June 23, 2020

As I was saying goodbye to my class in our final Monday Morning Meeting of their elementary school experience yesterday, I asked them to add 1-3 words through the Mentimeter link describing their favourite parts of our year together. It produced this word cloud:

Eight of the features of my class mentioned as highlights of the school year were projects that I call BOBs. BOB is the name of my consulting practice, and Building Outside the Blocks projects are fondly referred to as BOBs. Each project is unique and the outline frames a task that allows students of different grade levels to build curricular skills while also building autonomy, class community and connection to one's self. These projects have been powerful for my students for two decades. Before my projects ever had a name or were connected under the BOB u...

June 9, 2020

Many things had to give when we shifted into emergency remote learning, but Snapshots endured. I had assigned them a week before March Break, before we knew we would be staying home for the reminder of the school year. I had a few different ideas about how we could still make happen even if my students were not standing in front of their class to lead the decoding of their own original texts. This synthesis of work in photographs helps my students meet many media literacy expectations while also helping them develop critical thinking and questioning skills.

This BOB project has evolved over the years and was originally part of a Tri-BOB called the PS Series and named the PS3 . In the last two years, it has served as a culminating task from a year of photograph dissection and critical thinking skill d...

June 2, 2020

Last month culminated momentously in good and bad ways. Many teachers have been focusing on the mental health and well being of their students during remote learning, and we are encouraged to do the same for ourselves. Many articles have come out urging teachers to develop a self care routine even before COVID-19 forced us into emergency learn at home mode. We never went looking to find a connection between mentorship and mental well-being, but it is evident from work before remote learning took hold that the connection and support of a mentor, especially at this time, makes a difference for educators. I have argued that mentorship is something that should accompany educators on every part of their professional journey because mentorship makes a difference. No matter how current events and contexts have impacted you, m...

May 19, 2020

I was singing One Love by Bob Marley in my mind when I started writing this post, but I didn’t mean the reference with its religious intentions.  His line, “There ain't no hiding place from the power of creation,” is something I think is even more true after last Thursday's OnEdMentors show. Each week, I gather a different panel of educators to explore a topic in education, listen to and learn from each other. It is especially great PD for me as a host, but it can be a creative challenge to tweak shows that have been planned for months to ensure they are relevant to teachers during the pandemic. It’s actually been incredible how significant each one has been. 

I had originally planned to do an Integrated Arts focused episode of OnEdMentors. Jilian Strombolich is someone with whom I love to collaborate, so I reached...

May 12, 2020

The first two times I facilitated the TTalk project, I was teaching a course called Individuals and Societies for the Middle Years Program of the International Baccalaureate (IB) while covering provincial Geography curriculum expectations and beyond. Last year, I felt liberated because I was iterating the project for Literacy, so I could widen the scope and position it within a unit about something bigger than a subject. I decided to rename the project TTalks for Impact. The TTalk part came from Genius-Hour/20% Time inspiration with a TED-like talk product with a lot of landmarks on the journey. Impact was the goal- to build a well-researched talk about a topic that made an impact for each student so that they could inform, persuade or inspire the audience, making an impact of their own.  

The process with my...

May 5, 2020

Conversations are powerful because they are an exchange of ideas. I have never been able to learn deeply about anything without talking about it. I can learn to do something or I can make a shift in my thinking, but I can't fully integrate my learning or its meaning until I can communicate it to someone else, answer questions about it, unpack it, and think through my why. Many people benefit from conversations for learning and as learning. Talk is an essential part of learning for me and key for meaning making for many others.

When we were struck with distance learning, because it is emergency remote learning, companies and educational leaders got very generous. They started offering free webinars, lessons, and how-to's to support remote distance/remote teaching. It's been a renaissance in education, seeing so many...

April 28, 2020

I had been eagerly waiting insights into how I could use assessment as an opportunity to support and personalize learning, and it was there in abundance through the panel on Thursday night’s OnEdMentors episode on Assessment. What was also there were catalysts for my own reflection on how I could improve my practice to really reach everyone, right now and always. 

I realize, often,  that I still have so much to learn about many things. After the show, I was feeling fraught, head in my hand when my husband harshly spoke some wisdom. “Noa, you are just a teacher,” he said after hearing my upset for how far I felt from where I wanted to be for my learners. These words felt cruel but that was not his intention. I have always felt an elevated sense of purpose in our profession. I have always tried to iter...

April 21, 2020

It's been a surreal few weeks, and I am just amazed seeing so many colleagues and friends, as well as myself, persevering through steep learning curves to make emergency remote learning happen. I have heard so many hopeful stories of incredible educators showing up for their students: on front lawns, in their cars, learning how to make videos, or finding a way to the child, especially if the child can’t find a way into their learning. 

We must celebrate victories, however big or small, especially now. Some of the things I have witnessed include teacher self-directed learning, in ways and numbers larger than I’ve ever seen before. When we were first told about school closures, people flipped. You could feel the tension, even without sharing space. Many boards, groups and communities were solution oriented. Our...

April 14, 2020

Like I tell my husband as a caveat before I vent, please don’t offer me solutions. I want to vent because I have many feelings that I’m trying to work through. I want to purge because I feel losses that I wish I didn’t feel. I know, in my mind, that it’s okay to feel tired or unsure or frustrated, but it doesn't feel right to feel this way either because I worry. Among the growing list of things that I worry about, I worry about my students and how to best support their needs at this time. Like Wemberly, I’ve worried about a lot of different things, and I know that, just like the character from the Kevin Henkes’ book, I need to dive in and find comfort in those who share my worries. 

I get a lot out of connecting with my PLN. Even though we’re navigating through the unknown, with very different messages across each boar...

April 7, 2020

Seeing more and more educators acknowledging that we are tooling up for what is actually emergency remote teaching and not online or distance teaching is a relief.  I try not to call this online learning because the learning part is an individual experience and outcome (the impact of the teaching), and something I will be discussing in a future post. The goal of my writing is to reflect on the power of working with a community of educators who are responsive and deeply committed to mentoring others. On Friday, April 3rd, The Mentoree facilitated 7 hours of Conversations to Build Capacity, and I feel so proud of our community and leadership team.

The Mentoree was founded to help support teachers, and that is what we did on Friday. We went to a few of our OEMConnect Mentors to provide some guidance on areas around which t...

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    Noa Daniel, MEd
    Teacher, Consultant, and Chief Building Office at  
    Building Outside the Blocks
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