On a Learning Journey

The New Normalcy ~ Yong Zhao
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Lockdown Learning

While the world is reeling from CoVID-19, I have been trying to continue my learning journey. For me it started earlier than for some as our return to school in February was cancelled and then we had four months out of school. Between a knee injury and journey back to China and quarantine I ended up with a lot of time on my hands. Before the pandemic hit, I went to Switzerland for an amazing course with Kath Murdoch and was stunned by the beautiful sketchnotes Sarah Hodgson was creating. This is something I had wanted to learn for a long time but I put myself off with my perceived lack of artistic abilities and unwillingness to just have a go.

The new situation we found ourselves in during the pandemic and being home in quarantine or relative lockdown gave me a lot of time to participate in a myriad of free PD opportunities offered to teachers. I also had a new iPad and Apple Pencil I had barely touched so I threw myself in to have a go! Visible thinking in action, practising what I ask my students to do! On this page you see the fruits of my labour and I hope, some progress. I was also wondering about where to keep them as I would like a record of the learning I have been undertaking, aside from the Masters I am studying for, so here they are. I will add the most recent to the top of the list.

So, again thank you to Sarah for the prompt and thank you to everyone who has been providing all of the learning opportunities and bringing educators from all over the planet together in such extraordinary times. There are included below the notes from free webinars that have been offered by Chapters International and the sketchnotes I made whilst participating in an amazing weekend of learning with Toddle TIES – The Inquiry Educators Summit – a weekend of free online PD that had me waking up to start an 10 hour day of learning at 5 am on a Sunday! There were other sessions through the night so I will be adding to these as I catch up with sessions I missed. Watch this space!

The new normalcy: Education post CoVID-19

Chapters International put on a great series of lockdown webinars and Yong Zhao’s was amazing! He is such an engaging speaker and also talked about a need to rethink our curriculum after CoVID but more radically than perhaps others had suggested. His thinking around getting the students to go beyond problem-solving to creating the problems and identifying issues themselves.

The New Normalcy: Education Post CoVID-19 ~ Yong Zhao

Same game, new playbook

Kevin Barlett led a final Keynote of the evening (final for me, due to the timezones!) for Toddle TIES. Kevin talked about education at a next level, taking learner agency to the next steps and moving beyond the constraints of timetables and age groupings. He talked about the creation of a common language for learning and the role of the teacher becoming more that of a coach. The key takeaways for me were designing learning around the why, what, how and the evidence.

Same game, new playbook ~ Kevin Bartlett

Something I think many of us do but it was good to hear it being explicitly stated. The most important thing to me though, was the reminder that we should never define a child by what they are not, not ever!

Designing engaging and rigorous learning experiences

The next Toddle TIES workshop session was from Maggie Hos-McGrane. She led us through her thinking about using Bloom’s Taxonomy to raise the level of learning and what we are asking of the students. The part that resonated with me was combining the SAMR model with Blooms’s Taxonomy to add rigour to learning and go further than ‘tell me about…’. This fits well with work we have been doing developing Rubrics of Understanding, based on the work of Tania Lattanzio and Andrea Mueller in their book Taking the Complexity out of Concepts, combined with elements of Solo Taxonomy.

Designing engaging and rigorous learning experiences ~ Maggie Hos-McGrane

This session was particularly pertinent for those teachers still in remote learning situations and important as we look at possible blended models going forward.

Designing for a new world starts at school

Rosan Bosch led us through an inspirational Keynote in Toddle TIES looking at the use of space in education. Her designs are breath-taking and her enthusiasm for what she does was palpable. She stated that, “design is the art of seduction” and her designs for collaborative and open spaces, with quiet areas, spaces for play and exploration, creativity and so on allow us to imagine school in a whole new way.

Designing for a new world starts at school ~ Rosan Bosch

A space designed for learners with trust and empowerment at the centre. What’s not to love!

Scaffolding curiosity: 5 precepts for guiding inquiry

This Toddle TIES session by Cindy Blackburn was another session that validated the hard work we have done this year and last in mapping our curriculum. Along with Kath Murdoch she emphasised the curriculum piece in building strong inquiry learning. Knowing your curriculum inside out is key! The reminders in this presentation were very welcome and seeing it all there succinctly under her five precepts made for an hour well spent!

Scaffolding curiosity: 5 precepts for guiding inquiry ~ Cindy Blackburn

The power of “what if”?

The next session was run by Edna Sackson (of the blog What Ed Said, an excellent PYP blog) with her colleague, Melissa Sokol. This was also a Toddle Ties presentation.

Their presentation set up lots of ‘What if…?’ scenarios, with ideas for creating a more agentic learning process and liberating learning beyond the classroom and timetable constraints.

The Power of “What If”? ~ Edna Sackson and Melissa Sokol

Schools as inquiry communities: Building a strong culture of inquiry in your school

Another great keynote from Toddle Ties with Kath Murdoch. As it was a presentation about inquiry I tried to inquire more into the art of sketchnoting and used resources from Chris Gadbury and his site Magic Story Books, before embarking on the next note. I also contacted Reyna, a tech coach from another school, for app advice and guidance and started with SketchBook, a free app, that is very user friendly. Off I went again!

This keynote had me inspired all over again as Kath went through the pieces of her ‘inquiry pie.’ The connections back to the curriculum

Schools as Inquiry Communities ~ Kath Murdoch

mapping work we have done as a school this year made me feel the huge effort was justified. Setting the culture of the whole community was another big takeaway and the session left me buzzing and itching to get back into school! I particularly loved the idea of ‘ubiquitous inquiry’ that should permeate through everything we do. I guess it is there in the students already, we just need to nurture it and give them the tools to develop that natural inclination to learn.

Children and the internet – New ways for new times

Children and the internet – New ways for new times ~ Sugata Mitra

This was an inspirational Toddle TIES session from Sugata Mitra which prompted more note than sketch! The big things for me were to trust the students and ‘drive the system backwards’.

Children and the internet – New ways for new times ~ Sugata Mitra

Start with the driving questions with no answers and set them up for the students to answer. More to the point, get the kids themselves to find the questions. He talked about SOLE- Self Organised Learning Environments which seems to be learner agency by another name.

Leading through and out of crisis – A COVID19 focus

This was the first Toddle TIES panel discussion I caught and it featured Laurie McLellan, Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, Neil Johnstone, Sara Cotner, Sandy MacKenzie and was moderated by Kirsten Durward.

The big takeaways from this session were ‘Maslow before Bloom‘ or indeed before any learning can happen. Also that teachers should know their worth and the great job they are doing in difficult circumstances. Another session that made it clear how important supportive leadership is in times of crisis. A great piece of advice from Joe Sanfelippo was to ‘start and end your day with joy‘, something I would like to live up to.

Leading through and out of crisis – A COVID19 focus ~ Toddle TIES Panel Discussion

Sustaining a culture of community and collaboration in times of online learning and beyond

In this Toddle TIES session Alex Whitaker and Baldwin Wu addressed the values and roles that need to be cultivated in the current climate of remote and blended learning. There were many things that resonated around establishing a solution focused culture with humour and celebration of successes. It built on support and collaboration, listening and building and developing strong working relationships.

Sustaining a Culture of Community ~ Alex Whitaker and Baldwin Wu

Well-Being: Today, Tomorrow and into the Future

In this Toddle TIES presentation Mona Seervai talked about Social and Emotional Learning and educating the heart. She added Ethical to the SEL acronym and discussed how this should involve the whole school community and a school should really live it’s mission. It certainly struck a chord with me after time out of school and for your return.

Well-Being: Today, Tomorrow and into the Future ~ Mona Seervai

The 3 MIQs (Most Important Questions)

This was the opening keynote from Toddle TIES given by Gahmya Drummond-Bey and Vishen Lakhiani. The premise of the address was about asking these three questions to get you clear on the path you wanted to take and therefore the goals your set to get there. Each question needs you to dig deeper to really get to the ‘why?’.

The 3 MIQs ~ Vishen Lakhiani & Gahmya Drummond-Bey

Inquiry by the Fire

Inquiry by the Fire was a wonderful session from Kath Murdoch, Trevor MacKenzie and Kimberly Mitchell. It was my second attempt. I made it colourful and got down the key points and played around with some more sketching. I wrote around the paper anti-clockwise.

The big takeaways for me were around modelling the struggle and also the rethinking and change that is needed in education, which the whole CoVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear, if we didn’t know it already!

Inquiry By the Fire – Kath Murdoch, Trevor MacKenzie & Kimberly Mitchell

Exploring the Cycle of Inquiry

The first was revisiting the work if the wonderful Kath Murdoch. This felt like it brought me full circle on her workshop as I had been out of school with virtual learning since before the January workshop. This online workshop was in May, just as I returned to school, but before the primary students returned.

The learning unpacked the part the inquiry cycle plays in a much bigger picture of inquiry learning. There were too many takeaways to list here but I captured the big ones in my notes. The sorting out stage being a stage where the students are crearing meaning struck a chord as did the point of teaching real life research techniques, even the younger ones. It was a

Exploring the Cycle of Inquiry – Kath Murdoch

wonderful hour of global collaboration that was a great start to our life back on campus. It was a challenge to see how we would make it work with social distancing, separate desks and the other challenges brought by the virus. Kath’s blog is well worth reading and following if you don’t already.