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Creating a dialogue about what it’s like to be a new teacher.

The Rookie Teacher



Earth Charter Chats 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Sarah

Have you seen the Earth Charter?

“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.”

photo by: digital_trash, via flickrcc.net

How are you discussing global citizenship in your class? The charter is available in many languages, please consider using it in literacy, science, social sciences, art. Even in math we can calculate how much waste we are making, how much populations are growing, the decline of resources. Ecology must be embedded within our teaching, we can’t wait for it to be mandated in the curriculum. We will need future generations to think creatively about upcoming problems. As mass media and globalization connect people, we still must maintain our preserve our diversity in the web of life.

Never underestimate the difference one person can make. Always be open to be surprised by the possibilities of your students.

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Summer Learning Loss 0

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Lauren

A Canadian study has revealed that summer learning loss is not an equal opportunity issue. According to the research, kids from high income families experience increased reading levels while kids from low income families experience decreased reading levels over the summer months.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article: Summer Widens Rich/Poor Learning Gap

photo credit: besteducationapossible.blogspot.com

These results may seem obvious at first, but the research is valuable because it raises the questions WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? and WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY IN SEPTEMBER TO EVEN OUT THE PLAYING FIELD?

Considerations: summer program availability/ cost, support for parents, school/school board/community/private initiatives, neighbourhood demographics.

The Toronto Star article cites summer literacy camps as an effective way to reduce the summer loss of children from low income families. Unfortunately it seems as though access to these programs is limited and inequitable. For example, in the Halton region I have not heard of any free/low cost summer literacy programs for students; even after a bit of digging I came up with nothing. It is very possible that such programs do exist, but if they are not widely known or easy to find then I would suggest that they are ineffective. Other regions have excellent programs. The Brantford Public Library has been running a 100% free math and literacy program for over 20 years. The library hires university students to provide 1:1 summer tutoring. Each region has it’s own programs; what is available for students in your area?

The Rookie Teacher would love to hear from you. Please join the discussion by adding your comment. Let us know – What will you be doing in the 2012/2013 school year to overcome summer learning loss? How can teachers support low income families to increase literacy skills in our students? What programs are available in your school/school board/community?

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What is Literacy? 1

Posted on July 09, 2012 by Andrew Blake

I am taking the AQ Reading Part 1 over the summer and have decided to blog some of my ideas and the discussion questions being addressed in the course. Our first discussion question was:  Define literacy. Comment on how literacy has changed in the 21st Century and what we as teachers need to consider to be effective literacy instructors due to that change.

Here’s what I think…

I strongly believe that in the traditional sense, literacy can be defined within the realm of reading and writing. However, I believe in the 21st Century we must adopt a more generalized sense of the term, as the mode of literacy changes. I believe in a definition that encompasses the interpretation and creation of communication. We hear of Media Literacy, Critical Literacy, and Technological Literacy. It is the ability to absorb and internalize a message someone is creating (reading) and it is then interpreting that message and creating a response in a variety of forms (writing, oral communication, texting, slogans, etc). In that sense we see Literacy as the ability to infer and interpret images as well as text. In fact Literacy in the broadest sense could be defined as the intake of information, images, signals and then the production of more or new information to be passed on to others.

When we were sitting at my staff meeting yesterday and examining our strategic goal we spent a lot of time discussing a general goal we could apply to JKs to Grade 8s and the connection between image and text as all literacy comes from an image.

clicking away! by eirikso

Clicking away! by eirikso, flickrcc.net

One change in the mode of communication in the 21st Century is the accessibility to a variety of modes of writing.  The Internet and other technology has allowed millions of ideas to be published on a second by second basis with little to supervision or accountability. Even 30 years ago if I had an idea I wanted to write down and show other people I would have to go through the publishing process with countless edits, re-writes and the potential for rejection. In 2012, I can, in less than 10 minutes, share my ideas with the world regardless of validity, quality and restraint. I am by no means criticizing the ability for people to publish their creative, genuine ideas which are truly incredible when you think of all of the things we see on YouTube, Blogs, Facebook on a daily basis. I applaud the accessibility to publish information. However, the concern can exist that we as educators need to teach our students the ability to think critically when looking for information and asking themselves questions like who wrote this, what is their message, which voices are heard or not being heard. We have to teach on the basic level the ability to distinguish fact and opinion in order to ensure our students are able to successfully navigate the massive resources at their digital fingertips. We have to teach children to read for the deeper meaning, which is a daunting task at best.

What is your definition of Literacy?  Comment below, join the discussion on Facebook, or send us a tweet @RookieTeacherCA.

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Aboriginal Education – Resource Bank 1

Posted on January 04, 2012 by Lauren

Sometimes the best resources are found in the unlikeliest of places…

I have a bit of a book buying problem, so the other day when I saw a sign for a book sale I made an impulse detour into the store. It was not at all what I expected. It looked like a regular downtown building on the outside but on the inside it was an old fashioned blacksmiths shop. The displays of books were mostly focused on local history; not exactly what I was looking for or needed. As I turned to leave a picture of a book seller posing with Walter Gretzky caught my attention. At the table was a man selling his book called Western Hooves of Thunder alongside a display of Six Nations Iroquois Program Teachers Guides (by Zig Misiak, Facebook). Teachers Guides – now that is something I can use!

Historical Society and Resources

photos: L.Hughes

I love this resource for a few reasons:

  1. Every Ontario school board has at least one copy available for teacher use (many have more than a dozen copies)
  2. It was recently designed in cooperation with First Nations educators and historians making the information accurate, current and culturally sensitive
  3. The program contains complete lesson plans which include stories, music, art and videos appropriate for any grade
  4. It meets many curriculum expectations and follows the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework
  5. It provides educators with limited First Nations knowledge with the information they need to feel comfortable teaching this subject material
  6. I feel strongly about the importance of Aboriginal education for all students AND I always love finding resources that contain quality lesson or unit ideas

If you are teaching elementary or secondary students in Canada, then this is a resource you should definitely look into. To locate a copy you can contact your school board, faculty of education or visit www.realpeopleshistory.com.

I know there are countless resources available and sometimes it can be overwhelming to determine which are valuable. Please use this space to share your favourites with fellow Rookie Teachers!

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News in the Classroom 1

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Sarah

Hey people! I know it’s been crunch time for me at OISE, but the holidays are almost here!  I just wanted to share a website, Teaching Kids News, a Toronto based news site for kids! They have timely articles written in kid friendly language that break down important issues. Like any news site, TKN is divided into categories from science to art, environment to politics. The site is clear, legible and easily navigable. The team behind the project includes TDSB teachers looking for a meaningful way to develop a balanced literacy program. As such, they provide suggestions on each entry for how to use the articles, from Writing and Reading Prompts to Grammar Features. If we, as educators, are to help our students develop skills necessary in current and future realities then I think getting them involved in news early and regularly is a great way.  Check out one of their most recent articles Gap Between Rich-Poor Growing: OECD!

photo: N.Dunn

photo: N.Dunn

Do you incorporate discussions about the news in your practice? Share your links in the comments below or find me on twitter @sarlowes (or @RookieTeacherCA)

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Books Books Books 0

Posted on December 05, 2011 by Natasha

If you’re looking to beef up your classroom or personal library, this is the blog post for you.  Warehouse Books Ink is a company that offers 50-90% off original book prices.  I have personally attended the book sale 4 times and scored many outstanding deals!

The book sale takes place in Burlington, Ontario (map).

Here’s a photo of my latest finds, only $27 + tax!

Warehouse Books Ink

Warehouse Books Ink, photo: N.Dunn

[Warehouse Books Ink was mentioned in The Lounge, Episode 1]

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Announcify: Tech Apps for Accommodation 0

Posted on November 26, 2011 by Natasha
Announcify Logo

Announcify Logo

Great news…Yesterday I stumbled upon* a tool for students of all ages!
(*as seen on LifeHacker.com/5856460)

Announcify is a great little extension for Google Chrome and Android Devices and it works like this:  (a) transfers any website to a text page, (b) zooms in and highlights, (c) reads the text aloud.

<<note: While testing this extension, I ran into one problem…occasionally it will read aloud the html code from the webpage.>>

Ideas for Tomorrow

  • Announcify listening center (all you need is a laptop & some headphones)
  • Have students create websites then listen back to what they wrote
  • Upload tasks/quiz/tests for accommodation
Sounds great! …Hook me up
  1. Download Google Chrome for WIN or MAC
  2. Visit the Announcify extension on the Chrome Web Store
  3. Download and enable the Announcify productivity extension

Please share how you are using Announcify as an educational tech tool in your classroom…post a comment below.

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Lauren Hughes 1

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Lauren
Lauren Hughes

photo: L.Hughes

Hello Rookies!  My name is Lauren and I am a primary-junior teacher who is just beginning occasional teaching in the GTA.  I enjoy facilitating classroom discussions about contemporary issues and current events.  I am interested in taking a couple of AQs in the new year, including Special Education, Librarianship, and Reading (I would love to hear about your AQ experiences).  When I’m not on the clock as a teacher, you can find me reading a book, hanging out with my dog (cute pooch to the right), or catching up with the latest episode of Damages.  I look forward to sharing and learning from all you rookies out there. Find me on Twitter @Hughes_Lauren or post a comment on the blog.

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