Archive for the ‘Blog Posts’ Category

End of the semester…

I can’t believe the semester is almost over! Unless I come back for my Masters degree, these are the last 5 days I will spend at University for the rest of my life–and many of my colleagues as well. It’s crazy because I have been a student for the last 17 years and the idea of being on the other end of the spectrum (as an educator) is kind of mind boggling. In some ways, being a teacher makes it feel like I’ll never actually leave school–just my role will change. However, at the same time it will be a very different experience. I can’t believe four years has already passed! I remember my first day of University and how nervous I was… and now it’s already over!

My second last semester (internship) was by far, my favorite. I am very excited to have my own classroom. However, this last semester has been a lot more difficult than I expected. The workload 

was comparable to other years, but it just felt strange to be in my interning school for 4 months and get to teach, and then to have to come back to University and take classes. I had 4 major projects this semester, due on the last day of classes. It’s unfortunate because all of these are valuable projects but there has been very little enjoyment in completing them because they just seem like another assignment with a deadline. I wish my last semester had not been geared so bottom heavy (end of the semester has more assignments than the beginning of the term). It’s starting to feel like Spring and I have had interviews with various school divisions for positions in the Fall but in the midst of the excitement of moving forward in my career, some of my incomplete final projects feel like grey clouds that just hover over me, haha I know that sounds dramatic.

Lots of people who have already convocated have told me they miss University and that they wish they could come back. Right now that is hard to imagine, but maybe I will feel that way someday… but I doubt it because I really loved my internship experience and can’t wait to work full time! 🙂

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Sharing

Today in class we talked about the concept of sharing one’s work–specifically online. Whether you are sharing photos, status updates, blogs, lesson plans, your resume, portfolio or music, there are mixed opinions on where to draw the line. I think there are many benefits to sharing online. Personally, I have really appreciated using photos for different projects from sites with creative commons licensing, such as compfight and flickr. I know that  lot of my peers have found Pinterest to be very helpful as well–for any project including teaching and lesson planning to baking recipes and home decor. Couros described these forms of collaboration as “online staff rooms” I think this is a fairly accurate description of how these tools can be considered and used. Obviously I am biased towards favoring collaboration  tools that are geared for an audience of educators.

I think that my understanding of sharing has definitely  been expanded during the course of this semester. I still don’t have Twitter or Pinterest…but I am a lot more open to sharing online and utilizing the various resources available, such as Edmodo and Schoology. Collaborating with fellow educators from around the world is a phenomenal opportunity that is available and I am so glad that this class has helped me better understand how to effectively use these tools.

The link to this blog was shared with us by Alec, and I was very moved by this particular post, as well as delighted to find this resource. I will definitely be utilizing the information shared in this blog in my future classrooms when learning about the Holocaust.

Mrs. D's Flight Plan

My class recently finished reading the non-fiction novel, Ten Marks and a Train Ticket: Benno’s Escape to Freedom. It’s the story of Benno (9) and Heinz (13), two brothers who were put on a train in 1939 Berlin, by their parents, as a desperate gesture to send them to safety, away from Nazi Germany. This first-person narrative, told by Benno, chronicles their heartbreaking struggle to survive their travels across a continent on the brink of war, and the pain they confronted when learning of the loss of their parents and young brother, Charlie, at Aushwitz. Benno eventually moved to Toronto, Ontario, a few hours drive from where my students live.

The story is written by Benno’s three daughters, Susy Goldstein, Gina Hamilton and Wendy Share. After watching this video interview with the authors and their father, we learn how important they felt it was to have a story about…

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What Makes Great Teachers Great

found this video when I was flipping through YouTube’s Educational Chanel. I thought it was very interesting. The woman in the video states tha teacher’s have the highest level of influence on how well students will do. Teachers supposedly contribute to educational success more than any other factor–including race, socioeconomic status, wealth, poverty and parenting. In contrast, poor teaching is discussed as not only unfortunate but even detrimental to students.The question raised in this video is whether great teaching is innate or learned. Empathy was considered one of the most important characteristics that great teachers should possess. Compassion was also mentioned. Having a “heart for teaching” was highly regarded. One of the experts believed that this “heart” can often be noticed as early as pre-service (University). High expectations for students, accompanied by encouragement and care can largely affect the success of students. The experts in this video seemed to lean towards believing that this greatness in teaching is primarily innate, it starts from one’s heart. Lifelong learning is key, but having a love for children and a heart of gold is equally valued. High test scores were not regarded as being the primary indicator of a great teacher.

I think that the being a great teacher is both innate and comes from within, but it is also a learned art. I think a healthy balance between these two is what makes a great teacher. I am curious to hear what others’ perspectives are on this topic! Please feel free to share.

Social Networking Cautions and the Benefits of Digital Portfolios/Blogging

Today we had the pleasure of skyping with a guest speaker, George Couros.  As one who is involved in recruiting new teachers he discussed some key elements he looks for when hiring new teachers. He suggested talking about the specific things we have done during our teacher experience. George said he searches potential candidates on Google and Facebook to see if any photos or posts are found that are inappropriate. In inappropriate information in discovered, candidates are automatically disregarded. He talked about the fact that many parents will do the same. If you have something posted publicly, whether intentionally or unintentionally–it needs to be professional and honorable. If your display picture is of you in a bar with a drink in your hand, you will not be considered. He also looks at what we have done in the classroom. Portfolio’s are not very important in his opinion, George is more concerned with getting to know who you are and how you connect/interact with others. He suggested that if you have a digital portfolio, and you can leave a link with an interviewer it makes it a lot easier for the recruiters to have access to your teaching and learning information. Including information on your digital portfolio  that shows you are a reflective practitioner is very helpful. A paper portfolio is not as effective as a digital portfolio. He also suggested we write about what we’re learning in other courses–not just this course; and relating prior learning to the content of your blog. Lastly he said that one of the major benefits of this type of blogging is that you are sharing your learning with others. Alec had previously discussed these topics with us but it was interesting to hear these points from a Recruiters’ perspective. Thanks!

Kony 2012

I had no idea what Kony was until yesterday when it seemed all of my Facebook friends had posted something about “Kony 2012” on their status update. I watched the video and then I did some research….

I think it’s awesome that awareness is being raised about this issue and primarily Joseph Kony who is horrible criminal. However, I wonder how effective Invisible Children’s approach is at actually putting Joseph Kony behind bars.Here is an article that I felt brought forward some valid points.

http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

I am curious as to what others’ perspectives are on this issue and ways that we can affect change…

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood

I am taking a class right now on Play’s role in early childhood development. I always thought that play was important, but over the course of the semester I have really been challenged as to why it’s important. Today we talked about the risk taking that is often involved with play–specifically physical risk. Examples of this might include: learning to ride a bike, climbing a tree, rock climbing, and pulling a wagon up a hill and riding down in it. The idea of “helicopter parents” and “hovering parents” was discussed. In many of the research we have watched in this class, it seems that many parents in North America fall into these categories. A lot of parents express that they do not feel safe allowing their children to explore and play in certain ways–and if they do play, then the parents want to be able to observe everything that happens and supervise their children. In some ways, I can understand this and sympathize with parents concerns.

However, I think that some of the most amazing skills that children learn during play, occur because they are in charge of their own learning. If play is always structured, and always closely observed/supervised–I think that it can be difficult for children to be creative, explore, use their imagination and develop a sense of independence and control and problem solving skills. I think that opportunities for structured and supervised play do have a role in healthy childhood development, however I do not think we can cut out independent, unstructured and unsupervised, non-risky play behavior. I think that a healthy balance between the two is ideal. If a child has the opportunity to pull that wagon up the hill, jump in and ride down–it’s not the end of the world if they have a few scrapes and bruises. I had lots of minor scrapes and bumps and bruises growing up, but I think that having the opportunity to try new things and take risks let me understand natural consequences for various behaviors. If a child continually injures themselves in a specific play activity, they are not likely to continue playing that way without some modifications.

I think that if we all take on a helicopter approach to parenting/teaching, we will have a generation of children who will not know how to be creative or how to use their imaginations or learn to take risks. I think that they need to be allowed to explore these areas through play. As an alternative for parents and teachers, we should try to take a more active role in joining children’s play–not trying to dictate or structure it (at least not all the time). I think we also need to be OK with letting them get a few bumps and bruises along the way–it won’t kill them! It might even help them make smarter choices in the future when “riskier” opportunities arise. I think that If we structure all their play in such a way that there are never any risks, we are not fostering the development of their problem solving skills, leadership skills or socialization skills.