Author: mike.thaler88

Collaboration By Design (Or Design By Collaboration?)

When I go to professional development, one of the most important things for me is to come away with some real tangible actions or skills that I can use at school immediately to improve my practice. This unit’s content lends itself perfectly to that idea. Both design and collaboration techniques are something that teachers, aware of it or not, do on a regular basis. So it was my hope that as we designed this PD session, it would be something that teachers could walk away from and it would have an immediate impact in their classrooms.

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Flipping the Cycle of Socialization

I really enjoyed using the text rendering protocol to reflect on Harro’s Cycle of Socialization. It made us continually revisit the text and our thoughts on it. Quite often when we’re asked to reflect, it is the final step. Reading and reflecting on our sentence, phrase and word, and then again reflecting on how our thoughts changed once we heard others input was valuable.

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Iterative Design…sort of… (more making things pretty)

As I started to think about what sort of visual aids we use on our Grade 4 team, and which ones might need a revamp, my mind started wandering to one of the tools that we used over the last couple months in order to help students self-assess themselves as readers, and identify areas for growth. I’m not sure it counts as a visual aid, but I went with it, and I’m excited to use this tool again in the future.

The idea started because we wanted to begin using a workshop based teaching model. The four teachers would offer a variety of workshops throughout the week on different topics in reading, writing, and our current unit of inquiry that students would have the choice to sign up for. The workshops could be targeted to the needs of different groups of students, and we would be able to reach all the students at their own level. We were super excited, but then we realized we needed a way to identify exactly what workshops we needed…what were our students need?  

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Make things look pretty (but also full of information…)

While I’ve always appreciated the power of good visuals, and enjoyed making things look “pretty”, I hadn’t really thought about the impact of design on learning until I attended Learning2 Europe last year and had the chance to go to Keri-Lee Beasley’s workshop “Get Real: Communicating Effectively In A Visualized World”. There she reminded us that design can impact understanding in significant ways and that it is a skill that we can share with our students in the classroom as well.

Without further ado, here is the infographic I put together. I coach a girls volleyball team at our school that plays in two different leagues, with two different sets of rules and regulations. I get a lot of questions from parents about the differences, so I thought an infographic might help.

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Collaboration Influences Outcomes

Students building a model of their “Dream Mansion”

I was really excited when I saw the topic for this week’s readings. We are just finishing up our first unit of inquiry in my grade 4 team, and the central idea is  

Collaboration influences outcomes. 

Throughout the unit we have been exploring these lines of inquiry:

  • individual and collective responsibility of group members
  • collaborative working groups in our class
  • how to overcome differences to find solutions. 
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