Category Archives: Monthly Recap

Getting Settled into Grad School (September Overview)

by Susan
Master of Teaching


In this post I will be looking back at my transition to:

  1. The University of Toronto St. George Campus
  2. OISE and UTS (Faculty of Education) Building
  3. My cohort
  4. A Typical Week in September

 UofT Campus

I was not prepared for the culture shock of a downtown campus – even though I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. I spent 4 years in Hamilton, ON while I attended McMaster University. Compared to UofT’s campus which is situated on the TTC subway line and a gateway into Queen’s Park, University Health Network, and Chinatown, McMaster’s campus was standing more on its own with a distinct “on-campus” or “off-campus” feel. I had become accustomed to that distinction in my surroundings that I found myself over-whelmed by the amount of traffic, local shops and businesses, and passer-by’s who are just in the area and don’t even attend the university.


I haven’t decided if I like the fact that OISE is immediately connected to St. George station or not. It is certainly convenient for commuters (and during winter) but it is not the same experience as setting foot to the heart of campus and seeing the architecture of some of the iconic UofT buildings each day. Sometimes I have moments where I remember “Oh yeah, OISE is part of the university”.

Depending on the cohort (group) you are assigned and your teachable subject(s), you may also experience classes at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS) – an independent grade 7 – 12 school. As for myself, I spend most of my day at the UTS site, with classes during the day and the option to volunteer with extracurricular activities of the school.

What is a cohort?

Within the three teaching levels, students are split into smaller groups of 30 or so. These individuals will be your rock for the two years in the MT as you take all mandatory courses together. You can count on making awesome new friends no matter which cohort you are placed in. The cohort model also gives each group of TC’s an unique personality. For example, University of Toronto Schools is home to my cohort for intermediate/senior TCs with Global Citizenship being the theme of our cohort and have all my classes at the UTS site.

Typical September week

Class officially started September 12 for MT students and orientation was the week prior. Already half-way into the month, it was a somewhat challenging transition from vacation-mode to serious-school mode. The first week of school was very exciting – new faces and new places. Class discussions reaffirmed my attitude towards group work and problem-based learning.

Expect 16 – 19 hours of class time per week and classes run Monday through Thursday between the hours of 9am – 4pm with occasional half days. You might think that’s nearly as long as a 9 to 5 job but its absolutely doable!

As I reached the last week of September, assignment deadlines became VERY real although class has only been in session for 2 weeks. Nearly catching me off guard, but at the same time the change in pace was exhilarating and kept me on top of my game.

Bottom line to prevent burning out: Know your limits and play within it!

February Recap

by Wook
Master of Education student
Developmental Psychology and Education

As I was leaving Montreal last year, I thought I would never have to face the crazy amount of snow and freezing temperature. Well, I was dead wrong! Apparently last month was the coldest February in Toronto since 1875.

So how was my February? Well, I found an amazing library on the University of Toronto campus and pretty much went there every day to write papers! Pratt Library is only 10 minutes away from my apartment, and it has a relaxing atmosphere. Even when I thought my face was going to fall off from razor sharp wind, I still managed to drag myself to the library AND to the gym.

Because Goldring Centre is right across from OISE, it was easier for me to maintain my sanity by engaging in cardio! Goldring Centre is the newest athletic center/gym that is open to current University of Toronto students for FREE (well, it is included in your tuition). Everything is new and the building itself looks pretty cool as well. Cold temperature could not stop me from learning and exercising. Yes, Toronto winter, I won….. I WON!

Are you curious about OISE student experience? Contact me:


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!

Are you curious about the OISE student experience? Contact me:


November Recap from a Master of Teaching Point of View

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

It’s beginning to look like the end of fall semester….

As I say in every monthly recap, but where did November go? I wanted to share one memory that has stuck with me since leaving practicum.

One day during a classroom discussion, one of my students raised their hand and asked “Ms. Cheung, would you rather have a million dollars or be a teacher?” All the students looked at him and then to me for my response.

I was stunned by this question. For one, we were taking up the math homework. Secondly, this question always pops into my mind when I’m contemplating what my next “step” is. The teaching profession is not the most glamorous, in demand or a respected field. At the end of the day, this world is driven by profit and capitalistic ideals. Why not enter a different field that allows for a more financially stable lifestyle?

Before I could think of a response, a student broke the silence and said “She obviously would rather be a teacher if she’s here.” I wouldn’t have responded exactly in that way, but it captured the essence of what I was going to say.

Everyday of practicum, I woke up excited to get to school and teach my students the lesson that I prepared. I got to see my smiling, sometimes not awake, students file into the hallway. The best part was hearing them scream from the hallways “GOOD MORNING MS. CHEUNG!” And after a gentle reminder we are not outdoors, I have the students come and get ready for their morning schedule. The day would carry out with the same intensity and energy as we had started. And by the end of the day, I had to sit down and really reflect what happened in the class.

I am busy by nature. I am always up and about doing something. I am always standing and walking around because I get to anxious if I sit for too long. I don’t think I could pick a better field than education. It just fit right into education, and education fits right into my life. I am deeply passionate about teaching my students new things, sparking their curiosity and having them become more conscious of the world around them.

I am sorry to say if you are not passionate about education, you have chose the wrong field and the wrong school. OISE is for passionate, dedicated and diverse students that want to learn and keep up with the ever-changing landscape of education. OISE really prepares you to view the world in a different way, which in turn makes you look at education differently.

And so I end this what I told that boy in the middle of our math lesson. “I wouldn’t chose any other job than teaching. Even if they offered me two million dollars, three million dollars or four, I would chose to come to see you guys everyday and teach you. And I know this can’t happen just yet because I am not a teacher yet, but if I could I would. And now, who can tell me what number 4 is?”


Are you  curious about the OISE student experience? Contact me:


October Recap from a Master of Teaching Point of View

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

Oops, are we really in November? What happened to October? I have been so busy transitioning from full time school to full time practice teaching that I have neglected checking in with you guys!

The biggest thing that happened to me in October was starting my first block practicum. I am in a grade three classroom in the York Catholic School Board from October 27th-November 21st. Prior to the start of practicum, I was able to go to three field experience days. These days are reserved for MT students to observe the routines and schedule of the classroom.

On my second visit, I brought the schools iPads into the classroom to introduce an application called Gizmos to the students. The lesson was to reinforce their knowledge about Friction. I would like to disclose that this lesson was not the best one I have taught. But I learned at the end of it, the students were hardly exposed to the iPads in the classroom as my Associate Teacher did not know which applications to use. She told me that many teachers in the school have similar problems of integrating the technology into their classroom as they don’t know what to use. She proposed  for me to create a list of iPad applications (apps) for the staff to use, and present a 10 minute presentation highlighting two of them at the next staff meeting.

The challenge was accepted and met! For the last two weeks I have been happily testing math and literacy apps on my iPad to present to the staff. I compiled them into a pdf, and thought I would share it with blog-sphere. I have the apps sorted by primary, junior and intermediate divisions. I also wrote found the Ontario Curriculum expectation that matched with the app, the highlights of the app and any considerations that may need to be taken when using it.   Whether you are a prospective student or a current student, these applications will be a great resource for you to have just in case you need them. And did I mention all these apps are FREE? Bonus for teachers on a budget!

In the pdf you will find these applications:

Download my list here: iPad List . Have fun experimenting with the apps, and Good luck!


Are you  curious about the OISE student experience? Contact me:


September Recap from a Master of Teaching Point of View

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

The weather is getting colder, my Starbucks drinks are getting hotter and my workload went from “I can see you after my class” to “I’ll recap my semester with you during the holidays.” As a self-proclaimed multi-tasker, this month has really tested my time management, priorities and ability to not sweat the small stuff.

In true teacher education format, I will present my 2 stars and a wish on my first month at OISE. If you are not in one of the many teacher education programs at OISE, 2 stars and a wish is an infamous exit strategy to conclude a lesson. Teachers or peers provide constructive, positive feedback to the student about their abilities, competence and performance. This type of assessment is authentic to the student’s abilities and helps them rise to the expectation set for them.

My 2 Stars :

1. My first star about my program is for the support I have received. I have heard from many graduate students that they feel so supported in their program. I even felt like that during my undergraduate program as well. But the support I have been given by my peers and professors here at OISE is on a whole new level. I have never felt more reassured that I am on the right path towards my future. Everyday I reconfirm my affirmation that I want to make a difference in the lives of my students. If you haven’t seen this Ted Talk by Rita Pierson, I will give you 9 minutes to watch this video and then come back to my post. The video is 7:48 long, but you will need that 1:12 to contain your composure and reflect on her enthusiasm.

I frame her as my inspiration as practicum is slowly approaching. I want to empower my students with the right attitudes towards education and development. Also, I want to credit Anne Marie Chudleigh for showing my class this video during our first Child Development Class. If you see her, give her a high five for me. (Bonus points if there is documentation with consent).

2. My second star is for Pepper. I am absolutely lost if I don’t check this application on an hourly basis. Literally, I would be lost with the classroom changes and new events popping up constantly. I love how I can access the site from my phone, laptop or on campus computers. A sub-wish for this site is to have better emoticons, especially coming from a tech crazy human being. Hey Jim Hewitt, I can help you design them if necessary

If you are not familiar with Pepper, because you don’t use it in your program or you haven’t entered yet….Its basically OISE’s own blackboard/portal/education powerhouse. Not to sound elitist, but if you aren’t on Pepper, you are missing out. Also, can we make the phrase “Pepper me” a real thing? I say it on a constant basis since email addresses and phone numbers are too complicated!

My 1 wish:

1. Please don’t tell me that my wish for there to be underground tunnels between the OISE building to all my favorite food sources is unreasonable. It is unreasonable? NOOOO! Okay then, let me think of another wish for the program.

Directly concerning the program, I wish for our next practicums to be released at least a month in advance. (If you are not aware, at exactly 4:01 pm on October 7th, practicum locations were released. This is 20 days before the actual start of practicum). Speaking specifically on behalf of PJ 161 [HEY GUYS!] we would have loved to have more time to prepare ourselves for our first practicum of the program. Preparations included but are not limited to:

  • Material preparations. As a frugal graduate student, I want to shop for the best deals to prepare my teacher tool kit.
  • Mental preparations. I would have liked to engage in a few more meditations allowing me to focus my energy on classroom management and lesson planning.
  • Social preparations. Do I have enough time between my commute to and from the school to text my friends that I am alive and I will see them during the Holidays.
  • Life preparations. I live religiously by my agenda. If it is not mapped out a month in advance, my whole week falls apart. And I know that many of my peers have more family responsibilities than I do. How can they start preparing their families for a new routine and schedule?

But the bright side is that practicum could have been released 1 day before our field experience days. And it is not to say the Practicum Team did not work tirelessly to provide us with practicums. I’m just wishing that my extra mindful meditations will help offset my lack of preparations and make me extra keen on excelling in the classroom.

So that was my first month at OISE in a nutshell. Please check back next month to 1) make sure I am alive before practicum 2) make sure I am alive to blog about my adventures at OISE.

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