Monday, 25 November 2013

The 6 C's Project - Creativity

About a week ago Tina_Zita & @MatthewOldridge asked the question:

"How do we measure creativity,
critical thinking, communication, or any of the 6 C's of 21st Century Learning
without a clear understanding of what we are hoping to
Jason Richea and I decided to join Tina and Matthew in taking on the task of defining the 6 C's, beginning with creativity. You can read all of our original input here. The next step was coming up with a 6 word definition.
My assessment hat seemed to be glued on. I kept coming up with success criteria for a creative product. Then, I got stuck on the 6 word limit. While blow drying my hair this morning I wondered if I could get around the 6 word limit by using symbols - and I pictured something. When I got to school I tried to create it  - ahhh, no Photoshop! So I quickly drew this (those are hands holding a brain, which represents imagination).
  I painted at recess. 

At the Tim Horton's drive thru at lunch I finally came up with my 6 word definition and went back to school to put this together.

Driving home, I wasn't satisfied. The hands were too stagnant - they should be transforming something! (and now I see that I wrote trasnforming - oops). Even though I liked that it was a visual representation & used symbols, my definition really called for some movement. I got the Play-Doh out and borrowed my husband's hands and filmed a quick Vine. Wasn't happy with it. So we tried something else and experienced audio problems. Finally, we came up with this:

It is still not exactly what I wanted, but it makes me laugh.

Creativity: transforming imagination into new, relevant products.

Please visit:

Jason Richea's blog at and follow him on Twitter @jrichea

Tina Zita's blog at and follow her on Twitter @tina_zita

and follow Matthew Oldridge @MatthewOldridge

Join the conversation & let us know how you define CREATIVITY and the 5 other C's

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bullying, Violence, Pictures Books - Oh My!

This week our school is doing several activities for Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month.

In class today, I read I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_.jpg

I thought it would be great because I've been hearing a lot of 'somebody took my.....' and because it might help prompt some discussion about the difference between bullying and conflict and how we can Stand Up rather than Stand By. Our slogan has been Choose Action.

At the point in the book where the bear realizes who has his hat - several students started chanting

"fight, fight, fight"

I was quite taken back. These are seven year olds who thought that the bear should solve his problem with violence - despite the fact that we'd just watched a video and talked about 'choosing nonviolent responses'.

Some of the chanters said "but that's how we solve things in hockey" & "the bear has to make sure that the rabbit doesn't do it again - he has to stand up and not stand by".


This book has won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. I've read it before, but didn't understand the book the same way that some of my grade 2 students did.

After some more discussion, I finished the story. Well, the chanting group loved it and cheered loudly. They were able to infer (because it isn't explicitly stated) that the bear ate the rabbit.

"See Mrs. Axiak - the bear didn't just Stand By - he CHOSE ACTION".

Not only does the bear eat the rabbit - he lies about it.

Once again, the lesson I planned for my students turned into some lessons for me, such as

- read more critically, think critically about the author's message & try to imagine how a group of 7 year olds might understand the book/lesson & many more!

Update: Today we went on a walking trip to the public library. The librarian read the book That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems

SPOILER ALERT*** The duck boils the wolf and makes soup for the ducklings.

There is a lot of talk about the violence in video games that kids play 'these days', but now that I'm seeing stories through the eyes of seven-year-old students, I'm noticing a lot of violence used in the service of sending a message.

As an adult, I guess I've been getting the messages without thinking critically about the way that the message is delivered, or the way that younger children might interpret the message differently than I do. I survived the violent stories of my childhood, like Little Red Riding Hood (wolf tries to eat girl but gets chopped to pieces by a huntsman with an axe) and The 3 Little Pigs (who almost get killed by wolf but then they boil him alive), etc. and I 'turned out alright', but I'll definitely be reading children's books more critically from now on.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Specific Feedback

After reading some books and watching a few short videos about Remembrance Day, students noticed that poppies, Peace Doves, crosses and soldiers were the most prominent symbols associated with this important day.

At home, I made a batch of salt dough and sculpted a quick salt-dough Peace Dove. My 23 year-old daughter said "It looks like a baby seal with bad wings". It is true.

In our grade 2 class, we have been giving and using specific feedback across all areas of the curriculum. This dove/seal provided another opportunity 1) for me to model an openness to feedback 2) for students to see that giving and accepting specific feedback helps everyone improve, and 3) for students to think about details and success criteria before beginning a task.

When I showed them the seal/dove, many were delighted and gave me positive feedback. When I told them what my daughter had said, showed them a picture of a real dove as well as several excellent examples of dove sculptures on Google images, and asked them to be critical and to help me improve my next dove. They gave me very this feedback:

Students were then given their own salt dough and began sculpting. Some students were frustrated because they weren't able to get the results that they could see in their minds. Many students created their dove and then kneaded the dough back into a ball to start over - again and again. Some students used pencils and other tools at their desks to create details in the dough.

When students finished their doves and wanted to know what I thought, I reminded them that I wasn't the expert - that the students were the ones who gave me great pointers, so they should ask at least 2 of their peers to give them feedback.

Here are just a few of the doves that are waiting to be dried and then painted.


Throughout the process we have been making mistakes, solving problems together, communicating effectively, getting frustrated and then demonstrating resilience. On Thursday, when it was time to paint, we encountered even more frustrations - a few of the doves were damaged and a few people were unhappy with their work. Most students painted their doves but not everyone was happy with the results.

Despite the icky feeling of dried salt dough on our hands, the mess we have to clean, and the many frustrations we have encountered - students asked if we could start again from the beginning on Monday.

I'm not encouraging perfectionism - I'm encouraging students to care about their work, to not give up when things go wrong, to accept & give help ...... many of the 6 C's associated with 21st Century skills.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Creating Galimotos

Product Details
This week in our grade 2 class, we read Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams. I posted the Reading Rainbow episode on our class web page so that parents could watch it with their child.
The class came up with a definition for galimoto - a toy vehicle made of wire. I explained to the class that I had purchased 600 pipe cleaners so that everyone could make their own galimoto, but we had to figure out how many pipe cleaners each student should receive. This could be a difficult question for grade 2 students, but we've been working on problem solving and students were up for the challenge. Many students drew pictures to solve the problem, others counted by 20s since there are 20 students in the class, and a few students were able to solve the problem with division.
When we reflected on the book and the activities, most students agreed that building their galimoto was the best part. They said it was difficult - but fun. Getting pipe cleaners to take the shape of a vehicle required a lot of creative problem solving. I'm so proud of how they worked together to solve problems and the best part was that they didn't give up.
After building their galimoto, students took a photograph of their work and then used the Skitch app to label their photo.

Next week, we will be comparing our galimotos to a variety of toy vehicles in our work on Movement in Science. We will also be writing about our favourite toys and talking about how our toys are different than the toys that Kondi plays with.