Shift Your What? Future!

“This is the only class where I get to choose my classroom.” ~Co-op student . On this episode, we sat down with Kevin Kokerus, co-operative education teacher for Milton District High School, as well as our own co-op student this semester, William Baldwin to reflect on experiential learning through the co-op class and how it can be used to empower student choice in their learning. Kevin teaches self-advocacy and communication skills needed for students to grab hold of their own student created opportunities.

Have a listen to how a small rethink to how co-op is structured can lead to big change in offering real world opportunities for students.

Matthew ColemanComment
7 - Shift Your What? Semester Reflection!

Happy New Year Shifters and welcome back!

We are taking a small step sideways this episode for a few reasons. First, life before the holiday break got busy for several of our podcast guests. Second, life after the holiday break is no less busy. Third, we realized that semester one is quickly winding down. What better way to acknowledge that than by reflecting on the journey we’ve been on since September.

Jamie MitchellComment
6 - Shift Your What? Makerspace!

We will never forget the day when we finally understood the power of a Makerspace. In fact, the record of that visit has become our most read blog post. Since that day, we’ve had the opportunity to work with Amanda Williams-Yeagers on several occasions. She spearheaded the Empower book study last year and has been a great sounding board for us.


Through her, we’ve also met Mark Maunder, a teacher in Milton who has totally reimagined his classroom space. The Innovation & Inquiry Lab at W.I. Dick Middle School has injected new energy into his teaching practice.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Mark and Amanda to discuss their own journey through the power of making.

Jamie MitchellComment
5 - Shift Your What? PD!

Professional development. Staff meetings. Everyone has had mixed experiences with these events. We can identify times where we’ve met as educators and learned a lot, times when we’ve been energized to try something new in our classrooms. We can also identify times when the model of PD or staff meetings has just not worked, times when the day drags and we leave feeling less inspired then we did at the beginning of the learning.


We had the opportunity to present at Haltons’ Tech Enabled Lead Learner conference earlier this month. The day was an example of PD done right! Participants were engaged in real, hands on learning that could be directly applicable to their day to day classroom needs. Plus there was a robot greeting people at the door. We presented on “How to Podcast” but went one step further by inviting participants to share their own thoughts around how to Shift the PD we experience.

4 - Shift Your What? Thinking!

There are a few Big Ideas from Deeper Learning that we really enjoy experimenting with at The Shift. Of those, Defronting the Classroom, is one of the guiding principles we used when designing our Demonstration Classroom. The idea of defronting your classroom, when used in concert with the principles of the Thinking Classroom, is a powerful tool to transform a classroom.


We sat down with Stephanie Briggs, Mathematics Program Leader at Iroquois Ridge High School and Nicole Jarvis, the HDSB Instructional Program Leader for Math to discuss the merits of Peter Lijledahl's Thinking Classroom and how it has the potential to shift not only math class, but other subjects as well in positive ways.

We enjoy working with the Thinking Classroom so much, we’ve also blogged about it!

3 - Shift Your What? Community!

Being home based at a Secondary School is proving to have a lot of advantages to our work. We’ve been working out of Milton District High School since September and this is giving us lots of opportunities to connect with educators we might not have otherwise met. Recently, we were asked to join Kathryn Compton-Morgan as she took her Applied English Classes on a field trip to Decode Adventures.

Students spent the afternoon engaged in a wide variety of team building activities, followed by a chance to complete one of the Escape Rooms on site. We were struck by the amount of community building that the teachers of these classes were engaged in. It was obvious to us that the classroom community was built with intention starting from day one.


We wanted to hear more about how community was being built intentionally and with purpose in these applied courses. We sat down with Katherine Compton-Morgan, English Teacher and Karamjit Sangha-Bosland, the HDSB Instructional Program Leader for Equity and Inclusive Education to discuss what drove them to realize that continuously building community with their classes was important.

If you are interested in some easy community building activities that you can do with your classes tomorrow, check out some of the work we’ve collected here and here.

2 - Shift Your What? Design!

Shortly after the school year began, The Shift was scrolling through our own online professional learning network, looking for examples innovative classrooms. We were intrigued by what we were seeing from M. M. Robinson High School and their combined grade nine Math/Science program. Who wouldn’t be interested in an overnight field trip to the Ontario Science Centre?


Steve Tolton and Maggie Warneke were nice enough to invite us into their classroom last week to talk about the genesis of the MMR Engineering program and why this program is serving the needs of their students. By keeping the class learning by doing, and seamlessly integrating the math with the science, they have created something truly special that is good for students. Steve and Maggie dig into why they built this program and give a little window into how they do it as well.  More information on MMR Engineering can be found here:

1) Updates posted on twitter @mrtoltonphysics

2) Video Updates:

3) All files for the program:

Jamie MitchellComment
1 - Shift Your What? School!

Well, it only took us 18 months, but we finally sat down and recorded a podcast. We are hoping to make this a semi-regular feature for us. We are interested in talking to educators who have made small shifts in their teaching practice, pedagogy or philosophy of education. We really want to know how those small changes made larger impacts with students, teachers or other community members.


With help from Stephen Hurley from VoicEd Radio, we sat down with Jacqueline Newton, Superintendent of Education for the Halton District School Board to discuss the genesis of The Shift.