Day 157 (of 185) sharing inquiries in #83learns

Day 157 (of 185) sharing inquiries in #83learns

Today, inquiry groups from around our district got together and shared what we have been working on this year. Below is:

a) my sketch note on what other groups were working on

b) the sharing from my school on Communicating Student Learning & Learner Profiles




Learner Profile Inquiry

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Day 156 (of 185) More thoughts on pressures & opportunities for our learners #Blog4MH

Day 156 (of 185) More thoughts on pressures & opportunities for our learners #Blog4MH


Being a learner in todays world is interesting. A day at school can range from spending time on a personal passion project to enhance /share their understanding of a topic to them preparing for a test with 250 multiple choice questions.



We are educating in interesting times. We are shifting from an industrial mindset to a mindset focused on…. communication? information?  too much communicating information??



And I was at first thinking about creating a list.  Identifying how much more at risk kids outside are today….but I know that’s wrong – the era we are living in is one of the safest ever in world history….but the 24 news cycle let’s us be hyper aware of what is going on in the world….as if it was happening next door.  When I grew up we got a cable service from Detroit, so in many ways I knew more about what was happening in Michigan than I did in my own province….but today, my kids are better connected to world events than I ever was, and I see learners making better connections to our home community than I ever did…..sigh…




So when I realized that a list mindset would be too daunting (dare I say anxiety-inducing) – schooling today is looking less and less like the school of last century – mostly.  It is hard to shift away from the comfortable structures that we grew up with, because they are familiar and worked for us (maybe not for all/most/….) and people mostly do what they see…..which is hard when we see so many still reluctant to share their own mental wellness battles.




But it’s good that “mental wellness is an ever-increasing issue in schools”. Because it means that ‘those learners’ are staying connected to schools. 50% of my grade 8 class did not graduate ‘on time’. Those learners would not be able to dis-connect….at least not as easily. We (most of us) keep them in the classroom…or at least the school… (mostly).


In large part, it’s been great that more “high profile people” are sharing their mental wellness stories. It used to be that they would keep them hidden. But that didn’t work out well for SO many – and most notably with Robin Williams suicide a few years ago. That helped others step forward to share their experiences.




And sharing helps. It creates a profile that younger learners can look to as role models. And they can see that they’re not alone. They can see how people like Bezos, Burton, Musk, Hannah, and so many actors, businesspeople, technologists, etc work with mental wellness – not that it’s been “fixed” but that it is being managed.




So my thoughts are that todays learners are indeed under more pressure than ever before. There is access to “all the information!” that they would want – and that means the brain may not ever get a chance to slow down and reflect and wonder.



There are also more opportunities than ever to find support (find your ‘tribe’) and share out who they are as people….as as schooling becomes more personalized, the more we can focus on Learner needs and become more different(iated).



And to think I wanted to start with a compare/contrast list….

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Day 155 (of 185) what good readers do: reread

Day 155 (of 185) what good readers do: reread


One of the tricky parts of being a librarian is introducing the concept of “re-reading”. It’s easy to see it like watching a repeat on TV…..sometimes it’s just a re-viewing (like my wife and daughters watching Gilmore Girls for the ?th time) and sometimes you can “get it” even more….or different (like movies such as Memento or Inception) – sometimes just for fun….sometimes to see it differently.



Differences happen in reading & viewing because our schema (background knowledge) is ever-changing. The more you know, the more that helps you when reading, watching, hearing stories…even ones you think you know well!



Today I got to model this by re-reading a Robert Munsch Classic: We Share Everything – but, inspired by Robert Munsch, I cheated. We re-read the story but changed a few things (as he does on stage) – instead of taking place in kindergarten, it was in the library. We were preparing to do some cardboard construction and a review of sharing was needed because I didn’t have enough scissors and glue (by design) for everyone to have their own. So the students knew when and where they could add their own sound effects while still getting some important pre-working information about how we were going to work in the library today.



But it also lead to a fun discussion about why good readers re-read text. It can be:


  •  enjoyable (I love re-reading the Belgariad & Douglas Adams & many others)
  • helpful (I still re-read my Carol Dweck, Dan Pink, Ken O’Connor among others)
  • relaxing (I know what’s going to happen in 1984, but I still love how George Orwell put his words to the page)
  • helpful to better understand what is happening/being written about – sometimes even “shorter” books can lead to some re-reading because of the thinking it makes you do (as I did with Long Zhao’s Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon)
  • helpful to increase fluency. How do good readers read fast? practice. And it’s easier to practice with familiar text than new (my second reading of the Gunslinger series was much faster than my first….yet I read a lot of content that I had forgotten…)
  • a way to model, after all – learners do what they see….and if they see adults reading, they will see value in reading….when they see adults re-reading a text, they will ask “why” – because sometimes reading is disposable (one and done)


and not every reading is fun…..which is why even as a librarian I say that it’s sometimes okay to stop (but not all the time) and that it’s okay to re-read a favourite book….after all, I still love reading Where the Wild Things Are….and Dr Seuss….and Van Allsburg….and EB White….and……….

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Day 154 (of 185) read to lead @firstbookcanada #ownabookgiveabook

Day 154 (of 185) read to lead @firstbookcanada #ownabookgiveabook

Today turned out to be #ownabookgiveabook Day via @firstbookcanada & McDonalds Canada. Take a “Shelfie” and @McD_Canada will donate a book to kids (and a book is the current happy meal ‘toy’. 
So, my Shelfie:

I used to have more books on my professional reading shelf….but I’ve been developing a habit of ‘sharing them’ – and because I’m a librarian I am mindful that I don’t want to record who has which book because:

A) I’d rather they share them forward to others who may have a need for the book

B) if I keep looking for a particular title, it must be for a reason!
So my in-print books that I keep being drawn back to include:
Ken O’Connors 15 fixes

Ken Robinsons Creative Schools

Tony Wagners Creating Innovators

But I have also defaulted to reading more books-on-device; while I like having a pile next to my bed, I think my wife prefers to have them weigh down my phone instead. 

While I enjoy having an array of books to link back to, digital books can’t be shared as easily…..while a second hand market is ‘expected’ to occur, the same transfer of ownership cannot occur with digital formats. So it’s not as fun to swap books & search for notes written in the margins to uncover someone else’s thinkings!

But it is good to get ideas from others – coincidently, education guru @gcouros had a blog today also connected to reading-as-an-education-leader, but using non-education focused books:

Reading matters. Even if it’s periodicals, blogs or something you StumbleUpon (great randomized site) – it will influence and encourage you as a lead-learner.

– be proud of your reading

– share your thinking about what you read

– ask others what they are reading

– don’t be afraid to read “outside of education” books

– model reading…..and strategies such as: re-reading!

– and when you’ve finished a book (unless it’s autographed 😜) try passing it on…with the catch that they must do the same with it. 

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Day 153 (of 185) the beauty (and the beast) of live theatre thanks to @dufflebagThtre

Day 153 (of 185) the beauty (and the beast) of live theatre thanks to @dufflebagThtre

When I was on supervision this morning, a student asked about our message board: “Today we welcome Dufflebag Theatre – show starts shortly after first bell”

She wondered if it was going to be a film or…….?

I got to explain that it was a live performance. That the audience would be able to see live actors doing performances in front of us – no screens…no editing….no cameras (except mine to record some clips for our Month in Review video) and likely audience participation…!

But I took this cue to remind me that I may want to do a bit of pre-teaching prior to the actors taking to the “stage” (really just one end of our gym, but they put together a very nice backdrop! This created a nice framework for the prethinking needed for a live audience…..knowing that there would be audience participation AND that the audience was made up of students in kindergarten through grade 8 <– a wide range of viewing interests and “viewing/sitting” endurances. 

And it’s amazing what happens when there is an engaging and entertaining peformance – rigor happens. It helps to see that “kids today” can sit patiently and act appropriately – they did today, they did during our Read Aloud Day and I suspect we will again on the Day of the Honeybee in two weeks. Had great chats through the day of how well our students behaved and how engaged they were in the performance.

– They loved seeing their peers performing as part of the cast

– The student identified as being on her phone was doing so because she was recording something she was enjoying so much 

– Teachers commented on the pacing and how the humour used was appropriate (and up to date!) to entertain the entire audience. 

….so the Beast: why don’t ‘kids today’ behave this way all the time?

–> because they do. 

When reading/viewing/composing/creating is engaging and relevant, rigorous/perseverance/drive is ‘easy’ – and we can’t pretend that compliance is engagement…which is why I get nervous when classrooms are too quiet too often. 

So…..It’s a tale as old as time 😉 – it can be easy to critique “kids today” (as Socrates proved a couple millennia ago….that’s now frequently used for millennial…)

But along the lines of: “whether you believe you can or cannot, you’re right”….. there is another reality to be aware of:

I am happy for the future with what I see both at home and in my school. More thoughts on pressures & opportunities for our learners coming soon…

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Day 152 (of 185) one solution does not fix all #blog4MH #anxiety

Day 152 (of 185) one solution does not fix all #blog4MH #anxiety
It was a tough day for my son. And with me being at a BCPVPA chapter council, it was tough being extra-further from him than I usually am when I’m at my school. It made me think about the various strategies that can be used to enhance mental wellness…and there are a lot:
But I also know and want to remember and remind: there is no one strategy that will work for all people….as my son would say:

It’s not about finding ‘the solution’ but about helping identify strategies for daily (hourly…minutely…) intervention/distraction. So, even though the link shows 99 solutions…the “right strategy” may not be in that list. Happy Mental Health month!

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Day 151 (of 185) quick thinking about ‘the future’ of education

Day 151 (of 185) quick thinking about ‘the future’ of education

Our yearbook team had a couple of big thinking questions for me. I could’ve gone on for many pages, but….I tried to keep it focused….!
School in 10 years
a question for you: what do you see education looking like 10 years from now? 

Education will continue to be more personalized. I think we will shift further away from letter-grades connected to how well you did on tasks, and move towards a badge/certificate/”level up” method of celebrating what learning has been mastered and setting a target for “whats next”.
Will there be more online, at home education going on? 

I think there will be more “asynchronous” learning being done. This means that there may be more learning taking advantage of online methods, including video and virtual/augmented reality. Imagine being in the middle of a historical event to see what it was like! It may also help students who can’t get into a school still be involved in the learning community (FaceTime into a classroom!)
Will schools have as many students?

I still believe schools will be full of students. A central hub for collaboration (student-student, student-teacher) will continue to be invaluable. It’s just likely that students won’t necessarily all be doing the same things at the same times. I believe the partnership between students-teachers-parents will continue as we spend more time focused on ongoing-descriptive-feedback-loops which focus on individual learning growth, and schools will be a great location for that to happen!

As an additional part, our staff is also exploring what our schedule might be evolving to….less bells and more breaks….influenced by the work done in Finland (60 minute periods: 45 work, 15 break) so our early draft (still to be vetted by unions, senior leaders, and our learning community) looks like:

We are intrigued – and this came up as we need to adjust our grade 8 schedule to accommodate more minutes of instruction, so we are looking at this as an opportunity to acknowledge a lot of what primary classes do that research says can benefit learners of all ages!
Thoughts? Feel free to “poke some holes” in this possible ‘schedule of the future’!

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