Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do {FREE POSTER!}

Hello and welcome to another edition of Words to Live by Wednesdays!

This week’s {FREE} poster is a all about accountability. Often, students complain about the outcome of tests, feedback from projects, and marks received on report cards.  Sometimes, the complaints are substantiated, but more often than not, these students are upset they did not reach their goals when they really have invested minimal effort into their work. Some students are not willing to put in the time, effort, and determination to complete their work to the best of their abilities. It is important for students to understand that only through hard work and determination will they achieve their goals and reach success. If they decided to avoid studying for a test, produce a lackluster project, or submit incomplete assignments, then they are responsible for the poor marks they will receive.  By teaching students that they are responsible and accountable for their achievements, then they will begin to understand that they have the power to change their actions and reach their goals.

Just click on the image below to open up the free poster!

don't be upset poster thumbnailDon’t forget to check back next week for another free poster on Wednesday!!

Guest Post: Producing Engaging Lesson Plans via Social Media Trends by Albert Roberts

Hello readers! We have a special guest post by Albert Roberts that we thought you might like! Our students are always on social media, so why not use social media in the classroom for educational purposes?  Read on to find out how!

What are some of the ways in which we can make use of social media in the classroom? When used properly, social media can allow us to engage students with topical discussions, while getting a perspective on issues like bias and how to use different sources. One way in which we might try to use social media in productive ways for lesson planning is to look at social media trending tools that allow you to put together a lot of different responses to a subject.

Perhaps the main challenge for using social media with Middle Schoolers and other age ranges is that they’re usually already familiar with social networks, but don’t always know how to use them as part of their assignments; there’s often just too much content to sift through. Which makes social trending sites like so useful, as they provide a search engine where you can bring together all the times that keywords are mentioned on different social networks.

For example, run a search on World War II, and you get Twitter messages linking to recent news stories about memorials and veterans; you can also find Pinterest links to World War II books, and Twitter and other social network links to photographs. You can take a similar approach to searches on Barack Obama, or on controversial debates (although you may want to be careful not to end up with offensive material). What you have, then, is a lot of content that can be filtered and turned into examples that can be shown to students.

Bringing all the content you can find on social media together into something tangible and relevant can engage students. Social network trend searches can make older subjects more relevant, or can put current debates into a real-world context; this kind of access to debates can then be combined with other uses of social media for students, from carrying out Twitter polls to writing blogs and posting class photos.

If you’re putting together lesson plans, selecting sources from a social media trend search can lead to a series of questions and projects for students. Some areas that you might focus on include:

Debating Bias – show students examples of how a topic they’re looking at in class is being debated – what are the key arguments that are coming out, and do they reinforce or contradict what they might already know?

Relevance – discuss with your students why some social media sources are more useful than others: why is a well-researched blog better than someone making their case on Twitter? Similarly, question how far we can trust commentators’ reliability, and what sources they use to back up their arguments.

At the same time, social media trend searches can be discussed more directly with students as a way for them to carry out work in their own time. Look at what results they would receive if they searched on keywords when in class, and why what they find could be seen as useful or not for assignments.

Social media trends can be an excellent way to identify relevant and topical debates beyond your usual sources, and can make students more aware of how they can improve their knowledge online. However, a big part of using these resources should be about instructing students on bias, and how far they can trust different sources.

Author Bio:  Albert Roberts is a teacher in the UK and loves thinking of ways to improve student engagement via social media and technology.  He would love to see more inspirational teachers signing up for English teacher jobs in London and improve engagement with this vital subject. He’s an advocate of sharing information amongst teacher communities.



What Does a Good Mathematician Do? A Seven Poster Set!

After the success of our six poster set “What Does a Good Scientist Do?”, we created a corresponding math poster set!

This bright and colorful seven poster set helps teachers introduce math process skills to their students. The following math process skills are included: problem solving, reasoning and proving, selecting tools and strategies, reflecting, connecting, representing, and communicating. Each poster provides prompts and keywords to help students understand the skill.

We have been doing a lot of research in order to begin working on our TLLP project this upcoming school year.  One of the key components of our project is getting students to think mathematically and communicate their ideas.  Having students learn these seven key mathematical process skills will be instrumental in improving their understanding of math concepts.

An excellent addition to your classroom! Just click on the image below!

thumbnail mathematician posters

And here’s a link to our science skills posters!

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The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Resources for Math Teachers to Read

Welcome to another addition of The Tuesday 12! Since Lisa, Elita, and I will be working on a TLLP math project this year, we will be using our blog to review useful resources, the progression of our project, challenges to overcome, and successes we achieve.

The following list of resources is on my summer reading list (haha…it seems to be quite an endeavour, but I hope to check off as many as possible).  If you’ve read any of these resources or if there are others you can recommend, please leave your comments below!

1. Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction (K – 8) by Marian Small

2. Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses (2011) by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron

3. Communication in the Mathematics Classroom (September 2010) by the Ontario Ministry of Education-Capacity Building Series

4. Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2-8 (1995) Marilyn Burns

Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2–8

5. Big Ideas and Understandings as the Foundation for Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (NCTM Journal, Spring-Summer 2005) by Charles Randall

6. Teaching Student-Centred Mathematics (2013) by John A. Van de Walle, Jennifer M. Bay-Williams, LouAnn H. Lovin, and Karen S. Karp.

7. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (2011) by Todd Whitaker

8. Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction (2012) by Christine Moynihan

9. Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics (2012) by Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez

10. What’s Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving (2011) by Linda Gojak and Laney Sammons

11. Supporting Numeracy (Special Edition #28) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

12. Asking Effective Questions (Special Edition #21) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series



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Words to Live by Wednesday: Mother Teresa

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying your summer break! In preparation for all the classroom redecorating we will all soon be doing (I know I’m already drawing plans and making notes!), here’s a poster for your classroom that has a truly inspirational message.  A colleague of mine always has this quote displayed in her classroom and I wanted to share it here. Our students deal with so many issues both inside and out of the classroom.  It is very easy to react to these challenging situations in a negative or unproductive way; however, we can encourage our students to look within themselves to find the courage and motivation to respond in a positive manner.

As usual, just click on the image below to get your {FREE} classroom poster!

mother teresa thumbnail

Ink Transfer Through Gel Medium: Sharing Student Samples!

I am so thrilled to be able to share the BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING artwork created by my students using the ink transfer onto canvas using a gel medium. We have been working on this project for a couple of weeks and I am so pleased with the final result.  We’ve hung almost all of them in the hallway outside of our classroom (a couple of students are adding the finishing touches to their work) and we’ve received TONS of compliments and praise from both teachers and other students who walk by.

In case you plan to complete this amazing art project with your students, here’s a timeline of how long it took us (for a complete and detailed breakdown of the project, click here):

Lesson 1: Students chose a quote that was meaningful or inspirational to them.  They then designed, reflected, and printed their quotes using Microsoft Publisher.  This took about an hour on average, as some students didn’t have much experience with Publisher.

Lesson 2: Students prepared their canvases by painting them with acrylic paint.  This took about 30 minutes.  We then let them dry for about 30 minutes and then we covered them with the gel medium and placed our quote (ink side down) onto the gel.  The gel needed to dry overnight.

Lesson 3: Students used water to remove and scrub off the paper from the dried gel.  This was very painstaking work and caused quite a bit of frustration with my artists.  A trick we discovered is letting the canvas dry for a bit because the wet paper became transparent; by letting it dry, it turned white again and allowed students to determine where to concentrate their scrubbing efforts. This took a couple of hours and then the canvases needed to be completely dry (overnight) before we touched up the acrylic paint.

Lesson 4: We covered the remaining white paper spots with acrylic paint using a dry brush technique.  Students then wanted to touch up the text using a permanent marker when the paint was dry.  Once the paint and ink were dry, students covered the entire surface with modge podge.  This entire step took about an hour.  The modge podge dried quickly and we then attached yarn to the back for easy hanging.

The entire art project took over a week to complete the process from start to finish.  It did require quite a bit of time and effort, but the final outcome is amazing! I have such talented (and patient) students!

gel transfer canvases