Tag Archives: PJ 161

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.

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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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!

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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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!

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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

Slamming Creativity: An Assignment for My “Fundamentals in Teaching” Class

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

Happy New Year Blogosphere!

This month has been crazy. As I only finished one course in December, the majority of my courses have carried over in the New Year. Therefore, all my work I put down during the break is now DUE!

I can’t declare official chaos, but every assignment I finish puts me closer to sanity. But I wanted to pause for a second and share with you guys an assignment I am working on right now. For my Fundamentals in Teaching class, we have a creativity assignment. We are supposed to reflect on how we can be creative in the classroom by creating a presentation. Most of my classmates have paired off or have joined a massive group to create something wonderful. But I thought of taking a non-traditional route with my presentation.

A couple of months ago I wrote about the boy who asked me if I would rather be a millionaire or a teacher for the rest of my life. (You can view that post here!) I thought it would be unique to bring that situation into my presentation. As I am one-woman show, I decided to present the situation as a slam poetry piece. I decided to present my thoughts on what was going through my head when he asked me that question. I have finished writing my piece and I present on Monday (Jan 19). If I am brave enough, I will ask a peer to record me and I’ll post it for everyone to see. If you would like to see my piece, comment below and let me know!

Slam poetry is huge, especially amongst the youth in urban areas. The rhythm of slam poetry brings a life to written text. Most of the slams are written about the author’s personal experience with conflict or passion. Slams are meant to be felt, and to evoke strong emotion.

I was inclined to write and present a slam poetry piece after watching 2 inspirational people perform their slams.

The first person is Taylor Mali. He was a teacher and now a full time slam poet. He is most famous for his piece “What Teacher’s Make.” He has presented this piece live many times, but has found success when he was featured during a Ted Talk. I love how he enunciates certain words and channels passion through his words. You can watch his slam piece below:

My second inspiration was Alicia Keys. During my undergrad, I bravely recited Alicia Key’s slam called POW in my Creative Arts 2 class. I have never recited slam poetry before, but I was instantly hooked on making the piece perfect for my performance and I was so proud of myself for taking a leap into the unknown. Alicia commands the audience by using different tones in her voice and elevates her volume at certain parts. Here is a clip of her piece:

Ever since that performance, I have been itching to do it again, and here is my turn!


Wish me luck guys. I am quite scared as I had support from my partners last time I performed, but I think if I can do this in front of my peers, I will have the confidence to bring it to my classrooms.

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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca


My Post-Practicum Experience: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

It is almost midnight here in Toronto, which commences my first week back at OISE after being away for 4 weeks at practicum. I want to be as honest as I can with you guys. I don’t want to paint a picture of the “perfect life” I lead at OISE. That wouldn’t do you any good, and it would not be well with my soul.

In saying this, I want to tell you how hard my first week back was. I’ve done practicums when completing my undergrad at Ryerson. I did two or three days of school and go to my practicum site for two days. Obviously both practicums have their pro’s and con’s. But I found adjusting back into life at OISE after being away for a month was awful. This week I found it tedious to sit and learn a lesson. I was instantly distracted by a sudden movement by a neighbouring student. My teachers even saw how un-engaged I was in class and asked if there was something going on.

It is unfortunately not easy to be submerged back into full time classes after being away for so long. All I can say is, next week there is no excuses. I was warned at orientation:

“You come into this program thirsty for knowledge, and we stick your heads under Niagara Falls.”

At the time, the audience just giggled and laughed. But OISE means business when they say this. This a graduate program. Expect to do readings, assignments and reflections every week. I’m not saying you are in this alone, because thats far from the case. The staff and peer support is amazing here.

All I am saying is this week I was a little lost and I wandered off. (I think its solely because my head and heart are with my students. I’ve emailed my AT multiple times that I am “homesick”) I am assuming the majority of our readers are feeling like this as the semester is coming to an end and/or the holidays are within reach. Just make the rest of your days the best of your days. I’m making this promise now, and it will be on the blog as accountability, that I will try my hardest to make it the best week of the semester.

Good night everyone.


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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca


Fall Practicum Report 6: Kids say the Darnest Things

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

The other day I came across an article listing 24 notes kids have left. Little did they know, these notes brightened up my Tuesday morning. The messages they wrote were direct, blunt and down right hilarious. I will include the link for you to check out here: 24 kids who are wise beyond their years.

Reading the article prompted me to show you some of the hilarious, heartwarming, or inspiring messages from my students. I have written a caption of what they wrote underneath each picture. You also might notice some blurred areas of the pictures; I have blurred the names to respect the confidentiality of my students.


“Dear Mrs. Cheung. 
I hope you have fun in university. But you know we want you to be happy. But we will miss you. So good bye!”

If you are a female teacher, you are bound to run into this problem. Kids will always mistaken you as Miss or Mrs. Many times I had to tell my kids, that I am not married yet and I am Miss Cheung.

“Starbucks cafe”

 “We will miss you Ms. Cheung. Starbucks” 

Everyday, I arrived to school with Starbucks tumbler full of coffee or tea. Eventually my students found out that I looooove Starbucks. So most of my cards had Starbucks coffee cups! Mmmm!

“P.S Thanks for letting me teach you recorder!”

This card was from the student that taught me the recorder. If you haven’t read the story about that, here is my previous article on it.

“Dearest Ms. Cheung,
We will miss you so much. I like you because you are an awesome student teacher. But the rest I am speechless.”

When I read this out loud in class, I couldn’t stop laughing! How hilarious was this message?


“Dear Ms. Cheung.
We will miss you so much. I like you because you’re the best teacher. LOL best teacher make happy.”

As the previous student said… I am speechless! Haha!

“Dearest Ms. Cheung,
We will miss you so much. I like you because:
1) You are an awesome student teacher
2) You teach great math lessons
3) You’re always willing to help
4) You’re always nice
5) You taught us to become great public speakers”

I loved all of the cards my students made, but this specific one struck a cord with me. It just reassured me that I am in the right field. I loved getting to know each of my students on an individual level. I really connected with the class, unlike any class I have taught before. They were absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks.


Are you  curious about OISE student life? Contact me:

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca


Fall Practicum Report 4: The Power of Flexibility

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

If you thought this post would be about my recent interest in gymnastics, you are horribly misguided. Unfortunately, I have not enrolled in a tumbling class but have instead expanded my duties outside of the grade 3 classroom.

I am going to share with you two experiences which occurred this week. These two experiences only happened because I decided to leave my classroom and enter another.

I was asked to teach a photography lesson to Grade 7 and 8’s. Although I am confident in my photography skills and abilities, I was nervous to teach a room full of teenagers. I kept having flashbacks to when I was in elementary school, and how obnoxious my classmates were in Grade 8. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The class enjoyed taking pictures, using the school’s iPads, and learned the various elements of design. To manage the class, I just adapted the strategies I used with my Grade 3’s and adjusted the tone of my voice from time to time. Since I haven’t taken a “how to teach intermediate students 101” I think I did great.

The second experience I had was introducing a math program called Math Prodigy to neighbouring Grade 3/4 class. Math Prodigy is an interactive math program that has been slowly introduced to the classrooms in my school. Aside from the initial battle of username and password entries, the students enjoyed the challenges and levels in the game. It also allowed me to sit one-on-one with students that had difficulty with the challenges. The experience also allowed me to learn some of the students names in this new class.

These two experiences allowed me to challenge myself outside of my own classroom. I was able to use a range of strategies for classroom management, lesson design and lesson implementation. And here I turn this to you; how flexible is your application?

I know we are only a few weeks away from the final submission of applications. Does your letter of intent represent your flexibility in approaching education? As many of you know, education is not a fixed concept. It is fluid, ever changing and dynamic. OISE is looking for individuals that are able to be flexible and resilient to the changes in education. Whether it is teaching adults, a different classroom or researching a topic, OISE students have to use their power of flexibility.


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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

Fall Practicum Report 3: Recipe for Peace

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

This week my classroom recognized Remembrance Day. I was in charge of delivering a lesson to my grade threes’. My AT kept it open for my interpretation and would back me up in whatever route I went.

So I did two lessons. One was specifically about Remembrance Day, and why we honour the soldiers that risked their lives for us.  I borrowed the book, Proud as a Peacock and Brave as a Lion from my local library. Following the story, we created poppies that revealed sentences under the petals. I prompted the students with sentence starters and had them finish it what they deemed appropriate to their understanding. (I remember… Poppies remind me of… Peace is important because…Remembrance Day is important because…)

My second lesson was about peace. I brought in the book, A Little Peace. The book is a series of photos from National Geographic with short captions to encompass the pictures. We talked about the importance of pictures versus text, and why it would be purposeful for us to read a book with more pictures. Following the book, I prompted a discussion with the sentence start “I can bring peace to others by…” We formed a list of suggestions or experiences my students had to show kindness and peace to others. I had the students return to their desks after the discussion to fill out peace signs with ways they bring peace to others.

The highlight of my two lessons was my closing activity for the Peace lesson. I had students create their own recipes for peace. I prompted them with the types of measurement and instructions used on recipes, but their ideas were all them! I will let their recipe cards do all the talking. I don’t want to impose my views of them on you. Here are some that I documented:

(I have blurred their names to respect their confidentiality. If you are a teacher, I recommend for you to blur out their names on pictures you take, if you haven’t already done so.)

My students reassure me that they will try to bring peace into their world in their own ways. This lesson truly made me feel confident in what I instilled in them during those lessons.

What is your recipe for peace? Let me know below!


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

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca

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.

Are you curious about OISE student experience? Contact me:

Email: oise.ambassador@utoronto.ca