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The Rookie Teacher

Setting up an Organized Classroom – The Lounge Podcast: Season 3, Episode 002 0

Posted on August 11, 2015 by Natasha

On today’s episode, Andrew and Natasha discuss what it’s like to set up a classroom in August for Back-to-School! Included are some quick tips, things to think about, and a little insight into classroom management techniques related to organization.


Our favourite from this episode:

  • Say “hi!” to people in the building
  • Furniture – enough? too much? where?
  • Family & friend volunteers <3
  • Hit up the DOLLAR STORE!!! (save the receipt if you can get reimbursed)
  • Yard sales
  • Leave lots of space to co-create
  • A world map

basket iconbase, basket, full icon

  • Natasha: Memo Books (4 for $1.00, dollarstore!)
  • Andrew: Thank You cards (dollarstore!)

#TRENDING next time

  • The 1st Week of School
  • Building Community – Classroom Edition
  • Making a Class Website (webinar workshop)

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Natasha: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @yoMsDunn, or email me Natasha@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Lauren: Blogs at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or catch her updates on our BRAND NEW Pinterest board – pinterest.com/RookieTeacherCA

RookieTeacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

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Long Range Planning – The Lounge Podcast: Season 3, Episode 001 0

Posted on August 04, 2015 by Natasha

On this episode we introduce our new format, plan, and give details about Long Range Planning (LRP). This is a topic that you may want to start thinking about come August, or for our US friends, a little earlier. Keep watching to see Natasha act like a fool by air swooshing… and until the end of the episode for the Resource Bank segment and a sneak peak at our upcoming episodes.note, notes, post it, postit, sticky icon

Our favourite LRP materials:

  • Post-it Notes
  • A blank canvas (a wall or chart paper)
  • Curriculum documents
  • Grade or division team members
  • Assessment/Evaluation checklist (for, as, of learning)

We have discussed Long Range Planning before, with guest host Lisa Dabbs, with a focus on Web 2.0 tips & tools.

Check out Lauren’s blog, “13 Steps to Easy Long Range Planning” where she gives a detailed plan on how to set up a STELLAR math LRP using colour coding!


#TRENDING next time

  • Setting up an Organized Classroom
  • The 1st Week of School
  • Making a Class Website (workshop)
  • Building Community – Classroom Edition

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Natasha: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @yoMsDunn, or email me Natasha@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Lauren: Blogs at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or catch her updates on our BRAND NEW Pinterest board – pinterest.com/RookieTeacherCA

RookieTeacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

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R U Ready? 0

Posted on July 18, 2015 by Natasha

Something New Coming Soon

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Tony Gong 0

Posted on July 03, 2015 by Tony Gong

Hi everyone, my name is Tony. I’m going into my 7th year of teaching, all with the Halton District School Board. I’m very proud to be first high school teacher to contribute to this website and I’m hoping that more secondary level teachers will join this group.

I’m qualified to teach math, computer studies, and special education. I’m extremely passionate about helping students in all those subject areas. Although I love what I do now, my career got off to a very rocky start 7 years ago. I went into my first year of teaching full of confidence and optimism but things quickly spiral out of control. I was confronted with all kinds of classroom management issues and I felt totally unequipped to deal with them. Despite putting so much time into lesson planning, I always felt like not enough was accomplished day in and day out. Worst of all, I felt I didn’t really have someone that I talk to about my problems. At several points of my first and second year, I seriously thought about quitting this professional.

I’m really glad that I didn’t because now I actually enjoy going to work. I can honestly say that every single day I feel like I’m making a difference in kids’ lives. I hope that I can be of some help to you if you are going through the experiences that I had. I look forward to getting to know you and contributing more postings to this great website.



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DIY: Fraction Mosaic Board 0

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

In my math curriculum class in teacher’s college we were tasked with creating our own math resources that we would use in a classroom of our own. It took me a while to choose a concept to focus on, but being the crafty person that I am, I knew that I had to create something with colours and paper and moving parts–something that was exciting and hands on! After doing some research (I mean searching around Pinterest, really) I had come up with the topic that my math manipulative would cover: fractions! Fractions seem to be a tricky concept that start in Grade 1 and continue all the way until the intermediate grades, so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with creating a math resource that could be tweaked to work with almost any grade and aid in one of the more abstract concepts in math.

So, I present to you…a fraction mosaic board (inspired by this activity found originally on Pinterest)! I loved that students got to have fun and create something and then find the math behind it, so I wanted to make my own reusable version of this project and share it with you! I promise, this board was very easy, affordable, and quick to make. It took me about 1 hour and cost $10. And I swear you can do this even if you wouldn’t call yourself a crafty person.




  • Cookie sheet (can find at almost all dollar stores now!)
  • Stick on magnet strips
  • Construction paper (4-5 colours)
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape
  • Permanent marker


  1. Measure the width of the magnet strip and cut one strip of each colour of construction paper to match the size of the magnets.
  2. Cut the magnet strips into 3 inch long pieces (this will help flatten out the pieces and make adhering the construction paper much easier).IMG_0026
  3. Remove the tape from one magnet strip to reveal the sticky side.
  4. Take one strip of the construction paper and line up the end with the magnet strip. Stick the paper to the magnet.
  5. Cut remaining paper off of the end of the magnet strip. Then, cut the magnet into smaller mosaic pieces (I cut mine in about ½ inch long pieces to make squares)
  6. Repeat until you have the desired amount of mosaic pieces in each colour. I played around with the amounts a lot, but I wanted numbers that would be easy to divide and reduce so I ultimately used 16 blue, 12 red, 14 yellow, 10 green, and 8 orange = 60 pieces in total (tweaked a little bit from the picture below).                                                              IMG_0027IMG_0028IMG_0029
  7. Once mosaic tiles are complete, decorate the cookie sheet however you wish. I used Washi tape to create a table and permanent markers to create titles. In the left column, students can store their tiles, in the centre they can create a picture, and on the right they write their fractions that they made with a dry erase marker


This can be modified and used for almost any grade when looking for practice with fractions. I also created an accompanying “instruction sheet” that I would most likely put right beside this to make it a centre. And then for older grades, I would suggest extending this activity with follow up questions. I created some questions at a grade 4 level dealing with reducing to lowest terms and looking at equivalent fractions. Accompanying questions could easily be made up for adding or subtracting the fractions, multiplying and dividing, and almost any other related fraction task.

IMG_0023 IMG_0024


Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment if you would like a copy of the accompanying documents or have any questions about this DIY! If you have any other fraction, mosaics, or cookie sheet activities that you have done with your students, share them below–we always love to hear new ideas!


Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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Quick Tip For Tomorrow: Snap Cube Factors 0

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

We all know that getting students to learn the factors that go into a multiplied product can be a tricky task, and simply writing out a list, reading it out loud, and trying to memorize it by rote is not going to help a student truly understand what this “factor” thing even is. This past week, I was blown away by this seemingly simple task that my mathematics curriculum professor handed to us. With only a set of snap cubes and a number line, my fellow teacher candidates and I were completely engaged in this problem solving activity.


Phase 1 complete; all of our factors lined up!

First, each group of 4 was given a bag of snap cubes and a number line drawn out on a strip of chart paper. Then, we hear, “blue cubes represent the number 2. Put a blue cube on every number where 2 is a factor.” Simple enough. Next, we move on to green, which is 3, yellow for 4, red for 5, and so on up to 10. We stack all of the cubes on top of each other to make a bright and interactive representation of all of the factors for numbers 1-24.

Now, here is where the brain switches its function and the real application comes in. We are told to keep all of the cubes connected as they are, but shuffle them around and mix them up for a minute, and then…place them back on each correct space, just as they were. This was a little bit more difficult than anticipated, but eventually by working through each number and finding the relationships between the different colours (as well as some prompting questions from the professor…), we were able to get the model back to its original state.


Phase 2: time for some problem solving!

After leaving class, I knew I had to share this activity. What a rich learning task for students and a great way to dissect what is actually behind a factor and a product. The only way to truly learn and understand math is to manipulate its components, apply them and problem solve with them. I could see an entire lesson being based on this activity, because if it was able to get a bunch of 20-something teacher candidates’ brains working in overdrive, I’m sure it could be just as engaging in a younger classroom.

Do you have any go-to activities when you tackle factors with your students? Would you use this activity in your class? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or send a tweet our way @RookieTeacherCA!


Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Michael Marchione 0

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Michael Marchione

Hey! My name is Michael Marchione, a new Teacher Candidate at Brock University. I’m currently completing the Concurrent Education program with my Bachelor of Education at the Junior / Intermediate level. I am super pumped to join an awesome group of rookie teachers, and I will embrace the rookie name! I have been fortunate enough to meet many great people along my personal journey to making a difference in this world, and I look forward to growing and learning alongside such great communities!

Michael Marchione

Michael Marchione

In the last few years, I began speaking up about mental illness and mental health awareness in our world. Since then, mental health has become a huge passion of mine. As an emerging educator, I fully intend to make mental health education an integral component of my educational philosophy and general way of life. In doing so, my aim is to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and to foster communities of acceptance and safety in our schools and growing communities. You can look forward to seeing and hearing a lot about my experiences with introducing and reinforcing mental wellness and positive spaces in schools – I’m so excited!

On top of being a huge advocate, I whole heartedly desire to live by the values of a life-long learner. I want to continue to learn and grow alongside my students and fellow educators. While I may be my own worst critic at times, I value making mistakes and learning from experience and feel that sharing stories and narratives is crucial to learning as a community. And so, you can expect a lot of storytelling and reflecting from my end, and hope that you share and find value in my experiences as I aim to do the same from yours! Here’s to being a rookie teacher!

Take care everyone ☺


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It’s that time again, Ontario Teachers! 0

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Natasha


That’s right. Time to get out the assessment and evaluation binders, your anecdotal notes, observation records, and conference guides.  Term 1 is coming to an end here in Ontario, and elementary teachers are going to be hard at work planning and prepping the school day and writing report cards.

This means taking a good look at our kids. How they are progressing in all their academics. But more importantly, their Learning Skills.  Since September, how have they been developing these life long learning skills? From organization to self-regulation, responsibility to collaboration, independent work to initiative, it’s our job to evaluate.

I must admit, this time of year sometimes brings me to an odd place, where I contemplate how we assess — I often find it hard to assign ONE final grade, ONE final “E”, “G”, “S”, or “N.” But alas, it’s our job.

On top of an evaluation, our comments are what truly paint a picture of each student and give families a look into life in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Thankfully, there are strategies, tips, and tricks to thrive
during report card writing time as a Rookie:

  1. Ask for help. Get in touch with a mentor, teaching partner, grade or division team and collaborate. We talk to our kids about the power of collaboration – so let’s not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Most experience teachers will have a comment bank that can be tweaked or edited to reflect the current school year. If not, starting from scratch with a team is also an option – after all, 2 heads are better than 1.
  2. Reach out to your PLN (i.e., Ask for help 2.0). If you are involved in NTIP, Facebook groups, or have contacts in the industry – get in touch with them. They can either provide you with some help first hand, or encourage you through this time of writing.
  3. Check for school board or ministry documents. Each year, my school board publishes a great”Guide to Creating Meaningful Report Card Comments.” In this document, teachers are informed about formatting, qualifiers, language, and balancing Strengths & Next Steps.
  4. Search Online. There are other guides available out there.  About a year ago, I came across a site called Student Evaluator. “The Student Evaluator was created by teachers, for teachers. An idea that began over 5 years ago, the Student Evaluator has brought together a team of teachers, learning advisers, web design specialists, and software engineers to create an evaluation tool for teachers. We realized that there had to be a better and more efficient way to accurately assess and create report cards for our students, and so we built software to do just that.” I have used their service to help me create meaningful comments.  

Until the end of January, Student Evaluator is offering our
readers a 20% discount by using the code JAN15.

Student Evaluator

Happy Writing, Rookie!
Reach out to the Rookie Teacher Team if you need

someone to talk to about Report Cards or any other EduQuestion.

Comment below, join us on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher, or send us
a Tweet @RookieTeacherCA & sign up for our Newsletter!



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Resource Bank: The Classroom Tourist 0

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Allison Dyjach
Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.10.08 PM

Just some of the wide variety of topics that are addressed on theclassroomtourist.net

Do you ever wish that you could take a week off to tour around schools and explore everyone else’s classrooms? Gather new ideas for seating plans, anchor charts, and bulletin boards? Well, the Limestone District School Board has made that (almost) possible! The Classroom Tourist (www.theclassroomtourist.net) blog is a relatively new project started by the Limestone District School Board K-12 Program Team, which features blog posts filled with innovative ideas and advice for Primary-Junior educators. The group travels throughout the LDSB to interview teachers or teaching teams and literally acts as a tourist in their classroom. They take pictures, ask many questions, and learn all about some of the teacher’s favourite teaching techniques and classroom setups. Also, the site is set up to easily search for tours based on a large set of tags, so you can find classrooms that specifically highlight math resources, new ways to create success criteria, and more.

If you are ever feeling a lack of inspiration or want to try a new classroom setup but don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend going on a few “tours,” they are sure to get the gears moving again.

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Thanks 2014 0

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Natasha

As we head into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU!  Thank you to all our contributors: Andrew Blake, Lauren Hughes, Sarah Lowes, and Allison Dyjach.  Thank you for your continuing commitment to the vision that started three years ago.

Thank you to our readers – we are very gracious that you keep coming back to our website, Facebook page, follow us on Twitter & Pinterest.  The Rookie community seems to be growing DAILY.

We are looking forward to adding new contributors for the new year – but you’ll have to keep reading to find out just who is joining our team.

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