FINALly freedom!

20 Dec

I am officially done the first semester of my third year of university–wahoo!! Finals are all finished (I only had 2 out of my 5 classes) and the boat load of projects are completed and handed in. (By the way when I say boat load I truly mean it– 11 projects due just within the last month alone). I must say that it has been my longest, most stressful, social life-sucking semester thus far, but also the most rewarding as well! I am so excited for next semester to start (after a much needed break first), and to start putting some of the great things I am learning into action when I begin teaching. I have to admit, I am a little nervous to begin teaching at the high school level, as we have only been in elementary school classrooms thus far, but am also so excited to gain experience with the age/grade level I want to spend my career teaching. I am so excited to have my own domain name now as well!!! is all mine, thanks to my friend Amy McFarlen who got it for me for Christmas! (Alec has truly turned us into these Twitter crazed, technology loving geeks). Lastly for now, my Christmas present to myself is that I am getting a Macbook Pro in the new year!! This is also crazy, as I have always been a PC lover—who am I now?? I’m not exactly sure, but I love it, and am thankful for all the great learning and experience I have had this semester, and for the personal and professional growth it has lead me to!


The Business Education Toolbox

6 Dec

For our final project in ECMP 355, Jenn Thomas, Amy McFarlen, and myself decided to create a resource wiki for business educators. We used Wikispaces and I personally found it very easy to navigate, create, and edit. We decided the name “Business Education Toolbox” was fitting, as we are wanting it to be a one-stop shop for business educators to get ideas for lesson plans, unit plans, business education resources, integrating technology into the classroom, as well as promoting business education in their schools. Our wiki is currently protected, and we are going to extend the invite to join our wiki to everyone in our business education faculty, past and present. Once they join, they are able to add anything useful they might have to help the Business Education Toolbox grow!

We created the pages for Lesson Plans and Unit Plans, in hopes of giving other educators ideas for teaching business education subjects. We added any lesson plans and unit plans we have created over the past few years, and sorted them by subject area, to make finding what you are looking for easier. Each subject links to the Saskatchewan Curriculum as well, which is what our lessons/units are based on, but may differ for teachers outside of Saskatchewan. We hope that others who join our wiki will contribute lessons and units they have created as well. We felt creating this page was important, as lesson planning can be difficult, and sometimes looking at other lessons helps you grasp the concept of what you are teaching  better, and also gives great ideas.

We decided to add a Resource Toolbox because we knew that there were a TON of great resources out there for business education, but sometimes they’re not so easy to find or remember them all. We wanted to be able to compile them all onto one place, which we could then pass on to our classmates, and other business educators for future reference.  I think that a lot of educators are aware that there exists these great resources, but sometimes you just don’t have time to search, or can’t quite remember what that cool game was called, so alas, the Business Education Toolbox provides a list, broken down into subject areas, as well as just general business education resources. Once again, we are hoping others who join our wiki will continue adding resources as they come across them, as will we.

We also felt it was important to create a Technology Toolbox, and share some of the cool technology tools we have learned about and explored in ECMP 355. Since there is such a vast variety of technology tools that can be used in the classroom, we broke them down into different categories, like blogging, digital storytelling and screen casting, to make things easier. Not only is this a great complied list for us to reference, but it also gives other business educators a chance to see what is all out there, especially those who may not take ECMP 355, or may not know a lot about technology.

We created the Business Education Promos page to highlight some of the work we have done this semester in this area. Amy and and I created a video called “You Can Choose…Business Education” to promote business education subjects and their relevance to real life skills to students. We have had amazing feedback on our video thus far, and it has already reached business educators all over Canada and in the United States, which is pretty amazing for us. Business educators could use our video to promote business education courses in their schools, and hopefully increase awareness, and interest in business education courses and financial literacy. We used a simple video camera and Windows Movie Maker to create this video. We got the music for our video from Purple-Planet, which offers royalty-free music under a creative commons license.

Lastly we added the Business Education Blogs page to draw attention to great business and technology educators that we have found, and the work they are doing. We also added links to other educators blogs that we have found interesting and relevant to read as well. Connecting with these people through their blog, or twitter has provided to be very beneficial to us, and we hope it can be beneficial to other business educators as well.

Our wiki is aimed at business educators, but any educator can find useful information on it, and is welcome to join and contribute. As teachers, we are sometimes thrown into teaching subjects that we are not familiar with, so this wiki and all it offers could be very beneficial to a teacher new to teaching business education courses. We envision this to be something that can continue growing, and that business educators and other educators will join our wiki, and continue to add and contribute valuable lesson plans, resources, technology and ideas. We believe very strongly in sharing as educators, and that if you find a great tool or resource, or create an awesome lesson plan, that it should benefit as many teachers and their students as possible. We invite educators to take what they find useful, leave what they don’t, and add what isn’t there.

Visit the Business Education Toolbox here.

ECMP 355 Summary of Learning

5 Dec

Here is my final reflection I created for ECMP 355.


I used Camtasia Studios 7 to create my final reflection, and found it really easy to use and navigate. It took me longer to write up my reflection and figure out what I was going to say, than to actually create my screencast. I loved that I could record, and then it would play back instantly for me when I was done, and then give me the option to save that clip, or delete it. Once in Camtasia, I could just drag my clips into the timeline, and then add any effects to the clips I wanted, like zooming in or callouts (which are arrows, or circles to draw attention to certain things on the screen). I find iMovie and Windows Movie Maker to be frustrating at times, but Camtasia was a breeze! I would definitely recommened it for anyone creating screencasts. I just downloaded a free 30-day trial, but I would definitely consider purchasing it if I frequently created screencasts.

I definitely enjoyed taking ECMP 355, and have learned a lot in the process. I hope to continue learning and growing with technology in education, and I hope I can share my passion with others through this reflection. Thanks Alec, and everyone in my PLN for all the support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be where I am without all of you!

Making learning authentic

3 Dec

I can remember many times in high school (and even know in University) thinking “when am I ever going to use this?” or “how does this relate to real life?” These are two burning questions from students that every teacher will be faced with and more importantly, two questions that teachers need to be prepared to answer.  Students need to see the relevance and usefulness of the things they are doing in class beyond the grades, and the classroom walls.  As teachers we can do this by creating authentic learning experiences for our students.

But how do we make learning authentic?  Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview by Marilyn Lombardi,  lists 10 ways in which we can design our lessons, activities and projects to create an authentic learning environment for our students:

1. Real-world relevance: Authentic activities match the real-world tasks of professionals in practice as nearly as possible. Learning rises to the level of authenticity when it asks students to work actively with abstract concepts, facts, and formulae inside a realistic—and highly social—context mimicking “the ordinary practices of the [disciplinary] culture.”7
2. Ill-defined problem: Challenges cannot be solved easily by the application of an existing algorithm; instead, authentic activities are relatively undefined and open to multiple interpretations, requiring students to identify for themselves the tasks and subtasks needed to complete the major task.
3. Sustained investigation: Problems cannot be solved in a matter of minutes or even hours. Instead, authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time, requiring significant investment of time and intellectual resources.
4. Multiple sources and perspectives: Learners are not given a list of resources. Authentic activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives, using a variety of resources, and requires students to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information in the process.
5. Collaboration: Success is not achievable by an individual learner working alone. Authentic activities make collaboration integral to the task, both within the course and in the real world.
6. Reflection (metacognition): Authentic activities enable learners to make choices and reflect on their learning, both individually and as a team or community.
7. Interdisciplinary perspective: Relevance is not confined to a single domain or subject matter specialization. Instead, authentic activities have consequences that extend beyond a particular discipline, encouraging students to adopt diverse roles and think in interdisciplinary terms.
8. Integrated assessment: Assessment is not merely summative in authentic activities but is woven seamlessly into the major task in a manner that reflects real-world evaluation processes. 3
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
9. Polished products: Conclusions are not merely exercises or substeps in preparation for something else. Authentic activities culminate in the creation of a whole product, valuable in its own right.
10. Multiple interpretations and outcomes: Rather than yielding a single correct answer obtained by the application of rules and procedures, authentic activities allow for diverse interpretations and competing solutions.


I strongly believe that as teachers we need to move away from teaching students content, to using content as the vehicle to develop the mind. We need to make learning authentic through the development of vital life skills for our students like reasoning, problem solving, decision-making and critical thinking to name a few. We need to relate the importance of these skills not only to a student’s life in the future, but to things that are happening in their lives right now. If we are not using content to build upon everyday skills and prepare students for “the real world” then why are we teaching that content? I also feel it is important to reiterate to your students’ often how this content is useful to their everyday lives, and  help them to discover the connections and relevance that they may not realize is there.

Recently I created a video for one of my classes, playing off the idea of the 21st century students/teachers videos that I previously posted. We chose to promote business education courses to students by focusing on the relevance and practicality of the skills and knowledge obtained through business education courses in one’s daily life. “You Can Choose… Business Education“ showcases different situations that students could be facing now or at some point in their lives, and the possible negative outcomes from not being informed or educated on the topic. What we are trying to convey to students in this video is the authentic learning that is in business education courses, and the real-world applications and everyday skills learned.




21st Century Education Videos

30 Nov

These are 3 videos that I love about 21st century students and teachers.

I find all three of these to be so powerful in the way they are delivered, and in the message they get across. Students today are a lot different than we have ever seen before. They are surrounded by mass amounts of media and technology, and not only does this affect the way they learn, but it also affects the way in which they are engaged. As teachers, this has a huge effect on us and the way we teach, which is something that we need to realize, embrace, and face head on. Our students are being exposed to technology from such a young age, so why not incorporate that into our classrooms, and foster the development of technological related skills and abilities in our students? We have so many great educational resources and technologies available at our fingertips, I personally find it hard to imagine not wanting to have a highly technology integrated classroom. Wikis, blogs, SMARTboards, Edmodo, iPads, and Skype, are just a few to name that I can see great potential for classroom use and increasing student engagement.

What are some technologies that you are using in your classroom or school? How do you use them? Do you find they increase student engagement? What are some setbacks of bringing specific technologies into your classroom? Do you agree or disagree with the messages theses videos portray of 21st century students and teachers?


22 Nov

Here is the podcast Amy, Jenn, Mia, Riley and I made for ECMP 355. We used Garage Band and Sound Cloud. Thanks to Jenn and Riley for writing our “Letter to Twitter. ”  It’s kind of silly, but also true for many of our “relationships” with Twitter. Enjoy!

Building Cross-Curricular Connections

22 Nov

Something that I have spent a lot of time discussing in my education classes lately is cross-curricular teaching, and ways in which we can integrate subjects together in a high school setting.

In my math education class, we recently have been doing workshops for our peers on cross-curricular connections between math and other subjects. I have been absolutely amazed by the workshops my peers have put on regarding teaching mathematical content through social studies, physical education, art, music, and even dance! You can teach mathematical processes and content in so many different ways, through connecting to material that falls into a different subject area. This in turn can be a much more appealing and interesting way to get students engaged in the math content, rather than just a board full of notes and questions to do in the textbook. I especially loved teaching the concept of Tessellations through art, in which students can actually try to create their own tessellations!

My group connected consumer math content in the Workplace and Apprenticeship 10 Currciulum to personal finance content in business education. We did our workshop on “The City” which is an ABSOLUTELY amazing tool to use to teach financial life skills. This resource is free for teachers in Canada (not sure about the U.S. or other countries) and involves 11 different modules which include topics such as income, expenses, budgets, savings, banking, investment, credit, debt, insurance and financial planning. “The City” revolves around 8 characters between the ages of 18-45 that are all at different financial stages in their lives. Each module begins with a “soap opera” type story which is a great way to engage students. “The City” takes about 25 hours to complete in total, but you can just choose bits and pieces to bring into your classroom as well. We did a few activities from “The City” with our peers and many of them were amazed at how little they actually knew about personal finance. As a business education major, I feel that personal finance is an extremely important topic that every student needs to learn, and I hope in showing this importance to my peers they are willing to bring this valuable tool into their math classrooms.

In my business education class we got the chance to Skype with Heather Laturnas, a graduate of the business education program, who is currently teaching in Alberta. She has put in a lot of hard work and effort with some of her colleges to start up an integrated Information Processing and English class. From what I understand (this was quite a few weeks ago), the same group of students take English in the morning and then Information Processing in the afternoon together, in which they work on content that falls into both areas. So far this is something that is only offered at the grade 10 level. During our Skype session we also got a chance to talk to a student who had taken the course previously, and her mom, and they both shared that they felt it was a positive learning experience. It was obvious that Heather and her colleges had put A LOT of work into organizing and planning the integrated course, and from hearing a student and parent perspective I think their efforts are paying off. Heather was upfront with us that this was very time consuming, and also involved a lot of cooperation and teamwork between the teachers working together on the project.

Something very exciting that is happening next semester is that all of the business education majors (7 of us) and the english majors (approx 30) are going to be spending our entire semester at a local high school. Instead of taking our classes at the University and then having a 3-week Pre-Intership, our classes will actually be located at this high school. For our educational professional studies (EPS 300) course we will all be together, and so far the idea is that we will be working closely together doing a lot of cross-curricular work between our subject areas. We will still take our business education and english education courses separately, but we will spend 2 of our 4 days there working together.

This is something new that has never been done before, and I am SO excited!! Our profs can talk all they want about the value of cross-curricular education, but having us actually plan it and try it is a whole different (and hopefully awesome) story. We will not have a regular 3-week block like other 3rd year education students, but they hope being in the high school everyday will give us more chances to teach. This is probably my only concern, as we are still “in class” for a good chunk of the day, so I hope we will get a sufficient amount of time teaching in a classroom. Being in the high school every day also gives us a chance to get involved around the school through coaching, advising, or other activities which is something I plan to do. A cross-curricular project that we have heard about is potentially working with an art class bringing in entrepreneurship content, having them create a business of some sort to potentially sell some of their art. I think next semester has a lot of potential for me to start building cross-curricular connections with not only business education and english, but also other subject areas, and I cannot wait to get started! (I will definitely update when things get going in the new year!)

This leaves me to wonder/pose: What are other teachers currently doing to build cross-curricular connections in their classrooms and schools? What subjects are you integrating? How are you doing it? How are students responding to it? How do you evaluate cross-curricular work–which subject gets marks or do both? Is it something you feel is valuable and worthwhile?