March 19, 2013

Outside the Lines: Student Perspectives on Inquiry Learning

Sometimes it gets to me that my classroom is noisier and that my students’ work is messier. Why am I in constant negotiation with nine and ten year olds over quality, clarity, detail, what’s worth the effort and when it’s reasonable to expect to move on? Wednesday morning as I sat at my desk feeling uncertain and frustrated at the messiness of not having everything nailed down, categorized and properly evaluated, I decided to have a conversation with the kids about learning. I have to hand it to inquiry, it has made them good conversationalists and I have yet to regret asking students for their perspective in solving problems. This particular conversation was no exception...

Conversation originally recorded/documented on the white board and transcribed below. 

March 13, 2013

Random Thoughts from a Student Teacher

by Jenna Callaghan

I had my first education board screening interview a few days ago. The majority of the questions were designed to gain an idea of my overall philosophy and views on teaching.  Many were “what would you do in this scenario” questions.  In the final months of my Bachelor of Education, I feel confident that I am well on my way to having a strong sense of my values and who I am as a teacher.  One question on the interview, however, left me feeling stumped. 

March 6, 2013

iPads for Learning

At the start of our first year with a 1:1 iPad program in Grade 4, Jon Van de Raadt made a comment that resonated and has set the tone for our year. "I think you'll find that iPads are not a junior version of the MacBook and should not be used as such. The iPad is a significantly different tool, and if you are prepared to embrace it, you might even find it more useful than the laptop has been." Two thirds of the way through our grade four pilot year with iPad 3's, I can say with certainty that I agree wholeheartedly. iPads belong in the classroom. I cannot imagine a more useful tool for representing, consolidating, expanding or creating understanding on the fly. I have no doubt that the rapidity with which app and software developers react to user feedback and update accordingly makes it one of the few technological tools out there that can effectively react to the ever-changing needs of youth in education and the evolving 21st century classroom. 

What follows is by no means a comprehensive or complete overview of what the iPad might be used for in the grade four classroom, but just a few brief exemplars from some of the artifacts we have had students create and present with the use of their devices. All apps (with the exception of the iWork apps) were free purchases. All investigations were co-developed with Amy Park and have been posted and archived in Edmodo and Google Apps

March 5, 2013


I've got a turtle in my classroom. She's 25 years old and will outlive me. She likes to climb things, even though she's not built for it. She falls a lot but it never stops her. Once, earlier in her life, someone tried to drill a hole in her shell, maybe to flag her so they wouldn't lose her in the grass... It must have hurt. They probably thought she couldn't feel it. Maybe they never had the opportunity to get to know her so they didn't understand. Sometimes children forget that she can't see them properly and they try to pat her face. It's probably terrifying. She always comes back out though. Game face on, ready to forgive, adapt, and continue with her investigation, carefully negotiating her next obstacle; balanced, careful, determined.