Category: Course 1

Course 1 Final Project – Increasing Voice and Choice

Wow! I can’t believe we’re already at the end of the first course! It has been great working through this course as it’s forced me to take the time to reflect on my practice and really think about the reasoning behind why I do what I do. I have enjoyed reading through the posts of others and look forward to continuing on this journey in Course 2!

Increasing Student Agency

My teaching team has worked hard over the past few years to open up a lot of our units to allow for a lot more student voice, choice and ownership in their learning. Here are a few examples of this. We start the year with How We Express Ourselves, in which students explore the concept of originality as they work as an artist in a medium of their choice. In our Who We Are unit (with the central idea – transitions are a part of life), students engage in a guided inquiry looking at the physical, social, and emotional changes that children go through during puberty. They also have the chance to construct their own personal inquiry into an area of their choosing that relates to the central idea.

By opening up these units,  we have seen huge growth in students’ engagement and in their approaches to learning. Students learn how to be good learners. They learn to manage their time and materials. They learn about goal setting and self-motivation. Arguably, the biggest benefit is the perseverance and resilience that begins to develop. So with all that said, the unit I have chosen to modify for this final project is one that we haven’t spent as much time working on, and doesn’t have as much choice for students. (more…)


What is a PYP Educator? My #tabfilled learning journey.


For those of you who have not watched this video, it’s definitely worth a watch! Though released in 2014, it was only recently that I saw it for the first time. This guy is me. At any given time, my browser has about 20 tabs open. As I write this post, this is what it currently looks like:

#tablessthursday anyone?

I know it’s terrible, but I can’t control it, it just happens. As I worked through this week’s content, I was reminded of this video. I am able to trace my thought process, through the tabs I opened. So lucky you. I am now going to take you through that process! (more…)



Grade 5 Students Engage in Smarties Extension Task

Math was always my favourite subject in school. As a student, it was an area that came easy to me. I was a master of learning the necessary procedure or formula and regurgitating it for the test. It was not until I started teaching that I realized in all my time in school, I had given very little thought to actually understanding the concepts I’d “learned”. Math is still my favourite subject; but now, for very different reasons!

I love challenging students to see things in new ways. I love the “Aha!” moment when students struggle through and find a strategy or solution to a problem. I love finding ways to excite students who “hate math” or are “bad at math.” (This is not an accepted statement in my math classroom. Please see Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets or Weeks of Inspirational Math for more information on why this is.) I am definitely the math nerd in my teaching team. I enjoy finding new ways to solve problems, and new problems to challenge students with! (more…)


I’ve got sew much to learn!

This week’s content was actually quite timely as my Grade 5 teaching team works to finalize the plans for our PYP Exhibition. (For those of you not familiar with PYP, here is a short description of the PYP Exhibition from the IB.) For the last couple of years, our exhibition was driven largely by students’ passions. First and foremost, our goal was for students to be engaged in learning that they were excited about! However, through our teacher reflections, it became quite obvious that we were missing something, purpose for the learning.

So with that being said, our guiding statement for this year’s PYPx is passion for a purpose. Within this framework, students will be encouraged to identify a passion and use it to achieve one of the 5 types of action described in the Enhanced PYP. We are hoping that this will help give guidance and structure to students as they work through their learning process!

Five Types of Action (Image by @terSonya)

So, you might be wondering where I’m going with this. What does this have to do with me learning a new skill? Don’t worry, I’m getting there!

My Inspiration

A few of Alecia’s projects (Images courtesy of @alecialoo)

As a teaching team, we have also discussed the idea that it may not always be the case that passion leads to purpose. It is possible for a purpose to create a passion. One of my colleagues, Alecia, will be sharing with our Grade 5 students her experience with this. In the last couple of years, Alecia has become an avid sewer.

She is mostly self-taught, using a variety of online resources and books to learn. She has identified that one of the driving forces in acquiring this skill was that she had difficulty finding clothing that she liked and that fit her well. Purpose developed her passion.  (more…)


The times are changing…we’ve gotta change too!

We work together to challenge and support our students to be successful and responsible in an evolving world.

This is one of the statements in my school’s mission. In order to challenge and support our students in this ever-changing world, we need to accept that teaching as we know it, is changing too. I consider myself lucky to be working at a school that is looking to challenge the status quo in education.

Johnson and McElroy start their 2010 paper with the following quote from Louise Stoll and Dean Fink; “Many of our schools are good schools, if only this were 1965.” In this paper, they discuss the idea that not only is our educational system seriously outdated, but that many educators are going to great lengths to “perfect” this dated system. They argue that compared to other industries, education has changed very little in the last 30 years.

So in order to be able to able to support our students to be able to thrive in this evolving world, we as teachers need to rethink our role. “From sage on to stage to guide on the side.” Though incredibly overused, this cliché feels oddly appropriate right now. For years, it was a teacher’s job to be the expert in the room. Students came to school to learn because that was where the information was. This just isn’t the case anymore. Through the internet, students have access to individuals far more knowledgeable than me. (more…)