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Available for Purchase Now!

In “Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom” primary teachers Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen provide a complete selection of clearly laid out engaging open-ended lessons to change the way you use iPad in the classroom.

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Connect, Collaborate and Create with Twitter in the Classroom

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of ETFO Voice.

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Course Description

In this grade two 3-D Geometry iTunes U Course, students will explore attributes of 3-D objects using concrete materials and drawings. Students will also build and construct 3-D objects and models as well as develop language to describe geometric concepts.

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One Best Thing

Discover how to keep parents informed, connect globally and link to your curriculum. This One Best Thing leads your primary classroom students through the creation of a learning network on Twitter.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Not your Traditional Classroom, Not your Traditional Teacher

Our classroom at times looks chaotic, messy and noisy.  Well, it looks this way MOST of the time.  Visitors to our school have different reactions.   Just last week we had a visitor into our school that spent some time in my classroom and the 5/6 classroom.  She was a retired principal, worked for the ministry, and had been in and seen many classrooms throughout her career.  When we debriefed at lunch, she said, "I don't know if I could do it how you all do it  everyday."  Our classroom is a buzz of excitement and engagement everyday, a lot of the time you may not even see my teaching partner or myself because we might be sitting on the couch giving feedback to a student, or in a corner on the carpet with a small group reteaching a math concept or at a table listening intently to a group of students trying to figure out their next steps in their inquiry project.  I assure you that this chaotic  looking way of teaching is not only working in our classroom, our students are excelling in our classroom.  Next time you walk by and assume that we have no control over our class, come in, sit, watch and talk to the students.  You will be pleasantly surprised what you will see and hear from the buzz in our classroom.
I am not a traditional teacher and I am proud of that.

I don't have a fancy mark book.
I don't make cute worksheets.
I don't teach from a textbook.
I don't teach in themes.
I don't use technology to say I use it.
I don't have my students in rows or even desks.
I don't have perfect bulletin boards that I have bought from a teacher store and plastered all over my classroom.
I don't have a quiet classroom.

I do teach my students to colour out of the lines.
I do encourage collaboration.
I do a lot of one to one or small group instruction.
I do let my students sit at tables, lay on floors, and sit on comfy couches.  (Why do students have to be uncomfortable to learn?)
I do have sticky notes, Evernote spreadsheets, shared google docs with comments, grades and next steps for my students.
I do know my students, I know their strengths, weaknesses, what sports they play and what motivates them.
I do use technology in ways that are innovative, engaging and different.
I do care about the learning journey more than the pretty final product.
I do give my students choice, in who they want to work with, what they learn about and how they learn it.

I don't have a quiet, pretty and neat traditional classroom.  I have a student centered classroom that promotes creativity, individuality, problem solving and collaboration.

I do what I feel is best for the students I teach.  I strive to be the teacher I would want my own children to have.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Making Math Meaningful and Fun

We all know that when kids are having fun, they are happy, excited and engaged.  I see many math classes with students sitting quietly listening to the teacher bark at them at the front of the room with all the kids staring blankly out the window with their boring text book open on their desk.  Does this sound familiar to you?  I had to share what we have been doing this week in math and hopefully it will inspire you to add a bit of fun into your math routine.  We are currently learning different adding strategies, this is what we have been up to:


Related Facts:

Students created number trains with linking blocks.  I had students sit in a circle as I poured out hundreds of linking blocks onto the carpet.  I would yell a number and partners had to make as many number trains as they could that equaled the number that I yelled out.

Students then were given a number and had to make as many number trains as they could that equaled the number I gave them.  When they finished their trains they took a picture and tweeted it out.


Students learned about fact families.  Pairs of students were given an iPad task card to complete a task and were instructed to put it on their blog when they were finished.  

Download here
Here is a completed sample using the app Draw and Tell instead of Explain Everything:


I took the students outside for a quick game of "Even Steven and Odd Todd"  I wrote Odd on one wall with sidewalk chalk and the opposite wall with Even.  I then placed chalk at both walls.  I had my students stand in the middle and I called a number.  They had to yell out, "Even Steven" or "Odd Todd" depending on the number I called out.  When they got to the correct wall they used the chalk to record the number on the wall.

We then headed indoors to learn about the strategy of doubles plus one.  We did a quick whole class lesson and then I gave students an odd number of counters.   I asked my students to circle the doubles and leave one left over.  I also asked them to create a number sentence to go with their picture.

When you create thoughtful tasks for your students to do that combine movement, manipulatives, collaboration and fun you will always have students asking, "When do we have math?'