Category Archives: communication

Edmodo in the Grade 5 Classroom

Edmodo in the Grade 5 Classroom

Edmodo in the classroom makes good sense for so many reasons …
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see and hear me promoting its use for so many reasons … there are so many opportunities, so many “things” that it can bring to the classroom experience … here are just a few of them (alphabetically speaking).

Alphabetically Speaking –
From “A” to “V”

  • address/recognize different learning styles
  • alternative opportunity to communicate
  • back channel discussions
  • blog
  • book clubs
  • communication with parents
  • communities connect
  • complete assignments
  • connect with students
  • connect with other teachers
  • create book files/lists
  • create quizzes
  • differentiated instruction – create groups
  • digital backpacks
  • digital libraries
  • engagement
  • exercising personal responsibility
  • flipped classroom
  • ecourage, teach and promote the use of 21st Century skills
  • grading
  • global collaboration
  • group collaboration
  • integrate technology
  • join communities
  • learn about social media and the internet in a safe & secure environment
  • links to PPP
  • manage grades & assignments
  • mobile learning
  • parent code
  • polls
  • post daily assignments
  • post messages
  • post positive feedback to students
  • post positive feedback between students
  • post rubrics
  • project based learning
  • record field trips
  • role play : e.g. accounts for main characters in novels
  • scavenger hunts
  • see assignments
  • see grades
  • share and discuss resources
  • shares ideas
  • share videos
  • share projects
  • social networking
  • study groups
  • turn in/post assignments for viewing/grading
  • unit overviews
  • upgrade classroom communication
  • upload files
  • upload audio files
  • view lecture notes
  • view/make up missed lessons/work
  • vocabulary development
  • Note …. I also love Edmodo because:

1. It is safe & secure
2. Students don’t need an email address
3. It’s easy to use
4. It’s free


The Dynamic Duo – My Social Media PD Superheroes

The Dynamic Duo – My Social Media PD Superheroes
Part I – Twitter
(Part II –

With regard to professional and personal development I am always looking for the practical, the applicable, the relevant, the personal, the inspirational, the progressive.

& so … I addition to all of the wonderful teachers that I have met on my journey as an educator, there is no more of a Dynamic Duo for me today than Twitter & Pinterest. They are my PD Superheroes

These Superheroes make me feel welcome within a community of learners who inspire me to be a better teacher … they make me want to look at what I do every day in new ways. These two social media superheroes show me what’s possible, point me in new directions and make me want to do better – they show me what’s possible, doable, workable, valuable. They are organic, flexible and progressive. They are always growing, changing, and moving forward.

For today’s post: I will focus on Twitter.
To that end I have decided to share why I love Twitter below (alphabetically speaking).
* & If you aren’t already on Twitter I encourage you to take some time to play with it …. to see what’s really out there and available to you for free, 24-7.


Why I love Twitter Alphabetically Speaking:

Answering questions – Twitter gives me that opportunity to share ideas and things that have inspired me and worked for me – I love giving back.

Asking questions – Twitter is like a crystal ball: Once I post a question, suggestions, answers & opinions come flooding in from all over the globe.

Blogs – I have come across & bookmarked so many amazing blogs.

Brief – ther very nature of Twitter necessitates that questions & responses are short and sweet – we are forced to get to the point 😉

Building relationships – I have met so many amazing individuals through Twitter – I truly value these relationships – I laugh & learn every day.

Conferences – I have found out about and followed (mostly using hashtags) so many amazing conferences world-wide.

Easy – I love how easy it is to find and manage what I am looking for or want to share.


Free – Need I say more? 😉

Flattening walls – Twitter is an international, global community. It knows no bounds 😉

Hashtags – These are a great way to follow a community.

Information – It’s limitless.

Instant feedback / real time – … because time is of the essence.

Learning Curve – My learning curve is now ridiculous and I love it!

PD – Twitter is my first choice for PD.

PLN – I love my PLN!!!!!

Sharing – It’s all out there for me to grab: links, ideas, sites, pictures, courses, etc.

Webinars – I have found, attended and learned from so many amazing Webinars
as suggested by my PLN.

Websites – I have found, bookmarked and learned from so many amazing Blogs as suggested by my PLN.
5 Twitter Notes:

Characters – Twitter only allows 140 characters per post

Dictionary – Not sure what’s being said? Try these Twitter dictionaries: &

Hashtags – Use hashtags to find groups/people to follow, learn from, be inspired by and share with.

Numbers – Don’t pay attention to the numbers – it doesn’t matter how many people you follow or how many people are following you; it’s all about the experience, and what you want to get from it.

Purpose – In the beginning it’s a good idea to determine why you are on Twitter and focus … you can always expand later 😉

URLs – use (for example) to shorten URLs

P.S. Another wonderful Twitter-based outcome is that sharing and learning so much also helps to make me feel good about what’s already taking place in my classroom … and this can be quite empowering.
You see what I have experienced first hand is that feeling good about my current role in the classroom makes me feel good about me, which in turn empowers me. It gives me the confidence to move forward, ask questions, take risks, play with ideas and try new things. I really do want to grow and learn … to become even better.
(This doesn’t mean of course that I don’t have many moments of insecurity & doubt … I am only human after all 😉

What’s on your “Wish List”?

My Wish List for the Immediate Future
Today I am going to make three wishes for the immediate future as relates to teaching in my world.
What’s on your wish list?

1. A continued greater emphasis on and sharing of 21st Century skills – kids developing real world skills and making real world connections. We are global citizens.

2. A conscious shift from current classroom configurations, toward more child-friendly spaces (e.g. furniture, floor plans, accessories, lighting, etc.) that allow for greater movement, alternative work spaces and choice …. that cater to a range of learning styles, and that foster creativity and collaboration.

3. A regular time scheduled into my work week for reflection upon teaching practices and to stay current with regard trends in education and resources. I would love for example, more time during the work week  to collaborate with and benefit from the expertise of teachers, administrators and in-house specialists. I wish that I had more time and resources to take full advantage of on-line learning opportunities by attending webinars (which often take place during the day), reading blogs, participating in online forums and otherwise connecting with professionals.  Currently, this all happens outside of work hours between planning and marking and parent contacts. I do it (a lot!), I love it(!), it’s necessary and it’s really worth(!) it but it is time consuming. … and even though I spend a lot of time doing the above I know that there’s so much more that I want to share and learn!

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.


For Teachers: Different Ways to Communicate With Parents – 25 Suggestions

For Teachers: Different Ways to Communicate With Parents –
25 Suggestions

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see me using a variety of methods/means to communicate with parents on a regular basis … even before Day #1!

I believe strongly in establishing strong ties/bonds between home and school … after all, we are all here for the child.

Together we can make a great team!

I hope that you find this list to be of some use …


27 Suggestions

  1. Class Blogs/Websites – to be updated regularly
  2. Class Parents – volunteers who communicate regularly with all parents on your behalf
  3. Class Celebrations – Thanksgiving Pot Luck, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Winter Festival, Carnival, Remembrance Day, Earth Day, Mother’s Day Tea, Year End Party, etc.
  4. Curriculum Share –  After school events during which students lead parents through various curriculum related centres
  5. Email personal notes/updates- anytime / anywhere
  6. Email Newsletters
  7. Information “Easel” outside the classroom – posted information
  8. Face-to-Face Meetings
  9. Fundraisers – student driven & parent/teacher supported
  10. Home Journals – Students write a weekly letter home to parents describing their week & parents respond (see:
  11. Homework agendas – a very effective means of communication between home and school
  12. Interviews – parent-teacher interviews
  13. Learning Logs to be shared with parents by students on a regular basis (see:
  14. Newsletters / notices – save a tree: keep these to a minimum
  15. Open Door Policy – create a welcoming environment
  16. Parent Bulletin Board – in the hall – post a monthly calendar, weekly timetable, special notices, examples of student work, etc.
  17. Parent Night – early in September in order to introduce yourself & your program
  18. Parent Volunteers for activities, special days/activities, field trips, etc.
  19. Personal Notes/Letters home
  20. Post signs & notices on your front door
  21. Report Cards
  22. Stage a Poetry Slam
  23. Start the year off – prior to Day #1 – with a phone call & a postcard/letter home
  24. Telephone – makes calls regularly – report on strengths as well as needs; both good news and issues that need to be addressed
  25. Test Binder – include tests, quizzes, reports, etc. to be reviewed and signed by parents (includes student, parent & teacher reflections)

The Teach & Tell

The “Teach & Tell”

If you were  a fly on my classroom wall you would see my students presenting a “Teach & Tell” three times a year (once per term). This activity is simply a variation of a favourite for many students in the primary grades: “Show and Tell”.  This practice provides students with an opportunity to share individual areas of expertise/interest & to  develop their speaking and listening skills as well.

A “Teach and Tell” requires that students teach their classmates about something that is of interest to them. Students tell the class about something they like or do well, and then teach the class about, or how to do it. Presentations must also include some sort of visual model (a poster, model, or related item).

This activity encourages students to make organized, engaging oral presentations, while developing effective speaking and listening skills. The Teach and Tell is also a great way to increase class interconnectedness as students learn important things about one another’s interests and skills.

Some of our most memorable presentations last year were “The Basics of Football”, “Why Is It That Birds Can Fly?”, “How Magnets Work”, “No Bullies!”, “How to Make The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!”, “How to Add and Subtract Using an Abacus”, ”Motorcycle Maintenance”,  “Sudoku Puzzles”, and “How To Play King’s Corner and Solitaire”.

Students have a tremendous amount of knowledge and many outside interests to share. The “Teach and Tell” gives them an opportunity to be successful academically using something that they love to do and do well.

How We Answer Comprehension Questions in Grade 5

How We Answer Comprehension Questions in Grade 5

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would “see” that this is how we address comprehension questions in Grade 5.
We are very methodical, & yet flexible & organic in our approach.

This process becomes second nature to
my students quite quickly … it becomes automatic … & in fact, should I ever miss a step they are quick to remind me.

Just thought I’d share.


Our Method:

•    Review the previous chapter. Discuss “seeds”. Ask questions … share ideas … wonder why … make predictions. Note: As with the other “steps” (& anything worth doing) it is very important to take one’s time … never rush … savour contributions, ideas & moments shared.

•    Turn to the questions. Read the questions prior to reading the chapter. Ensure that they are properly understood. Discuss any new vocabulary. Make predictions.

•    Highlight any words that will most likely appear in the answer. Take an educated guess. Doing this helps to set yet another purpose for reading, direct questions and also “helps” with spelling.

•    Should students come across answers to questions during our read aloud they mark the page with a post it.This is helpful as they can then move on quickly – and find the answer & page number easily when the time comes. As we stop to discuss readings frequently along the way students are use to reflecting and then returning to text seemingly without skipping a beat.