Showing posts with label Outdoor Learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Outdoor Learning. Show all posts

Our custom mud kitchen!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Happy Fall my blog friends!

I would like to share with you a special post about a tiny problem I had encountered with our outdoor learning space.  It was very organized, interesting for the children, and modern, however, not weather proof by any means! As a result, every single day I patiently (sometimes not so patiently) covered it all with these plastic tarps and still the rain would somehow sneak inside or the strong winds would totally blow them off.

I knew that I needed a transformation, and thought that I would start slowly with the kitchen area...

Do you see weeds or wishes?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We recently started a study about dandelions, as an extension to our growth inquiry.  The interest in dandelions was sparked after a small group of students noticed them during our outdoor play session. Now that I think of it, how could they not?  They have taken over our school's front lawn and quite literally turned the grass a bright shade of yellow!  

Our students have enjoyed running through the dandelions, picking the dandelions to create bouquets, drawing the dandelions, writing about their dandelion wonders, and dancing in the dandelion covered fields!  

It was beautiful to be outside in our community.  The families driving or walking by took notice, and another kindergarten class became inspired to go outside and share in a similar experience.

After a few days exploring the dandelions, we realized that the students' intrigue was enough to fuel another environmental inquiry.  I am very pleased about this as an educator, mainly because the dandelions exist within nature and we can go outdoors to study them on a daily basis!

Extensions for home or your program: Compare the yellow dandelions with the white dandelions.  What are some of the similarities? What are some of the differences?  Consider discussing how the yellow dandelions transform into white dandelions.  On your walk, take notice of the size of the dandelions.  Collect a few dandelions and order them from shortest to tallest.

When you look at a field of dandelions,

you can either see a hundred weeds

or a hundred wishes. 


Environmental inquiry: How our new outdoor space supports teaching and learning

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Enjoy our latest video about one of our Environmental Inquiries from this school year:

Please consider leaving us a comment below!

The beginnings of multiple inquiries from a single walk!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I always suggest to educators that the easiest way to begin an inquiry within their classroom is to take a nature walk.

Here is a glimpse into our first nature walk of the school year and all of the learning that took place as a result:

So we captured a lot of beautiful photographs...  So, now what?  Where do we go from here?  

We begin to interpret the photographs taken.  What are the students telling us without even saying a word?

Here is what stood out to Mrs. Ham and I:

Please stay tuned for what happens next and feel free to comment on what you see, think, or wonder.

Inspiring Quote:

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold inifinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour." -William Blake

On Display: The Power of Inquiry

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Power of Inquiry
A Spring Institute By and For Educators

Friday, May 10th & Saturday May 11th 2013


How does one capture the learning of two thought-provoking days into one blog post?  This is a nearly impossible feat, especially with keynote speakers like Dan Meyer (TEDTalk Math Educator), Dan Rahimi (Royal Ontario Museum), Wilfred Buck (Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre), and Ellie Avishai (Rotman iThink Initiative)!

I would like to begin by thanking Annie Chern from Natural Curiosity for inviting me and a team of educators from the York Region District School Board.  It was a true privilege to listen and learn about the varying perspectives of inquiry-based learning at this Spring Institute.

As it stated on the program, The Power of Inquiry two-day event supported and inspired educators in their practice of inquiry-based teaching in mathematics and science with their innovative speakers, engaging sessions, and practical resources.

Here are some of the ideas that resonated with me:

Dan Meyer's Keynote Address 
  • How do we transfer our math learning to the real world?  
  • Knowing that math models our world is very empowering.
  • Math teacher cannot just ask questions-must "set the scene" and create a need for the information
  • Get to the hook (spark students' interest) as fast as possible.
  • Make the first act visual and intuitive.  A video clip is often the best way to show this, and sets up a practical context for the upcoming work.
  • We have a privileged job.  We have to make math a real world model.

Breakout Session #1: The Sky Above and the Sea Below: A Year-Long Study of Birds and Salmon in Grade 2 (Cindy Halewood, Jackman ICS Laboratory School)
  • Children are endlessly interested in natural phenomena
  • Wonders are theories, questions, ideas, or starting points
  • Culture of caring and empathy around living things
  • Each child has their own Nature Notebook to record observations and draw sketches
  • Experiments that stemmed from the children's questions and interests
  • "Children need time to develop a relationship with nature before being expected to heal its wounds" -David Sobel
  • Book: You are Stardust as a starting point for inquiry and Owl Kids Website

Dan Rahimi's Keynote Address

Unfortunately, I was unable to stay and hear Dan Rahimi's Keynote at the ROM.  If you did, might you consider leaving a comment?

Wilfred Buck's Keynote Address
  • Other ways of arriving at the shores of understanding
  • We all know something and if we put our minds together we are awesome
  • Constant flow of energy that is transformational...flow of energy surrounds us...
  • What is life but a firefly in the night
  • "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." -Max Planck

Breakout Session #2: Integrated Environmental Inquiry (Nancy McGee, Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, Andrea Cousineau & Annie Chern, Natural Curiosity, Jackman ICS Laboratory School)
  • One of the mandates of the Jackman ICS Laboratory School is dissemination of research/learning
  • Inquiry requires flexibility on the part of the teacher.  The plans will change based on students' interests, however the big ideas are still there.
  • Try to integrate the environment with learning.
  • Can assess students' knowledge building, misconceptions, what they already know, vocabulary, etc.
  • I enjoyed the task of looking at student talk/theories and extracting assessment and extensions during the the presentation-provided rich discussion and proves that inquiry cannot be done in isolation (as educators we bring our own subjectivity to what we extract) great to collaborate and hear multiple perspectives

Inquiry Panel Discussion
  • Inquiry is a form of equity in teaching (Caswell)
  • We need to be windows to the world for children and mirrors of who they are into the classroom (Rochelle Gliterez)
  • Inquiry shifts the power in the classroom of authority figure (Caswell)
  • Ideas are the currency of the classroom (Messina)
  • Inquiry starts with thinking about-caring about-things that interest students (Comay)
  • It's important for us to build on our own understanding of math content so we can look for it in our students' play (Stephenson)
  • Assessment has to look different for inquiry-based learning (Caswell)
  • When teaching through inquiry there is no shortage of what you can assess (Messina)
  • There needs to be an amalgamation of inquiry, curriculum, and assessment (Caswell) 
  • Transformative assessment is to see students' growth and understanding along the way (Stephenson)

Ellie Avishai's Keynote Address
  • Where does innovation come from?
  • How do successful leaders think?
  • What is the process of innovative thinking?
  • You notice what you need to in order to function
  • Look at the varying perspectives
  • Nurturing integrative minds: structured, solved, single answer (convergence), messy, mysterious, many possible answers (divergence)
  • Integrative thinkers understanding existing model and generate new models rather than compromise
  • The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time (S. Fitzgerald)
  • Innovative leaders are able to select best aspect of diverse models and create new idea/model
  • There is an infinite sea of possibilities!
  • Help our students become creative thinkers...go beyond theories...

During The Power of Inquiry Spring Institute I also got the chance to visit the Dr. Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School and have a tour.  There I listened to an introduction and context set by their Vice Principal, Richard Messina.  He openly spoke about his practice and journey as a teacher, who began his public school career with a focus on creating and delivering "hands-on" but not necessarily "minds-on" learning opportunities for his students.  It was interesting to hear how he shifted and evolved into an inquiry-based educator.  His passion for inquiry-based learning was so evident!

Here are some images from the Lab School:

I'd like to extend a special thank you to all of the keynote speakers: Dan Meyer, Dan Rahimi, Wilfred Buck, and Ellie Avishai for sharing your intriguing insights and perspectives about inquiry-based learning.  Thank you also to some of the organizers that I had a chance to meet or exchange emails with: Bev Caswell, Andrea Cousineau, Diana Chang, Annie Chern, Sarah Naqvi and Richard Messina.  

I look forward engaging in future learning opportunities with all of you around the power of inquiry-based learning!

If anyone else attended this Spring Institute and would like to offer some of their learning, please feel free to comment below... 

Art from our Hearts

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 

to all of the beautiful and loving Mothers 

and especially to mine!

Today’s post is dedicated to our special 

Mothers and Mother’s Day gifts. 

Our students created some art from their hearts 

and I couldn’t help but photograph the stunning 

results before sending them home!

We decided to paint some Cherry Blossom 

Trees for our moms to celebrate the arrival of 

Spring.  This work was inspired by an idea 

that I saw on Pinterest:

Pin: Spring Cherry Tree Art tutorial ~ Perfect for a Mothers Day gift

Source: Blog Post-Spring Cherry Tree Tutorial

Our students used the image from Pinterest (enlarged on the Smart

Board) to create our version of these trees.  We did not follow the

tutorial, but will try the steps for our next trees soon!

Thank you to Tammy from the Blog:

Housing a Forest: Learn, Create, Experiment

Aren't they all so exquisite and 


 To try and connect with our learning about 

Spring, I recently visited High Park to see the 

Japanese Cherry Blossoms.  I will be sharing

 them with the students tomorrow and will 

document their theories about the beauty found 

within the natural world that surrounds us.  

These photographs will also act as the 

spark for our final inquiry: Butterflies, 

Blossoms, and Natural Beauty.


Happy Mother’s Day to all the 

mommies out there from my heart to