Posts Tagged ‘pd’

CIVIX Democracy Bootcamp

I had the immense privilege to be selected to attend CIVIX’s Democracy Bootcamp this past Thursday and Friday.

If you aren’t familiar with CIVIX, they are a national registered charity that is dedicated to building the skills and habits of active and engaged citizens. They are trying to cultivate a strong and inclusive democracy where young people are ready, willing and able to participate. They do this by running many different events but Student Vote is their main one. Student Vote always occurs before the real Canadian elections. Students learn about the government, electoral process, political candidates and parties. By learning about these things, the students in turn learn about themselves by determining which party to vote for by lining up their beliefs to the parties. The students determine what is important to them, what they believe in and what they are willing to vote for. CIVIX mails schools and teachers who register everything they need to create this authentic learning experience for FREE. From the resources to help the learning take place, to the authentic voting booth, ballot boxes and ballots that their parents will use when they vote.

Voting booths and ballot box

My students casting their votes









Democracy Bootcamp is a chance for teachers to learn more about the Student Vote program, and to learn from experts about politics, political strategies, ‘fake’ news and more. We learned from several experts in their field such as: @CraigSilverman@PeterD_Adams and .

It was such a wonderful opportunity to be spoiled and filled with new teaching ideas, amazing discussion, and a new found excitement for correcting ‘fake news.’

2 years ago I participated in Student Vote with my Tech Titians. My students chose a political party that they were interested in, learned about them and presented about the parties key beliefs to the rest of the class. By learning about all the different political parties beliefs, the class had to determine who they would vote for in the Student Vote election. They were thrilled to be able to cast a vote and I know that it led to further discussion about voting and democracy at home. I would highly recommend participating in Student Vote with your class or school.


Although I always vote, I’ve never been excited about politics but this Democracy Bootcamp changed my opinion of that. It provided me with a lot of information as well and resources to help me teach my students why politics is essential to know about. I’m excited to take all this new information back to my classroom and learn more with my students.

Here are some resources to help you with Student Vote:

Register here

YouTube Videos to help you teach Student Vote

Quiz on Issues in Elections to see which party your students beliefs link up with

Video about Kelly Tenkely and how she started her own school

I watched this amazing podcast with Teachercast (Jeffrey Bradbury) and Kelly Tenkely. The main discussion was about how Kelly started her own school but I got a neat idea from it.

Kelly talked about how she started a blog alliance. She formed a group of people who were writing blogs and they made a promise that they would blog and comment on others blog posts as much as they could. I thought this was such a cool idea and a great way to stay blogging and reflecting as an educator.

This video is a must watch. I found it so inspirational. Kelly went through some tough times but through those rough times, she found her way. She did the impossible. Well, what I thought would be impossible. She opened her own school! It was so neat to see her process through it and what she needed to consider and think about to create this school.

“Passionate Learners” by Pernille Ripp

Wow, I just finished Pernille’s new book “Passionate Learners” in 2 days. What an amazingly written, non-judgemental, hopeful look at what teaching can be.

I love that she admits her mistakes that she is not proud of but moves onto how this didn’t feel right and now what she has done to fix it.

This book is about how to go from rewards and punishments, grades & teacher-led classrooms to a passionate, feedback filled and student-led classroom.

I’ve had a different teaching experience than most. My first teaching placement was at a normal elementary school but my second placement was at Churchill Alternative. I had no idea what the Alternative meant and when I showed up on the first day and told a student to sit down and take off his hat, he responded “We don’t do that here.” I quietly sat down and took this different teaching environment in.

Churchill Alternative is a school where the students, teachers and parents work together to teach the whole child. They focus on intrinsic motivation, community, cooperation and goal making. They believe in innovated and differentiated learning as well as assessment that meets the students created learning goals. Churchill Alternative has been my home base for the last 7 years of my teaching journey. I have been a supply teacher, had many Long Term Occasional positions but I always ended back at Churchill. Churchill Alternative has this amazing sense of community & partnership, and the most responsible, helpful and respectful children. I have created many friendships with the amazing staff at Churchill who I always will look up to.

This book is about making your own Churchill in your own classroom. I have seen the affects of passionate learning at Churchill and the outcome is unlike any other I have experienced yet.

Pernille gives you ideas about how to create this classroom for yourself but doesn’t give you a step by step guide. Every classroom and group is different. You have to figure out what will work for the group you have now.

You have to make sure:

  • you create a community
  • the classroom is focused on the students
  • students create the class expectations, no rules
  • no grades, only feedback
  • classroom meetings
  • no punishments or rewards, have a conversation instead
  • fun, engaging activities planned with the students
  • creating routines with your students
  • really, really get to know your students
  • be present & listen

This book is a definite must read. I have only just finished it, but going to go through it again and figure out how I can try this out next year.

If you would love to buy this book, click here or to know more about the amazing Pernille Ripp, who is also the creator of the Global Read Aloud, click here.

I know that since I started my blog, I have become so passionate about teaching and technology. I want all my future students to feel that same sense of passion.

Summer Book Chat

I don’t know about you but I’m starting to get really excited about summer. Long hot days, cool drinks, naps, and relaxing. Of course my mind wanders back to teaching and what I’m going to do for professional development.

I would love to host a book chat. I have collected a bunch of books that I would like to read. I was thinking about having a vote to see which one we would choose and then have twitter chats every week.

Would you be interested?
Sign up in this google form and let me know if there are any books you want to read!

Focusing on the “Big” Stuff, Keynote by Marian Small

Today I had the honour of watching a keynote by Marian Small and also having a chat with her!

As a primary teacher, we should be focusing on subitizing, getting our students to look at dots (like dominoes) and be able to know right away how many there are without counting. Help them understand that went we group our dots or tallies that it helps is see the number quicker.

We need to stop looking on marking if our students have the right answer, we need to look at their thinking!

Number Lines:

When you place 2 numbers on a number line, the numbers are instantly scaled.

Such as:

Where does 10 belong?




In some situations 5 and 10 will be close together or far apart

ex: 0——5——-10



Number Recognition/Decomposition:

Ask your students: How can you break up 24 to see it is even? a multiple of 8? between 2 tens and 3 tens?

Ask your students: Show 2/3 is less that 3/4, or that it is 2 1/3, or it can be a little or a lot.

**How can you make the ideas come out, not just say it!**


*Measurement is always a comparison!*

Measurement questions: Which apple is wider? Which apple is shinier? How funny is he? Which apple is more than 10 cm tall?

You can make any measurement sound really big or small by playing with the unit. eg: I once saw an ant that was 2000000 nanometres.


A shape might have a whole lot of perimeter but not a lot of area. What might it look like?


There is NEVER only one way to continue a pattern that is started 2,4,6-options to continue are 6,4,2 or 8,10,12 or 2,4,6

Ask your students: think of 4 different ways to contnue this pattern: 7,10,15…

What is the BIG STUFF

It’s not definitions

It’s not calculations (only estimations)

It’s not formats and details (ex lining up equal signs)






How do we get there?

Focus on the thinking!

For her full presentation: go to —>

Coles Notes on Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario School, K-12

I read “Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario School, K-12” by the Ministry of Education and I want to share my Coles notes of the document.

“Character Development is the deliberate effort to nurture the universal attributes upon which schools and communities find consensus (Page 3).”

Character Development is a shared responsibility between parents, teachers, and the community but primarily falls upon the parents and families. In order for us to develop the character of our students, they MUST be involved.

The whole school needs to make this a priority otherwise it will not work. You have probably been in schools where the whole school works together and puts character development as THE most important thing being taught. On the other hand, you get a feeling at other schools, when the administration and the teachers do not value character development and the students know that they can get away with certain behaviours with certain staff. You can see the difference in the students and feel the difference in the school.

Character development needs to be integrated into the curriculum and everything we do at school in order for it to be effective.

With Ontario’s diverse population we need to teach our students to find the common ground between different groups. Finding something in common can help the students understand and feel closer to the other group and hopefully they will form friendships.

The kinds of character development that is focused on in this document are:Citizenship, being Fair, Respect, Trust, Responsibility, Optimism, Perseverance, Honesty, Integrity,  and Empathy.

Some resources I have found to help you teach Character Development are: