Monday, 30 June 2014

Canada Day Blog Hop!

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Happy (early) Canada Day!

I'm linking up with Desiree at Reading with Mrs. D to participate in her Canada Day Blog Hop (and sale). Unfortunately, I don't have a TPT store to participate in the sale portion of the event, but I can offer up some freebies from my classroom! 
(Click on the links to access the files via Dropbox)

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Editable Math Poster Set - Rainbow
These posters outline criteria for mathematical thinking and were
inspired by ones created by Sidney at Teaching is a Gift!
reading with mrs d, canadian edu bloggers, canada bloggers, canadian teacher blogs, canadian teacher blog hop
A close-up view of my "What Makes A Good Blog Post?"
checklist for our blogging station. It is a good run-through of
everything a student's blog post should have before it is posted!

reading with mrs d, canadian edu bloggers, canada bloggers, canadian teacher blogs, canadian teacher blog hop
Symbaloo Resource Collection!
Follow this link to access my Symbaloo page which features a collection of online resources, colour-coded by specific units for:
Grade 7 Science
Grade 8 Science
Grade 8 Art
Grade 8 Math
Grade 9 Math
Grade 9 Science
Grade 10 Math
Ed Tech (general)
Science (general)
Math (general)

To host your own Canada Day Blog Hop giveaway, 
link up with Reading with Mrs. D
and make sure to check out all of the other amazing Canadian bloggers who are participating!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

My Teacher Truths at the End of Year 1

Exams are done... 
graduation is complete... 
report card packages are stuffed... 
lockers are cleaned... 
and the hallways are quiet... 

my first year as a teacher is now complete!
what to expect your first year of teaching, first year teacher tips, teacher tips, first year teacher, first year teaching, what I learned as a first year teacher
New Teacher Cartoon. (Accessed on 2014). Uploaded to Cartoon Stock by aban705.
Available online at:

     This year has seemed to go by at incredible warp-speed and I can't believe that it is actually done. The first year as a teacher is an overwhelming roller-coaster of emotions that will sometimes make you laugh uncontrollably, make you bite your tongue or even swear under your breathe, make you beam with joy, and even leave you crying in the bathroom. When it is all said and done, however, you won't want to trade it for anything and you can't wait to get back in the classroom the next day. 

     As my first year as a teacher comes to a close, here are my Top 10 Teacher Truths, in no particular order:
- Investing in truly comfy and supportive shoes will save your life; the kind you 
  can stash under your desk and pull on with any outfit

- Pack lunches that can be eaten on the go because there is always something to
   do and eating spaghetti while walking down the hallway will not work out!

- Somehow drink enough liquids to stay hydrated... BUT not enough that you need
   to go to the bathroom (there is no time for that nonsense)

- Stay those extra few minutes after school to do any photocopying/printing/etc for
   the next day because the photocopier/printer/etc WILL break when you need it most

- Acknowledge those around you who help; whether its the teacher next door
  who lends you resources, the students who cleans up supplies at the end of
  class, or the parent who brings snacks into the staff room

- On that note, appreciate your school custodians and secretary because they run the 
   ENTIRE school and can essentially determine how easy or hard your job is!

- Your students will not notice how many hours you put into your bulletin boards, if
   your labels match (or are there at all), or if your classroom is colour-coordinated;
   organization and some personal touches are essential but don't stress if your 
   classroom does not look like a Pinterest page

- Remember to take a deep breathe, self-reflect, and ask yourself, "How am I feeling"
  because it is easy to get stressed and be very short (or even rude) with students
  without noticing and you don't want this to happen!

- Don't get so caught-up with the never-ending requirements that you forget to take the
   time to truly enjoy and appreciate your student's individual personalities and quirks

- Don't sweat the small stuff! Remember why you picked this career and start
  everyday with a clean slate!

What are your teacher truths?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Free #EdTech - Apps For Your Class 4

     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: Fun Slides, is still awesome and I recommend you check it out! Today I've found:

Word Lens

This multi-lingual translation app blows my mind and I have literally been walking around our school sharing it with staff and students (yes... I am that person). It allows users to:
- translate typed text in real time through your device's camera
- look up definitions of words
- hear pronunciation of words

The app itself is one download and then users can download language features inside the app itself if they are interested in French-to-English, English-to-French, Russian-to-English, etc. I downloaded all of them since they are free.... you never know!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tech Club 2014-2015

     Through my first year I've been thinking of starting a "Tech Club" at my school for those students who are interested in technology, programming, and electronics. I've been closely following the awesome projects being completed by Clarence Fisher's students in Snow Lake and the innovative makerspaces in Eric Sheninger's school in New Jersey as inspiration.

      While my plan is to organize our projects around student interests and creativity, I do have many preliminary ideas that I hope to begin with. After meeting with my principal about my ideas, I've divided our year into two sections: larger year-long projects and small-scale independent projects.

Section 1 - Larger Year-Long Projects

As a club I would like us to focus on one of two projects: developing a video year-book to accompany our traditional printed version or developing an app for our school. The focus of both of these projects would be to share what happens at our school and improve communication, while allowing our students to:
- learn different programs and software
- improve their digital literacy
- take ownership of their school image

The video year-book project is definitely the more labour-intensive project of the two as we'd have to ensure we are at events throughout the entire year. The up-side is that almost all of our students have filmed video before and practised editing, to an extent. There are numerous video editing tools we can use on our school desktops or iPads and there wouldn't be a lot of new programs to learn.

The app development project is what I see being the winning project simply due to its relevancy and the fact that its something our students haven't had an opportunity to explore yet. With social media tools being blocked in our division, an app may be the perfect option to improve communication considering the high number of students and parents who have smart devices in their pockets.

I've been exploring different app development tools (those requiring coding knowledge and those that don't require it). After a lot of back and forth, I think it would be best to start off with a tool that does not require coding experience as the only experience our students will have is if they have explored at home by themselves. While I am trying to gain experience in this area, I'm even taking a class through Coursera, but I don't think I'll be prepared by September. I hope to include coding experience as we go (see Section 2) but it will take some time and I'd like to still include this project in the meantime.

So far I've really liked the look of iBuild  App as a starting point. Check out the video below:
I like the drag and drop options and it offers enough customization tools to meet our needs at this time. I'd like to learn more about different tools, however, so if you have a program to suggest please comment below!

Section 2 -  Small-Scale Independent Projects

I've been looking into a few different project ideas that are relatively  low cost and allow students to:
- explore new technologies
- be introduced to coding
- apply technology to different project ideas
So far, I've looked into three different options that I am really excited about:

Little Robot Friends  D.I.Y

* These are currently backordered, unfortunately. I've added myself to the waitlist and hope they become available again soon!

Little Bits

* Thanks to John Evans for sharing this with me!

Raspberry Pi

Do you have any project ideas I should look into?
Have you used any of these products & have suggestions?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Because We're Happy...

A few weeks back I decided to create a school-wide music video
as part of an end-of-year/school-spirit project.
Here is the finished project, featuring the students and staff, of our K-12 school!
I hope this makes your day a little more happy :)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

2014-2015 Teaching Schedule

     It feels like I am in a time-warp, as I vividly remember writing this post last year when I got my teaching schedule for my VERY FIRST year as a teacher. Somehow, it has been over a year since that time... oh, where did the time go!? I am now almost finished  up my first year at "S-School" and I have gotten my teaching schedule for next year.

     I am happy to announce that I will get to remain as the Grade 8 homeroom teacher (although I will still have classes ranging from Grade 8 to Grade 10)! My classes actually remain almost exactly the same, which I am very thankful for after a very-busy first year of prep. I will have one new addition next year though; I will have Grade 8 Social Studies instead of Grade 7 Science. Social Studies is my background and true passion so I was thrilled that my principal found a way to incorporate it into my schedule... I even cried happy tears (ya... embarrassing but totally true).

     Another addition next year is that my principal has added in formal PLC (Personal Learning Community) time into our weekly schedule. This time will be somewhat structured with opportunities for visiting other classrooms to observe our colleagues, participate in Professional Development, and professional reading. I'm all for this plan and even hope to blog about it each week!

     Here is a peek at my schedule:

teaching schedule

Saturday, 7 June 2014

6 Steps For Creating Exams?

Deep breathe in..1..2..3.. Deep breathe out..1..2..3..
Feel that?
That is the sound of one relaxed teacher.
One relaxed teacher who just put the finishing touches on the last of her final exams!

how to create an exam, steps to prepare an exam, how to write an exam for teachers
A relaxing planning spot can solve everything!
     After a full semester, or even a full year, of activities, experiences, and assessments, it is hard to not feel nervous about preparing a final exam that somehow encompasses all of that in a 2 hour event. Personally, I do not believe formalized, traditional, exams are a good assessment technique and resent the fact that the set-up of them does not mirror my classroom experiences what-so-ever. (but that is a topic for another, much longer post).

     As a first year teacher I find that I am quite stressed out by having to create a final exam that, in one go:
- accurately assesses my student's understanding of curriculum outcomes
- includes formatting and organization policies of the school
- includes formatting and organization policies of the division
- and aligns with the learning opportunities experienced in my classroom

     Personally, I would love to create final assessments that allow for multi-media integration, collaborative partnerships, and student-choice. That format is what my students are familiar with from our in-class assessments and I feel that it is much more reflective of real-life. (Compared to silent, independent, written, exams in the gymnasium; talk about anxiety). While this is definitely something I will be working towards in the future, it is not something that is possible this year

With that in mind, here are the steps I took to create my exams this year:
1 ) Revisit the curriculum, my unit plans, & my previous assessments
- What were my goals for each unit
- What understandings did I expect students to leave with

2 ) Develop a timeline that proportionally maps out how much information each unit included
- Which units encompassed 5 main concepts spread out over x-amount of time
- Which units encompassed 2 main concepts, etc

3 ) Layout an exam format breaking up number of questions by unit length
- If unit 1 had 5 main concepts, it may make up 35% of the exam
- If unit 2 had 2 main concepts, it may make up 15% of the exam, etc

4 ) Subdivide each unit into higher level, middle level, and lower level thinking questions
- For each unit I tried my best to maintain the following ratio:
     - 60% higher level questions
     - 20% middle level questions
     - 20% lower level questions

5 ) Proof, proof, proof!
- Is there any spelling, grammar errors?
- Do my math add up for marking?
- Do my instructions make sense?
- Is the reading level appropriate?
- Have I included all the necessary reading passages, diagrams, graphs etc?
- Do I need to attach extra loose-leaf or graph paper?

6 ) Cross-reference, again, with curriculum, school, & divisional standards!


Do you have to create your own exams or are they provided by your school/division?

What steps do you take when creating exams?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Free Summer PD From Home!

     Summertime is here... or nearly here for some of us. While society tends to believe that teachers do not do anything for the two months of summer holidays, we all know that is not the case! If you are wondering what kinds of professional development are available in your area or are thinking of beginning a new project next year but need to learn more, why don't you check out Coursera

     If you haven't heard of, or checked out, Coursera before, they describe their idea as:

     "Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities
     and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take,
     for free.
     We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class
     education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve
     their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in."

     The Coursera network is an awesome options for educators who:
- want PD options they can complete from home
- want PD options that are FREE!
- want PD to prep for a new content-area
- want PD to prep for a new project
- want PD to help meet a Professional Growth Plan

     There are currently 82 courses listed under the Education tab and 55 courses under the Teacher Professional Development tab! Don't let these two groups limit you, however, if you want to learn more about a specific subject area, Coursera features almost 650 options that spans across 25 different subject areas!

     Personally, I am signed up for two options this summer:

     What kind of Professional Development are you participating in this summer?

June Currently

     Guess what!? It is June, JUNE! In only 18 short school days my very first year of teaching is going to be done! When I look back at the year it was incredibly busy and, at times, overwhelming & stressful. Yet, on the other-hand, the year went by insanely fast and was full of amazing moments. It is definitely true what they say,"If you love your job, it never feels like work" and I couldn't be happier to have found a career that has not felt like work once!
The view out our picture window;
can't wait to be enjoying this summer weather
Displaying photo.JPG
Our new purchase, straight out of 1962!
     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,oh boy 4th grade

Wishing a busy but happy June to all my teacher friends as they wrap up there year!

** If anyone would like to donate to my Relay For Life team, please follow this link! All the proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society & are tax deductible :) Thank you so much!