Thursday, March 22, 2012

Travel Back in Time!

Our students are traveling back in time to learn about First Nations People. As they travel, teachers from across our board are invited to visit a classroom in action! Our first guests visited on day 2 of the mini-inquiries. The teachers were impressed with the learning and the total engagement of a classroom with 28 students. One teacher wondered if the small groups would stay on task. It didn't take long for her to notice that all students worked collaboratively and were focused on the task at hand. Our visitors were also impressed with the ease in which the students used technology, for instance,  garage band for podcasting, keynote presentations, iMovie and the dragon app on the iPod touch, just to name a few.

Engaged and Motivated

 Our students are currently working through six stations. These are mini-inquiries that are completed and presented on the same day. In our 2 hour literacy block, students are researching, developing scripts, creating plays, writing biographies, creating iMovies for legends and myths and book trailers. The students are eating it up along with building knowledge and understanding of curriculum content. During the last block of the day, students present and share their learning to their peers.

Please share your comments and feedback is always appreciated.

Until next time, happy travels!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shannen's Dream

We started our unit on First Nations, Inuit and Metis, with an introduction to Shannen and her dream.
"Shannen Koostachin of Attawapiskat First Nation lead a movement for "safe and comfy" schools  and quality culturally based education for First Nation Children."

We introduced our topic on First Nations by describing the current conditions of schools in Attawapiskat, Ontario, Canada and asked our students to think-pair-share about where in the world this might be happening. Not one student thought that the conditions described could be in Canada, let alone Ontario. We talked about the challenge that Shannen, and her community face and wondered why.

It was a great connection for students and it generated many questions: Where is Attawapiskat? What is an "Indian Reserve?" How can we help Shannen and her dream? Why do we have reservations?  How come students in Canada or Ontario do not have equal access to education? Why is it different for First Nations kids?

Our idea is to create a timeline beginning with the history of First Nations children, and education from today's perspective by traveling back in time. We thought we would next talk about the Canadian Indian residential school system that were intended to assimilate the children of the Aboriginal people in Canada into European-Canadian society by using the read-aloud:

The questions and curiosity raised around the First Nation topic and the education of students has increased our excitment about getting started with our First Nations unit. We've been keeping an eye on Heidi's blog to help us develop ideas about how to build learning and understanding for our students. Encouraging questions, and inquiry about our history is a goal. We can't wait to find out where this unit will take us!

If you have lessons or suggestions about First Nations learning, please let us know!

Hope you can visit again!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Teacher Inquiry

The teacher collaborative process is a powerful and critical part of our work. It is with the Ministry of Education's "Teacher Learning and Leadership Program" (TLLP) that we are able to work and learn together. Our professional development project on inquiry-based teaching and learning has provided us with the opportunity to transform our practice. Our own collaborative inquiry has engaged us as learners in critical and creative thinking.
Collaborative Teacher Inquiry

Together we have been able to plan and investigate new and engaging instructional strategies to use with our students. It's our own inquiry that helps to integrate new knowledge and understanding of student learning and classroom instruction. The past practice of spending time alone behind closed doors with our students is over. (Secretariat special Edition - Collaborative Teacher Inquiry- 2010)

Our professional development group allows us to be "knowledge creators" and not "information receivers." Understanding deeply about how students learn, continually adapting and applying pedagogical approaches that meet the needs of our students is important. Teachers are learners, too!   We have been looking at the Inquiry Approach Versus Coverage Approach (Harvey & Daniels, 2009) posted and listed on our website as one part of our learning about inquiry for students. Point number seven:

Student as Knowledge Creator VS Student as Information Receiver

Our Grade One students completed and presented their inquiry projects to classmates, the school and parents. It was clear that they are "knowledge creators" and active in the process of investigation and learning. 
Sharing our Learning
Display in Hallway
Going Public

The Grade 5/6 students, also showed that they are "knowledge creators" when they worked in small groups to learn about Black History. Each group presentation displayed active knowledge and understanding about the topic. Allowing students to investigate and question creates engaged and motivated learners. 
Engaged and Motivated

Creating a Podcast
Are you and your students "knowledge creators?" Are you involved in a "collaborative teacher inquiry" at your school? Please add comments or give feedback. 

Until next time, happy knowledge building!