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

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

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

The Makerspace Classroom is WAY more than Circuits & Programming

The Enrichment and Innovation Centre  is considered a ‘Maker Space Community’ with a strong focus on STEM principles, problem based learning, design thinking and arts education, each with an overriding theme of Social Justice and Environmental Education. The Inquiry driven model was designed with specific attention to enriched programming, current pedagogies, computer science, environmental considerations (physical space), online and blended learning, and community partnerships.   The Learning Environment is something that I’ve discussed many times in this blog. More and more, the term ‘Makerspace’ is becoming synonymous with the “Learning-space”.  A space where we teach, learn and create.  However, the conditions for engaging students and teachers in a space where creativity and design is at the core needs to Continue reading The Makerspace Classroom is WAY more than Circuits & Programming

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

Who is your Doug Peterson?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Doug Peterson (AKA @dougpete, AKA yoda <my master>) in Windsor, Ontario. It may have appeared that the purpose of the visit was to ‘Faceoff at Maxwell School”. But the real purpose was to connect face to face with a colleague and friend that has truly impacted my professional growth by inspiring and teaching me to think outside the box and challenge me in so many ways –to be authentic, creative and innovating in my teaching and learning. My visit with Doug has truly made me reflect about a dichotomy of learning that I have been thinking about and I ask, why has this learning community Continue reading Who is your Doug Peterson?

What is the Ultimate Learning Space?

Learning Spaces A couple of years ago, I landed an incredible job at a brand new school. The school was equipped with a Smartboard in every room, a Front Row amplification system in every learning space, wireless Internet throughout the school and mini computer pods attached to groups of rooms. I could hardly wait to start teaching that year. At first glance, it seemed like a perfect teaching and learning space for the 21st Century. Today, I would argue the opposite. It first started with a conversation I had with my students, who, in a podcast, describe their “ideal” secondary school. They didn’t mention technology as being essential (although for them, that is a given). They mentioned collaborative spaces, Continue reading What is the Ultimate Learning Space?

Educon Conversation – Learning Spaces of Tomorrow

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to facilitate a conversation at #educon23 in Philidealphia with Rodd Lucier (thecleversheep). Because we were presenting during the last time slot of the conference, Rodd and I felt is was necessary to give participants a chance to apply the knowledge gained throughout the weekend to our session. Ultimately to make the session, their culminating activity. We used a Livescribe Pen, a tool that records in both ink and audio we asked the participants to literally design a learning space using the themes and principles of Educon itself. The results of the Pencasts are quite remarkable really and captured those conversations that don’t normally get the attention – the small groups and 1:1 Continue reading Educon Conversation – Learning Spaces of Tomorrow