Friday, 2 August 2013

Liebster Nominee

Well Sheri Edwards has sent me a challenge!
She's nominated me for a Liebster so I have to follow the list below and answer her list of questions too.

Liebster Nomination Rules
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers. 
3. Answer the questions posted for you by the nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about you.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees to inform them of their nomination.

So with the intent of completing the list above I started to look though my network to see who I should nominate that has the all important "less than 200 followers" ( and I know I am on that list!) portion of the challenge. Stumbling block #1: where do I find that? Does every blog have a location for the # of followers? I am tempted to just change this portion of the list to: Bloggers I think everyone should be reading but have yet to find. And if I nominate someone and they have more than 200 followers will they be insulted? Sadly, because I am deficient in this type of internet/blogger knowledge it almost stops me from completing the challenge.

I have chosen to nominate people were participants in ETMOOC, Open Spokes or clmooc. Sheri Edwards would be on this list if she hadn't sent the challenge to me. 

So in no particular order:

Christina Hendricks who writes a wonderful blog and who is brave enough to have a True Friend relationship with IamTalkyTina.
Glenn Hervieux Always a reflective thinker. Glenn has teaching experience at all grade levels.
Brendan Murphy Brendan is a math teacher who drifted over to the educational technology side. He's currently getting all of the mentors organized prior to launching OOE13 this fall.
Susan Spellman Cann: A teacher who is always mindful of the impact she has on her students.
Gallit Zvi:  I'm always interested in what Gallit has to say as she and I share a lot of common traits (including talking our way to learning!) She's a person who is not shy of starting new challenges.
Bart Miller: Because anyone who can write a symphony deserves to be on this list!

I'd love to include Jeremy Inscho in the list but I'm not sure where he blogs.

So here is the list of questions Sheri posed to me. Now some of these I won't be able to answer as I no longer work in a classroom, but once a classroom teacher, always a classroom teacher! So I will write about it as if I was still in the classroom.

1. Why do you blog?
2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
4. If you could change one physical thing about your classroom, what would it be?
5. Describe one of your most memorable classroom experiences.
6. What memorable experience do you hope your students have?
7. How many students/teachers do you have at your school?
8. What is your favorite classroom use of technology?
9. Who/what is your teaching inspiration?
10. What is 1 teaching goal you have for this school year?
11. In six words, what is your teaching philosophy?

1. Why do I blog?
Initially I began blogging because it was a course requirement for MOOCMOOC. I'd never blogged before. I've always written, just jotting down thoughts about different things I was thinking about as well as personal letters to my husband (when your spouse is away as often as mine is, written communication is a must to maintaining a decent relationship. It is often easy to misconstrue what is said, but writing requires/allows for  more thought and clarity.) I blog more frequently when I am in a course and that course is asking me to think, make and reflect. I do not yet blog as an outlet for my personal inner workings (still shy about that!) but I have no barrier to sharing my professional ideas and thoughts (though they often veer into the personal.) I have started to blog as a matter of habit, as the education world shifts to accommodate the rise of social media, the idea of remixing as legitimate art ( and when wasn't it legitimate?) and the impact that creating will have on teaching and the field of education. 

2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
 This question is a blog post on it's own! I think the most important thing you can do for a student is believe in them. Trust them as learners. Allow them to be learners. Don't dismiss their love of hockey cards, or manga or dinosaurs or novels or kittens as something not worthy of knowing. Use their natural interest in a subject to allow them to explore. Join them in that journey,encourage them to widen the net but also to delve the depths, validate their search for knowledge and appreciate the product.

3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
Share. I was thinking originally about empathy but classroom teaching can be quite isolating and I love the idea of connected learning not only for our students but for ourselves. We need a strong professional network, a sounding board for ideas and a place to experiment for ourselves as learners. Hard to model being a learner if you're not learning with your peers.

4. Now this is a tough one since I don't have a classroom but I think it may be getting rid of individual desks. Desks make it hard to share and collaborate. I'd rather have a cubby for everyone and a flat surface that we can write on together. If I was in a classroom with desks, I might get whiteboard paint and paint them so we could write on the surface.

5. Macbeth with my Grade 6's. I love plays and drama as a way to help students explore stories and so I chose Macbeth. We started with Greek mythology and I had the students convert them into a play that they then put on. I worked up to Macbeth by first showing them a cartoon movie, then a one page cartoon, then a seven page dog cartoon, then a historical story about Macbeth and then the actual play (which I had edited and hung together with choral speech.) I invited actors and directors from the local area  into the classroom to talk to my students, and one of my students designed the set and we built it out of boxes. I'd write to them as Macbeth and have them respond as Lady Macbeth.The music teacher actually taught them Elizabethan music and dance which they also performed. I had them create a website and design the invitations as well as write reviews of the play. We put the play on and the students were giddy with the excitement of accomplishing something amazing. 

6. I wish them the joy of exploration where they are able to see that they are capable of great things, big thoughts and seeing connections. I want them to have that ah ha! moment that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

7. N/A

8. I love using presentation technology that allows students to create and share something that they have learned. PowerPoint, Haiku Deck, Prezi, YouTube, Storify are some of the different software students can use to illustrate and share.

9. My mother is my teaching inspiration. She was a teacher when I was growing up. She completely understood my need to explore and helped foster my love of learning. She gave us regular opportunities to explore new places and answered all of questions with enormous patience.

10. My number one teaching goal is to be in the classroom again. I miss it very much.

11. Learning together helps us all grow.

11 Random Facts about Me:

1. I have blue dot tattoo on my left knee from where I accidentally stabbed myself with a pen when I was a child.

2. When you put a dandelion under my chin my skin glows yellow. Supposedly this means I like butter. This is true. I do like butter.

3. I have made Peking Duck from scratch. Since I didn't have a meat hook to hang the duck on to dry (this makes the skin crispy) I used a large empty bottle of Quebec beer. It worked well! The duck was delicious.

4. I went to university instead of art school. 30 years later I still wonder if I made the right decision.

5. I have seven different cowlicks on my head and a double crown. If I cut my hair too short I look like a mad professor (or that I have been sticking my finger in a light socket.)

6. I am the shortest person in my family (even shorter than my parents.) That wouldn't be so bad if I also wasn't the heaviest, the blindest and inherited my father's colour dysfunctional-ity. I also had 6 wisdom teeth. I told my mother, that as the eldest, I was the clearing house for all of the bad genes (she thinks I'm kidding.)

7. I passed my six wisdom teeth problem to my eldest son. He had his wisdom teeth removed- twice.

8. When I was eight I could swim 50 laps of the racing pool in 30 minutes. When I was 30 I could do the same. I swim like a stately barge up and down the pool ( my mother's description.)

9. I read in the shower. (If you wish to know how to do this successfully without wetting your reading material send me an email.) I still haven't figured out how to complete puzzle books in the shower so if you have, send me an email with the solution.

10. I love to garden. There is something so renewing about seeing the birth of spring, planting in the soil, the texture and smell of the earth and seeing the first seedlings poke out of the ground. Gardens sooth both the mind and body.

11. I put ketchup on my French toast in the morning (unless I am at a restaurant and they've mixed cinnamon into the egg batter.) My parents are from England and Australia and that's how I ate it when I was growing up. My husband (of Canadian background on both sides) thinks that's disgusting and eats it with maple syrup (as do my three sons.)

11 Questions for my Nominees

1. Why do you blog?
2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
4. If you weren't a teacher what would you do instead?
5. Describe one of your most memorable classroom experiences.
6. What memorable experience do you hope your students have?
7. How do you incorporate connected learning into your classroom?
8. What is your favorite classroom use of technology?
9. Who/what is your teaching inspiration?
10. Where/what do you hope to be doing ten years from now?
11. In six words, what is your teaching philosophy?


  1. Hi Karen, I feel like I'm sitting right next to you, and you are chatting away, delighted in your living.

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I love this " Learning together helps us all grow." And Believe in them. And Share.

    I'll think of you when I eat French Toast (I eat them with jelly -- neither catsup nor maple syrup appeal). And I just made my eggs -- with butter :)

    See at you Open Spokes!

    1. Hi Sherri, what type of jelly? We still make lots of jams and jellies at the farm. This summer, my mum made strawberry jam, picked the red currents, the rhubarb(we use that for pies- rhubarb crisp pie is the best!)and raspberries for jam. There was a good crop of sour cherries for pies as well. Just before she left to visit her brother, mum was picking blackcurrents for what my son calls the best jam in the world. Our blackcurrents are very tart which makes for a great jam. In the fall there will be apples and pears to harvest and I will make pear butter and apple pies with my mother as well as process about 3 to 4 bushels of tomatoes for tomato sauce. I might make green tomato chutney or salsa as well. Then it is time to start the Christmas baking. In January, mum will go and get the Seville oranges to make marmalade and the cycle will begin again.
      Looking forward to an open spokes conversation!

  2. Hi Karen:

    I'm so honored to be nominated! Thank you! I don't have "followers" that are easy to find. I haven't set up my blog with a "follow me" button--I think that means that people get an email when I do a new post. I don't even know how to set up such a button. Maybe I should look into that. I may have some people following via an RSS reader, but blogs don't easily show that information (maybe you can get it somehow? I have no idea).

    Okay, I just have to know how you read in the shower. I do so in the bath, but that is much less exciting and risky for your books/magazines/e-reader/whatever. I do have a waterproof sleeve for my ipad, though, so just in case it falls in!

    Okay, I spent a year in Australia, and though I saw them put ketchup (or rather, "tomato sauce") on meat pies, I never saw anyone put it on French toast! Maybe it's not a Melbourne thing!

    1. Hi Christina,
      So my dad is 80 which means he still holds onto the old way of doing things from when he was a kid in Australia (born in Perth but my grandmother did eventually move to Melbourne) and it was tomato sauce on French toast, steak and eggs in the morning, poached egg on toast and frying your bread in bacon grease and he's as healthy as a horse. I grew up with various phrases flying around the house that have probably faded into obscurity in Australia (and in England in my mother's case- do they still say "I'll have your guts for garters" anymore?)

      Reading in the shower does require that if you wear glasses you keep them on. You must have a towel to wipe your hands on as your transfer the book from hand to hand as you wash readily available. I am not allowed to take first edition books into the bathroom anymore as my husband was appalled by my bathroom reading antics. This is best done with paperbacks since they are lighter. So keeping one hand with the book high in the air, wash with the book free hand the side of the body that has your book in the air. You need to dry your washing hand each time you need to turn the page. Be careful about your balance because it is tricky to wash your feet. Sometimes, if I really don't want to stop reading I'll put the bar of soap on the bottom of the tub and run my feet over it or use a soap laced face cloth on the bottom of the tub. You can also do one side of your hair at the same time. Then dry your washing hand on the towel, switch and repeat. For the final rinse though I do put the book down.

      As to doing puzzles I guess I could stand in the shower, with the puzzle book in the air, and have a pen/pencil (I think pencil would be better- the numbers and letters wouldn't run then, but ink requires a lighter touch than pencil which means I won't gouge the paper- decisions, decisions) hanging on a cord so I don't have to keep it in my hand all the time.

      Still don't know how to figure out the RSS thing but I will eventually.

  3. Hi Karen -what a fabulous blog post - so warm and inspiring. I love your ideas about teaching and learning - and loving and trusting your students. thank you! Best, Sandra

    1. Dear Sandra,
      Thank you so much for the kind words. It is always lovely to know that people enjoy my writing.