#MSFTInclusED Reflection Upon the Past with Inclusive Ed.

February is one of my favourite months of the year, report cards go out…get a little relief and some new units, inquiries, experiments and whatnot going within the classroom. Just that first rejuvenation, and or breath of new fresh air is a relief….not to mention the days get a little longer as the sun begins to go down a little later in the evening as well!

This year its a little more so pleasant as I begin reflecting and thinking about what Microsoft Canada is promoting and getting behind with its #MSFTInclusEd program http://bit.ly/2BURpp7, Which you can check out here. So, thinking ahead throughout the month I want to make the #Inclusive Education piece prominent as an educator it is so key and so important. Therefore I was thinking a reflection upon the past, present, future and finally a final reflection during the four weeks of February, based upon Inclusive Ed and Accessibility for students.

Before I jump into my first reflection piece from the past I want to briefly share a blog posting by Luara McKenna on edutopia.org (which is a fantastic sight for educators to read, reflect and think). Here is the link shared by my friend Brian Aspinall; http://bit.ly/2BTIxjK

based on ‘Will Letter Grade Survive’? I know, I know at first thought you are probably thinking how does this apply to Inclusive Ed…well here it comes. Within the blog it indicates; “Competency-based education is a growing movement driven by educators and communities focused on ensuring that students have the knowledge they need to flourish in the global economy” and an executive officer indicating that; “The future of jobs and the workforce will demand a new set of skills, and students capacity to solve complex problems for an unknown future will be essential” which if anyone whom knows me I totally agree! This is why I love the computational thinking and coding movement as it exemplifies and provides a fantastic means for students to begin using, working with and learning new 21st competencies (which can be found here http://bit.ly/2nnuOxv)

As Laura indicated within her blog; “Grading systems right now are demoralizing and is designed to produce winners or losers” and that; “The purpose of education is not to sort kids – its to grow kids…..but with grade, teachers turn into judges”. My theory has always been student first, recently in the past two years I have adapted my professional pedagogy to provide feedback and not grades. That is not to say I do not grade students; I do but they need not to know the final grade, they read into the feedback. The only time they see a grade is IF parents let them see their report cards; which I strongly encourage parents not to do, only provide feedback as well. Now, my leap into the past for the #MSFTInclusEd piece….(I may sound like a leap into something else but keep reading please).

I remember one of my very first experiences in education in a very difficult classroom of Mixed Exceptionalities (anything from behaviour to Learning Disabled, MID, Developmentally Delayed, Austism etc…the list goes on and on) also grades 4 to 8. This was an eye opening experience for me, but the beginning of when and why I used my Masters Thesis; Education for ALL using Technology.

So, now my case study; I remember one unit we dived into like it was yesterday. We were investigating the future and jobs students wished they could and would consider doing. One lady was really struggling, which caught me off guard a bit as most kids love the fun police, fire fighter, doctor, vet type jobs….but she couldn’t decide. She was caught in a moral dilemma, as her grandmother, mother and elder sister all were unable to perform in school due to minor intellectual struggles and could not obtain a highschool diploma nor ever hold a job. They all receive government assistance to live and this girls ultimately said I will never amount to anything, therefore I will just do what my family has done in the past.

Yikes, heart dropped, then broke and I really struggled with the notion of early defeat and not an ounce of hope. It was my mission from that point onward to make the possibility of an education hopeful for this student.

Jumping into the inclusive education pieces years ago is a bit of a struggle as we did not have the many resources and applications that Microsoft O365 suite now offers use, but there was technology….simple things such as word and the ability to spell check was key. We also used Dragon Voice Dictation to place thoughts, feelings and brainstorming ideas on paper (as she could barely write a 4-5 word sentence in grade 4). These two simple tools became her go to’s, however she was reluctant at first, but lots and lots and lots of persistence from me, she began to use them daily! She actually started training others within the class in the same manner that she was with me. She started to obtain a voice within herself, begun advocating with other teachers during ‘integration’ periods for gym / health and science. They seen a new ‘student’ then what they previously knew.

These two simple yet powerful tools to provide her with the ability to be included eventually lead her to a 90% inclusion by the end of the first school year with me in regular classes….the other 10% was always a check in with myself and my EA’s at the time. The inclusiveness became empowering and this girls self-confidence, self-esteem and even the way she walked altered drastically. I remember asking her at the end of the year what she wanted to do as a job when she grew up; the answer was instant…..so many things! She went on and on for five minutes and then stopped….and said much more then before Christmas eh?!!? Enough said….

Now going back to the notion of grades. This particular student was obsessed and so driven by past failures and told she was / would never amount to anything…..it was ingrained within her! She was instilled and thoroughly believed there was no hope for her! So, my question is why define kids by a grade…..what are we actually doing by giving kids an actual letter or numerical value!?!? Nothing but problems….it was demoralizing for this girl and designed her to be a consistent loser. We need to dive into the unique abilities of each student within our rooms, provide them with the means of becoming inclusive dispite struggles and or issues they may have…..empower and be that person for them!

My goal has always been to be that teacher; I remember Mrs Kinnear, Mr. McAurther, Ms Field and all the things they did for me when I struggled as an IEP student myself. I spent most of the time in the resource room. Becoming that teacher allowed me to meet the needs of all my students; and in this case got me an invite to grade 8 graduation even though I left the school two years before. Watching her strut across the stage with her certificate was awesome especially seeing the smile on her face….best part was she told me she was going to be integrated into regular classes in highschool when she started in the fall because SHE requested it and proved to her teachers whom advocated on her behalf too!

The power of Inclusion is remarkable! It can make a significant difference in peoples lives…I am looking forward to this Spring….it will be this gal’s final year in HS, I am hopeful, wishing I get that call again to see the ear to ear grin as she gets her diploma this time around proving to her family and others, but mostly to herself that hard work pays off and that SHE CAN amount to anything she sets her mind too!!

Thanks for listening!

 

 

#CodeBreaker Tweetmeet…

Well I wish I could say I was surprised….but as always Brian Aspinall never let us down! If you do not already follow Brian I would highly suggest it, you can do so here https://twitter.com/mraspinall Within his twitter handle you can also find links to his website which contains endless resources, videos, blog postings etc…as well!

After writing and getting his amazing #CodeBreaker Book published he launched the first ever #CodeBreaker #tweetmeet this morning at 9 am (You can order here) http://amzn.to/2DxFjHG

This tweetmeet was awesome, meeting more people and listening to how they are exploring and using #coding within the classroom! The host was none other then THE MAN Steven Isaacs whom is a legend in my opinion! Here is the Storify of this meet if you missed it….https://twitter.com/mraspinall/status/954728123773411330 It was even trending on Twitter….I had mentioned to Brian before hand wouldn’t it be cool if you get a Best Seller Book (which he did) AND get the First ever #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet Trending (Which he did as well) in one year?!?

Brian will be continuing #CodeBreaker Tweetmeets every 3rd Saturday at 9 am for 30 minutes of stimulating conversations, sharing and showcasing the world of #Coding and #ComputationalThinking

Working within Grand Erie District School Board and infusing a love and passion to explore Computational Thinking and Coding is a passion of mine! I see so much value and endless possibilities to provide incredible learning experiences and possibilities for future careers and success in all aspects of life! You learn so much from coding, such as decomposing hard tasks into manageable problems to tackle, seeing pattern recognition and how to apply pre-learned material to and throughout other aspects of life and problems in coding too, abstraction, algorithms and iterations as my friend Derek Tangredi loves sharing and talking about. Most of all for me Coding and Computational Thinking teaches kids that while in the process of learning (all aspects and curriculum areas) it is totally ok and common to fail, and fail often….within those failures we explore and learn deeper and be able to apply this learning later in life! Failure is attempts in learning as I learned from friends….I see its value now and I am passionate about sharing this with others and infusing / instilling this into Ss, Ts and people in all aspects of life!

When life throws you lemons, you don’t get handed lemon aide for free! You need to face those challenges and the ‘vehicle’ of #coding #computational thinking provides you with the ability to use those Transferable Skills to anything and everything you face throughout your life! People….you are NOT ENTITLED to ANYTHING! You need to WORK FOR EVERYTHING therefore, fail but BE RESILIENT in doing so! This is the #OneWord (please see this blog posting http://sites.granderie.ca/jarcher/2017/12/31/my-oneword-for-2018/)for my #Oneword.

Coding teaches kids, adults and all learners to be RESILIENT and IF nothing else, this should be more then enough for ALL Ts and Parents to inspire to try, and infuse a passion in their children and students to try too!

I am incredibly excited for the next #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet on Saturday Feb 17th as I will be hosting for Brian! Looking forward to some awesome chatter and showcasing some cool projects Ss created and items that people can take away and try out immediately within their classrooms!

So mark those calendars; Saturday, February 17th, 9 am (30 minutes) @ArcherJoe hosting #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet # 2…yahoo

Until next time…

Canconnect 2017; forethought’s…

Well here I am sitting work diligently on day plans for this week, highly anticipating the week ahead as I walk into my second experience with Canconnect in Niagara Fall in 2017.

Last year was overwhelming to say the least! I was there for two incredible days of learning and networking with other professionals. That was the beginning of my personal growth in usage of technology! To see some of the remarkable stuff people were doing with tech in the classroom was unbelievable! This is when I changed my perspective and  pedagogical practise to utilize, incorporate and infuse technology and SMAR practices within my grade 3 classroom!

This week I say good bye to Presley an amazing Nipissing Teaching Student who will become something spectacular in the near future, as did a former student; Nicolas Reynolds has! Tuesday, along with Presley and a small groups of students and their parents we will meet his excellency The Governor General David Johnston with the work in STEM and Innovation our students have been so involved and engaged within! Then to top things off, I head to Niagara for another amazing event at Canconnect!

I have to say I am very lucky and very fortunate, and I know without the support of m amazing administrator; Janice Hughes a lot of the achievements and success I have had with my students would not have been possible! Aligning yourself with greatness is the biggest thing that has helped me progress in my professional growth and developement; from Janice, Nipissing teaching students, High-school Co-op, colleagues and not to mention twitter PLNs, I am lucky to be with such amazing supportive people!

Looking ahead at Canconnect I am excited to learning again from Brian Aspinall with Minecraftedu, Martha and Dustin Jez from Fair Chance Learning (are always energetic and their enthusiasm for tech is contagious). I am looking forward to learning from Lisa Floyd, Michelle Cordy, Kyle Kitchen and thoroughly look forward to learning how I can ‘Teach like a Jedi Knight’ from Regalado Vasques!!

The event brings in the best of the best and next year I am hoping to speak and present with the best of the best when I reach a goal I set for myself!

I do have to throw in a shameless plug; I am speaking at the Ignite Session Thursday night, which is awesome! Looking forward to hearing from Steven Floyd, Kaylyn Dorland, Johnathan So, Joanna Bull and so many more including Brian Aspinall again (kind of my techie idol right now).

I am also super excited to share that I get to represent Hagersville Elementary School and the Grand Erie District School Board and receive the Classroom Innovators Award this year on Thursday!

I created and made a OneNote Canconnect Binder which is set and ready to rock and roll as well. This binder is shared and will be used in the future for all! If interested in joining and sharing your learning while at Canconnect within this binder which you can and will have access to till 2018 Canconnect.

Well; one day to go and eagerly anticipating another fantastic learning experience similar to the E2 event in Toronto last month! It looks like another spectacular event, hats off to all you who worked so hard at planning, those presenting and to the many volunteers working the event too!

Stay tunned for my blog at the conclusion of the event!

Eerie Elementary; A Character Study…

Ok guys and gals!

(Wednesday’s Work);

Sam

Lets chat about Sam and Mr. Nekoibe from Jack Chabert’s novel Eerie Elementary ‘The School is Alive’. I would like to know your thoughts and feelings about one or the other or both. I would like you to make a connection to one of the characters and explain why as well! So, let do this thing! What do you think troops?!?!

 

Hello Blogging-verse

Welcome to my brand new blog!!

This is part of a great pilot program being launched in Grand Erie that I was extremely excited to be part of!!

This is where you will find stimulating thoughts, stories and situations within the school environment that I hope people will use to reflect, collaborate and innovate themselves!

This space will not only be for entirely myself, but also stories from my students, colleagues and friends as well.

Thanks for taking an interest, I hope you come back to visit, share and learn all the while having a few good laughs too!

 

Mr. J. Archer

Email: joseph.archer@granderie.ca

Twitter: @ArcherJoe

B.A., Arts, M.ED, E.C.E

Digital Lead Learner in Grand Erie

Remind Connected Educator

Husband, Father of Three Crazy Kids

Norfolk Station #2 Fire Fighter 218