Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Wisdom To You....

To kick off the school year, Ms. Bourgeois used the picture book called 'Only One You' by Linda Krantz with her Grade 1/2 students.

This inspirational book has a number of key messages that encourage positive thinking, making memories, learning about making a difference and so much more! It’s important to build a positive classroom culture and this story helped to pave the way for helping students understand about friendship, and to celebrate their own uniqueness.

Ms. Bourgeois read this book a number of times to her students and was able to communicate the importance of being unique and making a difference. There were many brainstorming sessions about what is wisdom, how to make the world around us a better place and what makes each of us special. 

The key message in this book was inspiration for a school bulletin board developed and created by the students and their teacher. Much like the message in the book, it encouraged working together and celebrating our differences. Students were able to share their words of wisdom with the whole school. 

There were many fun activities that spun out from the book such as making dioramas of sea creatures. Students were randomly placed in small groups. Each group worked together to teach each other about getting along and listening to others. 

The book taught students about wisdom, friendship and being unique. They began to understand 
that we are all different and that they need to be 'proud to be me.' One of the ways the students were able to show their uniqueness was to pick a rock and add a design that they felt represented who they are and they talked about how they are all different but the same.

The following slide show was created with the 'flipagram' app and shows the work that was done in this grade 1/2. Click here! for sharing Ms. Bourgeois. You have an amazing class!

My wisdom to you is....

How do you build self-esteem in your students and create a positive classroom culture? 
Do you have a favourite mentor book? 
Please share!


Sunday, October 18, 2015

OESSTA Twitter Chats

OESSTA (Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers' Association) is working to provide resources and support for Social Studies, History and Geography teachers. A website has been developed and it is updated regularly - check it out here.

OESSTA is using twitter (@oessta1) to reach out to teachers. We are using #ontsshg hashtag to not only share ideas and collaborate with fellow Ontario colleagues but it is also a conversation that is opened to educators from around the world.

We meet bi-weekly, using #ontsshg on Thursday at 9pm EST. Most chats have a specific topic or theme such as our last chat - Reading Historical Fiction Picture Books. You can read about that chat here. If you have a topic or idea that you wish to discuss, please comment on this post.

Looking forward to meeting you on twitter and hope you will join our learning community! 

                                                                                                 Credit Elijah van der Giessen / FundChat

Friday, August 28, 2015

Educators Learning Together About the Inquiry Process

The 8 videos that we created for the OESSTA website, are intended for groups of educators who wish to learn more about the inquiry-based approach to learning and teaching. You can find suggested discussion questions about the content for all of the videos here.

The following is a video titled "How Can I Start to Plan for Inquiry?" Also, included in this post is a sample of the discussion questions that are posted on the OESSTA website. This website is a great resource to use with educators wanting to learn together about how to implement the Social Studies, History & Geography curriculum, about the inquiry approach to teaching and much more!

The following text was copied from the OESSTA website - please check the link to find all 8 videos along with suggested discussion questions about the inquiry process. (This is a cross-post with our inquiry-based website).

This video explains techniques for creating good inquiry questions to guide student exploration and depicts one teacher's approach to organizing the school day to facilitate independent learning.
Questions for Viewing:
  • What do you see as the advantages of a two week inquiry as a starting point?
  • What drawbacks do you imagine? How could those be overcome?
  • How do you see the potential for the quality of the products evolving over the two weeks? How might this relate to establishing success criteria and assessment AS learning?
Task: Determine a topic, central question, and related questions based on the curriculum overview
  • What is a curriculum topic you might explore in a two week inquiry?
  • How might you introduce the topic to students in a way that stimulates wondering, questions, and pondering of ideas and solutions? It might begin with immersion in an experience, with primary artifacts, or an issue that relates to their lives to provoke thinking.
  • Using Social Studies as an example, what might be a central or overarching inquiry question for that topic that takes into account Big Ideas, Social Studies Thinking Concepts, Overall Expectations and Spatial Skills? This would be a rich, divergent question with diverse response possibilities worthy of investigating over time. It should be something that frames the explorations at each station and is summarized in the final stage of the inquiry. Ideally these come from the students in the background portion of the two-week exploration. NOTE: Use the framing questions in the grade overview as a guide.
  • Brainstorm some related questions and mini-inquiries that spill out from the topic. These act as sub-topics that will contribute to investigating the central question. Again, ideally these are initiated by students. 
  • List resources and supports you might need. 
  •  Please share your experience with us! We would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Setting up your Classroom Space

Are you starting to think about your classroom space? Take a look at this video that was produced by "Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association (OESSTA) in association with "Ontario Association of Junior Educators" (OAJE). You can view the video series on the OESSTA website.

What does your classroom look like?

Please share your questions, thoughts and comments!

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Approach to Inquiry - Video Series

We developed a series of videos about the inquiry approach that was produced by "Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association (OESSTA) in association with "Ontario Association of Junior Educators" (OAJE).

The following video "How Can I Start to Plan For Inquiry?" explains our process for creating an inquiry-based classroom.

You can check out the entire video series on the OESSTA website under the video tab.
There are 8 chapters:
  1. Introduction - An Approach to Inquiry
  2. Why an Inquiry Approach?
  3. How can I start to plan for inquiry?
  4. What might teaching and learning look like?
  5. When to move beyond a two-week exploration?
  6. How does this process allow for the assessment?
  7. What is the value of working in groups?
  8. What do you consider in setting up your classroom space? 
What process/structure do you use to start an inquiry?
What does you inquiry-based classroom look like?
Please share!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Students Join Twitter Chat!

Check out the archived discussion from an #ontsshg chat with Rashmee Karnad-Jani (@Ms_Karnad) and her students. It's about Critical Thinking and students with Individual Education Plans (IEP).

Stay tuned because Rashmee and her grade 8 students will be blogging about their experience here!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Knowledge Building

On June 4th, we had a twitter chat about 'Knowledge Building' with Heidi Siwak @heidisiwak, the guest facilitator. She asked us to look at the 12 Principals listed at
You can see the archived discussion on the link below.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's All About The...Relationships We Build!

Pete's brilliant idea of starting the year by having his students build go-karts; allowed kids to move freely around the classroom, gave them skills to work together, to problem solve and to feel like they were still on summer holiday! In the meantime, they were reading, writing "how-to" manuals, learning about simple machines, learning about measurement and the list goes on! They were motivated, felt safe to explore and learned the importance of collaboration. They were building relationships that would help them grow throughout the school year.

In this grade 4/5 classroom, students are engaged and motivated to do work not only because it's an energized workshop environment, but because their teacher builds a safe and inclusive classroom.  Pete takes time to get to know his students, he builds a positive relationship and by providing a hands on activities, he is able to observe the abilities and potential of each and every student.  It's rare to see Pete sitting at his desk, instead he is sitting with students, listening in on groups or conferring with individuals.  The relationships he builds in his classroom creates a positive climate where students feel like valued members and it promotes curiosity and interest.

How do you promote positive relationships in your classroom? 
How do you create a positive classroom environment?
Please share!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's All About The....

...relationships we build in our classrooms!

It's important for teachers to create an environment that fosters a sense of community, where all students feel included, appreciated and where ideas are treated with respect.

One way to do that is to start the year with an amazing project/inquiry. In this grade 4/5 classroom students had the opportunity to build go-karts! This classroom turned into a workshop and let the students know that learning in this inquiry-based classroom would be different. Students responded immediately and couldn't wait to come to school everyday. Building go-karts in September helped to motivate and engage the students and it helped to build a community of learners.  They quickly learned how to listen to each other, collaborate, problem solve and become critical thinkers. 

Classroom workshop!
More pictures and stories here!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dinosaur Exploration

This kindergarten class had a choice to make! Will they be learning about planets or dinosaurs?

The majority of the kindergarten students decided that they wanted to learn about Dinosaurs. The next step of learning for students was to build their background knowledge. What do they know? What questions do they have? 

Their teachers provided lots of books, showed pictures, showed video clips,  read informational texts, provided fun learning activities that included mapping skills and following directions. The students were able to discover and learn about the life cycle of dinosaurs!

Discovery Table

Follow directions
The students had to follow these dinosaur prints to find a dinosaur's nest and her eggs!
The Nest!
Once they found the eggs, the students had to take them to the water table to learn about melting ice and to discover what was inside the egg!

Melting Eggs

This kindergarten classroom was buzzing with excitement, interest and curiosity.

What has sparked your interest and curiosity lately?