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!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tricks & Treats: A Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by this Sunday morning.

Today's blog post is part of a Halloween Blog Hop with several other fabulous Canadian teacher-bloggers. Many thanks to Erin Beattie who is hosting this holiday-themed blog hop. Be sure to check out her awesome blog at some point during this event, and at any other time as she always is working hard at sharing something with her readers.

If your students celebrate Halloween and your school has no policy against participating in this holiday (which has always been secular to my mind, but I know some people would deeply disagree!) then my tip for you in the French or other second language classroom would be to use this opportunity to encourage students to practice and perfect certain expressions that will be useful to them in a number of situation (i.e. guy with pickaxe in his head is HOPEFULLY a description your students WON'T need to use with any kid of regularity in French!). So get them talking about something they are excited to talk about anyway, their costumes and plans, their favorite media related to this holiday, the best costume they ever saw... and don't treat celebrating Halloween as a major French cultural undertaking because there are few places where francophones really celebrate Halloween in the way we do in North America.

To this end, I made a fun activity for students to use to express their preferences and opinions. It's a Halloween conversation game based on the wooden tower building block game called Jenga. Get students talking about what they want to talk about anyway, but in French.The questions require students to read (possibly using resources available in the room to confirm meaning and acquire or reinforce vocabulary), speaking (to answer the questions before placing the block they've pulled out of the tower to place it on top) and listening (to pay attention to their partner or group members' answers and decide if a point is awarded) as well as possibly the opportunity to respond to add their own reaction to classmates' answers.

This activity is free to download in my TPT store for a limited time only! Grab it this week if you think you may use it. And please, I remind you that things people share with you for free are still their intellectual property so please feel free to share a LINK to this activity with another teacher if you loved it, and not to actually distribute the file itself, electronically or otherwise.

See the image that follows for the "secret word" that you're collecting from this web site. You'll need this for the Rafflecopter entry further down in this post. We're giving away 4 gift cards to TeachersPayTeachers. Awesome, right? Be sure to enter.

... and please continue to "haunt on" by clicking the image below the Rafflecopter widget to go to the NEXT education blog in the list!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're looking for more Halloween activites in French, I also have this spooky Halloween recipe idea in my store. It's an oldie but is still popular and a great way to practice talking and writing about quantities, body parts and using the impératif (or infinitives if you prefer, as is typically more common in recipes).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - Bell Ringers

Bellringers for French class? But how can you do anything before all the students are arrived and settled? I think it's important to offer them some reason to get to class on time and get into learning. So I wanted to share two approaches with you. My own imperfect version that I've been setting up this year and another teacher's with a quite different style from my own.

Thanks again to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures who have organized this secondary level monthly blog hop.
I've had students journalling, roughly weekly, for a few years as part of my program. We do that on Thursdays (jeudi = journaux... get it?) I've mainly been using that for diagnostic assessment, or assessment for learning as we call it here in Ontario, and to encourage increased student fluency in their written work. This year, I've decided to actually mark certain entries. More about that in a future post!

Each Friday, we do Cercles communautaires littéraires. Students sit in grouped tables and talk about what they are reading independently in a structured, game-like way. This is a free activity a friend and virutal colleague introduced to me, and she shares it on TPT. Students love it and I enjoy the fact that I'm encouraging them to read, but not in a way that's too burdensome... the emphasis is on thoughtful reading and reflecting, and then the activity is oral in my class 90% of the time. Check out her cute but not too young bookmarks too, which tie in as they have the question forms for students to remind themselves what they ought to be thinking about while reading.

I do a quick grammar review one day per week. Today, because I actually noticed some students making errors in their journals last week with the present tense of irregular verbs, we actually did a little work there. (It shouldn't really be happening after 8 years of French Immersion, I know, but since when I looked over their worksheets, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, I'll chalk it up to summer brain. We're only in our second week of school.)

I'd love to be doing something musical one day a week, but am having trouble figuring out the logistics for this one. If the idea is to get students working as soon as they arrive, then how to handle that with a listening focus? Although we're a BYOD school, I haven't had a lot of luck convincing my students to use QR codes so far when I've offered them as an option. I'm open to other suggestions on that one!
And finally, I like to provide an image for students to discuss one day a week. Whether it's a funny cartoon, something pop culture related, or a strange image... the goal is just to get the students interacting in French, as well as focusing their attention. It's my little bit of fluffy fun. It can be content-driven though too. Check out this example for social studies.

So, that's my week planned out, hopefully with some ideas for you to try out as well in your intermediate or high school level classes.

And now for something completely DELFerent. Oh my yes, I have been chatting with a particular someone whose horrible puns are rubbing off on me! LOL.  Have you heard of the D.J. D.E.L.F. Dailies? You'll find a little overview on Steven Langlois' main web page for the D.J. D.E.L.F. kit, which is a great, highly adaptable and engaging resource, which is music-based-but-not (as truly it centres around teaching students the vocabulary, structures and routines they'll need to know to operate in everyday aspects of their life en français.) DJ DELF is tweeting and sharing via his facebook a little something to get you started each weekday. They're free, and it's a great way to get your students using social media in a realistic and pretty safe way within your program!

Whether it's the riddle of the day, a song to which you can have students reflect and share their opinions, or an image based activity, check these out & see what you think! He's even got a set of worksheets, if you like to have students record their thoughts on paper. To save trees, I was thinking those wipe off markers on laminated weekly sheets might work. Really... do whatever works for you. But get those kids thinking and sharing en français regularly and as early as possible.

Have a great, restful weekend!

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