Seven Stones Community School

Seven Stones Community School

Saturday, 28 March 2015

High Expectations

1) Do all of my students, regardless of readiness level, have engaging activities to demand high rigor and expectation?
2) How do I see students from North Central Regina with regard to having high expectations?
3) How do my personal bias' affect the standards I set for my students?
4) How can I access supports to raise the bar for all of my students?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Three Models of Flexible Environments

Seven Stones has implemented new flexible, collaborative and inclusionary practice this year.  With the school divided into 3 distinct learning communities (PLCs) and disignated staff tasked with creating this new learning environment for their students, it is not surprising that three distinctly different models have emerged this year.

By way of imagery, the three models could be thought of in relation to the following examples:

PLC 2 works similar to the traditional Peg Game called Kono.  Players move their playing pieces along the lines to new spaces.  In our model, each corner is a distinct team of about 25 students attached to a teacher for math, inquiry and PE / health.  The groups rotate through four stations for literacy (Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work and Listen to Reading). At times, groups come together or separate depending on the activity.  Spaces in the learning environment are also rotated depending on the activity. The DaVinci Studio, Commons, Media Centre, Quiet Studio and Flex Studio are similar to the 5 places on the game board.

This team is made of 4 classroom teachers and 2 EAs with additional augmented supports.

PLC 1 operates similar to a model of 3 lunar orbits. The 90 or so student are divided into the 3 teams (like planets) that rotate around through the learning space.  Each team (planet) has a system of supports that orbit around it similar to moons around the planet.  These supports include fine motor group, EAL support, book shopping, speech and language, guided reading, Reading Intervention and strategy groups. The groups rotate in a very patterned way each day.

This team is made up of 3 classroom teachers, a Reading Intervention teacher, 3 EAs with additional augmented supports.

PLC 3's model reminds me of the exhibition ride, The Scrambler.  Again, the whole group of 90 students is bound at the center with their 3 teachers.  Each arm of about 30 students attempts the 'catch and release' model of instruction followed by independent / group practice.  This is similar to the cars of the ride spinning out from and back into the center.  This is the model at work for literacy and numeracy.  The inquiry rotation simply changes from 3 arms to 7 arms as the groups are created based on the 7 stone virtues in traditional teaching.
This team is made up of 3 classroom teachers, a 0.5 transitions teacher, 0.5 EA and additional augmented supports.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Collaborative Learning Spaces

What are collaborative learning spaces? Have a read through these 7 introductory descriptions of what makes up a collaborative learning space and how they work. Seven Stones has all of these aspects at work everyday.  We can relate to the barriers of education traditions that can hamper our daily delivery of this model. Moreover, the entrenched structures of the education institution that play counter to innovation and progression.  While no model is perfect, our collaborative setting provides a uniquely personalized education experience that juxtaposes the the factory model of traditional school settings.  We are proud of our initiatives in innovating with schooling by design.

Article: 7 Things You Should Know about Collaborative Learning Spaces - EDUCAUSE, January 2013

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

An Education Worth Having

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Dispelling the myths about the purposes of education. Offering an interconnected, personally designed shift to how we educate and why we educate.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Learning for the Future

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 65% of today’s grade school kids (as many as 80% in Canada) will end up at a job that hasn't been invented yet. It may behoove educators, academic institutions, and policy makers to prepare them for tomorrow’s challenges by harnessing the power of computing, collective intelligence and human ingenuity.

 New York Times article of 65% of elementary students of the future.

The New 3Rs (by Gayle Allen on edSurge)

Today’s graduates must navigate a changing job market and a glut of learning options. As educators, we have the opportunity to help them learn how to adapt and respond to this change.

  • Teachers: Build reflection into the learning process, no matter the subject or activity. As part of the reflection process, require students to set learning goals and to document them in shared spaces, such as Google docs or blogs. Provide opportunities for them to share their goals publicly and to seek support in achieving them.
  • School Leaders: Encourage teacher reflections, as well. Work with teachers to create helpful prompts and to decide on the social networking sites they’d most like to use (e.g., Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.). Build times for reflection into department and faculty meetings. Ask teachers to align reflections with personal and professional learning goals.
  • Teachers: Create opportunities for students to conduct research beyond subject-or grade-specific papers or reports. This could include asking them to research specific aspects of an upcoming field trip, activity, or learning resource. Options could include having them seek out available apps, educational games, online and in-person courses, or experts associated with a particular concept, skill, or topic. Require that they research and read reviews and then rank their top three to five options. They should be prepared to make a case for their top choices.
  • School Leaders: Ask teachers to research professional learning experiences to support their teaching, and include them in decisions on what the school or district will provide. Stay open to all the ways teachers are learning online through others’ blogs, MOOCs, and Twitter chats. Work with teachers to research the abundance of learning options for them and for their students - encourage a mindset of abundance versus scarcity.
  • Teachers: After students have researched and made a case for specific learning options, be they educational games, online experts, activities, or apps, let them choose which to pursue. For example, if it’s an educational game, let them make an informed choice and then begin using the game. Require them to critique their learning experience in relation to learning goals. Encourage mistakes and provide opportunities for students to reflect on the results of their decisions, good and bad. This gives students an opportunity to take risks in a safe environment and, with your guidance, to adjust, as needed.
  • School Leaders: Ensure teachers act on their professional learning choices. Learn with them as they discover options that are better than others. Help them create an online resource list they can share with others in their school, district, or beyond.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


No more passive learners!

Metacognition is essential to learning.  Studnets must make meaning of what they are learning, make conenctions to their lives and build schema to previous learning.  Here are some quick ideas on how to build in metacognition into numeracy (math talk), reading (strategy supports in independent reading), and inquiry (wonder walls).

Click this link for 50 more GREAT ideas (by Lisa Chesser)!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Saturday, 10 August 2013

21st Century Skills - lucky 7

Gallup recently worked with Microsoft Partners in Learning and the Pearson Foundation to develop a 21st Century Skills index that measured seven areas:
   -knowledge construction
   -skilled communication
   -global awareness
   -real-world problem solving
   -technology in learning.
There has been an increased demand to prepare young people with these skills to meet the demands of today's knowledge-based, technology driven, and globalized workplace.

Here's a video suggesting "The 7 Killer skills every 21st century Student Should Have" 

"A change principle, which is also a design principle, involves stripping away the non-essentials or distractors".  - Michael Fullan
What would you strip away?

The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model offers a method of seeing how computer technology might impact teaching and learning.  It also shows a progression that adopters of educational technology often follow as they progress through teaching and learning with technology.  

How do we advance our teaching using technology to the Transformational levels?