Showing posts from March, 2015

How much do you value student voice?

This year our school board joined the global New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) initiative, and at a day-long event to launch the project we invited students and parents from participating schools to join our discussions about how we envisioned transforming education in our schools. It felt refreshing to have students and parents at the table with teachers and administrators. This was the first time that I had been at an event where all stakeholders were present, and the resulting change in the flavour and focus of our discussions was positive. Near the end of the day, the room was filled with positive energy and the teachers and administrators felt ready to go back to our schools and do some transformative work. Big dreams, big ideas, big questions.

We were all brought back to Earth abruptly when a student (who had been invited to reflect on the day) shamelessly stated his opinion about the event. To paraphrase, he had not had a good day, and stated specifically that we had spent…

Makerspace Musings

This past weekend I helped some of my colleagues host a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) conference in Barrie. When jobs were being assigned I leapt at the chance to help run a makerspace for kids, in part because I am intrigued by the multitude of maker stories appearing in blogs and on twitter, in part because I identify as a maker, and in part because I knew that my own kids would love it. We ended up hosting about 15 kids in our space who ranged in age from 6 to 11 years. Button-making, knitting, weaving, robots, Makey-Makey, squishy circuits, LEGO, art-bots and more were on our ‘maker menu.’
We set up our makerspace in the front foyer of the host school (for optimum visibility) and although it was sunny and spacious it was also cavernous and noisy. The best part? On four different occasions a child told me that they were bored. Each time this happened, that same child soon found something to occupy their attention for at least another hour. At the end of the day I practically pri…

#TTOG: An Important Conversation

One of my greatest guilty (?) pleasures these days is searching #TTOG on Twitter and reading some of the rich discussion happening among educators. The beauty of TTOG - Teachers Throwing (or Taking) Out Grades - is that it cannot be discussed without exposing raw emotions and opinions about the very nature of education.
As a secondary teacher I have often expressed regret that I have to report a percentage at the end of each semester. It is clear to me that students’ focus on grades distracts them from their job as learners. It is particularly difficult to address student concerns as they apply to post-secondary programs and implore me to raise their grades by one or two percentage points to increase their chance of acceptance. I resent having to have these discussions with students because I am there to teach them Chemistry, not to ensure their admission to university. I often wish that students could simply trust me to prepare them well and that the universities would use alternate …