The Little Things …

Here’s to the little things …

  • The excitement I have first thing each morning when I see if I made it or didn’t make it in my parking spot.
  • My morning chat with our awesome head caretaker. 
  • The happy “good morning” greetings from our fantastic secretaries.
  • Daily laughs with my principal and vice principal. (I’m glad that they both appreciate my sense of humour!)
  • The stories my students tell me as they come in each morning.
  • The Grade 8’s that always pop their head in the room to say “hello” as they pass our classroom door! My students call them my “fan club.” 🙂 
  • The student that eagerly wants to be my teaching partner. One day, he told me that I could have the day off, and he would teach. Never fails to make me smile!
  • The JK student that sees me in the hallway, screams my last name (to her, I’m only “Dunsiger”  🙂 ), and always comes running over to give me a hug. 
  • My daily bus duty excitement! (This “little thing” deserved a blog post of its own.)
  • The Grade 1 student that lost his Pokemon card, told me all about it after school today, but then promised to make a “lost sign” for me to hang up at school on Monday. (When our conversation started, he was sad, but by the time it was over, he was hopeful and happy!)
  • The Conga Line of Grade 5’s during our assembly finale today. Joined together, all included, and giddy with excitement, this Conga Line of students left me leaving the assembly today with a great big smile!

As the year comes to an end, and I’m quickly becoming overwhelmed with just the thought of packing and moving, I can’t help but think about all of these “little things” and smile. How do you celebrate the “little things” in education? What “little things” would be on your list? Maybe we can all end a wonderful school year with our lists of “little things.”


Challenging You To Try Out “Challenge”

This is another guest blog post by my amazing students! While one student wrote about the Challenge Game, multiple students participated in our example. Thanks to our vice principal, Kristi, for teaching us this wonderful game that has truly changed the whole dynamic of our classroom!


Hello readers,

This is Ella writing for the fantabulous blog of my teacher. You may have seen me on Twitter: EM official school tweeter. I write from my teacher’s account. But anyway, enough about me … I am writing today to educate students and teachers around the world about a special thinking game called ‘Challenge’. This is how you play:

1) Get into a group, find a partner, or if you are going alone, an opponent.

2) Find a topic that has 2 sides of the story that both ‘teams’ can debate.

3) Ask questions about the other team’s reasoning to make them think of problems with their ideas and to get them thinking. *Note: You can ONLY ask questions. If you are sharing your ideas initially, then just say them, but after that, you can only ask questions to get them thinking.

This is why you should play:

A lot of teachers and students are all about just knowledge. Tests, researching facts … BORING! They take stuff from the Internet and automatically think it is right. Challenge will get them thinking about what they read. And in real life, you are going to need to know how to think and challenge and debate with others for much more important things.

Keep calm and challenge on 😉 This is Ella, as the guest blogger, signing out (literally).


Ella 🙂

Our Sample Challenge Games

Students Share Why Challenge Is A Good Option

How might you use Challenge in the classroom? What benefits and/or drawbacks can you see in doing so? 


Because School’s Not Quite Over Yet!

The year is coming to an end … I know that! The weather’s warmer. The FIFA World Cup is on. Pants and sweaters are quickly being replaced by shorts and t-shirts. The students are getting excited about summer vacation, and in many ways, I know that the teachers are sharing this excitement. But this is where I’m struggling because school’s not quite over yet!

Don’t get me wrong.

  • This Friday, our year end assembly is in the middle block.
  • We have a field trip planned for Monday.
  • Students are excited to share their final Passion Projects on Wednesday.
  • Play Day is next Thursday morning.
  • And next Friday’s the last day of school, and with a special pizza lunch, a visit to next year’s teacher, and a small year end celebration (because even I’m not that much of a Grinch 🙂), I know that there won’t be much work done then.

When we’re in class though, I’m trying to make the most of this classroom time. We’re finishing and sharing our Probability Problem thinking in Math, reflecting on our energy/environmental learning in Science and Language (one reflection and another reflection), and practising for our play and finishing our read aloud in Language.

I know that I need to get ready to move schools, but I’m reluctant to make too many changes too early. As the bulletin boards come down, supplies get packed, and furniture gets moved, I find that the students slowly start to change. Some get giddy with anticipation for the summer. Some students get anxious about school ending. And often our neediest learners struggle because of changes and more unstructured time.

As teachers, I realize that we’re constantly trying to weigh the needs of many versus the needs of a few. In this case, I think that we need to pay special attention to these needs of a few. It’s not that we can’t have fun (because I’m a big believer in the fact that learning should always be engaging, and hence, often a lot of fun), but I’m not willing to depart with routine quite yet. Some students require it, and all students benefit from it!

School is academic. School is social. School is a place to think. School is a place to learn. I’m happy to have over a week of learning left, and while at times it may be a struggle, I’m determined to still make school purposeful. It is with this in mind that I re-read my vice principal, Kristi’s, holiday blog post today, and I thought that some of these ideas might be perfect ones to try out in the remaining days of school. What do you think? Should our expectations of teaching and learning in June change? How? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


How Do We Hear All Voices?

I just came back from a wonderful dinner out with a group of teachers and parents. I worked with all of them on the Spring Fling Committee, and we decided to meet tonight to reflect on our fundraiser and look ahead to next year. Over the course of the dinner though, we started talking about many topics in education, including,

The conversations were great ones! We didn’t always agree, and that’s part of what made them great. These were incredibly respectful discussions. We all shared our viewpoints, listened to others, asked questions, and critically looked at all sides of the issue.

Tonight made me realize that we need to have these types of discussions. We need to hear from all stakeholders in education. Thanks to inspiration from educators like our Parent and Student Engagement Consultant, Aaron Puley, I speak a lot about establishing a strong home/school connection. I believe in the benefits of parent engagement, and not just involvement. But now I’m questioning if my practices always match my beliefs, as I don’t always engage parents in discussions about these controversial issues.

Education is constantly changing, but how do we communicate these changes with parents? How do we engage in open dialogue about them? What would you suggest? What do parents want? A great conversation over a good dinner this evening made me see the benefits of informal discussions, but does this method work for everyone? I’m still thinking


How Would You Make New Friends?

At lunch today, a teacher said to me, “Aviva, you must be excited about next year!”

I replied with, “I am excited, but I’m also scared. I’m happy and sad all at the same time. I’m glad that I made the choice to go, and I think that this will be a wonderful challenge and change, but this is definitely a time of mixed emotions.”

We then had a great chat about the move, in which she ended by saying, “But just think: you’ll get to make so many new friends! Isn’t that exciting?!”

It is exciting, but honestly, this is the part that scares me the most. The truth is, I find it hard to make friends. As somebody with a non-verbal learning disability, social interactions are often difficult. I have a large number of acquaintances, but only a few close friends. I’m great in structured social situations. I can talk and listen in groups at a staff meeting, present at and attend workshops, and participate in team meetings. But unstructured social situations make my stomach turn.

  • How will I start the conversation?
  • How do I join in well when others are conversing?
  • How do I know when it’s the best time to start talking, and how do I know when it’s the best time to stop?
  • What might people want to talk about?
  • How do I introduce myself?
  • Do I wait for staff members to come and see me, or do I go and try to find them?
  • Do I find those staff members that I know first, or should I be brave and start by introducing myself to new people?

These questions have been swirling around in my mind all afternoon. I’m an adult. I’m an educator. I’ve had to make new friends before, but even at 36 years old, it’s a struggle. I look at what Royan Lee, a teacher in York Region, is doing as he helps students make friends, and I think: I could benefit from one of those groups. And so today, I look to my adult social group — my amazing PLN — that has helped me through a lot over the years, and I ask for one more favour: how would you suggest making new friends at a new school? I’d welcome any words of advice!

Aviva, An Introverted Extrovert 🙂