Relevant posts

I haven’t been back here since the semester started but I have been blogging quite a bit. You might be interested in my blog posts tagged “New Learning”:

You might also be interested in the project that I am working on. You can read about the progress here:

Please feel free to comment!

Blog info until December

I am taking a class towards my MEd called Social Media and Open Source Learning. As part of the requirements for this course, I needed to start a blog. I will likely be doing most of my posting on that blog from now until the end of the class. I also really like the set-up of the other blog, so I will probably be moving this blog over there when the class is done. Until then, if I blog about anything relevant to my SMARTBoard learning on that blog, I will be posting the link to that post here instead of cross-posting.

Today I took advantage of half a day of personally directed PD that we get through the project. Look what I did! You can read about it here.


Banning Books

          September 25th starts “Banned Book Week” in the United States.  Canada has a similar week called “Freedom to Read Week” held somewhere between January and March each year.  The purpose of this week is to bring awareness to the censorship of books in schools and community libraries.  Some books that have been banned in Canada include “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “McLean’s Magazine”, “The Bible”, “The Giver”, “Underground to Canada”, “Goosebumps Series”, and “Huckleberry Finn”. (Taken from  There is currently a movement in the U.S. to have the novel “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson banned.  It is the story of a young girl who is raped and her struggle to find a voice to tell someone about it.  This novel was originally published 11 years ago.  It has helped many children find their own voice.  I encourage you to listen to the author read the poem “Listen” inspired by the letters she has received from readers in those 10/11 years about the impact “Speak” has had on them.  You can watch the video here:

          Do I think that this is a book that everyone should read?  No.  It is not my place to say that this book is right for everyone.  However, I don’t believe that one person should have the right to ban me (or you) from reading it either.  So, in protest, I bought two copies of this book today.  I will keep one for myself to read, and to lend as others are interested.  I will pass the second one on to someone else (I have in mind the mother of 3 teen and tween girls and 1 teen boy).  I encourage you to pick a book that has been banned and do the same.  We have the “Freedom to Read” and I will “Speak Loudly” in support of that freedom.

           If you wish to have more information about the debate surrounding the novel “Speak”, you can follow the hashtag #speakloudly on Twitter, or you can read the author’s blog post here  or another blog post here that is collecting posts on this subject .

K-5 Technology Lessons

I was reading my Google Reader this evening and came across a website that has listed computer, technology,  and word processing lessons for each level from K-5.  This website, seen here, lays out lessons from turning computers on and off in kindergarten to Internet Safety in grade 3 to creating and publishing an independent multi-media project in grade 5.  The lessons incorporate language arts components such as proper capitalization and punctuation, writing and formating a friendly letter and creating a proper bibliography.  They also incorporate math concepts such as data collection, addition, averages, and graphing.  It seems like a great layout that brings children along, right from the beginning of their school experience, to appropriate and effective integrated use of computers and some other technologies.

I got to thinking if this was possible at my school.  We do not have a computer lab, as such.  Instead, we have four computers per classroom and one class set of laptop computers.  They are working on the wireless access for the laptops.  They need to be able to connect to our system wirelessly for the students to log in.  It is spotty right now and it often connects and cuts out in my classroom.  I do not think that I would be able to teach these lessons with this school set-up unless I did a group lesson using my SMART Board and then rotated the students through the four stand-alones while the rest of the class is doing other things.  However, I am the only teacher from K-5 that has a SB in their room.

I absolutely think that it would be valuable to have a set of lessons laid out like this.  Since each classroom teacher is responsible for teaching computer and technology in their own room without any direct curriculum, it would help guide those who feel like they, themselves, lack knowledge. It would also help to ensure that the students develop knowledge each year from K-5 so that they go into the middle years with a solid set of skils.

How would you go about ensuring that students learn some of these skills?  Do you like the idea of a set of lessons laid out or not?  How would you suggest teaching these skills to younger students without access to a computer lab?

How I “Survived” the First Week

This weekend, I came across a blog post that really touched me.  I kept it open in my browser all weekend, reading it and rereading it.  I knew that I wanted to respond or comment in some way, but wasn’t sure how.  You can read “No, I Didn’t Survive…” here.  After much reflection, I decided to write my own blog post instead of just a comment.  Here is what I thrived through, and “survived” the first 7 days of school:

  • Students exclaiming how I have such cool books in my classroom library and literally squealing with glee when I told them that they could take the books home to read.
  • Students begging me to hand out their Reader’s Notebooks so that they can start tracking their reading.
  • Students reminding me that I forgot to give them an H (hand shake, high five or hug) on the way out of the classroom.
  • Students who were so proud to show their parents how to use the SMARTBoard during parent night.
  • A student on behaviour contract being able to identify his negative behaviour one day, then stop himself from doing it the next day, beaming with pride.
  • A student from last year’s class who cried the first day of school because he was “so bad at math” telling me that he loves grade 4 because he “gets to do math every day, like in grade 3!”
  • A parent thanking me after “Meet the Teacher” for my obvious love and commitment to the students in my class, then later posting on Facebook that she wished she was back in grade 3!
  • 25 students going out of their way to welcome and help 2 students who are new to our school and our class.
  • Students laughing out loud while I was reading “Flat Stanley” out loud to them.
  • Having a lively class discussion about which books were better than their movie adaptations and vice versa.

I think that I survived pretty well.  How did you survive?

Top ten(ish) books of all time

Yesterday I was talking about books with @mollybmom  on Twitter.  She has made a comment that she hadn’t taken me for a fantasy buff.  In the book conversations, I often mention that the particular book being discussed were “definitely part of my top ten ever.”  I said that to Jana during this conversation.  It got me thinking…  If I had to make a definitive list, which books would actually made the cut?  I tried to make a top 10 list, but decided to expand my definition to count series as only one choice in the top ten.  Here is what I came up with, in no particular order.

1 – Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

  01 enders-game   01 enders-shadow









2 – The Drangonlance Chronicles by Tracey Hickman and Margaret Weis

02 DragonsofAutumnTwilight_1984original

02 DragonsofSpringDawning_original

02 Dragons_of_Winter_Night_cover



3 – The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

03 The Hunger Games

03 Catching Fire

03 Mockingjay


4 – The Deprivers by Steven-Elliott Altman

04 The Deprivers


 5 – The Harper Hall Trilogy by  Anne McCaffrey

05 Dragonsong

05 Dragonsinger

05 Dragondrums


6 – The Icewind Dale Trilogy by RA Salvatore

06 The Crystal Shard

06 Streams of Silver

06 The Halfling's Gem


7 – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

07 Little Women


8 – The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry

08 The Giver

08 Gathering Blue

08 Messenger


9 – The 39 Clues Series by Various Authors

09 1 The_Maze_of_Bones

09 2 One_False_Note

09 3 Sword_thief_cover

09 4 Beyond_the_Grave

09 5 The_Black_Circle

09 6 In_Too_Deep_cover

09 7 The Viper's Nest

09 8 The Emperor's Code

09 9 Storm_Warning_cover

09 10 Into_the_Gauntlet_cover


10 – The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

10 1 Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone

10 2 Harry_Potter_and_the_Chamber_of_Secrets

10 3 Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_Azkaban

10 4 Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire

10 5 Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix

10 6 Harry_Potter_and_the_Half-Blood_Prince

10 7 Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows


Do you have any recommendations that might change my mind???  Please share!

“Voice” from a reader’s perspective

“Voice” is generally associated with the 6+1 Traits Writing program.  I’ve never actually thought of it from a reader’s perspective before until this week.

This summer, I read “The Hunger Games”.  I loved it.  I was immediately taken in by the characters, the drama, the emotion of the book…  I loved the book.  I recommended it to my husband who is also a reader.  He generally doesn’t read Teen Lit.  It took a while and a few twitter recommendations from people who were not me, but he picked up the book this week.  He had it done within two days.  He loved it too.  However, his interests in the book were completely different than mine.  His first interest lie in the geography of the book.  The references to North American geography peaked his interest enough to ask me questions, look at maps, search the internet for further information while I didn’t even notice them.

That got me thinking about my own teaching.  When I talk about books in my class, do I think about the difference “Voices” of my readers?  I know that I try to find books for all their reading interests, but have I ever looked at one book and tried to see the different voices within it?  The answer is No, I haven’t.  However, I AM interested in trying to have that discussion some time.

My teacher librarian and I have talked about trying to establish a book blog.  A place where students could post reviews of books in our library and others could search, read and comment, or post their own reviews for the books.  I wonder if that could be a forum for these “Voice of the Reader” discussions.

What do you think?  Have you ever had these discussions with your students?  Can you share your ideas?

Thanks for reading.

A good day into a great day… Blessings

It is the second week of school and I am pretty excited about it.  I have to admit, the first week is not my favourite.  I feel like I do most of the talking, setting the routines and procedures, showing and telling how I like things done and run in my class, and even being a bit on the “mean” side about it.  It has served me well over the years, with well behaved and well run classrooms.  However, I much prefer the second and third weeks when we get to start learning together, sharing, exploring, asking questions and finding answers. 

So, I was looking forward to today.  As per usual, when I am looking forward to something, I didn’t sleep very well last night.  I went to work feeling tired and sluggish, but still looking forward to getting going.  The day went well.  It was a good day.  My kids were engaged, and sharing, and learning…  There were no tears with my first math diagnostic like there were last year…  The kids were up and using the SMARTBoard…  It was a good day.

But, three things happened today to turn it into a great day.  The first is that at least four different people told me that I looked good today and that I had really nice legs.  It kept me smiling all day!  Then, the second thing that happened: in the last hour of the day, my principal called me into her office and asked if she could share some of my work with another teacher because it was so well layed out, and spent 20 minutes asking about how I planned and asked for advice to share with another teacher on staff.  I felt just peachy keen!  Wow, to be asked to share my stuff by my principal, what an honour.  Then, this evening, I got home to find a message from my former intern from 4 years ago.  She said that when things don’t go well with her class, she often things of me and the encouragement that I gave her.  She thanked me and wanted me to know that I made a difference…  Wow.  Another great honour to hear.

So, I started thinking about other good things that have happened this year already in such a short time…  First, the director of my school division shared the story about me that I blogged about here in his first Communique of the year.  So, I have been congratulated many times over.  Then, I developed a French writing unit about Narrative Texts that I shared with some other teachers.  I received very good feedback from it.  In fact, our Learning Resource teacher said that she loved it so much that she would love to team teach it with me! 

I have felt so blessed in my job so far this year!  What has made you feel blessed?

Ideas please…

Well, I need your help.  I’ve gone into my room 4 times this week and each day I have walked out with no more ideas than when I walked into my room.  What do I need help with?  How to set up the desks in my room…  The layout of my room is not ideal, however it is what it is and I can’t change much of it.  I can’t move anything on the diagram below.  In the room I have to fit 26 student desks, a prayer table, a hexagonal shaped table that can be broken into two halves and three small bookshelves (that fit under the height of the word wall board).  I would love to have a reading corner, but I’m not sure I have room.  I also want to make sure that my students can see the whiteboard and the SMARTBoard.  HELP!!!  Does anyone have any ideas?  I would appreciate all suggestions!