Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Kid's Already Flip

As we were heading to the library tonight to return some books, my daughter (age 9) remarked how much she loved the fact that the makers of Rainbow Loom had their instructions on You Tube. Without any prompting from me she provided her reasons:

1) That way they don't have to use a lot of paper to print out instructions.

2) That way she can actually see what they are doing, instead of just reading.

3) She is able to pause the instructional video and do it at her own speed. She can take her time.

I thought about how directly this relates to a Flipped Classroom/Blended Learning approach. If she is in grade 4 and is able to direct herself to her favourite website to learn about a hobby she likes to participate in, how difficult would it be for her to access educational material online?

Students are already accessing how-to and self help videos all over You Tube - how to solve a Rubik's Cube, how to beat a level in a video game, how to perform a skate boarding trick...

It really isn't such a "NEW" idea for students to access material on the internet they need to educate themselves.

As teachers we really just need to adapt what WE are doing so that it fits in with how our students are already accessing the information they need.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Let's Go!

Scene 1: Being at school this week when class lists were posted and seeing the excited students there to find out which class they were going to be in.

Scene 2: Being at ANY store remotely involved with selling back-to-school items and seeing the line ups and crowds and the smiles on the faces of students picking out a new pencil case, package of markers, or a new back pack.

Both of these were scenes that got me thinking... our students start off the year at an all time high for excitement for coming to school.

Unfortunately, what we usually do as teachers, is try to subdue and eliminate that feeling of excitement and replace it with "proper behaviour" where students will sit in an orderly fashion and listen as we teach them what they will need to know.

What if we kept them excited?

What if when they entered our classrooms we not only harnessed their natural excitement, but got our students even more pumped up by having them involved in learning that challenged them and made them an active participant in what they were learning?

Let's try it!

Let's try using the incredible amount of interesting technology to engage our students and keep that level of excitement for school at an all time high. 

I can't wait for Tuesday to get here.

Let's go!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

$55 Tablet!!

I absolutely love the fact that the PDSB is making tablets available for the low cost of $55. One of the arguments laid out when BYOD programs are put in place is that some kids are automatically put at a disadvantage because of their socioeconomic status and that they won't be able to bring technology to school.

I submit that the tablet being offered pretty much solves that problem. Even if a family is in a financial position that they are unable to afford this tablet in one payment, I think it should be possible for schools to purchase a few to have and lend out (or "rent") to a family for the school year. Realistically, you are looking at less than 7 bucks a month for the school year to have a child with a suitable tablet for any BYOD program operating in a school. From where I sit, that is absolutely awesome!!

I also think it would be great for students to see teachers and administrators using the tablets as well. This would point out to the students that the equipment being offered is what is needed to complete the task and that you don't need to bring the "top of the line" tablet, or smartphone to school to be an active participant in any BYOD program.

I can't wait for mine to arrive!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

TLDWPeel 2013

Teaching and Learning in a Digital World put on by the Peel District School Board was a great experience. To have such knowledgable and inspiring keynote speakers and to be able to share so much with colleagues across all subject and grade levels was an amazing opportunity.

I am calling this TLDWPeel 2013 because I really hope this is a conference that becomes an annual event.

What we were able to take away from the two days will be shared with colleagues and will make the PDSB a better place for kids to learn.

Friday, December 7, 2012


At the end of the last school year, we met as grade 6 Math teachers and were looking for a "different" way to teach our program. We were tired of using the traditional method of basing our program around the text book and adding in a few of our own ideas here and there. We felt that the kids weren't getting as much as they could be from our Math classes.They were learning the material for the strand we were focusing on, but then the material would be forgotten as we moved on to the next strand.

We decided that a change was in order. As part of our cross curricular culminating task planning, we decided that we would ditch our text book and instead teach our math classes using a problem solving approach. Also, the idea of compartmentalizing math into individual strands was an idea we wanted to try and break away from. Added to those ideas, we also wanted to try and work in a bit of a blended learning model, to reduce the amount of time we spent 'lecturing' in class.

This meant a bit of a scary start to the new school year, as we were all embarking on a journey where none of us, students or teachers, knew where it could end up.

Progress to date:

I am very pleased to report that we have had tremendous success. Our students are engaged in our Math classes and we are able to have them involved in more tasks where there is a need to use multiple strands to solve problems. There is a level of excitement in the students which I think was missing in previous years. That excitement holds true for me as well. I find that there is really never a day where I feel like a lesson is really dragging on, or where I may be dreading having to complete a certain question from the text book which I know is poorly worded and the students are going to struggle to complete.

The times we have used blended learning lessons, the students (and parents!) have provided positive feedback that they really enjoyed watching the 'lesson' (more like a song or a rap) and then being able to discuss what they watched for homework, in class the next day.

As an added bonus, the few times we have used the text book, the students have been excited to work from it.

I think one of the reasons we were able to accomplish this is through the team work which has gone on between the teachers. It was a bit rough at the start as far as charting our course, figuring out just how this was going to work, and generating the problems and "work" for class on a daily basis, but our team work has paid off with a much more rewarding math class experience, both for students and teachers.

Examples of some of our introductory problems:

What Math would be needed to pull of this stunt?

The perimeter of the regular polygon is 16cm. What might the shape look like?

What's longer - the perimeter of the field, or the bus lane?

Here's a bunch of data about weather - show it so it is clear for others to understand.

Resources We've found helpful:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I started to use Collaborize Classroom with my classes today and it seems to really be a hit so far. Mind you, we've only been working on an introductory activity having nothing what so ever to do with Math or Science, but the students are interested in the idea of an online learning environment.

I can tell that I'm going to have to go over how to use proper English in a post and in a reply, as well as how to strengthen responses, but that is something I expected to do - and I would have to do if the students were answering with pencil and paper as well!

It will be interested to see how the interest keeps up when it is "real" work being done online.

One other "issue" which has come up in each of the classes I teach is that of students who do not have a computer at home, or do not have internet access on their home computer.

Right now, I think what I'm planning to do to solve the problem is to have those students come in early, or at lunch, or stay after school, to use the school computers when work is being done online.

I also had the idea tonight of perhaps looking for community programs which could assist with the purchase of a computer, or internet access if the family was in financial need. I guess the reason for not having a computer, or access to the internet could also be a belief on the part of the family, in which case it may be more difficult to have that student involved in our online community.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Let's Get Flipped!

I've decided to use this blog to keep track of my journey through flipping my classroom and delving into the world of blended learning.

So far, I've read the FANTASTIC book by Catlin Tucker (@CTuckerEnglish) about Blended Learning and it has given me a great starting point for accessing Edmodo, Schoology, and Collaborize Classroom.

I plan on testing those three over the summer, hopefully to arrive at a decision on what to use in my classroom in September. I also have the option of using D2L, which our school board is beginning to implement in the fall.

This is an exciting time and I can't wait to see where this journey takes me.