New Learning After #ecoo13

I just came back home from a whirlwind three days at Minds on Media and the ECOO Conference. This is my fourth year attending and presenting at this conference, and I always feel so re-energized after coming back from it. A special thank you to my principal, Paul Clemens, and vice principal, Kristi Keery-Bishop, for supporting me in my desire to present and attend. It’s great to meet with like-minded educators that are willing to change their practices to continue to meet student needs and increase academic achievement. The conference also allows for classroom teachers, consultants, support staff, administrators, and superintendents to share their learning together: giving a new connection and appreciation between the different levels in the Board. I think that this is so important!

Now that the conference is over and I’ve had a chance to reflect on my learning, here’s what I’m committed to change:

  • I want to add a weekly reflection component to our program, where students will be reflecting on their strengths, needs, and next steps, and sharing them with parents. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to attend Scott Kemp‘s presentation, but the tweets from it inspired me. Scott speaks about having students email their parents each week (and cc him) with their strengths, weaknesses, and next steps: keeping everyone informed and involved in the goal-setting process. I love this idea, but I think that I need to think about the “gradual release of responsibility” model when I begin. This weekend, I’m going to develop a plan that will allow ALL students to share their learning with their parents. Thinking back to our EQAO results from last year, I’m reflecting on how students’ perceptions of themselves didn’t necessarily align with the reality. Maybe this weekly reflection, with teacher and parent input, will help close the gap between perception and reality. I’m excited to explore the possibilities!
  • I’m going to add a “how do you know?” component to the inquiry process. After attending the session on Students As Teachers by Aaron Puley and Jennifer Faulkner, and chatting with Jo-Ann Corbin-Harper, I realized that I don’t ask this question enough. What a great, simple way to get students to reflect on the source of their knowledge and the accuracy of that source. 
  • I’m going to add a more formalized reflection process to any inquiry activities. Aaron Puley and Jennifer Faulkner‘s session on Students As Teachers reminded me about the importance of this reflection. While I do have students reflect throughout the process, they usually do so orally with the whole group, and the questions change each time. The reflection form included in Aaron and Jennifer’s Prezi allows students to continually re-look at important components of their project and be accountable for all of their learning throughout. I’ll need to revamp the form for my younger group of students (this was used with Jennifer’s high school Science class), but the key ideas will remain the same.
  • I’m going to look at different ways that more of these social media tools can be used with students with special needs. This idea came to me over dinner on Thursday night. I got to converse with Kim Gill, an amazing educator from the Waterloo Region District School Board. Kim teaches a self-contained class, and has students with various learning needs, but what she does with her students is phenomenal. She’s always looking at learning outcomes, and how she can offer various choices to help all students succeed. Any teachers that are reluctant to use these tools in the classroom because of students with special needs have to connect with Kim. I see and hear her student blog posts, radio shows, and classroom tweets, and now I’m inspired to look at new ways to reach ALL of my learners.
  • I’m going to remember to constantly think about ALL learners and ALL parents when sharing online or in-person. A discussion with Angie Harrison during our Parent Engagement Session reminded me of this. Aaron Puley, my presentation partner, speaks a lot about remembering to look at parent and student engagement with the equity lens, and Angie’s comment (later turned into a blog post) highlights the importance of this. While I always thought that offering different modes of communication (from emails to phone calls to classroom blogs) addressed this need for equity, maybe it doesn’t. Is there a widget that I can add to my blogs to allow for translation? Is this widget accurate? If not, what are the other options? So much to think about, and certainly something that I will be considering this year.

What are you committed to change? How are you going to make these changes? Let’s all make a commitment to doing something better, for ourselves and for our students!


7 thoughts on “New Learning After #ecoo13

  1. Hi Aviva! Great post, as usual. You are such a good role model for the rest of us. You have some great ideas that are going to benefit your practice. Is your Board working toward or already embracing Google Apps for Education? At one of the sessions I attended there was talk about using google translate to communicate with our ELL learners, but this could be applied to parents.

    • Thank you so much for the nice words, Roland! Our Board does have Google Apps for Ed, and I’ve been considering Google Translate. I’ve heard mixed things about the translations though. What are your experiences with Google Translate? Would it work for all languages?

      Thanks for the help!

      • I have not used it, but I have seen some funny videos about its use. It is a great place to start though. It is not “perfect” but a great way to get your feet wet. Thanks again for your sharing your work and reflections.

  2. Amazing post! All of your goals have given me the opportunity to reflect on my teaching practice and I look forward to hearing how you will be implementing these! I really appreciate your posts and thoughts.

  3. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug --- off the record

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