Saturday, 13 January 2018

Kindness Starts Where?

Being a Teacher Teaching on Call (TTOC) I get to see a lot of different classrooms, students, teaching styles, lessons, and so on.  The best part of my job is coming home with something wonderful. I am easily impressed when I see teachers preparing their students to become global, kind citizens. The lessons presented, the discussions, the actions taken - it all sinks in. 

This week was great!  I taught from Kindergarten to grade seven.  The little ones played nicely together at their chosen centres.  I didn't have to break up one squabble!  They have already learned to care and share.  I was impressed!
The older classroom read a short passage, almost like a blog post, and were then prompted to write about it.  Mr. Browne's Precepts, by R.J. Palacio. I'd never heard of it, but it was great, full of daily quotes, which I love! At the end of the day I picked up the book and found that it was by the author of Wonder, which I have not read but have heard of as it is now a movie with well known actors. To have a discussion ranging from baboons to children about bullying, aggressive behaviour, and how a change in attitude can change the future was powerful. 

There is a kindness initiative in the school and it is working!  The principal came in and shared how they had just witnessed the kindness of older students helping younger students getting out of their wet, snowsuits. It makes a difference in all their lives, and is greatly appreciated. This kindness initiative is seen and felt everyday, by everyone. It is the only school where the students, regardless of which class I am in, thank me for being their teacher that day. They thank ME!  Do I feel appreciated?  Yes, I do.  It warms my heart.  And yes, I love working there, as an On-Call teacher.     
And do I thank them for being amazing students, especially towards a TTOC?  Absolutely! 

Kindness, keep it going!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The "C" Word

I don't think there is anyone who hasn't been affected by cancer, either directly or indirectly.  I lost a teaching colleague, just shy of her retirement, to colon cancer.  She taught in the classroom next to mine, and we spent a lot of time together.  I then lost a family member within six weeks of diagnosis.  She also worked in the school system.  I was quite aware of how these deaths affected me, but then I got to thinking about how students would be affected.  Illness and death are part of life, but to our students, these topics can be overwhelming.  I think we need to have a real discussion with them, even at a young age.

I developed a three page unit for a class to discuss cancer.  They may have a family member affected, or there may be someone at your school that is going through this terrible fight, or worse yet, someone in your class.  These scenarios are an opportunity to bring discussion to the entire class.  Students need to understand the importance of empathy and moral support in learning to cope with illness and disease.  

I am blessed with good health, so far, but I lost my parents almost twenty years ago and my younger brother three years ago, all to medical conditions. Cancer is not fair in who it picks a fight with. I hope the sale of this lesson, with 50% being donated to cancer research, will help find a cure one day. I have seen survivors win this fight! I want to see cancer gone!  Please share the link and spread the word.

Stay healthy my friends.  With thanks,


Monday, 29 May 2017

Animation anyone?

I have had the good fortune to teach two blocks of animation to grade 9 and 10s this semester.  I love teaching courses where it is easy to motivate and inspire students to be creative and imaginative.  Do I get any credit?  Maybe . . .

I give credit to the district in supplying us with high end programs to create our animations, and some of my students have taken on the self-directed approach to learning how to use these.  We were also supported with a dozen Wacom tablets.  The learning curve is steep, but students are sticking with it and getting results.

I also like to offer students a way to continue doing animation at home, without having to purchase expensive programs.  My recommendations?  Microsoft PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker.  Yes, these old standbys work wonders!  I have to say that Movie Maker 12 is better than the newest version for Windows 10, as it reads the MP4 files that PowerPoint creates, which the newest version does not.  You may need to convert them if you don't have a compatible match.  

I have ten assignments I give the students, and the majority of class time is spent working on their projects.  Starting with a logo, intro and outro sets the stage for how animation works.  I have selected a set of fifteen one minute videos created by animation students at the National Film Board (NFB), called Hot House which has eight seasons.

I was fortunate to have a teacher in my high school days (in the 1970s) who introducted me to Norman McLaren and the National Film Board.  Mr. Sparks brought in the films on reels, and it took weeks for them to arrive.  Luckily we can now show these directly at the NFB website or on YouTube.  Did you know that Norman McLaren won an Oscar for "Neighbours" in 1953, a stop animation classic?

On a more modern angle, I bring recognition to animation that we see everyday, without even thinking about it - on TV commercials, at Tim Hortons (or other fast food outlets) on their moving menu boards, on facebook, etc.  Animation is everywhere, and students could be doing it as a job!  One of my former students now does the animation on the Global BC morning news in Vancouver.  I know he does a great job as I watch the news each morning before I head to school.  I hope more of my students carry on their animation ambitions.

I have created a YouTube channel to share the efforts of my students publicly, with permission, of course.  Please have a look and leave my students some encourging words.  More entries will be added in the next four weeks, so please subscribe so you can see the projects as they are added.

I have created a preview for my TpT product:
If you find this interesting, please carry on to the product

Thank You!  


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Video Intro

The more I learn, the more I need to do!  I just completed another course and have created a video introduction for my future video posts to YouTube.  

How did five seconds take all day to do? I certainly learned some new skills, and am rather happy with the results.  PowerPoint rocks!  It is quickly becoming my favourite editing tool.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Product Previews

I thought I was pretty tech saavy, as I wrote in the TpT forum of how I make my previews.  I was gently told that what I was creating were thumbnails, not previews.  She was right!

And with that, I have promptly created my first video preview.  I already see a few improvements I could make, but as my first attempt, I think it worked out well enough.  Now I have a YouTube Channel!

Monday, 20 March 2017

URL Building

There is SO much to learn!

On my TpT journey, it started with creating products (lessons).
Then came the creation of a blog, facebook page, twitter account, instagram, pinterest . . . and so on!
These often seem like a time consuming exercises, but as driving viewers (potential customers) to your TpT store is the goal, it is a necessary exercise.

My latest learning curve includes the creation of URL and UTM codes.  Have I lost you yet?  I'm getting there!  Tomorrow night is the TpT Webinar about UTM codes, so I've poured myself into it for the last week to get a better understanding of it, and so I would be part of the conversation.  I am also taking a UDEMY digital marketing course, and I have certainly gained some valuable insight about how to do many new things. More to come on that topic when I'm done the course.

So, the URL is the web address of your product, blog, site, etc.  This is pretty straight forward, and often very long!  For example:  There are URL shorteners, such as and which will shorten your URL, for example, created, and created  Both links will direct you to the TpT website, where hopefully someone will want to buy it for classroom or personal use.  That is part one.

If you go back to the page, you will see statistics - how many clicks and where they came from.  They more bitly URL codes, the more data you will receive.

The easiest QR Reader app I have found is this one.  I use it on my iPhone and iPad, and it works like a charm.

From the page, you will also see statistics - clicks, browsers, platforms and countries.  It will also create a QR code for the link:

The easiest QR Reader app I have found is this one.  I use it on my iPhone and iPad, and it works like a charm. So far so good?  If you have it, try the QR Code above and see what happens.    

Now comes the TpT URL code builder. Start here. This will explain what it is all about. Once you've done that, go here.   

I created a spreadsheet to keep track of all the various codes, as there will be a different one for Pinterest (no shortened codes work here),Twitter, Facebook, BlogSpot, and so on.  It looks something like this:  
This takes me the better part of the evening to complete and then post to each site.  Tonight, this blog is taking up the most time, but I feel it important to share what I am learning, as many TpT authors have been very generous with me.  

When I go to my TpT Dashboard, and view Traffic, I can see where the clicks came from, very specifically, such as Pinterest, facebook, etc.  My digital marketing course is telling me that this information is very valuable.  It will tell me where I need to spend the most time with promotion as the traffic is driven from very specific places.  

I often go to to see my own TpT growth.  Check out your own TpT store here.  I have personal goals of where I want to be with my store, and the growth curve keeps me motivated.  I am coming up to my second anniversary as a TpT seller and am very happy with how things are going.  

What I am learning will be useful for the TpT marketing, but also for the two web-sites I manage for others.  It has been worth my time and trouble and I hope I have laid this out for others to follow and understand.  Please feel free to share a link to this blog if you think it was useful.  



Friday, 17 March 2017

Interactive Puzzles

My PhotoShop assignment for students turned into something completely different!  I think this is the TpT product that will reach from Kindergarten to High School.  And yes, I have that lava lamp in my classroom!  Students love it!  This is a FREE download, so please try it now!  If teachers give me feedback that says it is useful, I will certainly be making more.