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!