Community Building in the Classroom

When I started block II in the grade 5/6 classroom it was really important for me to get to know my new students and build a sense of community in the classroom.

We played a game of Football Tell All:

Form a circle. Say the student's name that you want to pass to. Answer the question closest to your right thumb.

I used this activity as a brainstorming session for a letter writing activity. The students wrote me letters, introducing themselves and telling me things they would like me to know about them.

Both activities gave me a strong sense of who the students are in my classroom and is helping me plan lessons to meet their needs.

Personal Philosophy of Education

           My journey into teaching began as a camp counsellor for children and teens with intellectual disabilities. Through working with these amazing, inspiring kids, I learned the true meanings of respect, which encompasses choice and differentiated instruction; patience, in thinking, communicating, and taking the time to understand behaviour; and fostering inclusion, by celebrating students strengths and fostering a safe learning environment. 

            Studying abroad for a semester in England, I faced loneliness and isolation in a new country. Because of this, I made a conscious decision during my Master of Science to go out of my way to be especially welcoming to the international students in my program. Now, I still keep in touch with many friends from all over the world. This welcoming attitude is something I will take with me to my teaching through empathy, compassion, and understanding. When I teach I will consider the whole child: intellectually, physically, and emotionally.

            Ever since I was young, I was drawn to nature. I am a naturalist learner, and understand the benefits of learning outside. Not only is it good for students mental wellbeing to spend time outside in nature, but developing a curiosity for the natural world encourages students to become lifelong learners. Seeing, touching, smelling, and feeling examples from the Earth really clicks for some kids. Its one thing to talk about changes in the seasons; its much more meaningful to go out and look for them. However, I realize learners are complex. No person uses just one learning style all the time. This is why I feel it is important to incorporate the Arts into my teaching. This curriculum is a good challenge for some students, having their neurons fire and build connections in a different way, and a necessary outlet for others who crave creativity.

            While at Brock, I have made many links between my background in science and my philosophy of education. Having students act like real scientists encourages them to collaborate and problem-solve through experiential learning and inquiry. You dont need to be in science class to act like a scientist; this way of thinking is encouraged in literacy, mathematics, social studies, and the Arts. This hands-on, minds-on approach to teaching allows students to construct their own knowledge. When students are in charge of their own learning (with the teacher as a guide) they are empowered and inspired to learn.

            During my teaching block, I experienced the value of proactive classroom management. My associate and I did not have serious behaviours to deal with because our students had clear routines to follow, prompts for transitions, opportunities to pause, think, and try again, and lots of positive encouragement. On top of that, I integrated technology and hands-on activities to engage my students in meaningful learning. The students in my teaching block were excited to come to school every day and even said thank you when I handed out work!

             This excitement for learning is something I share with my Block I students. I get excited about what I am teaching and celebrate with my students when they experience success. I even love assessment because it allows me to see the growth of my students.  I have travelled a long road to become a certified teacher, but the journey has shaped me into a confident, passionate educator. I am so excited to one day share this passion and enthusiasm with a classroom of my own.

A Work In Progress

I'm so happy with the start of my multimedia personal philosophy of education that I wanted to share it. Yes, at this point it is just a painting of a turtle, but soon the shell will be covered in my teaching philosophy. Words like constructivism, problem-solving, leadership, and experiential learning, to name a few.

So why a turtle, you ask?  As an environmental educator and a biologist, the turtle holds a very special place in my heart. The turtle is a symbol of the Earth. It is old, steadfast, and strong. And (much like snowflakes) as no two children are exactly alike, each turtle has its' own  intricate, unique pattern. No two are alike. A strong teaching practice builds on a strong personal philosophy, and my personal teaching philosophy has been build on a strong, deep, connection to the Earth. 
Personal Philosophy of Education (work in progress)  

Using the iPad to Develop Oral Communication

This week I will be introducing a new activity for Oral Communication with the grade 1's.

During guided reading group rotation, I will work with groups of students on the carpet. I will have 3 groups of students for 10-15 min each.

We will be using the app Story Wheel to create impromtu oral stories.

Each student will have a turn spinning the story wheel, revealing a picture. The student then has to record their ideas about the picture.

The next student to spin the wheel will land on another random picture. They not only have to think of something to say about the picture, but they also have to try to link their thoughts to the last person's to build a communal story.

My week at a glance is as follows:

Introduction of Activity & Creative Exploration
What Makes a Good Story?
Re-listen to student-generated stories from Mon, what would you change?
Tell stories again, use oral communication strategies that make a good story
Listen to other groups stories, re-tell in own words
Add conjunctions (program goal) to stories

This simple, fun, engaging oral communication activity targets the following Ontario Curriculum expectations:
1.4- retell
2.3- communicate ideas
2.4- appropriate words to communicate meaning
2.5- vocal effects
3.1- metacognition of strategies for speaking and listening

Possibly the most beautiful viewpoint of learning I have ever read


 "Knowledge is not secular. It is a process derived from creation, and as such it has a sacred purpose. It is inherent in and connected to all of nature, to its creatures, and to human existence. Learning is viewed as a life-long responsibility that people assume to understand the world around them and to animate their personal abilities. Knowledge teaches people how to be responsible for their own lives, develops their sense of relationship to others, and helps them model competent and respectful behaviour."

-Dr. Mary Battiste, Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations. p. 14  

(I think I've found the backbone to my personal philosophy of education!)

Painting With Nature- Niagara Nights of Art

Here I am at my workshop for the Wainfleet Niagara Nights of Art called Painting With Nature. This was clearly early in the day before the event was open to the public. It was a huge success! There were artists young and old taking part in the creative exploration workshop. Participants could walk up and create, using flowers, leaves, sticks, and feathers.
By the end of the day the front table was covered in paint and the back table was covered in drying works of art! It was so inspiring to see the variety of work people made. Feeling creative? I highly recommend painting with a feather. It makes an amazing paint brush!
Here is some more info about the event: Wainfleet Showing its Artistic Side, Welland Tribune