Thursday, June 13, 2013

Planning 10 Assignment Idea

So one thing I am having a hard time finding is Planning 10 resources... I had a fantastic discussion with the Librarian at my school and we came up with the following idea:

Premise: For those of you that are familiar with Planning 10, you know it is an essential course for students. It's life skills people! However, feedback from students is very negative. I frequently hear students say how boring it is and when the first time I taught it I found students had a hard time handing in assignments. WHAT!? This class is the first class I've taught that I didn't have to go in to detail about how it would apply to their lives and they STILL weren't engaged.

The problem: Students who take this class in grade 10 have, most likely, not even begun their first job. Therefore, why are we teaching them money management skills like RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. when they don't even understand the value of a hard earned dollar? In my current school, Planning is usually taken in grade 11 which I agree with. However, I think it is too late to teach students about many of the PLOs in the health course as students say they 'already know' these things and/or they are already involved/overwhelmed by the issues discussed.

So I'm still not sure what the solution is (a grade 9 and 11 course, split up in to two? Where one focuses on health issues, getting a job, etc, and the grade 11 course talks more about long term finances, getting your dream job/getting in to university and family planning etc.), but that is beside the point.

My Ideas:

1. The first 2 weeks should be spent on building classroom community. Because a lot of touchy subjects are taught during this course you want students to feel safe so that they can openly ask questions/discuss important matters. Also, I believe it is important to focus on study skills and find out what the students want you to focus on. You will find that many of them have an extensive background in some areas depending on what other courses/experience they have had. There is no point in re-teaching what they already know because students won't show up for your class--end of story.

2. Have students create a personal blog. The idea of the blog is for them to write a letter to their 'future selves' at least once a week. Each post should sum up and highlight what they have learned that week during the course and provide a personal reflection on the matter. By asking them to speak to their future selves they can personalize it to what they think they may need to remember and it will demonstrate their learning to the teacher. Also, the teacher will see where the student's interests lie and if no student comments on a key PLO then the teacher can re-visit and re-teach. I would suggest that students should have 1 blog post per-week minimum but that they can always write more and keep their highest marks. This will also serve as a portfolio that they can add extra pages on their blog with their resume or other items completed in class, as well as, can be a future reference for them when things like financial planning come in to play.

I'm excited to start putting together my planning course this summer and am interested to see how this will all fit in! I also want to keep my 'Friday Fun Day' ideas but will most likely incorporate 30 minutes of writing time for students to be able to write their blog posts. What are your thoughts!?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Friday FunDay? How to keep students engaged on Fridays.

So I've been reading a lot. I've been trying to follow other teacher's blogs and get some ideas and here is one I came up with:
Friday Fun Day!
For those of you also teaching high school you will know that many of them have shorter days on Fridays and it is hard to get students to focus on a task. Therefore, for my next classes, I am going to spend Fridays with my students discussing the weeks teachings. Here are some ideas:

1. Round table check in: How is everyone doing? What was stressful about this week? How did you deal with it? What is one thing you learned in general?
2. Topic Review: Ask each student to write/share one thing they learned in this class on the board. No students are allowed to pass on this!
3. Fill in the gaps: Here is the teacher's chance to go over any PLOs that were not written on the board by the students and to have a discussion around the topics that students did not list.
4. Game/Clips: Students get to play a review game of some type (Jeopardy, Vocab games, whatever you can come up with.) OR Movie Clips that touch on interesting subjects (TED Talks, TV shows, etc.)
5. You could even require students to be in charge of the game/clips to be shown on Friday! This gets them thinking outside of the class.
6. Discussions: You could have a hot topic related to your subject that students can debate/discuss in class. Again these could be given out in advanced or be required for students to run on Fridays making each student responsible for their own learning. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This is what my summer is going to look like....

I just saw this awesome post about how to masters the common core... basically how to be a great teacher. Please check out the article here.

This was so helpful! I plan on working through this as I put together my Planning 10 course this summer. I will also try to share the entire thing with you guys on here as soon as it is done. Does anyone have any suggestions on good file sharing options that I can use to upload my lesson plans/assignments/etc?

Should we give grades?

So this is something I want to focus on over the next few months; Grading; giving assignments for marks etc. Yesterday I took my grade 12 Tourism class to the Aquarium and Granville Island in Vancouver an on the bus ride back we discussed how fun the trip was. Then all of a sudden they started asking "So will we get extra marks for this? You should put this in as our participation and growth mark because half the class didn't even come!"

So it made me think: Should I be giving them MARKS for attending class trips? Isn't the trip itself supposed to be the reward? Not the mark? It just perpetuates that getting good grades is supposed the prize for learning; but shouldn't the learning/experience be the prize?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Say no to book reports!"

I just found this amazing list of alternatives to book reports... I will definitely keep this for when I am teaching English again!

Check it out at 

Where are all the Canadian Teacher Blogs?

So I have been searching for a community that I am not sure even exists :( Help me out here if you can but when I search on Teach100 I have only found 3 or 4 different Canadian Teacher's blogs! Imagine that! Although I love hearing what all teachers have to share, in Canada we have some different issues to deal with than in the states. It would especially be nice to find some BC bloggers so that we can share lesson plans that pertain to our provincially set IRPs. So, if you know of any, please help me out here and get a teacher connected!

I'm also trying to find blogs by Secondary school teachers which there also seems to be a lack of, is this true? Or am I just not finding them?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A great blog post...

I just wanted to share with you an amazing blog post I found called "25 Things Successful Educators Do Differently". I was happy to be able to check off many of these things but I definitely have stuff to work on! Check it out here!