Archive of ‘Conferences’ category

Changing for the better

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Photo Credit by Andrew Forgrave

This is not me. Never would I have the nerve, know how or confidence to stand up in front of amazing, long time educators and speak.

Well, I guess I have changed. This is me. I honestly cannot believe it. I was the shy kid in school who always stayed out of people’s way, never wanted attention in front of a crowd, never wanting to cause a ruckus. I’ve grown and I’ve found myself. Yes, I know that sounds corny but I truly feel like I have finally found myself and my role in education. I feel excited, passionate, and inspired about education. Yes, I find it frustrating sometimes but I love that aspect of collaboration, technology, working together and supporting each other that comes from the education field.

Look at me. I’m the prime example for someone who never wanted to cause trouble, never wanted to be heard, to someone standing in front of an audience speaking. We can change and grow. All you have to do is put yourself out there. Support each other.


Structured Teaching for Autism

I attended a professional development workshop on Structured Teaching for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Here are my notes.

Structured Teaching Part 1-November 27, 2014

  • approach created in the 1960’s by TEACCH
  • considered student learnings environments, schedules, work systems, and visual structure.
  • important to focus on meaningfulness  of situation and activities than reinforcement
  • increase independence

Structure teaching addresses:

  • being engaged
  • initiating tasks
  • processing information verbally
  • understanding when something is done

All student benefit but those without below listed items really do:

  • theory of mind (trouble with the ability to recognize others perceptive/feelings)
  • weak central coherence (trouble with the ability to draw to info and make connections)
  • display poor executive function (trouble with the ability to link past life lessons to present and making good decisions)

Executive Functioning Strategies for teachers to use:

  • task sequence (winter dressing)
  • Activity bins (one per bin)
  • First, then
  • IMG_5191
  • visual schedule
  • highlight what needs to be cut
  • choice boards
  • expected/unexpected behaviours
  • social stories
  • visual timers

Components of Structured Teaching

  1. Physical Environment
  2. Daily Schedules
  3. Work Systems
  4. Visual Structures

Physical Environment:

  • space visually distracting
  • quiet areas
  • light options
  • safety options(can safely walk to the carpet)
  • proximity to adult/peer support
  • good to identify areas and have well defined areas (section off areas)

Structured Teaching Part 2 – December 4th, 2014

Goal of Structures Teaching = Independence

Need to set up Picture cues for morning schedule/end of day schedule

  • dressing pictures
  • Take pics of all parts (Boots, hang up clothes, Clothes pin, agenda, Check circle board, read, or calendar, reading.
  • agendas, cleaning, chairs, pencil box with students pics,
  • get undressed, eat, clean up your desk (over and under), Pack your lunch box, put it in your bag
  • put schedule at student level

Visual supports support:

  • transitions
  • organization
  • independence
  • self regulation
  • behaviour
  • communication needs
  • routine establishment
  • reduce anxiety
  • understanding transitions
  • increasing flexibility

Daily Schedule

  • need a class schedule and one that they can manipulate
  • turn the card around, move it around


Work System:

  • point is to develop independence
  • has to have activities that they have already mastered



Questions to ask while setting it up:

  1. What am I supposed to do?
  2. How much do I have to do?
  3. How do I know when I’m done
  4. What comes next?

Prompt (stand behind student) (we want to fade all prompts)

  1. material #1
  2. Gesture non verbal prompt
  3. Verbal prompt
  4. physical prompt

-Work system should be focused on IEP goals

Structured Teaching Part 3 – December 11th, 2014

Examples of visual structure in the classroom

  • first/then boards
  • task cards
  • anchor charts
  • graphic organizers
  • task sequencing(dress/undressing)
  • reinforcement

Great Websites/Resources:

Google and Read and Write

Learning about Accountable Talk

Accountable Talk PD – November 10th, 2014

Our School’s Mission Statement for our SLP:
If we engage students in accountable talk and model the strategies then students will have better understanding.

What do we know about accountable talk?

  • oral communication
  • describes
  • ownership/accountable for learning
  • students talking to each other in class
  • explains and can answer questions
  • focusing on big ideas
  • script-I agree with ____ because___
  • I disagree with ____ because____

What do we wonder about accountable talk?

  • would love a guide to know how to implement it in our classrooms
  • a concrete definition to what accountable talk is
  • what is the past term for accountable talk

Lucy West Video on Accountable Talk:

  • need to learn how to listen to the teacher and other students
  • need to encourage students sharing with other students
  • need to repeat over and over again
  • need to SLOW DOWN in our teaching and focus on what students heard
  • always ask further questions when students answer questions
  • What does Revoice mean? Means rewording what a student said
  • ”student talking to learn”

Accountable Talk is….:

  • less teacher talk, more students explaining and teaching each other
  • students being respectful with a rich discussion
  • visible thinking
  • teacher is a guide to allow students to come to their own conclusions
  • articulation of students thinking
  • need to create a safe classroom so students feel safe to fail/make mistakes

Lucy West video-Barriers to Accountable Talk:

  • about the task

Why is Accountable Talk important:

  • need to clearly, concisely make your self be understood
  • clarifying thinking
  • discovery learning
  • drawing conclusions
  • inquiry learning
  • we want to communicate with others, we need to teach them to talk with a purpose

How can we make Accountable Talk work in our Classroom?
Need to create a safe classroom for accountable talk to happen

  • explicitly teach it and model it
  • mixed ability groupings
  • use talking stick/object so students can only talk when they have the object
  • visual reminder

Teacher Prompts:

  • I’ll restate/revoice what you just said. Listen to make sure I got it right.
  • ”How do you know it’s true?”
  • ”How are these things similar/different?”
  • “Can you repeat what he just said in your own words?”
  • “Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “Ok. Let me see if I understand.”

Student Prompts:

  • “How are they similar/different?”
  • “What I heard is….”
  • “So what you’re saying is…”
  • “I do think this because…”

Language Stems:

Accountable Talk Toolkit:

Assessment with Sandra Herbst

Here are my very rough notes from a professional development day I spent with Sandra Herbst on November 19th, 2014

Aurasma is a great app to record videos and just scan a worksheet or picture and it will bring up a video of the student talking about

-Create Success Criteria for a period of time. Don’t waist your time doing to every couple weeks.

-We need to share with parents what we see in class-are they using manipulatives, using the vocabulary, and can verify what they are saying.

-success criteria needs to focus on how to use manipulatives properly, using vocabulary properly (will change), and verify/check their work

-check if they have their capitals and period

-check if addition is right

-focus on 4 students per day to mark if they are using manipulative, vocabulary, verify

-Our purpose is for students…

  • -to picture quality
  • -to use language of assessment
  • -to self monitor towards success

Growing Success talks about:


-Co-constructed success criteria

-triangulation evidence

-self and peer assessment


-communicating learning to others

-Have on your walls samples of work

-have them in a continuum from left to right or right to left switching them so students don’t realize that they are doing badly or good.

-make sure you have one that everyone in the class can do and have one that everyone in the class cannot do yet.

-no marks or grade labelled on it


Assessment: qualify, language,

Evaluation: assign, judgement


-Having a writing continuum and get students to compare their work to another.

-models, thinking, critical thinking, self assess,

-Don’t use a rubric-kids know where the sweet spot is where we can get teachers and parents off his back.

Co-Constructing Criteria with students

-Show samples of work and sort them into groups that they think go together

-Co-Criteria with student

-Sort the criteria into sections and choose a colour to match the heading

-get the students to highlight with that particular criteria heading in their work



Criteria Details
I read and understand the problem
I chose a strategy that makes sense to solve it
I can explain how I solved it it to others
I can have a connection outside of the math class


-Put success Criteria on Arrows. Get students to glue the success criteria arrows onto their work where they have shown that specific Success Criteria.


End of the day idea:

Create a list of words you learned in science class and then email parents the words.




Continuum for many:

English Writing Continuum:


Starting the Google Trainer Process

This past summer I started my journey of becoming a Google Educator. I had a hard time with the exams, just because I struggle with exams in general. To see my advice on how to pass you Google Educator exams, click the link.

I met James Peterson at the 2013 Edcamp Ottawa. We got along great right away and I asked him to help me with my Google sites. I chatted online with him many times through Canadian Edchat (@cdnedchat) and when I attended GAFE Ottawa Summit I got the chance to meet his friend Chris Webb (@Crippit). These guys together are so fun, so geeky (I mean that in the best way), and so insanely smart.

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A picture of us and the amazing Emily Fitzpatrick at the GAFE Ottawa Summit.

At the GAFE Ottawa Summit, I decided to follow them around all day trying to learn as much as I could from them. After the GAFE Ottawa Summit they decided to come to Edcamp Ottawa 2014 and again made such an impact on everyone’s learning around them. They even encouraged me to apply for a Google Trainer position.

B17kqu2CQAIzKCnThe boys and I at Edcamp Ottawa.

After Edcamp, I went home encouraged to apply to become a Google Educator. As I started my application I realized that I never have done any real Google training. I have helped teachers problem solve or quickly show them neat tricks for google but never a real training session.

I decided that my goal for this year would be to do some trainings in my school and help teachers use GAFE better professionally and with their students. I created a Google Form and am currently collecting information about when and what they want to learn about. I’m excited for this next step and I’m hoping to apply to become a Google Trainer in the next application process.

Drama in the Primary Classroom

Drama in the Primary Classroom-October 8th, 2014
Instructors: Susanna Donato and Jacquie Pinard

-for drama and dance lessons

Classroom Management:
-have a noise meter for the class to see and understand
-secret during group sessions so others don’t know what they are doing
-audience behaviour
-get students to perform in groups or pairs

-Goal is not to smile
-someone walks around trying to make someone smile
-if they smile, the student walks around helping getting them to not smile too
-can’t cover their mouth

Activity- noise freeze
-when the teacher makes a noise, you choose a position and freeze and hold it

Activity-Fabrics or objects
-give each student a piece of fabric or objects
-get them to create a story about the fabric or objects

Play in a bag
-place a bunch of of items in a bag, get them to make a story/ play about all the objects

Activity: Toilet Paper costume
-provide the students with clothespins, masking tape, and toilet paper
-make a costume with a theme


Our theme was Superheroes: My costume is Captain Underpants
Activity: Photocopy one page of a story and student groups act out one page and then the whole class acts out the whole story one page at a time
-get students to act out one page of a story
-use props

Activity: Tableau
-like a picture, frozen bodies to make a picture
-give them something to act out and other students have to guess

Activity: Tableau with paintings
-look at picture/painting and students act out before or after the scene
-student have to guess it is before or after

Activity: Miming
-students need to think slow, exaggerated, big gesture, create a few mannerisms for your character
-examples: Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Marceau, Mr Bean
-have an invisible ball of clay and pass it along to the next person to create something

Activity: Mining certain characters
-give them a hand out with a characters on it, get them to act it out and get the others to guess

Activity: act a team to show a machine
-all team members have to be involved and part of the machine

Activity: using fabric as props
-make a tableau using a fabric as a part of a set

Activity: Give a story about an object
-come up a memorable story about that object, share hwy it is important to you

Activity: Too Much Noise ( a book)
-give the students an animal they are in charge of making that particular animal sound

Activity: Soundscape
-get one group to sit in a circle facing in, closed eyes,
-the other team walks around creating sounds that would be a specific place ie: Wonderland, Scuba Divers

Activity: Puppets
-Create or use pre-made puppets
-need to name their puppet, make a voice that fits their puppet, and mannerisms

Elements of Drama:
Time and PLace
Focus and Emphasis

Classroom Set Up Ideas:
-clip on lights on shelves for spot lighting
-tape off the ‘stage’ foreground, middle ground, background so the students know where to stand.

-remind them to face the audience
-better to video tape the play to assess each child

Amy Bowker, Teacher

Blogging as a Teaching Portfolio

I was so lucky to be able to attend the first Bilingual and the biggest ever GAFE Summit in Ottawa this past weekend. I got to hear the incredible George Couros deliver an emotional keynote and see him present a session about blogging as a teaching portfolio.


He talked about having a blog as a teacher to show your learning that happens day to day and to showcase your talents. In order to blog, you need to really think what you are writing about, interact with it and therefore thoroughly understand the subject. A blog as a teacher is a great way to ask questions, brainstorm, and try out new ideas.

The new trend in education is to get students to blog about their learning. I’m trying it out this year for the 1st time with my first and second graders. In order for us to get students to blog, you need to learn to do it yourself. You are their role model and you can’t ask them to do something that you aren’t willing to try out yourself. Learning to write is really important but there are so many other ways for students to demonstrate their learning. They can make videos, take pictures, or make podcasts. All of these are ways to document their learning and are so powerful when the student sees how they have improved.

Tips for Blogging as a Teaching Portfolio:

  • Images are more powerful that words
  • Tag your posts using your Standards of Practice
  • Include your name in the post or tag it to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Gather kind tweets, emails, notes… for your blog

Amy Bowker, Teacher

Gafe Summit Ottawa

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Well the GAFE Summit has come and gone. What an amazing 2 days of learning and connecting. I absolutely loved meeting people I follow on twitter face to face and connecting more with educators I admire and respect.

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Me, Crystal Lake (@clake04), Sue Scott (@inspire_peace72)

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James Petersen (@jpetersen02), Emily Fitzpatrick (@ugdsb_missfitz), Chris Webb (@Crippit), Shauna Pollock (@misspollock), Tiiu Tsao (@tiiut), and me

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me, James Petersen (@jpetersen02),  Chris Webb (@Crippit), and Emily Fitzpatrick (@ugdsb_missfitz)

I learned so much for the sessions and from others and I’m so excited that there will be another GAFE Summit next year on October 17th and 18th 2015. Make sure you save the date.

Most details posts to come after I take a nap.

GAFE Summit Plans

This weekend GAFE Summit (Google apps for Education) and I’m so excited. I’ve pre-planned all the presentations I want to go to.

Option 1 Option 2
Session 1
10:00am – 11:00am
Examine the Power of Google Apps throughout the Inquiry Process with @jsm2272 Rm B2380 Rethinking Assessment with Google Apps with @bioloj Rm G3150
Session 2
11:30am – 12:30pm
Intro to Google Earth: Connect your Classroom to the World with @benjaminfriesen Rm E1110 You Don’t Know YouTube with Dave Childers Rm D1030.02
Session 3
1:00pm – 2:00pm
For, As, Of Learning: Using Google Apps to Integrate Assessment Practices with @jsm2272 Rm D3080 Integrating D2L Brightspace and Google Apps with @Glynn_A Rm D3050
Session 4
2:30pm – 3:30pm
Certifiably Google with @lisegaluga Rm E1110 Creating Even More with Google Drive! with @kylepace Rm G3130
Demo Slam
4:00pm – 4:45pm
Session 5
10:00am – 11:00am
Visual Learning, Teaching, and Assessment with Chrome and Drive with Chris Moore Rm G3130 How to create “Choose your own adventure” stories using GAFE with @sylviaduckworth Rm B2230
Session 6
11:30am – 12:30pm
Fasten Your Seatbelts! with Michelle Armstrong Rm E1110 Building Better Digital Citizens with Dave Childers Rm B2380
Session 7
1:00pm – 2:00pm
Automating Assessment in the Classroom with @chriswebb Rm G3160 Collecting Evidence of Learning with The Google Drive App with Marcie Martel Rm D3070
Session 8
2:30pm – 3:30pm
Using Add-Ons and Scripts to get more out of GAFE with @crippit Rm G3160 Creating a Connected Classroom with @mrsmartel2 Rm G3140
Demo Slam
4:00pm – 4:45pm

Are we going to any of the same ones? Let me know!

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