Friday, March 25, 2016

Higher Order Thinking through App Smashing in the FSL Classroom

At the fall OMLTA Conference back in October, I presented about moving beyond the boundaries of a single app or tool in order to foster creativity, problem solving and other higher order thinking skills in our students.

You can access my presentation on the OMLTA web site if you are a member. For my colleagues elsewhere, I've decided to share what I presented here on my blog. At some point again in the future, I may revise it a little and re-submit a second proposal to share it again, based on the feedback I got from the session's participants. I was pretty happy with how everything went, and think I could improve it even a little further.

Since the spring OMLTA conference is right around the corner, sharing this has been on my mind as an outstanding "To Do." I'm really excited that for this year, the OMLTA seems to have responded to feedback from the past year or two & now the conference is Friday AND Saturday. In the past, the Thursday afternoon sessions have been hard for teachers to get coverage to attend, and there is an option to JUST pay for the Saturday for those modern language educators whose employers maybe are not supporting them in their efforts to participate in high-quality foreign-language-specific Professional Development.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Secondary Smorgasbord: Sub plans for FSL? Covered!

Oh, the touchy subject of teaching and illness. A couple of years ago, in Ontario the government changed the law so that it essentially stole away sick days which could previously be banked and that some teachers had saved up for years. Since that happened, my philosophy is unless it's ABSOLUTELY necessary I be at the school, if I'm in need of a sick day, I'm darn well going to use it!

I know, I know... it's SOOO hard to plan for a supply teacher when you already aren't feeling well. That's why a little advanced preparation is necessary. Do it early in the year, when you're already working with your class to establish other routines and get things organized. If you didn't do it then, January is a perfect time to get set up right for the rest of the year!

1) Make sure to designate a student or two per class as "Mini-Prof" or "Adjoint-Suppléant" to help ensure that the day runs smoothly and to allow you to take advantage of technology to allow FSL experiences to happen, regardless of whether or not the substitute teacher speaks French. These students can use their own login info to access the internet if your supply teacher cannot.

2) In conjunction with the above tip, you can share links or instructions directly with your students on whatever classroom management tool you might already be using to facilitate things, and eliminate the "but the teacher didn't tell us that" stories that inevitably follow an absence. Train the student helper routinely to project the class blog, Edmodo page, Google Classroom site or whatever you use. Be sure to have them practice this in advance, in your presence.

3) For a sure win, let the students play a game that they are already familiar with. Leave instructions for the Occasional Teacher, but be sure to also leave them a note that the kids KNOW how to run this and that the instructions are purely as a back up, in case of any squabbles and for the teacher's peace of mind.

My past tense oral practice game "Les Indices" is perfect for that! Play it a couple of times with students and then they'll be able to take the lead from there, and happy to do so too!

If you have a copy of the movie The Ant Bully (my school board pays for a licence through our online video resources), grab this set of free true or false questions for the movie, provide instructions to have the sub (or a student!) play the movie in French, and go back to sleep!

Feel free to check out my Chanson de Dimanche activities, freely available through my blog as well. Be sure to leave me a little comment if you used one - I love to know when I've helped someone out!

Many thanks to The ELA Buffet & Desktop Learning Adventures once again for proposing this great topic for middle & secondary bloggers!

Have a great week! Be sure to check out these products if you need a little hand for Sub Lessons!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bright Ideas: Fix your PowerPoint Alignment

For this month's Bright Ideas Link up, I've got a tech tip for you. Not too high tech, so don't get overly excited. :-) It's more of an old school pet peeve of mine. This is for anyone who uses PowerPoint slides they've created in their teaching practice, whether to present lessons, to deliver staff training, or even just to post something as simple as the class agenda on the projector!

You know how PowerPoint is perfectly formatted for making a presentation, in terms of the page size, default orientation, and bulleting? Well, that's all fine & dandy until you want to do something beyond the usual.

For example, for this assignment I included a list of the Ontario drama expectations we were meeting.

But then, what happens when I add in a new section and decide I want two "lists" or groupings instead of soooo many bullet points?

When I go to turn off the bullets...

... the alignment gets all wonky.

So here's how to fix that! First, if you cannot already see the ruler bar (indicated by the blue arrow in this image below) then you need to turn it on. To do that, click View, and then click the checkbox beside Ruler to activate this feature.

Then, you see the little gray markers on either side? These can be adjusted manually as you wish. If you click and drag the rectangular bit at the bottom , it moves both the top and bottom triangles (or pointers), keeping whatever distance between them there is already. The top is for the first line indent and the bottom pointer is for every line after that in a "paragraph".

One last bit... I find it best to type all your text first & then worry about formatting the alignment, sizing and everything elseafteryou have your content more or less in place. PowerPoint can make you nutty if you worry about it too much as you go along... think of it as just one part of the revision process. (Just as you'd go back over to look for typos, fix up your formatting at the same time!)

Note: I don't think this option exists at all within Office 365 if you're using that version, but it does (with minor appearance changes) in all previous versions of PowerPoint.

I hope you liked this tip, and if so, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and TpT for lots of other great stuff! This is also our "Year in Review" post so you can check out my other 2015 blog post for Bright Ideas, as well as revisit a collection of other awesome promo-free tips from the teacher blog posts linked up below. If you wanna go way, way back, 2014's Round up post is still available too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Proud member of the OCT

As a parent, I'm relieved to know that my kids are in good hands each year with teachers who are current on both curriculum expectations, professional standards, and modern approaches to learning.

As an educator, I'm proud to belong to a professional group such as the Ontario College of Teachers. I belong willingly to a number of other associations for my professional networking, access to educational resources and because it's a priority for me to stay upto date with educational trends based on the latest research. The College is unique though. It exists as a self-regulatory body for the K-12 teaching profession in Ontario. This body is responsible for licensing our teachers, setting high standards for them, and ensuring that teacher education programs meet certain specified criteria. As such, it's not an optional professional group. Having worked in other domains as well as teaching (including an education-related position within a hospital setting, and an accounting firm) my opinion is that is that membership in self-regulatory organizations has great benefits and demonstrates trust in a profession. Having OCT after my name acknowledges that I belong to a professional community with high standards, one that is deeply committed to their students as well as to their colleagues.

Ongoing Professional Development that meets my own needs and interests is important to me as a teacher. I participate regularly in a variety of learning activities and professional dialogues, including on Facebook, which those who read my blog regularly will already know. This year, I am contemplating a new challenge - an Additional Basic Qualification course. So far, I've been happy teaching the intermediate-senior set (which is grades 7-10, and then 11-12) but I'm starting to think about moving to a lower grade and I want to be well prepared for that. Because the College approves teacher education programs, we can be assured that the content conforms to the professional expectations which are set out.

In addition to approving courses for teachers' certification in this province, there are both ethical standards as well as professional standards of practice established by the College. Many people think first and foremost of the College's disciplinary role when a certified teacher is accused of breaching one or more of those standards, but I'd argue that the more important role is that those standards are set and communicated in the first place. Proactive rather than simply reactive is surely the way to go when it comes to our children's education and well being. Within the Professionally Speaking magazine (Pour parler profession, for the French version), there is a feature that I personally love which allows teachers to ponder case studies, and determine what the best course of action is, reflecting upon the professional and ethical standards. It's perfect for schools to take a look at within PD sessions or within teams as well as for individual teachers to read at home. Another great thing that the College does is to highlight fantastic teachers and share the aspects of their practice that are exemplary. (Check out my favourite one, highlighting a French teacher I've had the honour to meet and interact with, as well as to share professional discussions online.)

Parents can learn more by signing up for "The Standard" a newsletter geared specifically for parents who wish to know more about teacher accreditations and similar topics.

Teachers can check out the Professional Advisories issued by the College, consult the publications they receive via mail or electronically, as well as finding out more at the Ontario College of Teachers website overall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

All Treats, No Tricks: Secondary Smorgasbord

Here in Canada, we celebrated our Thanksgiving two weekends ago. In the USA, this holiday of gratitude and geniality (let's not get into the historical origins here & focus on moving forward together, you know?) is marked in November. In between, we both look forward to some Halloween fun. One thing I'm sure many teachers are thankful for is that the post-Trick-or-treating candy crash can happen quietly at home this year instead of in our schools.

Many of us think of how we can help others around these holiday seasons. I'd like to offer up to you a graphic organizer to prepare students to give a presentation... a persuasive one to help your class or school charitable club decide who to support with their efforts at fundraising or other types of giving. We selected a recipient within the microfinancing web tool Kiva, but you can certainly help out closer to home, or find another way to lift up others in our global village if you wish.

Use this in French Immersion, Core French as well as in standard classes or organizations, since I've included three different versions (including one completely in English) from which you, or your students, may choose. Did I mention that it is EDITABLE? Change it to suit your own students' needs! I just ask that you share the original link with other teachers along with your own.

Thanks once again to Pamela and Darlene who are the masterminds behind this wonderful monthly opportunity for secondary edubloggers to show that WE care about sharing and connecting just as much as our kind-hearted and helpful primary colleagues!

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