Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Teachers worried that over sexualized culture damaging youth

BBC posted this article on sexualization of women and the damages on young women.

Teachers are warning that young people are being damaged by an over-sexualised culture.
The National Union of Teachers annual conference will hear claims sexism is being “rebranded” as something fashionable and mainstream.

Delegates are to criticise the “raunch culture” of lap-dancing clubs and pole dancing.
Teachers, meeting in Liverpool, say it can have a “disastrous effect on the self-image of girls”.

The National Union of Teachers will hear warnings from teachers that “sexism and inequality are still a huge factor in shaping women’s lives”.

The conference will hear claims that old-fashioned sexism has not gone away, but has been re-invented into something that appears to be “ironic or empowering”.

Teachers will warn that pole dancing clubs and beauty pageants are turning back the clock on decades of campaigning for sexual equality.

There will be concerns that pupils are growing up in a culture where pornographic images are widely available, cosmetic surgery is advertised and there is a “fixation” with staying slim.

Teachers fear this can undermine young women’s self-confidence and contribute to problems such as eating disorders and anxiety about their appearance.

This can disrupt both girls’ school work and their social life, say teachers

Read the rest of the article here.

Happy Easter.....

Remember to save those plastic easter eggs (or grab some on sale post-Easter) for many uses in the classroom. I did a post last week with some ideas I found on pintrest.

Think before you Speak Sign...

Source: etsy.com via Amanda on Pinterest

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Unique Easter Egg Decorating Ideas...

Some unique ways to decorate your eggs, we are doing ours tomorrow, I will give it a try...


Dip in glue then in sprinkles for this cool look.

Dip eggs in dye and slowly add more water to get this stripped fade look.

Paint then pencil for this look.

Wrap in coloured thread for this look.

See many more here: http://www.boredpanda.com/easter-diy-ideas/

Choice Board

I love this idea. I often have early finishers, especially as a TTOC, so this is a fun way to offer choices for those students. You could create a mobile version where they choose from cards or on a small poster.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tech Tool: Visualead: Colourful QR Code Generator

Cool Tools has another awesome blog post for us. I would love to use these in my class, I noticed the new Socials Studies text books we got have them inside and the kids have used them to scan and learn more about history.

Visualead: Colorful QR Code Generator

Visualead is a free and user friendly tool for generating colorful QR codes in three simple steps.

1.  Uppload an image.
2.  Drag the slider over the image.
3.  Click lick a button to generate the embed code.

Visualead is integrated with many popular social networking tools which allows you to create a QR code to suit your needs.

Here is an example of a QR code created with the free version of Visualead. This was designed to help training participants quickly jump to my Digital Differentiation interactive page.

Digital Differentiation generate qr code

Uses in the Classroom

Here are some excellent sources of  ideas for using QR codes  in the classroom from some amazing educators.. 

Try Visualead

Scroll over this interactive image to try Visualead for yourself.

Novel Study - Parts of a Story pamphlet

I have used so many different graphic organizers for novel studies and exploring elements of a story. I love this cool idea where students can use words and pictures to re-tell the story and parts.

This may be a fun activity for a TTOC to do with a short story you read in class. 


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Feudal Systems unit Visual Projects from my Grade 8s

So part of the wrap up to our Feudal System unit was to do a visual project of their choice. Some examples from past years classes included stain glass windows, menu's, fashion models (paper dolls, barbie's in outfits etc.) and more.

Here are some of the projects that were turned in:

 This student did a fashion magazine with various outfits from the era:

I was pretty impressed with the different ideas they came up with. I especially liked the creativity of some. When we get back from Spring Break we are starting Castle Building for Socials Studies portion of Humanities and Touching Spirit Bear as our Language Arts portion, novel study.

VanSun: In today's digital world, teachers should be best and brightest

It will come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention that kids in today's classrooms with their BlackBerrys, iTouches, iPhones, thousands of apps, Google, Wikipedia, Face-book, Twitter and laptop windows on the world are making a new kind of demand on public education and its teachers.

"Digital" has always been in these kids' cultural DNA, they've likely never written in cursive, their cellphones tell them the time and are their social lifelines, they can organize a flash mob in two minutes and anything bizarre that happens in a classroom will be on YouTube later that same evening.

Teaching this group in a classroom is not getting any easier.

Today's kids are awash in a computerized technology that does not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their teachers to help them distinguish gold from dross.

Read More at Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

But that isn't fair....

One thing I find most challenging about teaching Elementary, in particular primary, is not the the germs (although I've had one too many sneezes at and on me by now) but the constant bickering and blaming and whining, "it's not fairrrrrrrrr"

I saw this on pintrest and then on a few blogs and wanted to share this simple activity with any teachers who face the same whining "it isn't fair" comments on a daily basis.

This post is from  this teacher blog:

When I was student teaching in third grade, there was a major epidemic of claiming that things in the class weren't "fair". As any of you who are teachers or have kids of your own know, the kiddos think that it's just not fair if they don't get the best of everything! I saw this idea in various posts on Pinterest and decided to try it out! I had the students sit in a circle on the rug, close their eyes, and imagine that they had an injury somewhere on their body. I received several "but why?"s and curious glances, but they were good sports and went along with it. I then called each student up to the rocking chair one at a time and asked them where their pretend injury was. After each student answered, I placed a band-aid on the back of their hand without explanation. One student said she had a broken arm...and she got a band-aid on her hand. One boy said he had a "terrible horrible cut" on his leg....he got a band-aid on his hand. The kiddos all whispered to each other about what was happening, but never asked a question.

After the last student received his band-aid and sat down, a little girl said "Miss Hunt, how come I said my knee had a bruise but you didn't put the band-aid there? I wanted it on my knee! This just isn't fair!" DING DING DING! That's exactly what I was hoping for! I responded, "but why isn't it fair? Everyone got a band-aid didn't they?" A boy said, "Well YEAH, but what good is it if it's not where I needed it:?" This activity worked out so much better than I expected! We then launched into a long discussion about what fair truly means. One student summed it up best when she said "So maybe fair isn't when everyone gets the same thing...it's when everyone gets just what they need!"

I love it!

Via this blog

Monday, 25 March 2013

Daily 5 Check-in on SMARTboard

Having taught mostly Middle School and some High School for my contract work, I don't have a lot of experience in setting up programs for Elementary, however, I have TTOC'd in primary and a colleague of mine has recently set up the 'Daily 5' in her classroom and I love it! This SMARTboard check=in is a neat way to have students check-in.

Cool apps for note taking

Live Notes

Live Notes is a colorful note-taking and sketching app that allows for simultaneous audio recording. Draw shapes and doodles during a lecture or meeting. Type text and choose from a variety of fonts and bright colors. Tap parts of a sketch to hear the audio that was recorded at the specific point in time when the sketch was drawn. 

Live Notes is a paid app, but you can try Live Notes Lite for free. 

Note Anytime

Note Anytime is an app for taking notes, sketching, and annotating PDFs. Caligraphy tools support improved letter formation providing assistance with sloppy iPad penmanship.  Use the app to easily import and markup PDFs. Export notes to popular social media sharing sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Drop Box. 

Note Anytime is currently a free app available in iTunes.


ScratchWorks is a note-taking app that allows users to take notes on one side of the screen and browse the web on the other. Type text notes or insert a sketch area into the notes for doodling. It also provides a custom math keyboard. 

ScratchWorks is a free app, available in iTunes.

Source:  Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Boggle Template

Another pintrest find: Free Boggle Template. This is great for fast-finishers, sponge, or for a TTOCs 'Bag of Tricks'

Also, see my previous post on Boggle Walls.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Writing Process: Revising vs. Editing

I like this little chart to differentiate between REVISION and EDITING. My Grade 8s struggled with this before Christmas when we went through the writing process, repeatedly.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Page Poetry

I did this at SFU when I was in teacher training. I took an Art class and we did this with random pages of newspaper, magazines and old books. We then painted and decorated the page to fit the 'poem' we created. Awesome activity I had forgotten about!

Blooming Orange

The Blooming Orange

I've always been interested in new ways to view and think about Bloom's Taxonomy and the folks at Learning Today have created a poster worth sharing. To help teachers get thinking about ways to apply Bloom's higher-order thinking skills in the classroom, they've put a spin on the traditional hierarchy and  limited the number of verbs in each section to create The Blooming Orange.

They've popped Bloom's verbage into the segments of an orange and intentionally depicted it as a circle to illustrate the fact that often these skills do not occur in isolation, they often occur simultaneously. This Blooming Orange presents itself as a teacher-friendly tool for planning and possibly an easier way for everyone to think about Bloom's. Be sure to click on the link below to visit the Learning Today blog and print a copy of this poster to hang  in your classroom.

Via:Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners

PS - for new teachers and TTOCs these are some great buzz words to understand. I find educators often USE these things but don't necessarily know how to LABEL them. In interviews and professional conversations, a new teachers ability to understand and use these words will go a long way.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Plastic Easter Eggs in the classroom

Our Spring Break is attached to easter this year, however, I wanted to share this anyways for teachers who have classes before Easter, or for future years... these plastic Easter eggs are on sale around this time of year and I have a bunch I got from the dollar store (I am talking 20 for $1).
For classroom teachers and teachers-teaching-on-call, these are some great ideas to try if you have some plastic eggs on hand. May be worth adding to your "Bag of Tricks" around Easter time.

While I have used them for scavenger hunts, prizes, games, here are some other ways to use them in the classroom:
Easter Egg Word Families....

Source: indulgy.com via Kali on Pinterest

Easter Egg Math.....

Questions could be put inside these....

Make a game....

There are endless ideas....

Source: indulgy.com via Kali on Pinterest

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Writing BINGO

I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate writing games into days I teach as a TTOC (Teacher-Teaching-On-Call, Substitute) as well as fun fillers for when my own class wraps up early on a lesson, activity or project. I saw this on pintrest and wanted to share it with you all.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Ice Breaker: Human Knot

This used to be my go-to game when I ran summer camps for years and years in my younger, pre-teaching years....

Summary: A good icebreaker or teambuilding activity for new people to learn to work together – in close physical proximity! The goal is to figure out how to untangle the human knot without letting go of hands.

Ages: 12 and up. Recommended number of people: 7-200 (group sizes of 10 are ideal). Messiness factor: Might break a sweat – (close proximity – hope you’re not claustrophobic!). Materials required: None. Recommended setting: Both indoors or outdoors.

Human Knot Game
Goals of the Human Knot Game:
  • Team building and communication
  • Problem solving
  • Ice-breaker or get to know others better
Setup for the Human Knot Game:
This game is versatile in that multiple group sizes can play. Form groups of about 10 people each. Have each group standing, facing towards each other, in a circle. Each person should be standing shoulder to shoulder. First, instruct everyone to lift their left hand and reach across to take the hand of someone standing across the circle. Next, have everyone lift their right and reach across to take the hand of another person standing across the circle. Make sure that no one is holding hands with someone standing directly beside the person.

How to Play the Human Knot Game
To play, the groups must communicate and figure out how to untangle the knot (forming a circle of people) without ever letting go of any hands. If you wish, this icebreaker can be played competitively, in which the facilitator says “Ready.. Set.. Go!” and has all the groups race to become the first group to finish. If any group member lets go of a hand (breaks the chain), then the group must start from the beginning, or you could impose a penalty/punishment for that person (e.g. wear a blindfold).

This game typically takes 15-30 minutes to complete. You can impose a time limit if you wish to make the game more challenging. When you are done with the Human Knot activity, you can ask some debrief questions if you wish, such as “How well did you group work together? What strategies did your group adopt? How did it feel to solve the game?” etc.

To increase the difficulty level, you can either (1) blindfold some of the players or (2) require that the game be played silently (no talking).

Photo and instructions via: http://www.group-games.com/ice-breakers/human-knot-icebreaker.html

Website: Instant Classroom

Another cool site someone showed me... You can add your class list and it will generate seating plans, groups, class lists and more. I haven't played around with it much yet, but it is free and could be great for classroom teachers and TTOCs to quickly create random groupings or draw a random name for a job or to present first etc.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Ipad App: Answer Pad

Saw this new app that allows you to turn your ipad into a "clicker" which is ideal for teaching as you can get immediate responses from students as you teach and adapt the lesson as needed based on real-time feedback.

http://theanswerpad.com/index.php/go-interactive/ is where you can check out all the details. I heard about it from one o fmy new fave websites Teachnology Tailgate who writes:

The Answer Pad is a free way (1 class per teacher up to 35 students) to use the iPad as an interactive answer sheet. This is great for any T/F, multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc etc type of test or quiz. The teacher uses the web interface to setup their class and get instant real-time results. Plus, everything The Answer Pad does is aligned to state standards.

Now, they released their latest update w/ Go Interactive, this basically turns your iPad into a "clicker system". It allows students to answer any question the teacher asks, and they use their iPad to respond, either tap on Y/N, T/F, thumbs up/down, fill in the blank, or draw their answer.
I don't have an ipad, but I have a SMARTboard and my teaching partner next door uses an ipad for everything... I am excited to try our a browser/web version of this when it comes out.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2013

Usually I post holiday themed activities, but it is Spring Break and I am at the BCTF AGM with approximately 700 teachers.  So instead, I will just wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day and I hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Questioning in the classroom, Bringing Class Discussions to life

This article  looks at questioning and and how to make classrooms engaging through questioning.

 Middle E-Connections - Bring Class Discussions to Life
January 2013
Rick Wormeli

"Beuller? Beuller?"

Look in on class discussions today and what you'll see (I hope) is a far cry from the classroom of gaping-mouthed, drooling, blank-faced students in the John Hughes 1986 film Ferris Beuller's Day Off.

One great way to get students to think critically and move information into long-term memory is through dynamic class discussions. However, ensuring these discussions are effective requires clear principles and strategies.

Whoever asks the questions does the learning. If I ask a student about a topic and listen to his answer, especially if I'm interested in the topic and the student, I'm learning a lot, but the rest of the class is sitting passively. Do you see something wrong with this picture? I am the teacher; I already know the material. My goal is for students to learn it. Students, therefore, need to be asking the questions.

Students learn the most when they ask the questions themselves. To make this happen, teachers have to make question-asking compelling and habitual. As often as possible, ask students to brainstorm questions, queries, and investigate starting points for as many topics as time allows to get them in the habit.
  • Create 10 questions to which "colloquialism" is a good answer.
  • What are all the possible things we'd want to know about cuneiform writing?
  • What do you wonder about your future?
  • What questions might a visitor from another planet ask after observing our election process?
  • Pretend you're a radicand (the number under the radical sign in a square root). What would concern you as this math algorithm progresses?
  • Create all the "Why … ?" questions you can about light and the way it behaves.
  • Skim the whole chapter and list at least eight questions the chapter seems to answer.
Making question-asking compelling is another issue, however. Here, we're trying to make students so curious that they form their own questions: "Why does it do that?" "What will the effect be?" "What are the exceptions to this rule?" "Why do you believe that?" "How is this false?" "Where's my mistake?" and "What would happen if … ?"
We can create curiosity by presenting students with puzzling phenomena, surprising facts, challenges to accepted opinions, appeals to imagination, playful situations with manipulatives, connections among seemingly disparate concepts, moral dilemmas, and personal dramas when facing struggle.

Another way to involve more students in active question-asking is to get your students to ask the follow-up questions. If one student answers the initial question you pose, ask a second student to offer evidence to support or refute the first student's response; then ask a third student to critique the second student's evidence. Go back to the first student who provided the initial response and ask her to respond to what the other two students said. This creates positive anxiety in the classroom. We want students so concerned that they will be called upon to say something intelligent that they remain on their toes mentally. To be effective, we have to make a habit of this redirection so that students know it's going to happen. This keeps the entire class thinking of answers and questions to ask.

Another tip for keeping the whole class engaged is to always pose questions to the entire class before calling on a specific student to respond. This invites percolation, which builds those neural pathways. Wait time is important as well. Research shows that waiting 10 seconds or more before calling on a student to respond leads to more depth, thinking, and investment in the conversation. It takes practice, but it's worth promoting this expectant silence so that students know you're counting on them to come up with a quality response.

This article was excerpted from the new AMLE release The Collected Writings (so far) of Rick Wormeli: Crazy Good Stuff I've Learned about Teaching Along the Way. For more great teaching advice from this beloved speaker and author, pick up the book in the AMLE Store.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Game: Four on a Couch

Four On A Couch

Name of Group Game:
Four On A Couch



Medium Group (12 - 19 people)

Large Group (20 + people)

Age: Middle School – Adults
Time: 20 - 30 minutes

Four On A Couch Set-up:
how to play four on a couch game
Summary: Fun strategic memory game for medium to large groups. Great for teenagers to adults!
Goal: Try to get four of your teammates on the couch!
- Four marked chairs or a "couch" that can fit four people. Four people must sit on the couch at the beginning of the game. Everyone else can sit on the ground in a circle or in unmarked chairs, with the outer circle boundary including the four special chairs/"couch".
- One piece of paper for every participant and pens
- A bag to collect the pieces of paper

How to Play Four On A Couch:
1. Split everyone into two equal teams and ask them to sit in a circle. Add one empty seat in the circle. When starting, each participant needs to sit next to his/her opponent on both sides (alternating team members), including the four people on the "couch". Hand out the pieces of paper and pens (one per person). Ask everyone to write their names on their piece of paper and to put their pieces of paper in the bag.
2. After this, pass around the bag and ask everyone to draw one piece of paper with someone else's name on it. Each person should read their own piece of paper without letting anyone else know what his or her paper says.

3. Explain that the goal of the game is to get four of their teammates on the couch. The person on the right of empty chair/spot calls the name of a game participant. The person whose piece of paper has the called name sits in the empty chair. Whoever sits on the right of the new empty chair calls out another name.

4. Start by asking the person to the right of the empty chair to call a name. The person with the piece of paper with the written name sits in the empty chair. Continue this pattern. The first team to have four of their members on the couch wins the game.

Source: http://www.greatgroupgames.com/four-on-a-couch.htm