Corre's Blog

Personal Professional Portfolio

Archive for the category “Sound Pedagogical Practice”

What is your sentence?

What’s Your Sentence?: The Video from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

A few years ago I was introduced to this Daniel Pink “Whats your sentence?” video at a staff meeting.  As a room of adults we found this to be a very challenging question to address.  Though we might not have had a sentence to share at this time, I believe that we all walked away thinking and trying to formulate our sentence in each of our heads.   This powerful video is often one I have returned to through the years as I revisit my own sentence to tweak it to be just right for me, the person I want to be and the legacy I am hoping to leave behind.  As an educator, I think these are two essential questions that we need to answer as we are influencing and interacting with the students we are entrusted with each day.

Today in the spirit of new years resolutions, I showed my class ranging from 10-12 years old this video and asked them to come up with their first draft of their sentence.  We followed this up with an art project where students picked one word they hope people would use when they are describing them to others. We are now in the process drawing  the letters in sign language that will be used on an inspirational poster to hang in our room(with their sentence on the back).  As expected, the kids are loving experimenting with sign language and experimenting with drawing the hands,  but this assignment was interesting to me on many other levels.

First, it was surprising that it was my students who often struggle in other learning who were my first to complete the assignment.  It seemed that though math and science learning may be hard for them, they seemed to have the clearest idea of the person they wanted to be.  This was great to see and I was glad to see their confidence shine through.  On that same note, it was my students who excel in my math science classes that struggled the most with this assignment.  It was surprising for me to watch regularly confident students struggle to explain what motivates them and explain the kind of person they want to be.

I was also shocked that when offered the chance to video their sentences to share on our blog, just like the people in the video we watched in class  (something that this group usually jumps at), few of my students volunteered.

It was a powerful lesson and one I look forward to revisiting again with my students.  Just like my sentence, I am sure their sentences are not yet complete. I was very proud of our initial drafts and hope that they too will reflect on these questions regularly and keep trying to improve everyday just like their teacher.

As we embark on the new year full of new beginnings and new resolutions, I hope you all find your sentence.


Building Blogs To Be Proud Of.

Questioned Proposal

My students love their blog /e-portfolios, and I as there teacher, also love their blogs.
I see their blogs as a showpiece of their talents. It’s a place where they can express their creativity and share their passions with the world. I see them as something my students can build with pride and use as a tool later in their life.  It’s a way for them to keep track of their accomplishments and share all of their potential with others.

Each blog session I have planned for my students, I plan with this vision in my head and excitement in my heart.   However, the final product never seems to match the gradure expectations I set out with.

My original thought was  if I opened it up and allowed my students to blog about whatever they  were passionate about, I would see a spark in their creativity and their writing skills would shine. Much like their teacher, they had  tonnes of wonderful  things to share about these topics in conversations, but in writing, there enthusiasm faded away.
My school district has  been focusing on Critical thinking the last few years so I next turned to setting criteria for a great blog post, hoping that might help give my students the direction they needed.  The result this time was a bullet list in which they cross off each of the criteria.  These bullet lists have started us on a new journey of how to turn a  bullet list into a paragraph, a necessary but time consuming task.
I know  modelling can also be a very powerful tool so I tried showing them other blogs as a model and writing sample posts together as a class,  but I have yet to find the effective tool to get them writing with the passion that they are able to verbally share.

I know like anything worth teaching , blogging skills is a process, and I myself am still on this journey.   I am slowly becoming more comfortable with putting myself out there just as I know my students will as well. All of this will take time, time which I am willing to give them . But In an effort to make this process more enjoyable for everyone in my class, I am asking if anyone has any blogging lessons that they have tried with their students that captured the  potential in their students.? We would love to learn from others.

Goals for a Great Year

As the days in August passed, I began to ask myself – “What shall we do on the first day of school?”   This year, like most teachers, my plan for the first day was packed with enough activities to last for the first three days.  The first activity – guessing game “Get to Know Your Teachers” proved to be big hits for my grade fours and fives. This was a fun “hook” that created a positive atmosphere and paved the way for us to establish
the classrooms rules and expectations.

Over the years, I have tried several different things with various degrees of success. One year we made trail mix and then the students wrote the
ingredients for a good year followed by the steps that would need to be followed to make that happen.
However, this year my partner teacher suggested a more basic approach.  We simply asked our students the following three questions:

  1.   Why do you come to school?
  2.  What do we each have to do to ensure that we can all learn?
  3.  What are going to be our classroom expectations?

The students’ responses and related discussion shocked me. We came up with the following to post on our wall and sign.
We believe in:

  •  inspiring others
  •  being leaders
  •  being trustworthy
  •  teamwork

Although these seem simple, they encompass all that we hope our classroom will be this year. I believe that involving students in meaningful
dialogue sets the tone for an open, honest, caring classroom.  I have had a great first few months with a group of students that are all of these things and look forward to the rest of the year.

Garbage Art

recycling art

This year I started my Grade 4 Science with the unit Waste and Our World.  This year my Grade 4’s seemed particularly interested in the outcomes and activities. They were inspired after viewing the art displayed at the Alberta Art museum and at the SanFransisco Aquarium at the Bay so I suggested that they create “Garbage Art” as a culminating activity.

The criteria we set was as follows:
• must be made of all recycled items (parent should not buy anything)
• must show creativity

My students were excited about the activity from the onset and this contagious excitement continued to completion day. I was blown away by
the unique and creative projects that they came up with and how engaged they were in the process. Each project depicted originality and creativity and NO two were the same.

I am not an artist and planning engaging Art projects is always a challenge for me. I feel that it my job to expose my students to various
art forms, techniques and to help them develop an appreciation for art. But finding ways to meet these objectives is not easy. Although I try to
think of open ended projects that allow creativity, the end results are frequently 23 student projects that look very similar.
I have always struggled with the idea of creating a sample as a guide for students to follow. Although some students seem to enjoy having
an idea of what the finished project might look like, they frequently become frustrated when trying to emulate the example provided.  I have searched for the activities that would engage my students and stilllet them explore.  Alas in the “Garbage Art” activity, I found it and I am delighted with the results!

Of course I could not have done this alone and need to say a huge thank you to the parents in my room. They helped students gather the materials
and listened as each child developed a plan.  I was also fortunate enough to have had 2 volunteers who were very experienced with glue guns. This project would not have been such a success without them!

Just wondering if there are “non-art” majors with some interesting ideas that allowed them to capture the true artist in their students.

What Inspires You to be a Reader?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by deardarling

First of all, I would like to thank Melanie Holtsman for posting her fall blogging topics and sparking the fire in me to get started on my personal blog.  Though I am too late to take part in the challenge, I hope to use these topic ideas as a springboard to start my own personal blog as well as a start my students on their own personal blogging challenge … wish me luck.

The first question posed to readers was :

  • “What is your life as a reader like?
  • Do you read for work, pleasure, instructions or emails?
  • Who/What is your favorite author and/or genre?
  • What is your favorite reading spot?
  • What did you like to read when you were the age of your students?”

I can honestly say that I was not a child that had an innate love for reading. I was always way more interested in the social aspect of life and saw reading as a means to an end rather than a passion. Thus, today as an educator, I can sympathize with my students who have multiple commitments and have trouble getting their home reading fitted into their day.  I have come to realize that sometimes I need to get creative to spark this passion in some students, as a love for reading can look as different as each of the students that are in my class.

Today those precious relationships in my life with friends and family continue to take priority, but I have learned to love this once daunting task. In fact, reading now takes up a large portion of my day.  As a teacher, I spend time reading my students’ work, the notes from parents, and the e-mails from my colleagues.   Children’s literature also takes up a portion of my reading time as I strive to find reading material that interests all of my students and enhances the curriculum.

Reading also plays a role in my personal life, be it reading before I go to bed each night, or reading the e-mails or personal notes. I can not imagine what my life would be like without this skill.  As a learner, I regularly take University classes that require me to read textbooks and I also have started to incorporate reading other blogs as part of my professional development.

I was inspired by the post that challenged students to list 100 things about me as a reader. Though I too was not able to make it to 100, I found it really helped me highlight all the aspects of my life where reading is an essential skill and really think about the role that reading plays in my life.

I have now opened this challenge up to my students and have asked them to reflect on the same questions listed above as the first entry in their e-portlfolio.  As the Blogfolios’s in our school are meant to show growth, over time I will also be asking each student to record their reading of a 100 word passage to add to their post.  My students will use their prompts to guide their reflective writing.   Each student will then be asked to assemble their own list of 100 things about each of them as readers which we will continue to visit periodically throughout the year.

Though the task seems large right now, I have high hopes for the reflections that the students will complete.  I believe we could all benefit from reflecting on these questions and ask all the blog readers out there… What inspires you to be a reader?

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