Monday, 29 June 2015

Designing a new classroom!

Early this spring, my students and I moved to a new classroom. The task of designing and decorating the classroom became a central focus of weekly brainstorming sessions. The students were very interested in being included in the decision making process for the content in the room.

I have been excited to share the before and after photos with my lovely readers. 

Student Suggestions 
When asked about what they would like to have on the walls, the top three (unanimous) suggestions were: 

1. Helpful grammar tips and tricks 
2. Inspiring words or messages 
3. Reminders for better reading and writing 

Before & After Design Photos 
Main work station - before and after 

Room divider (for two simultaneous tutoring sessions) - before and after 

Information wall - before and after 

Panorama View 

Designing the classroom with the students proved to be an amazing way to re-create the feeling of community at the school. With many of my tutoring students coming to the centre separately for instruction, many students do not get to interact with others when they are there. When the students know that they have all contributed to the design of the room they feel more connected to the whole student body, even when they are not there together.

All my best,

Ms. Taylor 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Pinterest, the Educator, and the Blog

As a new, twenty-something educator and researcher, one of the best lessons I have learned is to look everywhere! There seems to be no shortage of educated related information if you know where to look for it.
for information

At first, it seemed like an overwhelming task to begin searching through it all and make meaning and connections that relate to my own work, thesis, and teaching philosophy. I began choosing a few media platforms to investigate at the beginning of 2014 and decided upon Pinterest, Twitter, and This post will be dedicated to Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a free, personalized media sharing platform that allows users to create themed collections of content (called pinboards) by uploading, saving, sorting, and managing images and other media content (called pins). Pinterest can be used to create and organize content for multiple purposes. Users can have one main use for their pinterest account (professional, research based, personal, informational, investigatory, promotional). Users may also choose to have multiple uses for their pinterest account. For example, a teacher may use his/her pinterest account to organize and find ideas for the classroom, for home decorating, for recipes, and for other miscellaneous interests.

How educators are using it?

Finding education related content is simple using Pinterest. You can start by typing 'education' into the search bar and exploring education focused users (Pinners) or specific user collections (boards/pinboards).

Once you find Pinners who are posting content that you are interested in, following them allows for their content to show up on your home page. Similarly, when you repin (a pinterest function that means re-posting another user's pin to one of your boards) related content will be suggested to you on your home page.

See The Teacher's Guide to Pinterest from (Infographic photo credit from website).

How I am using Pinterest

I have been actively pinning for over two years! I originally began using Pinterest as a way to collect wardrobe, nutrition, and photography ideas. I began to see how useful Pinterest could be for my professional life as I began to repin from successful educators from across the world.

I completed my Bachelor of Education at Brock University in 2013/2014 and am proud to say that inspiration from Pinterest made it's way into all three of my teaching blocks. Now that I have been using Pinterest to inform my teaching practices (teaching assistant at Brock U, tutoring privately, and in-school teaching) I am actively mindful of ways that Pinterest can inform me and how I can use Pinterest to inform others! I have decided to start including two of my Pinterest Pinboards to the side of my blog. I have chosen 'Education' and "Tutoring' as the two boards I feel would benefit my audience best. A snapshot of my current education-related pinboards available on my page.

Happy Pinning!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Words of Wisdom: The Law of Balance

The Law of Balance: Finding the Middle Way 

If gravity is the glue
That holds the universe together, 
Balance is the key
That unlocks its secrets. 
Balance applies
To our body, mind, and emotions. 
To all levels of our being. 
It reminds us that anything we do, 
We can overdo or underdo,
And that if the pendulum
Of our lives or habits
Swings too far to one side,
It will inevitably swing to the other. 

Millman, D. (1995). The laws of spirit: A tale of transformation (p.9). Tiburon, CA: H.J. Kramer. 

(One of my 'happy places' on Georgian Bay. Photo reminds me to consider balance. 
Photo: Summer 2012. Photo by: L. H.)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Research Rant: Getting Started

Where to start... where to start?!

This seems to be a problem that my fellow full time Masters of Education colleagues and I have faced. When it comes to writing our masters research paper (MRP) or thesis (what I am doing), it can be hard to pick a place to start. More often than not, this uncertainty leads to major procrastination or unorganized research attempts.

I have personally found that rationally telling myself that I have already started... that I have already jumped from the diving board helps to keep me motivated. It is often my highly detailed mind that wants my first 'jump into the thesis pool' to be calculated and 'just right'. This often keeps me from jumping because I worry that I won't be able to create something wonderful or 'perfect' if I start off on the wrong foot.

Some times you have to realize you are ALREADY in mid air! The decision now is not where, when, or how to jump but how to land!

(Personal photo: Our sometimes-brave dog Dover jumping into the cottage water 1997)

I decided to begin writing with my SECOND chapter (literature review) instead of the intro chapter. I find this makes more sense for how I needed to start gathering my information. I like to call this literature review phase the 'while I am still in the air' phase. While I am here (and it feels like I have been hanging midair for a few weeks now) I can see my landing (writing the intro chapter) much clearer. 


1. My advice to anyone out there writing.... well... anything, is to just start writing. Something! Anything! It is easier to edit, change, and add on to something that exists. It is hard to enhance and build upon a blank word document! 

2. My second piece of advice is to find a way to organize your research so you do not waste time going back to re-read or find accurate citations for the work you are doing. Be efficient. Be organized. More about this to come in an upcoming blog.