Sometimes when a Professional Development day falls so close to a report card deadline it can be a tad challenging to keep my mind on all the new ideas being presented and feel excited to get back to my classroom and try new things. However this Pro-D day was exceptional! I really enjoyed the three sessions that I attended and took away lots of solid and fledgling ideas on things that I want to try in my classroom. I feel excited to implement what I learned and the ideas that I formed while there.
My first session was “DL Coaches Unite!” presented by Sandra Averill. The main point of this session was how to help promote digital literacy in our schools. Personally I came away with three exciting ideas that I plan to implement. When it comes to using the iPads with the students, a real thorn in my side has been the amount of troubleshooting that I end up doing. When I spend so much time trying to solve problems and then pairing kids up because we can’t resolve issues with certain iPads, it leaves little time for actually doing meaningful learning activities. Sandra helped me come up with a plan that I think will help immensely. Stay tuned for a future blog entry on how that plan goes! We also discussed a few creation apps that I would like to explore further with story writing. Finally, we had been discussing some simple ideas that might be of interest to teachers who are a little more leery of technology and out of that I formed a terrific idea that would mesh well with my school’s reading goal. I plan on teaching my students to record themselves reading in PhotoBooth on my teacher laptop. Their job will be to pick a “good fit” book to record themselves reading. The idea behind this is to encourage them to hone their skill at choosing a “good fit” book but when the kids get efficient at it, I will have some recorded reading assessments and still be able to monitor the rest of the class. Plus the children get to choose their own reading material which is another aspect of reading that our school wants to work on.
The second session I attended was “Inquiry-based Learning in Grades K-3” presented by Brenda Boylan. I have heard others speak on inquiry learning a few times and I did a lot of inquiry learning when I taught intermediate. However primary comes with the challenge of students with less independence and less self-regulation. Brenda really helped me envision more ways of bringing inquiry learning into my primary classroom without sacrificing a healthy learning environment. I already bring a lot of inquiry thinking skills into my Science activities. We do a lot of activities where we think like a scientist and determine what we will do to answer a scientific question. Then we make a prediction, carry out our experiment, record our observations and reflect on what we learned. After Brenda’s presentation, I will try some of the activities she suggested that promote inquiry-based thinking skills like: Object a Week, Wonder Window, Inquiry Notebook or Wonder Book, and I would like to post her Recording Thinking Prompts at my writing centre for writing prompts. Brenda also suggested books to read to our students about inquiry-based learning and she gave us some Scholastic Literacy Place Inquiry Unit book lists as well as their Inquiry Process poster. Gotta love a ProD presentation that gives free stuff!
My last session of the day was “iMovies” presented by Katie Ropchan. Katie showed us a few examples of how we might use iMovies in our teaching: to introduce yourself, to showcase clubs, and for student projects. As a primary teacher I would like to have an iMovie going during Student Led conferences to highlight learning activities and one to show at the end of the year to celebrate the school year. Katie gave us a handout that addressed the different areas that we might want to use like: importing, transitions, themes, or music. I’ve played around with iMovie before but I got a lot more done while working on it in a group with Katie’s support and the handout. I even had a clip of all the photos that I’ve taken of my students this year that I was able to show them on Monday!I really enjoyed Odyssey ‘15. So grateful to SD#35’s Professional Services for organizing a Professional Development conference with so many choices. It allows me to choose presentations that are meaningful and inspiring for my teaching practise.