Setting Intentions for 2020

As 2019 comes to a close, I’ve been spending some time reflecting on my year and looking ahead to 2020.   Something I started doing a few years ago was setting intentions each new year.   I’m not really interested in making resolutions, but I do like to have some affirmations to guide my goal-setting for the year.

According to Oxford dictionary, an intention is “a thing intended” or “an aim or plan”.  I think the idea of setting intentions was introduced to me through yoga.  Often, a yoga instructor will guide participants to choose an intention to focus on during their practice.  Often, intentions are simply an “I am…” statement.  (Such as: I am calm, I am focused, I am energized.) Somehow, over the last few years, I’ve made intentions not just a part of my yoga practice, but a part of my life.  I thought some of you might be interested in setting intentions too, so I’ll share a bit about setting mine and share some intentions I’ll be working with in 2020.

Setting Intentions for 2020

When I set my intentions for the year, I simply pick a few areas I’d like to focus on and come up with an “I am…” phrase for each one.   I write the intentions down and I repeat and reread them often throughout the year.  It’s probably not a coincidence that I typically review my intentions as part of my yoga practice on my mat in the mornings.

Of course, intention is important, but so is action.  Often, I have more specific goals related to my intentions.  The most important thing is acting on the intentions.  I have to choose to do the things each day or each week that make them true.

For example, one of my intentions for 2019 that I will be keeping for 2020 is I am fit.  It’s great to say it, think it and write it down, but I actually have to do something about it.   For me, this intention is about wellness.  When I take care of myself mentally and physically, I am a better educator and a better person.  I’ve tried lots of different things over the years: working out with a personal trainer, going to the gym on my own, walking, horseback riding, lifting weights, yoga and a few brief, unsuccessful (and horrible) attempts at running.  Right now, what works for me is a combination of yoga practices and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, in addition to my horseback riding hobby.   For this intention, I set goals for how many times each week I want to workout and practice yoga and then I do my best to stick to it.  I know myself pretty well and I’ve learned to take time first thing in the morning for this… otherwise I’m too easily swept away by other jobs and activities and then feel too worn out to tackle exercise later in the day.  So, by getting up most mornings and heading to my basement to do yoga or work out, I act on the intention of I am fit.

I usually set 3-4 broad intentions for the year and then write down some specific goals related to my intentions.  I revisit my intentions daily.  I re-read my goals periodically and literally like to “check them off” when I meet them.   I revise and add intentions or goals throughout the year if I want to.   I like that my intention-setting “process” keeps me thinking about who I want to be, how I want to feel and what I hope to accomplish for  the year.

Two more of my intentions for 2020 are I am grateful and I am an excellent educator.  As I think more about the upcoming year, I’ll be sharing about my intentions on the KG Education Facebook page if you want to follow along.

If you’re interested in setting intentions, grab a notebook and jot some down for 2020.  If you’d like to share your intentions with us, drop a comment or send us a DM .   

Here’s to an incredible year in 2020!

 

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Support your wellness with a good book: Review #2

Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential, by Amber Rae 

4/5 stars 

wonder over worry (1)

I’ve followed Amber Rae on Instagram for some time–she has the most inspiring and engaging diagram-type images for dealing with different issues in your life.  When I found out that she had a book, I knew that it was a must-read for me and I wasn’t disappointed! She’s created an engaging and visually appealing book full of short chapters, personal stories and advice, and many workbook-style pages to help you connect the content to your own life. 

Each chapter addresses a different emotion in our lives, such as “Meet Jealousy” and “Meet Fear”.  Amber explains how we always have the option to choose wonder (adventure, growth, development) over worry (anxiety, self-limiting beliefs, fear).  She provides many examples from her own journey and practical ways for you to make small changes in your own life. I had several “a-ha!” moments as I read this book and used up a lot of sticky notes flagging favourite passages. 

This book is an easy and enjoyable read that you can pick up and put down often without losing the flow of Amber’s message.  I encourage you to check it out–after all, who doesn’t need a little nudge to move from worry to wonder in their lives! 

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5 Favourite Coding Tools

This week is Computer Science Education Week so we wanted to share with you some of our favourite coding tools.   We hope you’ll sign up for Hour of Code and try out an hour of programming activities with your students!

Before we get into our list of coding tools, I want you to know that, when I teach coding, I usually begin with an “unplugged coding” activity.   This is an activity that requires no technology, but teaches students the concepts and skills needed for coding.   I like to start this way to ensure students have an understanding of what coding is and how to “think like a programmer” before we start coding online.

I also want you to know why I think teaching coding is valuable.   I’m not suggesting that we should be developing programming skills in our K-12 learners so that they can all go on to study computer science and become professional programmers.  However, I do believe that learning to code can foster the development of important skills, which will serve students well both now and in the future.   When students engage in coding activities, they are learning to think critically, problem solve and, often, collaborate.   They are often required to persist and make several attempts at a task.   I also like that students get to learn a bit about how technology works and have the opportunity to create with technology.

So, with those two important points in mind, here are 5 of our favourite coding tools:

5 Favourite Coding Tools.png

Kodable

We’ve both spent a number of years teaching young learners and we love that this tool is accessible for non-readers.   K-5 students will have fun learning to program “The Fuzz”, an adorable character which students can program using left, right, up and down commands.  The content is organized into levels.  The coding challenges increase in complexity, so students can learn about conditions, loops and functions as they progress.  Sign up for a free educator account at https://www.kodable.com/ to get started and consider purchasing additional content if you want more!

The Foos

This is another great option for early years, since it does not require reading.   Students use block-based coding to program fun characters (called Foos) to move, jump and overcome obstacles.   Students will work through a series of levels, which increase in complexity and introduce coding concepts such as loops. I like this option for K-6 students. Teachers can sign up for free at https://codespark.com/ and set up student accounts.

Code.org

Code.org offers a huge number of coding activities.  There are one-hour tutorials for a variety of ages.   They also offer multi-lesson courses which can be completed throughout the semester or throughout the year.   I really like their Express Course for middle years and high school students.  Check out their course offerings here or browse the Hour of Code one-hour tutorials here.

Scratch Jr

This free app is a great tool for early years students to use for programming.  Students use block-based coding to program characters and objects.  The app is open-ended,  giving students the opportunity to create any project they wish to design.  The variety of characters and backgrounds available make it a great choice for storytelling with programming.  If you need some suggestions for getting started, check out their learning activities here: https://www.scratchjr.org/teach/activities

Scratch

Scratch, the “sister” site to Scratch Jr is suitable for middle years and high school students.  This tool is free and offers so many options for programming characters, backgrounds and objects.   Much like Scratch Jr, it is open-ended so students can program anything they wish.  Students can create an account to save their programs and continue building on them.  If students need some ideas for getting started, check out the Scratch ideas page here: https://scratch.mit.edu/ideas

If you try out one of these tools with your students, we’d love to hear from you!   Send us a message and tell us what you tried!

 

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Creating in the Classroom

We recently announced our topic for the 2020 KG Education Winter Learning Retreat:  Creating in the Classroom.   This is a topic we’ve shared before and we’re so excited to be redesigning this session for our learning retreat format!

We believe that one of the most powerful ways to use technology in the classroom is to create with it.  Technology provides unique ways for students to document and share their learning.   Students have an opportunity to showcase their creativity when they design and create products with technology tools.  (Check out the fabulous graphic from TeachThought on the benefits of creativity!) An added bonus to creating with technology is that digital products are usually easy to share online, allowing students to reach an authentic audience.  We’ve found that sharing digital creations is often very meaningful for students because they know their ideas will go beyond the classroom.

TeachThought. (17, November 2019). The Significant Benefits Of Creativity In The Classroom.  Retrieved from: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/innovation-imagination-12-benefits-creativity/

Teachers also benefit from opportunities to create using tech tools.  By harnessing a few useful tools, educators can create customized and relevant learning materials.   We can design templates, posters and more.   However, the most fun for me is supporting students in designing their creations.   Helping students design a product that showcases their ideas and knowledge is so rewarding for me!  Whether they’re filming videos, writing a book or creating with coding, it’s awesome to see students engaged in creating.

What are your students creating?  Drop a comment to let us know!

Ready for some new projects and ideas for creating in the classroom?  Join us on February 28, 2020 for our Creating in the Classroom Learning Retreat.  Learn more here!

 

 

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Support your wellness with a good book!

At KG Education, we believe that healthy teachers who look after their own wellness are the best teachers!  An important component of wellness is taking time for the things that make us happy.  For Leah and me, that includes curling up with a good book on a regular basis.  We are part of a book club that chooses a monthly selection (a different genre every month), and we also love to read fiction and self-help/wellness books whenever we have a chance.  That’s why we’ve decided to start including book reviews on our website and in our monthly newsletters.  We’d like to share our favourite reads to inspire you to make time to read for pleasure.  Keep reading for our first fiction recommendation!

giver of stars

The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes

5/5 stars 

I have read a number of Moyes’ books (the Me Before You trilogy) and really enjoyed them. When I saw that this author had released a historical fiction novel, I added it to the “Want to Read” shelf in my Goodreads app.  When it was released in October, I was excited to snap it up in hardcover for $25. I started reading it one night before bed, and three nights later, I was done. I loved it so much that I turned back to the first page and read it again.

The author did extensive research in the mountains of Kentucky as she wrote this book, actually travelling the routes described on horseback.  Set in a small town in 1930s Kentucky and based on actual events, it tells the story of four women who worked as packhorse librarians to deliver books to the isolated mountain people.  In a conservative and religious small town, these women challenged traditional gender roles and disrupted long-held beliefs by sharing knowledge and information. Two love stories were interwoven throughout the book, and the dialogue among the characters is rich, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking.  I laughed, I cried, and felt hugely satisfied as this powerful story drew to a close. I can’t recommend this book enough–get your own copy now and snuggle up with this book and a cup of tea over the Christmas break! 

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Math Everywhere Learning Retreat 2019

Our first-ever KG Education Learning Retreat is in the books!  We are so grateful to the 10 local educators who trusted us with leading a day of professional learning for them.   It was incredibly exciting to see our vision for professional learning become a reality.

As a team, Devon and I have been leading workshops and sharing presentations for over a decade.  We enjoy working with fellow educators to share ideas and grow our teaching practices.   When we launched KG Education in May 2019, we had this vision of a new format for professional learning.  We wanted to combine professional learning with wellness practices, so we dreamed up the idea of a learning retreat.

What is a learning retreat?

Our learning retreats include a unique blend of professional learning, wellness practices and community-building. 

  • We are both passionate about ongoing learning and professional growth.  We know that teachers need high-quality professional development, so it’s a priority for us to offer meaningful learning opportunities for educators. 
  • We’ve learned the value and importance of teacher wellness, so our learning retreats integrate wellness practices such as yoga, movement and mindfulness. 
  • Finally, we’ve experienced the benefits of connecting with colleagues, so we aim to foster community-building among participants. We offer retreats to small groups of educators, so we can work together and get to know each participant!

What does your day look like at a learning retreat event?

For our Math Everywhere Learning Retreat, we began the day with a gentle yoga class, followed by a nutrition break. Next, we shared ideas for rich math learning and did some math together! We enjoyed a delicious lunch at our local restaurant, Brierwood Creek Cafe & Grill, and then had some workshop time for hands-on creation and sourcing of math activities. After an afternoon break for coffee and snacks, we closed the day with a few yoga poses and a mindfulness practice.

 

“This was a fantastic day! The wellness portion was a great start and end to the day, helping with focus for the day. Thank you for practical resources to use immediately in my classroom!”

– 2019 Math Everywhere Learning Retreat participant

How can I participate?

If this sounds like a professional learning day you’d enjoy, sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about our next learning retreat!

 

 

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GRA19: Discussion Questions for Stella Diaz has Something to Say

Global Read Aloud is one of my favourite learning activities!  I love seeing students explore rich literature and connect with other students to share their perspectives.

I pre-read the book and I’ve created weekly discussion questions or prompts for Stella Diaz has Something to Say  by Angela Dominguez

Stella Diaz (1)

Feel free to use any of these questions/prompts for discussions in your class or with your partner classrooms!  I like posting a question or prompt on Padlet or Flipgrid each week to keep the connection going between partner classrooms, but many of the prompts would also work for in-class discussion or video calls.

Week 1: September 30- October 4: Chapters 1-4

Stella is really hopeful that she’ll make a new friend.  Tell us what you like to do with your friends.

Stella can speak English and Spanish.  Do you know another language?  Can you share a word or phrase?

Week 2: October 7-11: Chapters 5-7

Stella talks about some special foods she likes, such as jicama.  What are some special foods you and your family enjoy?

Jenny has an idea that Stella can overcome her shyness by asking others questions.   Ask your partner class a question.  Remember to come back to answer someone’s question and see if someone responded to yours.

Week 3: October 14-18: Chapters 8-10

Stella eats, sings, dances and laughs with her family.  What does your family do together?

Stella writes her own book.  If you wrote a book, what would it be about?  Why would you choose that topic?

Week 4: October 21-25: Chapters 11-13

Stella and her family celebrate the new year with a trip to the Wisconsin Dells.   How does your family celebrate special occasions or holidays?

Stella wonders about her mother’s Christmas traditions in Mexico.  Research different holidays around the world and share how one country or culture celebrates a special occasion.

Week 5: October 28-November 1:Chapters 14-17

Stella is nervous about the spelling bee, but she tries it anyway.  Tell us about a time you did something that made you nervous or something that seemed challenging.

Stella is inspired by the author she sees at the library.  She thinks she might want to be an author too.  What do you dream of doing or being?

Week 6:  November 4-8: Chapters 18-End

Stella has accomplished a lot.  Share an accomplishment that you’re proud of.

Stella is very interested in marine life.  What interests you?  Tell us about it!

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