Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What a Day! Part 1: Visiting Georges Vanier

Today was, probably one of the best days I've had professionally in my twenty years of teaching.  Maybe it's because I was given opportunities that I would have never have thought would come my way. Or maybe it's because of the wonderful people I met and spent time learning from and with today.  Or maybe it was just what I needed to clear a mind that is so confused and heart that is so lost.  Maybe it's all of the above.  What ever the reason it was a fantastic day and my heart is still smiling with happiness as I type this blog.

So what happened?

A few weeks back I was offered a release day to visit schools that are using technology.  My goal was to learn from them, and hopefully share some of my learning with them in the process.  With all the things going on in my district around job action this was a very unique opportunity being presented to me and I jumped at it.  I quickly turned to twitter to see which schools in my district were most active and it was an obvious choice that I was heading to Georges Vanier.  They have an iPad pilot project at the Kindergarten level and also have a very forward thinking principal Antonio Vendramin.

From the moment I got out of my car Antonio recognized me right away from my twitter photo. Although we've never met in the past we both felt like we knew each other from our many tweets back and forth.  He and I along with vice principal Sundeep Chohan spent some time talking about what was going on with me and what was happening at their school. For me it was so nice to be speaking with such forward thinking administration.  During this chat I was given my schedule of the day arranged by Jodi Pulvers a kindergarten teacher at the school. I had visits with five classroom teachers and the librarian on the agenda.

I spent my first visit in Laura's k/1 classroom.  It was such a wonderful learning environment.  Laura greeted each child with such warmth and it was obvious that her students love being in her class. It was also the first time I've seen a document camera in use.

 I've always been a bit of a "not for me person" when it comes to using a document camera.   But within 15 seconds of seeing it in use while her students were sharing their writing, I knew that she had changed my mind about it.  What an incredibly powerful tool. Tomorrow when I return to my school I'm going to seek out a document camera.  I know we have some, I just need to find out who has them.

From Laura's I headed to Jodi' k class.  Her students were in learning centres and I spent my time talking with her k's as they worked with the ipads. They were practicing their rhyming words using engaging iPad apps.  I asked the how they liked learning with the iPads and as expected they love them.

Recess arrived and I spent time chatting with their librarian, Anna Crosland.  She's doing some amazing things in her library and just talking to her I could see how enthusiastic she is about her job, and using technology with her students.

From the library I headed to Gallit Zvi's 5/6 class.  I chatted with her students about their genius hour projects. They were excited to talk about them and I was excited to hear about them.  I also watched the beginning of a language arts lesson.  At one point a student asked what "slang" meant.  Her students tried to provide a definition to him, but a couple minutes into the discussion one of her students pulled out his iPod and looked up the definition in the dictionary. Wow!  BYOD in action.  I LOVE it!

I then headed to Hugh McDonald's grade 7 class.  They were working on laptops using the performance standards to look at one anothers poetry. They were giving written descriptive feedback comments on each others blogs.  I was impressed with what I saw there as well.

From there I headed to Erika's k/1 classroom .  She too had the document camera in action and it just reconfirmed for me that I WANT one of those in my room too.  I spent time talking with her students as they finished math and a couple of art projects.  I loved seeing her special needs student working and learning with one of the class iPads.

At this point it was lunch time and I needed to leave.  I found Sundeep in the office and thanked her for letting me spend time in her school.  The visit really helped clear some of confusion in my head, and it really helped my heart.  At the end of this visit it was very clear that I have some big decisions ahead of me.  The visit helped make those decisions a little easier to make.

[This is only the first part of my day.  There is more to write about the rest of my day but I'm fading fast and need to get to sleep. More to come tomorrow.]

1 comment:

  1. So happy for you Karen, it is always inspiring to witness awesome teachers who obviously enjoy what they are doing!
    It was great to connect with you in the afternoon!