Voices as Stories from the Heart

Ever hang out with people who dream up things that make your head spin? While lots of people come up with over-the-top ideas, it’s rare that these come to fruition with powerful lasting impacts. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of a listening circle to see this one unfold. Imagine the months of work in fine tuning the idea to match the goals, engaging in heartfelt conversations and inviting participation at many levels. Finally the day arrives and something unexpected happens. Social media takes over and amplifies the story in such a way that the world notices.

Inspired by Canadian heroes Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip,  Sheila Gourlay (Parkcrest Elementary, Burnaby, BC) and Carlene Montgomery (Chaffey-Burke Elementary, Burnaby, BC) launched a project that encompassed 3 goals: honour Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, raise money for cancer research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Two schools, 700+ students, one song (Ahead By A Century) and hours of rehearsals, their voices unite across cyberspace. This one video (below and on the sidebar) says it all. You can also find their story on A Kids’ Guide to Canada celebrating Canada 150.
What did the students learn? “Even though they’re young, they  can aim towards something bigger than themselves and make a difference.”

The story doesn’t end here. Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip have just been named to the Order of Canada.


Summer Reading

library_skyHere is a list of books gleaned from our “Summer Reading” survey last week – some gems waiting for you.

  • Invent to Learn –  Gary Stager and Sylvia Libow Martinez
  • Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  • Hardwiring Happiness – Rick Hanson
  • Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler
  •  Guided Math Conferences by Laney Sammons
  • The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros (*this showed up on many lists)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
  • Teach Like a Pirate – Dave Burgess
  • Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google? – Ian Gilbert
  • Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
  • The Myth of Ability – John Mighton
  • What’s Math Got To Do With It – Jo Boaler
  • Pax – Sara Pennypacker
  • Generation Stressed – Michele Kambolis
  • The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
  • Precious Cargo – Craig Davidson
  • The Others series – Anne Bishop
  • Growth Mindset Pocketbook
  • Kids Deserve It
  • Professional Readings – mindset, rereading Math Daily3, Cafe, food
  • Plants of Coast Salish, Plants of BC
  • anything by Sandra Brown, James Patterson, Richard Wagamese
  • A two-foot high pile of books including We are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen, some graphica and hopefully a re-read of the Outlander series
  • Rising Strong – Brene Brown

Outside the Box

Sometimes in our wish to try something new we forget that purpose and pedagogy need to ultimately drive the journey. But dabbling with new technologies and software also has purpose – play. It is through play that we explore what might be possible through new lens. In my last post I shared “change the lens, change the story..”. This is especially true in innovative teaching and learning using technologies. Looking at something with new eyes allows for the possibility of recombinant options.

It began with a casual conversation, one that would lead eventually to risk in a big way. A principal asked, what would happen if a school growth plan was not a paper document (as its always been) but a living, breathing, changing over time conversation document? Can our ePortfolio-esk environment (based on making learning visible) be used as a way to invite and extend the conversation at multiple levels? In a heartbeat, YES! Thus began the journey of Rosser principal Debra Gojevic and school team. Along the way, questions had to be addressed:

  • What story do you want to tell?
  • How do images tell a story? What types of images are better than others?
  • What is the interplay between images and text?
  • If video, what finite clips show the thinking, not just the act? (enhance? detract?)
  • How do you lift voices that need to be heard?

Their journey is now public and linked to their school site with a side button. Or click here for the direct link. It is not finished; their conversation has just started.

Learning on the Edge

We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the northvikingbandatmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…Comfort Zone Quote
  • New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
  • Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
  • Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support themmyquote_changethelens
  • When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back

Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.