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Connecting Classrooms

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Since our classroom has been involved in the amazing "What Can You See?" project, we continue to look for new ways to interact with the participating classrooms and their educators! In particular, I think we have created a 21st Century version of the "pen pals" tradition! After our class read the "We Can See" book from our friends at Bond Lake Public School, we decided to share compliments through the form of a letter on their blog! If you haven't had a chance to check out their blog, you can click on the following link: http://myclassroomtransformation.blogspot.ca/2012/11/i-think-we-can-send-letter.html.

We continue to feel inspired by their classroom happenings, inquiries and daily discoveries and their educators certainly embrace every opportunity to make for meaningful and purposeful learning! We would like to dedicate this post to them and thank them for exploring and communicating with our class through the blogsphere! It has led to some wonderful connections, questions, and new learning!


After reading the response letter from our friends at Bond Lake Public School, our students have enjoyed expanding on their connections, answering their posed questions, and writing a reply!


Dear Bond Lake Public School,

Thank you for the letter. We liked reading about your connections to our book. We liked how you think clouds are fascinating. Thank you for sharing the "fancy" word. We want to answer your questions.

J.S. (SK): We have three teachers. Ms. Schmidt, Ms. Theis and Ms. N. They are all really nice and like to have fun.

S.M.: We have lots of signs because they protect us from danger. We see STOP signs, "bump" signs for bumps on the ground and school crossing signs so cars know when we are walking.



I.D.: We had frogs last year but we do not have any pets this year. We had two frogs and one was big and one was small. We got to feed them.



J.S. (JK): We want to send you our class picture. What do you look like?

R.L.: We know about Ninjagos. They fight into battles because the master tells them when the bad guys make traps.



A.M.: I only know that Ninjagos have swords. They are yellow.

Here are some new questions we have for you:

I.D.: Do you get snow in winter like us?

C.M.: I wonder if your teachers is nice or mean?

A.C.: You have a rabbit. What is its name? What does it eat?

L.D.: Where does your rabbit live?

We want to share what we are learning about with you:

S.M.: We have been making a big cloud. We made raindrops too.

E.S.: We are learning about clouds. We know how they make rain and read a book called "The Falling Raindrop." It taught us about the water cycle. It's cool.



G.B.: We liked being raindrops.

I.D.: We learned that a pumpkin floated in a lot of water. 



R.L.: We did a "Shape Rap." Sphere, Cylinders, Cubes and Cones were in it and we got to wear sunglasses in front of our school at the assembly. We would like to share our video with you.

J.S. (SK): We like magnets because they stick to things. Magnets also don't stick to things. We have fun experimenting. Magnets stick to Ms. Schmidt's boots because they have metal on it.

E.S.: Clouds do all sorts of things. We wonder how they make snow. I think its called a "snow cycle."

Thank you for your letter. We want you to write back more. We drew some pictures for you too. We hope you like them. Thank you for your pictures. They were pretty colours.






This is a bridge. W.F. and R.L. and me made it in the
building and constructing centre. It has a thing that
lifts up and down so boats can go by. - J.S. (SK)
Love,

Ms. Schmidt and Ms. Theis' Class from Lorna Jackson Public School. 


Ms. Schmidt and Ms. Theis were also wondering:

What inquiries are you exploring in your classroom? Can you write back and share some of your learning with us?

We hope that you enjoyed this post! We look forward to continuing to connect our classrooms and our learning through this social media and look forward to extending our learning through the use of our "What Can You See?" blogspace! If you haven't had a chance to check it out, please visit by clicking on the following link: http://wecanseeprojectsharingspace.blogspot.ca

What Can You See? A New Sharing Space

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Big Question: How can we be connected to other students and learn about their school communities from around the city, province, country and world? 


It is clear that this "What Can You See?" project has reached new heights and what better way to bring students, educators, and classes together then through a common learning space? The Twitterverse and Blogsphere have allowed us to extend this project beyond the walls of our classrooms and our new hope is that more will join in from around the world!

A big thank you goes out to our good friend Joanne Babalis (Kindergarten Teacher at Bond Lake P.S.) for helping to make this big question more attainable! Thank you for creating a NEW sharing space for the What Can You See? project! Please take the time to visit this wonderful new blog created and designed especially for this project! You will also find links to other educator/class blogs at the bottom to which you can view their digital "What Can You See?" book!






To our parents and community,

Please consider joining in on our learning adventure by sharing your photos, observations, and writing on this new online blog or on our classroom blog! We encourage you to draw from your child's experiences with this project and share insights from home, apartments, townhouses, grandpa's farm, the cottage, driving on the way to school, etc...."What do you see out of your kitchen window?" for example! This will not only help build an authentic home/school connection, but it will help expand the walls of this project!

Please feel free to engage with us online by making comments, compliments, questions, or connections directly onto our blogs! This can be done anonymously or by recording your child's initials (e.g. for Jocelyn Schmidt write - J.S's family).

We thank you in advance and appreciate your participation in our learning journey!

Stay tuned!

Sincerely,
Ms. Schmidt and Ms. Theis

"I made my own What Can You See book!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Given that the "What Can You See?" project has been quite a topic of conversation daily for our students, we couldn't be happier to see them continuing to make those meaningful connections beyond the walls of our classroom! From Google Earth, Skype sessions and beyond, Ms. Theis and I started this week with an incredible surprise! We were delighted to see one of our SK students create her very own "What Can You See?" book over the weekend with her family! Not only did the expression on her face show pure excitement, but you could tell that she was so proud of what she had created! We didn't waste any time having her share such a wonderful artefact with the class and to top it off, our students were not only inspired, but eager to add her name and book title to our comparison charts and make connections between her book and the others that we read! Wow - talk about a meaningful extension and authentic home/school connection!

Please take a look at what this student can see when she looks out of the window of her house. 
We hope you feel inspired!

The What Can You See Book (1) For Winter

I can see many houses.

I can see the fences.

I can see plants.

I can see paving.

I can see the grass.

I can see the BBQ stove.

We welcome parents to get involved in this amazing project by sharing what you see in different environments (e.g. "what can you see out of your office window?") with your child! Please comment on our blog with your insights and we look forward to sharing them with our class!

Our Cloud Installation

Over the last two weeks, our class has been working very hard putting the finishing touches on our cloud installation! With more sculpting, weaving, knotting, and wrapping new ribbons and different textured materials, our students continued to take an active interest in bringing our cloud to life in our classroom! Every time something new was added to our cloud, our students were amazed to see their vision become a reality and as educators, we couldn't be more proud to help guide their creativity.



In order to make our cloud as "real" as possible, we decided to put a mosquito netting inside our installation to make it "fluffy," "squishy," "bumpy," and "cuddly" - as in the words of our students! Once this was added, our students couldn't wait to begin attaching the many raindrops created by every student in the class! It was wonderful to see and hear them recognize the various patterns that were made, different colours, lines, and lengths as they attached each raindrop wire to the cloud. These connections not only allowed for a sense of consolidation, but it was a great way to celebrate all the learning we have accomplished throughout the whole creative process!




After hanging it from the ceiling today after school, we can't wait to see the looks on our students' faces as they enter the classroom tomorrow morning and see their masterpiece so proudly displayed! We anticipate lots of "Ooo's" and "ahh's" to fill the room as they look up from below at their hard work and  creativity!




Our Cloud Inquiry has also reached new heights today with the snowfall. Big snowflakes filled the sky and came floating down during recess which prompted the question...how does a cloud make snow? 

Stay tuned as our team of scientists and researchers investigate this question further 
in the coming weeks...

Part 4: "What Can You See?" and Mexico!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

As part of our "What Can You See?" project, we have been pushing our thinking by making deeper connections with the other participating schools! It's truly incredible to watch our students use this authentic audience to spark their own inquiries about the world around them! In this context, we have used our ongoing comparison charts to support our questions, discoveries, and wonderings. In particular, our class decided to post a comment on Ms. Babalis' blog to compliment her class on their "We Can See" book! This comment has now led to us communicating with Ms. Babalis' class virtually and as a result, has elicited remarkable comments from both classes! Ms. Babalis' class and her "We Can See" team, kindly wrote us a personal reply to our comment whereby they used great detail to explain their connections to our book, questions they had for us, and other wonderings about our school and the learning that occurs in our classroom! Check out the letter to our class by clicking here. We are currently working on drawing pictures and writing words back to Ms. Babalis' class and are continuing to piece together our letter that we will send back to them! Stay tuned!


To top it off, yesterday we had another exciting chapter unfold as part of our "What Can You See?" project! After watching Ms. Gomez' class' "What Can You See?" book from Monterrey, Mexico last week, we arranged a Skype session to help support our learning about them and their community! Just like when we skyped with Mrs. Harrison's class, our students came up with three questions that they wanted Ms. Gomez' class to answer so that we could gain a deeper understanding of their school and where they live! Here is what we came up with:

1. What kinds of toys do you play with outside?
2. Do you have snow in winter?
3. Why do you have a guard?

After lunch, our students came in from recess very excited and eager to meet and speak to our new friends from another country! Our selected speakers grabbed their interview clipboards and all waited very patiently as we waited for "the call!"



Here is what we learned from Ms. Gomez' class and their schoolyard:

1. We have a house to play, slides and swings.
2. No, we don't have snow in winter because it's warm here in Monterrey. It's cold but not that cold to snow.
3. The policeman is our guard because he can stop anybody who is bad from coming in. He stays at the front door of our school.

Here are the questions that Ms. Gomez' class asked us about our class and schoolyard:

1. How many "patios" (playgrounds) do you have?
2. How many teachers do you have?
3. How many students do you have in your class?





We truly enjoyed teaching our new friends about our class and community! Furthermore, it was so inspiring to watch our students generate new questions as they watched and listened to our new friends! Below are some of the questions that came up throughout our session which helped make for a lively discussion!

1. Why do you have all the same shirts on? - J.S. (SK)
"Because we have gym class and those are our uniforms!" - Ms. Gomez' class

2. Do you have a parking lot? - R.L. (SK)
"Yes, and we have lots of cars!" - Ms. Gomez' class

3. What language do you speak? - R.F. (SK)
"SPANISH!" - Ms. Gomez' class


Ms. Gomez' class also wanted to know: "Do you have Christmas at your school?" to which we replied "Yes!" as well as a whole bunch of other holiday traditions!

To conclude our Skype session, we asked Ms. Gomez' class if they could teach us some words in Spanish and in particular, how to say "hello" and "goodbye." This was such a wonderful interaction to witness between our two classes! "Ola" and "Adios" filled our room as we celebrated our new learning!

One of our students even had the idea of sending Ms. Gomez' class the video from our "Shape Rap" performance! We are very excited to have the opportunity to share our learning about 3D shapes with our new friends in Mexico and we hope they will have some connections that they can share with us! We welcome and encourage them to comment on this blog post once they watch our video so we can share them with our class!

Stay tuned as we continue to share our connections, new learning, and discoveries from throughout our "What Can You See?" journey! It just keeps getting better and we can't wait to see where it'll take us next!

Creative Technology

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Here is a story that was created by one of our SK students using the app Doodlecast. When it was shared with a small group of her peers, they felt completely inspired to create their own stories and asked her to teach them how to do it. This app truly turned the iPad screen into a creativity space where storytelling became the power behind each drawing and led to a collaborative sharing space!

video




This type of peer learning truly showcased how they valued the time and effort she put into her story and with their eagerness to explore, they couldn't wait to create their own! Her thinking was truly made visible using technology and as educators, we continue to be blown away each day with the creativity of our students and grow more and more impressed with their capabilities!



About Doodlecast: (description from iTunes)
The Doodlecast For Kids App ($2.99) comes with more than 20 drawing prompts - simple questions designed to give kids a starting point. Kids can choose from one of the prompts or start a drawing from scratch. The app records the entire drawing process along with audio from the microphone to create videos up to three minutes long.

Heart of a Teacher

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ever since I started this blog last June, I have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback, responses, and connections I've made to other educators around the world. It's truly incredible how technology has given us the opportunity to share, collaborate, and celebrate our learning beyond the walls of our classroom! I am honoured to receive emails from parents, colleagues, friends and family informing me that this blog is inspirational - I too continue to feel inspired every day by my students, colleagues and their families and I'm so proud to be in this profession and to be a part of such an incredible teaching team!


The following poem was sent to me from a friend and truly encapsulates the heart of being a teacher:


A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart. 
- Anonymous

Thank you to everyone who has and continues to support, encourage, challenge, and push me to be the best that I can be. 
Here's to new learning and a wonderful journey! 

Part 3: "What Can You See?" and Google Earth!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The "What Can You See?" project has reached new and exciting heights in our classroom! With the project extending beyond our class and Mrs. Harrison's, other educators and their Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes have jumped on board and produced their own "What Can You See?" digital books! From Keswick and Newmarket to Richmond Hill, Markham and even Surrey, British Columbia, our class continues to enjoy such an authentic audience for learning about the world around them and making those meaningful connections!

After such an overwhelming response and interest from our students after our Skype session with Mrs. Harrison's class, we have embraced every moment to talk about, make connections and share ideas throughout our class meetings and daily discussions. Our Comparison Charts have made for engaging conversations with our whole class as well as during small group instruction and also act as a visual reminder of our learning.


Our introduction to Google Earth and this project actually came from students' connections to the fact that our Earth is a sphere! Having been inquiring about 2D shapes and 3D figures in the recent weeks, we wanted to make this notion even more visible to our students so we decided to show them the Earth with this program! This even led to our class extending our connections to one of our students who happens to be away in Egypt and Google Earth gave us the opportunity to see just how far away Egypt really was from Woodbridge! This initial exploration with such a dynamic teaching and learning tool led to robust thinking and authentic conversations throughout our classroom!



After dialoguing with our Administrator, Mr. Collins, we left with a "spark" on how we could use Google Earth to support our "What Can You See?" project! With this idea, we used our students connections to shed light on how close and how far the schools in our project really are from us and each other. "3...2...1...Blast off!" filled our room and the "flying in" to each destination truly captivated our learners and we were able to not only connect the project to the world, but we were also able to use this opportunity to discuss perspective, "birds-eye view" and the shapes we see! Talk about cross-curricular integration!


Not only has Google Earth given us the chance to see each school from a different perspective, but it has more importantly captured the thinking of our students whereby they feel inspired to explore where they live, the community, and the world around them! We have had students excitement lead them to finding their house, a friend's house, a park, the grocery store, Canada's Wonderland, and other destinations outside of our community like the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls! With each day that passes, our students grow more and more excited to embrace technology to enhance their learning and this project is authentic learning at its finest!


We noticed that Bond Lake Public School wasn't built yet - this image provoked lots of interesting questions and theories! 

We encourage you to check out the other amazing videos that have been shared with our class throughout our exploration and involvement with this project. As you watch, talk with your child about any connections they have and by asking prompting questions like "What do you see?," "Tell me more" and "What are you thinking?" will help elicit some wonderful dialogue at home! If possible, we kindly ask that you take a minute to share your families comments here on our blog for our class to read!

- Mrs. Jelley and her Kindergarten team  from Keswick, Ontario created an inspiring video found on their class blog: http://teamjellybean.posterous.com

- Mrs. Harrison's Kindergarten class is also from Keswick, Ontario and you can watch their video on their blog: http://techieang.edublogs.org  Scroll down to the "What Can You See" post.

- Ms. Babalis' Kindergarten class from Richmond Hill, Ontario created a different kind of "What Can You See?" book and used a program called "Comic Life" to tell their story! Check it out on their blog: http://myclassroomtransformation.blogspot.ca

- Ms. Lirenman's Grade 1 class from Surrey, British Columbia was a great surprise! Check out their book on their class blog: http://mslirenmansroom.blogspot.ca

Thank you again to Angie Harrison for the time and effort it has taken you to organize this incredible project! We hope to have more schools from around our community, region and even the world join in on this incredible journey! 
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