Monthly Archives: November 2013

Guest Blogger Coming Soon :) @K5_RP

The kindergarten genius hour project was a major success!  I feel so proud for Michelle, Patti and their students.  Michelle is still going to guest blog but the actual Lemonade stand project was bigger than they expected so we didn’t get there.  Tomorrow, I promise!  

Here’s a teaser picture while you wait 


Guest Blogger Tomorrow @K5_RP

I’m so excited tomorrow I am having a guest blogger and it’s my first time having one.  The blogger will be Michelle Philpot who is a dear friend and colleague at my school.  She teaches Kindergarten and one of her students decided that he wanted to do a genius hour project of his own.  His older brother is my class and I guess after hearing about how great genius time though that this was something he needed to do right away.

His idea is brilliant really.  He wished to create a lemonade stand and the profits of his stand he would buy mittens for our Massey Mitten Tree.  The Massey Mitten Tree is decorated with donations of warm mittens for children who are in need of warm Winter clothing items.  It was started before my time at Massey but it’s been a yearly tradition.  I could be wrong but maybe it’s based on the book The Mitten Tree regardless we do read that beautiful book to our students each year.  

Michelle’s kindergarten class has been fully immersed in this project.  The beautiful idea from one little boy has sprouted into the whole class working on the stand, taste testing lemonade, feeling what it would be like with no mittens outside, inquiry questions.  It’s really, really amazing and it just goes to show when you put kids in charge of their learning and give them the platform to take off with those ideas they can come up with big things.


I won’t go into much more detail as you’ll get that from Michelle tomorrow but you can follow her and her class @K5Kinders @K5_RP on twitter as her class has been tweeting about it and tomorrow I think there will be a lot.  

The student’s goal is to raise $6.00 because he can go to the dollar store and buy 6 pairs and in his world 6 pairs of mittens is a lot.  I have a feeling his expectations are going to be exceeded! 

What do we want for our children?

I know what I want for my kids! What about you?

A Fine Balance

Education A

Education B

Products end up in garbage

Products have a function and purpose

Focused on finding answers

Invitation to ask questions

Solve problems that have already been solved

Find problems that have not been solved

Curiosity sacrificed

Curiosity celebrated and protected

Teacher as expert

Student becoming expert



Obedience valued

Collaboration valued

Bound by books

Created by networks

Homogeneous outcomes

Heterogeneous goals

Results over process

Process over results



Carrots and sticks used

Responsibility nurtured



Just in case learning

Just in time learning



Top down


Orderly for efficiency

Organized for learning

Filtered out

Filtered forward

Defined by scarcity 

Created in abundance



Written word dominates

Communication emphasized

Knowledge nailed down

Knowledge as changing



Defined and restrictive

Open and inviting

Identity reactive

Identity preemptive



One size fits all


Learning to comply

Learning to learn

Sorts and…

View original post 10 more words


Mr. Bean Library

On Friday our student teacher, Mrs. Guraya used this Mr. Bean video to teach inferencing. The students were amazing at coming up with really great inferences I was so impressed.

A #geniushour update

I know I start every Genius Hour blog post in this way but I cannot express how game changing this has been for my teaching practice and my students.  We are currently doing a mini unit on inferencing and they are coming up with such good questions and looking at pictures and videos in such critical ways for more insightful then I’ve typically seen 8 year olds be able to do.  We also started Social Studies as an inquiry based project and they handled the demands of coming up with good questions, researching and creating projects without missing a beat.  I like to think that I’m helping create a group of kids who don’t take things for face value but question, investigate and repeat.  

The best part about our genius time is that students are really aware that all this is happening.  They are just productively working on a fun idea that they came up.  Most students are just about wrapped up the information collecting and are ready to get their hands dirty and start creating.  This week their tasks are to come up with their supplies list and then start gathering.  I’m excited to enter this next stage! 



Just Tell Me the Truth But Tell it Kindly

Just Tell Me the Truth But Tell it Kindly.

As a teacher mom of a student that has just started JK I really identified with this blog post!


#peel21stnorth Network Meeting on BYOD


Yesterday after school I had the privilege of attending and sharing at the Peel 21st North Network meeting on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)  It was so great getting to collaborate with other educators interested in teaching and learning with 21st Century strategies.  Seriously the fastest hour of my life.  I wish there was more opportunity to just talk to colleagues in this open sort of way and share.  Too bad we can’t self direct our Professional Development more.  But thank goodness for Twitter because I have been able to do that!  It is also neat meeting your Tweeps in face to face situations as well!

Anyway the topic of discussion was BYOD and I was asked to share my experiences with BYOD in a primary classroom.  By no means am I an “expert” as there isn’t really one correct way of managing it.  You do what works for your classroom, school community and your comfort level.  I’ve been doing BYOD since last year and I feel like it’s been pretty successful. On any given day I can have 3-8 devices brought in which is pretty great for 8 year olds. My feeling too is that as our school community becomes more comfortable with this more devices will be sent in.  Anyway after talking last night I learned that some people do BYOD days in primary which is a really good way of handling the devices when you don’t wan to deal with them daily.  I don’t do this.  I ask my students to bring them in every day.  More and more we are using them.  This week I showed the kids how to use Miriam Webster dictionary online specifically the Thesaurus function.  We have been writing Recounts and I see a lot of “And I felt happy” so this was a simple way showing the kids how to change them up.  Best part was the kids who had devices were looking up words for their group mates who did not have them.  We also use a safe search engine (powered by google) mostly it’s been during our #geniushour time and our Social Studies inquiry projects but more more when students have questions they will ask “may I use my device and look it up on Kid Rex?”  Instead of the kids seeking the answers from me they are being problem solvers and figuring it out on their own.  Isn’t that what the ultimate goal is?  For students not to need us any more and to be able to be good at asking and answering questions?  🙂

One of the challenges with BYOD is not all children have the same apps on their devices. I’m in the process of updating my apple/android app list so parents can add them to their child’s devices  but they aren’t always available on each type of device.  A suggestion I learned from one of our ITRT (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) Tina Zita @tina_zita give the students the tasks and let them figure out which app to use.  So if you want them to create a video some might just use the simple camera function, some might use something like iMovie or show me or even educreations.  The focus doesn’t have to be the product but more the process and it’s teaching them great problem solving skills.  This is an idea I’m going to adopt for sure in my room.

Anyway the network meeting was fantastic and I look forward to the next session and I thank our ITRT team for putting together an amazing event for us!

Here’s a great video featuring the staff/students at Treeline Public School sharing their successes of BYOD.  In case you aren’t aware Treeline has really pioneered the BYOD movement!

Managing our Data



We are working on one of my favourite units in math to teach, Data Management.  I love it because it’s naturally hands on and interactive unit.  Today the students learned about making a survey from our York Teacher Candidate, Mrs. Guraya and they were so excited about it.  They each created a question with 3-5 answers and had 3 minutes to ask as many of their classmates as possible.  We used a visual timer and it added to the frantic excitement of the lesson.  Tomorrow we are going to use our survey data to create pictographs.






Student-Led Conferencing

You can tell it’s been a busy time of year based on how quiet I’ve been on my blog.  I just finished writing Progress Report Cards and now with my class we are preparing for Student-Led Conferences (SLC).  SLC’s are exactly as the name suggests.  They are student selected, driven and led.  The teacher in the room acts as a facilitator but the kids really take ownership.  We are doing this in place of the traditional interview format where the teacher and parents discuss the student (without or without he/she there) for 15 minutes.  The room will be busy!  At any time we could have 3-5 families i at once looking at their child’s portfolio, trying out activities that are selected by the students. It’s very exciting!

The students in my class have been working on their portfolio for a week and a half.  Thursday they get to share it with their families and I’m really looking forward to how it goes!


Halloween Happenings in 3B

As a teacher, Halloween in school has a different feeling then when I was a student.  I remember waking up this morning (after staying up way to late preparing treat bags for my own children to take to school) and feeling like I just wanted to stay under my warm covers.  It’s crazy in school on Halloween the kids are super excited and it’s hard to maintain their attention and focus.  Combine rain and indoor recess all day it makes for some interesting times.  Of course my commute in was a nightmare the normal hour was closer to an hour and a half and it was literally bumper to bumper until I got to the 407 which got me to school with 20 minutes to spare.  So naturally the day started out pretty frantic and I was in a panic yucky feeling. However once I saw the students in 3B I calmed.  They were so cheery and obviously excited that it was hard to stay grumpy.  It’s funny because this week we read the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and I was feeling a little like Alexander especially since they don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia 🙂 but like I said it is hard to stay in a funk when you have  group of 22 very happy faces smiling at you.  

After running down what our day would look like I had the kids do a writing activity for me where they talked about if they liked Halloween. They had to choose yes or no and provide 3 reasons to support their answer.  Students had a variety of answers. Most said yes because they like to carve pumpkins, dress up and get candy.  But a few said they didn’t like Halloween because they don’t love to dress up, or they have a peanut allergy so they don’t get many candies.  Interesting to hear their point of view.  I also realized that we need to do some more practice on paragraph writing (let’s add that to the day plans for next week).  We also played Halloween BINGO which was well received especially since I had Halloween themed prizes.  We’ve been having some difficulty with cooperation so I had them play BINGO with a partner and they had to take turns covering the card and come to a consensus together if they wanted to change their card at the start of new rounds.  We also reviewed our “Be Board” and decided that it would be a good idea for the winners to be humble.  I was really proud of them they demonstrated cooperation and had a lot of fun as well.

After lunch students costumed up and prepared for the Fitness Walk.  Traditionally our school does the walk outside in the community but the weather had other plans for us so we did the walk in the school.  We did several passes and walked through the gym where our Kindergarten students were watching us.  Halloween music played, students laughed, danced and cheered on their peers.  I like the outdoor fitness walk but I think I liked this more. There was just so much happiness and joy and a really sense of coming together as a school.  When the walk was over we returned to class where our principal read us a Halloween story and the students in my class “Trick or Treated” with the goodies their peers brought.

It was pretty fun today.  The students did a really great job of coming together, cooperating and they showed me that a holiday in school doesn’t have to be a stressful event.  That simplifying and just enjoying the moment is the way to handle it!

So thank you 3B you are the best! 

Happy Halloween!