Last year I was honored to become a member of the #Cohort21 Season 5 group.

It was a year of learning, networking but above all discovering a hunger of finding ways to innovate at school.

After lots of help and input from a great number of the Cohort21 facilitators/coaches and other members of the group I was able to settle on my HMW Question

"How might we create more meaningful content for students"

My goal was to create a program for my communication technology course focusing on the specific learning needs of each of my students. By creating this goal I wanted to have a program with full engagement for my students.

I started the year with two main objectives.

  1. Have students create and manage an online portfolio where they could reflect on their work, show their achievements through the year and also be part of my observations and conversations. We used Fresh Grade to create the portfolios and we even used them to support our parent/teacher conference.
  2. Create a project-based learning program for each of the units in TGJ. As the year was progressing I was reading and listening to my student's conversations and reflections and even though I was happy about how things were going I was not close to my goal. So, I created my own HMW Question for the second part of the year.

"How might we create projects that meet the learning needs of each student"

I turned to my PLN created on Twitter during Cohort21 and started reading and looking at different examples of work from lots of different sources. I will try to compile and share them all later on.  One word came out of most of those readings " CHOICE".

Give students the chance to take ownership of learning. This is what I really wanted to try.

So, I changed the last three units of TGJ this year. Filming, Animation and Videogame Creation. Instead of me creating the project, choosing the software and the assessment. Students could pick from a variety of topics related to each of the units. Students also had the choice to pick the software and the style of learning they wanted to use. We as a class created a Google Site to upload all the different topics and the materials students were using to learn so everyone in the grade could share their findings.

The feedback on the Filming and Animation units was very positive as students could pick projects from a variety of levels and types.

What is the next step?

Working on my next HMW question.......

 

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My daughter's favorite book is called "It's okay to make mistakes" by Todd Parr and in one the last pages it says. "It's ok to be quiet, being quiet can make you a good listener".

After our F2F at MaRs, I had a clear idea and a plan on how to put in place my Action Plan.

My plan was divided into three tasks

  1. To create a system where I can share my observations with my students and they can comment on them.
  2. Create PBL units for some of my courses. I want to create one PBL based unit for each of my courses for the rest of the year
  3. I want to share this process with the faculty of my school and create a group of teachers interested in adapting their units.

As soon as I got back, I started working on the tasks. The first task was easy to set up as it was something I was working since the beginning of the school year.

As I started working on my second task, I used a time management tool called Toggl to track the amount of time I was spending on changing a unit for each of my courses into PBL units. I was reading blogs, posts, and links from different members of the Cohort so I could create a path to successfully shape the units into projects, and I told myself that it didn't matter how hard or tedious the task was going to be, I was going to finish it.

This was when I added all the hours I spent on task 2 and added to a tremendous 19 hours..... in one week. That's what I decided to become quiet, to spend more time listening to what my students were saying about the projects and to really understand how they were feeling about the project.

The journey to adapt my units to PBL ones has just started and my next steps are clear.

  1. To continue working on sharing my observations and conversations with my students
  2. To continue adapting my units to PBL ones.
  3. To answer the following two questions:
    • How might we share what we do in our classrooms with other teachers at my school?
    • How might we help each other when creating PBL projects?

Thanks, Cohort21for all your help and support.
Here is the link to my Action Plan Slide. Embedding is not working for me today

 

After thinking about my Action Plan, I have decided to divide it into three different areas.

The first one was to

Create meaningful conversations with my students and have them comment on them.

After the first round of report cards, I asked my students if they have read the Learning Skills comments. The answer was NO, not a single one of them have read my comments on their learning skills.

After a small conversation with them, we agreed on the point that they didn't know much about those skills and definitely they were not part of the learning skills "leveling process".

I was trying a couple of different systems to collect observations in class and after some thinking, I set myself into one. Fresh Grade.

Fresh Grade is an app where you create classes and automatically creates individual portfolios for each of your students. You can upload written and oral comments, pictures, videos or links to one or to multiple students and if you want you can give them a mark or a level out a bank of assessment tools created by you.

You can share those portfolios with the students and they can comment on your observations or a question posted.

The feedback from students is phenomenal, they like to comment on my observations and have said that reading my comments have helped them realized how they can improve and have ownership of their learning.

If you want to try it, here is the link https://www.freshgrade.com/

 

 

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Here is my V4.0 question

How might we drive more meaningful learning for our students?

Thanks to @nblair @jweening and @jmedved for your input.

After a morning of deep thinking and active listening, my final question took shape and with

the five why's I realized what the urgency of my plan was.

I want students to be passionate about their own learning.

My question and my urgency perfectly align with Crestwood's mission statement which is to

"Provide a secure, customized, total learning environment and community that helps each Crestwood student optimize their current and future academic and personal success as confident, accomplished, well-rounded individuals who can take their place successfully in the world."

For this year my professional goals were the following

  1. To create a system where I can share my observations with my students and they can comment on them.
  2. To change the name of my units from a name to a proper guiding question.
  3. To start adding Project Based Units in my courses.

Thanks to Cohort 21 I was able to link my professional goals to my Action Plan, so I have divided my Action Plan into three different areas.

  1. Create meaningful conversations with my students and have them comment on them.
  2. Create PBL units for some of my courses. I want to create one PBL based unit for each of my courses for the rest or the year
  3. I want to share this process with the faculty of my school and create a group of teachers interested in adapting their units.

I will be blogging throughout the process and all your feedback is appreciated and needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Action Plan question is on the wall in my class. I look at it every day for a couple of seconds and try to think about one thing I can do that day to make sense of it.

I look at it every day for a couple of seconds and try to think about one thing I can do that day to help my action plan.

My first How Might We question was "How might we create content that helps students feel more connected to a Spanish Speaking World?", and as we were working during our F2F at The York School I started to realize that this question was going to change soon.

With this question I wanted to find more innovative ways to engage my Spanish students, but was this the main goal of my action plan?

After interviewing my students and looking at some of the amazing blogs and tweets from other members of the cohort, I started to change my question to "How might we create more meaningful content for my Spanish students"? I thought that if my students have more meaningful content then they will be more connected to the Spanish-speaking world.

Since then, I've spent some time looking at different teaching blogs and resources that will help me with my goal of trying to engage my students and at the same time increase their connection to the Spanish-speaking world.

The first day back from the holidays I looked back at the question and realized that I was directing my question to only a small part of my students. What about my technology students, my soccer team, my maker's club, can I help other teachers engage their students?

So...  a new question was created

"How might we create more meaningful content for students"

From this question here is where my action plan is at

This is what I have done until now with my action plan

and this is where I think I am going

 

"How might we create more meaningful content for students"

This is my final question. I promise.... until next Friday at MaRS when I will change it again.

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coffecoofecooffe

During the registration process for Cohort 21 we were asked the following question: If you were a T-Shirt, what would it say?.  I knew my answer straight away, a statement that I repeat very often to all my students and to myself.

"If you don't make mistakes you will never get it right"

I teach Spanish to high school students and have also been confronted with the

challenge of learning a new language, when I decided to move to Germany without speaking the language.

I decided to buy some books and learn some German, but after three weeks of reading and answering grammar questions, I got bored and decided to take a new approach. I went to the bakery and tried to order some bread. The woman behind the counter was a really patience person and helped me construct my sentence. That was the beginning, from that moment on I decided I was going to speak only in German even if I was making many mistakes and that only by learning from my mistakes my German will improve, and it did.

This is my message to all my students at the beginning of the year, try, make mistakes and don't be afraid to make them, only if you make mistakes and learn from them you will learn.

I had forgotten what my shirt said, I  finished submitting my application last May  and when I asked Ruth what my answer was I remembered the reason why I chose that statement.

I will have my statement present during all of  the Cohort 21 journey, and will  step out of my comfort zone, writing is one of them, but I will keep trying because "if you don't make mistakes you will never get it right"

What are you going to do to step out of your comfort zone?

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c21_logo_mediumWelcome to Cohort 21. This is the first post on your new blog. This journal is an integral part of your Cohort 21 experience. Here you will reflect, share and collaborate as you move through the C21 learning cycle towards your action plan.

Cohort 21 is a unique professional development opportunity open to CIS Ontario teachers and school leaders who are seeking to explore  what it means to a teacher in the 21st century.