Self-Regulation so Far

Today was the start of week 2 and it was a busy day.

I’m lucky to be involved in a self-regulation pilot with Dr. Stuart Shanker based on his book Calm, Alert and Learning.  I’m certainly not an expert and I’m very much figuring it out as I go along (with my awesome colleagues) but what I know right now mostly from my students is Self-Regulation is not compliance, silence, obedience, sameness.  It is students learning how to figure out what they need to adjust their moods, emotions, impulses so that their learning conditions are optimal.

In just 1 week I’ve seen some pretty fantastic things.  My students are figuring out that they don’t have to sit at a desk and chair – unless they want to because some students really need that.  They are using alternative seating and clip boards, white boards, chalk boards with their papers magneted in place.  They are sitting near the sunlight pouring through the windows or closing the blinds because the intense light is bothering them.  A few students have naturally chosen to sit at the same table spot each day.  This has all come from very limited instruction from me – I kind of wanted to see what they would do on their own.

There are a lot of kinks that are arising too.  For example the alternative seating. I’ve had to explicitly teach safe, responsible use.  So running and jumping on them, or laying across with your head on the ground probably not best use.  Also deciding who gets to use them and when is tricky especially when it’s clear to me who would benefit but part of the process is the kids figuring this out.  Another kink is when is it self-regulation and when is it task avoidance?  Are they they same thing, completely separate and how do I get my students to see the difference?

I do notice a positive change in my kids in a very short time – and I know it’s going to be a big year of learning for my students and myself and I’m excited about it.

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Blog Hiatus Over 

Last year I kind of took a break from blogging – which feels funny because I love everything about blogs.  The reading, learning, sharing, growing and most of all writing.   I took creative writing poetry in university aka the most difficult course of my life, and I remember my prof saying good writers read and write. So blogging allows me to perfect a skill I love so much.

Anyway last year I took on other responsibilities – I co-chaired our climate committee and we brought about a ton of exciting things – mindfulness, mind-up, self-regulation.  I also personally decided to comitt to running a half marathon which is this Fall.  And rather than blogging about all of these good things I just needed a break.  But I am back and ready to write!
Happy 2015/2016 school year!  It’s going to be exceptional 

#Peel21st Blog Hop – Being Flexible, Low Tech Options in the Math Classroom

This post is part of a #Peel21st Blog Hop.  Once you have read through my post please scroll to the bottom and click the links to read and enjoy what the other awesome Peel 21sters have to say about Math, Tech and 21st Century Learning.

When I originally signed up for this blog hop my plan was to share my experience with using the app ShowMe in a really great spontaneous math (division) lesson.  My grade 3 students and I were having a debrief about their division task (How many ways can you put 18 into equal groups).  The chat was so engaging that I put ShowMe on the ipad, Air Played it and recorded their answers orally and visually.  I was going to post that video on this blog tonight but I’ve lost the video.  I don’t know if I didn’t save it or didn’t actually record it but technical difficulties are a reality when you are using technology in your classroom.  I’ve had to learn to be flexible and think on my feet.

So let me give you another example.  Last month we were looking at 3D solids (prisms and pyramids) and the students rolled up paper into tubes – yay G.O.O.S Bin – and created 3D Skeletons of their solids.  They could work alone, partners or small groups.  I always give the students this option as I feel it’s important to honour their moods at the time and their preferred learning style.  It’s interesting because they rarely choose the same grouping.  For this activity even the students who were working “alone” were not really because the discussion and conversation was so alive.  I heard comments like “this is the best math ever” “this is like art/math”, and “my solid has triangles that makes it as stable structure” or “When you see a solid like this it’s so easy to count the sides and vertices”.

I was going to have them share the attributes as a group but I had kids finishing at different times so instead I decided to use a low tech option.  I asked them to grab either their own device or use the classroom iPad to make a video to describe.  This made them even more excited and it gave my kids who have quiet voices in the class an opportunity to shine.  In fact the 2 videos I am going to share feature some students who are reluctant to share so it’s fantastic that they were able to and they did confidently.  It was also a great opportunity for me to reflect back later on as I uploaded their videos into my google drive and provide feedback to the students and know what we needed to work on with 3D solids and where we could go next.

So to recap and reflect here are 3 main points to consider when using technology in the classroom during math or any time.

1. Go with the flow – technology doesn’t always work the way you want it to be flexible and think of a new plan.

2. Consider low-tech options.  I learned this from my awesome ITRT Tina Zita.  You don’t have to use fancy apps.  Just using the camera roll, voice recorder, or the video recorder is simple, easy and fun for kids.  It can be any device and easy if you are just starting out with tech.  And low-tech options have less tech-problems

3. Recording with voice or video gives your quiet or reluctant speakers a chance to share their story and have their voice heard.  It also give you time to go back and reflect on their understanding and learning.


Tell me what you think – and then hop on over to some other great #Peel21st Blog posts

Phil Young –

Jay Wigmore –

Don Campbell

Jonathan So –

Jason Richea –

Tina Zita​

Graham Whisen –​

Day 116: Brandon Pachan, Teacher (Macville PS)

Great entry from Peel Project 188

Peel21st Project 188

Brandon is a Grade 7/8 core, grade 2 math, grade 3/4 drama/dance/health LTO teacher at Macville Public School who loves improvisation and tries to follow the three basic rules that it teaches everyday:

1) Live in the Moment (listen to what is happening in the now)

2) Say “Yes, and” to offers (agree with your reality and contribute)

3)Make your scene partner look good (focus on making those around you look good, the rest will take care of itself)


  Follow Your Curiosity

A few weeks ago I heard about the Canadian finalists for the Mars100 project on the news (you can read more about it here). I started actively using twitter (@BrandonPachan) in my classroom in January and  followed the six finalists. Joanna Hindle, a Secondary School teacher from Whistler, British Columbia, followed me and I decided to ask her a favour. Our class…

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My VIP Book Report

My 5 year old daughter’s Blog – tonight she is working on her VIP book report project

Keelyn Chickadee

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“I am reading the words and I was drawing the pictures for my VIP book report.  The book about Little Pea.  In the beginning Little Pea, Mama Pea and Papa Pea were together.  In the middle Little Pea does not like candy. At the end he got his dessert that he likes – it is spinach! Which one do you like more candy or spinach?”

*typed by mommy

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A Gift of a Snow Day!

Today was one of those rare days when we had so much snow we ended up with a snow day both my children’s school board (HWDSB) and my own (PDSB). The cutest thing was when my son – 3 years old asked if today was a school day and we said, “not for you too much snow your school is cancelled, but we have to wait and see if Mommy and Daddy’s schools are too.”  to which he replied, “Who’s going to stay with us?!”

We had a nice relaxing morning but by 8:00am it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to hold the kids back any longer from the snow and we bundled up and played in the snow – and boy is there ever a lot!

Once our toes and noses were sufficiently cold we made rice krispie squares and the kids had some indoor play fun.

I used the time to make a felt heart banner for the fireplace for Valentine’s Day.  Something that I’ve been meaning to do for a really long time but just haven’t had the time.  In fact, I had resigned myself to thinking it wasn’t going to happen again this year.

So thank you Mother Nature for this wonderful, surprise snow day gift! xoxo

P.S. for the Valentine’s Banner I used the a heart template  and strung them with a needle and thread on twine.  I had to use a small pea size bead of hot glue on the back of the hearts to prevent them from flopping.  Clearly from viewing the picture I’m going to have to iron the white heart!


What Happens if We Make a Mistake?

My husband Phil and I have been involved in this great program called Cool Little Kids.  It’s Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for young children (3-6) that are experience signs of anxious behaviour.  It’s a parent program to learn strategies to help your children overcome anxieties. We’ve only attended 2 sessions so far we’ve already learned so much to help our daughter Keelyn.

Something that I’ve taken away both session is the question “what do you think will happen if you do x”.  It’s a great way to start conversation with children and allow them to express how they feel.

I used this idea with my class this week during a math lesson.  I gave them the open-ended task for perimeter “How many figures can you create with a perimeter of 16cm?”  Many were up for the challenge and problem solved a bunch of creative solutions.  A couple were frustrated and expressed “I can’t do it” and one didn’t even try.  I asked those kids “what do you think will happen if you make a mistake”.  You could see their thoughts turning and one student said “I’ll get a bad mark on my report card” and another said “I’ll look dumb” and another said “I’ll feel frustrated”. Finally a fourth student said “I think that if we keep making mistakes we will still learn about perimeter.”  When I inquired what do you mean? He said, “well if you keep drawing figures and counting the perimeter you are learning how to figure it out”. I smiled for this answer was perfect and really profound for a 9 year old.

We brought the question back to the whole class as a discussion and talked about how taking a chance and trying out something even if it isn’t something we are comfortable with and even if we make a mistake has a ton of value and a ton of learning.  I feel like my students really got it.  In fact the next day we did a perimeter/minecraft art activity where the kids did block letters for their names or initials like text in minecraft (I was quickly corrected that it was pixels not blocks) and had to calculate the perimeter.  My most reluctant student happily created his letters and even calculated the perimeter without the normal worry lines on his face.  Maybe it was pairing the activity with the name “minecraft” that made him give it a shot – but I like to think it was the pep talk about making mistakes.  I guess time will tell!

Check out our Storify 🙂 

#peel21st Twitter Chat : Learning Spaces in the 21st Century

Sad to have missed this awesome #peel21st chat but proud of my partner in crime for co-moderating it!

The inner workings of a "technology" teacher....well a teacher trying new things out

Last week the word went out to #peel21st followers that we would be holding a chat focusing on “Learning Spaces in the 21st Century”

I was excited to gather some input for evolving some of the empty spaces at Countryside Village and a twitter chat would be an excellent place to acquire this input.  With anticipation Tina, EricaMelanie and I shared a discussion through email about the Q’s that would guide our chat.  The concern, could we distract Teachers from deadlines, due dates and report cards?  I would say that we were successful with an enticing conversation about learning spaces.

The discussion began with introductions and the question…

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Day 84: Jameelah Gamble, ERF (Peel District School Board)

Feeling very inspired by my colleague and her “vlog” – video blog on the Peel Project 184 today – check it out really great message about being inclusive!

Peel21st Project 188

“In this new episode
of ‘5 Minutes With Jam’, Jahmeelah shares her story about the power of a birthday invitation and how it’s special to someone else besides the child. Inclusion, understanding, and barriers are broken in this simple exchange. 5
Minutes With Jam is Jahmeelah Gamble, PDSB ERF and Host of A Voice For All on Rogers Television, new vlog series sharing her adventures and lessons in special education.​

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Day 66, Loreta Lombardi, Teacher Candidate (York University)

So proud of my York TC -Loreta Lombardi and the growth and dedication she has shown in her time with us.  I am sad that she is almost done


Day 66, Loreta Lombardi, Teacher Candidate (York University).