First Days Back to School – some online activities

Good afternoon!! Sitting in my sunny back yard with the pond bubbling and just finished a webinar about the first few days back to school. Technology has made the process of introductions so much easier by doing online activities. Students (almost) all have devices that enable them to access the internet, so with  school based websites, it is a safe place for them to go and have fun.  So the rule of most teachers that I have connected with online is that the student has to have their phone/iPad: 1. on silent, 2. face down, and the corner of their desk. This allows students the comfort that it is there, and the ease for teachers knowing they aren’t trying to play with it. If a student doesn’t have a device they could be given a school one if they need internet access for an activity. Allowing students to use their device in a controlled way is better than expecting them not to use it at all. Allowing the option of using a school chromebook or iPad also allows them to save their time if they have limited use on their device. (prepaid cards)  I feel if they get to look up stuff online they are equipped with some knowledge to add to the class discussion in an informed way that allows others to comment and gets more student involvement. So back to introductory activities – initially the teacher has a presentation ready to share with the class showing a map with several pins in it. This could be on the SmartBoard, or what ever device you have in your class.  As he/she clicks on the pins information shows along with a picture – streetview – that tells why that spot is important to the teacher. Once you, as the teacher, have gone through your pins, and answered any questions that students had, allow them to do the same for themselves. So each student puts three or four pins on a map, with a streetview photo, adds a few lines of text about the place, and why they pinned it. This can be a collection of places that have been important to the student – where they live, where they went for holidays, where a relative lives, or even where they want to visit one day and why.( Documents, including this map activity, created in the student’s google drive account can be shared with others in the class.)It gets students active and sharing without being awkward like most ice breaker games. Another idea was to have the students answer some questions  using google forms or index card. Google forms allows the information to be gathered and charted in real time. The teacher can use this to gain information about the students, such as if they like reading, have siblings, play sports, have hobbies, favorite subject, ever been out of the country, province, or state. The resulting graph can be shown to the class to see the overall dynamics of the class. Perhaps it is a class that has students liking math the most or physical education, whatever it is, it is a fun bit of information to share with the class.  The teacher can use this information later to develop a scavenger hunt game for the class. If your using index cards just have students write three facts about themselves on the index cards and collect them. (Make sure their name is on it somewhere) Then the teacher can make a scavenger hunt asking students to find someone that likes science best, or has only sisters, or likes soccer. I have done this before and set up a grid on the paper like a bingo card and the students had to get one line, then four corners and then full card. (This way the activity can be done in different blocks depending how much time you have.) So eventually they find answers to all the questions and learn about their classmates. If you are teaching older grades that require a syllabus you can send a copy home, not going over it in class,( as it is pretty boring and they can read it on their own) and include some important questions from the syllabus on the scavenger hunt as well. If you have included class rules in the syllabus handout you can add these questions to the scavenger hunt as well. So I hope these all help and if you have other ideas I would love to hear them in my comments section. I am an elementary teacher but I don’t mind hearing any suggestions as some readers may teach junior and senior high and would like some new ideas. Have a great rest of the weekend fellow educators!! Your in Education, Donna MacTavish, Canada .


Free, Online Professional Development

As summer is quickly passing I am looking for more ways to make myself stand out on the education market. I search for webinars, and any place to learn more about what may (or may not) be asked of me to teach. I  have a basic knowledge of music, French, and I love art and being outdoors. I believe the great outdoors is full of science and is the best place to teach about the environment. It is with feeling a child sees a bunch of ducks flying in a V formation, noisily across the sky – they won’t soon forget it. I say they are migrating south for the winter. We talk about the word migration and then find out what other animals migrate. This is an ideal building block for hibernation, and what animals hibernate for winter. We can take walks and see how the seasons are changing – I feel fortunate (sometimes) to live in a climate with four seasons. I just wish the winter was much shorter! The point of my blog today was not to discuss my techniques for teaching science but to introduce the latest free site for everything education, on a global level.  I am not getting paid to promote the site, nor do I get any bonus for mentioning it. It is just a great site I wanted to share with you. The site is free for many resources, and they are all submitted by teachers from around the globe. There are free live webinars you can search the topic and grade levels, or get free resources from an easily searchable data base. I hope you check it out and find it as useful as I am finding it. I also want to take a moment and thank everyone that is following me on here and on twitter. I am so pleased to have people following me on twitter – @tchrdonna – as I continue to learn about the latest technology for the classroom, the newest Google apps, Microsoft apps and much more. I am so busy keeping up with my PLN that I have not had a lot of time to read other peoples blogs. I am enjoying the online friends and sharing of ideas. For my readers in other areas I hope school is off to a wonderful start and everyone is having a great beginning to the new school year!!

August is fleeting!

Well here we are another weekend gone by and I have more that I want to do with my class. If it is to be that I get a class. I still am holding my positive attitude and learning as much as I can to be ready. (I am an optimist!) I went looking for a live hangout to learn something on an Edcamp and ended up learning so much from various websites. Oh I am so wanting to have a class so that I can watch them learn and be excited to be in a class that they are allowed to help one another and are encouraged to share their learning. Have you seen the latest apps for iPads? I swear who ever makes those things is in cahoots with educators to sell more of them. Minecraft for education is a huge topic on twitter and it has so many posts online as to how to use minecraft and other building apps to create fun, engaged learning. The one site, not to endorse anyone but it was magnificent, was showing how to use building sites to engage writing. Writing! Have the students build a landscape and then go to mindmap and have them embed their image and explain it. Genious!! Even the most reluctant writers would engage in this I am sure. Oh how did the teachers get their ideas without the internet? No wonder our work was so boring – no offence to any of my past teachers – you didn’t have the internet and technology that I am fortunate to have today. I just need a classroom, and a class,(smiling). I will tutor and have my own iPad so my tutoring students can experience some of what I am learning while they are at Teacher Donna’s Tutoring. How’s that for a name? I like tutoring to some degree as it is one on one, as long is the student is wanting to be in attendance. It is hard to engage anyone that would rather be doing anything else. I am probably one of a few teachers that will let them use Minecraft to explain their understanding of perimeter and area to me. (bonus!) I am just learning about coding. What is coding? Well I am feeling pretty fortunate to have stumbled  upon a website that explains it so well, provides examples and gives easy to copy codes. There are all kinds of sites just search “coding”. Coding is when you add some website-like (long) address so that people will go to your blog(thank you) or twitter account by clicking on it (the code)  :). I am sure it can be used to program anything you want, but as far as my 20 minute reading went, that is what I got from it. So this is where you, my readers, may leave me links so that I may get more information about this coding stuff. (please doin the comments section) It has to be easy because I don’t get it if it is too technical.  If I can get into this technology stuff, so can you!! It is fun, and you just don’t regard negative comments because there are always people that are negative. Just be positive and know you are helping yourself, and probably, at least one other person. Be strong in yourself and your passion – things will happen positively for you!! I wish you all a great week! Thanks for reading,  Yours in Education, Miss M. 🙂


Hi there. Thanks for stopping by and checking this out. I am trying to obtain a full time elementary teaching position in Canada and wish to share the experience with you.  I taught in a grade one class for two years upon graduating from the University of Alberta. Over the past five years my teaching experience has been in various grades and schools, as I was an on-call (from 6am) substitute . I liked it as I got to see how other teachers run their classes and how to set up various reward programs and discipline. I hope to get my own class in the next couple of weeks as we start after the September long weekend here. Wish me luck!!

Hope you find it interesting and it inspires you or helps you somehow in your world. Cheers!