Wednesday, 29 February 2012

OCT Blog

I have just finished an article in the OCT Professional Speaking magazine entitled "Using Social Media in the Classroom" and have lots to say!  I often find that many teachers shy away from using social media in the classroom because of the fear that something could go wrong, the material could end up in the wrong hands, copyright problems, and SOOOO much more.  I understand these fears as I had them only a few months again but not moving forward I believe that I am better prepared to handle the challenges of social media and teach my students to be critical digital learners.  I think that if I do not allow my students to explore with social media then I am holding back their education and chance to learn and explore with learners around the world.  I believe that so much more learning can happen beyond the four walls in my classroom and although I would like to think I "know" everything...I don't and in no way want my students to think that either...there is a whole world out there for my students to learn from and with and I cannot wait for them to explore! :) 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

My Classroom Blog Reflection

My Blog Reflection!

As a part of my introduction to technology course at Brock University I was required to complete a "classroom blog".  I was to act as a teacher and post different links for my students and information for parents.  In my last block placement my teacher did have a blog and I made sure to utilize it as students and parents used it as a communication tool and resource!  I saw first hand how amazing a blog can be and how it can take the learning in the classroom to new levels because students take what they have learned in class and link it to the outside world - the learning never ends!

I found the process of creating the blog to be really fun and a great learning opportunity!  This experience forced me to critically reflect on what I was posting on my blog and how to present my information.  As a result of creating this blog I have gained a new appreciation for online learning and the amazing tools that are out there!  No longer does homework need to be a paper and pencil task, homework can be fun and engaging activities!

ABSOLUTELY will have a classroom blog when I become a teacher and I will encourage my students to create their own blog - regardless of their age!  As I saw in my last placement, the blog allowed for collaborative learning amongst the students, constant communication between the parents, students, and teacher, and a resource centre for everyone!  The opportunities with a blog are endless and I could not imagine teaching in the 21st century without one!  I can imagine using this blog for many things such as: student feedback on learning, teacher reflections, group work, online assignments, questions and concerns, review sessions...the list is endless! 

I look forward to not only having my own classroom but my own REAL classroom blog!

Miss Clarke aka Jackie :) 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

"Be who you want your students to become" Jim Giles.

Today I attended a professional development day at Brock University entitled "Kids in the Hall".  I at first wondered what this day would be all about with a title like this - would we be learning about the students who are physically in the hall more than in the classroom?  Would we be talking about students who minds are out in the hall? I was unsure...but as I looked more into the day I realized that we would be exploring the issues of mental health and the disruptive kid (the session I choose to attend).  

The opening presentation was about the prevalence of children and youth with a mental illness and how this affects their lives, both in school and out.  Some of the statistics SHOCKED me!  The findings can be found on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health .  This made me realize that as a future educator I need to be better informed and educated on mental health and addiction so I can ensure I can be there for my students and have an understanding of the problems they are facing.  What really stuck out to me was that many of these behaviours begin early in the elementary years...we think are students are "innocent" and "unaware" but in fact I believe they are better educated on alcohol and drugs than we as educators are.  I plan to take this on as something I become more educated on because I believe it is the early years in students' lives that can make a difference down the road.

The second presentation that I sat in on was by Jim Giles from ETFO  and was entitled "The Disruptive Kid" in which Jim changed to be "Classroom Management".  Jim stated from the beginning of the session that it is imperative we understand that it is our classroom management skills that can often limit the disruptive behaviours and if we are proactive in our classroom management instead of begin reactive we will have better results as teachers.  I wondered how we were going to cover the HUGE topic of Classroom Management in just over 2 hours, but Jim is a master teacher and he did it - although there is lots more to learn, Jim did an amazing job!  Every time that Jim had us engaged in a discussion or activity he would also ask us afterwards, what classroom management skill did I just use?  Why would I do that?  What would that look like in the classroom?  This really brought to life the quote he always went back to,
"Be who you want your students to become"
If Jim wanted us to be better educators, he had to model for us what this looked like and he made sense in everything he said - if we want our students to love reading, we need to model this.  If we want our students to be happy to come to school, we need to model this.  If we ask our students to be quiet during a work period, we need to model this.  It seems like such a simple concept but it is really profound and can have a huge impact on our students and classroom environment.  This session was one that I walked away with more tricks in my bag than I ever thought was possible and I hope to be a part of Jim's future sessions as he is an inspiration and someone we could all learn from.  

Overall, Kids in the Hall was an amazing day and I would encourage all future teacher candidates to make sure to mark this PD down and attend - it will change your perspective on so much! 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Technology Showcase @ Brock

Teaching and Technology @ Brock!

On Friday, January 27 I attended the Brock Teaching and Technology Showcase at the Brock Hamilton Campus!  It was an amazing day as it brought together teacher candidates, teachers, administrators, and the educational community at large.  There were several options as to the sessions we could attend and I decided on: Play happens: Learning Happens: Using technology to capture learning in the early years classrooms, iPads in the elementary classroom, and assistive technologies.  All of the sessions I attended were amazing and very informative.  As a future teacher I cannot imagine a classroom without technology - even if it is a camera or a classroom computer, technology should be a part of our everyday lessons. Technology is at the heart of learning and is the future for our students - teachers are responsible to teach students to be digital learners.  

My Story - As a digital learner and future digital teacher it is embarrassing to say that only two years ago in my 3rd year class I was "afraid" to make a PowerPoint presentation in fear that technology would not work and I would be unable to cope with it....and now I am on Twitter, I blog, I participate in online PLN's, and so much more!  I feel that I have come so far but still have so much more to learn.  I have learned to embrace technology and just go with it - although the unknown is scary, it is worth it in the end!  In my last teaching placement I used a Smart Board everyday to facilitate my lessons and engage my learners.  What I learned the most during that placement is that the students often know more than me and are always interested in helping me out and showing me new things - students are amazing!  My days of being fearful of technology are long gone...and I am now moving into a new place where I embrace technology and welcome it into my classroom!
teaching and tech
Check out the Brock Showcase!

Friday, 20 January 2012


Day 2 of Tribes Training with my fabulous Cohort F friends :)

Yesterday was our second day of Tribes training with our incredible trainer Gail Philips.  The day was focused on discussing the “dip” that can happen in classrooms and strategies to overcoming the “dip”.  Gail began the session with a beautiful video about “what is right in the world” and it set the tone for the entire day – we should focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things.  We then had a community circle in which the question was “what is right in the world” and my peers shared incredible stories about how laughter is medicine, or a hug can change their day...and I reflected on how important it is to focus on life’s meaningful moments and to incorporate them into the classroom.  I too often think that the curriculum can overtake the teachable moments and shared learning opportunities that can happen between students and teachers.  As such, I believe as an educator that I will ensure that these moments and community circles are incorporated into my classroom because learning stretches far beyond the text in the curriculum and as teachers it is our job to help students be the best they can as a student but also as a person. 

The afternoon at our Tribes training session consisted of discussing “at risk” students and strategies to rebuild community and conquer the “dip” as a classroom teacher.  We were put into several different groups to discuss meaningful questions about education and community building and it was a valuable learning moment for me because not only was I able to share my ideas but I also heard the ideas of many other talented teachers.  Gail then announced that we would be moving into our Tribes – which she built using information about us (learning skills and styles) and information that we provided to her (who we would like to see in our Tribes).  Our first activity as a Tribe was to develop a name and a dance/song to represent us – our group chose to be the “happy hookers” because we are hooking kids into education since 2012!  It was inspired by the fact that we are always all happy and we want to “hook” kids into education and to love learning!  Our second task was to take a squiggly line that Gail had given to us and make it into a picture!  The challenge was that each of us had to contribute equally and this was done by giving us each a different coloured marker – needed to see equally amounts of colour on the picture.  This let our imagination run wild and is something I could see being used in a Kindergarten classroom all the way up to Grade 12 – it was fantastic!

The closing activity that Gail had us do was to make talking sticks – an idea inspired by a Native Elder that shared this with Gail at a Tribes day that she attended.  We were all given sticks and the opportunity to choose any colour of yarn, string, beads, and ribbon to make our talking sticks – they turned out beautifully!  It was a wonderful process to go through because each talking stick shared a story.  Our closing activity was to come up one by one and help create a star using our talking sticks but before we could put them down we had to share where our peaceful place was and what our peaceful song was.  This was a magical time together and really brought us together as a community.


Tribes is who I am as a teacher and a person – I believe in it and I live what Tribes stands for.  I could not imagine having a classroom without Tribes because I believe the learning environment would suffer without a sense of community and belonging.  Thank you Gail for taking us on this wonderful adventure with Tribes and to Cohort F for embarking on this journey with me J. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

#ntchat - collaboration at its finest!

#ntchat - say what?! 

This is a hash tag (#) used on twitter that stands for new teacher chat and is an ongoing discussion that helps to promote collaboration and discussion amongst educators with the goal of assisting new teachers.  I was at first hesitant to join in because I worried about my lack of experience, even though it says "new teacher", and insight that I could offer to the chat.  My fears were quickly dispelled when I began to follow the chat because I found connections and topics that I could join in on.  I only spent 30 minutes in the conversation but gained some amazing new twitter friends and fabulous teaching ideas - I can only imagine what I will get out of the weekly sessions!  I choose to join the #ntchat discussion because my professor, Zoe Branigan-Pipe, suggested that we, as future educators, join a global community and get connnected world wide. The main topic was about classroom management and I ended up in a great discussion about the use of timers in a classroom and the amazing results it has for students and teachers!  I look forward to future #ntchats and encourage all educators to give new tech things a try - we always tell our students to take a leap of faith, so take one with me!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Forget pencils, iPhones are the new way to write essays!

The title of this post says it all - pencils are old news, iPhones are in!  I love technology and its influence on education but never thought I would listen to my brother “write” his essay by talking to his phone and having it appear on his iPad.  I thought I was “with-it” and was on my way to keeping up with technology, especially in education...but apparently not.  My discovery of this amazing technological advancement happened last night.  I was working away on my language arts author unit study and all of a sudden I could hear my brother saying “this paper will discuss...the studies did not...” and I thought to myself, WHO IS HE TALKING TO?!  I walked into his bedroom and I see him with his feet up on his desk, relaxed in his chair, and talking to his iPhone with words appearing on his iPad.  I questioned what in the world he was doing...and to my surprise he said “I am writing my essay”.

Since when is writing talking to your iPhone?

I continued to watch him “write” his paper and within 20 minutes his paper was done and he was editing his paper on his iPad – AMAZING!   I was in awe of his technological knowledge and sheer brilliance to use his time effectively.  Instead of sitting and typing up his essay, which could have taken him a few hours, he decided to spend more time editing and adding to it and less time typing – so smart! 

I see SO many great ways that this could be used in the classroom.  There are many students, including myself as a student, who would benefit from writing our essays and other responses through “talking”.  I can only imagine the benefits this could provide for students in regards to self-esteem, feelings about language arts, and their abilities to communicate their ideas.  I understand that the skill of writing is important but with our world becoming so technologically advanced I believe this skill and opportunity should be available to our students.  Then, we should let them make the decision about the ways in which they will communicate their ideas – students should have a decision in their education.    

So next time I hear “big words” coming from my brother’s room I will not get as freaked out and instead appreciate the technological tools he has to learn with!