Monthly Archives: February 2015

Winter Practicum Report 2: Don’t Give Up

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

I mentioned in my Preparing for My Winter Practicum blog post that I will be teaching Speeches, Math and Religion during this practicum. For this practicum, I am expected to create a unit plan. My AT and I decided that I would create a unit plan for the Speeches. We also planned to gradually release the responsibilities to these subjects week by week. So the first week, I was responsible for doing the Speeches Unit. This week I had to start the Area unit in Math. Finally next week, I will continue both of those units and take on the religion unit. In total that is three unit plans in 4 weeks!

Aside from the awkward transition into the classroom during Week 1, I thought my lessons for my Speeches Unit went well. It gave me confidence in teaching the Area Unit…or so I thought.

Man, did I struggle this week with the Area Unit. As I said in the last post, I tried to prepare all my lessons on the weekend, which I did. But I didn’t for see any barriers when creating my lessons. Please learn from my mistake, and visualize your lessons before implementing your lessons. Think about prior knowledge, accommodations and errors that frequently happen. I made the mistake of not doing all these things and made myself confused and even worse, I made my students confused.

I was used to creating Math lessons for my Grade 3’s during my last practicum the night before, or even the morning of. The lessons were obviously more simple and required less steps because they were younger. I did not realize how sophisticated the Math curriculum was in Grade 6.

One of the best pieces of advice I received from my AT this week was to admit you are wrong with the students. You are only human and you made a mistake. Don’t dwell on it, provide additional support for the follow up lesson and show your students you are human. Students need to see that you made a mistake, you picked yourself right up and didn’t give up. If we expect students to model our behaviours and attitudes, why don’t we exemplify how to pick ourselves up and admit when we are wrong.

Lets hope the next week goes better! Until next Friday, my countdown is 2 weeks done and 2 more to go!

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Winter Practicum Report 1: Busy as a Bee

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

The first week has come and gone with a blink of an eye. It was extremely hard to get into the groove of the first week. I think it was especially hard for me, as the first week of practicum followed Family Day and the start of the Lenten journey. If you were placed in a Catholic school, you may have experienced the same struggle. Everyday had an event, or an interruption which disrupted the flow of the routine.

Here how my week went:

Monday- Family Day. I had this day off to plan and prepare my first lesson on Speeches

Tuesday-Pancake Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday. In Catholic schools, it is a tradition to serve pancakes as we prepare for the Lenten journey. So in the middle of our math lesson, we stopped to enjoy some delicious pancakes made by the parent council. This took me back to enjoying pancakes in Elementary school on Pancake Tuesday. What a delicious tradition that continues on!

Wednesday-Ash Wednesday. After first recess, all the classes gathered in the school’s gym to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is 40 days of fasting before Easter. The priest walked around and asked the students what they were fasting on. Many said chocolate, candy or watching TV. Personally, my favourite responses were bacon and chicken nuggets. The mass took up two periods before lunch.

Thursday-Girls Basketball Tournament. Two of my students attended a basketball tournament. I had to organize their homework on Wednesday during the last period of the day so they wouldn’t be behind on researching their speech topic. This was a huge shuffle in a 40 minute span. I felt like I was racing the clock.

Friday-Boys Basketball Tournament. Similar to my shuffle for the Girl’s Basketball Tournament, I had to grab and make copies of the work the boys had to take home on the Thursday. While I taught my lessons on Thursday and Fridays, I had an uncomfortable feeling that I might have not given the students clear instructions on how to do their research. (Update on Monday, February 23: Not to fear! My students just came back with all their work done!!)

It was hard to get into classroom routine when there were interruptions occurring left, right and centre. But the reality of it is, this is normal. As a teacher, you won’t have a perfect week with your students. Events happen outside of the classroom is beyond your control. In these types of situations, teachers must be adaptable, flexible and on top of their game. I knew that the week would be a little rocky. Thats why I used time to plan all my lessons on Family Day so I would be ready at any moment. I think I will need to plan all my lessons the weekend prior to the week I teach them. Or I might be in trouble.

One week done. Three more to go!

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Master of Teaching Vocabulary

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching Student

Greetings Blog-o-sphere. When writing my last post, I realized that I throw around acronyms or words around that many of you may not know. It’s like we have a specific MT vocabulary. So I decided that I would clarify some words and provide my definitions for them. So here we go!

Teacher Candidate (TC)- That’s what we call the students in the MT program, or in any education program for that matter. We haven’t earned our stripes as Teachers yet but we are suitable candidates for the job! In practicum you will be probably introduced as a TC or Student Teacher by your AT.

Cohort-These are the other TCs you will be studying with for the next 2 years of the program. The MT program is huge that all TCs are separated into specific groups or cohorts by their grade level. For example, I am in PJ 161, which means I can teach Primary/Junior. 161 is our cohort number.

25/26 of my cohort friends with some of our loved ones at our Holiday Party

Primary Division-Kindergarten to Grade 3

Junior Division- Grade4-6

Intermediate Division-Grade 7-12

Practicum-The period of practice teaching in a classroom/learning environment. Each TC should get a different practicum site every fall and winter, and hopefully in a different division. For example, I had a Grade 3 class in the fall (primary) and I am currently in a Grade 6 class in the winter (junior).

The layout of my Grade 3 class for my first practicum.



Before school starts, the Practicum Team asks which school boards you would prefer to work in. You are asked to give three options. It is likely that you will receive your first option, but I know of some people getting their second instead. You are unable to pick which school you want to teach at, just the specific board. The school boards have to be located in the GTA.

Field Experience Days-These are two or three days selected by the MT program for you to go and observe your practicum classroom. You are not required to teach, but if you are like me you can’t help yourself. I often spend the morning to familiarize myself with the classroom routine and strategies used by the AT. Then in the afternoon, I try and walk around the classroom and help out with the lessons.

Associate Teacher (AT)-This is your mentor teacher in the classroom. They should be the person you turn to for support and guidance when you are in practicum. They also evaluate mid-way through and at the end of your practicum. The final evaluations become attached to your Master’s transcripts, so when you apply for teaching positions, school boards and employers will have access to them.

Educational Assistant (EA)-EA’s are in the classroom to help students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Program Plan (IPP). In my last placement, I had an EA in my class and she brought so much life into the classroom. She was like our little ray of sunshine.

Faculty Advisor-This is an OISE MT professor who comes to supervise you during practicum. They visit you twice, once in the first two weeks and once in the last two weeks. If there are any issues you don’t feel comfortable telling your AT, you should seek guidance from the Faculty Advisor

I hope this cleared up any confusion you may have! Let me know if you need further clarification on any of the terms.

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January Recap

by Wook
Master of Education student
Developmental Psychology and Education

This semester, I am taking courses in social-emotional development, career counselling, and educational research. These 3 courses might seem irrelevant to one another, but they are actually starting to come together. In career development, some theories consider individual developmental process as an important component. Having an in depth knowledge on social-emotional development would help practitioners to understand various developmental factors that can influence the client’s situation. In addition, practitioners should be able to search for career counselling models that are supported by a strong body of empirical research. Even though career counselling was not something that I was interested in originally, it is fascinating to see how developmental psychology and education play a huge part in career counselling and development.

In terms of my work life, I recently started to assist a doctoral student with her EEG experiment. Throughout my undergraduate years, EEG was mentioned in 80% of my courses but I never had a chance to operate it or look at its signals. The actual experiment is conducted at the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Hospital. This is an amazing opportunity for me because I get to engage in a project that is placed within a clinical environment.

With 3 courses and 2 jobs, 2015 has been a busy year for me already.  Although I am constantly thinking about my work related stuffs or academic related stuffs, I love what I do!


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Preparing for My Winter Practicum

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student


Its almost that time of the year and I’m so excited! And no, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day or the Lunar New Year but the start of Winter Practicum!

Before practicum starts on Feb 18, I am given 2 Field Experience Days to go in, meet my class and take some notes. On my first Field Experience Day I went to meet my class. I am teaching Grade 6 and there are 31 students in the class! And to my surprise, one of my cousins is in my class! What a crazy first day to learn all those wonderful facts!

Knowing the expectations of practicum, I took the initiative to ask my AT a lot of questions about the classroom, strategies she uses and her long-term plans for the class. We also set the expectations of my lesson plans and what I will be teaching during practicum. I am so excited for the lessons I am responsible for, so I decided to share it with you!

1. Math! I am given the challenge to teach math again. I am quite nervous but I am also optimistic that I can do this! I don’t know what unit I am teaching just yet, but on Friday for my second Field Experience Day I will be given the student textbook, workbook and teacher’s resource guide to prepare myself.

2. Speeches/Oral Presentations. I mentioned in my last practicum posts that I helped my Grade 3’s with their oral presentations skills. I am excited to implement the strategies that I used with my Grade 6’s.

3. Religion and Art lessons. My AT told me that she integrates Religion and Art often, and I could not be more excited to do some lessons. I recently finished my Catholic Education course, which is the introductory course that allows TC’s to teach in Catholic school. And I have always been creative, so I am excited to mesh the two together.

I’m sure I will be responsible for more lesson plans, and I will be sure to update you. I expect this practicum will be different than my last practicum when I had 19 students in my Grade 3 class. But I am up for the challenge! LETS GET THIS DONE!

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January Recap from a Master of Teaching Point of View

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

Hi blog-o-sphere! Its the beginning of February and you know what that means…its time for my monthly recap.

A lot happened during January…and by that I mean a lot of assignments! Most of my classes are full year classes, and a bunch of assignments were due this month! I’ve never really talked about my assignments, mostly because they are reflective pieces and I usually share my exciting reflective pieces here!

But I decided to shake it up this month and give you a breakdown of the assignments I have handed in or are working on before practicum starts! Most of the emails I get is about the workload, so I want to share with you what your January might look like if you are an MT student!

I’ve broken it down by class, so here we go…


  • Facilitation- Each student is responsible to facilitate a discussion on the readings for the week. I presented a facilitation on critical literacy. Many of the books I mentioned in my library post are books I used for this facilitation. 2 great things came out of this assignment: I got to develop a deeper understanding on critical literacy and I added some new books to my wish list! (I mentioned some of these books in my blogpost here!)
  • End of term task- During practicum, I need to find examples of literacy in the classroom that changed or added to my pedagogy on literacy. I have a feeling on what I will be looking for, especially with the expectations my new AT has set for me…(if you are interested in learning what these expectations are click here!)


  • Professional Ethics Mind Map- as a group, we had to research one article about a teacher crossing professional boundaries and violating our professional standard of ethics. Once we have found it, we had to determine which standards they have broken and justify if the disciplinary action they were given was just. It was interesting to hear about the different cases. This assignment helped ground me and realize that yes, there is fun to be had on the job but if there is ever a slip up, the consequences are huge!
  • Field trip-in pairs, we get to plan out a field trip and go on it! But before we can, we need to do some research, write a proposal, look at the logistics, arrange transportation and create a backup plan. I don’t have a lot of information of this assignment yet, but I am excited to plan and go on a field trip!


  • Math lesson- we arranged ourselves in groups for our math lesson. In the fall, we began to  plan a lesson for 4 students. We had to follow the Ontario Math curriculum, and focus on one strand (specific) expectation. My group got grade 3 data management. So we created a coffeeshop for our lesson! We had a menu board with items for the students to buy and we were brave enough to give the students real money to use. (Don’t worry, we set the expectations before bringing the money out!) We had students figure out what they wanted to buy from the coffee shop, and determine how much money they would need. We then extended the task by asking them to create different variations of their total. It was a huge success! I wish we could have done the lesson with more students!
  • Reflection- Now, I need to start working on my reflection for that lesson. I need to address some observations I had during the lesson, expand on it with theory and reflect on the whole lesson. I can’t wait to get this reflection done and explain all the highlights from the lesson.


  • Unit Plans- for both classes, Social Studies and Science I have to design a whole unit plan! Thankfully I am able to complete the project with a partner (Social Studies) or a group of 4 (Science). Both unit plans must include 2 full lesson plans, a calendar, the big ideas and curriculum expectations.
  • Museum assignment- for Social Studies, we were asked to go to either the ROM or the Bata Shoe Museum and sketch 3 artifacts. We then had to relate how we would use it in the classroom, or how we would introduce the artifact on a trip to the Museum. I am a huge nerd of museums, so I was so excited to do this assignment. I was one of those people who sat in front of the artifact…so if you saw me do that…I apologize..
  • Current Event Presentation- in groups of 4, we had to present a current event topic, find how we could teach about this current event in school, link it to a curriculum expectation and reflect why its so important. We chose to address homelessness in Toronto and linked it to the Grade 5 Social Studies expectations.


  • Literature Review-Part of the major research paper for my masters is the literature review. And let me tell you what I have realized when writing this. In undergrad, I wrote literature reviews to satisfy course requirements and was often bored because I was limited to a topic. But this literature review is different. Its personal and its all the information I need to know to better understand my research questions. I found myself looking for more information each day, which was good if I had months to write it, but bad since I only had 3 weeks to write it.
  • Critical Peer Review-Once my literature review is submitted, my professor reads it and also another student in the class does too. I read my partner’s work and produce a review of what I thought of their work. I synthesize the strengths, areas of improvement, and provide recommendations for their next draft. I really like this assignment as I get to learn about my peers’ research paper and I get to compare the structure of my paper to theirs.
  • Facilitation-similar to the literacy facilitation, I guide a discussion on the readings that week and have my group members dig deeper into the material. Often the facilitator relates the article back to our teaching pedagogy or research paper so we can develop our “theory to practice” skills.


  • Creativity assignment- I spoke about my creativity assignment in this blog post. Check out my full post here
  • Portfolio- We get to design our teaching portfolio that we will carry throughout our careers. We can insert lesson plans, code of ethics, observations and assignments that best represent our educational pedagogy and disposition. I haven’t completed this assignment yet, but once I do, I will post it for you guys to see!

I hope this gives you a glimpse into the variety of assignments you can expect when you enrol into the MT program. If you need any clarification on anything, let me know!

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What is Flex-Mode?

by Wook
Master of Education student
Developmental Psychology and Education

Many OISE students pursue their degree part-time and some students commute from various parts of Ontario. Flex-Mode courses are lecture or seminar style courses that may be attended either onsite or online. If traveling all the way to downtown Toronto to attend one course a week is not convenient for students, they can choose to take the course and participate online if the course is offered in Flex-Mode.

M.Ed. in Developmental Psychology and Education for example, students are required to take two required courses. For the past few semesters, these required courses were offered in Flex-Mode. I am a type of person who needs to be in a classroom setting because I cannot concentrate on lecture materials if I have access to the internet. However, many of my colleagues in the class enjoyed taking courses online because they work full-time or they are living 2 ~3 hours away from OISE. Last semester, I was unable to attend a class one week due to a work related event. Since Flex-Mode also archives lectures, I was able get an access to the archived webinar. Although I checked my facebook page few times when I was listening to the webinar, I was able to catch up on my course.

Flex-Mode courses usually includes online discussion forum where students get to talk about the weekly topics. Judging from my experience last semester, richer and more insightful discussions may arise because students are able to support their arguments with empirical researches. Although face-to-face discussions are spontaneous and organic, online discussions seem to give students enough time to formulate their thoughts and engage in the discussion more effectively.

Although OISE does not have a program that can be done solely online at the moment, prospective could definitely consider the fact that each department offer number of Flex-Mode courses that can be taken online.


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Promoting Children’s Literacy: Having Fun Isn’t Hard, When You Have Your Own Library


by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

Oh I bet I fooled you with my deceiving title! Arthur was my favourite children’s show and book series growing up. If anyone would ever mention the library in my teens, I would instantly start singing the library card song.

But I am not here to tell you about our amazing OISE Library.(I really should have made a post on the library since I have spent most of my days in countless library rooms this past week. I may crack one day and write a post of how to productively write papers and assignments in the library. I think I have finally found a formula that works for me.

I am here to tell you about my personal library! Over the past few months, I have been to my fair share of conferences, workshops, book stores and classes. I have acquired some amazing books that I would love to share with you guys. As a teacher, there is nothing more exciting than bringing a really good book into the classroom and presenting a read aloud. (Yes, teachers are still doing the traditional read alouds! Where a teacher sits in front of the body of students, and reads the book out loud. I did it all the time with my grade 3’s)

They are amazing mental sets or concluding activities for lesson plans. These are just a few that I have in my personal library or some that I have read and seriously debated to buy…But then again, a girl has to eat, and as delicious and enticing as these books are…I can’t have them all..

1. Title: Every Day is Malala Day
Author: Plan International

Malala is a huge role model to me. She is what inspired me to write my research paper on children’s rights. She is an advocate for so many children, especially girls! She is able to articulate her stance on children’s rights with passion and energy, while standing next to stiff UN officials. You go Malala!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

2. Title: If Kids Ran the World
Author: Leo and Diane Dillon

Leo and Diane create a fictional world where kids ran the world, enforced various laws and created a society fit for everyone. Sadly, it is a made up world but its a great entry point to discuss how kids can actually make a change in their community, and then the world. Empowering children with the knowledge and attitude that they are able to make a difference, drives them to achieve greatness and develop empathy for others.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

 3. Title: Baseball saved us
Author: Ken Mochizuki

This book is about a Japanese boy imprisioned in a concentration camp. To make their lives more tolerable, the boy’s father creates 2 baseball teams and a baseball field. The boy discovers his love of the sport, while noticing the difference in attitudes of the inmates when they are joined together for a common goal.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7001H Educational Professionalism, Ethics and Law

4. Title: Voices in the Park
Author: Anthony Browne

I was first introduced to this book in my literacy class with Shelly Murphy. The plot line is simple. Its four different characters going to the park and viewing their experiences in four different ways. It is a great entry book for discussion on social justice issues like: capitalism, poverty, gender stereotypes and privilege. It is also a great book to discuss point of view and perspective taking in critical literacy.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

5. Title: Fly away home
Author: Eve Bunting

This book is about a boy and his father living in an airport because they are homeless and can’t afford living in the city. The boy and his father move around the airport so they don’t get caught by security. They sleep in various parts of the airport, exchange carts for money and use the washrooms to clean up. Ultimately this is a book of remaining hopeful and positive.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies

6. Title: Spork
Author: Kyo Maclear

In a cluttered kitchen, the lonely Spork tries to find where he fits in. A touching tale about finding yourself, and realizing that sometimes its better to stand out than blend in.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

7. Title: Before After
Author: Matthias Arégui

I adore picture books, or books with minimal words. This book has the “before” picture on the left and the “after” picture on the right. It is a great book to use when students need a sentence starter. An extension could be to create a story using the two images. (Ps. the book ruins the old fable, what comes first the chicken or the egg? Its the chicken guys!)

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies/Science, CTL7003H Math, CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

8. Title: Ish
Author: Peter Reynolds

I was first introduced to this book when I was in my second year of undergrad. My professor, Marni Binder, did a read aloud on the first day of my creative arts class. (And yes, read alouds can be done with adults too!) I love the premise of the book. Nobody is great at everything. Everyone is great-ish at certain things, and thats what makes us all unique. We need to celebrate that we can’t do everything, but we can-ish!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies, CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching

9. Title: Beautiful Oops!
Author: Barney Saltzberg

Another fabulous book I picked up after Marni Binder introduced it to us. I actually picked it up and grappled if I should give it to my nephew for his birthday. In the end I did give it to him…but it still haunts me. The book is a great to introduce when doing art. With art, there are no rules on how things are supposed to turn out. And this book celebrates that mistakes are actually the start to a masterpiece.

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7003H Social Studies/Science

10. Title: The book with no pictures
Author: B.J Novak

Okay, let me take back what I said for number 7! I can’t go making these generalizations of what I like in books because then I come across a book and it stumps me!! I am dying to get this book. I think with the right attitude and right disposition, anyone can make this book come alive without pictures! You have to see this video of B.J Novak presenting his book in front of a crowd of kids. You will start cracking up!!

MT Course Connection: CTL7000H Literacy,  CTL7014H Fundamentals of Teaching, CTL7001H Educational Professionalism, Ethics and Law

So go forth and look into these books! I promise you, you will not be disappointed! And if you have any books that you think I need for my personal library let me know! COMMENT BELOW and I will totally check it out!

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