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Friday, August 29, 2014

Sam Barringer on Engagement, Motivation and Connections in the 21st Century


In a world bursting with a plethora of digital information, the role of the teacher is often revisited and redefined. No longer do educators have as their main purpose the dissemination of information. A simple Google search can answer pretty much any question you may have. And if that doesn't work, you can connect with over a billion users on Facebook or Twitter to help you find what you need to know. According to 14-year-old Sam Barringer, a fellow Hamiltonian, what teachers need to focus more on is achieving a simple goal - motivating and connecting with students. In fact, he has postulated a new Einsteinian theory.

Engagement = motivationconnection2

To learn more about Barringer's thoughts on student engagement, I highly recommend you watch the video below. His keynote address at the HWDSB Directors' Breakfast provides invaluable insight from the standpoint of a student. Thank you to @avivaloca for sharing this on Twitter!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to School: School Supplies at Target

Given the fact that I have known since I was twelve that I would become a French teacher, it is no surprise that I love school and pretty much everything about school. (I'll give you one guess what I like the least.) On the top of my list of things I love about Back to School season, aside from a regular pay cheque, is shopping for school supplies. Even if it's something I don't really need, I can't help but pick up a fresh pack of markers or a new set of pens. One of my favourite brand of colours is Crayola. They have become a yearly must-have not just for my kids but for me as a teacher. I love colouring and providing examples of art work for my students so a personal set of Crayola colours always comes in handy. This year, Target sent us a lovely selection of school supplies that included the Crayola colours and scissors as seen above, just in time for Back to School!

Also included in our Back to School package were several highlighters, markers, erasers, rulers and 2-pocket portfolios by Up&Up brand. Look at all the pretty colours!

Dictionaries, craft glue, and Hilroy school essentials, Target seems to carry it all. Even Marvel branded pencils - only $1 for a 4-pack! And if it's savings you enjoy, their current flyer shows 50% off select school supplies. 

If you're looking for new fashion items for the kids, Target has all that and more. Not only did they send over a pair of new jeans for my son and a pretty dress for my daughter, they totally made my son's day by sending over a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hoodie. Cowabunga, dude!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto

Last week, after meeting up with my sister and nephew at Boston Pizza for lunch, we headed over to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada for some underwater fun. Located right next to the CN Tower, it was a busy place when we arrived at 2:30 pm. We had pre-purchased tickets online for a 3:00 pm entry to avoid the endless lineup at the door. It was quite busy inside and if I had to do it all over again, I would either go first thing in the morning or around 5:00 pm which is when we left. It just seems less busy then and there weren't any lineups outside. In any case, the aquarium is a pretty impressive addition to the myriad of tourist attractions Toronto has to offer. Here are some of my favourite photos from our day:

Finding Nemo
A lionfish. I think tigerfish would be more appropriate, wouldn't you say?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Enjoying Freshly Squeezed Juice With the Breville Citrus Press

Breville Citrus Press

Since incorporating freshly-brewed tea into my daily routine thanks to the revolutionary One-Touch Tea Maker by Breville, I was very much intrigued by the idea of enjoying a refreshing cup of freshly-squeezed orange juice using the Citrus Press. The sleek design of this innovative citrus juicer not only adds pizzazz to your kitchen counter but it also makes a mean glass of oh-jay. And it is the world's first active-arm citrus press!

Breville Citrus Press - parts

With an acid-resistant die-cast Quadra-Fin cone, you can extract juice from any size citrus fruit, from limes to grapefruit, all on the same cone.

Breville Citrus Press - cone

All you have to do is cut the citrus fruit in half, place it on the cone and press down on the power-assisted soft grip lever. Making freshly squeezed orange juice is easy peasy! 

Breville Citrus Press - active-arm press

Take a look at the orange rind below and you will notice how well the Citrus Press extracts the juice. Once you have finished juicing, lift up the drip stop spout, remove the cone, the pulp strainer and tray, and place them in the dishwasher.

Breville Citrus Press - oranges

Then kick up your feet, soak up the remaining rays of summer sunshine and enjoy a glass of pure, unadulterated juice. Ahh!

Breville Citrus Press - orange juice

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy Activity Hives

Over the next week, many of my colleagues will be heading back to school to get ready for another academic year. They will be busy making long range plans, decorating bulletin boards and organizing classroom supplies. Each year, the aim is to provide a welcoming environment for students that is cozy yet conducive to learning and collaborating with their peers. One of the key ingredients in doing so is organization. Students must be able to find what they need and have easy access to these supplies. This September, Hilroy brings you a variety of classroom organization supplies to help create additional storage space and keep everything in its place, just like the Activity Hives trio featured above.

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy - Activity Hives

Hilroy's Activity Hives come in a 3-pack that can be used separately or linked together. They each have an overhang that clips onto other hives, allowing you to be creative by linking them in a honeycomb formation or in a straight line. They have ample room to store several pencil crayons, markers, scissors, glue and much more. Each pack comes with a teal, blue and purple container that match Hilroy's collection of classroom organization supplies, such as their Class Supplies Wall Storage.

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy - Class Supplies Wall Storage

Running out of table top space to store everyday supplies? Hang them on the wall using this handy wall storage solution. Apply some Command damage-free hanging hooks to the wall or use heavy-duty magnet hooks on your blackboard or whiteboard. The class supplies wall storage has nine gusseted see-through mesh pockets so students can easily see where to return supplies. It also has heavy-duty grommets and durable fabric which means you can use it year after year.

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy - French Class Supplies Wall Storage

You can easily customize it with labels using half an index card. I chose to design my own classroom supplies labels in French and printed them on cover stock. I have uploaded the file I created should you wish to print off a set or edit the labels. Just click on the thumbnail below to access the file via Google Drive.

Back to School: Classroom Organization Supplies from Hilroy - French Class Supplies Labels

Looking for additional storage solutions? Hilroy has a set of supply pouches in mesh that all you to see the contents. My daughter is planning on using the large supply pouch since it will lie conveniently flat inside her desk. I plan on using the small supply pouch for my whiteboard markers.

For more classroom organization supplies from Hilroy, head to your nearest Walmart or Target and check out their Classroom Wall Pockets with five gusseted see-through mesh pockets which you can customize by weekday, subject or period with an index card folded in half. Also, their Classroom Wall Scheduler is a great solution for keeping students on task. It comes with ten pockets and double-sided dry erase cards for you to record the daily schedule and a mesh storage pocket at the bottom to hold extra cards and supplies.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Krista-Link-a-La by Tina Petrova

Krista-Link-a-La by Tina Petrova

Canadian director, producer and author Tina Petrova recently released her first children’s book, Krista-Link-a-La and the Size 13 Shoes. Currently residing in Toronto, Petrova kicked off her book tour last Spring at the RedFish BlueFish Creative CafĂ© where she shared her latest writing project. Bornin Sault Ste Marie, Petrova is the daughter of an immigrant family from Slovakia. Her story pays homage to her strong family heritage all the while calling upon her childhood experiences writing and directing plays for her neighbourhood friends.
As a young child, Tina wrote and directed plays for the children of her neighborhood to star in. Tina’s oldest brother Ken owned a pair of bright red size 13 running shoes, which were the inspiration for the play from which she adapted this book. Growing up from sturdy Slovak and Ukrainian stock gave her distinctive features, including extremely large feet for a young girl. Krista-link-a-la and the Size 13 Shoes, shares how Tina chose to deal with her differences; rather than feel embarrassed, she chose to celebrate her uniqueness by shining a spotlight on what could be thought of as a negative trait, and now encourages all children to do the same.
With cute illustrations by Joanne Deane, the book also includes some real-life photos taken in Pohorela, Slovakia. These photos paint a beautiful image of the picturesque village from whence Petrova's family came. The story itself evokes the classic tale of Cinderella and leaves it open for subsequent imaginative stories featuring the talented Krista-Link-a-La.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Three Years Ago...

Three years ago, my son was merely three years old. He was still just a baby in my eyes, talking in his baby voice and smiling his baby-licious smile. It was three years ago that we first took his new Harley Davidson three-wheeler for a ride to the park on a bright, sunshiney day. When we arrived at home, my son turned on the TV and snuggled into our new bean bag chair while watching Dora the Explorer.

Once the show was over, that's when the trouble started.

You see that irresistible smile? Yes, it actually spelled trouble. I tried my best to win but clearly his cuteness defeated my competitive urge. As the winner, he celebrated with a chocolatey treat. And of course, I had to join in. It was all part and parcel with celebrating the re-launch of Kinder Surprise as well. Mmm, chocolate!

It was still a week away from our planned trip to Fan Expo and my son was still too young to help me build a KRE-O Sentinel Prime Transformer. So he chose to perform an operation instead...

You'd think he'd want to be a doctor when he grows up, perhaps. Nope. During his kindergarten graduation last June, he stood up on stage, approached the microphone and announced to all: