CDNcraft: A View from the Classroom

Part 1 in this series was originally posted at cdncraft.com and it described one way of incorporating global projects into existing curriculum. What it doesn’t do is talk about the why. Why do teachers decide to join global projects? What compels them?

students of all ages need in order to succeed in an economy that is marked by ever-more-rapid change, both structural and technological. These “global competencies” build on solid foundations in literacy and numeracy.

what if rather than what’s wrong

collaboration……exchange of ideas…..to build knowledge

Recognize the value of traditional instructional approaches when they are well done

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A View from the Classroom

This post is re-blogged from the CDNcraft website. Click on the image to read the entire post.

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Building Baby’s Library

#nf10for10

Typically the lead up to the #nf10for10 book event is filled with lots of hemming and hawing by participants as they think out loud (on Twitter) about what titles they should include. A lot of the banter surrounds how more titles than the 10 allowed can actually make people’s lists. And, of course, there’s the age-old dilemma–To buy or not to buy?

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Well this year, I am super motivated to buy books…especially picture books!

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Without hesitation, Mandy was on the case. (And my profile pic had not yet changed to include baby!)

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Indeed, I do have a someone special and small in my life. My first grandchild was born on January 29, 2017, and she has been born into a family of readers! That she would receive many, many books from me was never at issue. BUT having an event like #nf10for10 (and then #pb10for10) to focus my thinking about what to get her when is terrific. So without further delay, let’s begin to build a library for baby!

The foundation of a baby’s library has to be the board book. Here are 10 (plus).

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Rule #1 in choosing children’s books is knowing the illustrator as well as the author. In Hello Baby! two perennial favourites collaborate to hook young readers (and their parents) into falling in love with text. If baby loves this book, more Steve Jenkins and Mem Fox will be heading her way!

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Rule #2. Include the dads. Find a book that dads will love reading to baby. I’m betting my son will return to this book often as it captures the hard work and pride that he values so much.

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With dancers on both sides of her family, there is no side-stepping this topic. Mommy and aunties are sure to gravitate to this book and to read it to baby with passion. That’s key, isn’t it? That the parents and relatives of baby will read to her. That they will sow that seed. Baby’s library has something for everyone!

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A police car, pickup truck, sports car, and monster truck clang and bang and screech and vroom! This is a book that demands interactivity. It’s the best kind of read aloud because the reader can offer up his or her own interpretation of the mechanical cacophony presented on the page. This is a lively and fun book!

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As the days and weeks and months go by, baby will be ready to name things. Colours are a great place to start because they’re everywhere! I absolutely love the illustrations and the point of view in this book. I always knew crayons were alive!

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And she will begin to count.

1 is One is classic Tasha Tudor. The illustrations are of days gone by ~ bonneted girls and a boy writing on a slate; simple, natural settings with some of a whimsical nature (I especially enjoyed the “12 baby birds learning how to sing”). In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the text teaches the numbers 1 through 20 in a rhythmical way. A joy for adult and child alike!

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Oh my gosh! It’s Canada’s 150 birthday this year. What an awesome year to be born in! What better way to connect than with a gorgeously illustrated book all about Canada. This book has legs….in the pre-reading years, it offers wonderfully drawn images of Canada’s iconic symbols, souvenirs and events, including the Dogsled, Inuksuk, Loonie, Totem Pole and the Zamboni machine. And as baby gets older, there is depth to the content of the book like information about the provincial flags. Lots of learning to be had here!

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There is no way I could build baby’s library and not include something from Eric Carle. This classic is designed to help toddlers associate colors and meanings to objects. The book contains all the wonderful and simple illustrations that Eric Carle is famous for. And its repetitive story of all the animals that are found, keeps everyone engaged, reading along, and chanting until…SURPRISE!

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Ok. I cheated. I know. But I wanted to include the idea of the series in the foundation of baby’s library. I want to entice my new reader to books not just for information and not just for the illustrations. I want her to notice what authors do when they write/illustrate/create their books. And that knowledge only comes about with some deep diving into multiple texts by the same author.

What is #nf10for10 anyway?

In 2010 Mandy Robek and Cathy Mere began hosting a picture book event that celebrates participants’ most cherished picture books.  I joined the conversation in 2012 and had so much fun that I wondered out loud if a nonfiction picture book event would meet with similar success. Never one to shy away from a conversation on books, Mandy and Cathy replied with a resounding “YES!”

And #nf10for10 has been a huge success, with folks posting 10 books on dinosaurs, or 10 books on the wonder of women, or 10 books for girl readers, or 10 books on architecture and building, or …

Here are the details:

  • What: 10 nonfiction picture books you can’t live without.
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested — educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.
  • When:  Friday, February 10th
  • Where:  All posts will be linked on the 2017 #nf10for10 page of the Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.

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Choices into Hope

I don’t regularly follow American news. Nor do I follow their politics of the day. Heck, I didn’t pay attention to the most recent U.S. election until after Trump won. It’s not my country. I can neither effect events that happen there nor can I be affected by the decisions made there (well maybe, but let’s not get into that now). I often don’t even join the Twitter conversations between American educators (or British or Australian) in my PLN. Too much of the context is different.

But, I have been moved by Michelle Obama.

The first time was this past summer when looking for mentor texts for the upcoming school year, I stumbled upon a Poynter post called “8 writing lessons from Michelle Obama’s DNC speech”.

I was hooked. The writing, the delivery, and the passion of the speech reeled me in.

So, when I saw mention of Michelle’s last speech as a First Lady fly by me in my Twitter feed on Friday, I didn’t hesitate to curate it for later viewing. This morning while making chicken soup, I listened and I watched Michelle Obama’s final message at the 2017 National School Counselor of the Year celebration.

 

A strong contender for my 2017 word of the year was hope for all of the reasons that Michelle states:

Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.

Hers is a message for all students, in every corner of the planet. One that young people need to hear repeatedly.

That’s the kind of hope that every single one of us — politicians, parents, preachers — all of us need to be providing for our young people.

But it is also a message that clearly spells out students’ responsibility.

But I also want to be very clear: This right isn’t just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms. And that starts right now, when you’re young.

Sometimes students (and adults) think that choice means freedom from facing obstacles in their lives and freedom to do only that which pleases them. Michelle Obama’s speech to young people shows us that’s not the case. Rather, we need to learn to make the choices that make hope possible.

Full Remarks Transcript

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The walls come tumbling down

my-house

When my husband and I bought our first house, the first thing we did was tear down walls. We both love the spaciousness of an open floor plan, the generosity that the open room offers. When we shopped for our next house, we choose one with only one wall that sits at the midpoint of the room, dividing the main floor in half, but open at the ends. This house also has windows that give us a 360º view of the yard.

Space and light merging to create an openness that reflects who I am and my general attitude to life. My classroom door is open. I work in the open (online and public). My work is openly shared. There is no struggle here for me. I have no walls to overcome.

Many do, though, don’t they?

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We know that people put up walls for all kinds of reasons: lack of confidence, a sense of hopelessness, distress, fear. We know walls can protect us and provide us privacy, and we know they can also divide and isolate us. When we put up walls, we interfere with our ability to engage in the world, in our communities, and in our lives. You see this in your classrooms, as do I.

This year I want my students to see their walls. This year I want my students to discover why they constructed the walls. This year I want my students to tear down their walls. Because this year, I want my students to be open to make choices in their learning.

The choice

by Seth Godin

Attitude is the most important choice any of us will make. We made it yesterday and we get another chance to make it today. And then again tomorrow.

The choice to participate.

To be optimistic.

To intentionally bring out the best in other people.

We make the choice to inquire, to be curious, to challenge the status quo.

To give people the benefit of the doubt.

To find hope instead of fear in the face of uncertainty.

Of course these are attitudes. What else could they be?

And of course, they are a choice. No one does these things to us. We choose them and do the work (and find the benefits) that come with them.

Seth says it so well, doesn’t he? These are the choices we want our students to consider. My job is to find a way to get them there. To the other side of the wall.

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#onewordOnt Introduction

Why take on the #oneword challenge?

There are many reasons why one would take on this challenge, but for most, it comes down to focus and intentionality. Having one word through which to “see” your practice, to guide your work, and to reflect on your professional learning gives you a chance to be really intentional about your professional growth. Having one word to concentrate on allows you the time to delve into the nuances of the word, to look at it from various angles, to hold it close and then to view it from a distance. Having one word gives you the chance to be shaped by it.

Scroll through our Twitter hashtag #onewordOnt to read the vibrant and supportive conversation in this community.

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Read a few of the #onewordOnt 2016 posts.

Janet Broder

Mark Carbone

Sue Dunlop

Aviva Dunsiger

Donna Fry

Heather Lye

Diana Maliszewski

Heather Theijsmeijer

Melanie White

Tina Zita

Then consider what your word of the year will be.

Join us by tweeting out your word to #onewordOnt.

You can also write a post where you can make your thinking about the word visible. Remember to share your post to #onewordOnt, too!!

There is no deadline. But, all of the words shared to #onewordOnt by January 21st will be collected into a word cloud!!

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Finally, to ensure that I don’t miss your word, please check this document before January 20th.  If your word is missing, let me know via Twitter or in the comments below.

I am so eager to see our 2017 list!

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#craftreconciliation: The Climbing

In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in the first part of the series organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project. To meet this goal I have attempted to include the tools that were created for this project and to show them in action.

The Trek In

We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.

— Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC.

The climbing metaphor is an apt one. The preparation-physical, mental, emotional-for the task at hand, be it climbing or reconciling, is a process. As one does not simply head out to climb Everest, one does not just reconcile the past.


We didn’t reach the summit of the mountain, nor did we expect to. We managed to get to and set-up base camp. We figured out what tools we might like to use, what supplies we would need, and who would do what. We made short forays out from the base camp to check the terrain and plot out possible routes. We acclimatized. While this foundational work was valuable (and made visible our next steps), our biggest accomplishment was that we became a ‘we’. Students and teachers from all over the province from grades 3 to 12 sat around the virtual campfire and began the conversation on reconciliation.

All of our students … they’re the next generation. They’re the ones who are really going to have to come to terms with reconciliation [and] understand it.

When we have conversations together, when we get together and collaborate, and we learn together, then that personal connection can carry us a whole lifetime.

CBC Interview

The Summit Bid

It’s no small feat to make the summit of a mountain. Beyond the physical, emotional, and mental preparation, climbers need to be knowledgeable about the mountain they are taking on. This is the learning I need to better organize for next year: Ensure more opportunities for students to build robust background knowledge early in the process. We began with some background readings and videos on the TRC calls to action. We had conversations in class and online. We did some writing around which call to action was most important. But many students still struggled to connect personally. Of course, they connected with the overarching narrative: my students certainly know about residential schools and their own family history. Locating themselves personally in the conversation about reconciliation was more difficult, and I didn’t understand the gap until late in the process when we hosted Waubgeshig Rice.

This interview was a game changer for many of the Wikwemikong High School students. Wab summarizes his coverage of the Canadian Government’s apology and the TRC hearings as a journalist, and he answers student questions, ranging from water issues to the Indian Act to the future of the language,  from his own experiences. Post-interview, we saw an increase in student engagement, which carried students all the way to the finish line. It’s obvious, I know. The personal connection made via the hangout plays into what we know about student voice and choice.

The interview also reviewed or consolidated the foundational background knowledge that students needed to have to continue on with their own investigations.  The shallow background knowledge that the students acquired in the first part of the course led to a quality of ‘sameness’ across the project. If I want my students to truly engage in the topic (from a personal perspective), we need to spend more time on the front-end teasing out the issues so that students can see them. Yes, of course, residential schools were wrong and people’s lives were traumatically impacted. Yes, of course, racism is hurtful and harmful. Yes, we do want to build relationships between Native and non-Native people based on trust, honesty, and a greater understanding. But, diving deeply into reconciliation will mean grappling with really tough issues, and that is what we need to do. Consider these issues:

  • How sustainable are the many First Nation remote settlements, regardless of changes to education, infrastructure, and governance?
  • How can the treaties be honoured in the 21st century?
  • How might the land-based resources discussion be part of the reconciliation discussion?
  • How might the education of First Nations students shift to include cultural teachings?
  • How might individuals participate in the MMIW inquiry?
  • How might we debunk common myths about First Nations people?

These are some of the issues that people are talking about via social media. Reconciliation between peoples does not occur in the abstract, but rather in the concrete world the people share- land, water, laws, institutions, and language.

What Next?

Beyond bringing in more experts at the beginning of the course, we need to connect students across the project more intentionally. We need to devise a way for students to build knowledge together and then share their learning with each other. We need to facilitate student conversation via commenting more directly and purposefully. This last item-thinking through commenting-is an important modern skill to have, and in the work that I do in all of my classes that connects us to others, I see students struggling to engage in online discussions.

If we can do these things, we will be more prepared to make a bid for the summit of reconciliation.

Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.

– Chief Dr. Robert Joseph

 

 

 

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