A Shift in Thinking…

Have you ever flipped your mindset?!? Have you ever took a different stance on things…tried something outside the box? Well, surprisingly this past Friday during math I was dealt a curveball.

I printed off multiplication worksheets for the students to complete so I could work with a guided math group of students struggling visualizing multiplicative reasoning. Well explaining to students expectations during our instructional block and the tools / tricks of the trade they could utilize (Rekenreks, Number Lines, Hundreds Charts then the digital tools, Mathies apps and Snip) I then turned to remind for the billionth time this year to remember to place names on sheets when I noticed the worksheets had the answers completed for the students….

So ‘deer in the highlights’ I quickly regrouped; as we been discussing showing and explaining your reasoning on how you came to your answer…so the world works in mysterious ways I guess and forced my hand…

I asked students to think backwards / top down….here is the answer explain why / how they got the answer. So, with blank, lined paper and mathies / snip in hand students set to work! Inside my head I thought brilliant boy oh boy you are a fantastic BSer Mr. Archer…more so a fantastic spin doctor?!?! I don’t know either way problem adverted, lets get down to business with the group of students I needed to work with in a guided group.

So, within my guided group we got through and supported the thinking and visualizing I was hoping for; students received and adapted work in a shared manner, then working one question independently discussing a means of working through the question afters within the group (various methods used), then trying a different question and completing successfully as well…all in all go to go back and try on their own now.

While my guided math group worked diligently for 10-15 students at desks didn’t question, dispute or fear the task at hand; which upon reflecting on my assigned task (regrouped at that) I though yikes this could have been dismal. But, while walking around viewing, listening to snips and seeing the reasoning I was flabbergasted with the ‘new mindset’ my students have now adapted INTO.

Now, we have trialed and worked since September to become innovative and collaborate within, developing a mindset to successfully problem solve the worlds problems. Friday I seen it in action; students began networking into groups working on what method or tool ‘worked for them’ there were groups using Rekenreks, hundreds charts, some duals using pictures of circles and then we had a few using Snip and Mathies on BYOD’s and classroom computers.

A flipped mindset requires flexibility in pedagogy; a goal but also the somewhat difficult ability to release yourself from being the director and becoming the guide / coach / supporter in the journey. Tough for me at first but my goal in this blog is to share that the results are fantastic and amazing to see!

Peers became co-leaders / teachers in their own respects networking with each other, sharing their successes with others not using particular tools and or methods. The students then were trying each others ways or methods that they were not using before to solve the answer….the astonishing part…be ready for it…undirected to do so by myself the students jointly showed, then selected and worked through an answer (new student doing it, the other supporting along the way) just as I was doing with a guided group myself. Can you see it?!? What is transpiring?? A flipped mindset!

Why not use the power and abilities of all within a class; there is not ONE be all end all director in a collaborative mindset innovative classroom. My goal of becoming a new wave innovative teacher that instills this method of learning within students became a reality this Friday. Honestly I thought it was a long shot…this morning while having my coffee, getting my twins ready for dance the light blub lit and tears began to flow.

Success is in the mind of the beholder, reflect always! Always be flexible, listen to and give students the opportunity to soar and become a leader; Blooms says to thoroughly learn and grasp a concept you need to share and or teach it, which now my students are doing it!

A shift in thinking is soooooo worth it….give it a try and watch the magic set in!! Please share your experiences with me as I love hearing about the subtle yet miraculous miracles within classrooms!!


Innovation and Invention in STEM Learning

Wow – wihat an amazing day we had today! S. Mattice and I have two wonderful Nipissing Teaching Students; Presley Sibbick and Joe Bishop whom went above and beyond with a fantastic day of STEM learning at their home campus on Wellington in Brantford.

Working diligently with Dr. William’s our Nipissing Rockstars created, implemented and infused a love for innovation with their fantastic itinerary!

We began the day listening to Kid President https://youtu.be/75okexRzWMk which is an incredibly cute video introducing innovative ideas for new inventions. Please watch – adorably cute!!

The kids were told they would explore Canada’s; Brantford’s own ‘Innovative Expert’ Alexander Grahm Bell’s invention of the telephone and how it grew and became what smartphones are today over time with new innovations and changes when working together collaborating.

After they explored a walkie talkie, the old phone, pagers and another Canadian Innovation the ‘Blackberry’ #Canada150 we had time to regroup and plan a new twist or swing on a current piece of technology and make it more innovative and invent a ‘new model’ or something that could help current models perform better.

Now, I am not 100% sure how things went down in the 4/5 room but if it occurred anything like the grade 3 classroom, the collaboration, teamwork, planning was inspiring and amazing to watch grow from a basic pre-made device / tool to incredible additions and or new models.

In grade 3 we seen ‘solar slides’ to help charge phones and reduce electricity charges on hydro bills, a fantastic new photo / facetime and candy dispensing walkie talkie (everyone loves candy from time to time!!), a refurbished recycled enhanced photo phone called ‘relens’ that enhances photo capabilities in any smart device (yes its universal for all to enjoy) and an amazing new way to chat virtually with people in a ‘coffee house type setting’ with eye glasses type viewers! ….can anyone say Halo Lens?!?!

In the grade 4/5 room we seen a twist on Drones with a ‘plane viewer’ that could be operated from a smart device that takes photos too, since people still love their planes and they are faster too! We also seen a warming sleeve or cooling sleeve for phones in the winter / summer to prevent battery damage and loss. I feel bad but I forget the other few innovations, however I know upon leaving that room I was blown away with our amazing innovative minds at Hagersville Elementary!

Ms. S and Mr. B out did themselves and provided all the students needed to explore, excel and create amazing innovative inventions for Canada’s new wave inventors in our 150 year of celebration!

From my end of things I loved hearing the collaboration and teamwork, people utilized each others strengths well recognizing weaknesses too, all students were included within the team effort from bottom (creating a concept) to top (designing and presenting).

The power of collaboration and team work with problem solving in action was at play today. Its incredibly heartwarming to watch lights ignite in young peoples minds when they are told ‘This is YOUR concept’ this became their baby, their goal and ultimately their mark in time…becoming an inventor is powerful, but innovating is remarkable!

I went into the day with itinerary in hand with pre-conceived thoughts and notions and expectations; which happily I can and will admit were far too basic for these amazing kids! The kids with the support from Ms. S and Mr. B flew and soared far past my expectations! I loved watching the art of collaboration take hand…..the inquiry, experimentation, adaption and end product was exceptional! I know by explaining the day my words are not doing it justice….I wish the day was filmed ….a sway will come….soon as Ms. S and Mr. B put it together, but witnessing the events was remarkable!

Hats off to the Nipissing Rockstars; Ms. S and Mr. B and a HUGE thanks for Dr. Williams and the amazing volunteer Nipissing teaching students giving up a day of their reading week to come out and provide elementary kids with a fantastic learning experience!

Also another HUGE thanks to the kids at Hagersville Elementary for provide Ms. Mattice and I with an inspiring day of watching flowers bloom and grow beyond expectations!! Way to go kids!!

Stay tuned for the awesome Sway to come…..interested in a STEM Day?!?! touch base with @MissSibbick @MrJBishop95 they are working on a fantastic Onenote Binder that all could use to create a STEM club at your school! They are tidying up final touches (yes meticulous they are….but you know its going to be amazing)….watch these two Grand Erie….shooting stars and as one of my favourite people Ruth Mills would say ‘Champions of STEM’!!

#MiEExpert Inquiry & Learning

So I have been hooked; I have been immersed and thoroughly engaged into a new enlightened world of teaching. Over the coarse of the last few years; I put a new 5 year plan in place which was to become thoroughly involved in tech to enhance my teaching pedagogy, enhance parental involvement and most of all student engagement!

The 21 century is amazing; the tech is making our job as educators so much easier to share, present and immerse students into learning, but it also has made it much easier to enhance professional development as well! I have been part of the Microsoft Educator Community for over a year now; which has enhanced my professional growth and usage of various types of technology within the classroom with my students!

During the summer I spent countless hours immersing myself within the various courses, earning badges and certificates all of which are like scars for me; they show my growth and development, but since September I have new badges and certificates that I am honored to share; they are my students. Each of my kids (yes I call them my kids) have various entry points at which we began with in September; we have had many trials and tribulations with the Microsoft O365 Account; learning the tools and programs and how they would support / help and create more engagement in the curriculum!

This week we have explored Onenote Classroom Notebook. Now, this is a fairly abstract concept however using various analogies and lots of question / answer sessions we have a thorough understanding now in which we are going to begin branching out and continue our growth in @archer3’s into our flipped paperless inquiry driven technological classroom. Now, the next big barrier…..the dreaded ‘I-Word’ Internet Connectivity! In our rural school the speed and connection can be a large degree of frustration, but we are moving ahead and will problem solve collaboratively as we have all year to date!

Without sharing the whole story since September we have explored Sway, Office Mix / Powerpoint, Microsoft Forms, Word (lots of cool new features), Twitter, Skype (Virtual Field Trips, Guest Speakers, Author Read Alouds, Networking / Sharing with others various Math Number Talks, Mystery Skypes), Office Lens, numerous coding programs within code.org, box island, scratchjr, minecraft etc….to name a few, Onedrive and Onenote (Learning Tools) recently – we are becoming more and more fluent with the awesome tools now!

We have partaken in Skypethon, Hour of Code and networked outside the classroom and offer ‘Afterhours Parent Tech Night’ which started for OUR parents and now has expanded to OUR SCHOOLS parents….which is awesome!!

The transformation is incredible watching the trials and tribulation become less and less; and also watching the parents now partake and learning along side us and enhance their understanding of programs within the Microsoft Suite!

I have to say on the way home tonight I felted whipped, tired and exhausted (reports, IEP’s go home tomorrow too, so that may be part of it) but reflecting upon things I now feel exhilarated and very proud of my kids and even more so with the parents for trying and working so hard! I have weekly Sways sent via email / text etc….from students and get this…..parents too! Talk about powerful, talk about making one feel awesome….when I see, recieve and share what my kids and parents are doing I am incredibly humbled and amazed with their growth! Way to go everyone!

Now, looking ahead I am so very excited to go above and beyond this and expand even more into our transition to a paperless room using Onenote Classroom / Notebook and O365 Groups. The possibilities are endless within Onenote; Differientiated Instruction to the ‘enth’ degreee here we come!! The Learning Tools (Immersive Reader and Dictation Features) will help my programming become easier as my 8 of 16 students on IEP’s have the DI built right within Onenote to access materials, inquires and experiences I will provide moving ahead!

Just thought of another perk….no more carrying a large load of marking to and from work; everything is now digital and saved within Onenote or Onedrive…..no more head aches that the dog (or little brother / sister) ate my homework! So excited!!

How did we get here since September?!!? Three Words; Microsoft Educators Community….my involvement and learning within the community has brought me to becoming a Digital Lead Learning within the Grand Erie District School Board; a Microsoft Certified Educator, Microsoft Surface Expert, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert in the Digital World.

I have immersed myself into a new wave digital transformation using the O365 tools and programs; I have taken my students and now even bringing their parents along for the ride….as mentioned before the leaps and bounds in growth is awesome to be part of; as an educator this is the main goal, but as a ‘Techie Nerd’ this is so fantastic to watch too!

Reflecting is key, reflecting is so important; I share and try to instill this in my students (kids) and teaching students from (Nippising / Brock / Mohawk / indispire) – reflection is the be all and end all as I see it! Without it we only see what we do, not we will create, enhance, share and create…I honestly never thought of myself venturing into becoming a ‘blogger’, but now reflecting upon that I guess I am transitioning into one as well, possibly not sure but thinking maybe!?!?!

Anyways by writing this blog posting I am hoping MicrosoftEdu sees, hears and feel the passion that my students, parents and I have felt this year using their incredible tools and programs! I am so honored to share with others that I AM an Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, this is a fantastic thing to get behind!!

Thanks for the ride, but lets not stop here….anxious to see what the future holds for us all!!

Write to Give….and so much more!

So, this year we have ventured into uncharted waters into a fantastic Foundation called ‘Write to Give’. This foundation works with World Teacher Aid to provide fantastic new books for those less fortunate.

Archer’s 3’s have signed up; wrote a few different parts of various stories (helping out when there are holes to be filled) to make sure books are being put together including all sections; beginning with characters and setting, the problem, solution and ending along with an illustration classroom too. A total of five classrooms work together to complete one book.

When I originally read the requirements and what the foundation was trying to do for students in Kenya I was immediately hooked! I strongly recall a cruise my wife and I took to the Caribbean many moons ago, one port we stopped off at was Honduras and we walked into two where a group of kids took us to their school! That was an eye-opener, and humbling experience; something I have not nor ever will forget! Being part of Write to Give allows e to revisit a past experience and touch on and help students / kids such as the ones we met in Honduras.

I actually became a Write to Give Teacher Ambassador; recruiting a team of 4 more educators to create an entire book. I recruited two more educators a couple weeks in to help other teams of five whom required a classroom to be added in; also writing two more sections wih my own class as well.

Looking back to date; it seems like a lot but in reality is really wasn’t! Seeing what Amy and Carey (The Leaders / Founders of this amazing cause) how they took a concept and grew it immensely to something quite remarkable is something incredible to see and most of all be part of this year!

My students have seen the video’s, they have been touched and humbled in the process; reflecting upon their own experience at school and sincerely appreciate what we have! We have had many conversations surrounding others less fortunate and they have become much more aware of the people around them within their own communities and the incredible transformation in personal values / beliefs I have seen within my kids is something amazing to watch and see as well.

Now getting right into the HEART of the experience; the writing of it is where we had some awesome conversations and changes as well.

My students are reluctant writers; so when I seen this pop up I thought this would be a fantastic catcher; motivator for them! So, while writing our section in our teams book (the problem) we analyzed what another classroom provided for us as a basis. Characters and setting was already in place now we focused and dialed in on creating a problem (which until this section was complete my students did not understand nor include within written stories) so the reflection of another classroom; brought my students understanding of ‘the problem’ to light……

Another amazing feat was that before we sent it off; we reviewed our section and also tried to predict what another class writing the solution would write….reflect on this and see IF this IS where we would like OUR story to go….well, this altered things quite a bit; we revisited our section and almost guided the next classroom into what could / should be written. Ready for the amazing part…..what was written was very close to what we predicted….the characters still developed within the book as we predicted and even the ‘solution’ written by the next class lead directly into our ‘hopes’ for the ending of the book as well.

Reflecting is powerful for teachers; but to teach the art of reflection to grade 3 students is something ‘transformative’ as the kids now are eager and requesting writing pieces (we just recently had storytelling speeches which turned out so much stronger and amazing then I thought I would see), seeking times to write on their own creating stories, and also more letters to their Pen Pals in Langton.

Writing which was so so so painful has now become fluent, easy and something not feared! Writing has become a way to share, discuss and analyze things around the kids. Less teacher directed and so much more guided; most of the time I am sitting back listening to peers reflect on their friends writing and walking through the steps we walked through with Write to Give. So, powerful, so remarkable and such a fantastic experience to take your students too!

You ARE helping others in Kenya; you are making a  difference in a Third World Country BUT you DO and WILL make so much more even happen within your own room! I hope all who read through this at least consider visiting the Write to Give Website at www.writetogive.com – see what it is about, and consider joining such a power learning experience in more ways then one!!

I WILL definitely be partaking again next years and all the many years ahead during my educational journey with my students, colleagues and friends!! You all should too!!


Something ‘Epic’ has occurred!

So, this year I decided to go ahead with another year of ‘Epic’ Reading within my grade 3 classroom!

Epic is an amazing online (also offline – if resources are saved within individual student libraries). I am super lucky to have such an amazing group of eager digital-aged students with the classroom, as they have taken to this program something fierce!! We began using Epic in October and I challenged kids to reach 500 books prior to Christmas (which they reached within the month) so I set the bar higher and made it 1000 with an incentive of a pizza party! Kids and pizza…well long story short we reached 1000 mid December.

We reached out and skyped with Epic founder and program developer! Kids had some great questions but even better suggestions on how to improve the program. Epic listened and adapted and have made some changes! We are currently sitting at 1251 books read, totalling 201 + hours of reading within my room!

We use it as our At Home Reading program, also in our guided reading and silent reading using BYOD within the classroom! Kids bought in quickly, easily and challenge one another on a daily bases! We have some students very close to 200 books!

Such an amazing program BUT….today I seen the true magic and miracle at work that Epic founded in one of my students!!

I have a rather ‘chatty’ lady in my room; very shy and self-conscious in regards to reading. A very sweet gal but when the word ‘reading’ arises in September I would see a complete shut down. Over the last few months a bit of a transformation and a new mindset arose within this lady!

Within her LLI (Levelled Literacy Intervention) Resources Reading group she began to become much stronger within the small group, actually surpassing the others and having to be adapted for within the group due to her excelling! Within the classrooms guided reading groups confidence arose and she began supporting others within her group sounds words out, her fluency in reading improved and her retells followed, DRA level has risen! I bet you are all thinking wow that’s amazing….well yes, but I have yet to get to the best part!!!!

A couple weeks ago I introduced the dreaded S-word; ‘Speeches’ – my god, that word still haunts me even as a speaker for digital learning as a DLL and MIEE (Digital Lead Learner and Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator hosting afterhours training and professional development for other Grand Erie Board Employee’s!! The kids freaked…..especially my ‘chatty friend’ I now call ‘Gabby’!

Speeches in Grade 3 are more ‘Storytelling’ of a favourite story. We went to library and discussed great books that would be engaging; Robert Munsch-type stories that are funny, interactive and use lots of tone and voice to direct feelings and emotions and meaning within text. Students took out various books; but Gabby was very flabbergasted and I actually had to pick something for her, as she was NOT into this assignment and task at all. The next day (maybe it was a couple days later) she asked to be taken back to library for another book, and again within the teaching block. Boy oh boy Gabby was driving me nuts!!

I got a text from Mom and Dad one evening asking IF it were possible to use Epic Books?!?! Absolutely – brilliant this IS Gabby’s ‘Go-To’ so sure freedom and reigns released, she set on task!

Today was the first day of Story-telling / Speeches; the 5 students going today (days were picked last week) were extremely nervous, one even almost in tears! After a pep-talk in the hall we were on our way. Then the miracle occurred; Gabby asked if instead of doing her Storytelling tomorrow if she could do it today?!?! Huh….very shocked and blown away; I let her go!

My shy, self-conscious, reluctant reader in September transformed before my eyes! she walked up to front of room with confidence and asked if everyone was ready; smile on face, not a cue card in hand. Confidence beaming from those determined eyes and grin that was ear to ear!! She made it her moment, she rocked the stage and socks off of many, including myself!

You know something magical happens when 9-11 year olds clap and shout after a ‘speech’ or I should say quite possibly the performance of the year! This one would be the ‘highlight of the night’ on a teachers ‘Sports Center’ this was incredible to witness, see and be part of!

Within the first 10-15 seconds I was hooked, drawn and mezmorized by the icon that of which Gabby became today! Unconscious of what emotionally was happening to myself I looked down at my grading rubric at the conclusion of the ‘performance’ and it was wet from tears I did not realized were dripped from my face! I actually had to use another rubric…and trying to be judgemental and critical (which was so, so hard after what I seen or should say experienced) trying to find holes within her work as a teacher I found myself becoming much more!

Teaching is a fantastic profession! We get to see miracles occur, today I witnessed something special! Today as a teacher I was emotionally proud of her accomplishment to excel, succeed and become supremely confident in her self! As a parent I thought ‘Wow – this is something I want my kids to experience themselves’ I shared her success with Mom and Dad via text; I was asked if I recorded it (darn high expectations from ed tech); which unfortunately I did not. I have a hunch this may be a bit better then a recording!

Being a parent is difficult; we see our kids struggle and we want to help as much as possible. I know Gabby’s Mom and Dad work very hard after hours with her! Today their hard work paid off!!

I have to give a HUGE shout out to Epic for providing a fantastic program that this little lady used to find; “Sleeping Beauty 100 Years Later” this app I know has caused Mom and Dad grief before bed as Gabby has to just read one more book or finish the story she is reading, but soooo worth it!!

To Gabby; aka Jordyn Stallwood (and yes, I have parents approval to share her name – she earned this anyways) and even BIGGER SHOUT OUT today WOW YOU ROCKED IT GIRL! I did not foresee, nor expect to witness that today! Keep reading honey, drive Mom and Dad nuts with ‘One more book’ its working for you – always remember the hard work you put in (even when those tears emotionally take over) is SOOOOO WORTH IT!!

Super proud to say today that we use EPIC in GRADE 3 and after 6 fantastic Storytelling performances I am emotionally charged to get to March Break now!! hehehe jk

Way to go Jorydn….I hope Mom and Dad read this as my only regret was not being able to share this moment in more detail for them to experience YOUR MOMENT!