A place for everyone.
I taught a multi-level French Second Language course a number of years ago. The students were following a mix of Pre-secondary through Secondary five programs – and I had one student studying math. The students were part of a special program offered through Tewatohnhi’saktha and Nova Career Centre and they had one morning of French class a week. The work was immense. And there was one French class a week.
When I think about multiplying the work 3, 4, or 5 times a week, I start to shake. Yet this is what many teachers in Adult Education in Quebec do on a regular basis. The longer I work in Adult Ed, I am seeing that individualized classrooms are more the norm than the exception. I am humbled by teachers like Janie Lamoureux and Karine Jacques (and so many more!) who strive to make their classrooms work for all of their students, regardless of level, background, or course they are taking.
…& they do this through flexible learning environments.
But of course, flexible learning is SO much more than just a pretty space! And this is what Janie & Karine spoke about at the first après-cours for individualized teachers of the year, November 6, 2018.
Avi Spector, Véronique Bernard, and I decided to create an online community for Individualized teachers so they could have a place to meet with others and talk about the unique challenges and opportunities that come with an individualized classroom.
The theme for the first meeting was changing things up in the classroom and I think the best thing we did was to hand the content over to two master teachers – Karine Jacques & Janie Lamoureux. They spoke about how their flexible classroom environments help their students as well as their teaching. The meeting was completely bilingual and it was great to see the chat box blow up in both English and en français!
Their presentation/conversation was nothing short of inspiring. Below is a video of the meeting and some links to other resources from the après-cours. Enjoy – and I hope to see you at our next meeting! We will announce the date soon.
(if you are reading this in your inbox, please go see the original article on PdPractice in order to see the videos and other media. Thanks!)
Last Friday, Avi Spector and I facilitated two very intense professional learning sessions with two very different groups of teachers in two very different parts of town.
On a Friday.
When I started the day, I felt exhausted and thought to myself – 8 hours until the weekend! But by the end of the day I felt invigorated. THIS is the magic of working in stations and offering flexible opportunities for teachers to talk about what matters to them. If I had gone in there to present a fancy slideshow, I would have ended the day even more tired from talking all day long.
Listening to teachers talk, watching them interact at different stations, seeing them use technology as par for the course, and hearing their feedback on the different activities, such as this reflection activity using flipgrid, was absolutely inspiring and affirming.
Friday’s sessions were two in a long line of different PD opportunities since August. Each of them represent another chapter in this year’s story about learning environments. More and more, both Avi and I are examining how we embed the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) in what we do as we redesign our professional learning environments. Because – if we want to see this in our classrooms, we want to model this in our PD. I believe that, deeply.
So here are some highlights from various sessions since August.
We arrive early in order to set up our space. We want to model flexible learning environments that include different stations to facilitate small working groups as well as opportunities for personal learning & reflection. The stations tend to look something like this:
— Sébastien Deschamps (@sedeschamps) October 3, 2017
Here is an example of what our spaces might look like before we set them up:
And this is what our learning environments tend to look like once we set them up:
We are very intentional in our planning for these kinds of workshops. We design each one based not only on our subject matter but we want to make sure we differentiate our content and activities so that each of our participants can access what we are offering to them according to their comfort level and background knowledge.
To help us do that, we cycle through these orientations, adapted from CASTs 5 tips for designing learning environments:
Design the space to match the goal
Provide resource areas that everyone can access (This includes technology & digital resources)
Make learning processes visible in your environment
Make learning goals visible in your environment
In my next article, I will write about these orientations in more detail. They are becoming super influential in how I approach the learning environments in which I work.
One evening back in April, I came across a tweet about a Facebook live professional development event given by Ayodele Harrison.
I was intrigued by the title – Strategies & tools to engage disconnected students who hate learning math. Free online PD – so went to check it out. I came in towards the end of the session and knew that I had found a kindred teaching spirit in Ayodele!
Ayodele had not been one of my Twitter contacts before that night so it was sheer serendipity that I found that tweet in my timeline. We are now connected on Twitter and if you have an account, I suggest you click on his picture here and follow him – his tweets and resources will be valuable additions to your professional learning practice!
His message is one of relationship around learning. As teachers, we have the power to design learning situations and create an environment that will allow our students to talk about math and, through conversation, become more engaged in their math learning. Ayodele does work in the area of teaching and learning strategies as well as in an area that is strongly connected to our ability to use and adapt to new strategies – and that is through our own sense of self-efficacy in teaching.
What I just described is a very rudimentary description of what Ayodele can offer. I connected with his message and his delivery so much that I asked if we could use some of the Facebook live footage on PD Mosaic. Lucky for us – he agreed!
He is in the process of turning the hour-long event into a series of shorter videos, each one framing a specific aspect of his message about transforming mathematical thinking in our students. The first two videos are already live on PD Mosaic and the others will be added as they are completed. They form part of a collection of resources called Rethinking Math Teaching and Learning. Click on the image below to go directly to this collection.
I invite you to watch the series as it unfolds on PD Mosaic. These videos are designed for Math teachers however Ayodele also provides great resources for ALL educators. Besides through his Twitter link above, you can connect with Ayodele at the following spots:
I am so happy to have created this connection with Ayodele. As I often say – we can only truly get better together!
The great thing about AQIFGA is that it holds an annual conference that focuses on Adult Education in Quebec.
Every single speaker and workshop highlighted an aspect of adult education …and that is really rare to find! We are usually left grappling with transferring ideas for youth sector to the adult education context. This is not a horrible thing but it is nice to have a place where this doesn’t have to happen.
In total I participated in four workshops – two as presenter and two as participant – and I was super happy to see a growing number of English sector teachers from across Quebec at AQIFGA this year!
Here is a summary of those four workshops:
Can One Teaching Strategy Respond to Many Needs? Yes!
Presenters – Daniel Afriyie, EMSB Math and Science teacher and Tracy Rosen, CSSMI Provincial RECIT for Adult Ed
but really, Daniel was the star of the show here. I jumped in once in a while to go into detail about why I love and respect different parts of his process. Earlier in the year I put together a couple of videos about how he uses his interactive white board to record his lessons and share them with his students. This workshop was an opportunity to go deeper into the idea – he talked about the why as well as the how…and he modeled the process by recording the workshop using the interactive white board in the room where we presented. He also talked about where he wants to go with the concept from here.
I loved that, though he presented about how he teaches math, the participants actively talked about how they could use this technique for teaching other subjects. It is such a meaningful way to use technology to improve learning and the teacher/student relationship. Thanks, Daniel – great job!
Here is the presentation from that workshop, if you are interested.
In this workshop Ines and Jordan challenged assumptions about Math and demonstrated how our own attitudes towards the subject can affect our students’ attitudes. They focused on developing a positive, growth oriented mindset in Math and how that is what ultimately affects student self-confidence, progress, and learning. I was so impressed by their presentation that I want to work with them to create resources to share with all of you…stay tuned!
Promoting Oral Interaction in the Adult Literacy Classroom
Presenters – Yusimy Dominguez Travieso, Maria Cristina Toro, and Farideh Raygan, RSB Language teachers
The workshop focused on different strategies to teach second (and third…and fourth…) languages to diverse groups of learners. The strategies were a mix of technology, role-playing, and game based strategies and the consensus was that whatever we do with our learners it needs to be relevant to their realities. I really appreciated the conversation around culturally relevant teaching – how it is not enough to just teach a language but we need to be aware of who our learners are as well as what is happening in the community around us and integrate that awareness into our classrooms in order to make learning stick.
“Culturally relevant pedagogy has theoretical roots in the notion that learning is a socially mediated process and related to students’ cultural experiences. Culture is an important survival strategy that is passed down from one generation to another through the processes of enculturalization and socialization, a type of roadmap that guides and shapes behavior. If new information is not relevant to those frameworks of culture and cognition, people will never remember it. If the information is relevant, they will never forget it. “ http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-36-fall-2009/feature/relevant-beyond-basics
The ideas they presented fit in so nicely with the CCBE as well as the DBE program philosophies!
Have You Thought About Stations in Adult Education?
Presenters – Avi Spector, RSB Regional RECIT for Adult Education and Tracy Rosen, CSSMI Provincial RECIT for Adult Ed
We offered participants a chance to learn about using stations in their classrooms by experiencing stations. We blah-blah-blahed for about 15 minutes before jumping right in to the experience. We offered three main stations – a teacher station, a video station, and a reading station – plus an extension station for anyone who finished a station activity early (ha! With 15 minute rotations between stations there was not much time to extend the learning during the workshop 🙂 ). The two of us sat at the teacher station in order to model how it might work in a classroom where there isn’t the luxury of an extra body to make sure all is going smoothly at the other stations. In order to ensure that things DID go smoothly, we left printed instructions at each station.
I had a GREAT time at my own workshop! The beauty of cycling students through stations is the quality time that each group gets to spend with the teacher. Both Avi and I reflected that we had a richer experience as presenters because we had the opportunity to sit and connect with each of our participants in a small group setting as opposed to talking at a big group, which is what so often happens at conferences and in our classrooms.
Another reason I love using stations is that it helps to facilitate the concept of flipped learning i.e. using video to present material. The fact that we did this at one of our stations allowed us to flip within the classroom – freeing up teacher time to address questions, gauge understanding, clarify misconceptions, etc…
Here are the resources from our workshop:
Workshop Slide Show – http://bit.ly/stationsfga – Some of this was presented in the initial intro and a lot was addressed at the Teacher Station as well.
YouTube Playlist: Emilie on Stations – http://bit.ly/videostation – These were the videos we asked participants to watch at the Video Station. They were accompanied with a reflective journal activity (described in the Workshop Slide Show above).
Reading Station – participants could choose to read one or both of the following articles and then interview a partner about them (described in the Workshop Slide Show above).
Create Small Learning Communities with the Station Rotation Model by Catlin Tucker
Les Centres d’Apprentissage by Patricia Munante
So that was my AQIFGA 2016. Did you attend AQIFGA this year? What were your highlights?
I’m at #lceeq2016 and let me underline the fact that I am super stoked to be here. I’ve been looking forward to these 2 days for weeks.
Yesterday I read about Russel Quaglia and thought – oh yeah, he’s all about student voice and teacher voice. Squeeee!
And now I’m here and I worry that once again we’re at a conference that talks about the importance of something.
It seems to me that listening to teachers and students would be the easiest way to highlight their voices…no?
To be continued after the day…let’s see how this unfolds.