Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What is a PLC?

For a dummies guide, check the Wikipedia page.

If you choose not to click over to Wikipedia (and I don't blame you, the information isn't always reliable), here's a few key points:

1.  "To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than on teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results."
2. It's "a shared vision or running a school in which everyone can make a contribution, and staff are encouraged to collectively undertake activities and reflection in order to constantly improve their students’ performance."
3.From SEDL: " the teachers in a school and its administrators continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn. The goal of their actions is to enhance their effectiveness as professionals so that students benefit."
4. Alberta Education"The indispensable foundation is to focus on learning, not teaching."
5. Professionally Speakingwhere teachers and administrators take an active, reflective, collaborative, learning-oriented and growth-promoting approach to the mysteries and challenges of teaching and learning. PLC has come to mean schools where the entire staff is involved in data-based decision making about student needs, where they define school goals and directions to meet those needs and engage in ongoing study, discussion, testing and reflection to change their practice.

  1. supportive and shared leadership,
  2. collective creativity,
  3. shared values and vision,
  4. supportive conditions, and
  5. shared personal practice.

I'd heard of PLC's before, but I didn't really get what it meant. I couldn't grasp the concept from the subject matter it was presented in, and thought it meant all circle where you interact with other teachers. I supposed how I interact with all of you by commenting on your blogs, and replying to your comments on mine are part of my learning process, but they are not actually a PLC, because we will not be meeting and discussing outcomes and looking for solutions together, officially at least.

I hope that wherever I end up teaching next year I get to be part of a collaborative process like a PLC. I think it will have a deeper impact on my teaching than being TOLD to do something. Just like our students, I can be stubborn, and if I have some choice in the design, I am more likely to participate.

Has your school tried to implement this way of teaching and learning yet?

Friday, March 29, 2013

This Person is a.... teacher edition.

If you're following me on Facebook, you've probably already seen these, but hop on over to my Facebook page  to see many more ready to share on your Personal Facebook pages, or wherever, I'm not picky!

Here a a couple, but click through to see the entire collection on Facebook:


If I haven't created a card that matches your preferred school title, please leave a comment here or on Facebook, and I will make one for you ASAP. Please Enjoy!


No, not looking through sand for pretty rocks, or silt for gold and diamonds.

SIFT is the acronym for School Improvement Facilitation Team.

Does your school have one?

Do you know what it is?

The same school I spoke about the other day is implementing this initiative from Wayne Hulley.

Wayne Hulley

SIFT is supposed to help plan for school and student success. The website is pretty vague on giving an introduction to get you interested, but registration is free, and you can access past webinars for free, and there are a few free (actually more than a few, check it out, so much reading to do, where do I start?) resources available once you join. They also offer free resources through their twitter page.

After reading a few of the Free resources so I get a better handle on this subject, I've come to the realization that this has A TON to do with PLC's. Actually  I see nothing to do with SIFT on the webpage, and a lot about PLC's.

What is a PLC? It is an ongoing, continuing, repeating collaborative process throughout your year/teaching experience, where you work with other teachers to look for solutions, implement ideas/programs/initiatives, and then report on results. After each report you continue these consultations with your group and look for new solutions and implement further changes. Each time, your teaching should get better, and learning will increase.

On the subject of learning, one of the papers I read which I downloaded from their twitter says that school should be focused on the learning, not on the teaching. If you really think about it, there's a huge difference between the two, which is why it is important to participate in your PLC, because it will help you find solutions to ongoing learning difficulties.

I have SO much more reading to do on this subject, but it's really starting to make sense to me.

What is you experience with SIFT pr with PLC's?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Criminal Record Checks

I don't know about you, but since I'm not settled on a place to work next year, not even what province, I have a lot of preparing to do with each new application.

For my criminal record check I have to go to my local police station or apply online. And it has to include a vulnerable sector check because I'll be working with children. Online is done through mybackcheck, thankfully the link for doing it for Halifax allows you to do the whole thing.

For $50!
I remember paying a lot less than that every other time I've requested a check. But they have you by the balls, so to speak, because you can't get a teaching job without being cleared of offences, at least not in Canada.

Plus, if something comes up and you have the same name, birthday or gender, they require you to go to police headquarters and get your fingerprints done electronically, which will cost you (me), an additional $25. Gee Whiz!

Some of the jobs I've seen advertised specifically request an RCMP check, but for now I'm just going to be providing this one. If they request the RCMP check, I'll get it then, but this is a national search  so it should be good enough. I hope.

I think I should have done this sooner, but last time I got one done the RCMP did it, and it was finished (including Vulnerable section) while I waited.

I filled out my online application this week, and was told that once my information was verified, it would only take about 3 days before the results are dropped in my online account. That's SO much better than the more than 2 weeks you're expected to wait for doing it in person. I wonder if that is by design to encourage folks to do it online and save the officers at the front desk some time?

In any case  I was unable to verify my ID at the end of the application, because I got one or more of the questions wrong about me. Can you imagine? lol.

So they provided a list of Post Offices to go to to get a form I had to download stamped by the worker there who would verify my ID and scan the form immediately.

So my fingers are crossed that I'll have my criminal record check with vulnerable sector check in my digital hands by weeks end, but since it's Easter weekend, I figure I won't see it until Tuesday at the earliest.

Does your board/School require Criminal Record Checks? What is your experience with them?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Have you heard about PAX? It's not a new behaviour management program, but it's new to me.

I haven't been trained in it, but I have done some reading about it in the last 48 hours.

I applied to a job in a school which is apart of Manitoba's pilot program for the implementation of this, and as such, I decided it would be good to become familiar with it in case I get offered an interview and they ask a question about my familiarity with the program.

Here's a basic run down for my fellow PAX newbies, like myself.

1. PAX is Latin for Peace.
2. PAX is a game students play in class starting from day one until the last day of classes.
3. It is based on 40 years of research.
4. It was designed by a teacher, not "experts" who've never set foot inside a classroom.
5. It involves a harmonica.
6. Students work in teams.
7. The sign for quiet is the two fingered peace sign (or originally victory in Europe)
8. Bad behaviour is called a Spleen.
9. Unlike Whole Brain teaching, students are only playing the game for a short time each day, but good behaviour is shown to continue/be more common through out the day than without a similar program.
10. Students start the year playing the game for a few minutes several times a day, maybe 3 days of the week, hopefully 5 days a week.
11. During regular class time, students compete against each other to show the best behaviour. They need to stay on task for the assigned period of time, and if their group succeeds with a minimum of spleens, they get a prize.
12. Grandma's Wacky Prizes: If they win a prize, they get one of these. ten seconds of a wacky activity. Make silly noises, giggles, hop around the room, tap your pencil on the desk, etc.
13. Can bank prizes for a larger prize such as a popcorn party, pyjama day etc.
14. Set timer, and at the end of ten seconds, the teacher plays the harmonica to signal the class to regain control.
15. Tootles are the opposite of a tattle. Thanks students for the positive things they are doing.

I'm not sure how many types of games there are.

A YouTube video which may help introduce you:

Some images:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are you enabling your students?

Do you give answers, or teach your students to figure things out for themselves?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Facebook Page

I'm a little Scared, I just started a Facebook page for my blog. A lot of my teacher friends don't blog, and most don't even read them, so I wanted a safe place to share ideas along the same lines as here on Reading With Mrs. D.

I hope you'll join me there!

If you follow me on Facebook, I'll do the same to you, if you leave me a note there.

Hopefully in time I'll figure out how to add those fancy Facebook buttons on my blog, but not tonight. Sweet dreams!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A new t-shirt for "Mean" teachers

Great to wear on days with no students, and when hanging out with any teachers friends.

Would you wear it?
 I might...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Free Online PD!

Like most teachers (I hope), I love learning.

As part of that, I'm always looking for new things to learn so that when I someday get back in a classroom (my fingers are crossed, and I pray regularly for this September), I'll be the best teacher I can be, and will not have gotten too rusty.

A year ago while on Maternity leave, I discovered Whole Brain teaching (WBT), and have done lots of reading and video watching of that. I will definitely be bringing aspects of that into my future classroom.

But did you know there are a whole slew of other great free resources out there to help you  improve your classroom?

Here are just a few:

1. The Positive Engagement Project: This was started by one of the founders of WBT, and takes a similar stance on many things, but has some great fresh ideas! They have some similar classroom management activities, lessons for Language Arts and Math, as well as a great program for Character Education. It's not PD in the traditional sense, but if you read their programs, and begin to use it, you will have developed as a teacher.

2. Intel Teach Elements: This site is more than a single PD course, its a collection of many. designing Blended Learning, Inquiry in the Science Classroom, Collaboration in the Digital Classroom, and a few more.

3. Alison: I believe this is British, but it has at least a few classes relevant to any teacher. They seem to actually be a funnel of courses offered across the internet, as some courses I have clicked on come from the US. I think I'm going to take Children's Studies  as a review. They also offer: Diploma in Outdoor and Physical education Studies, Social Work Studies, Managing safety and Health in Schools, Childhood and Youth Studies, Physical Education: Coaching Styles and TechniquesFundamentals of Storytelling (which I just started!), and several more! These are just the ones I'm humming about right now. 

4. Concept to Classroom: A couple Samples from this source include After School Programs- From vision to Reality, Making Family and Community Connections, and Webquests. There are only 13 courses right now, but you may find something you;d be interested in.

5. Open Education: There are so many to choose form here! Education around the Planet, Dyslexia Quiz, Open Education, and Film Music in the Classroom. There's a huge variety to find here.

6. ESL: Just what it said. This will be especially useful to teachers with second language learners in their regular classroom, and those working in immigrant communities.It's presented through weekly e-mails. If I end up on a reserve whee the primary home language isn't English, I may definitely look into this one.

7. Teachers Without Borders: I'm trying to navigate this site, but you have to register to join and get full access. Registration is free, and mine is pending. They currently offer two courses, each of which you can take as paid, instructor led, or free, self paced. I'm very interested in the Peace Education Course. Courses change often  it seems.

8. ASCD: They offer webinars, to the best of my knowledge which are free to watch and participate in, as the future ones have set dates and times.They also have a database of past webinars, which may have something you'd like to study. They have a series of courses about the common core, for those of yo in the states, and one called Classroom instruction  that works, based on the book of the same name.

What free PD opportunities have you found?

Once I take and finish some courses, I'll blog about them, and link back here.

Field trip trouble makers

Do your students ever make trouble for you when you're on field trips?
Do you feel the need to make sure there's a chaperone sittting in the back of the bus?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Job Hunt 2013

So I've officially begun looking for a teaching job for 2013. I sent off one application so far, to Flin Flon Manitoba, and am considering reapplying to the reserve I previously taught on for two years.

But I am also focusing my search on Alberta instead on Manitoba because my husband has a branch of his company there, and he could easily transfer.

I wish we could stay in Nova Scotia, but there are fewer than None jobs here for teachers. It's getting depressing.

So I've started doing research into the schools and communities I see advertised for next year, and have my fingers crossed.

I worry what type of questions I'll be asked, and how to answer them, and how long an answer to give.

My fingers are crossed!

Are you using your skills to create?

Are you carving our natural resources (our students) into something better?

Monday, March 18, 2013

A teachers hands

After writing on the whiteboard/chalkboard, and doing a ton of marking all day, what do your hands look like at the end of the day?

I'll admit to getting marker and pen all over my hands. I hope that's a sign of a good teacher...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Do you use your students names in questions?

I liked to use my students names in tests throughout the year and as part of spelling word sentences during the test. I was taught that it made them feel good.
What are your thoughts? Do you use student names on worksheets and as examples?

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