12 Gifts 4 Teachers 2016

Last year I shared a favourite lesson, resource or idea every day for the twelve days leadingscreen-shot-2016-12-13-at-3-06-28-pmup to Christmas. The 12 Gifts 4 Teachers 2015 were well received and I enjoyed sharing! So to make it a “tradition”, I present to you the 12 Gifts 4 Teachers 2016!

As with last year, take whatever you find interesting or useful and change, modify and add to suit your class. If you know of others who might benefit, share with them as well!

I will also be tweeting my “12 Gifts” each day to #12gifts4ts Please feel free to share YOUR 12 gifts as well… or even one or two! I believe our ideas are only as good as the people we share them with and in the long run, it will be our students who will be on the receiving end our sharing!

Merry Christmas!

Day 1 Many educators are starting to rethink traditional “homework”. The term is no screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-9-27-48-amlonger used in my classroom. Learning certainly should not be confined to the walls of a classroom and the hours of a school day. The opportunities for learning are endless and kids (and parents) should not perceive learning as “work”. There needs to be a shift in mindset. Learning should be fun, rewarding, challenging and exciting. We should want to share our learning with others, and in doing so, more learning should occur. “HomeSHARE” has replaced “Homework” in my classroom. Read the original blog post: “WHAT IF Homework Looked Like This?” for a complete explanation, resources and more ideas.

Day 2 There has been a lot of talk lately about transforming learning spaces. I think the 

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-9-42-21-amkey here is to create a space that makes most sense to both your students and yourself. It has to be comfortable, while at the same time, both efficient and effective for all learners. I love my transformed learning space and so do my students. Read my blog post “My Transformed Classroom” and watch the 360 degree video to get a peek into my learning space.  I’d love to hear about yours!

Day 3  This is by far the most popular resource that I share… and so back by popular demand… The Genius Hour Journal! When I first started Genius Hour in my classroom, I Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 9.09.14 AMfelt that I needed to provide my students with somewhat of a framework to guide them through the process. I came up with six guiding steps: QUESTION, PLAN, RESEARCH, CREATE, SHARE, REFLECT. Although these steps became somewhat fluid, I found that having a journal where my students could record their thinking led to success at my first attempt with Genius Hour. These steps have now become the basis for all inquiry learning in my classroom. Recently, I used the same steps and journal to complete Genius Hour with my five year old. The process and product can be viewed in his video: Kai’s Genius Hour: Dinosaurs. Find student exemplars and resources at Mr. C’s SharesEase:Genius Hour

Day 4 Are you familiar with TVO’s “Teach Ontario”? It’s an online community for screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-41-34-amOntario’s educators, by Ontario’s educators. Explore professional learning opportunities and curated resources. Share your knowledge with your colleagues. Create projects to support teaching and learning.There’s something here for everyone! My latest “score” came from being connected to the Teach Ontario Community. mPower is an great online math game for students, based on the Ontario Curriculum expectations. Check it out! 

Day 5 The world of “edublogs” is enormous. There’s so many great educators openlyscreen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-38-57-amsharing their learning, ideas and resources. Sometimes it hard to know where tobegin.Why not check out Doug Peterson’s Friday morning blog: “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”. Doug does a great job highlighting and summarizing a few blogs by Ontario educators that he finds interesting and worthy of a read. Personally, it’s the second thing I read every Friday 😉 Thanks Doug!

Day 6 Sometimes I stumble across great resources and other times people point me inscreen-shot-2016-12-21-at-12-07-58-pm the right direction. It’s one of the many benefits of being a “ConnectED” teacher. I thank Joe Grabowski, the world’s best “Ed Travel Agent” for introducing me to the wonderful world of National Geographic Education. I encourage you to explore the site. The resources are truly incredible! 

Day 7 
img_5220This gift  is more of an idea and a mindset than a resource. It has probably been the biggest game changer in my teaching career. I used to be a slave to the text, following units, lessons plans and teacher’s guides to the T. I always felt confined by the structure of the text,but took comfort thinking that I was covering the curriculum, regardless of how stale the content seemed. As I evolved as an educator and became more comfortable with the curriculum, thinking outside of the text became my new norm. The resources and opportunities for learning are endless. By not being “handcuffed” to the text, I have the freedom to innovate within my classroom and cover the grade 5 and 6 Ontario Curriculum more efficiently and effectively. Kids love coming to school and so do I! Want to learn more? Start by checking out #Ditchbook and Matt Miller.

Day 8  This gift is for all of my Ontario teacher friends. The Ontario Curriculum Tracking Templates are a must have for all teachers. I use the templates to track completion ofscreen-shot-2016-12-18-at-9-23-21-am expectations throughout the year and assess individual student performance. I’ve also created a doc where I have all of the overall expectations compiled for quick reference.  The  tracking sheets are fillable and printable.  You can also make a copy for your own Google account and you will be able to record your curriculum progress using your smartphone APP on the go. Talk about simplifying your life! ENJOY!

Day 9 Does homework drive you crazy? Looking for ways to make it better? Check out DSC03661.jpgConnie Hamilton and Starr Sackstein’s book “Hacking Homework”! Their book offers ten strategies for #HackingHomework  which inspire learning outside of the classroom. I appreciate the the “Hack in Action” section at the end of each chapter, that explains how classroom teachers are reinventing homework in their own classrooms.

Day 10
For some fun and interactive math, check out Spy Guys Math by Learn Alberta. I like this site for introducing a key concept or leaving it for an Occasional teacher in my absence as a review. It also provides a glossary mathematical terms and strategies for solving problems. The Problem Solving Bank is worth a look as well. 

Day 11

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-7-34-58-pmHave your students code their very own snowflakes! Thanks to Doug Peterson for sharing  ‘Coding Snowflakes’. What a great idea. This simple activity became a springboard for an incredible inquiry in our classroom. In fact, most of our learning for the next few day will be the direct result of Doug’s share and a simple snowflake. Check out our learning journey: ‘The Snowflake’ .

Day 12
I thought I’d start off with a website that has become my “go to” for establishing mindfulness in my classroom. Calm.com is free for teacher use and guides students
screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-7-24-32-pm through short 10 minute mindfulness activities. To get “Calm” free for your classroom, click on the link and fill in the form! I love the very front end of the site which provides 30 relaxing scenes with accompanying sounds (e.g. Mountain Lake, Summer Meadow, Falling Snow and Fireplace). If for nothing else, check out Calm.com to bring a little sun and warmth to your class during those cold winter months! Check out how I used “Calm” in my classroom today with some “falling snowflakes”!


About mrcameron14

I am a Grade 6 teacher of 18 years in Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada. Passionate about sharing with teachers throughout the world. Teaching students how to use technology 4 good and to make a positive difference in the world. Apple Distinguished Educator 2013, SMART Exemplary Educator 2013, Google Educator 2015.
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2 Responses to 12 Gifts 4 Teachers 2016

  1. Michael Middleton says:

    Peter, Mike Middleton here like the Calm.com site, but when I tried the image never came into focus. Am I doing something wrong?


    • mrcameron14 says:

      Thanks for the heads up Mike! To get “Calm” free for your classroom, you’ll have to sign up. I’ve updated the link that will take you to the “Calm of Classrooms” initiative.


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