Monthly Archives: October 2013

My Day of Learning – Eco Schools and Maker Spaces

The students of 3B haven’t been the only ones learning.  I’ve had the opportunity this year to attend a lot of Professional Development. Some, physical which has had me out of the classroom and much on Twitter and online which I can participate in from the comfort of home in my pj’s.

This past week  the same day (Tuesday) I was given the opportunity to participate in both forms of PD. And when I went to bed it took me a while to sleep as my head was full of ideas, questions and excitement.

The first session was hosted by Peel and Dufferin Peel school boards.  It was about becoming an EcoSchool.  One of my colleagues and I have taken over the Green Team at Massey. Our predecessor retired this June and she was very eco active so we have big shoes to fill.  We’ve been just trying to figure out the recycling side of things so when we saw the opportunity to attend a workshop on becoming an EcoSchool we thought why not!? It scared us a bit.  I mean what would the commitment factor be.  We are both moms with young children and life has us feeling very swamped as it is so taking on something else might not be so great.  However, we left feeling very good about the process and it’s the kind of thing that you can start small and build upon so we are going forward with it!  Massey Families reading this stay tuned we are going to need your support!

The second session was an online learning community I am lucky to be a part of.  It’s a Social Media and Open Education graduate course through the University of Regina.  I found it this fall through Twitter.  I follow Alec Couros on twitter @courosa and he is the professor of the course and he had tweeted about the course being open to non-credit participants and network mentors.  I jumped at the amazing opportunity and I’m so glad I did because not only am I able to share my personal experiences weekly I’m learning a TON. This week the talk was focused on The Maker Movement and was hosted by Sylvia Martinez author of “Invent to Learn” .  Can I just say total mind blowing experience.  For me it takes inquiry and project based learning to a whole new level.  Give kids hands on materials (e.g., circuits, wires, batteries, LED, Makey Makey’s etc.) and let them tinker, computer, program and create and see what they come up. This totally fits in with our #geniushour projects we are already doing and it scares me because I don’t really know where it will go and I don’t understand most of it to be honest.  But I do know that I HAVE to do it. I’ve been researching what to include in our Maker Boxes but I also know that I have to teach some code and I’ve been told that Scratch and Code Academy are great starting points.

I totally welcome any other suggestions for coding, programming and what to include in Maker Boxes.


The Cardboard Challenge

Saturday October 5th was Global Cardboard Challenge which celebrates the anniversary of the flash mob documentary Caine’s Arcade communities globally celebrated child play, creation and innovation.  

My students love Caine’s Arcade.  I used the video as a method for launching Genius Hour and it’s the one thing that really got them hooked.  They couldn’t believe that a kid their age could create something so cool and they loved that he is famous. You should have heard their squeals of delight when they noticed @cainesarcade was following us on Twitter 🙂 very exciting! Anyway when I read about the Global Cardboard Challenge I knew this was something we would have to participate in.  

True to grade 3B form my students ROCKED this challenge.  It’s funny how when you give kids something creative, hands on and open ended there are zero behaviour issues, zero children feeling frustrated and deflated.  You get pairings of kids working together that you would never imagine but authentic collaboration, and discussion happens.  Even the next day when I had the students reflect on their experience in their journals not a single student groaned.  They really had a blast with the previous day so writing about it was a non-issue.  

When I reflect back on the day I feel really proud of them.  When I first came across this activity I hesitated participating.  School life is busy right now  and sometimes I worry with all of the “initiatives” I have going on with my class am I going to fit curriculum in?  But the answer is yes.  These initiatives support curriculum and they open students minds up to it.  They become sponges and willing participants in their learning because they are excited keen to find out what “Ms. L-Y” has planned next.  


The massive pile of cardboard in the middle of our carpet.  You might not believe it but there was not a single piece left at the end!

The massive pile of cardboard in the middle of our carpet. You might not believe it but there was not a single piece left at the end!


Shameala created htis house.  She added so many fine little details to it.

Shameala created htis house. She added so many fine little details to it.


Hearing the story that went a long with Timothy's robot was pretty cool.  I'll have to share his journal entry later

Hearing the story that went a long with Timothy’s robot was pretty cool. I’ll have to share his journal entry later


Do you think my apple love is having an influence on my students?  Adam made an apple Mac Book!

Do you think my apple love is having an influence on my students? Adam made an apple Mac Book!


Such amazing focus

Such amazing focus



Double Digit Addition Rap

We are working on double digit addition with and without regrouping. Found this cute little student made video on YouTube. It’s called the Double Digit Addition Rap and it has fun little sayings to remember how to regroup or not. The grade 3 students loved it and asked to watch it again and again!

They Really Amaze Me!

My Grade 3 students are pretty amazing.  They are your typical bunch of 23 7-8 year olds.  Their ability ranges are diverse, they like Bey Blades, Monster High Dolls, iPods and Angry Birds.  When I mention the word “partner” they stop listening and instantly arrange on the carpet who they are going to work with which means they stop listening to the instructions.  This is what exactly went down on Thursday during my music lesson.  We’ve been studying rhythm and I was modelling how to use the rhythm and Lummi sticks to create their own rhythms and I mentioned they would be doing this with a partner.  That’s when then shifty eyes broke out and the points and whispers started. I had to break out the “girls and boys maybe I’m picking your partners” in order to continue the instructions.  In the end I DID let them choose their partner and the only instruction was to not leave anyone out.  This is where the amazing comes in.  They didn’t choose partners that I predicted they would.  They didn’t choose their closest friends or best bud since Kindergarten.  They made sure that nobody was left behind.  It made me realize that math and language aside that they’ve been learning to be kind, caring citizens and that amazes me!

The other amazing thing about that day was their rhythms.  WOW give a kid a set of sticks, a pencil and a paper and tell them to create and the things they can come up with! I took a video and posted to my youtube channel so parents if you would like to view it send me a message and I will send you the link.

I am just so proud of these kids!


#BYOD in Primary

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device means students bring their own wifi enabled device to school to use for academic purposes.  It is a really good idea because our schools in Peel are equipped with wifi and while many schools have invested in equipment like netbooks or iPads they are not 1 to 1 and they are shared with other classes so you don’t always have access to a device.

I’m encouraging my students to BYOD in Grade 3.  You might read this and think that’s nuts.  But they have demonstrated responsibility with devices time and time again.  I am lucky to have a few devices and I allow the kids to use them and they are careful and respectful of them.  They are also really interested in using the technology and I find their focus and attention goes up when the word “iPad” is mentioned.

Having their own device certainly makes #geniushour a lot easier. Students have access to research or look at videos at their finger tips instead of having to share my devices or use the 1 classroom computers.

We have a system in place for keeping devices secure.  When not being used by students they are locked in a cupboard.  The classroom door is locked when we are not in the room and students understand the importance of leaving their device in their backpack to and from school.

I understand that a device like a smart phone, iPod, tablet is an expensive piece of equipment so I get why some parents may be hesitant to send them to school.  However they are a super valuable learning tool.  Having your children explore and learn and discover how to use their own or family device in a new way (e.g. other than playing angry bird) is a great learning opportunity and a really effective 21st Century Learning Tool!