Friday, 17 March 2017

IGNITE: Where Ideas Intersect

Innovation guru Steve Jobs believed that random encounters between people were a catalyst for the production of great ideas. So resolute was his conviction, that when he designed a building for Apple, he demanded there only be a single set of staff washrooms to increase the likelyhood of people from all over the building crossing paths and having conversations. (He was eventually overruled by a pregnant woman on his staff). Jobs also believed that great innovation came from the intersection of traditionally separate areas of thinking, and commented that Apple existed at the "intersection of the streets of liberal arts and technology". Likewise, author Steven Johnson in his book "Where Good Ideas Come From" highlights the benefits of shared intellectual and creative spaces. IGNITE sessions are an example of these "creative intersections" where ideas can bump into each other, combine, and evolve.

IGNITE sessions have been happening all over the world and are being used by many school districts.  Thanks to the Network of Inquiry and Innovation conference where we heard a few examples, and to Paul Britton in the Vernon School District who gave us some help, we decided we would give it a try in SD67.  How fortunate for us that we have educators willing to take a risk and give it a try!  No one had put together an IGNITE session before, but 16 brave people have now given it a go.  Each presentation is five minutes, and is built with 20 slides, each one automatically advancing every 15 seconds. 

We have held three sessions now.  We meet in the back room at the Cannery Brewing Co. on Ellis Street in Penticton. Everyone who attends enjoys snacks, cold drinks,  and five or six presentations with an opportunity for engaged discussion between each one.  The typical session runs from 3:30-5:00 and is low key, informal and great fun.

Our theme has been the renewed curriculum – what are you trying that someone else might be interested in?  What has worked… or not worked?  How can we learn together, share ideas, and support each other?

In session one we heard about:  The Power of YET: Growth Mindsets; Teaching Applied Design Skills and Technology in Grade One with building challenges; Inquiry Projects in Law 12; How we can do better for our students of Aboriginal Ancestry; Vertical Math; and what potty training reminded one teacher about the teaching profession.

Session two included:  Inquiry in a grade one class; Cooperative Grading: Authentic assessment; Physical Literacy: being active and how it effects learning and life; Coding; and School, Work and the Power of Metaphor.  

Our latest session included:  The Joy of Co-teaching; Core competencies; Outdoor explorations; Humans of Penticton - a project with English First Peoples 10; Assessing the core competencies.


We have a lot of adult learners in our district – life long learners who are committed to making things better for ALL our students and who are willing to share ideas and help each other out.  We left the sessions so appreciative not just of the talks given but of the educators willing to take a risk and lend a hand as we learn together.

Here are a few examples from our sessions (more to come in the future). 

The Joy of Collaborative Teaching: Janice Moase and Pam Rutten



Applied Design Skills and Technology (Curricular and Core Competencies): Alicia Moura




Friday, 3 March 2017

Adventures in Science: Froguts and Bouncy Castles

Engagement in learning is a huge theme in Through a Different Lens.  How do we help kids understand big ideas and really want to explore those ideas in a meaningful way?  How do we hook them so that they become intrigued and begin to ask their own deep questions?

Here are a couple of 'hooks' into learning that some grade 6 teachers at KVR tried for the last two units in science in the Renewed Curriculum.

Fun with  “Froguts”:  A story of virtual dissection

One of the big ideas in the renewed curriculum for grade 6 science is "Multicellular organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce and interact with their environment."  Students are expected to know the structures and functions of body systems. 

As an introduction to this unit, grade 6 teacher Pam Rutten and learning support teacher Janice Moase  co-taught a number of lessons to hook the kids into this new unit.  They worked Dr. Elizabeth Ormandy from the Animals and Science Policy Institute that is “dedicated to providing education on ethics and alternatives to animals in research”.

Over two days the students used a virtual dissection app on ipads called “Froguts” and were able to dissect a frog.  Dr. Ormandy from UBC, worked with the students through skype to learn how the frogs body systems help it survive.  She used the app to teach  the students about the reproductive system of male and female frogs.  The two sessions were interactive and the kids got to ask Dr. Ormandy questions.

This was a great introduction to the big unit on body systems.  The kids were able to speak with an expert, learn about the ethical treatment of animals in science, and dissect a virtual frog. With the app they learned how to pin the frog, use a scalpel, and remove parts so that they could see other parts.  Half the class dissected a female frog and half the class dissected a male frog and then they compared the systems.



Dr. Ormandy co-planned the lessons with Pam and Janice; and then talked to the students about ethics and science; humane alternatives to dissection, and guided them through the dissection itself.  

App: $6.00 for the app through iTunes
Dr. Ormandy is available and wants  to work with teachers.
For more info. Website: animalsinscience.org


Forces In Motion

To introduce the big ideas in science 6 the teachers put together a station approach in the gym.   Big Idea:  "Newton’s three laws of motion describe the relationship between force and motion".  
Students are expected to know "the 3 laws of motion, and effects of balanced and unbalanced forces in daily life, also... acceleration, equal and opposite reaction, force of gravity"  

The stations included:  trampoline, bouncy castle, long boards, teeter totter (made by the tech ed teacher), ball throwing, running up and down stairs (bleachers), tightrope, balance beam, skippet.

The students were split into groups and went to various stations with their clipboards to explore the movement and investigate what was causing the it.


As the unit progressed the teachers constantly referred back to the stations.  Where did you experience friction?  or acceleration?  The vocabulary was always explored in context of their experience in the gym… fulcrum, force gravity, momentum, compression.

Hard to tell who is having more fun… the teachers or the students.