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

Thursday 31 January 2013

Rosa's Law

This is old news, but something I wanted to share.... I hate "the 'R' word"

Rosa’s Law is named after 8-year-old Rosa Marcellino, who has Down Syndrome. After starting elementary school, the Marcellino family was shocked to find her labeled as “retarded” in school documents.  Their push to have this changed ended in a new law signed by President Obama, changing the way all people with exceptionalities will be addressed.

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed into law Senate Bill 2781 (S.2781), referred to as Rosa’s Law.  Rosa’s Law (S. 2781) amends the provisions of Federal law to substitute the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” and “individuals with intellectual disabilities” for “mentally retarded” or “individuals who are mentally retarded.”  At this time, Rosa’s Law (S. 2781) does not require states to change terminology in state regulations for individuals covered by a provision amended by this Act.
Changes in Federal regulations will occur as they are reauthorized. Changes to both the Federal data reporting categories and Federal regulatory language is anticipated to occur with the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Subsequent to the reauthorization of IDEA, Pennsylvania will make the required changes in terminology in state regulations.  This change in terminology reflects the belief that language plays a crucial role in how individuals with disabilities are perceived and treated in society. No changes have been made in the process of determination of disability categories.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Doc Cams for teaching

I have used doc cams for workshops and in Pro D sessions. I love that you can just plop a text book onto the screen, or demonstrate a lesson (eye dissection for example)

What is neat is that you can freeze/capture images, zoom in on them, or show things in real time, 3D, live action....

They can be pricey, but they are awesome in classrooms! I wish every class had one, along with a SMARTboard - oh the possibilities...

Check this blog out for more on doc cams

Sunday 27 January 2013

Certainty of Consequences makes them effective

One of the things many Teachers-Teaching-On-Call struggle with is classroom management. There are thousands of books, workshops, websites that deal with approaches and ideas and strategies, however, most focus on full time classroom teacher techniques and how to develop these over time. As a TTOC, you have limited time. Everyday you walk in fresh and need to establish routines and classroom management in an instant. 

I helped develop a workshop on Classroom Management for TTOCs which is put on by the BCTF. I love presenting the workshop, because I learn new ideas everytime.[If you want to book it is free for B.C. locals, contact the BCTF] But, as an educator, I am always seeking new ideas and strategies to implement or experiment with in my teaching. 

I loved this quote:

"It's the certainty of the consequence and not the severity that makes the consequence effective."

This is so true! Like with parenting, or puppy training (strange connection, but we recently got a new puppy and so I see the similarities) consistency, clarity and certainty of a consequence makes it more effective than the severity. If my daughter misbehaves, she knows the consequences. They aren't severe (lose computer time, lose play dates, etc) but she knows they will happen because we are consistent and have shown her with certainty that misbehaviour has consequences.

A teacher/blogger recently took a classroom management workshop and said:
I need to have a wealth of consequence ideas of varying degrees of severity, ranging from the "teacher look" to office referral. Students need to know you will enforce those classroom and school rules at all times.
This is exactly true for Teachers Teaching on Call especially. Have your bag of tricks, your strategies to use, and make them clear from the start if you are there for a day, a week, or a school year...  This idea is addressed in the workshop for TTOCs on Classroom Management.

Another quote I like is:

"Fair isn't everybody getting the same the thing. 
Fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful."

This is another important point. Recognizing that different students have different needs and ways to respond, especially to a new teacher in the room. Although the consequence is certain and laid out clearly from the start, sometimes they are different for different students based on what they need to be successful.

Classroom Management is one of those things that changes a bit each school year for full time teachers and each day for TTOCs. You must consider what works for you, what works for the class you are in and how to make it all come together. Remember the certainty over severity quote when setting up how you run things and always try to be fair.

Good Luck and please share any ideas or comments below...

Saturday 26 January 2013

Teaching French: Connecting with other french teachers

There is always a need for french teachers in our district. We have a growing French Immersion program in multiple schools and a lack of teachers who are fluent in writing, speaking and reading in french.

As such, my grade 12 french has me more qualified than many, though not quite experienced enough to take on a french immersion class full time. I do teach on-call for french immersion and teach FSL (French as a second language)

There are so many awesome lessons available for teachers and our district offers teachers free french teaching classes where you practice french and have great taken-home units and lessons.

This is a great way to connect with french teachers and new-to-french teachers. I took the course and loved it! A lot of my teacher colleagues are in the current session and enjoying it.

Some online resources to get connected with french immersion and FSL educators and ideas?

Twitter: Hashtags for French Teachers 

#frimm (french immersion)
#langchat (language chat)
#fle (francais langue etrangere)
#flteach (foreign language teaching)
#french (also get lots on non-teaching tweets though)
#aimlang (AIM - Accelerated Integrated Methodology approach to language teaching)
#ClavEd  (French Speakers – Wednesdays at 12h(EST) 13h(ATL) 18h(Paris))
#biliteracy (bilingual literacy)
#mfl (modern foreign languages)
#CanEd (Canadian education)
#mfltwitterati (UK modern foreign language twitter chat)

Friday 25 January 2013

Strategies to use with ESL students in class, Adapting lessons

This site has some great strategies for helping EAL/ESL/ELL students in your class.

A reality in my district is that most classes have multiple students who receive extra help with learning English. (EAL/ESL/ELL) but how do you include these students when they are in the regular classroom?

I find often these students disconnect from lessons and either do their own thing or work on "ESL homework"

I love some of these strategies to make lessons more inclusive and to get these students more involved in the lessons happening in class regardless of their level.

One thing I often do is give the student the information in advance so they have a chance to review before hand. Then I check in before to see if they have any questions. Sometimes I will ask them some questions and if they get the answer correct I let them know I will ask them that question again during the lesson. This helps them gain confidence too!

Here are a few more awesome ideas:

Introducing new vocabulary or terms as you show diagrams or examples in a traditional “lecture” or teacher-centered format
Providing a copy of your teaching notes, especially the terms, in advance.
  • If you prepare materials on the computer, expand your notes to leave space for them to add their own notes. You can delete information that is strictly for your teaching use, such as materials lists, question prompts, etc. 
  • The same materials would possibly help your Learning Support students, if you have any.
  • Be SURE to do a SAVE AS and rename the file as "Adapted Student notes for..." or you will be very angry with yourself! Keep the file for future years.
  • Consider offering a graphic organizer version of the notes. Create one using one of these online tools and save them as part of your online account. As the year goes on, you can wean students by offering partially completed ones (remove some of the terms or definitions) before you print or share electronically. Students build notetaking skills as their language improves. 

Having the students do free writing or journaling
Reading ESL students' journals and responding to their content without correcting grammar errors.  Students will rapidly improve the quantity and quality of their writing and eventually self-correct their grammar. Sticky notes are an easy way to leave a quick comment.

 Check out more on this site.

Friday 18 January 2013

ipad apps under $10

My school has quite a number of ipads in use by teachers and students. One student in my class uses his ipad constantly and my teaching partner is glued to his. I personally, do not have an ipad, nor do I have the desire to get one (at this time) but I do see their use in the classroom and so when I saw this post I thought I would share for any ipad lovers out there:

Technology Tailgate Blog has this list of apps on a budget

Obviously, since I don't have an ipad, I have not tried and tested these apps, but they are inexpensive and likely offer trials if you want to check them out.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Job Sharing...

The reality for teachers in my district is that many TTOC for a few years and go in and out of temporary assignments. I am thrilled to finally have converted (though part time) and be in a job share assignment currently.

I have heard of all the troubles job sharing can bring, but I have to say in my experience with job shares, there have been little to no problems.

Obviously communication is key and it helps if you and your job share partner have similar beliefs.

Currently I am in a job sharing position where I am there two days a week and she is there three. She has done eighth grade for many years and has a wealth of knowledge and resources she shares with me, but not in a forceful way.

I appreciate her ideas and feel like if I had to teach eighth grade again I would have a tonne of great units, lessons, ideas because of working with her.

Similarly, in a past job share I had two days at the end of the week so I was able to continue with her units (it was Home Ec, very new for me!)

I think job sharing is a great position for new teachers or new to a position (grade level) because it can work like mentoring in many senses.

Way to decompress after a rough day

Teaching can be hard, and teachers teaching on call often  because of the unpredictability of what grade, class composition, or even subject they may be teaching in on any given day. It is very important that you remember to take time for yourself to decompress and remind yourself of the positives. This Spring our CTA TTOC Committee will be hosting a work-life balance workshop for TTOCs that examines ways to balance the up's and down's of life as a TTOC.

Here are some things I like to do:

  • Focus on my own family. I have a supportive husband and wonderful daughter. We take a "time out" from life for date day and go for a movie or a walk or something fun to escape the stresses of work.
  • Ensure you are getting enough sleep. I have the most difficult time with this one, but it is important. If you aren't getting enough sleep you become tired, irritable, and start to sweat the small stuff you may usually not worry about.
  • Diet is important too! If you are not eating healthy your body starts to rebel against you. Like with lack of sleep, if you don't take care of your body, everything can seem more challenging around you.
  • Playing online. I love pintrest, ready educational blogs, games. Anything that lets me focus on something fun I enjoy.
  • Stay positive. Journal, Blog, Chat with a colleague or friend. Sometimes it is difficult to be positive, but even on a bad day, reflectingon the positive will make all the difference.
  • Have a good cry! Sometimes you just have to let it out!
  • Me Time! Doing something you love. Besides the things I already talked about above, doing something just for you is a nice way to unwind. Personally, I like to read, get a manicure or pedicure, have a bubble bath, take a nap, watch a movie.  


Thursday 3 January 2013

New Year Resolution Craft...

Thought this was a neat way to practice writing and having some fun craft time. An easy activity for a TTOC in a class for a day too!