Saturday, August 31, 2013

Professional Growth Plan

     During our New Teacher Orientation we were asked to start thinking about our Professional Growth Plans as we will be meeting with our individual principal's this week. As part of this, we were provided with forms to help us guide our goals (both personal and divisional).

     As a new teacher, most of the times when I think of the school year my hopes are to simply survive through it! Student teaching is just a taste of what full-time teaching is like and I hope to just make it through the year while trying to balance lessons, differentiating instruction, keeping up-to-date with appropriate assessment of student understanding, being involved with extra-curricular, etc! With that being said, however, I have been able to identify some goals for my Professional Growth Plan.

Goals:
- The teacher will maintain a written weekly reflection regarding lessons,
  classroom management, assessment, differentiation etc.
- The teacher will incorporate blogging into the Grade 8 Science class in a
  manner that addresses curricular outcomes, digital citizenship, school
  community, and student responsibility.

Divisional or School Goal(s):
- The teacher will plan one mentoring activity with another grade once per unit.

Strategies:
- I will maintain the weekly postings on my blog, "2 Stars & a Wish",
  which reflects on things that went well in the classroom and addresses
  an area of improvement.
- A blog has been set up for the Grade 8 Science class as well as a
  routine and expectations that will be incorporated once students are in class.
- For each unit, I have listed another grade in the school that covers a
  similar topic (ex. Grade 7 Science: ecosystems, Grade 6: diversity of living
  things). Other teachers will be approached regarding class cross-over
  activities.

     I have yet to meet with my principal so I am not exactly sure if this is what she is looking for in regards to a Professional Growth Plan. I do, however, feel like this provides me with a good platform in order to explore further.

     Do you have to complete a Professional Growth Plan? If so, what are some of your goals this year?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Teacher Orientation

     Yesterday was New Teacher Orientation in "T-Division"! My husband, myself, and four other new teachers met at our Division Office to get prepared for the new year and learn the ropes of the division. As you can probably tell from the fact that there are only 6 new employees, our division is quite small and our orientation was very laid back and welcoming.

     In general, the information was a little bland but necessary. We discussed:
- Our provincial union, Manitoba Teachers' Society (MTS)
- Salaries
- Life Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Divisional Calendar
- Divisional Policies
- Professional Development & Growth, etc

     A wonderful surprise was that our Superintendent took us all out for lunch after orientation was completed! It gave me an opportunity to talk more with the 4 other new teachers (1 of which is at "S-School" with me). My husband and I are the only teachers that are fresh out of university and from the area. The remaining teachers vary in experience from 2 years to 19 years and are from all over Manitoba and Ontario. I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet more teachers as I only know the teachers in "S-School". We have a division-wide PD day on Tuesday so I am looking forward to meeting up with them again!

     Here's to a great year!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Scientific Method Bulletin Board

My classroom isn't ready for a full reveal quite yet, but I have finished up all of my bulletin boards (you know, the ones that were hiding behind the monster bookcase). 

My favourite one, by far, is my Scientific Method bulletin board that is going to remain 
permanent through the school year. 
I modeled it after the amazing one that Emily created over at The Science Life!
scientific method bulletin board, the scientific method
*BEFORE*
The bulletin board I'm showing is the one on the North wall beneath the black star.
scientific method bulletin board, the scientific method
*AFTER*
The Scientific Method!
Starting from the red rectangle: "Ask a Question", "Form A Hypothesis", "Create and Conduct an Experiment", "Observe and Record Data", "Analyze and Conclude", and "Communicate the Findings".
Beneath the bulletin board, I have a hanging folder with photocopies of our class's Scientific Method Lab Form that students can grab and fill out anytime we have lab activities in class. I also plan to sporadically put up QR codes linking to:
- Cool science experiments
- Mr. Parr's science songs
- Interesting science videos, etc

One of my favourite parts of the bulletin board is the 3D images that go with each step. 
To create them I laminated and cut out the images I wanted to use and then simply glue-gunned bulletin board tacks to the back! It works perfectly because the tacks stick out about 5cm so when you push them onto the board they create a neat 3D effect!

scientific method bulletin board, the scientific method

scientific method bulletin board, the scientific method

Thanks again to Emily for inspiring me to create this bulletin board for my classroom (don't you just love the edu-blogger world?!)
I hope to do a full reveal of my classroom next Monday to celebrate the long weekend! 
Stay tuned until then...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Resources To Start Off Your Week 76

     It is here; my first week "working" as a teacher! Now, I put "working" in quotations because the teachers in our division aren't actually back until next Tuesday, but any new teaching staff starts their orientation this week (including both me and my fiance!). While I have been in my classroom sporadically over the past two weeks, I will now be there full-time when I am not in meetings with our divisional staff. I am very excited to get the final touches complete so that I can do a big reveal and be ready for students. As of right now... there are 10 days until students are back with us!

     In the mean time, here are three great ed resources that you can utilize in your classroom(s). As always, I will be adding these to my lists of resources under the Fav Websites heading.

1 ) New Old Stock: Vintage Photographs
- Curated by Cole Townsend, this website features vintage photographs
  that are public domain and not licensed under any copyright restrictions.
- This is a great image option to share with your students when they are
  looking for images to use for projects!
- The one thing I do not like is that there is no search options or categories
  and users simply have to scroll through the pages of photographs to find
  what they are looking for.
http://nos.twnsnd.co/

royalty free images, public domain images,  royalty free pictures, public domain pictures


2 ) How To Add Live Web Pages to PowerPoint Presentations
- This tutorial shows someone, step-by-step, how to add in a live web
  page into a PowerPoint presentation. When giving presentations about
  ed resources I find that I am jumping back and forth between the internet
  browser and my presentation.
- This tutorial taught me how to embed a website directly into the presentation
  so I don't have to flip back and forth anymore! This is really handy as I am
  teaching my students how to use Blogger this year and would like to have
  the web page inside of my presentation.
* Thanks to Tyler for sharing this resource with me!
http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/25946/how-to-add-live-web-pages-to-a-powerpoint-presentation/

how to embed a website into PowerPoint, how to put a website into power point

3 ) ICT Magic's PLN Map
- This interactive map allows users to visualize the Twitter PLN. Educators
  can add their work location and teaching category (primary, secondary,
  resource, etc) to the map at any time!
- This is a neat project to show how information travels around the world
  (this project started with a simple Tweet) and to show how big the Twitter
  PLN actually is.
- Add yourself to this map by following the link :)
http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/PLN+Map

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Water Systems Resources

     Here is the LAST resources post for my series of resources for the Grade 8 Science curriculum. With school starting right around the corner, I hope you can find these resources useful! If you missed my posts for the first three units of study, visit the following posts:
Water Cycle Song. (2011). Uploaded to YouTube by Mr. Parr. Available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3BVa7PH_JE

     I really enjoyed planning out this unit for two reasons: I have a Geography minor and our province has experienced drastic flooding over the past few years. I love teaching about subjects that have direct ties to our community and have planned a few neat field trips for this unit.

Intro to Water Systems
Enduring Understanding: The global water system is essential for all life on Earth; from plant and animal life to geography and human relations.
8-4-01     Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigations of water
                systems.                      
                Include: heat capacity, fresh water, salt water, convection, Coriolis effect,
                global water cycle, drainage system, watershed, continental divide,
                erosion, deposition, flow rate, tides, terms related to water treatment.
8-4-02     Demonstrate that water, as compared to other substances, has a high heat
                capacity and is able to dissolve a wide variety of solutes.
8-4-03     Compare and contrast characteristics and properties of fresh water and salt
                water.
8-4-04     Identify factors that work individuals or in combination to affect ocean
                currents.
                Include: convection, Coriolis effect, prevailing winds, position of
                continents.
8-4-05     Describe how the heat capacity of large bodies of water and the movement
                of ocean currents influence regional climates.
8-4-06     Describe the components of the global water cycle and explain how it
                works.

Drainage Systems, Erosion & Deposition
Enduring Understanding: The movement of water across the face of the Earth affects the respective geography.
8-4-07     Describe features of the North American drainage system.
                Include: local and regional watersheds, direction of water flow,
                continental divide.
8-4-08     Describe how erosion and deposition are influenced by the flow rate of a
                stream or river, and contrast the related characteristics of young and
                mature streams.
8-4-09     Describe how wave action and ice movement in large bodies of water
                cause erosion and deposition.
8-4-10     Explain how tides are caused and describe their effects on shorelines.
8-4-11     Describe examples of human interventions to prevent riverbank or coastal
                erosion.
8-4-12     Identify factors that can cause flooding either individually or in
                combination.
8-4-13     Provide examples of the way in which technology is used to contain or
                prevent damage due to flooding, and discuss related positive and negative
                 impacts.

Water Treatment
Enduring Understanding: Knowledge and understanding of the global water system has improved water treatment, lessened pollution, and affected human standard of life.
8-4-14     Identify sources of drinking water and describe methods for obtaining
                water in areas where supply is limited.
8-4-15     Explain how and why water may need to be treated for use by humans.

                Include: filtration, settling, chlorination, fluoridation.
8-4-16     Compare the waste-water disposal system within their communities to one
                used elsewhere.
                Include: process involved, environmental impact, cost.
8-4-17     Identify substances that may pollute water, related environmental and
                societal impacts of pollution, and ways to reduce or eliminate effects of
                pollution.
8-4-18     Identify environmental, social, and economic factors that should be
                considered in the management of water resources.
8-4-19     Use the design process to develop a system to solve a water-related
                problem.
______________________________________________________________

     In addition to hard-copy resources I have available in the school and from colleagues, I also started to organize some online resources to supplement our classroom activities. Here are the resources I found, organized by the themes I stated above. For each one I've included the title, a very brief point about what it includes, and the link. 

Intro to Water Systems

Water Cycle Song
- Musical Review Option
- Sang to Give Me Everything Tonight: Pitbull

Imagine All The Water
- Good interactive showing how much water is used in different everyday items

Tides Song
- Musical Review Option
- Sang to The Other Side: Jason Derulo

Tides & Sea Levels
- Interactive, wave levels, water changes, etc

Ocean Currents Song
- Musical Review Option
- Sang to Kiss You: One Direction

Groundwater Interactive
- Good for large group SMART Board activity
- Compares groundwater in wet and dry periods
- Good before moving into Floods discussion

Water Cycle Interactive
- Good questions and images
- Good for large group SMART Board activity
- Don’t like the voice over

Drainage Systems, Erosion & Deposition

Floods Song
- Musical Review Option
- Sang to So Good: B.o.B

Physical Geography - Running Water: How it Erodes & Deposits
- Documentary piece, discusses different types of flow
- 3 mins

Rain and Weathering Interactive
- Good for a large-group SMART Board activity

Manitoba Flooding CBC News Video
- Breaching the Portage la Prairie dike
- 5 mins

Brandon Flooding Video
- Good video and commentary
- Some inappropriate language, use discretion
- 9 mins

Flooding Interactive
- Good for a large-group SMART Board activity

Sheppard Software Canadian Games
- Games about Canada’s rivers, lakes, and oceans
- Good for if students are done early

Manitoba Flood Facts
- Fact sheet and bar graph of average vs. flood levels

Water Treatment

Water Changes Everything
- Video on the effects clean water has on communities and standard of living
- 3 mins

Drinking From The Sea: Desalination
- 2 min video explain desalination

World Water Day Image Gallery
- Images from around the world
- Good to get students thinking or to add into PowerPoint presentations

Downloadable Information Sheets
- Features information on various countries in need of clean water resources
- Features information on various water related issues like sanitation, poverty, advocacy

Simple Solution for Clean Water
- Water Treatment technology from University of Alberta
- 3 mins

Safe Drinking Water Atlas
- See water issues around the world
- Flash interactive
______________________________________________________________

I hope you find these resources as awesome as I do! 
If there is something you think I should add to my list let me know, I'd love to hear about the awesome things you are using with your class :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interactive "Connect With Us" Display

     I am now spending almost every day in my classroom getting organized and prepared for the upcoming school year. As you know, I've created quite a strong online presence for my classroom and I want to make sure that my students utilize these resources and have easy access to them. To address this, I've created an interactive Connect With Us display at the entrance of my classroom!


     This display includes 3 laptops featuring the information for our:
In addition to the written URL for each site, I also created specific QR codes that can be scanned to reach these resources quickly!

     Along the left-hand side I also included the sign-up information for my Remind 101 accounts. Similar to the laptops, I put each unique sign-up code on the screen of an iPhone to highlight the text service! 

- Both the laptop and iPhone clip art is available through www.openclipart.org
- QR codes were created through www.qrstuff.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer #EdTech To-Do List Revisited

     At the beginning of the summer (oh geez, was that already 2 months ago!?) I shared my Summer #EdTech To-Do List inspired by a blog post by Anthony Vonbank. For the last five summers I have always worked two jobs to pay for the upcoming year's school tuition, so I always considered myself very busy. This is my first summer since Grade 8 that I haven't worked at all during the summer! I thought that this would mean that I wouldn't be busy and was actually worried that I might be bored! HAHA! With the wedding, honeymoon, and planning for my first classroom, I've been more busy this summer.
miss l whole brain teaching, #edtech, ed tech summer to-do list, summer tech list for teachers
Technology is a given. (2013). Uploaded by Scott McLeod to Flickr. Available online at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcleod/8399337241/ 
     As school starts up again, I wanted to revisit my original post to see how I did in regards to accomplishing the items on my #EdTech To-Do List. How did you make out with your list?

ONLINE PRESENCE
- Create/update an About.Me page
        * I updated mine after the wedding to include my new name :)
- Create/update your online portfolio. I suggest Weebly; it is free, easy
   to use, and aesthetically-pleasing. 
        * I updated mine this summer to include my new name & new job
- Create/update your Twitter profile & develop/organize a PLN
        * I updated mine after the wedding to include my new name
- Sync your online networks to form a cohesive online presence
  (Same updated info, same profile picture, etc)
        * I still need to make sure all my profile pictures are the same, but the
           info is all the same and updated
- Develop an online presence for your classroom. It can be a classroom
  Twitter account, a webpage, a wiki, a Facebook page/group, a blog, etc.
  Think about what best suits your students & run with it!
        * I've created both a classroom website & a classroom blog for my class!
* Read my post about digital identity to learn more about online presence.

Summer #EdTech To-Do List Online Presence Grade: 4/5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

- Participate in a MOOC (massive open online course). Check out
  the MOOC List to see what is coming up.
        * Unfortunately I never found the time to participate in any type of
           MOOC this summer
- Tune into a Twitter chat. Some of my favourites are:
        - #ntchat,
        - #edchat,
        - #cdnedchat
        * This was something I completed multiple times over the summer, I
           would be lost without Twitter chats!
- Check out the resources available from some great ed tech curators.
  The following are a must-see if you haven't checked them out before:
       - Larry Ferlazzo's "Best Lists"
       - ICT Magic
       - Cybrary Man
       * I spent a lot of time curating resources for my classes & these websites
          were always my starting base, thank you!

Summer #EdTech To-Do List Professional Development Grade: 2/3

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

PLANNING

- Check out the backwards-by-design & new MB report card frameworks
  available through the mRLC (Manitoba Rural Learning Consortium). Everything
  a Manitoba teacher could ask for!
        * This website was a lifesaver as I made my way through my Math & Science
            planning this summer
- Familiarize yourself with the Bloom's Taxonomy chart of iPad apps.
        * Not only have I used it, but I printed it off and placed it on our school's
           iPad cart!
- Check out the ever-growing supply of Ted ED lessons that feature videos,
  articles, comprehension questions & online discussions.
        * The available lessons is still growing & I've found some really neat ones
           to include in my Math, Science AND Art classes

Summer #EdTech To-Do List Planning Grade: 3/3
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Overall I am very pleased with how I made out with my Summer #EdTech To-Do List. If you know me, however, I will be continuing to maintain and complete this list throughout the school year as well.

     How did you make out with your own Summer #EdTech To-Do List? Share your thoughts!
- Did you try anything new and exciting?
- Did you accomplish a big project?
- Did you have challenges completing something?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Resources To Start Off Your Week 75

     I am both excited and nervous as I write this post as it is my LAST Resources To Start Off Your Week post before I am back at school. Next week I begin my new teacher orientation although students will not return to classes until September 5th. When I first started these posts in January of 2011 I never thought that I'd still be doing them when I was preparing my first classroom! As always, I will be adding these to my ever-growing list of resources under the Fav Websites heading.

1 ) Math is Fun
- This website is a one-stop-shop for your math class. It features
  online lessons, practice questions, games and more!
- I've linked to this website in quite a few of my math units
  because their online lessons are a great resource for students to
  review at home for extra practice or if they missed the in-class
  lesson.
http://www.mathsisfun.com/
math resources, math is fun
2 ) Wonderground
- This "modern day treasure hunt" allows users to explore various
  American cities to discover the vast connections between history,
  technology, and innovation.
- Through interactive maps, articles, 360 degree images, and videos,
  users can explore some of the most amazing features of these cities
  and make connections to their lives.
- This website could be a really neat addition to a social studies
  classroom or provide a good basis for students who are wanting
  to learn more about these communities!
http://gewonderground.com/


3 ) ASAP Science YouTube Channel
- This YouTube Channel posts weekly Science videos that
  are perfect for engaging students in the subject. Featuring over
  50 videos, this channel posts everything from The Science of
  Aging and Amazing Facts to Blow Your Mind to The Science
  of Super Heroes and Which Came First: The Chicken or The
  Egg?
- These videos could be really good for activating students interest
  and/or engaging students who may not like Science class.
http://www.youtube.com/user/AsapSCIENCE?feature=watch


Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Using Flash Websites on iPads

     Our school has an iPad cart that teachers can book to use with their students for a variety of purposes. While our elementary wing (K-4) has a laptop cart that can be brought into the classroom, Grades 5 and up only have certain periods where they have access to the traditional computer lab. As such, the iPads are a good mobile tech option for us. During my student teaching placement I used our iPads for:
- QR scavenger hunts
- Interactive options during centers
- Research stations
- Virtual labs
- Taking photos
- Recording audio reflections, etc

     One problem that I did run into, however, is that Safari doesn't run Flash websites. Through my online curation I have found so many amazing resources for students to explore and I wasn't able to use a lot of them on the iPads!

     Well the issue has now been resolved as I've learnt how to run Flash websites on the iPad. I'm not sure if this is well known, but I didn't know about it so I thought I would share it with all of you! I present to you: Puffin Free!!
how to use flash on ipads, can you open flash websites on ipads, flash on ipads, puffin free
Here is what you need to know:
- Internet browser alternative to Safari
- FREE download from the app store!
- Flash compatible!
- Can run on iPhone, iPad, and iPod (if students want to download it to their
  own devices too)

     I am so excited to have solved this problem and have already put in my request to have it downloaded onto our iPads before school begins :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fluids Resources

     This post is the third in my series of resources that align with the Grade 8 Science curriculum. (Previously in the summer, I posted a similar series for the Grade 7 Science curriculum.) Each post shares the resources I compiled for a particular unit that I will be covering throughout the year. If you missed my first two posts in the Grade 8 Science series, you can find them at:
- Cells & Systems Resources
- Optics Resources
fluids resources, teaching properties of fluids, grade 8 science curriculum, grade 8 science curriculum manitoba, grade 8 science fluids resources
Easy Hydraulic Machines Screenshot. (2012). Uploaded to Instructables by Lance from Workshop for Young Engineers. Available online at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Hydraulic-Machines/
     My unit on Fluids spans the course of 7 weeks and will take place in late winter (approximately January-February). I specifically planned for this unit to take place during the winter months to allow for us to be outside in the spring during our following unit of Water Systems, which discusses flooding. I've built in quite a few lab activities and am most excited about students creating their own hydraulic machines!

Properties of Fluids
Enduring Understanding: Fluids exist in both liquid and gas states and are governed by very specific properties, including viscosity, density, buoyancy and pressure.
8-3-01     Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigations of fluids.
                Include: fluid, viscosity, flow, density, particle theory of matter, buoyant
                force, pressure, compressibility, hydraulic, pneumatic.
8-3-02     Distinguish between fluids and non-fluids.
8-3-03     Explore and compare the viscosity of various liquids.
8-3-04     Identify products in which viscosity is an important property, and evaluate
                different brands of the same product, using the design process.
8-3-05     Plan and conduct experiment to determining factors that affect flow within
                a given system.
8-3-06     Measure, calculate, and compare densities of solids, liquids, and gases.
                Include: different amounts of the same substance, regularly and irregularly
                shaped objects.
8-3-07     Illustrate, using the particle theory of matter, the effects of temperature
                change on the density of solids, liquids, and gases.
8-3-08     Compare fluids of different densities to determine how they alter the
                buoyant force of an object.
8-3-09     Recognize that pressure is the relationship between force and area, and
                describe situations in which pressure can be increased or decreased by
                altering surface area.
8-3-10     Explain, using the particle theory of matter, the relationships among
                pressure, volume, and temperature of liquid and gaseous fluids.

Hydraulics and Pneumatics
Enduring Understanding: Fluids transmit force in a predictable manner that can be utilized by humans, including hydraulic (liquid) systems and pneumatic (gas) systems.
8-3-11     Compare the relative compressibility of water and air, and relate this
                property to their ability to transmit force in hydraulic and pneumatic
                systems.
8-3-12     Identify a variety of natural and constructed hydraulic and pneumatic
                systems and describe how they function.
8-3-13     Compare hydraulic and pneumatic systems, and identify advantages and
                disadvantages of each.
8-3-14     Use the design process to construct a prototype that uses a pneumatic or

                hydraulic system to perform a given task.
______________________________________________________________

     In addition to hard-copy resources I have available in the school and from colleagues, I also started to organize some online resources to supplement our classroom activities. Here are the resources I found, organized by the themes I stated above. For each one I've included the title, a very brief point about what it includes, and the link. 

Properties of Fluids

The Density Song
- Musical review option
- Broadway style song

Can I Pour Air Demonstration - Discrepant Event
- U of M Lesson
- Shows that fluids are liquids and gases

Fundamentals of Fluids
- Articles, quizzes, interactives, videos

Buoyancy Demonstration
- U of M Lesson
- Would need to be a large-group activity lesson

Buoyancy Virtual Lab
- Great lab that can be used on iPads or as a large-group activity
- Includes procedural questions

Viscosity of Liquids Video
- Might be good for center activity, have students list items from
  least to most viscous

Viscosity Explorer
- Virtual lab
- Chose from water, olive oil, ethanol, corn syrup, honey &

Wonderville Pipeline Inquiry Project
- 5 Point experiment, good for group activity
- Would be great for when there is a sub

Pressure on Gas Virtual Lab
- Great lab that can be used on iPads or as a large-group activity
- Includes procedural questions

Density Tower Experiment
- Density Towerwith 9 different liquids

Hydraulics & Pneumatics

Hydraulic & Pneumatic Part 1
- Good video explaining both systems
- 6 minutes

Forces & Fluids
- Textbook chapter section
- Good teacher resource

Mega Machines
- Game with hydraulic machines
- Enrichment activity if students are done early

Pneumatic Air Nailer Lab
- Article about nail guns to help with the lab
- Lab will take place in the wood shop

Teacher Hydraulic Notes
- PDF Notes for teachers

Build Your Own Hydraulic Machine
- Instructions, videos, and images

Teaching Hydraulics & Pneumatics
- Teacher resource with links to buy lab kits
______________________________________________________________

I hope you find these resources as awesome as I do! 
If there is something you think I should add to my list let me know, I'd love to hear about the awesome things you are using with your class :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Homework Debate

     On the weekend I read a post by Justin Tarte called The Truth About Homework in Schools in which he lists his thoughts on the "homework debate". Being a new teacher I began thinking about where I fall in this often controversial discussion and what my thoughts are about having my students complete homework. I follow many education blogs from around the world and have seen teachers discuss all different types of homework ideologies, from those who are completely against it to those who have assigned homework every single night.
my thoughts on homework, the homework debate, should i give homework

     I don't really remember having homework in Elementary or Middle School and while that doesn't mean that we didn't have homework... it means that I certainly wasn't traumatized by it or spending hours each night working on it (which I'm sure I would remember). Even in High School I can't think of one class where we had nightly assigned homework, with the exception of keeping up with our reading of "Lord of the Flies" in my Literary English class.

    I'm not sure if this is a Canadian-American difference in education styles (many of the blogs I follow are American-based) or if I was simply lucky enough to avoid the homework load that is causing so much stress for students. Either way, I think it definitely influences my teaching style because I never grew up thinking that homework was a mandatory and/or necessary piece of the learning process. With that being said, here are some of my thoughts on homework:

- Students should never be receiving a mark for completing homework (or simply for
  completing anything). Students are assessed on their understanding of curriculum
  standards and I have yet to see any curriculum that states, "The student will be able
  to complete assigned work outside of school hours."

- Homework completion is greatly affected by a student's home life, not just their
  ability to understand the material...

- Nightly assigned homework should NOT be mandatory at any grade level...

- Teachers that feel like they need to assign homework in order to cover curriculum
  need to reevaluate how they are using their time in the classroom...

- Students who are struggling with a concept are not going to benefit from simply
  completing worksheet after worksheet at home ("remediation homework").
  Teachers should work on differentiating their instruction and meeting the student's
  learning needs  in the classroom rather than isolating them by making them complete
  more work at home...

     With that being said, here is a brief look at what "homework" might look like in my classroom:

- Students will be given adequate time to complete all assignments in class. Those
  who do not use their time wisely, however, may need to take assignments home
  with them in order to complete them on time. Taking the assignment home is not
  mandatory but the assignment due date does not change simply because a student
  did not use the time they were provided with...

- Many of our projects will be real-life scenario projects with direct ties to my
  student's lives. At times, I may ask students to look at home for certain supplies
  and bring them back to class (ex. a paystub, cell phone bill, empty beverage
  container, etc). Again, this is not mandatory, it simply allows the lesson to be
  more personal as they have a direct link to how this is applicable in their lives...

- Students will be provided with a review class before formal assessments-of-learning.
  It will be suggested that they also review/study on their own time so that they may
  be as successful as possible, but it is by no means mandatory that they study for
  x-amount of minutes at home.

     Being a new teacher, I'm sure that I will end up adding different things to this list or modifying them as I see necessary. As I stand right now, however, these are my thoughts on homework... what are yours?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Classroom Pictures *Update*

      In July I shared with you the first official pictures of my classroom. Since then I haven't done too much in regards to decorating, as I've been more focused on my curriculum planning, but I did spend an entire day their today! While I did begin to rearrange some furniture (I'm still playing with layouts) my primary focus was the GIGANTIC bookcase that was previously blocking the rooms bulletin boards.
*Before*
This bookcase was screwed into the wall, the floor,
and covered all of the bulletin boards in my room!
*After*
The bookcase is now dismantled & my bulletin boards have
been freed!
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     Thanks to our school's wonderful custodians, my bookcase is officially dismantled and moved into the hallway to await beautification! Unfortunately, the bookcases on the far left (with the cupboard doors) didn't make the move and had it be trashed but I still have all of the shelving. Today I sanded them down and began painting.
     
     The main frame of the bookcase is now black and I plan to paint the backing a bright blue to match our school colours. Tomorrow I will be putting on a second coat and they will be reassembled in my classroom! I am so happy to have this project underway, these cupboards were in serious need of some TLC!

*Before*
Beige, vandalized, and stained.
*After*
Still needing a second coat & the backing painted blue, but they are looking better!
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* Before*
Exterior Wall, no desks!
*After*
Exterior Wall: I've pushed my desk up against the wall to make more room
but I still need to add curtains to the windows.
(The bookcase will go against the South wall on the left of the picture)
     ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*After*
View from the door
     Once the bookcase project is completed I can begin filling it up with the crazy amount of textbooks that my school has for my subjects! (Not saying I will use all of them, but they have to stay in my room) I can't wait to start decorating my bulletin boards and making the room more comfortable.