February 29th – March 4th

thHmm, I’m starting to worry about Mother Nature.  I actually saw a couple people jogging down the street on Friday as I was going to pick up my kids from their school, and I thought, “geesh, this is February, and it’s plus 8 out there!” Fast forward to tonight and that’s a wicked wind, jolting us back to reality.

It was a busy weekend around Mr. M’s house as new bedroom furniture arrived for Maggie’s (our 2 1/2 year old girl) room and I had the pleasure of putting this together.  As I was doing this the kids were so excited about the change and they were more than willing to help take out the old and help set up the new. It’s interesting how an initial change can spark excitement, I’m reminded of how this also happened for Bobby (9 yrs old) and Eva (5 yrs old) on separate occasions.  Today the aforementioned two are not as excited as they were before, as now their bedroom is just back to being their bedroom.  I’m sure this will happen for Maggie as well.  And before you wonder, yes Charlie (Maggie’s twin brother) has a room too :).  Along with this excitement, I also stole a little time for myself on Saturday to watch a little bit of the Detroit Red Wings / Colorado Avalanche hockey game.  I tuned in for the spectacle, not the teams (I cheer for Arizona and Ottawa), for it was an outdoor game.  Initially the viewing experience was pretty cool, but eventually it just turned into another hockey game, and I found myself flipping back to the Toronto vs. Montreal game.

So, what does bedroom furniture and an outdoor hockey game have to do with learning?  After all, this blog is intended to focus on student and adult learning.  My message this week has to do with classroom environment.  Ron and Cory were busy last week getting our new furniture (it’s beautiful by the way, nice eye Ron!) distributed to different classrooms.  As was the case with the library last year, there was a buzz of excitement when the students saw the new digs.  What we need to remember, however, is that it is not the furniture that makes the learning environment, it’s the teachers stance on learning.  Look at the statement from My Prairie Spirit Classroom below,

Learning opportunities for all students are characterized by high expectations (rigour), personal and purposeful application (relevance), collaborative learning environments (relationship), risk-taking to consider alternative instructional approaches (innovative) and student choice (engagement).

It is important to have comfortable, collaborative learning environments, however that can’t be all we do.  How do you keep your expectations high (rigour)? What are you doing to keep the work relevant? What kind of innovation is occurring in your room in an attempt to engage?20160226_145255  I’ve included a picture of something I saw on Friday in the library. Kurt is currently teaching grade 11 math (Workplace & Apprenticeship 20) and is in the midst of his unit studying slope. When I saw him in the library with a couple students I asked what they were up to, and he informed me they are brainstorming how to learn about angles and slope by designing a miniature mini golf course (a mini-mini-golf course). What stood out was how the students were driving the conversation and thus the learning.  Very cool stuff indeed!

Learning link 1 is an article that shares the experience of a teacher that turned over the classroom design to her students, and while doing that she introduced them to some new technology!

Learning link 2 is one I really like because it contains seven really good questions that cause one to pause and reflect on their own classroom practices.

What’s up this week?

Monday:

  • SRC kick off spirit week
  • NHL trade deadline day

Tuesday:

  • Super Tuesday in the good ole US of A

Wednesday:

  • Kindergarten parent conferences

Thursday:

Friday:

  • SRC winter spirit week 7-12 wind up (pm)

As always, create a great week!

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February 22nd – 26th

Innovation

Welcome back one and all after what I’m hoping was a tremendous break for everyone.  Monday marks the return of Jackie Salzl to grade 7, and we are all excited to see her back in the building.  When Ami returned she remarked that it felt like September in February, and I’m sure Jackie will be feeling the same way.  Sandra texted me during the break with more exciting news, some of our new furniture order from The Brick has arrived!  Please touch base with Ron to see if you can get your hands on some of this stuff for your room.

Over the break I continued with my latest read (The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros) and was thinking a lot about what we are doing at Hepburn School.  George defines innovation, “as a way of thinking that creates Cover-in-3Dsomething new and better.  Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better”, it is not innovative.”  Something that kept rolling around in my head as I read this was the question, what kind of learning environment is needed for innovation to occur?  Ron & I have had endless discussions about learning and the environment we are trying to create that will help you feel free to come up with new and better ways to help your students learn. I’d like to challenge you to continue being innovative and keep trying new things. If you do go ahead and try something and find that it flops (which sometimes happens when we try new things), please feel free to use this do over cardRedo Card

So, it’s one thing to say, “go for it”, but it’s another to say “go for it, and by the way here’s something that might help”.  With that, I offer learning link number one.  It is a post from George Couros as he discusses the 8 characteristics of the innovator’s mindset. I’ve spoken with teachers in our own building who are looking for new and better ways to do what has always been done. Just the other day Ruth spoke to Ron & I about changing how she is going to deliver her math curriculum from a standard classroom model to a more collaborative boardroom setting (speak to her for more info).  Ami has been wrestling with the concept of integrating curricula to make better use of her students time and energy.  I am looking at a different form of summative assessment in my Workplace Math 20 class, ditching the old test I would normally administer and offering up a project to the kids as a way of demonstrating their understanding.  Innovation is happening in our building, I just think we need to talk about it more!

Learning link number two is a TEDtalk by Charles Leadbeater who discusses the need for innovation in education.  How do you spark curiosity in your classroom? How is technology used for more than just searching and showing? How have you disrupted the formal education in your setting?


 

What’s Up This Week:

Monday:

  • Grade 4’s & 5’s are off to watch the Blades play in Saskatoon

Tuesday:

  • Grade 10 – 12 ski trip to Table Mountain (Jesse, Kurt, Ryan, Scott, Meredith)

Wednesday:

  • Gambling awareness presentation (gr. 7 – 9 + Life Transitions class)
  • Denae Ebach & Kaitlin Bueckert are writing the Science Challenge exam (see Renaye for more info on this)

Thursday:

 

Friday:

  • Subway lunch today

As always, create a great week!

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February 8 – February 12

banner-winter-fence

We are into our last week before the winter break and before we know it the morning commute will be accompanied by our beautiful Saskatchewan sunrises.  Every year staff members come and staff members move on and this week will mark the last week for Scott Waters.  Scott joined us last year in grade six and has enjoyed a successful year in grade seven this year. Scott will be moving on to Blaine Lake for the remainder of the year.  Thank you for everything you have done during your time at Hepburn School, we wish you nothing but the best Scott!

Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow. . . the plant grows itself. What you can do is provide the conditions for growth. -Sir Ken Robinson
Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow. . . the plant grows itself. What you can do is provide the conditions for growth. -Sir Ken Robinson

Over the past couple of weeks, Ron and I have been analyzing our Tell Them From Me data from the surveys the students completed earlier this school year.  Our conversations have run the gamut, from high fives, celebration, and laughter to concerns, questions, and even (mildly) heated debates.  At our staff meeting on Monday we will be taking some time to discuss the data, trying to make sense of what it means, how we can build on the great things we already do, and how we can help students become more motivated and interested.

This week, learning link number one talks about the importance of intrinsic motivation as it relates to student learning.  As you read this, think about what resonates with you and what you do in your class, this is something we can talk about Monday after school.  Along with that, think about what you see in the article and how it aligns with My Prairie Spirit Classroom.

The second learning link is a TEDx talk I found on YouTube.  Kayla (@MrsDelz) challenges us to re-imagine our classrooms and our roles.  Have you ever Googled yourself?  Have you taken yourself out of the role of teacher and put yourself in the role of co-learner?  As you watch this, ask yourself if there are things you’d like to do, but aren’t sure where to start or if it would be supported.  Watch the video and think about ways you could be a leader on the staff.  Do you know we have things like genius hour going on in our school at a variety of classroom levels? Do you know we have students not only using technology as a learning device but as a learning artifact (talk to Ryan about Jacob Hutchinson’s dystopia study from last semester)? Watch the video and simply ask yourself, could I do that?

Here’s what’s on the horizon this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting (3:15 in library)
    • elementary staff please bring your Saskatchewan Reads coil bound book

Tuesday:

  • Tania gone to SERT meeting
  • Bruce gone to admin book study (pm only)

Wednesday:

  • Ron away Admin Planning Meeting (am only)

Thursday:

  • Sheppard’s Villa lunch ($2.00)
  • Sandra P gone all day (appt.)

Friday:

  • DQ treats delivered
  • Elementary Winterfest (pm only)

As always, create a great week!

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