Viva España

Eagerly, we arrived to the Calgary airport, bags packed and ready for our much anticipated European getaway. We booked this trip spring 2016, because of the amazing flight sale, so needless to say, the anticipation  was long and coming.

After a long 8 hour flight, we landed in Amsterdam. Exhausted and barely functioning, we had plans to explore the town, but on no sleep and midnight our time, we decided to rent a room instead. Yotel in the aiport, transformed us in time to almost Star Trekesque pods. It was a bizarre but much needed experience. Four hours and €70 later, we awoke ready for our next flight to Barcelona!

Although I wouldn’t recommend Transavia Air, the flight was relatively pleasant. Upon arrival, we hopped on the Eurobus which cost €5.90 and dropped us right at the start of Las Ramblas. We wheeled our way through, checked into our incredible Air B&B, and set out to explore the town. Fantastic sights, friendly people, and of course amazing food and wine! We’re off to a good start!

 

All About Me: Spanish Style

At the beginning of January, my students wrote an All About Me Book, only this book was in Spanish. They discussed their name, described themselves, and talked about some of their favourite things. As a way to make this activity more interactive, we decided to create an electronic, bilingual book. The students used the app book creator to select a picture, write the words in English, and then speak the words in Spanish. It was a fun activity, that they were all excited about, but the best part was when they showed their parents. Their parents were able to hear them speak another language, that they couldn’t, but could also understand what they were saying through the English words.

Here’s an example of one of their finalized projects:

About Me

I am currently a grade four teacher at the north east campus of Foundations for the Future Charter Academy in Calgary, Alberta.  I teach the core subject areas, as well as first year Spanish to our grade four students.  I also have my masters in Design Based Learning, focusing on incorporating the learning sciences into the classroom to provide a successful platform for all students to learn.  I am a member of our literacy committee, and the head of the technology committee.  I act as a liaison of technology information from our central office, to administrators and teachers, believing that communication is key to this role and pride myself on building strong relationships.  I am passionate about creating socially aware students who make a positive contribution to society and believe that they have an impact in the world.

Personally, I am an avid traveler and love to expand my knowledge of cultures and other languages.  To date I have visited four different countries in Africa, three in central America, four in Europe, China, and have traveled to places in Canada and the United States.  I am interested in environmental conservation and love the great outdoors.  Snowboarding, hiking, and enjoying nature with my dog are my greatest past-times.

I am a major foodie, and try as often as possible to recreate amazing dishes that I’ve discovered through my explorations: whether it be a local cuisine, or a faraway delicacy.  I consider cooking a form of art and expression, and love to experiment with new recipes, or try to create something from whatever is in the fridge!

Living in Calgary for over half of my life, has allowed me to see this beautiful city change but remain true to it’s “western hospitality.”  There are so many unique places, shops, and markets, where Calgarians can support their community.  This is often where you’ll find me!

I enjoy volunteering and try to as much as I can.  I am currently a member of the Educators Council for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, and the webmaster for the Calgary Reading Council.

As an educator I strive to be the best I can; to continuously learn, challenge myself, and provide my students with a safe and caring classroom environment. I hope to instill the same mentality in my students.

Adventures in Spain and Ireland

Teaching grade 4 at FFCA, I’m lucky enough to also teach beginner Spanish to the grade 4 students. In July, 2013, I was granted the Language Bursary Award from the Government of Alberta to study Spanish abroad. Through this bursary program, I was able to pick any Spanish-speaking country, and participate in daily language lessons, as a way to improve my own skills, as well as enhance the learning of my students.

From Spain, I also did a few traveling side trips to Morocco and Gibraltar.

Being that my boyfriend, Daniel, is from Ireland, we took it as an opportunity to also visit his family while in Europe. If you’re interested in reading more about both experiences, please read:
Adventures in Spain and Ireland

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Uganda: JGI Teacher Training

In July, 2012 I participated in a teacher-training workshop in Uganda, through collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) Canada and JGI Uganda. I worked hand in hand with local primary-school teachers to develop lessons, activities, and games about the environment that children could understand. The Ugandan teachers then went back to their school to share and train other teachers on all of the information and strategies that they learned. To learn more about my experience in Uganda, please visit:
Erin In Uganda

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Do Students Only Learn?

The other day in class, my students were completing a word association noun and verb activity. Several nouns were provided to them, and they needed to add an interesting verb that would fit nicely with the noun. For example, one noun was lion, and several ideas for the verbs were pounce, roar, and stalk. As my students continued to complete and share their ideas, we approach the last noun, students. I was intrigued to see the verbs associated with students, and my students own understanding or reflection of themselves. I had a few yell, chat, and talk, however, the majority of my students used the word learn.

Although I was content with the idea that students “learn” I questioned why so many students chose this word and not many others verbs that could be associated with the word students. I completed a simple google image search on students to see the types of pictures that came up, and this was what I saw:

Google search of "students"

Google search of “students”

Happy students with books in almost every picture. Why were there no photos of students thinking or building things? Why are there solely smiling faces with books?

This led me to question if students and perhaps society in general has an image of students as learners, how can this idea evolve into something more? How do I encourage my students to be creators, thinkers, builders, and discoverers? How do I make them understand that they are more than a learner?

They are the thinkers that this world need. They can be creators of new and incredible ideas. They are the future designers and explorers. They are so much more than a learner.

Adventures in a Classroom Library

During the last year, I had a class filled of readers. Any chance they got, they were delved into a novel, picture book, fact book, anything that they could get their hands on. As I watched them riffle through our class library, I became aware that it wasn’t as user-friendly as I had once anticipated. Shelves of books, shoved in tightly, with a basic organizational structure, did not appeal to their reading needs. As a class, we decided to find a new way to organize our books. It was a massive undertaking, days filled with chaos, but their organization process and reasoning of why a book should go in a specific category was fascinating to observe.

After the books were neatly organized into bins, where titles and cover pages could be observed, the access and ability to find such diverse books in our classroom made reading that much more enjoyable. However, after a few weeks, the books became organized again, bins filled with varieties of genres, and I became to feel like we were back at square one.

Upon returning to school this year, and spending much time online seeing how other teachers organized their libraries, labels and stickers seemed to be the best way. I created labels for every bin, with colour-coordinated stickers on each book according to genre. Green stickers for series, pink for fiction, and orange for non-fiction. On each label outside of the bin a sticker was placed with a code so students knew where each book was to be returned. This has eliminated books being placed in the wrong bins.

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I also ensured to have a “lost” bin so students had somewhere to put books if they couldn’t locate the correct place. Additionally, a “hospital” bin was also needed, so we could stay on top of keeping books in good condition.

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I think the biggest change that I made was giving up my personal “teacher” space. I had an L-shaped desk that took up the majority of a corner in my classroom. When I reflected on how much I was actually at my desk throughout a day, which is very limited, I realized I could make better use of the space. I want my classroom to encourage reading, and for students to have a place where they can feel at home and comfortable. I found bean bag chairs on kijiji, and had my handy boyfriend build me a wonderful reading bench.

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Although my classroom space isn’t perfect, seeing my students lounging and reading makes it pretty close!

*Making labels can be a tedious task, and I am more than willing to share mine with anyone. If you would like the file, please comment below or contact me on twitter*