Prachi’s Challenge – Student Voice “Leadership” Passion Project.

Some of you may have heard of “Prachi’s Puzzles”.  I share them often on Twitter and educators around the world now access these puzzles. These puzzles can be found on this “LinkTree”.

Let me give you some background. Prachi is a Grade 7 student at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board who has been working remotely since March 2020.  Like many other students, she has had to shift some of her ways of learning and participating in school life.  Prachi is a student leader and truly gets joy from her involvement in the school activities so when the pandemic hit, she had to learn new ways to inspire, impact and lead others using her “student” voice.

At the start of the school year, Prachi quickly jumped on the opportunity to participate in a collaborative resource which morphed into a Leadership Passion Project. This Passion Project isn’t the typical topic-focused project but rather it is an ongoing project to provide an opportunity for her to not just be a leader, but also interact with others at a wider scale.

The latest challenge is something a little different. Here, students will have an opportunity to INSPIRE Prachi by using her Blueprints/Plans to create an Eco-House. Prachi hasn’t used Minecraft much so we decided this would be the perfect tool for the challenge. We’d love to get as many submissions as possible. Reach out to me: zbraniga@hwdsb.on.ca if you have a submission to add. All submissions will be added to a slideshow and showcased on both this blog and Prachi’s blog (and shared amongst the worldwide Educator Community).

Prachi’s Challenge

You will need to use Minecraft Education Edition for this challenge. https://education.minecraft.net/ Go to “Getting Started” to enter your district username and password so you can download the program.
  • Can you use the blueprints (below) created by Prachi to replicate her eco-house?
  • How close can you get to these plans while also adding your own creativity and showing Prachi what she missed?
Prachi (with a team) will judge the creations and will provide feedback during the weeks of JUNE 1ST through June 20th!  
Prachi has already created a non-digital model of the house using a variety of supplies. We want to give Prachi a chance to walk through her creation in a 3D world!
From Prachi: “I would love to see their creativity and what they can come up with after looking at my plans. They just have to make it relatable to the blueprint, but I won’t stop them from being creative in their own way.”

Here is a full list of all the energy-efficient features:

  1. LED Lighting (In the lamps)
  2. Good Insulation (In the walls)
  3. Big, and strategically placed windows
  4. Solar Panels
  5. Indoor Plants
  6. Outdoor Plants
  7. Electric Car charger and Electric Car in the Garage
  8. Rain barrel
  9. Recycling bin
  10. Compost bin
  11. Solar Lamps in the front yard
  12. Properly sealed doors and windows
  13. Shade Trees
  14. Sensor Taps (Kitchen sink, laundry room, and bathrooms)
  15. Programable Thermostat

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Still, I’ll Rise.

February is Black History Month – a time for us all to pause and reflect on our contribution to justice and our role in addressing systemic racism. As a teacher, I am in a position of influence and will commit to having on-going discussions in my role during February and every month and the days after. I endeavour to have the courage to speak-up and respond.

After analyzing and discussing some of Amanda Gorman’s work last week, I set out to find other texts for students to connect with deeply.

 

This poem, by Maya Angelou, made for an amazing example. We examined the authors writing style and literary devices used (use of similes and rhyme, tone) and followed it up by listening to Ben Harper’s version. This provided a context to discuss how different types of media can influence our thinking and feeling. But, it led to an even deeper discussion about the ethics of remixing an artist’s work.

We started with the quote, “Still, I’ll Rise” and analyzed that single word: STILL. Still what?

Maya Angelou – Performs her poem, “I’ll Rise”

Ben Harper – Peformance, “Still I Rise”.

Black History Collection:

 

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The Hill We Climb – Examining Writer’s Craft

I am sharing our language/literacy focus this week. The pandemic days are getting harder, and the winter months are dragging. I needed this. 

Last week, one of my students, Julianne, shared with me how excited and emotional she was after hearing Amanda Gorman’s latest spoken word poem, “The Hill We Climb.” She watched it live about 5 minutes before our meeting, so I wasn’t prepared to focus my teaching on that just yet. I needed to think about it and find a way to bring this into an Enrichment class (As a special education enrichment teacher, I am mindful of the style and method of delivering my lessons. I work with a group of students who are often identified as exceptional with Individual Education Plans in place). 

That night, after I watched Amanda Gorman recite her words, my head was spinning with excitement. My brain moved up a gear, and the process of developing an enriched lesson for a variety of age groups and learners began.

First – I tap into the brilliance of experts: I reached out to Tom Shea, a Secondary English Teacher and musician from Hamilton. I followed this up by doing an “all call” using my Twitter feed (see below). So many people jumped in to share ideas and advice. I am so thankful for this.

LESSON: A brief teaching opportunity- The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman – What gave it a melody?

Time: 1-3 Hours (or more depending on how much time you want to take and how deep you dig.

Environment: Online Remote Lesson

Focus: Word choice, word development, voice, rhythm and literacy devices (alliteration, repetition, parallel structure)

Level: Grade 6, 7, 8

1.Build the excitement prior to class.

  “I hope you are enjoying the gorgeous snowfall! The wind is singing, and the trees are swaying and twinkling in the twilight. ✨ It’s “WILD, WHIMSICAL AND WONDERFUL WORDCRAFT WEEK!  I am super excited about our Enrichment Meeting. Not only are we are going to examine exactly why Amanda Gorman’s Poem, “The Hill We Climb, is so AMAZING, but we are ALSO going to PLAY with literary devices, use our own voice, words, ideas, and phrases and INVENT works of Art through WORD CRAFTING.

2.Open Meeting. Poetry^J Amanda Gorman .pptx

Students participate in a series of challenges, mini-lessons, discussion and reflection.

First (Model and Share), we talk about a theme, focus or story. This isn’t an easy task for some, so we share ideas together.

  • We talk about the value of narrowing down a big idea such as ‘The Pandemic” to smaller ideas within.
  • We make a list – “Time, change, struggle, worry…” We decide on ONE WORD. Time.
  • Students work together to create related words. “Never-ending, blended, slow, fast, on-going, grey, unknown, lasting…”.
  • To model the process of the lesson, we created alliterative words: “Tackling time, loving, learning, rest, renew.

Finally, we create a brief poem called, “Time”. Time spent tackling my sense of self. Time to be more loving and living through learning. Time to rest, renew and rejoice and time to recognize the power and privilege before us so we can act, insist and assist those weathered and wanting.

Work time!  I use a SLIDES presentation (shared above) to guide the challenges. (I gave a link in the chat space of the remote class for students to access a shared workspace and tools)

Challenge One: Students are given a 5 minute challenge (and the use of resources and tools) to create a list of words related to THEIR OWN idea, theme or story.

5-minute mini-lesson (teacher talking). What is ALLITERATION, Why it is used?

Challenge Two: Students are a given 4-minute challenge to form alliteration with their words. They can use the Alliteration Generator should they wish.

10-minute mini-lesson. The whole Group examines the TEXT version of Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”. Students are asked to point out phrases that use alliteration. We watch and discuss the Video,

Challenge Three: 15 minute Challenge. Connecting the alliterative words.  Based on the vocabulary they chose in the previous challenge, students being to use tie it together. They use a shared document (Microsoft Word or Google docs) that is open and viewable. (I created a table and gave each student a section).

3. Final/Assessment: Students are asked to submit/share one or more alliterative phrases before leaving class. Could they create a meaningful phrase or idea? Did they use alliterative words creatively following some of the examples? *They are also reminded that the process of creative writing takes time and thought and they may want to spend a few days just thinking about it. We will revisit the lessons again next week.

4. Reflection and Discussion

We talked about how poetry and text can feel like art and music. One student used a metaphor that words are like colours of paint and how you use and mix the paint will impact the beauty and message in the final product. We talked about how paintings can be viewed and examined over and over (one student said she watched Amanda Gorman recite, The Hill We Climb thirteen times and “feels” something different each time.

A few students asked me to share their sample writing: 

Cailyn
A composition and repetition of competition of inhibition. I am not perfect and I am not pristine, this shell on the outside is not what it seems.
Naomi
It is life to listen, listen to the light, the bright, the big and small. Follow the fallen, hear the worth of the winners, lend an ear to the stifled, speechless. So strong is it to listen. Connect and compare the art that’s a part of what we hear.
Barret
Togetherness through this endless. When can we end this? Repetitive Demise.Endless cries. Hope.
Adiba

cold and covered, cornered messy and dense

we’re living in a den of disoriented decoration

 stuffy with stuff, annoyed enough

but won’t clean up

the trees covered in snow, the snow that is blown

fallen row, by row, annoyed to anticipate

patience is delicate,

winter is worrisome, but everyone’s bolder

the snow blows harder

but we can survive rather

They don’t

Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

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Remote Learning Activity – DiXit Game is more than just Vocabulary

Social-Emotional Learning through Language Skills and Higher-Order Thinking 

Dixit (Latin: dixit, Latin pronunciation: [ˈdiːksitə], “he/she/it said”), is a French card game created by Jean-Louis Roubira, illustrated by Marie Cardouat, and published by Libellud.
This is a fun family-friendly game that can be adapted to use with a variety of age groups, literacy levels and cultural differences.

LESSON FOR REMOTE:

  1. Whole Group or Small Group, Jamboard: Make a COPY: https://jamboard.google.com/d/1lxVFLZR_kS7jb2EBwl4nDEsPY-VuJ188DDpYhkkDN-Y/copy

I do this with the WHOLE GROUP together. I make the link so anyone can edit. In this Jamboard, I have students each pick a card and come up with a word, or words to describe the feeling or action. The trick is to think and share through symbols and metaphors.

2. Whole Group and Breakout Rooms: Make a COPY: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1hLCXgvHbYVxd1MsCZxFg9iWFqDIHIKsl6Ge_uamF-cg/copy

 

In this Slides activity, students will be put into small groups, be given a theme, serious of words or types of words or may create their own. Students will use symbols, ideas, feelings and thoughts to match themes to an abstract image. In LARGE GROUP,  small groups will present their word or phrase and others will guess what pictures they feel works with it (explaining why).

Dixit is a fantasy association game. The game contains large playing sized cards each with different images. The fantasy and story-telling images are extremely detailed and provide room for interpretation and abstract thinking.  Children and adults alike enjoy reading the cards and finding creative ways to interpret the meaning and symbols. 

At home, I play this with my family (ages 16, 17, 20 and adults). I also have an ELL student living with us who loves using this game to learn vocabulary. He uses a translater to help him express his ideas.

As an educator, I play this with my students as a guided language lesson. We dig into higher-order thinking skills, comprehension, symbolism and abstract thinking. We use the pictures to discuss elements of a story as well as point of view and perspective.  I dug through the curriculum (Ontario) for examples of higher-level language skills that can be practiced when using this tool. 

Picture Comprehension/Abstract Thinking and Skills to Practice and Learn: 

Understanding the content of the picture and being able to think abstractly about associations that may be made with that picture is a required skill for the game” 

Skills: 

  • Comprehension
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Expressive Language
  • Verbal Language
  • Interpersonal and social skills
  • Use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes. 
  • Communicating and conveying meaning through various forms
  • Transfer of knowledge and skills (e.g., concepts, strategies, processes) to new contexts
  • Real, purposeful talk
  • analyze texts and images in order to evaluate how effectively they communicate ideas, opinions, themes, or experiences
  • use appropriate words, phrases, and terminology from the full range of vocabulary, including inclusive and non-discriminatory language, and a range of stylistic devices, to communicate their meaning 
  • develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations
  • analyze a variety of text forms and explain how their particular characteristics help communicate meaning, 
  • identify various elements of style – including metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness 
  • regularly use vivid and/or figurative language and innovative expressions
  • develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations 
  • use vivid and/or figurative language and innovative expressions in their writing 

Resources:

https://teachinggamesefl.com/2017/08/24/how-to-use-dixit-in-the-classroom/

https://www.teachershouseshop.com/archives/1230

http://c-raine.com/2013/11/12/dixit-storytelling-cards-inspire-esl-class/

https://samblanco.com/2013/10/22/dixit/

https://samblanco.com/2013/10/22/dixit/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6UlbxeDE0w

https://www.teachershouseshop.com/archives/1230

Picture Comprehension/Abstract Thinking – Understanding the content of the picture and being able to think abstractly about associations that may be made with that picture is a required skill for the game. For some learners, I focus on the “clues” they give by narrowing the possible choices they can use. For example, if I have a student that loves movies, all clues must relate to movie titles.

Describing Pictures/Expressive Language/Intraverbal Conversation – After all, cards have been displayed, players discuss which card they believe is the correct choice for the clue. They must be able to provide their reasons for the choice they have made.

https://samblanco.com/2013/10/22/dixit/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6UlbxeDE0w

https://www.teachershouseshop.com/archives/1230

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Brain Games, Brain Teasers and Riddles

Did you know that January is International Brain Teaser Month? I have always used brainteasers in my classroom. They can engage various learners despite ability or age and encourage students to think in different ways, divergently and become more proficient in seeing patterns in words, shapes and numbers. For many, it is also calming, mindful and a strategy to decompress. 

Brain Teasers are a form of puzzle that requires different thinking types depending on the task and sometimes a requirement to think in an unconventional way to solve a problem. 

“Brain teasers are puzzles, riddles, math problems, situations and more that require thought to solve. Often, brain teasers can be unconventional in ways and can have the simplest of answers. Other times brain teasers can stump the thinker and require lateral thinking.” https://www.goalexandria.com/31-brain-teasers-use-january-library-lessons/#:~:text=January%20is%20International%20Brain%20Teaser,that%20require%20thought%20to%20solve

Interestingly, there is a lot of conflicting research about whether partaking in brain teasers and brain-based games impact learning and intelligence. A recent study from Western University, London, ON  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30009838/ calls into question the benefit of cognitive training to improve general cognitive functioning ability to transfer the skills learned through the Brain Games to other areas of life. On the other hand, a recent study by Stephanie Jones and her team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is building a new approach to SEL that focuses on the use of Brain Games, specifically on simple strategies adapted to many settings.

In my role as a teacher and parent, I use brain games for a variety of purposes and continue to look for research and evidence that uses a wide variety of criteria when determining any connection to learning and intelligence, especially those relating to soft skills such as problem-solving, creativity, divergent thinking, collaboration, building confidence, etc.  Consider this: 

  • Enjoyment and engagement
  • Explicit opportunity for collaboration and discussion
  • Inspiration to look at problems, ideas and numbers in different ways
  • A break and way to de-stress, calm down the brain
  • A fun challenge
  • Understand different types of learning (a great way to discuss the different kinds of thinking.
  • Social-Emotional Learning

“Brain Games build three main competencies, which the team calls “brain powers”: focus, remember, and stop and think. To maximize learning during play, teachers can be intentional and explicit about the building’s SEL skills. They can talk to students about the brainpower needed to play each game and about strategies for using that power. After the game, they can talk about what happened, “building metacognition and a shared vocabulary around the skills they are learning,” Jones says. And through a set of debriefing questions, “teachers and students can think together about how to use these skills at other times of day, connecting ‘brain powers’ to work ethic in the classroom, teamwork and relationships, and successful behaviour in school and beyond.” https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/08/fun-and-brain-games 

I am not the creator of these games but have compiled them into a PPT format crediting all sources. This format allows folks to grab a slide or two and add it to the daily teaching in synchronous or asynchronous classroom environments. Reach out should the link or any of the sources not work out. This is a work in progress, and I’m sharing because we are all better when we share. 

  1. Slides of Number Based Games: Daily Brain Teasers Slides.pptx
  2. Slides of Language-Based Games and Activities: Daily WORDS and WORD PUZZLES Jan 2020 public.pptx
  3. Compilation of Game Templates for Breakout Rooms Activity https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1E-u3OrSpsPhW3DYsByYhhzBL2O-q36U_HgudsboYOGI/copy
  4. Sudoku- Great for partner activity in Breakout rooms: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1XO4Hd7vN8e1IvYoCHHhnNDzv38FR1GqVzyl4VZr0I6Q/copy 

TO SHARE: 

 

Sources: 

Stojanoski B, Lyons KM, Pearce AAA, Owen AM. Targeted training: Converging evidence against the transferable benefits of online brain training on cognitive function. Neuropsychologia. 2018 Aug;117:541-550. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.013. Epub 2018 Jul 25. PMID: 30009838. 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/13/mental-exercises-to-keep-your-brain-sharp

https://kids.niehs.nih.gov/games/brainteasers/index.htm 

https://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html

\https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/a-brief-history-of-games 

https://phys.org/news/2019-07-people-chess-smarter-evidence-isnt.html#:~:text=Some%20studies%20have%20found%20playing,the%20group%20who%20learned%20neither

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Thinking about Sleep.

 “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” Irish Proverb

Around 350 B.C., Aristotle wrote an essay, “On Sleep and Sleeplessness,” wondering just what we were doing and why. For the next 2,300 years, no one had a good answer. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/08/science-of-sleep/ 

What we do know is that our body needs sleep to be healthy. Sleep is as necessary to our health as good nutrition and exercise.  We know that sleep impacts our emotional health and behaviour and can influence our choices.  As an educator, the topic of sleep has often been at the forefront. When my students (or my own kids) are NOT getting enough of it, learning is hampered. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, can support learning, processing of information, decision making and problem-solving.

This is why I am often asking, “How are you? How was your sleep?”.  It is rather fun talking about dreams or sharing sleep strategies. One student shared a mindfulness technique that she uses to help her get between the first and second stage of sleep,

“I’m walking on a soft pine needle covered path in a brightly lit forest. I can sense the tingling feeling of the needless on the bottoms of my feet and through my toes.  I wiggle them. I feel the cool air on my skin. I stop and look up and see the sun beaming through the leaves and can hear the trees dancing, making that shhhhhhh…..sound  in the wind….I keep walking…

I do something similar and imagine myself running. I use run as a natural remedy for stress and anxiety, so this works well for me.

I lace up my shoes and step out in front of my house. I think of a familiar route and start slowly. I run to the end of the street and make a right. I notice the house on the corner is still for sale and the cat in the window. I cross the street and head down the zig-zag path toward the waterfront…

I usually drift off before I get to the second kilometre.

While not all used in the order you see them, these slides were a useful tool to engage students in the inquiry and discussion about sleep. Where did it lead?

    • Sleep and the impact on health
    • Sleep and our lifespan
    • How much sleep do we get in our lifetime?
    • What is Melatonin, and why do we need it?
    • What happens to us when we don’t sleep?
    • What factors contribute to a good night’s sleep?
    • Do income and demographics influence our sleep? Why?
    • How do poverty and hunger impact sleep?

Link to the SLIDE DECK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nu4–f9GKM0LL6UrlCBLpTK7LScNtfic/copy

 

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Alone Together.

My #2020OneWord is “Alone Together.” Ok, I know it’s two words, but I just can’t get it out of my mind and do not have one word to describe this feeling.
I feel more connected with my online community than I have in a long time. On the contrary, I feel much more isolated from my school community (who aren’t necessarily using online tools) since I’ve been working from home. So, I am Alone, “Together” with you.

In October, I was required to isolate myself after being in close contact with a colleague who “tested positive’. Two days later, one of my immediate family members was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. From that point on, I have been working in a full-time remote teaching position from home. I am entirely isolated now. The only time I leave my house is to go for a run or take Stewie (our Australian Shepherd) for a walk. Otherwise, I’m Alone, “Together” with many of you.
I’m grateful t have such a geographically diverse online community. Many of you out there inspire me to be better, think more deeply, care more passionately, and teach more vigorously. When I’m struggling, I know that I am NOT alone.
Full disclosure: I am finding the alone part not so bad. As an introvert and someone with social anxiety, I often find the day to day social aspect quite overwhelming and tiring. Of course, I still meet up with colleagues (online), but the time spent is more structured. I wonder if there are others out there who feel more productive in this scenario? What about our students?
-Zoe

 

 

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“The Daily” ~ Daily exercise for the brain, body, heart and spirit.

Every morning starts a new page in your story. Make it a great one today – Doe Zantamata.

I want to contribute something positive to all educators who are truly doing everything they can to support students and communities during such a difficult time. Enriching and engaging themselves and their students can take so much more effort and energy than it ever has. We all need to find ways to inspire ourselves and others to love life, love learning and see the beauty in our world. Every. Single. Day. The above quote reminds me that no matter how hard the days may seem or how long, there are always ways to feed ourselves with new knowledge, ideas and wisdom. Small or big ideas, deep or surface learning, minutes or hours – it is truly one step, one idea, one thought, one discussion at a time. Doing nothing is not an option.

LINK TO THE “DAILYS”. 

 

I am an Enrichment Teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, with the job of supporting hundreds of students, teachers and families across the district. But, I am also a global educator who wishes to contribute to others’ wellness beyond my own life, school, and city.

In uncertain, worrisome and social distancing times, I hope that the following project and daily puzzles, quotes, stories, articles and resources may boost the brain and enrich your day. 

I suggest that ALL students and learners (whether at home or in-school) consider using a journal. These are unprecedented times and history in the making. For this reason (and many other great reasons), I will ask my students (and own children) to pick a “Daily” (or two, or three) every sing day and add to their journal. Soon, a habit (staying engaged, staying joyful, being self-directed, enriching your life) will be formed. 

Share this with your students, use it in your own lessons, or use it for yourself.  The content will be updated daily (for ease of use, links will be on the side-bar of this blog).

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Celebrating Women – Jane Jacobs, urbanist and activist.

October is International Women’s Month. I am going to try to feature one woman per day – someone who has impacted my life, my thinking and my path. Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) has influenced my thinking about cities for many years. She was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a community-based approach to city building. Have you heard of Jane’s Walk? People around the world are sharing information and history about cities and neighbourhoods through Jane Walks. Check out: http://janeswalk.org/about/about-jane-jacobs/. 
“Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centered approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006. – https://centerforthelivingcity.org/janejacobs#info
I have a love for cities. I am grateful that my family (kids, life partner) love to travel as much as I do. I find it incredibly interesting to see how different countries worldwide invest in their cities and neighbourhoods. We rarely stay in hotels, and in fact, some of our favourite visits have been in hostels or shared homes. And It is why we open our home to international visitors (and students). The pandemic, while it has been very hard, has given us a chance to explore our own city more (always running).  A favourite talk (I’ve shown my students a few times) is from Kent Larson, who looks at how cities are changing and reinforces the idea that cities are ultimately about people. As noted in Ted, “Humanity’s future is the future of cities.
Before I sign off, I do need to share TVO’s Life Sized City at https://www.tvo.org/programs/the-life-sized-city
WORTH THE WATCH!
In a couple of weeks, Hamilton, Ontario (my city) will be featured (and guess who might appear in the episode?).  Note, the above picture is not Hamilton. 🙂
Sincerely,
Zoe
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Networking in a Pandemic (key to survival)

Networking -key to survival through a Pandemic (or ever).

Today, I was inspired by Doug Peterson (doug-off the record) in his post “The value of a network”. I resonated (sooooo much) with this entire blog post.  Being part of this vast community has been what has held me together through all of this. Being able to ask questions, share resources, seek help/support, or simply just vent has meant everything to me.

It has been 6 months since schools were first shut down, along with most business and industry. Teaching and Learning during a pandemic has been a challenge  – but not all bad (in the context of education). I mean, in a really big way, as an industry, many folks have found solace, comfort, support and community though online tools, especially networking.

Many of us in this digital network of “peeps” have been advocating the use of 21st Century tools for years. Wifi in schools was a big initiative back in 2003 (or so). Then using tools like Skype and Google to teach students about “live documents’. And through it all, we advocated how these tools and techniques might actually provided more opportunity for students (and educators) who may not have succeeded otherwise. I was one of those educators who relied on specific tools to get through the day.

And now (15 years later), many folks, I’d argue,  including school leaders are discovering different (not always better) ways of doing things (what we’ve been advocating for years).  Online meetings are not new, just new to many folks in public education – but, I bet this may become normal (just today, I had two teachers reach out to me via our online conferencing tool). In the past it would have meant emails or driving to a school or a visit. Remote teaching and conferencing through digital tools is not new, just new in public education. Twitter groups and chats – not new. But, lately, it seems like folks are diving into this community and discovering the magic of sharing outside the walls of a school or district.

Now, do I think that our system was prepared for a full online shift? Absolutely not. I do believe, however,  that this adversity may lead people to explore different ways of doing things which might eventually lead to a more dynamic, equitable and flexible teaching and learning environment.

Back to Twitter. It has been almost 12 years since I’ve been using Twitter as a learning and sharing tool and about 10 years of teaching online courses. During these years, I have found many friends and colleagues (from across the world) who are like minded in their / our drive to improve education structures with the intent to build a more inclusive and innovative system.

These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings.  -Doug

These past 6 months have allowed me to renew my relationship with Twitter and participate in online discussions relating to both my profession as a special education teacher as well as my own community (Hamilton, Ontario). I learn so much from my community and have been so blown away by the amount of sharing and supporting, not just from experienced teachers, but from those new to the field.

As Doug reminds us,

The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.

It is hard to name everyone, but I wanted to highlight a few folks who have gone out of their way to connect people during this unusual time in all our lives. The share, reflect and fight for innovation, equity and safe schools and communities:
David Truss is an educator and school leader from Coquitlam BC. More than anyone, I’ve enjoyed his daily blog posts, podcasts and reflections. I wish I was better at commenting. He is truly a connector and not only shares stories and ideas from his own life as an educator, but he is always amplifying and highlighting the ideas and contributions of others.
Jason Lay @jlay02: Keeps me up to date with Ontario News, resources and discussions. He ever hesitates to included others in discussion, including me (and I really should respond more). His most recent share: “A series of short tutorials to walk you through the steps of creating a new course using the @CanvasLMS Series includes: Creating a New Canvas Shell Configuring Basic Course Settings Creating Content Pages Setting a Course Home Page @PowerLrn   https://www.youtube.com/playlistlist=PLIJ8QfsveW2YtR0hhLTP1beWG8_2zqDdT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Noble @nobleknits2 – What can I say? Another teacher who is not only sharing classroom tools and ideas, but genuinely wants to support folks outside the classroom. It is Lisa that led me to start my “Covid19” knitting project. I’m about half way through. One line per day. 
I am fairly certain that this post will only be read by me (haha) and that is ok. Having a place to share and post my own ideas and resources will give me some motivation during a very strange and bizarre time in my (our) life.
I hope to post something at least once per week. Something to share and support others and something to keep me focused and motivated as well!
Sincerely,
Zoe

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