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Friday, November 9, 2018


Another successful professional learning experience at BRING IT TOGETHER, ONTARIO’S PREMIER EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE, in Niagara Falls Ontario, #BIT18 on Nov 7 and Nov 8. As an attendee, I was able to make to some great contacts, reflect on what I could share with my colleagues, and identify my own learning needs. Thank you for two great days as the highlights of my sessions were:

Dave Cormier @davecormier  - keynote speaker centred around how coming to know is a messy, imprecise process at once intensely individual and necessarily embedded in a community

Doug Peterson - @dougpete  - Hyperdocs

Alana King -@banana29   - The Embedded Librarian: Rocking your virtual library learning common

Jonathon So @MrSoclassroom  - What Does Going Gradeless Look Like?

Zoe Braningan-Pipe @zbpipe  - Mindful Makerspaces: Thinking Deeply about the Maker Culture in Schools

Emily Fitzpatrick @efitz_edtech – Web Based Tools that can be used in the classroom such as: LunaPic, LuicidPress, Canva, AwwApp, PencilCode, Tinkercad

I would like to thank my staff members @MrsKarlssonGr7  @msstewardson  @MrsZoeChurchill and @MrHarding25  or taking the time of out of their busy lives to tag along with me. Their participation and role is important in the development of Experiential Learning @StMatthewCS

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Finishing Strong

Now that the warm weather has now caught up with us and we begin transitioning into the last month of school, we can get up with the phrase" must be winding down" for the school year. I am always quick to respond, "No! Winding Up."

I often marvel at how fast a school year goes by, and in many ways it seems like just yesterday that we were welcoming the kids off the buses on the first day of school. I’ve written before about how much I love this time of year, mostly because of the opportunity that we all have to reflect on ourselves as educators, on the learning that happened with our students, and on the personal and professional goals that we all set almost ten months ago. We also get to celebrate the work, the accomplishments, and the successful initiatives that have taken hold for the betterment of our school and students, and we can think critically about how we can make some purposeful changes that will help us do better in certain areas for next year.

When I look back over the past year much of it seems like a blur, and I’m left feeling a little dizzy and overwhelmed, and a lot grateful and proud. We took on so much this year as a faculty and we deserve to take a few moments to revel in the positive changes that are transforming our community. That being said, the last few weeks of a school year can be tough…arguably the toughest of them all because of the fatigue that has begun to set in…because of the onslaught of emotions that comes along with saying goodbye to students and colleagues and friends, and because of all the culminating events that get packed into the last several days.

I’d like to reiterate a challenge that I put out to my faculty at a previous school a couple of years ago, by asking you all to re-commit to our students, their learning, and to each other over the next three to four weeks, and to dig deep to finish what we started. You see, sometimes when schools and educators aren’t careful, there can be a tendency to take the foot off the gas so to speak when speeding toward the end of the year. It can become very easy to let complacency creep in, and to ease off on the work, the effort, and the attention to student learning.

Losing focus and looking ahead to next year can quickly turn what has been a wonderful year into a disappointing result simply because the finish wasn’t strong and the goals weren’t seen through to completion. In my opinion we’ve put ourselves in a great position to end the year on a high, and to be able to look back on the year with an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s an exciting time of the year I know, and the kids are happy and smiling…we all have one eye focused on our summer adventures, and we can see the finish line on the horizon…I’m asking you however to not lose sight of the importance of what’s still left to do.

Finally, I’m asking you all to pay careful attention to our beautiful kids over the next few weeks. Many of them are navigating the rough emotional road that leads to saying goodbye to their friends, saying goodbye to a school that they love, and saying goodbye to the identities that they’ve forged during their time with us here at SMS. It’s also very easy for all our kids to get caught up in the promise of summertime fun, and to get distracted from the goal at hand, which is to work hard right up until the end, and to set themselves up to move on with confidence, pride, and with the right mindset.

Talk to your kids…ask them how they are feeling…give them extra support if you see them veering off track, and be the amazing role models and mentors that they’ve come to expect. Don’t let them off the hook, and go above and beyond (even though you’re tired) to make the final three or four weeks their best of the year. Starting the year strong is so, so important as you all know, but it’s comparatively easy compared to the challenges of June. Finishing the year strong is where the rubber hits the road in my opinion, and it’s here that master teachers and school wide leaders worth their salt show their mettle.

For those of you moving on to new adventures, remember that you’re only ever as good as your last exit…….and for those of us returning, know that students remember the educators that we are in June… let’s make sure they remember the best of what we have to offer. The last few weeks are going to speed by everyone so please commit to making them count. Let’s all feel great about what we’ve accomplished so far this year…it’s been amazing…but we’re not done yet! Finish strong and wrap up the year with a beautiful bow…Have a wonderful month everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Muskoka 2018

For the past 7 years a team of teachers and students from St. Patrick’s Secondary Sarnia accompany the staff and Grade 7 students from our elementary schools to @muskokawoods on Lake Rosseau in Rosseau, Ontario.
Over 4 days, students are involved in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities led by the secondary school teachers and student leaders. The program can enhance the culture of every school community as well as benefit each and every participant on a personal level. These activities are tailored for each group and reinforce core values: creativity, friendship, and confidence. Activities include: Indoor Climbing Room, High Ropes, Music, Dance, Giant Swing, Drama, Inside Out, Zip Line, Kinball, Cooperative Games, Fencing, Skateboarding, Art, Mountain Biking, Pyramids, and Archery.

The Muskoka Woods Experience is supportive, encouraging and challenges students and staff to do their best. As our students move on to St. Patrick’s High School they will have the opportunity to “Pay it Forward” and return as a secondary student leader.

This is my 9th Muskoka Woods experience and the amount of work and effort that it takes to get this off the ground is countless. It is hard to put an actual # of people that are involved with fundraising efforts, payment plans, and personal information forms collected. However, I would not trade away this experience as the building of personal qualities that can not be measured by tests is endless.
Indeed, being away from family for 4 days can stretch your limits. I would like to personally thank my own teachers Peter Wright 6/7, Amanda Saunders 5/6, and Teresa Thompson EA, for their commitment to our Grade 7 students on this trip. Kudos to Principal @RobCicchelli1  for his support and Jay Stewart who organizes the entire event. The commitment by all involved makes this a memorable and meaningful experience:

Elementary Students     279
Secondary Leaders       128
ILIT Grade 9 leaders     20
Elementary Staff           47
Secondary  Staff            45
Total                             509