Monday, November 16, 2015

Learning How to Read

During the primary years, young students learn to read. “Reading is the process of constructing meaning from a written text. Effective early reading instruction enables all children to become fluent readers who comprehend what they are reading, can apply and communicate their knowledge and skills in new contexts, and have a strong motivation to read.” (Early Reading Strategy: The Report of Expert Panel on Early Reading in Ontario, 2003). 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to Prepare your Class for a Productive day with a Supply Teacher

At the moment, I am a short term supply teacher for two school boards in Ontario, which means I am one of the "lucky" ones considering the teacher jobs shortage here (even in French, contrary to popular belief). When supply teaching, some days are better than others. Last week, I worked for two days in the same school with different classes (a grade 4, and a split grade 2/3). This is a school where I teach regularly, so I am usually quite comfortable working there. My two days of work unfolded quite differently though. In one case, I had a perfect supply teaching day, and in the other my stress levels were very high. It is interesting how a few details can drastically change a teaching experience.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Primary Students Benefit from Inquiry Learning Too

I wrote this reflection on inquiry learning in primary classrooms after viewing a series of training videos on inquiry learning from in the context of my primary qualification course with Brock University. These videos are really worth watching! Here are the highlights of four of these videos in the inquiry series.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Dream Primary Classroom

I discovered a neat free website that allows to plan room set-ups: Room Sketcher. This website was shared by Zoe Branigan-Pipe, who was my Junior ABQ instructor last summer at Brock University. RoomSketcher is a house set-up software, and therefore there is no dedicated school furniture, but I was able to make a neat class set-up nonetheless. This software is extremely user-friendly. There are several interesting features, such as the wide array of possible furniture and accessories. Also, it allows the user to take snapshot 3D pictures of the room in order to have a better idea of how it looks like in real life. All in all, I enjoyed using Room Sketcher to design my dream primary classroom. I have made my classroom set-up public on the site, and it can be accessed here

My dream primary classroom is spacious (14m x 9m). There are a couple of windows on the top wall in order to get some much needed natural light. The door is at the bottom left corner. In Ontario, primary classrooms have about 20 students, and I designed the working space for this number of pupils. The picture below shows the top view of the entire classroom floor plan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tips to implement Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory in the Primary Classroom

 Basic Principles of the MI Theory
Dr. Howard Gardner introduced the Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory in 1983 in his book “Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences” (Peters, 2010). Gardner’s own definition of intelligence differs from a conventional definition which views that intelligence is “the cognitive capacity that people are born with” (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences, 2004). Instead, Gardner defines intelligence in his “Frames of Mind” book as “the ability to solve problems or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings”. Initially, Gardner introduced seven multiple intelligences, and he subsequently introduced two additional ones in 1999 in his book “Intelligence Reframed” (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences, 2004). These intelligences are described in Table 1.

Table 1. Description of the Gardner’s 9 Multiple Intelligences
“Word smart”. Consists in good aptitude with oral and written words.
“Number smart”. Consists in good ability with numbers and reasoning.
“Picture smart”. Allows for pronounced facility with 2D and 3D visualization of images, as well as visualization of thoughts.
“Body smart”. Entails a good control of body movements and a good aptitude with hands-on activities.
“Music smart”. Encompasses a facility for sounds, rhymes and rhythms.
“People smart”. Involves a good facility with social interactions and cooperation.
“Self-smart”. Consists in the ability to be in touch with inner feelings and to self-reflect.
“Nature smart”. Involves an understanding of the natural world and its components.
“Existence smart”. Entails the ability to engage in deep reflection about human existence.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Responsibilities of the Primary Teacher in Ontario

After a very interesting and rewarding Junior qualification course this past July, I am now taking a primary basic qualification course online. Our first assignment was to come up with the most important responsibilities for the primary teacher. We watched a video (Kindergarten Matters: Building Blocks for Learning) and (re-)read the OCT standards of practice and ethical standards in order to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of a primary teacher. Here is what I came up with.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hitting the Math Trails

Math trails are math field trips, and they make math fun and relevant for students. Math trails allow students to realize that math is everywhere around them, in their life and their surroundings. Math trails do not require travelling to a distant location by bus, since they can easily take place at a local landmark. This is an example of a math trail I created for grade 9 math students, set in a Community Centre within walking distance from their secondary school in Oakville (Ontario). This is my first attempt at a math trail and I do not claim to be an expert. This link provides some excellent resources if you would like more information and examples of math trails.

Elementary students can also enjoy the fun of math trails. I found this excellent article on math trails for elementary students. They provide an example of math trail set up within the school grounds. Teachers can design simple math trails by creating tasks that involve finding shapes, patterns, counting, estimating, measuring, etc. that are based on their physical environment. Math trail are all about making math relevant and exciting to students. Please share your math trail experiences in the comment section below, and feel free to try my math trail with your students.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to flip lessons in a Junior Class

You cannot really have a flipped classroom with elementary students for various practical reasons. However, teachers can a do flipped lesson. During a flipped lesson, students have a “lesson” at home instead of homework. The flipped lesson is usually in the form of a video, but it can also be a text to read or a podcast to listen to. Following the flipped lesson, during school time, students work on enrichment activities based on the lesson. In a Junior class, many students will not have easy computer access at home, so teachers could set up a station in the classroom where students can watch the video at some point during the day. Sending i-pads home may be tricky if parents do not want their kids using the internet. It would help if teachers post the video link on their teacher's website so that parents can access it more easily. Teachers should ensure that the Junior students have ample time to do the flipped lesson before the classroom follow-up, at least several days.

I wanted to share this blog resource from Jon Bergman, one of the founders of the flipped movement, that I found useful for my attempt at a flipped Junior lesson: The link to my flipped junior lesson is here. It is a Ontario grade 6 science lesson on electricity generation in Canada. As usual, feel free to try it with your students, and I would be happy to know how it went and/or if you have suggestions to improve it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thank you, Zoe!

Zoe Branigan-Pipe

I just finished taking a Junior ABQ course online with Brock University, and I would like honor our course instructor, Zoe Branigan-Pipe. I have have many courses and workshops throughout my career, and this was hands-down one of the best courses I have ever had. Zoe had planned an exceptionally engaging and technology-oriented course. Early on in the course, she introduced us to the benefits of a personal learning network and had us create a blog, sign up for a twitter account, and try different tech tools such as Delicious and  Livebinders, among others. Everything you see on this blog is the result of many assignments in this particular course (although we did not post all our assignments). The take-away benefits of such a resource-full blog for a teacher are an incredible gift. I plan to slowly morph this "practice" blog into a more permanent professional blog, but in the meantime I will take a few days off and enjoy the summer. Thank you for everything, Zoe, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer too! - Muriel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways (TLCP) Model

In my Junior qualification course at Brock University (Ontario) this summer, we were given the task to create a Teaching Learning Critical Pathways document (TLCP) for a Social Studies unit in a Junior grade. The TLCP framework is different than a standard unit plan in a specific subject in several ways. This model integrates several subjects within one inquiry-driven unit. Therefore, there will be a cluster of curriculum expectations that will be used in the TLCP.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I can’t do this 

No I can’t do this
I am not a good reader
This text is too long, Miss
All these words to decipher

The others make it seem so easy
Look, they have already moved on
Some will say that I am lazy
Why am I feeling so down?

Yes of course you can do this
Step by step you will get better
I will help you get through this
You are ever so clever

Sometimes it takes you longer
Everybody is different
We are in this together
Be proud of your accomplishment!

(Poem by Muriel Corbierre)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Did you know?

  •           Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 person in 165.
  •           ASD is characterized by impairments in communication and social interaction, as well as unusual patterns of behaviours, interests and activities.
  •           The symptoms of ASD can range from mild to severe impairments in several areas of development.
  •           Three disorders are considers ASD: autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD NOS).
  •           Parents should be involved in the program planning and teachers should ensure that there is regular, positive communication with the parents.
  •          Unusual developmental profiles are common for students with ASD, and therefore careful documentation of a student’s unique strengths and weaknesses is necessary and can have a major impact on the design of effective intervention programs.
  •           Comprehensive assessment information is necessary in order to develop individual learning profiles and appropriate educational programs for students with ASD.
  •           Most students with ASD have special education needs that need to be considered in an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  •           Students with ASD often experience difficulty with change. Establishing consistent practices is promoted through collaborative planning. Education strategies and practices are most effective if they are implemented across various settings, including the home, school and community. Also, teachers must carefully plan for transitions between activities during the school day.
  •           Universal Design for Planning (UDL) and differentiated instruction are recommended for teachers to use with ASD students.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dear parents and guardians,

Welcome to 4th grade! My name is Muriel Corbierre and I am thrilled to be your child’s teacher this year. In grade 4, students will learn many different subjects, which I have outlined in my class blog at I will be teaching all the subjects except for core French and Health & Physical Education. I invite you to consult the blog regularly since I will update it often with class information such as homework, upcoming events, pictures, etc. I will also keep on adding interesting education information and links both for students and parents. You will notice that my professional twitter feed appears on the main page of the blog. I tweet science, math and general education material that you might find useful to consult. As you can see, I am interested in bringing technology to the classroom. Students are usually more engaged in their learning when technology is involved. Please be assured that technology is used wisely in class and that we will not use social media in class. Our school provides laptop computers and chromebooks for our students’ use in class, and our classroom is equipped with a SmartBoard.

In my class, students learn through various learning theories that are student-centered and that promote meaningful learning. I have posted a list of links that describe these learning theories on the blog, for your information.

Research has shown that when parents are involved in their child’s education, children do better at school. I need your help in making sure that your child comes to school well-rested and with a full tummy in the morning. Also, you should provide your child with a quiet, well-lit space at home for homework. It is very important that you help keep your child accountable for their homework and that you emphasize the importance of school work. There are several ways to get involved at school if your schedule allows it. I love parent volunteers and I invite you to come and help in class if you can. You will have the opportunity to volunteer occasionally when we have special activities like field trips or science workshops, or regularly for reading or math help. Please let me know how you can help, we will be happy to have you in class.

I will send home the class rules and expectations once the students and I have defined them in class. These expectations will be posted on the class blog as well. I will ask you to review them with your child and to both sign the class pledge. I have high expectations for all my students and I expect that they will work hard and do their best. In return, I promise to do my best for your child and to help him/her succeed.

I look forward to frequent communication with you to ensure your child’s success. I will call you the first week of school to introduce myself. Please contact me when you wish to talk about your child’s progress. Don’t wait for me to contact you first if you have an issue you want to discuss. You may email me (, call me at school (###.###.####) or leave a message on the blog.


Dr. Muriel Corbierre

Thursday, June 25, 2015