21 Century Classroom: The Amaryllis
blog of Ms. Heidi Siwak, an award-winning, inspiring teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ms. Siwak's students undertake all original projects involving technology and host the world's first student-led global Twitter chat on Hana's Suitcase. She says that her blog is "where I document our learning." I fell in love with Ms. Siwak's approach to learning and found her to be very inspirational.
The most recent post on The Amaryllis was a guest post composed by Ms. Siwak's sister, Karen Siwak, regarding their father and the one prior was a compilation of photographs of Ms. Siwak's father. The post prior to the photographs was not about technology in the classroom or innovative learning but entitled, "One of My Greatest Teachers is Reaching the End of the Line" it was about her father, who was, in fact, reaching the end of his line. He had suffered for a while and believed that it was his time, so in his memory, Ms. Siwak bravely wrote about her dad.
Cliche, I know, but as I began to read this post, I sat at my computer and cried thinking about the teacher that my grandpa, the only father I've really known, has been to me. Ms. Siwak's father and my grandpa seem to be one in the same. Both hard workers, paid for everything with cash, self-taught, and would give anything to anyone that needed it. She expressed that she used to think he would do things just to make her mad, and often times I've thought that of my grandpa; now I know that it's because we posses such similar personalities. I feel like I could have scrolled down the page and gained a wealth of knowledge on teaching with technology or on critical thinking but instead, I just thanked her for sharing the story of her father. Sometimes our greatest teachers are not our school teachers but simply people that teach from their hearts.
The second post in Ms. Siwak's blog that I commented on was titled, "Teach Kids the 'Game' of University Early". This post was written by Ms. Siwak in regards to her second daughter starting college soon and after a visit to a few universities. In Canada, they use a system of "marks" that I'm not entirely familiar with; from what I gathered, "marks" are similar to our grades. Marks given in 12th grade reflect highly when applying for college and a higher mark in a regular class is better than a low mark in an IB class. Ms. Siwak says that it would be beneficial for students to determine if the curriculum and hard work involved in an IB program would be worth the effort if IB was not recognized over regular high school classes. She also said that it may be beneficial for students to begin exploring their options earlier as opposed to waiting until the 12th grade.
I commented by saying that I agree that students should be guided earlier in secondary school in regards to college careers and life after high school. I explained that, had I not known what I wanted to do, my high school probably wouldn't have prepared me enough to make my decision. Earlier school observations and open houses would allow for better, more thorough planning as opposed to quick, spur-of-the-moment decisions being made.
Summary: The Amaryllis
I really enjoyed reading Ms. Siwak's blog more so than any others that I have read in EDM 310. She seems to be on top of technological advances and their uses in the classroom, while being informed and in touch with her students. Although I don't know that much about her, she seems like the type of teacher that I aspire to be. I want to be a teacher that is in-the-know, informed, and one that embraces technology and its benefits while still having a relationship with my students.