Category Archives: opinion

The world of substitute teaching

Having now completed my B.Ed at the University of Regina and having recently obtained my teaching certificate, this past week I started substitute teaching with Regina Public Schools. While I do have a full-time teaching position with Regina Public starting in the fall, I wanted to gain some teaching experience on the sub-list and work at different schools during May and June. This week I had great experiences subbing at both Sheldon and Scott Collegiate. At both schools I was subbing in the physical education department but they were very different experiences and that is what I enjoy about subbing. The opportunity to see what is being done at various schools and how certain programs are run is a great opportunity.

As a newcomer to the world of substitute teaching I have been wondering about a few things like the expectations for substitute teachers and ways to ensure a successful subbing experience. I’m looking for advice on how I can make the most of my time as a substitute teacher…

I realize there are the basic duties such as teaching what the teacher has stated, ensuring the class is on task, leaving notes stating what you did and also informing the teacher of any behavioral issues. But I would like to know what teachers consider to be a good substitute teacher… I would greatly appreciate comments regarding the following questions.

What are your expectations for a substitute teacher?

What steps can a substitute teacher take to make sure things go smoothly?

What type of feedback do you like to receive from substitute teachers?

What is your advice for substitute teachers?

Here’s a fairly basic but useful link about substitute teaching – click here

ECMP Final Reflection…

As part of my ECMP 455 course I will be doing a few reflections over the next few days. I have decided to create a short video to reflect on a few of my experiences. This also served as an opportunity for me to play around with and create a green screen. It has been an amazing learning experience and I have really enjoyed all of the connections I have made both inside and out of the class.

View my reflection below as well as a video showing how I made the green screen. Let me know what you think.


Experiencing the Olympics

Earlier this year, in late February to be exact, I was fortunate enough to be in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. I was very lucky as it just so happened that my basketball team, the University of Regina Cougars were in Vancouver for a Canada West basketball playoff series against the Simon Fraser University Clan. Unfortunately we lost the playoff series 2 games to 1. One positive thing is that we were able to experience the atmosphere of the Olympics in downtown Vancouver. Below I have included a video I shot with my iPod Nano. The video and audio quality isn’t great and the camera work is sub par but I hope that it will give you a sense of what the energy was like. I have attempted to make it into a bit of a digital story, focusing on the culture, excitement, and celebration.

I tried to take a look at the Olympics from an educational lense and thought of how amazing it would be to have a class there and experience it on some sort of field trip (most likely local schools). The olympics can relate to so many different subject areas. Here is a great resource for bringing the Olympics into the classroom. This tweet from my instructor Dean Shareski makes a connection between an Olympic sport and science. What connections do you see that can be made between the Olympics and curriculum? Now that the Olympics are over, what other major athletic events do you see having the opportunity to promote learning? I know that here in Regina, Saskatchewan anything involving the Saskatchewan Roughriders has a tendency to engage almost anyone. I also look at March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball championship that is just starting and think how it might relate.

Facebook and Cell Phones

During my internship this past semester two of the biggest “issues” that teachers seemed to be facing were facebook and cell phones. Students would often go on facebook during class if they were at a computer and many teachers complained of continually catching students text messaging on their phones in class. By the end of the semester facebook had been blocked on all student computers but cell phones were still an “issue”.

I’ve been reflecting on this for some time and recently in my ECMP 455 class we had a guest presentation from Liz Kolb, author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. View her slides here. She presented some great information and statistics which got me thinking a bit more about my stance on the issue. While I was teaching I wanted to find a way to include cell phones in my teaching and take advantage of the great tool that they are. It’s no secret that they are a very powerful tool and I felt I needed to find a way to use them not ban them. I included them in one of my Entrepreneurship 30 lessons which you can view at the bottom of this post.here (some attachments not included). I thought it went well but I believe that cell phones are a tool that may be hard to use every class, rather there needs to be a balance of their use. If they are not being used in the classroom, I’ve heard of a few different strategies for minimizing their distraction including a basket at the front of the room or holding on to them until the end of class if they are used inappropriately. I also don’t mind the idea of teaching etiquette and getting students to understand when it is rude to use your phone and also when it is appropriate to check it. I think it’s all personal preference and depends a lot on the school and students.

The thing that I am most interested in is discovering ways to use them to enhance learning in an educational setting. Liz mentioned quite a few different resources during her presentation including SCVNGR and ipadio which can be used to promote learning in different ways. I also wonder about using cell phones in physical education classes? How might one go about doing that? After doing some searching, I came across some great stuff at this Australian PE teacher’s blog.

Lastly, I want to touch back on the facebook topic that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m just curious as to how many schools or school divisions are blocking facebook. Is facebook available at your school? Do you think it can be useful in education?

I’m going to end this post by posing a few more questions to readers whom I would encourage to answer and discuss in the comments.

In what ways do you use or would you like to use cell phones in your classroom or school? Do you believe it helps promote learning?

Can cell phones be used in class or do they become to much of a distraction?

Below you can see a copy of Entrepreneurship lesson which included a cell phone activity.

Mac or PC?

I have heard from many people that “once you go Mac, you’ll never go back.” It seems as though almost all of the mac users that I know are very happy with their computer. Having grown up using a PC for most of my life both in and out of school (although I have used a macbook very briefly for one video editing project about a year ago) I thought that I should expand my computer experience and try out a mac for a while. Through my ECMP 355 class I was able to spend the past week using a MacBook Pro for all of my computer needs. Overall It was a great experience, it took a short while for me to get used to the basic differences but after that I found the mac to be very user friendly. Aside from being user friendly the mac was very well designed, everything from the icons and desktop to the computer as a whole. The design was very clean and simple (See my previous blog post on Design). The programs worked well and it was fun to play around on things like GarageBand and PhotoBooth. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary when using the mac, it was mostly basic everyday computer use and after that I think it is fair to say that I have been “converted” to Macs. It was sad to return the MacBook Pro to my prof and I definitely think that my next computer purchase will be a mac.

Although I preferred the Mac for everyday use I wonder which (Mac or PC) would be a better fit for an Information Processing class? From my experience and what I have heard it seems as though Macs are preferred for video editing? Would Macs be a better fit for a high school Communications Production Technology class? Overall which is a better choice for schools? Elementary? Secondary? I would like to hear what people think about this topic, please leave a comment about your experience with either of the two or your thoughts on this issue.

Me giving the MacBook Pro a thumbs up!