Sunshine Blog


 photo credit: Patrick Brosset via photopin cc

Ah it seems I have caught the sunshine blog post bug. Like many I have been watching it float around on Twitter and have enjoyed reading the posts that have emerged. So here goes my sunshine blog post!

Here is how it works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Nominating Blogger (s)

I have been nominated by two people and will give them both a shout out! The first blogger is Dana Ariss @Danaariss. I first ‘met’ Dana on one of the many Twitter chats I take part in. (For the life of me I can’t remember which one).  I got to know Dana better as part of the planning committee for the new #cdnedchat. She is enthusiastic and bubbly person from whom I have learned lots!

The second blogger that nominated me was Jennifer Collette @Jennmarieco. I had the great privilege of working with Jenn last year. We spent the whole year bouncing ideas off of each other, planning and co-teaching together. It was an incredible experience and although we do not work in the same building anymore I find that not much has changed. We still challenge each others thinking, discuss what we are teaching and make each other laugh on a consistent basis. She is a wickedly awesome person!

11 Random Facts

1) I have lived in three countries so far: South Africa, Swaziland and Canada 🙂

2) I am a cat person.

3) Winter is my favourite season.

4) I read a lot of fantasy novels. I am kind of stuck in the genre.

5) I am self-conscious about my writing but blog to help me get better. (It’s working!)

6) It takes me a long time to make a decision. I need to think about things and tend to sit on the fence for a long time.

7) I love salt and vinegar chips.

8) My favourite T.V. show is Star Trek.

9) I don’t really like chocolate or ice cream.

10) I have 3 bachelor degrees and am currently working on my Masters of Education. (Yay learning!)

11) I  am an introvert. I am quiet and like to listen to others speak. I usually only speak in a group once I have thought about my response. I also tend to get stage fright be it in front of  a group of 5 or 100 people.

Questions from Jenn and Dana:

1. Why did you start blogging? I was bored while doing my education degree and wanted to push my thinking further that what my classes were providing. Blogging has helped me think deeply about what, why and how I am teaching. It has really changed my world.

2. What do you love doing the most? Teaching. Nothing makes me happier and feel more challenged.

3.  What is your favourite educational quote? “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

4.  What would you do if you weren’t a teacher? I’d probably be in HR or be a botanist.

5. What do you think makes a great teacher? Someone who is passionate, curious and isn’t willing to accept the status quo.

6.  What is your favourite educational website? Hmmmm tough one… It has great videos and resources!

7.  What is the funniest thing a student ever told you? Tough one. None spring to mind but everyday is filled with laughs when teaching.

8.  What is your favourite movie? The Day After Tomorrow. It’s terrible but I love watching it on cold Winnipeg winter days, makes it feel very doomsday-y

9.  How often do you blog? Anywhere from twice a week to once every three months. It all depends on what is going on and what is on my mind.

10.  Why do you love twitter? I get to talk to many different educators that I would otherwise never have been able to talk to. It’s really opened my world up.

11.  What are you looking forward to in 2014? Getting married to the love of my life 🙂

1. Why teaching? I love learning and helping others learn is one of the most satisfying things on earth. Teaching also challenges me everyday to become better at what I do.

2. Who or what is your  greatest inspiration? Nelson Mandela. He showed my home country the power of forgiveness and the importance of equality.

3. What is one new thing you have tried this year? I applied and successfully presented at a conference. Wohoo!

4. What would your ideal day look like? Sleep until 10am and then teach.

5. Who was the best teacher you ever had and why? I have been blessed with many incredible teachers that there are too many to choose from. Probably my grade 2 teacher Mrs Webster. She was a kind, caring teacher who never raised her voice. She is the reason I promise my students I will never yell at them. (They have noticed that I don’t yell and appreciate it).

6. If you could live anywhere in the world other than where you currently live, where would it be? Probably back in South Africa. There is no place like home.

7.  What is something you are looking forward to in 2014? Becoming a better teacher and learning lots.

8.  Are you an early bird or a night owl? Night owl.

9.  What is your favourite band or music artist? I like Rise Against. It’s pretty good music to write your report cards to.

10. Why Twitter? It opens up your world. Nothing more incredible than having a respectful and insightful conversation on Twitter. It has changed the way I teach.

11. Mac or PC? Android or iPhone? Mac. It all works so nicely together.


photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

11 Bloggers I want to nominate (In no particular order)

1) Aviva Dunsigner @Avivaloca

2) Maria Popova  @brainpicker

3) Dean Shareski @shareski

4) George Couros @gcouros

5) John Spencer @edrethink

6) Pernille Ripp @Pernilleripp

7) Tanis Thiessen @tjthiessen

8) Darren Kuropatwa @dkuropatwa

9) Hybrid Pedegogy @hybridped (Amazing blog! You must read it!)

10) William Chamberlain @wmchamberlain

11) Mrs T @MissLwbt

11 Questions for your nominees:

1)  If you could teach any grade/age what would it be and why?

2) What would you dream classroom look like?

3) What is the 1 thing you hope your students gain from your teaching?

4) What book would you recommend to a teacher needing some inspiration?

5) Whiteboard & projector or Smartboard?

6) How do you inspire creativity in your students and colleagues?

7) What is the first thing you’d purchase if you won the lottery?

8) What has Twitter and blogging done for your teaching?

9) What is 1 thing we can all do to be better teachers tomorrow?

10)  Best teaching memory.

11) Quiet classroom or noisy classroom? Why?


Writing Takes Time. Forget the Rush.


Cause I’d rather pretend I’d still be there at the credit: Βethan via photopin cc

Oh my what a busy start to the year it has been. In the blitz that September and October have been we have fully launched our students blogs. Blogging is a learning process for all of us. From what standard of writing we expect on our blogs to the simple mechanics of how to post to your blog. My students have embraced blogging and are enjoying writing for an authentic audience. I had to chuckle one day when one of my students said “You know, blogging is better than writing in my notebook because now I know someone is actually reading it.” Wow, talk about getting it and being motivated by it.

On Friday I was talking to a good teacher friend of mine who asked “When are you going to write your next blog post?”. I was a bit stunned. I have 3 drafts I am working on but they aren’t quite there yet. Some of my posts take months to write simply because I need to think things through. Others, like this one, I can whip out in under an hour.

Her question also made me think about my students. Some have written over 10 posts since getting their blogs 2 weeks ago. Others have only written the 2 posts I asked them to write for me.  I suspect some of my students are writing their blog posts quickly and in one shot. Tomorrow I want to talk to them about how writing takes time and not to fear if they can’t write a long essay in under an hour. Writing is a skill and it is something that they are learning to do well and efficiently.

I as their teacher, also want to remember that writing takes time. We all need to remember that it is okay to take a bit longer on something to ensure that we deliver a good product. It’s time to forget the rush, slow down and take our time.

Learn Camp ending the year off right.

On Tuesday to kick off our last week together my coworker and I decided to run an EdCamp style day for our grade 3’s and 4’s.  We helped organize Edcamp Winnipeg in June and were interested to see how our students would respond to our very own Edcamp. When our students walked in to the school they saw signs for  RVS Learn Camp. We started just before recess explained the purpose of the day: Teach, Learn and Play. They were asked to think about what they could teach their peers about. Something they were had knowledge of and wanted to share with others. They were also asked to think about things they wanted to learn more about. We left the day wide open, just like normal Edcamp. We were simply there to help facilitate and learn with them.

Oh the twinkle in our students eyes when they realized we meant what we said… wide open floor!

Once they had filled out their Q cards with ideas they came and shared with their peers what they wanted to teach or learn about. Some of the ideas that were brought forward were: teaching people how to create minecraft people, how to write a play, how to create a tessellation picture to learning more about famous artists and how to draw animals.


Topic Suggestions

During recess Jenn and I put together a schedule for our Learn Camp and organized it into 6 time slots of 30 minute intervals. Each time slot had 2 sessions running at the same time. As luck would have it we had exactly the right number of topics to fit our schedule! We booked a computer lab for the day and had our classrooms open for sessions.  When the students came back from recess we gave them a quick rundown of the ‘rules’  and the students launched into their first session!

Rules for the day:

– Today is about learning. If a session isn’t meeting your learning needs go try the other session.

– If someone comes to a session they must be included.

– Have fun!

Session Pictures:


Tesselation Art Station


Build a Minecraft Model Station


Learn how to draw station


Learn how to draw station

It was so cool to see what they came up with! The students totally embraced the concept bringing their knowledge from their own lives and even from what they learned in school to share with others. It was quite amazing to see our two classes move from session to session totally engaged in what they were doing every step of the way. When we asked them at the end of the day if they enjoyed it the kids said they loved it! The liked being able to pursue what interested them and to teach each other about what they were experts in.

Jenn and I both agree that this is something we would try again with our students as we think now that they know what a Learn Camp is all about, next time they will push themselves even further.

Why Wait for PD on a Platter?

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Preparing for Dinner photo credit: RSL IMAGES via photopin cc

After attending Edcamp Winnipeg and Denapalooza the last two Saturdays this past weekend felt rather… empty. No conferences. No Ed gatherings. It all felt rather empty to me. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and was left craving more. I heard the rumblings as soon as Denapalooza ended. “When is the next meet up?” “What are we going to next?”.

This weekend was the tipping point. Instead of waiting for PD to presented to us a platter we  have decided we would go ahead and help ourselves learn.

My good friend Taryn Deroche is organizing some PBL/Inquiry learning sessions for July/August. It all started innocently enough with a Tweet on Friday night asking who was interested in learning more about PBL/Inquiry. It quickly morphed and she had few people wanting to learn more. The planning wheels are turning and meetings are being planned.

I am starting a summer book club. I am not sure how many people will join or what we will be reading. All I know is that we will be learning and sharing a love reading and learning together! Location won’t be too much of a hinderance as we plan on meeting using Google Hangouts.

Why wait for Pd to come to us? Although there may be a few of us, I am sure the learning will be incredible and stick with us for a long time to come. If you are interested in joining us just let me or Taryn know and we’ll sign up! It should be a summer of great learning and sharing!