How Do I Mark Myself ?!?

I think that currently, the more I look at it, I’m in a unique situation.  In my pre-internship year, I’m not quite a teacher but learning to look at situations from the perspective of one.  At the same time I am still kind of in student mode and my learning curve is pretty steep right now (and if my profs are right it is only going to get steeper during my internship).  This has resulted in an interesting process as I synthesize some of the things I am learning with things I have experienced as a student.

One thing that has really been on my mind lately has been the idea of assessment.  There are three different factors that have brought this topic to my attention lately.

#1 My ECMP classmate Stacey wrote a post about her experience with assessment titled “Thoughts from an IB Mind”

#2  Stacey’s post caused me to become more aware of how assessment is probably the largest topic in #edchat.

#3   It’s the end of the semester and so assessment in some form is all everyone on campus is talking about.

In ECMP we were asked to take some time and assess ourselves and that this would be weighed heavily in our year end evaluation.  This was not a method that was unheard of to me, in fact I’ve done this same thing numerous times in group projects from high school straight through university.  Looking back however I don’t think I have ever assessed myself ‘well’.   By this I mean that as I look at things more and more from a teacher’s perspective I don’t think I was assessing my skills, learning or development as much as I sought to find a number that justified the work I did in relation to others in the class.  I wasn’t as much concerned with how I grew personally as much as I was concerned with where I fit in the hierarchy of grades in relation to the rest of the class.  Is this inherent to assessment and grading?  I know when I work hard and do good work (I usually do..really) and I know when I take shortcuts and don’t do my best but I have a hard time quantifying that with a number.  I feel like with me it is either more of a thumbs up or a thumbs down kind of thing.  Grades to me end up being a form of competition and I end up wanting to beat everyone else more than I want to see how I may have grown.

That is my perspective as a student.  As a teacher it differs slightly because as a teacher assessment is going to be a substantial part of my job.  As a teacher I think it becomes important to understand different forms of assessment, ways which give you the best picture of a student’s total learning.  I’m finding this very interesting and true within my education program.  In five classes I have had five different styles of assessment and none of them have been the classic sit down and write a two hour final typical of my biology degree.  In my ECMP class our instructor actually did the final with us (it was a four minute, self-guided, visual presentation displaying what we learned).

I’m excited for next semester to see what I will learn in the assessment classes that I will be taking.

I’m thankful that education is showing me some alternative forms of assessment in contrast to some of the traditional ways I have experienced.

I’m interested to learn from others what some alternatives to grading and ranking students there may be.  Are there any good ones?

Photo by: sitzmansitzman


What I’ve Learned About the Internet

This entire semester within ECMP 355 our class has been basically focusing on learning and sharing.  When I began this class I was under the impression that I was going to learn all about the tools and technology that are currently being underutilized in the classroom.  I would learn how to use this stuff and I was going to be a better teacher because of it.  Oops,  I think I may have oversimplified things a little bit.  Our class did cover some of these issues however what I have found is that a majority of our focus has been on community and learning instead of just useful tools.  I have come to understand throughout this class that it is not necessarily the tools I am going to bring into the classroom that are going to make me a better teacher but instead it is the massive global community available to me that will help me succeed.  It has been eyeopening to see how many resources are available to me be it other educator’s blogs, #edchat or other people willing to take time out of their day to help me out.  I have found that there is indeed a global community available to me where I can go for suggestions, support, resources, and feedback in order to help me succeed as a teacher.

ECMP 355 has introduced me to a community that I intend to use for the rest of my life be it everyday or in the classroom.  In what I have experienced within the last couple months I have come to understand the importance of sharing when it comes to learning and the importance of community as it applies to my development as a teacher.  I have learned how powerful learning can be when it is self directed and I have also learned the importance of other peoples help, feedback, and support when seeking to learn in this way.  I am very grateful for what I have learned in this class especially the importance of community and support that I experienced first hand from my classmates as well as other educators online.  I hope that I as I continue I can make a meaningful contribution to this community and impact the learning of others in the same way that mine has been impacted over this last semester.

Photo by: Cayusa

My Pecha Kucha

Next ECMP 355 class my class is getting together face to face in order to share some food and what we have learned this semester via modified Pecha Kuchas. I feel like I have grown so much over these last couple of months in so many different ways and am excited to share what I have learned and also see what others have been learning.

I developed my presentation using Sliderocket.  I thought Sliderocket was super cool in how I was easily able to incorporate Youtube videos, creative commons pictures, and even Twitter feeds.  This is definitely something I am going to use for presentations in the future.  A great way to easily create engaging presentations.

Click the link below to check it out:

O Canada!

These last two weeks for my ECS 300 field placement I have done a two part lesson tying O Canada together with Remembrance Day.  These lessons helped me to learn a lot about what it means to teach from the students perspective.  To begin the conversation I showed this video from the Oilers playoff run a couple years back:

I used this to discuss what feelings of nationalism can feel like and to begin a discussion on what O Canada can mean to different groups of people.  After some discussion time I then showed the students a video of First Nations Veterans talking about their experiences in World War II. I used this video in particular because of a discussion we had in class a couple of days earlier where Joanna Landry from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner came in to talk about the importance of incorporating First Nations content into our lessons. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to do so and the students were all very interested.

After this video we had some more time for discussion and then I told them to keep the idea in mind that different people have different perspectives when it comes to Canada’s anthem/ Canada.  The next week in class we began with a discussion where many of the students said that they were more mindful during O Canada of other groups sacrifices for their freedom.  I then introduced an assignment which took the rest of the class.

For this assignment I divided the national anthem into individual lines and randomly distributed them amongst the class.  The students then drew a picture of what that line represented/ made them feel.  I told them there was no right or wrong answer which they seemed to struggle initially with this but in the end they all did a great job.  My plan now is to use a digital storytelling tool to combine their pictures into their own version of O Canada.

A couple of things I learned with these lessons:

– It’s important to understand the students perspective.  For example not many of them were old enough to remember  the Oilers playoff run.  I just assumed that it was common knowledge but found myself having to go back and kind of set the stage when I received a bunch of blank stares.

– Also these students had a hard time just expressing what they felt on paper.  I encouraged them to brain storm and gently nudged them in the right direction but as a teacher it is important, I think, to scaffold some of the skills required for this kind of exercise beforehand.

-Classroom management is so important.  I don’t think I could of gotten through this lesson just starting out because I didn’t have the classroom management skills  that I needed.  As my classroom management gets better, I find it easier to make a connection between the material and my students.

Here’s my lesson plans from the last two weeks:

Part 1

Part 2

Grade 7/8 Phys Ed.

This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to teach a physical education class to the Grade 7/8 split I have my ECS 300 field placement with. My field placement partner and I decided to split the class into two where I took half for 20 minutes and then we had them switch and so I then had the other half for another 20 minutes.  We decided to do a volleyball class because this was something that a couple of the students had mentioned they were interested in this subject.  Co-designing a lesson plan provided me to use some of the things I have been learning in ECMP 355, particularly the use of Google Docs to collaborate.  Working together we came up with this lesson plan:

Teaching volleyball falls right into my comfort zone as I’ve had numerous experiences both playing and instructing in my time with the Huskies.  In hindsight this experience was a little different compared to past experiences.  In the past I’ve ran teams or camps where students attending wanted to be there and get better at volleyball.  In this environment I had a mix of students who wanted to play, others who wanted to watch, and others who had a hard time staying focused.  I found myself adapting the drills as best as I could on the fly in order to keep everyone as engaged as possible, definitely more intensive than my past experiences.

All in all it was a positive experience and I look forward to more experiences in the future where I can apply what I am learning about myself and education.

Global Learning

Last week we had Sylvia Tolisano into our ECMP 355 class to talk to us about global learning.  She shared with us the importance of expanding our students as well as our own perspectives on a global scale.  One example she gave was her Teddy Bears around the World.  This project provides an opportunity for students to learn about other students cultures in their own words.

As Sylvia emphasized it is extremely important to understand the world in a more global sense, especially as the world becomes smaller every day.

I realized just how little I know of other cultures when she shared a tradition in Argentina where a empty bottle is placed on a vehicle to show it is for sale.  It is traditions like this that often lead to misunderstandings between different culture groups, misunderstandings that become understandings when we widen our gaze to a broader, more global view.

I intend to focus more on global issues both in my own life and in my classroom.  I hope to accomplish in a variety of ways from reading the global section of the newspaper to connecting my classroom to other classrooms in the world (ie. Around the World in 80 Schools).

Thanks Sylvia.

Big Picture Learning

A new video is up on Born to Learn, this time on the topic of big picture learning.  Check out the hyperlinks and learn how this…

lead to this….

This video got me interested on the topic of big picture learning and eventually lead me to this girl, Ariel Wilburn.  It’s pretty powerful stuff hearing about how broken education is from a student who experienced it firsthand.  However it is not all doom and gloom,  it is even more powerful hearing how education was fixed and ultimately successful for the same student.

Rocks Can Be Cool Too!

Today I had the chance to teach a lesson about classifying rocks and minerals in the grade 8 class I’ve been placed in for my ECS 300 field placement.  This was an amazing experience!  I thought classifying rocks could be kind of boring but the way the students reacted was the exact opposite.  I began by holding up one rock after another over a tank of water asking the students, “Will this sink or float?”.  Sure enough every rock sunk to the bottom, they thought I was dense just to ask a silly question like that.  Eventually I reached my pumice rock, dropped it in, and would you believe it floated!

After this the students were hooked.  Not telling them why this happened but instead that some rocks have different propertiesI put them into groups and had them organize the 11 samples I had brought.  I told them they could organize them anyway they wanted as long as they could explain why they did it that way.  This worked out amazing, some groups went by colour, others by size, others used ‘prettiest to ugliest’.

This lead into a discussion about how rocks actually are classified with the students having already discovered properties such as colour and lustre (I was ecstatic).  I also introduced hardness, streak, and cleavage/fracture and had the students examine these properties together as a group.  Finally I had the students re-organize their collection based on what we had discovered about rock and mineral properties (SUCCESS!).  Below is the lesson plan I made for this class.  It would of been nice to have more time in order to cover some topics more in depth however the inquiry based approach I took was very effective in grabbing the students interest and encouraging them to explore on their own.


Today was my first opportunity this school year to do something that resembled teaching.  For my ECS 300 lab we were tasked with teaching a half an hour lesson from the Grade 6 to 8 curriculum and today was my turn so I chose a lesson on Currents & Climate.

I taught the lesson to my peers in the lab but I think that is probably more intimidating sometimes than being in an actual classroom will be.  I was very anxious at first and ended up planning and revising my lesson a couple of times making sure I knew the content well.  This is extremely important and paid off because sometimes things don’t work. Today that meant the projector I rented took all class to warm up.  I was able to move on though so no harm done and ended up drawing extreeeeemely rough diagrams on the blackboard instead (I at least intended to use some of the stuff I’ve been learning in ECMP 355).

We were also able to practice pre and post conferencing like it should be done with my coop when I’m an intern.  I found this was extremely useful and probably one of the most important things I’m going to experience over the next year before becoming a teacher. This helped me to relax and tell myself I was actually ready beforehand as well as giving me a set of eyes for feedback to help me improve.

I found this very practical and had lots of positive feedback from my classmates, this only helped to get me even more excited for the opportunities to come.

Here is a video from teacherAJH on Youtube where I got the activity I used in class for a starting, engaging activity to spark discussion.

As a conclusion I used this news story to bring my lesson full circle and provide a real world application.

Making Custom Menus

Hey all,

I played around a bit and was able to figure out the menu issue we were having in our ECMP 355 online session today.  What my page looks like now is what I kind of prefer and all I did here was make a custom menu and add it on the side as one of my widgets.   This is what my page looked like with my custom menu up top.Here is a screen cast walking through the steps of what I did to create a custom menu and then get up top.  I have my pages, with my ‘Home’ still being my main feed and the ‘Stuff I Learn’, ‘Learning Projects’ and ‘Tech Tasks’ jumping to posts placed in those categories.

If you have any problems just let me know and I can help you out.