- Oral Communication – clear & coherent presentation of ideas, opinions and information in a readily understandable form
- Reading a variety of text in different formats and extracting/summarizing the main ideas – nonfiction text focus.
- Writing from a specific perspective/in a specific voice.
Sunday, 12 August 2012
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
School field trips are an amazing opportunity to make learning authentic and to motivate and engage students in their learning. They offer a break from the normal routine and instructional strategies that occur in the classroom and they expose students to new experiences and appeal to all styles of learning – visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Field trips expand children's learning and increase student knowledge and understanding of a subject by adding realism to the topic of study.
Thus, field trips lead to better understanding and greater achievement due to the students’ observation of real-life application of their lessons.
That said, there are some disadvantages to planning field trips for a class, some of which are listed below:
- Cost – to students, to school, of buses
- Inclement weather
- Parent concerns
- Availability of supervisors
- Extra preparation and organization is required
- Accessibility for all students
Virtual field trips (VFTs) use the Internet to take your class on a field trip via an online guided exploration i.e. a virtual online tour. There are many VFTs that are available online and these range from basic websites that contain text-based information to detailed floor plans with video tours. After browsing some of the VFTs available online, I definitely see myself using this in my junior and secondary classes.
To prepare for your VFT, you should ensure that it is directly related to the subject matter being covered in class. Teach an introductory lesson that covers the basics of the subject matter covered in the VFT, book the computer lab for the VFT and ask students to bring earphones. Another fun idea (for junior students) is to send home a “permission form” for the VFT in order to advise parents about it and provide them the opportunity to discuss the VFT with their child.
On the day of your VFT, first show the VFT site to the entire class using a projector and show them how to navigate the site. Remind them of the expected behaviour (ie. no surfing other sites!), point out “must sees” and demonstrate how to explore the VFT site. Lastly, provide the students with guided questions to answer throughout their VFT in order to ensure their learning.
At this point, have the students navigate to the VFT site and explore it. I believe that students would enjoy doing this activity in pairs and I would expect one set of answers from each pair. Give your students the option of typing their answers on the computer (in Word or a Google document) or writing them out.
The experience of a VFT is an under-used one and can be used to “visit” places that would not be possible on a regular field trip. After researching VFTs online, I have listed some great ones below.
Some Virtual Field Trip Destinations:
After taking your students on some VFTs, why not challenge your students to create their own VFT? Take the time to explain your expectations and model the platform you want your students to use. Create a simple VFT in real time in class and show the students how this can be done. In simplest form, this could be a PowerPoint presentation or a LiveBinder that includes links, videos and photos. In more complicated form, this could involve using online tools to create a VFT.
Challenging your students to create their own VFT is an amazing, rewarding project that would allow them to present researched information in a fun, creative product that is novel and engaging. Once done, post the student-created VFTs on the class website, encourage classmates to attend their peers’ VFTs and evaluate them. Alternatively, take a little time each day to showcase a VFT using a SmartBoard in the class. This performance task would be allow for differentiated instruction and cater to all learners who would be able to make their VFT as simple or as complicated as they wish, according to their learning needs.
I believe that Virtual Field Trips will enrich the learning of all students and engage them in student-centred learning, allowing them to actively construct their own knowledge. The next time you are planning a unit/cycle of study, try to integrate a VFT – your students will thank you for it!
Monday, 16 July 2012
Monday, 9 July 2012
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Search for Resources
- SCH 3U (Gr. 11 University Chemistry)
- SNC 1P (Gr. 9 Applied Science)
- SNC 1D (Gr. 9 Academic Science)
- Implementing Technology in the Classroom Workshop (at Brock University)
Overall, LiveBinders are an amazing resource. They can also be used by your colleagues or students to consolidate lesson plans or internet research. The collaborator option in LiveBinders allows multiple people to add to the same binder.
Check out this amazing tool at www.livebinders.com!
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
"Teachers have it easy. Their hours are 9am-3pm and they get lots of holidays (Christmas & March Break), plus they get summers off." How many times have you heard (or even said) the above statement? Well, let me tell you, it does not do justice to the amount of work teachers do! Let me illustrate with my schedule from the past few days.
Last Friday, I gave 2 of my classes a quiz, 1 class a test and I collected their labs from the week. Not a bad day in class - pretty low key and great for a Friday of a busy week. As I packed my things to take home, it struck me - now I have to MARK all these items!!! 53 quizzes, 60 labs + 17 tests - WOW! This was going to take a nice chunk out of my weekend!
On top of this mountain of marking, I needed to plan my lessons in 3 different classes this week. Because I like to prepare in advance, I try to prep the entire week's lessons on the weekend. What does this entail? Researching creative methods & strategies of instruction (not just lecturing!), creating PowerPoint presentations, creating student worksheets and uploading and organizing all info on my website & Live Binder. On top of all this, since I have never taught 2 out of my 3 classes before, I needed to research & learn new material, what the curriculum expectations are and ways to make the classes "fun". Weekend? WHAT weekend?? I must confess that I did get sidetracked with family obligations and didn't get around to any of the marking this weekend. I did, however, plan all my lessons for this week.
Monday morning - I'm feeling great that I have a fun plan for this week's lessons. Yes, I do have a 75 min prep period + lunch hour, however these fly by with conferencing with other teachers who teach the same courses that I do (our material must match), setting up labs, printing and photocopying worksheets and providing students with extra help. I usually manage to inhale a quick lunch 10 minutes before my period 3 class. Monday evening - oh yeah, I need to complete that marking! Sigh...I tackle some of it, but only put a dent in the pile.
Tuesday's school day is much like Monday, except we have a unit test in one class and a lab in another...more marking!! On top of this, my plans for an activity for one of my lessons on Wed need to be changed due to weird circumstances so now I need to re-plan a lesson as well (this involved some creative problem-solving and a last minute tip to the dollar store!) I was determined to finish my marking and I did it the majority of it last night + planned my lesson - mission accomplished!! How many hours did I sleep? Just under 4 hours.
I finished the rest of my marking this evening, logged in student marks, made notes about who needs extra help and who is struggling and prepped tomorrow's labs. It is 8:30pm and I am still at school!
This is just a snapshot of what a teacher's schedule looks like. Granted, I am a new teacher and I do not have the benefit of having taught this material before. This part (lesson planning) will get easier as I teach more - I hope! The marking will never go away and it keeps coming...I think of it as ocean waves that continually crash onto the beach in a specific rhythm. Just as one wave pulls away, another comes in - that is what marking is like. I have not yet mentioned the struggles of classroom management and the challenge of incorporating innovative, student-centred teaching strategies in each lesson as well as the need to meet the needs of all the different learners in my classroom. As well, teachers get involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities to contribute to the school community - we'll save that for another blog post!
So the next time you hear someone talking about how easy a job teaching is, think of me still sitting here at school on this fine Wednesday evening. And why do I do it? Why do any teachers do this? Its a passion for learning and connecting with students to make a positive impact on their lives. Some people skydive or go bungee jumping for thrills - I stand in front of a class, teaching chemistry/biology/science, and get the thrill of imparting knowledge, engaging students and helping them learn. It truly is a thrill!
Monday, 9 April 2012
I recall feeling extremes of both these emotions when it came to my registering in the optional "technology" course. I was super excited that I was going to learn new things and become "tech-savvy" but I also had major anxiety regarding adding more work to an already heavy workload. I actually expressed this anxiety in my blog (here), however, upon completion of the course, I realized how much I had learned and reflected on this too in my blog (here).
Now here I am - about to start my last practicum. In preparation for my lessons this week, I've created my powerpoint presentations - pretty standard - AND I have added my "tech-savvy" touch...without thinking twice. What have I done? Well, each of my lessons + worksheets and resources have all been uploaded to a LiveBinder - one LiveBinder for each class. As well, I wrote out the solutions to tomorrow's chemistry worksheet using my LiveScribe pen. This allows me to "talk through" my solutions and explain how I am solving each question. I feel that this will be a great resource for my students to use when they work on their homework.
When I completed my interactive solutions, I attempted to upload them to my LiveBinder, only to discover that the interactive part does not work! Now it was time to troubleshoot - I had taken the time to write out and talk through all my solutions, so I need to make them accessible to my students! I contacted my colleague and fellow "techie", Iain, and asked his advice. He mentioned that he uploads his LiveScribe files to his Google site...
Riiight - my Google site...the one I made up and used during my first practicum and have not touched since. So I proceeded to update my entire Google Site with new tabs that contain all my LiveBinders as well as my LiveScribe notes. While I'm at it, I should update my "About me" page....oh right, and my blog too....
How interesting! I started out implementing ONE technology for my classes and, due to a "domino effect" have now added so much more. I must say, that this all has taken LOTS of time and LOTS of patience! However, when I give my students the link to my Google site tomorrow, it will all be worth it!
Sunday, 29 January 2012
Through this week’s class I experienced LD firsthand. I watched in shock as Richard Lavoie started his workshop class with fast-paced, rapid-fire questioning of his students, expecting an answer to his question while students barely had time to process the question. I witnessed him “move on” to the next person after obtaining a correct answer and ridicule the incorrect answers. Overall, this was bad teaching practice, however, it was the rapid-fire pace of his questioning that disturbed me. I could barely keep up with his questions and then realized – this is what LD students experience every day! What seems to be a “regular” pace to everyone else is too fast for LD students due to issues with processing auditory information! WOW!
Lavoie then proceeded to demonstrate the difference between vision and perception, that is, seeing something versus actually perceiving it. I could try to explain the activity in detail, but my explanation would not do it justice. I must say that this was very enlightening for me and it really demonstrates the different ways people perceive things. You can check out that part of the workshop here:
Another activity that was eye-opening was participating in a round-robin story. We were asked to each say a sentence in order to form an interesting story…easy enough, and actually kind-of fun! We were then asked to repeat this, but our instructor started us off with “I am going to the bank to get some money”. Oh, and one more key point – we were told that we were not allowed to use any word with the letter “N”. May I suggest that you try this exact exercise with a few friends? It’s hard!! Each person participating in the game had to think carefully about every word they said, and they hesitated after every word. As I sat and listened, I truly had a “light bulb” moment. Some students with LD, must think about every word in a sentence and this results in hesitation and staccato-type sentences. Again, WOW!
I looked up Richard Lavoie on YouTube and found another class of his in which he explains reading issues that LD students, especially dyslexic ones, have. Once again, it was mind-blowing to see/hear his activities & explanations. You can view this class here:
Overall, Richard Lavoie’s techniques in teaching us what its like to have a learning disability are eye-opening. I highly recommend that you look up his videos on YouTube for an amazing insight into learning disabilities. My challenge now will be to learn how to effectively teach these students in a way that they understand and are engaged. Our textbook, “Special Education in Ontario Schools” (Bennet, Dworet & Weber) suggests a variety of in-class strategies including differentiated instruction, empathy and understanding and giving positive, frequent feedback. As well, a consistent systematic approach is important along with graphic/visual support, help in sequencing, help in dealing with print, and awareness of time constraints. Lastly, they suggest helping LD students with time management, making allowances for them and simplifying their environment. Overall, optimism, encouragement and trust are imperative.
I have yet to work with LD students and will most likely get this chance in a few weeks when I start my second teaching placement. I need to figure out how to put this newfound knowledge into actual effective teaching practices during my lessons. Should you have any tips or suggestions, please share! Thank you!!
Saturday, 14 January 2012
I had the luxury of getting away for the holidays for some much-needed relaxation and family time. While enjoying myself on the beaches of sunny Ft. Lauderdale, I started to reflect on the many things I would like to accomplish in the upcoming New Year of 2012. I resolved that I needed to relax more, spend more time with my husband & children and schedule in more “me-time”. I was able to do all these things during our time away and I came back home feeling renewed, refreshed and optimistic. What a feeling!!
Then reality hit. Back to school and the craziness of being a full-time B.Ed. student while juggling being a mom & wife. What was I thinking?? Reality check: time to re-evaluate those dreamy resolutions! Here’s what I have come up with.
“Relax more” is not going to happen! However, I have resolved to get to bed most nights at a decent time, I am aiming for 11pm (as opposed 1am), since I am up at 6am every morning. In order to accomplish this, I need to work on my time-management so I am not completing assignments and lesson plans into the wee hours of the morning.
“Spend more time with my husband and children” – this is one that I definitely want to stick to, but I need to figure out how I can do this with my current schedule. What I have come up with is to spend more quality time with them. I will make time every day to actually play or read with my kids, even if its just for 10-15 min. I will also start scheduling “date night” so my husband & I can actually spend some special time together.
“More me-time” – I have the perfect solution for this one and it comes in the form of “me-time” at the gym! That way I sneak 2 resolutions into 1 – aren’t I clever?! I have the stereotypical, standard fitness resolutions and I’m scheduling in my workouts as if they were a class at school. Its working so far, but I’m not too sure how its going work when I’m in my 2nd teaching placement in mid-Feb…..
Ok, so that deals with my lofty resolutions dreamt up of at the beach. But that hardly covers it all! Back in class and in “teacher-mode” and I have some important professional goals as well. I have resolved to make a concerted effort to challenge myself to “think outside the box” and really apply different pedagogy to my teaching. I want my lessons to be more student-centred and inquiry-based. I want my students to experience inductive teaching strategies, experiential learning and indirect instruction. In my first teaching placement, I was focused on pure survival and I stuck to more traditional instructional strategies. For my next placement, I truly want to expand my teaching to incorporate the strategies listed above.
As well, I am determined to apply more technology to my teaching. For my next teaching placement, I want to set-up and maintain a class website and include use of some new technologies in the classroom such as Edmodo, Livebinder, Twitter, Facebook, LiveScribe, and/or Remind 101.
Whew! I dream big don’t I? Of course, I have more ideas and reflections that I could share with you but…..I don’t have time! Too much to do! 2012, here I come!