Monday, February 11, 2013

My day of learning with @MauiMickey

THE best thing that I have done for my teaching practice over the past 18 months was to join Twitter. On Twitter, I am able to connect with so many inspirational teachers from ALL over the world. Twitter is like sitting in the staffroom and sharing the BEST ideas and meaningful conversations on a daily basis. While the district has set specific professional development days, I feel that I am learning EVERY day with my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter. We share ideas about projects, have meaningful conversations about best practice and even "vent" in private about the challenges we face in our classrooms.

I have been very fortunate to meet many of the members in my PLN in person and I jumped at the chance to spend the day in one of their classes last week. Michelle Hiebert (@MauiMickey) and I have been chatting about our classes on Twitter, over text and even in person. We have been trying to find a day where one of us is in session and the other isn't so that we can visit.....well the stars lined up for me on Friday! Surrey had a Pro-D, but Abbotsford didn't, so I drove the 35 minutes east on Highway 1 to spend the day at Prince Charles Elementary.

The biggest differences between Prince Charles and Georges Vanier are the ages of the kids and the size of the school. Vanier goes up to grade 7 and had 510 kids and Prince Charles has 220 kids and goes up to grade 5. Michelle informed me that her class has 19 students and all but 1 of them are native English speakers. This also is a big change from my class of 20 where over 60% are English Language Learners.

One look around Michelle's class and you can see that the room is designed and decorated with the children in mind. There is student work posted on every available wall inside and outside the class.

Twitter Buddies
Looks like a #Geniushour project to me
Winter Art
Guided Writing on Friends
Goal Writing

Buddy Writing

Michelle has a smart board in her class and she uses this technology ALL day long from the moment the kids come into to the end of the day in free choice centers. The board is installed low enough so they kids can easily access it for items like attendance.

Twice a week parent helpers come into the class and take out 2 small groups for guided reading practice. The remaining kids work with Michelle doing a guided writing activity for about 15 minutes and then they switch. Each child gets small group time in both reading and writing. Since the theme for the month is Friendship, today they were writing about their best friend. Students enjoyed lying on the carpet and working with a small group on this project. Each student wrote 2-4 sentences about who their best friend was and what they enjoy doing together. This is something that I would like to try with my kids in the spring. My students have just started writing words with their pictures, but I see HUGE value in using the small groups and parents to help with this.

                     Working hard on their sentences
Finished work
One of my favourite things I saw (and I am SO thankful Michelle copied these for me) was the use of Wii Dance Party through the smart board to add some EXTRA fun wiggle breaks. The kids (and Michelle and I) had a great time dancing to 1 Direction and trying to keep up with the choreography on the video! Thank you Michelle for literally sharing this with my by downloading them ALL onto my flash drive!!! Party in Mrs. Pulvers' class tomorrow!!! I just need to figure out how to project this so that my kids aren't dancing in front of the projector.

Learning the choreography for "That's What Makes You Beautiful"

Story time was made extra special when Michelle projected a fire on the SmartBoard. The kids just ate it up!!  The laid by the fire, making sure to not get too close because "its hot by the fire". My comment was that if they had hot chocolate, it would be perfect - file that idea away for another time!!! 

 After recess we worked on the people for the bus for "Fin's Friends". This is a program that the Vancouver Canuck's support to help students learn about building character and social responsibility. While it is too late for this year, I am going to look into this free program for next year. I forgot to take a picture of the really cute people we made, but here is the bus that is located outside the class, but here is the blog link. 

Next was a stop in their Big Buddie's room to work on lanterns for Chinese New Year. This was a grade 5 with some very creative teachers!! I managed to convince one of the teachers (the other is the principal) that they need to come to Vainer for a visit with Michelle in April. I will write another blog about how the principal implements the science curriculum, but lets just say I was inspired by it!!! 

One really neat idea that I will share was their penny museum projects. With the penny being phased out, student were to make a project that could go in a "museum" to share with future generations. The project was entirely open ended and allowed the students to share their creativity. Here a few samples of their creativity: 

My day ended with the kids in center time before they went to gym with another teacher (at this time Michelle and I eagerly shared app ideas for our classes). I thoroughly enjoyed just watching and listening to the kids play. The special helper of the day was allowed to use the smart board, 2 students were on the iPad and the rest of the class was engaged in meaningful play. 


I am so glad that I was able to have this day to go and learn from Michelle and her students! I have so many great ideas spinning around in my head and I can't wait to get back to school this week and try them! I will be checking in on them on their class blog, Kinderpals, to see what they are up to. This was probably one of the most meaningful Pro-D days that I was experienced in a while. Going into a different class and being able to share ideas is a fantastic way for me to bring new ideas into my class. All day I was questioning my practice, questioning what I can do better and thinking of new ways to help my students be the best they can be! I cant wait until April when Michelle comes to Vanier!


  1. Thank you for coming to visit, Jodi! My students and I were so pleased to share our learning with you, and I can't wait to come and visit your class at Vanier soon!

  2. Sounds like a great day of learning and sharing! We need to do more of this visiting other classrooms! In the meantime, however, the blogging is wonderful! I love the penny museum.

  3. What a great Professional Development day, Jodi! I always found visiting other teacher's classes while in session was the best opportunities! I am glad you were able to experience this with Michelle! Talk about bringing Twitter to life!

    Lora, I agree! Since we are not able to get into our colleague's classrooms as much as we like - blogging it the next best thing! Now, we just need to get other educators to realize the power of blogging and sharing with others.

    I look forward to reading Michelle's blog post after she visits you, Jodi!

  4. Thank you for all the feedback! It was a great day of leaning and I am happy to share it on here with everyone! That's what is so great about twitter and blogging, it brings us all there!

  5. What a fabulous day! I can't wait to hear about the science program!
    And I also LOVE that penny museum idea!

  6. Oh! And I love that one of the students wants to learn about Egypt! Total #GeniusHour project :)

  7. We will talk about science Gallit and I thought of you right away when I saw the Egypt post. Thanks for inspiring me!

  8. I think I will "borrow" a few ideas to use in my HS classes-love the idea of a wiggle break for my gr 8s just not sure if they would buy-in, but reading by the fire ... Why not? Twitter buddies-love it! So much literacy embedded everywhere! Why not continue this in HS?

    Great post Jodi and a great inspiration in Michele! Hope to meet up again some day.

  9. Fantastic post Jodi! Thank you for sharing. I love the learning. Looking forward to chatting with you about you visit and to have Michelle visit to our school in April.