Miss. Hillary Strain

Archive for the category “On my mind…”

So… What was my mark?

I recently read an article by the Edmonton Journal discussing a different type of grading method used by a high school teacher named Dave Martin. The article is entitled “No Percentage marks from a Red Deer math teacher” and is one that everyone should take the time to sit down and read. As, it’s quite interesting!

I started my journey of becoming a teacher 4 years ago and during the duration of my learning, each and every education class that I have taken has all directed back to the importance of assessment and constant feedback for our students. “It’s important to always be assessing your students and to make sure your marks are always up to date” they would say to us.  In the article, Dave Martin’s method of grading takes this to a whole new level. Martin has stopped giving his students marks on their assignments and exams, and instead uses comments encouraging students to fix their mistakes and retest their knowledge at a later time.  When I first read this, I was shocked and didn’t know what to think, as I grew up and am still used to knowing what my mark is and my success depends on the grade I get.  Now that I have taken some more advanced classes in my education career, I think that this is a great way to assess your students!  Lets face it,  students usually never pay attention to the feedback that you give to them on an assignment or test, they always just look for the grade written at the top of the page.  This is becoming a huge problem in my eyes because the students who are scoring lower aren’t really learning what they are suppose to be learning and they aren’t really getting anything from it.  They just look at the grade and feel bad about themselves and shove it in the back of their binder. Martin mentions, even the students receiving final grades of 70% technically haven’t mastered anything because they didn’t understand 30 percent of the material.

Dave Martin’s method of giving his students a grade only at the end of the school year carries many positives. Firstly, in order for students to gain an idea of how they’ve done on an assignment/exam, the comments are the only way to determine which areas they were successful and which areas need improvement.  This way, the students will be able to go in for extra help or concentrate on the area that they need help in to improve and be more successful next time. Secondly, by eliminating grades, you eliminate stress which can be very helpful in helping students succeed. The less amount of time students spend worrying about trying to get good grades, the more time they can spend making sure they actually understand the outcomes presented in the curriculum.

What do you all think?  Are you stuck on the number of the grade or are you wanting to get more feedback on how you can improve? What really is more important here?


21 things..

Today as I was looking through our ECMP 455 class community page on google and came across this interesting read that one of my classmates has posted.  Below is a chart featuring what its author called 21 things every 21st century teacher should do this year. This chart is created by Sean Junkins based on a blog post by Carl Hooker.

As I was reading through it, I was reflecting on my schooling experience and realizing that it is nothing close to what I have experienced.  I grew up in a traditional classroom where it was direct lecture and no fun.  Looking at these 21 things teachers should do make me realize how much teaching and learning is evolving every year and becoming more technology, fun, discovery and online directed, which I think is great!

It’s good for use to keep in mind as teachers that we need to get the students to relate to our lessons as much as we can. Since our society is becoming more technology based and more focused towards what’s happening on Social Media, we should direct our lessons so that it incorporates that somehow and relates to their way of living.  What do you all think?

Make sure you read Carl’s original article for more details on each of the 21 ideas featured in the visual below.





What are the chances..

Hi All!

So I came across this video today, it’s rather long but it’s worth the watch! It is one of the most honest and reality checking videos I have ever seen, because the narrator made some very valid and good points about the topic. Humans are so attached to technology and really they pretty much rely on it now a days. However, sometimes we also forget the possibilities and opportunities technology can potentially give us. In our ECMP 455 class, we get reminded constantly about the potential of technology and how it can connect us in many ways to help us with our learning.

The narrator started the following quote in the film and it seemed quite appropriate considering what I’ve been learning in ECMP 455. “The internet gives us the power to share a message to millions around the world. Therefore, when we still can, lets use our screens to bring us closer together rather than farther apart.” This makes me think about how we can use the internet to work and learn together now a days unlike others have never had the opportunity to before internet was invented.

The narrator also mentions, “Does technology show us how smart we really are? Or does it show how lazy we have become?”  It does seem like a lot of people are taking the easy way out and googling things rather than using problem solving to accomplish things, but who knows, that could just be my opinion. Thoughts?


3.14159 aka Pi

In most of my educational math classes, at some point we have talked about the importance of Pi and have also watched the following video.

I have used Pi a lot in math classes, we have talked about Pi a lot in our math classes and well, really, everyone knows what Pi is.  It wasn’t until I watched the video above that I realized what Pi really entails.  The number Pi, as we all know, goes on and on forever, well for quite some time. The video explains that you can find any number in Pi, like your birthday, social insurance number, name or any number combination that you can think of.

If you don’t believe me, try it out yourself at the link below!  All you have to do is click  control f or command f if you have a mac, a little search bar will pop up and then type in any combination and it will appear!


Let me know what you think of this? Were there any number combinations that you couldn’t find or wouldn’t appear?

Twitter Overload? Where are you?

Lately I have been engaging a lot on twitter.  Through tweeting to others, participating in twitter chats and just using it as a resource for lesson plans and different projects that I am working on in the semester.  During one of the last twitter chats, #saskedchat, the image below was posted by one of the participants.  This made me think about what stage am I at now and where am I going to grow to be at?


I clearly remember going through the denial stage.  It was the time where everyone was starting to sign up for twitter and I remember thinking that I would never be apart of the jones.  I remember thinking it was just another type of social media that I was going to get addicted to and I don’t want to be apart of it.

The curiosity stage began when I entered University. I remember a lot of my profs talking about it during my first two years and them saying how useful it will be when we teach and become professionals. That’s when my curiosity began. I created a twitter and I started following people and using it for beneficial purposes. I was very into it for a few months and then I never got any responses to my tweets, new followers or any insights so I blew it off again. I was over it.

Right now I am in the AHA! stage.  I am now learning how to use twitter properly and how to gain followers and build my PLN. I am starting to participate in twitter chats, I am communicating more with other educators and sharing my resources as well. I am starting to get really engaged in this thing called twitter and I am loving the exploration and opportunities that are arising from it.

In a way I know I can see myself getting addicted/obsessed with this app and after awhile it becoming apart of me and my learning process as an educator.

What are all of you at in your twitter stage? What are your benefits? Any suggestions on how to grow or have more of a twitter life?

Let me know!


Google Chrome Extensions

This past week, I learnt something new in ECMP455 and I am quite excited about it! I have never heard of it before and a lot of my classmates haven’t either and we all love it!  For all Google Chrome users this is definitely something you want to check out!

There is a feature on google chrome called Google Chrome Extensions. You can access this by going onto your google chrome web browser and type in the google search bar “google extensions”.  It will take you to the google chrome store and into the Extensions page of the store.  Here you will be able to access many different types of extensions that you can download and will appear on your google chrome bar up at the top of the web browser.  These extensions/apps are almost ALL free to download and are a great bonus and feature to have on your browser and for your computer. You simply have to go to the store, click on the extension you are interested in, and click “add to chrome” on the pop-up.  This will download that feature and will be good to use for the rest of time!

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 6.31.01 PMhere you can see that on the right side of my URL bar there are two little icons, this is usually where the apps will appear after they are downloaded

I haven’t explored many of the options on google chrome extensions but I have downloaded two of the features that are available out of hundreds and completely love them! I have been using them daily and they have been great!

The first one that I use a lot is Hola.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 6.35.17 PM

This extension makes the internet think that you are in a different part of the world.  It is like changing your computers IP address without actually changing it! For example, there are many of us that use Netflix and watch it on our computers but since we are in Canada we have to have the Canadian Netflix. BUT we all know that the American Netflix has way better shows and more variety, thus by downloading this app, I can now go to the regular Netflix site and it will think that I am “travelling” into the United States, so I will have access to the American Netflix!  So it is a great app and extension to have.

The second one that I use a lot is Add Block Plus.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 6.36.03 PM

This extension makes all the adds that appear on internet, apps or anything disappear and not exist! For example, there are usually 30 second adds/commercials that appear on Youtube before you watch the video that you requested.  If you have this google extension, this will make it so that the add/commercial will not appear and you can just skip right to your video. You don’t have to watch that pointless video or wait until the “skip” option comes up, it’s a real treat!

Anyway, for all you chrome users out there. I really suggest looking into all of these extensions that are possible to have.  They are great and definitely useful!

Let me know which ones you have tried out or are looking forwarding to trying out.  I know I am sure glad that my prof told me about it!


This past Tuesday, myself and my fellow ECMP 455 class, along with ECS 300 class, had the opportunity to participate in the SaskEdChat on Twitter. Usually the SaskEdChat is onThursday evenings at 8:00pm every week, however, the people who host the chat decided to have an extra special session on tuesday to help support us upcoming teachers. This was my second time participating in the SaskEdChat and it didn’t disappoint me once again! The chat is ran off of prompts that are given to you, there is a theme each week, and from there everyone participating tweets their answer using the hashtag and everyone can see anyone’s answers.  You can then reply to other people’s answers and form side conversations about the topic from there. The chat provides a lot of information and collaboration with other teachers in saskatchewan. We were even able to connect with people around the world, like Australia for example.  Although it moved very quickly and is a tad difficult to keep up with at times it is an excellent way to build your PLN. For more information on the saskedchat, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.27.21 PM

It is usually hard to keep up with all the tweets at once to I decided to use my TweetDeck to keep myself organized and it also made it a lot easier to follow the chat.  The column on the right displays tweets from the chat when the #SaskEdChat hashtag was used, as the chat was occurring the tweets would just appear as people tweeted them out so it was kind of like a life stream.

Is this really necessary?

Hello followers!

Today I was rolling through Facebook and I came across a post from Global Regina News regarding a new feature on Facebook.  The article is about allowing Facebook users to choose who they want to “heir” to manage their account after they die.  In all honestly, this article startled me and was very shocking to me that something like this actually exists.  In a way, I can see the pros and the cons of this, but do we really need to make everything relate back to our online identity and keeping ourselves out there on social media after we are deceased?  What the new feature will have is that your “legacy contact” will be able to choose what happens to your account (keep or delete) depending on your wishes. He/she will have the accessibility to your account to either keep it and make it a memorial page (the word “remembering” will pop up beside your name) and this person will be able to upload/download photos and posts in your honour or they will be able to delete the account permanently.

The pros I see to this are that there is a permanent memorial page to honour and remember your loved one.  This way you can go onto their Facebook page and be able to look at all of their pictures, post on their wall with stories, memories or experiences that you’ve had with them and keep them around in your thoughts.  I really enjoy this point of the new feature. I would do anything to be able to “keep in touch” with anyone close to me that has passed away.

The cons I see to this is the pain that the “legacy contact” will have to encounter during this time. Even though the decision whether to keep your account or not is your decision, this person still has to deal with the duties that you wish.  This could be extremely hard for that person and could cause more pain than what you’ve intended. The thought that also popped into my mind was is this just facebook’s way of keeping their site popular and full of “users”?

You can find the article here, it gives more in depth details with the new feature on Facebook.

let me know what you think about the topic. Do you think this is a good idea? Would you want your account to be kept around after you pass away? Or is this just a way to keep Facebook popular and up to date?

Post a comment below, I am curious to see your thoughts and opinions.


What is technology doing to us?

Usually for ECMP 455, we meet in our typical blackboard meeting place and have our lesson stream from that app. This week, we met on this online website called Blue Jeans. Blue Jeans is  an online, cloud-based conference room where you can connect with anyone via messaging, audio, and/or video.  All one has to do to gain access to it, is sign in and you will appear in this type of conference room. I’ll be honest, it was pretty weird and awkward at first because I was just sitting alone downstairs on my computer staring at all of my classmates doing the exact same thing at their place. Looking past this part of the night, it was actually extremely easy to interact and speak up during discussion compared to the interaction tool in blackboard. My prof was also still able to share his screen and present his slides for us to follow along with, but the bonus of it was that we could actually see him and my classmates during the discussion.

Our main discussion this week was how are students and people around the world are forming their digital identity and have access to many different forms of social media. A few specific websites and apps we discussed were SnapChatChatRouletteTinderKik, and YikYak.  During the class, we talked about different ways we can approach these apps that our students have direct access to, to ensure that our students understand the importance of having and creating a safe online identity. Many of us in the class have accounts for these programs and most of us have at least tried them once or twice.  After discussing these different types of apps, I came to realize that there were more negative things to say about these apps than there were good.  I think this is mainly because there are different people out there who abuse and take advantage of these apps but not in an appropriate way.

I believe it is our responsibility, as future educators, to be aware of what is out there and know all the different types of things that can occur on these apps.  We also have to be able to have a discussion with our students on how to be responsible on different types of social media and make sure that they are being safe and appropriate. This way, our students will know how to approach certain situations and even be able to avoid situations on social media that could end for the worst.


Can videos make school more engaging and fun?

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend my ECMP 455 class this week. Luckily, I have a lot of friends in that class and they let me know that the majority of the class was revolved around watching videos and discussing them.  One of my classmates was saying that one of the videos they watched was about a proposal.  The man that was proposing started singing “That’s what makes you beautiful” by One Direction and leading his lady to the beach. Slowly people started joining into the song and at the end he proposed to her.

I love these type of videos, who doesn’t like a singing flash mob!  The other day on Facebook, I was scrolling through my news feed and came across a video.  It was a video of a teacher and his students and they formed a choreographed dance to the hit song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars.  You can find the video here.   I actually really enjoyed watching this video and how happy, engaged and into it, both, the teacher and students were! It’s fun to see the teacher and students interacting outside of the classroom and doing something not really that school related! This would definitely help build and strengthen teacher-student relationships and would help students see their teacher in a different light rather than just an instructor.

What are your thoughts with this?

Do you believe that doing something fun outside of the school with your students could make a difference with your relationship with them?

Or do you believe that this could have the potential to go wrong?


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