Learn ▪︎ Teach ▪︎ Inspire (February 2021)

On-the-go Professional Learning

You Make a Difference!

Do you realize what a difference you have been making for students throughout the impact of COVID on teaching and learning?! Take heart and draw energy from the fact that hundreds of thousands of students in Alberta are being served, educated, supported and given life opportunities that are the result of YOU and everyone committed to the individual students we can reach – YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE – A HUGE DIFFERENCE. Please read the following story “The Starfish” and find yourself and the students you touch as you reflect on all you are doing – it is worth every effort you have breathed into what you do. THANK YOU – for MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!

On another note, you might notice our “newsletter” has taken on a new look! Although you’ll continue to receive a weekly email update on ERLC’s session offerings, this format allows us the opportunity to provide you with some easily accessible “on-the-go” professional learning –anytime, anywhere, anyplace. We hope you’ll enjoy these monthly missives and find a gem or two to inspire and deepen your practice.

Thank you,

To request Professional Learning support contact:
John Waterhouse, Executive Director
email: info@erlc.ca
phone: 780-444-2497

A man was walking on the beach one day and noticed a boy who was reaching down, picking up a starfish and throwing it in the ocean. As he approached, he called out, “Hello! What are you doing?” The boy looked up and said, “I’m throwing starfish into the ocean”. “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the man. “The tide stranded them. If I don’t throw them in the water before the sun comes up, they’ll die” came the answer. “Surely you realize that there are miles of beach, and thousands of starfish. You’ll never throw them all back, there are too many. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy listened politely, then picked up another starfish. As he threw it back into the sea, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

The Star –by Lauren Eisley

Curriculum and Assessment

“Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. It also helps teachers improve the effectiveness of their instruction. ‘When the cook tastes the soup,’ writes Robert E. Stake, ‘that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative’ ” (Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding by Todd Finlay). The attached 53 Ways to Check for Understanding is a list of assessment strategies that offers you new ways to check for understanding and make visible what students have learned.

Contact a member of our Curriculum and Assessment team
Tim Coates, Adelee Penner, Tannis Niziol or Irene Heffel
to book a professional learning session that explores this
or other curriculum and assessment topics.

53 Ways to Check for Understanding (PDF)

Early Learning

EDC’s Paul Goldenberg is investigating whether learning computer programming can help young children with mathematics. In December many of you celebrated Hour Of Code. Check out how continuing that practice in Math may help your little ones.

Contact Adelee Penner to book a professional learning session
on a variety of topics related to Early Learning.

Educational Technology

As more teachers are now using Google Classroom to bridge the worlds of school and home learning, sometimes parents of younger learners, unfamiliar with how to use Google classroom from the student view, can be helped with video support. ERLC has created this 12-minute video that addresses 5 big questions parents (or even some of our students navigating themselves for the first time) might have! Enjoy and distribute, and if you have similar videos to share, please tag us on Twitter @erlcpl and we can help you fan your resources out through our networks as well.

Contact Janet Bell to book a professional learning session
on this or other Technology topics.

Google Classroom for Parents Video

First Nations, Métis, Inuit

We have a new Ministerial Order on Student Learning set of resources that help school authorities consider how to operationalize the new vision for learning in Alberta. Have you read the new order #028/2020 from the perspective of infusing ways of knowing into our classrooms? A key message from the Order is to infuse original documents or foundational knowledge into our classrooms. Are there any more foundational documents than Treaties formed between nations? The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg Manitoba is a great resource for you to use to share copies of the original treaties, resources about the legacy of Canadian Indian Residential School System, and more foundational documents. Check them out.

Contact Adelee Penner to book a professional learning session
to explore the Ministerial Order on Student Learning.

French Language Learning

I move therefore, I think. This does not entirely correspond to Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”, but I believe it reflects more accurately what research is telling us about second language learning today; embodied cognition is acknowledging all facets of the learner as a whole through their body, mind and spirit. To explore this idea, further you might read the attached article.

Learning a second language through movement and games develops many competencies including: trust, collaboration, resilience, creative and critical thinking; all while being an authentic way to learn and retrieve information. This type of engagement increases the students’ ability to internalize grammar and build on prior knowledge which ultimately gives way to more spontaneity, a deeper understanding of the linguistic processes, and the ability to transfer learning to a variety of conversational contexts in the future. I’ve attached a few activities for you to share with teachers; all work is adaptable F2F or online.

Contact Marylou Gammans to book a professional learning session
to further explore second language learning development for FSL and FR.IM.

Embodied cognition for L2

Acitivité ERLC-Ce n’est pas un crayon

Acitivité Tableaux

Inclusive Education

Conversation Guide for the video – Valuing all Students

Contact Kelly Gibbs or Adelee Penner to book a professional learning session
on a variety of topics related to Inclusive education.

Instructional Leadership

What Does Good Leadership Look Like During a Pandemic?
by Adelee Penner

  1. Act Early. There is a tendency to wait for information and clarity. The result can be periods of inaction as a pandemic is a never ending series of moving targets. Superintendents that acted early and put out plans for their school authorities have attended to safety and moved learning forward in their schools.
  2. Communicate with Transparency. Communication during tough times is a labour of love and a thankless task. Superintendents that have “got out ahead” of news reports, community gossip, staff fears and wonderings have been able to develop and foster better relationships than they were able to before the pandemic.
  3. Fall forward together. There are bound to missteps and problems that arise as systems work to live their mission during COVID-19. Superintendents that have responded to failure, problems, missteps with action and focus onto the next have been able to build leadership credibility. They have taken criticism and kept the focus on supporting a learning community during tough times.
  4. Keep Nimble. There is an outdated perception that a leader must be steady and unrelenting in staying the course. Some steadiness is required during times of uncertainty, however, given the rapid changes in the landscape, decisions that made sense in March 2020 are no longer relevant or sound. Superintendents that have been impactful during the pandemic are constantly updating their priorities and using new strategies to gain information and learn as events unfold.

Contact Adelee Penner to book a professional learning session
to explore this and other leadership topics.

Literacy and Language Arts

Academic vocabulary is the vocabulary critical to understanding the unique disciplinary concepts we teach. It refers to the words that are compiled from a scan of textbooks, assignments, content area learning outcomes, and standardized tests, and are often common across all content areas. However, the instruction of academic vocabulary must be intentional. The rote assignment of a worksheet list on Monday, with students writing definitions, and then sitting for a test on Friday won’t do it! The evidence suggests that students need explicit instruction in word meanings, repeated exposure to words and multiple experiences using the words in class. Attached are Jim Burke’s (2014) lists of the top 15 academic vocabulary words that are most critical and transferable across the disciplines.

Contact Tannis Niziol or Irene Heffel to book a professional learning session
that explores this or other topics in Literacy and Language Arts.

THE A-LIST-Essential Academic Words

Math and Numeracy

Assessing Mathematical Thinking: Dr. Marian Small

Contact Ulana Soletsky to book a professional learning session
on this or other Math and Numeracy topics.

Mental Health

International SEL Day
Building Bonds, Reimagining Communities
March 26, 2021 #SELday

Check out selday.org to learn how you can participate in this year’s International SEL Day. The Urban Assembly and SEL4US invite communities across the globe to celebrate the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) on the second annual International SEL Day on March 26, 2021. Their theme this year is Building Bonds, Reimagining Community.

We know that SEL changes lives. Studies show that SEL provides many benefits to students—from improved social-emotional skills, well-being and behaviour to improved academic outcomes—and these results are long-term and global, with proven positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. SEL competencies are also critically important for long-term success in today’s economy. We know you get it, but many members of our communities don’t know about SEL yet.

Contact Adelee Penner to book a professional learning session
on a variety of mental health related topics