I’m @avivaloca from now on!

After the news became official that I’m teaching Grade 6 for next year, I knew that I needed to change my Twitter handle as well. I’ve been @grade1 since I started tweeting three years ago, and I find it hard to imagine myself as anything but @grade1. To help me make this big decision, I asked my amazing PLN to vote on their favourite new Twitter handle. Some people suggested some of their own name possibilities, and from there, I narrowed my choices to my favourite three:




I created a new Twtpoll, and the results were close: 17 people voted for @avivaloca and 20 people voted for @avivateaches. Only four people voted for @avivadun. Now I had to decide. I could have gone with the winning choice — @avivateaches — but there’s just something about @avivaloca that I love.

Here’s why I eventually decided on this choice:

1) It’s fewer characters than @avivateaches. With Twitter, every character counts, so I figured that the less, the better.

2) The name makes me smile. I love to laugh, and every time that I hear this name, I break into a grin. I think that’s a good thing. Seeing as though I tweet a lot and I see my Twitter name a lot, the happier that it can make me, the better!

3) In Spanish, “loca” means “crazy,” and I am just a little crazy — in a good way, I think. 🙂 I hope that next year will be a special year full of awesome learning with just the right dash of “craziness” to make it exciting. What’s learning without a little fun? 🙂

4) It’s ultimately about the kids, and the Grade 6’s are sure to love this name the most. Heather Jelley (@team_jellybean) reminded me of this in her tweet:

I think this matters. Even with something as simple as a Twitter handle, I can start to make a connection with my students. Awesome!

So thank you all for helping me make this difficult decision and leading me from @grade1 to @avivaloca. I may have a new name, but I’m still the old person, and I look forward to another year of learning with all of you.


Beyond Just Art

Last week, I read a fantastic blog post by Aaron Puley (@bloggucation), which inspired me to try something different in art than I’d ever tried before. After writing last week’s blog post, I received some comments from Aaron and his wife, Jennifer Faulkner (@learninghood). Jennifer mentioned that she had her Grade 10 science class create their entire physics unit using the curriculum document. This really got me thinking, as maybe we need to give more opportunities for students to examine the curriculum expectations and understand what they’re learning and why they’re learning it.

Thanks to what Aaron and Jennifer shared, this week, I decided to try something else that I’ve never tried before. This year, the Grade 1’s and 2’s helped plant and take care of a butterfly garden at school, and we’re looking at ways that we can continue to take care of this garden over the summer and into next year. I wanted the students to create a media text sharing their ideas, and then posting their completed media texts on their student blogs, so that their ideas could be shared with our school community.

Instead of telling the student what to make, I pulled up the Language Document on the SMART Board. We took a screenshot of the expectation related to producing media texts. Then we went through this expectation together. Students told me what they could do that matched up to the examples in the document, and they told me how they could modify or build on these examples. They also told me which examples would not apply to this activity. Below is a screenshot of our brainstorming session:

Students then used these ideas to decide on what they wanted to do and what tool they wanted to use. The results were incredible. Students problem-solved. They collaborated with their peers. They discussed their audience, and they made good choices about ways for their audience to get the information that they wanted them to receive.

Creating On The Computers

Creating With Markers And Paper

Many students are still completing their media texts, but all completed ones are posted on the individual student blogs linked on the right-hand side of our group blog. Seeing these results and watching the students create their media texts today proved to me that all students should be working with curriculum expectations regardless of age. Set high expectations, support the students as they achieve them, and the results will be incredible!

How have you had students work with the curriculum expectations and curriculum documents in your classroom? What were the results? I’d love to hear about your experiences!


Down To The Final Name Choices

Thank you so much to all of you that voted for my new Twitter handle. I was overwhelmed with the number of votes cast. Just the other day, I was looking at the map of votes, and I couldn’t believe the number of people from all over the world that weighed in on this decision. Wow!

Technically I should have a new Twitter handle now, and based on the votes, my new name should be @avivadun. I like this handle, as it is a name option and can stay with me regardless of the grade that I teach or the position that I hold in the Board. There’s a problem though: the Twitter poll produced some other name options that I liked even more than the ones that I provided, and now I’m torn. I really want to harness the power of social media to make this choice, and I really want to listen to what my PLN says. To do so though, I need to have another poll.

Below is my final poll: it’s my three favourite choices of names. There’s @avivadun (the name choice that includes my first name and the easiest part to spell of my last name), there’s @avivaloca (the name that made me giggle as soon as I read it, and that I’ve had many messages and comments about, but which did not initially show up top in the polls), and @avivateaches (the name that combines my first name and what I truly love to do — teach).

I love all of these names and hope you will help me in making this final decision. There’s a week for people to vote, so next week will not only be my last week of school and my last week as a Grade 1/2 teacher, but also my last week as @grade1. This sounds very fitting! Let the voting begin. 🙂


When Art Is About More Than Just Skill

I’m not artist. I never have been. My students all know that they have far more artistic skill than me, and often they model how to do an activity instead of me doing the modelling. While I may not be artistic though, I’d like to think of myself as creative, and I try to encourage this same creativity in my students.

This morning I read a blog post by Aaron Puley, a Parent and Student Engagement Consultant with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. This post discussed Aaron’s own experiences with his seven-year-old daughter. He explained how Medea often comes home from school with blackline master activities, like the ubiquitous Easter bunny hat. Aaron shared that one day after making an Easter bunny hat, Medea came home, went right into the office, and creative an Easter bunny story instead. Aaron actually shared this amazing story with my class, and my students loved it! After discussing these experience in his blog post, Aaron cited the expectations met through the Media Literacy and Arts curriculum documents. It was this part of his post that really got me thinking.

Today my students had to create an animal puppet for the Ancaster Fair. Before I read Aaron’s post, I was going to have the students research an animal, and then make a paper bag puppet. I think that this could have still worked, but Aaron made me wonder if art needs to be about more problem solving than this. I did something then that I’ve never done before: I opened up the Arts Curriculum Document on the SMART Board for the students, and together we read about the elements of design. Then we used the screen capture tool to put the elements right into the Notebook software.

We went element by element, and students shared ideas about what specific ideas may be included under each element. Then I challenged the students to create an animal puppet that used at least three elements of design.

Something happened in my art class that has never happened before. Students were actually discussing elements of design. As they were researching their animals and sketching their plans, they were also talking about what elements of design would work best for these animals. Students were creating, problem solving, and learning together. It was incredible to see!

When they were finished, we discussed as a class what elements of design the different students used. I chose to record the discussion using Audioboo, and the class got so involved in sharing, that I didn’t even notice that the five-minute time limit had been reached. It does cut off slightly at the end, but I think this discussion is still worth sharing.

Then, to end the activity, students used the ideas generated orally to write about their elements of design. Below are some photographs of what the students wrote. I particularly love all of the different ways that they shared their thoughts. Again, it was about creativity!

Example #1 - Sentences

Example #2 - A List

Example #3 - A Largely Pictorial List

Example #4 - A Chart Using Pictures And Words

Thank you, Aaron, for helping me make today’s art lesson about more than just skill. All students were successful today thanks to this different approach, and I can’t thank you enough for this. It’s amazing how a blog post can change things for the better.

How do you approach art in classroom? What are the results? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


Aaron Puley (@bloggucation) reminded me in his comment that I forgot to include photographs of the puppets. Below are some photographs of what the students produced. Thanks for the reminder, Aaron!

Photographs of Animal Puppets #1

Photographs of Animal Puppets #2


Photographs of Animal Puppets #3



Now It’s A Question Of My Name

Now that the news is official that I’m moving from Grades 1 and 2 to Grade 6, my Twitter name has to change as well. I’ve been @grade1 since I started tweeting three years ago, and it feels strange to be changing this identity of mine. I really want this name change to be a good one and to really encompass me.

Through some direct messages on Twitter, I was having a discussion about this struggle of mine with Dustin Carson, and he suggested some great name possibilities. I’ve also considered @avivadun, @dunsiger, and @avivafd (initials for both my middle name and last name). I’ve added all of these suggestions into a Twitter Poll, and it’s embedded below. Please feel free to vote for one of the options here, or add one of your own in the comments. The poll’s open for a week, and I’m hoping by the end of it, I have my new Twitter handle.

Thanks for your help with this difficult decision! I love that I can harness the power of social media to change my social media presence.