Relationship Building

At the end of June, our school team meets together to discuss our students. These class list meetings are so important, meaningful, and help prepare the future teacher for next year. We have also started a Literacy Data Wall this year. Our meetings start with a reflection of how we think we have done this year in regards to literacy, what has worked, what are our successes and those important aha moments. We also discuss Students that show anxiety and nervous behaviours, the importance of  building reassurance, building confidence, lots of praise, and giving  students time to show their learning.  We share where they are at in their reading levels- comprehension, fluency, inferences, making connections, relationship pic

writing skills, math, learning styles – visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and English as Additional language learners. 
These meetings involve classroom teachers, admin and Resource.   They are long days of meetings, but these meetings emphasize the importance of building strong relationships with students is key to their success.

I am so fortunate to work with so many caring educators in our building.  

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Innovative Education

Watch this!

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MTS Awakening Possibilities 2014

MTS Awakening Possibilities 2014
Thank you to my PD committee from my school division that asked me if I was interested in attending this amazing 2 day conference on Technology. The speakers were amazing, inspiring and it was right here in Winnipeg! This allowed for a talented local flavour to the conference. It is so fantastic that so many Manitoban educators are doing so many forward thinking projects with staff and students.

First keynote speaker: Steve Dembo – works for Discover Education, lives in Chicago, has written this book:
Steve Dembo's book
and is a former Kindergarten teacher. This might explain his unending energy and spice for life! He is an animated speaker and manages to get everyone involved and laughing during his presentation! His first keynote was titled: Building Bolder Schools: It doesn’t hurt to be first. This stayed with me as I attempt to forge ahead in my school with technology with students and staff. It is not always an easy step to make and there can be resistance, but that is all part of the process! He also emphasized that when we create that it is important to share this with others. An example of this is Caine’s Arcade.
Caine’s Arcade ‘9-year-old Caine Monroy spent his summer vacation building an elaborate DIY cardboard arcade inside his dad’s used auto parts store, and asked people to play. The entire summer went by, and Caine had yet to have a single customer, until one day, a filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick stopped to buy a door handle for his car, and became Caine’s first customer. What happened next was magic… watch the movie that launched a movement to foster imagination and creativity in kids everywhere!’
Steve also shared an app called 1 Second Everyday. He challenged us to try this with our schools – imagine the impact on sharing one second everyday for a whole school year with students, parents and staff!! Powerful.

Next, was onto see John Evans John Evans Twitter  present all about Manitoba’s Maple Personal Learning Network.  This has been a project of John’s for about 4 years.  It is intended to become a professional development network for Manitoba teachers to network, store lessons, share ideas, and collaborate together.  The website can be found here:


After lunch I went to see Linda Dinsdale and Kirsten Copeland from Brandon talk about 1 to 1 project and all the tech projects that they have done with students.  I especially appreciated that the projects were for early years students.  Some of the apps that they used were:  Cookie doodle, Doodle Buddy, Popplet, Storykit, and a QR code maker QR Code Maker You can even pick your own colour using this site. It is so easy to create. They had a QR code scavenger hunt made that they used with students. The students used their ipads to scan the codes to see where the clues would bring them next. Very engaging! Linda and Kirsten were lucky enough to be part of a pilot project with their division with help from local businesses for the part of the funding for the ipads. I wonder if that would work in my division??

The afternoon session of the day was seeing Steve Dembo again in Storytelling for the You Tube Generation. Steve was again an entertaining presenter as we watched many videos and learned how to used video/media with students.
His presentation can be found here:

Here are some of Steve’s links to a few of the sites:
Vimp is a an alternative to You Tube
Docs story builder is a interactive builder that more than one person can be editing story and you can see who is typing.
Choose your own adventure in You tube using embedded clickable links
History lesson in this video using still motion:

And more stop motion here: This one is amazing!

Padlet is an interactive wall that you can create where students/audience can participate by installing the app and typing a comment! Similar to Poll Everywhere but easier!

And Ujam is a site where you can make your own music. Steve read/rapped a poem then added music for us, during his presentation. I love when presenters DO a tech application while they are in the middle of their session. What a great way to model the infusion!

The evening session was called IGNITE. This was a new format for me. Speakers are invited to share something with the audience. They each had 5 min. to present while their slides advanced automatically during the talk. They had no control over the advancement of the slides so they had to keep their words concise and within the time limit. Just a little pressure here!! Despite this “hot seat” type of atmosphere, they were so powerful! Some students came up and talked about digital literacy, another student talked about her experience in Africa and her passion to help others, teachers talked about #mbedchat on twitter, other famous speakers shared their views Dean Shareksi and Chris Lehmann , there was a teacher that shared ed tech partner projects with other schools, and even an exchange student shared her views of Canada from a Brazilian point of view. All of these short but powerful!

Diana Turner, Sandra Melo and Cindy Petriw presented on EAL learners. They shared so many interesting apps to use with second language students. Translator app called Vocre, Using Story Creator to create a communication book with a photo a day, animoto and makebeliefscomix sites , Fotobabble My Math App, Myscript Calculator , Virtual Manipulatives and Modeling with Thinking Blocks, Peach rings, twizzlers, fruit rollup, licorice to create edible spine/spinal cord model, and make images interactive using Thinglink , visual text using this; Wordsift , News for students of English with various levels: News In Levels
EAL literacy learners

K – 12 Technology Coordinator Andy McKiel presented a session called Embed This. I was mesmerized by Andy’s heartfelt stories and listening to his retro talk about his tech history. His presentation can be found here:
Embed This

Darren Kuropatwa had us completely involved in his session. There were about 65 participants there and every person was engaged in the tasks that Darren had us do. One of the powerful projects were He said, She said. We each had to think of person that personally affected us in our own life and reflect on a comment that that person said to us during our life that resonated with us. We all recorded these comments using italk on our devices, emailed them to Darren, then he put them all together to music and played them for us using Audacity. What a personal and engaging activity. I can’t wait to try this with staff!

Here is Darren’s presentation:

Quick, Create!

And finally Chris Lehmann finished off Day 2 of the conference with a motivating and inspiring talk about Building School 2.0: Creating the Schools that we need.
Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally.
Chris says: “Children should never be the implied object of their own education; we teach kids not subjects”

When someone asks you what you teach, say you teach kids!!


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Empowering Students


We recently had a behavioural specialist at our school to work with our staff.    In the fall, our staff outlined some social emotional behaviours that we see at our school.  It was identified that this was a need and teachers wanted some strategies in order to support these students and ensure success.  Since the fall we have analyzed our Tell them From Me Survey results and the data showed us that motivation and interest were not as high as we would like them to be.  We start to question why this is happening and if there is a correlation with social emotional behaviours.  Answers to these questions will drive our school planning and create some goals to address this.  In the meantime, we asked if Rick Puteran, Choice Counselling, could come and work with our staff on the social emotional behaviours that we see.  Rick is contracted with our division and makes a few trips to our school to observe students and work with staff to provide positive intervention and strategies that help us encourage student success.  He is very intelligent, experienced and always has great insight into how to effectively deal with difficult behaviours.

The format of the day was two half day sessions (Gr. 3&4 in AM; K-2 in PM) involving all teachers (31 individuals) and 5  Educational Assistants also attended.

The purpose of this day was to support our staff (teachers and Educational Assistants) in the following areas of concern that we have identified through our school data:

  • Challenging behaviours
  • Learning styles
  • Empathy Training
  • Power, fun, belonging and choice
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Focus
  • Problem solving/independence
  • Socially disconnected Students

Rick P Choice Counselling April 2014

Rick explained and modelled how to go deeper into questioning students on what motivates them and how to use this information to guide daily instruction/lesson planning and bring purpose to learning.  This strategy of deeper questioning was very powerful.  Try to ask students 3 deeper questions on a topic; rather than accept “I don’t know”.  For example, Rick modelled how to ask students what they want to be when they grow up.  When they answer, ask more probing questions on why they want to be that person, and then question even deeper, why is that important to them.  You will discover a more true picture of the child’s moral values and what is important to them.  Then, lessons and teachings can revolve around these themes.   How motivating would that be for a student??

Rick  presented the importance and how to shift student neurology from lower brain to higher functioning/thinking brain.

Rick  also discussed with staff how to sustain these plans, solutions, and interventions within the classroom and around the school.

Learning styles are very important.  It is key for staff to identify how a child learns in order to create successful learning environments.  Rick gave examples on how to observe students when they enter a room.  They will show whether they are visual, kinesthetic or an auditory learner by how they behave and act in the first few minutes of entering the classroom.  Then, the teacher can use the child’s strengths to teach the lesson and have the most success with their learning.

We also discussed the variety of groupings that students need.  Rick outlined three learning environmental situations that we need to teach our students.  Cooperative grouping (with a partner), proximity  learning(side by side learning), and  independent learning(by yourself).   Most students are more comfortable with one of these.  Rick believes it is key to expose students to all three of these types of learning situations in order to prepare them for success later in life.

Our goals for the day:

  • Staff will understand and utilize the strategies presented to handle challenging behaviours.
  • We will see a decrease in student behaviour and anxiety as well as an improvement in student belonging and motivation in our  school data (including Tell them from Me Survey).
  • Teachers will use the deeper questioning approach with students and embed student values into lesson/units.

Rick definitely gave us a great deal of information to process and try with our students.  He gave us hope and emphasized that we need to continue the great work that we have been doing.  We have a great school and with hard working, supportive staff that always work towards what is best for our students.  I am proud to part of this group!

I look forward to going deeper with questions for students and discover their dreams and goals!

Thank you Rick P!!

relationships matter

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ASCD14 Conference Relection

ASCD conference

It’s been a while since I have blogged, crazy busy times!
I have been wanting to blog about my time at the National ASCD conference in Los Angeles this past week.
This was my first National conference and now that I have had a taste of a top notch conference, I can’t wait to go again! The speakers were amazing, motivational, inspiring, passionate while energizing me to do more and take action. The themes of creativity, innovation, and technology have resonated with me.

Here are some quotes from my experiences:

Daniel Pink:
We spend a huge amount of time moving people in a landscape we are not familiar.  We spend about 40% of our time trying to motivate people to do things, so we need to change our perspectives on how to do this.
Social science says there are 3 qualities that help with influence – attunement, buoyancy and clarity.  Attunement means to take the perspective-can you see from other’s point of view.  Buoyancy is Most of the time, people are going to say no. Yet, if we’re facing an ocean of rejection, how do we stay afloat?   Clarity can curate the info. moving from access to curate.
Interrogative self talk is best! Be More prepared – ask if you are really ready? prepared?
Be a better version of your self. An ambivert is in between extrovert and introvert – This is good advice. You will have more success if you are balanced.  I have always believed that a  balanced approach is best!
Build off ramps, make things easier for people to be successful. We do this for students, why don’t we do this for adults too! Put the supports in place in order for goals to be reached and for staff to be successful!  Increase your effectiveness by taking away your power.
Ask more why questions? Why is this important? Why are we doing this? We used this questioning during Backwards Design planning recently! Why do we want our students to learn this??
Develop norms for walk throughs. Expectations for teachers observing. This is something that my VP and I want to work towards with our staff.

Here is visual outlining Daniel Pink’s message:
daniel pink pic


Then there was Sir Ken Robinson!! Wow! I couldn’t decide if I was watching a comedian or a passionate speaker on creativity.
Book to buy:  Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative Sir ken robinson book

Sir Ken says human talent is diverse and often buried deep. Our job is to bring the talents out! How we do this is not easy, but important!

The story Sir Ken told about a music teacher in Liverpool who had 2 of the Beatles in his class… and missed it.   A bit of an oversight… I would hope that our teachers would never miss out on a students’ special talent, skills at any given moment! How do we find our own elements, passion, talents and transform our life? How do we help students do this ?

When there is a correct answer, think creativity. The assignment was to complete the painting, without saying the correct way, then kids were more creative. Here is the link to the video “When there is a correct answer.”  Watch and see for yourself!


Then there was the Landfill Harmonic Video – also a worthwhile watch.  Ask your staff what they take away from this.  How can we instill creative ways to have students show their learning? Inspire? Use music?


Then there was Russell J. Quaglia, another powerful speaker with tremendous passion and humour!

We must lead and teach with Purpose,  Engagement and  Self Worth.   We need to be “normal” and spend more with students;  where they are going!


Then it was off to some tech sessions to learn about STEM projects, tech uses, ZooBursts, prezi, google docs , feedly,  and extra normal.   Even though I teach in a Canadian education system, I related to Project Based Learning and how effective and fun it can be.

I met  Eric Sheninger and had him sign his new book:   Digital Leadership, which I am currently reading.


Finally, my last session, before boarding our plane, was a Discovery Education session where I met Steve Dembo and learned all about DEN – Discovery Education Network.  Steve was a great presenter, engaging, funny and totally inspiring!    I have now inquired  into being involved with DE and I am participating in a live web tour put on by DE at the MTS center in Winnipeg with the Jets Foundation.  I have some students that are going to join me in my office and we will watch the presentation live and hopefully my students will be able to ask some questions about hockey and learn  from a Winnipeg Jets player.  Super pumped about it!

We managed to squeeze in a LA Kings hockey game.  They played the Ducks, a huge rivalry!  The fans at the game were loud, cheering and booing, it was great fun.

Survived an earthquake!!!  Early Monday morning, my bed was shaking, rattling.   I thought there was construction going on outside my room. ( I was on the 4th floor).  When I turned on the local news, I discovered we just had a 4.3 earthquake!  I think I’d rather go through a Manitoba blizzard than an earthquake!  And my colleagues didn’t even know that anything had happened….what earthquake? they asked me.  Incredible!

It was definitely a whirl wind trip, totally exhausted after returning, and playing catch up with report cards, interviews, staffing, budgeting, meetings, etc.  Wow, I have a lot of work to do now.  But, I am inspired by the conference and the speaker’s message of passion and integrity that I hope to carry with me through this busy time!

Thanks for reading!

Any feedback, comments, are appreciated!!!!!

engagement russq22-300x300

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My Hero



Who is your hero? You may have heard this question asked many times. I have chosen to blog about my hero… father!
My dad was a teacher, a high school Phys.ed. teacher, and yes, he taught me when I was in high school. I actually chose to be in his class in my grade 12 year. I am not sure on how to even begin to describe the influence my dad has had on me as an educator and a person. He was the kind of teacher that everyone loved and respected. Students would feel comfortable going to his office and talking to him about their problems, their jobs, their families, a crisis or just to visit. Why did all of these students feel that connection? I know that answer; relationships, respect and a compassionate non-judgemental listening ear. He was a coach with great success as his athletes would strive…

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My Hero


Who is your hero? You may have heard this question asked many times. I have chosen to blog about my hero… father!
My dad was a teacher, a high school Phys.ed. teacher, and yes, he taught me when I was in high school. I actually chose to be in his class in my grade 12 year. I am not sure on how to even begin to describe the influence my dad has had on me as an educator and a person. He was the kind of teacher that everyone loved and respected. Students would feel comfortable going to his office and talking to him about their problems, their jobs, their families, a crisis or just to visit. Why did all of these students feel that connection? I know that answer; relationships, respect and a compassionate non-judgemental listening ear. He was a coach with great success as his athletes would strive to do their best in every game. He modelled high spirit of competition and hard work. He would be able to motivate them to their highest possible potential. He is known for his “big booming voice” that inspired others. (or maybe it was a bit of fear too; as it was for me at times) My dad was not only a teacher, counsellor, and a leader, but he was also an accomplished athlete himself and an official on an International stage in softball. He is one of few people who I know that has played, coached and officiated at a national level in Canada. He has had so many accomplishments and accolades, it is actually difficult to keep up with them all. I remember as a young child, they even had a special day in our town, in honour of my dad, parade and everything. There is an annual Phys. Ed teacher award that is given out in his honour to a deserving High School teacher. Most recently he was inducted in the Manitoba High School Hall of Fame!! I was so proud that day. How do I possibly live up to this larger than life “teacher-dad”?? It is never about the awards but more importantly it comes down to the relationships that he has made over the years. Former students are always greeting him and telling him the positive impact that he had on their lives. So, everyday, I think about how I can make an impact with the relationships that I attempt to build and nurture in and around my school. I am not looking for awards, but simply trying to live my life, like my hero, my dad! Always trying to build those important relationships as best as I can with my colleagues, students, parents and school community. Who is your hero? How does your hero shape your actions? I would love to hear your comments and your hero story!

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