#IMMOOC – Summary

In my most recent post, I went through all my notes from the book, videos, and chats from the #IMMOOC experience and basically did a brain dump of the things I highlighted.

Now, to further the reflection process, I have gone through that post again and have now honed in on the BIG IDEAS that really resonated with me and have inspired me.

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  • If your methods aren’t being questioned, you’re not pushing the envelope enough (innovators are often questioned).
  • Always think “Would I want to be a learner in my classroom?”
  • The 5 E lesson template mentioned by Alice Keeler
    • Engage
    • Explore
    • Explain (notice that this is the THIRD step!)
    • Extend
    • Evaluate
  • Relationships are KEY to success in innovation
  • Reflection and creativity are huge parts of learning
  • Empowerment: give students the knowledge to pursue their interests
  • Depth, not Breadth; Less is More!

The main ideas I want to try in the classroom:

  • Ditch that Homework!
  • Going gradeless
  • One-on-one conferencing
  • Reflection time in class
  • Sharing student learning with larger audience

Concluding thought: Innovation is what I CAN do within the system, not what I can’t!

 

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#IMMOOC – Reflection & Impact

This was the last week of #IMMOOC – and I feel sad that it’s over! It was so wonderful to connect with so many other like-minded educators from around the world. The good thing is we can all stay connected through Twitter and blogs!

Here are some things I highlighted from the readings, videos, and chats. (This will be a bit of a brain dump right now. I hope to have time to sort back through this to really hone in on the BIG IMPORTANT points for me!):

Week 1:

  • If people aren’t disagreeing with you, you’re not pushing the envelope enough.
  • Work with other people who are willing to change.
  • Innovators are often questioned
  • More synapses fire with mistakes

Week 2:

  • We need to innovate inside the box
  • We should understand failure but not be accepting of it! Grit and resiliency are key traits
  • Ask yourself:
    • “Would I want to be a student in my classroom?”
    • “What is best for the learner?”
    • “How did this work for the students?” (reflection is KEY!!)
  • 8 characteristics of innovative mindset: empathy, problem finder/solver, risk takers, networked, observant, creators, resilient, reflective
  • From Alice Keeler:
    • Make room for what matters in the classroom
    • Homework has been show to have very low effectiveness
    • The 5 E lesson template: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate
    • Let the students use previous knowledge to attempt solving a problem; let them struggle; then fill in gaps (things YOU can help them learn and show them something new)
    • Choice is KEY

Week 3:

  • RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS!!
  • Need to connect with the person before connecting with the mind
  • From Tara Martin ()
    • Canonball in!!!!
    • girl-jumping-into-water-bwe1dw
    • Find the people who’ll pour gasoline on your fire, not put it out.
    • Sharing the process is just as important as seeing the end result

Week 4:

  • Engagement is good; but also must empower
  • Empowerment is giving students the knowledge to pursue their own passions and interests
  • People need ownership and autonomy to be empowered
  • We are not there to control students but to bring out the best in them (pg. 99)
  • Our thinking must focus on what learning truly can be, not what is has been (Pg. 100)
  • If we want our students to be innovative, we must be innovative
  • 8 things to look for in today’s classroom: Voice, choice, time for reflection, opportunities for innovation, critical thinkers, problem solvers/finders, self-assessment, connected learning
  • From Patrick Larkin:
    • Grades are the lowest form of feedback you can give a student.
    • We condition students to ask about grades (what kindergarten student asks about this??)

Week 5:

  • Focusing on strengths does not mean ignoring weaknesses.
  • Building on strengths ensures you get the most out of them
  • Technology should be personalized, not standarized
  • Learners are the drivers, technology is the accelerator
  • We need to focus on depth, not breadth in education!
  • Less is more means being intentional with our choices
  • Much more important to move from literate, to adaptive, to transformative by spending more time with less options
  • Learning happens when we take knowledge and create something from it.
  • The more open we are with our learning, the more others and ourselves will get out of it!
  • Our world today is participatory; sharing should not be the exception in education but the norm.” (pg. 178)
  • In PD, there should be time for sharing our voices, choices, reflection, opportunities for innovation, critical thinking, problem finders/solvers, self-assessment, connected learners

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Week 6:

  • Creating an innovative environment by:
    • Focusing on strengths
    • Learners driving our decisions
    • More focus and deeper learning
    • Embracing open culture
    • Learning about things we want to see in our classrooms
  • Innovation is a MINDSET, not a skill set
  • Understanding the basics is imperative to innovation
  • Need to help students find their gifts
  • From Kayla Delzer (@TopDogTeaching)
    • Flexible seating/environments are very beneficial for students!
      • Doesn’t mean less structure, actually more!
      • “True flexible seating leads to ownership and choice, which leads to more motivation, which leads to better learning: (via 
      • Lots of soft skills being learned!
      • Need to teach Ss where they LEARN best not where their friends are or what’s most comfortable.

Here are some things I’d like to do/try as a result of participating in #IMMOOC:

  • Read Ditch That Homework book by Alice Keeler
  • More cross-collaboration with other subjects/departments
  • Problem solving with industry partners
  • Going gradeless
  • Giving more choices, passion projects, etc..
  • More thinking about tests…I’ll probably do a whole post on this one.
  • LOVE the idea of shadowing a student for a couple of days to see school through their eyes!
  • One-on-one student conferencing
  • Weekly reflection time in class time.
  • Learning portfolios

 

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#IMMOOC W5c – Practicing “Less is More”

One of the chapters we read this week in #IMMOOC really hit on the fact that we are often doing too much as educators/schools/boards. In a time were we have access to so many cool, new, fun ideas, it can be really hard to focus on what’s really important.

This chapter made me reflect on my first time teaching in the classroom last year (two science lines, but 3 physics courses). Being a new teacher who already created an amazing online PLN – I had access to many resources and ideas.

So many, in fact, that it became overwhelming.

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It felt like I was being tugged in a hundred different directions because all the resources I came across were all so different, but all so intriguing. So, I ended up feeling paralyzed and couldn’t make any decisions! I’d try to go with one, but then would find something different and try that instead, and around the black hole I went!

Ultimately, this combination of wealth of resources and connections and my anxiety about teaching for the first time caused much unnecessary stress.

Now that I’m able to reflect, I know going forward that I need to chose a handful of strategies/ideas to focus on and be more clear with my students what my motivation is!

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#IMMOOC W5b – Learning through PLNs!

When I started on my path in the public education world, I found out quickly that being on Twitter and reading blogs is an amazing way to access fantastic resources. Luckily I knew some incredibly innovative teachers through my previous academic life who helped point me in the right direction in creating my professional learning network (PLN).

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At first it was about curriculum-related resources, but then I realized that it was even better to connect with the people BEHIND those resources!

I’ve done one-on-one chats with another physics teacher (Hi Heather!) from another school board in Ontario to learn more about how she implemented an electronic flipped classroom.

I’ve emailed another physics teacher, Chris Meyer, about the fantastic resources he created and he was open about sharing ideas with me!

I’ve also reconnected with a friend (Hi, Andrea) from graduate school days! We are now both Math and Physics teachers in different boards, and we connect frequently online to chat about everything from classroom management, to educational activity ideas, to books we’re reading, to struggles we’re facing in the classroom.

Sometimes being a Physics teacher especially can feel lonely and isolating because you’re often the only one in a school. So, having other teachers to learn from and connect with helped me feel supported and part of a larger community who share common goals and struggles.

These are just a few examples of how my PLN has not just helped me find good teaching resources, but have made me a better overall educator.

 

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#IMMOOC W5 – Helping Ss Know What They Don’t Know

This week #IMMOOC’s blog assignments are to write 3 shorter posts, so stay tuned for 2 more this week!

Chapter 8 of The Innovator’s Mindset had me reflecting on strength-based learning and how this is an area I definitely need to improve.

I thought giving choices to students was a strategy I could use to focus on their strengths. I still think it is, but I need to take it further by helping them find and grow their strengths!

As an example, I have given assessments where students can chose a topic they are interested in, research it, and present it in a way that suits them best.

Some students really went with it, and chose unique topics and created amazing products. Some though, I think felt paralyzed by all the decisions they had to make.

Since it’s hard to know what you don’t know, trying to find something that interests you within a topic you don’t know much about can be really frustrating! You know?

what-you-dont-know

To help with this, something I could do in the future is to give students resources for starting points. Not a list, but something that covers a wide range of topics in a shortish amount of time. A good example would be the first episode of COSMOS where Neil deGrasse Tyson basically overviews all of Astronomy.

This way students could have wide, yet fairly basic introduction and could then hone in on what interests them the most.

 

 

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#IMMOOC W4 – Modelling Learning on the Go!

To inspire students to be innovative and take risks in the classroom, they need to see their teacher doing the same. So, I think an important part of creating an innovative classroom environment requires a teacher who is willing to be open to modelling their own learning.

It comes down to “walking the walk”, not just “talking the talk”. Students will trust both the teacher and the process more if the teacher is willing to do the same thing that is expected of them.

I always strive to model my learning for students. In my current role as a daily occasional teacher, I often am going into class “blind” even if I know what course and/or topic is being taught.

Since I don’t have the curriculum for every class memorized (surprising, I know!), I am often (re-)learning on the go!

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So, I find ways to learn! I pick up a textbook, I search on Google, I find YouTube videos, and (best of all) I ask the students! I do this all in front of the students. I tell them if I don’t know something, but I also tell them that we’ll figure it out!

Sometimes I’m able to learn enough to help them, other times we learn along side each other, and other times they help each other. I think the students witnessing all of these is beneficial to them! They see learning is not linear, not permanent, and collaborative.

They see me taking the risk of  being honest and open about my own learning, which gains trust and shows I’m “real”. That in turn, will hopefully encourage the students to do the same and take their own risks!

What do you do to model your learning for students? Do you think that’s important for innovation?

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Innovative Inspirations #2 – Beal Innovates

The other day, I had the opportunity to cover for one of the FOUR teachers in the Beal Innovates program. This program includes about 60 grade 9 students and has them learning English, Geography, Science, and Mathematics using mostly cross-curriculum project-based learning strategies.

When the students first come into class, they scan their personalized QR code on the Chromebooks set up at the front of the room to “check in” (not official attendance – the teachers still input that – but it gives the students the feeling of responsibility of checking in and out).

Once they got settled, the students began with 30 minutes of silent reading time – always a wonderful way to start a day! Then we had them watch the first episode of Cosmos (highly recommended and now available on Netflix) to get them thinking about the space project they were to work on in the afternoon.

During the video, the students were to write down interesting facts and questions they wondered about. After it was done, they summarized their thoughts.

In period 2, the students switched to Math and were to complete assigned missions on Khan Academy. Some worked through these, and I was glad to help as necessary. Some other students decided to catch up on other work.

After lunch, the students worked in pairs on a mini-project about space. They first had to brainstorm questions that came to them as they watched the video. Then they worked together to classify these questions as either open or closed. The next task was to choose 3 closed questions to make into open questions, and visa versa. They then chose one question to research and  created a 3-slide Google Slides presentation about it. These presentations were supposed to be played for the whole group two days later.

Even though I strive to teach like this when I have my own classes, this program was like no other I have experienced because

  • there were always at least three teachers in the room (nice to have support!),
  • the atmosphere was more relaxed (students could chose what to work on at certain times, they could choose to go for lunch early. etc.), and
  • it focused on collaborative learning (not memorizing/testing).

I hope to have the opportunity to go back because I would love to see and learn more!

Posted in #IMMOOC, Innovation, Reflection, teaching | 2 Comments