Posts Tagged ‘Professional Development’

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

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:


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!

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!

PD: Painting & Printmaking

I was so honoured to be chosen to go to the painting and printmaking workshop. I find that we new teachers focus so much on learning about math and language but rarely focus on learning about the arts. Today was my day to learn.

First: Watercolours

Before you begin to paint you need to put a wash on (when you put water all over the paper).

Different watercolour techniques:

Salt resist- Pint first and make sure paint is really wet, then sprinkle salt over the paint and the salt absorbs the paint.

Tape resist
Put masking tape on paper in a pattern, paint over and when dry take off masking tape (green or blue painting tape works best for this).

Wax crayon
White/yellow/lime colours work best
-hard to see white for kids
Make a pattern or design and wax resists paint and then paint over

Watercolour & marker
Make a shape and paint the whole scene. Trace shape in marker

We then got to make a large painting using several techniques we tried.
If painting a large painting- steps are 1) wax crayon,2) watercolour 3) wax crayon 4) marker

When painting with watercolours you can use water colour paper or non shiny side of bristol board

Second:Colour experiments


Use water and food colouring and syringes (without needles)

Get students to mix in ice cube trays and then write their discovery in pencil crayon or marker on sheet


Have bucket near by so the students can dump it when ice cube tray is full

Third: Teaching Value
Mixing black and white to make several shades of gray.

We were given 3 trays of white paint and 3 trays of blank paint. We were allowed to mix them to create different shades of grey.

Fourth: Printmaking with styrofoam tray

You need to get a styrofoam plate or meat container. Get the students to draw a picture using a pencil or pencil crayon. When they are done, they use a roller to cover the tray or plate with paint and then firmly press down onto paper.

My plate:

And my print:

Fifth: Printmaking with assorted objects

You can use sponges, yarn, scrunched up paper, marbles, erasers or anything else you can find in your classroom. Start with the biggest shape first and work from there. Great way to teach texture.

Here is mine. I used sponges, an eraser on the top of a pencil and scrunched up paper.

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