Monday 24 June 2019


All of us around BC are starting to realize that we never really know what is going to transpire when Shelley comes knocking on our door!

This time in SD67, Shelley and two of our helping teachers, Janice Moase and Shona Becker, led two great days for educators. On Day 1 they planned with a group of intermediate teachers in the morning and taught the class in the afternoon, and on Day 2 they did some dreaming and planning around two kindergarten students who have complex needs.

Two things happened on Day 2 that were unexpected and quite delightful.  First, the mother of one of the kids spent the entire day with us.  She shared her ideas, knowledge and dreams with us, not just for her son but for all kids, the school community, and the larger community in which they live.

The second thing was at noon on Day 2, Shelley decided there was just enough time to do a podcast involving Suzanna (the mom), Janice Moase, and myself.  And so we did it.  The podcast is available with this link.  It is called "The Infrastructure of Inclusion".  Listening to a few Podcasts over the summer is a great way to spend some time!

How fortunate we are to work with educators in our district who are open and wanting to learn, parents who are knowledgeable, supportive and appreciative, and outside voices like Shelley to share and plan with us.

Great two days.

Blog by Judith King

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Innovative Schools: School Growth Plans WITH our Students

What a powerful evening at the final session of our Innovative School Series with school teams from SD67 and SD53.  This year one of our Through a Different Lens inquiry series challenged school teams to engage with their diverse learners as informants, co-learners and ultimately transformation leaders in making school goals and activities meaningful for everyone.  At our final evening of the series school teams shared how they used student voice to help them set goals, plan, take action, reflect on, and adapt their school growth plan - at the classroom and at the whole school level.

Throughout the series, schools offered ideas on ways they were listening to students - through interviews, daily work, surveys, forums, etc.  We had a number of students come and share in a number of our sessions.  But last night it just somehow all came together with both creative ideas and powerful stories.

We heard about 'passion profiles' at secondary where teachers can learn about the interests and passions of their students which allows them to begin conversations. We heard how important it is to listen to students who are in a place in their lives where school is not a priority because shelter, space, food, and love are, and how over time they become more interested in education and their future.  We heard about students delving into topics such as cyber bullying and mental health issues, crafting questions for further inquiry, and then going out and interviewing their middle school peers about these issues and trying to understand what others are facing.  Teams shared how they are conferencing with students to find evidence of the teachings they are exposing them to - risk taking, courage, and love - and how the responses they received helped them see students as knowledge keepers, not just knowledge receivers. We heard about kids not just having student voice but agency - participating in and planning activities and events important for their learning and that honoured and made a difference for others.  

Overall the theme was so evident - we learn so much when we stop and listen, when we plan and make space for students' insights, and when we change things once we have listened. 

The evening was powerful.

Big thanks to all who participated in SD67 and SD53, and supreme thanks to Dr. Leyton Schnellert who with great enthusiasm and energy asks important questions, prods us on, shows fabulous examples from throughout BC where things are happening, and fills us with the confidence that we too can do great things with our kids!  He reminds us that one of the most important things that we can do is nurture every student to speak on their own behalf, become experts in their own learning strengths, and develop the ability to communicate their insights.  It is our most diverse students who can help us transform education for all.

Blog by Judith King who is thankful for the planning committee:  Todd Manuel, Shona Becker, Marcus Toneatto, and Leyton Schnellert.

Friday 3 May 2019

Something Magical: Intergenerational Learning

The following blog is from a teacher at middle school who took a risk and tried something in a different way.  Here, she highlights communication as an important competency for her grade 8 students.  She also writes so clearly about the area of social and emotional competencies and the surprises she has seen in this area.

This learning opportunity is also a wonderful example of the incorporation of the First People's Principles of Learning highlighting especially 'Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities',  'Learning ultimately supports the well-being of self', and 'Learning is holistic, and relational'. 

The pictures of the students and the seniors really tell a story. 

Navigating social situations and developing interpersonal skills at middle school is challenging, especially in an era when communication revolves around cell phones, social media, and virtual connections.  The chaotic energy and amped emotions that dominate middle school hallways leave little room for students to develop their face-to-face communication skills.  Meanwhile behavioural expectations in the classroom don’t usually allow for practice of communication skills that resemble those seen in a colloquial setting.  To help develop these important interpersonal skills our class partnered with some seniors from the Trinity Care Centre to form a rather unconventional, but successful buddy program.  

‘Who will hold the door?’, ‘How do I roll a wheel chair over a curb?’, ‘How many wheelchairs can fit in the elevator?’, were some of the questions tossed around as students readied themselves for their first hosting experience.  Instead of following a traditional visitation approach our class decided to host our seniors to a series of visits at our middle school.  Each visit took a different shape and varied in structure.  However, consistent throughout all visits was that the students were responsible for planning and providing care to their senior buddy.  The end result: an amaze-show.  
There is something magical that happens every time we bring the seniors over to our school.  It’s hard to explain the positive effect they have over everyone in the building: students and adults alike.  For that one hour a month, when the seniors are in the building, we all slow down.  We get out of our heads and ‘come down to the ground’ to connect with them. We lock eyes for a little longer, smile a little wider, and for that one hour…. we become the best version of ourselves. 

At the outset this partnership wasn’t intended to be more than a couple of visits with the seniors. However, due to the overwhelmingly positive response from the students we extended it until the end of the school year. 

Some unexpected outcomes of this partnership have included:
-      Seeing students who don’t participate in school come to life and fully engage
-      Learning that both students and seniors want to spend more time with each other despite initial feelings of nervousness (for both parties) 
-      Shifting student attitudes and perspectives to include a greater sense of appreciation and respect for the fascinating lives our buddies have led. 

A big thank you to this teacher.
TADL 2019

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Planning for Inclusion

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to sit in on a planning session with grade 4 and 5 teachers who wanted to plan a cross curricular unit on the human body.

The session was led by Janice Moase and Shona Becker (helping teachers in our district) using some of the formats and planning sheets from Shelley Moore.  To be honest, Shelley was supposed to be with us but was sick, so we set out on an adventure to see how we would do without her guidance.  Janice has experience with the planning guides and Shona is an amazing science and math teacher, so we were in good hands.

Planning a Unit Accessible for ALL

The goal in these sessions is to build a unit that is accessible to ALL.  That means choosing your content and curricular competencies goals and then finding the access point by looking at the students in your class - the starting point where EVERY SINGLE STUDENT can succeed.

Everyone begins together.  
There is a lot of power in beginning together.  It involves thinking a bit differently and planning a unit starting with what everyone can do… Planning for ALL.  Then looking at what is slightly more complex that MOST will do.  Then looking at more complexity - what a FEW will do. It means planning for the kids you know - but not planning to keep those kids in any box.  ALL options are open to ALL kids.  Planning this way means you are not planning a unit and then retrofitting for those who need more support and more challenge.  EVERYONE begins together - and while some kids continue to work on the initial goals, others move on to the next layer of complexity.

It is different work - it means looking closely at the curriculum and your kids and then thinking creatively, trying to build an inclusive, interesting, creative, fun, motivating, engaging unit where everyone can participate - all learning the same content and using the same processes (competencies).

The teachers decided to look at inquiry based learning to drive their unit.  They created the following overarching question as their BIG idea:

How can you use language in creative and playful ways 
to show how body systems interact with each other?

The main content and curriculum competency goals:

And here is the ALL, MOST, FEW triangle where it was decided what ALL can do, more complexity for Most, and then even more complexity for FEW.

First Lesson:  the HOOK

We planned all morning, then in the afternoon, Janice and Shona co-taught with the classroom teacher, Kristina. This first lesson was the HOOK for the unit.  As a group, the students watched short video clips of hearts and lungs, diseased and healthy, and were asked to think about and comment on what they 'wondered' and what they 'noticed'.  Following the video provocations and group discussion,   there were six tables of invitations/provocations set up in the classroom.  Students spent five minutes at each station with a short report out to their small group at the end of each station.

1.  Observing a moose heart and bones.  What do you notice?

2.  Explore books to get an idea of what you will be learning about… what did you find?  

3.  Maker:  Build what you know about your digestive system

4.  Time your resting and active heart beat and record; or help someone record theirs.

5.  What systems can you find as you put together these images?  What do you think they are?

6.  Maker:  Build what you know about your bones and muscles

This is the renewed curriculum, that has moved from a standardized approach to a standards based approach.  ALL kids are learners.  There is room for EVERYONE.   

Thanks to teachers at Giant's Head and Janice and Shona for a great planning session, and to Shelley for her guidance over the past few years.

Submitted by Judith King

Thursday 31 January 2019

Image of the Child: Resilience

Over the past few years a number of primary teachers in SD67 and SD53 have been exploring the benefits of outdoor learning with their children.  They have been looking at the effects on well-being, regulation, motivation, curiosity, culture, play . . . .  In addition to outdoor learning, many of the same teachers have been looking at their practice through inquiry: "What are the assumptions I bring to teaching?" "How do those assumptions effect my view of the child?"  "What is my image of the child?" "Do I really see them as capable and competent?"

There is so much joy in the discovery of yourself as a teacher.  Nicola Korvin is a great example of a teacher who is not afraid to look at herself, laugh, and share what she discovers.  She is constantly asking herself why she does what she does, and why she looks at children in certain ways; challenging herself to see them as protagonists of their own learning.

 Here is one of the documentations she sent home to the parents about her learning about her children's resilience.