Monday, October 27, 2014

We stand on guard for thee…..

Planning for Remembrance Day ceremonies is underway in many Alberta schools. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the main concern in this planning process was in making the ceremony relevant. Unfortunately and sadly, in the past ten years, international and Canadian current events have reminded us once again of the need for, and the high cost of, maintaining peace abroad and at home.  The peace process, the history of our world wars and modern conflicts, as well as the changing nature of ‘war’ helps set the context for ‘remembering’.   

There are many resources that can help classroom teachers in preparing their students for Remembrance Day – and not just as a ceremony. Selecting these resources and planning for their best use in the classroom is made easier through the Remembers special edition page.

For example, Veterans Affairs Canada has excellent resources for educators, including downloadable videos, historical fact sheets, booklets and suggested activities for all grade levels -“provided to help ensure that the torch of Remembrance continues to burn brightly in the hearts of all Canadians.”  

The National Film Board provides Images of a Forgotten War - a rich and unique collection of more than 120 historical films, images and essays from WWI. 

Another resource, the Over the Top Interactive Game allows intermediate students to experience life in the trenches during the First World War. Part history and part adventure story, Over the Top allows players to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions at key moments.

Also for students is a CBC: A Wounded Soldier multimedia presentation - a series of photos of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Christopher Klodt and  audio clips of an interview completed after he was seriously injured in Afghanistan. It also includes comments from junior high students who had the opportunity to meet with Corporal Klodt.

Remembrance Day is an opportunity for teachers of young Canadians to connect to history with empathy and help students create an understanding of what it means to “keep our land glorious and free”.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Things that go bump in the night…

Halloween is finally just around the corner. We say finally because those big seasonal Halloween costume outlets appeared before this school year began!  It seems that Halloween is now one of the three biggest retail events of the year.  This infographic below confirms the kind of spending and other activities we Canadians engaged in for Halloween 2013. Imagine what those figures will be in 2014!

Before it became a big retail event, in its simpler form, the spirit of Halloween was about stories, crafts and homemade costumes - and a chance to become really scared - in a fun way!  
In schools we have a real opportunity to enjoy the Halloween spirit without it being a financial burden. Stories, poems, online interactives, Math and Science activities, Arts and Crafts and recipes for treats, like those found in our Happy Halloween enjoy page, are all ways that we can enjoy the season in a positive way.  

For students who are a little older, zombies are still trending as a topic of interest, given current TV programs and many popular movies.  Want to engage junior and senior high students in some zombie-related literature?  Try our Z is for Zombie enjoy page.

New this year to’ s Halloween-themed pages is our Creepy, Crawly but Cool page. For all those students who love tiny things that go bump in the night, this is a collection of resources about bats and spiders, including video, online stories in both fiction and non-fiction, and mythology.  Don’t miss the teacher resources to help you get creepy, crawly but cool in your classroom.

There is a richness of resources about Halloween that won’t cost teachers a dime - no tricks - and engage students in activities and learning that will be a treat!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Teachers Make Me Smile!

Today's post is from Catherine Macklam,'s Provincial Team Leader.  Catherine has been an educator for 40 years and's Team Leader since its inception in 1997.

It is always such a pleasure to work with our new teachers, but this year was special. I had the opportunity to present at the ATA Beginning Teachers Conference in Calgary on October 4, as did my colleagues Daryl and Theresa in Edmonton on September 27.   We did two sessions - Step Away from the Textbook: Digital Content for Your Classroom and Resources for DIY Professional Learning: Teaching Essentials. In all, we presented to over 165 new teachers.

We had a very positive response from our session participants, as you can see by their feedback. On Monday, October 6 I came to work and waxed eloquently about our new teachers in the field - so much so that the team suggested I put my reactions into words (our blog)...although I think this may have been their way to get me back on task.

What became apparent in both sessions is the need for curated digital content such as provides. Equally important are the conversations we facilitate to support understanding of how to best use digital resources in unit and lesson planning. Essential digital tools for creation/demonstration of knowledge need to be paired with professional learning documents to support teacher and student digital content creation.  Create and our student sites on were really well received, which was heartwarming, particularly in light of the Ministerial Order and the LTPF.

For me personally, I came away with a strong reaction to the quality of individuals new to our profession. I can sum up my image of them in these words - energetic, excited, inquisitive, engaged and committed. Talk about inspiring! I’m still smiling from the experience.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Today is the day! [ Book Club]

Our online discussion of A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy begins today.  We are excited that many educators in a variety of different roles and responsibilities have already joined our Book Club.  We’re starting this week with a discussion of Chapter One, with subsequent chapters discussed each week through October and November.   We’re looking forward to eight weeks of opinions, insights, ideas and sharing.

As Fullan and Langworthy describe “new pedagogies” as learning partnerships “aiming towards deep learning goals and enabled by pervasive digital access”, we ourselves will be actively connecting in this digital environment.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. [Oliver Wendell Holmes]  If you haven’t joined this community yet, take a look and consider adding your voice.

To join the Book Club (G+ Community)

To start reading A Rich Seam