For your information everyone, you'll notice a gent named Simon hanging about on Thursday and then throughout next week. He'll be sitting in on a convo lesson this week and then start his own Teaching Practices next week.
The teacher timetable for this week has been updated. So has the Sub List.
Any nominations for Student of the Month?
Your sub teacher list has recently been updated and added to the dropbox. This will continue to morph as I make my way through the applicants and their training. Make sure you have the latest version.
Jeffery has been added and for the moment is only available in the afternoon. More to come. Promise.
We've been getting a pretty steady stream of comments regarding conversation classes lately. What students are saying is that they are not getting enough time to speak!
This is mostly about the lessons in Conversation 4. There has been no particular complaint about teachers or anything else - just that they feel they need more time to actually speak in class.
Many of the lessons contain steps for final activities that include some writing and I think therein lies the 'situation'. It could be that at times, they perceive the writing step as taking too long. Of course you are the teacher and you guide the students during the different phases of the lesson. YOU know what is needed for each class and lesson and no one doubts that.
Being mindful of this student perception though can help us all to provide our students with the best experience possible. We are, after all, known as the 'conversation school'.
At this point, everyone should have their own iPad which is used for all classes. Each of our iPads should also have all the materials (books, notes, apps, etc...) necessary for all classes we teach. If this is not the case, could you please bring this to my attention as soon as possible?
The "oven" as it has been dubbed :)) has also been cleaned up a bit. The dead cables have been removed. The dead iPads have been removed. New lightning cables have been inserted too so that our iPad minis can also be left here and can be charged.
A reminder to teachers that classes start at 9:00 am, 11:00 am and 1:30 pm.
You should be in your class and ready to start at that time.
Please remember to change the following information when submitting your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org:
The name of your file should change from week to week. The name should simply be the dates of the week, or simply the Friday that marks the end of that week. It must also be changed on the feedback form itself. Too many times we are overwriting from the previous week (which is fine) but not changing these dates. It is very important for our record keeping that the dates be accurate. Also, please make sure to change the unit number from week to week.
Thanks. Your help and cooperation are very much appreciated.
I am very pleased to be able to make a couple of announcements.
We have ordered 4 new iPads and 3 new Apple TVs. They should arrive next week. Most of you will be getting a new iPad mini 2 at some point in August. The assignment of these iPads will be based on functionality of your current device. Eventually, others will also be bought and brought into the fold so please don't be offended if you are not included in this round. The TVs (with new HDMI cables) will be set up in the rooms upstairs for now.
New Aston email addresses have already been set up for you as well. We'll all be using them come September 1st at the latest, as that's when the rebranding happens. We can set those up on new iPads easily enough.
Here's to updates!
It's that time where I get to hound everyone about what activity they would like to do for the next month. Give it a think and let me know.
The weather is fine for a Patio Party. You get to hang out and have a drink and get paid for it. Not a bad deal. There are lots of of outdoorsy things too: canoeing, watch a baseball game, PLAY a baseball game (or other sport), Buskerfest, Taste of the Danforth, and the list goes on. Let's get these students OUTSIDE.
We are teachers. We all know that.
For better or for worse, we belong to a category of teachers who do not get summers off. It's the nature of the business. We know that too.
This doesn't mean that at times we wouldn't like a day off here and there. We're all human. We need and want to do many things, aside from work. Unfortunately it isn't always that easy.
As a reminder, all teachers are to find substitutes for any time off requested. This is no easy feat in the summer months as sub teachers are very few and far between. It stinks. I promise I am working on it. Seriously.
With the lead up to year end (August 31) and the final transition from Connect to Aston, the office is very busy with a lot of different 'special' projects, on top of the day to day duties. For this reason, Dianne and I can't be considered as subs unless it really is an emergency situation.
If you have any suggestions on how or where to find subs, (thanks Mike for the info) please speak up!
We haven't had for one for quite a long while and it is also a perfect way to help our Saudi boys celebrate the end of Ramadan. Make sure to remind your students of the event coming THIS FRIDAY. They don't have to bring lots. Just something. Get them excited about it too. Yeah food!
I have had no submissions regarding teacher-led activities for this month. Please have a look at the July events and let me know what you'd like to do and when you'd care to do it. Of course, you can always suggest other activities not on the list but make sure to get it approved first. Since we are in the summer months now it's a great opportunity to get them to work off all that young energy and take them to a park for some sports. Many students don't know how to play baseball and would really like to learn! Or simply be the timekeeper as you sit in the shade and watch them play soccer...
Beginning at 8 am and running through to 3 pm on Wednesday June 29, there will be ongoing inspecting and testing of the fire alarm system in our building. We may hear the alarms that day. Don't panic, warn your students about it, and don't leave your classrooms. If there is indeed an emergency on that day, I will come through the school to announce it.
Necessity is the mother of invention. I guess I am your mother... erhm, so to speak.
The shortage of decent iPads, or simply iPads that are loaded with all the books/apps that a teacher may need, has led to a bit of a problem this week. As such, I have whipped up and printed off a paper version of the grammar feedback 'pages' for such emergencies. They can be found in the same place we keep the convo sheets. There is a student list page where you are to indicate names and class presence, and individual student feedback pages where you can indicate the marks you give your students for their class participation, projects, test, etc, just as you would in the online version. If you do have to resort to paper, please make sure that Dianne gets the student list page WITH all the individual student marks included.
Just so you know!
A reminder to use the new grammar feedback forms starting this week everyone.
There has been some discussion about what to tell students, or even if students should be told about the slight change we have made... For the record, there is no big secret behind the move. Disclose as much or as little as you feel will benefit your students. Lower levels most likely won't need that much of an explanation but other levels might be tempted to focus on their strengths in order to improve their marks. Share the rubric. Share the philosophy. Whatever you feel comfortable with. The only thing we want is student success. If this helps them, then it's a win all around.
It's time again this coming Friday. I already have a couple of entries but the more, the better! Keep on doing what you're doing those projects coming.
Old habits are hard to break. Comfort and familiarity is what we constantly seek. I get that. We all do.
But we are different. Students choose us for this difference.
In your classroom, remember that you have a load of tech to help you. As teachers in a school like ours, it is our duty to provide an example to students on how this tech can be used. Simply. Effortlessly.
Whiteboards are great for unexpected things that come up in your lessons but they should never be the centre focus of your lesson. All teacher iPads have Notability. This is not merely an alternative at our disposal, it is a tool we need to learn to love (if you don't already). Whatever you write in class, or prepare for students before lessons, should be via Notability because a) students don't need to madly copy what you are writing due to the fact that you can then simply email the document to them, and b) your work as a teacher is easier - you only have to do the work up ONCE, and then reuse the same "board" month after month. This leads to consistency in your lessons, a lot less prep work for you, the ability to improve upon your lessons because you have a physical record of what you do, as well as giving the students the freedom to listen to you and really participate, as opposed to simply copying down notes that they may or may not refer to anyway.
Being mindful of how our school is marketed and the reasons why students choose to come here is important.
Don't make the whiteboard the focus of your lessons.
Don't bring paper/notebooks into the classroom as your aids. (save some trees)
Do learn how to make apps like Notability your best work-friend.
Keep your lesson plans (if you make them) on your iPad in a Notability file. It makes it easier for you day to day, and also makes it easier when a sub needs to be called as everything is already there.
If anyone needs a tutorial on how to embrace these ideas, just let me know!
A reminder to all and sundry to check the following when sending your digital feedback to email@example.com:
*change the date on the master feedback form
*change the date on the file name to match the date on the feedback form.
If this is not done, it gets very confusing and difficult to keep the records straight. These are compiled and kept in case of an audit or a student requesting a transcript so please keep this in mind. THANKS!!
One comment-slash-complaint we get from students, over and over again, is that they don't always understand the reason for doing the projects they are assigned. What can we do to remediate this situation?
Teachers need to be mindful of this fact. What seems obvious to us is often confusing or daunting to our students. It IS up to us to "sell" the idea of the project, including the validity and the usefulness of it. Students need to be directed and sometimes figuratively hit on the head with the purpose of what and why we are asking them to complete a specific task in a specific way.
This leads to the question for the teachers - are YOU convinced of the validity of the projects outlined in your book? If not, we can talk. Things can be tweaked. Heck, we can even change the whole darned thing if you like. That's the beauty of having our own curriculum.
Either way, if it's regarding our students or our own vision for our classes (including the projects), communication is key. Take a moment to think about the usefulness of the assignments and then take a moment to explain this in class. If you are not convinced, let's work out a solution together in order to make a more 'sellable' project for everyone.
Surely everyone has noted the relocation of the green screen and the costumes/props by now. Yellowknife Room is being transformed into an office for the summer. Lena, and our guest from Aston, John, will be working together back there from May.
Please remind your students not to enter that room, to freely use the green screen in its new location, and to put any props or costumes back in their proper place when finished recording.
The next time you scroll down through the /teachers page, you will notice that the marking rubric you created is now posted. Great work on that everyone! I will work on putting up the one for Grammar too. Soon.
It's SPRING everyone!! Let's get some happy (outdoor?) activities happening soon. A walking our, a friendly baseball game in a park, hanging out on a patio... Please get your requests in.
If anyone is interested in leading an activity which involves canoeing, let me know. I have a contact for you.
To help you decide if this is for you, here is the info I have: they can accommodate groups of up to 120 people, they leave from Harbourfront and paddle to the Toronto Islands (2.5 hours total. including stopover at the island and paddling back), $20 per person.
Alternatively, there is also a night time tour that starts at 7:30 ish. It's the same idea but once they arrive, the group will make a small campfire and hang out there. Then there is the choice of either paddling back to the mainland or taking the ferry (which is free on the return trip). This is also $20 per person.
A one hour canoe trip (not to the islands) is available for $10 per person and a 1.5 hour tour is also available for $15 per person.
They can be contacted directly at www.canoetoronto.com
Ask for Alex. Here is his number: 647-461-0617
Let me know!
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