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

Friday 28 June 2013

Summer Reading.... and my love of YA novels

I love YA and found this article to be quite good:


I always claim I read YA to "keep in touch with my Middle Schoolers" but secretly, I just love it!
This summer I have a book shelf of novels to read, I am also doing a "book club" with the middle school girls I have tutored since they were little. Of course, I also have my kobo loaded up with some YA reads and some more adult reads too... Jodi Picoult, Janet Evanovich and such.

What is on your summer read list?

Thursday 27 June 2013

#DearPeter @MLAFassbender - what teachers think of a ten year contract....

Dear Minister Fassbender

Yesterday the question of topic on BC Almanac was is a 10 year deal for teachers fair and reasonable? My answer was how can it be given that teachers cannot trust this government. Here is why we can't trust this government:

1. Contracts and working conditions have been imposed on us by legislation for the last 12 years. The courts have found this to be unconstitutional, yet teachers are still waiting for their rights to be restored. 

2. The threat of fines, legislation and "accept this or else" attitudes from the government are not democratic collective bargaining. It is legislative thuggery.

3. Austerity really means wage-cuts. It's about families you say, but we are parents too. Inflation raises the cost of living year after year. Wage increases should be somewhat mindful of the rate of inflation.

This government says trust us... we have changed. Minister Fassbender, how many times can you assume us to be fools? You wish teachers to bury the hatchet sir, but what you really mean to do is to bury it in our backs yet again.

Read more teachers' letters to Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender here: https://www.facebook.com/update_security_info.php?wizard=1#!/groups/226536574108231/?hc_location=stream

Also search #DearPeter on twitter.

Awesome Idea for mini planters

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Sign Up Genius

Learned about this Sunday during #21stedchat

A neat way to organize volunteers, schedules, etc. A great way to set up parent teacher interviews, class volunteers and jobs, donations, parties, fundraisers and pretty much anything!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Bringing Novel Study Into the Computer Lab

I highly reccommend reading:

Bringing Novel Study Into the Computer Lab http://glendastewart-smith.blogspot.com/2010/07/bringing-novel-study-into-computer-lab.html

It explores the use of computer labs and class sets of laptops, Inquiry Based learning, PBL, collaborative learning and of course technology. The focus on literacy, diverse learners and how to bring it all together.

Here are some excerpts:

The creation of heterogeneous groupings is an important component to the success of this project. A good reader may support a poor reader, and a student with a more “expert” background in computer skills will provide support for their group during project time in the computer lab. Heterogeneous groupings also provide opportunities to separate students-at-risk from their peers. If, for instance, reception level ESL students always work together, then they are denied the opportunities to learn more advanced grammar and syntax from native-speakers. Support can also be provided for struggling readers through the use of audio books on CD and tape. Everyone “reads” the story and everyone can contribute to the web site projects.

In longitudinal studies that looked at the impact of learning from computers (using them as tutors or as part of integrated information systems), and learning with computers (using them as a reading and writing tool during collaborative learning situations), researchers found that in all cases student achievement was positively impacted. (Barnett. 2003) In the first scenario, students’ gains could be measured in increased scores in statewide tests and increased discipline, and all evidence indicates that this benefit continues in higher grades. Students learning with computers made significant gains in other areas:

1. Students routinely used higher-order thinking skills far beyond what was expected for their grade level.
2. Students demonstrated enhanced ability to collaborate with peers to develop projects and reports.
3. Students demonstrated increased initiative. They maintained time on task for longer periods and often continued their work during recess, before school, and after school. (Barnett. 2003)


Another question centers on acceptance of this learning context as valuable. Certainly it is not traditional. Society is on the verge of a paradigm shift and electronic technology will revolutionize learning to the same extent as the printing press did in the 1500s. Computer literacy will certainly begin to become almost as important as language literacy. Will oral literacy be enough? Can voice recognition software and a fast computer replace the need for reading and writing competency? Will educators consider computers valuable or is it just an expensive and under used toy? Hopefully the use of project-based and collaborative learning in the computer lab will help answer these questions and promote students’ literacy learning and critical thinking.

Monday 24 June 2013

Year End Gifts...

My grade 8s are 'graduating' and after such an amazing year, I really wanted to give them a 'parting gift' but as a teacher wanted something inexpensive, but thoughtful.

One of my artistic students created this AMAZING sketch of our class. Every student is included and I could easily identify who was who in a matter of seconds! She is so talented! She is printing one for each student and teacher - clever!

I found some great ideas for year end gifts online that I wanted to share:


My decision... I shall share it once complete - but the links above inspired me.... Stay Tuned!

Remind 101

This is another cool website for teachers. After discussing ways to involve parents during #21stedchat on Sunday, a few tweeting teachers suggested Remind101.

A safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents. FREE!


Monday Quote

Sunday 23 June 2013


Found a cool new chat: #21stedchat on twitter. It is every Sunday at 8pm - so check it out tonight!!

They have a site that compiles the tweets and it's pretty amazing! Lot's of interesting topics and links and resources shared.


Thursday 20 June 2013

Anti-Bullying Picture Books

I often talk to new teachers and TTOCs about the importance of their 'Bag of Tricks' (not just a physical bag of "stuff" but also ideas, games, activities in their head to pull out when needed)

One item that is a must-have... a good picture book. I love picture books for all ages and especially ones with issues important to the students. Here are some great anti-bullying picture books that would be great to have for classes you are in.

The Recess Queen

recess queen
A fresh & original twist on the common issue of bullying. Kids will relate, & parents & teachers will appreciate the story’s deft handling of conflict resolution (which happens w/o adult intervention).

Enemy Pie

enemy pie book
In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns an effective recipes for turning your best enemy into your best friend. Accompanied by charming illustrations, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 9.18.08 AM
First-time author Patty Lovell’s message is clear and simple, and the theme is familiar enough to strike chords with every reader, young and old. David Catrow, illustrator of Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs, Rotten Teeth, and other popular picture books, depicts a very weird-looking, very appealing little girl with warmth and cartoonish humor. Any child who is less than perfect will cheer with joy to meet Molly Lou Melon, a girl who doesn’t let anything–or anyone–shake her belief in herself.

Don’t Laugh At Me

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 9.19.54 AM
For anyone who’s ever been bullied–or been a bully themselves–it’s time to change your tune. This is not a book for whiners, but a new language that will give you the words you need to take charge and stop the cycle of teasing. Filled with inspiration and celebration, Don’t Laugh at Me is the anthem for a new bully-free world. Read it, sing it, and cheer! A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Operation Respect “Don’t Laugh at Me” Project.

How To Lose All Your Friends

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 9.22.08 AM
With exuberant pictures and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, the author of I Like Me! takes a light-hearted look at bratty behavior that will have children laughing in recognition while learning exactly how not to behave. Colored-pencil illustrations throughout.

Compiled by: http://www.edudemic.com/2013/06/5-powerful-anti-bullying-books-students-should-read/

Wednesday 19 June 2013

QR code fun

Another cool idea from this blog.

This week was also fun because the students got to use their devices, and QR codes to do a warm up using SMART XC (extreme collaboration). The kids scanned the green QR code, answered the question, then scanned the black QR code, which connected them to the SMARTboard, and they typed in their answer. Their answer then shows up on the board somewhere and after we have a bunch we can see which one is correct! And what's great is I can choose for the information to be anonymous so no kid has to worry about being made fun of if their answer is wrong. Thanks to @RafranzDavis for showing me this!

I've posted about QR codes before here: http://alonganderson.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tech-tool-visualead-colourful-qr-code.html

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Ipads in the classroom

Found this awesome blog post:

There are many reasons to use iPads in the classroom - besides the fact that they are super cool. Studies have shown that using iPads can increase student engagement and test scores. These studies also show that there are both three approaches to integration - teacher to student, student to student and student groupwork - and three types of apps - interactive, reference and productivity/creativity.
  • Interactive apps require user engagement, but do not create new materials. Examples: Angry Birds, Hotel Tycoon, GraphingCalcHD, MayanMath
  • Reference apps provide a wealth of information - just like the reference section of a library. Examples: Bible, NutritionFacts
  • Productivity/Creativity apps allow users to create or produce something. Examples: Keynote, Pages, Numbers, drawing and painting apps, music creation, movie editing
iPad Effective Use in the Classroom (October 4, 2011)

Report Cards and Assessment

This post  goes through some "sticky situations" that seem to focus on the USA system. Still, the question has to be asked, what should you do if you 're asked to change a grade?

This opens up a greater discussion, for me, about the ways we use assessment and if grades are even neccessary as the "most important reporting of assessment"

Having recenly done my year end report cards for my Grade 8s I know how the various assessment methods can be used.

I have a lot of students and sometimes parents, ask me throughout the year about why they got this grade or that. I enjoy those conversations. It shows interest and opens up discussions about overall learning, not just "the grade"

I often use rubrics for projects, clearly laid out clear criteria for my students. They always know exactly what I am looking for when marking and how they will be assessed. This helps minimize "surprises" and opens up conversations about their learning.

I had a student come and ask if they could do "extra projects" to increase their grade (a week before report cards) I had that "difficult conversation" about where they needed to work on improvements and it was not their ability to do extra projects. It was a very honest conversation and the student was thankful for the feedback. Their parent even contacted me to follow up and thank me for the specific feedback to improve.

I think it is important to have those coversations with students so the expectations are clear and they really know where they are at and why.

Of course if we moved away from letter grades, I wonder how that may change the whole process?

I recently read this post:
which is something I am very curious to explore further. Last year our district has job action and part of that was no report cards. Assessment still happened, communication with parents seemed to be even more frequent and overall I think the feedback was more productive than a letter on a piece of paper.
One of the parents of a student I taught a few years ago came back to me this year and told me they appreciated two years ago when I taught their son, emphasizing the work habits over the letter grade. They had, like many parents, always believed their son must get straight A's all the time (which he usually did) but what I pointed out, was that although she was getting very high letter grades, his work habits marks were S's and N's and that that was an area he could work on improving.
Report Cards are confusing, as a parent, reading report cards was always confusing. Of course you look right to the letter grade, the snapshot of your childs learning. But, the work habits, the words chosen inthe comments, those are important too! As a parent and as a teacher, I think ongoing assessment and communication with the student and teacher and parent is far more important than a piece of paper.
This reminds me of a post last year about giving ZERO on assignments... oh the discussions continue...

Sunday 16 June 2013

Thinglink inside the classroom outside the box site

Another cool website I found (through #21stedchat) is: http://insidetheclassroomoutsidethebox.wordpress.com/
What is Thinglink? Thinglink makes pictures interactive with text, video, images and links. When you click on a Thinglink image, you’ll see symbols such as red video circles and dots where it is interactive. Thinglink has endless possibilities in education. My top 3 ways of using it in education are below:

1. Student Portfolios: Teachers can use a picture of a student and through-out the year, students can add images of their work or video to show mastery of content. By doing this each quarter the teachers, students and parents can see the progress over the year. Each corner of the picture could represent each quarter/semester.

2. Assessment, Projects and Presentation: Students can create Thinglinks to show their understanding for any Common Core or Essential Standard. Teachers can have a rubric setting the expectation for what they want in the Thinglink. For example you could require, two text boxes, a link and a video. Or you can set the expectation that the student must show mastery of a standard, and the student has a little more freedom to determine what that looks like. Having the students creating Thinglinks lets them use all their 21st century skills of critical thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating (if they work with a partner).

- Ex of Assessment: The student can draw out any topic, for example the water cycle or a math problem, using the free Skitch app. The student can save it to their camera roll and then create a Thinglink demonstrating their knowledge by adding recordings, text and links explaining their thinking.

- Ex of a project: The students can make book reports by taking a picture of the book cover and embedding a movie trailer that they have created for the book. Or for non-fiction the student could find a picture of the person like Steve Jobs, and they can show their understanding of the book. Click here for my example, I chose to do a favorite quote and speech.

A fabulous teacher, Lisa Maples, embedded her class Thinglink into her wiki, as an end of year project. There are links to various digital projects that the students have created. http://maples.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Thinglink+2012-2013

3. Lesson Plans and Homework: Teachers can create Thinglinks to help differentiate lessons and homework. Using any image, the teacher can add the content they want the students to know. You can even spice up graphic organizers and info-graphics.
- Ex of a Lesson Plan: The teacher can take a picture of an ecosystem and add all the vocabulary words and/or videos that can help the students learn the topic.
- Ex of Homework: This is a great way to flip the classroom. You can embed videos and practice problems on a topic and have the students complete for homework. Click here for an example using comparing fractions.


B.C. Sexual Education: Updated Curriculum, but need more training to ensure inclusiveness

This article examines 'sex ed' in schools and changes coming:
Education advocates are calling on the incoming Minister of Education to ensure that all BC students, regardless of location, sexual orientation, or gender identity, receive comprehensive sex education under the revised curriculum that is slated for implementation in September.

Sex education is included in the curriculum for Health and Career Education K to 7, Health and Career Education 8 and 9 and Planning 10, which were last updated between 2005 and 2007. BC Teachers’ Federation vice president Glen Hansman says the sexual health component of these courses are being moved to what will be called Health and Physical Education.

“It is not known what the plan for implementation will be — what sorts of on-the-job training opportunities will be available for teachers, for instance, or what sort of updated learning resources will be available,” he says. “We’ve raised concerns that they are getting rid of Planning 10 where it’s housed and said to politicians that there needs to be plans to deal with this stuff. We’ll be raising it again with the new minister because we don’t have clear answers.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education says that sex education will remain in the curriculum.

“Health and Career Education K to 7, Health and Career Education 8 and 9 and Planning 10 are still in place,” the spokesperson says. “A review of all curriculum is underway as part of the Ministry’s curriculum transformation. A team of BC teachers is currently reviewing the health curriculum component. Initial consultations have suggested that Health and PE curricula could be combined.”

Drafts of redesigned curricula are expected to be available for review this fall, the spokesperson says.

Hansman worries that the government does not have a plan to support the implementation of any new sexual education curriculum, especially if it’s housed under physical education.
He also notes that funding cuts have meant that there are few on-the-job training opportunities for teachers to get up to speed on the teaching of sexual health education.

Nor is there any systemic effort being made to ensure that sexual health education is queer-inclusive, with supports in place for both teachers and learners, he points out.

“Where are PE teachers supposed to go to teach this material responsibly and make sure that the teaching for sex ed is mindful of kids who may not self-identify as gay or lesbian but who may engage in same-sex sexual behaviour, or kids that are transitioning from one gender to another?” Hansman asks.

“Either people are relying on things they find on Google or experience in their own life, and that’s not good enough,” he says.

“I think you would be reasonable to say the large majority of young queer men do not get that education through the school system, and I think you could say the same goes for young queer women.”

Kristen Gilbert, senior health educator at Options for Sexual Health, Canada's largest non-profit provider of sexual health services, says BC teachers need more support and training in order to deliver sexual education that is inclusive of queer and trans students.

“I would say that it is entirely up to the teacher teaching how inclusive or not inclusive their lessons are,” she says. “There actually isn’t anything in the kindergarten through Planning 10 learning outcomes about ensuring that queer kids are represented in the curriculum.“

“The BC Ministry of Education needs to be specific about addressing the needs of queer students,” Gilbert says, “and teachers should learn in their pre-service training how to include all students in their lessons.”

READ MORE: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Are_phys_ed_teachers_the_best_people_to_teach_sex_ed_in_BC-13742.aspx

Saturday 15 June 2013

Father's Day in a Two mother home....

This is such a great article that has me thinking about the stereotypical "gifts" that are often made as crafts in school.

Who here has ever received a Mother’s Day gift that did not feature flowers in some way? Who has ever received a Father’s Day gift that did not feature tools or neckties? It is in the nature of these gifts to be hopelessly generic and stereotypical.

This post talks about one family with two moms and how they approached Fathers Day recently... awesome read:

My first thought was to ask if the kid could be given a pass on Father’s Day this year, having just finished working twice as hard as the other kids for Mother’s Day, making two beautiful scrapbooked cards for his two mums. But, judging by this note, sitting out the activity was not an option. 
The teacher’s instructions to parents did note, with heartening sensitivity: “If for any reason a picture of Dad is not possible or … he is not present in your child’s life, feel free to have your child bring pictures of a favourite uncle, family friend or grandfather that they wish to make a gift for.” 
There was a time that we would have been grateful for this inclusiveness, but let’s face it, the kid is in Grade 4 now and he was in daycare from the age of 1, so we’ve been dealing with this awkward annual moment for at least eight years now. 
When our son was little, we would sit him down every spring and ask whom he would like to make a gift for – Gramps? Uncle Rod? Uncle Jim? – and then run interference with the teachers, making sure that they knew the situation and presenting a ready-made solution.
 My father has been the recipient of many Popsicle-stick masterpieces over the years, not just from the boy, but from his older sister. Frankly, Gramps already has more than enough receptacles for pens and his pennies gathering dust on his dresser. And while the boy does have other adult males in his life, we don’t necessarily have multiple pictures of them. 
More important, this whole business is starting to feel like a sham. Why should he have to come up with a fake father figure just so that he can kind of conform to what all the other kids are doing?

Read the rest here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/fathers-day/what-happens-on-fathers-day-in-a-two-mother-home/article12493198/

Me and My Shadow - Digital Responsibility website

Check out this great website about digital responsibility and footprint....

Me and My Shadow: https://myshadow.org/

Trace My Shadow

If you use a computer, surf the Internet,
text your friends via a mobile phone
or shop online –
you leave a digital shadow.
You want to know how big it is?
Find out with our interactive tools
whenever you cast a shadow.

Cell Phones in Class?

I saw this on facebook, hilarious!

Friday 14 June 2013

Mosaic Math

I love reading about PBL in various classes. Here is a post about mosaic math:

He writes:
Here's what my students did....they were given a piece of large chart paper. Then they were given a ruler and had to decide if they were going to make their squares 1 in by 1 in, 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch, or 2 in by 2 in.

After they made that decision they went and got construction paper to begin cutting their squares to make a mosaic self portrait of themselves. This took QUITE a while because I was continually going around making sure they were actually measuring and making squares instead of a bunch of rectangles. It took two class days for each class to finish (which totals to about 2 hours); and some students had to have a working lunch or take it home to finish it.

So after everyone was done, on Thursday we did the math with it! First they had to write a fraction displaying how much of each color they used. Then they had to simplify those fractions....yes some of them had VERY large denominators (that we normally don't work with in 5th grade) so I let them use calculators when simplifying the fractions (hey, we use calculators as adults!).

After they wrote and simplified their fractions, then they had to determine the perimeter of their shape (depending on what measurement they chose to use at the beginning).

And after they determined the perimeter of their picture they had to determine the area of their shape (not counting the eyes, hair, or neck).

It was a lot of math, but it was really fun! And afterwards we got to display them in the hallway. Since my kids are now Minecraft addict they were all commenting about how much their people look like Minecraft characters, which I found pretty funny.

Via: http://nesloneyflipped.blogspot.ca/2013/04/archery-mosaics-and-xc-oh-my-week-27.html

Thursday 13 June 2013

The Moment I Knew... Less Stress, More Living

This is an excellent article from a teacher about stress, her breaking point, how it happened, and how she handled it... very well written and easy to connect to as a teacher.

Worklife balance and stress management are such important parts of being a teacher and I think too often educators do not have the tools, time or ability to "de stress" in healthy ways to maintain that emotional health and balance that is key.

The Moment I knew.... By Heather Hollis
My student's father is listing my faults like he's ticking off a grocery list. 
"He knows you don't like him. You don't call him 'my angel' like his teacher did last year."
"You humiliate him in front of the class."
"You blame him for everything."
No mention is made of the fact that this child has been noted for anger and social issues since he started school.

No mention is made of the fact that if another child looks at him sideways, he hauls off and punches them. And then screams and cries that he has been wrongly accused.
No mention is made of the fact that this child has disrupted the entire class over and over again to the detriment of all the other children.
I try to explain that I am very concerned about this child's success and happiness but it falls on deaf ears. I'm sweating and my heart is beating a mile a minute. My fight or flight impulse is on full throttle and I start to wonder if I'm having a panic attack.
Dad is on a roll and I'm about to be flattened.
Finally, he concludes his list of my offenses by saying quite matter-of-factly, "I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself or worse and, I don't like to say it, but I think it would be because of you."
And that's when it happened.
I could feel the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back. Except instead of the camel's back, it was a little something inside my head.
I was suddenly cold but calm.
I stood up and said, "I have to go now" and walked out of the room.
As I walked away, I started to cry.
I cried for 10 hours straight.
The next morning I got up and went back to work.

But it was different. I was different.
I took the next week off -- stress leave they called it. But it was more than that.
Something inside me died that day.
Logically, I knew I wasn't to blame, but emotionally? That was a different story.
My class that year was overloaded with children who had a wide variety of special needs. With resources stretched thin, it was impossible to give each one the attention they needed and deserved.
I dealt with unhappy, frustrated parents who (rightly) complained and demanded better services. Worse than that, I had students who often sat idle because they could not do the work without one-on-one support.
But it was like getting blood from stone. There was no money in the budget for extra help and the ratio of 29 students to one teacher was a recipe for disaster.
This is not to say it was a terrible year; quite the contrary. In fact, I loved my students and they, for the most part, loved me. We laughed and learned and had some wonderful times.
But there was a hole in my heart that just kept widening. I darkly joked to my fellow teachers that it didn't matter if anyone got upset with me anymore because I was "dead inside."
When I found myself sobbing in the bathtub the night before the last day of school, I realized it was time.
I had survived the battle but lost the war. My love for teaching was gone.

I spent the following year on an unpaid leave of absence. Luckily for me, I had a supportive spouse and a healthy line of credit. It was a year well spent regaining my mental and physical health.
Sleeping came first. I slept like the dead for months.
Then I started exercising -- long walks, yoga and fitness classes, jogging. Meditation and heart-felt chats with good friends and family. I focused on eating healthy. I eased up on the daily wine habit that had become a quick and easy way of blotting out the feelings of anger and frustration.
I read voraciously and watched television in the middle of the day.
Finally, I started writing again. Honestly and from the heart about issues related to teaching and women and mothering.
It didn't happen all at once but eventually I saw the changes. My heart began to open again and the bitterness started to seep away.

I stopped whispering horrible lies to myself, like, "You were a bad teacher. Those children shouldn't have had to endure a year like you gave them." And I started to listen to my true voice that said, "They knew you loved them. And look at how far they came!  
Insult yourself and you insult them."

I know now that I can't single-handedly change the education system. I can, however, change the way one teacher handles it.

Bring it on. I'm ready.

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hollis/the-moment-i-knew_27_b_3427778.html

How to Talk to Little Girls...

This in an excerpt from an article written by Lisa Bloom and reposted on a blog:

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”

But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.

Hold that thought for just a moment.

This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling. Will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture? No. But I did change Maya’s perspective for at least that evening.

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.

And let me know the response you get at www.Twitter.com/lisabloom.

Here’s to changing the world, one little girl at a time.

Read entire post here: http://latinafatale.com/2011/07/21/how-to-talk-to-little-girls/

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Globe & Mail: I get laid off each year. Should I Quit being a teacher?

I have recently posted links to articles about lay-off's and the amount of new teachers who leave the profession within the first five years, but this was a nicely written piece I thought I would share.

I often get emails from new teachers who ask me advice. All I can do is listen and tell them that only they can make the decision (to change careers, change districts, go back to school to upgrade, add, change skill set, etc.)
Globe & Mail posted:

Ask an Expert

I get laid off each year. Should I quit being a teacher?

The Question:
I’ve been a high school teacher for three years. The first few years were so tiring and stressful that I didn’t have time to think about whether I liked the actual work or not. I have found a better work-life balance, the job is less stressful and I can enjoy it more. However, being a new teacher, I find myself laid off at the end of every year and I spend the summer in agony about whether and where I will have work in the fall.The work has its ups and downs but the job insecurity is the hardest part. I don’t love it enough to put up with the system much longer. It’s hard to know when I’ll be hired permanently, and even then you can get bumped around if your seniority is low. I’m wondering whether I should cut my losses while I am young and go back to school and start a new career. or stick it out and find ways to cope with the job insecurity.
The Answer:
The first few years of teaching can be about getting your feet wet; learning to apply your teacher training to real life; learning to deal with demanding workloads and more.
All this, coupled with the extra challenges of changing jobs and readjusting each year – no wonder you are feeling stressed and uncertain. But before you jump ship to start a new career, take a step back, get some perspective and reflect on some important questions.

Read the rest of the response HERE

Apps Parents Can Use to Promote 21st Century Literacy

Found this awesome compilation at https://edshelf.com/profile/100fmcx/apps-parents-can-use-to-promote-21st-century-literacy 

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Teacher Summer Bucket List

I already did a summer bucket list of sorts here. For me camping is a something I really would like to do this summer, I also have San Diego Comic-Con in July and BCTF Summer Conference in August as well as a wedding in August. Summer's always tend to get quite busy, but it is a different kind of busy than the school year that is for sure.

 A Bucket List for Teachers

Presenting the WeAreTeachers summer bucket list:

  1. We all know the temptation to start planning for next year, but take a break from everything teaching for one week. Two. Maybe an entire month. You’ll be better when you come back to it.
  2. Read a book that’s just for grown-ups.
  3. If you have your own kids, let them plan one wandering, wild, carefree day. The kind that’s hard to have when there are piles of paper to grade.
  4. Whether or not you have kids, plan one of those days yourself!
  5. Take this challenge: Go to Target and buy NOTHING for your classroom. Can you do it?
  6. Make an investment in your professional life that matters to you. Maybe that’s taking a course on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about. Maybe it’s catching up on this year’s Newbery winners. Whatever your interests, the summer is time for professional development on your terms.
  7. Make it a goal to connect with a colleague you don’t know very well or with whom you haven’t always seen eye to eye. A summer barbecue or coffee outing is a nice opportunity to get to know one another outside of school walls—and established teacher cliques.
  8. Work on a “feel good file” that reminds yourself about the good parts of your job. Include thank you notes from students, inspirational quotes, that mantra from your favorite teaching professor—whatever makes you think, “Yes. This is why I teach.”
  9. As soon as you get that new class list, reach out to every student on it and say hello. You don’t have to do anything fancy or “Pinterest-worthy”—a simple phone call does the trick. (And may be the most important step in setting yourself up for success next year!)
  10. Remember, summer break is like New Year’s Eve for teachers—grand expectations can lead to disappointment. It’s okay if you don’t read every book, finish every house project or cut out every last decoration for next year’s bulletin boards. It’s okay if you don’t have a traditional summer break or are working a second job, too. The next few months will still be filled with small, simple joys. Look out for them!
VIA: http://www.weareteachers.com/community/blogs/weareteachersblog/blog-wat/2013/06/04/10-things-every-teacher-should-try-this-summer

Saturday 8 June 2013

Technology is being used in a number of educational ways....

I love this. Many students in my grade 8 class continue to amaze me with their use of technology.

This week one student came up to me to explain that while reading Tlinglit legends (as part of a project she has chosen to take on in conjunction with our novel study 'Touching Spirit Bear') she couldn't "get" the moral of one of them... another student piped in "ya it makes no sense, there is really no lesson" (he is NOT doing this project, but somehow knew what she was talking to)

Puzzled, I ask which legend and he pulls up the legend summary the first student had wrote, which he had in a skype chat and showed me the legend.

I noticed as I was reading that 6 students in class were part of the chat and had been collaborating and discussing as they worked through their final projects (which were all different projects, very diverse as they were able to choose from list or create their own final projects)

How cool!

Did You Know?

  • 1/4 of teens own a smartphone. 77% have a ‘cell phone’, more generically speaking
  • 63% of students prefer a blended learning environment
  • Virtual labs are allowing science experiments to happen across the country
  • 95% of teens aged 12-17 use the internet regularly
  • 1:1 device programs are allowing learning at school and at home
  • Only 23% of internet users and 7% of cell phone users say that they’ve taken part in a video call, chat, or teleconference

Source: http://www.edudemic.com/2013/06/types-of-connected-students/

End of School Year lay-off's cause anxiety for many teachers

The end of the school year means lay offs for many teachers. The unpredictability of summer employment can be stressful, but even more stressful is the uncertainty of September.

I am in my first year of lay-off and not knowing what September holds does cause some anxiety. Furthermore, the budget concerns in my district mean not all laid-off teachers will be recalled. What I find most troublesome is the fact that some teachers get recalled with days before they start a new school, grade, subject, class....

In most careers, it is the senior, most experienced in the job that take on the most challenging, new, experiences, while the newer teachers are mentored, trained, and as they gain experience in one area (school, subject, grade, etc. for example) they are challenged more....

I don't know what September holds, and I know I am not alone because many are talking about it...

Saw this post recently and thought I would share it:  http://theeducatorsroom.com/2013/05/the-end-of-the-year-means-the-end-of-a-job-for-many-teachers/

Thursday 6 June 2013

5 Apps that engage parents

Technology is opening up new windows for communication and for those who want to embrace it, there are some great ways to communicate with parents. I found this post with a variety of ideas.

One that I didn't know about was 'Fast Follow' on twitter:

Twitter: Whether it is class homework updates, project deadlines, school news or dinnertime conversation starters, teachers are taking advantage of Twitter’s free tool and keeping parents up to date and involved in classroom happenings. In a day-in-age where most parents have cell phones, Fast Follow by Twitter becomes a simple and reliable alert system. To use it, all you need to do is setup a Twitter account and ask parents (and older students) to text Twitter’s shortcode of 40404 with the message “follow [your Twitter username].” From there, parents will start receiving all of your updates via text message in real-time.

Read more here: http://www.weareteachers.com/community/blogs/weareteachersblog/blog-wat/2013/05/30/5-apps-that-engage-parents-in-the-classroom

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Visual Guide to Staying Safe on Social Media

The guide runs through some handy tidbits you should know. For example, what can you post on Facebook, what’s allowed on Tumblr, and how often do people post their location? Should you actually post your location on social networks? The verdict is still out the but the facts are in: this guide shows about a quarter of all users attach their current location to posts. 


See full article and visual guide HERE!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Father's Day Paper Bag Craft

This is a fairly simple craft to do for Father's Day. I have seen the ties made as part of cards etc. but I like this idea because you can put stuff inside the bag as well.

Source: vippins.com via Amanda on Pinterest

Sunday 2 June 2013

Is a 10 year deal with teachers' union good for B.C.? Laila Yuile weighs in

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day.
From: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/02/premiers-meddling-derailed-respectful-tone-of-current-negotiations

This week’s topic:

Is a 10-year deal with the teachers’ union good for B.C.?

This week, I'd like to welcome Brent Stafford to the Duel, and wish him the best of luck. This week we take on yet another one of Premier Christy Clark's Fantasy Island solutions for the province. This time, it's the proposed 10-year contract Clark wants for teachers, which has predictably surfaced again post-election.

Like many parents, I have experienced up close the impact of labour disputes between the teachers and employers. So have my children. I don't agree with some of the tactics that have been used by teachers and the union in past disputes — in particular not filling out report cards, which is the only indicator many parents have of how their child is performing in school. Many people agree with me on that point, whether they are parents or not. Clearly it is our children who suffer when job action escalates.

Read Brent Stafford's column

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has historically been seen to work on an agenda that isn't always supported by its own members. Recognizing that there had to be a better way to conduct bargaining and negotiations, teachers and the BC Public School Employers’ Association sat down and agreed upon a respectful framework to continue talks.

It appeared to be going well — until Clark told the employers to toss out everything and push for a 10-year contract. It's Clark's way, or the highway, and it changes the current respectful tone of negotiations to one that's clearly confrontational.
A 10-year contract with teachers might be good for the government, but is it good for the province as a whole? Absolutely not. The teachers and the employers had been quietly and peacefully negotiating for several months prior to the election, and were about to resume this week. It's not even a case of good intentions with bad execution. This is nothing but public relations and bad politics.
The reason why contracts are generally negotiated for a period of three to four years is to allow both sides to re-assess factors such as inflation and the economy, which impact both an employer and workers. No one can predict what the situation is going to be like four years down the road. Is this really about education and children, or is this about setting a precedent and sending a message to other unions the province must negotiate with in the future? If so, I see anything but labour peace under Clark’s leadership.
Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.

Original Post: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/02/premiers-meddling-derailed-respectful-tone-of-current-negotiations

Happiness - 15 Things you should give up to be Happy

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question:
“Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?”
Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control. 
Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” 
Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open.
“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.
Read more here: http://worldobserveronline.com/2012/04/25/15-things-you-should-give-up-to-be-happy/

Saturday 1 June 2013

New approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

I love this story.

A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension. Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly:
“Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?” He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?”
The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness. The armor-plated defenses melt like ice under a blowtorch and the words pour out: “My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s promised me things my whole life and never keeps those promises.” The waterfall of words that go deep into his home life, which is no piece of breeze, end with this sentence: “I shouldn’t have blown up at the teacher.”
And then he goes back to the teacher and apologizes. Without prompting from Sporleder.
“The kid still got a consequence,” explains Sporleder – but he wasn’t sent home, a place where there wasn’t anyone who cares much about what he does or doesn’t do. He went to ISS — in-school suspension, a quiet, comforting room where he can talk about anything with the attending teacher, catch up on his homework, or just sit and think about how maybe he could do things differently next time.
Before the words “namby-pamby”, “weenie”, or “not the way they did things in my day” start flowing across your lips, take a look at these numbers:
2009-2010 (Before new approach)
  • 798 suspensions (days students were out of school)
  • 50 expulsions
  • 600 written referrals
2010-2011 (After new approach)
  • 135 suspensions (days students were out of school)
  • 30 expulsions
  • 320 written referrals
“It sounds simple,” says Sporleder about the new approach. “Just by asking kids what’s going on with them, they just started talking. It made a believer out of me right away.”