Manipulating Reality

Students were tasked with ‘hooking’ in their audience with a poetic provocation.  Take an image of a place in our community – sourced from a recent community photography walking tour – and twist it digitally so as to perhaps camouflage the original location. Make the audience look twice, right?  And while they’re at it, perhaps read the selection of adjectives each student has added to their community identity poem.

How to hook your audience with a visual POW in a few easy steps.

  1. Take great photos.  We used the grid feature on our iPads to select images that filled 2/3rds of the screen. This left some white space – important!
  2. Import photo into Google Drawing.  Shrink/size the image until it covers 1/4th of the drawing.
  3. Using image options, tint the photo and adjust transparency and brightness so that a black font would contrast with the image nicely.
  4. Now flip the photo vertically and horizontally to create a kaleidoscopic effect.
  5. Add text boxes with your message and arrange them strategically.

BOOM! A futuristic look at something ordinary.  We focused on locations in our community. Let’s find out if our audience can figure out where in town we were.

Putting the visual into literacy.

Carters identity poem

Hunters identy poem!!!!!

Nevaeh's Identity peom

Kyle's identity poem


Singing about Science!

The #ichoosetapwater video contest was promoted via poster back in the fall.  I don’t know why, but I’ve never entered any contests before with my class.  This one aligned so nicely with my ‘community citizenship through curriculum’ project that I had to do it.  Using iPads daily in the room has been empowering for kids – both in creativity and in learning that there are so many ways to share their thinking in a way that suits their personal voice.  I wanted to pull some of their tech know-how into the film contest.

I blogged earlier about the creative process we followed to produce stop motion animation videos in small groups tackling the various lyrics that were written based on brainstorming students did collaboratively on a Padlet.  We invited our other grade 4 friends into the process to make it a big group work project.  We really dug into the purpose of the contest and ensured that our main points were clearly highlighted in the song.  Conservation.  Preservation.  Pollution.  Energy.  Re-usability.  Appreciation of our great lake natural resources.  Big themes worth singing about, right?

Who would have thought we’d not only get invited to the Blue Carpet Event,

but actually come in first place?  $1000 to put towards student learning.  Amazing water bottles for all the students.  Incredibly, an opportunity to record a 30 second public service announcement ‘commercial’ for a popular radio station in St. Thomas.  These are all incredible opportunities for kids supported by the events’ sponsors.

File_006 (2)Even with all this, I think the most important part of the process was showing students that THEIR work had a real audience outside of our classroom.  Just being invited to an event at an art gallery during an evening and having our film screened was a big win for the grade 4s.  The VIPs would come to the front, one by one, opening golden papers to announce finalists.  Our school name wasn’t spoken until the end.  Then the photograph time started!  We posed for photos for 15 minutes.  Within the hour their success was tweeted about, posted on facebook, and official statements were collected for the papers.  A REAL audience. Powerful stuff.

The money will go to purchase more iPads.  Without them, our stop motion animations wouldn’t have happened in the first place.  They have become the go-to tool for creative endeavors in and outside of my classroom (yahoo to their portability!).  Then the phone call came to book time with myFM 94.1 to arrange a recording time for our 30 second radio spot.  That’s when the excitement started all over again.

We practiced for 30 minutes prior to recording time and got pumped up for the experience. We went up to the room where the myFM set up captured the interest of the students and set the tone for the event.

We did 3 recordings.  The first was our 30 second commercial.  The earlier practice paid off and we got the recording we wanted on the first attempt!  What a great feeling – a real collaborative success!  We then recorded the full length song, including the spoken lines near the end.  Nailed it on the first try as well!  We were able to listen to the playback immediately and watch as the production crew manipulated pitch and amplitude of the sound waves (a perfect science link for grade four).  Finally, the myFM team had the students co-create a typical radio ad with sound effects, background music, and attention-grabbing vocals.  We talked about audience, purpose, and the ins and outs of radio advertising.  All in all, a great hour of learning and creating!

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So how did it all turn out?  The 30 second spot, the full song (which will play one day during regular rotation!) and the practice commercial were fine-tuned at the station and sent back. They sound so great.

There’s something so satisfying about an idea becoming a successful final product. Students literally found their voice, and for two weeks their audience is in the 10s of thousands.  Incredible.

30 Second Commercial Audio

Full version

Having Fun Creating an Ad

A huge thank you to the sponsors for a meaningful experience that these 9 and 10 year olds will never forget.

Canada 150 Project ‘Portal’

The new google sites makes creating a webpage really fun and truly simple.  I have been collecting student samples of work to share for the national project entitled A Kid’s Guide To Canada and wondering about the cumbersome nature of uploading so many digital works to someone else’s website form.  I want to share as many cool things as we can but was not interested in the administration side of multiple uploads.

Then, brainstorm!

Through the amazing sharing capacity of Google Drive, I was able to upload the samples I wanted to a Google Site that I created.  I uploaded the Google Site link to the A Kid’s Guide to Canada webpage and now I only need to update my Site, not theirs.  What this means is I’m more likely to add fresh content as it is as simple as selecting new videos, photos or other works and inserting them into the existing site.

We’re JUST getting started, but check it out!  Poetry, digital photography manipulation, bilingual green-screen films and heritage artifact memes to come!

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It’s Official ~ #TLLP2017/2018

The 2017-2018 Teacher Learning and Leadership Program proposals have been selected by the Boards and the Ministry has responded with letters of acceptance.  Reading the confirmation email was an almost physical response. So many things are going through my head.  Excitement. Pride. Nervousness (we get budget!).  Most of all, anticipation!

TLLP is all about teachers in the classroom taking on an inquiry project about pedagogy and modern practice.  It’s about making professional literature come to life in a real classroom.  It’s about connecting theory to practice.

It’s about connecting.  Period.  This is a people project.  Peers and professional people, and of course – the little people that live in my primary/junior classroom.  How are they connecting to our math teaching?  Are they on the right path to real world math awesomeness?  Can they outperform Siri?

The application process involved narrowing an area of interest (math, technology, student self-assessment, single point rubrics, student voice) into a path of data collection, professional learning and experimentation in the classroom.  Experimentation!

Crafting a proposal (and an accompanying video sharing our vision for learning and sharing) with my co-lead, Aretta Blue, lead to a question being answered with a question. This seems like a BIG project and there is a rabbit hole element in that the math world is abuzz with renewal at the moment.  So we need to be clear in what we hope to learn and share with others.


We are learners, first and foremost, and do not claim to be math experts.  But we want to be.  We feel that the student voice in the assessment process is crucial, and we know that having choice in how they demonstrate their math thinking empowers kids.  Technology is the tool of now, so a healthy access to iPads to use as a way to share thinking is an environment we are now able to provide.  There are so many opportunities for data collection, and we get to align ourselves with invested educators who relish in sharing, connecting and celebrating. How cool!

We get to take our team of amazing people to conferences that celebrate innovation and the modern student.  We get to share our learning at local and provincial conferences and find ways to excite pre-service teachers at the Faculty of Education.  We will be present online, both in the TLLP community and through twitter and blogging.  We want to connect.  We want our work to be informative.  We have big dreams for our little project!

Colleagues, Instructional Coaches, Board staff, Western Faculty, and twitter peers comprise the larger ‘team’. This will continue to grow.  I am so thankful for this.  We’re just getting started. I’m so very grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference, however little, in a profession that has been so good to me.