Skip to main content

How teaching is more than just handing out home lessons - Corona Virus Education


I’ve been teaching for twelve years at an alternative school, working with students who are at risk. Ever heard that old saying, “Those who can’t, teach”? Well before teaching, I was a Social Worker, a Newspaper Journalist, an Internet Business Consultant, Web Designer, eMarketer and Published Author. Now, I teach. I love teaching. I love bringing all my skills from life to the classroom. And I love being challenged by the changes in society and technology that encourage me to step it up in the classroom, each year.

But I also love all the new skills teaching has given me. If you are in a situation where you are delivering lessons because of COVID-19, here are a few insights on how I deliver learning that might make your journey easier.

Let's start with some universal tips.

Tip #1: Always remember what you are teaching. Do you want them to learn how to reflect on their cooking? Then you aren't marking spelling in their written reflections. You are marking their ability to reflect on their cooking. This is an important tip to keep in mind.

Tip #2: Time is only important in timed assignments. Are you marking their ability to manage a project within a set time period? If you are not, then you should not limit their time in completing the assignment. As long as your child/ student is working at a steady pace for them (I repeat - their steady pace) then you are waiting for the final result which will be their best effort.  Don't add time to an assignment just "because". Many students don't perform well under pressure and by adding a timer, you're limiting their ability to show what they can do.

Tip #3: Nothing is more important than your relationship with your child. Don't keep teaching if you are getting frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, or even more frustrated ;). You can put yourself on a time out. You can take the assignment and hold it in the air and crumple it up, then toss it in the garbage can and move on. You can gather up your loved ones and go outside for some fun. Don't sacrifice your relationship for education.

Tip #4: Don't compare your child's progress to anyone else's. Your child will learn at their pace and that is okay. Public education paces children together because it has to. Teachers can only do so much, and we have to categorize children somehow - so we do it by age. At least, that's how we've done it in the past 100 years or so. But, that education structure was designed to offer the best learning to the largest numbers of people. If you're at home with your little one, take your time, move forward when your child is ready, for faster or slower, trust yourself to be the judge. 

Tip #5: There is no "right" way. Teach your child in a way that is conducive to them learning and being happy. The experience counts. 

Interested in this education stuff? Read on to learn how it's done in my classroom.

How Teaching Happens in my Classroom

The Golden Rule of the Order of 3's for ASSESSMENT/MARKING

The “Order of 3's” refers to how many chances a student should get to practice knowledge or skills before being marked. Students generally experience learning in this order:

  1.  Learn it / Experience it (teacher feedback/diagnostic of learning)
  2. Apply it / Do it / Deconstruct it / Explain it (teacher feedback for improved skills)
  3.  Create it / Innovate something new with skills learned / Argue it / Present it / Do or / Deconstruct another it (final marks on unit)
This is why attendance is important. Often, lessons carry over from one class/day to the next and include important steps in learning that support your child.

Generally, student marks for the report card come from step 3, AKA the third chance a student receives in which he/she can show learning.

How a Unit is Born

In secondary school, classroom learning is usually broken down into units - chapters or packages of learning on a topic, theme, skill, text, idea, etc. A course can have 4 - 10 units.

See the "A figure of speech" graphic of the man with the crow on his head? I saw it on Facebook and decided I would turn it into an English lesson on idioms.

LEARNING GOAL: students will be able to understand and use an idiom in a text.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “When will my child ever need to use idioms?”

Well, the figure of speech (idiom) is part of the English curriculum and it is the focus. The skills and knowledge applicable to life that will be practiced while achieving this learning goal will include:

  • ·         Using critical and creative thinking skills
  • ·         collaboration skills
  • ·         presentation skills
  • ·         reading
  • ·         drawing
  • ·         writing
  • ·         skills
  • ·         learning skills (learn it, apply it, create it)
  • ·         communication skills
  • ·         tech production skills

Just imagine! All these skills will be taught through an idiom unit.  Therefore, it is important for students to complete all lessons and not just the final ones.

The Lessons in the Order of 3's 

Here are the learning lessons students would need to complete in order to achieve this learning goal. I would deliver these lessons in this order to ensure proper learning. If a student has most of this learning already, I would allow them to move ahead and work quietly on the next section to avoid boredom if that decision was right for that student.

Engagement Reading or Enhanced Extensions 

Engagement is always the key to a successful Unit. Sometimes a teacher can engage with a question, sometimes with an answer, sometimes with a video or a reading. The students have to be hooked before their brains will absorb. For this unit, I would start with this picture and do a visual reading, or perhaps the following reading I scooped off Facebook. The article could also be used to keep those advanced students busy and extending their learning while waiting for students who take a little longer.

Bob Self

November 4, 2019

Did you know.....??

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "piss poor."

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot; they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands & complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. Since they were starting to smell, however, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it . . . hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bathwater!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, resulting in the idiom, "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed, therefore, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, leading folks to coin the phrase "dirt poor."

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way, subsequently creating a "thresh hold."

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, and thus the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

The bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial... They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up, creating the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins was found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive, so they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that's the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring?

Roll Out the Learning

1. Learn it 

1A: Definition

1B: Examples

1C: Visuals

2. Practice it


2A: Play it OR 2C: Match It

2B: Create it


2D: Research & Share it


My Teaching Style

Teaching is more than just lessons. Here's an example of how I DELIVER learning in my classroom - This is just my personal choice and style of teaching created from the many strategies Ontario teachers are taught. 
·         I engage students in the topic with "what if's?", humour, and contests or reading (see example below).
·         In the order shown by the images, I chunk knowledge and skills in learning steps, building upon each previous step, introducing and consolidating each step.

·         I allow students to work individually sometimes and in groups at other times. 

·         I provide timelines for each step, but also allow students the time they need and engage those who finish early with enhanced learning or student/teacher conferences for improvement.

·         I get to know my students and their personal interests and incorporate those interests into the unit learning.

·         I deliver and accept knowledge and skills through different learning styles/intelligence (visual, verbal, creative, written, performance/Kinesthetic etc.) 

·         I expand each lesson with class discussions drawing on students' critical thinking. 

·         I make learning a game whenever possible (and I teach grades 9-12). 

·         I provide all supplies needed, no student is shame or disadvantaged because they don't have learning materials.

·         I use intuition to read the students and when they are getting bored or restless, I shake it up, step it up, throw it out, or flip it. 

·         I encourage competition and movement and support those who need boosts to compete. 

The Summative Marking

The final three images are SUMMATIVE or stage 3 assessment assignment choices where I would assess whether the student achieved the goal. Obviously, before students could complete the final assessments, they would have been taught, story structure, poetry, illustration, graphic art app, characterization, performance, dialogue structure, documentation skills. Prior learning must always be considered before assessing.

Option 1: Write and perform an idiom dialogue that follows story structure (written/word and movement/Kinesthetic learning intelligence) (group or paired project) 


Option 2: Write and illustrate a poem or song using idioms on a theme (written/word, visual/art, music/math intelligence) (individual project)
Option 3: Visually create your own idiom collage/drawing of a character who displays specific traits with an answer key (visual/art, written/word, Kinesthetic/tech) (individual)

 So, there you have it. A life in the times of a classroom teacher in creating one unit.

Of course, the above simple unit scenario does not include timekeeping call-outs/scheduling details, classroom behaviour management, cell phone 'off and away' requests, school board initiatives, IEP consideration, marking rubrics, reporting, teacher collaboration, subject curriculum, parent conferencing, citing and using sources, and many other aspects of teaching.

But it’s enough to perhaps prove that teachers are those who can. Teaching successfully requires several skills, understandings, and compassion and care that together create a unique demand on a person who spends their days managing and teaching young people. And, we have had four to eight years of formal education to prepare us. 

If you're teaching your little ones, just enjoy it. Don't feel you have to meet any standards that are onerous. Just build on your relationship while you build on their knowledge and skills. Do things you enjoy. Let those connections flow. Let the child lead you. Feel blessed for the time together. And know when to toss out that assignment and take a break. 


Popular posts from this blog

How to Use MS OneNote to Organize Writing Research and Novel Outlines for Writers

Let’s Get Organized  Writers take a gazillion notes.   I don’t have to tell you this, because you know all about it. You also know how difficult it is to organize notes, search through paper notes, and sometimes even find all the notes you've written.  In this day and age, going digital is the best way to keep track of your notes. If organized properly, digital notes are sortable, searchable, editable, accessible from anywhere, and light as a feather to carry around. In this blog, I'm going to show you how to be note-efficient. ____________________________________________________ The following is an excerpt from "Technology #WritingTips for Writers". First 100 subscribers at get a free copy at book launch. _____________________________________________________ The first step in getting note-efficient is finding the right software. For writers, finding a software that will meet all of our needs is like trying to pick

Netgalley Comparison Review - Is it Worth an Author's Money and Time?

NetGalley has over 175,000 reviewers, media, booksellers, bloggers and librarians!  NetGalley is a conduit for authors to get their books noticed, read and reviewed. Many years ago, I was a reader for NetGalley. I thought it was a great deal - getting free ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. However, what I found was that I would load up too many ARCs and then eventually lose interest in writing reviews. I'm sure there are many readers on NetGalley who have experienced the same initial enthusiasm followed by a decline in activity. That's why if you're going to invest in NetGalley, you will want to have control in choosing your own reviewers. Reviewers are rated on their activity, so you can sort through those who don't follow through using the NetGalley dashboard. NetGalley offers an incredible dashboard that allows you to control who gets your books, which also ensures the readers getting your novel are interested in your genre. Readers who aren't might