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Inspiration, resources, lessons, and ideas from my classroom to yours.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive

Welcome to Teaching Tips.

This is an archive page that features all of the teaching tips that have been posted. Please visit this page often as it will be continually updated with each new tip.

Below you find the tips in the order they have appeared on the site.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or would like to write a guest post for Teaching Tip Tuesdays, please leave me a comment below, send me an email, or get at me on Twitter

Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.

Continue reading Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive

Transform School Band Concerts

Nicole Kmoch wrote an incredible piece for the Smart Music Educator blog entitled “Perform Early, Perform Often: The Power of Informance.”

She believes, “performing early and often can be a great way to reduce the anxiety students experience during performances. It also offers an opportunity to make all parents and guardians aware of – and a bigger part of – the process of learning an instrument. Rather than trying to program a full concert with students who may know only 3-5 notes, I set out to create an informance.”

Transforming Beginning Band Concerts

Instead of working for an entire semester towards a concert performance, having multiple, shorter performances can have numerous benefits.

“It’s a chance for students to showcase what they can do and an opportunity to educate parents about the process and how they can help support their students at home. In addition to several opportunities to perform solo and in small groups, the informance gives many students an opportunity to speak to the audience.”

Getting Outside the Classroom

“In our educational environment, students are very accustomed to performing while sitting at a desk, in a quiet atmosphere, on a test where they are scored only on their own knowledge. Yet in music ensembles, we ask them to showcase what they know on a stage with lights, microphones, and an audience which is prepared to give them immediate feedback on their performance. It’s very different.

Building Together

Young musicians approach performance opportunities with a wide range of comfort levels. Some are eager to share and enjoy the spotlight. Others are terrified at just the thought. Performing early in the process helps them to discover the joy found in performing together. It takes the mystery out of the stage and what a performance looks and feels like. Once some of the build-up and anxiety is removed, it simply becomes something that we do together.

Performance, Demonstration, and Education

Informances also offers the flexibility to have students that are ready and willing to perform to help with the demonstrations for the audience. Opportunities range from demonstrating a buzz on a brass mouthpiece to performing a more advanced piece while exhibiting excellent tone. An informance allows you to differentiate your performance to include all students.”

Learning in the Spotlight

I really like this idea and plan to implement it next semester. Have you have any experience with Informances? Please let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or with a comment below.

And make sure to visit the Teaching Tips Archive for more great ideas.

Teaching with the Olympic Games

I have been having a lot of fun incorporating the Winter Olympics into my English ESL classes. Part of the curriculum deals with Canadian culture and this seemed like a great opportunity to explore different areas of the country.


I asked the class how they could find out about the Canadian athletes who are performing on the world stage right now. It was a great teaching moment about finding appropriate online sources.

I then pointed them to the Official Team Canada website and asked them to pick an athlete and click through to their profile page and complete this graphic organizer.

Athlete Graphic Organizer PDF

Blog Post

The next step was for them to create a blog post with the information they gathered in their research. They were to include the important information such as Name, hometown, sport, medals won, records set, and any interesting facts they discovered. Plus, they had to find a YouTube clip of them performing and embed that as well.

Team Name Assignment

Connie Wyatt Anderson wrote this amazing lesson plan entitled “Team Names: A Reflection of History” that ties in nicely to the first two activities I did with my class this unit. It requires students to research a Canadian city and then create a fictional sports team with a name and logo that reflect the history of the community.

My plan was to have each student research the community their Olympic athlete hailed from. However, some students picked the same athlete or same hometown. So I had write a list of cities in the board from which they could choose. I didn’t give them the option of doing our city or Toronto. I wanted them to do the research and not rely on what they already knew.

I like how the lesson goes through the history of the CFL in Ottawa. It is very detailed and includes the new team logo.

I then showed the students other team logos and discussed the artistic choices and importance of the names to the community. We looked at other fake logos and I created one as an example for a very small community in Ontario.

This was a great assignment that ties in nicely with what is happening in the world right now. It is definitely something I plan on doing again.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – inspiration, tips, and tricks from my classroom to yours.

Feeding Your Flame (Student Writing Activity)

Last week’s Will Smith video response activity was a success. I decided to try it again with another of his Instagram videos. This one has a few harsh phrases or words that might not be appropriate for your classroom (please watch it before you share it with your students)

Please write a 2-3 paragraph response to this video.

You Are The Company You Keep

Have you heard the phrase, “You are the company you keep?” What do you think it means? Are your friends just like you? Do you like the same things and think the same way as your one of your friends? Use examples from your own life and explain why this person is a good influence on you?

Who Fans Your Flames?

Who supports you when you are trying something new? Who is someone is your life who is always there to help you? How have them inspired you to become better at something? Use specific details and examples from your own life in your response.

Inspirational Video

Is there a video you have seen online that inspires you? Copy the embed code to your blog and write a response to it. Make sure to use specific details and examples from your own life to explain why this video is inspirational. What does it make you think of and why should other people watch it?

More Tips

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – a regular feature on this blog to share inspiration and ideas from my classroom to yours

We’ve got momentum now, thanks to Will Smith. Hopefully we will be back with another Tip next week. Stay tuned! I hope to make this series a weekly feature for the rest of the school year. Please forgive me if I miss a week here and there, life is extremely busy right now. Thank you!

Fault vs Responsibility (Student Response Activity)

I am posting this edition of Teaching Tip Tuesdays as an activity you can do with your students. I will be doing this today with my class. If you try it out, let me know how it works in the comments below.

Will Smith is an actor, rapper, and songwriter. This is one of his most popular songs.

He posted the following video to his Instagram last week.

He says, “The road to power is in taking responsibility. Your heart, your life, your happiness, is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.”

He closes off saying, “Taking responsibility is a recognition of the power that you seize when you stop blaming people.”

Please pick one of the topics below and write a 2-3 paragraph response.

Accepting Responsibility

What do you think of what he has to say in this video? Use examples from your own life or experience about a time when you accepted responsibility or a time that you didn’t. Would you do anything differently now?

Age and Responsibility

Write about the relationship between your age and level of responsibility. How do responsibilities differ for people your age verses those of adults or younger children? How has your sense of responsibility changed as you have gotten older? At what age should we become totally responsible and accountable for our actions?

Parents Don’t Understand

How did Will Smith’s character in the music video show responsibility? Do you think he should have acted differently in some of those scenarios? How does Will Smith use humour to tell this story and get you thinking? Have you had any similar experiences?

Acting Responsibly

Write at least five things you could say to yourself when you are tempted to act irresponsibly. Explain the meaning and significance of each.

Learning from Mistakes

Describe something you’ve done that was really irresponsible. How did you feel afterward? What did you learn from it?

More Tips

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – a regular feature on this blog to share inspiration and ideas from my classroom to yours

I haven’t been writing this series on a weekly basis for the past little while. I apologize about that. I have been extremely busy, but plan to get back into the routine now. At the every least, I will add a new post to this series monthly. So stay tuned. Thank you!

Students Working Together on Tests? (Brilliant!)

I subscribe to this ten-minute podcast series specifically meant for teachers.

In this episode, a teacher shared a brilliant idea.

After he gives his students a test, he has them retake it in groups. This lets them discuss the questions and the answers they originally provided. It gives them a new perspective on how to answer the questions and fills in any gaps they might have had the first time around.

This is such a great idea that I had to try it out in my own classroom. It worked.

Have you had any experience with this method? Is there anything different you do when it comes to test. Please leave a comment below letting us know.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – inspiration, tips, and lessons from my classroom to yours

Teach Like TED

Every now and then I read a book that has nothing to do with education and I see the work in a way that the author probably never intended.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo is an examination of what makes some of the best TED talks successful. Gallo breaks down the public speaking secrets that can make a presentation great. Even if you never plan to give a TED talk, you can learn from his analysis, advice, and findings.

Teach Like TED

As I read this book, I thought, this could definitely apply to teaching. Perhaps we should try to teach like TED. Here’s how.

Keep It Short (<18 minutes)

TED talks are never any longer than 18 minutes, which seems to be the perfect length. After that, your audience will start to lose interest. And when your audience is a group of disengaged students in a class, this is even more true.

I try not to stand up at the front of the room and just talk. And whenever I do, I try my best to keep it to under twenty minutes.

Less Words on the Screen or Board

The best TED Talks also used very little text in the presentations. Apparently, it is difficult to read a lot of words on the screen and pay attention to the words that are being spoken. Instead, finding an image that compliments what you are saying is much more effective.

Once again, we can apply this technique to the classroom when we are talking at the front of the room.

Educator Books Outside of Education

It just goes to show that some of the best books that can inform your teaching are not found in the education section.

Has TED inspired your classroom practice?

If so, please leave a comment and share how. Thanks!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Over 200 tips, tricks, and lessons from my classroom to yours.

An Education Disrupter Transforms A School and Community

Hamish Brewer calls himself an “Educational Disrupter.” Not content with the way things were in education, he dedicated himself to breaking the mold. He didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. He wanted to create an authentic and relevant experience for his students. And he did it.

“Every decision I make comes back to, ‘Was I better for kids today?'”

Brewer couldn’t have done it alone. He got buy-in from the community and transformed a school. Not just once either.

This video is truly inspiring. I want to run a school like this one day. This man is amazing. He even tells the kids that he loves them. This is exactly what education needs.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Inspiration and tips for fellow teachers everywhere

Posting a Music Video (TGJ3M Assignment)

I am teaching a Communications Technology class this term and I wanted to have the students create an online portfolio of their work. To that end, I had them design simple websites using the Blogger platform. This way, they can see the basic design elements needed for fully functioning websites. It also gives me, as a teacher, one central place to look for and assess individual work.

The students will be given a culminating assignment this term that will have them planning, designing, and producing a multi-media project. I am hoping that the skills I have been teaching so far will serve them well in that task.

Music Video Assignment

For this assignment you will post a music video to your blog, include the song lyrics, and a brief introduction to the song and a conclusion.

1. Title

• Give the post a creative title

(i.e. for Buffalo Tom’s “Summer” it could be “Summer’s Gone – It Goes By Way Too Quick”)

2. Introduction

• Give an introduction to the music video

You can talk about why you like the song, artist, images, or story presented in the video.

3. Embed the music video into the blog post

• Copy the embed code from YouTube
• Click on “Share” and then you can click on embed

4. The lyrics 

It is easy to find song lyrics online. If you can’t find them, you can type them out yourself.

Sight unseen, sadder seas
Summer song sung all along
Dragged across the seven seas
To the beach come follow me
Summer’s gone a summer song
You’ve wasted every day, every day

5. Conclusion

• Try to say something about the time, atmosphere, culture, or other context of the video? Does it express an identity? What is your assessment of the video? How does this combination of music, lyrics and images work? Do you think the video appeals to its target audience? Does the video draw attention towards the artist or group? If so, what image of them does it project? How did you feel after experiencing this video?

Music Video Post Assignment – PDF file, MS Word doc

Find more tips, resources, and lessons from the Teaching Tip Archive

Website Design Assignment Part 2

This is the fourth assignment I gave my students for TGJ3M – Communications Technology. It builds off the skills we have been learning so far this term. First, we looked closely at the five different types of logos and collected examples of each. We then created a fictional media company and designed a logo for it. Now, we are in the process of building a functional website.

The first part of this assignment had the students signing up for a free Blogger account, creating a header image, and making an about page.

This assignment simply has them adding additional pages and content to the blog.

The assignment page, along with the rubric is available for you to download and edit for free.

Website Design Assignment Part 2 – PDF, MS Word

Teaching Tips – Inspiration and ideas from my classroom to yours every week!

Paperless Classroom Solutions

I am teaching a Grade 11 Communications Technology class this term. It is my first time teaching anything like this. The students are creating websites, making photo edits, producing, recording, and editing audio and video files, and other digital projects. As such, I thought it would be a great idea to have a paperless classroom this term. This is what I tried.


This is a platform made specifically for teachers and students. It looks like Facebook and is pretty easy to use. Only your students have access to the page and they have to sign up using a code that the website provides for you.

I have used it for almost two months now but I think I am going to stop using it for the simple fact that posts get buried in the timeline easily. This happens in Facebook too. Edmodo has modeled itself on the Facebook platform and I don’t think it is the best fit for education.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a great solution for sharing files with students. It is easy to organize your files into folders and you can choose how to share them. You can invite people via email or share a link for anyone to access the files.

Right now, I only have one folder set up for all of the classroom assignments. I also attached the class syllabus here.

Clicking on the Assignment folder will give you access to the subfolders for each assignment. I number and title every assignment so it easy to keep track of everything.

When you click on an assignment, you get all the materials needed to complete it. The word document is there for students to download and edit. They can then submit their work in a .doc file and I can add comments and send it back to them. It’s a great way to target feedback and keep digital records of student work.


Even though I use Gmail for pretty much all of my email communication, I make sure I only use my school email account to interact with students. This is just good practice and gives you protection as a teacher


I have been saving the rubrics and comments I make to each student in a PDF file that I store in a folder on my computer entitled “TGJ3M Portfolios.” Every student has his or her own folder and it serves as a portfolio of their work and marks.

Student Websites

Each student in my class created a blog for the first assignment of the term. Much of the work I want them to do can be completed there so they don’t have to hand in any papers or email me assignments. It saves us all a lot of time.

What Do You Do in Your Paperless Classroom?

I’d love to hear what tools and strategies you are using, please leave a comment below.

Teaching Tip Archive

Visit the Teaching Tip Tuesdays archive for over 200 great tips, tricks, and lessons from my classroom to yours. Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.