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

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Phoebe Gilman Books

I love Phoebe Gilman.

Jillian Jiggs, Balloon Tree, Pirate Pearl, Grandma and the Pirates, her picture books are absolutely amazing!

I started reading her books to my daughter when she was younger and we still enjoy reading them today.

Besides the amazing stories the books are illustated beautifully.

TOC's I highly recommend reading the books and picking one to keep in your "bag of tricks" as children just adore these stories.

Parents (perhaps teacher's too?) can help their children (students?) work through The Kid's Pages where there are activities for children.

She even has Teacher Resources here with lessons, activities, crafts and curriculum tie-in's and a play you could do with your class.

Monday 26 March 2012

Value Public Speaking - Find your Voice

As a child I was shy.

No really, there was a phase when I wasn't so... 'not shy.'

I was a bit of a 'tom-boy' until Grade 3, and then I was teased a lot because of my birthmark that covered most of the left side of my face. Add to that the fact that our family moved a lot and it isn't shocking that overall, I just didn't bother to not be shy, it was just easier.

By about grade 5 we finally stopped moving every year and I decided it appropriate to come out of my shell. My new school was half way through the 'Public Speaking' unit when I arrived, and though I had very little interest in speaking in front of these new classmates, I wrote a speech and was shocked to be chosen to represent our class at the school wide assembly.

From there, further shock came when I won for my grade level and was selected to move on and present at the district level. I placed second there, lost to a clever speech on toilet paper, but my confidence grew and looking back it was the kick-start to my continued habit of speaking to groups.

As a teenager, I became an advocate of for youth chairing the local Teen Committee and hosting the first ever 'Youth Week' in the lower mainland. I was chosen to speak with, then Premier, Glen Clark, at the Provincial opening ceremonies for the event.

Friends were never shocked to hear me speaking in front of groups, though I never thought of myself as a 'public speaker' I still get nervous, I still wonder if anyone even wants to listen and if what I have to say is important to anyone but me, but nevertheless, I speak up.

Last year as I taught grade 6/7s public speaking, I saw mixed reactions and abilities as they prepared and presented. I shared with them my experiences starting from grade 5 and outlined why I felt public speaking was important.

As a teacher we speak to a group of students every day. I think those skills developed years ago are still used daily in our classes. But we have a voice and we need to feel empowered to use it.

Next week I am presenting with a colleague to the local board as I have in the past at the budget meeting.

Earlier this year I presented at the Provincial Bargaining table.

At the AGM I have braved the mic

I have put on workshops and spoken to colleagues numerous times and still use (or try to use) those skills I learned in grade 5... stand tall, speak slowly, don't fidget, articulate, breathe, make eye contact....

I have a voice, and I have learned its power.

Public Speaking IS an important skill and I am so glad it continues to be practiced and celebrated in schools. I only hope more teachers recognize their voice and use it during this important time.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Teachers work harder than in 'good old days'

Teachers work harder than in 'good old days'

Victoria Times Colonist
Joan Boyd
March 24, 2012

Some people complain that they are in classes of 40 or more at school, so why are the teachers today so concerned about class size?

I taught classes of 40 to 45 children in the 1950s. It was easy compared to today's setup. Children and teachers were much more regimented 60 years ago. Teachers basically taught only the three R's. Little preparation was involved, with government-supplied readers, and workbooks for reading, arithmetic and writing.

Children with any kind of disabilities were not allowed in the public school system. Physical punishment of many kinds, including the strap, was the norm (but not in my classes).

We rarely saw parents, usually only at infrequent PTA meetings. Trouble at school meant trouble at home for most children.

Scientific discoveries in medicine have saved many more children's lives, and in education we have much more information on how children function.

In talking about the good old days, we are inclined to remember the good and forget the realities. Today's teachers have valid concerns. They certainly work twice as hard as teachers 60 years ago.

Joan Boyd

Source: Times Colonist

Thursday 22 March 2012

One member One Vote

There was a resolution I was really excited to discuss at the AGM and sadly, it didn't even hit the floor, despite many attempts to amend the agenda to get it on the floor.

I do not agree with OMOV for motions at the AGM (at this time) because the debate, amendments and changes on the floor need to be heard. Perhaps in the future by live streaming, but at this time I would like to see OMOV explored for BCTF EC positions.

I have heard people say that it wouldn't make a difference anyway, that the AGM is rep. by pop. and therefore the results would still be the same, just more people voting... maybe so, but is it not worth the discussion?

I feel that our union should look at this OMOV option to allow all members the option to vote and be more involved.

Arguements I have heard against it include:

-You need to hear the speeches and see who members vote

-People sometimes run from the floor.

-Uninformed members won't vote with all the information.

These arguements are minor roadblocks to implementing OMOV.

I could see this working in one of a few ways:

-Online voting

-Voting in-person by local (much like a strike vote)

-Voting by mail-in ballot

What I would most like to see is an advance vote. I think there should be a deadline for candidates to put forth their names and then a date prior to AGM that all candidates submit their written platform and perhaps even video speech or live stream Q & A through our secure BCTF portal.

Just think of all the extra time we would have at the AGM to discuss actual business and not campaigns, propoganda, candidate speeches and even the actual voting process.

Results could be announced at the AGM after advance voting occurs prior to the meeting.

Yes, things would have to change. People could no longer run from the floor, candidates may not be able to do the "drop-down" option currently in place (or maybe they can?) but why not explore this option in order to hear more members?

I think if given the option to vote, more members would become informed and that results may or may not change, but at least we have a more democratic process allowing for more voices to be heard.

I have started engaging in conversation with other teachers on this possibility and am learning so much about options and benefits and barriers. But, the conversation is happening and that is the first step!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Who am I? What am I saying?

Thanks for visiting. I am Ms. Long, a teacher in Coquitlam, B.C. Canada. After seven years of teaching on call (as a substitute/TTOC) I "converted" to a continuing part time Middle School teacher. I love Middle School! I did my practicum in a grade 6/7 class and have worked much of my contract time in Middle School.

Right now I TTOC part time and teach Middle School part time. After so many years as a TTOC, I have become a strong advocate for new teachers and TTOCs and work with our local union and school district to promote engagement and support for teachers early in their career.  I am chair of the local and provincial TTOC committee, a facilitator for new teachers and TTOCs in our school district and help plan Professional Development in our local as well.

I am a bit of a technology geek, and spend my time "unwinding" after a long day on pinterest and blogging educational resources, articles and ideas to share with other educators. Thank-you for visiting my blog.

I recognize that some terms I use frequently aren't necessarily common terms so I wanted to have this post as reference.

TTOC - Teachers-Teaching-On-Call.
In many school districts this is also known as a "substitute teacher" however, in British Columbia, Canada, where I teach, we are known as TEACHERS, teaching-on-call. We are equally trained and certified as classroom teachers and either make the choice to teach on call or are waiting for a temporary or continuing contract to become classroom teachers part or full time.

Bag of Tricks
This is the tool box teachers have. It can be an actual bag of supplies, but I also use it in reference to what you have in your back pocket (or in your head) for any situation you encounter. TTOCs in B.C. frequently get called into a variety of grade level and subject levels so having a "Bag of Tricks" helps a teacher-on-call be adaptable to any situation. This is also good for contract teachers when you have fast-finishers, or some flex time to fill with educational activities.

Fast-Finishers, Early-Finishers, Sponge, Flex Time
The time between lessons or activities where students can get disruptive if they don't have something to focus on. I like to have a lot of activities for this time because I recognize students work at different paces and as a TTOC sometimes the classroom teachers lesson goes faster than planned for some or all students.

I will add to this as needed. I have had some people asking about terms I use.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Some Background Info

St. Patrick: The patron saint of Ireland and the Irish, St. Patrick was born about 385 A.D. in Northern Wales. He studied religion in Europe to become a priest and bishop. He then brought Christianity to the Irish by teaching in Ireland for 29 years. According to early Irish tradition, he died on March 17, 461 AD. The anniversary of his death is celebrated as Saint Patrick's Day. St. Patrick is most known around the world as driving all the snakes out of Ireland through trickery.

The symbol of shamrocks: An Irish tale tells of how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.

Shamrock: Cut a shamrock from construction paper. Glue pieces of green variegated tissue paper or scraps of green paper on shamrock.
Variations: Decorate with crayons, felt-tipped pens, or paint. Cover shamrock with glue. Sprinkle with green glitter then remove excess.

Hearty Shamrock: Cut three hearts from green construction paper. Form shamrock by gluing points of hearts together on a piece of paper. Draw stem.

Shamrock Prints: Cut green bell peppers in half, clean out the seeds, dip the cut side into some paint, and press onto a piece of paper. Voila, shamrock prints!

Green Veggie/Fruit Snack: Prepare a snack using slices of fresh green vegetables. Use cabbage, cucumber, avocado, zucchini squash, green bell peppers, and lettuce. How many green fruits can your class name? Think: kiwi, honeydew melon, green apples, green grapes, papayas - bananas start out green!

Shamrock Shake: Blend 1 banana, 2 cups lime sherbet, and 2 cups milk.

Pot o' Gold Rainbows: Materials needed: (per student) 1 graham cracker, 1 portion blue frosting, 1 mini Reese cup, 1 pack Skittles. Directions: Students spread frosting over graham cracker and place Skittles in the shape of a rainbow. Then place the Reese cup at the end of the rainbow

Growing "Shamrocks": Cut shamrock from terry cloth. Moisten shamrock. Sprinkle with alfalfa seed. Keep moist. Set in dark place. Allow several days for shamrock to grow. Set in sunlight for shamrock to turn green.

Leprechaun traps: Collect junk from home (paper towel rolls, empty containers, tin foil, little boxes various shapes and sizes, cans, scrap paper, string, sandwich bags, etc.) Have students dig through all the junk and decide what they will need for their leprechaun trap. Students build their traps. (I'd give them a half a day to do this, and be prepared for a giant mess). Permit students to look through the junk as they need more items. About half way through the time that you give your students, gather back as a class and discuss the strategies that some students are using, ie: If the leprechaun comes in here...this will happen... Point out and try to encourage the use of force and motion. Ask students to set their traps right before they go home. Lock the doors when all of them have left, set each trap off and deposit a chocolate gold coin under it!

Social Studies
Display a map of Ireland and discuss: Ireland is an island. People who come from Ireland or whose ancestors came from Ireland are called Irish. An emerald is a precious stone which is green. Ireland is often called the "Emerald Isle" because it is so green with vegetation. The color green symbolizes Ireland and the Irish.

Distribute handfuls of Lucky Charms cereal to students and have them count, sort out, and identify the different shapes.

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, by Tomie dePaola
Saint Patrick and the Peddler, by Margaret Hodges
St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons
St. Patrick's Day In the Morning, by Eve Bunting
St. Patricks Day Shamrock Mystery, by Marion Markham
Story Of Saint Patrick, by James A. Janda
Tales Of St Patrick, by Eileen Dunlop
The Definitive St. Patrick's Day Festivity Book, by Michael James Fallon, Michele Anne Murphy
Irish Night Before Christmas and A Leprechaun's St. Patrick's Day, by Sarah Kirwan Blazek
Jeremy Bean's St. Patrick's Day, by Alice Schertle


Tuesday 6 March 2012

"Not Gonna Take It" - Music Video by teacher's

Yesterday I went by Glen School and the passionate, energetic, creative teacher's shared a song they made up while on their walk-out.

Today, I returned and they had video taped it and I asked if they could send it to me to share. I think it is clever and encourage you to share it with others:

Sunday 4 March 2012

Tired of those 'over paid' teachers?

I remember when this started making the rounds on facebook statuses a while back - really good read.... I am not sure who wrote it though...

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.


That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Some new resources

I try not to spend a lot of money on resources. As a TTOC I don't know what grade level or subject area I will eventually end up in, so I try not to spend a lot of money on resources, but today at the BCTF New Teachers Conference there were some items I had to have.

At Artel's table, I bought some new smelly stickers. Smelly stickers are "My thing" I love them and give them out, usually in students agenda books, when I go into TTOC. Students love them and I often hear from their classroom teachers how much they love my smelly stickers. I am stocked up for after Spring Break with some cool new scents such as banana, bubblegum, apple, popcorn, blueberry, peach, tutti frutti and even DIRT!!

Barefoot Books had a table and I got a new book with cd Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush".

This book is amazing. It has a c.d. done by Fred Penner and the book explores how children from Mali, Europe, India and China do their morning routines. It's a great way to explore other cultures, morning routines, and music. They had some other great books, but again, on a TTOC budget I probably over spent... but there were a lot of free resources I got too... but I will get to that.

Lastly, bought yoga pretzel cards. I am so excited to use these in the classroom as well as at home.

My daughter loves yoga and as a TTOC I have done chair aerobics with classes, but think these fun yoga cards will be very useful. I am also ways looking for new DPA activities that I can do when I go in for a day with a new class.

Speaking of DPA acticvities, Action Schools BC was there and had a ton of amazing resources. This is the bag, books and bean bags they gave me:

They also did a workshop and everyone got an amazing kit with even more resources. I plan to book them for TTOCs in my local. Everyone gets a bag of stuff and leaves with a ton of ideas to use in the classroom - it is so great for TTOCs. I can't wait!

Some other free resources I got include:

From BC Art Teachers' Association - Collections of Lesson Ideas in spiral bound books.

From the BC Socials Studies Teachers' Association - a large map, a ton of handouts and lesson plan ideas.

From FAST (Fighting Antisemitism Together) - 'Choose Your Voice' Teacher's Guide and dvd

From Parks Canada - a number of resources and pamphlets for field trips and class games and projects.

From Poetry in Voice - 'Recitation Contest' Teacher's Guide with some absolutely amazing lesson plans and examples as well as details on preparing for the poetry competition. I strongly encourage you to check out their website: Poetry in Voice.

From CPF (Canadian Parents for French) - posters and pamphlets, which I especially enjoyed as my daughter is in French Immersion.

From the BCSCA (BC School Counsellors' Association) - stress relief squeeze "hearts" and 'Friends for Life' workbooks which I have used before and absolutely love using with students.

There was a lot more but I don't recall which tables and I don't have the items close enough at the moment to look through but a usb flash drive, pens, pencils, and a lot of lesson plan one-pagers. So useful!

I honestly hope more new teachers and TTOCs consider going to the BCTF New Teachers' Conference again next year - It was absolutely amazing!

Read more about the conference here.

Fact or Myth? BCTF and the Liberal Government.

You hear George Abbott spewing facts and numbers and "truths"

Then you hear the BCTF with their facts and numbers which do not sweem to match the governments.

Finally you have both parties countering each others statements and it quickly gets very confusing to understand who is right.

Luckily, there is an easy way to decipher the numbers and facts coming out...

This chart lays out the FACTS and MYTHS surrounding comments from BCTF and the government.

I really love the chart as it clearly shows the facts and myths surrounding the current situation with BC Teachers and the BC Liberal Government.

New Teacher Conference 2012

I spent yesterday and today at the BCTF New Teacher Conference.

I attend a lot of conferences and I have to say this one is one of the most enjoyable. The conference is attended by a lot of Student Teachers as well as new teachers and TTOCs. There are a number of workshops to choose from and exhibitors tables to browse. Although some TTOCs complained the workshops seemed overly tailored to Student Teachers, others thought they were just perfect for any new teacher.

There was a diversity of workshops offered and tons of freebies and resources.

I was one of the reps manning the TTOC AC Table and we had an acronym sheet to help new teachers understand what all the letters being thrown around meant. We also had "Proud to be a Teacher" buttons and information for TTOCs in BC.

Today we had a spin wheel where teachers could spin and get a prize. We would ask a trivia question related to TTOCs and then they would get some BCTF Swag (touque, ruler, t-shirt, bag, etc.)

Even if they got the question wrong, they seemed appreciative if the knowledge and eager to learn more.

There were lot's of awesome free resources as well as some for sale. I came home with a ton of new resources, which I talk about here.

It was nice to see so many optimistic, energetic, new teachers and
student teachers. I really encourage new teachers and TTOCs to check out the BCTF New Teachers' Conference next year!

Thursday 1 March 2012

Support BC Teachers - YouTube Video from a young graduate

Teaching in BC - fantastic read

Teaching in BC by a local colleague is an amazing read. I encourage you to read it entirely as she shares her experiences teaching.

Here is one part I particularily enjoyed because I respect Barrie Bennett and have taken a fair amount of Pro D with him and also because it is an analogy that anyone can relate to:

Barrie Bennett, a well-respected professor working out of OISE (the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto) once compared teaching to organizing a children’s birthday party.

He asked all the parents in the room to recall the amount of work and planning that went into the last party they planned. He listed all the things that needed to be prepared ahead of time, things like a cake, presents, goodie bags, balloons, and games. He discussed the challenges of bringing ten or twelve children into a single home for a period of three hours and keeping them suitably entertained. He had everyone visualize the clean-up at the end of the event, and most importantly, had people reflect on how they felt—tired, exhausted, relieved it was over for another year—after the event.

Barrie, eyes twinkling, then asked us to imagine hosting a birthday party, not for ten children, but for thirty. And instead of entertaining the kids for three hours, we had to do it for six. He casually said, “And instead of goody bags, you have to give tests.” There’s no cake. No games, no prizes, no clowns, no balloons. Instead there are required learning outcomes, unit plans, lesson plans, photocopying, adaptations, modifications and mountains of paperwork. Some of the guests won’t want to be there. Some are not ready to be there, and a few will come with adults who will tell you you’re doing it all wrong.

He asked us to recall those feelings of exhaustion after hosting a party again. Then he told us we’d have to do it again the next day. And the one after that. We’d have to plan and host the equivalent of one hundred and eighty parties. And remember, these aren’t parties where the kids are excited to be there, where you can whip out a clown or chocolate fountain to appease the masses. These are parties where there are tests and assignments and bullies and insufficient resources.

Barrie was talking about a typical class where less than 10% of the population is categorized as having special needs.

Her post goes on to talk about her experiences teaching and the conditions and circumstances she faces each day as a Teacher in BC. Please Read her entire post here