Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What 21st Century Learning Means to Me

Over the past year or so there has been a lot of talk about 21st Century Learning. Recently it was suggested that "what does 21st century learning mean to you?" should be used as the next #peel21st blog hop so I decided to jump on. You can find the links to the other bloggers participating tonight below. Here goes!


When we talk about 21st century learners we’re often referring to student learning, but it is just as important to look at our own – it makes it possible for our students to do the same. 21st century learning means taking learning into our own hands. Formal PD is no longer the primary source for learning.

I participate in organized twitterchats such as #flipclass, #cdnedchat and #peel21st. I have been able to connect with like-minded people for ideas, growth, and support. Furthermore, I have attended board EdCamp network meetings and city-wide, full-day EdCamps so that I can discuss these topics in person.


I feel better prepared to interact with the learners in my classroom when I embrace myself as a learner in this technological age.


Check out what my colleagues have to say on the topic :)

Susan Campo @susancampo
Jim Cash @cashjim
Shivonne Lewis-­‐Young @SLewisYoung
Greg Pearson @vptechnodork
Phil Young @_PhilYoung
James Nunes @jameseliasnunes
Donald Campbell @libramlad
Ken Dewar Bestbefore2030
Graham Whisen @grahamwhisen
Lynn Filliter @assessmentgeek
Debbie Axiak @DebbieAxiak
Alicia Quennell @AliciaQuennell
Jonathan So @MrSoClassroom
Jim Blackwood @jimmyblackwood
Jason Richea @jrichea
Tina Zita @Tina_zita
Sean Broda
Donald Campbell
Josh Crozier
Engy Boutros @mrsboutrosSean Coroza @SRCoroza

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 9 - A Student Teacher in Flipped Physics

Now that I am in my sixth year of teaching I am able to host a student teacher in my classroom. I was lucky enough to get one this semester that is an aspiring physics teachers but this also meant that I had to think about how I would approach having a student teacher in my flipped classroom.

When I thought about my experiences as a student teacher (both good and bad), I realized that I could provide her with a safe environment to try some new things and still be able to give her that basic feedback that someone needs their first time teaching a class.

I didn't want to interrupt the routines of my classroom so I have asked her to maintain the flipped classroom. In the meantime I did not want to overwhelm her (because I knew how hard it was for me to flip the first time, nevermind being a brand new classroom teacher) so I asked her to use the videos I have decided on in advance but that I would have her create the embedded questions for each video using educanon. This way she still has to prepare the core of the lesson and can then focus on coming up with something she wants to do in class with the students. This way it still becomes HER class, but I can be confident that the integrity of what I have created is not compromised.

She has been with me for a week at this point and has already told me that she has learned a lot and has enjoyed being exposed to various strategies. The first thing I tried to impart to her was this - we are human! and students need to be reminded that we are human and it is okay if we screw up, because it can always be fixed! (This of course lends well to the discussion going on in the school about growth mind set, but I will leave that for another post).

The part that I was looking forward to about having a student teacher was that I knew it would bring forth some new ideas and give me an opportunity to add to my resources and to think about how I approach certain things. It is never a bad thing to add some "new" to your classroom :)

We will see what the next three weeks will bring!

Happy November!

Week 8 - Rethinking Ionic Compounds & Taking a Field Trip

I have been teaching SNC 1D for a number of years now. It is a course that we have developed fairly well and then it took a back burner for me for awhile while I was focusing on my teaching style and some new courses I was teaching. We have taken a skills-based approach to this course (lab, lab writing, research & organization, mind mapping) and sometimes that has meant that I do not rethink how I am teaching concepts.

This time around it dawned on me that I was doing students a disservice with the way I was teaching ionic compounds. I was already putting a focus on the octet rule and using Bohr-Rutherford diagrams to see patterns in the electrons on the periodic table, but I was making the mistake of using the "criss-cross rule" which I realized was not teaching them anything...they were memorizing not understanding.

This time around I tried to make use of the compound modelling they did to make connections to everything else. I put one of the wooden spheres under the doc cam and compared it to an element that it might represent by drawing its BR diagram and discussing the idea of each "hole" in the sphere and needed/extra electron as shown in the BR diagram and the ion values they could figure out from the BR diagrams an the patterns in the periodic table (group numbers).

I then showed them that when we make compounds the charges have to balance in order for all of those bonds to be satisfied, thus giving us a stable molecule, by using ion notation and adding ions until a balance was achieved. It took some of my students a couple of times of seeing this before is started to sink in, but I believe that more of them actually understood the concept in the end as opposed to having memorized some rule. Hopefully it will benefit them more as they move into Grade 10 science and Grade 11 chemistry.

My colleague and I also got to take our Grade 9s on a field trip this week to introduce the Biology (Ecosystems) unit. The Credit Valley Conservation crew showed our students how to plant trees and exposed them to invasive species in their own neighbourhood. This will make a great connection for us when we introduce their research project that requires them to figure out how an ecosystem will be effected by a specific invasive/endangered species and how that connects to human interactions with that ecosystem. One of the conservation workers had come into our classes the week before to introduce what they do and how we impact our local ecosystems. Some of my students had done a similar trip with their Geography class earlier in the semester, and they still enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 7 - Stations Lab for Newton's Laws & A Science Tech Symposium

A week late, but still worth sharing.

Through the connections I have made on Twitter I have come across some very interesting ideas, concepts, people, and many fun moments. In a recent #flipclass twitter chat (Mondays 8pm ET) someone questioned how a flipped physics class can address misconceptions and it lead to Katie Lanier mentioning activities/labs that they do for this specific purpose. She was nice enough to share the one that she uses for forces and I used it after introducing Newton's 3 Laws. The students enjoyed doing it and said the next day that it was helpful for clarifying the ideas. I took some videos of them and have linked them with brief descriptions below. Some of the video is better than others (i.e. sometimes I asked students questions, and sometimes it is a just a shot of them doing it). [Please let me know if the links are not working]

Station 1: Flick a piece of cardboard off of a beaker that has a penny sitting on it.

Station 2: Determine which of two boxes is heavier without picking them up.

Station 3: Balance a metre stick (weighted on one end) on your palm.

Station 4: Pull the "table cloth" out from under the "dishes".

Station 5: Try to pull only one square of toilet paper off using one hand.

Station 6/7: Use a "tapping device" to move a ball (one is starting it moving, another based on changing its direction and controlling how far it goes).

I would definitely do this again and would love to find more of these types of activities for other units (even if they are simulation based) to help with other misconceptions. These are exactly what you hope to find time to do by flipping a class :)

One thing I might do differently would be to make at least some of them a bit more PEOE style (predict (explain) observe explain) so that they have to put thought into it BEFORE trying instead of just after seeing it.

Thank you Ms. Lanier!

Last Saturday my board posted a Science & Technology Symposium. There were some interesting topics discussed and it seemed like everyone walked away with something new in their minds (which is all we can ask really). I went to a session that was about getting students to use concepts and ideas to come up with research projects that relate to the curriculum that will also involve primary research and then actually coming up with community action to create awareness about their topic. The second keynote speaker was a professor that he had worked with that was doing research on students using this process so it was a nice tie in and made me wish that I was teaching Gr 10 Science so that I could try it myself. Maybe I can convince my colleagues to try it themselves ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 6 - We Will All Be Numeracy Teachers

This past Friday was a PD Day - and since the new push in the board (and the province) is numeracy, we got to kick the day off with some numbers fun. I was part of the cross-curricular numeracy committee that was charged with planning the morning sessions of our day. We are lucky to have some very passionate teachers and administrators and came up with a plan that we were hopeful would achieve our goals.

We set out to do two things:
1) Try to get everyone to relate to numeracy and realize that it connects to their subject area
2) Accentuate the connection between a growth mindset (which was a focus of ours last year) and success in mathematics - ideally getting staff to recognize how our culture is fine with saying "Oh, it's OK, you're just not good at math" but would never dream of telling someone it was OK to not be good at reading at a young age.

Here is what we came up with:
- Fishbowl: Numeracy team discusses their attitudes toward math and how they got there
- 4 corners: image of 4 different weather that staff chose to match their math attitude - discuss these attitudes within these groups
- Create a graphic organizer to compare "Mathematics" and "numeracy" in cross-curricular groups (ah-ha moments were shared with the whole group afterward)
- Sort skills as "Literacy" or "numeracy" (these came from board/ministry documents that we cut up and gave to groups in an envelope, ah-ha moments were shared with the group)
- Break
- Shared reading of our board's Balanced Mathematics Instruction K-12” poster
- Online mindset inventory to get staff thinking about their own mindsets
- Brief video clip of two different student mindsets when asked a question in class & share some quotes about mindset
- Brainstorm ideas of how to improve mindset within our classroom, school, and parent community (gallery walk to share)
- Brief Michael Jordan video & his story

It seemed to go pretty well. There was a lot of discussion throughout the morning among the different groups of staff for many of the items listed above. It seemed to evoke a lot of thought around the ideas we were hoping for and allowed a lot of them to relate personally to the overall ideas. We have asked everyone for feedback via Google Forms and the responses I have seen so far have been more positive than negative. We are hoping to be able to come up with our next steps from this feedback so that we can keep things as relevant for our staff as possible.

If you have any ideas or suggestions to share with us please leave me a comment below :)