Tag Archives: motivation

Where There are Sparks, There is Fire


Right now, my province is facing the biggest evacuation effort in our history because of wildfires in the North.  More than 13 000 people have been displaced from their homes and their communities and relocated in shelters being taken care of by the Red Cross, the generosity of our people, and other companies and organizations.    My family has a cabin that is located in the middle of some of those fires and miraculously our subdivision has remained unscathed as of yet.  We remain optimistic and hopeful, always knowing that all it takes is a spark of ember to ignite a disaster.  My most sincere thanks and appreciation to all of those men and women who are working to save what they can from Mother Nature’s wrath.

Sparks can cause damage, but after the fire, there will be regrowth and rebuilding.  Nature and the human spirit are both extremely resilient like that.  In our learning, all it takes is a spark to ignite a movement, an activity, or a change in our teaching style.  The sparks that can do that for me and that drive my continued journey as a life-long learning come from a variety of places.

Twitter:  So many good ideas on Twitter!  The people who I follow and who I consider my PLN are so smart and so interesting.  All it takes is an interesting idea and I find myself drawn to research more and make it happen!  Find me here.

Colleagues:  So many talented people doing so many interesting things!  My colleague Bonnie is an absolutely gifted teacher.  She is a Daily 5 Guru, and having seen what she does with that structure I was motivated to learn more, even going to a Daily 5 Conference led by The Sisters.  I love to collaborate with colleagues – some of the best ideas are ones that came up accidentally in a chat session and have created the most memorable experiences for me and for the students!

Real life:  I love being able to take things that are happening in our real world and connect them to my students’ learning, as well as my own.  Often, we are learning together!

Students:  What are the kids interested in?  That often drives how I teach, what I teach, and physical structures in my classroom.  This past year involved a lot of changes in my room as I transformed it to a space that I feel was a better fit for more of my kids.

The thing about sparks is that it takes a very small one to lead to a very big result.  A simple idea becomes a unit.  A student request becomes a project.  An interest becomes a leadership opportunity.

I love when I have an opportunity to try something new.  The small sparks often become wildfires by the time I am done with them!  I love, in this case,  that there is an uncertainty about how it will work out.  I love that I can tell my students, “I’m not sure about this, but let’s give it a go and find out!”  I hope that I am always able to find those sparks to guide me as an educator because if those particular sparks are ever snuffed out, it will be time for me to pack it up.

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Stars are Born!

I believe that we can engage children and have them truly own and demonstrate their learning success by incorporating multimedia learning in the classroom. This belief was reinforced by a few projects that I worked on with a class of Grade One students who I had the pleasure of working with for the past six weeks.

Anytime a child believes he has an audience for his ‘performance’ he will be more engaged and concerned about his production and success. Tell a child that she will be in a movie or on a poster and her eyes will light up. Kids are natural performers. Even the reluctant, shy ones will smile and be excited when they see themselves on the screen or in print.

One of the first activities we did was to create a ‘number hunt’ where the kids had my camera and were in charge of walking around the school to find things that were found in groups of one, two, etc.. After the pictures were taken, I used Sliderocket to put together a presentation that we shared with our class, another class and with the parents and guardians by sending the URL home for them. I was also able to download it and print it so that after it was laminated it became a popular book for the children to read to themselves, reinforcing both counting and number words. Relating to their own environment and relevant objects was important.  You can see our presentation HERE.

On Groundhog Day, we used Wallwisher to record the information that we had learned about groundhogs and the traditions around the day. The kids were thrilled to see their names being recorded on the screen and they again shared the URL with their families at home to re-read and share. We used Wallwisher again when doing a KWL session on nutrition, food,  and reasons that we eat.

We made Photovisi presentations that we printed out to record our 100th day of school activities and our Valentine’s Day fun. The picture stories with their photos were great for retelling events, ordering events and sharing with our school community and children’s homes.

The most fun we had was producing our very short YouTube video showcasing the digraph /sh/. Going through the process of learning about the sound, watching similar project videos by Kathy Cassidy’s students, brainstorming words, preparing our ‘props’, and then the steps of actually producing our video was intriguing, interesting, and motivational. The video was put together using Movie Maker and uploaded to YouTube. The kids felt like superstars! The joy and pride on their faces while watching the finished product was proof that they were invested in it. They truly had tried their very best, knowing that they would have an audience beyond the immediate classmates and teacher. Sharing the product with their parents and guardians was an exciting event!

These kids were amazing writers, actors, directors and producers. They had not had experience with creating these kinds of multimedia presentations and they were eager to be a part of it. Their enthusiasm and pride was evident and they were completely engaged in learning to share what they knew. These projects were fun and engaging and these children were truly ‘stars.’ The knowledge that they could have an audience beyond their classroom was motivating for them. Their desire to show what they knew and teach others was a huge source of pride. They were superstars and I am very proud of them!

This particular school does not have many technological resources. In a Kindergarten to Grade Eight school with approximately 550 students they have 30 laptops for the whole school and one computer per classroom. There are 4 additional computers in the resource center and one interactive whiteboard housed in a Grade 8 classroom. These could be considered limitations but the amazing projects that we were able to create are proof that there are some wonderful tools that allow us to incorporate learning and technology for kids to create with.

The problem that I have seen isn’t a lack of tools but seems to be a lack of teacher engagement with these tools. Is it fear of the new tools or an unawareness of the tools? How do we get more teachers to see the benefits of their use and to take the risk to try them?

Collecting Quotations

I am working on a project that will convince and motivate educators and parents of the importance of global connectivity through digital learning and global education.  Please take a moment to share your favourite quote with me on the following form:

Thank you so much for your help!