My best learning experience

c21_logo_mediumWelcome to you Cohort 21 Blog. This journal is an integral part of your Cohort 21 experience. Here you will reflect, share , collaborate  and converse as you move through the C21 Action Plan process. 

This is your first post and an opportunity to share a little bit about yourself as a learner and leader. Please respond the to the following prompts below:

1) Reflect on your own personal learning journey and K-12 education. Identify one learning experience that you can point to as having made a significant impact on some element of your own growth and development. It could be that teacher and subject that really sparked significant growth or a trip that opened your eyes to a whole new world or way of thinking or a non-catastrophic failure that you learned so much from.  Briefly describe the learning experience and identify the various supports, structures, mindsets and relational ingredients that were put in place by the teacher or facilitator that directly contributed to your growth and success. 

I started late extended French in grade 7, but it wasn't until high school that I really started to love French. In grade 9, Mme D. gave us fantastic projects where we could create strange, hilarious videos and in grade 10 Mme G. let us watch Degrassi in French every Friday. I will never forget the Friday that I was the only one who showed up for class 4th period right before a long weekend. I couldn't understand why she wouldn't let me watch Degrassi. What did I care that the other kids would miss it? I wanted to see what happened!

When I plan my classes now, I try to recreate the opportunities to have fun, to connect, to listen to and read interesting stories, those activities that fueled my learning without me ever thinking about the learning itself. Mme G. had it figured out with the "cool", albeit 10 years out of date, comprehensive input as a driver for her lesson. But perhaps it was Mme D that made the bigger impact on me. She was a role model for us all; she hadn't done French Immersion (phew, maybe one day we too could speak fluently like her!) , didn't have a perfect accent, she spoke slowly and clearly and she really looked at you when you spoke with her. To this day, I still remember her name and what she looked like when my brain has washed away so many other teachers. Learning a second language as a teenager in school can be a place of discomfort and vulnerability. Mme D.'s growth mindset, her warm character, approachability, and personal connections were instrumental to my increasing comfort in high school French class.  

2) What is the one Learning skill (MOE) or Approach to Learning (IB ATL) that you feel is MOST important in this day and age? How do you intentionally build it into your curriculum and develop it in your students throughout the year?

In my opinion, Initiative is the most important learning skill in our 21st century learners. This is where they go from "bored" to "intrigued", "tired" to "invigorated". In my example above, I mentioned fun partner or group projects. The reason that these were so enjoyable was that we were able to work within a clear framework, but completely with our own ideas (differentiated content). We were also given fairly free reign with how we communicated our presentation to the class (differentiated product). This meant that we also enjoyed seeing what everyone else had done because it was so fresh and different from our own offering.

Some students are natural explorers, always asking why and how. In attempt to build this into our grade 10 French class last year, we tried doing our own Genius Hour. Students explored online to find *something* French - a person, an invention, an event, an award, a book, etc - that piqued their interest. Then, we worked through a process. What did they wonder about? Could they ask a "big question"? What research could they find to answer their own question? What other questions did they discover? By documenting and conferencing throughout the process, the students were supported in the development of their curiousity. They were also encouraged to share their newly discovered subject or passion with their peers in an intriguing way. The products weren't as diverse as I would have liked and improving this element is a focus this year.

3) Insert an image below that best captures the essence of that Learning Skill or ATL.

Photographer: Hannah Fransen May 10, 2019

8 thoughts on “My best learning experience

  1. Hi Heather,
    I'm so glad you've joined Cohort 21 this year! I loved reading about how your passion for French developed and how you continue to work to inspire your students the same way. I teach middle school French, and I can't wait to connect 🙂

    See you at the first F2F!

  2. Thanks for this post @hfransen,

    I really appreciate you telling us about Mme. D. She clearly has been an influence on your current practice. You should check out @vkraus and her blog - she is from a few Cohort 21 seasons in the past, but continues to blog about French and she has some similar interests and strategies.

    Check her out, and I look forward to meeting you on Saturday,

  3. Amazing first post, @hfransen!

    I loved reading about the impact past French teachers have made in your personal learning journey, and that they have inspired you to intentionally create opportunities to have fun, connect, and listen. Your students are so lucky to have you!

    Also, I wanted to let you know that I will be your Cohort 21 Facilitator this year and that @jbairos, @mwilcox, and @amacrae will be your Cohort 21 Coaches. Together, we will be learning alongside you and supporting your Cohort 21 experience.

    I look forward to seeing your this Saturday, October 5th @ The York School, and can't for you to experience the captivating energy that is #Cohort21!


  4. I love that you offered choice - even though you feel that you were not as happy with the diversity of projects, the opportunity was there. I also love that you want to grow this project. You are awesome and your kids are so lucky to have you cheering them on through their education, @hfransen.


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