10-Day Countdown… :(

As tomorrow marks the 10-day countdown until Winter Holidays, it also marks the 10-day countdown until internship is complete.  To say the least, I’m feeling quite scared about the whole thing.  I know I learned so much and grew since the beginning of September, but I’m still shocked at the fact that I will be a certified teacher in four months!

As I put the final touches on my professional portfolio, I look back at all the fun I had over the past four months.  There were definitely struggles, but I am proud of the work I have done since the beginning of the year.  People always say that it goes by fast, but never would I have thought this fast!

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.  Tomorrow I get to go back to my Health 9 class as we move onto Mental Illness, Tragic Death, and Suicide.  Though this is a tough unit to get excited about, I think the teacher and I are setting it up in a way that it won’t be a dry or saddening unit.  This unit is full of guest speakers, and our very first Learning Agreement that we made together (a copy to come when it is completed)!  Tomorrow, we have the guidance counsellor coming to share his knowledge on these topics, and help students identify warning signs and strategies for someone who is coping with a tragic death or suicide.  A few days later, we have the two founders of Understand Us coming to talk to us about mental illness, why they think it is important to discuss, and how their organization is helping people with mental illnesses.  Just as our inquiry projects begin, we’re having the Kids Help Phone in to talk about how they can benefit someone who is suffering from depression, as well as many other challenges our students may be facing.  I really hope the students get as much as they can from this unit so that they know how to appropriately create awareness for these topics in the future.

This weekend also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Balfour Classic!  As the assistant coach of the Jr. Girls basketball team, I am so excited to be part of this tournament.  I remember playing in this tournament when I was in high school, and often think back on what a blast it was.  Since this year marks the 25th Anniversary, we have some “extra’s” going on throughout the weekend as well!

I am so grateful to be helping out with the Jr. Girls basketball team.  This group of girls are so much fun to work with, and I feel connected to Balfour in a whole new way.  I’m enjoying getting to know students I’ve never met before, or getting to know students I have taught a bit better.  Talking with my co-op the other day, we were talking about how nice it is that basketball season runs until the middle of March.  It will give me another reason to keep coming back to Balfour and feeling like I’m still connected to the school.

Here is to hoping the next 10 days don’t go by too fast!


And so it continues…

As my three-week block is coming to an end (early next week) I’m finally starting to feel like a real teacher.  I’m finding myself busy and slightly stressed, but not stressed enough to panic.  I don’t mind the stress, because from what I hear, that’s normal during my 3-week block.  My two health classes have been quite an experience.  There are tons of challenges and interesting behaviours that I have come across over the past month, and I’m learning so much from these two groups of students.  My cooperating teacher and I were talking about it one day, as I felt deflated and like I wasn’t getting through.  She brought up a good point – I’m lucky I’m experiencing these challenges now with so many support people around me, as opposed to when I get a job and am teaching on my own.  It made me feel more comfortable and confident in what I was doing.

My grade nine tutorial class is my favourite hour of the day.  These 10 students are such a great group of kids and everyday I feel like I’m getting to know them better and better.  Though some days I have my struggles with some of them, most days are a lot of fun and I really enjoy it.  Eight of my ten tutorial students are also in one of my health classes, so I see most of them for another hour each day.  I’ve realized that by having these specific students in mind when planning my lessons, I have become more adaptive in my lessons.  For some reason, I almost feel defensive about these kids, and want to make sure they are getting what they need to be successful.  As it turns out, there are quite a few others who need the same supports, so most of my students are also benefitting.

My health classes are filled with quite a few defiant students.  I’m still trying to figure out how I can help them be successful.  I have to admit, I find it a little frustrating when someone is fully capable to do the work, he/she just refuses to work on it, then refuses to give suggestions as to how they would like to learn.  I think coming from the Learning Resource program, I find myself constantly trying to figure out what works for them, where some teachers may have already started to let things slide.

3-way conferences are coming up next week, and I’m looking forward to meeting the guardians of my tutorial kids.  I’ve exchanged e-mails with most of the parents, but it will be nice to finally meet them face-to-face and talk about how their son/daughter is doing so far in grade nine.

Man oh man, who knew this job came with so many meetings and e-mails?!  I feel like any extra energy I have throughout the day is donated to responding to e-mails or planning/attending meetings with other staff members!  Having said that, the many meetings in the past month have been quite beneficial!  I learned how to collaborate effectively, make semester/year long plans, and have been exposed to numerous ways of helping struggling students.

Curriculum Expectations

Shauna sent me this video, and I’m glad she did!  I thought this was really interesting in showing the process of linking assignments to the outcomes.  I think this strongly relates to the new outcome-based pilot program that is being used for Math 9 this year.


Tutorial/ Life Transitions Assessment

During my pre-internship I spent most of my time in the Learning Resource Room. This room was for students with tutorials, completing independent studies, or just needed a quieter space to work.

For the tutorial and life transitions students, they set goals at the beginning of the semester. Three times throughout the semester, they self-assess and my co-op assesses them on how they are doing regarding using the time effectively and achieving those goals.


Tech Task #9: Are You Well Googled?

I’ve always wondered what would pop up when I googled myself.  It used to be the website for Basketball Beat from grade 7, or when my class was in the paper in grade 3.  However, things have changed a little since then!

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I have to admit, I felt a little popular with all these things popping up about me!  I definitely feel more confident about telling future employers to “google me”.  I like that my about.me page pops up first – definitely a good starting point.  One thing that caught me off guard was my Pinterest page, and under images, my Pinterest profile picture.  I guess I didn’t mind that my page popped up, I was just caught off guard at the pictures of me.  It made me take a second glance at my Pinterest page and what it is exactly that I’m pinning . . . Thank god the worst thing I discovered were 3 pins of Ryan Gosling’s face!

After further investigation, I found some interesting facts:

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Apparently, there are, or should I say were, three other Anna Hipperson’s around at the around the 1830-1900’s.  There was even an Anna M. Hipperson (same middle initial as mine!).  This was so cool, that I just had to call my grandparents.  Apparently, Anna and Mary (my sister’s name) were very popular “back in the day” with the Hipperson clan.  So, as I was looking up other Hipperson’s from English in the 1830-1900’s, I discovered a googled version of a family tree!

Math 9 Pilot Program

One of the classes I’m working in during my pre-internship is Grade Nine Math with 9 students who all have differing levels of learning disabilities. I have to say, this is quite an interesting class! The students range in ability, but for the most part are all willing to learn. As I am working with them, I’m learning more and more about the new pilot program they are trying for grade nine math! Details:

– The teacher cannot assign homework – any homework the students do at home are completely at their own will.

– The students exams are rated on a scale of 1-4. On each exam, there are three sections: level two, level three, and level four. Level two is the basic knowledge that students must know. Level three is more difficult (usually include multiplication and division of fractions with a variable). Level four is typically a word problem. At the top of each test is the outcome clearly stated, and a rubric of what is expected for each level. If a student can complete the level 2 section with very few errors (I was told one or two minor things like misplacing a negative sign), the student has achieved the outcome. Though level 2 is considered a “pass” level three and four just shows a higher level of mastery of the desired outcome.

– If the student doesn’t achieve a 2 or higher, they must re-write the exam. The students are allowed as many re-writes as it takes to achieve a level 2. For those who achieve a 2 and want to re-write to try a level three or four are also allowed to do so as many times as they like. The only catch with re-writes, is the mark of the last test is the one that is used. For example, a boy I work with received a 3 on one exam and wanted to re-write. The next time he only got a 2.5; therefore, his marked dropped down to a 2.5.

– If the student has a great deal of support from an EA or a teacher, the highest he/she can get is a 1.9. If the teacher provides guidance or suggestions and the student receives higher than a 2, the highest they can get is a 2. However, how much guidance is given is at the teachers discretion; therefore, there is no strict line as to what is considered “too much support”.

– The student needs a level 2 on all exams before he/she can move on to grade 10 math.

– One issue I have heard about is grading. As I was talking to the math 9 teacher, she was explaining that she is unsure how the levels will average out, and how she is supposed to transfer that over into a grade.

– Though I believe re-writes are okay, I think it is a little strange that students are allowed as many re-writes as it takes them. Therefore, I’ve noticed that students don’t try as hard when studying, because they know if they don’t achieve a 2, they will have multiple chances to re-write their exam during class time that would otherwise be spent learning a new concept.

– The other thing I am torn about in this pilot program is how teachers cannot assign homework. I’ve noticed that the teacher I work with “recommends” having certain questions done for next day; however, students rarely take their books home and have the questions completed for next day. I have to admit I was a little frustrated by this at first – it seems that in math 9 there is a lot to cover, and if students don’t do any work at home, class time goes towards students finishing their assignments that they could have done at home.

– One thing I think was interesting about this pilot program is that the first week and a half is spent reviewing key concepts from Math 8. The students then write a test the second week of school, and from there are placed in classrooms based on their mark from that test. I am definitely on the fence about this issue. The room I work in is small, and all students there have some form of a learning disability. I think that works okay for them, because it is more one-on-one, and they are all on similar levels. However, at the same time, if we group students based on abilities (a room for students with a learning disability, average students, and gifted students) we are kind of labelling them right from the get go. I would like to see another math 9 room and see how diverse the learners are in each room.

It will be interesting to see how this pilot program works, and whether or not they find it successful.