February 9, 2015

Grade 9 Learning Looks Like This!

First semester is beginning to fade, but I hope that the learning that this year’s grade 9s did is permanent. We had a terrific semester with the Global Read Aloud (especially in Goodreads and Tackk Board), Skyping with our new friends at Oakland Language Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, reflecting on ourselves as learners with Jac Calder’s class at Midland Secondary School  in Midland, Ontario, and beginning the work on an interdisciplinary wiki textbook called Global Perspectives: A Collaborative Textbook for Teens by Teens . We also shot a lipdup/music video based on issues around dignity and tolerance featuring the Madden Brother’s song “We are done.”

And a big thank you goes out to Ms. Black, who not only taught grade 9 English for the first time ever, but who did so with the kind of passion and energy that makes English come alive for students. Ms. Black and her students were great collaborators on many of these projects, and I look forward to our future adventures in learning!

Stay tuned for our video release!

Have a terrific 2nd semester everyone!


February 15, 2014

Learning to be learners.

We have spent two weeks exploring what researchers have discovered about the brain and about what Prof. Carol Dweck has theorized about how we can grow our intelligence and realize our potential. And although every one of us can agree to growth mindset statements like “You can always substantially change how intelligent you are”,  I wonder if we can walk that talk.  I mean, to substantially change how intelligent I am, I have to do something, right?

And Professor Dweck makes it crystal clear that the thing I have to do is work hard and face setbacks head on.

Translation: Work hard means practicing and practicing means doing the work in class and independently; i.e. homework.

Translation: Facing setbacks means understanding that not getting it right away, revising, and redoing are all part of overcoming obstacles in our learning.

In the Mindset Survey we did in class, we all agreed that ” The harder you work at something, the better you will be at it.”

Let’s right now recognize that learning is hard. Maybe learning to learn is even harder. We need to do this together, because together we are better.

Here are some ways we might be able to support each other:

  1. Be leaners. Go ahead and help out the person beside you. And go ahead and accept help when it comes your way.
  2. Be a homework buddy.
  3. Use email to ask questions.
  4. Comment on each other’s blogs–often.
  5. Bring our passions into the classroom.

Now it’s your turn. In the space below, add your responses, ideas, questions, suggestions:

How do we learn to be learners?


February 5, 2014

Rise up, rise up.

Technology integration is on the rise at Wasse-Abin High School this semester. Mr. Baumgarten’s TGJ3M class has a new blog that will feature their work in digital photography. Ms. Black’s ENG2L class has a class blog. You can check it out here. Of course, ENG2D and 2P, have this class blog, but we also have our individual blogs, and we are using Twitter and other web 2.0 tools in our learning. And Wasse-Abin has a new school blog that is almost ready for launch. I am looking for bloggers and editors to help flesh out the site, so if you are interested, please speak to me or use the Contact Us page or Tweet me @msbalen. It’s time we all become more savvy with our use of technology, especially in our learning!

 This is where I am headed…

image by Bill Ferriter @plugusin