Parry Sound High School Twitter Assignment

“My daughter is really enjoying Stratford Middle Years. She is so engaged in the learning process and is enthusiastic about the curriculum. It is great to see her dive into homework assignments with excitement or initiate interesting conversations about what she is learning at the dinner table. The teachers are very understanding and supportive and encourage her to reach her individual potential. We are so pleased with her progress.”– Grade 7 parent

“We do not teach anyone, we only provide a stimulating environment, in which children love to learn.”– adapted from a quote by Albert Einstein

Mrs. Martha Weir:

Mrs. Weir is the home room teacher for the Grade 5-8 classroom. She specializes in English, History, Physical Education, and Drama. Mrs. Weir also enjoys supervising the Special Education needs of our students and mentors the Health and Guidance aspects of the student body.

Mrs. Weir has lived in Stratford for most of her adult life where she has enjoyed raising her three boys with her husband Paul, a family doctor and avid outdoorsman. ‎The boys are now young men ages 20, 23, and 25 all of whom are busy pursuing new careers.

Growing up Mrs. Weir lived with her family in Parry Sound, Scotland and eventually settled in North Toronto where she attended St. Clement’s Private School.‎ Mrs. Weir has a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education from McMaster University and the Ontario Teacher’s Diploma from the University of Toronto. She has the qualifications to teach grades1-12 in Ontario. Mrs. Weir has taught at Millerton P.S., Romeo P.S., Stratford Northwestern S.S. and a private school in Stratford.

Mrs. Weir’s passions are theatre, music, reading, and physical activity. She loves to spend her winter vacations skiing in B.C. with Paul and her three boys. Summers are spent on Healey Lake at her cottage where she enjoys family, kayaking, swimming, campfires, and reading into the wee hours of the night!

School provides the opportunity for Mrs. Weir to pursue another passion – writing and directing plays. ‎”The magic that comes from witnessing the growth of a child from our first rehearsal to closing night is an experience that goes far beyond the walls of any classroom!”

Mme Trixie Mohr:

Madame Mohr is the home room teacher for the Grades 1-4 classrooms. She also teaches French to all students and oversees the Science curriculum, the Social Studies 1-6 curriculum and the art curriculum. Mme Mohr also enjoys looking after most of the school’s administration work, taking hundreds of pictures throughout the school year and sharing them on FB!

Mme Mohr was born and raised in Nigeria, has also worked in France and Switzerland and is now a proud Canadian living in St.Marys. Married to Andrew Middleton, they have two sons and a daughter aged 22, 24 and 26. She enjoys following her children’s careers and adventures that take her to different countries, such as Italy and Finland, open new horizons such as in the film and sound engineering industry or teach her many interesting facts in geomorphology!

Swiss Mountain dogs play an important part in Mme Mohr’s life. She cherishes being able to share her three lovable, loyal and friendly dogs with the children and staff at school. Mme Mohr and her family just recently fostered and adopted a senior Rescue part Bernese Mountain dog. The boss of the fur family however, is a rescue cat! Training, breeding, walking and spending time with her dogs are Mme Mohr’s favourite hobby.

She also loves reading, sewing, designing costumes and sets, painting, traveling and speaking different languages. Mme Mohr completed her primary and secondary school years in private schools in Nigeria, has a Swiss Baccalaureat diploma, a degree in modern languages and the Teacher’s Diploma from the University of Zurich. She is also trained and experienced in teaching the Primary and the Middle Years of the International Baccalaureat. She has taught in Switzerland and in Nigeria, where she was the Vice Principal, the PYP co-ordinator and Head of the Science, French and Art curriculum of the IITA International School. In Canada she has taught at two different private schools in London and in Stratford, Ontario, as well as supply teaching for the separate school board.

Sarah Newton:

Ms. Newton is an elementary teacher entering her fifth year at Stratford Middle Years School. She has enjoyed teaching Kindergarten as well as Primary, Junior and Intermediate Math, Science and Art.  Ms. Newton has also enjoyed participating and assisting in multiple other classes including the school-wide Gym Program.

Ms. Newton was born and raised in Stratford. After completing her post secondary education,  Ms. Newton moved back to Stratford with her husband Matthew where they enjoy spending time with their two bulldogs, Tie and Domi. Having competed for many years in baton Ms. Newton is now sharing her talents with the Festival City Twirlers. She currently runs the Recreational Baton Program and enjoys coaching twirlers of all ages.

Ms. Newton is a graduate from the Queen’s-Trent University Concurrent Education Program. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology as well as her Bachelor of Education. She completed all of her teaching experience in a variety of classes in Ontario and also in an International School in Valencia, Spain.

Recently she obtained qualifications for both Special Education Part1 and Elementary Math Part 1.

This year Ms. Newton is looking forward to continuing her teaching at Stratford Middle Years School. This year Ms. Newton will be teaching Math, Science and Art! She is looking forward to another great year!

Nick Palmer:

Mr. Palmer was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario. He attended the University of Waterloo and completed an Honours BA in History. After completing his BA Mr. Palmer joined the teaching team at Stratford Middle Years School. During this experience Mr. Palmer realized that teaching was his passion and so he enrolled, the following year, in Teacher’s College at Lakehead University. Since that time Mr. Palmer has taken courses specializing in teaching Kindergarten and Special Education. He will be starting a course focussed on mathematical teaching strategies beginning this fall.

Mr. Palmer has a keen interest in sports and the outdoors. He has spent many summer vacations swimming, kayaking, and tubing at his family cottage. He also enjoys reading in his spare time as well as keeping tabs on his favourite sports teams!

Mr. Palmer completed his teaching experience in a grade 6/7 split classroom in Coldwater, Ontario and a Kindergarten classroom in Kitchener-Waterloo. He officially joined the Stratford Middle Years school staff in 2012 and helped create the Kindergarten Program. Over the past two school years he has been responsible for teaching the grade 4-6 Math and Social Studies Programs as well as teaching the Grade 7/8 Geography Curriculum. He also enjoys teaching Physical Education and Language.

This year Mr. Palmer will continue to lead the grade 6 Math Program and the grade 7/8 Geography Program. He is also looking forward to teaching Primary Social Studies, Primary Science and Physical Education to all grades. He is excited about the upcoming school year and his fourth full year of teaching at SMYS!

Carolyn Murray:

Ms. Murray is a graduate of Western University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Music Honours Education with Distinction, as well as a Bachelor of Education. A most memorable part of her education was starring as the Cat in the Hat in The Western Faculty of Education production of Seussical the Musical!

Ms. Murray was the Director of Music and Choreography for Fridge Door Live Theatre Company during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, for which she composed original music and engaged in bringing music, dance, and theatre to children and teenagers.

Growing up on a dairy and crop farm has given Ms. Murray an appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors and wide open spaces, while also gaining considerable work ethic completing chores on the farm. She still enjoys spending time on the farm with her family, as well as her fiancée Pat!

Throughout her life, Ms. Murray has taken efforts to connect musically to the community in Stratford and beyond. She provided piano accompaniment for the musicals Godspell (2010)and Peter Pan (2013) at St. Michael Catholic Secondary School. She was happy to take part in the 2015 Teaching Shakespeare Program at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Most recently, she joined Kendra Pearson, Tanya Ross and the entire team of A Brand New Beat during the Stratford portion of Music and Art à la Carte!

Ms. Murray delights in sharing her experiences with Global Service Learning. In 2012, she participated in the Jamaica Field Service Project, where she worked alongside members of a rural community in Portland Jamaica, providing musical instruction and donations to an establishing school. In 2015, she participated in a Holocaust Remembrance and Preservation Service Learning Program in both Germany and Poland. During this time Ms. Murray and fellow educators, helped to preserve and maintain artifacts at Auschwitz, and engaged in historical learning and remembrance.

Ms. Murray is excited to be joining the Stratford Middle Years community, and will be teaching Music and Math!

Lauren McLean:

Ms. McLean is an elementary teacher who has spent the last two years teaching Grade 6 in Colombia. She is very excited to continue her teaching career at SMYS and will be working with the Kindergarten class and co-instructing Grade 6 Math with Mr. Palmer.

Ms. McLean is a St. Marys’ native who has a passion for travel and international issues. After completing high school, she went on Rotary Youth Exchange to Venezuela. This year abroad motivated Ms. McLean to pursue an undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph in International Development and a minor in Spanish Language Studies.

Following her degree, she worked with medical teams from South Western Ontario as a non-medical liaison and translation coordinator in Central America. Ms. McLean’s understanding of the power of education and development was further enhanced by working for a Canadian Private High School aboard a tall ship. ‘Class Afloat’ allowed Ms. McLean to visit many different countries by way of sea and also allowed her to develop her skills as an international educator.

On dry land, she completed a Bachelor of Education at Queens University prior to living in Colombia. Ms. McLean is fluent in Spanish, loves sports, the arts, and is thrilled to be home enjoying the natural beauty of Canada!

Mr. Andrew Middleton:

Mr. Middleton is volunteer teaching International and Community Development and can supply teach French.Mr. Middleton grew up in England and has worked in the Hotel Management Business in Switzerland, France and in Nigeria. After becoming a mature student 10 years ago, he graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honour’s degree in International Studies and in FSL (French as Second Language) and with a Masters in Education from Damen College, Buffalo, USA.

Mr. Middleton founded the charity ‘Wells4Africa’ ten years ago and has since raised enough funds to build over 160 water wells in rural Nigerian villages.

After teaching at Nancy Campbell Collegiate in London, ON, he is now a professor at the Conestoga College in Waterloo.

I must admit that when I first heard about Twitter I thought it represented the apex of what concerns me about internet technology: solipsism and sound-bite communication. While I obviously spend a great deal of time online and thinking about the potential of these new networked digital communication structures, I also worry about the way that they too easily lead to increasingly short space and time for conversation, cutting off nuance and conversation, and what is often worse how these conversations often reduce to self-centered statements. When I first heard about Twitter I thought, this was the example par excellence of these fears, so for many months I did not investigate it at all. Then I read an article by Clive Thompson at Wired. Clive’s article convinced me that perhaps it was worth giving Twitter a try. At this point I have to say, I am so glad that I did. Although I am still beginning to wrap my head around all of its varied uses—I think for the most part Twitter users themselves are still figuring this out—I have been using it for over six months now and come up with some academic uses.

Rather than cover what Twitter is or how to use it (see this video as well), I thought I would explain how I use it, specifically for academic related uses, and teaching. (For those who want the quick definition of Twitter, it allows you to broadcast and receive messages from your computer or cell phone of 140 characters in length, all those who “subscribe” to your broadcast can see your message, called a “tweet,” and you receive messages from all those to whom you subscribe. The key point to remember here is this can get sent to your phone, making it highly mobile.)

Ways to use Twitter in Academia:

Some of these ideas are general, and some are specifically from a Twittering assignment I did for a class last semester. When I first added it to the syllabus I had no idea what to expect. It was just sort of an experiment that I had planned for the end of the semester (all of the students signed up for twitter and followed each other). After using it I have to say it was one of the better things I did with that class, for reasons I will explain below.

  • Class Chatter: The first thing I noticed when the class started using Twitter was how conversations continued inside and outside of class. Most of these conversations were not directly related to class material, but many were tangentially related. Because the students had the shared classroom experience when something came up outside of class that reminded them of material from class time it often got twittered. This served as a reinforcement/connection between the material and the “real world.”
  • Classroom Community: Once students started twittering I think they developed a sense of each other as people beyond the classroom space, rather than just students they saw twice a week for an hour and a half. This carried with it a range of benefits, from more productive classroom conversations (people were more willing to talk, and more respectful of others), and also helped me to understand what type of students they were. I learned a great deal about students lives, where they work, that one of them had Thanksgiving dinner with 50+ people. Now this type of supplementary material might not be attractive to all educators, I can definitely say that changed the classroom dynamics for the better. I think this is connected to what Clive Thompson calls the sixth sense of Twitter. Having the Sixth Sense can really help the classroom.
  • Get a Sense of the World: You can have students look at the Public Timeline of Twitter. This is the place where all public messages get posted. The “noise” ratio here is pretty high, but one gets a sense of how varied are the things people are doing around the globe. Just a quick look at the timeline shows a range of languages, although English is still the predominate one. Additionally the public timeline serves as a sort of quick measure of what people are paying attention to. During large sporting events (World Series, or NFL Playoffs, Twitter) has a large number of messages from people watching these events. New Years was particularly interesting as people around the world wished “Happy New Year” via Twitter, far before the New Year actually got to me in Dallas, TX.
  • Track a Word: Through Twitter you can “track” a word. This will subscribe you to any post which contains said word. So, for example a student could be interested in how a particular word is used. They can track the word, and see the varied phrases in which people use it. Or, you can track an event, a proper name (I track Derrida for example), a movie title, a store name see how many people a day tweet that they are at or on their way to a Starbucks. (To do this send the message “track Starbucks” to Twitter, rather than posting the update “track Starbucks” you will now receive all messages with the word “Starbucks.”)
  • Track a Conference: Before going to MLA (the big language and literature conference held between Christmas and New Years) I started “tracking” MLA. This means anytime that someone tweeted using the word MLA I got a notice. This way I discovered several other people who were at the MLA using Twitter. (Now I also got a bunch of college students complaining about MLA citation format as well.)
  • Instant Feedback: Because Twitter is always on, and gets pushed to your cell phone if you set it up this way, it is a good way to get instant feedback. I was prepping for a lecture and wanted to know if students shared a particular movie reference, I asked via Twitter and got instant responses. Students can also use this when doing their classwork, trying to understand the material. Tweet: “I don’t understand what this reading has to do with New Media? any ideas?” Other students then respond. (This actually happened recently in a class of mine.)
  • Follow a Professional: Students can follow someone else who is on Twitter, who interests them. For example if they are thinking about journalism they should follow NewMediaJim who works for NBC and Tweets about being on Airforce One, covering the Middle East etc. This is a rare inside, “real-time” view into journalism. He is followed by over 2,500 people at this point. Howard Rheingold also uses Twitter in his social journalism class.
  • Follow a Famous Person: Many celebrities are on Twitter, and you can also follow politicians. Obama. Edwards.
  • Grammar: Surprisingly Twitter is actually good for teaching grammar. Why? Because of its short form those who tweet often abbreviate and abuse grammar rules, developing their own unique “twitter rules.” This helps to demonstrate, both how all communication needs rules/structure and how important something like a comma or a period can be. (Some Tweets become really ambiguous because of their lack of punctuation.)
  • Rule Based Writing: Related to the above is the idea that when you change the rules (context) around any written communication you necessarily change the content of such an utterance. Rules rather than hindering communication can actually be really productive (for the long version of this argument read about Oulipo). Because Twitter is based on SMS technology it limits communication to 140 characters, it is surprising what develops out of this limit, and how quickly one starts to think in messages of 140 characters.
  • Maximizing the Teachable Moment: It is often hard to teach in context, Twitter allows you to do this, but better yet, allows your students to do it for you (a way that others will hear perhaps). Recently someone in my Twitter circle made a marginal comment about a male friend who was dating an older woman. Another person in the same circle called him out this. Perfect, an in-context lesson on gender prejudice.
  • Public NotePad: Twitter is really good for sharing short inspirations, thoughts that just popped into your head. Not only are they recorded, because you can go back and look at them, but you can also get inspiration from others. This is really useful for any “creative” based class.
  • Writing Assignments: Remember that game you used to play where one person would start a story, the next person would continue it, etc. . .Okay try this on Twitter.

Have other thoughts/uses for Twitter and academia? Add them to the comments.

P.S.: You can follow me on Twitter if you want to see how I use it.

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