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365 Project

This is the single most satisfying project I do for me.  For the last 3 years, and continuing this year, I post a photo or two or three a day.  You can find all of my post here (Right now the archive is not working properly, but I have a help request into Posterous)

Why do I love this project?

  • Memories – I love to look back and see what we have done, what was happening two years ago on the same date.
  • Family – it’s an easy way to stay connected with family, both near and far.  My sister has a 365 project as well.
  • Sharing – I love showing others, this is a fabulous way to “break” into blogging.  It’s easy and teachers can see the personal benefits, the transfer over to classroom or professional blogging is usually not far behind.

Here is a look back at 2012!


Anyone interested in 365ing?  See some more how tos at


Kids will do well, if they can…

I had the fabulous opportunity to attend a one day webinar with Ross Greene, on Collaborative Problem Solving,  that will be followed up with a two day face to face session in January.  To say that the idea of collaborative problem solving spoke to me, is an understatement!  That is not to say that I have been able to use all the tools and ideas seamlessly, it has blown up on me in on a few occasions which usually results in a student looking at me like I have horns, but I am committed to plugging away at it.

Kids do well if they can…And is he is not doing well, adults need to figure out why so they can help

  • Why are challenging kids challenging?  What we are seeing, what is getting in the way?
  • When are challenging kids challenging? What problems needs to be solved so the behaviours can be reduced.
  • What are we going to do differently now that we know why….
  • Little what....what are challenging kids doing when they are challenging…least important because there is little difference between the behaviours.

Why are kids challenging…because they are lacking the skills to not be challenging. 


Delayed in the development of cognitive skills…kids are only challenging when certain demands are put on them.
  • Flexibilty
  • Adaptability
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Problem solving
Challenging behaviours communicates to us that the kid is lacking the skills to do it better.
Why are we seeing more behaviours?  We are demanding skills earlier and earlier.  Kids have to more flexible and adaptable. Social skills are required earlier and earlier!
Implementing a model
  1. Identify lagging skills.  Engage students in the process in skills lacking. Persuasive.
  2. Identify unsolved problems…situations…get organize
    • Once lagging skills have been identified, move over in the guide and start discussion examples of when this happens, what it looks like to help identify the unsolved problem.
    • The unsolved problem must be
      • Free from challenging behaviours
      • Free of adult theories
      • Not explain what is going on BUT identify lagging skills and unsolved problems
      • Specific and split.  What is the expectation the student is having difficulty meeting?
  3. Solve problems and teach skills together!  Collaboratively!
So with less than a month till the next session, I am working on identifying lagging skills and unsolved problems.  I am also reading Lost at School over the break, hoping to glean a little more before our next session.

Summer Reading

Summer reading, had me a blast!  Summer reading, happened so fast!  I read way more in the summer than I do during the school year and this summer was no exception.

Professional Reading

This was what was beside my bed for most of the summer.  The latest addition was Rethinking School Leadership, which I acquired at the Alberta Teacher’s Association Summer Conference.  I have also been  looking for a book to use for a leadership book study, hence Teaching the Digital Generation, Visible Learning for Teachers and Shifting the Monkey.  At the bottom is an assortment of school leadership books and ASCD books that I get with my membership.  Everything in my stack is worth reading.  Some are easier reads (Shift the Monkey) than others (Visible Learning) but I have taken a little something from each one and incorporated it into my teaching practice.

Personal Reading

All my personal reading is done on my kindle.  I honestly cannot remember the last time that I could not find a digital copy of a book that I wanted to read.  My best summer reads….

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, an excellent book with twists and turns.  Subsequently I read Sharp Objects and Dark Places is on my wish list.  I will see if I can get to it before Summer 2013.
  • World War Z – at my brother’s insistence and knowing that Brad Pitt was starring in the upcoming movie, I finally picked it up and couldn’t put it down.
  • What Alice Forgot a great read about how we end up where we end up and what would you do if you had the chance to do it all over again.
  • Just for fun reads: Guilty Wives, The Vow and Summer Island.

Young Adult Fiction

I like to say I read these to know what my students are reading, but to be honest, I really like juvenile fiction.  Since the Hunger Games I have been on the hunt for other dystopia’s and when I came across this, it made it super easy!

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

So I ended up reading



Week(s) of Learning (Sept 8th)

It has been awhile since I did one of these.  The school year got away from me and then I took the summer to recharge and get ready for this year.  But here we try again! You can find all of my delicious link at

1) 10 Ideas for Video Projects – some of the best activities in our classroom involve video and I am always looking for more.  Last year we tried our hand (again) and re-creating “In Plain English Videos”

and Sock Puppets

2) 10 Fun Tools to Create Infographics – my love affair with infographics is still going strong.  I am trying to figure out the best way to introduce and use them this year in Social 9.  I am hoping to start off with my course outline built as a infographic!

3) Tools 4 Thought – from the Critical Thinking Consortium, I have used activities from the consortium for years and love them.  One of my favourites is getting students to ask powerful questions.  I just received my on-line subscription to Tools 4 Thoughts and I am looking forward to exploring this more this year!

4) What Do You Want to Create? – my classroom theme is “Create, Collaborate, Critically Think and Communicate” and I love this matrix of ideas from Cool Cat Teacher!

Engaging Students

Our district PD day was facilitated by Roland Case from the Critical Thinking Consortium on Engaging High School students. I have worked with the Critical Thinking Consortium for the last five year with the implementation of the new social studies curriculum   To say that I am a fan, is a huge understatement.  It has changed how I teach.

Engagement in the last years has topped edu-buzz words along with 21st Century Learning.   But what does it mean, look like and change?  My big take away from this session was this question that Roland posed.  “How do we tell the difference between engaged, educationally engaged and on task?”

Cracking 21st Century SchoolingCracking 21st Century Schooling shared by gcouros

So Roland challenged us to do two things (challenge accepted by the way)

  1. Reduce off putting tasks – eliminate marginal topics and educe demands of tedious tasks
  2. Provide more meaningful learning opportunities – Negotiate meaningful (intrinsic) plans, build in real life implications & consequences and problematize the subject matter

Luckily our school based PD, the day after district PD, built on this.  We spent the better part of the day talking about concept development and cascading curriculum.  Josie put together this fabulous presentation to guide us through the process.

Week of Learning – March 3rd

Posted on

It’s actually been two weeks!  It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but basketball season ended on Saturday so I am hoping to have a little

more time on my hands.  All of my delicious bookmarks can be found at

1)  Investigating Images from the Critical Thinking Consortium – I used this last week in Social 9 around collective rights of First Nations, it worked beautifully.  Inferences from images!

2) Historical Tweets – I have done a paper tweeting assignment with my social 8’s before where they had to tweet, using an image prompt, from the point of view of the Samurai in Japan.  I think this can be a fabulous critical thinking activity.

3) Main Idea and Summarizing Digitized – I am obsessed with inforgraphics and looking for the right time and place to introduce them in the classroom.  Take a look at all my inforgraphic bookmarks and pins

4) 5 Reasons I Don’t Assign Homework – I don’t, here are some more reasons to add to my arsenal.

Week of Learning – Feb 19th

Got to love the family day long weekend!  Not only does it give that extra bit of time with the family but your see an avalanche of sharing on Twitter.  That extra day just gives you a little more time to put off the planning and marking and take a look around you.

1) Moodle Posters – Moodle is the glue that holds all the pieces of my classroom together.  I use it everyday with my social 9’s and don’t know what I would do without it.  I am always looking for visuals to share with students and teachers about Moodle.  So when 7 Moodle posters came across my twitter feed, I knew it was a keeper.  Here is one of my favourites;

2) Visual Prompts and Political Cartoons – I am about to get started the next section in my social class on Collective Rights.  I tend to spend a lot more time looking at source based images and political cartoons to analyze the historical context for collective rights in Canada.    Why not use political Cartoons?  15 Places to find them was the first find of the week then came the Picture Prompt Linky Party which I am hoping with garner some interesting writing prompts.  Or motivate me to make some of my own!
3) 2Learn’s Web 2.0 Tools – what a fabulous go to resource!  I need to remember to use this more often.  It would be a great, safe place to send students when they are trying to select the right tool for the job.
4) Learning Our Way, Public Lecture Series – I have been lucky enough to hear a couple of the previous speakers in this series, including Sir Ken Robinson, Sherry Turkle and Dennis Shirley but I really want to go to the next two.  Trying to figure out if I can swing going to both, with work and kids, and attach them to trips that I am already down south for.  You should try to attend too!