Gifted and Learning Disabled – The dichotomy in learning

I have students attend my After School Program (STEM focused Makerspace)  every Wednesday who struggle in their regular school. Many of these students struggle academically and socially. Yet, these same students, at the Makerspace,  perform skills and engage in social and academic activities that demonstrate knowledge of math, science, engineering and ARTs  with a proficiency beyond their age and grade level and with a strong level of motivation and confidence. It is often confusing for them for their parents. It got me thinking about the amount of Learning Disabled and Gifted students we see on a regular basis. Students that struggle to find and demonstrate ways that show what they know. I had a conversation with two students this Continue reading Gifted and Learning Disabled – The dichotomy in learning

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The Kitchen Table

Bring the Home into the Classroom – Literally! What is one artifact or symbol that can literally make students feel “at home” in the classroom? An artifact that can ease stress, encourage conversations,  build relationships, have no limitations of age or ability and be completely  diverse in nature? A KITCHEN TABLE! In our home, The Kitchen Table is not just where we gather for meals but where we gather to talk about our day. It is the first stop when getting up in the morning, returning from a walk or coming home from work.  Where we throw down our keys, where we pile up our books and add to the week’s worth of newspapers. It is where we charge Continue reading The Kitchen Table

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From Classroom to Cafe Bar – A Makerspace, Reggio Inspired Learning Space

In every city or community around the world, the cafe/coffee shop is place for gathering with friends or colleagues, catching up on daily reading, playing games, engaging in the art and music culture, knitting, writing, planning, creating, organizing, designing and learning – and of course, sharing in food/drink.  Drawing from hundreds of examples of cafe community gathering hubs across our own city, Hamilton (A coffee shop for every mood) or Toronto (Top 10 Places to work or study in Toronto), or New York City (The Best Coffee Shops for getting work done), we created a classroom space with similar characteristics.   The coffee shop as office: Coffee shops are the unofficial offices of an army of modern workers thanks to free wi-fi, good company Continue reading From Classroom to Cafe Bar – A Makerspace, Reggio Inspired Learning Space

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Indigenous Worldviews Inspires THIS classroom MAKERSPACE

Reconciliation should include a commitment to bringing in the Indigenous World Views as part of the learning process.  I ask, ‘Would recognizing that we are already moving in this direction be a valuable part of the healing process for Indigenous populations?’  Many traditional methods of teaching are being challenged, and now, in Canada (and elsewhere), we have begun to adopt some of the very philosophies and principles (of course, with different names, definition and labels) that were once removed from our First Peoples when they were forced to attend Residential Schools.   Canada has made a strong commitment toward Truth and Reconciliation in respect to First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI). This is especially important in our Education Systems because Continue reading Indigenous Worldviews Inspires THIS classroom MAKERSPACE

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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

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Minecraft in the Classroom

I think my lessons are fairly engaging. But the second that bell went – literally, the second – the students gathered to discuss their next plan of action. Their next build. Their next tutorial on how to use Red Bricks, how to rewire a city, how to build the underground plumbing system. It was then that I realized that the most authentic assessment I will ever get with regards to creativity, problem solving, divergent thinking, oral communication, thinking (etc.) was during the lunch hour, when they were “playing” Minecraft. (Also posted at http://Giftedclassroom.edublogs.org) As a mother of two boys that use the Minecraft platform to build and design, I feel fortunate to have come into this classroom with a Continue reading Minecraft in the Classroom

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MY TOP 10 LEARNING SPACES – A Universal Design, in a Gifted Classroom

The learning environment is what will help create community. Before anything, students need to feel safe. Not just physically safe, but safe to learn how they learn, safe to think “outside the box”, safe to ask questions, safe to make mistakes, safe to be who they are.  I recently read a post by Jackie Gerstein, a friend and mentor who talks passionately about the importance of community in the classroom (It’s About Connections Not Content). Below, I talk about the learning spaces to honour all learners.  It is my intention to help these students find their passions, their gifts, and their understanding of themselves. The Circle Each day, we start off in a large circle. We might play a game, Continue reading MY TOP 10 LEARNING SPACES – A Universal Design, in a Gifted Classroom

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Social Media, Twitter and the need for networked support – how far does our support really go?

Look at the “Seven Degrees of Connectedness” and think about how you nurture, support, and develop relationships on line, professionally and even personally. Do you have a close circle, a clique, a group of educators that you depend on – those in Stage 6 or 7? Do you have colleagues that work in your school, your district, your city – that you empower or that empower you? Do you have their back when they mess up, or need a pat on the shoulder, or need a word of praise here and there? Do you have the strength to DM them a concern? What would you do if you noticed they made an offensive remark? Are you prepared to have Continue reading Social Media, Twitter and the need for networked support – how far does our support really go?

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Due Diligence and Social Media, Gaming and 21st Century Learning. Will education Institutions be held accountable?

Due Diligence and Social Media, Gaming and 21st Century Learning. Will education Institutions be held accountable? “What?, you’ve been banned from 8 different servers?” I shrieked at my 11 year old son.   “It’s part of the game – to build trust, act normal, get more responsibility from the server owner and then, destroy” he explained. I gasped.   “In many servers, the point is to build and protect. If you are in a server shared by others, you always take the risk of having your things stolen and your creations destroyed…but for some players, hacking into a server and destroying is the main point”. I gasped. “But it’s not nice…..” So he explains, “most teachers and adults aren’t Continue reading Due Diligence and Social Media, Gaming and 21st Century Learning. Will education Institutions be held accountable?

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Gaming and learning – are they connected?

In 2010, I began experimenting with gaming in my classroom. In my Grade Six classroom, ‘play’ wasn’t just about learning the facts and materials, but about creating an environment where they were most comfortable.  Using Wii Olympics to have students virtually play participate in Luge or skiing events and then write down, sort, compare and analyze their scores helped them see an authentic reason why we sort data. Watching the little JK students exercise for 15 minutes a day using Wii Fit or Wii Sports (on those freezing cold mornings) was fascinating.  Using NikeRemote on our shoes, we used game to track distances when we ran 3 times per week to reach our marathon goal. I was only beginning Continue reading Gaming and learning – are they connected?

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