Friday, June 05, 2015

Looking Ahead Blog Hop

Hello Readers,

I am writing this blog post with a little over 3 weeks left of the 2015 school year. I will be sad to see this group of students move on to high school, but I really need my summer to rest up. I have joined up with some great English Language Arts bloggers to help you plan now for next year's start up.

Tip #1: Use the Photocopier Before You Leave


I never leave at the end of the school year without having my first day photocopies completed or at least easily accessible in a folder. Basic items like Student Information and Interest Forms, Reading and Writing Surveys and Back to School Bingo. These are items I use every year and I know will be useful for the first day as I am trying to get to know my students.

Tip #2: Reduce Prep by Using Long Term Assignments

I love year long assignments that students can get familiar with the routine and format, so they develop more independence as learners. My favourite product in my store that I use every year in my classroom is my Genre Based Independent Reading Assignments. Here is a detailed blog post about them, and how I use them. Each month students must read a certain genre. By the end of the school year students have been exposed to more than just their "go to" genre.

What do you do in your classrooms to help with the back to school rush?

Leave a comment below so we can all learn from your expertise.
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Don't forget to read the other great posts in this Looking Ahead Blog Hop.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Social Media Tips for Teachers

Teachers are public figures. We might not be on the covers of magazines, but our private lives are definitely topics of discussion in the media.

Recently, I have seen news articles of teachers being disciplined for their social media activity. When you enter into this profession you agree to maintain a high level of professionalism both at school and home.

You do not stop being a teacher once you leave for the day, we are all "brand ambassadors" for our chosen profession. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that teachers' conduct out of school can be used to judge their suitability for their job.

Lesson #1: Social Media is not PRIVATE.
No matter how hard you try to keep your life private on social media, you create a digital footprint that can be seen by search engines, anyone on your friend's list and sometimes people on their friend's list. It is important to review your privacy settings on your social media account regularly to ensure you are comfortable with the amount of information you are sharing with people. Anything can captured via a screen shot. Your private post can be screen captured, and then posted in a public area for all to see or emailed to anyone.

Lesson #2: Be Mindful of Your Social Media Posts
Anything you post can eventually be traced back to you, and could potentially risk your job depending on the policies of your employer. Social media is not the place post a rant about how much you dislike your place of employment, a colleague, a new educational policy, etc. Social media is great for sharing ideas and photos to keep in touch with your family and friends. Recently, a teacher came under investigation with her place of employment, because of a Pinterest Pin she pinned. A parent found it inappropriate and reported her. This was on her private Pinterest account, not her school account, but she is still having to explain her actions to her employer.

Lesson #3: Ensure Your Photos Are Appropriate 
Potential employers, current employers, parents and colleagues are capable of running a Google Search and Social Media search to find out more information about you. Would you want to risk your job because you posted inappropriate photos of yourself to social media? I personally only share photos of my home renovation projects, my pets and sometimes special outings. Life is meant to be lived, not experienced through a computer screen. Do a quick Google Search of variations of your name. Are you happy with the images and information that comes up? Only post photos that you would be comfortable showing to any parent, school board employee or student. If it is does not meet that criteria, then don't click post.

Lesson #4: Oversharing of Personal Data
With the increase of identity theft on the rise, we should not be filling out every box on the profile section of our social media pages. We should also not be "checking in" our locations. These are huge privacy risks. Do you want people to know you always go out to dinner Saturday nights, meaning your house is left unattended? The more personal information you share, the easier it is for people to steal your identity, or use your information for ill means. Computer passwords are often tied to names of special dates, people, events or animals in your life.

Lesson #5: Turn Off Geotagging on your Phone
When Geotagging is turned on in your phone, it puts metadata into your photos. This means that anyone with a computer can access the specific GPS coordinates of where your photos were taken. A quick Google search will explain how to turn off this feature in your specific phone.

Lesson #6: Do Not Friend or Follow Students 
Teacher-Student relationships are professional in nature and should not be carried into the social media digital world. It is best that student-teacher relationships remain in the classroom during school hours only. You are an adult and do not need to be friends with your students.

Lesson #7: Do Not Friend Parents on Social Media
To maintain professionalism parents of your students should not be on your friend's list. This could be seen as a conflict of interest. I have never once asked to friend on social media my doctor, dentist, lawyer, veterinarian or other professionals. If you teach and live in the same area that relationships may overlap due to geography, you need to re-think about your social media accounts.

Lesson 8: Maintain Professionalism At All Times
All text based interactions are subject to the interpretation of the reader. In person discussions are best. Remember even "private" conversations, text messages, video chats can be recorded, screen captured.

Social media is a great collaborative tool when used appropriately. I have expanded my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and connected with many great educators around the globe.

Want more advice check out this website.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sailing Into Summer Fantastic Ideas to End the Year School

Hello Readers,

I am linking up with some great blogs to help you sail more smoothly into summer.

Below are some of my favourite year end tips.

Final Exam Tip

Give students time in class to review for the exam. I turn exam prep questions into race, challenges and stations where students get to review with different people each time.

Classroom Tip to Remember 

Students enjoy when you use their names or your pets names as examples on quizzes and tests. My students always liked to see what my cat or dog was buying or building on our math tests.

Classroom Thing to Change for Next Year

Next year I will have and assign classroom jobs. It will give students more ownership of their classroom if they know exactly who is accountable for what task.

Year End Gift Idea 

People love tumblers with built in straws to hold their water or summer drinks. You could also put a roll of lifesavers or other cute candy in the tumbler to thank people for being a "lifesaver" or a "smarty".

Classroom Organization Tip

Label everything. I mean everything. When my classroom items migrate to other parts of the building they always return home! It also makes putting things away easy if students know exactly where the papers, textbooks and extra pens are housed.

I still have a month left to go with my eighth graders, but I am excited for the teachers whose summer is starting soon.

Have a great summer!
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Check out these other great end of the year ideas.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Calming the Chaos Year End Teacher Survival Tips

Welcome to the 3rd annual Calming the Chaos blog link up of year end tips for teachers.

Every year we strive to bring you new useful year end ideas that you can implement in your classroom tomorrow, or modify to suit your class' specific needs.

After you read the tips on this blog, be sure to check out the links below for other fantastic ideas from real teachers for teachers.

Have a wonderful end to your school year - I still have 2 months to go!

Keep up all of your classroom routines until the last day of school. This is not the time to try a new classroom management system or change routines that your students are familiar with.

Give students a chance to be the teachers. Plan your lessons so students are the ones teaching. You could use the jigsaw small group method or whole class instruction. I love to put students in charge of year end review.

Have your current students write an advice letter to your future students. In the letter, have your students write survival tips for achieving success in your grade. I save these for the first day of the new school year.

Want no prep resources to keep your students engaged during the last few weeks? Check out these items from my store. 

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Other fantastic ideas below!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Canadian Teaching Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers

Scroll down the page Find your grade range Click on a logo to find Canadian Teaching Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Grades 7 to 12

Grades 4 to 6

Kindergarten to Grade 3