14 Jan

#OneWordOnt: My Word? Radical.

I have read several of the #OneWordOnt posts and continue to be inspired by how many dedicated, caring, compassionate teachers we have in our profession. Ontario is in the beginning stages of what we hear is a “Refresh” of our curriculum. As teachers, we don’t know what it will look like. We’re usually the last to know about these things. However, I can’t help but think that this gives us an opportunity to rethink our classrooms and our practice. The more I think about it, the more I feel, deep in my bones, that the word that will guide my teaching, that continues to guide my teaching is: Radical.

11 Sep

Week One: The Joy of New Beginnings

I have always loved new beginnings. There's something really special about that blank sheet of paper, the possibility of the new. As the school year approached, the lessons were planned, the ideas still in their ideal state of endless possibilities, there was some anxiety. There always is. As a teacher, I hope that my students will feel welcomed, comfortable and cared for on those first few days, when everyone is nervous.

In past years, I have brought in treats to welcome students or for special occasions. This year, given the extreme heat that we had and the lack of air conditioning in our school, I decided to go another way. I hauled bags of ice, a cooler and soft drinks up the three flights of stairs so that my students would have some way of cooling down. It went over very well. There was a lot of care and attention  put into my room for that first day of school. My children and I came in the week prior to clean desks (yes, they helped out!) and place tables and chairs in the classic double-u-shape that I love for classroom discussions. 

The first day of the school year I try to get to know my students a bit better and to allow them to get to know me. This year, I opened the year with some inspirational quotes, a quick slideshow overview of my summer, and some games. Students picked questions out of my basket that they answered when introducing themselves (gets over that "I don't know what to say" hump). We played "Two truths and a lie" (some students got pretty creative with that one!). We laughed a little and learned a little about each other. 

05 Sep

Welcome 2016 Students and Parents!

Is it really that time? Is summer really over? I hope that you all have squeezed every last ounce of fun out of this summer and are well-rested and ready for the year ahead.

I want to welcome you all to this new school year. Tomorrow I will meet my new students and you will meet me, but today is full of possibilities. My hope is that we can all hold on to those wonderful possibilites and take them with us into the upcoming year.

This year, I embrace change with my students. I have switched departments, from English to Social Science and I look forward to digging into these subject areas. I loved my university courses in the Social Sciences, as they inspired me to think differently about the world and the people who inhabit it. Perhaps now more than ever it is important for us to understand the relationships between individuals and groups, what makes them work, and where the pitfalls may be so that we can work to avoid them. 

08 Sep

Welcome 2015 Students and Parents!

There's something really special about new beginnings. The first day of school is an opportunity to start fresh and to embrace all of the exciting learning opportunities to come. I met some of my classes today and I look forward to meeting more tomorrow. We will be getting to know each other this week, a process that will continue throughout the year. I look forward to hearing about your learning goals, but for now, I thought I'd share some of mine.

  1. Social Justice: In previous years, students have really loved units that had connections to issues and struggles that they see in the news and in our community. This year, I'd like to pursue learning opportunities that allow students to explore social justice and to have a voice in their community.
  2. Going Paperless (or as close as possible): Let's be honest, English teachers are well-known tree killers. I'd like to change that, at least a little. On the first day of school (due to Ministry regulations), I'm required to do a large paper distribution of course outlines (though they're all available on this website), forms and more forms. Once those are complete, my students and I will use Google Classroom (available through the school, in the TDSB network through AW). This is the first year that I have used this tool and I look forward to seeing its potential. Among other things, students will have 24/7 access to their assignments (both assigned and marked), they will be able to see upcoming due dates (as well as past due assignments), and best of all, they will be able to get feedback before they turn in an assignment as it gives teachers the ability to comment on student work as it is being done! It all sounds very exciting and I hope that we will be able to learn together how best to use it.
  3. Blogging: The year goes by so quickly and I'd like to try to document it at regular intervals. I'd like to publish my own reflections as a teacher, as well as to showcase student work (with their permission, of course). I hope this year to "learn out loud" and in so doing, strengthen my practice and reflect on the learning (successes and failures) in my professional practice.
01 Sep

Welcome 2014 Students and Parents!

Hello! Another school year is about to begin. Are you as excited as I am? 

If you're new to my classes, I look forward to meeting you this week. If you've been in my class before, you're probably already familiar with my website. Please browse through your class section and come back often, as content is posted regularly.

This website is designed for students in my class AND their parents/guardians. It is a space where I post class notes and ideas for further thought, homework, due dates, upcoming assignments, videos, articles and more. It is my hope that this content will encourage you to have conversations about our course and its materials outside of the classroom. Please feel free to email me if you ever have any questions or concerns.

To use this website, simply look over to the far right column ---> 

In the section marked "Classes", you should find your course code. Click on the class and you'll be taken to the landing page for that course. The landing page has important info: course outlines, course materials, information on reminders (text messages that I can send to students and parents to remind them of upcoming due dates or other important information). As we move through the course, I will continue to add content in each unit (new units will appear as we go through them). You can always go back and see old posts and content. I will keep all of the content up until the course ends in June (great for an exam review).