Archive of ‘2014-2015’ category

Genius Hour for Grade 1 students

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I love the idea of incorporating student voice and passions with learning in my classroom. Doing Genius Hour with any primary class would be difficult since they are just learning their language skills. There is no better time to hook students on reading and writing then including their passions into our classroom learning.

I decided to change the normal Genius Hour format so that my students could still learn about anything they are passionate about and be able to share their learning with the class.

Step 1: Print many of these blank booklets for your students to fill out and staples them together.

Step 2: Meet with your student and ask them what they want to learn about.

Step 3: Go to Wikipedia and type in what they want to learn about.

Step 4: Print if they are advanced in their reading level or go to the left sidebar and scroll down to Languages and choose Simple English. This will take their subject of interest and create a simpler to read text.

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Step 5: Give them a highlighter and get them to highlight the important information.

Step 6: Students will create sentences and pictures based on what they learned.

Step 7: Share with the class, school or the world!


Here are some examples from my Grade 1/2 students. These are posted with their parent’s permission.Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 6.09.22 PM

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It’s all about Relationships 

Today was the last day of school with my students. It has been an emotional week for my students and me. We worked on our yearbooks, signed autographs, played and said our goodbyes. But the end of the year really just reinforces one thing about teaching for me: It’s all about relationships!

We get to make these incredible bonds with our students, build trust and support them throughout the year. What an amazing job we have.

I’m so sad to see my amazing Grade 1 and 2’s go but I’m so excited for a new Grade 6 adventure!

Authentic Learning using Skype

In my classroom we have been using Skype in the Classroom to meet experts and ask authentic questions.

I started asking my class what they wanted to learn about during the year. We made a huge list and I tried my best to get a bunch of experts to cover most of the topics. We skyped with different classrooms and experts around the world.

Our favourite by far was skyping with SANCCOB a Penguin and Seabird rehabilitation centre in South Africa. They first gave us a presentation about what they do and then we had a question time with a penguin! 

Here are some students asking questions. 

 There is nothing better than thinking of a question, asking it and getting the answer right away. 

* Thanks to the parents of my students who allowed me to use these videos.

Kid Tech Coach 

Recently I became a Google Education Trainer (GET). I honestly felt so excited to be listed among all of these amazing educators and I knew that my connection to the trainer community would inspire me to be better and more creative.

I’m pretty involved in the Ottawa education community. I have planned Edcamp Ottawa, Playdate Ottawa, am a co-founder of ONEdchat and Think Tank Ottawa. I love to plan events and create spaces for people to learn from each other. When I became a GET I wanted to do something bigger. I kept on thinking about what the education community needed. I am always trying to inspire non-techy teachers to get involved and try something new. I love Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and know how empowering it is for students. I wanted to make it easy for non-techy teachers to teach their students GAFE. I first thought of making step by step videos that teachers could play in their classroom and learn with the students. But then I realized, students do not want to listen to another teacher, they want to listen to their peers. Students listen more and learn better when their peers explain something than when teachers do, so I created Kid Tech Coach.

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This website is to provide training for GAFE and other technology for students using videos made by other students. This is a way that students can share their expertise in technology and show their learning.

As an educator, this is a great way for our students to create a positive digital footprint, and it teaches our students collaboration, communication, technology skills and creativity. It also encourages students to learn digital media principles, such as engaging with an audience, production principles, etc.

Please follow us on facebook, twitter, and check out our blog (still in it’s early production).

If you have any videos of students that are already created giving tutorials on technology, you can submit the videos here.

Learning about Student Voice

I was so blessed to be able to attend the Spring Leadership Conference on April 17th run by the OCDSB. This was my first leadership conference so I wasn’t sure what to expect.


Jennifer Adams, the boards Director of Education introduced the day. She reinforced that this conference and our board should be focusing on 4 key priority areas: Well being, Engagement, Leadership, Learning. This conference definitely exceeded at all 4 of these priorities. 

We were allowed to choose different sessions that we wanted to go learn about. I chose to attend the session about Student Voice.


This session was lead by students from Nepean High School. They have helped host two student conferences organized by the OCDSB to promote student voice in our students. To see some tweets from these conferences, follow #findyourvoice15

Some of my key learning points:

  • many different kinds of student voice
  • need to active listening, more student to student discussions
  • asking students what they want
  • technology gives those that are quiet a voice
  • Need critical thinking in schools
  • experiences not books
  • teachers shouldn’t be the end result for projects. Should have a real world demand
  • Give the kids the curriculum guidelines, build their own rubric


The teacher behind these students learning is Jon Tenthorey who teaches CORE at Nepean High School. He believes in risk free play time and time to fail and learn from it. He creates situations to push kids beyond what they think they can do, mentally and physically. He take students downtown and gives them ten dollars but limits the students saying that they cannot just give the money to someone. This way he gets his students to find out people’s stories and to learn and care for them. To learn more about his teachings, check out

Making Thinking Visible in my Primary Classroom

I just finished running a book club called #bowkerbooks this winter. The participants signed up for the book club and voted for the book they wanted to read. The selection that was  chosen was “Making Thinking Visible” by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, Karin Morrison. 

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During this weekly chat, we would discuss a chapter with predetermined questions based on that chapter. I kept on thinking that my class, a very active grade 1/2 class wouldn’t be able to do these routines. I had tried asking my class  “Can you tell me more about that?,” a strategy to get students to further elaborate on what they said.

This week, after the book club had ended, I decided to try a new routine ‘See, Think, Wonder.’ When my students came in from 1st recess I had a picture up on the screen. You need to know that my students usually talk over each other and can only sit for 10 minutes at a time listening, but this time was different.

Mona_LisaI honestly couldn’t believe the thoughtful questions that my students asked. I was blown away by their questions. To hear the audio of this, click here.

The next day, I decided to try it again. I put up a picture of “The Scream.”


At first I thought I shouldn’t have picked this painting since my students came in saying it was scary and creepy. But the discussion we had was amazing. They had great thoughtful questions again and really made connections. They even took the picture and inferred that he was lost. We also got into a debate whether it was a boy or girl. To listen to the audio, click here.

I googled the painting and showed them a map of Oslo, where that painting is. Then they were curious about where the ‘Mona Lisa’ was so we googled that. I showed them the Louvre and they thought the pyramid was so cool. Then we took a virtual tour of the Louvre.

This was my first experience with this class of real inquiry learning. For over an hour my class sat still, listened and asked thoughtful questions.

I’m going to do this a lot more often!



My 1st time teaching teachers

As teachers, we always teach students. I have taught students from kindergarten all the way to Grade 8 during my 7 year career as a teacher. Teaching teachers is new to me though.

I began this journey since I want to become a Google trainer. I have done some training through my youtube how to videos but I thought before applying to be a Google trainer I should teach some teachers in real life.


I transferred schools and noticed that teachers in my new school only use gmail in GAFE and I wanted to share how amazing and powerful these tools are. I sent out an email containing a Google form and asked which Google apps they would be interested in learning about. After their feedback I set up a time where most people could come, and a schedule.

Last Tuesday was our first training that focused on Gmail. I noticed that teachers are just like students. They have questions, they want to try out their learning right away, and they need one on one help and guidance sometimes. I also really noticed that teachers just like students learn at their own pace and the trainer needs to follow the flow of the audience. My group started working on making labels so we didn’t get to finish my training. It was fine because they were excited about it.

Excited to train them all about Google Drive next Tuesday!

Big Week of Big Steps

This week I am swamped. So busy but I’m honestly thrilled. I’m taking action on goals that I have made and it all starts this week.

On this Tuesday morning I’m going to start training my colleagues at my school to use GAFE (Google Apps for Education). This week we are focusing on Gmail and I’m so excited. The response from my school hasn’t been exactly what I would have hoped for but I’m trudging on and excited to inspired some of my colleagues about the awesomeness of GAFE. This is the next step so I can become a Google Trainer and I’m hoping I’m successful!

Also this week, my 2nd book chat starts. We are reading Making Thinking Visible and 47 amazing educators signed up to talk about the book. I’m so excited because this is such an amazing book and the book chat’s hashtag is #bowkerbooks which is just so fun for me.

Big steps will either have Big Fails or Big Successes. Time will tell but I’m excited either way!

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