Monday, December 21, 2015

Health & Fitness Apps

Not quite ready to cave in to the Fitbit craze, I've instead decided to try out the following combination of apps:

BMI Calculator

Calorie Counter - My Fitness Pal

Daily Yoga - Yoga Fitness App

7 Minute Workout


Water Drink Reminder

My goals it to get back in shape and return to my ideal weight after allowing my doctoral program to completely derail me.  Wish me luck!  Will let you know how it goes...

What health and fitness apps have you had success with?  Let me know in the comments section below...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My First Screencast/My Oral Defense

Because I am looking into flipping my classroom after Christmas, I decided to give screencasting a try today.  From the various options available, I selected Screen-o-matic, also recommended by Richard Byrne over at Free Technology for Teachers.  Screen-o-matic is extremely easy to use, with the only limitations being that the user can only record 15 minute clips at a time and must have Internet access to use it.  Because I used my oral defense as practice, which was about 30 minutes in length, I had to overcome the time restrictions by recording and downloading shorter clips and then editing them in Windows Movie Maker.

Here is the result:

I still have a lot to learn about how to make my presentations more exciting to watch and listen to, but I guess that this is okay for a start :)  I look forward to using this tool more next semester as a means of further differentiating instruction for my high school English students.     

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Inquiring into the Potential of Flipped Learning within the High School English Classroom

High School English teachers are perhaps the originators of a flipped approach to learning, with much of the reading and preparation for any particular class being conducted outside of class.

However, a need exists, particularly with many of our students away for extended periods of time to renew their visas, but also for students who are out sick, participating in extracurricular activities, or simply in need of further reinforcement, to provide resources for students to review the skills taught in class on their own time and in a location that is convenient to them. 

According to the Flipped Learning Network, “flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.”  Flipped learning allows for greater flexibility in terms of what, when, and how students learn.  Starting in the New Year, my department members and I will be working collaboratively to explore the potential of this approach to learning within our subject area.  

We will be taking an inquiry-based approach to our learning, as follows:   

By the end of the self-directed Learning Institute, we hope to have achieved the following learning outcomes:

·         Learned more about the benefits and challenges of a flipped approach to learning
·         Learned more about the potential applications for this approach within a HS English classroom
·         Examined various examples of a flipped approach to learning
·         Learned more about various resources, approaches, and tools available to facilitate a flipped approach to learning
·         Created one or more videos to use within our classes
·         Shared these videos with one another and with our students to seek feedback
·         Reflected on the feedback and on the overall experience to determine what, if any, improvements could be made, and what the next steps to a flipped approach to learning within the HS English classroom might be

Wish us luck! 


Flipped Learning Network.  The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™.  FLN, 2014.  PDF file.      <>

Experimenting with ThingLink

Finally got the chance to try out ThingLink this evening, a tool for creating interactive images.  I decided to try using it to annotate a print ad, a skill that I teach during the second year of the IB Language and Literature course.  I found ThingLink fun and easy to use, and I can see a lot of potential applications within the classroom.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Planning, Implementing and Evaluating a Connected Learning Experience for HS Students

In line with one of my goals for this year, I have been working with a teacher from California to plan and implement a connected learning experience for our Grade 9 English students.  We have had the privilege of co-presenting our work at the Learning 2.0 Africa conference held this weekend at my school.  Here is the Prezi that we developed for our talk.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Goals for the Year

Goal #1:  Work collaboratively with members of my department to ensure that all UbDs are fully completed and of high quality.

Last year, our department reworked our entire Grade 9 and 10 English curriculum to ensure that our students will be well-prepared for either IB Literature or IB Language and Literature, whichever they should eventually choose to take.  We also adopted a new set of standards.  These were big changes for us, and we need to ensure that everything is documented in Atlas Rubicon and peer-reviewed for quality and consistency.  Hopefully this curriculum review work will lead to increased engagement and improved learning outcomes for our students.      

Goal #2:  Develop opportunities for global connection and collaboration for my students. 


This is my favourite of my three goals for this year.  Building on the principles of connected learning, I hope to get my students connected with each other, with peers from elsewhere, and with experts as we explore the various texts and ideas that we will be learning about together.  I already have my IB Language and Literature 2 students tweeting away, and have set up a global exchange for my Grade 9 English students with Grade 9s from Mountain House High School in California.  Wish us luck!       

Goal #3:  Introduce and implement system for peer observations within my department.
I am fortunate to be working with an amazing team of professionals here at AISJ.  There is so much that we can learn from one another.  I'm hoping to use the pineapple chart hack to ease us into the practice of peer observations, so that we, too, can reap the benefits of greater transparency in our teaching for our students.

What are your goals for this year?   

What will you do to accomplish them? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

#JoMUN13 Director's Letter

We have accomplished a lot this year with our Johannesburg Model United Nations (JoMUN) Conference.  Here is my director's letter from this year:  

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the thirteenth annual Johannesburg Model United Nations (JoMUN) conference.  You have chosen a fantastic year to be a part of it and we are absolutely thrilled that you have decided to join us!   

Working closely with the student organizers of this event, Jose Foppiani (Secretary General) and Arijit Pandey (Deputy Secretary General), along with a truly remarkable group of chairs, we have been able to implement a number of important changes this year, all designed to improve the overall conference experience for everyone.  These changes include:
  • Shifting the conference venue to AISJ’s beautiful campus in an effort to make it more affordable for outside schools to participate
  • Offering a homestay option for outside schools
  • Doubling the participation of outside schools as compared to last year
  • Including students from AISJ’s Pretoria campus in our conference for the first time ever
  • Working hard to make our conference greener
  • Improving our conference website
  • Introducing a new committee room:  the Historic Security Council
  • Providing more rigorous preparation for both chairs and delegates
  • Communicating more clearly and effectively with delegates, teacher directors, and parents

We trust that these changes will result in a higher quality of debate as well as in greater enjoyment.  At the same time, we recognize that there is always room for further improvement.  We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding how we can make next year’s JoMUN even better.   

I would like take this opportunity to thank the other members of my team:  Ms. Evi Singleton, who was responsible for finance, Ms. Deanne Slattery, who worked with the members of the Secretariat once again this year, and Mr. David Goetz, who helped with logistics.  I must also thank the many teachers who generously gave of their time and expertise within the various committee rooms this year:  Mr. Matthew Fron, Ms. Penny Keet, Dr. Michael Kissack, Mr. Robert Langlands, Ms. Shahnaz Malik, Mr. Ross McGlothlin, Ms. Beatrice Murgues, Ms. Ana Rollon, Mr. Dharma Sears, Ms. Julia Stock, Ms. Marie Pirker, and Mr. Aaron Thompson.  You have all been fantastic!  In addition, I would like to thank our hew High School Principal, Mr. Geoff Smith, our two Assistant High School Principals, Ms. Sandy van Nooten and Mr. Will Hurtado, and, of course, our School Director, Dr. Andy Page-Smith, for their ongoing support of this valuable learning opportunity.

As JoMUN XIII draws to a close, we have already begun to look forward to JoMUN XIV.  We hope that you will consider joining us again next year as we continue to grow and improve our MUN program at AISJ.  

Katherine Maloney

MUN Director

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