Posts tagged call to action
World Creativity and Innovation Day

Did you know that this Saturday is World Creativity and Innovation Day?
Halton wants to celebrate this day on Friday, April 20th.  

Look around your building for examples of innovative teaching practices, students showing off their own creativity, or just something interesting that resonates with you.   Tweet out your observations and pictures using the hashtag #HDSBInnovates. We want to know what is happening in your building!

Tales of Community Building

We started this year with a Community Building Call to Action.  We can sum up the work that many educators have done over the past month.  However, we’d rather present to you the experiences of one Halton Teacher.

Nancy Zigrovic is an French teacher at Iroquois Ridge High School.  She took up our Community Building Call to Action and ran with it!

I have often heard it said that with so much content to cover, how does anyone have time for community-building?  Team-building activities such as classmate bingo and “two truths and a lie” seem to happen in the first week of school and never again.  I have often found myself caught in this same dilemma - is it community or curriculum?  I am here to argue that in a 21st Century learning environment, one cannot happen without the other.

I am currently teaching Grade 9 Applied Core French with a lovely bunch of students who have made it very clear to me that this will be the last time they ever take French.  They tell me that French sucks and ask me not to take it personally.  I don’t, because what they don’t know is that my plan is to change their minds so they see that French actually DOESN’T suck!  The more important point is this:  even if this will be the last time they ever take a French course, they will walk out of our class having built the confidence to fail, because truly it’s only through trying, failing and learning that anyone ever learned to speak another language and increase cultural awareness.

My educated guess is that many of the students in this class have done a fair bit of ‘failing’ in their educational experiences.  My other sense is that they have spent years interpreting these failures as negative - yet another reason to doubt their abilities and resist engaging in the learning process.  So I will do my part to help them reframe their understanding of failure and to embrace a growth mindset, where failure is seen not as the end result, but as an important part of the learning process.

How to begin?  By building a sense of belonging and community in our class that fosters kindness, acceptance, compassion and risk-taking.  At the same time, by equipping students with the knowledge and skills required to try new things.

One of the first activities that we undertook to begin to get to know one another is called My Story/Mon Histoire.  Students created a Google Slides presentation of 5-10 slides that gave us a snapshot of who they are:  interests, hobbies, families, cultural background, dreams, etc.  There were three goals for this activity:  a) get to know one another better, b) assess prior learning and c) continue to develop effective presentation skills.  

Of course, I would never ask them to do something like this without also being willing to do it myself, so I went first and shared Mon Histoire.  They seemed genuinely interested as I shared about my family, interests, challenges and my life’s mission - to make high schools more kind and compassionate places for kids.  As they started to work on their presentations, it struck me that I now had time to connect with students individually as I circulated and helped them create.  Another great way to get to know my students.

For many of the students, the exercise was a very positive one.  We all learned just how many places so many of our classmates have lived in the world and how many languages they already speak!  We had a chance to feel compassion for two students who are brand new to Oakville and to our school.  

It wasn’t all a success.  First, I entirely overestimated the students’ collective ability to actively listen to their peers, without the distraction of a device.  It did, however, allow us to engage in a great discussion about appropriate use of technology and how it’s simply rude to not pay attention when someone is sharing their life story with you.  Second, and while I don’t like to promote gender stereotypes, I observed that many of the boys had a much more difficult time sharing than the girls.  There were two male students who simply decided not to do the exercise.  I am convinced that they had their reasons.  So instead of just moving on, I opened up a new Google Slides presentation and we did it there, right on the spot, with the assistance of the class.  They still shared information about themselves, and I believe they learned a very important lesson that non-engagement is not an option.  

In the end, did we accomplish our goals of getting to know one another better, assessing prior learning and working on presentation skills? For the most part, yes.  Will I do this activity again?  Most definitely, yes!
Here’s what I will do even better the next time:   I will give them a few more weeks to ease into the class and engage in community-building activities that involve less risk at the beginning of the semester, before diving into this level of sharing.  In addition, I will consider asking them to share together in small groups rather than in front of the class.

As for French sucking?  The jury is still out on this one, but our community-building is showing signs of success!  We are now demonstrating our active listening skills and we have learned appropriate ways to show our appreciation after a classmate has presented.  We have also begun to embrace mistakes in pronunciation as wonderful opportunities to learn!  As we continue to engage in more of these activities, I am convinced that we will be able to push our second language learning even further as we embrace risk-taking, failing, and ultimately learning.  Curriculum THROUGH community!

And here are my next two ideas:  community circles and Androidify this week to lead us into a discussion of descriptive language in French.  I’ll keep you posted…

~Nancy Zigrovic

Call to Action: Community Building

So we’ve all survived our first week back!  Hopefully you’ve settled into some sort of routine with your classes.  We are hoping that you’ll make daily community building a part of that routine.  We all want our students to be risk takers and feel safe in our classrooms. By building a positive community daily your students will be more engaged and will be willing to meet challenges together.

So our challenge to you is to take breaks daily to build community with your students.  

Need some help getting started?  No problem!  


are a few activities that you can try tomorrow!  Feel free to let us know how it goes in the comments or add some links to your own favourite activity. Why not tweet about your experiences using #HDSBInnovates.

Here are some activities from Second City that we used at the

Shift Summer Symposium


Here are the books we pulling from, check them out, ask your administrator to stock these at school.  They are community building GOLD!!

Yes, And

If you are looking for a refresher for why you would want to build community in the first place, check out this



Call to Action #2 - Twitter Challenge
On June 1st, the Halton District School Board wants to celebrate some of the great things that happen in our schools and community.  The medium for this celebration?  Twitter and the hashtag #LoveMyHaltonSchool.  If you are reading this and are already using twitter, we think that is great!  If you haven’t had a chance to try out twitter yet, or are reluctant to jump into the world of social media, allow us a moment to try to convince you to join the conversation.

We want you to create your own professional twitter account.  We also want you to know that it is ok to sign up for twitter and never tweet a thing.  Being passive in an online community is a great way to be introduced to the ins and outs of the community…and what a community it is!  There are so many educators using twitter, and their practice is enhanced by the sharing that goes on in this space.

So here is our next Call to Action
  • If you use twitter, send out a tweet on June 1st identifying something you’d like to celebrate about your school.  Use the hashtag #LoveMyHaltonSchool
  • If you don’t use twitter, consider signing up!  Then send a short message into the void, introduce yourself, jump into the deep end!
  • Follow some Halton teachers who are already on Twitter to widen your network.  You’ll probably find lots to follow if you search for the #LoveMyHaltonSchool hashtag during the day.

Maybe we should slow might be wondering what the heck a hashtag is anyway?

“Hashtags are keywords that categorize what you’re tweeting about. For instance, you might use “#edtech” at the end of a tweet about how your students use tablets. You can also search Twitter for a hashtag that you’re interested in. This will bring up tweets from other users who have tweeted about that topic.”

Still interested?  Here is a short breakdown of some things you might want to know about tweeting.

Are you an educator, inside or outside of Halton, that uses twitter professionally?  We’d love to connect with you, why not post your twitter handle in the comments!
Want to know even MORE???

twitter handle @
This is your Twitter name. You want this to be both memorable and easy to remember. Sure, you can use your first and last name, but there are a lot of Jane Smith’s out there. If your name is taken, use something that identifies you. Ours are, for example, @DFJH_Mitchell and @MrColemanArt Some of our friends include @pjdavison and @Mrs_Newcombe. Short, spelled correctly, and identifiable is key.
A 140-character public message.
News Feed
twitter home
The home button gets you to your news feed. This is a constantly updated list of everyone you choose to follow. Occasionally you might see promoted tweets too (meaning someone paid Twitter to get seen).
twitter #hashtag
The pound sign before text means that the text can be searched. This is really useful. If you want to find everyone talking about innovative things in Halton you throw the hashtag on the front, and you can find any tweet that someone put #HDSBInnovates in. They can also be used for humor. #MitchellRocks #TwitterIsCool
DM (Direct Message)
All tweets are public and can be seen by anyone at any time unless you use a direct message. A DM means that the conversation is only between you and the other person (or people) in your message.
RT (Retweet)
twitter retweet
Anyone can repost your tweet, which is similar to quoting you. Your name is still attached, but everyone who follows the re-poster can now see your tweet too. This is usually done as a form of agreement or flattery.
Hit the heart when you want to say you like a tweet, or agree with it.
Quote Tweet
twitter quote
Quote was formerly a MT, or Mention. You can attach an original tweet to yours and add your own commentary.
twitter notifications
When someone mentions your handle, or retweets what you wrote, you will get a notification. You can choose if you get text alerts, emails, or phone notifications in your settings.

Call to Action #1 - The "Why"
Today, the Shift launches the first in a series of videos that we are calling “Call to Action”!  Here is how we picture it working: with each “Call to Action”, we are asking you to take on a small challenge, reflect on how it’s goes and share your reflections, either here in the comments, or on Twitter using #HDSBInnovates. We are hoping to spark some thinking and sharing on specific topics as we delve deeper into how to innovate and improve our practice as educators here at Halton.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s Call to Action.  Have a watch, we’ll be here for you when you get back:

So?  What do you think?  What would you like to improve? This isn’t about change for change sake.  If innovation is about "creating new and better things", within education, we have to assess if what we have done is truly better.  If you simply do different things that are not better, this is change for the sake of change. This is why asking WHY is important.

Click HERE to bring you to a doc to work on your goal 

Setting a goal
and sharing it is a small and monumental first step.  Try to visualize what your class might be like after making that improvement, and share that with colleagues.  Sharing that goal with others is the greatest predictor of whether you are going to achieve that goal.

Here is some pseudo-mathiness for you:
Setting that goal for yourself < Deciding why you want to achieve that goal <Sharing your goal with friends.
Putting my money where my mouth is, this is my goal and my “why”?  I am an art teacher, and I am working with my teaching partner (shoot out to Jennifer Smallwood!) to restructure the final 30% in that course.  After the PD day on Friday, we had some great discussions about how to structure the creative process to provide structure to students while offering them huge choice and freedom to demonstrate their learning in their own way.  WHY?  Students love having choice in how they express their learning and the also appreciate having structure at the beginning of a project, because simply saying “you have total free reign, be creative aaaaand GO!” is terrifying.

I don’t want to be left behind so I’m going to throw my hat in the ring too!  What do I want to improve?  I want my students to move more often during a period.  Why?  Because like we’ve mentioned, it is tough to sit in one place for 75 minutes.  I know this is going to be a challenge for me this week, given what’s coming for my classes, but that’s not going to stop me from trying!

Shift Conference
We can’t wait to meet some of you Shifters tomorrow at the Shift Conference.  We’d love to meet our fellow innovators in the board and hear about what interesting work you are doing!  It will be a fun and invigorating day

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