Monthly Archives: June 2015

Teachers are Such Failures

Teachers - Unfair Targets“It seems everybody is piling on teachers right now. We have become fashionable targets.”

People aren’t going to understand what we do. We will always face criticism and negative comments.

“Honestly, I don’t let it bother me and you shouldn’t either.”

Take Risks

Knowing this, it might seem easier to play it safe. I know a lot of people want us to stick to the tried and true methods of teaching. But, theses methods are no longer relevant and don’t inspire our students. It’s time to change and take risks!

“An all or nothing mentality exacerbates the fear of failure. If you believe everything you do has to work one hundred percent of the time, you are less likely to take risks and step out of your comfort zone.” 

We Learn From Mistakes

We expect out students to make mistakes and to learn from them.  We should do the same thing. If we only present lessons and material that we know has worked in the past, we don’t have the chance to fail.

Dave Burgess says, “If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren’t pushing the envelope enough. You are being too safe.”

How Do You Define Success?

Success isn’t something that is bestowed upon you by an outside source or test score. It doesn’t come from winning the championship or going undefeated. How then can we define success? 

I think John Wooden said it best: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you make the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Keep Your Enthusiasm, Stay Strong!

“You have to have the intestinal fortitude, self-confidence, and personal power to press on and do what you know is right for your students. Don’t allow misguided and ill-informed critics to steal your enthusiasm for innovation. If you let them, they will sap you of the strength needed to persist in this brutally tough profession.

You have to learn how to take a punch, bob and weave, and keep moving forward. What you do as an educator is too important to let somebody standing on the sidelines to prevent you from being the absolutely most powerful teacher you can be. Some people will just never get it! That’s OK. that’s their problem; you can’t let it become yours.”

Have a great summer!

This is the last post of my Teach Like a Pirate Series and the last Teaching Tip Tuesday entry of the year. I hope you all have a safe a happy summer. And if you haven’t read Dave Burgess’ book, I highly recommend you add it to your summer reading list.

I’m Never Running Here Again

Perch Creek Habitat

I am always on the look out for a new trail to run. I love exploring nature and getting a work-out at the same time.

So far, I have documented 70 different trails in this series. I would have no problem running any of them again. This one is the only exception.

Grass Trail Entrance

I have ran a few grass trails like this before, and quite often they open up into a more varied trail experience.

Flooded Path

This one didn’t. The only thing it had in store was puddles and more puddles. Some sections were nearly impossible to traverse.

Overgrown Trail

And the parts that weren’t flooded were almost completely over-grown.

Little Hill

There was a little hill that was nice.

Pond

And this pond was a welcome sight too.

Birdhouse

I had to turn around at that point though because the trail disappeared in the overgrowth. I thought I figured out where it lead but it was a muddy, soupy mess. So I headed back the way I came.

Trapped Ticks

In the car, I noticed two ticks crawling around. It freaked me out. There have been plenty of news stories lately about ticks and how they carry lime disease.

I tried stomping them, but they just kept crawling around, so I trapped them in a Crispers bag I had been using for garbage.

I tore off most of my clothes and inspected myself for ticks. I couldn’t see any on me, so I thought I was safe.

My girlfriend checked me over too. I was clear.

I went back to the car and found another one crawling around near the door handle. I trapped him in the Crispers bag too.

Vacuum the Car

Then, I made sure to vacuum out the entire car. I didn’t want to take any chances. I even threw out my socks and my shoes.

I know that was me just be paranoid, but I got a new pair of kicks I had been putting off wearing.

new trail runners

There was no way I was letting this close call discourage me from running trails. I just won’t be going back to Perch Creek in Sarnia anytime soon (or ever)

Photographic Running Tour Archive (70 routes and counting)

Fables – Great Comic Book Series

fables-18

Fables: Cubs in Toyland

Volume 18 of Eisner Award winning series focuses on Therese, one of Snow White and Bigby Wolf’s young cubs. She’s not happy with the toy boat she got for Christmas. But one night, it starts talking to her and encourages her to take it to the lake. When she does, it grows to a full-sized boat and takes her to Toyland. At first, she is happy for the adventure but she quickly find out that the broken toys need her to be their queen and won’t allow her to leave.

Fortunately for her, one of her brothers followed her and is determined to bring her back home. When her father, The Big Bad Wolf, discovers them both missing, he stops at nothing to track them bothbles down. But he gets some very bad news on his quest. A soothsayer tells him of the terrible fate that awaits him.

fables snow white

Fables: Snow White

This issue collects the short series, A Revolution in Oz, before continuing the main story that got started in the last issue. It’s a humourous tale that starts with the Bufkin being hanged for treason. Fortunately the rope refuses to cooperate. It was treated with the powder of life by Bufkin’s girlfriend Lily and follows them around for the rest of the tale.

Meanwhile, Bigby Wolf crosses realm after realm searching for his lost cubs. Unbeknownst to him though, there is a very serious threat at home. Prince Brandish is back and claims that Snow White is still legally married to him. And no one is able to fight him off because of a spell that reflects any injury that happens to him right back onto Snow White.

Bigby returns home and the ultimate fight to the death ensues. Could the prophecy he heard last issue come true?

Fables Camelot

Fables: Camelot

Snow White’s sister, Rose Red brings forth a new Camelot and begins assembling a new round table of knights to protect the kingdom. She enlists the help of Brandish and this puts a divide between her and her sister.

Meanwhile, Geppetto is scheming to find a way to get access to the Sacred Grove. He comes up with a brilliant plan that might just do the trick.

A Great Read

I have tried to do a brief synopsis here without giving away any of the major spoilers. Suffice it to say that I have really enjoyed all 20 collected issues of this series. The graphic novels are simply brilliant. They spin the magic and wonder of fairy tale characters into a very real and modern world. I highly recommend reading them. You can find them at your local comic shop or at the public library. Happy Reading!

My List of 2015 Reads – 22 titles and counting

Movie Making in the Classroom

Can it really be this easy to create a free green screen?

Green Screen

Apparently, all you need is green butcher paper and iMovie. I don’t have any experience using green screens but I am definitely intrigued!

April Kreitzer tried it out and wrote a nice tutorial here if you’d like to learn more.

I like the idea of making a movie with your class. I have done so in the past and the students really got a lot out of it. We wrote it together collaboratively. But we had to consider the practicality of shooting while we wrote it. We had to restrict the setting to locations we had available to use. With a green screen, we would no longer be restricted to just shooting in the school or yard. The students’ imaginations could run wild. And that is a beautiful thing!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – over 200 great tips, tricks, and inspiration for classroom teachers!

National Go Skateboard Day!

Go Skateboard DayNational Go Skateboard Day is tomorrow!

It’s a day where skateboarders from all over the world celebrate their passion for the sport. They are special events, competitions, give-aways, and skate sessions happening all day long.

West 49 has a list of the events and competitions that are happening all throughout Canada.

I plan on attending the event at Iceland in Mississauga. Their park is beautiful and quite large. And they will be having contests throughout the afternoon based on age group. Hope they have one for old-fogies like me. They will even have some coached on hand. Maybe I can finally learn how to kickflip.

Here is one of my favourite pictures from last year.

Go Skate with a Kid

Hope to get a few new pictures tomorrow, land some good tricks, and have fun with family and friends.

Will I see you there?

Lucky to Have Read Such a Great Book

The Lucky One Book

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

I love the premise of this book. A marine finds a photo half-buried in the sand on one of his tours of duty. For some reason he is compelled to pick it up. It shows an attractive woman at a fall fair. She is wearing a shirt that says, “Lucky Lady.” The photo is laminated so it seemed like someone would be missing it. So he takes it back to base and tacks in on the message board.

A few weeks later, the photo is still unclaimed but it calls to him somehow. For reasons he can’t comprehend, he picks it up and puts it in his pocket. Then he wins big at poker, narrowly escapes death during an explosion, and continues to benefit from a string of good luck.

He friend tells him that the photo is his lucky charm and that he owes the woman a debt. Not sure what all that means, he sets out to track her down anyway.

This was an amazing read and I loved every second of it. I picked up the book somewhat by accident too. Maybe it was destined to find me like the two main characters were destined to find each other.

My List of 2015 Reads – a fully detailed reading log updated all year long

Education Outside the Curriculum – A Guide for Teachers

Outside the CurriculumAn efficient teacher is the one who opens up the box of creativity and innovation and allows the students to indulge in something totally novel and different.

Merely sticking to the curriculum and instructing students from the highlighted box is not at all a competent option.

The process of teaching is not at all limited to writing notes on the board and teaching the students by revolving around the course. A wider part of teaching lies outside the curriculum.

A lot of elements are supposed to be incorporated by a proficient teacher; from an immense knowledge of curriculum to the fulfillment of morality and ethical norms, a teacher should have it all.

So moving aside the box, we need to teach the students the basic and the fundamental aspects of living and dwelling in the society, with the indoctrination of character education as well as acquainting with the elements of unity and discipline.

In a nutshell, teaching and learning can both become instantly spontaneous if they are taken outside theboundaries of the classroom and are particularly student- centered. The unique way of learning, which is attained only through the aspects and limitations of classrooms can result in productive consequences, which not only includes collaborative learning, but also develops relationships that are unique and constructive. This entire process of learning can be termed as deep if they move towards a modern, up-to-date approach from a conventional educational setup.

Character Education

Many schools have transformed their academic plans and introduced the concept of character education. Long ago, it was considered as an aspect of constant debates and arguments, but currently, character education is thought to be the most essential and indispensable. The way a society is made and initiated is an amalgamation of education as well as the essence of standard norms and values as per the society. They have sprouted in many schools as well as colleges are offering their major degree in this approach.

Unity and Discipline

What exactly are the factors that make a teacher so dependable and reliable? Well, here are the answers; moving ahead from educational and academic dilemmas, a competent teacher is the one who initiates the values of discipline and teamwork. This is also known asthe collaborative learning, which presently is thought to be a vital part of the academic program. Teachers are trained to instruct these elements to the students, so that more positive results are seen.

Experience and Practicality

Despite having immense knowledge and insights of the theoretical world, an expert teacher will be the one who tends to give preference to practicality along with theory. A theory or an everyday lecture seems useless, if they are not linked and justified with the added element of technicality and realism.

Insights with creativity

Thinking outside the conventional box is quite essential. Students learn instantly this way and the quality of learning is top notch. Therefore, creativity and innovation should be given preference and an able teacher allows their students to indulge themselves in inventiveness and imagination.

Guest Post by Melody Wilson

Lorne C. Henderson Nature Trail

I collect nature trails. I’m always on the lookout for new places to run and document here on the blog. So far, I have collected 70 different trails.

Lorne C Henderson Trails

The latest edition to this series is Lorne C. Henderson Conservation Area.

LCH entrance

I drove all the way down the entrance road  to find the start of the back trails.

LCH lookout view

They loop around a few small lakes,

LCH Grass Trail

and offer a variety of terrain from dirt to grass,

LCH woods

to wooded areas.

LCH Lookout

There are even a few lookouts to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

LCH rest station

I only stopped long enough to snap a few pictures however.

LCH waterfront

The only problem with this trail system is that they aren’t marked well. I ended up looping back around to the same spot a few times. And I had to cut through the camping area and run back down the main road to my car. That being said, it was still a nice run and I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the natural surroundings.

For more running tours, check out my Photographic Tours Archive! 

Skip Star Trek: The New Adventures, Trust Me!

Star Trek The New Adventures

Star Trek: The New Adventures (Volume 1)

This is probably the worst Star Trek comic in existence. And I guess that makes sense since it was meant to bridge between the two latest movies. This reboot with a new cast failed miserably in my humble opinion.

I have always loved Star Trek and was hoping this comic would bring something new and exciting to the universe. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

There is only one new story in this collection that wasn’t previously featured in Star Trek: Volume 1 that I already wrote about two years ago. And all of those stories were recycled from the original television series.

(Spoiler Alert)

The new story in this collection is a little more original, but not by much.  It’s a direct sequel to the first rebooted movie. One of Nero’s disciples tries to enact revenge on the crew of the Enterprise.

A few of the survivors of the Vulcan genocide also try to retaliate against the Romulan homeworld. And to me, it just feels false. Vulcans wouldn’t act that way, even in light of the horrible tragedy they suffered. At least, I don’t think an entire Starship crew would decide to go that route.

I was hoping for so much more from this collection. I still believe in Star Trek as a franchise and hope for a brighter future. That’s what it’s all about, after all.

My List of 2015 Reads – detailed reading log continually updated

Rita – My New Favourite Show

Rita TV Series

Rita is a brilliant television series from Denmark that is now available on Netflix. It’s the first foreign language show that I have ever watched. You need to turn on the subtitles, but it is well worth the effort.

This is one of my favourite scenes from Season One. The story revolves around the school’s no sugar policy. A parent was outraged that another parent brought in treats to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. He said that the school was making sugar fun and that was the wrong message to give. So, he brought in some non-sugared treats for his son to share with the class.

At the end of that period, all of those tasteless treats were left behind. Some were even stabbed with pencils. The kid looked so embarrassed and downtrodden.

The next day Rita brought in some home-baked goodies with tons of icing sugar on them. She shared some with the staff and then made her way to the class.

 

Rita finds the student and gives the treats to him to distribute to the class. He felt like a million bucks and the kids all got a nice treat. It was a great scene. I love the reason she finally gave for being a teacher too!

In this next clip, a new teacher gets discouraged by an older teacher who tries to tell her that she was selfish for trying to start new programs. Her response is priceless.

 

I have had something close to both of these incidents in my teaching career. I could identify with the characters and story lines so much.

Season Three will be available soon. I can’t wait!

The thing about Rita is that she’s not perfect. She doesn’t have all of her life together. She might not even be the best role model, but she is a great teacher who really cares about her students.

The stories are great and so is the subject matter tackled. I love this show so much that I might just have to rework My Top 10 TV Shows of All-Time!

Happy Teaching!

Chasing Content – The Best of Last June

Chasing Content (2)It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content, that monthly feature that looks back at what was happening last year at this time.

You can read all of the posts from last June . . . 

or just these favourites!

Artists Don’t Have a Never-Ending Well

Art is worth something. It actually takes work and not everyone has an infinite amount of creative potential within them. This is a great post explaining how that works.

Classrooms are Irrelevant 

The public education system is broken. I’ve known that for a long time. I tried to fight against all the aspects of it I didn’t like, but it was impossible to enact any sort of change. Instead, I just got more and more discouraged. I am seriously thinking about starting my own school. Hopefully I can make that happen.

Get It Done – It Only Takes 15 Minutes a Day

Great advice for anyone who wants to create and simply can’t find the time. All you need is fifteen minutes, Seriously. It’s that easy!

The Rap Guide to Evolution

Baba Brinkman combines stage theatre, education, and hip-hop into brilliant presentations. I interviewed him on my radio show and also ran one of his TED talks on the program. Be prepared to be educated and entertained at the same time. Science and hip-hop unite!

What’s the Point of All This?

Here’s what to say next time a student asks you this question about what you are learning in the class.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Walpole Island Skatepark

Let’s go explore the skatepark at Walpole Island First Nation.

Walpole Island Skatepark

It’s one of the first things you see when you drive over the bridge and enter the reservation.

WI Block

There are all sorts of ledges to grind.

WI Ledge

The quarter pipe is a little taller than I would like it to be. This park is made for advanced skaters though.

WI quarter pipe

I love the political graffiti on it.

run 014

It says “Idle No More” and has a picture of a turtle on it which brings up the image of Turtle Island, an important creation story in First Nation Culture.

WI rail

It has a traditional rail to grind on,

WI ramp 2

stairs with a rail to jump or grind,

WI Ramp

and several launch ramps.

WI spine

I really enjoyed skating here yesterday afternoon and will definitely skate this park again when I am in the area next.

Hope to see you there!

More Skatepark Tours

Teachers and Students NEED Creativity!

We NEED CreativityI regularly think outside of the box and find ways to be creative in both my personal and professional life.

I often have co-workers comment about how creative I am. The thing often unsaid in these conversations is that they don’t see themselves as creative and they wish they could do these kind of activities in the classroom as well. But here is a very concrete truth I want to share with you and with them . . .

Everyone is Creative 

“Creativity is not the possession of some special class of artistic individuals, but is rather something that can be nurtured and developed in all of us – including your students!”

Don’t make excuses.

You can’t tell yourself that you aren’t creative.

“We all have unbelievable creative potential. It lies dormant just waiting – no begging – to be tapped.” 

Find Your Inspiration

Finding inspiration is easy. It is all around us. I often come up with great ideas for the classroom by reading something completely unrelated to the subject or topic. Or my trying something new in my personal life.

Here is a passage from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess that explores this idea further . . .

“Becoming well-read and involved in a wide variety of interests provides us with the raw resources that we need for what I call Creative Alchemy. Too often, people believe creativity is some esoteric skill that involves coming up with completely original ideas out of the blue. That is rarely the way it works. “

Start a New Hobby

I know, there isn’t enough time to do all of the things we need  to do as a classroom teacher such as plan, photocopy, mark student work, and the hundred other things that always seem to pop up. It may seem counter-intuitive to take extra time to pursue a hobby. It is not though. I believe everyone should have a hobby or five.

“Spend more time on your passions, hobbies, and outside areas of interest and then seeks ways to incorporate them into your classroom. Cultivate new hobbies and watch new areas of your brain explode in creative output.”

I skateboard, rap, do a radio show, blog, and write fiction. All of these things I have been able to bring into the classroom in some way shape or form, and it has been amazing!

Expose Yourself to High Quality Thinking

This is a key item. Read a lot and don’t just read teaching related books.

“I believe the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section. . . . I consider it one of the most important part of my job to constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources necessary for creative alchemy. 

Exploring the world and your passions allows you to bring a new perspective and energy into the classroom. It allows you to become a powerful role model for your students. We always say we want them to be life-long learners,  so we must show them what that looks like.”

Become a Well-Rounded Person

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking time spent developing yourself into a well-rounded person, above and beyond your role as an educator, is wasted or something to feel guilty about. It is essential and will pay dividends in not only your life, but also in your classroom.”

I hope these tips have helped. You can be creative in your professional and personal lives and inspire your students at the same time. It is win-win!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – your weekly source for professional inspiration