Why we Protest…Class of 42 students (My Story)

Dear Reader, It was almost three years ago that I  shared with you why I stood strong with my Union.  “Why I Protest”. Then, for several weeks, I spent my days in solidarity with many teachers across Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, and across Ontario, in Protest against Bill 115, a legislation that would eventually force a contract upon us and force Teachers to return to work without respecting a mutual bargaining agreement – one that would could improve our Standards of Education. Now, three years later – the Elementary Teachers across Ontario are once again asking the Government, and the public, to support Public Education with the highest possible standard. In this round of contract negotiations,  ultimately, teachers Continue reading Why we Protest…Class of 42 students (My Story)

Makerspace, Inquiry and Minecraft – Enrichment and Innovation Centre

I am excited, thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to present some of  my experiences as a Teacher and Researcher, in particular how and why I am using Minecraft in my Maker/Learning Space. I look forward to meeting, sharing and collaborating with the many innovative and curious educators that will be attending ISTE and hopefully attending my session on: Monday, June 29, 12:45–1:45 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) Building/Room: PCC 108 What will I be presenting? Sharing? This year, I co-created and facilitated programming at the Enrichment and Innovation Centre, at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. I’ve tried to write and share my experiences and personal reflections throughout the past school year. In one post, I write Continue reading Makerspace, Inquiry and Minecraft – Enrichment and Innovation Centre

My INCREDIBLE Network – I bet you are in there somewhere!

Over the past couple of years, I have been teaching the Junior Basic Qualification course (ABQ) at Brock University. The purpose of the course is to provide comprehensive training for teachers who have already qualified teachers, but need their Junior Level Qualifications to teacher Grades 4-6, in Ontario. For one of the Modules, these teachers spend a couple of weeks learning about how teachers at the Junior level are using non-traditional methods to teach and learn, including the use of a variety of online tools, technology tools, social networking sites, blogs, and of course innovative tools that engage and inspire learners in this day and age. Probably the BEST RESOURCE that my students have collaboratively gathered is their contributions Continue reading My INCREDIBLE Network – I bet you are in there somewhere!

Be PROUD of that “Minecraft Teacher” label (or whatever the label)….

A couple of days ago, I read a couple tweets from a teacher that was voicing thoughts about being labelled as a “Minecraft” teacher, rather than an Innovative teacher that uses many engaging and creative tools including Minecraft. I looked back through the Twitterverse, but couldn’t find the tweets again. First, I think that any teacher, leader or principal  that is labelled a Minecraft teacher should be EXTREMELY proud.  Bring it ON!  Think about it. You are being labelled as a teacher that is creative, open-minded, collaborative and willing to use tools and methods that are engaging and encourage students to venture into ARTS, DESIGN, ENGINEERING and MATH! Not to mention, using a tool that lends itself well to Continue reading Be PROUD of that “Minecraft Teacher” label (or whatever the label)….

What inquiry looks like in a classroom with no bells, no subjects and no interruptions….

Problems that Matter… Where our Inquiry Started…and never ended. “Inquiry” seems is a hot topic in education today (although it certainly isn’t a new concept). Facilitating a true inquiry can be a challenge when students are strapped to a schedule, a curriculum or even when being assessed or monitored for their performance. It is a challenge when the classroom environment doesn’t allow for exploration or choice. Inquiry can be challenging because it isn’t predictable and it means taking risks, not knowing how long it will take and not always having the final answer. Where I co-teach with Beth Carey at the “Enrichment and Innovation Centre” (geared for Gifted Students at the HWDSB), these stipulations do not exist. A few things are important to Continue reading What inquiry looks like in a classroom with no bells, no subjects and no interruptions….

The Big Ideas in Social Studies, History and Geography – Collaborative Inquiries

  Starting January 2015, I began facilitating a series of Collaborative Inquiries focusing on History, Geography and Social Studies (Ontario Curriculum) with Pre-Service Education Students at Brock University.   The objectives of this 10 Week course were to: 1) have a strong understanding of  approach, content and rational of the Ontario Social Studies, History and Geography Curriculum, 2) use 21st Century tools and teaching methods to design lessons and learning opportunities for students, 3) have a strong understanding of the theories and research regarding History and Geography as it relates to Education and 4) to use collaborative inquiry planning tools and  4) to publish and share a series  of co-created TLCP’s Teaching Learning Inquiry Cycle (adapted from Ontario TLCP) Continue reading The Big Ideas in Social Studies, History and Geography – Collaborative Inquiries

A little Kindergarten and A little Starbucks – Universal Classroom Design

We designed our learning space with a little Kindergarden and a little Starbucks  – Here is how it happened: In June 2014, we were informed that we would be moving to an empty/unused classroom at Holbrook School (HWDSB). We were also informed that our proposal for new technology was granted which included 1:1 computers, projector, interactive whiteboard, doc camera (microscope), tablets, 3D printer, and NXT Robotics. Regardless of the fact that we were at the mercy of the physical space and size, including windows, electricity and lighting, we were absolutely pumped to design our “dream” classroom space that was Universal  for all learners.   From the onset, we wanted a space that not only engaged students to be active Continue reading A little Kindergarten and A little Starbucks – Universal Classroom Design

The Strength Based IEP – let it work for the Gifted Learner

The IEP for the Gifted Learner As a teacher for Gifted and Enriched students, I have spent many hours working with teachers, parents and learners on developing Individual Education Plans (IEP) for Gifted and Enriched learners. The IEP has a clear purpose and its process for development is not a difficult one to grasp. Regardless of school, district, or even country,  the IEP has similar characteristics: To identify the learner’s strengths and weaknesses,  to set measurable goals and objectives, to identify the tools and resources (including people) needed, to identify the strategies needed to achieve the goals and finally, as a team, to commit. Yes, there are subtle differences in language from district to district (modification, accommodation), but the Continue reading The Strength Based IEP – let it work for the Gifted Learner

The Road Not Taken – Making, Crafting and Constructing Meaning in Minecraft

The Road Not Taken – Making, Crafting and Constructing Meaning in Minecraft  Designing lessons that foster creativity, collaboration and depth in thinking is multifaceted. We need to use tools that provide an opportunity for interaction and collaboration. This includes a method for students to help one another and provide feedback. The context needs to be relatable and flexible. The content, whatever it is, needs to have value and personal connections and it needs to matter -and if it does, it will have depth and purpose. I offer the following as an example. Summary of Lesson: As a whole class, students would create (Yes, actually build )  the poem “A Road Not Taken” using Minecraft as a Medium (using a Continue reading The Road Not Taken – Making, Crafting and Constructing Meaning in Minecraft

Minecraft and Fractals – a wonderful pair!

Minecraft and Fractals By: Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Beth Carey We are all familiar with Math Manipulatives and the power of hands-on learning. Minecraft allows students to explore, create, design and problem solve in many dynamic ways. Here is one example of using Big Ideas and Concepts in Math. These concepts, once understood, force learners to use practical math skills in an authentic way. “Today I learned about fractals the mathematics of nature introduced by Benoct Mandelbrot. Fractals are a repeating pattern in all directions with any shape. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian architecture this fractal is made entirely of gold blocks and glass. Although it is impractical it just shows what minecraft can really do”. -Gwen, Gr. 5 Student Big Ideas: How Continue reading Minecraft and Fractals – a wonderful pair!