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Heidi Kay

  • This project has been in the making for sometime. Working with Grades Four and Five at my previous school, got this ball rolling. I had heard the buzz about coding around Twitter and in conversation, virtually […]

    • I really enjoyed watching your presentation. Coding is an area that I am also exploring so I got some good ideas. I was wondering if the coding tools (eg. Botlogic) you used would be appropriate for Grade 4? Or since you previously taught G4 and G5, you might have some other suggestions?

    • Hi Heidi,
      Thanks for sharing this inspiring journey. I work in Grade 1 and really want coding to be part of my classroom. We have played around with scratch but not much more. This has inspired me to do more. Thanks for the spark I needed to do more.
      Cheers, Joel

  • I know that with every good leader, every good teacher and every good learner, there is a network of support behind them. building my PLN to move forward with my Coding in Elementary project has seemed quite […]

  • flickr photo shared by James Cridland under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

    Bringing coding to a school that had yet to dabble in this area within any grade, I have set out for a fun challenge this year. […]

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 6 months ago

    I too have had this kind of experience with SLC, but have been fortunate enough to also have the student involved and committed and all parties were amazed that time around! We used videos to show students what it can look like and really gave practice and guidance for reflective talk.

    One time I felt especially successful was when we stopped…[Read more]

  • flickr photo shared by HaPe_Gera under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

    I recently changed jobs. This changed involved not just location and school, but grade level, demographics, funding and learning […]

    • Hi Heidi,

      I totally agree with your thoughts about the value of coding. On our campus, we had posters of Obama saying something like, “We should be teaching kids how to create apps for smartphones, rather than how to use them.” I think the quote came form the video you posted here. These posters were created to promote our “Coder Dojo” after school activity.

      The best advice I can give you about this blog is that, as a reader, I’d like to have more information about the context in which you will implement this action research project. For instance, you mentioned you have a new job with a new age group, and it seems that there are some obstacles and technological barriers to bringing coding to your new school. Providing some background info on your school and students, and the challenges that you will face (budgetary restraints, slow internet, etc) will make your project more clear. For instance, to whom will you be teaching coding? What obstacles will you need to overcome in order to accomplish your goal? hope this feedback helps.

    • I know how frustrating it is when you don’t have the support that is needed to do something that you know will benefit your students. I am glad you are still going for it and I look forward to hearing the final product!

  • This year, I moved schools.  I left the comforts of my 1:1 Grade 4 class, where I felt I was at my prime with technology in education. My motivation and network of support kept everything fresh, current and […]

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 9 months ago

    I had great success with Genius Hour in my Fourth Grade Class last year. I would love to see what you are doing with this and could connect you a Grade Four class working through this process as well. There are many teachers ‘doing’ Genius Hours, but to do them well is a different story. I think this is worth your time, focus and energy. People…[Read more]

    • I am planning to start Genius Hour in the new year – most likely mid-Jan. Connecting with another Grade 4 class would be great! Before we start, I’ll have the UbB planner filled out so that other teachers can clearly see how it will be mapped out. Thanks so much!

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 9 months ago

    There is a lot to juggle to make all of this work well and in a way that all parties feel comfortable with. I think keeping the parents in the loop and helping them to feel support and empowered with this development in education is a key that can be missing at times. Parents often fear education looking different from when they were in school and…[Read more]

    • Thanks for the comment Heidi. I think you are spot on in that parents need to feel comfortable, and do often fear how everything is different from how they learned. Since we have gotten word that some parents are asking for training and tips, we know this is something we should do. I doubt very many will actually come to the informational session,…[Read more]

  • Heidi Kay wrote a new post, Balance, on the site Figuring it Out 3 years, 9 months ago

    flickr photo shared by Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license
    Seven years ago, my school began their 1:1 program with Fourth and Fifth Grades. The build up, the hype, the prep […]

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 9 months ago

    “Students need real world experiences, not sterile classrooms and rote memorization. They need to ask questions and engage their surroundings, in order to make sense of things on their own. And they need real world skills to help prepare them to be not only citizens, but, yes, workers.” This is beautifully put. I think when we look at the…[Read more]

  • flickr photo shared by bjmcdonald under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

    Almost without exception, the reform efforts under way will preserve the classroom as our children’s primary place of learning d […]

  • Photo by Michael Coghlan  CC By 2.0

    Flipping Learning. You hear that mentioned in educational forums and across social media sites.  It is all the rage and a hot point of discussion among many. The va […]

    • One of my biggest struggle with implementing a ‘flipped classroom’ is the grade level I teach (first grade) and two, the lack of support from home due to either language barriers or absence of parents.
      The benefits, I feel, of a flipped class are greater than then cons (not to say there aren’t any). Even though it opens so many more learning opportunities, I feel sometimes getting parents on board could be an issue. Many parents would argue that their child spends majority of their day at school so why would they come home and be expected to do more work?

      Many teachers share the same feeling of “there is too much to cover in the given time frame”, so ideally setting up a class where students view the material at home, helps by giving time during the school day to have a more meaningful and indepth conversation about what was learned the previous night.

      So to find a happy medium, is it possible to have a partially flipped classroom? I think you’re right; ‘ Finding times where it might seem appropriate…’ and understanding that it could simply be one part of educational practices.

    • Hi Heidi,

      I enjoyed the lucidity of the way you explained the flipped classroom scenario and how it was relevant to you. One of the topics you talked about that truly resonated with me, was that kids need downtime, they do! I can vouch for that as a mom of a teenager who is struggling with juggling schedules even at this stage so that he can have some down time and we can spend some fun time during the weekday, not just weekends, together. I do also agree about the impact and pressure this might have on ELL families, especially the children who are being sent to bushy barns as their parents are finding even the nominal amount of homework hard to handle. However, I do agree with Andrew Miller in that, it really comes down to how we as educators handle the flipping. I enjoyed reading this article on ASCD, definitely food for thought.

      All the best and thank you so much for sharing!


    • Great reflections! I am just starting to do some flipped lessons in my class this year. I’ve done it mostly in math where I’ve asked the students to watch a fun-ish video that kind of reviews what they should have learned the prior year so we don’t have to spend much class time remembering. Plus they would have to comment on the video. I also wanted students to create a common craft style video for an assessment tool for cells. To introduce them to that style, I had them watch a few at home and critique them. I found that the students who didn’t do their homework, went and did it after we discussed them in class because everyone was so excited to discuss them and each others’ comments! I think you’re right, it just boils down to finding the right lessons to flip in order for it to add to the learning.

    • Heidi,

      This is great. Reading your post seemed serendipitous because many of your comments were some of thoughts that have been running through my mind as well.

      Interestingly the benefits and struggles that your 4th graders have, are almost the same as the ones my 11th graders have.

      Some of your concerns also stood out to me, like:
      How do I keep students accountable, but at the same time not give them too much work?

      I have most assuredly not figured it out yet. But I also have found that that is what the COETAIL experience is about – this trial and error, then trial and often error again.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Heidi,
      I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that homework is a hot topic in elementary school- young children need free time to enjoy their own interests and have time to play. I have however had some success with flipped learning in my Grade 5 classroom- though by a ‘follow up’ of a unit of inquiry. This was really helpful for students preparing summative assessment tasks (especially EAL learners) as they had a unit summary to refer to at any time. I think the flipped learning model can add benefits to an elementary classroom- but the format should be slightly different (not front loading content). Thanks for an interesting read!

    • Hi Heidi,

      I agree with you and Michelle about homework. I teach IB kids for whom not doing homework is not an option. Six content-heavy subjects can be overwhelming for any student at that level, but the programme demands that kind of pressure. Assigning homework often involves essays in my DP history course, and many struggle to keep pace. This is where I have found the flipped approach quite useful in taking some of the pressure off them.

      If the purpose of homework is to reinforce at home that hey have learned in class, or even to come prepared for one the next day, I have been able to mix things up a bit by assigning documentaries at times that my students need to watch purposefully without necessarily responding to them with a long essay. Tools like Zaption have allowed me to set prompts that requite at most a multiple choice response to a few sentences that I can check for understanding with. This has helped them stay engaged with ‘content’ purposefully without the pressure of writing yet another essay.

      This didn’t come to me naturally, I admit. I worried about much the same things that you have mentioned in your post. As I learned and grown with COETAIL, my students have, too. All that experimenting and failing is slowly paying off. What worked is; what didn’t made us learn more.

      I enjoyed your post very much. Thanks for sharing.

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 9 months ago

    I think your point about the quality of games is so important. So often kids are playing games to practice facts or words or something rote like that. Games have evolved in such great ways and allow kids to no longer be consumers of entertainment but creators within a game and within a community. When minds are activated in that way and…[Read more]


    Creative Capacity for “Divergent Thinking”

    Data like the above, from Land and Jarman, should cause alarm bells to every educator.  How do things like this happen over such a short period of time? If 9 […]

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 10 months ago

    When reading and thinking about PBL and CBL, my first thought was also The PYP. It lends itself so perfectly to this way of ‘uncovering’ learning. One of the things I think the PYP does to support this well is to teach first through guided inquiry. With no framework, we can’t expect kids to just innately inquire and follow through successfully.…[Read more]

    • Hi Heidi,

      You are right….teaching how to inquire is just as important as the inquiry itself. Since I have been teaching grade 3 for a while now I haven’t had the chance to do the exhibition. We had a great one at my school last year with the grade 5’s so I hope to do it in the future. It was great seeing their passion for learning.

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 10 months ago

    Love this! This analogy is so easy to connect with and gave me a good laugh. I too have discussions where people are reflecting on how they are using technology quite a bit, but not really looking at how we are using technology. This is such an important discussion to have. I think there is a place for substitution and it can make work so much…[Read more]

  • Over the course of my teaching career, that sentence has been filled with many different subjects.  When I began teaching, there was a big push towards all teachers being teachers of reading.  Then in the second d […]

  • My goodness, where did that course go? Moving to a different school and home certainly got the best of me and my ability to focus and commit to online studies. Although the course was more difficult for me to […]

  • Heidi Kay posted a new activity comment 3 years, 11 months ago

    I too have loved the unplugged side of visual note taking and totally can relate to your three concerns. I launched into them in my Fourth Grade class and the effectiveness of their note taking was questionable and it was questioned as to whether I was teaching students inappropriate ‘student’ behaviours (like you question #3). So how do we allow…[Read more]

  • I love infographs.  I love to read them, see how creators have laid out information and framed them with supportive graphics.  In class I have shared them with students and often been disappointed with their l […]

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