During our monthly #peel21st Twitter chat we started discussing the elements of our Modern Learning Vision for our district. I’d like to think there was more sense to our planning, but most likely we landed on Learning Culture because it was the first box. As we got to chatting, it kept popping up how the 6 elements we had highlighted all overlap. I could see how the nice tidy boxes should have been more like an abstract watercolour painting with blended edges, an experiment in colour combination.
At around the same time I was reading through Will Richardson and Brian Dixon’s white paper on 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning and this quote caught my eye.
I kept coming back to the idea that maybe learning culture was at the core of it all.
What is the purpose of inquiry without a learner with a questioning disposition, global citizenship without student agency, transparent assessment without student voice?
Maybe the hallmark of a modern school is a passion for learning, a willingness to innovate, take risks and grow together.
If we can pick only one to focus on maybe it should be learning culture .
You might have seen the below clip making the rounds on social media.
As I watched the clip the first time, I flash backed to one of the first classes of Curriculum Foundations in my MEd when we started talking about boxes after an activity similar to the clip. My idealist self just wanted to do away with all boxes but as we got to discussing we talked about our brain’s tendency to sort in that linear format. To my dismay there was no way to avoid them. I had to accept that boxes will always exist.
As I watched Hidden Figures this week I was reminded of the impact our ‘boxes’ can have. It’s aggravating at times to think how narrowly we categorized individuals. How could such small details as the colour of someone’s skin justify the actions of the time? Then, as I often do, I catch myself. How often had I judged someone by what I could see alone? What other boxes were holding me back? What boxes was I bringing to my practice?
Boxes may always exist but perhaps it is our role in education to help learners see how they do not define us. How for each of our differences there are just as many if not more similarities.
How do you address the boxes in education?
I was doing a session last night for Ontario Teacher’s Federation on Play, Math and Digital Tools for the early years. Together we explored a variety of tools from Shadow Puppet Edu to Chatterpix to Scratch Jr. We wanted apps that had “low floors, heigh ceilings and wide walls” as Mitch Resnick recently mentioned in a journal article but more than anything we wanted to share ideas that fostered that curiosity and inquiry we see in play.
Innately curious, children explore, manipulative, build, create, wonder, and ask questions naturally, moving through the world in what might be called an “inquiry stance.”
Ministry of Education
Then this morning I saw it unfold in front of me as grade ones coded with Scratch Jr (always great when you get that reassurance after a session). From the student who forcefully was insisting no one feed the ducks in their local park as he recorded his voice to another friend discovering on her own the purpose of certain blocks of code. It was a quiet excitement as I walked over and she said: “hey I found this block. It makes everything repeat.”
Then I kept thinking of professional learning opportunities and adult learners.
- Are there opportunities to play?
- Will people respond to playful learning experiences? What do they look like for adult learners?
- Who documents the learning?
- Am I willing to play and become uncomfortable?
Addendum: Then I wake up this morning to look through the chatter from MIT’s day honouring #SeymourPapert and more questions abound.
Sometimes you have a quick AHA moment, a moment that reminds you how complex but utterly fantastic our job is. As quick as it comes it is forgotten. Today I had one of those moments and I don’t want to forget.
We were working on a green screen activity at one of the schools I support today. The kids were awesome. After a discussion using some images as a prompt we did some general exploration and now were working on responding to a blue spruce book, Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox. You can imagine the energy with grade 3s and green screens sprawled across the library. Learners were looking for images that represented the animal they most identified with. Through all the chatter and excitement, there seemed to be a friend that seemed indifferent. It took a few minutes to discover that he was struggling with a language barrier (later finding out him had just arrived to the school).
So I pull out my iPad and open Google Translate, speak in the prompting question: Sometimes I feel like -that didn’t work. So second time around I asked what his favourite animal was. You could see the smile start forming across his face as the iPad spoke in Arabic. He quickly hit the record button (how do kids figure it out so quickly) and the iPad stated it was lion. Skip ahead a few minutes later and he is telling us how he feels in Arabic with the Touch Cast app.
I could see myself in his hesitation as I could remember being in that spot where the words around you sound like gibberish.
So I’m leaving the story here so that I remember how those little moments can make a difference. It’s always worth that quick second change of plans.
So it’s 2 minutes to 12 and I haven’t started this post yet. The presentation isn’t ready for Wednesday. The re-write for OISE was lost as I hit the wrong button last night. The to do list is growing by the minute.
Yet in it all I’m reminded of my last MEd course a few years back. It was a stretch as I tackled mindfulness and education. A step out of my comfort.
CLICK HERE to access the Adobe Spark.
As I went back through the clips it reminded me of that need to take time daily to refocus.
Maybe I need to use this clip as a daily reminder this week to get outside and just breathe before diving into the hustle and bustle.
How do you stay focused and tackle the long to do lists that arise?
I meant to write this post on the 1st of January, then the first week before going back to school and then the first week of school. Here we are on January 22nd and I hope it isn’t too late to reflect on my one word for 2017.
I went back to last year’s post and the idea of focusing on the necessary. I feel like this is an idea I still have to master or even begin to tackle. That being said there were moments when I made the choice to focus or take the time to refocus, reset.
And now, one word for 2017. I’m torn as there are so many possibilities but the word that keeps popping to mind is fearless. I have a bad habit of overthinking things to the point I talk myself out of them.
This year I want to be fearless:
- fearless to say no when I need to, want to, know I should
- fearless to tackle the projects that seem they may be a little too ambitious
- fearless to stay the course if the tool and medium serve a purpose.
What’s your one word for 2017? Share with the #oned #ossemooc community!
As I was pulling a few things together for a session with OTF on Play, Math and Digital Tools this Wednesday night, I went back to How Learning Happens and the Kindergarten Program Document.
This quote has stuck with me today:
“A view of an educator in a state of constant change and becoming.” How amazing is that! But what has stuck with me through the day is more the second half of the quote. What is our roles whether we are leading in a classroom or leading educators? Are we listening? How can we provoke, document, and negotiate meaning?
Something to ponder through out the week.