Here comes the Sun... "Sunshine Blog"
First of all, I feel terrible about my delay in posting this. No excuse, other than being busy, and we all are!!
I was really humbled to be nominated by 3 people:
Michelle Cordy (@cordym)
Jeffrey Humphries (@itechteach)
Amy Bowker (@classcollect).
Michelle and I met online through Canadian Ed Chat (#cdnedchat). Together, we worked our way through our Google Apps for Education certification! She is a resourceful, intelligent, and caring 1:1 iPad Grade 3/4 teacher who blogs at: http://hacktheclassroom.ca/.
Jeffrey is one of the awesome people in my PLN, who also happens to be from Ottawa... where I am!! He regularly participates in #cdnedchat, which I moderate, and I have learned so much from his contributions... especially because he is way more tech savvy than I am! :) Check him out here: http://www.technology4all.ca/blog.html
Amy and I met at #EdCampOttawa... she was one of the organizers. My favourite part was how we saw each other and both recognized each other from Twitter.... "Hey, you're @MsValois! Yes! You're @classcollect." Had some great conversations with her that day about DI and love what she is doing with education in her class. Her blog is just awesome: http://classroomcollective.tumblr.com/ Tons of resources and ideas!
Here is how it works:
11 Facts about Me:
1. I have a cat and a dog (German Shepherd): Fynn and Jack. I was terrified of big dogs until we got ours!
2. My favourite city to visit (of all time) is Washington, DC. I am obsessed. I went twice in 4 months!
3. I didn't get my first SmartPhone until last May!
4. This past summer, I read 1 book every 3 or so days! (Yes, I don't have children... haha!)
5. I run on coffee as fuel! My daily order from Tim Hortons is an extra large with 2 cream, half sugar and a creamy caramel flavour shot!
6. I don't like shopping; crowds bother me.
7. This year for Thanksgiving, I cooked my first ever turkey!
8. I rarely watch TV; I only really follow 3 shows: Homeland, Criminal Minds and Law and Order SVU
9. Except for two school field trips (last year and year before), I can't even remember the last time I went to a movie theatre! I am pretty sure the last movie I saw was the 3D Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey in 2009 with my Mom!
10. I am proud of my husband; he is in the Canadian Armed Forces and has twice deployed in service to the CAF.
11. If I had to choose between sweet or savoury, I'd always choose sweet.
11 Questions for me:
1. What Disney Character would you be?
Mary Poppins! Not a traditional Disney character but it is a Disney film! :) If I have to choose animated, Belle. I think she's the least "damsel in distress" of the Disney princess group; at least she shows some bravery and conviction.
2. What is the coolest app you have read about or use?
Right now, it's just Chrome Extensions in general.
3. Have you ever skyped in your classroom?
No, I prefer Google Hangout. :)
4. What twitter chats do you follow?
Too many to list but I'd be remiss if I didn't shout out to the chat I help moderate: Canadian Ed Chat. #cdnedchat - every Monday at 8pm EST.
5: What is the best thing about teaching?
6. What is your favourite stationary item?
Do Post It Notes count? Love those!
7. Cake or Ice Cream?
Cake, but only with butter cream icing... or else I scrape off the icing.
8. House Pet: Snake or Ferret?
I'd rather stick a pencil in my eye than have either. I guess snake.
9. Favourite Movie?
I can't choose one! Fried Green Tomatoes (I watched it more than 25 times when I was a kid... around 9/10 years old) and the Life of David Gale.
10: Best gift you ever got?
Hmmm. Probably the scrapbook my Mom made me for my 16th- symbolic. My parents also bought me a car (99 Sunfire!) when I graduated University with honours. That was pretty awesome!!!
11. Why did you want to become a teacher?
See answer 5. ;)
My "sunshine nominees"
Because I love DI, so much, I am differentiating this assignment for my blogging needs! ;) I am listing 11 people to follow on Twitter. If they have a blog, you can check out their blog too and they can answer the questions, if they choose. But there are some great people on Twitter who may not have blogs.... or active blogs.. and maybe this will be a reason for them to start blogging or continue! :)
I know that both Jennie and Jason have already been mentioned but I really had to include them both on my list.
1. Dana Ariss (@danaariss). Blog: www.daariss.wordpress.com
2. Theresa Wells-Taylor (@thecandydish)
3. James Petersen (@jpetersen02): Blog: www.mrjpetersen.weebly.com
4. Paul McGuire (@mcguirp) Blog: http://paulmcguire1.wordpress.com/
5. Nicholas Ferroni (@nicholasferroni): He writes for the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-ferroni/
6. Jason Markey (@JasonMMarkey): Blog: http://jmarkeyap.blogspot.ca/
7. Stephane Crete (@stephanecrete)
8. Rola Tibshirani (@rolat): Blog: http://learninginprogess.blogspot.ca/ and http://ensemble-together.blogspot.ca/
9. Shannon Smith (@shannoninottawa): Blog: http://shannoninottawa.com/
10. Moss Pike (@mosspike): Blog: http://cinisetfavilla.blogspot.ca/
11. Jennie Magiera (@msmagiera) http://www.teachinglikeits2999.com/
Questions for my nominees: (Some of these "borrowed" from other posts!)
It's been a while
When I sat down to type this blog post tonight, I was scared to check when I posted last... because it feels like it's been forever. It's just so busy... teaching, in general. And then add in the committees, groups, extra courses, workshops and commitments, and time gets away from you!
It's been a great few weeks, though. Crazy busy... but great!
I currently have a teacher candidate (read: 'student teacher') with me from the University of Ottawa. I'm really enjoying this time around! She's very conscientious, open-minded and eager to do her best. I really feel lucky to have the chance to mentor her because I feel that she's going to be a great teacher once she's completed the program. It's really a pleasure to work with someone so committed to excellence... for herself and for our students. It's hard to give up control of our classes sometimes; we never know how it will go or how the kids will respond and we all have "our ways" of doing things. Luckily for me, my teacher candidate is very adept at what she does and has far exceeded my expectations in so many ways! It will certainly be a loss for the class when she returns to the university!
I am preparing for a presentation tomorrow for various principals in our board to share with them my alternative learning space! (I wanted to post a pic in this entry but somehow I must have deleted it from my photo accidentally! I will have to update this entry tomorrow!) I am really excited to show them the space that we have created and all the excellent student produced work on the walls!
On Sunday, I completed my Google Apps for Education certification! I am officially GAFE qualified! It was a lot of work reading through the modules and completing the exams for qualification but I feel great that I've done it! Couldn't have done it without my #edu buddy Michelle Cordy, though! I love co-learning!
This year I am part of both my School Improvement Planning Team and my union's (OECTA) professional development (PD) committee. Both of these meetings happened this afternoon... so it's been a crazy day... and it's only Monday! I am really excited about both of these opportunities, especially because as part of the PD committee, we are looking at ways to offer more PD in the areas of #edtech and to offer a two pronge approach - entry level and more advanced PD.
In my #ENG1D class (blog: valoiseng1d.blogspot.ca), we are wrapping up the Hunger Games. Students have been blogging about their critical thinking, reflection and application questions throughout. Today, was our final consolidation activity, in which students shared student made and led games to help their peers consolidate learning. The fun part of this is that these weren't traditional "fact based" games; students were tasked with coming up with ways to allow their peers to show not only knowledge and understanding, but also thinking, communication and application (connection) skills! Students created games such as charades, pictionary, trivia, puzzle matching games etc. In many of the games, in order to get the "full points", students had to explain the significance or thematic meaning of whatever they were drawing, acting out, or answering. I think it was a great success!
Here's some links so you can judge for youself!
Minute to Win It:
And, as if life weren't busy enough, now I'm off to moderate #cdnedchat! :)
Hope everyone is doing well!
To my PLN… thank you.
As Connected Educators month wrapped up, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my journey in “connectedness”.
I turned to Twitter by happen stance a few years ago but was never very active online. I lurked, I posted a bit then abandoned it for weeks and months at a time. Finally, just over a year ago, I came back. I don’t even really remember the circumstances surrounding it but I decided to check out what was out there. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was grappling with who I was as an educator and where to go next. I'm a true Type A… perfectionist to a fault… and in many ways, I had begun to feel worn out and jaded. I didn't want to be THAT person. I wanted to learn more and do more. I was getting frustrated by negative comments about change and innovation. I wanted more than basic professional development workshops on subjects/areas that I felt comfortable in. I didn’t know what else was “out there” but I figured there must be more… and I wanted to find it.
And then Twitter opened my eyes. I started following “ed tech” gurus and learning about neat tools to try. I started using some of these tools in my classroom and experimented with them as a means of learning. I started to read and follow tweets from people who shared my views and beliefs and the passion that I once had and wanted to have back. I read thoughts that could have been my own… and then realized it had been retweeted and/or favourited countless times and I knew I wasn’t alone. I stumbled upon a new “chat”... Canadian Ed Chat (#cdnedchat). I had never participated in a Twitter chat. A month or so later, Michael Quinn, one of the co-founders, invited me to help guest moderate a chat on Differentiated Instruction when I tweeted to tell him it was a passion of mine. I was terrified. I was worried that everyone would think I wasn’t good enough, well versed enough, tech savvy enough. I felt like a fraud. I was new to this online realm. What could I possibly have to offer? I will be so much less than everyone else, won’t I?
And then I met the #cdnedchat team and they were amazing. They were welcoming and open minded and great sources of information, learning and support. And I realized, we’re all on this journey and we all had to start sometime and somewhere. What was most important then, was that I wanted to be better and learn more and integrate innovative teaching tools and strategies into my practice. Not surprisingly, everyone was there to support and help!
I was blessed to continue my involvement in #cdnedchat, having been asked to join on the moderation team full time. Participating in these weekly chats fuelled my drive to keep learning as much as I could about new educational technologies and educational initiatives. It became a passion. I started learning more and more about things that I knew some, little or nothing about! Online literature circles, Google Hangouts, blogging, Google Apps for Education, digital portfolios, 1:1 programs, QR codes, Flipping the Classroom, project based learning…. the list goes on and on. And the more I learned, the more my passion returned. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with how much was out there and how little I knew, I began to feel invigorated that there was so much potential and that all I had to do was learn about it and make it happen! I would look forward to Google Hangouts with the team because I felt I had found people who were similar to me. I’ve called Dana Ariss my “edu soul sister” on more than one occasion because we see so many things from the same perspective and are passionate about so many of the same things.
I began to participate in more Twitter chats and reach out to #edtech leaders on Twitter to share and gather ideas and feedback. I became inspired by the amazing Angela Maiers and her “You Matter” campaign. It changed the way that I viewed my role as a teacher and how I began my school year (2013-2014) with my students. Instead of focusing on rules, I chose to focus on relationships. I am seeing a huge difference already.
I also spent more time learning about and integrating technology into my practice. I launched my professional website and started sharing my research and presentations, and even included a blog… this blog… as a part of it. I wanted to start sharing all the neat things that my students were capable of doing! I started using more #edtech tools such as Edmodo, Pinterest, AudioBoo, Google Drive (docs/forms), and more recently, this school year, blogs (Blogger), Remind 101, Socrative, QR codes, ExplainEverything and Geddit. (This led the way to using innovative teaching strategies like Genius Time and project based learning and the creation of my alternative learning space this year).
The ideas became endless. My mind would be racing after a Twitter chat and I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the great ideas I had heard - things I had never even thought of before - and how I could make these work for my students! And the passion began to multiply. I would bounce ideas off of educators trying the same things or wanting to. And I’d get feedback and advice from people who had been long doing the initiatives and using the tools and strategies that I was just taking on. And I teamed up with amazing mentors, like Michelle Cordy, who pushed me to make opportunities to better myself as an educator- to steer my own ship and find my own niche - and inspired me to do things that challenge me and scare me because I can and what do I have to lose? (And here I am, one exam away from having attained Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer - Qualified Individual status! I couldn’t have imagined this 2 years ago!)
And so, as we wrap up connected educator’s month, I am thankful that I faced roadblocks, frustrations and feelings of being jaded and alone because it forced me to make a decision; make a change or stay the same. I chose change. It’s scary, terrifying, exciting and inspiring all at once. It needed to happen and I’m glad it did. I’m glad I felt the push to look further to find something to challenge me to be better than I was. Something to make me better for myself, and thereby, for my students… because isn’t that what it’s all about? Being the best version of yourself?
A few of the key people that I have learned the most from are included in this post but there are many more who have impacted my journey…. some with one post that stood out to me and some, who with their every post inspire me, daily. Some of these people do not follow me and will never see this blog post. Some will. I am okay with both of those facts.
I just want to say thanks. Thanks to the PLN for helping to open my eyes to the amazing world that is out there. Thank you for showing me the endless possibilities in education. Thank you for reminding me why I have never wanted to do anything other than teach. Thank you for showing me ways to reinvigorate the passion that has never died inside of me. Thank you for being people that I learn from and thank you for inspiring me to be the best that I can be.
Tonight was an exciting professional development opportunity for me! I had the chance to be the guest moderator for Canadian Ed Chat - a professional learning chat on Twitter for Canadian educators, which takes place each Monday at 8pm EST.
Our topic this evening was Differentiated Instruction and when I mentioned to the moderator team that it was one of my passions, Michael Quinn (@neurophilomath) kindly asked me to co-moderate the chat with him!
Together with the Ed Chat team, we came up with a series of awesome questions to stimulate discussion on DI and to gain ideas about effective implementation, especially using technology.
It was such a great experience for me and I thank the team for allowing me to step in for the night to talk about one of my biggest passions - DI!
If you are an educator, I highly recommend you join us for a chat! I promise you'll leave the hour filled with tons of great ideas!
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!