Archive of ‘Standards’ category

Instruction Learning Team formerly SIP

This year I’m trying to become more involved with my school since I’m a permanent employee now and see the process of decision making in the works. I joined my school’s Leadership team and Instruction Learning Team. Today was the first day of planning about learning for the Instructions Learning Team and I was really pleasantly surprised by the planning and process of it all.

We had a little instructional time about EQAO results, what they meant and how to dive into them but most of the time was spent with my school team. Before my involvement with the School Improvement Plan (what it was called before) I always just thought that we were told what area we need to improve on so we worked on it.

I love how the OCDSB gives us the chance to look at our own data, notice our schools needs and figure out what we think our focus needs to be on. I love the responsibility and trust in it.

Throughout the day we decided that our school should focus on math since our numbers have dropped and we also noticed how our ESL students and french leaners have difficulty with vocabulary. This is our focus that we decided in today (it may change): If students can effectively use learning vocabulary through accountable talk, they will develop a common understanding of concepts across the school.

We are going to break up into grade groups and make a list of vocabulary that we need to teach and that we think is important. We will be focusing on that vocabulary during our teaching and in the particular subject and expect the students to use it as well.

I’m really excited to part of the process and see how it all takes shape.


Setting our Classroom Up TOGETHER

I said on the 1st day of school that it is their classroom. Today I showed them. We created our classroom today. All the ideas were given and voted on by the students.

We first started with where we wanted to put the smartboard, then to desks. 

This is all the variations they came up for our desks.

Every student had a say and then we moved. It was loud, busy, and amazing. To see the before pics, check them out here. Here is the final outcome.

I really enjoyed this process. We had to problem solve through it which was really cool. I’m really proud of what they decided on.  What do you think?

This is going to be harder than I thought

Based on my summer reading ‘Passionate Learners’ by Pernille Ripp, I really want to give my students more choice.
I have been trying… I told them it is their classroom and to give suggestions about setting it up, classroom jobs, where they sit, where to hang their backpack, pencil sharpening, loud voices. All their suggestions aren’t really helpful. I know if takes time to build trust for brutal honesty but I’m not sure if they ‘know how to do school’ like Pernille talks about.

So far it really isn’t working. Today in Math, they were not listening and being silly. So I straight out asked ‘what is going on?’ They know that they are supposed to be sitting quietly and listening so they just told that back to me. I asked them ’ are you bored’ and an honest yes came out. I asked who was bored and most of my class raised their hand. A brutal honest truth which is exactly what I wanted.

Now what to do. I am going to talk about our ‘I can statements’ tomorrow and I’m going to let them decide how they are going to learn it. I am unsure of how this will go. I guess we will see.

What do your students want to learn about?

During the first week of school, I sat down with my students and asked them what they wanted to learn about. Together we made a list.

  • Becoming a Vet
  • Animals
  • Planes and Jets
  • Science
  • Volcanoes
  • Planets
  • Skylanders
  • Pokemon
  • Lego
  • Inside peoples Bodies

It was a shorter list than I thought it would be. Many kids just agreed with others about what they wanted to learn but maybe the honesty and trust isn’t there yet. I get it is a process.

Anyways, I spent part of my weekend on Ottawa Public Library reserving books that they are interested in. I currently have 129 books on hold. This means many trips to and from the library but it is SO worth it to have choice and my students excited about learning in my class. It is another way that I can show my students that they matter.

I’m hoping that as time goes on, the list of what they want to learn about gets bigger and bigger.

First week done and successful!

The first week of school is always a whirlwind. New students, students’ parents, colleagues and routines. It is hard to balance it all and all of the incoming paperwork. My week was crazy, tiring and joyful. 

I wouldn’t trade the craziness for anything. I am feeling grateful that I’m back in the classroom doing what I love to do, with amazing new colleagues and very excited students.

This is my first time teaching a Grade 1/2 split and so far, although I keep on getting more, I currently have 25 students. I have never been through a re-org before and not sure what and if it will happen. Time will tell but excited to figure out the puzzle of my classroom this weekend.

Here are some things that we did this week that I’m excited about:

Community Circle:
We started having a community circle every morning, An idea that I took from Cara Cahill who was awesome enough to share her day plans with me. So far we have talked about our favourite colour and activity and we also problem solved the problem of loud volume levels during group work.

We started Daily 5:
I’m excited about this since it will give our day some structure and give me some time to meet one on one with my students.

Go Noodle:
We created a class name and began our Go Noodle journey. My class loves it. Our class name is ‘Amazing Fun Canada Class.’

Time Capsule:
We created a time capsule including their name, age, favourite colour and a picture of themselves. We sealed the time capsule and will open it during the last week of school.

What they want to learn about:
We created a list today about what they want to learn about. It was a good, diverse list. Some of the topics they want to learn about are animals, science, planets, rules for soccer, basketball and hockey.


Classroom Set up and reflecting on my WITH philosophy

So this year I’m focusing on my WITH philosophy, essentially I’m doing everything with my students. But how do you set up a classroom without them when you want to do with them? I really struggled with this. I wanted my classroom to be inviting and comfortable for us to get to know each other and lunch time but I wanted it really unset up so we could set it up together.









Well, I guess I set it up anyways. I tried to do just the essentials and kept everything else movable or blank. The computer corner has to stay where it is due to the internet plugs but everything else is game to be moved.

From the first day, I’m going to let my students know that we are going to set up the room how they want it/need it. Then they can start looking at the room critically and we will see what is working and what isn’t.
I have to be honest, I am nervous. But giving my students more choice and say is important and a risk I’m willing to take.

Wish me luck!

WITH project


This year I’m trying a new teaching philosophy and I’m calling it my WITH project.

I am going to do everything WITH my students from designing our classroom, to what and how we learn. Even my grades and discipline matters will be decided WITH them. That means a lot of discussions and conferences but I’m so excited for this change.

The core ideas behind WITH is:

World connections through skype, Projects by Jen, and Global Read Aloud.

Independent means that they are in charge of their learning, they go get the materials they need, they sit and learn how they want to.

Their Voice Matters means showing my students that they matter through blogging, skyping, asking questions.

Honesty is essential when working in this philosophy. I’m asking my students to be 100% honest with me so I can truly help them.

Thanks to Pernille Ripp for her amazing book Passionate Learners which pushed me in this direction!

My experience becoming a Google Educator and some tips

I has kept on hearing about people being Google certified and I was interested. But what was it all about?

If you are interested in becoming a Google Educator, visit this website Google for Education. It has all of the information to begin your journey. In order to begin your training, go to training and then Get Certified.

In my experience I skipped the Learn the Basics section since I was using Google everyday but do what works best for you. If you feel comfortable, as I did, you can move onto Become a Google Educator. I had assumed, as I’m sure some of you assumed that if you use Google Apps everyday, you really don’t need to take the courses in Gmail, Docs & Drive, Calendar and Sites. We are WRONG! Read through the courses! I learned so much reading through them.

In order to become a Google Educator you need to take exams in Gmail, Docs & Drive, Calendar, Sites and you get the choice of one elective: Chrome Browser, Chromebooks, or Tablets with Google Play for Education. My elective that I took was Chrome Browser.

My experience taking these exams was a challenging one. To be fair, I have never been good at exams or really school for that matter. So to be self inflicting myself with 5 exams ‘for fun’ is CRAZY! I did find the exams very detailed and thorough. To be completely honest, I did fail the Gmail and Sites exams and when you fail an exam you have to wait 7 days to try it again.

Google Educator Test Details:

  • 90 minutes
  • 60 questions
  • able to mark them to come back to them
  • 15$ per test
  • if you fail, there is a 7 day waiting period and you have to pay again

Essential advice for becoming a Google Educator.

  • Read through the courses completely
  • Make notes if you need to
  • Keep the training open to quickly find something (Ctrl F)
  • Open and search for answers in google (see below)
  • When searching, use the tests language
  • Have search window and test window open side by side
  • if not sure of a question, mark it and come back to it

Help for exams:

Have these open when you take your exam!

One of my summer goals was to become a Google Educator and now my goal is complete!

Good Luck!

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