Monthly Archives: December 2014

Final Assignment

Here is the link to my Google doc for the final assignment of EDCI 591. We were asked to review an app, using the learning theories or principles that we looked at this term. I chose to review an app my students have used a lot and like to use in the classroom. It is called Todo Math by LocoMotiveLabs. If you would like to take a read, here is the link:

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Binoculars, Bears, and Campfires- Oh My!

Last week we went outside. Don’t get me wrong, the kids go outside every day for recess and lunch in the cold, the wet and the horrible. We tend not to have inside days at our school, and have adopted the mantra of “You are not made of sugar; you will not melt.” But last week was beautiful: clear skies, sun shining and, for us, cold. With the wind chill, it felt like -15 on certain days. On this particular day, we were at a nice, warm, breezy 0 degrees.

I need to take a step back to earlier in the day. Our letter of the week was B. We were learning about bears, the colour brown, bananas and of course, we made binoculars. Let me tell you, 2 toilet paper rolls hot glue gunned together can actually make binoculars. In the imaginative minds of the 4 and 5 year olds, those binoculars worked. I mean, they really worked. Add a piece of string to wear them around your neck and those things are golden. Of course, the next question from every single child in my class was, “Can we take these outside for recess?” Well, I had bigger plans.


After lunch, we put on winter coats, mittens, hats, and scarves and we looked like we were heading out into the frozen wastelands instead of just the bottom field. A guest was with us this time. Our wonderful First Nations EA was coming outside to teach us a song about a bear, complete with sign language. Doing music outside was a gift. Our voices could be as loud as we wanted with no one shutting the door on our melodious singing.  It was quite exciting to have new binoculars, a new song in a new language and a glorious weather day.

Once released to go off and explore, my amazement at my small humans grew. My ELL boys decided they could see everything through the binoculars, and the vocabulary they were using made me smile. Apparently, 2 toilet paper rolls could help them see the lights at the buildings across the street, the wings and beaks on the geese flying overhead, and the waving hands of passengers in the plane who may or may not have been flying to India.  Other children could see the birds hiding in the trees, the squirrels hiding their winter “stuff”, and even the treads on my rubber boots.

At this point, I noticed my one 4 year old girl, kneeling in the mud with some sticks. I went over to talk to her, to make sure she was okay. What I found, reinforced my belief that we must, as teachers, get children outside. She was building a campfire. No, not a real one with flames and dangerous sparks, but this creative mind was trying to bend and balance sticks on top of each other to make a dome for her campfire. Slowly other children came over to check her campfire out, and the collaboration began. Bricks of frozen mud were chiseled out of the ground to support the wood, rocks were brought in from the gravel pit, and eventually 3 different campfire sites were created by these fabulous minds.  No, not every child was engaged in this, but the others had discovered that you could create a gravel angel by lying in the rocks just like you do in the snow. Some were climbing trees, and some were solving the mysteries of why the mud was frozen.


People passed by our school while this 80 minute exploration was occurring. Many probably saw children playing on a sunny day, and I am sure that some even thought, “Why aren’t they learning?”   I honestly believe that the development I witnessed on the lower field that day cannot be replicated in a classroom.  It needs the room, the fresh air and the freedom to explore that outside affords. I witnessed collaboration between students, a bravery to reach out and create with someone they didn’t know very well. I heard language and vocabulary that I didn’t know these students of mine had.  I saw negotiations, reasoning and engineering achievements.  And all of this simply grew on a field of frozen grass and mud, beside a bunch of gravel and a few big trees.

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Keeping My Feet On My Path

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

I can connect to Bilbo’s words of wisdom to Frodo in many aspects of my life, but recently, this quote has been rattling in my brain with regards to research. This summer, I started out my research door on a path of discovery in one of my University of Victoria classes. I was given the opportunity to start working with and discovering the world of academic research. I admit, I often stayed upon the comforting “digital” path of UVic’s great library resource, Summit. I timidly entered search items and was delighted with the numerous articles, books, and reports on the topic of choice. It was fun to search for topics not related to my current area of study, but just to see what has happened in the academic world of Early Childhood Education while I have been developing as a teacher in my classroom. I was definitely swept off on tangents as new interests grabbed my attention, and I often ended up not knowing where I had gotten to. It was exciting, though, and I thought I was navigating this world with expertise.  I had no idea how wrong I was.

In November, Scott Johnston, a University of Victoria Graduate Studies librarian spoke to the tiegrad cohort about navigating the world of academic research, and my eyes were opened. Thankfully, he reviewed the basics of Summit, but showed us some fabulous features that can be found on almost all of the databases I would need to search. I never knew the left hand column in Summit could help me so very much. I just have to click off a few boxes to limit my searches to find an article that is:

  • peer-reviewed
  • between 2010-2014
  • limited to education journals
  • contains specific subject terms.

I had suddenly been given the tools to take the 486, 435 results I had from typing in “Outdoor Education” and was able to narrow it down to 1, 927. Yes, it is still a lot to go through, but Scott went even further by going over the “and, or, not” terms which most likely help me to further narrow my results.  We weren’t done yet, though.

Our esteemed guest very nicely showed us the many databases we had access to. I know I could spend hours travelling down many divergent paths, but I will do my best to stay the course I am travelling. Between ERIC, Ed/IT, PsychINFO, Google Scholar and Web of Science, it will be very hard not to do a side search somewhere on Reggio, Orff, Kodaly, Hawkins and more. Oh, and did I mention that Scott also talked about Infoline?  Yes, I found out that I have access to the books in the library, and that I can get them delivered to my house. Oh, the reading I can do!

Many thanks, Scott Johnston, for a great presentation and discussion to our cohort. Your wisdom and insight into the world of databases and libraries will definitely help me to keep my feet on this path.

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