Day 67: Almost the End

The classroom is cleaned out (almost), the report cards have gone home, and now we have one more day together. We have reflected, learned a little bit of next year’s curriculum, and played a few games here and there over the past week.

There is a strong sense of pride I am feeling about this year. The kids have worked so hard, it has been amazing to see the transformations. It’s funny how the 2/3 students now look like 3/4 students.

I found a small little token that I think blends a bit of everything we have done this year. I found the Minecraft construction book…I took all the copies they had left, just enough too! I am hoping this will set them up for next year as I know the grade 4 teacher is experimenting with Minecraft. 

Looking foreword to a great day tomorrow! 

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Day 65: Structured Free Choice

I’ve had those moments on the schedule when free choice is an option. I will be changing that going forward.

I can argue that during that time students can build collaborative skills or focus on an interest- I want to keep these benefits, but the name needs a revamp.

I want students to use their time to follow an interest, to learn something new, try out an idea, explore. Today I provided students with several options.

-write a story

-create a dramatic scene

-build something

-investigate the multiplication table for patterns 

The room was almost evenly split. I worked with each group and everyone was engaged. I need to try more of these structured free times…but what should I call it?

I’m open to suggestions!

Day 64: I WANT TO GO TO THERE

I’m seeing lots of exciting tweets from my Twitter family attending #ISTE2016 and to quote Tina Fey, 

“I WANT TO GO TO THERE”…

I have definitely expanded my PD this year with a few out of norm experiences. Attending an #edcamp day, speaking at #peelspark, and presenting at my family of schools primary math network. These experiences have been wonderful. I think I’m ready to leave the nest and find something out of board territory. 

Possibly a hotel room and a weekend. This year has been about stepping into my pedagogical comfort zone. I can articulate and define what I believe is my philosophy of education through the praxis of my work. I am becoming opinionated/aware about what I think is working and what needs to be changed.

This is signalling to me that I am ready to go beyond Peel and try some new experiences. Peel PD has been incredible, it has provided me the foundation for everything I have done and has given me a direction for where I want to go. I think teachers need to reflect on where they are at, and I am finding this is the right time of year for that.

So my goal for the next school year is to find a conference, go there, and bring something back. I have 365 days to do this. Any suggestions?

Day 63: Summer Genius Hour?

I have 4 days left with my students…could I start a summer project with them? Would they be interested? 

Initial questions continue…

What platform could I use to keep them engaged and sharing?

Would there be an outcome in September?

Busy weekend…little time to blog…too many last minute ideas! What do you do to keep your students engaged over the summer? 

Day 62: #twitter-retrospective 

Today our class used the Twitter account to look back on events from the year. It was amazing to remember and see everything that was captured in a year. 

It has me thinking more and more about digital portfolios…I want my students to have an online catalogue of their learning. I want parents to be able to access it as well. Any recommendations or ideas would be great…this is my summer project.

#finalFriday

Day 61: Saying Goodbye

This is a little tricky for me…as an LTO I understand that I go where I am needed. Staying put is not usually in the description. I have had the opportunity to stay at my current school for two years. I don’t know what will happen for September, but I know I am faced with taking down my room and I am a little bit more aware of it this year.

This year I tried to build the room with the kids. The room changed a lot, I think I have figured out almost all of the desk/table/furniture piece layouts that health and safety will allow. The artwork, the daily schedule, the zones…all have to come down. I understand I cannot wait until the last day, although I prefer that method (similar to taking the bandaid off in a quick swipe).

I don’t want the students to feel like the year is over, we still have a full week. I started with some artwork today, I think a few items each day will be OK. I wonder if they feel the same things I am feeling. The room is transforming back into a blank slate. They have left their mark (marked by markers) on the room. It is part of the process, to allow the group for next year to build their own learning environment. The bonus part is I found that extra bag of marshmallows in the back of the closet (unopened) from our science unit. #hotchocolate

Day 60: 1 Minute After Genius Hour

This week the students were able to display their final products and present to the school. I was fortunate to pair it up with a school-wide art show being held in the gym. We were kind of the buskers outside of the gym hoping that you would catch a few minutes with us before going into the show.

Sharing the work beyond our classroom was a worthwhile experience. We did tweet the Prime Minister, however we have not heard back from him…yet (growth mindset). The students were excited to share their work. They had become experts and felt confident explaining their process.

We had a wide range of grades from K to 6 come and stop by. One student told me that Genius Hour was his favourite project because:

“The grade 6 student didn’t know how solar panels worked so I was kind of the expert…I knew more than him…so I am kinda ahead”…

To be able to witness the confidence in my students develop over the past few weeks has been a joy. I wasn’t sure how Genius Hour would work at a grade 2/3 level. I wasn’t expecting the collaboration element that occurred, I wasn’t expecting some of the students to change their projects midway, I wasn’t expecting “Epic Failure” learning moments that resulted in students recognizing that by owning their mistakes they are recognizing their own growth and learning.

My goals for next time:

-have students record more of their own process independently (digital portfolio)
-make connections with the outside world before the final product (share with school, community, mystery Skype)
-host a genius hour meeting in the evening so parents can attend and see the final product of the class (and take home the products)

I am looking forward to the next Genius Hour, until next time…

Day 59: Balance

I have been known to try something and give it 100%…perhaps dare I say 110%. I am learning near the end of this school year that I have to incorporate balance into this. My students are not all the same and require me to keep that in mind. I do have to be reminded from time to time, and I appreciate this.

My latest balance moment is coming this week. The tables I have ordered are arriving Thursday. I will not have time to turn them into white board tops, and that is OK. I was reminded to keep some balance as my class goes through this change. Should I keep a few desks? I have realized that I myself am not fully ready to give up my own desk.

It is a bit of a running joke as I have seen the paper mountain grow on my desk over the past month. I never intended to be without a desk for this long, I thought it was only going to be a few days. At first I thought I managed the transition well…then the pile started. It was a good leaning moment, I need to have a desk…and perhaps some of my students will need to keep theirs too.

Now they might be excited for the tables but that nostalgia could dissipate (just like when you realized for the first or second time that eating candy for dinner is not the best idea). I am revising my approach and will keep a few desks behind. Balance is important. I will not be able to argue that I can offer flex seating if I take all of one style out and replace it with another.

So I have opened my perspective a little wider, which is always valuable. I will finalize the Genius Hour blog post tomorrow!

Day 58: #almostthere

Genius hour is in the final minute. I want to have students who were away today an opportunity to present tomorrow. The I will share my final thoughts…lots of learning for the kids, more for me (as always).

This project has become a lot more then I expected. I am excited to share the results. 

1 more day…stay tuned.