Thursday, March 28, 2013

Education 1.0-3.0

This chart is from an article entitled: Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leadership Qualities Teachers Want in a Principal

To read this article from its original source, click here, or continue reading the article in its entirety below...

Every year in the United States, an estimated 500,000 teachers leave their schools, with only 16% of the departures the result of retirement. The bulk of teachers leave for a variety of other reasons, including whether or not they perceive their school’s leadership to be effective.

Without strong leadership, it is much easier for good teachers to walk away, either to another school or another career. Let’s take a look at some of the leadership qualities that teachers most desire in a principal.

Builds a sense of community

Perhaps the single most important quality a principal can have is the ability to create a sense of community. Effective principals understand that the adults and children in their schools need a healthy, safe and supportive environment in order to thrive. A community-building principal works to avoid teacher isolation, negativity and resistance; instead, he or she encourages an upbeat, respectful and supportive professional environment. Positive solutions and growth are the norm, not the exception.

Knows how to hire good teachers

One of the best things a principal can do for his or her school is to hire the right teachers. In addition to making sure a candidate has a strong educational background and excellent references, principals can use behavior-based interviewing techniques to get a realistic idea of how well a candidate will perform in the classroom. Behavior-based interviewing operates on the premise that past behavior best predicts future performance. Typical questions begin with, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …” and can be highly effective in determining how a candidate will handle real-life situations.

Fosters growth and professional development

When teachers are presented with a clear path to advancement they are more apt to stay at their current school. By providing in-school leadership opportunities – as well as by making professional development accessible, affordable and rewarding – principals demonstrate their commitment to helping staff members grow professionally and excel in the classroom. Also, good principals build on their teachers’ strengths, encouraging them to share knowledge, experience and skills with each other, as opposed to turning a blind eye to unhealthy competition or seniority-based inequality.

Advocates for the school to stakeholders

Nearly every educational framework policy depends on strong community involvement, so much so that the National Association of Secondary School Principals identifies community engagement as a core element of its leadership development agenda. Because a lack of resources is one of the leading catalysts for teacher attrition, principals need to be powerful advocates to their school’s stakeholders in order to gain greater access to necessary resources. Increasingly, schools understand that there is a direct connection between community and parent involvement and improved academic performance.

The primary stakeholders in any school community are families, staff, business partners and the public. Each of these categories requires different styles and approaches to engagement. For example, families may have language and cultural differences or an earlier negative experience with school officials. In order to encourage continued involvement and support, principals need to make a concerted effort to understand the priorities and preferences of the various categories of stakeholders.

Communicates Effectively

Good communication is one of the most crucial components of teacher satisfaction; the best principals will routinely examine their communication skills then apply a variety of styles through the school day. There are a few things principals can ask themselves in an ongoing effort to improve in this area:

Who did I communicate with today, even if it was for just a brief moment? (List every single person from kindergartener to visiting teacher.)

Are my reasons for communicating helping lead my school through positive changes and improvements?

Do I communicate in a way that contributes to meaningful problem solving?

Does my communication style help to strengthen working relationships among my staff?

What areas of communication are the most difficult for me? How can I work to improve in these areas?

Great organizations of all types require great leadership and this is especially true in education. In today’s evolving educational landscape, it is more critical than ever for principals to demonstrate to their staff, students and community that they have what it takes to guide their schools to success.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rebuilding Through Education: A Conversation With First Nations Educator Troy Hill

The ETFO magazine ETFO Voice has done an article on one of our own First Nations educators, Troy Hill.
Click on the link to read the article from the original source or continue reading the article (in full) below:

Rebuilding Through Education: A Conversation With First Nations Educator Troy Hill

You gave a presentation at the ETFO Solidarity Study Group last year. What was your presentation about?
During the presentation, I talked about sharing knowledge about First Contact between European and First Nations people from an Indigenous perspective with students. My intention was to encourage teachers to engage with knowledge from our people instead of just about them – since these perspectives are often left out of the history that we teach our students. I talked about how we develop critical thinking about First Contact with the classroom and share Indigenous perspectives. My goal was for teachers to take away hands-on lessons they could easily incorporate into their teachings regarding our people.
I know that you came to teaching later in your career. How did you decide that teaching was what you wanted to do?
What inspired my journey towards a career change was meeting my father and knowing that for 30 years I had misplaced blame for my experiences. This meeting also inspired me to pursue my education. Through the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University, I learned more about the history of colonization of Native people and the impacts of residential schools over the generations, and this helped me explain and contextualize my own story. Armed with this knowledge, I wanted to both heal myself and share what I had learned from our old people and fluent Mohawk speakers with students in the education system. The education system benefits so much from obtaining the perspective of Native people.
How can teachers incorporate Aboriginal traditions/learnings into their classrooms?
Teachers can continue bringing First Nations knowledge into their classrooms by thinking critically about topics like First Contact, acknowledging who has written many of the history books, and embracing Indigenous scholars, Contemporary North American thinkers and what I call Turtle Island pedagogy. There are many perspectives from our people and picking up a book, an article, a simple local Indigenous news-feed on the Internet could integrate critical thinking into a classroom. Going further than teachings, I strongly urge school boards to seek out Native teachers to employ within their schools. And of course, keep developing your Indigenous portfolios by signing up for teachings through ETFO or Indigenous educational conferences.
Do Aboriginal students have different needs than non-Aboriginal students? If so, how can teachers take these into account in a classroom?
Yes, we do have different needs. Fortunately, we are arriving at a place where this question is being asked. We are every statistic calculated for limited success in education, i.e., health, socioeconomics, structural organization, lack of resources, I could go on and on. Basically Native students are the most likely to be pushed out of the education system, and where I have seen true success is where there is true representation of our people as teachers. Students need to touch, feel, see success; they need to see someone like them, coming from the same place as them to be successful. Asking the question “Do Aboriginal students have different needs” is a perfect place of recognition and a good starting point. It is important that teachers promote a safe environment for self-identification of our Native youth, making space for the First Nations students in your classroom to take pride in who they are and researching together to educate one another on the specifics of a child’s nation.
What are your challenges as a Native teacher?
Native people are arguably 3 to 5 percent of the population of Canada, and just as there could only be one or two Native students in the classroom, there are even fewer Native people in the staff room. Because we are such a small percentage of the overall population, and due to the underlying educational attainment factors, our people and our pedagogy are even more scarcely represented in the staff room. More Native teachers in the classroom would lead to greater sharing of differentiated knowledge. We are neighbours living side by side going down the same river as demonstrated in our Two Row Wampum.
We are at a beginning point in our relationship. We must remember that it was education that was the separation point, colonization and residential schools. Now we are both healing, beginning to listen to one another’s stories, our histories, and our relationship. As tough as it is for a Native student, it is the same struggle along this journey for our Native teachers.
I love what I do and feel fortunate for the opportunities that have been given to me. My hope is that we continue on this path of healing and listening and learning. I am grateful for this opportunity to speak from the perspective of a Mohawk man, a perspective that has been silenced for 30 years. So although my challenge as a teacher may be the same as our students’, my hope is that our students continue to get their voice back and I am feeling and seeing it happen each day.
Are there resources that you would recommend to teachers?
Having our people teaching in the classrooms and at every PD day is essential – people are the best resources. Check out, a Native-owned and operated business that features educational resources for schools, libraries, and the general public, for grades from kindergarten to post-secondary. They are located in Six Nations of the Grand, Ontario. As for book recommendations, have a look at Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup. This read-aloud book is based on the Thanksgiving Address of the Iroquois people and reflects the Native American tradition of greeting the world each morning by giving thanks to all living things. I would also recommend And Grandma Said: Iroquois Teachings as Passed Down Through the Oral Tradition by Tom Porter, as a PD resource that talks about the major events embedded in Iroquois oral history and ceremony, from the story of creation, to the beginnings of the clan system, to the four most sacred rituals and the beginnings of democracy.
Troy Hill, Mohawk, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, is a Grade 7/8 transition teacher at J.C. Hill Elementary School, Six Nations. 
Kelly Hayes is the coordinator of Equity and Women’s Services at ETFO. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

BASEF Public viewing day

Our staff and students are at BASEF speaking to the public and BASEF TV about their science discoveries. Many impressive projects and from what I hear, very impressive interviews. Awards ceremony is just an hour away. No matter what happens, we should all be very proud of their accomplishments. Thank you to parents and guardians and teaching staff that helped support the youth in their academic achievement.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seven Must-Have Centers for Math Class Eye On Education

Seven Must-Have Centers for Math Class Eye On Education (click the link to see this article from its original source or continue reading the article in full below)

Guided Math in Action  >>Teachers, coaches, and supervisors will learn how to help elementary school students build mathematical proficiency with the standards-based, differentiated, small-group instruction strategies in Guided Math in Action: Building Each Student's Mathematical Proficiency with Small-Group InstructionDr. Nicki Newton provides lots of actual templates, graphic organizers, black-line masters, detailed lesson plans, and student work samples. In this tip, Dr. Nicki shares seven must-have centers that can be used in an elementary school math class.
  1. Basic Fact Center
    You want to be sure to have a center where students can practice their basic math facts. In this center, they can quiz each other on flash cards or sort the flash cards by specific strategies. 
  2. Hot Topics Review Center
    In this center students review all the skills that they have worked on during the year so far and even skills from the previous year. Students practice money, time, rounding, graphing, and concepts skills in this center. Sometimes I tell the students what they have to work on in this center, but often I let them choose their own topics. I tell them to think about what they need to practice and get better at doing.
  3. Geometry Center
    Students often will say that anything that isn’t green and equilateral isn’t a triangle or that any hexagon that doesn’t look like the one in the pattern blocks box isn’t a hexagon. So you need to have plenty of center activities that deepen their understanding of the attributes of two-dimensional shapes. I encourage teachers to put up a geometry center with Play-Doh, paint, blocks, and scaffolded activities where students can build and explore the attributes of shapes at a more complex level as the year progresses.
  4. Word Problem Center
    In a problem-solving center, students can explore problems at the concrete, pictorial, and abstract level. They can take their time, think about the problems, and act them out with manipulatives, felt, and magnets. They can also write about their problem-solving process and model their thinking. I highly encourage teachers to have a problem-solving center with problems that take more than two minutes to solve.
  5. Math Poem Center
    This is a fun interdisciplinary center. I believe in using math poems, math songs, and math picture books. In this center, students work on a project associated with one of these things that we are doing in class. For instance, they might work on individual versions of a poem or a story. They could also be working on a class math Big Book of a story or poem. They might be working on number writing. Poems help math to come alive.
  6. Math Journal Center
    A math journal center can have students doing very powerful work. In the math journal, the students can explore concepts, work on projects, and really do some high-quality thinking. I encourage teachers to think of math journals as thinking notebooks that help students grapple with mathematical issues. Interactive math journals are an excellent tool for students to showcase their thinking. In these math journals, students make flipbooks, and accordion foldouts and pop-up illustrations of vocabulary to illustrate the math topics they are studying.
  7. Math Vocabulary Center
    Math is a language and students need to know the words to be able to speak it. When teachers tell students to use their math words, they need to know which words to use. A math vocabulary center offers many ways to practice the words from prior units of study as well as engage with the words from the current unit of study. The students can play bingo, tic-tac-toe, match, and concentration as well as do word finds and crossword puzzles. There are also web 2.0 sites where they can make digital math vocabulary flash cards and play math vocabulary games.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TV 411

Nya:weh to Candy Browatzke who discovered this website that has videos on real life situations where people use the skills we teach in school in their everyday occupation or family environment.  It's called TV411 and if you click this link it will take you to the math video section.

There you will find all sorts of examples from carpenter math, sports math, financial math, musical math and how it relates to what we teach in school, like fractions, ratios, measurement, etc.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Virtual Manipulatives from McGraw Hill

Here's an excellent webpage to call up for some math virtual manipulatives, game boards and other assorted visual virtual goodies.  I've added the website to the sidebar for ease of access.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How Mainstream Video Games are Being Used as Teaching Tools

Posted by Ian Jukes on February 4, 2013

“eSchool News offers up new parallels between video gaming and 21st century curriculum in this article. Learn how subjects are continuing to be applied successfully to the gaming platforms that kids love.”

via eSchool News

People who worried that the technology boom would lead to kids playing video games in class were right: In schools around the country, students are playing such games as “Minecraft,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Angry Birds”—and their teachers are encouraging it.

“Video games are not the great evil that people make them out to be,” says Trish Cloud, technology instructor at Torrence Creek Elementary School in Huntersville, N.C., where she created a popular “Minecraft” club.

Cloud is part of a community of educators who love gaming and want to share that passion to help students learn by introducing video games in class. Those educators say that good video games can be used as teaching tools to help students develop an array of skills—from writing and physics to teamwork and problem solving.

Lucas Gillispie, a former biology teacher in coastal Pender County, N.C., is a leader in this national movement. He helped to create a language-arts curriculum tied to “World of Warcraft,” and he launched a grant program for local teachers to incorporate “Minecraft” into their classes.

Those educators say that good video games can be used as teaching tools to help students develop an array of skills—from writing and physics to teamwork and problem solving.

He notes that the fast-paced, globally connected world of digital learning lets educators create new career paths and emerge as leaders, no matter where they work or what their job titles are. And that is exactly the kind of versatility teachers are trying to spark in their students.

What about parents, who might feel clueless and confused? Cloud and Gillispie say the answer is simple: Play the games with your kids.

“Just pay attention and be willing to set aside those tired stereotypes,” says Gillispie, now an instructional technology coordinator for Pender County Schools. “We’ve come a long way since ‘Pac-Man.’”

Learning in Azeroth

Gillispie, 37, grew up playing computer games. He enjoys talking with his high school students about gaming, and it was a student who introduced him to online role-playing games such as “World of Warcraft,” often known as “WoW.”

“WoW” players create an avatar who completes quests in the fantasy realm of Azeroth. They choose a profession, join guilds, and ally themselves with one of two warring factions—the Alliance or the Horde—then face creatures such as dwarves, orcs, and trolls. Players interact with others around the world.

Gillispie’s love of gaming led him from the classroom to the district technology job, where he created a “WoW” club for at-risk middle-school students in 2009. He teamed up with a New York teacher launching a similar club, and the two schools created a guild.

That experience evolved into the “WoW” curriculum, which is designed to meet the standards set in the new Common Core curriculum. For instance, one “quest” requires students to study riddle poetry and share their notes within the guild. They write their own riddle poems based on Azeroth, edit and critique each other, then take their riddles into the wider game world to challenge outsiders.

The free-form nature of gaming creates unexpected lessons, Gillispie says. Once, he says, a group of his students figured out how to cheat another player out of gold coins. The kids were triumphant until Gillispie confronted them about their ethics. They agreed to return the money and write an apology—and they were delighted when the other player commended their honesty.

“It was a moment for us to teach some morality in the virtual world,” he said.

Virtual Legos

While “WoW” isn’t graphically violent, it does involve battles, which might make it inappropriate for younger students.

Enter “Minecraft,” a game that pops players into various environments and requires them to construct shelter from roving “creepers,” spiders, and zombies. There’s also a creative mode that lets players build without attacks.

“It is an infinite sandbox made up of Lego-like blocks,” says Cloud, who learned about the game from her students and her own children, ages 10 and 13.

Cloud, a self-professed “Star Wars” geek, started playing “WoW” a couple of years ago—at age 50—and grew to love it. A teacher’s assistant, she was assigned to run one of Torrence Creek’s two computer labs. When the PTA bought 60 iPads, Cloud says, “It was love at first sight.”

When she announced the “Minecraft” club at the start of this school year, the 60 slots were filled in two days—with almost 40 more students on the waiting list. It’s an after-school club, but Cloud is talking to classroom teachers about ways to use the game in lessons. For instance, she has her older students research North Carolina landmarks and build them to scale in “Minecraft.” Sam Gilbert, a fourth-grader, has built a model of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

On a recent afternoon, second-grader Ross Dorfman was tunneling deep into his world, while third-grader Maddie Kester built a house of diamonds. Maddie said when she’s waiting for dinner at home, she asks to use her parents’ iPad to play “Minecraft.”

“The dynamic nature of video games entices students in a way that simply working toward a grade might not.”

“It makes time go by fast,” she said.

Cloud calls that “flow,” a total absorption that characterizes people playing challenging computer games.

“If we can turn this in a way to take it and make it our own, there’s no limit to what they can do,” she says.

Angry algebra

The best games, whether digital or physical, motivate players to master skills, says Tim Chartier, an associate professor of math at Davidson College. Classroom math, on the other hand, can seem painfully abstract.

Chartier taught a session on math and pop culture for the Charlotte Teachers Institute, which brought together K-12 teachers from public and private schools. During one class, he mentioned that “Angry Birds,” a popular video game that involves catapulting cartoon birds at pigs, uses a parabola without air resistance for the red birds’ trajectory.

Kristianna Luce, a math teacher at North Mecklenburg High, seized that remark and started working “Angry Birds” into her algebra classes. Chartier built on her work to create teaching tools for using “Angry Birds” in algebra.

The dynamic nature of video games entices students in a way that simply working toward a grade might not, Chartier says. “Self-motivation does a lot to keep people moving forward,” he added.

Sharing ideas

As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools works toward expanding digital access, the district has formal groups and central-office staff dedicated to sharing the best ideas about technology in the classroom. Cloud says a CMS technology specialist helped her develop the “Minecraft” club and ideas for linking the game to lessons.

But avid gamers are just as likely to be sharing ideas with online communities. Gillispie has a web page devoted to the use of “WoW,” “Minecraft,” and other games in education. Cloud ticks off a long list of websites and blogs she visits to check in with other educators using games. There’s even a “WoW” guild, called Cognitive Dissonance, made up of educators who share classroom tips while they play, she says.

Valerie Truesdale, who recently took CMS’ top technology job, says she’s fine with the array of alternatives to the traditional chain of communication.

“I think that digital learning and mobile devices are shaking up how everybody learns,” she said. “It’s all-the-time, everywhere learning. Everybody’s a teacher, and everybody’s a learner.”

Monday, March 4, 2013

GAME FOR SCIENCE: A unique virtual world of scientific discovery

GAME FOR SCIENCE: A unique virtual world of scientific discovery

Since February 2009, a number of museums have taken part in a unique collaborative effort: GAME FOR SCIENCE ( This platform, a virtual world dedicated to scientific discovery, was developed by CREO Studios ( with funding from the Canada Media Fund and 25 Canadian and international partners.

One of the keys to engagement in a virtual world is personalization. As they gain experience, students earn talent$, which they use to personalize their avatars with clothing and accessories. At users’ request, designers are pushing this personalization even further by offering players a personal space that serves as a science museum. Budding museum workers can now acquire artefacts, photographs, videos and sound files to create thematic exhibits they can invite their friends to.

In the virtual world, young people 8 to 16 years old choose an avatar and go exploring with their friends. They can go on quests, play entertaining games, and earn neurons and virtual money. A number of museums have used Game for Science to highlight games and videos produced as part of their project supported by the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC), helping to increase the visibility and traffic of these productions. The platform, which receives 35,000 visitors a month, is attracting increasing numbers of Canadian, French, and U.S. teachers thanks to its free teaching resources suitable for elementary, high school, or collegial levels. A number of museums also take part in the GAME FOR SCIENCE Neuron Hunt, an inter-school contest that takes place throughout the school year. Sponsors offer prizes such as tickets and school visits for winning participants and schools.
Ideally, we hope to offer even more artefacts in the future, including objects presented by partner museums. Imagine if players could visit your exhibitions (the real ones) to acquire exclusive (virtual) artefacts provided by your institution. Because at CREO, we also want our virtual world to encourage players to explore the riches of the real world.

This article and link courtesy of the Teachers' Centre.

Friday, March 1, 2013

15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers

Now that oral communications and science fair projects are either well underway or a thing of the past, here are 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers.  Please give one or more of them a whirl and leave a comment to let us know how they went.  If there's one skill our students will definitely need in their future that we can certainly help them with, it is how to be a good online researcher.