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Showing posts from October, 2014

The grass is different on the other side.

The secondary science classroom is my natural environment. I have supervised fetal pig dissections involving 34 students and put my trust in hundreds of teenagers as they melt, boil, mix, and observe chemicals. I have labeled and stored a large number of dangerous substances and dealt with hazardous waste disposal. Outside of the classroom I have helped students put on musicals, organize dances, navigate relationship breakups, choose post-secondary programmes, and deal with all of the pressures they face as young adults. These things are part of the natural rhythm of my day. When I teach Chemistry courses I am teaching students who have chosen my class as an elective; everyone is there with some kind of agenda. Although we find time for fun and for indulging curiosity there is a great deal invested in grades at this level. The enjoyable bits of learning sometimes get lost as students focus on their numerical grade and their chance of being accepted into their university or college of …

'Spoiling the Surprise' - Is this something we need to worry about?

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Indulge me by participating in a little visualization:
You're strolling down the hallway of your school and are walking past the classroom of a colleague who teaches a grade lower than the one you are currently teaching. Your ears perk up when you hear something familiar. A feeling of panic rises inside you when you realize what you're hearing: your colleague is using an activity/demo/video/whatchamacallit that you usually use during your unit on widgets! The moment of surprise you would have had with your future students has been ruined.

This has happened to me many times before. I have been a Chemistry teacher for the most part and I have in my back pocket a wide array of demos and other activities that do an exemplary job of driving home key topics for my grade 11 and 12 students. It used to make my uncomfortable when one of these 'key' demos was done by another teacher in grade 9 and 10. (It isn't that I don't do any demos with the 9's and 10's...ju…

If I Could be a Student for One Semester...

Today I decided that I want to go back to high school so that I can take some tech classes. I spent the day with a group of communication technology teachers who were meeting to share and learn about some of the toys and tools available to them. My role today was to support the teachers' introduction to GAFE by providing login support and demonstrating a few of the tools (forms, Classroom, docs). Easy, right? Nope. I has some serious competition.

Representatives from Canon were on hand to demonstrated some of the features of their XA camcorder. The demonstration of the functionality of this camera made me seriously consider whether I had something I needed to make a documentary about right now. For instance, maybe I need to show people how to use GAFE on their smartphones whilst rollerskating on the waterfront trail. That might be useful, right?

The TriCaster was another gorgeous piece of equipment on display. I had never been exposed to this type of equipment before, and the poss…

EdCamp Reflections

September was filled with many new experiences as I started my central position. You could almost hear the energy crackling in our workspace (which has been nicknamed ‘The PIT’ as we are the Program and Innovation Team). Some of the energy in the PIT was focused on planning EdCamp Barrie, held on September 27th. Several members of my team have been working on this for many months. Their efforts and vision culminated in an energizing day of PD for participants from across Ontario.

Mental Preparation I first heard about EdCamp last June when I started following my new colleagues on Twitter. I had no idea what it involved and was happy to see a ‘What is an EdCamp?’ link on the event website. My personal preference is that events in my life proceed in a predictable and reliable fashion. I prefer to have a concrete home and work schedule. I do not like making last-minute plans for dinner parties. When I go to conferences I always carefully read the programme and make decisions in advance abo…

First Real Blog Post (teenagers made me do it)

I have been waiting for the reality of my new job to set in. I think I'm about 50% there. I am an instructional resource teacher with a focus on Science K - 12 in our new 'Program and Innovation' department. After 11 years in the classroom this is a big change for me. My 3 minute drive to work has transformed into long drives in the country as I move from school to school. I have enjoyed the extra time for quiet reflection and the opportunity to catch up on the backlog of podcasts waiting patiently on my iPod.

While I have not started supporting teachers in collaborative inquiries yet I have had a chance to visit a number of schools across the county to support teachers as they learn to access and use their GAFE accounts. My incredible team has gone beyond the call of duty to reach out and answer teachers' requests for help by organizing after school "GAFE Cafes" at about 15 locations across the school board as well as 'lunch and learn' sessions in ne…