The end of my semester has come and gone.  My final marks have all been posted and yet I still have this anxious feeling in my guts that I have something due.  I wonder when that feeling will subside and give way to the freedom that is my reality and allow me to actually enjoy my summer?  My semester proved to be fruitful in more than just a learning sense.  In fact, things almost seem too good to be true right now.  One of my instructors has moved on from her role as classroom teacher and into the role of consultant with the Ministry of Education and she generously donated all of her classroom resources to me.  I have a bajillion boxes to go through and decide what to keep and what to toss, but I am so grateful for the offering because it can be expensive for a new teacher to go out and purchase these things.  Another one of my instructors happened to also be a superintendent with the school board I am hoping to work for in January and has provided me with some advice for my internship as well as a foot in the interviewing door.  Although none of this guarantees me a job, I am feeling optimistic about my future career.  

I started work this week at the Ta-Wa-Si Recreation program.  I am working the luxurious hours of 1 - 5 and spend the better part of my day outside, engaging with most of the same children I have spent the last 6 months working with.  I enjoy that I can say, "I love my job" and mean it.  You would have to meet and get to know the children I spend my days with to get it.  They are such a cool bunch who continue to humble me with their perspectives.  I have been working to find camps and activities of interest to connect the children to so that they can take advantage of the programming that is available to them.  I thought I had a basketball camp lined up for a group of boys who love to shoot hoops and played on the school team, but some issues have come up causing us to look elsewhere. The YMCA is really great about making things work for these children so I am hopeful we can find something.  I actually have to deliver the bad news to them today that the camp we had been talking about is now a no-go.  Hopefully the fact that we are going swimming this afternoon will provide some sort of silver lining to the day, as I know they are going to be disappointed.

On a completely different note, this morning I committed myself to blogging and visiting my neglected Google Reader.  Check and check!  I had about 150 things that I had missed since I looked at it last.  I am glad I scrolled through instead of marking everything as read because I found a really neat resource that I want to share with my fellow primary teachers.  It was a post from Amanda at One Extra Degree about a resource she is selling over on TeachersPayTeachers.  I had purchased her pirate themed mapping package during my pre-internship and loved her ideas, so when I saw her dinosaur themed word-work bundle, I was equally enthusiastic to share.  The resource she has created is geared toward grade-threes, however I can see it working for my kinders in the fall.  I am envisioning a centre with buckets of sand or dirt and rakes for the children to "dig-up" their laminated popcorn or sight words.  Check it out and leave a comment about how you might use it in your classroom!  
 
 
It is hard to believe our spring semester has come to a close.  I still have a couple of things to wrap up before I can officially declare my completion of my last University classes ever.  Or at least for a little while.  But it feels good all the same as the assignments will be enjoyable to do.  One of them is a summary of learning on how I contributed to the education of others and how they contributed to mine.  I have decided to make my summary as transparent as this entire experience has been for me thus far, and so consider this post my recap of the semester.

In my very first post, Dean made a comment about my "voice" and how glad he was to see that I was comfortable with mine.  Writing is always a laborious process for me.  It's a bit of a love/hate relationship in that I usually love the product but hate the process.  It took me hours to write most of these posts because of the time I take to make sure they are properly edited, they are well resourced, and that they are enjoyable to read.  So I appreciated that Dean noticed my effort to let my personality shine through as that was something that was important to me.  One is always a little nervous about the first time he/she puts him/herself out there because, as they say,
someecards.com - You only get one chance to make a first impression
So his feedback let me know that I was heading in the right direction.  And over the next seven weeks, comments are what continued to let me know how I was doing.  I had a classmate take note of my map widget and express an interest in using one herself.  She used the word "steal" and in any other University program that would be an appropriate term.  But in the Faculty of Education, and this class in particular, we were always encouraged to share our ideas so I was happy to have someone take an interest in mine.  On the other hand, I also appreciated the feedback when someone wasn't digging what I was doing.  I received some not-so-nice realities about the lackluster appearance of my posts but put the criticism to use and made sure to add some type of media to the majority of my work.  This also happened to coincide with the syllabus so kudos to my sister for laying it out for me, otherwise I may have missed that one.

Disagreements or having someone challenge your point of view can also be a great way to learn.  Sometimes having someone point out an opposing stance can help us to either reconsider our initial thoughts or solidify our position on a topic.  One article that had everyone chatting was the story of an Edmonton teacher who was suspended for not abiding by his school's No-Zero Policy.  I wrote my own post on the topic and also engaged in conversation with others about their views on the matter, both classmates and strangers.  This was a challenge for me as I often think of my views as "irrelevant" or "uninformed" because I am not working in the field yet.  But as I took chances and publicized my opinion, I received some positive feedback as well as some alternate perspectives, all with my professionalism intact.  These are learning opportunities I would have missed out on if I had remained safely on the sidelines.

I did the same on twitter where, after several failed attempts, I  finally participated in an #edchat.  It was there that
I received a suggestion for posing questions to increase the likelihood of receiving a comment or starting a conversation, so I began trying to incorporate them into my posts.  I found some interesting conversations ensued after a question was asked, like one another classmate posted about homework.  As I was checking my Google Reader one day, I saw a similar post from an educator in Alberta and shared the link for Jane in her comments. She checked it out, posted a comment for Joe about her own blog, which then brought him into our discussion.  If you look at the conversation there, lots of different ideas and resources were passed around.  A great example of collaborative learning and Jane has since started following Joe too.

Another thing I found with questions, are that they can be an actual call for help.  I noticed many of my peers asking for assistance with some aspect of technology and I always tried to respond because I know how frustrating it can be sometimes!  I read about a classmate struggling with the size of something she was trying to embed in her blog.  Since we both use Weebly, I played around with it in my own blog first and then sent her the instructions so she would have them for next time. I also provided Jane with some assistance with embedding her survey in WordPress and directed another classmate to Jane on twitter when she was struggling with the same issue.  I've even extended my helping hand to people outside the class with technology troubles like my friend here.  I am a problem solver by nature, so I love responding to challenges.

Throughout the semester I tried to remain conscious of the positive feelings and motivation I got from knowing that people were reading my posts.  For me, comments are a measure of reader engagement so I made a point of sharing my thoughts with fellow bloggers.  I did it for children and I did it for adults and both made me feel great.    Part of a teacher's job is to inspire, inform, share, and collaborate with students and other educators.  I consider myself lucky because, in my chosen profession, I will get to do this kind of stuff everyday.  And Dean, my classmates, and everyone else I have connected with along the way, have all taught me that technology has expanded the audience with which I can do those things.  I think I really embraced the collaborative style of this class, which is so critical because as Dean wrote, "You can't be a lurker in [this] class".  I value all of the input and resources I have received over the semester and I hope that my classmates feel the same way about my contributions.

Education is changing.  What an exciting time to be a teacher!       
I would also welcome any comments below about how I might have helped in your learning process.

Thank you everyone for a great semester!
 
 
About a year ago, a teacher I follow on Facebook posted a link to a kindergarten teacher-blogger who was hosting a giveaway on her blog.  I checked out the details and found that to enter her contest you had to follow her top 40 list of bloggers.  So I did and also decided to bookmark the blogs to my browser for future reference.  Needless to say I didn't do much following because who wants to check out 40 blogs everyday?  But now thanks to my new tool, Google Reader, I have created a folder for my educational blogs and then subscribed to each of them so I can check one place to see who has posted new material.  Brilliant!  I have complied a list of my favourites for you below.
This is a 3rd grade teacher from the United States.  I like her blog because she shares lots of great resources and videos of things she has tried in the classroom.  She has also provided a list of her favourite online tools.

This is a neat blog with an environmental/global education perspective.  Her teaching principles include geographical knowledge and understanding, cultural awareness, working together as a global community to solve real-world issues, sharing the responsibility of caring for the Earth, and global kindness.  This blog also has some great links to facilitate connections to teachers all over the world.

This is a 2nd grade teacher blog from the United States.  She shares tons of resources and ideas from her classroom which is great because she also provides feedback for how things went when she tried them out.

I liked this blog by Shelley Gray because it is Canadian.  She blogs from a primary perspective and because she is in Manitoba, and their curriculum is very close to Saskatchewan's in some areas, her ideas can easily be adapted to meet our outcomes. I also follow Shelley on Facebook and used some of her resources during my pre-internship.

This 1st grade teacher blogger has great resources on her blog and on Teachers Pay Teachers.  She also posts a lot of freebies on her site, so it is a great one to follow.

This is a blog I hope to use a lot during my internship as I will be in a kindergarten/discovery pre-school classroom.  She has some great literacy resources and a tour of her classroom setup.

This is another 1st grade blogger.  I like the tabs at the top showcasing the literacy and math centers, as you can never have too many ideas for those!  

This blog has great resources for toddlers and pre school kids, which will also be valuable during my internship.

Lastly, this blog is a literacy resource for primary students.  It features lots of ideas and resources for teaching reading to young students.  This is one that would be valuable to primary teachers for finding different strategies to help meet different learners' needs.
 
 
My ECMP 355 class is an online course so instead of meeting in a classroom, we have a class blog that our professor uses to house our assignments and other vital information as it comes up.  The other day Dean posted a how-to video for subscribing to blogs.  When I initially saw the post I *gasp* cruised past it because I thought I already knew how.  I mean on most blogs the button is right there inviting you to subscribe, and so I deduced that the video must have been made for peeps with less technical savvy than myself.  When I clicked on that oh-so-obvious subscribe button on our class blog, the screen changed to show the same blog posts as the home page but with less pizazz.  So I decided that maybe subscribing wasn't for me and instead devised a schedule for checking my classmates' blogs manually on a rotating basis.  My plan was flawed in that there are 30 students in the class, and I found that I was checking three or four blogs before I would find one that had a new post or a post I felt compelled to comment on.  This was no good.  I needed a new plan.

So I went back to drawing board/the home page of our class blog and revisited Dean's how-to video.  And this time I watched it.  As it turns out, this guy really knows what he is talking about!  He had us subscribe to the blogs using Google Reader.  I can't even describe the awesomeness that is Google Reader; you will simply have to experience it for yourself.  You need a Google account and I had just created a fresh one to post my YouTube video below*.  So now all my blogs are neatly arranged in alphabetical order by last name (you say anal-retentive, I say organized) in an ECMP 355 folder. I scrolled through and read all the new posts of my classmates and made comments on a few that caught my eye.

Lesson learned - you win this round Mr. Shareski.  I will never again dismiss your blog posts as invaluable and instead will treasure them as potential nuggets of pure gold.

*When did Google and YouTube become an item?