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

Sunday 22 June 2014

Better versions of 24 hours front page advertisement #BCED

There is no money for education, however, there is for a lot of other things this government makes a priority.

This is a great summary of what happened - the ad backfired on social media.

After this full page ad in 24 hours newspaper was bought as a 'fake' front cover by the Liberals (remember, they did this during election time with 'Christy Clark the come back kid' fake front page ad too)

Well, I much prefer some of the more accurate statistics contained in these 're worked' ads [Found via facebook from various sources]:

Check out this news story on the ad.

Thursday 19 June 2014

BCFED & BCTF Rally for #BCED tonight at Canada Place

What an amazing rally. There was a Maple Ridge teacher who spoke, a Vancouver grade 12 students, BCTF President Jim Iker, Jim Sinclair from BCFED, Ontario Teachers' president, CLC President Hassan Yussaff, leader of the NDP John Horgan, and many other wonderful speakers.

What was inspiring to me

  • Passionate speakers
  • Student who pointed out she could vote in 6 months and Christy Clark had lost her vote
  • Ontario Teachers support "Your fight is our fight"
  • Reminders of the importance of what we are standing up for
  • Sinclair - passionate as always
  • hearing enthusiasm in Jim Iker's usually calm voice
  • Listening to NDP leader supporting education
  • seeing past NDP leader Glen Clark who I met as a young youth advocate
  • reading creative and clever signs
  • seeing colleagues 
  • the music, one group is made up of local band teachers (and a drama teacher) who I have worked with 
  • it was massive, so many people!

I tweeted more and posted some on my facebook.

Thursday 12 June 2014

14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools

I highly recommend checking out this post on 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools.

Things like computer rooms, no wi-fi, banning personal devices, junk food, 'one-size fits all pro d' and isolated classrooms make the list.

14 things


Sunday 8 June 2014

Government is like a deadbeat spouse... a letter to the editor

So there was a 'Student Walk Out' last Wednesday and one of the student organizers said they were tired of being 'pawns' and being 'stuck in the middle of two divorcing parents' [Government and BCTF] 

This letter sums it up nicely....

Saturday 7 June 2014

I am a greedy teacher (Shared Status from Facebook)

I am a Greedy Teacher

Andrew Turner - June 7, 2014 at 1:30pm
As I stress and think about the upcoming strike vote, in order to unscramble my internal conflict, I decided to write down my own thoughts and echo some feelings of people I have spoke to. This is the result...

I am a Greedy Teacher.
I want more than I currently have, a lot more. I don’t think that I should have to apologize for that. You see I have a son that will need help in school. He will need one-on-one attention, and a speech pathologist. I am so greedy that I am willing to walk out on strike and potentially lose over $4000 because he isn’t the only one.
I am a greedy teacher. I work in an alternate school and teach students with behavioural and mental health issues, high anxiety, ESL, Learning Disabilities, and drug problems. I have seen all of the teachers I work with struggle to make decisions as to who should get testing and who shouldn’t, since access is limited. I am so greedy that I am willing to sacrifice my strike pay to make sure that they get what they deserve when it comes to service.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that I believe a raise that is in line with cost-of-living is something everyone is entitled to. I am so greedy that I believe this even after being legislated back and taking 0% for almost 3 years (and potentially a 4th) for fighting to protect the rights of students learning conditions, that are illegally being stripped away by a Neo-Liberal government. I am so greedy that as I watch my profession get trashed in the media, and assaulted by many of the parents who have entrusted me to protect their children, I still keep fighting for their rights. I am so greedy I sacrifice my ability to bargain for a fair wage because the government wants a lower wage offer in order to start to negotiate class size and composition and when we give them one they still refuse to negotiate on “key issues.”
I am a greedy teacher. I want the government to tell the truth. Peter Fassbender goes on Global and states that the government has been at the table ready to negotiate 24/7 since last June. Then maybe he can explain why, after threatening our benefits the government wanted to take from April 30th – May 26th away from the table and the BCTF had to use precious negotiating time to try to convince them to come back for May 6th, 7th and 8th. I am so greedy that I think that the fact the government agreed to come back by the 12th, and waste 2 weeks, is ridiculous.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that I would rather believe Dr. David Zyngier who did a comprehensive review of 112 research papers, written between 1979-2014 discussing the effect of class size. I would rather believe the 109 research papers that argue smaller class sizes are better for students than the 3 that argue it’s not. I am so greedy that I would rather believe UBC education professors Dr. E. Wayne Ross and Dr. Charles Ungerleider who study curriculum, pedagogy, class size and composition, sociology in education and policy research, and state the government is wrong about class size, rather than Peter Fassbender who read a few research papers and the one OECD report he quotes the most he misrepresents.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that I don’t think that “below average” funding is good enough for the children of British Columbia. I am so greedy that despite “below average” funding I have still managed to give my students one of the best educations in the world. I am so greedy that I managed to do this by buying supplies with money out of my own pocket. I am so greedy that I am constantly searching for new technology and software that I can use to engage my students and efficiently facilitate learning, for different learning styles, and then realize it will have to wait because the money isn’t in the budget.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that when the government locked me out of my own school and docked me 10% pay for fulfilling my contractual obligation I stopped doing extracurricular activity. I am so greedy that instead of coaching, running plays, facilitating environmental clubs, etc… I took my VOLUNTEER time and went home and played with my kids instead.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that I think that the government should increase the corporate tax rate that they have been cutting since they go into power. I am so greedy that I don’t believe I should have to pay more tax than a mult-billion dollar corporation that has not created the jobs that the Liberals corporate tax cuts promised. I am so greedy that I believe all corporate tax cuts should be incentive based and not handed out until the jobs are created, not before. In legislature, when discussing BC’s weakened finances and loss of revenue Christy Clark admitted, “It just doesn't add up.” I am so greedy that I think we should have a government that will admit it when they get things wrong and fix it.
I am a greedy teacher. So greedy that I think the government should prioritize public education and healthcare above a new roof on BC place, or LNG projects. I am so greedy that I think that the government spending money on students is a better investment than a retractable roof that rarely opens. I am so greedy that I believe the government should not
make promises, about BC’s economy, based on a gamble with LNG and a lot of “could’s” and “maybe’s.”
I am a greedy teacher. I want for all students what Christy Clark obviously wants for her own son. I am so greedy that I want Christy Clark to come on TV and tell the people of British Columbia that she chose private school for her son because she wanted him to have smaller classes and more one-on-one time. I am so greedy that I want her to explain why she finds it necessary to spend over $18,000 a year of the money tax payers pay her to put her son in a school that promises classes no bigger than 26 and senior electives no bigger than 16, when over 30 students in a class with 4 or more special needs students is just fine for everyone else.
I am a greedy teacher because I want more, and I want better. I want more for my own children, I want more for the students of British Columbia, I want more of my taxes to be reinvested into the province not into private corporations pockets, and I want a better government that cares more about the people of the province on all socio-economic levels.
If being greedy means not being complacent, I am proud to be greedy. In fact I teach my students to be greedy, to not settle. In the words of Maureen Dowd, a columnist for the New York Times, “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”

Friday 6 June 2014

Blog Post: Why I will vote 'yes' for escalating job action

There is a great blog post from a teacher called: Why I will vote 'yes' for escalating job action. I have pulled a few sections to share, but highly recommended you go read it in its entirety at the original source.

The post talks about the history of cuts to education from the BC Liberals and the roller coaster ride it has been.

But this time it’s different. Through social media, teachers have been able to dispel public apathy. We’ve been able to refute government talking points with a barrage of non-partisan statistics and historic facts, most of which can be pulled directly from the Supreme Court ruling. This time, we’ve finally got a chance to make things better instead of watching them get worse.

And now, the teachers have called a strike vote. 
The timing is tough. Teachers are weary by June. We are uncomfortable leaving the students with a bad feeling before summer break, and we’re tired of fighting –of losing pay to strike days, of having 10% cut from our salaries. Many teachers would rather not further anger parents. 
On the other hand, a strong ‘yes’ vote will show a cynical government that it can never defeat us. It will show the government that no matter what it does to us, we will stand up in solidarity. 
In this last, desperate battle before the judiciary lowers the boom, the government will throw all of its grenades, and things are likely to get ugly. Already rumours abound of a lockout for September, whether we strike or not. They want to punish us.
But for me there is no more fear. I don’t care what the government does to me any more. I have fought too long, and endured too much heartache to give up now. We are so close! If we hold rank we can win. We have the Charter and the Court of Law on our side. 

Read the entire post here: https://thecoalmine.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/why-i-will-vote-yes-for-escalating-job-action/

Connectivity and School Culture

Came across another great article I wanted to share, How Transparency Can Transform School Culture.

It talks about how leadership in a school can create connectivity and a culture of sharing of both successes and struggles. With social media, sharing becomes easier and more

“The culture offline or online has to say we care about being open minded to the rest of our learning community whether that’s local or global.”
Many educators have found connecting through social media and other online platforms is valuable for sharing resources and inspire one another. But some teachers are still wary of social media after a few high-profile incidents of teachers being accused of wrong-doing on the web, Mazza said. “Once teachers understand that the leadership is taking a risk, then they feel a lot more comfortable doing so,” he said
I encourage you to check out the article as it has some great points surrounding transparency and school culture, along with social media and how the connectivity is growing from it.


“When you’re using digital tools and other social media it’s like you’re yelling out the front door of your school because you are so proud of something.”

Read more here

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Activity Boxes

Came across this blog spot about activity boxes that can be used similar to centers, or as activities for students who need something different to help them with self-regulation. It can help with classroom management.

The objective is to redirect the negative behavior before it escalates.  I have used activity boxes with students that could become aggressive, and violent not only to themselves but also toward other individuals. It also is helpful for children that may not fully understand why they are behaving inappropriately.

Setting up activity boxes is simple.  Sometimes the simplest idea can be the one thing that helps you connect with a student!

There are a few guidelines I like to follow when setting up activity boxes for individual students for the first time.

1.  Include the student in the process.   This is important because the box is intended to help that student re-direct their negative behaviors.  It isn't going to have the degree of success if the student isn't engaged in the materials included in it.  

2. The container should be the size of a shoe box.  My first activity boxes were actual shoe boxes.  I love the Nike shoe boxes that have the flip flap lid. I would go to the Mall and ask for the empty boxes.   Students can pick their box, and help decorate it.  Shoe boxes are compact, and will stack easily in a storage closet.

3.  The contents of the activity box should have an educational value.   Using activity boxes is not intended for a student to get out of doing work, or to play after disrupting class. This is a tool to use to defuse negative (escalating) behaviors.

4.  Go over the ground rules for using the activity boxes.  This would include proper way to use and take care of the materials in the box, appropriate time to use them, etc.  Remember to focus on the positive as much as possible!

Check out photos and examples of activity boxes at - SOURCE

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Foldable Writing Projects


This is from pinterest and links to a teachers pay teachers site where you can purchase the book, but I just liked the photo as it shows some cool foldable writing assignments.

I have done foldables assignments with the Canada Food Guide in Home Ec this year with grade 6/7s, as well as with flour mixtures for my Grade 8s. They made pyramids, cubes, all with foldable parts to give details about different topics. Love it!


Monday 2 June 2014

Prizes for all? Why aren't rewards working?

I frequently discuss this issue with teachers, in particular, new teachers and TTOCs. What is acceptable for  'rewards' and when should they be used?

As a parent, I do not give my daughter allowance or rewards for doing what she is supposed to do... make her bed, take dishes to the sink, keep her room clean, do her homework... those are things she needs to do. Now, if she does additional chores or helps out above her own responsibilities, there are sometimes thank-yous such as a verbal thanks, an ice cream, a mall date... but I digress...

When do rewards work and how do rewards work, if at all? I found this article that examines the use of rewards and why they do not work.

“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”
Lewis Carroll’s Dodo, Alice in Wonderland

“When the new system was introduced, one of my pupils shouted: ‘You get points just for showing up! What does that teach us?’ Looking later at the stats, I noticed that the top five reward earners were the worst behaved students in the entire school. Prizes were simply being used as a way of getting kids to do what they should be doing anyway, rather than to reward students for going the extra mile. The attitude was ‘oh well, I’ll get more later anyway, I can’t be bothered to answer these questions, so I won’t’. That’s when it struck me: giving out unmerited rewards all the time actually legitimised their poor behaviour.”

A couple of stories from economic research can enlighten us as to why incentives backfire:
‘When people were given a small stipend for donating blood rather than simply praised for their altruism, they actually donated less blood. The stipend turned a noble act of charity into a painful way to make money, and it simply wasn’t worth it.’
‘Nursery schools started fining parents who turned up late to pick up their children at 4pm. The result was striking: the number of late pick-ups more than doubled.’
 There are two main types of incentives: economic, and social or moral. The fine and the stipend backfired because they substituted an economic incentive for a moral incentive. 
Daniel Pink, author of 'Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us' says what really motivates us is masterypurpose and autonomy. Deci‘s psychological research suggests competence, relatedness and autonomy are the key ingredients, although to my knowledge these are nowhere in the research split out and measured for their relative importance.
I’d build on this and suggest that pupils develop their intrinsic motivation through three nutrients: masteryresponsibility and relationships. I think responsibility is a more foundational nutrient for young primary and secondary school pupils than autonomy; that you can’t be truly autonomous until you’ve achieved responsibility for your choices and their consequences.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Passions Projects: DaVinci Day

In the middle school I work in, we do an annual Renaissance Fair for the grade eights each year. They get to rotate through stations to learn a bit on various areas of Renaissance, then choose a "passion" or are to explore. They guide their own journey, learning and creating to share at the fair. This link popped up in my twitter feed and I really like the idea and thought I'd share it here. See more here

DaVinci Day provides an opportunity for students to pursue, research, and share  an area of interest, passion, or curiosity. Providing a time and space to do this type of work in school allows students to begin to see the connections between seemingly isolated academic content and skills, and the real world they will face and influence. When the school experience can be viewed with the perspective of how it will help in the pursuit of their own goals and curiosities, students become more engaged, and education becomes much more relevant. Finding and honing one’s own strengths and talents, assisted by the accumulation of knowledge and skills,  paves the way to fulfillment as well as success. 

Basic Requirements:
1. You must COMPLETE a DaVinci Day Project for the year. 
2. Your project must answer a question that you pose.
3. Your question must be complex and detailed.
4. You must share and "publish" your findings.

See more here