The Journey To My First Innovation Award

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I thought I should celebrate my award with a quick reflection about the steps that brought me here.

  •  2012 I receive an e-mail from a colleague and I sign up for a PE technology based workshop in Dubai. I have no clue about technology in PE but this looks interesting.
  • I buy an iPad and tomorrow I travel to Dubai. Still figuring out the basic functions of my new gadget.
  • The workshop is led by Jarrod Robinson. Now understand why he calls himself The PE Geek. I am blown away about the amount of innovative skills and strategies he uses to improve learning.image
  • Back to school with no Wi-Fi network. The challenge starts here.
  • Celebrating my successes and failures becomes a new way of improving myself. I am introducing various tools in the planning process as well as new assessment strategies. It is hard to share my work with the students and parents so I design a website, on a free platform but with limited space to use.
  • I am in a brand new school and the Wi-Fi is covering even the outdoor courts.
  • I introduce iPads in the PE lessons in the Early Years. My students are scanning QR codes and they participate with their own reflection during the individual video analysis assessment in the Adventure Challenge unit.
  • We are creating resources (videos, digital portfolios, assessments) and the feedback from students and parents is enthusiastic.
  • Signing up for a life membership and mentorship at www.thepegeek.com. I am attending webinars and online courses on how mobile technology can be integrated in the PE lesson.
  • My first presentation at the Qatar National Convention Center during the Education Forum, April 2014. I share successful practices with my colleagues from all around the country.DSC_0559
  • My first PD session with the school staff, presenting various digital tools and strategies to improve learning.
  • October 2014. After two years it is time for another PE Geek workshop, in Dubai. Great experience and a good chance to connect with other educators.
  • November 2014. I am awarded for The Best Work of Educational Innovation and Best Educational Practice in Preschool, among all SEK schools from Spain, France, Ireland and Qatar. I guess my Christmas gift arrives earlier this year.

I am already lucky to be awarded by my students on daily basis. They ask questions, they are not shy to express what they like or don’t like about what we do. We experience a climate filled with their creativity, enthusiasm and energy. Their knowledge is an inspiration for me.

This special award is topping up the daily reward I get from my students. This is why each and one of us is still in this game. It is the game of change. We influence them, inspire them and shape a future that we’ll probably not even see.

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7 Concepts to Sparkle Student Creativity and Learning

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“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” Galileo

Two days filled with creativity have pushed me out the comfort zone and they have made me re-evaluate my tools and strategy when approaching the learning process. Within a group filled with passion and enthusiasm for this awesome profession we have influenced each other and came up with ideas, skills, and ways that shaped into awesome products through creativity driven processes.

Anne-Marie Evans is responsible for putting up this great concept of a workshop that pulls the best out of you. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne-Marie!

Some interesting concepts were completely new for me and they are getting a well deserved attention in my planning and day to day activity. The students response was nothing but enthusiastic when I started to apply some of the ideas taken from this workshop.

Tinkering. “Tinkering is fooling around with phenomena, tools and materials. It is thinking you’re your hands and learning Tinkering 2through doing. It’s slowing down and getting curious about the
mechanics and mysteries of the everyday stuff around you.”
Interested already? Read more about it here:  http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/. Tinkering typically blends the high and low tech tools of science along with a strong aesthetic dimension that supports children’s and adults self expression.

Convergent Thinking. It Is the process of finding a single best solution to a problem that you are trying to solve. It is about judging options and making decisions. A convergent thinker is logical, objective, intellectual, realistic, planned, structured, and quantitative.

Divergent Thinking. It is the process of generating many unique solutions in order to solve a problem. The divergent thinker is intuitive, subjective, emotional, imaginative, impulsive, holistic, free-wheeling, and qualitative.

Design Cycle. The design cycle is fluid, the process is the destination.  There are four major components in the design cycle:photo

  • You come with ideas for the project and how you can put the project together.
  • Implement the project.
  • Develop prototype, test it, refine it, and hone it.
  • You reflect on what you have done.

Constructivism. It is described by Piaget as being the process whereby students constructed their own unique systems of knowing. The teacher should focus on this individual process of internal construction rather than standing at the front and spouting their own models. The learner is and information constructor. The information is linked to the prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. The learner brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation.

Constructionism. It is seen as a social process whereby constructs emerge from ongoing conversations and interactions.

Zone of Proximal Development. It is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do ZPD 2with help. It is important how we can assist best that child in mastering more advanced skills and concepts.

I went back to my students and we have experienced various form of tinkering when inquiring into basic movement skills during the Individual Pursuits stand-alone unit. The outcomes quickly amazed me with an increased potential of creativity shown by our students.

How is your classroom creative? That was the starting point of this workshop and this is one of the questions that keep me excited about the ways learning shapes into unexpected student explorations of what we don’t have the courage to explore sometimes. I am totally motivated to keep finding the perfect answer to this question in the upcoming units of inquiry. The good thing about it is that I know it will take a while and it will keep me for sure out of my comfort zone. The zone where my students own their learning and they are connected.

Injured Student Participating

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There are many ways to engage the injured or non-participant students in the PE lesson, but often we can’t resist the temptation to have them seated and to “protect” them. Erika, a pre 4 student, had to wear a cast during the school hours and her participation in the PE lesson would have been limited.

So I decided to assign her with the task of observing some of her colleagues during the Individual Pursuits unit. All we needed was an iPad and the Easy Tag app. She enjoyed her new role and she was able to access the prior knowledge gained throughout the unit while performing this formative assessment on basic movement skills.

What is your way to engage students who can’t participate from various reasons?

PE Postcard: Checking for Students’ Understanding

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As educators, we are responsible for learning and in order to check for understanding to be useful we need to look for effective strategies in our planning.

The PE Postcard is one of the great on-going, formative assessment I use with my students. I believe that the formative assessment serves to improve instruction and to provide student feedback and when used consistently, and used well, the great majority of students should be successful.

PE Postcard

PE Postcard 

We use the PE Postcard as an “exit-ticket” where students write about their learning for the day, or answer a question. In this grade 1 example we have asked the students to write a postcard to their parents, mentioning the skills and at least one of the PE related concepts that we have inquired about. In the current Individual Pursuits stand-alone unit we inquire using the following related concepts: Patterns, Development, and Performance. When the activity is done we are placing these postcards in their homework folders.

I was happy to see that most of them could identify the concept of Patterns through the learning experiences they have been performing.

What’s your strategy to check for understanding that you want to share?