Lessons from the AGO: A New Lens on Curation

IMG_7603It wasn’t really the lesson I expected to take away from my afternoon exploration with my tween nephew. I had finally convinced him to come with me and couldn’t wait to see his reaction to the various art installations. As we were walking the halls of the Art Gallery of Ontario I kept noticing new lessons in curation.

The Collection & Container

We stood in a square room, a part of the Canadian exhibit, and looked up to see a sky light more than 10 feet above us. As we looked around the room you could see the pieces that were brought together. On one wall there were several pieces arranged with a large piece that lead in to many smaller square pieces that draw your eye down the hall. The experience was the same in each hall. Each exhibit reinforced for me the importance of the collection & container. In the gallery the light filled white room pulled, the arrangement, the pieces that were chosen and left behind all pulled you in to the scene. I left wondering how I can better use digital tools to provide that immersed, multi sensory experience.


We were in the Turner exhibit with many of his pieces of art when I turned to see one piece on one bright blue wall. It wasn’t the only time that a piece was given it’s own special place. The curator understood the need for room to reflect, room to focus, room to breathe. Was I creating this whitespace when curating digital resources?

The Unexpected Challenge

Then came the big lesson. As we wondered the halls, you would find the interesting pairings. The white sculpture on the ornate black chest. The modern pieces sprinkled through out the Turner exhibit. I understood it better in the first gallery we wandered through. The bust pulled us in and as we went around the room we found a collection of European portraits. Many with religious stories illustrated or family moments captured. After the first few it became almost mechanical. Stop, view, read, repeat. And then I stood in front of the Sower and had to stop. It didn’t fit the pattern. You couldn’t see the dog in the bottom right or the saintly glow. The mystery in what seemed the sower’s cape. The radiance that seemed to point to the universe. As I stood in front of the piece I was challenged to take a closer look, to reflect on the collection as a whole and the piece on it’s own. I realized the power of our collection and the power of an unexpected challenge. It felt a little like a concept attainment game. 


So I went thinking my nephew would be the one learning a new lesson or two and instead it is me who leaves wondering how to take these lessons from great curators and reflect on the experience composed, the need for whitespace and that unexpected challenge.

Have you ever had one of those unexpected lessons from exploring your community? Love to hear more!


#peel21st Blog Hop: My One Best Thing

This is our first blog hop of the 15-16 school year where educators all post to their blog the same night at the same time. The prompt for this blog hop: What has been your most memorable learning moment this fall?  Please check out the links below my post to hop on over to their blogs and read their stories. We would love to hear your comments too!

So I’m going to break the rules today and share my two best moments. To be honest, I’m lucky to be able to experience a lot of these happy – exciting – ‘YES!’ – type moments in my job.

When I first started thinking about the prompt for tonight I thought of a meeting with an educator last week. It was one of those moments where all the pieces seemed to come together not just for my own understanding but for the educators as well. It was only a day earlier that a colleague had sent a message asking for advice for some English Language Learners and I was suggesting the Tiny Tap. At the same time I connected with an expert in the field and asked for strategies, when she shared the Language Experience approach. So when I sat down to work with an ESL educator and he mentioned Language Experience, the pieces were coming together. We worked through the steps and possibilities with the app, rejigging a few times along the way. See I am easily excited when those moments happen but it was so cool to see his excitement grow as well. We were a bundle of excitement together. An amazing way to end a day!

I was set with that being my story till I watched some of my grade 3 friends today. Our activity wasn’t anything out of the ordinary with a poster in Pic collage and then sharing our work with the classroom educator. From class to class I watched student after student teach their friend how to get in to the app, attaching a file or scanning a QR code. Now that isn’t out of the ordinary as well. I see a lot of amazing collaboration in classroom. As I stood over my friend walking another student through scanning the QR code and he did it better than I did. Please note he scanned his first QR code about 15 minutes earlier. Another amazing way to end a day!

I’m so excited to read some of my colleagues best moments below. Click on each of the links below to hop on over to their blog.

 What has your best moment been? I would love to hear all about it.



Dealing with Disappointment

This post has been swirling in my head for the last few months and I’m always worried about how it may be viewed, interpreted or better yet misinterpreted. This space has always been where I work out my thoughts so I hope you don’t mind this indulgence on my part.


  • opening the fridge and there being no cold coca cola
  • printing a 3D model and watching it be mangled
  • realizing the night before you have double booked the next morning
  • spending hours on a task and realizing you misread the instructions
  • Seeing what you think I s a brilliant idea wilt
  • hearing no or not being heard
  • having a vision that you can’t seem to communicate clearly
  • knowing that you are letting your ego make more of a situation

I don’t think they ever discussed the disappointments in teacher’s college or coaching training, the moments where things don’t go as planned, where reality and expectations didn’t quit meet. Now I think in theory we all know disappointments are a part of life, with the good comes the not so good sometimes. I’m still struggling my way through those moments whenthey appear but I’ve learned that every disappointment is an opportunity for reflection. An opportunity to look at the other side of an argument. An opportunity to practice empathy. An opportunity to innovate, be creative and find a different path.

So the take away? Don’t dwell on the disappointment but rather on the next step. 

Now to put that in to practice is a little harder than writing it down.

How do you deal with disappointments?

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Let it ride.

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