In Canada, Global Connections and a Grandfather's Inspiration

Opinion | 21st Century Skills

In Canada, Global Connections and a Grandfather's Inspiration

from Microsoft Education

By Kaylyn Dorland     Jan 5, 2016

In Canada, Global  Connections and a Grandfather's Inspiration

Kaylyn Dorland teaches Grade 2 at Queen of Heaven Catholic Elementary School in Southern Ontario, Canada. Here is a day in her life.

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Rookie Mistake

On the first day of school I accidentally set my alarm for 6:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 a.m. I am optimistic that the beginning of my second week of school will start off at a more relaxed pace!

My typical morning routine begins with the radio blasting CHUM FM’s Roger & Marilyn—a hilarious and upbeat morning show. Meteorologists are calling for hot and steamy weather, not typical for this Southern Ontario town. Ten minutes before I leave for work, I take my eight-pound, Yorkshire terrier poodle, Grizzly, for a short but necessary walk. If I was allowed to take him to school with me, I would. I grab a banana for breakfast and drive my ridiculously short, six-minute commute to work. Yes, I am “one of those”... lucky enough to work and live in the same town, which—in the Greater Toronto Area—is a blessing.

7:45 a.m.

I’ve arrived at school, and make my coffee with our staffroom Keurig while greeting some of my co-workers. I love working in a school with such positive and passionate teachers. We really are a great team.

8:30 a.m.

Bell rings! Kids are here! My students have successfully adopted the routine of entering the classroom and getting right into their bell work, which is displayed on our whiteboard using a smart projector. In our classroom, we use a digital OneNote Notebook that easily stores all our lessons. Today, students are at their desks copying what they see on the board into their individual workbooks with paper and pencil. Since it is still the beginning of the school year, my students are working on printing basic letters and forming numbers.

9:00 a.m.

Math is my favorite subject to teach in the morning. The kids are usually on point and eager to learn. Today, we review our math from the previous week. We discuss our learning and add to the lesson that we have already recorded into our digital notebook. We also watch a mini lesson about patterning that I made over the summer with Office Mix. Kids are not only creating correct patterns and using the proper terms and vocabulary, but they are extending their learning by creating more complex patterns with multiple changing attributes.

10:15 a.m.

Social Studies. Time to start our first unit, Global Communities: People and Their Environments. I’m so lucky to have a whole global community of teachers behind me with the Microsoft Educator Network. I mention to my students that this year we will be partaking in a few #WHOtoYOU collaboration projects with classrooms near and far to co-learn, co-create and co-present. In my opinion, students from all around the world need more opportunities to get to know each other on some level—any level. Global collaboration in education could potentially change the way children learn to develop respect, understanding and awareness for each other.

I created WHOtoYOU after my grandfather passed away early in 2015. He was a teacher and coach at Ridley College in St. Catherines, Ontario. Even though he retired when I was young, I learned over the years how he inspired his students and created fun and engaging learning environments. He was always captivating and full of life. WHOtoYOU is my way of carrying on his legacy in education.

My next big announcement during Social Studies leaves my students floored and quite the opposite of speechless. I tell them that I am really hoping to bring Minecraft into the classroom this year to help teach them about community, landforms and—of course—collaborating with others. Instantly there are hands going up. All students want to share that they have created many exuberant worlds at home. Their minds are literally running wild with excitement.

11:30 a.m.

During my planning time in the mid-morning, I’m sitting with a few colleagues in a conference room sharing tips. I may have converted another teacher to join the purple OneNote Avengers. (Educators and students who use OneNote can receive purple capes).

Then I post a picture on Twitter—my students learning in math centers.

12:00 p.m.

Lunch time! I have supervision duty during recess and as I enter the playground I am swarmed by my students from last year. I am so happy to see them and talk to them. They are my little tiny tech experts and I’ve made a deal with them that they will need to visit and help me teach my new students this year.

12:45 p.m.

After lunch, it’s time for our Language Arts class. I have students set up into rotating groups around our literacy learning centers. As each group visits the centers, I call over a few students at a time to do reading assessments. They read short stories from a standard program we have at our school; they are leveled by letter through their fluency and comprehension skills. Personally, I think Grade 2 is a great year for reading progress; lots of success can happen from September to June.

I am able to audio record reading progress when I complete diagnostic assessments every few months. One of the many great features of switching to digital education is that both students and parents can access this at home; they are able to see and hear feedback at any time! As a teacher, I’m loving that I have recorded audio data.

2:15 p.m.

Last class of the day! As a Catholic school, we enjoy learning and discussing our religion, during our Focus on Faith period. Today, we are setup to complete our first Mystery Skype with a Grade 1 class in our town of Milton. Classes link up through video chat and students take turns asking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to guess where in the world the other class is located. The discovery is always an exciting end to the game!

Then we say a prayer together and talk about our Catholic School. It is so lovely to see the kids make connections with other students and be proud of their school and their faith.

3:05 p.m.

School’s out! I’m going home to work on planning another collaboration project for this school year.

6:00 p.m.

E-mail checking and retweeting. Then it’s time to get out for a walk with Grizzly.

9:00 p.m.

Time for this teacher to head to bed. Lots of exciting learning in the week ahead. I check my alarm, yep, set for 6:00 a.m…not p.m…

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