Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Teacher Spends a Day in PD, What She Realizes May Shock You!

     Our division sets aside five days every year to commit to professional development. Whether it is division-wide or school-based the purpose is clear... for teachers to embrace a growth mindset, continue their professional learning, refocus their pedagogy, and increase how successful their classroom is (with the definition of "success" looking different in different situations). Sometimes professional development days are tailored to meet the needs of specific teachers like meeting in grade-groups or by subject-level. A lot of times they are more general and include all teaching staff regardless of their teaching assignment.

     Division-wide or school-based... subject-specific or general... one thing that is almost always consistent is that teachers tend to dislike professional development! Ask anyone on your staff.... hold that... ask yourself... how many times have you dreaded a professional development day? Now I know there are exceptions to the rule, but a lot of times professional development is:

1) forced 
-  teachers have little to no say in the topic, presenter, format, etc

2) lecture-style
- especially when the topic is more general and is presented to an entire division

3) involves a lot of sitting
- hopefully you are at least in a chair and not gym bleachers

     Now ask yourself, "How often does your classroom environment mimic this?"

- how much say do your students have in how they learn?

- are students allow to explore topics that interest them or do you set the content?

- do students always learn from you or can they learn from each other? from experts in the field? from elders in the community?

- can students watch a video instead of read your notes?

- do you talk more than your students do?

- how much time do you expect your students to remain stationary at their desks?

- can students sit on a beanbag chair instead?

     If you dread spending a day in that environment then why are you subjecting your students to it?

Monday, December 07, 2015

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:

- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 19th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 26th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 2nd 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 9th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 16th
#TRSD32 Tweet  Challenge for the Week of Nov 23rd 
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 30th 

Things To Ask Yourself When Trying a New Tech Tool

     There are hundreds... thousands of new tech tools out there that are being incorporated into classrooms on a daily basis. Without a purpose, however, we run into technology being used simply as an engagement tool that doesn't open up any new opportunities for students and can be a waste of your time (and money if the school had to purchase new equipment). As many of you might know, when you use tech as an engagement tool the appeal is lost relatively quickly.... students can become distracted.... they begin using the tool for other purposes (surfing the web, selfies, etc)... teachers get frustrated... the tool is abandoned for "easier" and more traditional means.

how to incorporate a new tech tool in the classroom, things to ask yourself when trying a new tech tool, how do I know if I should try a new tech tool, is incorporating technology worth it

Are You Not Engaged? (2014). Uploaded to Twitter by Josh Stumpenhorst. Available online at: https://twitter.com/stumpteacher/status/420709983429201921/photo/1

     Now I'm not saying that technology shouldn't be engaging, or that using technology to "hook" students is a bad thing... but if the tech tool you are focusing on is simply re-enacting a pencil and paper activity then what is the point? Whether it is software or hardware, admin-lead or individual teachers trying something new, there are questions that educators need to ask themselves before they bring these into the classroom.

1 ) Why am I using this?
- If you are using the class iPads for internet research simply because you have a class set of iPads then you are missing out on a lot of other opportunities.
- Tech should be implemented with a specific purpose that allows students to experience a new or more fulfilled educational opportunity.
- Which leads to....

2 ) What will the students learn through this activity/tool?
- This can fall into two broad categories:
a) Content-based outcomes - these can be online science labs, webquests, video chats with people in the field... anything that is meeting the curriculum outcomes for your specific subject
b) Tech Skill-based outcomes - these can be centred around digital literacy and citizenship

3 ) What value is added by including the use of this tool?
- Is this tool moving the activity beyond what could be achieved if it was limited to pencil and paper?
- Does the tool allow students to create & share? Does it allow them to access information not available in the school? Does it allow them to connect with others who want to share information? Does it expand their learning beyond the classroom/school walls?
- Can it only be used in one type of situation or is it multi-faceted with multiple uses?

4 ) How does my pedagogy need to change in order to effectively incorporate this tool?
- It is very rare that teachers can incorporate anything new (not just tech) and not change their pedagogy in some way in order to make the experience effective.
- There may be a power-shift in your classroom, more collaborative activities, different behavioural expectations, etc and teachers need to be prepared to manage these situations appropriately and effectively.

5 ) Is the time spent on incorporating this tool worth it?
- Teachers very rarely have an excess amount of time. Is the time to takes to learn this tool, teach it to your students, and use it in a lesson worth it?
- This goes back to question 3, if the tool adds little value and can only be used is minimal situations then the answer is probably no... but it the tool adds value and/or can be used by the students long-term and in many situations then it worth pursuing 

6 ) Do I understand how to use this tool? How long will it take for my students to learn it?
- Now this doesn't mean you need to be an expert, it is good to learn alongside your students and troubleshoot situations together, but you should have enough knowledge to complete the activity that you are asking your students to complete.
- Your learning may come from a formal PD or from personal exploration but your student's learning will probably come from class time (although there a lot of tools that your students may already be familiar with!).
- This goes back to question 5, is it worth spending the time on? 

7 ) Who will benefit from the use of this tool?
- The answer should always be the students... but which students? 
- Will the entire class benefit or do you have students on the Autism Spectrum or ADHD Spectrum who find screen time too overstimulating?  Do you have students who have difficulty with fine motor skills who find keyboard and mouse tasks almost impossible? Do you have students who find audio and video learning challenging and prefer to be able to read the information personally?
- Majority often rules in the classroom but by asking these questions educators can decide if the tool is worth incorporating and what differentiation options can be utilized.

8 ) What will I do if the tool doesn't work?
- This question has two aspects:
a) Tech Failure - it happens to everyone at one time or another... the server is down, the wifi won't connect, students forget their log-in information, the school filter is just know blocking content you need... What will you do if you can no longer use the tool?
- If the answer is to abandon the activity then chances are you were using the tool for engagement purposes only.
b) Tool MisMatch - even with careful planning and purposeful implementation sometimes the tool just does not deliver on your expectations. This happens with any lesson plan that teachers create; sometimes it just does not work for your students.
- If this happens don't give up! Ask your students what they thought worked well and what the challenges were, ask you PLN for suggestions of other things to try, get feedback from colleagues, etc

__________________________________________________

What questions would you add to this list?




Monday, November 30, 2015

Resources to Start Off Your Week 88

     At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page). This week marks the official countdown to Christmas break! Only 3 teaching weeks (or 14 work days) until the holiday :)

1 ) Life in the Iron Age 
- Interactive animation that walks students through aspects of daily life in the iron age; including creating fire, baking bread, and spinning wool.
- Users get to search the area for artefacts, read text passages about different tools, and take quizzes about their understanding.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/games/ironage_life/index_embed.shtml


2 ) Google Search Tips (Infographic & Video)
- Awesome article to help students, and teachers, learn how to use Google more effectively.
- Includes information on how to phrase your search, interesting tips and tricks, shortcuts, and more! The infographic would be perfect for the computer lab or tech station of a classroom.
- Thanks to Med, at Educational Technology & Mobile Learning, for putting this post together


Have a great week!

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:


- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 19th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 26th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 2nd 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 9th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 16th
- #TRSD32 Tweet  Challenge for the Week of Nov 23rd 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Resources To Start Off Your Week 87

     At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page). This week is a very busy one for MB teachers as a large majority are sending home report cards and holding parent-teacher conferences. As such, I am only going to share a few resources today:

1 ) Social Network Checklists
- These checklists include everything you need to know about setting up an account, managing privacy, blocking/deleting people/information, how to report unwanted interactions, and more!
- Checklists can be printed out and hung as posters or handed out to students. If you are within their shipping range, you can also order hard-copies for FREE!
- Includes lists for Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Ask.fm, and Instagram
http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/social-network-checklists

social media safety, how to teach students safe social media habits, how to use social media safely, teaching students about social media, safe social media, social media checklists
Twitter Checklist. (2013). Uploaded by UK Safer Internet Center. Available online at: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/social-network-checklists

2 ) Piktochart
- Allows users to easily create eye-catching infographics for free!
- Users can select standard infographics, presentations, posters, or reports, select blank or pre-made templates, and customize with fonts, clipart, and much more!
- Does require you to create an account in order to save progress, but signing up is quick and easy.
http://piktochart.com/
* Want help getting started? Here is a list of 7 Video Tutorials to help you get the most out of this tool.

piktochart, infographic generator, make your own infographic, how to make an infographic, infographics in the classroom

Have a good week everyone!

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:

- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 19th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 26th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 2nd 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 9th
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 16th

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Blogging in the Social Studies Classroom - FREEBIE

     I have slowly been working on creating a comprehensive blogging program to implement with my high school social studies classes when I return from mat leave. Although I have blogged with my Grade 8 homeroom during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years, I feel like my implementation lacked direction and could have been done a lot better.

blogging, blogging in the classroom, blogging in the social studies classroom, blogging in high school, how to blog with students, how to blog with high school students, blogging program for students
I Think, Therefore I Blog. (2012). Uploaded to Flickr by MarsmettnnTallahass. Available online at: https://flic.kr/p/cHUyJN

     I decided to create a blogging program for my high school classes because:
- these students are already familiar with the program (they blogged with me in their Grade 8 year)
- I can require them to have their own email address instead of using a general class one
- I can build a cross-curricular program with the English teacher so their posts can serve more than one purpose
- they will be more comfortable, to an extent, with their writing

     In this program students will be required to blog at least once per month (for a total of 5 posts through the length of the course: 1 semester) and comment on a peer's post at least twice per month (for a total of 10 comments through the length of the course). Our blog will be hosted through Blogger and students will be added as authors, with everyone's posts appearing on the same blog. Their posts and comments will be used as summative assessment activities so, by having the program already created, my students have more direction with their blogging and I have multiple assignments already created and ready to go!

The package I created for my students includes:
- Blogging Schedule/Tracking Charts (to keep track of their progress)
- Info on:
     How to Sign up for Gmail
     How to use Blogger
     How to Reference
- Writing Prompts
- Writing Rubrics
- Commenting Rubrics
- Tutorials
- Parent Consent Form

     Since I have been blogging personally since 2012, and with students since 2013, I have seen the amazing benefits that blogging can bring. Students are able to:
- Share their learning with an authentic audience
- Catch up on lessons that were missed due to absence
- Review lessons to get a better understanding
- Connect with other classrooms around the world
- Integrate multimedia of all descriptions
- Practice responsible digital citizenship
- Receive feedback on their work
This is why I decided to share the blogging program that I created through my TpT Store for FREE! I hope that more teachers are able to use it and adapt it to their classrooms so that their students can begin blogging too!

You can head over to the Teaching in a Fishbowl TpT Store to 
download this program (25 pages of info) for FREE
blogging, blogging in the classroom, blogging in the social studies classroom, blogging in high school, how to blog with students, how to blog with high school students, blogging program for students

Happy Blogging!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Teaching in a Fishbowl TpT Store

     I've decided to try something new by creating my own Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) store. If you are unfamiliar with TpT, here is an exert from their website:

Teachers Pay Teachers (or TpT, as we call it) is a community of millions of educators who come together to share their work, their insights, and their inspiration with one another. We are the first and largest open marketplace where teachers share, sell, and buy original educational resources. That means immediate access to a world of expertise and more time to focus on students and teaching.

     I thought that since I had some more time due to being at home at mat leave, and since I already have hundreds of things already created for my own classroom, that this might be an easy way to share some of my ideas with others and maybe make some money too!

teachers pay teachers, teachers pay teachers canada, teachers pay teachers manitoba, TpT manitoba

You can check out the Teaching in a Fishbowl TpT store at:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Resources To Start Off Your Week 86

     At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page). 

     I've been spending a lot of time in the past 2 weeks developing a blogging program for my students for next year (I posted briefly about it before). In this planning I've been creating different blogging prompts to provide direction for my students; one of which included creating a fake social media post from the perspective of a historical figure. 

     I like the idea of students creating social media posts because it requires them to acquire a historical perspective and put themselves in another person's shoes. You can use this idea easily in both the Social Studies and English classroom:

- character profiles
- historical figure profiles
- show relationships between different characters/people
- show responses to events
- you could use these as part of a larger assignment or simply have it as an exit/entrance slip to demonstrate understanding of a smaller concept

1 ) Fake Twitter Post
http://simitator.com/generator/twitter/tweet

social media in the classroom, fake twitter account, fake tweet generator, fake twitter generator, social media in the social studies classroom, using social media as a teaching method

2 ) Fake Facebook Post
http://simitator.com/generator/facebook/status
social media in the classroom, fake facebook account, fake tweet generator, fake facebook generator, social media in the social studies classroom, using social media as a teaching method

3 ) Fake Snapchat Post
- http://snapsr.com/

social media in the classroom, fake snapchat account, fake snapchat generator, fake snap generator, social media in the social studies classroom, using social media as a teaching method

4 ) Fake iPhone Message Post
http://www.ios7text.com/ 

social media in the classroom, fake iphone message account, fake text generator, fake imessage generator, social media in the social studies classroom, using social media as a teaching method

I'm still looking for a good place to create fake Instagram posts. If you know of one please let me know!

Have a good week

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:

- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 19th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 26th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 2nd 
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 9th

Monday, November 09, 2015

Resources To Start Off Your Week 85: Remembrance Day

     At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page). This week we stop to formally honour the servicemen and women who have given themselves to defending our country and those in need of protection. There is no school held on Remembrance Day but schools hold their own services and incorporate activities to learn more about the significance behind this day. Here are some resources to help your students learn about Remembrance Day in your classroom:

1 ) Remember Them: Veterans Affairs Canada
- The official hub of Veterans Affairs Canada (V.A.C); a one-stop shop of everything you need to learn more about Canada's veterans
- Includes V.A.C's Twitter feed, videos, information about memorial sites, information about Canada's military history, and lots of resources for educators
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance 

remembrance day, remembrance day Canada, remembrance day activities for students, remembrance day activities for kids, how to plan a remembrance day service at school, remembrance day in the classroom


2 ) Resources for Educators: Veterans Affairs Canada
- The Educator's page of Veterans Affairs Canada
- Includes lesson plans, fact sheets, informational documents, videos, and official Remembrance Day tool-kits for classrooms and schools
- This page has everything you need to plan Remembrance Day activities for your classroom and you can be comforted knowing that they are created and approved by V.A.C
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/information-for/educators

remembrance day, remembrance day Canada, remembrance day activities for students, remembrance day activities for kids, how to plan a remembrance day service at school, remembrance day in the classroom


3 ) Canadian War Museum Remembrance Day Page
- The Canadian War Museum's dedicated Remembrance Day page includes general information about the day as well as readings, images, videos, and Remembrance Day tool-kits 
http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/remember/remembranceday_e.shtml 

remembrance day, remembrance day Canada, remembrance day activities for students, remembrance day activities for kids, how to plan a remembrance day service at school, remembrance day in the classroom


4 ) Reading & Remembrance Project
- This PDF includes 11 activities that allow easy incorporation of Remembrance Day into E.L.A classes
- The activities include a short summary and a link to a full lesson plan with resources
- Activities are organized by age-level
http://www.readingandremembrance.ca/forms/2005/ActivitiesForRemembranceDay.pdf

remembrance day, remembrance day Canada, remembrance day activities for students, remembrance day activities for kids, how to plan a remembrance day service at school, remembrance day in the classroom


5 ) Veterans Affairs Canada: YouTube Channel
- The official YouTube Channel for Veterans Affairs Canada
- Includes short vignettes regarding Remembrance Day, interviews with servicemen and women regarding military services and life, and news relating to the military and veterans
- Could be used to learn more about Remembrance Day and a good source of primary sources regarding Canada's military experiences
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3sc1ur4ApB5cjn9ADLvkSg


Enjoy Your Week!
Make sure you take the time this week to stop and honour those who serve.

remembrance day, remembrance day Canada, remembrance day activities for students, remembrance day activities for kids, how to plan a remembrance day service at school, remembrance day in the classroom
We Shall Not Forget. (2014). Uploaded by Dr. George Hall Public School.
Available online at: http://dgh.tldsb.on.ca/2014/11/09/dgh-recognizes-remembrance-day/

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 19th
#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 26th 
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Nov 2nd 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Role of the Mentor - Reflective Blogging Part 6

  This post is part of the Reflective Teaching Blogging Challenghosted by Terry at Te@ch Thought. While the original challenge is a year-old already I thought it would be the perfect thing to keep me on track over the next little while.

DAY 6 - Explain: What does a good mentor do?

     I'm glad that this question was included as part of the challenge because I often say that I am trying to create a classroom that sees "teacher as mentor" as opposed to "teacher as expert"... but what does that really mean? To me, a good mentor is someone who:

- is encouraging and supportive of their mentee(s)

- helps the mentee feel safe enough to take risks

- maintains a positive attitude

- is knowledgeable in their field

- listens to their mentee(s)

- is willing to learn and develop alongside their mentee(s) 

- is enthusiastic/passionate about their field

- can provide specific and effective feedback to help the mentee's development

- is flexible in their approach

- recognizes and values differences in opinions 

- encourages forward development

Here is a short video about mentoring that I enjoyed.
Be a Mentor. (2012). Uploaded to YouTube by Morph Digital Solutions. Available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFIFvXQ4Cfo

What would you add to this list?