Sunday, December 22, 2013

Education is an intensely personal experience.

Education is an intensely personal experience. It cannot be gained from books, tests or assignments. Although they can help form an education they are not the basis for it. The basis is the person’s experiences, reactions and thoughts. This can be found in many places, in the most unexpected ways and have impacts much larger than anything we can convey in a classroom. Each person who sits in a classroom has a different experience in the class with no two being the same despite being taught the same things. Each person brings a different level of experience, understanding and thought process to each situation.  Each person has experiences outside the classroom that no one else in the classroom can have. This affects how they perceive things. Classrooms should be about expanding on these experiences, providing more places for thought provoking discussion and following trains of thought to their logical conclusions. Education should not be about test scores or getting everyone to be the same by expecting the same things from them. Everyone is not the same. We should stop expecting all our students to be the same. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Growing with SOLE

             Once upon a time teaching was about building relationships, demonstrating a caring attitude, and working to make lessons interesting and fun. Since I decided a few years ago to back up and treat my students with the respect and caring of years gone by I have found a different voice in the classroom. I care about curriculum. I care more about the students. I work with them to hear their voices, give them a stronger belief in themselves and what they can accomplish and build on their confidence. This is the area where teachers need to work on the most, building student confidence. It once was that this was a given because the material was presented and built on until the students had grasped it. Now it is rushed through like an assembly line because “this has to be taught before I move on to something totally different.” My students in response are more eager to learn, to ask questions and to think creatively. My behaviour problems have toned themselves down to acceptable levels, most of the time. Academic issues are still there but students now feel supported rather than cast aside. Everyone is treated the same and pitches in to help. At times it is the stronger students who lead. At times the weaker students demonstrate the positives they have to help the others. The creative kids feel vindicated because they can show those whose creativity is lacking ways to make their work more interesting.  

                My change in attitude towards my students and my interest in using SOLE, Self Organized Learning Environments, helped facilitate this. SOLE allowed the students to see each other as part of something larger. It allowed them time to work and discuss the topics presented by them. They took ownership for their learning and became closer as a group than they ever would have been without it. SOLE has changed their lives and awakened in them the possibilities of what they can be when they feel they are a part of something.

                How about you? Do you feel a part of something? Join the SOLE movement and grow.

Teacher Burnout

Teacher Burnout

During a discussion about stress in teaching a relative of mine stated that in her non-teaching job she dealt with rude, argumentative people every day and that my stress was no different from hers. I let the argument go because there was no way she was going to give on her point. The point I was going to make though was “Does your job deal with exactly the same people every day for 192 days? Does your job deal with people who you are hoping will change or at least see what you are talking about?”

                I liken the stress of teaching to the stress of a family argument that never goes away. You try different ways to resolve the issues but they still keep coming back no matter how much headway you make. Your students have a different perspective on each problem. Their parents have a totally different perspective. Your administration has another perspective that may vary with those held elsewhere. All this continues to build as personalities push at each other in a way that children in a family home do. Something has to give and often it is the teacher.
                     On top of this stress there is the stress of non-supportive administration, an ever changing curriculum, the need to meet the needs of all the students in your class, performing social work and psychological counselling on a daily basis as well as keeping up with a never ending supply of marking, evaluations, the expectations of giving more and more, extra-curricular activities that take time away from family and ever present marking, and preparing for pressure ridden government testing. And this is only the tip of the ice berg.  Most of these things we were not trained for or if we were it was touched on briefly.  Most of our learning comes from on the job experience. Student teachers are constantly amazed at how much we do on a daily basis. They cannot believe the breadth of the job that teacher training barely touches on.

                How do we solve the problems of stress and teacher burnout? We can’t solve it because it is inherent in the job. It comes with dealing with students every day. It comes with each teacher’s having different expectations and different ideas about what rules should be followed. It comes with administration, who either never wanted to work in classrooms or dealt with burnout in their own way by removing themselves from the daily grind. Administrators have a different set of issues because of the pressures they face from their administrators at the board level and parents.

                The resolutions come from taking education away from being a commodity. Not every child will be going to University or College. Children need to explore their world around them and learn about the things that interest them. This will lessen the stress level as we are seeing and treating children as individuals, allowing them to be more respectful and engaged in their learning. We need to defocus on curriculum. As someone said to me recently, “Learning Shakespeare is nice but what is the end result of using it?” Why are we teaching kids about things they may never use again in their lives? Change the curriculum to allow more interaction with the world. A child whose father is a welder may want to learn more about welding. Encourage children to be entrepreneurs rather than users. Chase social issues so the children can learn to be more compassionate. These changes will lessen many of the issues we face in teaching.  

                We live in a world that is constantly changing. Let’s change education to face the realities of today.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18 Research

How Did Santa Become Part of Christmas?
Katelynne , Andrew, Cody

People call Santa Old Saint Nick, Santa Claus, and Kris Kringle. St. Nick was a Christian Bishop who lived in Turkey. People thought he was the protector of the children and travelers. When St. Nicholas died he was called a Saint. Before St. Nick died his 3 daughters got gifts from him. Then every year the tradition started. Every year the day that St. Nick died, (December 25) people gave out presents to each other. Santa wears a red coat and red pants a red hat with a white ball and a black belt. St. Nick spread to the other continents and countries and the people in those countries called Saint Nick, Santa Claus. Santa has 9 reindeer. Their names are Dasher, Dancer, Prance Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.
The end!

                             Why Does Santa Wear Red and White?

By Dora, Denyce, and Caden.

Santa is known for having a red and white suit due to Coca Cola.  Santa was in an ad wearing red and white. Then once the ad spread, Santa was known for red and white. But before the ad Santa wore tons of different colours, like green, purple, light blue, navy blue, red, and also he sometimes wore brown or black with white furs. But he also used to wear a mistletoe crown, hat, a nightcap and a bishops mitre. Santa also wears red and white due to his style. Santa also used to smoke a clay pipe. Also, every December 25th, millions are visited by Santa in his red suit.

What is more common on top of a Christmas tree and why?

By: Abi, Alisha, Mia

The most common tree topper is an angel. The angel is most common because it is referred to Christmas angel. Other tree toppers maybe ribbon bows Santa Claus Christian crosses Christmas Owls and sunbursts. Tree toppers may be made of blown glass medal or plastics around other materials.   In the Christmas story angel sang on high to announce the birth of Jesus the fairy on top of the tree was originally a little figure of little Jesus. In late 17th century Germany this became a shining angel. Windsor’s castles Christmas trees were topped by a large angel In Victorian Britain little girls would take down the angel down after Christmas and dress him in dolls clothes. Eventually the angel was turned into a female fairy completing with a wand the angels hung on the trees represent the angels who  Herald the birth of Messiah. The star is one of the most important ornaments of the Christmas tree. It is indicating the guiding stars which lead the Shepherds and Kings to the new born Jesus Christ.

Why are elves so short?

By: Jaylah Katie and Rheya

Have you ever wondered why elves are so small? Well we have the answer!!! 

         Elves are magic like Santa, so they could have made themselves small to fit in small spaces for emergencies. Elves are also short so that they can have small hands to paint little details on the toys. The first elf book came out in 1850 and there was a movie. Elves act as Santa’s special helper. They have certain jobs like sorting or toy making or super-vising. Some even go with Santa to drop all the toys in the little kid’s stockings.
Some people think it’s because they have embodied a child’s spirit because children are so small. I think it is because Elves are soooo old that they shrink.  I think that elves are small because Santa is magic so he made them small. I think that instead of aging they get younger so before any of us where alive, they were tall. I’d imagine when elves are born they are about the size of a ginger-bread man!!!!!                    
There are your answers folks!!!!
THE END!!!!!

What is a hoodoo?

By Andrew and Zach

Hoodoos look like withered rock with harder rock on top.  The closest location is Drumheller, Alberta.  A hoodoo is also known as a tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid.  It looks like a tall, thin spirally rock.  Hoodoos can grow up to 5 to 150 feet tall.

                                      How do hoodoos form?

They are usually formed by sediment rock or volcanic rock formations.  They are mostly found in the hot dry desert.  The base of the hoodoos is made of sandstone then hard rock on top.

The End!  

How Did Google Get Its Name?

By Stewart, Aidan and Cody

Google is an American multinational corporation specializing in Internet related services and products. Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and while they were earning their Ph.D. at Stanford. Google has grown through communication hardware and it’s the browser - only chrome OS.
The corporation has been estimated more than a million servers in data centers around the world
About Headphones

Aaliyah, Adrian D. and Olivia

 The ear buds/headphone has a piece of plastic that vibrates in response to sounds. When the plastic moves it is creating sound waves that go from your earphones / headphones in to your ear. Another answer that we found is an electric signal is sent from your music system to the cable of your headphones. The headphone & ear buds have the same system it goes from the music player to the cord to your ears so you can hear.
Why Do People Hurt Other People?

By: Cameron, Hunty and Keeshan 

It is a sickness called “Munchausen Syndrome.” But it only sometimes causes people to hurt other people. It also makes people that have the type of syndrome to hit others when they don’t try to or they don’t even know if they hurt another person. Munchausen syndrome isn’t the same thing as hypochondria, which is a sickness that people believe that they are sick.

Self Evaluation Part 2

Here is a late addition to the Self Evaluation of SOLE from yesterday.

What do you like about SOLE?
- it is more than learning from a text book. Text books are simple and just give you the answer.but with SOLE you are using the internet, and you get both the answer and background information to make your understanding stronger.

How has SOLE affected your learning?
- it is more exciting than paper and pencil work
- we are growing up with technology and using it

How will SOLE change school?
- kids would have more fun if they were doing SOLE
- kids would want to go to school

What is special about SOLE?
- we learn more from researching in groups
- we learn more when we are interested in what we are learning

What have you learned about yourself by using SOLE?
- I can take more initiative in my work.
- I can use SOLE outside of school

How do you think SOLE will help students around the world?
- the world would be a better place
- their might be less bullying and more sharing
- people working on teams are more like people in real jobs

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Student Evaluation Of SOLE

Today I had my students do a written evaluation of SOLE. Below are their responses to the questions asked. I am impressed with the depth of insight they demonstrate. Happy Reading.

What do you like about SOLE?

- it helps your brain learn what it needs to know about things.
- we can use the computer to find information
- we use the computer to type what we found instead of writing it on paper
- you get to form a group to research a question you came up with
- you can learn from what other groups research
- it helps improve your reading and writing
- that it is okay to learn
- the computer has more information than a book
- it is fun
- you get to know everyone in your class
- you get to present to the class
- if you are wondering about something you get to find out about it
- it is the perfect way to learn about a topic
- instead of reading through books you get to use the computer and the internet
- that we get to research every question we want to know about
- I learn a bunch of information about a variety of topics
- I learned more than I did before we did SOLE
- it increased my reading level
- I like how you can do this at home, at school, by yourself or with a group
- you get to work with your friends
- we come up with the questions that need to be answered
- it teaches you more than you know about a topic
- you are not told what to do, you get to decide it
- I learn something new every time we do a SOLE
- I learn about the people I am doing it with
- you learn about whatever you want

How has SOLE affected how you learn?
- it has shown me how to research better
- I have learned far more than I thought I would from the internet
- it made me a better reader and writer
- because it easier and more fun to learn this way I am happier
- I did not know I was a good presenter
- you can get lot of info but you can’t cut and paste
- it encourage me to read
- we use the computer more effectively
- it helped me become a better researcher
- it makes me remember the answers to hard questions
- that when we use a laptop for research and a laptop for putting down the information we learned not to plagiarize
- I am reading harder books because SOLE increased my vocabulary
- it has increased my reading, writing, vocabulary, self esteem and leadership skills
- I learned to work better in groups and how to get along with people I might not work with
- it made me smarter
- SOLE got me to a higher reading level
- it helped me to talk better to an audience

How will SOLE change school?

- we were taught old things, now we learn new things
- it changes boring to fun
- it helps make us focussed
- books are not needed anymore
- it would make students happier
- we would learn more than we thought we could
- we would have access to more information than a text book
- SOLE would improve everyone’s reading making their grade levels higher
- the whole school could work on questions in large groups

What is special about SOLE?

- SOLE is special because people can be dumb but if they do SOLE they can become smarter
- we always get to use the computer
- we are typing up our answers instead of writing them out by hand
- it is fun
- Everything about SOLE is special
- it helps your brain grow when you research and share with the class
- it is like always working on a project with your friends
- it is a good way to use electronics
- everything
- it helps you with your reading because you are reading and researching all the time
- it is an effective way of learning
- it uses electronics which is a faster way to learn
- it is special because not many schools are doing it
- it changes how we work together in a classroom
- you work with friends
- how much more I learn from my friends
- you learn what you are interested in and passionate about

What have you learned about yourself by using SOLE?

- I learned I can be smarter when I think
- That I can improve myself and that I am equal with everyone else
- I work well in a group because I learn more and get more done
- it is fun working with other people
- working in groups is faster
- that I would rather be a leader than a follower
- I also realized I like working independently
- I am a better researcher than I thought I was
- I was always saying “I can’t do this,” but now I barely say that at all
- I made new friends with my classmates
- I can do whatever I put my mind to
- I always tried my best but it never seemed to work out. With SOLE that has changed.
- I learned to work well in groups
- Learned that I am smarter than I thought I was and that I ask good questions
- that I do interact well with others
- how much I know about a lot of topics
- I love typing and became more interested in some of the things we researched

What have you learned about your classmates while doing SOLE?

- some people are very serious about their work
- some are very different from me
- I like their reactions when we find a very good fact
- some students are good at different things. Some read well, some type well and some write very neatly
- some are very focused
- some share better than others
- some are good to work with and some are not
- they are gifted in their own ways
- I learned about the different interests my classmates had
- some people were shy and didn’t want to go in front of the class but now they are up there with everyone else
- how much smarter they are now
- they are excellent researchers
- they are great people when we do SOLE
- some are shy and some are good leaders
- they have good questions, are always happy
- they are not distracted while presenting
- some work well in groups and some don’t

- I learn a lot every time we research
- I liked researching Van Gogh, How the Earth was formed, How to make 3D movies, Why can’t men have babies?, How to make hats, and all about Christmas
- I don’t like that some people choose  partners that don’t focus and talk about silly things



                                           When and How Did Christmas Start?
Denyce , Alisha, Jaylah

354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration on December 25th of a  Christian                                      liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus.  Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus birth. They had pre Christian festivals that by the time the church was celebrated around a winter with people who were later converted with Christianity. Christianity means a religion based on a person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth or it’s beliefs or practices. Nazareth means a historic town in Northern Israel that is mentioned in the Gospels as the home of Joseph and Mary. The fact the Donatists of  Roman North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established time the church was made in 311. The other dates for Christmas is January 6th and 7th and the 19th

Why do we get presents on Christmas?
Abi, Dora, Mia

Family and friends give presents to each other to show appreciation and how much they care
The first present that people can remember is when God gave his one and only son to the people of Earth.
Presents can be from underwear and socks to $1000 toys. Kids always love to try to peek at their presents and figure out what they’re getting.

The following is an old story that doesn’t appear to have an author. It has been shared many times.

The Gold Wrapping Paper:

Once upon a time many years ago, there was a gruff man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his wife and children. This particular year just days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.
As money was so tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper just to decorate one large shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also wondered where she had gotten the money to buy whatever was in the shoebox.
Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"
 As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.
 But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
 The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."
 The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
 An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.
 In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Why are the main colors of Christmas red, green, white, and gold?

By Aaliyah, Rheya , Caden

The colors of Christmas are green, red, gold and white. Green represents holly and the trees. It also reminds people that winter dose not last forever. Red represents Santa. It also represents the bishop ropes that Santa wears. This goes back to other stories about St. Nicholas. Gold represents the sun and light on the dark night of Christmas. It also represents the colour that people say keeps you warm. White represents the snow and the cold winter night.

Mistletoe Tradition

Our question is: How did the mistletoe tradition start?

by Adrian ,Zack ,Keeshan

Since ancient times, the mistletoe has been one of the most magical mysterious plants of European folklore. People argue against the use of mistletoe in Christmas decor as the plants were used in pagan tradition. Mistletoe has been associated to Celtic and Pagan rituals and was used in Norse mythology. People in ancient times thought of it as a plant that held wonderful powers. In some cultures the mistletoe was a symbol of peace, love and kindness. The modern day tradition of kissing under the mistletoe comes from Norse mythology. A Norse goddess declared the mistletoe a plant to symbolize love rather than death. As the myth goes it recently stood for being a symbol of love. Kissing under the mistletoe naturally became a tradition as everyone understands the powers of love.

    Christmas Tree Traditions
Olivia, Cameron, Hunter
The Christmas tree tradition started in Germany, were the people would take in pine or an evergreen tree, (now or a fake one,) and decorate the tree with: 
1700’s; apples, nuts and foods.
1800’s; candles, cranberry and popcorn strings, garland, tinsel and candy canes.
Now, lights, Christmas ornaments, candy canes and ribbon and for the top, it’s the star of Bethlehem, or a herald angel

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All About Christmas
Dora, Alisha, Caden, Adrian M
The representative for Santa was born in Patara, Turkey in 280. He died December 6th 343 in Myra, Turkey. He then transferred into Santa Claus. Before he died, he was a Christen bishop who provided for the poor and sick. The date of Christmas is December 25 in most places or January 6th or 7th or 19th. Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations. Christmas is called Christmas because it combines 2 words Christ’s Mass. The term literally means the Mass of Christ. No one knows exactly how long Christmas has been around for.

How did the earth form?
Hunter, Zach, Andrew, Denyce
A billion years ago the solar system was nothing but a bunch of clouds. The clouds of dust were made of called dust particles. The dust particles soon got attracted to each other, and formed one big spinning disc. As the disc spun, the disc separated it into smaller rings. The spinning of the rings made them white hot. The center of the rings was the sun. The outer rings turned to large balls of fire. The balls were made of gas and molten liquid and soon turned into planets. The planets were Earth, Mars, Venus, Neptune, Mercury and many other planets.

What Makes Lightning?
Abi. Mia
Lightning is produced in thunderstorms. It is  made as liquid and ice particles move above freezing level collide. There is a build up of large electrical fields in the clouds. Once electrical fields become large enough a giant spark occurs between them.  Thunderstorms produce lightning and are very dangerous.  Lightning kills and injures more than hurricanes and tornados each year. The number of people killed and injured is in between 100-1500 people. Have any of you ever rubbed your feet across carpet and then touched a metal doorknob and get shocked? That is what happens with lightning

How Do You Make Something 3D?
3d films are captured using two lenses placed side by side just like your eyes. 3D films like Avatar trick your mind, bringing images projected onto a flat cinema screen and projecting them forward. in old fashioned 3D films, footage for the left eye would be filmed using a red lens filter, producing a red image, and footage for the right eye would be shot using a blue filter, resulting in a blue image.  Together they fool the eye into thinking something is standing out or sitting back on the screen.

HOW Does a Snowflake FORM?
Olivia, Rheya, Keeshan, Katelynne
BEFORE SNOW FALLS, IT TURNS INTO ICE CRYSTALS. When the ice crystals get heavy, they form six tiny arms, and as they fall, the arms grow and get bigger as droplets of water attach themselves to the crystal and freezes. It also has to be less than 0 degrees to snow. Snow starts in the Earth’s atmosphere as tiny droplets.
A snowflake gets it shape from the way the air hits it.

Why do we dream when there is nothing there?

When you close your eyes you imagine stuff. Your brain is active during rem (rapid eye movement). The rapid eye movement exercises the brain during long periods of sleep. Neurotransmitters remained active during sleep. Recent research reveals that our dreams are our mind at work organizing and making sense of memories, sort of like therapy but only inside your head.

Our thoughts about dreaming.

Caoimhe What I think is that the threats in life that we see makes you dream bad things like you are falling off a cliff.

I think what happens in the day could get involved with your mind and get in your dreams

When you dream the images in your mind come to life

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    The motivation to succeed is lacking in education at the moment. Everyone is trying to instill extrinsic motivation in students to get them to succeed. We establish curriculum, set goals, develop time lines and teach all to the same end. Most students do not want to learn what we are teaching them. The key is to establish intrinsic motivation through finding topics of interest and then applying the curriculum to help them meet their goals. Building on this internal motivation catches the students in the act of learning and expands it to follow the interests and needs of the individuals. They stay motivated because they are interested. One cannot expect to cover the curriculum as it exists now. One cannot expect that square boxes where everyone is taught the same thing will work. As adults we all have different interests and follow those interests to our satisfaction. Why are we restricting students in their interests?

The following is from an article from the Smithsonian based on why schools in Finland are successful.

The Foundation

Public schools should be organized into one system.

Everyone contributes to the curriculum to provide guidelines for learning, not set in stone prescriptions. The guidelines would be brief and to the point.

All resources are given equally to all schools, not just new or wealthy schools.

Every teacher would have to have a master’s degree in theory and practice at state expense. State expense would be grandfathered out in 5 years. At that time all teachers should have a Master’s degree or lose their job.

With a Master’s degree all teachers should be referred to as professionals in the truest sense since their education would be more in line with other professionals.

All children will be taught in the same classrooms, with lots of special teacher help available to make sure no child really is left behind.

Hire and keep people who love the work. Encourage creativity in the workplace. Explore best practices every year.

Equip all schools with the latest technology and find ways to maintain it without giving over control of it to corporate entities.