October 7

Student Voice: A Response to “The Class”

The Class/Entre les murs introduces us to a year of teaching in an intercity school in Paris. With a group of unmotivated and disrespectful students, teachers are not able to take a regular approach to teaching; they must create their own style that targets the students within their classroom. Throughout the film, the audience questions the topic of “student voice” and whether or not M. Marin and the school are providing their students with enough opportunities to achieve this. Student voice involves providing students with a platform to share their input and be heard in a receptive way. While the concept seems great, just how valuable is student voice?

Student Voice2
I often catch myself asking the question, “What is the ultimate purpose of education?” Is it simply to learn a bunch of different things that the government deems valuable? Is it to prepare students to find a job and work? Is it to teach students to be contributing members of society? What I’ve come to find is that the purpose of education is far more complex, proving to have more purposes that I could ever define. But how much more could the students gain if they were contributing to their own education?

Students learn about issues in the world (pollution, racism, etc.) and people who are remembered for something great (Laura Secord), but are students being prepared to tackle these issues and be remembered for their contributions? I believe that teaching students about being a leader and a contributing member of society isn’t enough; we must provide them with the tools and characteristics to become that leader. By allowing students to have their voice heard and to be an active contributor to their education, they will come to realize that their actions and decisions can make a difference and they can bring positive change to the world around them.

Edutopia provides us with three reasons why student voice is key:

  1. What students have to say matters in how learning happens.
  2. Students have untapped expertise and knowledge that can bring renewed relevance and authenticity to classrooms and school reform efforts.
  3. Students benefit from opportunities to practice the problem solving, leadership and creative thinking required to participate in a decision-making school community.


As a teacher, we must learn to share the power of the classroom with our students, allowing them the opportunity to hold the reigns of their own education. Not only does this make students more engaged in their learning and learn more content because of their engagement, but it prepares them to be the best person that they can be. This is all we can really hope for as teachers.

Student Voice3


September 29

Self-Assessment and the Self-Reflective Learner

How great would it be if students were able to assess their own work? Even better, how great would it be if students assessed their own work throughout the completion process, allowing them reflect on the quality of their work and set goals for improvement?

Thankfully, self-assessment is a thing!

As educators, we can do so much than simply teach students the curriculum; we can teach them how to be independent, self-reflecting individuals. These qualities will prove to be extremely beneficial in all areas of the student’s life, extending beyond their time in the classroom.

By including students in the evaluation process through self-assessment, they develop the habit of self-reflection. They learn to define the qualities of good work, how to differentiate pieces of work against these qualities, how to step back from their work to assess their own efforts and feelings of accomplishment, and how to set personal goals. Ultimately, self-assessment teaches the students to be active learners, being alert and constructive during the entire process of learning.

Additionally, self-assessment teaches the student that the idea of assessment doesn’t have to be scary, related to grades on projects, or administered by a teacher. Rather, it shows students that assessment can be a useful tool in the process of work-completion, allowing them to reflect on what they have done so far, what they still need to do, and how they will get there.

Both Cooper (2010) and Gregory & Chapman (2013) provide us with various methods of completing self-assessment. Two of the methods that I find to be most beneficial, as presented by Cooper, are the survey and the checklist. The survey provides teacher with an indication of where the student’s attitudes and skills fall on a continuum. This can be a great tool prior to the beginning of a new unit or project, as it allows the student to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours while also priming the teacher with areas that might need more attention.

Checklists are a great tool in that they clearly define steps and tasks that must be completed, as outlined in the rubric. This is a great tool because it encourages the student to be self-reflective of their work, ensuring that every step and criteria has been met while also allowing them to be critical of the quality of their work.

Gregory & Chapman show us that self-assessment is not only possible for individual work; it can be conducted for group work as well. The students are able to reflect on their own contributions, they effectiveness of their collaboration skills, and outline areas of improvement that they will strive for during future group activities.

I’ve had many opportunities for self-assessment throughout my education, specifically in high school and university. As a teacher, I am going to strive to implement reflection into all areas of learning, despite what grade I teach. It is never too early to begin working on bettering yourself as a learner.


September 24

Motivating Students to Complete Assessments of Learning

Being an educator means more than just teaching your students the standardized curriculum administered by the government; rather, they seek to understand their students in a holistic sense in order to best support them in their learning. When the topic of late or incomplete assignments is mentioned, many people who are not a part of the education system feel like the “fail” label is appropriate for the student. If the work isn’t complete, then they get a zero and that’s that. But does that approach truly stem out of an unconditional support for the education of our younger generation?

In Cooper’s text Talk about Assessment, he discusses the topic of students failing to complete assessments. He also addresses the threat of punishment approach to this topic (i.e., you don’t do the work, you get a zero). Cooper quotes Guskey & Bailey as they point out:

“No studies support the use of low grades or marks as punishments. Instead of prompting greater effort, low grades more often cause students to withdraw from learning (p. 64)”

What, then, is the proposed solution to this issue? How about addressing the problem before it occurs? Would teacher have to give a student a zero if the student was more inclined to submit their work?

This idea led me to think of a few ways that I would be able to adopt a proactive approach to this topic, especially given the urban setting of the school that I am currently doing my placement in (my Associate Teacher warned me that the students received very little support in their academics after school hours). After looking into a few different solutions, I have chosen two that would be easy to implement, yet affective in their approach.

The first idea came from reflecting on my own education experience. Why did I submit my work? Well, for a number of reasons:

  • To appease my teacher
  • To avoid a phone call home to mom and dad
  • To be viewed as smart by my peers
  • For self-affirmation in my own work ethic
  • To earn those stars in Mr. Devine’s Grade 5 class so that I would be one of the top 5 students that he would take out for lunch to Pizza Hut’s buffet

Yup, that last one was a huge motivator! Rewarding students for their efforts in completing homework and assignments is easy and effective. No student would pass up Pizza Hut, so they complete all their work in an effort to earn that reward. If we expect students to complete assignments, it has to be worth their time; there has to be some type of incentive to encourage students to complete their assignments.

Another idea would be to record the occurrences of late or missing assessments. This provides students, parents, and the teacher a tangible reflection of the work ethic and completion rate of the student’s work. No matter what the reason, if the assessment is not complete, the students would have to record this in a stationed “Incomplete Work Log”, outlining their name, the date, what was incomplete, and the reason. This forces students to truly reflect on why the task was incomplete while also making them accountable for their actions.HomeworkAs educators, we must continue to teach students in all areas of their life, even if that means teaching them the skills of time management, accountability, initiative, and homework completion. The curriculum is one half of education; the student as a person is the other.

September 23

My First Day of Community Service Learning

(It still blows my mind that I am now considered a teacher-candidate…)

Today officially marked the first day of my 8-month placement at Pinecrest Public School in Ottawa! Despite prepping my belongings the night before, waking up extra early, and grabbing a large regular coffee from the Tim Horton’s around the corner from the school (convenient, right?), I was still fairly nervous for my first placement of my Bachelor of Education.

Name Tag
The day started with a tour of school and its many resources. Albeit an “urban” school, Pinecrest is gifted with a massive property, featuring two soccer fields and scenic green spaces. What’s even better is that the classrooms have large windows that let in a great deal of natural lighting, which is something that not many schools can brag about. The school has two gymnasiums, one of which has a stage that the school performs plays on. Another amazing feature of the school is that has a woodworking shop – yes, Pinecrest is a K-8 school with a tech shop. Needless to say, I felt like I was in a high school! That is, until the bell rang and the students came inside…

Pinecrest3“Was I that small in grade 7?” was the first question that ran through my mind. But after that thought left my mind, I was excited to see the diversity of the students that walked through the halls. I was very impressed with the sense of inclusion that the student population exuded, proving yet again that the younger generation is the best example of how we should accept and celebrate each others differences.
Pinecrest2As the day continued, I jumped right into the role of a teacher, assisting students understand various concepts in Math, Language, and History. I also got to see the class in action as they had their music class. They were all learning how to play the ukulele – how awesome is that?! (Shout out to the recorder I got to play in grade 7…) I will admit that one of the biggest challenges I will face, no matter what class I teach, is remembering names. That skill just wasn’t a gift I was graced with, but I was proactive and requested a class list so that I could practice before next week!

Among the many programs that Pinecrest offers, about 6 students from my immediate class utilize the ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELD (English Literacy Development) programs. The ELD program is a new concept for me, but I am amazed with each new success story that I hear from the program. I am very interested to learn more about what goes into the program and potentially spend some of my CSL placement there.

The first of many projects that I will work on during my time at Pinecrest involves the school’s playground. Unfortunately, the playground was torn down 2 years ago when it was deemed unsafe, but has yet to be replaced. That being said, the kindergarten and primary students are left with a sandbox where the playground once stood, the extent of their “play area”. In an attempt to be awarded a grant from the Aviva Community Fund, I have taken on the task of creating a video of Pinecrest’s playground situation that will be submitted. Needless to say, I’ve been brushing up on my video editing “skills” and will be collecting footage next Wednesday, just in time for next Friday’s deadline. Fingers crossed that my video submission lead to Pinecrest being considered for funding!

Ideas are flowing, passion is ignited. I’m looking forward to round 2 next week!



September 14

Teaching with Technology

In this week’s readings for Curriculum Planning, Implementation, and Assessment, there were many themes that overlapped. Specifically, the theme of technology being integrated into teaching and assessment was one that has always interested me.

Mishra and Koehler spoke of the importance for teachers to see new technologies and learning tools, rather than threats to the education system. In fact, they encouraged teachers to use technology, saying:

“Teachers need to develop a willingness to play with technologies and an openness to building new experiences for students so that fun, cool tools can be educational (p. 18).”

I believe that this is so important in the classroom today. So many students resort to using technology (i.e. texting, Facebook, Twitter) during class time for one reason: they are bored. This is where the teacher could either go to war with the students over using this technology at an inappropriate time, or change their approach to parallel the desires of the students. A young adult, I would align myself with the second approach, creating innovative ways of teaching which utilize technology. However, I can definitely see how experienced teachers could fear the use of technology, especially if they themselves are not comfortable with it.

By adopting an acceptance of technology into the classroom, the role of the teacher does in fact take a shift. As Cooper says in Chapter 2:

“The sheer volume of information available today, as well as the rate at which information is increasing and being replaced by current and better information, cannot all possibly be captured and transmitted by teachers and textbooks (p. 13).”

We as educators want nothing more than for our students to learn as much as they can during their time with us. By integrating technology into our classrooms, we are not only introducing them to the subject matter at hand, but we are also teaching them technology competency, opening them to a world of additional learning before their eyes.

My father is someone who believes that one day, all teachers will be replaced by computers. Since I’ve had my fair share of debates with him about this topic, I will admit that I was relieved to see that the 8th Big Idea of assessment affirmed my position. When Cooper mentioned that “one of the essential characteristics of the teaching-learning process is the human interaction that occurs between students and a caring, sensitive, skilled teacher,” I immediately sent a screenshot to my father (p. 7). His response surprised me:

“Some teachers could be [replaced by computers], but you will never be that kind of teacher because you have the passion to teach and will be a success.”

It looks like it is possible to have teachers and technologies working together to create the best possible learning environment for students. I look forward to and welcome the introduction of many technologies into my future classroom.

September 13

Urban Education

I’ll admit, my schooling experience was far from “urban”. I grew up in a relatively privileged city and was not exposed to many cultures that were different from my own. With that being said, I have always been someone who is fascinated by people and their story (can you tell I’m a Psychology major?). Albeit a little apprehensive about being the in Urban Education cohort at first, the readings from Daniel and Chambers changed my mindset.

Daniel’s approach to the topic of “urban” is one that provoked a lot of thought. One of the strongest themes that I took away from her article, “Reimagining the Urban: A Canadian Perspective”, is that for us to fully grasp the concept of urban, “its relationship with the suburban needs to be conceptualized, explored, and analyzed as another mutually constituted relationship” (p. 823). By establishing a strong distinction between the urban and the suburban, we are further increasing the divide between the two, thus refusing to create a feeling of unity and inclusion among all areas. As Daniels states, we must change our perception of urban to “move beyond the notions of geography, space, and social class exclusivity” (p. 828). We are all citizens of the same city, province, or country, and despite whether we live in an area that is deemed to be urban or suburban, we should all be entitled to the same quality of education.

Chambers took more of a personal approach to the topic of urban in her article “’Where Do I Belong?’ Canadian Curriculum as Passport Home”. My favourite quote from Chamber’s article follows:

“… home is that place where the past is continually present, both complicating this moment right now, and giving us and them, children and students, the courage and the confidence to face the future.”

This is such a strong reminder that our home, Canada, is what we make it to be. If we continue to neglect certain areas or display prejudice against certain cultures, then we are weaving hatred into the fabric of our nation. How do we as teachers help to rectify this problem? I am a strong believer that leading by example is one of the most invaluable teaching tools. In addition to adopting a positive curriculum, we as teachers can help by displaying acceptance and promoting inclusion and diversity in our classrooms.

Needless to say, after reading these two articles, my preconceived notions about what urban education was have changed. Here’s to two years of learning more about urban education!

September 1

Here’s to the Start of the Rest of My Life

It still doesn’t feel real… I’ve not only been accepted for a Bachelor of Education from multiple universities, but I’ve finally accepted an offer. After many conversations with my friends and family, I’m so excited to have accepted my offer to:


Ottawa will definitely be a brand new experience for me. Not only will it be my first time living on my own (it’s definitely time), but I will be moving almost 6 hours away from my family. It’s quite the commute, but ever since I first visited the city 7 years ago, I’ve loved it.

What were some other reason’s I chose uOttawa’s program? Well…

  • uOttawa’s Faculty of Education is the largest faculty in Ontario that offers two-year teacher education programs in French as well as English.
  • Teacher candidates have the opportunity to study with skilled professors who are receiving worldwide recognition as researchers.
  • Teacher candidates can participate in community service learning placements outside the classroom setting.
  • The Faculty of Education also organizes both an Anglophone and Francophone Career Fair in Education every year, where BEd students can meet over 50 potential employers from Ontario, other parts of Canada, and abroad.
  • The Faculty’s Educational Centre provides a spacious environment for teacher candidates to work individually and in groups. Services include educational resources, workshops and more.
  • Candidates enroll in one of four cohorts within their program: Comprehensive School Health; Developing Global Perspectives; Innovation, Imagination and Creativity; or Urban Education Community (my cohort).
  • The Faculty of Education also offers a strong professional development program, including a large selection of Additional Qualification courses.

I’m looking forward to becoming a Gee-Gee!


December 19

The Waiting Game


It took most of my first term to write my applications, edit them, edit again, and edit them one last time, but it’s finally done! I have applied to the Junior/Intermediate division (Grades 4-10) with a Geography teachable. The universities that I applied to (in no particular order, other than alphabetically) are: Brock, Laurier, Ottawa, Windsor, and York.

For those of you who are about to ask: “No, I do not have a preference… yet.” All I can say for now is that Monday, March 2, 2015 could not come soon enough. Until then, we wait…