Sunshine Blog

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 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… www.theliteracyshed.com. 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.

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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?

Thoughts from #Byte2013

On Friday I had the privilege of attending the Byte 2013 conference in Neepawa. I originally was not going to attend but the Tuesday before I attended the MANACE TIN and after I had met a few Tweeps from Twitter I realized that it would be a good idea to go and see what it was all about. I was a bit apprehensive at first  but because it was such last-minute decision I didn’t have anyone to go with. Luckily I knew that there would be a few people from my Twitter PLN in attendance in the conference so I wouldn’t really be ‘alone’. As I sat down  in the gym full of attendees I had a moment of “Oh dear what did I get myself into…” but luckily with a few Tweets by my first session I met @MissL and we were off to a running start!

Here are my big take aways from the conference:

The first session I attended was “Global Education – Flatten your Classroom” by Eva Brown, Kate Hallett and Jennifer Kasprick. This session was great and introduced me to a few tools and sites that I haven’t used before. The fist was MentorMob which is a site where teachers can create playlists from the internet.

The second resource I was introduced to was the Flat Classroom projects website. This site has a wonderful number of projects that can help you make your global connections in your classroom through a number of different projects. There are projects designed for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and is well worth a look.

My second session of the day was “They All Have Computers… Now What? Teaching in a BYOD School” by Roy Norris. I chose this session because we are currently reviewing our technology policy at the school I teach at. The debate is centering on what devices students can bring to school (and whether they should be able to) and what they should be used for. It is always interesting for me to see how averse people are to students bringing their devices to school but that is a post for another time.

Roy’s presentation focused on his schools journey into BYOD and what they learned through the process. One of the things Roy said that if you are considering going BYOD take a year of PD with your staff to learn about BYOD and how to implement it before jumping into the fire. The other big take away for me was when Roy was asked about equity of devices and what happens when you have students who bring different quality of devices with different programs on them into the classroom. His response was simply it is not about the device or the program on the device but rather it is all about what the students are doing on the device. Does it really matter if a student is reading a book on a computer in PDF file or on Kindle or in a physical book? What really matters is that everyone is on the same page reading the same material. The same goes for writing and collaborating. It doesn’t matter if they are writing in a Word document, a Google doc or in the body of an email what matters is that they are doing their assignment.

Another point that Roy made in response to a question about distraction caused by the devices made me think about the current BYOD debate at my school. Many of the objections about students bringing in iPods or computers centers around them being distracted in class. A member of the audience asked what he did about students who weren’t focused 100% of the time because they are accessing other sites on their devices. His response was that students will zone in and zone out but as long as they get the work done it isn’t an issue. I would liken the distraction to doodling in the classroom or daydreaming it is just happening in a different medium. During all the talks I was on my laptop checking out links and writing notes from the presentation and occasionally would Tweet or check out something unrelated. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t focused but rather was that ‘zoning in, zoning out phenomenon”.

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A history lesson for the mini Clones and the Mini-Stormtrooper

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

The third session I attended was “Connecting, Reflecting and Creating: Why We Blog” By Kirsten Landen  (Miss L) and Tyler Letkeman. Kirsten and Tyler ar both preservice teachers at Brandon University and regularly blog and Tweet. I regularly connect with Kirsten on Twitter to share ideas and thoughts. It has been nice to have someone out there who is also a new teacher blogging and Tweeting – Helps me not feel so alone! I particularly like their session as they walked through the different reasons why they blog. It was nice to see their motivations and how similarly they lined up with my own. Perhaps the biggest take away for any new blogger from their session would be to find a focus and to go for it!  Another thing that really struck me was Tyler’s focus on creation when blogging. This struck me as it is the highest level Blooms Digital Taxonomy and is something that I should be doing more on my blog.

The last and final session I attended was “Building your PLN/PLC” by Phil Taylor. As anyone knows I am a bit of a Twitter addict and a big advocate for it as the  best free PD out there for teachers. Phils session introduced me to two new sites that I haven’t used before. The first is News.me which aggregates all the Tweets from you twitter stream and sends you an email with the Top 5 Tweets of the day. This is especially useful for people who often feel overwhelmed by their Twitter stream and need a nice easy way to get the best content out of the constant flow of Tweets. The second site is Rebel Mouse which is a site that aggregates all of your social feeds into one beautiful page.

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Pinky & The Brain photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

My head has been spinning from all the things I learned at the conference and all the connections I made on Friday. The coolest moments were when I finally got to meet some people I follow on Twitter. Making those face to face connections really makes you realize that Twitter is a human network and that you really are sharing with colleagues around the province and world. I look forward to learning from my PLN and attending more conferences in the future!

Things to look out for:

EdCamp is coming to Winnipeg June 1st http://edcampwpg.org/. Come get involved or attend and learn with others!

Maple 4 Teachers is a networking tool for teachers coming out of the Manitoba Department of Education. It is currently in Beta but as it rolls out it should be another fantastic resource for educators around our province  to use.

First Month of Teaching Reflection

Our main meeting area with our Reading table. Books students want to share are placed on the table and shared with the class!

Ahhh September has come and gone and now we’re almost exactly a month into the school year! I feel like I always have a 100 things to do but I know we are making progress. The start of the school year has been great! I must say that I have been blessed with the most wonderful group of students. They are patient, kind and eager to learn, all good qualities for a group of students and a new teacher.

During the past month we have:

– Built a great community of learners. We meet every morning to share our news from our lives. We continue chatting throughout the day sharing our thoughts and learning.

– We have begun our blogging journey on our classroom kidblog account. The quality of posts will continue to improve as the students writing and comfort level improves. I cannot say enough how writing for an audience and getting feedback is working to motivate my students. I am also trying to practice what I preach and continue blogging. (They will be seeing this post tomorrow morning!)

– We have started Tweeting out our learning and questions to connect with other students across the globe. (@rvsgr4)

Our “Tweet Wall”. Students send out a Tweet on their sticky. We then type them out and send them out!

– Students have documented their learning by writing and taking pictures of their work. They express themselves in a number of ways throughout the day.

– Our Thinking Books have been a huge hit!

A doodle in a students Thinking Book while listening to “The One and Only Ivan”.

– We have Skyped with a class in Ontario to learn about their neck of the woods in Canada.

– We have started participating in the Global Read a loud project. We are currently reading “The One and Only Ivan”. A powerful story about friendship, art and animal rights.  We are Skyping on a weekly basis with a classroom in Edina, Minn, USA to discuss the book!

– We are constantly reading in our classroom and sharing what we are reading with our classmates. (Every child has volunteered to read a book out loud to the class).

– We went on our first field trip to Kids at Play in Altona! What a blast!

– We even had our first SNOW DAY!

– We have painted and created in a number of different mediums.

Artwork inspired by “The Dot” By Peter Reynolds

– We started #Youmatter Fridays where we acknowledge and thank important people in our lives. Tomorrow we are doing a lesson on the importance of treating others with kindness and care.

– We started our MATH station rotations. Yes, my students actually cheered when I told I was going to try out MATH stations. So far.. so good!

At the Hands on Challenge station students were challenged to build with base 10 blocks and add up all the units in their buildings.

Those are just a few of the things we have done this past month. I am sure I have forgotten a few things but I can say that it has been fantastic and I can’t wait to see where the next month of school takes us! Thinking of trying out parts of #WhatIWrite and  #NaNoWriMo.