Sunday, June 4, 2017

Owning And Acting On Learning

Connecting to previous posts, Shifts in Learning and Honoring Within Learning of students' thinking journeys about global citizenship, a long overdue blog post reflecting on students values of exploring the Sustainable Development Global Goals. The focus of the blog will be on ownership of  acting on learning  while exploring the causes and factors of developing events affecting local, national and international communities

Giving the students the values of connecting creativity and pedagogical thinking while exploring and learning about the Sustainable Development Global Goals (#teachSDGs). The Grade 6 students focused on designing conceptions representing SDGs and bringing awareness, impacting the Grade 5 students daily actions.

As mentioned in the 10 reasons to pursue Sustainable Development Goals as educators it is our mission to have students take a lead. This year's Grade 6 students developed conceptions applying sensors (Hummingbird) and coding (ScratchX) to share their learning of SDGs with the grade 5 students.  This year's focus of taking national action by building water filters for the Frist Nation communities with mercury-polluted water.  

This blog post will focus on having students to advocate their own learning by deciding how best to reach their audience, to observe audiences' reactions during the presentation and to get feedback if the Grade 5 students were impacted.

Students' samples of the planned audio that were recorded for preparing the coding of the sensors. The planning was prepared to be presented bilingually.

A sample of a conception

There are many ideas to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to the classroom.

Dear supporters: RT this & the movement grows. Dear #globalgoals enthusiasts: Use #TeachSDGs verb & help us showcase great tweets4teachers.

From visualizing the ideas of the conceptions to the actual design. The students reflected on the process by using Life of a Project. Many students persevered with the programming of the sensors and became experts in guiding others as a learning communities. A reflection sample of the design process.

 The links of students' Blog posts explaining the process of the Sustainable Development of Global Goals.

The students always reflect on the competencies throughout the process. I am sharing 2 samples of  students' reflections on the 6C's  Their reflections are written at students' French level of expressing their lesrning.

When we focus on a process of learning owned by the students, they make a difference in their own learning and among their community of learners too. When sharing the Grade 6 students also collected data if they have impacted the Grade 5 students. It was very powerful for students to reflect on the collected data after presenting the causes, factors, and reasons of the Sustainable Goals. They interpreted the data by using the ladder of inference in order to analyze and  conclude if they have impacted and empowered the Grade 5 students.

Many schools from around the world have taken actions by connecting with others for problems solving and making a difference. By following #teachSDGs on Twitter you will discover many projects from around the world. This is an example by Sean Robinson High School Students.

As educators, we must continue to inspire students' creativity with lasting impacts from around the world by reflecting on how other nations endure many difficulties for survival. It is building compassion for taking actions by impacting their own lives and the life of others. Harnessing and encouraging Global perspectives for investigating, recognizing perspectives, communicating and taking actions in becoming global citizens.

What learning opportunities are we creating for students to take risks and take actions toward local and Global communities?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Honoring Within Learning

Building a culture of risk takers, thinkers, motivators who self-assess and self-regulate is a process that is explored from day one of school and is continuously explored throughout the year. It takes time, and the key to success is letting students explore, reflect on their own actions and determine their next steps.

Competency-based learning is when students own the process and build their learning based on multiple perspectives by valuing their own thinking and others. When students are immersed in their learning they are reflecting on the process of what, how and why of learning.  The students are dealing with their habits and developing their social and emotional learning when they are reflecting during the process. Students' reflections on competencies during the process allows the authenticity of seeing themselves as designers of their learning.  The students need to know their voices matter, communicate effectively and self- assess to take action. 

I am sharing the recent causal models From Rotman I-Think Initiative of students interpersonal experiences while focusing on the causes and the factors of real world events.  Some experiences are shared on the last post.

During the causal model, the students are builders and agents of their own learning.  During the process the students contribute their voices with confidence, they are engaged in collaborative meaningful and purposeful conversations on real world issues.  

This is the students' third experience with the process of thinking through the causal model. The students identified five of the six competencies that they would highlight during the process of the integrative thinking.  The competencies are based from the 6C's of Michael Fullen's Pedagogies For Deep Learning.
  • Collaboration: Managing dynamics and applying the empathy process of listening, respecting all views and learning from others
  • Critical Thinking: Collectively thinking and sharing ideas throughout complex stakes and events and their causes. Keeping on asking "what causes this/that?" linking causes and factors of the sustainable global goals
  • Creativity: Asking questions that connect to the causes and factors to further inquire and challenge the thinking possibilities to world problems or issues.
  • Self-regulation/Character for Deep Learning: The responsibility for learning, to stay focused on listening, questions and communicating to add knowledge
  • Communication: listening and valuing ideas, building on others' ideas, reflecting and analyzing the communication as a team and considering multiple perspectives, maximizing diverse thinking, linking and analyzing my classmates' knowledge of the varied sustainable goals.
Below are slides of students focused collaborative thinking and images of the causal models

Some samples of reflections of the competencies during the integrative thinking

The students were also recording their conversations during the thinking. The recordings are evidence about their responsibilities to the interdependence of critical thinking and knowledge building. 

I have combined some audios, most were hard to listen to as you could hear the tapping of the markers while writing.
Warning when listening, turn the volume down!

While interacting and interdependently thinking about the causes and factors of global sustainability the students contribute with confidence in meaningful and purposeful conversations on real world issues.  The students become problem solvers that affect the construction of the factors and the causes to produce meaningful change and contribute to the thinking.  

The students become inclusive and they target at finding these causes and factors and be involved in asking and listening that leads to constructive knowledge of learning. The students have a clear purpose and they are aware and dependent on each other for the learning.  The students are motivated and persistent with each other to build the model. 

When students are exploring learning through the causal model they are honoring their own learning and other team members.  The learning happens among them within them respectfully sharing, questioning, analyzing, eagerly inquiring to further connect their learning.

Through this rich Integrative Thinking process, the resilience and the perseverance of responsibility to learn together is enriched, from thinking about what they know what they have learned to critically listen and share.

I continue to explore and reflect about the competencies of deep learning through Integrative Thinking with and from my learners. I reflect on how students unpack and arm themselves with the confidence of communicating, self-regulating, self-assessing, analyzing their thinking and their classmates when persevering in solving many real-world problems and allowing them to honor their thinking and others. 

What are the powerful learning experiences that we are allowing for our students to be constructors, owners, and reflectors of honoring their learning? 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Shifts In Learning

My learners and I continue to shift our learning and evolve through competencies for authentic learning connections. We continue to experiment with learning, reflect on and iterate the learning in order to embrace the winding road of rich learning practices. Shifts in learning involve learning to happen with the students, being engaged with them, sharing and reflecting during the process in order to allow the shift and the depth in the learning.

As mentioned in previous blog posts learning practices embrace clear purposes, success criteria, feedback from the teacher and peers, and opportunities to self-assess and have students determine their own progress and success. (My previous post on reflecting)

Reflecting continues to pave the way to deepen our daily experiences. There is no linear learning or planning. Our learning is always based on how we are going to demonstrate thinking and having content as an equal partner with cognition for my instructional practices and for the students' learning outcomes. In this blog, I am going to focus on the latest learning experiences and unpack our shifts in our learning. These learning experiences are many opportunities to also pique students' curiosities.

The students are reflecting on their own growth on a daily basis. The competencies are also explored and highlighted during the process. The students focus on how the learning experiences develop their growth and next steps through competencies. When I am planning the learning experiences, I am also referring to the competencies.

Our school board, the Ottawa Catholic School board has been building experiences of competencies with their schools for the past three years based on Michael Fullen Pedagogies for Deep Learning.

As I catch up to my reflections on our shift in the learning process, at this time my learners are becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable and are capable to independently refer to their habits as they are applying and reflecting on the competencies for learning. (Post on the Unlearning) The students are thinking with flexibility and paying attention to details when reflecting on real world experiences and audiences.

Connecting to real world learning through the Global Goals For Sustainable Development in relation to Grade 6 Social Studies Curriculum of Canadian Interaction With The Global Community has lead to the process of explorations that began in January through the visual arts and drama as students still continue to investigate local, national and international events.

The learning shift for the students has been done by becoming open minded while focusing on social justice, political and economic impacts to the environment. When reflecting on these experiences they are rendering to real world accountability.

After watching 360o videos of Virtual Reality about the "The Displaced from NYTVR, which it could be viewed on 360o videos on Youtube.

We were lucky to also have a camera spot on Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants with Inger VanDyke who captures images from tribal Africa. This was an interesting hangout for the students as they reflected on how happy these cultures are and how immersed they are with their simple daily life expectations.

Students interacting with the presenter and documenting their new learnings.

We also followed up on events by reading, listening and viewing many links online from our local, National and international news on xenophobia, human rights, Children rights and twitter from United Nations and UNICEF.  

Of course the exposure to many perspectives and contexts matter. This blog focuses on students' reflections and their journey to further explore empathy by observing, listening and sharing their thinking during class discussions. The students are reflecting on their own growth by being concerned for the planet and relating their learning to social, economic, political and environmental impacts of all human actions. I am amazed by students' reflections and their courage of being authentic to their emotions and embrace the shift of learning about themselves.

The pre and post reflections focused on Citizenship, "thinking like global citizens, considering global issues on a deep understanding of diverse values with genuine interest in engaging with others to solve complex problems that impact human and environmental sustainability." (Fullan &Scott 2016 p.6)

The students have taken action on environment sustainability while exploring the production of energy. They have designed and built sustainable cities on Minecraft with zero emission and they partnered with Natural Resources Canada with Mr. Meli Stylianou for feedback about zero emission housing and with Dr. Marianne Hatzopoulo for urban sustainable cities. I should have blogged and shared students' thinking of the process of environmental sustainability. I will share some evidence.

Mr. Meli met with all groups on their sustainable housing.

Dr. Marianne Hatzopoulou offered feedback online with all teams about their mine craft samples of sustainable cities and infrastructures.

As students focus on global issues, as to which they are presently planning to take action with Students Who Teach the Sustainable Development Goals. They have begun their designs of informing their local and global community and hopefully, I will be able to share their process of design.

Below are some images of the Grade 6 reflective shift and expressions of where they are now with their thinking about global issues, global perspectives, diverse values and understanding their place in local, national and global life. The reflections are written in French and I will be translating them.

I am proud of how my learners are progressing with their emotions and sharing how they are moving forward by thinking about the future and how it is real and it impacts everyone. The process of reflection about the Citizenship competency has allowed them to accept where they are at, how to move forward, embrace change and emotional exposures to other people's experiences, needs, and concerns from global, local and national events. They have become listeners, observers, curious, caring and sincere to understand than approaching people with a mindset.

The classroom is the beginning for the learners to explore and invite open-minded curiosities about diverse world values and views. The students will continue to make these global connections, differentiating facts, thinking critically and taking their learning deeper. They will continue to reflect, express their self-awareness and think how to impact others through social change.

How are your students reflecting on the change of their feelings and emotions towards real world problems?

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Blogging is my platform for thinking and reflecting about my learning journey with my learners who make me a better teacher every day.

My #Onewordfor2017 is Reflecting, for us as educators and for our students.  If we need to become self-directed learners and our students to be on the same path, we all need to reflect! As educators we know a lot, what is important is the doing of what we know and reflecting about the failures and the successes to make a difference in our learning.

Reflecting is a process, it is more than an event or a task with the students in the classroom. Our students are our teachers as we reflect on how to think, apply, collaborate, communicate, retry, persevere, change habits and create together.  It is a process to allow students the time to reflect on the skills required to lead a path of recognizing their habits for learning. Bringing awareness of what is thinking? What skills are applied? It is a research-based process of students applications while unpacking their learning.

I have been fortunate in the past 6 years that I have taught students for 2 or 3 consecutive years allowing reflections on daily skills. Throughout the years students have become confident risk takers and leaders of their learning. Reflections were the indicators of their thinking process and assessment as and for learning to determine goals and strategies for learning.  It is more than just reflecting on what has been learned, it is how the learning took place on conceptual and competency-based learning.

It involves observing behavioral actions in which they have become cues for learning to take actions. How students' actions impact their learning? The reflecting process is about encouraging students' insight on learning. It is a way for students to control their own learning and to foster their own growth.

Students' reflections are based on:
  • Identifying their learning goals
  • Co-creating or determining criteria of the process from content, concepts and skills required during learning tasks
  • Experiencing that learning is more than just acquiring knowledge, it is behavioral actions developing their skills
  • Being aware of their behavioral change during the process
  • Becoming their own architects of how to develop their skills by reflecting on specific dimensions during tasks of the 6C's
  • Be aware of their perceptions of unlearning to change habits for their learning
  • To further inquire their learning in relation to real life experiences
  • To explain about how they are acquiring/applying skills during learning tasks
  • Reflecting on effective and ineffective strategies during learning
  • Aware of interpersonal perspectives for learning
  • Interdependence for learning during collaborative learning
  • Developing character responsibilities
  • Tension is learning- always working on inclusion
  • The new learning acquired from others
  • Their contribution to the learning process
  • Reflecting on feedback from the teacher and colleagues about the learning process

During learning, it is the scaffolding of reflections that I make the students aware of. It is the signaling of the thinking based on which skills the students are applying during the learning. Giving the students opportunities to make meaning of their learning. The reflections could be applied at the start of the tasks, during and at the end. The intent is to compare and draw the causal of their learning outcomes, it is producing personal insights and learning from all of their experiences.

Through reflections and sharing their reflections, the students build their perspectives of their learning growth and accept the classwide peer pair learning approach in which students take turns as leaders and learners. The students become cooperative learners making meaning by sharing their reflections. Once students reflect about their skills developments, their ego falls away. They monitor their problem solving and build the habits of empathy, trust, perseverance and flexibility of working together when they share their reflections.

How valuable will students’ reflections be to impact their learning?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Every Day Is Unique

There are so many challenging approaches to consider when we are thinking about education. For student-centered learning approaches the needs to be innovative, creative, critical thinkers, designers, deep learners, reaching  personalized learning, empathy, and many important skills are required. There are many views and experiences that educators, parents, and administrators face reaching these approaches.

How do we facilitate these purposes? How do we get students to experience these purposes?

I am by all means not an expert and my learning continues to be enriched from my students, my colleagues at school at the board, from the community whom I learn with and of course online learning.  Every day is unique for me and my students as we reflect, refocus, rethink, retry and unlearn to relearn.

My years of teaching experiences locally, nationally and internationally have guided me in making connections about the process of risk taking and learning with the students.

Many unpublished posts since September and spending October learning with many educators from the Makers Faire, EdInnovation, Ontario Makers and Mentors Innovation, many questions from participants and daily experiences with my students have energized me to write this post.

Every day is filled with unique challenges and these challenges drive our learning and our students’ learning experiences.

This year is a different experience for me. In previous years I have taught students for two or three consecutive years. Meeting my new experts this year and working together to learn compassion empathy and valuing thinking have been unique daily experiences. Learning is a process and we all know that it is not linear and it loops with many challenges that make us reflective researchers and learners.

I am following an advice from a friend by keeping my posts brief.  I just captured few slides that highlight the beginning of the year from 3 different thinking processes that I shared during EdInnovation Oct 22nd and 23rd.

The year begins by building a culture of reflectors, collaborative communicators, critical thinkers, creative learners whom together identify their intrapersonal character to connect a community of respect for themselves and others through interpersonal values of ideas.

Through many learning experiences which I will share in details from students in later posts, we continue to explore the unlearning for relearning and valuing the how and why of skills . It could be from walking into the classroom to content, concepts of learning as well as critical and creative thinking skills throughout the day. I have learned when reflecting and consolidating with the students to highlight the needs of unlearning to determine what we need to relearn. This lead to focusing on the value and the purpose of the how and why. The Backward Brain Bicycle is the video that the students always refer to when we unpack the unlearning.

This is important because our brains are always set in making judgements based on assumptions and predictions than unpacking the purpose and retrying with the focus on the mindset.  This is the learning through habits by recognising the unlearning.  It is a shift of mindset that requires for students to build new skills, to value and understand the learning process based on their individual needs.

It is a process of ongoing long-term goals of discomfort for learning growth. The students to become more comfortable with risk taking and tensions during learning. Being aware that habits of an unlearning are very important to explore and reflect upon in order to pursue the innovator's growth mindset by celebrating successes from failures. Basically, it is to continuously take the time, to improve through risk taking, reflect and identify  the unlearning, recognise and determine the effort of the unlearning for a growth of learning.

This growth also affects the classroom community culture and opens up students' minds by refocusing, reflecting and identifying their individual growth.  The insecurities and the overwhelming become part of our classroom valuable culture of empathising with each other as we all recognise individual risks. It is a long process to allow this mindset!

A growth mindset is more than just positive conversations; it is identifying the habits and developing a critical mindset of skills to unlearn for deeper learning.  It is giving students the skills to develop their learning. Giving them a voice to unpack their learning and become confident reflectors.

These quotes are so true:

“Teach students how to solve any problem, a general problem-solving approach. And teach them to do it in a community.” "That’s what’s really going to serve them as they go through life." Alan November


All students are capable of thinking and learning. We need to encourage the students to achieve a culture that learning is thinking, valuing others ideas, recognising tensions, risk taking and pausing to reflect and make habits of recognising the unlearning for relearning or learning.  

Have you risked the unlearning with your students? What unlearning have you done as an educator to achieve learning with your students?  Every child is a learner, am I giving them the time to discover and reflect on their learning? Every day is unique, what matters is, how are we recognising the uniqueness of changing our thinking and mindset? How students are recognising their mindsets in learning situations?


Monday, September 5, 2016

Experts At Learning!

I could never let go of the learning bond that the students and I experienced this past year. Now it is time to get excited to dive into another year of learning with a new group of learning partners.

This post was started in July and it has given me the chance to reflect on why students should always be considered as the experts in the classroom. I have just cleared up my camera roll, over 3000 pictures from last year. It is time to build on from last years experiences and connect with new relationships for valuing thinking experiences.  

The classroom and the school are all about the students! We, educators need to always give students the chance to be experts by allowing them to be critical about their learning and consider changes in their community locally and globally. The importance is for students to lead their own critical change and voice their opinions from collecting data, interviewing and letter writing to ministers or voicing their concerns to the school, local and global communities.

As educators we sometimes  focus  on what is to be done, let us focus on what is to be learned. The complexity and the risk taking during the learning process and taking the time to explore. Giving students time for learning how to learn. What is how to learn?

Is to think about:

  • How do students gain self-leadership more than just acquiring knowledge and applying it?
  • How to allow the students to build a character of compassion from and with their classmates and the world around them?
  • How to reflect and accept a partnership of trust from the classroom community in order for the students to flourish with the richness of self-leadership?
  • How valuing learning is possible to apply all skills? Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity citizenship and character the 6C's from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning.

How did this process evolve last year? It evolved through Integrative Thinking from the Rotman I-Think Initiative. Through the Integrative Thinking process, students had experiences with thinking tools that enriched students leadership of valuing thinking with each other as a community. It has given the students the love and the purpose of why we learn and how we learn. The students became self-directed thinkers and risk takers of cross-disciplinary concepts that are relevant to their daily experiences while valuing all perspectives as a learning community.

The design thinking process is driven by the Integrative Thinking.  The process of ideation and iteration with a purpose of problem-solving to design and include students' original ideas that are unique to them and their community.

The key to any process is reflecting! If the students are not given the time to reflect and be able to think about the how and the why of the thinking  then learning is prescribed.  The students need to lead and modify from the foundation of basic skills to become self-directed learners.
Reflecting on failures, ideating, iteration, sharing, valuing their colleagues thinking and building on each other's learning, determining their learning goals, their learning processes and their products for making.

The students will start with the foundation of building basic skills, what is important is allowing them to become self-directed learners towards coaching and mentoring each other. The skills of being compassionate and empathetic when learning, is based on learning from the present and for the future. It is about thinking independently, responsibly and productively.

As educators, our students lead our learning, they are our experts ! They guide us to our critical thinking practices.

What love for learning and success of skills that are students acquiring?

I am sharing some videos of the students self-lead community initiatives.