Monday, June 19, 2017

It's a WRAP!

As the year comes to an end, and we reflect on the past year we continue to be amazed with how much we accomplished with our students and our growth professionally.  We could never had anticipated the extent to which learning partnerships were developed. We developed partnerships with our school board colleagues, provincial networks, out of province educators and Ministry of Education. Each partnerships pushed our learning in different directions. At times, those directions were all over the place and felt a little overwhelming, but as we sit to write this last blog post, we reflect on how much that pushed our learning even deeper. For example, whenever a new request to film our students came, we continued to persevere in writing new tasks cards when previous task cards were so readily available. It really motivated us to keep the learning current and interesting for our students.

As we stand in Starbucks dynamic learning environment and reflect on our next steps, we questions what will be need to do next year to keep the spark and enthusiasm alive. Our goal is to push ourselves professionally. How do we do this?

  • Provincial Knowledge Exchange
  • Shared planning time
  • Global Connections
  • New Partnerships

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Another Film Crew

As we headed home from Connect 2017, we were thrilled to be wrapping up our journey. Just when we thought we were winding down, we received another request to film our students. This request came from our Board's communication department that was interested in filming our students engaged in deep learning tasks. The goal was to convey deep learning to a number of different audiences connected with OCSB. Some of the target audiences were educators, parents, and prospective parents. It was neat to see that the students themselves can articulate what it is they are doing and how they are learning. Once again, our learning deepened as we listened to our students interact and talk about their experience around deep learning.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Connect 2017

Our biggest conference attendance to date! Our final presentation of the year was at Connect 2017. CONNECT is Canada's largest education technology conference. With over 2000 participants, people come together to share best practices around education technology in an "ever increasing global and digital economy" (Connect 2017). Not only were we presenters but we were also participants eager to gain new knowledge and interact with colleagues of similar mindsets.

It was 3 days of jam packed educational goodness. We had the experience to meet a group from Timmins, Ontario from the District School Board Ontario North East who have compiled an excellent resource on makerspaces

As we began to set up for our presentation in the ballroom, we were a bit intimated at the size of the room and the amount of chairs and tables that would potentially be filled with educators. As we began to set up our interactive stations, the buzz began. Our goal was to talk very little about our journey and to give a hands on component that would allow teachers to walk through the same process the students would. Our stations consisted of a green screen, makey makey, dash, sphero, and lego tasks all with task cards linked to curriculum (STEAM).

We were particularly intrigued by a group of four fellows from the midwest who gravitated to the makey makey station. The focus at the makey makey station was to create an interactive poster around retelling a fairy tale. We coined them "Cinderfellas" because of their enthusiasm for the task and retell. What is even more gratifying was the hear back through a tweet " Gear
ing up for a deep learning PD experience next Friday @CLMSrvs - @Scratch in action with @makeymakey @rvsed- Thanks @DaintyGiraffe!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sharing Out!

Our global audience just grew! We had the privilege of being selected by the Ministry of Education to showcase the impact of Deep Learning in Ontario Schools. Mag Gardner from NPDL and Audrey Hensen from the Ministry of Education, accompanied by a film crew, came to video the deep learning happening at St. Bernard Catholic School in Ottawa.

It began with a 7:00 am start time...way too early for us! There were many cameras, lights and mics..oh my... As the film crew from Mediaface set up, our nerves were teetering on the edge of excitement and nervousness. Each of us was interviewed separately for a half hour around deep learning with a focus on learning environments and partnerships
. It was a realization that we are so used to feeding off of each other's ideas and comments, that we were feeling lost without our partners interjecting. We are excited to see what captured their interest in our partnership and look forward to seeing the final product. Mag and Audrey commented that our individual interviews culminated in a really good synopsis of our leadership together and building school capacity.

During block 1, they filmed the grade 6 students working on area and perimeter centres. Students were hooked up with mics to capture their thinking as they worked through challenges. Students were able to articulate what they were learning and for what purpose. They were able to speak to how this was deepening their learning experience.

During block 2, they filmed the
grade 2 and 6 students
collaborating on Literacy tasks in the Learning Commons. There was a lot of action: green screen, makey makey, stop motion, iMovie, and Lego building. Students stayed fully engaged even as the film crew did close ups and interviews all while the learning continued.

One of the goals or requirements of TLLP was to share our learning with the wider community. We have hit our biggest audience YET..we will be featured on the Ministry website- the learning

When we got on board with our NPDL journey two years ago, we did not anticipate that we would be a voice for Ontario teachers around Learning Environments and Partnerships. At that time, we did not know what our global contribution would look like. Sharing our journey with the province is a stepping stone in reaching that global community.

Through this experience, we have grown individually and collectively. We had to continually reflect as to where we were are at and articulate what it  was that we were doing that was working for our students- because we know it is!  Our blog helped us to stop and reflect on an ongoing basis, think about our journey and where we're headed.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Genius Lounge

Our Genius Club was open for business the whole month of March. Prior to this, students have been learning about robots and technology tools.The club consists of students from grades 4-6, in total, 50 students are part of the Genius Club. Students were tasked with teaching their teachers how to use robots. Not only were robots the focus, but also digital tools like green screen, stop motion, powtoons, and coding. Students took this role very seriously and were effective in getting teachers engaged and excited to try things in their classroom.

Our vision, as leaders in this area, was to continue to build the capacity around using these digital tools in the classroom. Our thinking was that if teachers were learning from students, it would feel less intimidating and the focus is taken away from the teacher and put on the student. The teacher can rest assured that they do not need to have all the answers, but that students will help them learn along the way.

 In May, during our Board Education week, the Genius Club will once again place host, but this time to the parent community.

Friday, March 31, 2017


Evidence of capacity building, leveraging digital and building partnership, was extremly evidence in the Francophonie celebrations held in our gymnasium. Every french class in the school submitted an entry celebrating french culture. We were blown away by tools the students used to deliver their message. We saw green screen videos, movie videos, music, interactive posters.


Students were engaged in the french language. Teachers noticed the heightened level of student engagement when given tools to demonstrate their learning.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Leadership Development

Capacity building within our school is continuing to move forward. Our colleagues developed task cards around French and the Arts. We were blown away by the enthusiasm in which the teachers and students approached these tasks. All task cards really leveraged digital and promoted the 6 C's. Take a look at what they came up with:

Task: Create a Haiku and use scratch to code the animations to go with your poem.

" All students had an access point, English Language Learners could do it, and those with more programming experience went further with animation" (Heather Blackmore)

Task: An international students is coming to visit your family in Canada to study french. Make a video introducing yourself.

Task: Using Google Expeditions and Google Cardboard, one student takes on the role of tour guide and one student, the role of tourist. Students will have the opportunity to digitally walk through the House of Commons, and the space station.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Beginning to Build Capacity

Last Monday we followed our plan in beginning to build capacity in our school. Our 3 colleagues were invited to join a mixed grade 2 and 6 stem challenge afternoon. They had the opportunity to ask questions and hands on experiences with the robotics. As the 3 lead teachers, we were able to support by answering questions, modelling and generating ideas for curriculum links.

After 75 minutes of stem challenges, our three colleagues had the opportunity to begin making specific curriculum links around the Arts and French as a Second Language (primary/junior). As they developed their own task cards they had questions around the following topics:

  • Specific apps to use 
  • Accessibility to apps/ iPads, 
  • Brainstorming possible challenges in the classroom, 
  • Challenges with different curriculum areas,
  • Language accessibility- what apps could be used in French? 
Even though we limited the number of robots and activities we selected, it was still overwhelming for those new on board. As a result, at the end of planning for that afternoon, they suggested more planning time around the development and implementation of their task. Our next meeting has been pushed back by a week in order to allow some think time. It was important to reiterate even a small task would be sufficient.

A. Eaton, P. Roche, A. Porcari

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Full STEAM ahead in 2017!

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind us, now was a good time for us to stop and reflect on our TLLP project. The fall offered us an opportunity to build a comfort level with the tools. Students were also engaged in building capacity individually and in small groups. So this now puts us at a new stage in our learning- to build capacity in our school community. 

Some important questions we asked ourselves:

  • How much information should we share with our colleagues at one time? Will they feel overwhelmed?
  • How do we best get them involved? How many people should we approach next?
  • How do we transfer "gradual release of responsibility" model?
  • How do we make it relevant to their teacher roles and curriculum?
We have established a plan to bring 3 colleagues in for the afternoon to observe the students engaging in technology and engineering challenges. They would then create a task in french or connected to the arts to try in their classrooms. This would be followed up with a meeting to discuss what's happened, next steps, and link to curriculum. 

In March, our school Genius Centre, run by students, will be inviting all teachers in the school to participate and explore available tech tools. Students will be responsible for running the learning centres, while the 3 lead teachers will be supporting teachers in answering questions about curriculum and implementation challenges or ideas.

We are very excited to move to this next stage in our journey. We look forward to seeing all the creativity and capacity building within our school community.

A. Porcari, A. Eaton, P, Roche