Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Welcome Miss Dyck!

When I returned from Barcelona, Miss Julie Dyck joined our class to complete her final student teaching placement.  We are all really excited to have her working with us.  She has lots of great ideas and she's a really wonderful teacher already!  She will be working with us to help us learn about poetry, spring/seasons, measurement and geometry.

Today, we were thinking about day and night.  We came up with an interesting list of things we see, do, or hear during the day and during the night. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A leisurely Saturday

Our final day in Barcelona was a relaxing one.  We toured the beautiful Sagrada Familia Basilica, had a pizza lunch at Rossini Pizzeria and made one last stop for gelato!  Next, we walked to Port Vell and enjoyed strolling along the harbour, soaking up the warm sunshine.  We went out to Milk Bistro for a late night supper and then went back to our hotel room to pack.  By 3:30AM we were in a taxi to the airport, ready to begin the long journey back home.  It was sad to leave, but we are both very excited to see our families, friends and students!

The global forum has been a positive experience for us.  We've made many connections with people from around the world and had the opportunity to see people who we haven't seen in over a year.   Often we met people in person that we knew from social media interactions or Microsoft conference calls and it was great to have a face to face connection with these people.  Leaving the forum, I really believe in the value of the work we do as educators, school leaders and education stakeholders.  This conference has showcased positive changes going on around the world - we really are working towards improving education around the world!  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 4 at the Microsoft Global Forum

Friday, our Learn-a-thon groups presented our learning activities to a panel of judges and audience of fellow conference attendees.  We had 8 minutes to share our vision for Challenge to ChangeDespite presenting regularly, I felt very nervous!  I was so excited to stand on stage with fellow expert educators from three other countries and share the idea we are so excited about!

Our closing session included messages from:
Jon Fallon - Pearson CEO
Maria Garana Corces - President of Microsoft Spain
Felipe  - Prince of Asturias

There was also a panel discussion, with panelists:
Alexa Joyce: Corporate Development Manager for European Schoolnet
Julio Fontan: President of Learning 1 to 1 Foundation
Mette Hauch: Educator at Hellerup School in Denmark
Steven Ronsjin: School Director at Sint-Lievenscollege Gent in Belgium

Some key points from our panelists included:
  • Technology + good pedagogy make for good teaching and learning.
  • The connections we've made at this Forum need to be preserved - let's keep in touch, work together and collaborate to change education in positive ways!
  • Letting go of some control & letting your students direct their learning will help transform education.
  • Teachers need freedom & trust from school leaders in order to deliver quality teaching.
  • We can empower children - the work showcased at the Global Forum is evidence that it is possible!
  • Connecting with educators around the world gives us new perspective and inspiration - we often face the same challenges despite our varied locations, cultures and backgrounds.  

After the conference had closed, Mrs. Caldwell and I got ready for the evening gala and awards night.  We were very excited to dress up in our fancy gowns, since it`s not something we get to do very often!  We met up with Team Canada for some photos and then went to the conference center for dinner, dessert and the awards ceremony.  Team Canada member Jessie Mann and her group won a Learn-a-thon award in the Sustainability category.  Then, Team Canada hit the stage again when  Mrs. Devon Caldwell and her group won the Gender Equality category of the Learn-a-thon.  It was  exciting to celebrate their successes!  The evening went by so quickly and it was over all too soon; before we knew it we were saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances.  It was an inspiring and motivating conference and we are returning to our classrooms with new enthusiasm!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Microsoft Global Forum: Day 3

Day 3 was a unique day of the Microsoft Global Forum.  Educators from around the world were put into international teams of 4-6 people to work together.  Our goal was to create a learning activity that we could do with our classes after the forum.  I was thrilled to work with some excellent educators, including Jennifer Bevill of the United States, Gerard Duffy from Ireland and Mohammad BaniYounes of Jordan.  After many hours, we had created an exciting learning activity Challenge to Change.  I'm so proud of our collaborative work and I'm really looking forward to launching the activity in the future.  Our plan is:

Using ICT, students from four countries will work together to address sustainability issues. 

Driving Questions:
·         What are the environmental sustainability issues in your area?
·         What can you do to make a difference? 
·         How can you encourage others to take action on sustainability issues?

Phase 1: Acting Locally, Collaborating Globally
  • Making Connections:  Students will meet each other via video conference
  • Knowledge Construction: Students in each classroom will research to identify sustainability issues in their community.  Working in collaborative teams, students will create a presentation to share their findings with the other 3 classrooms
  • Sustainability Conferences:  Classrooms connect a second time to conduct presentations to share the sustainability issues they have identified in their communities.   
  • Creating Action Plans:  Teams of students will work together to develop an action plan that address their sustainability problem.   Final action plans will be shared with all four classrooms.
  • Taking Action:  Students will collaborate to implement their action plans to make a difference in their community.  Actions, progress, results with international team members to ensure accountability.
  • Follow up:  Each classroom will share their results with all classrooms.  This may include successes, difficulties and the impact that their local action plan had. 

Phase 2: Scaling Up the Impact
Once students have taken action locally, they will shift to a global focus.  For this phase, students will be grouped in cross-classroom, international teams.
  • International Team Meetings:  Students will work in international teams to identify a global environmental sustainability issue to address.  
  • Challenge to Change:  Each international team will identify one action that people could take to impact the global environment.  This will become part of  the “Challenge to Change” – a global challenge to encourage others to take action.  Students will design the challenge and promote it publicly to empower others to take action.  Our hope is that the challenge will involve our wider communities, state/province or even our whole countries making a contribution to environmental sustainability!
After another busy day, we had our Team Canada dinner last night.  We went out for supper and a Flamenco performance.  It was a great outing, but I was so exhausted that I almost couldn't stay awake!  It was straight to bed for me after the show! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Microsoft Global Forum: Day 2 Reflections

Day 2 of the forum began early Wednesday morning with Team Canada breakfast, followed by opening remarks and a keynote presentation. Anthony Salcito delivered an engaging keynote, which we really enjoyed and we heard many points that resonated with us. Two of these points were:

The value of service based learning - Anthony made this point in his presentation and we really have experienced the power of service learning in action.  We know from the Little Hands Extended project that having students make a difference in their communities is an opportunity for authentic, engaging learning.  Our students have learned from activities such as organizing Farmer Appreciation Day, working with seniors in the community, fundraising to help at-risk frog species and hosting a garage sale to raise money for people in need.  These service projects have been positive experiences for students and teachers alike.

Tools are just tools, it's the learning and teaching that are important - This was another strong message that really aligns with our teaching practice.  An important shift in our approach to teaching has been a change in our perspective on technology tools.  We really strongly believe that we should set learning and teaching goals first, then find the "best tools for the job".  Tools are there to support learning and they are very important, but they are just that - tools.  The learning and the teaching need to be at the forefront.  However, we also need to be good at identifying educational uses for the tools that we have available (or that students have available).

Next, we were presenting and sharing the Little Hands Extended project at our exhibit booth for a few hours.  We also had the opportunity to connect with others and hear about the learning projects in their classrooms. It's very inspiring to hear about the impressive things students and teachers are doing in other schools, classrooms and counties.  We are planning to have a collection of project summaries to share later this week thanks to Eric Patnoudes (he is collecting the information for all projects featured here!).

Next up on our busy schedule were panel sessions.   Some big questions for our panel Engaging in 21st Century Thinking and Learning were: To promote 21st century learning, what skills do teachers need? what professional development is helpful and necessary?

Our final conference agenda item was a focus group discussion that we were invited to participate in to give feedback on collaboration tools such as Skype and Lync.  Since we use Skype often to connect our classrooms, it was nice to be asked to give our input.

We finished working around 7:00 last night and we were definitely ready for some supper.  We went back to the Gothic Quarter since it has been our favorite area so far.  We walked a similar path to our food tour and stopped at 3 different places.  We enjoyed tapas and had to find the gelato shop for more creamy, delicious gelato for dessert.  It was a relaxing evening after a busy day of work!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Microsoft Global Forum: Day 1

On Tuesday, our day started with 7AM Team Canada breakfast, followed by conference registration and team pictures!
 Photo: The #kentongirls are Proud members of Team Canada @india0309 #microsoftgf  Photo credit: Kate Taylor
 Photo credit: Kate Taylor

Next, we set up our Little Hands Extended display. Our brand new Microsoft Surfaces were waiting for us at our booth!

Embedded image permalink

We attended the team building session with Tracy Immel.  This was an opportunity to meet our "Learn-a-Thon" teams and work with them on a group activity.  We then had professional development sessions that helped us learn to use our Surfaces and gave us some ideas for using them in the classroom.

Embedded image permalinkOur Little Hands Extended exhibit was open from 2:45-6:30 and one of our judges visited our booth to find out more about our project and evaluate it based on the 21st century learning rubrics.  It was a very busy afternoon of meeting and reconnecting with teachers, principals, Microsoft staff, sponsors and judges.  We really enjoyed sharing our students' great work and we received lots of positive feedback on their great action plans - way to go Kindergartens and Grade 1s!  A big highlight was when Microsoft's Vice President for Education,  Anthony Salcito, stopped by our display!

After exhibits closed, we had a short break and then returned to the conference center for the welcome reception.  We met up with many people we'd met at previous forums and also made some great new connections.  One of the best parts of this event is meeting people from around the world who are passionate about improving and changing education.  We had some great conversations and learned a lot! We even got to chat with one of our favorite keynote speakers from the 2012 Forum, Simon Breakspear and behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert, who works for Bing. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 2 in Barcelona

We wanted to experience more of Barcelona, so we took a big walk on Monday once we were better rested. We saw many beautiful buildings, historical places and went on a food tour.  Our favorite area was the Gothic Quarter. We got lots of exercise and had a lovely day! 

 The Gothic Quarter - beautiful narrow streets with lovely buildings!

Placa Reial

The first stop on our food tour.  
 We were really brave and tried several new foods!
The yuckiest thing we ate was cold anchovies flavored with vinegar and oil

We enjoyed a variety of meats, cheeses and breads.
We walked around the Gothic Quarter during our food tour and got to see many more sights in this interesting area!

The most delicious part was eating gelato for dessert!  It was very creamy and delicious!

Monday, March 10, 2014

We've Arrived!

Mrs. Devon Caldwell and I were selected to be a part of Team Canada at this year's Microsoft Global Forum.  We are in Barcelona, Spain for the week for this special event, which focuses on recognizing innovative teachers and schools, providing relevant professional development and improving learning for students around the globe.  We will be working with educators from many different countries and we are so excited to share the Little Hands Extended project - we are very proud of our students' work and we always enjoy showing their learning to others! 

 Although we love to have coordinating outfits, we did NOT plan our matching black and purple traveling outfits.  Starbucks at the Winnipeg Airport was a must, since we are both big fans of their lattes. 

It was a long journey to get here.  We traveled 2.5 hours from Winnipeg to Toronto, then boarded a very long 7.5 hour flight from Toronto to Frankfurt.  Next, we had to wait about 3 hours in Frankfurt, which was really hard since we were so sleepy (Mrs. Caldwell even had to have a nap).  Finally, we boarded our last flight to Barcelona, which was about another 2 hours long.  We were so exhausted that we slept soundly for our last flight and were ready to see the sights when we got to Barcelona!

We checked in at our hotel and were excited to have a view of the sea from our tenth floor room. 

Next, we went to explore Barcelona.  We walked around and then decided to take a bus tour.  We got to sit on the top floor of the double decker bus, which was really fun.  We got to see lots of the city from the bus.  We decided to get off the bus and go for a walk at Park Guell. It is a lovely, green park and we were excited to enjoy warmer weather here (16C).  You can climb up the hills in the park to get a great view of the city. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Energy Diet Challenge

Here are our trackers from our first challenge Do you really need it?   Everyone tracked their energy consumption and agreed to give up 1 energy-consuming "want" for 4 days to help save energy!

And as a side note, I guess I was hoping it was a leap year because I typed "February 29th" on our trackers instead of March 1st!   Ooops!  I only realized this once I'd already uploaded everything :(

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Olympic Project Reflections

It feels a bit sad to be finishing up our Olympics project, but I was really pleased to read my students' reflections and see the many things they learned and enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Emperor's Egg

Today we read The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins.  Before we read, we listed some things we knew/thought we knew about penguins:

What we know about penguins:
  • they eat fish
  • macaroni penguins have yellow on their heads
  • penguins lay eggs
  • penguins can swim
  • they live in Antartica
  • penguins have to keep their eggs warm
  • they live at the north pole
As we read, we kept track of new information we learned:
  • when the chick is big enough, the parents leave it alone and go fishing
  • when baby penguins are 4 months old, they can look after themselves boy Emperor penguins are about 4 feet tall and females are smaller
  • Emperor penguins are the biggest in the world
  • Emperor penguins eat squid, fish, krill
  • female penguins lay eggs
  • female penguins spend most of the winter in the water, eating a lot
  • the father has to stay with the egg
  • he has to make sure the egg stays warm or else the chick will die
  • they put the egg on their feet and tuck it under their tummy
    they sit on their egg for two months until it hatches
  • she lays the egg in May or June, which is the start of winter in Antarctica 
  • the father penguin doesn't get anything to eat while he's egg-sitting, that's like us not eating breakfast or lunch or dinner or snacks
  • they huddle to stay warm
    they have fat under their skin to keep warm
  • if a spot is very slippery, penguins slide on their tummies but they are careful not to bump into each other because they still have the eggs with them
  • when the dad penguin goes sliding, sometimes the egg rolls out and breaks
  • one day the egg will crack open 
  • when the baby chick hatches, the Dad penguins has 2 jobs: keep it warm and feed it
    a penguin chick is very small
  • the dad has a pouch to milky stuff to feed the baby until the mom comes home
  • each penguin has their own sound
  • the chick can make a whistling sound
  • the mom penguin spits food into the baby's mouth and it looks yucky but the baby needs it 
I was very impressed with the many facts that students summarized - it forms quite an impressive list!  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Classroom Energy Diet: Do you really need it?

I received an email about the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge earlier this year.  Since my students have choices about their project learning each year, I asked students if they'd be interested taking part.  After some discussion, we decided that we'd sign up for the challenge.  The challenge began as we were in the midst of our Olympics project, so we are just getting started with our challenges now.  K-12 students across the country are working to increase energy awareness and we are excited to be a part of this work!   I hope you will follow us on our journey.

Our first challenge, called Do you really need it?, is currently underway.  We learned about needs versus wants and discussed some of the things we use that require energy.  Students are now tracking their energy use for 3 days and identifying needs vs. wants in terms of their energy consumption.  Next, students have agreed to give up one energy-consuming "want" for 4 days in order to save energy.  We will share our tracking once we've completed this challenge.  If you'd like to join this activity, please download the tracker here and adjust it to fit your needs.  We'd love to hear about your learning activities and energy-saving changes!