Openness – Adaptability – Improvement


Image via Pixabay

As educators I believe that we need to be open to sharing our resources, ideas and challenges with one another. There is too much to take on alone. Plus, teaching is a somewhat isolated job as we are typically in our individual classrooms facing the students – one to 28, 29, 30 or possibly 31…

Full disclosure, it’s been a particularly long Monday.

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Gif via GIPHY

Collaboration among teachers is important at any stage in your career. I am not sure if I will ever be done adapting lessons or assignments. Every time I begin to plan or organize a unit I almost always change or adapt something, either because it’s dated, perhaps it was unclear or it wouldn’t mesh well with those specific students. It’s exhausting to think I will never be “done” with an assignment, but at the same time it is refreshing. I’ll always get the chance to improve and grow.

I think that a big part of openness is being adaptable. Students are always evolving as are our curriculum mandates and expectations. For example over the next three or so weeks I will be attending PD sessions on incorporating Treaty education, and meeting the needs of EAL learners. There are a lot of things teachers are trying to achieve in addition to the basic minimum curriculum requirements. It would be unrealistic to do it all alone without any support from colleagues. This support could be in the form of resources, reviewing of my materials, discussion or collaboration.

Openness is also important in the area of improvement. Other people are able to offer a differing perspective, or simply even provide a ready-made unit or assignment when we are most in need of one. I know that I have received many resources that were lifesaving early on in my career. I have also benefit by asking a more experienced colleague to examine my final exam for a certain course. The feedback I received was valuable, and time saving as she pointed out some ways I could simplify the marking in addition to ensuring the content is sufficient.

While teacher supervision is a mandatory process it wouldn’t be to anyone’s benefit if the teacher were not receptive to the process or any feedback. In our school system there is a supervision cycle where everyone completes a supervision process with their in-school administrator approximately every 5-8 years. It’s a lot of work for both parties involved as far as paperwork and a time commitment. Regardless, it needs to be done. If the teacher or administrator, who was or still possibly is a classroom teacher is not open to a dialogue and sharing experiences the process could simply be a waste of everyone’s limited time.

What are your thoughts and experiences with openness and education? I feel like my perspective is pretty common among teachers, do you agree? Do you think other professions have the same level of openness and collaboration?


On a completely unrelated note below is a gif I made! It’s of my almost 2 year at a local trampoline park. This made my Monday that much better. 🙂







OER Use in the Classroom


I chose to evaluate Open Learn with the idea that I could use it for some of my high school business courses. Although it is a UK site here is what I found:

  • It is user friendly and well-organized.
  • I felt that the resources were of good quality, and the site was easy to navigate and search. I easily found Accounting, Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship courses. 
  • Although the main page is visually appealing once I signed up and started a course I found that it was not as appealing. It was very text heavy with lots of reading. 
  • I would consider it a valuable resource for educators to pull information from. Especially since you can download the courses in Microsoft word or in PDF format without even signing up for a course. 
  • The quality of the materials was great but the actual course was not as interactive as I had hoped. There was text and questions, that was about the extent of it. It could have been improved with a slideshow, video, graphics and quizzes. 
  • Although, it does not meet my expectations of being a good resource to direct students to for an independent type study on a certain topic it would be a good resource for a teacher to pull information from. 


excel 2


I have had a great experience using GCF Learn for Free with my Accounting 20 students. The site has a tutorial on Excel that students are to complete independently. Within each module there are videos and text detailing each step. To keep students, on track and avoid some unnecessary information students complete a worksheet with guided questions while they go through the tutorial. Here is a link to the word document that students are to utilize Excel 2016


At certain points in the tutorial students are required to complete excel spreadsheets. The tutorial provides partially completed spreadsheets that students download and complete according to the specific task.

I think that OERs are very valuable with the proper format and set-up. While the Open Learn site had lots of good content and information for teachers it would take some work for a teacher to organize that material into an engaging format. The GCF Learn for Free site was very user friendly, and while I created a document to go with the tutorial it was still very engaging and user friendly.


Since my last post I completed my entire checklist for my DLP!

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Image via Giphy

Additionally, I am feeling excited about my class group, and today was wishing I had set one up for all of my classes. I am at 95% for students joining, and those who have joined are utilizing the resources. I am still posting them on the traditional online grading system, but am having them in the documents file in our class group. Had I set up groups in Office 365 for my other classes I would have avoided having to email students documents today.

If you are curious what I mean when I say my class group here is a quick video that explains it.


Below is a video I found extremely helpful as far as setting up some of the features in my class group. I will also refer back to it for my goals this week. In the future I will mostly show a portion of this to my classes when explain the purpose of these groups to the students.


So far the online group has been a place for students to easily access resources, view the class calendar, submit assignments and quickly get in touch with me or their classmates. Over the next couple of weeks I would like to increase the interaction of the students within the group.

Here are my goals for next week:

  • Create a One Note document for students to enter data in. The data will be in connection to the poetry assignment we will be working on.
  • Have the students upload their presentations to the group so that they are accessible for everyone in the group to view them.

I realize this is only two goals for the week but I feel each of these tasks will have many small steps to achieve them. Plus the assignment that  I am planning to have these two tasks associated requires some more attention. I am changing it from the last time I taught this course, in addition to adding these technological requirements to it.

Copyright – black/ white or preferably grey

The other day in ELA 9 I was flowing through a PowerPoint, that I had created on the writing process. While doing so I was pointing out how I gave credit to the sources when I used images that were not my own. I mentioned it a few times as I had more than one image on my presentation that were not mine.


When we were done that portion of our class I introduced a video clip that I was about to show. As we are studying Romeo and Juliet I usually show this Star Wars Lego clip for Act 3 Scene 1, just to give the students a visual and make it a bit more appealing for those who are lacking engagement at this point in our Shakespeare study.


Obviously I was feeling pretty good about my teaching that day. I had taught them about the writing process, displayed some examples of sourcing material and then showed them a “cool” clip to get them excited about Shakespeare. If I was grading myself I would have received an excellent.  The video is student made but has some popular music. Although, the video notes that the music is not owned by the video creators. No sooner did I start the clip when a student turned around and asked “isn’t this copy right infringement?” I honestly told the student that I had not thought of that. After we viewed the clip we discussed how this video is an example of copyright infringement. I thought that there was a rule that you were allowed to use a maximum of ten seconds of a song without it breaking any laws. I said that I would look into it and let them know.

After viewing the film RIP – Remix Manifesto I would have to stay the students use of the music would be against the copyright law, but it could still depend. The director in the film interviews a woman who works at the Registry of Copyright in the state. When he shows her the work and though process of a music “mash-up” artist, she can’t confirm if it is breaking copyright laws. She said it would depend on whose music it was and how they felt about it. Although, the artist Girl Talk is dissecting and rearranging the music, whereas in the video clip they outright use the artists’ music.

Lawrence Lessig highlights many concerns in his Ted Talk: Laws that Choke Creativity.  I can feel many of those pressures as teacher. As educators we are working to use engaging and new materials in our rapidly changing world with less resources. It would be very easy to find and show a clip that connects to classroom learning and engages students, but we do need to cognizant of copyright law. Same thing with videos, it would probably be just as easy to log in to my personal streaming account and show a film but I believe that would be breaking copyright law. Or even literature for ELA, I could simply find a piece print it off and photocopy it for my class without giving any thought to it. I mean who would know? Would the students pay attention to it?

What are your thoughts or experiences with trying to gather resources while remaining diligent to copyright laws?

Stressed Out Teens

With some recent cyber-bullying issues and the topic of teen suicide being discussed at school lately I am feeling stressed for teens. I am concerned that they are under more pressure today, or at least more than when I went to high school in the late ’90s.

The other day I voiced my concerns to my two grade 9 classes and I asked them what they thought. We discussed some of the obvious differences such as social media leaving nothing you do unseen, and anything you post online in some capacity forever. Whereas, in my high school time if you did something silly no one was recording and posting a clip of it, also rumours typically died down within a week and were forgotten.

Additionally, the students brought up some points I had not thought of. One young lady discussed how if she showed up at the end of the semester with a good mark her parents would be very pleased, but because her parents can log on and see her grades on every single assignment as soon as the mark is entered they are questioning her on every task. A young man highlighted how sports never seem to end. There are teams, clubs, clinics and camps. It just seems to go and on, and if you want to be a part of it you need to keep up to play.

Gif via Giphy

This article from the APA – Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals that of Adults highlights how teens’ stress today is comparable to adults. It continues that although teens are more stressed they are less likely to realize the impacts of this stress on their bodies.

It also seems that fashion, make-up and desired body images are more pushed on youth today. We obviously had fashionable items, and pop icons that we looked up to, it just didn’t seem as saturated as it is today. Adding to this some of my students are still hearing from adults the high school will be the best years of their lives. I really dislike that. It only adds to the pressure of an already stressed group of young people, who are not only still growing physically, but are trying to develop their sense of self.

What are your thoughts and experiences with teens and their stress levels today?


DLP Checklist

I have felt as though my Digital Learning Project has been at a standstill. Initially, I was very excited to create an online, engaging, and useful space for my ELA 9 students. I am not sure where I lost my enthusiasm. I even started being envious of others who chose more “exciting” projects. For example my classmate, Coralee has been organizing and decluttering her house. I am so jealous. She is working really hard, learning new skills AND her house is clean! Angry, Upset, Pout, Face, Dissatisfied

Image via Pixabay



I need to remind myself what the purpose of my DLP is. The purpose of my DLP is for students in my ELA 9 class to have easily accessible class documents, a class calendar, and a point of contact and interaction with each other and myself.

Here is what I have achieved so far to date:

  • Compared using Google Classroom with what I have available through our school system
  • Created an online class group using Microsoft Office 365
  • Invited all of the students to join the group
  • Added 1 document relevant to our current unit of study
  • Added 3 class dates to the calendar
  • Sent out a notification to the students that have accepted my invitation

Below is a visual of the online group.

office 365

By our next class on Tuesday here are my goals I would like to achieve:

  • Send another invite to the students who have not joined yet
  • Add all upcoming class dates to the calendar: paragraph assignment, upcoming act questions, review periods and the upcoming exam
  • Upload the Writing Process Power Point we covered in class
  • Create a Google Form to gather some feedback from students, send the form out via this group
  • Speak with any students who have not joined the group and help them to join

As we are ending a unit in ELA 9 I am planning to use this online class group for some review activities and connections outside of the class. Once I have achieved the above goals that will be my focus.

What are some examples where educators have used online spaces for student collaboration? How can I motivate students to refer to and use the online space?

Social Media (Sl)Ac(k)tivism






Earlier this week I saw a post on Facebook from a past student of mine. Logan Gelowitz  posted that she was participating in the 100 Women Movement and was fundraising for Planned Parenthood Regina. Along with most things this student did while at our school, I was very impressed. This first year university student was not only putting herself out there by standing up for something important right here in our community, but she also speaks of her place of priviledge and that while she may have access to healthcare, others may not.


Logan’s post had me inspired to pull out my credit card and donate. I have donated online in the past to a GoFundMe page for a lady that I went to high school with whose child unexpectedly passed away. Other than that I typically shy away from anything too controversial online.  I was feeling ok about my online activisim, and then I watched the video below Slacktivists vs. Activists and learned I am actually a slacktivist, “anyone who does something in support of an issue that requires minimal personal effort”. I guess I reason that I am afraid to engage in anything that could put me in the spotlight in a negative way, and it is easy to post and share stuff without knowing the source.

Although I now know my reasoning for my slacktivism, I thought that as a high school teacher I should seek some information in regards to youth on this topic. The article Social Media is Undeniably Giving Power to Youth Activist by Sara Terrzano highlights that “millennial activism is distinguished by its online accessibility.” Yet it should not be discounted or defined simply by liking something on Facebook. By sharing and conversing online youth are starting the conversation and encouraging the change they are seeking.

So while I felt that my sharing of posts or information is useless it actually could help a cause. The video Youth and Media – Re:Born Digital, in Video: Activists is an excellent resources when seeking a definition and examples for social media activism. The point that stuck out most to me is that activism requires communication. In the past this was achieved via telephone, fliers and word of mouth. Now communication is online, through social media and personal devices.


If you are a teacher reading this I am curious, where have you participated in social media activisism? Where have you seen students participated in social media activism? Any tips or suggestions to distance myself from slacktivism?