Sunday 16 August 2015

The 100 Day Project

Lessons from #The100DayProject

Back in March, Tina Zita invited a few people to join her in creating something every day for 100 days and sharing it on Instagram. Here are a few things that I have learned about the project and about myself.

I Learned that I am Still Impulsive – As soon as Tina asked, I said I would paint a painting every day


I Should Have Chosen Something Less Time Consuming. In the evenings after work I painted. Every day. For 100 days.  I didn’t read or watch t.v. (except for Game of Thrones) and there were times when my family thought that the project and I were irritating.

I Learned that ‘Real’ sharing takes guts. A lot of social media sharing is ‘The Best Of’ … the best of vacations/accomplishments/ scenery/ etc. but this project meant pressing share even when I thought the painting was ugly/gross/garbage/terrible    NOT ‘The Best of’ myself. Sharing something I’m not proud of was (and is) difficult.

There really is No Accounting for TasteOne of the biggest surprises was that some people liked the paintings that I thought were awful and some people didn’t like the ones that I liked.  Hmmmm.

If The Purpose of Sharing Art is to Elicit a Response –  then my project was a success. Even if it was only for a split second and whether they liked it or hated it - my daily painting caused a few people on Instagram to think. That is pretty cool.

If The Purpose of Creating Art is to Enjoy the Process – then I am a success. Creating is where I find flow. Where I can toil away for hours and end up with nothing but lessons on what I did wrong. Once, I grew a pumpkin from a seed and then made a pie out of it. It was terrible. I never tried it again because I learned that it was easier, cheaper, faster and tastier to buy a ready-made pumpkin pie at the store. But I’m proud of my attempt at the pie and I’m proud of myself for committing and completing the 100 Day Project. Whether it is painting, planting a new garden, coming up with a new lesson for school or making a pie - I enjoy making stuff  - even when it doesn’t turn out the way I expected.

Camaraderie is a Gift -   The group of Peel educators who participated in this project alongside me became a wonderful part of my daily life.  I looked forward to seeing their posts each day, their support was vital in helping me stick it out for the 100 days and I am proud to call each one of them a friend. Please follow them on Instagram and read about their thoughts on the project via the links to their blogs below.

Tina Zita -  Blog   -  Instagram 

Natalie Schneider -  Blog    -  Instagram 

Susan Campo  - Blog - Instagram

Jim Cash - Blog     - Instagram

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Blog Hop - What Does 21st Century Learning Mean to Me?

What Does 21st Century Learning Mean to Me?

Over the past few weeks there has been some Twitter discussion about what 21st century teaching and learning is. Below you will find some graphics on what it means to me today (I hope you can see them on your particular device). More importantly, please check out the links at the bottom of the page to read the posts from some great #Peel21st thinkers. 

Please check out the links to the following blogs and follow them on Twitter.

Susan Campo @susancampo
Jim Cash @cashjim
Greg Pearson @vptechnodork
Phil Young @_PhilYoung
James Nunes @jameseliasnunes
Donald Campbell @libramlad
Ken Dewar Bestbefore2030
Graham Whisen @grahamwhisen
Lynn Filliter @assessmentgeek
Alicia Quennell @AliciaQuennell
Jonathan So @MrSoClassroom
Jim Blackwood @jimmyblackwood
Jason Richea @jrichea
Tina Zita @tina_zita
George Couros @gcouros
Sean Coroza @SRCoroza 

Tuesday 16 September 2014

#Peel21st Blog Hop - Cool Tools for School

On Twitter, several #Peel21st folks were discussing their favourite digital tools and tools that they were planning on exploring this year. @tina_zita came up with the great idea for everyone who was interested to write a blog post and link those posts into this #Peel21st Blog Hop.  Please check the other blog posts linked at the bottom of this page after you read my post titled:

PUPPET PALS2 - Not Just for Primary

As the new Teacher-Librarian in my school, I wanted my orientation sessions to grab the attention of our junior students and teachers who already know the "Library Rules" but who might not already know that the possibilities are endless when you pair up with a Teacher-Librarian :)

I used a variety of my favourite digital tools and a few new ones to review the Library Routines. The new-to-me digital tool that I found most interesting was the free version of Puppet Pals. Many FDK teachers recommend this app, but I hadn't tried it until last week. Here is my first take - but I will warn you that it isn't very good.

Now the best thing about my attempt not being very good was that it prompted a lot of discussion with the grade 4s and 5s. In addition, the students were eager to come up with one important library rule or routine and create a digital text that I could share with students in lower grades.Many thought that my video would be too creepy for younger children and gave evidence from the text (creepy music, Abraham Lincoln in a police car was weird, Abe's voice was creepy). Others mentioned that the changes in music helped to set the tone for 'happy' kids and 'serious' man. Some students mentioned that the free version didn't offer multicultural choices and that they couldn't choose a character that looked like they did. They critiqued the movement of the car going through the bodies and were very serious when listing success criteria.

Not only were students engaged, they were demonstrating the expectations outlined in the Language Curriculum Overview for Grades 4-6:

The expectations for Grades 4 to 6 focus on students’ ability to use their knowledge
and skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and representing to 
understand, critically analyse, and communicate a broad range of information
and ideas from and about their multicultural, multimedia environment. 

It is pretty exciting and powerful to see how digital tools can enhance teaching, learning, creativity, communication, collaboration, citizenship, character and critical thinking.

Puppet Pals 2 for the iPad is easy to use - just pick a setting and character(s) and record voice(s) while animating the character(s) using simple gestures. Finished videos can quickly be saved to the camera roll and shared in a variety of ways or exported to iMovie for editing. With the paid version, you can use your own photos and you have access to a larger variety of characters.

A Parent & Teacher Guide can be found here.

Please visit the rest of the Blog Hop Posts below

Notability by Phil Young

Pocket by Greg Pearson 

NFB StopMo by Graham Whisen 

Code .or by Erica Armstrong

Scratch Jr. by James Cash 

Educreations by Matthew Oldridge 

IFTTT by Jason Richea 

Photo Editor by Aviary by Tina Zita

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Please Bring Your Anger to the Carpet

Monday June 2, 2014

“Please bring your ANGER to the carpet.”

Yes, I said that today. Some students giggled while others were serious, but they all came to the carpet carrying their anger.

Earlier, we read and discussed the book Anh’s Anger written by Gail Silver. We looked closely at the mixed-media collages by illustrator Christiane Kromer and came up with some success criteria that students would keep in mind while creating a representation of their own anger using wallpaper samples, fabric, glue, yarn makers and paint.

cover.JPG  success criteria.jpg

At the carpet, students presented their anger and asked for questions, comments and feedback. Here are some samples:

anger 6.JPG

Q - Why does it only have one eye?

A - I wanted it to look scary.

Comment: It’s also a fact that when people are angry it’s harder for them to see right or to think clear.
anger 5.JPG

Comment  - I like the sweater you weaved for your anger and the red in your background.

Response -  Thanks, I’m not finished yet.

Comment: My anger is hot and itchy too.
anger 9.JPG

Q - Why doesn’t your anger have a face?

A - It has one inside. It is tied up really tight right now in a blanket but then all of a sudden it explodes and breaks the string and freaks out.

Comment -  Maybe your anger should count to ten and fix the problem instead of exploding.

Response - Yeah, but it can’t talk very good when it is mad.

anger 4.JPG

Feedback: Maybe you could give it some arms.

Response: It doesn’t have arms so it can’t hit anyone. I gave it a big mouth and nose instead so it can breathe deep and count to ten instead of hitting.

It is so important to give learners of all ages the time and opportunity to create, to talk, to share, and to question. I keep reminding myself not to rush. Taking time gives us the chance to think more deeply about a topic, allows us to learn from and about each other,  and about ourselves. 

Next Steps: Continue to read, write,  talk, question and create as we explore other emotions and let students choose to write or record a collaborative text about one or more emotions (fiction or nonfiction).

Sunday 13 April 2014

That Teacher

How many Tweets do you read that get you thinking? This morning I happened upon a #sunchat Tweet - I wasn't participating in the chat and didn't follow @LorraineKehler   but it was a RT of her Tweet that led me to read through #sunchat to think about characteristics of "THAT Teacher" and to put together this Storify. You'll see @LorraineKehler 's wise words at the end.

Saturday 22 February 2014


Over the holidays, one of the books that I read was Focus by Daniel Goleman. I was looking forward to this because his book Emotional Intelligence was excellent.   I was also interested in Focus because of the classroom implications. 
Edutopia has a nice article and a video playlist of the key ideas from the book. This video, on Breathing Buddies really got me thinking about how I might be able to utilize this with my students.

I started sewing up these Breathing Buddies for students to use, and then I realized that it would be SO much better if students sewed their own. Afterall, sewing a button is a good skill for everyone to have----- plus students would probably be more engaged when creating their own buddies.

We started by learning how to thread a needle and sew ------ up and down, up and down ------ on a paper plate. 

Students then drew a circle, rectangle and triangle pattern on a paper plate and sewed around the perimeter of each shape (a math connection). Next, students chose their felt colour(s) and the buttons that would make the cutest, strangest or scariest face depending on student preference. After making choices, it was time to sew on the button eyes. Threading the needle and sewing on the paper plate had been great practice for students.

There was some frustration - and that was ok! We were discussing strategies that we could use when we get frustrated. We talked about how anger, sadness, frustration, fear and joy were all normal emotions. We also had discussions about how we don't always make the best decisions when we are angry or frustrated, so we all have to have strategies to help us calm down.

Here are some of the Breathing Buddies or Calming Creatures as some students named them. The idea is to put the buddy on your belly and take a slow breath that is big enough to inflate your belly like a balloon so the buddy rises up - then you slowly breathe out so the buddy doesn't fall off your belly. After your buddy rises and falls 5-10 times, we all decided that we felt more calm and relaxed.


apologies about the misalignment of the pictures....something is not working correctly :(

Reader's Theater Part 1

To introduce grade 2 students to Reader's Theater, we started with a Read Aloud of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieska and watched an example of how this book was performed as Reader's Theater.

After seeing the first Reader's Theatre example, we co-constructed success criteria. Despite my insistence that Reader's Theatre does not require masks, my students argued that without masks it would be very difficult for the audience to know which character was which. So we included masks. Here is the first iteration of our co-created success criteria. 

We then watched a second Reader's Theater version of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs & used our success criteria to evaluate it. Students were not impressed with the performance, but thought about new items to add to our Success Criteria List.

Next came our discussion about scripts. Everyone wanted to play the role of the Wolf, so we decided that we would do several different Reader's Theater plays, ensuring that everyone who wanted to play a wolf could do so. (They did not realize how happy I was to agree to this - more Reader's Theater = more excitement about reading, more willingness to practice at home, more discussion and more opportunity for students to see the pattern of stereotypical 'wolfness' in fairy tales.)
Knowing how important the masks were for my students, I did some searching and found this instructional video for creating a wolf mask.

Each student (even the reluctant writers) jotted down a materials list while watching the video and every student gave me specific feedback on how I could improve the sample mask that I made.

Here are a few pictures of our mask making in progress (you will also see some bird masks which are for the script is The Wolf and The Seven Birds).

Did you notice that the wolf in the middle is eating a bird? !!!!

Now that our masks are almost complete, students are rehearsing on their own and with their groups. Students playing the same part, but in a different group, have become Guided Reading groups (all Mother Birds in one group, etc.)
The student's Drama teacher was impressed with the masks and we've started discussing how we can work together to allow the students to move beyond Reader's Theatre by adding movement, props, etc.
I will post Part 2 when we have had some run-throughs. Hopefully I will get permission to post some video :)
***apologies for the picture formatting - something is not working correctly :(