May 30th – June 3rd

Feedback with Colourful Comments Symbol20160526_095531Wow, what an amazing week we just completed. Hepburn School was buzzing from start to finish and there was a great “vibe” throughout. Track and field events provided bookends for the week as the elementary event went on a perfect Tuesday and the senior track team participated at Griffiths on a crazy Friday that featured sunny skies and rolling thunder. It was great to see everyone out there having fun and trying their best. In between we had a lot of great learning going on in the building as Joel Jeschke had the library rocking all day Thursday, thank you very much Kurt and Meredith on creating a great opportunity for all of our learners. Renaye had the grade 9 science fair which had kids young and old “ooohing and aaahing” at some of the cool creations, it was an electric atmosphere, that’s for sure!20160526_132109

This week the learning continues as you will see outlined in the final section. Our grade 12’s are going to be exploring Saskatchewan on their annual SaskTrip while the pre-K’s will be learning what is next on their learning journey as they have their graduation and K introduction. On Tuesday, Ron, Danielle Olson, and myself will be at our final ALT meeting for the year where the theme for the meeting is Learning from Failures.

20160524_115107During her last visit, Lori asked us about how we are going to gather and give feedback as the year winds up. She asked how we are going to reflect with Jamie and how Ron is going to offer me feedback as I prepare for the next step in my journey. This had me thinking about how we get feedback from our students as the year comes to a close. Learning Link 1 is an article from Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher)that invites us to think about different ways of gathering feedback from our students to help us improve for next year. What are some ways you are doing this? Here is a thought I had as I read this, what if this was a required process and the information that was shared had to be a key part of our transition meetings? Would that change our conversations? I’d love to hear your thoughts.20160525_100322

In Learning Link 2 I have included the instructions for creating an online survey (for free) by using SurveyMonkey. When you have a look at the instructions, think about the types of questions you’d like to ask and how you will use the feedback you may receive. Are you interested in how you did as you tried to actualize parts or all of My Prairie Spirit Classroom? What questions could you ask in a survey? Could they be as simple as:

  • in our class the students do most of the talking
  • in our class the teacher sits beside me as I learn
  • in our class I get to choose how I show my understanding
  • in our class our teacher has high expectations of our work
  • in our class I get feedback on my work that helps me improve
  • in our class the teacher lets us know what the main idea for the lesson will be
  • in our class we have had other teachers come in to watch our teacher teach

How do you think your students would answer those questions?

Finally, here is a short video where a group of experts discusses the importance of education from there point of view, cool feedback for all of us.

Here’s what is going on this week:


  • SaskTrip begins, Ryan, Renaye and the grade 12’s are on the road
  • Bruce gone (am only)


  • Pre K graduation in the gym, followed by K introduction
  • Ron & Bruce gone all day (ALT meeting)



  • Bruce gone (am only, medical)


  • SaskTrip concludes
  • Tana Thiessen at Provincial Track & Field (High Jump)

As always, create a great week!

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May 23rd – 27th

quote-Vince-Lombardi-practice-does-not-make-perfect-only-perfect-41781What a nice long weekend, with one day to go! Hopefully you do not read this until Monday night or Tuesday morning. I hope you were able to get the work done you needed to on Friday, those prep days sure help, especially when we are heading down the home stretch.

With students attempting to best their best in track and field, I’ve been thinking a lot about excellence lately, and how this applies not only to athletics but to academics as well. If you think about how motivated athletes are to be the best in their event, think about all the preparation they put in leading up to the big event. Competitors will practice tirelessly with no possibility of a ribbon or trophy at the practice all in the hope that they will be the best they can be when it counts. How can we help our students adopt this attitude when it comes to their studies? It is my belief that all students want to be successful, and if there is the likelihood that they will be successful they will work towards it.

far-sideImagine this scenario:

A track athlete spends weeks practicing for the 80 meter hurdles event. This student works with coaches who bring in experts who can demonstrate certain skills and techniques to help the athlete be the absolute best they can be. The student then practices, day after day, keeping in mind what the expert had shown them. They listen to their coach who not only encourages, but who gets out of the way and offers advice when needed. The student feels they are ready for the big event. The night before they get a great sleep, then wake up to have a healthy breakfast and head to the track. They arrive at their event and this is where the surprise shows up, all of a sudden the hurdles are at different heights and spaced in unusual ways. The event that was supposed to be an 80 meter event is now 120 meters. The student lines up and runs the race, doing alright, but struggling along the way. The event did not mimic the practice.

Rootbeer Boys
Gr. 7 Root Beer Making

Now, ask yourself this, do we do this to our students? Do our assessments (big events) match the practice work? Do we allow them to learn and push themselves without fear of failure leading up to the assessment? Just some thoughts as we head into the season of final assessments.

Learning Link 1 is a very interesting article that talks about ipsative assessment, or grading personal bests. As I was reading, I was wondering how I could make this work with the grade 8 math students I am teaching algebra to in June. This form of assessment is very reflective of athletic training or video game playing, but would it work in your classroom? Have a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The second Learning Link is one that comes from Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), in it she shares, “5 fantastic, fast, formative assessment tools”. One of the tools is Plickers, and as you know this is something Leah and Ruth use frequently in their classes. It’s always so nice to see some of the things we are doing supported by the latest educational talk. Take a look at the article and see what catches your eye…who knows, maybe you will try something, love it, and share it at a staff meeting.

In Learning Link 3, Dylan Wiliam talks about the importance of task specific feedback versus praise when it comes to moving student learning forward. Early in the video he states that giving praise has little to no positive impact on student learning, and may at times be detrimental, or have a negative effect. He says if we are just going to give praise (i.e. Bruce, this was your best blog post in the past 3 weeks) we’d be better off giving no feedback at all. What do you think? Is there a place for praising student effort? I’d love to hear your thoughts after you watch the video.

Here is a look at the week ahead:


  • enjoy your day 🙂


  • Elementary T&F set up


  • K – 6 Track & Field


  • Joel Jeschke visit (Life Trans 20/30, Music)
  • Grade 7 trip to Moose Jaw
  • Grade 9 science fair


  • Sr. Track & Field Districts (Jesse, Bruce gone)
  • Subway Lunch

As always, create a great week!

 135 total views

May 16th – 20th

trustWhat a nice baby shower Friday after school, it’s always great to gather as a group in those less formal settings to laugh together and celebrate the important things in life. Once again the social committee did a great job, so thank you very much for that, I could tell Lindsay really appreciated it.

Some fluffy new K critters
Some fluffy new K critters

Looking forward to another busy week, this one will be a shorter one, but none-the-less, it will be a whirlwind for sure. Last week I had the fortune of having some really great conversations in my office with various teachers on topics ranging from student learning to frustrations outside of the school. I’m reminded of how lucky I am to work with such amazing people everyday, and how much I appreciate the trust that has been built up in the 4 years I’ve been at Hepburn School. The trust that I feel exists between our staff members has me thinking about how this extends to our classrooms. Do your students trust you? Do you trust them? Is trust needed in the pursuit of deep, lasting learning?

Would you trust Al?
Would you trust Al?

Learning Link 1 talks about trust, and how important it is to student learning. In the article, the topic of being fair is broached, and this quote stood out to me. The author writes, “fair means all students getting the same rules, and exceptions to those rules”. Do you think fair means all students getting the same rules? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

In Learning Link 2, one of my favorite speakers, Simon Sinek, talks about the critical need for human contact and trust to move an organization forward. It might be a little heavy on the business side of things, but I wonder what parallels you see to education, and more specifically to Hepburn School and your classroom? I really like the point he strikes at the 11 minute mark when he talks about leadership and the inspiration we can have on those with whom we work. If you have time, watch the video, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

The third Learning Link is an article that talks about developing trust with our students. Here is a line I lifted from the article, I wonder what it makes you think? As teachers, we have learned to distrust our students. Have a look at the article and see if you agree with Ben Johnson’s view of how we can use differentiated learning, project-based learning, and dare I suggest genius hour, to build trust between student and teacher. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday (Day 6):

  • K – 6 school yard clean up (after 
  • Staff meeting (3:15) Agendas have been placed in your mailboxes
  • Ron presenting Bethany proposal to PSSD board


  • Track & Field practice after school


  • Grade 7 Bio-blast trip (U of S)
  • Danielle Olson visit (am ~ tentative)


  • Grade 7-12 Track & Field (Griffiths)
    • Ruth, Jesse, Scott gone


  • Teacher prep day

As always, create a great week and please have a great May long weekend!

 157 total views

May 9 – May 13


Just because...
Just because…

Another amazing week in the rear-view mirror and there were a lot of great things going on in and outside of the school. Last Tuesday, Jamie, Ron and myself had the honor of sharing your story at division office with John Kuzbik, some superintendents, a board member, and two other schools. A cool part of this process is the opportunity for other schools to offer feedback and ask questions after watching our presentation. The comment that made me smile the brightest was an anonymous one that simply said, “I can tell there is great team work going on at Hepburn School”. Who ever said that was right, and I’m glad that the stories and images Ron and Jamie shared conveyed that important message.

Please score a goal!
Please score a goal!

Last week it was evident yet again how much heart there is in our educational community, as the activities were once again, focused on the students. Seeing Sandi go above and beyond to collect money for a needy cause and also spend time power washing the tarmac was just one example, thanks for that Sandi! Jackie and Ruth organized a couple of special days for the students where they could learn about lacrosse and track and field from some experts, thanks for that Jackie & Ruth. Ron has been working tirelessly on making a dream of using Bethany a reality, and I know the extra hours he is putting in on that, not because it is best for him, but because it is best for the students, thanks for that Ron! Seeing the EAs work magic with the students who need just that little extra so school can be a place where they can thrive, not just survive, thanks to all the EAs for that. Everything else that is going on, from SRC fundraising, to SaskTrip plans, to grad planning, to basketball wind ups, to persuasive writing projects, to TinkerCAD, to Track and Field practices, and on and on it goes. I always worry that I’m missing some information when I point out some of the cool things I hear and see during a week, so if I forgot to mention something you were involved in, I apologize. What impresses me the most is the humility with which you approach all of these activities. Never once has anyone of you come to me and said, “please mention me in On the Horizon for the work I am doing”. You do the work because you care, and you care because our kids are worth it, thank you everyone for that!

Creative Kids!
Creative Kids!

My focus this week is on the importance of humility. In the first learning link (which is just an excerpt of a larger document), humility is defined and viewed through the lens of teaching. Do you feel you need to be the expert in the room? Does all the teaching have to flow through you? How do you model humility for your students?

Learning link 2 comes from Dave Stuart Jr (@davestuartjr) who writes about the importance of humility and how it can make you a better teacher. His article really had me asking myself a lot of questions (which is the sign of a great article, isn’t it), especially on how we receive compliments. Have a read, I’d be interested to hear about what your thoughts are on humility.

The final learning link is a gripping TEDtalk that will make you laugh, and might bring a tear to your eye. The title of the talk speaks for itself, Ben Dunlap is a very good story teller.

Here is just some of the things that are going on this week:


  • 9:00 am ~ bus drivers meeting (staff room)
  • Track practice after school


  • Gr. 4 persuasive writing proposal presentations (classroom)
  • Track practice after school


  • K – 6 yard clean up, please supply a rake or wheel barrow if you can


  • Wacky hair day
  • Sheppards Villa Lunch ($2.00)
  • Bruce gone (am only ~ medical)


  • Ron gone (all day)


  • Steak night (see Ryan for more information)

As always, create a great week!


 151 total views

May 2nd – May 6th

Another glorious weekend, and it looks like the weather will continue to be nice this week, great news for you golfers, right Scott? I had an amazing weekend with lots of different activities; helping my mom work in her yard, watching my nephew play wheelchair basketball in the Western Nationals, and exploring different parks in the city with my kids. What were you busy doing this

Working on element boxes
Working on element boxes


This week is a special one in PSSD as it kicks off the annual Learning for Life presentations by all of our schools. In May, our regular monthly administrator’s meeting is replaced with several

presentations where 3 or 4 different schools come together in Warman to share their learning story from the past year. This year we are so excited to have Jamie coming along to share her story, which really is the story of all of us. We have had such a tremendous year together, and when Ron, Jamie and I huddle around a computer deciding what to include in our presentation, we marvel at how far we have come this year. In August, I felt we were a staff who collectively looked at the My Prairie Spirit Classroom document with trepidation and doubts. Today, I feel we are a staff that believes in risk-taking when it comes to our own learning, and we are open to sharing with each other. Does this mean we have MPSC mastered in all of its facets? Of course not, but there has been a real growth in the culture of learning at Hepburn School, and I’m excited to see where this continues to go.

Gr. 4 discussing assessment

Some of the great things I see when I go into classes are when you allow kids to explore their own creativity. From Kurt with his TinkerCAD in math class, to Renaye and her element picture boxes, to Leah & Ruth’s genius hour, to Meredith’s photo journalism presentations, the list could go on and on. Some of the creative things are

easier for us to see, like the amazing art work Sandi and Jesse have been inspiring their students to create, while others are not so visible to all, like the creative thinking Scott is having his students do as they explore Shakespeare. Learning link 1 talks about creativity in the classroom, with three of the authors favorite strategies. What can you steal from this article?

One of the things we are most excited to talk about in Warman, is our dedicated reading time.

Gr. 3 Reading Strategies
Gr. 3 Reading Strategies

This article, learning link 2, caught my eye right away, as it is the topic of many conversations Ron and I have in his office on a weekly basis. I was able to sit in on one of Ruth’s book talks the other day, and was inspired to come up with a list of books I want to talk to classes about. Are you doing book talks during or after your reading time? Do the kids know what you like to read?


As always, lot’s going on this week, so here is a look ahead…

Music Monday:

  • Students from gr. 7 – 12 will have an opportunity to head over to Martensville for some music education
  • Staff meeting after school (Ryan’s room)


  • Ron, Jamie & Bruce away (am only) at our Learning for Life presentation
  • Jr. badminton playoffs today


  • Grade 7 – 12 lacrosse lessons today (thanks to elem. teachers for making gym available)


  • Jr. badminton playoffs, round 2
  • Ascension Day (you may be missing several students today)


  • University of Saskatchewan track athletes here to work with students in 7 – 12

As always, create a great week!

 116 total views