Saturday, 31 March 2012


     The main reason why I started blogging was because I was so inspired by all of the great education blogs out there. Its seems like every day I am finding more and more amazing resources compiled and shared by dedicated teachers from around the world. One of the websites that I quickly added to my reading list was Teaching Blog Addict (TBA) and it just so happens that TBA will be celebrating their 1st Birthday on April 8th and are putting together a pretty cool giveaway.

     Everyone likes free stuff, right? Head on over to the TBA Birthday Page to enter their giveaway and get a chance to win some great educational resources.

TBA, free giveaway, free teaching resources, giveaway, free

Thursday, 29 March 2012

AIM Language Learning Program

     So yesterday I shared my enthusiasm regarding my school's french teacher possibly using WBT-style strategies while she taught: read all about it here. A friend of mine who is a recent education grad and now a successful teacher let me know that what our teacher was doing was not WBT but most likely the AIM Language Learning Program which is a program that his school also uses. Now I had never heard of the AIM program but I went to their website and was so impressed! I invite you all to check out their website because they provide a lot of information as well as their research to support their model (which I know has a been a sore spot in regards to the WBT website because they do not provide any research unfortunately).
learn additional languages, learn second language, french, whole brain teaching, kinesthetic learning, gestures

    Since I have no background in french, not to mention teaching french, I admit that I do not know anything about strategies in regards to teaching additional languages. I was, however, drawn to some of the similarities between the AIM program and WBT strategies. This is what stuck out for me:
- Both programs address different learning styles by presenting information visually, verbally, and kinesthetically.
- They both use gestures!! (AIM uses even more gestures than WBT)
- Both programs want students to have an emotionally investment/attachment to their learning experience. They want their students to have fun (all teachers, want this) but emotion can also influence our memory.
- They both encourage whole-class participation that have strategies that involve students repeating after the teacher or speaking in unison with the teacher while they mirror parts or all of the teacher's gestures.
- Both programs encourage activities to be "chunked" into shorter periods of time (AIM suggests 10minutes, WBT suggests as little as 45secs-2minutes)

Here are some videos from the AIM Language Learning Program that help explain their program and show it in action. You can also check out their YouTube Channel.

AIM Overview

Gestures & Drama

     Like I mentioned in my previous post, I hope to still be able to sit down with our french teacher and discuss her strategies with her but for right now I am just very excited about finding another program that has some similarities to WBT.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday: Parlez-vous Francais?

     Spring Break is officially here and although I have only been able to start a brief introduction of WBT with my Grade 5s I can't wait to hit the ground running on Monday. I feel as though I have just been full of exciting news the last little while and my ninth Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday post is no exception! I hope that this focus on WBT is helpful to those of you who are wishing to learn more about how a certain strategy may work and what my personal experience with it has been. Last week I was able to share my first introduction of WBT with my Grade 5s and this week I would like the share how ANOTHER teacher at my school is using WBT strategies. Hooray!

     During this student teaching placement I am teaching science full time to our Grade 5 class as well as a Grade 5/6 split class. During the remainder of the day I have either been observing or co-teaching with my cooperating teacher depending on the day/activity/subject/etc. Through our schedule we also have prep periods while our students attend music or french with other teachers. While I usually use this time to prep, reflect with my cooperating teacher and orient myself with the school I decided last week to remain with my students during french class. No I do not speak any french (unless you count Grade 4-7, most of which I have forgotten by now) but I figured that the more I could observe, the better, and I am so happy I stayed! As the french teacher walked into the room she enthusiastically declared, "Disco!" To which the students responded, equally as enthusiastically, "Disco" while making disco dancing moves with their arms.

OMG have I FINALLY found another teacher who is using WBT?! As I stood at the side of the room I was positively giddy! Over the next 30 minutes I watched the teacher review french vocabulary with our class complete with gestures! It was so exciting, our class that is usually high energy and easily distracted was participating and using their energy to complete the gestures as they reviewed their vocabulary. Now I will note that there was some students who did not participate (knowing the students it was not surprising) but by having all of the other students participate they had no one to get off-track with so they still paid attention despite not participating verbally and physically with the gestures. Another thing I noticed was that many of her gestures followed American Sign Language (ASL) which I thought was very interesting! I am somewhat familiar with ASL through my job as a Child Development Worker but my comprehension is minimal so I can't say for sure if all of her gestures used ASL or only some. Unfortunately I wasn't able to speak with the french teacher regarding her strategies as she is also the vice-principal and had to leave immediately following class. I am hoping that if time allows, I will be able to sit down with her and discuss her strategies because I am so excited after observing her class!

     Hopefully next week I will be able to update you on both my conversation with the french teacher as well as how WBT is going with my students. I mean, if they are already using it in french it should be a smooth transition, right?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Resources to Start Off Your Week 10

     Hooray for Spring Break! I must admit that with all my planning during my methods classes I am actually able to relax during the holidays (somewhat). I am lucky enough to be spending my time wedding dress shopping with friends and family! Thanks to another education student and blogger (check her out here) I found this great resource which I thought would be the perfect website to explore during Spring Break. Remember, I will be adding these to my Favourite Websites page so ensure you head over there to check out the full list that I've complied so far.

1 ) Trending Education
- This amazing website has compiled all the great ways educators can
  use technology like Google, Wiki's, YouTube, blogs, etc in the classroom!
- Not only does this website introduce you to great online resources you may
  have never heard of before but it walks you through all those little tricks that
  make life so much easier!

Happy Monday and Spring Break everyone!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! All Systems are Go

     I can't believe that spring break is almost here! I feel like I've only just gotten the hang of everything in our classroom and now we are leaving for an entire week! The exciting news, however, is that my eighth Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday post is about introducing WBT in our classrooms! I hope that this focus on WBT is helpful to those of you who are wishing to learn more about how a certain strategy may work and what my personal experience with it has been. Last week I highlighted "Mind Soccer", and while this week isn't about a specific strategy I would like to highlight how I introduced my class to WBT.

     Today marked my first official day teaching my own lesson plans in our Grade 5 Science class. Actually, it was my first official day teaching everything in our classroom as my cooperating teacher was out sick today. Thankfully, I was able to continue his lesson plans for the remaining classes and was still able to introduce my lessons for science with no issues. Being my first day "in charge" I wanted to make sure I established my classroom expectations very quickly to ensure that there was no confusion in the classroom. Our students are very high energy and really enjoy talking with their peers. This doesn't, however, always facilitate the best learning environment because it can get quite loud! On top of that, I am not one to raise my voice so I knew that I needed a quick and efficient way to gain our student's attention and redirect behaviour to on-task activities. Thank goodness for "Class-Yes"!

     When I first found WBT during my student teaching placement in the fall I was in a high school setting and decided to introduce it with my Grade 10 class. I realize that many WBT strategies are often very different than what most students may be used to and, because of their age, I wanted to make sure the class understood exactly why I was choosing to present information and manage the classroom this way. With this in mind, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation explaining the benefits of working the different areas of our brain by participating verbally, visually, and physically. As a class we were able to have a group discussion about the positives and negatives of learning/teaching this way, which I really enjoyed.

     With our Grade 5s, however, I didn't feel as though this type of introduction would be appropriate. What I wanted for our class was to encourage a respectful and fun environment as a way to ensure that each student was able to learn to his/her best ability. I explained that I was not comfortable raising my voice with the class but I still need to be able to get their attention quickly. We talked as a group and our students lead discussion about how it makes students feel when teachers need to yell to get attention. For the most part, our class felt that when a teacher raised their voice that meant that they were angry with their students and that would sometimes make them nervous during the rest of the class. Now keep in mind, we realize that just because a teacher raises their voice that doesn't mean that they are angry with their students, it may just be the only way to be heard above the noise! So it surprised me to hear our students talk about how raising our voice affected them later on. We agreed that we needed to have a way to get attention quickly that would be fun. We also agreed that it was important to be able to get attention quickly because there may be important information or questions that need to be addressed. Luckily, our class's french teacher uses a modification of Class-Yes so my students quickly caught on to the idea of getting attention through student verbal response.

     For the rest of the day I was able to use Class-Yes and have 90% of our students respond the first time! This was definitely much quicker and easier than standing at the front of the class announcing, "Grade 5's.... Grade 5's... I need your attention at the front please!" I was even able to use Class-Yes as we got organized during an assembly and getting ready for gym (two of our most exciting and hectic times during the day). Overall, I am really pleased with how our first day with WBT went. I loved that we were able to have a classroom discussion about why we were using Class-Yes and how it would help foster a respectful learning environment. I am looking forward to introducing The Scoreboard and Teach-Ok when we get back from spring break!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Resources to Start Off Your Week 9 (Animation)

     Only one more week until spring break! It seems like I just started student teaching and we already have an entire week off. One project the Grade 5s worked on last week was creating a comic strip using photos that were taken of them while at school. The students LOVED making their own comics and that inspired this week's additions to the list of online resources.  Remember, I will be adding these to my Favourite Websites page so ensure you head over there to check out the full list that I've complied so far.

1 ) Kerpoof Studio
- This website allows students to create movies, stories or drawings using supplied
   images and customization options.
- Extremely detailed "For Teachers" section!
- The one downside is that there is no option to upload personal photos or images.
- Owned and operated by Disney! 

2 ) Blabberize
- This website allows students to upload images and audio of their choosing and
  will animate the image to appear as it is speaking the audio that was uploaded.
- This is a great option for students to use when presenting verbal assignments or
  for uploading online because it protects student identity!

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Whats in a Name?

     Well my first week of student teaching at "C-Shool" is completed. My accomplishment for the week... learning all 28 of my homeroom student's names by Tuesday! Now before you get too impressed, remember that it is student conferences this week so we spent all day on Monday and Tuesday preparing portfolios to share with parent(s)/guardian(s). Therefore, we were handing back a ton of copies of assignments which resulted in me having to pick up names quite quickly or be left standing blindly in the middle of the room! To compare, during my student teaching placement in the fall I feel as though I didn't learn everyone's names until the end of the second week. Although, this may have been because we had five classes of students and I find that high school students aren't as willing to chat with you as much as Grade 5's are!

Student's names, student teacher rapport
In classes we were told that one of the most important things we can do to help build relationships with our students and begin establishing classroom management is to learn our students names as quickly as possible and it definitely makes a difference!  I found that my students noticed immediately when I was able to greet them by name and were often surprised (I think that I learned their names before some of them could remember what mine was, haha). Knowing a student's name shows that you are paying attention, care about them and care about how the classroom is operating. I know that some students felt as though they could push the limits of some classroom policies because I was new to the classroom but as soon as I was able to call on them by name this quickly diminished.

     I have had such a great time this week and love the classroom that I am in! I can't wait until I can begin teaching my own lesson plans this upcoming week. I feel more prepared now that I have begun building a solid rapport with my class :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! Mind Soccer

     My second student teaching placement has finally begun! I am still just observing and getting to know the students but I start teaching next week and you can be sure I will be introducing them to WBT asap! In preparation, here is my seventh Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday post! I hope that this focus on a specific WBT strategy is helpful to those of you who are wishing to learn more about how a certain strategy may work and what my personal experience with it has been. Last time I highlighted "The Agreement Bridge", this week I would like to introduce you to the WBT strategy of "Mind Soccer". (I realize that my introduction of these strategies are not in any specific order).

     As teachers, we are always finding/inventing ways to review material with our students and gauge their comprehension. These can include traditional worksheet assignments, trivia games, curriculum-themed board games and card games, SmartBoard interactive games, jeopardy.... the list goes on and on. The point is that we need to have a way to understand what our student's understand and provide our students with opportunities to review content in various contexts. Growing up I actually don't remember what types of activities my teachers used in elementary school but I do remember spending time in high school reviewing material by writing out facts again... and again... and again during class. For me, this did work incredibly well and this is how I continued to study through the four years of my undergrad degree. Do I remember any of the material from high school now? No, not at all, but I do remember how time consuming it was and how much I disliked it (no matter how well it worked).

     With this in mind, I think that students need to enjoy what they are doing and have fun with their learning. I believe that if students can have an emotional reaction (in this case, fun/laughter/excitement) to their learning then they will remember it more easily. I mean, it works with the subjects we hate right? I struggled with math and despite having difficulty with it, I can remember specific questions from my Grade 12 pre-calc provincial exam because I had such a strong (and negative) emotional reaction to them. "Mind Soccer" is an activity used to review material with students that is meant to be fun, exciting and engaging for our students. The rules of the game specifically create intense and exciting situations for our students which I believe may assist them in remembering material more effectively. The following describes the rules of "Mind Soccer" as stated by Chris Biffle in the Mind Soccer free e-book download.

The Set Up: Draw a horizontal line, about six feet long, near the bottom of your blackboard. Mark off the line in 11 equidistant vertical marks. The horizontal line stands for a soccer field; each end of the line is a soccer goal; the vertical marks divide the field into units (like a football field). Place an eraser under the vertical mark in the middle of the field. The eraser is the soccer ball.
How To Play
1. Divide the class into two teams. We’ll use boys against girls, but it could be right side of the class against left side, etc.
2. Each team chooses the other team’s captain (this is usually quicker than having each team choose its own captain.)
3. To start the game, the captains stand face to face at the front of the room. You pose one of your review questions and, just as in “Family Feud”, the captains slap their hands down on a desk as quickly as possible if they know the answer. The captain who is quickest, gets the chance to answer. If the captain is right, his/her team gets the ball. Otherwise, the opposing team’s captain gets the ball.
4. Assume the girls’ team wins control. Picking one player at a time, ask review questions to the girls’ team. If the player’s answer is correct, loud, fast and with an energetic gesture, that counts as a “strong kick.” Advance the ball, the eraser, almost a full hash mark down the field toward the boys’ goal. If the answer is correct but too quiet or slow or doesn’t have an energetic gesture, that is a “weak kick.” Advance the ball a short distance toward the boys’ goal. If the girls’ answer is wrong, shout “Turnover!” and now the boys’ team gets a chance to play. If you like a rowdy classroom, encourage teams to cheer when the ball is going their direction and groan when it isn’t. Thus, every time the ball moves, you’ll have cheering and groaning.
* See additional rules that can be incorporated to add excitement by downloading the FREE e-book (it was too much to include everything in this post)

     This is an activity that I will be using with my students as soon as I begin teaching again! Right now I am still just observing but I start teaching next week and I think my students will love this. I may, however, need to change it to "Mind Hockey" to make it more meaningful for them haha. (My first day in the classroom I walked in and was amazed by how many boys had bright pink mohawks, which I quickly learned were to celebrate their hockey team making it to provincials.) I think that this activity will be especially beneficial for our class because many students have difficulty with writing and reading but excel in their verbal language skills and would be able to answer questions verbally more easily. Check out this video of a 7th Grade Class in Texas using "Mind Soccer".

Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to see Chris Biffle's instructions in context or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see this strategy in action.

Monday, 12 March 2012

First Day at "C School"

     Today marked my first day student teaching with Mr. R's Grade 5 class at "C School". This is my second of four student teaching placements that I will finish before next spring when I will officially be a certified teacher! I completed my first student teaching placement in a Grade 10-12 social studies classroom but will be teaching science this time around.

     This first week I am just observing, assisting as needed and getting to know the students before I begin teaching my lesson plans on Tuesday next week. My day started out with reading records which was an awesome opportunity to have some one-on-one time with students and begin learning all their names! Reading records are done with all the students in the class and they measure their fluency, reading accuracy and comprehension. The morning also consisted of math and science, where I observed activities and circulated around the room assisting students, and french class with the vice-principal which meant a 30min prep for my cooperating teacher and I.

     The afternoon seemed to fly by as our students went to another classroom for an optional "family life" class. During that time we had a split Grade 5/6 health class where we discussed stress and anxiety which was a continuation from a unit that they are just finishing up. We also had a double block of gym with our Grade 5s where they were solidifying their badminton skills by moving through three stations: one-on-one skill practice, practice rallying and around-the-world badminton game. I think the students definitely had some energy to burn off and they seem to really enjoy gym (which I think is true for most students).

     This week is report card week, student conferences and preparation for our spoken-word festival so to say our class is a bit chaotic is an understatement. I am a very organized person so I will admit that I had a bit of a difficult time following along in class today because we often were working on a schedule other than our timetable in order to finish everything on time. Almost all of our classes were spent independently completing major projects that had been started before my arrival so I spent my time trying to catch up to where the class was and understand what the projects consisted of. Do not get me wrong, my cooperating teacher is very organized and has a very specific set of goals he wants to complete before student conferences begin, it was just a bit confusing for me! It is only the first day, however, so I am sure that I will catch up as the week progresses.

     Overall I would say that the day was a success! Like I had mentioned in a previous post, my cooperating teacher is very supportive, the students are high energy and enthusiastic and the staff seem very accommodating. That is all for now, but I will try to update as much as possible as things progress :)

Resources To Start Off Your Week 8 (Electricity)

This Monday marks my first day at my second student teaching placement! What better way to start a new placement then with some new online resources. These resources are ones that I will be using once I start teaching the Electricity Unit. Remember, I will be adding these to my Favourite Websites page so ensure you head over there to check out the full list that I've complied so far.

1 ) Electric Circuits
- This interactive website allows students to explore electricity, specifically
   different types of circuits.
- This website would be awesome to create a webquest for our students, it
   even includes some specific trivia questions anyway!
- Very user-friendly.

2 )  The Virtual Circuit
- This interactive website allows students to learn about electricity and
   create their own virtual circuit.
- This website would be great for students who work better on a
   computer as opposed to hands-on projects. It would also be a good
   option for students if they missed an in-class experiment.
- There is quite a few pages of notes that need to be read through before
   they can begin the circuit experiment.

3 ) Manitoba Hydro Hazard Hamlet
- A website aimed at students Grade 5 and up that stresses the importance
  of electrical safety at home, school and on the farm.
- Teachers can use this website to provide information about different types
   of energy, the affects of electricity on humans and the environment and a
   history of electricity.

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

My Visit to "C School"

     Today I drove out to visit my cooperating teacher for the first time at "C School". I had never been to the town before but Google Maps assured me it was about an hour commute from the university and, wanting to be early, I scheduled to be there about 5 minutes before our meeting time. Well, needless to say, it was only a 35 minute drive and I arrived at the school over 30 minutes early (oops)! The secretaries were very friendly, however, gave me a great welcome, went over some paperwork and I was able to meet my cooperating teacher (CT) right away.

     I should tell you that this school is absolutely gorgeous! It was built in 2008 so everything is brand new, modern and very inviting. I feel very spoiled to be in such a great facility! When I arrived, the students had just finished music class and were coming back into home room so it was a good transition. I was introduced by the CT and had the opportunity to observe math corrections, reading records with the resource teacher and TUSC public speaking presentations. There are 28 students in the class and I will be teaching science (the Electricity Unit) and be observing and assisting with the other classes. There is also another Grade 5 class that I will be teaching science in as well (I haven't met them yet though). I had a discussion earlier with my CT about incorporating Whole Brain Teaching while I am there and he was so supportive. It will be really interesting to see the differences between the Grade 10s that I used WBT with last fall and the Grade 5s. I am thinking of definitely trying out Mind Soccer! If you are not sure what it is I am going to feature it in my WBT Wednesday post next week. Overall I am very excited. The students were very inviting, my CT was very supportive and the school is amazing! It will definitely be a different experience from the Grade 12s I was with last term but I am ready.

     On a fun note, I decided to try out the Clay Yourself website from my "Resources to Start Off Your Week 5" post. It is a cute website that allows users to create a claymation-style avatar of themselves. There aren't a lot of customizing options, but it is a fun option to use if your school doesn't allow you to upload actual photos on your class blog or website. Here are my creations of my CT and myself!
Cooperating Teacher at "C School"
Miss L

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

5 Years Down, 1 To Go!

       My first year in the Faculty of Education (and 5th year in university) is DONE! After exams in Individuals with Exceptionalities, Classroom Management and Social Studies Methods (all written today) I can officially say I have completed my first year as an education student! My fiance and I celebrated with a congratulatory brunch at Smitties and going to the theater to see Dr. Suess' The Lorax (the teacher in me couldn't stop thinking of the inferential thinking scenarios and the social studies curriculum: sustainable development, environmental implications, ecosystems, infrastructure, politics, economy, etc).

One more year to go!
I have always loved being a student. I enjoyed my undergrad immensely and, despite knowing that I would apply into the education program after my undergrad, I often joked about being a life-time student. I must say, however, that I have enjoyed the education program even more than I had thought I would. I can't even really begin to describe what an amazing feeling it was to finish my first day of student teaching and think, "Wow! This is what I want to do every day for the rest of my life." The justification that, yes, I have chosen the right path is so incredible.

     On Monday I begin my second round of student teaching, this time at "C School", for 8 weeks (7 weeks in the classroom due to public school's spring break holiday) and I am so excited! I will be in a Grade 5 classroom, which will be a big shift from the Grades 10-12 I was with in the fall but I will be visiting the school on Thursday so stay tuned for a post all about that. I am saddened, however, because after this student teaching placement we go right into summer break, meaning that I won't see many of the close friends I have made over the last 7 months until fall. I wish them, and any student teachers, the best during their student teaching placements and a happy summer :)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Electricity Unit Plan Freebie!

      One of our major projects for our Science Methods class is to create a unit plan. After talking with my cooperating teacher I found out that I would be able to teach the Electricity Unit while I was in his classroom so I naturally decided to complete my unit plan on the Electricity cluster.

      I have networked with so many amazing people since I entered the Faculty of Education and have been able to access many great resources developed by other people. So in the nature of sharing, I have decided to upload my unit onto my blog to be shared with anyone who is interested. Enjoy!

electricity lesson plan, science lesson plan, freebie, free download 

Note: this unit plan follows the Manitoba Grade 6 Curriculum


Resources to Start Off Your Week 7

I can't believe that it is the last week of classes for us! Next week we start student teaching again and then it will only be a quick 8 weeks before my first year in the Faculty of Education is done. Remember, I will be adding these to my Favourite Websites page so ensure you head over there to check out the full list that I've complied so far.

1 ) Topogropa
- This a great interactive website all about the geography of Europe.
- Teachers could use this website to discuss geography, politics, history or
  economics and it is all summarized in colourful and fun graphics!

2 ) Bullying, No Way!
- A website developed in Australia that brings awareness to the issues brought
  up by bullying, provides information and allows networking with other students.

Happy Monday everyone!