Lorna Jackson Public School Blog

New frontiers for new learning

Category Archives: Staff professional learning

Reflecting, learning, sharing

On March 7, 2014, our staff engaged in a day of learning during our Professional Activity Day. The day was divided into three 100 minute learning blocks just like the students experience each day, but with a focus on our School Improvement Plan.P.A. Days are one of the many ways we engage in ongoing professional learning as a staff.

Numeracy

Our opening block provided us time to focus on mathematics. Our board has recently created a “Math Frame” whose components help to guide our overall work in numeracy, including: commitment, planning, assessment, engagement, instruction and relationships. We considered our own work within the frame and discussed next steps for us as a staff. We also had the opportunity to look at Ministry of Education research, including the article Supporting Numeracy: Building a Community of Practice.

Social Studies, History and Geography

In September 2014, our board will fully implement the revised Social Studies, History and Geography curriculum in our classrooms. We had the opportunity to examine what is new in the curriculum and compare it with our present work and understandings. The opening pages of the curriculum are interesting to explore as we did, particularly the concepts of disciplinary thinking (pg 13). We reflected on how inquiry based learning is an integral component of the curriculum. Our French teachers’ team was also able to spend time examining the recently revised French curriculum that has similarities as well.

staffartProvocations, art and inquiry

Our afternoon concluded with a very special session led by one of our Designated Early Childhood Educators Ms. Theis. She was able to guide us through various art experiences that allowed us to learn and explore visual arts. The session used “provocations” to get us thinking, reflecting and inquiry in variety of ways linked to variety of curricular areas. Ms. Theis has recently started a professional blog and her inaugural post was about our learning session in the afternoon. Be sure to have a look for more wonderful pictures from the session like the one on left side of this page.

I want to thank all of the staff who helped to facilitate the day of learning and to everyone for their participation throughout the day.

Reflecting, learning, sharing: we ask of it of our students and so too of ourselves.

We look forward to putting the learning into action in the coming months of school.

Onward.

Mr. Collins

Three months

We have now completed our first three months of the school year and already have much to celebrate thanks to excellent focus and initiative by our students, staff and community, including:

welcoming our Elder’s Mills community to our team

The launch of our school touchstone

– Sharing a redesigned Learning Commons

Launching our Green Bin program through our school’s Eco Team

Implementing new technologies into our classrooms and classroom programs

Meeting with parents and guardians to review student’s Progress Report Cards

Our staff exploring professional learning in many ways

Starting to plan for the transition of our grade 8 students to high school

Starting our Roots of Empathy programs

Recognizing Bullying Awareness week

Starting our Healthy Snack program

We have developed a focused start in our classroom programs in the areas of academics, athletics and the arts.

We have had the chance to recognise the work of various employee groups at our school including: our Designated Early Childhood Educators, our care taking team, Educational Assistants and our Administrative Assistants.

Our staff have provided several student leadership and extra curricular opportunities such as our Cross Country Team, The sign language club, library and office helpers, the student Tech Team, our Eco team, Student Council, Boys’ and Girls’ Volleyball, Floor Hockey intramurals, homework club, Lunch room helpers, and our Positive Climates for Learning Committee.

As school community we have given back through our Terry Fox Walk, The Count Me in Project, and our local food bank drive.

We also appreciate the work of our school council with our school this year. Their upcoming Dance-A-Thon will take place on December 13, 2013 and will surely be an enjoyable event. Remember that all parents and guardians are welcome to our meetings. Future meetings will be: January 14, 2014, February 20, 2014, April 22, 2014 and May 29, 2014.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Three short months…

remember when it was only 3 short weeks?

Remember when I asked us to write our story?

How do you think we have done so far?

Onward.

Mr. Collins

The power of collaborative work

Today, a group of staff from our school welcomed a team of staff from Carrville Mills P.S to engage in professional learning in the area of mathematics. The team included curriculum consultants, teachers, Designated Early Childhood Educators and administrators. The staff worked in classrooms that ranged from Kindergarten to intermediate classes. The learning and professional dialogue today was rich and I want to thank the educators who collaborated so effectively together.

As a school we focused on student engagement and enthusiasm to support students in persevering through math tasks. One classroom looked at curricular expectations related to money (ex. value of coins, determining combinations of coins for priced items) and another class looked at reading and interpreting secondary data to draw conclusions. There was time provided to take the curricular expectations and create a learning goal for the lesson we would teach today.

Mathematics is a focus of our School Improvement Plan; so too is job embedded professional learning for our staff. Today we examined research to support our planning such as how our classroom environments can foster math thinking and math talk. We talked about making mathematics real for students and linking it to real world applications wherever possible. Finally, I was impressed with how staff asked questions themselves about what the mathematics instruction should look like and sound like. As teams we spent time planning and then we actually went into two classrooms and co-taught the lessons. At the end, there was time to debrief on what we saw and heard from the students. It was a powerful learning model both for students and for us as adults.

I have said it before, and will say it again: I have the best job in the world. Each day, I get to watch magic happen thanks to our students, staff and community. Today was another fine example of the magic of our collaborative work together.

Onward.

Mr. Collins

Learning: it’s everywhere.

Used with permission under Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/heycoach/1197947341

Used with permission under Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/heycoach/1197947341

We sometimes think of learning as “something that students do”. This week, I also want to share some of the professional learning our staff engages in both inside and outside of our school. The scope of that learning is very wide so I won’t be able to capture every opportunity here, but want to share a few examples with you.

Many of our staff take courses that lead to additional qualifications or certification including: workshops, online courses, conferences, Additional Qualification courses and training sessions. Lots of our staff enjoy reading as a means of professional development that includes: professional books, magazines, publications from professional organizations, and scholarly articles. Staff use online opportunities for learning including: websites, online chat rooms, twitter professional learning teams and e-learning modules. Finally, many of our staff participate in face-to-face learning opportunities such as: after school workshops, book studies, learning networks and even visiting host schools or classrooms. Last weekend, some of our staff participated in our board’s Google Camp  that brought together over 500 staff from across our board.

This year, as an administrative team, Ms Bongard and myself are also supporting job embedded learning opportunities for teams of staff to work collaboratively. So far, three teams have met in teams that have also included our school’s Literacy Teacher and Teacher-Librarian, teachers, Ms Bongard and myself. We have made a commitment to meet early in the year, learn, implement our learning and thinking in our classrooms and then reconvene 6-8 weeks later to monitor our work. We work through a cycle of determining student learning needs, planning, teaching, assessing, evaluating student progress and assessing overall results. It is complex work, but Ms Bongard and myself must say, the sessions so far have been rich. We appreciate the staff’s commitment to building professional learning communities at our school.

Finally, you may wonder what happens on Professional Activity Days that occur throughout the year. This Friday for example, our school will focus on our School Improvement Plan. Our Director, Ken Thurston shared a number of key ideas for our work this year in his annual address at our board’s leadership conference that will also help to frame our work Friday. We will also spend time working in teams, exploring Learning Goals and Success criteria to support student achievement, exploring the questions we ask within our math lessons, planning for differentiation within our work, developing our school’s  “Challenge of Practice” (more to come on this) and examining some new resources we have purchased as a school. And so, the day too will be rich.

One final way we often don’t think about is the learning that happens with students each day. We love the times when, be it a lesson, task or discussion, we learn from and with our students.

Again, it is difficult to capture the wide variety of ways that our staff engages in learning. Perhaps it is best to say “learning, it’s everywhere”.

Please let us know about the learning you engage in.

Mr. Collins