An Excellent Standpoint: Teaching cultural perspectives from a vantage of excellence.

In the realm of education, embracing diverse cultural perspectives not only fosters understanding but also cultivates excellence. Each cultural group brings unique experiences, wisdom, and contributions to the society we all participate in. As educators, we should seek to delve into the pursuit of excellence within diverse cultural groups, emphasizing their rich heritage and the invaluable insights they offer to educational discourse. Thus, incorporating learning about ‘Black History’ within Ontario’s curriculum in grades 7, 8, and 10 is a step in the right direction.

Many cultures epitomize resilience, creativity, and innovation. These tenets have reshaped history and inspired generations. Educators committed to excellence incorporate the achievements and struggles of diverse individuals into their curriculum, especially cultures and narratives often left untold or intentionally omitted. By highlighting excellence areas like literature, music, art, and activism, educators empower students to recognize their potential for greatness while understanding the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

For example, Indigenous cultures epitomize a profound connection to land, community, and tradition. Indigenous peoples have preserved their languages, ceremonies, and sacred practices despite historical injustices, embodying resilience and strength. In educational settings, excellence is found in honouring Indigenous knowledge systems, environmental stewardship, and cultural revitalization efforts. Educators committed to Indigenous excellence engage with Indigenous elders, integrate Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum, and foster respectful relationships with local Indigenous communities. By recognizing and celebrating Indigenous excellence, educators instill in students a deep respect for Indigenous cultures and inspire them to become allies in pursuing Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Similarly, Black history encompasses a tapestry of civilizations, philosophies, and innovations that have shaped human history. From ancient wisdom to modern advancements, Black cultures have made indelible contributions to science, technology, and the arts. In educational contexts, excellence in Black heritage is celebrated through exploring classical literature, philosophical teachings, and artistic traditions. Educators committed to teaching about Black excellence promote critical thinking, cultural exchange, and global citizenship by engaging students in dialogue about Black history, contemporary issues, and cross-cultural connections. By fostering an appreciation for Black excellence (which is woven into the very fabric of North America), educators prepare students to thrive in an interconnected world and embrace diversity as a source of strength and enrichment.

Diverse heritages embody legacies of faith, scholarship, and cultural exchange that span continents and centuries. From the golden age of civilization to the present day, many cultures have excelled in fields ranging from astronomy and mathematics to architecture and literature. In educational environments, excellence in these varied heritages can be upheld through the exploration of art, ethics, and intellectual traditions. Educators committed to teaching from a lens of excellence foster an atmosphere of inclusion, dialogue, and mutual respect by promoting intersectional understanding, challenging stereotypes, and addressing phobias that stem from biases unconsciously developed through deficit teaching. By embracing contributions to human civilization and presenting intentionally diverse representation to all students, educators empower students to recognize the interconnectedness of cultures and appreciate the richness of diversity in all its forms.

In pursuing educational excellence, embracing diverse cultural perspectives is not just a choice but a necessity. By celebrating the excellence inherent within all cultures, educators enrich the learning experience, inspire critical thinking, and foster a sense of belonging among students. Through dialogue, empathy, and a commitment to inclusivity, educators can cultivate a generation of leaders who appreciate the value of diversity and strive for excellence in all they do.

“If we want to create change in Canada – if we want to have more people from communities who aren’t only represented – the answer isn’t to move towards tokenization and propping people up. The answer is to give people the tools to prop themselves up.” – Sarah Jama (Sarah Jama is the co-founder of Disability Justice Network of Ontario).

“Black history is not just for black people. Black history is Canadian history.”- Jean Augustine (First Black Canadian woman to serve as a federal Minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament).

A diverse group of young students wearing convocation caps and gowns, smiling at the camera.

Fostering Excellence in Classrooms: A Comprehensive Approach

Picture By: Pavel Danilyuk

In the ever-changing landscape of education, pursuing excellence in classrooms is a collective endeavour encompassing academic excellence and holistic student development. To unveil the secrets of successful learning environments, let’s explore critical elements that educators can implement to meet the diverse needs of their students.

Begin with a curriculum designed to spark student interest and connect with real-world experiences. Align lessons with academic standards while infusing practical applications and real-life scenarios. Cultivate a passion for learning by making the curriculum an exciting gateway to knowledge.

Recognize and cater to diverse learning styles and preferences. Implement personalized learning approaches that allow students to progress at their own pace, explore topics of interest, and engage with materials personally. Foster a sense of ownership and motivation, paving the way for sustained academic success.

Establish clear expectations and maintain a positive, inclusive atmosphere. Implement proactive behaviour management strategies that create a safe and respectful learning environment. A well-managed classroom sets the foundation for effective learning and active student engagement.

Leverage technology as a powerful tool to enhance the learning experience. Incorporate digital tools and resources to make lessons more engaging. Equip students with essential digital skills for the future, embracing the benefits of technology in education.

Recognize the connection between academic success and social-emotional well-being. Prioritize the development of social and emotional skills, fostering empathy, self-awareness, and effective communication. Create a supportive environment where students feel valued, heard, and prepared to navigate interpersonal relationships.

Equipped with knowledge, teachers can adapt their strategies to meet the evolving needs of students, contributing significantly to classroom success. Stay current on the latest pedagogical approaches, technological advancements, and educational research. How do they align with your pedagogical practice? Which aspects can you adopt, adapt, or discard? Consistent review of pedagogical practices empowers the educator to effectively and responsively meet students where they are to guide them to success. 

Action Items for Educators:

Curriculum Innovation: Review and enhance your curriculum to include practical applications and real-world relevance. Seek opportunities for cross-disciplinary connections to make learning more engaging.

Proactive Classroom Management: Establish clear expectations for behaviour and create a positive classroom culture. Implement proactive strategies to address potential challenges and develop an environment conducive to learning.

Technology Integration Workshop: Familiarize yourself with educational technology tools and explore ways to integrate them into your lessons. Attend workshops or sharing sessions/events at your school to enhance your digital teaching skills.

SEL Integration in Lesson Plans: Infuse social and emotional learning into your lesson plans. Incorporate activities that promote empathy, self-awareness, and critical communication skills among students and their learning community.

Continuous Professional Learning Plan: Create a personalized professional development plan. Attend workshops, webinars, or learning opportunities that support you in staying current on the latest education trends. Collaborate with colleagues to share insights and strategies.

By implementing these action items, educators can contribute to cultivating excellence in classrooms in a way that supports students’ overall well-being and growth.

Winterfest

Our school is an OPHEA certified school- which means, “Healthy Schools Certification gives your school the tools to promote and enhance the health and well-being of students, school staff, and the broader school community.” More information about being an OPHEA certified school can be found here

Last year, our focus was on physical activity and this year, our focus is on wellness. So, our OPHEA team (which consists of ten teachers and over 40 students) planned a day called “Winterfest”. This day ran during school hours and was planned completely by our OPHEA student leaders. They planned activities indoors and outdoors for the school- students in grades 1-6. The intermediate students ran each student or led a group around the school to each station. Stations included:

  • Bobsleigh: students on a mat guiding their way through a course of pylons
  • Biathlon: a fake skating activity where students have to bowl to hit some cones at the end
  • Hot chocolate: students enjoy some hot chocolate while a fake fireplace sparks in the background
  • Ring Toss: an outdoor activity 
  • Directed Drawing: a mindful activity indoors
  • Box Igloo Building: students compete to build an igloo against other students with boxes 
  • Cooperative games: students work with their classmates to reach a common goal (silent line up, octopus, parachute)
  • Spoon & Egg relay: students race again their classmates to not drop the ping pong ball off the spoon
  • Obstacle Course: students run through a ground ladder and around pylons to race to the finish 
  • Capture the flag: class vs. class style, two classes play a game of capturing the other teams flag 
  • Ball Hockey: students compete against their classmates to score goals outdoors in a Canadian favourite

These activities were 25 minutes long in length and were a combination of indoor/outdoor games. The day went off without a hitch as intermediate students received compliments all day long for their excellent leadership skills! Thankfully, it was 8 degrees so the weather was not a negative factor. We look forward to doing another wellness day similar to this in the Spring. Try it out with your school!

 

Micro Presses: Unveiling Literary Treasures from Unconventional Sources

In the vast publishing landscape, micro presses stand out as literary diversity and innovation beacons. While mainstream publishing houses dominate the industry, micro presses offer a unique avenue for discovering lesser-known voices and unconventional literary works. This article delves into the world of micro presses, exploring how they unearth hidden literary resources in less-seen places and enrich literary culture.

In recent years, micro presses, indie or small presses, have gained momentum as alternatives to traditional publishing models. These intimate operations often specialize in niche genres, experimental writing, and works by emerging authors who need help finding footing in mainstream publishing. Unlike their larger counterparts, micro presses prioritize artistic integrity, literary merit, and community engagement over commercial viability. Consequently, they play a pivotal role in diversifying literary landscapes and amplifying voices that may otherwise remain unheard.

One of the most compelling aspects of micro presses is their commitment to exploring literary resources in less-seen places. While major publishing hubs like Toronto, Vancouver, New York City and London receive considerable attention, micro presses actively seek out voices and stories from overlooked regions, marginalized communities, and underrepresented cultures. By tapping into these diverse perspectives, micro presses enrich the literary canon and challenge dominant narratives, offering readers fresh insights into the human experience and the world.

Micro presses are steadfast champions of diversity and inclusion, showcasing works that reflect the multifaceted realities of contemporary society. Voices from racialized, marginalized and underrepresented communities and backgrounds are highlighted meaningfully, providing a platform for diverse voices to resonate authentically with readers. In doing so, micro presses foster an inclusive literary landscape where all voices are celebrated and valued.

In addition to promoting diversity and inclusivity, micro presses are incubators of literary innovation and experimentation. Not constrained by high sales pressures, these independent publishers embrace risk-taking, boundary-pushing, and unconventional storytelling techniques. From hybrid genres to multimedia formats, micro presses encourage writers to explore new creative possibilities and challenge traditional notions of what constitutes literature. As a result, they contribute to the evolution of literary art forms and inspire readers to engage with literature in fresh and exciting ways.

In an age dominated by mainstream publishing big houses, micro presses offer a breath of fresh air in the literary landscape. By illuminating hidden literary treasures from unconventional sources, these indie publishers enrich our literary experience with diverse voices, innovative storytelling, and inclusive perspectives. As readers, writers, and literary enthusiasts, we stand to gain immeasurably from exploring the offerings of micro presses and supporting their mission to amplify marginalized voices and expand the boundaries of literary expression. In doing so, we nurture a vibrant and resilient literary culture that continues to inspire, challenge, and unite us all.

 

Micro presses to explore:

A Different Booklist

Annick Press

Another Story Bookshop

House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books

Knowledge Bookstore

Unique and independent bookstores in Ontario

 

logo of the International Decade for People of African Descent

Empowering the Future: The Significance of the International Decade of People of African Descent in Elementary Education

Picture: UN Promotional Materials

The International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) emerged as a pivotal force in pursuing a more inclusive and equitable education system. Focused on championing the rights and contributions of individuals of African descent, this global initiative carries significant implications for elementary education, where foundational values of respect, understanding, and embracing diversity are imparted to young minds.

This decade was positioned to act as a catalyst for promoting cultural diversity within elementary schools. By integrating the history, heritage, and achievements of people of African descent into the curriculum, we cultivate a learning environment that authentically mirrors the world’s diversity. This enhances the cultural awareness of all students and fosters a sense of inclusion for those of African descent.

In the formative years of elementary education, children are shaping their perceptions of race and ethnicity. The IDPAD represents an opportunity to disrupt stereotypes by presenting a more accurate portrayal of people of African descent. The use of diverse educational materials and narratives enables students to gain a comprehensive understanding of the contributions and achievements of African communities.

Incorporating the principles of IDPAD into elementary education is crucial for creating an inclusive and fair learning environment. By celebrating the diversity of cultures, traditions, and perspectives within the African diaspora, schools contribute to breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity among students of all backgrounds.

Moreover, educators must recognize the importance of showcasing the achievements of individuals of African descent to inspire their students. By highlighting diverse leaders, scientists, artists, and historical figures through the lens of IDPAD, elementary education offers a broader range of role models for young minds to emulate.

IDPAD goes beyond fostering a global perspective; it emphasizes collaboration and understanding on an international scale. Lessons exploring the experiences of people of African descent contribute to global awareness and nurture a sense of solidarity with diverse communities worldwide.

Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the values and attitudes of students during their elementary years. IDPAD equips them with the tools to address racism and discrimination by fostering an understanding of the challenges faced by people of African descent. Educators nurture a generation committed to justice and equality by engaging in open and honest discussions.

Now, more than ever, educators must incorporate IDPAD principles into their teaching practices. The global call for justice and equality underscores the urgency of instilling these values in young minds. By integrating the lessons of IDPAD, educators contribute to developing socially conscious and empathetic individuals ready to navigate and challenge the complexities of a diverse world.

Beyond symbolism, the International Decade for People of African Descent is a resounding call to action in elementary schools worldwide. By embracing IDPAD principles in education, we empower young minds to embrace diversity, challenge stereotypes, and contribute to a fair and inclusive society. Elementary education becomes the fertile ground where seeds of understanding are sown, cultivating a generation prepared to shape a world where everyone’s story is acknowledged, celebrated, and valued.

 

References:

United Nations. (n.d.). International Decade for people of African descent. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/decade-people-african-descent/background

The International Decade for People of African Descent: Who have these ten years served? Black Agenda Report. https://blackagendareport.com/international-decade-people-african-descent-who-have-these-10-years-served

picture of trees in winter covered in snow

Embracing the Chill: The Crucial Role of Winter Outdoor Learning for Kids

Picture by Iyanuoluwa Akinrinola

The resource, “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years,” states that Educators should pay heed to the environment to ensure that their beliefs and values about children and learning are represented in the space. It goes on to say that these benefits occur especially within children’s connections to and interactions with the natural world because the growing body of research suggests that connecting to the natural world contributes to children’s well-being in many ways.

The idea of taking education outdoors might seem counterintuitive as winter blankets the world in a glistening layer of snow. However, the benefits of outdoor learning in winter for kids are as vast as the snowy landscapes. Beyond the cozy confines of the classroom, the winter wonderland serves as a rich and dynamic setting for valuable educational experiences.

Winter transforms the outdoors into an expansive classroom, providing a unique and captivating environment for learning. The crisp air, frost-kissed trees, and snow-covered landscapes offer a sensory-rich experience that engages children on a different level. It’s a living, breathing textbook where lessons extend far beyond the pages of a conventional workbook.

In the winter, the great outdoors becomes a playground for physical activity. Engaging in winter sports, building snowmen, or simply stomping through the snow provides an excellent way for kids to stay active and healthy. The invigorating cold air can also boost their immune systems and contribute to overall well-being. Winter also offers a prime opportunity for hands-on scientific exploration. Kids can observe the unique properties of snow and ice, explore changes in the natural environment, and learn about the fascinating adaptations of plants and animals to the cold season. Outdoor winter activities can serve as a gateway to lessons in the sciences: chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental science.

Experiencing and adapting to winter conditions fosters resilience in children. From dressing appropriately for the weather to problem-solving in snow-related challenges, outdoor winter learning instills a sense of adaptability and perseverance. These life skills extend beyond the classroom, preparing kids to face challenges confidently. Similarly, winter’s white canvas sparks creativity in young minds. Whether crafting intricate snow sculptures, composing winter-themed poems, or capturing the season’s beauty through art, outdoor winter learning encourages imaginative expression. The open-air setting inspires fresh perspectives and allows children to connect with their creative instincts.

Outdoor winter activities provide a social arena for kids to collaborate, communicate, and develop interpersonal skills. Building snow forts, organizing winter games, or engaging in collaborative projects foster teamwork and camaraderie. The shared experience of conquering winter challenges creates lasting bonds among peers. Connecting children with nature in winter lays the groundwork for environmental stewardship. Understanding the seasonal cycles, appreciating the delicate balance of ecosystems, and witnessing the impact of human activities on the environment instill a sense of responsibility towards nature.

The winter landscape is not a barrier to learning; it is an expansive canvas waiting to be explored. Outdoor learning in winter for kids is a holistic approach that nurtures physical health, scientific curiosity, resilience, creativity, social skills, and environmental awareness. As educators, let’s embrace the chill and open the doors to a world of educational opportunities extending far beyond the confines of indoor classrooms. Winter is not just a season; it’s a classroom waiting to be discovered.

What’s in a name?

Hello, my name is…
I have never heard that name before
… Can you say that one more time?
Is there a shorter form of your name?
That is a hard name… Can I call you…?

In the classroom, where knowledge blooms,
Names are like stories; never assume.
Each kid’s got a name, unique and cool,
A tale in sounds; don’t treat it like a school rule.

Some kids have names that might sound entirely new,
Hold onto them; it’s what makes them true.
It’s on you to get it right,
Say those names like you’re reading the night.

Generations of kids given names with pride,
A cultural mark; don’t let it slide.
In each twist and turn of every name,
There’s history, stories, a deep-rooted claim.

Step up; it’s part of your task,
To honour each name, even if you must ask.
Mispronunciation, that’s a miss,
Say it right, it’s a big part of this.

Empower students, let their names ring,
In each syllable, let understanding cling.
The classroom is where their stories bloom,
In every name, there’s room for room.

In the everyday chatter, let respect be heard,
For names are more than just a word.
It’s on you, make no mistake,
To say each name and raise the stakes.

In classrooms where futures unfold,
Speak each name with clarity, let the story be told.
For the duty is yours, let it be clear,
To honour, to learn, to be challenged, to care.

 

Why Pronouncing Students’ Names Correctly is So Important

that kid

Created by DALL-E
a-class-photo-of-faceless-students-in-the-styles-of-Monet-Rembrandt-Kandinsky-and-Warhol prompt by author

I was thinking about that kid and I found myself getting emotional. 

You know the one. We all do. Whether the name(s) or face(s) you thought of are in your class this year or not. We all have one or two students who popped in there almost immediately. I am not going to sugar coat this either because it got emotional. When I think about that kid, my feelings range quite widely here. Anger, joy, sadness, peace, et al have all staked their claims in my amygdalae and other rose coloured spaces in my emotional thought centre.

My first “that kid” came when I was quite new to teaching. I probably owe them an apology for pushing too hard about their studies without considering how hard it must have been to be truly trying their best, but not meeting the expectations of which I was thoroughly* convinced were so clearly taught and put within reach. Like I mentioned above, an apology has been uttered on a couple of occasions for that learner into the universe. 

There are two other feelings that happens sometimes, relief and angst. Relief that you were able to make it through a year together and grow. Angst over what I missed or, straight up, got completely wrong. My most recent that kid reads like this: 

Is quiet – too quiet.
Sticks to the sidelines as if crazy glued there.
Struggles to start something, and struggles even more to finish.
Whether it is a transition, a sentence, or a math challenge mine has got me thinking about what I need to do differently next time because there will be a next time no matter how hard I work to learn the lessons from the past to use now and in the future.

As teachers, I’ve noticed that we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves much more often than we realize or care to admit. It’s who we are as reflective practitioners who seek to make things better for our learners. I have noticed that we fret far more about any flaws in our work even when there are few if any cracks in our foundations. We are constant works in progress alongside our students and we wear it on our sleeves when it doesn’t go well. 

Sometimes, that kid gifts you some victories too. You see, all that time spent investing in that kid can turn out to be a life enriching moment for you as an educator and even more so for that kid as a scholar. Since my first that kid nearly 15 years ago, I have marveled at hearing from students who are completing degrees at amazing schools and starting to write the next chapters of their lives. This week I ran into a student who will be doing just that.

To be honest, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops with this particular that kid. If poor choices, bad behaviour, and work avoidance were credit courses, this learner would be top of the class. Fast forward 6 years and they are about to begin a very challenging degree program at a top university. That could have only happened with significant support, responsibility, accountability, and commitment. In other words, the exact opposite to where they were back then. So what turned this scholar around? How did the switch get flipped, and who did the flipping? I was certainly thrilled to receive such news knowing that there would be more good things to come as a result of them finding their stride as a student. Whoever helped this “that kid” turn over a new leaf has changed one young person’s life not for good, but for great. 

I am also aware that there are some who will never get to experience an about face like the that kid above, and I need to take ownership of that and work to improve going forward. Maybe my next that kid will not fall through the cracks through their education? I know that there is always room to improve what and how we do this job of ours. I know that teachers have countless conversations in order to find and fit the complex puzzle pieces we know as students together. I know that there is no single strategy or approach that will reach 100% of our students. What we need to remind ourselves is that we come pretty close to perfection, and we do it across a decade plus of siloed collaboration, between the panels, whether we realize it or not. 

When you think about it, each of our students could have as many as 50 teachers over their K to 12 careers. Of course homeroom teachers occupy the bulk of those first 10 years yet that still means there are countless points of influential interaction to be had between an entire cast of educators all working in concert to make sure each that kid gets and gives the best. 

This job asks us to accept and understand that we often will never know how the work we put in with our students will support them in the future. Closure is not a luxury many elementary teachers ever have once our students move onward and beyond our schools, but that should not bring us down because there is always that kid who takes the time, after several years have gone by, to reach out and connect again: to share how much they appreciated what was taught to them in and out of the classroom all those years ago. 

 

*On a random note: the word thoroughly breaks down into tho roughly. So now my idea of thorough will always be considerate of whether I was thorough or tho rough

Job Interview Season

It’s that time of year again when students in grade 7/8 create their very own resumes based on their volunteer experiences in and outside of school. My students got to thinking about all of their volunteering that they had done this school year. It was so impressive to see how full their resumes already are and they are only 13/14 years old. Some of their experiences include:

  • Student leaders during school-wide events: Pink Day, Winterfest, Mardi Gras, etc.
  • Selling pizza on pizza day
  • Scorekeeping at volleyball/basketball games
  • Reffing soccer games
  • Coaching junior sports teams 
  • Helping in the music room 
  • Selling cookies and popcorn

The list could go on and on as so many students are involved in our school community. So as students came up with these volunteer experiences, they also had to list skills on their resume that they thought could relate to a part-time job. It was very interesting to read all of the things students considered to be within their skill set. 

After writing the resumes, students once again had the opportunity to interview for the food sales job at the soccer tournament. I created five interview questions for students to answer:

  1. What experience do you have selling food?
  2. Tell me how you would deal with a challenging customer.
  3. Why should you be hired to sell food?
  4. Why do you want to sell food?
  5. Who are your two staff references?

Students had to answer three of the five questions and I also spoke to their two references. It was quite the process as over 42 students interviewed and staff had a hard time selecting between all of the students. We narrowed it down to the top 12 and let them know that they had gotten the job. Students were so thrilled and are looking forward to representing our school in this unique experience. Many of the students I hired last year have now started part time jobs and have let me know that this experience selling food helped them prepare for not only the interview process but also their actual job. This real-life skill is something that I look forward to each year and once again, was thrilled with the results. 

 

Scratching the Pollution in Our Oceans

Last year I blogged about a new book – The Global Ocean. This past month we were lucky to have a virtual visit with the author, Rochelle Strauss. Rochelle gave students context on the importance of her book and read passages in order to support students in understanding the need for immediate actions for change. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how the actions of each of us can have a significant impact on the environment, and ultimately our world.  There we a number of students who had questions and based on our visit, one student said that he was inspired to think about his passions and how he might use writing to share that with the world. It was a great visit and our learning didn’t stop there.

During our visit, students learned more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and were eager to find out how that much garbage got into the oceans in the first place. Students researched about causes and also learned about the work being done to clean up the oceans. During our visit, we learned about the Turtle Extruder and one student was particularly interested in how people who fish might use different kinds of nets so as to be more responsible when fishing. 

This term, students are furthering their knowledge of coding and are specifically learning to use Scratch. As part of our action to raise greater awareness, students were tasked with creating a story, PSA, or game in Scratch that they could share with others about what they learned. Some students were excited to remix an existing catch game, changing the sprites and adding additional text to share their learning. Other students were excited to use the program to create stories to inspire others to learn in an interactive way.  Projects were due last week and yet there are still some students who are eagerly wanting to add more information to their projects, so their work is ongoing. 

This entire experience reminded me of the importance of purposeful uses of technology. While we could have spent time learning about the different blocks in Scratch, I think this activity allowed students to learn how to use blocks in an authentic way. If they wanted their sprite to do something specifically, they learned about how they might use specific blocks to achieve the task.  Students learned how to effectively use the blocks in their code because they had a purpose for learning how to use them. They were also able to share how they used the code to perform different tasks with others, allowing them to be “the experts” in the room. 

Last year I found a great picture book that spoke to the urgency of protecting our oceans. Little did I know that a year later, students would have the opportunity to hear from the author, get inspired, and then share their learning with others in a creative way. What a great journey!