Monday, November 16, 2015

Another 6 awesome things at our school: Part 3

As I've said before, the best days in administration are the ones where I get to spend time in classrooms. Here are some more amazing things that have been happening in our school. Part 1 post is here, and here is Part 2.

Technology twist to traditional book reports

A student hunted me down at the office the other week to show me her summary of a novel read in the class.  It was a book trailer using iMovie. The glow of accomplishment was so evident on her face, and it was a great way to see her understanding of the themes and ideas of the book.

Visible math

I love walking into classrooms and being able to "read" what is going on by looking at the walls and charts. Open number lines on display help students visualize mental math concepts, and student thinking is evident. When these are posted in the classroom, hesitant learners can refer to these strategies to help. Awesome.

Hands-on learning

Students were constructing water treatment models that made the dirtiest water look drinkable. Another class was making models of water and local landforms. Activities like these bring learning to life. No one gets excited over worksheets, but making and doing engages students.

Students as Leaders

Our students led our community Remembrance Day service and it was amazing. They produced videos, artwork, and even greeted and welcomed parents and veterans at the door. A powerful learning opportunity and a meaningful and memorable day. 

Bringing Languages to Life

It is wonderful to see students having mock interviews and conversations in French (complete with costumes and props). A fun way to practice language skills. Our Ojibway students have been utilizing technology to research the past to help them better understand the present of the culture and language. Posted anchor charts even allowed ME to write a sentence in the Ojibway language (with a little help from some students of course).

Stop Motion Animation

This tool has had a major impact on the engagement level of many students in our school. Limited only by their imaginations, students have used Lego, plasticine and even erasers to tell their stories, one frame at a time.

I was originally only planning to do only 3 posts, but I realize that I am constantly seeing new and exciting things happening in our school. There will definitely be more to share.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

6 MORE awesome things at our school: Part 2

One of the best parts of being a Vice Principal is the fact that I get to learn from everyone in the school. As I cruise through the hallways and classrooms of our school, I come across amazing teaching and learning practices by our inspiring staff. My first post of ideas that just needed to be shared is here.

Music and Song

  • A song for every occasion. I grew up with the sounds of RAFFI (all of you Canadian educators out there of my age are nodding and smiling right now). I love hearing the teacher and students belting them out in the classroom. Music has the magic to soothe, energize and build classroom community. (and walk in a line..."Sammy Sackett, hold onto my jacket" anyone?)

Smartboards AND Coding

  • Collaborative coding on the Smartboard.  All too often, Smartboards become a "teacher-only" device, but we need to remember that they are interactive.  Students like to interact with them. It's really neat to see a group of students working collaboratively and problem solving using coding. And what could be better than moving enormous Angry Birds through a Smartboard-sized maze!

Print your Name Attendance

  • This strategy is so simple but effective. When kindergarten students sign in for morning attendance, they find their laminated name card on the table, and have the opportunity to print it out on the lines underneath before putting it in the "I am here today" basket. The teacher simply wipes them clean at the end of the day, and they are ready for the next day.

Sent to the Office to Celebrate

  • We LOVE when students ask the teacher to come to the office to show off something great that they have done. The secretary, principal and myself all have sticker stashes for the students who bring something to share with us. It never fails to bring smiles and always makes our day.

Visible Learning

  • Anchor charts, success criteria and student work posted in all of our classrooms immediately give us a sense of what students are learning. Word walls and information posted for student use provide helpful visuals. I love the fact that I can go into the Ojibway language room and find words on the walls to help me converse with students; of course, they often need to jump in and help me out with the pronunciation, which they are happy to do.

Real-World Tie-Ins

  • It would be great if all learning in school could be directly linked to the real world, but it's not always possible. Next best is for the chance to emulate circumstances and occasions that students will encounter outside of the classroom. Dressing up as characters and conversing in French is great practice for any future traveling that students might do. And so much fun!
Stay tuned for more awesomeness from our school. I have so much to share about all the great things that staff are doing.