Friday, August 24, 2012

Creating a Global Community

I recently wrote a Wednesday Website Suggestion at Raki’s Rad Resources on the site Time for Kids. Time for Kids has so much to it, so please feel free to stop by my site for all of the details.  However, the part I wanted to share with the readers here at Global Teacher Connect is called A Day in the Life.

Time for Kids includes an Around the World section, which gives students information on various countries from around the world including: Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Afghanistan, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, Costa Rica, Greece, Spain, Israel, Canada, Brazil and Ecuador.  Inside each country’s section, there is a link called A Day in the Life.  This link gives you a sneak peek into a day in the life of a child in that country.  I think that this was such a great way for students to look at the world – through the eyes of another kid their age! 

A Day in the Life of Kids Around the World - Use Time for Kids to teach about global community   A Day in the Life of Kids Around the World - Use Time for Kids to teach about global community  A Day in the Life of Kids Around the World - Use Time for Kids to teach about global community

As teachers of global students, we should be teaching students that they are part of a global community, full of kids around the world who get up, go to school and learn to become the future of this world.  This section of the website is a way to help our students find the similarities between people in countries all around the world, and to see how all of these people fit together into one global community.  So, this year, when you begin talking to your students about communities, don’t forget to include the global community, and check out this section of Time for Kids to help you do that. 


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What colors will you use in your classroom?

I always knew that color affects people differently but I then started to think: "Can color affect how students learn?”. 

Most of us in Canada are currently preparing our classrooms for our new school year.  We always strive to understand what can help or be a detriment to our students, how we can hook them, how to make them succeed and reach their full potential. We use differentiated instructional approaches, we continue to develop professionally, we read, we discuss and we collaborate with others to be the best for our students every year.  Our classrooms a place for personalization,  of pride and of continuous metamorphosis.   We prepare them with care, to make them as attractive, appealing and conducive to a fantastic learning environment.  We use posters, charts;  We create bulletin boards, we choose themes for the year and we are meticulous in planning out that space! 

But, how many of us consider the backdrop while planning out this year’s classroom space?

Did you know that color can be used to help students' focus and increase their learning? However, if the wrong color is used, it could also be a detriment to learning?

High contrast and bright colors are intellectually stimulating and can increase mental focus for younger children. Those same colors can be too distracting for older students.  More subdued hues can be less distracting in the upper grades.

Understanding the effects of color on learning can be used to our advantage, as one more way to prepare the best for our students!

For example, If we know that high contrast and bright colors are distracting, then think about putting those bright colors where you tend to do more demonstrating which would draw greater attention in that direction.

Using neutral or pastel colors (blues, greens, primary colors) in the area where students are to work and concentrate, allows better productivity due to their soothing nature and decreased levels of distraction. 

Due to this calming effect, students are more open to new ideas.  Wow, I had no idea!

Use yellows and oranges to help students’ creative energy!

Did you know to stay away from white and off white shades because they are boring, make students restless and cause frustration?

Do you want students to pay greater attention to detail?  Use red! 

Red is known to energize and make students more attentive to mistakes.  But beware because  red does not invoke creativity, but is linked to aggressive behavior!

So what will you do?  How will you prepare and set up your classroom? Do you have the liberty to make these changes in your classroom?   How much freedom do you have in decorating your room?

Let us know what you have done, post your pictures, what has worked and how it has worked.

We would love to hear from you!


For other resources, and great products, visit us at

NeoCON. The Impact of Color on Learning. (accessed August 2, 2012)
NPR. Study: Seeing Red, Blue Affects Outcome of Tasks. (accessed August  2, 2012)
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Summer Break is Over!

Can it be?  Is summer really over?  It is for me, and for the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, if summer isn’t over, it’s coming close.  (If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, I’d love to hear how your schedule is or isn’t different.) 

I know my summer is over because I return to work on Thursday, Differentiated Back to School Vocabulary Packet for English Language Learners - FREEAugust 23rd.  I am super excited to be starting at a new school this year, teaching grades 3 & 4.  Stop by Raki’s Rad Resources for details about my new school, and to grab a super-huge FREE back to school differentiated vocabulary packet I have made for my new students.

Raki's Rad Resources - Journey to Morocco - Riding a CamelI know my summer is over because I have finished uploading vacation pictures to Facebook and my personal blog – Journey to Morocco.  My family had a great 2 weeks in Agadir, a city at the south of Morocco, enjoying the amazing beaches and scenery.  Stop by Journey to Morocco to get a glimpse of our trip.

I know my summer is over because we have a list a mile long of schoolFrench Workbook supplies and text books to go purchase.  Two of my sons are school aged (the third is only one) and they will both need school supplies.  The oldest is entering third grade (called CE2 here), the middle one kindergarten (called Maternelle Grande Section here).  My oldest son needs many notebooks and covers, pens, a ruler, colored pencils and we are also responsible for purchasing all of his text books and workbooks, as they are not supplied by the school.  Thankfully, my middle son only needs a lunchbox, book bag and water bottle!

Well, as the summer ends and the new school year begins, I hope that all of the teachers around the world are returning to their classrooms recharged and ready to meet the challenges our students present.  There’s not profession that presents the rewards of teaching, is there?  I am looking forward to using Global Teacher Connect as a way to connect with all of the amazing teachers around the world who make such a big difference in the lives of children. 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two Teacher-Bloggers Meet-Up on PEI

This summer I had the privilege of getting together with a teacher-blogger from Ontario who I've collaborated and chatted with over the last few months. I live on Prince Edward Island, and when Tammy Aiello of Teaching FSL let me know that she and her family would be visiting the Island this summer, we made plans to meet up. It's funny how you really can feel like you know someone, at least in part, from the various discussions that happen in "Blogland", as I like to call it.

So, even though some timid family members thought I was nuts for meeting up with this person who I'd never even spoken to on the phone - our two little families met on a sparsely populated beach, on an overcast August day. The kids played around with their dads on the shoreline, while we shared in person about our own teaching adventures.

lessons from the middle, global teacher connect, collaboration
Tammy (right) and I meet up in my home province of PEI.

Something occurred to me after this unique little get-together: Teachers need to talk with one another more.

There's something to be said for the fact that the two of us (provinces apart) made time to meet up on a beach, in the middle of summer to talk about "teacher stuff". We had a great conversation because of all we had in common. Teachers are teachers - no matter where in the world they are.

It's fairly universal for teachers to want to talk, collaborate and compare notes with other teachers. I think the reason many of us don't get together more often with staffers at our own schools is because we see these people every day. We already have to meet with them after school for various reasons. Many of us don't have any energy left (especially during the school year) to just hang out and chat - which is really too bad.

Teachers need to spend more time talking. We are getting better at this, I think - but we still have a long way to go. Many of us still spend the majority of our days with our students - sometimes rarely speaking to other staff members. We need to get out of our rooms at the end of the day - even if for just a few minutes!

We need to talk with people who teach the same grade level and different grade levels, in the same place and also away from home. It can be so energizing to talk with someone else about your shared passion - teaching. You can learn so much in such a short period of time, and also get some actual relaxing time in as well! Thanks again for the meet-up Tammy. Next summer - your place!


lessons from the middle, global teacher connect, collaboration

lessons from the middle, global teacher connect, collaboration

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Authentic Assessment in China

Teaching in China has taught me the importance of Authentic Assessment. Mainly, because it is a relatively new idea here. The first standardized tests were created in this ancient country, and the idea of assessing students any other way is considered bizarre. However, it is the way I teach and I think over time my colleagues have come to understand the importance of incorporating tasks (although at first I am sure they just thought I was a crazy American with no classroom management skills).

I wanted to share with you today how I explained authentic assessment and some quick steps for creating tasks that work great in the classroom.

What exactly is Authentic Assessment? 
This is something that I thought I knew, but I recently came accross a great definition in the book Breaking Free from the myths about Teaching and Learning by: Alison Zmuda.

Zmuda defined Authentic Assessment as "more than a hands on experience, integration of technology or identification of an audience...Authenticity referst to the degree to which the task mirrowrs the work, processes and formats that govern the work of professionals in a field or discipline." Wow - I always though that if I supplied students with something hands-on then I was using something authentic!

Quick Steps for Creating an Authentic Assessment:
1. Choose a topic, standard or learning goal that you want to assess.
2. Think of a question(s) that should be answered at the end of the task.
3. Come up with a real-world or real-life task that students can perform.
4. Formulate guidelines that will help the students to understand exactly what you are looking for.

Sample Task: 
Step One: Topic - Space Exploration

Step Two: What should be considered when planning a mission to mars?

Step Three: Students will be choose different specialties in order to work together and plan a mission to mars. Students must consider all areas of the mission from food to the possibility of hitting space debris.

Step Four: Created a rubric and task explanation for each specialty.

Sharing Ideas during Space Camp Task

I hope that these simple steps will help you in your class! Please feel free to share other ideas or tips in the comments area below :)

~ Jessi
Life on the Fourth

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Teaching In Hawaii-Global School Tour

How many of you have ever wondered what it would be like to teach in Hawaii?? Well for me it has been a wonderful experience. 

I am posting here on Global Teacher Exchange to share what my school and classroom here in Hawaii are like.

I moved to Hawaii in 2003 after teaching In San Francisco for 7 years.  My little family moved out here mainly because my husband is a surfer and used to take a trip here every year and I had just become a mommy. We planned on staying for a year to take some time off from the fast pace of city life, and we never left!!

Today I am going to take you on a tour of my school and classroom. Hawaii schools are under one Unified district, which includes all 8 islands. We are on a Year Round schedule and began this week on July 30.

My school is located on the North Shore of Oahu. It is a rural community that is home to a few small businesses, tourism and surfing.

Our tour begins at the beach park across the street from the school.

This is Ehukai beach, otherwise know as Pipeline. In the summer it is pretty mellow and great for swimming, but in the winter it is one of the biggest and most dangerous waves in the world. Some of the world's most prestigious surfers call this area home and I teach many of their children.

Our school is set at the base of these mountains and really is a beautiful setting to work in.  The office staff has told me that tourist buses often stop in our lot to look at our school and teachers who are visiting from the mainland come into the office to ask if they are hiring, lol!!

Most Hawaiian schools are outdoor schools, with walkways that lead to the classrooms.  Our school has a main building and portables.  I am in one of the portables closer to the back fields behind the school.

We do not have air conditioning/heat. Somedays it's hot and somedays it's cold, but it is never extreme.  I do have ceiling fans to cool down the room, but it can still get hot during these August days.

My classroom is a simple affair with two closets for storage, a sink, shelves and desks.  My East and West walls are all louvred windows without screens.  This helps to keep it cool and get lots of light, but we also have birds, wasps, bees, lizards, centipedes, cane spiders and an array of other critters that fly or crawl into our classroom daily.

The wind also blows through the windows and papers tend to fly all around the room. I have finally found paper weights for all my piles:) The breeze that comes through is off the water and usually cool. That is another perk, I have a partial ocean view from my classroom.

Being so close to the water, our school has to practice Tsunami drills.  In the event of a Tsunami threat, we evacuate the school by walking down the street to the next access road.  It is a small hike up the mountain to a safe spot.  In the last three years we have had two tsunami threats, but we happened to be on Spring Break during both of them.  I had to evacuate my home at 2 in the morning when the sirens went off for the earthquake in Japan.

The students at our school are pretty carefree and happy like most kids anywhere.  Clothing consist of T-shirts, short and slippers year round.  In the winter it rains and does get chilly and the kids still wear the same thing. Coats are non-existant and most students don't even know how to tie their shoes, because they have never owned any with ties!!  When I first began teaching here, many kids showed up to school without shoes.  The school finally implemented a Must Wear Shoes policy, but they still kick them off every chance they get.

My daughter and I on the monkey bars:)

The children here are also pretty active since most of their parents are active.  Our school has a very low obesity problem compared to many other Hawaiian schools.  We have a great health program funded by a local non-profit which helps make our students aware of healthy choices. It is also a very affluent area now with the cost of real-estate going sky high.

The staff at our school is pretty casual as well. Most teacher's that work here, live out here too.  Many of us are surfers and waterfolk.  Typical attire for work are shorts, nice shirts and slippers(flip-flops).
When I first started working here I dressed up for the first day in a dress and fancy shoes, by the end of two weeks I looked like everyone else! A co-worker said my look transitioned from San Francisco to San Diego to Hawaii:)

I am also very fortunate to work with some of the best teachers around. We all work hard and put in long hours to make this one of the best schools in Hawaii and our parents know it! We have a waiting list of families trying to get their out of district children into our school.

I could go on and on about where I work. I absolutely think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I know I am very fortunate and envied by a few of my peers around the world. Like all teachers my biggest complaint deals with our salary!! The cost of living tends to knock us down to some of the lowest paid teachers around, but the ocean and beauty of it all help make up for it:)

I would love to see where you teach and what your classroom looks like!! Follow the link below to find out more about linking up to this fun Global Exchange of classrooms!!

surfin' Through Second
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