Day 142 – Pam Taylor, Grade 1/2 Teacher (Aylesbury Public School)

Pam Taylor, Grade ½ teacher at Aylesbury P.S., Brampton

The Messiness of Inquiry Based Learning

The journey into Inquiry based learning, or IBL is never easy. There is a proverbial “leap of faith” when you let go of traditional teaching, and IBL doesn’t happen overnight. There is a lot of learning (for both teacher and students) and a lot of trust and modeling for everyone involved.

I taught for 3 years in Full Day Kindergarten where play based learning is what we strive to implement each and every day. When I moved to a primary split, I thought, “I’ll just do what I did in K.” Well, it backfired. “Inquiry time” became “play time”, which became “seek and destroy manipulatives and wreak havoc on the teacher” time. So, we scaled back. I took some cues from some professional reading, and we focused our energy a little differently. There was more focused reading, more focused writing, and our inquiry topics were based on our Social Studies and Science curriculums. Over time, we have gradually moved to more of an inquiry based learning classroom where the students are learning more about their own topics of interest. Is it perfect? Not in any way, shape or form. Are my students learning? You bet they are. Are they better for it? I can’t answer that.

I know that they are better questioners and seek out information with more purpose. I know that they are collaborators who are willing to learn from each other and ask questions of each other. I know that they are kind to each other and that they work hard each day. So I have learned to trust in the messiness of IBL. And that’s what I have learned today.


Day 127 – Kathryn Lagerquist, FDK Teacher (Brisdale Public School)

What I Learned Today!

From February 9, 2016, today I learned about community and to never underestimate the abilities of young children.

While checking Twitter, I ran across this tweet:

This reminded me of a great book called, “The Jolly Postman”.  My students have always loved it because it contains actual envelopes and a variety of letters within the story.

I read the book to our students and construction began on their own post office.  I sent Mrs. Parry a tweet about it:

She asked for our mailing address and today we received a letter from them!


The students were so excited that they decided to write back to Mrs. Parry’s class. This was a great opportunity to have students involved in the writing process.  They came up with the ideas and took turns writing it with some guidance.  I was impressed with their ability to work together and was so proud of how they helped each other to form the words.

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We often talk about the “global community” and although Brampton and Chatham are not that far apart, this collaboration between our two classes would not have been possible if we had not connected through Twitter.

This got me thinking of all of the other opportunities waiting out there for us.  We could connect with other students around the world.  Imagine how much our students would learn!

The possibilities are endless…
Kathryn is a Kindergarten Teacher at Brisdale P.S.
She loves her family, her students and learning new things.

Day 121 – Jennifer Brown, Teacher-Librarian (Castle Oaks PS)

What I Learned Today!

Name: Jennifer

What do I do? Teacher Librarian and ESL/ISSP Teacher

What do I love? my family, reading, writing, laughing

A Few Magical Days

Originally blogged at

A few weeks ago I posted about our school’s plan to inspire a “maker” culture with our staff and students.  The addition of makerspaces to public libraries and school library learning commons is spreading rapidly throughout the library community.

Yet I struggled with excitement and doubt.  My excitement seemed obvious – the chance to offer hands on experiences for students that were not directly connected to the curriculum or in need of constant evaluation.  My doubt may have been less obvious but growing in strength – creeping each time I tried to explain the maker movement to others, my growing concern that the term “maker” might place pressure on students to complete projects rather than foster thinking, creativity and problem-solving, and the unsettling feeling that the whole thing might be a trendy bust!

This week I have faced both my joyful anticipation and nagging fear head on.  Our approach to gathering student voice in planning a long term makerspace was to run an exploration event with a wide variety of experiences for every class to visit.  Over a 4 day period each class has approximately 80 minutes to play, explore, and create.  Graffiti walls, pictures and video evidence in addition to conversations and observations are being used to gather information to guide future planning.

We have only had 2 days so far and I cannot even begin to tell you what an amazing experience it has been! Students spanning a wide age range (K to grade 7) have passed through our library learning commons and tech lounge doors with open hearts and minds.  Together with their educators they have played, explored and created.  Moreover, they have taken risks, collaborated, asked questions, encouraged each other, taken on leadership roles, demonstrated respect for peers, staff and materials… a list that could go on and on! The best part for our school vision is that they have consistently asked for more.

The best part for me is that I have the privilege of seeing, yet again, that placing our trust in children of all ages to learn and inquire through play and experience is the most powerful tool an educator can use.

Day 113 – Victor Kass, Health and PE Teacher (Louise Arbour SS)

What did you learn today?

Victor Kass is a Health and Physical Education Teacher at Louise Arbour Secondary School.  He loves his family, living an active, happy, and healthy life, 21st century teaching and learning, building community connections, and fuelling my students’ passions for being active and healthy 1 day at a time.

After a very busy January with exams and report cards followed by the start of a new semester this month, it’s about time I did some reflection and wrote a new blog post.  I was inspired to do this one by another teacher in my school board, Phil Young, who is coordinating a blogging series called Project 188.  The goal of this is to have more voices heard from our schools.  Be sure to check out the website and follow the project hashtag on twitter, #peel21st188.

What did you learn today?  That is the key question.  In order to answer it, I looked to my Grade 9 Physical Education class, which was learning the key steps involved in completing a successful lay-up in basketball this afternoon.  During the lesson, we progressed from shooting directly under the basket to a full lead up with dribbling from a distance away.  At key moments, I stopped the class to ask questions, such as:

– At which part of the backboard should you aim for?

– What is the best way to hold the ball?

– What leg should you jump off?

Partway through the lesson, we co-created a list of key points:


 After our discussion, students practiced the task in pairs.  One of the baskets had an “instant replay” station that consisted of an iPad app called BAM (Bust a Move) video delay Airplayed to a flatscreen TV.  Here, students could practice their lay-ups and then walk over to the TV to obtain instant feedback on their performance (NOTE: A delay time of 7 seconds was ideal).  When they were doing this, I stressed that they refer to the key points we had discussed and ask themselves if they were achieving them.

At the conclusion of the class, students were given an Exit Ticket that asked them What they learned.  These were some of the more interesting responses!


I especially like the honesty of the student who said he didn’t learn anything today because he already knew how to do a lay-up.  I appreciate a child who is not afraid to speak his/her mind.  Why?  Because these are the kinds of comments that challenge me and, when I’m challenged, I am able to continue improving as a teacher.

So, what did I learn today?  I learned that no matter where we start or where we find ourselves, we always have room to improve.

Day 107 – Phil Young, Teacher (Countryside Village Public School)

What I Learned Today!

#peelSPARK…ignite talks….some amazing things being done by some amazing members of the Peel Family.  Tonight was an opportunity for staff from around Peel to join together for an evening of inspiration.  From talks about #growthmindset to #mindfulness and even the power of #Minecraft in the classroom our speakers shared in just 5 minutes what has SPARKed them this year.  The talks were fast, inspiring, and even humorous but all spoke of the power of sharing, collaborating and connecting with colleagues.

The #peelSPARK Ignite talks.

Day 89 – Colleen Hartman, Core French (Eagle Plains PS)

What I learned this week

An Entry from September 2015

Colleren Hartman is a Core French teacher at Eagle Plains Public School grade four and five.  On Twitter @MmeHibou40 and @core_ep

Sunday afternoon I was busy planning my week ahead when my son came over and asked if I could help him with his math homework and yes I pulled the “Can you go ask your Dad”.  As I sat at the dining room table I could hear the conversation between father and son”

“Dad, can you help me with my math.   I don’t understand the question.”

“Sure, show me the question.”

Dad read the question over carefully and after a few moments replied

“I don’t understand what is being asked either”

My son grew frustrated and mom/teacher stepped in.

Now lucky for my son he has a mom who is teacher and was able to help him by rephrasing the question and finding some manipulatives to assist and that got me to thinking, what about all the students who may not be as fortunate to have the help my son had, how would those students be feeling about themselves, how would the parents like my husband be feeling about themselves.  

Homework has been the subject of many twitter discussions (e.g., What is the purpose?  Who benefits) and reflecting on my families recent experiences with homework, tears, frustration and exhaustion I think we need to consider the impact homework has on family life. Is homework a necessary part of learning.

Day 85 – Arwen, Student (The Valleys Sr. PS)

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Maker Club Blog

Hi, I’m Arwen and I’m a grade 6 student at The Valleys Snr Public School in Mississauga. Here at the Maker Club we do a bunch of different activities. Whether it is physical construction or a Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.32.00 AMcoding activity, we make it! At the Maker Club you can make whatever you want, the sky’s the limit. When we started, most of us didn’t know how to do these things but now, thanks to our teachers, we can do these things on our own! (And maybe teach them for a change) “Soon, coding will be taught like how you are being taught French.” – M. Mulcaster (TL @valleysvipers)

We are doing, incredible, things like Scratch, Flash Animation, Roblox, Spheros and much more!


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We are also doing sewing, beading, knitting/crochet and anything else you can do with your hands!

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For our complete story visit: