Almost two years ago, I was thinking about the #fslchat community and wondering how I could gather some of these people in person. At first I hummed and hawed about an Edcamp for FSL teachers. Then someone from my personal learning network on Twitter mentioned the TLLP (Teacher Learning and Leadership Program). I started doing some research and decided to apply.
I was really pleased to find out the application was successful. As the team leader, I went to Toronto and was able to meet some of my TLLP team members in person. I learned about budget management, reporting and got great tips from people who had successfully run their own projects. I spent a few days with other teams across Ontario and was inspired by all of the teachers that I met.
But like in all things, there were some expected and unexpected bumps in the road. Work to rule meant that my project was put on a shelf for 6 months. My colleague Dawn decided to drop out to (understandably) focus on the development of her Learning Commons and new role at the Board. Following this, I found out I was pregnant. I’m very grateful that my board and the Ministry have supported me in running the project a year later… and while on maternity leave!
The delay has meant few more changes in team members, meeting dates and venues but I think we are all set and ready to go!
First let me tell you about the team. They have been extremely supportive and flexible as we have navigated through these initial changes. I really could not do this without them.
Maddalena Shipton – Core French Teacher at Toronto Catholic School Board is a part of a team that created the “FrEdMatters” symposium this summer. She led her own TLLP project last year about growth mindset and the power of “yet”. She avidly shares the activities of her classroom through photos during our weekly #fslchats.
Myria Mallette – was an Intermediate Core French teacher in Lambton-Kent but has now taken on a new position of leadership in FSL at her school board. She ran her own tech based TLLP project last year in FSL. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at GAFE and visiting her and her FSL colleagues in Sarnia. She ran an excellent OTF webinar last year about Tech in FSL. I look forward to making connections between our school boards that are not too far apart!
Bruce Emmerton – a Core French teacher at Limestone DSB in Kingston. Bruce hardly ever misses an #fslchat and is someone who’s opion is often retweeted and respected. I’ve spoken to him by phone once, but we will be meeting for the first time ‘in person’ this fall. He is a master of creating a culture of French in the classroom. He leads many networks at his board with other French teachers around the CEFR.
Beverley Moss – an experienced Core French teacher at Thames Valley District School Board. I met Bev through a book club that I participated in with some FSL teachers. She is a lifelong learner who is so passionate about teaching French that you would be excited just talking about it with her. Her classroom environment reflects the CEFR and student enthusiasm for French.
The goal of our project is to connect students with other French speakers beyond the walls of the classroom using iPads. Each of the lead team teachers has received 5 mini iPads, a VGA lightning cord, 5 Belkin Splitters and Otterboxes for the iPads. We are going to be measuring the effects of this type of authentic French speaking and listening opportunities on FSL learning with pre and post surveys for teachers and students as well as some digital documentation and blogs. Will student confidence increase? Will their understanding of “why” learn French increase? Will they see themselves more as French speakers in the world?
The project was inspired by the results of the data found through the “Student Proficiency and Confidence Pilot Project” and some French Immersion review data at our school board. This project was also developed with feedback from my Supervisor, Susan Bruyns and with the support of Deb Smith, our FSL Learning Coordinator and FSL TOSA Jen Moodie.
Please check out Tranforming FSL’s summary of Dr. Rehner’s results here:
What we develop remains to be seen. I’m looking forward to collaborating with this creative and dynamic group and discovering what we create together. The first half of the project is about learning and the second half is about sharing what we learn. And trust me, that will be shared widely next summer and fall!
And so our learning journey begins.
In addition to this small group, 20 teachers at TVDSB and their Instructional Coaches will have an opportunity to be a part of the project too. On Saturday, October 15th Sylvia Duckworth will be paying us a visit to kick things off in London. We will be spending a full day of learning with her about iPad use in the FSL classroom. These 20 teachers will be released for a second day in the winter with the TLLP team and we will be sharing what has been tried with students and developed since the meeting with Sylvia. Again, the focus will be having our students communicate with other students beyond the walls of the classroom. We will be using both surveys with students and documenting learning digitally.
Also, our team of 5 will be traveling to BIT2016 in Niagara Falls November 9th-11th to increase our knowledge and apply it to the project. I know I will meet even more #fslchat “tweeps” there too.
I’m so excited to get started! I know there will be bumps along the way that we will have to navigate. But I have faith in this team and I know that we are going to learn a great deal together. While this project has a Core French focus, if we are successful, I hope to extend it to French Immersion in the future.
And Dawn Telfer and I are kicking off this year’s #fslchat season on Sunday September 11th at 9pm ET. This chat was created in February 2014. It consists of French Immersion and Core French teachers that discuss important FSL topics each week. It is a vibrant community where ideas flow and questions are answered and shared. This year, we are encouraging #fslchat community members to help us by moderating a chat that they are passionate about. Dawn and I agree that if #fslchat is really a success, it would run without us. Furthermore, we are going to experiment with taking our chat beyond Twitter (using YouTube on Air) from time to time. We are also introducing a “slow chat” on Twitter through the week, posting a question Mon-Sat from Sunday night’s chat at 10 am daily, so that people who missed the chat can post daily at their leisure!
Come and evolve with us. What connections will you make and what will that lead to?
It’s a new school year. What could you create with your team to impact student learning?