Sunday, October 27, 2013

"We Can See...All Around the World" - ECOO Presentation 2013

Last Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to present at this year's 34th Annual ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) Conference in Niagara Falls! 


The conference entitled, "Bring IT Together", is "Ontario's premier educational technology conference. Hundreds of educators from all over the province get together annually to learn and share best practice for the use of computing technology in the classroom."
Co-Chair Doug Peterson
It was truly an honour to present alongside such an inspiring and passionate educator, my colleague and friend Angie Harrison (@TechieAng / http://techieang.edublogs.org). After being involved in the "We Can See" Global Inquiry Project last year with our kindergarten class (please see the "We Can See Project" label on my blog for previous posts), we wasted no time preparing our proposal for sharing our learning and collaborative journey with other educators at this year's conference!


The purpose of our presentation was to take other educators on a journey around what it means to begin your own Global Inquiry and what things you'll need to consider when creating or participating in one. With the concept of Digital Citizenship at the forefront, we wanted to give our audience an understanding of how a simple concept like what you can see out of your classroom window, can be expanded upon in so many different ways and look different across the grades. 



We did not want our focus to strictly be on the Full Day Kindergarten lens, even though that was where our journey took place, but rather shifting that lens to any grade and for educators to see the beauty of collaborative, digital learning and how it can elicit such authentic and meaningful connections for our students and their learning of the world around them.






As take-aways, we created "Bookmarks" that highlight those important points to consider when beginning or taking part in a Global Inquiry project:
To top it off...the feedback from our presentation couldn't have been more positive! 


We not only assisted three of our audience members as they joined the Twitterverse, but we had one audience member in particular, Magdalena Front (@TechMagFront) create her very own "We Can See" video from her experience in Niagara Falls while attending the conference! Thank you for letting me share this on my blog and I can't wait to share it with my class! 


Here is the link to her blog: http://upfrontandcentre.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/we-can-see-at-ecoo13/
I truly can't wait to see where this new learning takes you and your school and I look forward to checking back often to read about your own We Can See journey! Here is the video she created:


Thank you again to everyone who attended our session and to our supporters near and far for all of your encouragement and positive energy! I truly can't wait to see where this year takes us! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Sincerest Thanks

Last Thursday's Meet the Teacher Night was nothing short of a huge success! Words cannot even begin to describe how humbled we were to see so many parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends join us for such an incredible evening that celebrated all the wonderful learning going on in our classroom. 


As the evening unfolded, Ms. Theis and I were ecstatic with the number of exciting conversations being had between our students and their families and it was a true joy watching our Family Tree come to life! 



Here are some of the highlights 
from our evening:

1. Our Family Tree:

After being inspired by Joanne Babalis' Family Board last year, Ms. Theis and I decided to create something a little different and involve our students in the process. After a whole week in the making, we decided to create a "Family Tree" for the entrance of our classroom. This tree celebrates our students and their families and reminds our students that they are special, unique, and part of a classroom community that learns and grows together here at Lorna Jackson Public School. 

Witnessing our families write beautiful words of encouragement to their child was truly wonderful and serves as a precious reminder of building positive home/school connections for every child along their learning journey.



2. Our Twitter Table:
This was a HUGE hit and we were so pleased to see so many parents take a risk and "tweet" out highlights of the evening on our class twitter account! So many parents were amazed with how easy it truly was and it was awesome to witness our own students teaching their parents how to "tweet!" Here are some of the tweets from the evening:








3. Our Slideshow:
Playing in the background was a slideshow of pictures that have been captured throughout the month of September that truly highlight all of the wonderful learning moments thus far in our classroom. Many parents enjoyed watching our show as well as "walking the walls" and reading all about the things we're exploring in our classroom! "Our Snail Wall" was a perfect snapshot into our Snail Inquiry as parents could read about what we see, think, and wonder as part of our inquiry coupled with documentation photos and artwork!



4. Scavenger Hunt, Treats, and Technology:
To top it off, we had our students take their families on a scavenger hunt around our classroom highlighting various learning centers, their cubby, our Twitter Table and most importantly, showing off their work in their student Portfolio! With Tim Horton's coffee, yummy treats and more, it was a wonderful, relaxed, evening full of insightful conversations and incredible memories for our students, their families and for us as their educators! 



To our parents (new and old), colleagues, and administration, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support with all that we do! Our students have helped make our classroom a beautiful place to learn and grow and we truly look forward to all that's in store for us this year!


Sincerely,
Ms. Schmidt & Ms. Theis 

Skyping about Snails!

With the start of our Snail Inquiry, we have been very busy sharing our daily discoveries and new learning not only on this blog, but also through other forms of social media like Twitter. New to our classroom this year is our very own class Twitter account (@rm_126)! This has been one way we continue to share our learning with our school community, parents and other classrooms. It is truly amazing how this one form of social media has allowed us to already connect with other classrooms from within our school district, province and world and converse around our daily wonderings and discoveries! 


To our wonderful surprise, Mrs. Lowe's Kindergarten class from Winnipeg, Manitoba has also been inquiring about snails in their classroom! After connecting with Mrs. Lowe (@joyofrunning) on Twitter, we couldn't wait to connect our classes and share our knowledge and questions about this fascinating living thing! In preparation for our Skype session, our SK's had no trouble remembering back to last year and our participation in the "We Can See" Project whereby we skyped several times with Kindergarten classes from around the world (e.g. Monterrey, Mexico, New York City, Keswick, Ontario)! To utilize their prior knowledge, we collectively made an anchor chart around what Skyping with friends looks like, sounds like, and feels like to help set the tone for this wonderful learning opportunity! Similarly, we met with small groups of students throughout the week leading up to our session to discuss some questions we would like to ask Mrs. Lowe's class to gain more knowledge and insight to support our learning about snails. 


On Thursday, September 26th, excitement filled our classroom as students knew that it was the day to Skype with Mrs. Lowe's Kindergarteners! Here are the questions we came up with for Mrs. Lowe's class along with her students' responses:

1. What do snails need in their habitat?
"They need their shells."
"They need food like flowers, plants and they need vegetables."


2. Why do snails have slime and not legs?
"They need slime so they can move."

3. How do snails hide in their shells?
"They attach themselves to their shells. They use their body as a door when they go inside."

4. What does your snail live in?
"Our snail lives in water in an aquarium!"

Picture from Mrs. Lowe's class blog of their Snail's habitat.

Here are the questions Mrs. Lowe's class had for us along with our students' responses (you'll notice we had very similar questions which was interesting since both classes were able to compare answers):

1. When do snails go in their shells?
"They need their shells to protect themselves from predators." - E.S.


2. What do snails eat?
"Snails eat lots of lettuce." - C.S.
"They eat leaves!" - M.P.


3. Why do snails have slime?
We wondered about this too and both classes think that it helps them move.


To conclude our Skype session, both of our classes came up with compliments for the other class:
Mrs. Lowe's class: "Thank you for telling us about snails."
Our class: "Thank you for teaching us lots about snails and stuff."

We also have one common question we look forward to researching in our classrooms: 
How do snails stretch their eyes? 
Stay tuned!

We are thankful to Mrs. Lowe and her Kindergarten class for sharing their learning about snails so far this school year! We truly look forward to connecting our classes again in the near future as we continue to 
learn more about snails! 

If you'd like to read up on their class blog click here: