Stretching beyond “Of” learning

While reading through the first chapter of Documenting for Learning by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano,

It became obvious to me that although I was proud of my photos and displays of children’s learning, this is as far as I usually get. Since our 3 day immersion as the new cohort, my brain has been spinning trying to figure out ways to stretch upcoming lessons in order to accommodate richer experiences and documentation.

This week I have decided to switch up some of my pre-planned lessons in order to include more freedom and exploration.

Grade 2 art will be printing with fall leaves where they will experiment with primary colour mixing. I will begin by asking them about the primary and secondary colours. How many different colours can we make from red, yellow and blue? How can we make brown? What colours do we see in real leaves during autumn? Next the students will experiment with positive and negative space. First stamping around the leaves with a sponge and the new colours they mix. Then painting the leaves themselves and adding prints inside the spaces.

Grade 4 will discuss and document what happened in their Georgia O’Keefe inspired warm and cool colour lesson. The aim here will be for them to reflect on where the goals of the project were unmet, problem solve how to fix them, and document the process, then trying again in order to achieve them. Hopefully it will aid this group in following directions, while using freedom of exploration within certain parameters. Something this group struggles with.

Kindergarten will have a new take on Noah and the ark. We will each design arks using tin foil and experiment with how much weight they can hold. Will they float? How should they look? How will each child interpret this lesson? I can’t wait to find out…

Improving Documentation

Upon reading the first chapter of A Guide to Documenting Learning, by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Janet A. Hale, it was obvious that my style of documentation has been OF learning. Basically, I tend to photograph or take video clips of my students activities in class. I then post these artifacts on my new classroom blog or in the school hallways.

Now my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of methods and tools that can enrich not only the way I record what happens in the classroom, but the lessons themselves, and deepen the learning for my students.

I am ready to challenge myself and try to bring documentation to a new level…into the realm of For learning, where students are given feedback during the lesson and take steps in order to improve the quality of their work.

I believe that I am beginning this work in art class where students are being asked to reflect on their art work, analyze where they deviated from the lesson’s goals or how they could improve the quality of their work, and then make a second draft of their project, maintaining a consciousness of the goals they are trying to achieve.

In Kindergarten, students designed their own version of Noah’s ark from tin foil, then floated it and counted how many animals it was able to support (in Hebrew). When it sunk, we discussed how the design could be improved in order to hold more animals.


Going forward, my first goal is to experiment with new tools. Earlier this week, I met with Melissa who introduced me to Edpuzzle. We discussed how this tool can be used for my art classes (especially middle school) to enrich instruction, add creative time and assess students learning through questions embedded in the videos they are required to watch. Currently, we are working on a still life project using different pencil shading techniques with a zentangle patterned background. This week I will ask the students to watch two short videos and see how it affects their progress.

Another tool we discussed is using QR codes. Up until now, I have been posting finished art work with a summary of the goals of the lesson. I am hoping to take short videos of the students discussing their work and then adhering the QR codes to the matted artwork for viewers to hear. The challenge will be finding the appropriate time to take the videos.

I am looking forward to seeing the results and reflecting on what did and didn’t work.




Face your Fears

For our second challenge we were tasked to choose an inspirational quote. 

This one resonated with me the most as throughout my life I have been forced to face and overcome my fears so many times.

It is never easy or simple and has often been very painful, but looking back and reflecting on how far I have come from that timid child (crying often), a target for bullies, who walked down the school hallways with hunched shoulders looking at her feet, I know how much stronger and how resilient I’ve become.

I’ve moved provinces, and continents, worked in different fields, started and succeeded in my own business and can now use these experiences to help others.

This quote helps me remember to keep going, one day, one challenge at a time. This is the journey…embrace it!

Finding the Flow

Today was day 2 of an amazing journey as part of the new cohort learning about documenting4learning with Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. I am learning to push myself deeper out of the comfort zone and take more risks in order to increase my media literacy… and I have a long way to go!

Our session culminated with a Skype call to Australia where we were fortunate to meet Jocelyn Blumgart. Each member of the cohort chose a role according to Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm.

We practiced being: interviewers (in the hot seat), photographers, tweeters, videographers, and even backchannelers, testing out each of these roles and imagining future scenarios where we could task these role to our students.

As a speaker in the hot seat, my challenge was to understand and master the taxonomy of a Skype conversation…be natural, listen, ask and respond to open ended questions, and maintain a free-flowing conversation. Aside from my initial nervousness, I found it somewhat difficult to balance my concentration between taking turns asking questions with Keren, my hot seat partner, listening deeply to Jocelyn, and thinking ahead to which question to ask next, while tuning out my fellow cohort members in the periphery.

During a short reflection after the Skype, feedback from my group was positive. They said that they could hear my voice relax and become more natural as the conversation progressed. I also appreciated their help in adding information to our shared document during the conversation.


It is obvious that as with most  things, practice makes perfect, and I look forward to many more opportunities to connect with other colleagues around the world to hone these skills.