Authentic learning opportunities are everywhere!

Whether children are unschooled, homeschooled, on holidays, doing distance learning…. or not, they all have plenty of learning opportunities around them. What do you see?

According to you, what learnings might occur just by engaging children in cooking?

What might children UNDERSTAND (concepts) and be able to DO (skills)?

Standards-Based Grading Session for Middle Schoolers

Hi everyone!
I wanted to share my slides from the Middle School session I lead on Standards-Based Grading with 150 students in attendance from Gr . 6-7-8.
You will see the laughing rubric from Susan Brookhart (cited) and I got permission to share the video clips of the laughters of 6 volunteers so feel free to reuse the unlisted video for your own sessions on SBG. I think this becomes an outstanding resource for anyone here!
The students really enjoyed the session. They loved using Plickers for the pre-assessment and to share their thoughts about SBG. After each question, I asked them to justify their answer (explain why most of them said “agree” or “strongly agree”) and I received very thoughtful comments and powerful messages. Students were so eager to share and reflect and agreed with the tenants of SBG.
This is a Grade 6 student quote I loved during the session, as we were exploring mistake making/failing forward: “There is no wrong way to do something, there is only a new way to discover what is right”.
Even cooler, this student came to my office after the session to share that she was an author. She writes novels and now got an idea to write something about the growth mindset!
I am so grateful from my global collaborators on the SBG Facebook Group. Special thanks to: Lee Ann Jung for her analogy of the GPS, Ken O’Connor for being a mentor, Laura Anderson for sharing the Sue Brookhart‘s laughing rubric!

Books on failing forward for primary students


I just saw a Grade 4 student cry today.

He would not say why and wiped his tears quickly.

I asked a friend of his who told me that he had come last in the run and that’s why he was upset.

I felt empathetic. I imagined how it feels when you don’t get what you want and maybe when you don’t have self-compassion. I wondered how I might take my feeling of empathy and transform it into compassion. When we are compassionate, we do something about how we feel for others, we TAKE ACTION.

I asked a teacher for support and this is how she responded: we can use books to remind students that failing is ok, failing is part of learning. We can remind them that success takes many failures.

She then sent me those wonderful resources from our library, they are worth it!


To end this post I would say:

1- It’s important to notice the little things our students feel and be compassionate

2- Collaborating with teachers is essential. Collaboration holds hidden gems.

3- Reading to the children is a wonderful way to teach…




What is the difference between Inter / Trans / Multi / -disciplinary?

In their article “Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness “, Choi and Pak (2006) share analogies for the different terms and I found this so easy to understand and remember:

Interdisciplinary is a stew/melting pot because ingredients are partially distinguishable.

Multidisciplinary is a mixed salad where the ingredients remain separate and distinguishable.

Transdisciplinary is a cake because the ingredients, mixed together, create something new and different.

Let’s think about it and be precise! I believe that an inquiry-based curriculum should be transdisciplinary in the Elementary school because we can use a concept-driven approach and transfer the understanding to new contexts. In the secondary school, it’s often needed to more to interdisciplinary to go deeper into a particular subject in order to make connections between other subject. Multidisciplinary is perhaps less closed and static because all elements remains separate.

LOTS & HOTS to work with Gifted and Talented

  • Have you taken into consideration Bloom’s taxonomy when designing a lesson plan?

I am aware of the Bloom taxonomy, however I used the Marzano & Kendall taxonomy more, i particular the useful verbs of his their taxonomy that helps specify what kind of function or process our students are engaged in. It works well in an International Baccalaureate environment /inquiry-based learning because we improve our instruction by crafting the right challenge for our students. For example, we don’t simply want them to “retrieve” information, we want them to engage in a specific process within that category, for example: Recall

, N
ame, L


, Describe, State
, Identify
when) or Describe (

). In the Middle Year Programme of the IB, we have “command terms” that relate to such taxonomy and are defined.

Robert Marzano published his A new Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (2000) in response to Bloom’s taxonomy, see here.

I appreciated to recently relearn about the Bloom Taxonomy because I didn’t remember all of it. I also enjoy using the “Gradual release of responsibility” from Pearson and Gallagher, 1983 (see the 6 phases here) that is a good addition to it when it comes to scafolding.

Anyhow, the objective of Bloom’s taxonomy is to ensure we know that students can be engaged in learning at different level and the higher we are on the pyramid, the more secure the learning of a concept is.

When designing a lesson plan, many teachers use backward planning (based on Understanding By Design) and plan with the end in mind. What we want is to design a rich lesson that offers opportunities for students to engage in HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills), however we scaffold instruction to meet the needs of everyone so we might have LOTS (Lower Order Thinking Skills) to start with or LOTS for certain students and HOTS for others who need extensions.

In the context of delivering a lesson, we might differentiate by using those various scaffolds. For example, while the class is engaged in remembering or understanding, Gifted and Talented students might have extensions (or even enrichment programmes) where they can be challenged with HOTS such as analysing, evaluating or creating.

In my school, we integrate the differentiation in our planning and reflecting (in our planner), we integrate strategies, protocols and moves including thinking routines but I often realise that the LOTS and HOTS becomes a habit and the differentiation becomes invisible in the classroom through a personalised learning approach where students are given choices, building ownership of their learning and engaged in sharing their ideas and creating. Agency is at the centre.

  • Think about a lesson you are going to teach and show how you would adapt activities in order to encourage higher order thinking skills. If you are not teaching at the moment you could imagine a scenario.

I am thinking about my lessons and will pay closer attention to the scaffolded questions I provide in class while students are engaged in their learning. Currently, my students are engaged in projects (some in pairs, others alone) about expression themselves in French. They used the GRASPS to create their formative assessment and they chose all the components. Some are engaged in creating an online game with Scratch MIT, other are engaged in creating an imaginary French speaking island on Minecraft, others are writing books on their passion. I think that when I come around to coach, facilitate or co-learn, I can integrate ‘just in time’ inputs such as a questions that tap into the right level of thinking or a paraphrase to either acknowledge or organise the content mentioned (LOTS) or elevate their thinking with an abstracting paraphrase. I like to also use questions that invite cognitive shifts in certain States of Mind that I am learning through my cognitive coaching (Garmston and Costa, 2015, see here).

I like this article from Kallick & Zmuda (authors of Students at the Center: Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind, 2017) on the fact that when students are self-directed, then what is our role as teachers? She talks about how we can shifts our role from facilitating to coaching or and I find this relevant here as we “respond” to our students needs in various ways and one of them is engaging them at their challenge level with LOTS or HOTS.