Day 181 (of 185) when the heat is on….

Day 181 (of 185) when the heat is on….

The end of June marks a lot of pressure – the end of school year causes stresses for tests, pressure on transitions at the ‘end’ of a year – or time at a school, getting final assessments/marks communicated to the right people, AND the arrival of literal hot weather. As such, at this time of year more so than ever:

Stay hydrated
Stay moving – even if it’s on the shoulders of the day to stay a little cool
Breathe. Slowly in like you are smelling a flower; out like you are blowing on a candle  but not blowing it out. 

Make plans – coping steps plans are great (and why Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is so important) by breaking things down into smaller steps to accomplish. 
Have some down time (consuming) by reading a book, listening to a movie or podcast, even use those “dreaded” screens – just not for too long 😜

Have some done time (creating) by doing some writing, sharing something on a social media platform, even use those “amazing” screens – to create via Minecraft or something new that only “kids” use

Be mindful that there is a reason for spinners, fidget cubes, stuffed animals, Pokémon cards, etc etc – they help distract a brain that may be being over-stimulated. 

Do something out of the ordinary (as a family ideally) like driving to Tappen for ice cream or to Burger55…..and talk about “family trivia” (or general trivia or alphabet games – animals that start with A)
Because summer is here. And that means we have come to ends – and endings are hard – stopping class communities. No more structure and routine. Entering a time of…..”freedom” (that somehow has more restrictions and ‘donts’ than it maybe should have – see free range kids)

Again – stay hydrated……..and wear sunscreen…..and be cool 😎 

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Day 180 (of 185) Summer of Badging?

Day 180 (of 185) Summer of Badging?

I don’t make my apple fandom much of a secret. From the time my dad brought home our first Apple II (and when the schools got the portable Apple IIc!) and then later the Macintosh (with its built-in handle at the top) I’ve been appreciative of how it helped me with my learning (my printing is very much an original font) and how I could organize my thinking about my learning…..with portability and hypercard! (precursor to both powerpoint/keynote and web building). I never understood the big tower connected to a big monitor with a bunch of wires in between. When a friend didn’t like her powerbook, I bought that as a replacement for my university Macintosh Classic. 

But – I also know that not all tools work for all people (otherwise Canadas Robertson screw would be universal https://www.google.ca/amp/s/canadabuilds150.ca/2017/03/05/the-robertson-head-screwdriver/amp/ )

So, when I was recently asked about some ‘next learning plans’ I have, I shared that I am looking at getting some certification via badges. 

The obvious first step is via Apple Educator opportunities: https://www.apple.com/education/teachers/ with the plan on continuing on to be an Apple Distinguished Educator

Also if great temptation has to better understand GAFE (google apps for education) with a start via https://edutrainingcenter.withgoogle.com/certification_level1 to be a Google Certified Educator

And then I tease that though it makes me feel dirty 😜, I will be exploring how to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator via https://education.microsoft.com/

I will be doing this both because I think it is important to have a familiarity with the key tools being used by Learners and by better knowing our Learners, I may be better able to share which tool may be the best ‘fit’ and also to continue to model that Learning never truly ends – not even in the summer!

Summer Of Learning coming soon!

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Day 179 (of 180) National Aboriginal Day

Day 179 (of 180) National Aboriginal Day

Indigenization. It was a term one of my mentors shared with me. Her challenge: don’t just have “a” day looking at First Nations…..every day should be aboriginal day – because we are all part of the same (larger) community but…..

There are many reasons why the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission was formed and made ‘recommendations’ (that line up well with the process of reciprocity) so that what “Canada” has done in its 150 years of being a nation is not just the “good/nice parts version”. 
There are tough themes that do not have simple answers or solutions but are part of #canada150:

Residential schools

Treatment of Metis

Corruption 

Wars 

Customs/intentions/interpretations/actions

But better writers than I have commentaries and tough/challenging/uncomfortable shared to read:
Chris Wejr today:

https://t.co/8AmmoHY3fn?amp=1
Peter Wheeland fom last year: http://cultmontreal.com/2016/06/canada-day-first-nations/
And a variety of books to explore (beyond the Inconvenient Indian) include Fatty Legs, My name is Seepeetza, Indian Horse, As Long as the Rivers Flows, They called Me Number One , Not My Girl, I Am Not a Number. 

There’s a lot more to learn….and still new learnings each day to be better….to model what we say ….and hope…. it means to be Canadian. 

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Day 178 (of 185) scheduling play w thanks to @laurapaiement & @jordanwitzel 

Day 178 (of 185) scheduling play 

I’ve mentioned in the past that sometimes life goes so fast I’ve scheduled boredom breaks – because it isn’t often that I have. Irving to do/don’t know what to do. 

I even irritate my kids on the few times they’ve complained about being boooooorrrred by responding “you’re lucky. Stop bragging”. 

I like boredom time because it’s a chance for the brain to do some processing and catch up on synthesizing and connecting thoughts. I also appreciate the times to “play” no matter what the age. Especially in the summer when kids enter a time of lack-of-structure and sometimes don’t know what to do when it hasn’t been scheduled for them.  

So a couple of schedules to share. 

From our district healthy living coordinator @laurapaiement some options for summer fun as a “recipe”:

From our friends at ParticipAction some more ideas connected to #Canada150:

https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/programs/participaction-150-play-list
Although, fair warning that a former student/football player I worked with mixed up what one of the suggestions was…..
globalnews.ca/news/3541634/news-blooper-global-calgary-anchors-lose-it-over-swinging-mistake/amp/
Always important to have fun!

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Day 177 (of 185) math old ways vs new ways vs……

Day 177 (of 185) math old ways vs new ways vs……

 

The struggle is real. Numerical literacy: is it better to just know that the algorithms we are familiar with ( + – x / ) work? Or is it better to know how and why they work?

 
I asked the following to my math-talented daughter: “We as educators often say, if a question can be googled, it may not be a very good/deep question – so is it fair to say that if a question is being asked that just needs some buttons on a calculator to be pressed to get the answer…..is it a good/deep question”?

 
I made her think – so that was a ‘win’ all by itself. But it led to a good discussion on our way to drop her off at work: she likes the math that makes her think….and synthesize…..not just compute. BUT, as we are trying to shift our (global education) of math, we face critics. One key challenge that I see is a simple question: how many primary teachers wanted to be teachers to do math? It’s a low number….I rarely see hands go up, and when I do it’s usually people like me – educators who found a love for numeracy later…..but most teachers (elementary focused bias) wanted to help kids read…and write…which are important, but too often “we” have relied on the ‘kindness of text books’ to get kids through the maths.

 
And when we start looking at old-approach tests, our kids math results may not be what they once were……

David Staples: Math results show we must end two decades of educational malpractice – Edmonton Journal

…..but I know that we have more students than ever (in our district) who are declaring that math is their favourite subject thanks to a focus on project-based-learning and explorational/experiential/etc approaches to math. In a way, we are taking the approaches we have used to see some of the best gains in reading and writing and applying them to numeracy:

 

  • less worksheets
  • more groups
  • more talking
  • focusing on understanding
  • thinking about the thinking
  • communicating by creating, not just consuming

because while fluency is important (a common statement used by people who want more time put into memorizing times tables) for me understanding and composition is a tad more relevant – reading and writing is not just being able to say and spell common sight words…..numeracy needs to be seen as more than just using the basic facts (knowing that these ‘basic facts’ are important foundational pieces, but we need more than just the foundation….)

 

 
And we get some great direction by some leading educators that are putting their numerical focus on ‘other approaches’ – @joboaler is a key example, and recently the equally fabulous @alicekeeler shared 8 Mathematical Standards that students should be doing (because tests, class/school/district/provincial/international are not what math is all about): http://alicekeeler.com/2017/04/26/8-mathematical-principles-students/

 and shared just as I posted this, @perfinker  had a share about creativity in math classes: http://www.educationthatinspires.ca/2017/06/08/creative-thinking-in-math-classrooms/

 
So I admit that I get nervous when I’m approached with a ‘need for a new textbook’. I am nervous when math classrooms are too quiet too often. I love it when there have been questions asked about what could be done….different. Because I don’t come across many parents who recall the fun and joy of math when they were in school…sure there are a few, but not nearly enough. One of my numerical role models (Trevor Calkins at http://poweroften.ca ) said it nicely (something like): numbers are nice, but sometimes we study parts of math for the beauty.

 

 

 

Let’s make numerical literacy something learners want to do, not have to do.

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Day 176 (of 185) on Father’s Day

Day 176 (of 185) on Father’s Day
A scan of some of the observations on the difficult role of Fathers Day. Because one of the statements that responds with me the most came a couple of years ago at the start of a school year. The class was going over what happened over the summer break when a student mentioned: “And X is my new dad!” And another in the class couldn’t contain himself: “He was my dad last year! He’s great A youre really going to like him!”

Perspective matters. 

(And “dad jokes” help: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/29-dad-jokes-that-are-so-bad-their-actually-good?utm_term=.qsn6WrRZa#.jiXBdY8bK


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Day 175 (of 183) the looming final weeks

Day 175 (of 183) the looming final weeks

May oldest is getting ready for a myriad of final exams…..with the awareness that with the change to “hours of instruction” rather than “days” meaning that the old ‘exam week’ continued to fade – with most of her ‘finals’ now being during class time. It is nice that as she gets older she is asking deeper questions about he value of a final summation based on randomized questions – especially multiple answer style questions. She is the kind of learner that is looking forward to a summer month-long “boot-camp” for like minded learners – Shad Valley…..because what could go wrong with a 17 year old girl being in downtown Toronto?

My middle boy is looking forward to the upcoming summer break. He still feels his anxiety/autism is not fully understood (or appreciated) by all the adults he learns with – not because they do t want to but because working with mental wellness is not always easy and takes more time. And while he likes the idea of a break, he is also aware that the absence of the structure of his school program will also b missed – and when it is tough to return after a three-day weekend and more-so after a week-or-2 break….two months of summer already has all of us worried about the re-entry plan!

My youngest will miss the social side of school – especially as she has learned one of the key ‘cheat codes’ for school: ask questions of the teacher when you’re not sure what to do and take full advantage of the class time for work. She also has a guide week-long camp exploration (soar) which means she can’t do he same soccer camp she has been to….but it’s been interesting talking to her about the last few weeks – especially around the various out-of-classroom experiences: she was not looking forward to a field trip to a museum 90 minutes away because of the experiences of the first classes that went – but when we did some investigating on the website, she felt better about going and confirmed that ‘it wasn’t as bad as she thought 😜

The final weeks “loom” for a reason. Some are looking forward to it – many are a little fearful of what happens after school. Not everyone will experience (or cope) with the final weeks the same. Always important to be mindful that just like the learning itself, the weeks ending this term-of-learning may also require some differentiation and scaffolding for success…

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