Inspired by Amy

I wanted to give a shout-out to Amy Burvall.  She is easily one of the most creative educators I know… and I’ve never even met her (yet).  She can’t seem to help it; creativity oozes from her in multiple forms:  Instagram images, blog posts, artwork created on Paper by 53, YouTube videos… the list is endless, thank God.

Her digital sketches influenced some of my own work, most notably this image, which was created in response to the Orlando massacre:

#LoveIsLove Inspired by #AmyBurvall #Orlando #OrlandoUnited

A photo posted by Colleen Rose (@colleenkr) on


Amy has used the symbol of a tear drop to create a number of beautiful artworks:



A photo posted by Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) on

#paris #parisstrong #parisattacks

A photo posted by Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) on


So, I guess I just wanted to make sure to give credit where credit was due.  Austin Kleon encourages us to steal like an artist, and I love appropriation, but I also love respecting the original thoughts & creations of artists. Thanks Amy🙂








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The Learning Environment: Time for a Change?

Today was my last day of work.  As I prepared to leave my room for a lovely summer break, I took a few pictures for a couple of reasons:  1) I wanted to capture the image of my super-shiny, clean room & post it on Instagram, and 2) I wanted to get some advice from other teachers, especially those who have experience in a TAB classroom.

Next year, Lindsay, Stephen and I are beginning our TLLP journey together, and part of the journey involves assessing and restructuring our classrooms.  I can’t think of a better time to take stock of my learning environment, get advice and begin to plan for changes in the coming school year.  In fact, I’m going to challenge my friends to do the same thing.  Stephen & Lindsay (and anyone else who would like to join us for the ride):  Take a picture of your classroom, write a blog post with your images & ask for advice from others.

I’ve learned that other people have amazing strengths that we can benefit from, especially when those strengths balance our own weaknesses.  My weakness:  organization.

How should I organize my classroom?  What is the best way to use the space I work in every day?  How do I prevent tossing materials in a location that I know about, but my students don’t?  How do I create centres (or is this advisable for high school)?  Is it better to simply organize & label materials and equipment for easy access & storage?  What about anchor charts that could be displayed near certain storage areas?



Please leave a comment below!  (thanks)





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The #LearningLine Challenge

A few weeks ago, I invited people to participate in a new project.  My post was called “Draw a Line for Me“, but my very clever friend Rodd Lucier thought of a better way to share the project:  a hashtag.  *Thanks Rodd!*

Lindy Amato was the first person to respond to the challenge.  I love her decisive vertical line that represents her appreciation for all forms of learning, especially those we can cherish in the present moment.  Her perspective on negative experiences along with mistakes is so refreshing, and one that I intend to share with both my children and my students.




Rodd Lucier‘s Learning Line was next, and came in two forms; first on Instagram, then later (and more spectacularly) on YouTube.  “I thought I knew a lot, but I relied a lot on the things that previous teachers had done that I loved as a student…”  As Rodd recounted his stories, I began to remember my first years of teaching as well.  What an amazing journey that you have captured and shared with us here, Rodd ~ thank you!



Peter Cameron’s blog post was amazing to read for many reasons.  Not only was I happy that he had taken the time to create an amazing timeline with colour-coordinated stories, but his questions revealed so much more about his priorities as a teacher-learner than I had anticipated.  “What do my students who are now thirty years old remember most about grade 6?” <– wow!



I have to admit that Joanne Borges’ blog post had the coolest title ever:  “The Learning Tornado” is such an appropriate description of our educational experiences!  I’m glad that her “nightly ‘learning journey’ via Twitter” led her to create her fabulous #LearningLine that was characterized by wonderfully dramatic changes.


Joanne says it beautifully:

The digital world has changed the way that I learn and has caused my learning line to become a bit of a learning tornado. I have never felt so invigorated and passionate about education and the opportunities that are available to us, should we decide to grab on.


Thank you so much to Lindy, Rodd, Peter and Joanne ~ your reflections are brilliant, and so beneficial to other educators.  I sincerely hope that others will be inspired by your stories and that they will want to create their own learning lines as well.






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Art + Innovation

Every now and then, a student will surprise me.  My grade 9 art class is studying the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr as part of their final task.  They have some written work as well as a creative component to complete:  one that is somehow inspired by or related to the work of the artists we are studying.

Dylan smiled when he told me that he woke up at 5:30, packed up his phone and the tripod he borrowed from class, and went down to the Red Rock Marina to capture the sunrise with time-lapse photography.

I was floored!  He showed me the video this morning, and I told him he should upload it to YouTube so we could share it with our township (and the rest of the world!).  Who knows, maybe it might be used to tempt a few people to make the trip to Red Rock!  If you’d like to leave a message for Dylan, feel free to post a comment.







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Draw a Line for Me…

Every Saturday morning, my kids and I jump in the car and head to Thunder Bay for swimming lessons.  It takes just over an hour to get there, so we usually listen to CBC radio to help us pass the time.  On the morning of May 21st, as the kids were reading, I listened to Fresh Air’s Mary Ito talk about relationships with her guest, Amy Muise.


Wikipedia provides a short intro to the self expansion model:  “The self-expansion model is based on two key principles. The first is that humans have a primary motivation to self expand. The second principle is that individuals often achieve self-expansion through close relationships which allow the inclusion of the other in the self.


The concept of self expansion intrigued me, not only for its obvious connection to human relationships, but also for its possible relevance to teaching and learning.  This is where you come in.  If you are reading this post and you are an educator, I hope you will participate.  You will be required to make a drawing for me, but don’t worry:  you don’t have to be artistic.  

I want you to draw a line.  Just one line.  Start at the left side of your page.  This line will act as a timeline for your educational career:  the direction & quality of your line will determine how you learned over a particular time.  Your line will end depending on the length of your career or the size of your paper…


Don’t read any further until you finish drawing.  Give yourself time to think.

What does your line look like?  Does your line change direction at any point?   When did you learn the most?  Why did you learn more at these times compared to others?

I’d like you to share your drawing, along with a short explanation.  I want to hear your story of learning, because we all benefit when we share our knowledge and experiences. I also want to hear how the theory of self expansion could relate to your career and your growth as a learner.

Please share the link to your drawing (copy & paste the url into the comment section under this post — your drawing can be shared wherever you enjoy sharing: Instagram, Twitter, etc.) along with your explanation or story.  I’m looking forward to seeing your lines and hearing about their meanings!


My motive for this post:  a new learning journey.  I have been teaching since 1999, and have recently gained much interest in leadership.  I work with a fantastic group of aspiring leaders, who are learning to set clear goals while considering the necessary criteria and reasoning behind their vision.  I also enjoy my time learning alongside my fellow Tech Champions within our school board, who fearlessly explore the digital world and act as translators for their colleagues who are excited to speak a new language.  Fortunately, I am sharing both of these experiences with my friends Lindsay and Stephen, who are part of my TLLP team as well!

…and next week, I’ll be interviewed for a Lead Learner position in our school.  Competition for these roles is tight, which is both good and bad:  good, because we have a strong staff with phenomenal leadership skills; bad, because I might not get the role I’m hoping for.  I’m hoping to highlight a drawing or two (or more!) during the presentation portion of my interview, to celebrate our collective learning as well as the qualities we should consider when designing educational experiences for others.


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Exploring TAB & Technology in Art Education


My team and I are at the beginning of a new learning journey — one that is both exciting and intimidating.  I have never been more grateful to be part of a strong team, since our leadership skills are bound to be challenged and enhanced.

Our goal is to improve our own teaching methods in art education by adopting the philosophy behind TAB, which stands for Teaching for Artistic Behaviour.  Rather than providing simple skill-building opportunities for our students, we hope to emphasize the importance of creativity in response to civic and social responsibilities.  If students realize that they can take advantage of tasks to build upon their knowledge and strengths, we believe that their character and creativity will prosper.

Throughout this paradigm shift, we will be using technology as an integral tool to document our learning, to share resources with other educators and to provide several choices for our students.  These choices are not limited to creative tools, such as online editing, but include several options for capturing and sharing their learning processes:  blog posts, videos, podcasts and images will complement each task.  Ideally, by providing a strong framework for proper documentation, students will begin to assess their learning and their work will directly relate to our Ministry’s creative and critical processes.

Ideally, we will develop a platform that will become a resource for other art educators in Ontario, similar to the Portal developed by Apex art educators, Melissa Purtee and Ian Sands.  We also hope to consult with other TAB educators from whom we can gain valuable insights and knowledge:  Katherine Douglas (artist, educator and author), Jean Barnett and Julie Toole (and others).

We have a lot to learn, which means that we will need to balance pedagogy with andragogy (and maybe even heutagogy<– thank you for the resource, Brenda Sherry) because we really don’t want to keep this learning to ourselves.

If you have suggestions or advice for our team, please leave a comment for us.  Thanks.








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I am sitting on a plane, on my way back to Thunder Bay from Toronto, after #TLLP2016.  Three days devoted to learning more about our project, clarifying our thinking and working toward our goals.  I am so thankful that Lindsay and Stephen are my teammates; their strengths are already making this experience unforgettable.  They are incredibly focused on our goals and offer a multitude of perspectives to consider whenever we approach a new topic or conversation.  Their collective experiences add momentum to our growth, pushing us all to want to work to our potential.


Several educators mentioned the respect, encouragement and support they felt throughout the TLLP summit.  These conversations could be seen as anecdotal evidence for OTF and the Ministry of Education, a clear indicator of goals that have been achieved as well as momentum for the future.

We celebrated the continued success of the TLLP project by sharing a 10th Anniversary cake, which means that this year’s participants are part of  a very select group:  the tenth cohort!  I can’t imagine how wonderful it must be for those who founded such a successful project and have been able to see it flourish over the past ten years.

As I sat listening to Ann Lieberman discuss the research behind the project, I understood why she had been nicknamed “the grandmother of the TLLP”.  Her passion coupled with her sincerity, provides all participants with the encouragement that is so vital to leaders who are learning to navigate a new world.  I hope she realizes the depth of her impact, and how grateful we are for all of her hard work.

IMG_4695 (1)

We happened to strike up a conversation with Patty Hajdu, who we met just before boarding our flight home.  What a great opportunity to discuss our project, the TLLP process, and potential collaborations with our MP.  We were very proud to mention how the TLLP is a partnership, supporting educators from school boards across Ontario with the help of OTF and the Ministry of Education.


* A special note of thanks to my friends at OTF and the Ministry of Education, for asking me to share my experiences from a past TLLP project.  Mike was right:  I did enjoy it after all!

**A link to the 2014 TLLP Summit:  >click here<     (Lindy & Ann:  check out our picture!)

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