Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tony Wagner Documentary

Tony Wagner has a 60 minute documentary entitled "The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World's Most Surprising School System".  Check it out .... Click on the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Lost Generation

Great video ... Worth sharing again ...

Well done and very inspirational .... Great activity for students to try and make!

Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, and Finland ... Can't Go Wrong with That

I only wish I could implement what I dream to do ... Right now I have imagination, but my creativity is suppressed.  Watch Sir Ken's talk ... As educational leaders we need to make the "alternative schools" the norm.  I only wish I could open my "LAB" school .... Click the link below and view "How to Escape Education's Death Valley"

Take what Sir Ken has to say ... Now add in what Finland is modelling .... And see what Tony Wagner talks about ... Now, you will be able to understand my imagination and how I want to be creative about education in my school.  Tony Wagner ... click the link ...

Finland (you can also see other videos on this blog ... Search "Finland") ... Click link below too.

Leaving to Learn

The way kids learn today is not confined to a classroom ... and this does not apply only to kids, but adults too.  Everywhere we go, we are learning and growing.

The four walls should not confine you; rather, it should point you to the door.  The students are the curriculum and the world is your classroom.

Note:  Here is Gianna's other video as posted earlier ...

Top 10 Student Expectations

We've always had expectations for students, but wouldn't it be great if we as educators knew what
their expectations were too?

Well, here they are ... And you know what, they mesh nicely with what we expect.

Monday, October 14, 2013

PISA ... The Things You Need to Know

PISA ... Measuring Student Success around the World

Programme for

Fantastic video explaining what PISA is and how it works ...

Cool Lessons Consulting ... PBL WIKI

Design Problem Based Learning

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupery Author of The Little Prince

"Standardization ensures low standards" Seymour Papert, MIT

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." Alvin Toffler

"We need to stop simplifying this life experience of theirs (students) into discreet, disconnected learning experiences that have the meaningfulness distilled right out of them." Dr. Tim Tyson, Principal, Mabry Middle School

"In the end, it centers on the question 'Do we really believe that the children we teach have the ability to make a meaningful contribution?' If we so believe, why don't we allow them opportunities to do just that?" Rich Levine, Cool Lessons

If you want to learn more, click this link:

Project Based Learning Reviews and Depot

Project Based Learning Examples, Lesson Plans, Ideas, Templates

These websites offer free project based learning examples, lesson plans, design guidance, ideas, and templates. The PBL lessons for math, science, language arts, and social studies are sorted into lists in the following link:
PBL Language Arts Projects by grade level
PBL Science Lesson Ideas by topic
PBL Math Project Ideas by topic
PBL Social Studies Project Ideas by grade level

Top 10 Student Expectations

We've always had expectations for students, but wouldn't it be great if we as educators knew what
their expectations were too?

Well, here they are ... And you know what, they mesh nicely with what we expect.

The Flipped Classroom

It's Got to be Done Right!

The premise of a flipped classroom is simple: Instead of lecturing in class and giving homework at home, flip it: give the lectures at home, and do the homework in class. Easy, right? Not always.

What's the flap about the flip? Studies say it's an effective way to engage students in learning. But in order for the flip not to flop, we need to step back. It is not a "one size fits all" model ... Check out this article to get the news on how to do it right!

21st Century Fluencies for Administrators

Introducing the 4 C's of 21st Century Fluencies for Principals

Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking have been identified as crucial fluencies for the 21st Century Learner. These fluencies should become integral in the way you lead your teaching staff, students and surrounding community into the next phase of education.

The most important questions to answer as a professional are the ones that ask:
How do my current practices align with the vision below?
How can my current practices continue to foster the growth of 21st C Fluencies within my staff?

Principals, in my opinion, are not so much leaders as they are prophets ... I don't mean "prophets" in a religious sense (that is a grandiose thing) ... okay, we can discuss the prophet thing later!

Administrative Prophets, the way I see things ... come in times of need or change, they preach to followers, they warn of a new reality and to heed warning that if one isn't prepared to change, then prepare to suffer. The AdPro advises, guides, and motivates believers to become leaders; the AdPro shows the way and eventually inspires one (or more ) to become the leader(s) to make the vision, the dream (the prophecy, if you will) become a reality.  Then, the AdPro either quietly fades in the background - The mission of Enactment - followers taking up the challenge to change in a real and discernibly visible manner - is complete; or the AdPro is killed (not willing to suffer this fate) and in such, the leaders take up the cause to fulfill the vision.

If We Build it, They Will Come!

The Primary Common Room and the Student Computer Lounge ...

At Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Academy (TCDSB) the students have a Student Computer Lounge (SCL) ... The SCL was a vision, a plan, and an undertaking, but now it's a place that the students, teachers, and families helped to plan and create. It's a small, but significant effort we can look to as we continue to shift deeper into the 21st Century.  The room went from an old, unused computer room (where old stuff just piled up and computers were archaic) to a "purposefully functional" room where the older students meet to collaborate, create, communicate, and think critically about their work.  The room continues to be used in a very positive manner and the students want to be there ... now the reality needs to be reflected upon and taken to the next level!

Where it will go from here is up to the students and their teachers - That's the thing with imagination, you never know what will come up and where it will take you! 

Now, one-year later, the youngest students want a similar room they can call their own ... and it's coming!  The Primary Common Room (PCR) will be the cool and fun place to be for our youngest students - computers, laptops, a few meeting tables, a few desks, some chairs with wheels, bean bags, stools to sit on, comfy lounging chairs to read in, a meeting place for clubs (i.e., Board games, Chess, Structures) ... and generally, another purposeful room that kids love to be in.  At the end of the day education is and always will be about STUDENT SUCCESS!  That should be the bottom line.

Check out the videos of the SCL and when the PCR is done, you'll see that too!

More Respected than Doctors

The Finnish Model of Education ... An Encore Presentation

A report from CNN ... Did you know that teachers are highly regarded in Finland? - Yep, if you're a teacher there, you are held to a high status (comparable to what we hold doctors to here in Canada).  The stats show that 1 in 10 who apply to become a teacher get in ... and those who get in are the top honour students only. This differs from North America where those who apply to the Faculty of Education are closer to the middle or bottom of the academic barrel.  So, why aren't teachers seen in the same light here? - I have my theories, but that's for another discussion.  As for me, when I'm at parties (and believe me I'm not at many) or family gatherings, I personally go out of my way to avoid "education" issues - I don't want the discussion to focus on schools because before you know it the venom begins to pour out. If ever the talk begins to go into this realm, I quickly point out the current political mishap that Rob Ford finds himself in or, even better, the amount of profit the banks make every quarterly session ... or the best is, the price of gas - can you believe the prices, holy moly!

The Balanced School Day

The Future ... some day we will not be hesitant to take a chance and we'll all be on the same page to more readily recognize what is best ... For now our Balanced School Day Schedule will have to wait.  Here's what our schedule would have looked like if all the stars aligned!
Balanced School Day Timetable: Some day ... but not today! Those who fear to challenge the status quo have no imagination. Those who are static are left behind, forgotten, and viewed as outdated. Why is it that we ask so much of our students:  High expectations TO SHOW and DO; Try something new (not always the same old thing); Ask students to take chances and stretch themselves; Give an effort and step outside their comfort zone ... Yet ... it continues to shock me that, as educators, why don't we always ask the same of ourselves? Just a thought. 
This is called a "BALANCED SCHOOL DAY".  For more information about what this BSD is all about, check out the timetable here and then please read the information (pdf docs) directly below the timetable to better understand what the BSD is and what it is not. 
balanced Day Schedule 2014v1.jpg

The Four Cs

The Four Cs... 

C #1 is Collaboration

C# 2 is Creativity

C#3 is Communication

C #4 is Critical Thinking

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Finnish Way ... Can We Do It?

Parsi Sahlberg in conversation withTVO

Here is an interview specifically with respect to our education system here in Ontario.  Can we succeed? - We're on the road, but not there yet.  Good interview worth watching.  Click the Link below:

Leaving School to Learn

The fact we need to leave school to learn is a reality these days ...  Oh, you can call it school, but we must step outside the four walls.  If we want today's kids to learn and not "just go to school", then we need to address things in a manner that makes sense to them ... in essence, we need to leave school. Watch this presentation by a seniour high school student, Gianna. Click the link below ...

Special Education Should Just Be Called EARLY INTERVENTION

It is just amazing that all kids are involved in special services and the fact that one classroom can have as many as 3 or 4 teachers involved in a child's learning.  The "Special" teacher works in the classroom and in another classroom - sounds similar to what we should be doing. 

Teachers collaborate with one another to work out the issues and concerns about a child ... every child with a concern or need is discussed.  The time spent to deal with the students issues/problems are dealt with - this is student "well-being" as put forth in the TCDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan.  The classroom time is reduced, but teachers spend lots of time collaborating, communicating with colleagues, families, community partners, and students.  Why is it that what we have in writing isn't what is happening in the schools?  Why does it come down to $$$?  It seems to me that if we spend the money at the front end (i.e., give the special services when the kids are younger), we can significantly reduce the amount of money spent at the back end (i.e., when kids have more problems in high school or in society in general).  I think Finland has something here, and we should look more closely at it - forget the $$$, think of student success!

The Incredible Art Department

This is a resource-rich portal with lesson plans and links to art blogs and zines. Also, creations from other classrooms for inspiration in the incredible @rtRooms section.

If you're an art teacher or someone who's just into the art scene, you've got to check to site out for the numerous ideas and links.  This site will help you be the best you can be in Art.

Spies in the Shadows ... How Real Can it Be?

Study espionage in the classroom ... An historical study of the role of espionage in Canada. WHY SPY? What is espionage and why do governments, companies, and people spend major resources on it? Perhaps this question was best answered by the hero of the Napoleonic Wars, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who was “guessing what was at the other side of the hill.” The goal of espionage, intelligence, or spying, is usually to find information, especially regarding knowledge (what do you know that we don’t) or intentions (what do you plan to do, and why?).

Intelligence is about understanding an adversary, whether military, business or personal. Governments gather intelligence to become informed about what other countries are planning to do, whether to improve their own negotiating position, or to anticipate what repercussions intended or unintended actions might create. In the private sector, companies seek information about their competitors and their products. Stealing technology is often cheaper and faster than paying for independent research. Investors also perform “due diligence” investigations on companies that want to borrow their money.

In countries like Canada, most intelligence comes from open source intelligence: sources like newspapers, television, or the internet. In fact, most intelligence in the western world derives from publicly available sources. However, sometimes “what was at the other side of the hill,” or in an enemy’s filing cabinet, or tactics being transmitted to soldiers, all represent secret, highly sensitive information. For this, the goal of espionage – agencies, tools and tactics— is to learn what others try to keep secret.  Learning couldn't get any easier and more real ... Check out this site ... no, better still, have your students check it out!

Linked to Learning ... Great Links for Teachers and Students

This is a wonderful site for teachers and students to visit ... it provides online links to learning.  You've got the following:
-Links for Grades 9-12
-Links to the Ontario Curriculum (Language, Math, The Arts, Science & Technology, Social Studies, History & Geography, Health & Phys. Ed., Kindergarten, French Immersion, ESL.
-Web Based Student Learning Activities.

All in all, a great site to start from ... It links you easily to your learning.  This is a great resource site for teachers as well!

The Rosetta Project: Antique Children's Books Online


“Children's Books Online: the Rosetta Project is the largest collection of illustrated antique children's books on-line.”

Story pages are jpegs ... so, easy to put into presentation-type display (i.e., powerpoint, prezi, screen-o-matic, etc.). If you want to download
the whole book, you need to pay whatever it costs.

There are:
Multi-media Books
Books with Audio
Books indexed by Age/Interest/Reading Level
Books in Multiple Languages
A Super Index of Books Online

Tagxedo - Creating Word Clouds with Style

Tagxedo, a simple little website with no fanfare, is really simple and easy-to-use ... Tagxedo turns words -- famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.

Making word cloud is fun, and is much more fun with Tagxedo! With Tagxedo, you can:
•make word clouds in real-time
•customize font, theme, color, orientation, and shape
•fine-tune with lots of options
•save as images for printing and sharing
•view your word clouds as thumbnails, and pick the one you want for further tweaking or saving
•choose from many standard fonts
•use custom fonts
•constrain the word cloud to selected shapes (heart, star, animals, etc)
•use images as custom shapes (e.g. a portrait, an animal silhouette)

It's worth the visit to TAGXEDO at:

Screencast-O-Matic - Free online screen recorder for instant screen capture video sharing.

Screencast-O-Matic is the original online screen recorder for one-click
recording from your browser on Windows or Mac with no install for FREE! One-click screen capture recording on Windows or Mac computers with no install for FREE!

To record, just click: START RECORDING ... Or you can download an application to launch from your Start menu (check out link below, to take you to the site):

Download + Install

Watch a very quick demo here(click link below):