Saturday, October 12, 2013

C4T Assignment Two

Siwak interview For my second C4T assignment, I was assigned to Heidi Siwak, an innovative teacher of technology in Canada. She is an award winning teacher and has been recognized by the globe and mail as one of Canada’s innovative teachers. Her students and her explore integrative and new learning projects, and have won national awards for innovation in technology. Overall, Heidi is a very great role model for teachers trying to apply project based learning in their classroom.

Art as Inquiry: Lessons in Persistence

For my first post to comment on, Mrs. Siwak discusses her experience with teaching art to her sixth grade students. She discusses how she has taught art before, but it has been a while since she has had to. On her first day with her sixth grade students, she starts with a discussion-How do you feel about art as a subject? Types of linesI would have never thought about starting with this question, but it is such a wonderful idea. After asking this question and hearing some responses, she can get past the barriers and negative attitudes that some students may have towards art. She then talks about how the students responded. Some do like art, but more found art frustrating. When told, “tell me more,” many students figured out that the reason they get frustrated with art is because they start with an idea in their head of what their art should look like. Then, when their art does not meet that set expectation, they end up with those feelings of frustration. Siwak continued to surprise me while reading the post. The students start their art process with learning types of lines, and another discussion-“What is it that causes art to look bad? The students then come up with three key components as to how to produce quality pieces of art.

1. Focus
2. Reduced Speed
3. Persistence

The students then made line designs of their names, and were very proud that with the commitment to these three components, their work was of much better quality. They then started to learn about how experimenting artists lines. The next thing that I found extremely useful for an art class was that Mrs. Siwak says instead of them producing art, she asks them to “experiment.” This to me is great, because this takes the pressure of the student that they have to meet someone else’s expectation of quality art. Instead, they get to really enjoy drawing.

Here is an excerpt from my comment:
"I really enjoyed reading your post, because I love art and know how many students get frustrated with it. It was a great idea to change the concept of "creating a piece of art" to "experimenting." This takes pressure and stress off the student. I really enjoyed how through active learning, the students were able to figure out what it is that causes art to look bad. Persistence, slowing down, and focus are a key to doing almost anything 100%."

Communication, Communication, Yes ... and!

For my second post to comment on, Mrs. Siwak discusses how she broke down the processes of communication for students that she feels does not come naturally for most students. communication Most students shy away from true communication and collaboration. She discusses how hard it is for students to fully participate in integrative thinking, because the students have to learn how to be comfortable with hearing their own thoughts as well as others. She then talks about her results in watching the students collaborate. As students become more comfortable, the student’s body chemistry becomes more open and relaxed. Even if they feel uncomfortable, using this confident body chemistry will help them feel more confident. This is very useful information, because of how many students are uncomfortable with collaborating. She also discusses with her students a "yes, and..." idea, instead of a "yes, but..." By doing this, they can accept their own ideas and be positive for others ideas. Her ideas in the classroom are great lessons for upcoming teachers.

Here is an excerpt from my comment:
"I have seen adults who still lack in communication skills with others. I found it really interesting how your students, after working in groups and engaging in conversation, changed their body chemistry. I loved how you said, "I shared the research about body chemistry and how standing in a more confident position causes reactions within their bodies that allows them feel more confident." What a useful piece of information for your students! Also, I have never though about the "yes...and" instead of "yes..but." This really changes the ideas of students and their interaction. They do not have to disagree with anyone this way. For most students, disagreeing is intimidating, which enables them to speak less."


  1. Hi Kayla,
    I dropped in to see how your work is progressing and was surprised to find my students' and my work featured. It is very useful for me to see the impact of the work we do, as well as learn how teacher education is changing. You are very fortunate to begin your career with a blog and to have the opportunity to reflect, share and receive connected feedback from the start of your teaching practice. The learning goes both ways!

  2. Thank you so much Mrs.Siwak! Your work with your students is a great influence for me as a future educator. Thank you for your feedback, and I can not wait to see what you continue to post on your blog!