On being a loving teacher

When I think back to my high school years and remember the teachers I had, the word ‘loving’ certainly doesn’t come to mind. I had some ferociously strict teachers of whom I can still remember their personality and mannerism to this day. I remember specifically my 7th grade teacher still holding her hand out in front of students’ mouths as they spit their gum out, or how she would pass pack the handwriting sheets and expect us to do them all over again if every little cursive letter wasn’t perfectly written.

As I became a teacher, I told myself that I would never be like them and that I would be a caring and loving teacher who showed compassion and sympathy for who my students were. Seven years later, I can honestly say that I am just as strict, requiring students to tie their shoes and fix their ties. However, I don’t believe that I’m any less loving of a teacher than who I set out to be all those years ago.

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Ten reasons why I prefer Moodle (and you should too)

Moodle is an LMS that has been around for what seems like ages. It’s a known and trusted LMS by many schools, universities and corporations. Created by Martin Dougiamas and first available for download in 20011)https://docs.moodle.org/33/en/History, it has been the education industry’s go-to for delivering online education in modular form. I personally have experience working with Moodle developing plugins and creating courses both for CNM‘s department of distance learning as an intern (back when it was known as TVI), and also for NMT‘s management department assisting in a senior project.

Nowadays it seems like we’re in the age of modern LMS’s with it being incredibly simple to start an online course or even put class content online. I’ve tried out many of these – Google Classroom, Edmodo and Schoology, just to name a few of the more popular ones – and have been most pleased with what I’ve seen. Most of them are incredibly flexible, easy to setup courses and student-user friendly. Many of them are even robust in creating and delivering modularized course content.

However, here’s the point of contention. After all this, I still say that Moodle is the best. Here are ten reasons why.

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Notes   [ + ]

1. https://docs.moodle.org/33/en/History

The problem with final exams

I hate paper exams. I don’t believe that they adequately assess knowledge nor do they show understanding in a way that is beneficial. They don’t even really represent what it is that we’re trying to teach students to do. I heard it said long ago that the only thing paper exams show is how well a particular student can do on a paper exam. It’s true. Think about it – what do students do before a big IGCSE or AP exam? They cram by reviewing past papers and example questions. It’s quite a ridiculous culture that focuses on examination instead of learning.

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The School of 2017 (Part 2)

This is the second part in a series entitled The School of 2017. Go to part 1.

It’s been a few days now since I started writing this series and have starting teaching again for the second term in the academic year. In the first post, I discussed briefly some things that I thought would take hold as a whole school. Today, I want to touch on what 2017 will present for students inside the actual classroom and their relationship with teachers.

It’s an exciting time to be a teacher because we’re seeing a shift from teacher-led environments to that of student-led environments. Learning is no longer contained within the four walls of the classroom but students are being encouraged to think outside the box and learn in ways they had never even considered before. We, as teachers, are coming down to their level, recognizing their needs, and teaching them in a way they want to learn. This is a necessity because they are not learning the same way we learned nor are they entering the same world that we did.

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Inquiry in a Science classroom

I’ve taken a deep deep dive into inquiry-based learning this year with my Year 7, 8 and 9 Science classes. Although I’ve used it in the past, I’ve never gone to the extent of actually planning entire units around a single fertile question1, a phrased used to describe a question of inquiry that drives an entire unit of learning. Now, I will be the first to admit that Science is by far one of the easiest subjects to use inquiry-based learning as Science is by nature inquisitive. So then I suppose that trying my hand at full-on inquiry-based learning in my Science subject would be a great benefit to helping me grow as a teacher.

I will use the remainder of this blog post to describe the process and what I have discovered so far. It should be known that I am still developing a plan that maximizes learning within my classroom, so anyone attempting to adapt this method themselves takes it upon themselves as a risk.

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Something about assessments

Assessments can be an important part of any school. As a student, they can be something to tremble and fear at. As a teacher, it can be the same. If I had to guess, I would say that most schools today do assessments wrong. I understand that this is quite a big claim to make, but when we evaluate our teaching and learning models that we have in our classrooms and even school-wide, assessing is usually something done half-fast and last minute. I know that I am guilty of this myself and will examine my own assessment model in light of some theory.

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A loss of discovery

I was in Borders today reminiscing with all of the large science picture books and encyclopedia, being reminded of how I used to discover and learn new things. When I was a kid, I used to go to the library and spend hours in these books, discovering what each page has to reveal to me, in no particular order, filling my mind with more wonder about our world and our universe. My time would be lost in these books, but I didn’t care, because I had no tablet, no smartphone, and no Facebook to distract me (yes, I say distract).

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