My first paper for my Masters

Posted in All Posts at 18:22 by

The last few months have been a crazy time in my life. I was travelling around Portugal and Spain for a month and a half. I got to improve my Portuguese, explore some caves (this will come up again some other time) and enjoy my summer.

The Island where I spent most of my time


I came back and worked at a pizza joint for a 3 weeks. Then, I went full speed ahead nto my Masters program and a new job teaching Apple software at the elementary level.

But anyways, back to my Masters. I have grown so much just over the last few weeks in terms of writing and getting my mind around concepts.

Baby’s First Masters Paper on Curriculum Implementation

The development of curriculum in Ontario in the last two decades has grown exponentially. Ontario curriculum guides are used all over the world. Yet, it is not the curriculum documents that teach the students, it is how the school staff implements the curriculum that truly makes a difference. Curriculum implementation is not just the classroom teacher’s responsibility. It is important that implementation takes a “trickle-down” effect whereby implementation begins with the initial enthusiasm at the Ministry of Education, then the school boards/local government, then to school administration and finally to teachers. It is these macro socio-political factors that make curriculum implementation such an arduous task (Fullan and Pomfret 1977). The importance of local characteristics is not to be taken lightly because “without support of regional administrators change may happen with individual teachers or single schools but it will most likely remain isolated in some innovative pockets without affecting the broader system” (Altrichter 2005). Ultimately the teacher is responsible for the implementation of the curriculum but the attitude towards to new curriculum or innovation must begin with administration.

Although, as I already pointed out, the curriculum documents are nothing without actual implementation. It is pertinent to note that the perceived use of those documents is key in the implementation process. One particular example I take from my year in teacher’s college was the new assessment and evaluation guide, Growing Success, which was implemented this year in Ontario schools. Many teachers I encountered didn’t see the need for a change in how they evaluated students. The most discussed aspect of the document had to be the changes in the learning skills. Introduced this year, teachers are now evaluating a learning skill called Self-Regulation. Many teachers first and foremost didn’t know what was meant by self-regulation, and then they didn’t know how to measure it or why they needed to in the first place. There must be a “felt need” within the school system in order for the implementation to be successful (Altrichter 2005, p.7), without this teachers feel as if major concerns are not being addressed and being taken over by less important innovations.

Another determining factor that I believe to be a keystone to curriculum implementation is the local adaptation of the curriculum (Alrichter 2005). Teachers must be able to implement the curriculum as they see fit for their students in that community. A Grade Nine English class in downtown Toronto and one in Thunder Bay should look worlds apart, because they are. Taking into account the socioeconomic and political factors of an area is one of the complexities of being a teacher. Today in Ontario secondary schools, there is a stream (once known as Basic or Essential) called Locally Developed, which is considered the stream for workplace placement after high school. Yet, “locally developed” classes are not just for struggling students, they should also be used as a way to teach local traditions and customs. For example, a transportation class in a suburban neighbourhood may focus on how to fix minor issues with a car. Yet, that same class in a rural setting would fix farm equipment or boats. Students should be able to see their community reflected in their classrooms.

Lastly, teachers should have a large part in the grander scheme of the implementation process. Whether is it helping out with in-service training or making suggestions about how the curriculum could be changed for a more successful outcome. Teachers should feel that they are able to constructively criticize the curriculum or innovation (Alrichter 2005). Without this piece teachers feel as if they played no major role within the larger context of the implementation. One example of this from my own practice involves Ontario’s new French curriculum. The new French curriculum in Ontario is still in the development stage because of teacher suggestion. Ontario French teachers have rejected the proposed curriculum many times and have sent it back to the drawing board over five times already. Last year, I was able to view some of the new curriculum and also make suggestions which were sent to the Ministry of Education. I felt that I was part of a new direction for FSL in Ontario. It is being part of that vision, that makes teachers want to implement. If teachers feel as if they are making a difference, they will.


Klinefelter Syndrome – What Can I Do?

Posted in All Posts at 12:07 by

Klinefelter’s Syndrome is characterized as a genetic disorder that occurs in males and is caused by the presence of an extra X chromosome.

Klinefelter syndrome is found in about 1 out of every 500 – 1,000 newborn males. Women who have pregnancies after age 35 are slightly more likely to have a boy with this syndrome than younger women.

Symptoms of Klinefelter’s includes physical abnormalities such as enlarged breasts, smaller testes and less than normal body hair.

Males with Klinefelter syndrome appear to have reduced abilities in specific areas, including:

* Language development such as delayed or slowly developing speech skills and poor verbal skills.
* Critical thinking skills, problem solving, and ability to plan.
* Multi-tasking.
* Impulse control.
* Response time.

What can we as teachers do?

Boys with KS need constant reminds, reminding them what to put in their bags everyday and what to bring home at the end of the day can help them to stay on top of homework.

Like students with ADHD, boys with KS need routine and structure in order to thrive in a classroom environment.

Impulsiveness – social stories can help them to curb impulsive behavior.



Special Education, What a Whirlwind

Posted in All Posts at 10:32 by

I’m currently taking special education, part one and what a whole new world it is. I can’t help but think this is probably the most useful course I can take regardless of whether or not I will not end up teaching in a resource classroom.

As teachers we deal with a plethora of learning disabilities, syndromes and disorders on a daily basis. finding strategies to deal with hyperactivity, hyper emotionalism, impulsiveness and distractibility, which characterizes students with LDs should be our primary concern.

Look at the shocking statistics for Autism.

Every teacher is a spec Ed teacher regardless of subject matter or grade, finding the funding for these students should be our primary concern.


@danikabarker – Instructional Strategies Presentation

Posted in All Posts at 13:38 by

How to use Technology in a High School English Class…

“It’s not about the tools… it’s about finding ways to engage them”

Typical Day in one of her classes…
She has a blog for every class, the blog is updated everyday. WOW!!!
Kids can always scroll back to see if they missed something.
Uses her blog in a traditional classroom, where she can show links and videos to her class room.

Uses Ning – sets up her own social networking site for her classroom, sort of like Facebook but extremely controlled it.

Can be used as a roleplaying game where students pretend to be characters from the story, can be used as a portfolio, a blog, literature circles and also to connect with other classrooms all over the world!!!
She doesn’t always have access to a computer, but her students were accessing to

Twitter – to roleplay Hamlet – where people all over the world are pretending to be characters

@danikabarker uses tech to differentiate instruction, even though sometimes it isn’t the right tool for the job.

Thanks so much @danikabarker for enlightening our Instructional Strategies Class about how Tech is being used in Ontario classrooms today!


Aboriginal Education/Perspectives.

Posted in All Posts at 17:54 by

Aboriginal Education in Canada definitely has a tumultuous past filled with violence and assimilation. From residential schools to colonial ideas being taught in our History classes for decades, Aboriginal students feel marginalized in our education system. What can we as teachers do to tell the whole story of Canadian history? To tell all perspectives?

Here’s a film which shows First Nations resistance in Canadian history, from behind the lines of the Oka Crisis.

It’s not just Aboriginals in Canada but also Indigenous people all over the world. It’s important for us as educators to tell the stories that are not being told.

Last year, I wrote a paper on the Ipili people in Papua New Guinea who’s land was being ravaged by a mining company, Barrick Gold. The human rights violations were staggering, it was a real life version of Avatar, but way more 3D.

Here’s a video done by Amnesty International that shows the devastation of the Porgera mine.

How can we get our students involved in social justice and Aboriginal rights, we can show them and we can get informed ourselves.

Nia:wen (Thank you).


Why I’m a Tweep.

Posted in All Posts at 09:10 by

@doctorjeff recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post titled The Remarkable Power of Twitter: A Water Cooler for the 21st Century It sparked me to ask “Why do I use Twitter?”

I’m a Tweep because:

    I don’t like long articles. I’m a digital native and I say “tldr”, “too long didn’t read”.

    I like my information fast.

    I enjoy getting links and resources from experts in my field, i.e. education.

    I want a global not local perspective.

With all these things in mind why do I also follow @RevRunWisdom or @BillCosby, well because they are cool and I loved them as a kid. So why am I a tweep; for nostalgia, for enlightenment and for fun!

twitter comic


Peers as Teacher Helpers (PATH program)

Posted in All Posts at 16:59 by

While on my first practicum I was able to witness an amazing program, that I believe should be in every high school. At St. Joseph, I saw students in Grade 12 receiving a co-op credit for a practicum placement. Although many of the students involved didn’t even want to be teachers they had the opportunity to appreciate the work that teachers do everyday. For one semester the students are able to work one-on-one with a mentor teacher and eventually take over the class (just like teacher’s college). The students are using words like differentiated instruction, authentic assessment and accommodation for student success.

More info on the PATH program

Imagine you knew this much at 17 years old? How could this model be used in high schools everywhere? Do you see any issues with it?


Google Workshop w/ @zbpipe

Posted in All Posts at 13:34 by

Google Docs has changed the way I teach but how can it change the way I plan? I use Google for basically everything. It’s a verb, a way of life, and it let’s you see the world. Let’s see how Google will change the world of education.

Google Docs: Sharing lesson plans with fellow teacher candidates, let’s get rid of those bulky binders. Collaboration in teaching is the primary way of receiving information, we should share lesson plans, so we can build off each others’ ideas.

Revision history in Google Docs: implications for English majors you can follow which students have collaborated, a great way to monitor how students are working together, to make sure that everyone is working on the project.

Google Sites: Create a site to mark your Digital footprint, embed your Google Map, YouTube videos, Picassa sideshows, Google Calendar… embed your life or your career to show future employers who you are. An online CV – who needs the 12 font Times Roman on white paper anymore?

40 Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom @tombarrett

Google Labs: Variety of BETA apps. Image Swirl is super cool. It takes all the various tags from all over the Internet and makes your Google image search more specific and takes out all the unnecessary pictures your students may be exposed to. Google Breadcrumb lets you create an application even if you don’t have programming experience. It’s like those Choose your Own Adventure books I loved so much as a kid.

Google Alerts Students need to use Google Scholar – Google Alerts can detect whenever a certain phrase has been used, so you can use it as a parenting tool to monitor your son or daughter’s online access, you can use it for your students too.

I exclusively use Google Chrome because it’s awesome and faster than Firefox or pfft… Internet Explorer. Google Chrome OS, even faster.

Google Scribd the most amazing word predictor! I could have definitely used it for one of my IEP students who couldn’t read his own writing.

It is a Googolopoly, but is that a bad thing?


Do Teachers make for Bad Students?

Posted in All Posts at 11:21 by

Should I have to hear professors competing with the voices of future teachers? Should I have to hear professors ask teacher candidates to stop distracting them with their typing? Should they have to get US to “settle down”?

It seems like a growing problem in post-secondary education, the ever-talking, ever-typing, ever-texting student. Professors are at their wits end. You’re paying to be there, so act like it.

Here are some tips I’ve taken from RedSprouts to help us all focus during those times of desperate boredom.

Taking Notes

If you find yourself just nodding away when the professor is lecturing, I would recommend taking notes regardless if the notes are posted online. Writing notes forces you to pay attention to your professor and keeps you awake in class. Additionally, you may pick up on material that aren’t on the posted lecture notes and could find itself into a midterm or final.

The Front is for Achievers

People say that the front of the class are for nerds but I say the front are for those that want to excel and pay attention in class. If you really want to catch some sleep in a class you’ll find a group of companions in the back, trust me I’ve been there. Sitting in the front of the class puts the pressure on to stay awake. You don’t want the professor spotting you sleeping so it’ll be harder for you to not pay attention. This is an even more effective method with small class sizes.

Leave the Laptop at Home

With so many distractions on the internet how can you possibly stay attention in class. Just by browsing the endless lecture halls on campus you’ll notice that most people that have their laptops with them during lecture are either surfing the web, IMing their friends, or playing solitaire. The pen and paper is your friend when it comes to note taking so leave the heavy laptop at home and save your back some trouble.

So teacher candidates/distracted students, please remember to be kind and courteous to your professors, because after all we’ll demand that respect from our students, so we should also display it.


Am I a Digital Native?

Posted in All Posts at 20:57 by

Digital Native is such a buzz word at school. “We will be teaching digital natives, 21st century learners” I’m coming away thinking, I am a digital native, but I’m not the same kind of digital native that my students are. I don’t really text or spend copious amounts of time on the Internet. I don’t think of things in terms of technology and my brain certainly isn’t wired for technical thought. BUT I did learn html when I was 13, and played a disgusting amount of Super Mario Bros as a small child. I also can name more Pokemon than the average teacher.

Yet, I’m not the exactly the same digital native as my students. I feel like I’m a first generation digital native still holding on to my CDs for dear life.

What separates me from them really, is their opinion on sharing. If they can access information so easily, why can they share ideas with one another in class and come up with great answers to questions. Which is what they want to do, but we consider it to be cheating.

If you asked me to share my ideas for a paper/ project, I probably would be quite tight lipped, but I need to learn that sharing ideas is how the world works and you want to prepare them for that.

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