International Youth Leadership Summit 2013

So I have had the extreme privilege of being a staff facilitator these last few days at IYLS2013. This has been a crazy experience for me as I only had a few weeks to get ready and make sure all the paperwork was in an I actually knew what I was doing. But it was all totally worth it!

Day 1: Thursday Evening

  • Registration and a quick dinner of pizza (favorite of the students)
  • Opening ceremony (Naheed Nenshi and Gareth Lewis spoke, and they were both excellent! Especially when Mayor Nenshi was stopped by our delightful school board’s firewall… )
  • Breakout into technology sessions – I attended the talk given by Dr. Alex Couros. He spoke about our digital footprints and what comes up when we google ourselves. The most I got out of that talk was to make sure that whatever you found was something positive (a blog, news article, paper you wrote, etc.). It was very inspiring as a teacher. I also have a really neat new text-to-vote poll website. Thanks Dr. Couros!
  • Small Groups Meet – As I was a staff facilitator, I was to organize the groups getting together and get them going on their project for the few days. Their project was to use social /digital media to talk about a local or global issue. My two groups chose to work on homelessness in Calgary and the Calgary Humane Society (which is where I got my cat!). I felt quite happy with their choices as they were not controversial or too difficult to find information on.

Day 2: Friday 

  • Small Group Sessions – Groups met and worked on their projects (both groups started work on a video)
  • Keynote: Amanda Lindhout – Wow. She is an amazing speaker and I really think she got her message across to many of the students in attendance  If you don’t know too much about her, I recommend you look her up. Short version, she was kidnapped in Somalia and was held for over 400 days. She was released upon a ransom being paid. Now she runs Global Enrichment FoundationI was very touched by her talk and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to hear her speak.
  • At this point in the schedule there was a break/snack, and they we were to move to breakout sections, but sadly a little flu caught up with me and I went home to sleep it off.

Day 3: Saturday

  • Kids Go Global – A great talk given by David Chantler about linking global causes with theater and student work! I hope that I can get my school involved with something like that one day. 
  • Group Activity – This was probably the most fun the students had over all the conference. A dance group came in and taught the students how to do a BOLLYWOOD routine. Such a cool experience! I have some video and pictures and they are just so cool to see.
  • Small Group Work
  • Lunch (delicious subs)
  • Final Small Group Work
  • Final Words/Presentations – What a great finale to a superb 3 days. I was thanked for the work that I did (which was marking, having good conversation, learning about some really cool things and having fun), and then we got to watch the presentations that the students had been working on. They were really well done. I was so impressed with the work they accomplished and made me feel like we have a really good group of people growing up to take care of our world.

Thanks to all the folks involved in IYLS2013. I hope I can be a part of it again next year!


Teachers as a Network

This nifty little diagram was found over here on the CEA website.

My favorite part of this article was the example of a teacher with all these connections.

“Consider the following picture: Ms. Linkedin arrives at school by 7:30am for her 8:00am class. She is prepared to answer her students questions on last night’s lesson posted on the class wiki because their homework was to write their questions on a shared Google doc. This took no more than 10 minutes of her time and allowed her to adjust the morning’s lesson to accommodate for their questions. (The lesson was a video she flipped using the TED Edsite.) A departmental meeting is planned for her first spare of the day and as head, she has reduced the meeting time by half by collaborating asynchronistically on a Google doc. During lunch, Ms. Linkedin takes ten minutes to read a few tweets from her #edchat Twitter stream and to contribute a few of her own. The afternoon is smooth partly because of a great idea she gleaned from her Personal Learning Network (PLN) about assigning different roles in group work and now the class is humming with excitement. At the day’s end, Ms. Linkedin leaves deeply satisfied, partly because of her students’ enthusiasm and partly because of a parent’s compliment about the good work she is doing, evident by the open class wiki.”

I keep reading this over and over and it’s totally what I want to be.  But where to start…

Online Math Tools

As I said before the Math resources are coming! (Run for your LIVES!)

Found on Pinterest (yay!) this site has composed quite a few tools that are online and can be used in a variety of Math units. There is of course the usual calculator, but also 2 hundreds charts, a sticky numbers app, and one where you can see angles. There are a few others but I’ll let you discover those on your own.

The one that stood out for me is the teacher’s toolkit. It has all those things, plus some so teachers can pull them up on the computer or SMARTboard for whole/small group instruction. Enjoy!

8 Online Math Tools and Interactive Resources

Crowd Sourced Advice for New Teachers

This came up on my twitter feed yesterday (shared by my local teacher’s union). I added my two cents and I encourage you to as well.

  • Make friends with your admin/office team.
  • If your students don’t know how/why they are in trouble. Explain. Some just don’t know.
  • Smile.

The list was composed by the owner of the lovely blog called Free Technology for Teachers.



SMART Resources

So for one of my final projects in my degree I worked on the effectiveness of a SMARTboard in a music classroom. Another side part of this was finding resources already out there to help aid teachers in their teaching. I will admit this was mainly music focused but there are a few in there that have other subjects as well! I hope that this will encourage you to use new technology in your classroom and to share anything neat you find on your own journey.

Teachers Love SMART boards

Bob’s Place of Educational Links (SMARTboards)

SMART Exchange

Interactive Whiteboard and Smart Boards at Internet 4 Classrooms

Smartboard in the Classroom

Teaching Netiquette


The correct or acceptable way of communicating on the Internet.

This issue has come up in my classroom lately as we’re now using a site to post our daily homework. This site has a forum as well as a pager (something like an instant messenger). Recently a student sent another teacher a fairly inappropriate message through the pager (It was about how to make Duck Soup… very weird). The actin taken was to have the student apologize to the teacher. But was it enough? Should we be teaching our students netiquette? At what age do we start?

Just to get you started here are a few links that may help!

Kids Netiquette Rules

Betty’s Netiquette Quiz – A little quiz for students to take to assess their netiquette.

How to Google

A fabulous infographic about how to Google.

I know a lot of teachers struggle with instructing their students how to search for things on the internet. Typically Google is used (occasionally others) and many students, and some teachers, don’t know how to use it properly. Take a look at the infographic and maybe it’ll even help you on your next search.

Homework will be obsolete?

I read this list a few months back and I honestly thought it was a little scary at first. After thinking about things for a little bit I’m quite excited for these things to come to fruition. Here are a few of my favorites, but the full list can be found here!

    The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.
    The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).
    Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself. I still use wikipedia as a base for information gathering.
    Bio scans. ‘Nuff said. We may have to wait a while for this one!
    Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.
    In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.

Mimio Vote

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been experimenting with new technology known as Mimio Vote. It’s the best thing that’s happened to science education since Borax. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it has worked wonders in my Biology 20 class. The idea behind Mimio Vote is each student has a multiple choice handset, like in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Ask the Audience. This allows you to poll the students with a question at any time during the lesson. It used to be that lessons would consist of 20 minutes of notes followed by work time, or rather, time for motivated students to learn and non-motivated students to stall. Now my lessons take 50 minutes of a few notes with frequent Mimio Vote questions. Students are allowed to have their books open and talk to the people around them before answering. The idea is to get them to think about what they just learned, or to review background about what I am about to teach. Ironically, many of the questions I use for Votes are the same questions I would put on worksheets, only now, students actually want to answer them. It’s also helping immensely with their multiple choice test skills. If kids don’t get it, the results show right away and we can talk about why the answer they picked was wrong. Because the feedback is immediate, we can move on with the lesson knowing that everyone is on the same page. Feedback from the students suggests that they absolutely LOVE learning this way and they don’t mind that the lesson takes longer. It keeps them engaged and thinking during the lesson, instead of just being fed information in the form of notes. I think that a big pull for the kids is the novelty factor and the fact that the buttons on their handsets light up in pretty colours. I wonder if the novelty will wear off over time. In my Bio 20 class, it doesn’t seem to be losing its effect. Sometimes I wonder if this will take a toll on independent learning skills in the long run. It’s almost like they are being forced to work only one way and at one pace. There is very little self-motivation involved. However, their test results are showing huge improvements and retention of information. Mimio Vote: Talk to your administrators about investing in it.