Friday, December 2, 2016

Share the Learning

We believe there's no better way as an educator to feel refreshed and re-energized than by connecting with other passionate educators and learning about best practices, exciting new technologies, and problem-solving to help our students be the best 21st-century learners they can be. The "Connecting Kids and Collaborating Teachers" offered such an opportunity. I don't know about you, but after Monday's conference, I felt ready to jump in to engage students and enrich their learning through opportunities using Blogging, Hangouts, and VR.

We wanted to consolidate our learning from Monday in a neat package and came up with this. Enjoy!
You can access further links and comments on our Realtime Board:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Who said they don't like Mondays?

Sometimes I feel pretty fortunate to be able to do what I do.

Yesterday, I got to join fellow educators at the KPL to discuss ways in which we can connect and collaborate with teachers and students within our board and beyond. It was energizing to hear colleagues speak about the great work they are doing and the ideas that they have.

I tagged along with Katrina Gouett and together we led a session on Google Hangouts in which we tried to illustrate how Hangouts could lead to opportunities to connect classrooms. I absolutely loved looking at people's faces when they learned that Hangouts could be recorded or broadcasted live -- you could just see the light bulbs going off; the possibilities for learning, for connecting. It was very cool!

After the second session as people were starting to transition to another space, a young man with a beard and glasses, wearing an overcoat and toque, approached our table and said, "Mr. Rodrigue, I knew that was you." He went on to speak about his time as a student in my grade 7 class (he's now 21) and the impact that I had on him. I can't begin to express how grateful and humbled I am by this experience. I've been teaching for almost 18 years and I still question what I do, how I do it and how I can improve at it. The internal dialogue and self-reflection is constant as I believe it is for many teachers, particularly the group of teachers who attended yesterday's conference.

While walking home from the KPL, I felt doubly fortunate: I got to start my week by learning with colleagues about how we can better connect with teachers and students and, as luck would have it, I was able to see how important these connections are to the students we are working with.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blogger for Reflection and Connection

Excited to explore Blogger with fellow WCDSB educators this afternoon!

Let's start with the WHY:
*Creating a portfolio is a reflective process
*Efficient way to document the learning journey
*Connect with others

Check out the Slide Deck below for ideas and suggestions for getting started.

Add your reflections on Blogfolios for class and student reflection in the comments below!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hangout with Mr. S

Learning About Microns with Mr. S (guest class blog)

This afternoon we connected with a parent expert in our class who works with machinery to produce metal works. As an mechanical engineer, he had lots of teach us about design and product production.

With our 3D printing project, we keep seeing the word "micron" and wondered what it's all about. Mr. S was in our classroom for conferences, noticed the word on the board, and mentioned that he could help us out. Very cool! Connecting with experts in the real world is so valuable for expanding our learning and making it more memorable.

What are Microns? 
Microns are a very fine unit of linear of measurement.
1 micron = millionth of a meter
1000 microns = 1mm
1 human hair =40-80 microns 

At his workplace, measurements have to be perfect to get exact results for parts and products for customers. For example, they have printed landing gear for aerospace designs!

Mr. S showed us the gauge they use to measure microns. Since it is measuring units so small, you need to be very careful when using it. 

He took us on a tour of the shop and showed us a metal Eiffel Tower being trimmed by the machine. It is about 0.5m tall.

It was very helpful for us to 'hangout' with Mr. S today and we are now connecting our learning about microns with our 3D printer. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Connecting With Experts Using Hangouts

Over the past few weeks we have been learning about ecosystems and the impact humans have on their delicate balance. My teaching partner came across this website and we signed up for a camera spot. We connected with National Geographic Education's special guest Jonathan Colby who is studying frogs and the impact of the Chyrid fungus on their survival. The students listened intently as he described what he does (loved the idea of hanging out in tree canopies in the rainforest), and how they are working to protect amphibian species. Students from all ten connected classrooms from around North America had the chance to ask questions at the end of his talk. It was an incredible opportunity to connect with an expert and really brought the curriculum to life. 

Check out the website here to book your own camera spot:

Grade 7 Students listening to Jonathan Colby's talk. 

Curriculum Links

Provoking thinking about human impact and change.
See tweet below for link to watch the hangout:
Continuing the connection with our class Twitter Feed:

Connecting with experts and organizations through Google #hangouts provides us with such an incredible opportunity to make the curriculum come to life for students. It is empowering for them to see and hear how people are making a difference in the lives of others (& lives of frogs).

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Learning continues as we CONNECT

Our connection with +Carlos Roque's class in Cambridge is taking off! Carlos' students have provided my students with two Math tasks that we have worked through. The activities that we are engaging in are exciting to the students and provides them with 'real life' reasons to "do" Math. It's interesting to hear them and watch them work on solving the patterning questions that have been shared with us via Google Drive.

Since the activities are being created by students for students, there seems to be a lot more engagement and 'pride' in creating and completing tasks. It's not all work though, there is some fun happening as well. Carlos' class sent us a Halloween message via YouTube - check it out:

Prior to this message by Carlos's students we had created two videos for them - answering the Math tasks that they had sent to us. Jeff represents our class in sharing our process/answer in the first video and Amanda represents our class in sharing our response in the second video. 

I'm sure you have noticed that I am not sharing the identity of the students in my class. For recorded videos that live on the Internet, my students and I have decided not to share their identity. However, that doesn't stop us from using our audio which the students are very excited about. It may lead to a few podcasts which are another way for us to connect with other classes and share our learning.

We recently created a Math activity for Mr. Roque's class via Google Docs. We shared the Doc with Mr. Roque and then made a short video about it:

We look forward to hearing back from our friends in Cambridge and can't wait for our next live meeting with them. It certainly is a valuable connection for the teachers and students involved. As we progress on our learning journey, Mr. Roque and I continue to learn how to leverage the tech tools involved in getting our classes together. As we are learning, so are our students - first hand and in real time. They know that the walls that surround our classrooms are simply physical barriers that protect us from the elements, not from learning with anyone in the world that has access to technology. Until our next post, get and/or stay connected!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Going with the Flow

My students and I arranged to connect with +Carlos Roque and his grade 5 students today. Last week Carlos and I connected via email about having a hangout between our classes. We talked about setting up the hardware component of the hangout (computer set up, etc) and what we would chat about during out hangout.

When the time came for us to connect, we found ourselves alone in the hangout. The students and I wondered what happened to the grade 5 class - did they have a technical issue? Did Carlos not get my email in time with the link to our hangout? Did something happen at their school that got in the way? We were unsure but as we talked about what we were thinking, we decided to make the best of our opportunity and record a message for the grade 5 students.

The students and I talked about what we should say in our recording, they quieted down, and I hit the "broadcast" button. We went live so I could record the hangout and then send the link to Carlos and his students. We took advantage of our situation and created content for our friends. Great learning came from the hangout that didn't happen. Check out our message to our Cambridge friends:

A few minutes after recording and sending this video to Carlos, we got a call from him and his students! We answered the call and connected!! It turns out that they had some technical issues. This was their first time in a hangout and they did a great job. As we spoke to the students and they spoke to us, I could hear Carlos in the background talking to his students about proper etiquette and supporting them throughout the experience. It was wonderful to see my colleague in action as he broke down the walls of his classroom and continued to teach his students how to do things right. 

It was great to connect the two classes (two of my current students know Mr. Roque and some of his students) and look forward to connecting again soon to do some Math together.