Monthly Archives: January 2012

Three Things My Students Will Never Say

Goal: Three Things That My Students Will Never Say

“I can’t do this!”
This simple sentence that can block learning must immediately be replaced by:
“I can’t do this yet.”
I have found that the addition of this one simple word alleviates the pressure, anxiety and frustration that often blocks learning. This simple change helps to calm and refocus the leaner.

“I forget.”
This one simple sentence that can block learning must immediately be replaced by:
“Can you please come back to me?”
I explain to students that when they say that they “have forgotten” their brains stop working on the problem. If however, they stop actively searching and ask me to come back to them later their brains will keep working on “idea retrieval” unbeknownst to them. This is why they often remember what it is that they wanted to say 10 mins., or 2 hours later … or even in the middle of the night. (P.S. It works every time.)

“I’m bored.”
Okay, so I remind them that no one is going to be interested in everything that we do. They are expected however to plow through whatever it is that is asked of them, so that they can then move on successfully to the next activity.

… Just wanted to share.


Citizenship: “I am Proud to be ….”

National Pride & Citizenship: “I am Proud to be ….”

Okay, so yesterday I posted a request:
I was looking for activities that encourage students to reflect upon and write about why they are “proud to be Canadian’.
I received some amazing responses … but they weren’t really what I was looking for. (Having said that I have certainly archived many of them for future use.)
I then responded to my own request, and came up with the following activity.
… just thought I’d share.

Why Canada is a Great Place to Live;
Why I’m Proud to be Canadian

1. Prep-Work:
Teachers explore the 2 sites below. (More can be found if needed … but it’s a start). Both sites list some of the reasons why Canada is such an amazing place to live.
Teachers choose one reason per day (or every other day — whatever suits) to share with students.
b) Top 10 Reasons To Live In Canada

2. In-class: Teacher Facilitated:
Teachers post one reason per day on the Smartboard. i.e. “Multiculturalism Canada encourages immigrants to retain their unique culture. Nowhere else is there such a diversity of cultures existing together in a tolerant, peaceful society.” or “Top Quality Education Offering free primary and secondary education and subsidized post-secondary studies, Canada spends more on education than any industrialized nation. Canadian universities and colleges have a strong international reputation for high quality.” or “Health and Welfare Canadians have access to social assistance programs, affordable housing, FREE HEALTHCARE, and a strong government that helps its people.” (quotes have been cut & copied from the following sites:
Teachers should further explain ideas/vocabulary and check for student understanding. Teachers then act as facilitators while students have open and honest discussions about the concept of the day.

3. Student Assignment:
Give each student  a notebook. Students decorate the cover in any way this wish (e.g. draw, use stickers, cut out pictures, etc.) in order to make it their own/personal.
Following classroom discussions students are to reflect on the idea/prompt and record their thoughts and  ideas. In order to increase authenticity and relieve any anxiety students are encouraged to view their notebooks as personal diaries of sorts. While they are encouraged to use their best spelling, grammar & printing they will not be marked on the mechanics of writing. On certain days students may also be encouraged to present their ideas in the form of a web, diagram, illustration, etc..
At the end of a given period of time students are required to make a presentation based on their journal entries. Students are free to choose from a number of formats, e.g. Power Point Presentation, Voicethread, StoryBird, Glogster, Animoto, iMovie, a speech, a written essay, a play, poetry, songs, a poster, etc.. whatever “speaks” to them.

Teacher Tips – Things I Try to Keep in Mind

Teacher Tips – Things I Try to Keep in Mind

What follows are words, ideas and practices that I try to live by.

I would love to hear from those in my PLN … What do you try to keep in mind as you plan, approach and maneuver through your day? What are some of the things that keep you grounded, and make your experiences rewarding, successful, motivating & authentic?


  • Be Authentic & Smile – Teach in a way that speaks to you, that feeds your soul and keeps you motivated … teach “what/how” you love and love what you do! (All the while: Be open to change … there’s no “one way”. Be adventurous, explore alternatives.)
  • Be flexible. Be open to change. In your practice: maintain focus, all the while rolling with the curves/punches.
  • Never bite off more than you can chew. There are so many amazing ideas out there … It’s easy to get caught up in moments and want to do it all. Be enthusiastic, be eager … but above all be realistic.
  • Over plan … have a bag of tricks! You never know what each day will bring … it always pays to be prepared.
  • Share your thoughts, ideas & successes — on the flip side address those lessons that didn’t go as planned … Ask for support when necessary … You can’t do it all and your colleagues, your PLN, etc. have so much to offer.
  • Show you care. With each day, try you best to show each student that you care about him/her: as an individual.
  • Teach to all learning styles: e.g. acknowledge the auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners in the room.
  • Use a mixed approach; use a mix of teaching strategies every day. Ensure that students are active, involved & invested.
  • Challenge students. Provide choice when possible. Encourage students to take ownership of their learning experiences in the classroom.
  • Teach strategies as well as facts/concepts (e.g. how to read for meaning, how to study for and take a test, how to problem solve, how to be an active listener, etc.)
  • Keep up with the latest trends: technology, music, movies, fashion, books, etc. Understand your students’ world/environment.
  • Embrace technology — need I say more? Love the Smartboard, Wordle, Voicethread, Google Earth, Blogging, Twitter etc.!
  • Set goals – As you approach each lesson keep in mind your #1 goal. What is it that you are trying to “teach here”? i.e. a fact, a strategy, an approach, etc.
  • Reflect – at the end of every day take a few minutes for you-the-teacher. Ask yourself: What went well today? What would I do differently? What will I keep from this lesson/day/experience?
  • Be firm, be kind, be caring and be accepting of your students.
  • Be as firm, kind, caring and as accepting of you as you are of your students.
  • Be a professional – be human – be you.
  • Be a leaner as well a a teacher. We are so lucky. There’s so much to know!