Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.” Tom Barrett

Our Grade 5s are currently inquiring into the concept of sound and its environmental and technological applications. As a part of their inquiry they’ve visited some concert halls to explore how sound is used in a carefully designed space for a specific purpose. As we collaborated in the creation of this new unit in our program we wondered how much the students would really understand beyond the traditional sound basics. Exploring the applications of sound opened the possibilities up quite wide and with 10 and 11 year old learners, we wanted them not only to understand the science of sound – those aspects of sound that don’t change, but also come to appreciate that sound can be harnessed and the harnessing of sound pushes people to new limits, boundaries and change. The summative assessment involves the students planning, designing, constructing and presenting some sort of concert/presentation space. This afternoon I strolled into Grade 5 and landed in the most beautiful form of learning chaos – students spread out across the room surrounded by plans and construction materials. The chatter in the room was buoyant as they created their own masterpieces and inspired each other with their creativity and knowledge. Words like “acoustic baffling” and “resonance” were common place as they truly had become one with their task. Every material chosen had a specific purpose connecting back to enhancing the sound they hoped their space would create. Ideas ranged from traditional to downright innovative. My favorite was a dual purpose flip stage – on one side the stage was padded so that gymnasts and acrobats could perform daring feats to music; on the other side the stage floor was wood and Neil Diamond (a girl after my own heart) was perched in the center ready to belt out “Sweet Caroline.” Inquiry is a beautiful thing – and sometimes, beautiful things require chaos before they emerge.  Learning should get messy, and as educators, we need to make sure that we provide a classroom community where that happens on a regular basis. When we step back and provide a learning environment that invites problem solving, innovation, and creativity learning becomes vibrant in ways we never dreamed!

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Professional Discourse with Not-So Strangers

Computer-globe
Computer-globe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent the last several days sick in bed with the flu. For those of us high strung type A educator types, being away from school for too long is always a challenge. I miss the frenetic pace of the day and that feeling of constantly being here, there and everywhere all at once. It got to the point where I was actually ahead of my digital workload (gasp – this never happens, usually I’m swimming in it!). So, what else is a gal who is ahead of her digital workload to do when relegated to bed with the flu for 4 days straight? Well, I finally fully launched this blog, opened a twitter account and made a PiEd PYPer Facebook page. I’m feeling pretty tech savvy with myself right now (picture my peacock feathers standing tall) even though I must admit, I’m not yet fully comprehending twitter at the moment. (Tips and tricks gratefully accepted, please!) That being said, I finally had the time to explore a ning for IB PYP educators called “PYP Threads” that I joined a little while ago but hadn’t yet had the chance to really dive in and explore. As I toured around the site, I felt the call to begin to engage. Having the opportunity to take part in some very deep professional discourse with colleagues whom I’ve never met face to face was utterly stimulating! I happened upon a post about central ideas and whether or not PYP teachers should post them on the wall during a unit of inquiry. I decided to put my two cents worth of comments in, and the next thing I knew I was engaged in a very deep and pedagogical conversation with a fellow PYP Co-ordinator currently in Japan. How cool is that? I even noticed that the recent conversation thread had made it onto the ning’s twitter feed which brought some others into the dialogue too. One of the best things about being a part of the International Baccalaureate community is just that – that you can have deep and meaningful professional discourse with someone from ANY IB school in the world, and because we all speak “PYP” we can engage deeply and stimulate each other’s thinking and reasoning. We can share perspectives, ideas and practice, and the most beautiful thing of all is that we can remain open-minded and live out that last bit of the IB mission statement, that says… “These programmes encourage students [educators] across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

How do you engage in professional discourse? Leave a comment!

You Have To Start Somewhere…

So I’ve decided to start a blog, again. I kept a blog once before, when I was teaching a class of Grade 2 boys. (http://dynamitelearning.blogspot.ca/) It was a professional goal for me that year to communicate via a blog with the parents of the students in my class and as a reflective tool for me to document what was going in my classroom. The boys in my class that year loved going home and looking at the new blog entries with their parents whenever I made a post. It made them feel special and it helped them to have meaningful conversations with their parents about their learning. What was even more fun for them was watching the map that tracked where blog visitors came from. By the end of the school year, we had visitors from other places that we weren’t connected personally to, and that fascinated them. The fact that other people, who they did not know from other parts of the world could look in on us and learn from our learning was a huge point of wonder.

While I no longer have a class of my own, I view the teachers that I support through curriculum coordination and administration as my class – each colleague requires differentiation just as the learners in my classroom did. Each colleague brings something unique to my day, whether it is a challenge, a problem to solve, a project to work on together, documenting curriculum, realizing school based initiatives, an A-ha! moment, etc. Even though I am surrounded by a team of amazingly talented and inspiring colleagues in a fantastic school, I have a need to process my own learning beyond the walls of my school, so I’ve decided to blog once again. It’s time to chronicle my own reflections, learning, new understandings, wonderings, and challenges. Maybe, just maybe, along the way, others may join me again, whether they are close to home, or across the world.

In order to prepare myself for this blog, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring other blogs related to education and more. I’ve been so inspired by the reading I’ve done, and I am now hooked on several blogs, which I will be sure to share here, too! I love learning from other people’s perspectives. I am a constructivist at heart – I like to build my own understanding FROM something. When I first thought of starting up a blog again, I had a lot of doubts. Could I do this again? What exactly was I going to write about? Will anyone care? In preparing myself to do this I’ve gone through my own inquiry cycle. I started by PREPARING – thinking about my purpose and intent. Then I began to EXPLORE by looking at what else is out there in the edublogoshphere. Next, I started to PROCESS by brainstorming ideas around possible blog entries that I might write about. Thank goodness for the notes app on my iphone because I’ve learned you never know when or where an idea might strike! And now I am at the TRANSFER phase – I am ready to take action with my learning by actually committing to writing a blog. Through my inquiry process, I realized that YES, I can do this again (I do love to write after all), and that YES I do have things to write about and that NO, while it doesn’t really matter if anyone else reads this, that YES I do hope that there are others out there who will either identify with me, share with me, or want to challenge my perspective, helping me to grow. That’s what I call a win-win! So…you have to start somewhere and this is it for me…one post down…the PiEd PYPer plays a tune!