Monday, October 26, 2015

Resources To Start Off Your Week 83

     Another weekend has passed and another week has begun! This past Friday saw our province's teachers participating in multiple professional development sessions through #MTSPDDAY. As such, Twitter was a buzz with all sorts of new resources and ideas! At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page).

1 ) Stoodle
- Virtual corkboard tool (similar idea to Padlet/Wallwisher)
- Allows the creator to share their board through a link and users can add text and images to create a collaborative piece of work
- Great for brainstorming or exit ticket activities!

stoodle, virtual corkboard, collaborative board tool

2 ) Top Educational YouTube Videos
- A list of 197 YouTube videos that can be used in the classroom.
- Organized by subject area and includes general education, math, science, english, engineering, and much more!
- Make sure you scroll down to read the comments as well because more suggestions are included there from other readers.

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3 ) Healthline Body Maps
- Illustrates different parts of the body with 3D interactive simulations.
- Includes zoom features to see parts of the body in more detail, male and female representations, written summaries, and real-life and simulated videos.
- Can easily be shown on an interactive whiteboard for easy visualizations 
- Perfect for any unit on the human body (K-12) and can easily be adapted to create higher-level labs for biology classes

Enjoy your week!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Resources to Start Off Your Week 82

     At the start of each week I post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page).

1 ) Top 10 TED Talks on Digital Lives for Teachers
- There are so many different aspects to consider when it comes to teachers and online use, especially social media. This video list covers everything from online filters and Twitter use to gender differences and cognitive surplus.
- These videos are an awesome way to begin discussions about the digital world and encourage reflection about your own online use.
- List compiled by Med at Educational Technology & Mobile Learning

2 ) Five Facts vs. Myths About Copyright Infringement 
- Clear and engaging infographic listing and explaining five common myths related to online copyright infringement.
- This would be a great poster for the classroom or computer lab!

3 ) Whats My Score: Money 101 Crash Course
- FREE PowerPoint, student workbook, and teacher's guide for a course to prepare students to work with money.
- Includes topics such as balancing a cheque book, creating a budget, using credit, etc
- This link takes you to their free materials page, scroll down approximately 50% of the page to find this resource (in red)

Enjoy your week!

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is: 
     Check out our previous weekly challenges as well:
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 
- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 13th

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Resources To Start Off Your Week 81

     Today I am bringing back one of my favourite types of posts... one that I haven't participated in since this time TWO years ago; Resources To Start Off Your Week! Who doesn't love expanding their list of educational resources?? I know that as soon as I see a list of resources online my mind immediately starts turning on how I can incorporate and use these new and exciting ideas! At the start of each week I will post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page (when applicable, resources will also be added in to my Manitoba resources page).

     Before we begin, yes, I realize that it is Tuesday already but with Monday being the Thanksgiving holiday I am going to count Tuesday as the beginning of the week this time. So, without further ado, here is the 81st addition of Resources To Start Off Your Week!

1 ) Histography
- An amazingly comprehensive timeline tool that chronologically arranges historical Wikipedia articles for easy viewing and comparison. 
- The timeline is represented by a series of dots, where each dot leads to a pop-up box that allows the user to access the applicable Wikipedia article about the event, a video, and related events.
- Users can simplify the timeline by categories such as Literature, Politics, Wars, Women Rights, Inventions, etc.

2 ) List of Interactive Periodic Table of Elements
- Shannon, from Technology Rocks. Seriously, has curated an awesome list of different interactive Periodic Tables.
- Right now, her list includes 25 different periodic tables which leaves you with plenty of options to engage any of your students and build fun, interactive options.
- These resources include videos, games, comics, and much more!

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Make sure to check out more of Shannon's posts as she offers a lot of insight into some pretty neat ed tech tools!

3 ) Digital Passport
- A fun, engaging program designed to educate students on Digital Literacy & Citizenship
- Appropriate for approximately Grades 3-5
- Students learn about creating secure passwords, safe texting habits, creating an online identity, copyright regulations, and more!
- Students can work through mission modules and games and a detailed report can be made available for educators who register (for FREE!)
- Available as a website or app.

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

#TRSD32 is on Twitter!

     On Monday, September 28th, our division brought in George Couros  for our fall-time PD. George is an influential educator, speaker, consultant, blogger, tweeter, overall awesome guy and I am SO disappointed that I missed an opportunity to hear him speak to our teachers. In theory, I probably could have attended with Jaxson if I wanted to, but we also had an out-of-town doctor's appointment on that day as well so it was not meant to be.

     One of the activities that George had our teacher's participate in was joining Twitter! Yay! As someone who has been on Twitter for a little over three years, I know how amazing Twitter can be in regards to building my PLN and improving my teaching practice. (I've previously written about how I use Twitter lists and Twitter chats). While I have been trying to "convert" many of my colleagues over to Twitter, I haven't had a lot of success... so its a good thing that someone like George has a lot more pull than I do!

     Even though I wasn't there in person, I was able to connect via Twitter, and started welcoming teachers from all over our division! I've been really pushing our teachers to use the hashtag #TRSD32 when they tweet about our division and have been building a list of colleagues to make it easier to connect with each other. With the exception of one or two members, the members on this list are new to Twitter and would really benefit from a follow and tweet of support!

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You can access the TRSD32 Twitter list here.
turtle river school division, turtle river school division twitter account, turtle river school division staff on twitter
You can access the #TRSD32 hashtag feed here.
     Here's hoping that my colleagues embrace their new Twitter adventure and find it beneficial for building their PLNs!

Friday, October 02, 2015

October Currently

     October is here and it is my favourite month of the year! This month includes my birthday, Thanksgiving, a long weekend for Manitoba teachers, Halloween, fall colours, football season, cool temperatures, and just overall awesomeness! Last month I missed the Currently post as I was at the hospital welcoming my first son, Jaxson :) One month in, however, I am beginning to get a sense of routine and am back at it! I must admit, my Currently post is somewhat bland and doesn't have a lot to share but it is all I have at the moment as I get used to my new life as a mom. 

     If you haven't encountered a "Currently" post before, it is just a fun post at the beginning of each month that serves as a way to share what is Currently going on in your life! You can link up and share your own "Currently" post by visiting the wonderful Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Our Curriculum Situation in 150 Words

     On Saturday I shared my Curriculum Situation that I created for my Introduction to Curriculum class that I am currently enrolled in. While the entry that I created was specific for me, the assignment itself was collaborative and we were tasked with merging our situation with those of two other students in order to create one complete Curriculum Situation that we felt accurately represented us as a group.

     To complete this task we each created our own situations, like the one I shared, and then went through to determine where our similarities and differences laid. Once that was organized, we complied our ideas together to create one Curriculum Situation that most closely represented us as a group. Luckily for us we are all from relatively similar communities and teach relatively similar ages/subjects (for the most part).

 With that being said, our Curriculum Situation is as follows:

Our curriculum situation is working in small, rural communities in the Parkland region of Manitoba; teaching middle and high school courses. These communities are influenced by their cultural make-up, which includes both Aboriginal and European heritages. Our students come from socio-economic situations that range from poverty to upper-middle class. On average there are 25 or fewer students in our classrooms. Our students have a variety of learning needs and function at a variety of grade levels. There are students who have Individualized Education Plans, who require significant adaptations, and those we provide complete curriculum via distance courses to. We provide both experiential and inquiry-based learning opportunities that see "teacher as mentor". We strongly believe in the incorporation of technology, to expand learning beyond the classroom walls, open up opportunities that aren't possible with traditional tools, and allow students to curate and create.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes... Does The Adolescent Brain Allow That?

     My favourite subject has always been history. As a child I loved going to museums, seeing artifacts from cultures and situations long past, watching documentaries, and reading books that included everything from Little House on the Prairie to Clan of the Cave Bear. When I reached post-secondary I majored in History and completed a double-minor in Geography and Geology so that I could understand as much as possible about a situation:
- What happened? When did it happen? Why did it happen? (History)
- Where did it happen? What was there then? What is there now? (Geography)
- Why did that area look like that? How did the Earth influence what was happening? (Geology)
It should come as no surprise that history (and in the broader curriculum sense: social studies) is my favourite content-area to teach. While I was initially hired on as a science and math teacher, a future move into this area was discussed. With that being said, I am very happy to know that I will be returning from Mat leave to a position that includes at least:
- Grade 11 Canadian History
- Grade 10 Geography
- Grade 8 Social Studies

     One aspect of this content-area that is very important to me is the ability for my students to take into account that one situation can be interpreted very differently by different groups of people based on their perspective at any given time. In fact, this is something that I include in my personal philosophy of education:

This is something that students are able to grasp with varying levels of success. I find that sometimes students are able to only identify facts about specific cultural groups that were involved (ex: Tecumseh was a First Nations leader during the War of 1812) while sometimes they are able to more accurately critique what the situation would have been like for that cultural group (ex: Tecumseh chose to side with the British due to the fact that American settlers had treated their allies poorly in the past and was concerned that they would take over his ancestral land). More often than not, however, my students fit into the earlier category rather than the later.

     I recently came across a TED talk by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore that shed some light on why my students sometimes have difficulty looking at other people's perspective. She argues that the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for things like decision making, social interactions, understanding others, etc develops the most during adolescence. She has completed several studies that analyze behavioural tasks at different ages and has found that there is a significant improvement in taking into account another person's perspective in order to guide behaviour between the period of later adolescence and adulthood. Essentially, the adolscent brain is simply not ready to effectively gauge another person's perspective until they are already out of high school and into early adulthood. The video itself is about 14 minutes in length and I definitely found it worth watching; it provided some insight about my students' development that will help me plan my lessons more appropriately in the future.