Monday, 27 January 2014

Free #EdTech - Apps For Your Class 2

     Free #EdTech - Apps For Your Class is a sporadic posting I do every time I find a neat new app that is not only being offered FREE (for a limited time) but that is also educational and could serve a purpose in your classroom.

     While no longer free, last sessions app: Singaling, is still awesome and I recommend you check it out! Today I've found:

King of Maths: Full Game

"Level up your mathematics skills and become King of Maths!"

This interactive math facts game allows users to work their way through various mathematical challenges in order to advance through a hierarchy of medieval styled characters. This multiple-choice math fact fluency game features middle-school leveled questions about:

- Addition
- Subtraction
- Multiplication
- Division
- Mixed Operations (Order of Operations)
- Geometry
- Fractions
- Powers
- Statistics
- Equations

Regular $1.99, now FREE till tomorrow

#edtech, free edtech for your classroom, free math apps for students, free math apps for kids, math fact fluency apps, how to find free apps for classrooms

#edtech, free edtech for your classroom, free math apps for students, free math apps for kids, math fact fluency apps, how to find free apps for classrooms

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sit Wherever You Like... and Other Room 132 Anomalies

     This week I was responsible for distributing and collecting surveys from all of the teachers in our school regarding our PD wants/needs. As such, on Thursday during my prep, I visited each classroom in our school to ensure I had everyone's surveys... and I noticed something interesting.

     I am the ONLY teacher from Grade 8 to Grade 12 that does NOT have my student's desks in rows facing the "front" of the room. In fact, I am only teacher that does not have their desk as the focal point of the room! I am also the only teacher out of this group that has additional furniture in my room:

bringing in additional furniture to the classroom, couches in class
Our classroom "chill-out" space
     After I returned to my classroom, I began thinking of how my classroom differed from those of my colleagues. In addition to the furniture layout, my room also features:
- A student work station with a computer that can hook up to our
  room's SMART Board (no other high school classes have student
  computers in the room except our science lab)
- A microwave for students to heat up snacks (or for me to heat up
  the numerous coffees/teas I consume during the day)!
- A "charging station" for students to charge their devices throughout
  the day.
     In fact, if you visited my classroom you might see:
- Students sitting wherever they like during lessons (at a desk, at the
  "chill-out" space with a clipboard, at my desk, etc)
- Free-reign of device use (I would rather teach appropriate and
  responsible device use rather than ban them). **I do however,
  ask students to set their devices aside during important lessons
  or if their peers are presenting.
- Students with their head-phones in, oblivious to the world around
  them, but diligently completing their work.
- Students taking pictures or their work and blogging about it.
21st century classroom, student centered classroom, what does a student centered classroom look like
IAP mechanics review 02. (2009). Uploaded to Flickr by CPS Photo Library. Available online at:
     Why does my classroom function this way?
- I want our learning to be as student-centered as possible. I want
  students to be able to interact with their peers, collaborate on a
  project, and share their learning with others.
- I want students to be comfortable. I want them to be able to feel
  at home; like they belong to our classroom community. If they need
  to relax and curl up on the couch, do it. If they want to heat up food
  and have a snack, do it.
- I want them to use tools that they find useful and meaningful to them.
  I encourage device use in the classroom and recognize that students
  are going to be using them regardless of whether I encourage it or not;
  why not integrate them instead of banning them?
- I want to extend our learning beyond our classroom. I want students
  to think critically about their learning, share their ideas with the world,
  search for information that I can't provide, and explore their interests.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Free #EdTech - Apps For Your Class 1

     I can't speak for your school & classroom, but in ours the majority of my students have some type of smart device. A little over half of my Grade 8s have a device that they can have in the classroom with them and this percentage increases as my students get older. If they don't have their own, I have access to a class-set of iPads as well as my personal iPhone that I use in the classroom as well.
     With all of these resources at our fingertips, I've been closely watching to find new apps that I can share with my students and utilize in the classroom. One thing that I LOVE is finding awesome apps that are being offered for FREE when they are usually paid apps.
     As such, I decided to start a new type of post that I've titled Free #EdTech - Apps For Your Class where I'll share when I find great education apps that are being offered for free!
     Today I've found:
This easy-to-use voice effects app is the perfect tool to use when creating presentations, editing videos, composing songs, etc!
"Too get started, simply connect a paid of headphones and sing into your device..."
Effect options are all fully customizable and  include:
- Reverb
- Auto Pitch
- Chorus
- Delay
- Filter
- Distortion
Regular: $6.99, now FREE till tomorrow
edtech, #edtech, free apps, education apps
 edtech, #edtech, free apps, education apps

What Makes A Great Teacher? Part Two

     Last week I shared Keith Hughes video, "The Recipe for Great Teacher" and shared my comments on the first two "ingredients". (If you missed that post, you can check it out here.) One week later, I'm back and read to explore this further! Like Keith says, the final two ingredients are those "warm fuzzies"; that's right, we're going emotional on you. Before you read on, however, if you need a reminder, I've embedded Keith's video again:

Here are my thoughts:

3 ) 25% Authenticity
- This one may seem pretty obvious but our students want us to be
  real. They want us to be ourselves and they want to know that
  everything we do is authentic. Like Keith says, "If you go in as a
  phony, students will know that and you'll lose them."
- Sit down, find your niche, find your true self, and run with it. Own
  your unique awesomeness and bring that with you in everything you
  do (in every class, with every student, in EVERYTHING you do). If
  you're playing a game with your students they will pick up on that
  and there is no way they will buy into anything you're doing.
- A great way to accomplish this outside of the classroom is to get
  involved with your school's extra-curricular programs (sports, drama,
  photography, music, tech club, etc). Students want to know that we
  are more than just teachers, they want to see us in different environments,
  and they want to see how we act when not in "teacher-mode".

4 ) 25% Human Relationships
- This is your understanding of human interactions and being able to
  read and interact with different types of people. Teachers need to be
  able to effectively convey a message to a group of people who all
  have different levels of prior knowledge, who have different levels
  of willingness to learn, who have different social/emotional levels,
  etc. We need to be able to work with all of the social/emotional/mental
  variables that make up our students and we need to do it relatively
  seamlessly (not saying that we always do)!
- Make sure you build relationships with your students, make sure that
  they know they are part of your school/classroom community, and
  make sure that they know you care!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What Makes A Great Teacher? Part One

     Have you seen Keith Hughes' video, "The Recipe for Great Teacher"? I came across this video the other day through one of the blogs I follow (unfortunately I can't remember which one, if it was you let me know so I can give credit!) and wanted to tune in right away!
     As a first-year teacher I am always asking myself, "Am I doing this right?", "Is there another way that I can do this?", "What should I change for next time?", etc. I've followed Keith through his various social media platforms for quite some time now. As an experienced educator who not only has a love for online sharing, but also for history, I try to follow the example he sets in his career and definitely wanted to see what his thoughts were when it came to "great teachers". Check out his video embedded below:

     Here are my thoughts:

1 ) 25% Content Knowledge
- On the surface this ingredient seems pretty self-explanatory.
  Our job is to teach our students information in any number of
  given subject areas. Not knowing our content = pretty confused
  students! I know that different countries/provinces/etc have
  different requirements, but in Manitoba we spend 3-4 years
  completing an undergrad degree familiarizing ourselves with content
  before we can even apply to complete our education degree.
- Dig a bit deeper, however, and this ingredient is such much more.
  It is not enough to simply know facts about the subject. Teachers
  need to know how to talk about the content to students who may
  walk in absolutely hating the subject. We need to be able to explain
  our content forwards, backwards, and sometimes ten different ways.
  Teachers need to be able to challenge and encourage those who are
  as passionate as us, while supporting and guiding those who are
  struggling and threatening to shut-down.
- Like Keith says, "If you're going to be a teacher you have to love your
  content; then be prepared to hate it a little bit because your kids aren't
  going to love it like you do!"

2 ) 25% Pedagogy
- Pedagogy refers to a teacher's methodology. How do they approach
  teaching, why do they do what they do, what is their role in the
  classroom, etc. I find that pedagogy is something that teacher's are
  really good at recognizing in other teachers but it is also something
  that teachers sometimes have a hard time expressing about themselves.
- Think about this, I bet you can think of any number of teachers in
  your building and probably describe their pedagogy pretty accurately
  just from conversations and observations that you've had. Now think
  about yourself, is it harder? This is why self-reflection is so important!
  As teachers, we need to be approaching everything we do purposefully
  and with conscious thought.
- As a first-year teacher I recognize that my career and pedagogy is only
  at its primary stage of development and will continue to evolve as I
  gain experience. At this point, however, here are some of my thoughts:
     - I want my students to value learning so that they can continue to
       explore their individual interests and needs throughout their life
     - I believe teachers need to know and appreciate their students as
       individuals before they can effectively teach them
     - I know that not everyone learns and expresses their learning the
       same way
     - I believe it is a teacher's job to help our students find out how
       they learn best and allow them to experience success in their
       own way
     - I believe technology can open up numerous doors that may
       otherwise be closed for our students, but it needs to be implemented
       with purpose
    - I want my students to explore content through channels that are
       relevant and meaningful to them and their lives
     - I believe that students need to learn about information through
       various perspectives and be allowed to form their own, informed
       opinions about the world around them
     - I know that teachers need to be learning models for their students
       and should never stop learning and exploring new things

Sunday, 12 January 2014

2 Year Blogiversary Celebration Winner!

My 2 Year Blogiversary Celebration contest is officially over!!
I want to send a huge thank-you to everyone who has supported me over this second year; it has definitely been a busy one!
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I had 14 comment entries on my 2 Year Blogiversary post.
To determine a winner, I utilized a random number generator...
and number 2 is the winner!
Congrats Lori, I am sending an email your way!

Thank you to everyone who entered and sent me their kind words through various social media platforms; here comes year 3!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Back To School Organization

     Today marks the last day of our Christmas holidays, meaning that school is back in full-force tomorrow. After a relaxing two weeks I can honestly say that I am heading back to school refreshed and ready to go!

     I didn't realize it at the time, but I was definitely feeling exhausted when Christmas hit. Teaching is a profession that isn't done when the day ends at 4:00pm and I think that it can be difficult to find a balance (especially in that first year when you're trying to "do it all"). This break has allowed me to take a step back from the classroom and focus on myself... my family... my life. It has also allowed me to work on some of the organizational aspects that I've determined I was lacking before!

     Over the past week I have been focusing on organizing certain aspects of my life in order to cut down on some of the stress that is bound to occur once I am in the routine again. Here are two of the main things I've been working on:

1 ) Organizing My Closet into Outfits
- Rather than have my closet organized by type of item, I
  began organizing my closet by full work outfits (complete with
- Now I just need to grab a hanger and know that I'm ready
  to go for the day!

2 ) Pre-Planning Meals
- The other day I spent 4 hours preparing over 30 meals that
  I've frozen and will only need to throw in the crockpot. Don't
  get me wrong, I love cooking, but I am beyond excited to know
  that supper will be ready when we get home! Plus, spending
  four hours of prep for a month of meals works so well for me.
- If you're interested in this idea, I was inspired by this post by
  Katie and even got some neat recipes from her.

crockpot cooking, crockpot freezer cooking, prepare marinades before you freeze meat
Sauces & spices for over 30 recipes prepped & ready to add meat & veggies!
crockpot cooking, crockpot freezer cooking, prepare marinades before you freeze meat
Once all the ingredients are in then it is off to the freezer!

     Hopefully these two things will help keep me organized going back into the school-year! What tips/tricks do you recommend in regards to at-home or at-school organization??

I'm still celebrating my 2 Year Blogiversary!
Make sure you check out my post to enter for a
Mystery Prize Package Giveaway.
blogiversary giveaway, blogiversary celebration, blog giveaway, manitoba teaching blog

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2 Year Blogiversary Celebration!

     I did it! Two full years of blogging under my belt and still going strong :)

     What started out as my New Years Resolution in 2012 has now become a part of my regular routine and has opened up numerous doors and opportunities that I didn't even know were possible. Through this blog I've developed personally, professionally, and have been able to connect with many amazing educators that I never would have meet if it wasn't for this platform! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts, comment, and support me along the way; I couldn't do it all without you!!

blogiversary giveaway, blogiversary celebration, blog giveaway, manitoba teaching blog

     Last year I posted some year stats as part of my 1 Year Blogiversary Celebration and I thought it might be interesting to update those stats and take a look at how my blog has changed since January 2013.

Blog Page-Views
- As of January 2014: 331, 437
- As of January 2013: 102, 274

Blog Posts
- 2013: 202 posts
- 2012: 195 posts
Google Followers
- As of January 2014: 330
- As of January 2013: 246

Highest Traffic Month (by page-views)
- August 2013 with 34, 023 page-views
- August 2012 with 16,992 page-views
Top 3 Most Read Posts Overall (by page-views)
     - May 30, 2012
     - 11,999 page-views 
     * Most read in 2012 as well :)
     - January 9, 2012
     - 6850 page-views
     - February 8, 2012
     - 4882 page-views
Top 3 Most Read Posts of 2013 (by page-views)
     - June 3, 2013
     - 3,641 page-views
     - July 23, 2013
     - 1,552 page-views
     - June 14, 2013
     - 1,504 page-views 
Top 3 Most Commented Posts of 2013
     - January 4, 2013
     - July 11, 2013    
     - March 2, 2013  

To celebrate, I have decided to repeat the giveaway that I featured last year,
a Mystery Prize Package Giveaway!! 
     The winner will receive a hand-made prize package tailored specifically for them (valued at $50)! 
Upon winning I will get in contact with the lucky person, visit your blog (if applicable) and find out what you would like in a prize package! Maybe that includes:
- Gift cards to Starbucks/Tim Hortons/Target/Wal Mart
- New calendar organizer for the classroom
- Stickers for student's work
- Souvenir from Canada (if you are an American follower)
- Nail polish and/or hand lotion to pamper yourself
- Anything!
The fun thing about this prize is that you actually get something in the mail that you can unwrap and enjoy! I think that is way more fun that downloading an electronic file... I love getting snail mail!

     Sounds intriguing? Here is what Maria from First Grade Carousel won last year! You can also check out the wonderful post that she wrote on her blog when she received the package :)

     There are lots of ways to enter and for each entry make sure you leave a comment below stating how you entered and your email address so I can contact you when you win!

1 ) Follow this blog (if you already do make sure you still comment)
2 ) Tweet about the giveaway on your Twitter account 
     (leave the link in the comment)
3 ) Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page 
     (leave the link in the comment)
4 ) Post about the giveaway on your blog, please include the image above
     (leave the link in the comment)

A BIG, gigantic, thank-you to everyone who made my second year of blogging so awesome!
Contest closes Friday, January 10th at 9pm (central time) and the winner will be announced on Saturday.
Good luck!

Catching Up On My Homework / Sunshine Blog Post

     Over the past few weeks by Feedly & Twitter have exploded with "Do Your Homework" or "Sunshine Blog" posts. This chain post makes me all nostalgic for the 90's Hotmail chain emails that circulated so frequently... (you know those ones where the teenage version of yourself sat answering random questions and carefully selecting the perfect emoticon or font colour to accent your response). Fast forward to 2013/2014 and it seems like I've found the adult/"professional" version of that.

     I've really enjoyed the posts that I've read from people in my PLN. Our conversations so often focus only on education and I've loved getting to know more about everyone! In case you haven't seen these posts circulating about, here is how it all works:

1 ) Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s)
2 ) Share 11 random facts about yourself
3 ) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has
     created for you
4 ) Nominate 11 bloggers to continue the post. They should
     be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition & a little
     blogging love!
5 ) Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate

Nominating Bloggers
I was actually nominated by both Peter Jory (I Have an Opinion About Learning) and Mary Bertram (To Teach Is To Learn). I've found both Peter and Mary through the Twitter world over the past two years, although I can't exactly remember when. One of Peter's first blog posts that I read was, What Do Principals Look For When They Hire, which immediately enthralled me as an education student; I appreciated his transparency and re-read that post several times before I began interviewing for jobs. I connected with Mary when she was finishing up her education degree and I was starting mine so we connected easily and have even been able to meet up at the BYTE Conference together! She's been a great mentor through this journey and I look forward to learning even more! Both of these bloggers are excellent additions to you PLN and I recommend you explore their blogs and follow them on Twitter!

Share 11 Random Facts
1 ) I have three pets: a German-Shepherd cross named Kevin & two cats, Howie and Mr. Cuddles.
2 ) I absolutely love pizza, popcorn, and chocolate milk. I could eat these three things everyday without getting sick of them.
3 ) Clutter really bothers me. Putting away laundry, doing the dishes, or organizing groceries makes me really happy.
4 ) I play the piano, the tenor saxophone, and the clarinet and almost went to school to become a music teacher.
5 ) I have never played on any competitive sports team (even in school) and am very un-athletic in general.
6 ) I re-read books regularly and have a repertoire of approximately 8 books that I re-read EVERY year.
7 ) If absolutely love learning and the structure of school. If we lived in a community that had a university I would probably continue to take random classes my whole life. (I am hoping to get accepted into a Master's Program for the upcoming year).
8 ) I can't "tune in" to watch a show each week, I hate the suspense. I always wait until the season is done and then watch the whole season in an embarrassingly short amount of time.
9 ) My picture was featured on a Jones Soda bottle when I was a teenager. We even managed to find 6 of the bottles at random stores across our province.
10 ) I grew up hunting and trapping with my father, grandpa, & uncle. I still hunt every year and enjoy wild game more than beef (despite having married a beef farmer).
11 ) I love the idea of travelling the World but have only ever been to 4 provinces, Las Vegas, & Punta Cana.

Answer 11 Questions
- Since I was nominated by two different bloggers, and thus have two sets of questions, I have decided to pick and chose from both sets in order to create my 11 answers

1)  If you could teach any grade/age what would it be and why?
- My dream position would be teaching upper years Social Studies classes... Grade 10 Geography, Grade 11 Canadian History, Grade 11/12 Global Issues, Grade 11/12 Topics in First Nations/Metis/Inuit Studies, Grade 11/12 Agriculture. Social Studies is my passion & these classes are so much more specialized than the lower years classes. Furthermore, I love the detailed conversations you can have with students at this age. Don't get me wrong, every grade/age has its perks, but I will always prefer upper years.

2 ) When did you decide to do what you do?
- I decided that I wanted to be a teacher in junior high. I naturally loved learning and would seek out new learning opportunities independently and then share the new information with those around me. In high school, I began tutoring students in grades below me and volunteered at my old elementary school during my spares. I honestly can't picture myself doing anything else besides teaching!

3 ) What is the 1 thing you hope your students gain from your teaching?
- As a teacher I want to do everything in my power to not only have my students learn the curriculum, but to also learn to value the learning process. Education opens up an infinite amount of opportunities and all students are capable of taking their learning to amazing heights. It is my hope that, through my position as a teacher, my students are able to enjoy the learning process and recognize the incredible things that they are all capable of achieving.

4 ) What makes you the proudest when you think of your work?
- This is a tough one for me... I think that when I look at my work I am most proud about knowing that I've given it my best effort, not "slacked" through any details, and am willing to learn more in order to improve in the future.

5 ) Whiteboard & projector or SMART Board?
- I personally have whiteboards along one length of my classroom as well as a SMART Board as a focal point in the room. I jump back & forth a lot between both as I like to have our schedule displayed daily on the white board while the SMART Board is used during the lesson itself. Honestly, my SMART Board has a lot of technically glitches that need to be addressed before I can use it more often (thank goodness for our tech department!)

6 ) Name your all-time favourite fictional character, and describe how that "person" has influenced you.
- My all time favourite fictional character would have to be Ayla from the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel. I first read this series in Grade 6 and have probably read through the series in its entirety 7 or 8 times since. I would have to say that this character reaffirmed by love of all things social studies related and taught me that it is ok to be different and independent.

7 ) What is the first thing you'd purchase if you won the lottery?
- I know it doesn't count as a "purchase" but I would first pay of my student loans. I don't owe very much but I am still uncomfortable about the idea of debt and would like to get rid of it ASAP. After that, I'd love to go on a trip with my friends and family.

8 ) Describe a very public moment that didn't work out for you.
- I can't really think of anything specific off the top of my head... I'm sure there has been plenty of times where I've stumbled over my words or been completely off about something that I've been discussing but nothing is sticking out right now.

9 ) What is one thing that we can all do tomorrow to be better teachers?
- Never stop being a student.

10 ) Describe an event where you had a surprisingly brilliant time.
- I actually really enjoy staff meetings. I know that a lot of times teachers think that they can be a waste of time but I enjoy sitting down with our staff and discussing issues/topics that are mutually relevant to everyone in the room.

11 ) Quiet classroom or noisy classroom? Why?
- It depends on the situation and the class. I would say that my classroom usually has a 60-40 split with being more noisy 60% of the time and quiet 40% of the time. I encourage a lot of group work and inquiry so I have students up and about and collaborating a lot, which can be noisy.

11 Questions for Others
1 ) Weirdest or most obscure food you've ate.
2 ) What is the hardest thing about teaching?
3 ) Coffee or tea? Why?
4 ) What subject did you struggle with most when you were a student? What would you do if you had to teach it tomorrow?
5 ) Do you eat your lunch in your classroom with students or in the staffroom with colleagues?
6 ) Mac or PC?
7 ) What would make you get up and quit your job tomorrow?
8 ) If TVs, phones, and computers were wiped out tomorrow, what would you miss most? Why?
9 )What is one thing you would never go to work without?
10 ) Cat or dog person? Why?
11 ) What would your students/colleagues say is "your thing"?

11 Blogs I've Nominated (in no particular order)
- Tyler at ICTyler - @Tyler_JL
- Jennifer at 4mula Fun - @4mulaFun
- Dr. Will at Peoplegogy - @peoplegogy
- Ms. Julie at Southern Teacher WBT
- Emily at The Absolutely True Blog of an Almost Teacher
- Mr. Nantais at Mike's Musing about Ed Tech - @miken_bu
- Zoe at Ms. Bettess - @ZBettess
- Nancy at Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade Class - @NancyStoltenber
- Dawn at Apples, Owls & Peppermint Mochas
- Mrs. D at Reading with Mrs. D
- Anna at Anna Educates - @anna_teach

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

January Currently

     Of course with it being a new year and a new month we also have a new "Currently" post! If you haven't encountered a "Currently" post before, it is just a fun post at the beginning of each month that serves as a way to share what is Currently going on in your life! You can link up and share your own "Currently" post by visiting the wonderful Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.
currently blog hop, currently post, oh boy fourth grade, oh boy 4th grade, farley's currently post

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!
     As I sit here typing this I realize just how little I have been blogging the past few months (in comparison to my average). Leading up to September, my life was relatively calm compared to the organized chaos that is the life of a first-year teacher. Prior to this point my blog posts had been a way to further the learning that was occurring as I made my way through my education degree, reflect on any PD that I attended, share interesting ed tech resources that I found online, etc. While I feel that I want to maintain the content of my blog, I know that I need to work on prioritizing and organizing the multiple requirements that pop up in the classroom. Trust me, I am not giving up on blogging anytime soon, I am just working on finding time for everything!
     With that in mind, New Years brings me a lot of excitement as it was my New Years Resolution in 2012 to start this blog! 397 posts later and that is still the only New Years Resolution that I have EVER successfully kept!

     2013 was a HUGE year for me and my husband, and I couldn't be more thankful for all of the wonderful memories we've been able to make. In short, my 2013 "Highlight Reel" includes:
In 2014 I am looking forward to:
- Presenting at the 2014 BYTE Conference
- Presenting at the MTS Awakening Possibilities Conference
- Applying to begin my Master's Program
  (wish me luck!)
- Completing my first-year as a teacher
- Renovating our home with my husband
  (not teaching related, but still very exciting!)
- Beginning my 2nd year of teaching
  (I already feel like I'll be so much more prepared!)
In 2014 my New Year's goals are:
1 ) To blog at least 2 times each week
2 ) To leave work at work
3 ) To go to the gym regularly
     (I need a non-education hobby)
4 ) To spend more time with my dog
     (He is an outdoor dog & I'm a suck in this cold weather!)
5 ) To begin my Master's Program
Nothing too revolutionary... I feel like my goals are pretty standard,
 but I also feel that they are very practical and relevant!
Now it is your turn, what are your New Year's goals this year?