Day 166: Update on the Hokki Stools (Heather Johnson)

Per our original goal, we sent out an anonymous year-end survey last week to participating staff to get their feedback on the students’ use and responses to the Hokki stools. 7 of the approximately 10 staff who received a Hokki stool responded to the short survey and completed it via an online or paper copy. We asked for their thoughts on some specific questions we had and included a box for additional comments on each of the 6 questions. Here are the results:


Question 1: I noticed the following in my students when using the Hokki stool in class:

Behaviour Number of responses (/7)
Calmer 2
More focused during instruction, work time 5
Less fidgety 2
Able to stay in one spot for longer periods of time 4
Less calling out 2
Able to problem-solve more effectively 2
Less need for physical breaks either in or out of class 3
No difference 1
Other 4


Additional comments:

  • I wanted to “click” more than just one of these (editor’s note: a response was added each of the behaviours, except “no difference”).
  • All of the above, excluding “no difference” (editor’s note: a response was added to each of the behaviours indicated).
  • Had to remove stool due to excessive fidgeting.
  • Even with specific instructions, explanations and demonstrations, it was actually more of a distraction.


Question 2: It would be of benefit to my students if I had a Hokki stool in my classroom next year.

Responses (/7)
Yes 6
No 1


Additional comments:

  • More than one stool, please.


Question 3: It would be of benefit to my students if I had more Hokki stools in my classroom next year.

Responses (/7)
Yes 6
No 1


Additional comments:

  • 3 or 4 at least


Question 4: The Hokki stool was used by more than one student this year.

Responses (/7)
Yes 4
No 3


Additional comments:

  • It was used all day by various students sharing it.
  • I certainly would have used more if I had the resources to do so.
  • I used the Hokki stool primarily for one student because he was in the most need. However, I can see how having (a) communal Hokki stool would be of benefit. If I had a second chair, it would definitely have helped other students focus or channel their energy in a positive direction. I would love to see Hokki stools as part of a regular classroom.


Question 5: My students used a schedule for access to the Hokki stool.

Responses (/7)
Yes 4
No 3


Additional comments:

  • All the kids had their name in a cup, and a name would be drawn for the next person’s turn.


Question 6: If I have a Hokki stool next year, I would like support to teach the students how to appropriately use the Hokki stool.

Responses (/7)
Yes 4
No 3


After 3 months of use in our primary and early intermediate classrooms, we now have some good feedback to help inform future decisions around the Hokki stools at Cliff Drive Elementary School.   On the surface it appears that the stools were helpful for their intended purpose, that of focusing on the self-regulatory needs of their younger students to help increase their learning capacity. Not all students experienced a benefit, which is not unexpected, as the stools are not intended as a one-size fits all solution for their SRL needs. However, they were clearly appreciated and well-utilized by the majority of the targeted classrooms, which is great news. Our thanks go out the PAC once again for committing to committing funds for this new strategy!



Day 164: Genius Hour Epilogue (Rosemary Harris, Hawthorne Elementary)

This last term we completed our genius hour projects. The challenge came in providing sufficient guidance to prepare a presentation that would show the learning that has occurred.I tried to find some guidance on the net by reading the various twitter feeds and websites about the genius hour concept. However, I kept hitting a wall finding something that related to presentation skills, particularly for primary grade children.

So, in the spirit of passion projects I decided to create my own process. The children and I worked together to create criteria that would demonstrate the skills we worked hard to accomplish this term.  We took our cues from effective speakers on the Ted Talks. Together we decided that each presentation should be:

  • no more than fifteen minutes in length
  • have a distinct beginning, middle and end
  • incorporate the specific inquiry question studied and the reasons why this was chosen
  • use at least three visuals including at least one form of technology (I movie, chart, Prezi etc.)
  • involve the audience in some type of an introductory activity within 2 minutes
  • have a snazzy ending preferably that would be memorable (use a quote etc.)

We then worked for a term using the criteria above to create eighteen unique and interesting presentations. There was an expectation that you would know how to use the technology yourself. You would not be reliant upon the teacher to help you with your I Movie and so forth. For the presentation day each student had a partner to help them to ensure all went smoothly.

We organized the presentations in a conference format on a Friday morning. We had other children in similar grades sit in and be our audience. In addition, every child had at least one parent present. Some children had both parents and grandparents attend. The sessions ran simultaneously in three rooms. My job as the teacher was to run back and forth and ensure that all went well.

It was a truly amazing experience to see the confidence and skill of 21 eight year olds running their own presentation without relying on parental or teacher assistance. Of course there were the expected glitches-someone took someone else’s I PAD by mistake, someone lost their binder before their presentation etc. What was truly remarkable was that all of these things were quickly remedied not by me but by the children themselves.

The presentations were interesting and the children had devised them appropriately for their audience-other Grade 3 students. The audience involvement activities were child friendly. For example,  in the project on the history of the British monarchy the activity required the audience to hold a sign, which had, ROYAL on one side and NOT ROYAL on the other. (Similar to Ellen DeGeneres’ activities on her show) Then in a PowerPoint presentation famous images were flashed on the screen-Bugs Bunny, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, Baby Princess Charlotte etc. and the children were asked to vote were they ROYAL or NOT ROYAL.  In other activates, the audiences were asked to : identify hard and soft woods, determine what three elements had together that formed a planet, image what would happen if an image turned from 2 D to 3 D and so much more.

Honestly, I found the presentations and especially the direct involvement of the audience a lot more interesting than many adult workshops I have attended over the years.

When all was said and done and donuts had been consumed we had some time to reflect on the experience of devoting an hour a week to the genius hour concept. The students all said that it was the best thing they had ever done. They said that they loved that they were given “choice” and “freedom” to pursue their learning at their own level. They liked that they could do what they wanted, the way that they wanted, in the speed at which they wanted.  Clearly it was a form of differentiation for everyone that suited each learning style.

We plan to write blog entries about what we individually learned and loved about this concept. However, we thought an epilogue was suitable for the 180 days of learning. In sum, it is a wonderful way to enhance student learning and create motivation. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

In conclusion, I think that the most important thing that came about from this experience was that it reignited my passion for teaching. I loved seeing how children could engage so completely within a topic. As I ponder the experience more fully I can only imagine how successful this concept would be applied to teachers. Imagine if someone gave you an hour a week to work on a passion project in teaching either alone or with a colleague. What a truly great motivator that would be to keep us all fresh, creative and engaged in our best practice.


Day 163: Delta Interschool Film Festival

On Thursday June 4th the 4th annual DIFF  was held at Burnsview Secondary school. This years festival had over 40 student entries from grade five to twelve. The judges spent a great deal of time deliberating over the entries, and determined the following to be this years winners. Congratulations to all those who entered and we look forward to viewing many more innovative and exciting productions at next years festival.


Long Short Production – Animation – The Peace makers

Elementary Short Production BG from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Long Short Production – More Than A Playground

Elementary Short Production Video LE from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Long Production – Animation – The Wonderful World of Wallace

Elementary Long Animation from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Long Production  – The Hand

Elementary Long Production – Video EB from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.


Secondary Short Production – Animation – The Rescue

Secondary Short Production from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Secondary Short Production – Friend vs Foe

Students who entered this productions used a Java script, written by a student,  to run two movies in parallel where the viewer had control of which movie to view by pressing the “r” key. Each film was shot in a manner that had each scene shot identically, with the exception of the character. The end effect was a story that was told from two perspectives in a powerful way. Unfortunately due to the Java script being required this film cannot be posted in the manner that was intended. Instead we have the two films in their entirety.

Friend or Foe – Day Video from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Friend or Foe – Night Video from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.


Secondary Long Production – End of The Line

Secondary Long Production from DeltaLearns on Vimeo.

Winning Poster Entry:


Day 162: Physics Unit (Nikki Pierce, Student Teacher at Cougar Canyon)

For the past 10 weeks I have had the pleasure of being the student teacher to an amazing grade 4/5 blended class at Cougar Canyon Elementary. My time with the kids has been a whirlwind of exciting new learning experiences for both the students and myself. Though I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and creating lesson plans across all subject areas, there was one unit in particular that both the students and I seemed to enjoy more than normal… Amusement Park Physics.

I remember way back in October when my SA (Student Advisor) and I first met to discuss which units I would be responsible for and the feeling of utter panic when I discovered that I would be teaching physics… roller coaster physics, but physics none the less. I was scared. After some careful thought and consideration, a ton of research, and countless hours of planning I was ready to go.

My goal was to keep the unit educational, while trying to maintain a level of fun and playfulness, in order to try and eliminate as much ‘big scary science word’ anxiety as possible. My plan seemed to work quiet well- we mixed the scary physics content in with fun demonstrations, videos, student centered activities and hands on learning experiences that masked all of the ‘scary’ learning they were doing with fun and excitement.

The students were told on the very first day of our new unit that we would be learning about amusement parks and the physics behind how all of the rides worked. At this time I was also quick to let the students know that after we got all of our major learning out of the way, we would get to experience everything that we were learning about, as we would be travelling to Playland to take part in their Science Day of Fun. I also let the kids know that on top of getting to go to Playland and experience the things we were learning first hand, we would also be using what we had learned to create our very own pipe insulation roller coasters!

We started off the unit with an introductory lesson that consisted of an overview of all of the topics we would be covering in the physics unit. During this first lesson I also made sure to assess the students’ prior knowledge with a K-W-L chart, filling in both the K (know) and W (want to know) sections while leaving the final L (learned) section until the last day of our physics unit. The following lessons were a mixture of power point presentations, hands on activities, experiments, games, interactive websites, videos and demonstrations.

Our trip to Playland was great- we couldn’t have asked for a better day, it was sunny and warm and the students all had a blast. In the weeks leading up to the trip, the students and I had a lot of discussions around expectations for their trip to Playland. The students were to fill out a number of surveys that allowed me to place them into ride groups with other students who were interested in similar rides/ levels of scariness. The students were also told that each ride group would be responsible for becoming an ‘expert’ for one specific ride (that was assigned to each group by myself), the students were to start off by riding this ride as many times as needed to successfully complete their ‘expert’ worksheets, once the sheets were complete the groups were free to ride any/all of the other rides in the park. Upon coming back from the trip I had the students meet with their ride groups to discuss how they might choose to teach the rest of the class about the physics involved in their particular rides. It was amazing for me to see just how much knowledge the students had retained from my lessons and even more rewarding to see them relating the different concepts that we had talked about in class in order to figure out how the rides worked.


The final activity of the unit was a culminating activity that challenged the students to take everything that they had learned about roller coasters and amusement park physics and put it all to the test while making roller coasters out of pipe insulation that had been cut in half. Right off the bat I was impressed with the work that the students were doing, they were all so creative and innovative- some groups making tunnels with see-through walls, some creating tunnels and arch ways out of poster paper, some including technical feats, such as banking turns, loops, and jumps (to mention a few)! Not only were they putting out quality work which clearly demonstrated their understanding of how these roller coasters worked, I was shocked and surprised by just how much fun the kids were having while making them. I remember a few times I had asked if they wanted to take a break and go outside for some fresh air and in unison they all yelled “NO!”- Music to my ears! Once the roller coasters were all up and running the groups filmed their marble coasters in action using iPads all while explaining the physics behind what the viewer was seeing. Some of the groups even used iMovie and added in music and special features- very cool.

Needless to say, all of the kids aced the unit quiz and we were able to add a ton of L’s to their K-W-L chart!

PhysicsBlog1 PhysicsBlog2  PhysicsBlog4 PhysicsBlog5

Day 161: Innovation Club at Delta Secondary (Dean Eichorn, Vice Principal)

This post was originally published on Dean’s blog.

A conversation with an elementary school colleague led to an idea that is changing the way teachers work together at Delta Secondary in Ladner, BC.

First a bit of background: my colleague was teaching an inquiry unit with her Grade 4 – 5 class based on their recently planted vegetable garden. This was the teacher’s first attempt at inquiry learning, and while the garden was flourishing the inquiry project was not. Although the students were able to generate a number of relevant questions, neither the teacher nor the students were sure if the questions were too in depth or not detailed enough. Additionally, the students had difficulty finding information at a grade appropriate level to help them answer their questions.

I thought that this teacher would really benefit from connecting with other educators who were more experienced at implementing inquiry based learning at the intermediate level. Such a network could likely help her and her students refine their questions as well as direct them to age appropriate resources. This got me thinking that secondary teachers would also benefit from such a network. And that led to the basic premise for the Delta Secondary Innovation Club: create a network of teachers to support one another as they implemented innovative practice such as inquiry and/or project based learning, formative assessment, technology integration and other novel approaches to teaching and learning in their classrooms.

This past fall I was joined on the planning committee by three enthusiastic teachers and we designed the first session. At the inaugural meeting the turnout and energy in the room surpassed our expectations. The table conversations were intriguing, sometimes passionate, and always thought provoking. Teachers, it seems, love to discuss teaching. We continued to meet for the remainder of the school year with plans to continue in 2015-16.

Innovation does not happen in a vacuum. We are all influenced by the ideas, actions and words of others. Examples of this influence happened often in the Innovation Club. For example, one teacher had created an inquiry checklist that he found helpful for planning projects with his students. His willingness to share the checklist with the rest of the club, resulted in a better planning tool for him and the group because of the suggestions he received at the session. Now every teacher in attendance has a useful planning tool to help them implement inquiry learning.

Another time, an excited teacher shared the success of her inquiry-based Grade 9 poetry unit. Rather than picking a poem she thought the students would enjoy, she let the students find poems that interested them. This small change made a big difference to the engagement and participation of the class. Even the 14 year old boys were able to find poems that reflected their passions. One student, who admittedly had no previous interest in poetry, wrote a heartfelt letter to her teacher expressing how the poem she found was helping her with some personal struggles. This and many other examples of sharing has helped energize and inspire the other Innovation Club attendees.

I have been very impressed by the dedication of our teachers to improve student learning and engagement in their classrooms. The video below captures some of the classroom based change facilitated by the Innovation Club:

Day 160: Chrome Pilot Teacher’s Thoughts before….Thoughts After…. (Chromebook Pilot Teachers)

On June 11th teachers who piloted the  Chromebook GAFE project came together one final time to share their experiences. It was amazing to listen to their stories about how it has shifted their practice and impacted student learning.IMG_0271

To begin teachers were asked to think back to when they first learned that they were going to be a part of the pilot. Teachers were asked to finish the statement, “I used to think……”. Many of their thoughts reflected a hesitancy and lack of confidence. Teachers were then asked to reflect on these thoughts to see if they had changed over the course of the pilot. They shared their ideas by IMG_0269completing the statement, “Now I think……..”. It was encouraging to listen to these teachers share  how their thoughts changed, perceived obstacles were overcome, and their practice shifted.   

What I used to think: What I think now:
  • Few would buy in
  • How can we get parents on board with GAFE
  • This was out of my reach
  • This could be fun
  • “Google” would be a huge issue
  • Tools were not going to be as useful and diverse
  • I just got used to iPads and now this!?
  • How are these different from iPads?
  • Oh great. Another piece of technology
  • Classroom Management nightmare
  • This is going to be a lot of work
  • Information overload
  • I’m not sure if I know enough
  • I don’t know much about it
  • Unknown technology is intimidating
  • I can’t even navigate Google on my phone
  • My students might be too young
  • How am I going to fit this in to my practice
  • What is expected of me?
  • How can I use these with my students
  • Cant wait to learn more
  • Easier than I thought
  • This is it! The Future
  • Possibilities are endless
  • Supports AFL
  • Ongoing Assessment is so much easier
  • Allows for improved formative assessment, adapting assignments, collaboration, accountability, provides choice
  • I can’t go back. I just want to learn more
  • The students are learning along with me
  • Not a management problem, a positive
  • Engaging. Increases ownership of learning
  • 15 devices are better than 30
  • Collaborative genius
  • Create a community of sharing
  • I love peer editing
  • Bring on collaboration and group work
  • Students can use this at any age
  • Students are technologically intuitive and they are able to participate at this age (gr 5)
  • No more USB’s!!!!
  • We don’t need to Print!
  • Paperless is awesome
  • Lets save some trees
  • Sharing docs is easier than I thought
  • More devices! Yah
  • Easy to diversify
  • Students are engaged and productive

Day 159: Aurasma App to create auras (Irene Tan, Teacher Port Guichon Elementary)

Our grade 1/2 class at Port Guichon is fortunate to have the opportunity to have access to an iPad crate. Though this has been very exciting and the possibilities seem endless, I have been struggling to find ways to integrate the use of these iPads to my everyday teaching and more importantly, to find the time to do so!


Recently, I was browsing the ever-popular Pinterest and stumbled upon a link from a school in Australia that has been using the app “Aurasma” to create “Auras”. Basically, it functions like a QR code. You use the app to scan something and an overlay pops up.


One student and I tried it out and excitement ensued. We video recorded this student talking about Kindness week at PG and used a picture from or class’ kindness week bag. When we finally figured out that you use Aurasma to scan the picture of our kindness week bag (treat the object/picture as you would a QR code), we were extremely excited about our discovery.

In the week to follow, I had each of the students record themselves reading their story summaries of “Where the Wild Things Are”. Following this, they created Auras by taking pictures of the comic strip and using their recordings as overlays, which popped up once someone scanned their comics.


On the last day before Spring break, we had a fun surprise using Aurasma: we went on a geometry Scavenger Hunt! I started by taking a picture of a poster. When the students’ scanned it, the next clue would appear (ex. Find a “lost” cube outside the gym). When the children figured out it was our lost and found box, they would scan that and another clue would appear. This was met with great enthusiasm and a lot of conversation and language around geometry naturally occurred.


After spring break, we decided to create our own scavenger hunts. The children were able to identify the purpose of this activity as “practicing our 3-D shapes”.

Ultimately, the goal is to practice our shapes and to continue seeing shapes all around us.

In groups of 4-5 students, I had the children brainstorm a list of 5 objects that were connected to 2-D or 3-D shapes. We also brainstormed 3 “extra” objects “just in case” Aurasma didn’t like the 5 objects that initially selected (Aurasma can be a bit finicky about taking pictures of objects and certain pictures).

Their list had to be very specific – what the object was, where it was located and what shape it was. When the team was given the OK from an adult, each team member chose one object to describe.


As a class, we brainstormed the criteria for describing objects:

  1. Must identify the shape! Very important!
  2. Was its location high? Low? Or at eye level?
  3. What is the object’s size? Is it wide? Tall? Short?
  4. Where is this object? What is its location?
  5. What is it used for? OR What does it look like? We could talk about the object’s colour or texture

We then played a version of the game “I spy”. Using the criteria, I selected a few objects around the classroom to describe and the children had to figure out what it might possibly be. Once they got the hang of it, it was time for them to try to write their clues.

When their clues were completed, the teams were FINALLY able to get their hands on an iPad. Independently, they recorded themselves reading their clues. These would eventually become the “overlays” (what pops up after Aurasma scans a picture/object).

Because Aurasma is a bit temperamental when it comes to taking pictures of actual objects, we took pictures of the students’ objects and printed them out. That gave us the freedom to put together the scavenger hunt in one location instead of walking around the school.

The children were very enthusiastic throughout the project and many curricular connections surfaced that I hadn’t anticipated. As students worked on this project, team building, problem solving, communication skills (oral and written), reading and the use of Math vocabulary (particularly in space and geometry) were all being inadvertently practiced. It was a fun and engaging educational project for all of us and hopefully, we’ll find many other opportunities to use this App to demonstrate our learning!

Day 158: Aboriginal Infusion at Gibson (Linda Klassen, Vice-Principal, Gibson Elementary)

For the Past two years, Gibson has focused on the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement goal that states: All students will demonstrate a deeper understanding and appreciation of the histories and cultures of Aboriginal Communities.  We have worked on raising awareness through story telling and art, and have seen an increase of families self identify as Aboriginal. As we open each assembly with the acknowledgement of territorial lands, students know that we share the land of the Coast Salish Peoples.  Every Thursday Arnie Leon, our aboriginal support worker, shares his stories with all our students at Gibson.  With his guidance students have learned about the Pow Wow dances, cedar boxes, aboriginal law and many forms of aboriginal ceremony and art. All students at Gibson know Mr. Leon and respect his words of wisdom.  We have learned that connectedness and a sense of place is crucial to identity. By connecting  to the gifts that the aboriginal people have given to Canadian culture, we are able to restore a sense of pride in identity to the families in our community that have Aboriginal heritage. By celebrating the aboriginal culture through art and song, we are able to reclaim what we have lost.

Aboriginal Infusion at Gibson Elementary from DSD37 on Vimeo.

Day 157: Encouraging Digital Literacy through the use of Chromebooks & Google Classroom (Colin Sharpe and Jason Malo, Sands Secondary School)

Colin Sharpe & Jason Malo, Social Studies Teachers at Sands Secondary 

As part of a district pilot program, we took the lead on the implementation of Google Apps For Education (GAFE) in our classrooms here at Sands Secondary.

GAFE are “communication and collaborations apps” that “exist completely online (or in the cloud) meaning that all creations can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.”  As part of the program, 15 Chromebooks were provided for student use in order to access, create, and share their work. Perhaps a little hesitant at first, students were quick to embrace this new method of learning and teaching. While it has only been a short experiment to date, I think all would agree it has been a very worthwhile experience.

Not without its challenges, the GAFE experiment here at Sands has been a positive and transformative experience. The incorporation of Google Apps into the education world is more than just the integration of a layer of technology into the traditional classroom; the GAFE experience is about creating positive digital citizens and critical consumers of information. Students navigate the varied Google Apps, collaboratively creating, sharing, critiquing and making public their knowledge. Using slides, docs, sheets and forms, students are actively and simultaneously learning the curriculum, while creating positive digital footprints. The skills learned with GAFE go far beyond the classroom: communication, digital literacy, problem solving, team working and global citizenship. These lessons will no doubt serve students well as they move their learning forward with Google Apps here at Sands.

Watch this short video clip to hear how students contributed to a full class Google Doc in Social Studies and to hear praise for Google Classroom.

Chromebooks & Google Classroom from Sands Secondary on Vimeo.

As a teacher, it has been exciting to see students meet the challenge head on, embracing the new world of the Google Classroom. This experience has been about mutual learning and leadership, as students have been quick to teach us, and those around them, as much as we’ve have been able to teach them. Students, who we’ve struggled to engage, seem to be having more success with this new platform. One student in particular, has done a complete 180, completing all of his work well beyond levels we’ve seen in the past 10 months we have been working together. As students take ownership of their learning, they are relying less on us, the teacher as a source of direction and answers, and more on the web and those in the Google classroom for assistance and guidance.

The possibilities seem endless with the incorporation of GAFE into the classroom here at Sands. Every day, we the teachers seem to learn a little bit more about what Google has to offer the learning experience. From the amazing collections in the Google Cultural Institute to the collaborative nature of the digital platform in Drive, we are truly just beginning to understand the potential. Moreover, this little venture into GAFE has created new questions for our own professional inquiry, like how we are going to shift our assessment practices to align with or compliment this new method of learning and teaching.

As we reflect on the experiment thus far, we cannot believe how quickly our students and I have adapted to the Google Classroom. While we were perhaps a little hesitant at first and moved forward with care and caution, we are now amongst the converted. Google Apps For Education has quickly transformed our practice and provided us with an invaluable opportunity to grow and learn with our students in the Google world of education.