Week 1 —-hummmmmm

So begins a brand new year.  I won’t lie, it’s been a little different this year.  I want to give a shout out to all those teachers who don’t have their own classrooms and teach in the rooms that are not being used by random homeroom teachers.  

I found myself in a very different place this year.  With my job slightly changing and not having a classroom to call my own I was very apprehensive about starting off this year.  I have to thank one of my grade partners who has basically let me take over parts of his room and teach my literacy block.  I made a deal with him and took over some board space (chalk and bulletin) for daily routine type stuff and in turn am sharing a SmartBoard with him.  We’re finding the partnership quite great and it has really forced us to share ideas and really team teach.  We’ve had some great opportunities to learn from each other and talk about theory and practice.  


Now to get to the actual classroom work.  I think the big question of the month that I’m really throwing out to my students (though I haven’t introduced it yet) is “WHO AM I AS A LEARNER?”  I’m a huge believer in metacognition and sharing learning responsibilities with my room full of learners.  If they have a strong sense of how they learn they will not only be able to improve their learning but they will also advocate for it. 


So far my homeroom partner and I have tried the following activities to start getting them to think about their learning styles:

1.  What do mathematicians do?  (This question is posed to students to get them to think about all the skills needed to think critically about mathematics)

2.  Inventory Checklists (multiple intelligences, learning styles, etc.)

3.  History is integrated into the language program and in order to get the maximum benefit of time we’ve been looking at current affairs (Quebec Election) to discuss the evolving relationship of all Canadians and the American Election as a catalyst to talk about agents of change.  This will evolve into a couple major ideas….the first is civil society and the important role each of my students can play in changing their lives and the lives of those around them as well as linking it to the major theme of “conflict and change” in the history curriculum.  The central question that I’m hoping to introduce in this unit is “Why is change important and how can I be an agent of change?”


The BIG QUESTION NOW!  How is it going so far?

Well I’m not going to lie, I do have a great class and they’re absolutely up for anything!  I have taught many of the students before (about half) and know them pretty well.  But it’s still not perfect.  I started taking my unit on change first from a Global Scale.  I thought the class has seen so many civil society organizations at that level and they would take to it.  And they did, but I don’t think they completely saw the personal investment part.  I think I may have given up too quickly when I decided to bring it back to the school level and perhaps confused a good majority of them.  So now I’m going back to the drawing board to decide how I want to re-approach this.  We’re taking a one day change break so I can re-group. In the mean time I’m looking back at the week that we’ve had so far and having my students reflect on the importance of oral language and assess their own uses of their oral language skills.  It is still technically change….no?  

If anyone has any thoughts I’d love to hear from you.  



Changing Views

Spent this week working on the First 5 Days of inquiry. The first 5 days sets the stage for what you want out of your students, your classroom and yourself. How are the first 5 days of an inquiry-based classroom different from a “regular” classroom?

Alan November asked participants at this year’s BLC12 conference what the first 5 days might look like. Here is some of the thinking. This was some of our thinking from our few days together.

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Beginning with INQUIRY in mind…

I’ve been playing with the idea of mapping out my units for the year, integrating subject areas and of course planning with inquiry in mind.  I’ve developed the first draft of a timeline to be connected to my long-range plans that breaks down my year into integrated inquiries.

Each unit of study is broken down and then connected to an inquiry question or key question.  In my unit plans the questions will be further broken down into guiding questions.

This is a first draft and I’d love to get feedback and thoughts.  My ultimate goal is to build these question in student friendly language so that students have more ownership of the learning and as we move through the learning process we co-develop learning targets and success criteria which will help them in completing the culminating pieces for each unit.  Before I can do that, I need to have an idea of what direction I’m moving in and I’m hoping this map will help me stay on track!

Beginning with INQUIRY in mind…..Long-Range Map

Getting Started With Inquiry

It’s so true, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  After seeing multiple classrooms that were well nestled into the school year it’s so refreshing to know that I’m not the only one who feels like it’s a total mess and absolute chaos at the beginning of the year.  

It’s not until we’ve built a culture of safety, oral language skills, multiple investigations, restorative justice (the list could go on forever), and a couple mental health days….you finally get comfortable with the idea that your classroom might just work…and then something else happens and you re-evaluate.

So on Day 3 of our inquiry into the early stages of inquiry I’ve mapped out my long-range plans to account for integration and time.  Then it hit me, why not create an overarching question for each unit, so now I’m going back and re-evaluating (see what I mean?).  I’m actually quite excited about how it’s coming out but I can always improve the questions.  I’d like to throw it out to my students to critique and make it their own (spread out throughout the year of course) but once I’ve completed a draft I’ll post it for public consumption, however I’m not sure how consumable it will be in this raw early stage.  I wonder if it only makes sense in my warped mind.  Hope you’re all as warped as me.