identified seven principles of learning:
Learners at the centre
The social nature of learning
Emotions are central to learning
Recognizing individual differences
Stretching all students
Assessment for learning
Building horizontal connections
Challenge 2 – Engage in a conversation surrounding the Spirals questions.
The Spirals of Inquiry by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser lists three questions that will find helpful in engaging with students and staff. Students are encouraged to look closely, notice details and ask questions to encourage learning in all aspects of their lives. Many staff are involved in inquiry projects to explore their professional questions. Vice principals and principals in the VSB are using these questions to guide their professional growth plans.
What are you learning and why is it important?
How is it going with your learning?
What are your next steps?
Challenge 3: Note the development of core competencies in the classroom. The New Curriculum: You will note that competencies and concept-based curriculum are intertwined with learning standards in B.C.’s New Curriculum. Core Competencies have become the focus of learning and they use content to develop the three main areas:
Creative and Critical Thinking Skills
Personal and Social skills
Challenge 4: Find examples of Student Voice and Competency Based Assessment The new curriculum has shifted the focus from summative assessment to formative assessment. Students are encouraged to identify their starting point and formulate a plan for growth. The focus has shifted from a deficit model to “I Can” statements. Students are invited to be active participants in determining how they learn and planning for growth in skills, strategies, and collaborative practices.
Challenge 5: The Canadian Experience – Note examples in the school of how students are being introduced to the role of Indigenous populations played in the development of Canada and our perceptions of Canadian identity.
Wab Kinew, hip hop artist, author, broadcaster, politician, Ojibwe activist, and leader of the NDP Party in Manitoba, has said “Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand what they share unites them and what is different about them needs to be respected.” Authentic reconciliation happens when people develop relationships with one another.
Challenge 5: Identify several different types of learning spaces and the types of competencies being developed in those spaces.
We have several options for student learning at UHill Elementary School. Supervision is required in all spaces. Classroom teachers work with SSA’s (Education Assistants), Resource teachers, the principal and students to explore possibilities to maximize student learning in a variety of spaces and places.
The Classroom – indoor and outdoor spaces
Outside Learning Spaces
The Readers Writing Garden (outside)
The We Are One Rock Circle (outside)
The Soccer Fields or basketball court (outside)
The Buddy Bench (outside)
Collaboration Spaces outside classrooms
Foyer in the main entrance
The Starry Night Room / Room painted yellow
The Garden Room – currently the in residence program, Project Chef, is in this room
The Main Foyer
The Learning Lab / Maker Space Room
Active Learning Room (ALR) / room painted white
Ready Bodies Learning Minds
Peer helpers Program, a Grade 5 Leadership Program, at 11:45 am facilitated by The Community School Team
Places to Self Calm, work quietly independently, with a partner or small group
Peace Pod / room painted blue and decorated with saris
The Think Space – in the Office area
Challenge 6: Breaking Down the Barriers: Identify examples where learning outdoors is brought into the classroom and where indoor learning is brought outdoors.
The places where we live and grow impact our experiences and our perceptions. Living in a temperate rainforest, attending school in the Pacific Spirit Park, and walking down to Acadia Beach impacts the knowledge our students are developing but also how they self regulate.
I am a big fan of Twitter to keep parents informed about what is happening at the school by posting updates and pertinent information @UHillElementary and to further my own professional learning @CarrieFroese
The implementation of the New Curriculum in British Columbia has garnered a lot of attention throughout the world. Our population is made up of Canadians, immigrants and refugees from many different places, with many different schooling traditions. In my little school of only 328 students, we have 34 home languages. Yet what we are doing to prepare our students for the demands of the 21st Century is bringing good results.
Students are encouraged to ask the key questions laid out so effectively by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser in The Spirals of Inquiry.
Where am I now in my learning?
Where am I going next?
What do I need to get there?
Suzanne Hoffman, Superintendent, Learning Transformation, Ministry of Education emphasizes the significance of “unveiling the hidden curriculum” by deliberately teaching and assessing core competencies. Deliberate instruction and reflection of communication, thinking and personal / social responsibility skills have the power to transform lives of our students (SAHoffman, Nov. 15, 2017). Mandatory self assessment demonstrates that core competencies are important enough to be measured and help students to learn about themselves as learners, to develop the skills required for collaboration and to supports the creation meaningful goals.
Aside from the students themselves, teachers have the most significant impact on the students in their classrooms. Teachers in British Columbia have a high level of professionalism. They are well educated and have regular access to professional development and opportunities for collaboration. As John A.C. Hattie aptly states in Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning ” (2013) “…those teachers who are students of their own impact, are the teachers who are the most influential in raising students’ achievement.” By making learning intentions explicit, teachers help their students to learn intended learning outcomes, as well as the strategies of how to learn. The development of scoring rubrics with students or a review of criteria prior to assignments or marking, helps students to understand expectations and plan their time. The challenge for teachers is to determine those strategies and practices that will enable students to ask complex questions, problem solve, work collaboratively and persevere to find answers and discover future possibilities.
In the new curriculum students are given far more responsibility for their own learning. One rationale is to improve student engagement in school. Another is to create students who will be able to respond to the demands of the 21st century. My son works as a designer in Lululemon’s “Whitespace” with engineers, scientists and technologists. Beyond the frosted glass and carded access, he is researching how clothes impact physical performance and the mental and emotional perception of athletic ability. The goal is to respond to trends, create markets and tailor sports clothing for 4-10 years down the road. To our amazement as his parents, the childhood fascination with lego, trials riding, downhill riding, skiing, snowboarding and the construction of death defying jumps were the things that provided some of the rudimentary learning required for the job. We can’t predict all of the jobs in the future, but the new curriculum sets out to enable students to ask and respond to tough questions and learn through engagement in the things they find fascinating. Students are now responsible for assuming responsibility for their learning, engaging with peers to learn cooperatively and participating in evaluating their progress.
In the not so distant past, teachers aspired to be a fountain of knowledge and rushed in to speed up the process of answering questions or finishing explanations expeditiously. Jon Saphier, recently featured in a Webinar sponsored by Corwin (Nov. 13, 2017), suggested three ways to make learning visible and deeper: Turn and talk. Explain. Restate. In the new Curriculum, we want students to take the time to think about difficult problems, to be comfortable being stuck, to engage in dialogue, to ask peers to explain their thinking, and to persevere until they discover their answers.
The shift from summative to formative assessment is necessary to assist students in this new role. In order for our students to take more responsibility for their learning, they require ongoing feedback embedded in their daily instruction. The focus is not on one letter grade but movement along a continuum to demonstrate growth in student learning. The initial response was the development of paper based portfolios that allowed students to self select items to demonstrate learning outcomes. The accessibility of technology has added several other layers and possibilities with the addition of pictures, videos and attachments with comment.
The Surrey School District has been using FreshGrade for the past four years to facilitate the collection of online portfolios to provide what Sir Ken Robinson calls “a continuous glimpse into each child’s progress that parents and students can share”. It is one of the possible online applications that BC teachers like for the ease of use by young children and the inclusion of BC Performance standards. The VSB is currently exploring how Office365 can be used in conjunction with various applications to fascilitate learning, store and showcase student work from entry in Kindergarten to graduation in Grade 12. All school districts in British Columbia are developing reporting directives for implementation in September 2018 that will mesh with the new curriculum.
Reporting has always included the aspect of what students are able to do, the areas that require future attention and the ways of supporting students. The opportunities introduced by implementation of the new curriculum in British Columbia are the source of many conversations with colleagues, students and parents about how our system in British Columbia can become even better. Let the learning continue…
National and international assessments measure reading, math and science skills of B.C. students. Various age ranges participate and student achievement levels are compared with other provinces or countries.
Walking along Jericho Beach as a little girl, this piece of wood screamed “brain” to me. This was long before the fascination with the brain had extended beyond neuroscientists and doctors, to psychologists, to educators, to anyone aging and fearing cognitive decline. The brain held secrets that were not readily apparent to the naked eye. It was the also the basis of the best bonding with my neurosurgeon father.
Dr. Peter Dyck is not a man who relished talk of feelings, hopes, dreams, aspirations or divergent opinions. However he has always been an example of the consummate learner. He survived war times in Germany. When he was 12 years old, he was sponsored to come to Canada with his mother and siblings by his uncle in Alberta. He learned English and excelled in school. He ended up working on his step-fathers farm in Abbotsford while attending school. When a cow would die, he did not shed a tear. He would dissect it behind the barn. My aunt boiled many a chicken bones so he could reassemble them. When I would go on rounds with him during summer visits to Los Angeles, the nurses would run when they heard his footsteps. He was demanding of staff and took patient care very seriously. Dad became fascinated with the possibility of destroying, rather than removing a brain tumour by using a local anaesthetic and a three dimensional C/T scanner to avoid the trauma of opening the skull. Radioactive material in a small tube was targeted through a tiny hole in the skull into the centre of the brain tumour. The concentration used would result in the radioactivity reaching only the tumour cells. A team was formed including him as the neurosurgeon, Armand Bouzaglou, the radiation oncologist and Livia Bohman, the radiologist, to travel to Germany in 1981 to study the technique for stereotactic isotope implantation with Professor Fritz Mundinger at the University of Freiburg. This technique was brought back to the USA and his first book about it’s success in avoiding the trauma of a full craniotomy was dedicated to the patients whose hope against overwhelming odds brought about this endeavour.
Not even neuroscientists agree on the inner workings of the brain. However asking a question and our attitude seem to be the key components informing our brain and resulting in amazing accomplishments and sometimes survival. Viktor Frankl’s answer to his question, “Why do I need to survive?” allowed him to walk out of Auschwitz and go on to develop his theory of logotherapy, write his influential book, Man’s Search for Meaning, and help many people find a way to cope with the challenges in their lives. Norman Doidge details many examples of therapies that have allowed the brain to heal in ways that are still outside of mainstream medical practice in The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity . John J. Ratey, MD, in his book SPARK – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, provides a compelling argument as to why exercise is integral to our ability to cope with stress, learn, as well as maintain good mental and physical health. The brain is central in all facets of our lives yet understanding how it works is still somewhat elusive.
Educators, such as Eric Jensen started to focus educators’s attention on Teaching with the Brain in Mind in the 90’s. Educators are now seriously considering the implications of what neuroplasticity means in the classroom. Previously held conceptions about the limits of some learners no longer apply, and standardized testing has become one indicator of specific learning strengths and weaknesses, but not an accurate measure of future success. Perhaps the greatest outcome has been talking to children about how their brain works and how they learn best. This puts the responsibility and joy learning with the child and allows them to move beyond just looking for a good mark on an assignment. Giving children the capacity to talk about the connections they are making in their learning and providing numerous opportunities to share their ideas and discoveries, opens up the possibilities to ask new questions and see their peers, teachers and parents as partners in a collaborative process.
Artwork by The Douglas Fir Pod (Learning Community)
Norma Rose Point School is a Kindergarten to Grade 8 School that opened 3 years ago on the original site of University Hill Secondary on the University Endowment Lands of the University of British Columbia. The School in located on Musqueam ancestral lands and named after reknowned Musqueam Elder and educational leader, Norma “Rose” Point. Students are organized into nine learning communities of two to five classes of students. Students and staff are encouraged to ask questions, work collaboratively and share their learning with peers.
The articulation of the First People’s Principles by FNESC, the surrounding land, the significance of the signing of the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement with the Vancouver School Board and the new curriculum in B.C. has opened our minds to learning about and embracing Indigenous ways of knowing. Indigenous cultures demonstrated one of the earliest expressions of democratic structures of governance by problem solving and making decisions in circles that gave equal voice and power to all people in the group. That is what we strive to do at Rose Point School.
Martin Brokenleg has been inspirational in Indigenous, as well as educational spheres. His Circle of Courage was initially framed as a model of positive youth development in the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, co-authored by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern.
As explained in the link, “The model integrates Native American philosophies of child-rearing, the heritage of early pioneers in education and youth work, and contemporary resilience research. Brokenleg et al. identify belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity as basic growth needs of all children to thrive.” (Brokenleg et al.) It has served as the basis for framing the Code of Conduct at Norma Rose Point Elementary School.
Students are challenged to think of their unique qualities and “voice” they bring to the group, as well as their responsibility to maintain the safety and nurturing aspect of the community. Indigenous symbols that are meaningful in Coast Salish Culture are used to represent the big ideas presented in the Norma Rose Point (aka NRP) Circle of Courage. Belonging is central to the definition of Community and symbolized by bear. Kindness is used to put the focus on generousness of giving of self rather than goods and is symbolized by the whale. Independence is symbolized by the dragonfly and represents our ability to take responsibility for our learning and actions. The beaver represents taking responsibility for attaining goals to maintain health, curiosity and lifelong learning.
I came to Norma Rose Point as Vice Principal in January. Of course this role includes many discussions about the whole gamut of choices made by students. The beauty of the NRP Circle of Courage is it changes the conversation. Students are able to reflect on who they are and the choices they are making and their commitment to the community. Discussion of restorative justice frames the process. The goal is to help students apply the Circle of Courage to their lives in and out of school throughout their lives.
ADDENDUM NOTE: For a powerful description of the First People’s Principles of Learning, check out Laura Tait. Her explanantion with pictures and stories of her family is inspirational.
“Honesty is the best policy” is an adage that has been kicked to the curb openly of late. The “alternative truth” is the actually emerging as “a thing”. I was brought up with several “alternative truths,” but even as a young child I identified them as nothing more than lies. I also knew that championing the truth was futile in some cases. It was better not to ask questions. However the question “why” didn’t disappear. The people that I most trusted and respected were the people who told me the truth.
The ability of the “alternative truth” to survive, depends largely on the power of the person or institution serving it up as the truth, and how desperately they strive to sustain it. However the quest for truth is an long established practice. The imagery of light is also used to explore the notion of truth, throughout many religions and social justice groups. If something can bear scrutiny, we can hopefully re-emerge better – more just, more empathetic, more inclusive, more willing to identify similarities and more willing to value differences.
The study of history and political science in university taught me how to adopt a position, create an argument and then switch sides. The facts and arguments you chose to expound or omit, allowed you to take both sides. Yet, sometimes the facts were significant enough to define the truth or reality of that time in history. There is no alternative truth. Sometimes there are just fears and insecurities that allow people in power to manipulate with Machiavellian intent. Our minds easily shift to south of the border, pre-World War II Germany or apartheid in South Africa. Our minds don’t as easily shift to our reality as Canadians. The Chinese Head Tax, the internment of the Japanese and treatment of our Indigenous people are all examples of that same Machiavellian policy that grew out of fears and insecurities. Yet, if we never explore our history, we can never understand our current realities or a path to move forward based on understanding rather than ignorance.
I had an amazing week of professional learning this week thanks to Brad Baker and his team of inspired educators from the North Vancouver School District. My friend, Latash (Maurice) Nahanee, was the first person to ever help me begin to understand the legacy of residential schools and other forms of institutionalized racism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada brought the conversation into mainstream. People such as Martin Brokenleg, DeeDee DeRose and Don Fiddler have done an amazing job of helping us to understand why Aboriginal Education is necessary for us to understand our own history and the importance of changing our relationship with Aboriginal families.
On Wednesday night, Brad Baker presented at a PDK dinner meeting for instructional leaders. He explored some of the ways how we can move beyond tokenism and engage in meaningful Aboriginal education for all of our students throughout the year. This can be a basic as including an acknowledgement that we live, work and learn on Aboriginal lands. Yes, this does mean that we need to find out who were the Aboriginal people that first lived on the lands we now inhabit. Although I grew up in Vancouver and studied history, I learned relatively recently that I grew up on the ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh.
On Friday at the Professional Learning Rep Assembly for BCPVPA (British Columbia Principal and Vice Principal’s Association), I participated in the Blanket Activity for a second time. This activity is very powerful and includes excerpts from government documents and statements from Aboriginal people. Participants begin standing on blankets that represent Turtle Island in Ontario. Blankets are manipulated or removed as the story unfolds, as are the people on them.
I participated in this activity for the first time as part of district professional development. I read passages both times, that reflected Aboriginal voice. This made both experiences very personal. However the first time I participated, I was removed from the group relatively early when land was encroached upon and my blanket was removed. From outside the circle, it became more of a cerebral experience. On Friday, I was never removed from the circle. I watched as others were lost to disease, residential schools, placed on reserves or lost status because they left the reserve. The experience remained very personal and the feeling of waiting for “my turn” ever present. I can’t imagine anyone participating in this activity and not empathizing with the fate of these participants in our collective history.
Brad Baker emphasizes when he speaks that goal of Aboriginal Education is not to inspire guilt but understanding. Laura Tait’s video about The Principles of Learning is on my repeated watch list to focus my attention on looking at the world through an Indigenous lens. The inclusion on these principles in the new BC curriculum provides a meaningful way to engage students in learning that has taken place over thousands of years. There is no “alternative truth” to what happened in our history. Let’s participate in Jan Hare’s MOOC at UBC – Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education , keep talking and and learning, and step away from judgments and thinking that obscure a respectful path forward. Most of all, to quote Brad Baker – “Go Forward with Courage!”
It all started with a suitcase on Human Rights Day on December 10, 2015. Tecumseh students were first asked to reflect on the Syrian Refugee crisis. Students wrote letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing their desire for Syrian boys and girls to live in a place without war where they could go to school in safety. They wrote heartwarming notes to Syrian refugees so they would know that Canada is a country that values human right and was welcoming to people wanting to start new chapters of their lives.
This project captured the mind and heart of Grade 5/6 teacher Marion Collins, who worked tirelessly to provide learning opportunities for teachers and students throughout the year in the spirit of the redesigned curriculum in British Columbia. With the help of a grant from Promoting a Culture of Peace for Children Society, the suitcase became a symbol of the refugee experience and a work of art welcoming individuals to add their individual voice to the multicultural expression of Canada. With the help of a grant from ReadingBC (the BC council of the International Reading Association), the writing component of the project grew to include stories and photos of the journey to Canada of Tecumseh students, clothing with messages to Syrian refugees to go in the suitcase, reflections of what students would grab if they needed to leave home in a hurry like refugees.
Last week, Science World hosted the Digital Fair of the Vancouver School Board. Grade 5/6 students presented their Graphic Novels inspired by CBC podcasts. Graphic novels featured student created Refugee Superheroes to equip Syrian refugees with the skills to cope with the experience of settling in a new Canadian home. They use captions, time labels, sounds and speech bubble to demonstrate their innovative, creative and unique style. Most of all, they continue on the spirit of welcoming that comes from children who understand the challenges and difficulties that accompany leaving your home to start a new chapter of life in another country.
Investigating Our Practice Conference in the Faculty of Education on Saturday, May 14th. The day was filled with poster presentations, talks and interactive experiences by undergraduates, grad students, faculty and alumni. It was particularly exciting to see the level of engagement of the student giving up their very sunny Vancouver Saturday to consider a range of ideas and questions. For those of you who are not Vancouverites, when the sun comes out in full glory, we go outside – never quite certain how long it will be around.
I had the pleasure of presenting The Outdoor Classroom: Taking learning and purposeful play outside, rain or shine with Claire Rushton, Alli Tufaro and Ali Nasato. We were pulled together by a common interest in the opportunity provided by outdoor learning. This one interest was able to pull together so many elements that have been embraced as key ideas in the Redesigned Curriculum in British Columbia, such as:
The social emotional benefits of engaging with nature
The natural way in which we can engage students in practicing and understanding the First Nations Principles of Learning, including:
patience and time required for learning
exploring one’s identity
everyone and everything has a story
there are consequences to our actions
Ways to engage students in cross curricular learning opportunities
Connecting classroom lessons to the larger world
Using resources in the classroom to answer our questions about observations made outdoors
Reporting back about the things we care about to authentic audiences
Of course, the list goes on. Another interesting aspect of our collaborative group was the power of inquiry in developing our professional practice as educators throughout different stages of our careers. Both student teachers have found a way to focus their professional learning throughout the practicum experience. Claire Rushton, as the coordinator of the Social Emotional Learning cohort has used the outdoors to bring Richard Louv’s work to life and introduce the power of “nature … as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life..” by integrating the experiences in nature to frame discussions of social – emotional learning. I have engaged in a personal inquiry of how to use iPad APPS (photos, Drawing Pad, Book Creator, Twitter) as a way to access information, document and share outdoor learning. I’ve also been able to support the staff I interact with on a regular basis in their own inquiries. Inquiry, as framed by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser in Spirals of Inquiry, has provided a framework for beginning teachers as well as a school administrator and university instructor. The learning has fuelled more questions and future inquiries.
I very much hope our collaboration continues…perhaps after the frenetic pace of the end of practicum, final observations and reports and end of year demands and celebrations!