Cookin’ up Some Christmas with the Kids!

One of the things we look forward to the most about the Christmas season is the baking! This Christmas, I want to share with you a fun way to get the kids involved in the spirit of Christmas baking! Teachers and Parents, this is one of my favourite “easy” recipes to make with young people. These Brownie Gems are easy peasy three steps to make and can be “dressed” up in gold, green or red foil cups to make a stylish addition to any Christmas baking tray. The recipe makes a class set or your children can give the little treasures as a surprise gift to someone they care about. Cook up some Christmas with the kids with the recipe for these Brownie “Gems”

cupcake1 package of Chocolate lover’s Double Fudge Brownie Mix (Duncan Hines or any you prefer)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
28 miniature peanut butter cups or chocolate kiss candies
1 container of your favorite frosting.

1) Preheat oven to 350 degreesF. Spray (13/4 inch) mini-muffin pans with vegetable oil or line with foil baking cups.(Make them Christmas fancy!)
2) Combine brownie mix, fudge packet from mix, eggs, water and oil in a large bowl. Stir with spoon until well blended, about 50 strokes. Drop 1 heaping teaspoonful of batter into each muffin cup;top with candy. Cover candy with more batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 15—17 minutes.
3) Cool 5 minutes. Carefully loosen brownies from pan. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Frost and decorate as desired.

Makes 28 brownie gems – perfect for the whole class or to divide up into small gift packages as part of a service project!


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Calling all Classes! Join the Smiley for Kylie Cancer Research Challenge

Teachers, students, parents and authors,

kyliePart of our job as teachers is to educate our students to be caring global citizens! Today, I want to put a challenge out there to all schools/classrooms to  care enough to join my class in the Smiley for Kylie campaign and support cancer research at the same time!

First let me introduce you to some special people. The first is Kylie.  Kylie a twelve year old girl who has always been known for her warm heart and beautiful smile. On April 9 of this year, Kylie was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and now is involved in the fight of her life, for her life. Though she faces quite a challenge, she has vowed that this fight will be fought with a smile on her face! Learn more about how she is doing this at . Meet Kylie and hear how she explains how she needs smiles to get her through the tough days here:
Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

SONY DSCThe second special person I’d like you to meet is Kylie’s dad, Mark Myers. Before Kylie’s diagnosis I asked Mark to be one of the authors featured on this Quest Teaching website. He agreed and I must say that in every interaction I’ve had with him, his spirit of generosity and kindness shine through.  It comes through in his writing, too. His book, Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption  is a wonderful look at small town community life and relationships.  I highly recommend it along with his many other titles.  You can get to know more about Mark here:

Having known Mark for awhile before Kylie’s diagnosis made my heart just ache for him.  I know how difficult it is when your child suffers. My own son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy so I can relate. From one parent to another, I wanted to find a way to support Mark, his family and Kylie!

That’s where your class comes in! From one teacher to another,  I think we can take Kylie’s challenge a step further and have a worthy service project to teach our students the value of giving.  We can give her smiles, of course but  we can also really make a difference for Kylie and other children who are diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma by supporting the research and/or their family with dollars. We need you to join the challenge, engage in this very worthwhile service project and give Kylie a smile to help cheer her up as she fights the cancer. How? There are three parts to this challenge:

1) Think of a creative way to raise funds for either the Ewing’s Sarcoma research or the Kylie’s family to help them through the financial hardships of medical treatment.  Maybe your class could organize a carwash or a smile-a-thon(get pledges for every minute you can smile without letting your face move!), or a bake sale,  a talent show, etc. . Anything would work! I’m sure that your class will be able to brainstorm great ideas.

2) Do the work.  Put on your event and collect the cash for cancer research or Kylie’s family . Your  donation can be made at these sites:

The Rally Foundation: – be sure to fill in that your donation is in honour of Kylie Myers.

1Million 4 Anna

Smiley for Kylie (Support the Family) :

3)  Take a picture at the event or of your class with a sign telling about the event you held and the amount you raised. Make sure your class is in the picture and everyone SMILES!  Then post your picture on the following sites:

Twitter:  or  Kylie’s facebook page:

Kylie has received smiles from all over the world. Now let’s spread the word and get schools everywhere sending her more smiles along with their donations and support.  As Kylie heads back to school, and we do, too.  Let her and her family know that classes every where are thinking about her.

If you are joining us in this cause, I would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment so my class can connect with yours! Also please retweet  or share this article on your FB page to help get as much help for Kylie and her family as we can. Together we can make a difference!


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Calling all Authors: On August 12,Make a Special Wish Come True!

Hey all, as a mother of a sick child, I know how devastating it is to watch your child suffer. That’s why I am hoping that many of you will be willing to help me with a surprise for a very special young lady. She’s my neighbour and was just given a really grim diagnosis. Her name is Heather and she is dying of cancer and doesn’t have long. Her 23rd birthday is tomorrow, and she loves to read! Since she can no longer walk, all she wants is books, books and more books to read for her final weeks. She is an avid reader! I thought it would be so special if any of you are willing to take a moment tomorrow, on her birthday, to send her an email with a personal message as well as gift her free file of one of your books. She has a Kobo reader so it takes pdf or epub. No files over 5 MB please as it will be too large for her email. I think it would be very special for her to get messages and ebooks from authors all over. It will also mean a lot to her family as they are devastated by the news right now. Let’s lift their spirits with the gift of words! Her mother said she will love getting this surprise, as she doesn’t get many personal emails. I would also appreciate it if you would lift her and her family up before the Father in prayer. They need His love, comfort, mercy and healing right now. Much love and appreciation to all who decide to help. You may send the messages of encouragement to Heather at  Psst. Please pass this on! Share with any other authors who might want to join us!

Comments (5)

  1. Lorry

    Done! I’m not an author but i sent Heather one if my favorited! Such a wonderful idea, Sharon!

  2. I saw this on Twitter. My heart goes out to Heather and her family. As the father of a child with leukemia, I have seen firsthand how devastating cancer can be. I’ve sent her a copy of my novel and some encouragement. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to help lift her spirits!

    • Sharon at Quest Teaching

      Oh Brandon,
      My heart goes out to your family too! My own son has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy so I can identify. Thank you so much for reaching out. You have truly made a difference for her.
      Much love and appreciation,

  3. Thank you for sharing Heather’s story. I just sent her a PDF copy of my debut novel, Along the Way Home.

    Christi Corbett

    • Sharon at Quest Teaching

      Thanks so much to those who have supported Heather and her family so far. Your love and support is carrying them. Though her birthday has passed, feel free to pass this on to any other authors you feel may be interested in supporting her.
      Much love and appreciation,

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CharityScope – World Wildlife Fund Canada

The World Wildlife Fund has been fighting to preserve and protect the earth and its wildlife for many years. It is a foundation that recognizes the need to build a future where humans and nature can coexist in harmony, doing so by conserving biological diversity, promoting the use of sustainable energy, and encouraging less pollution. The WWF is a global organization but has focused missions in different countries according to the demands of different climates, environments and wildlife. WWF Canada has many ways you can get involved in making the world a cleaner environment right where you are! If you visit, there is plenty of information about how nature is balanced through ecosystems, what damage pollution and waste can do to the earth, and how anyone can help. It can be as simple as deciding to recycle more, riding a bicycle instead of driving, or picking up litter you see outside. On you can even “adopt” a wild animal by purchasing a stuffed animal of that species! The profit will go towards conservation efforts. Small things such as these may not seem like much, but if we all pitch in, the world could look a little greener and countless wildlife could be saved.

~Tristan Skrettingwwf kermode bear whale

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CharityScope – Sevenly


Sevenly has a way of beautifully capturing a charity's message and turning it into products anyone would love to have.

Sevenly has a way of beautifully capturing a charity’s message and turning it into products anyone would love to have.

Sevenly is an organization dedicated to raising awareness for many worthwhile causes. Each week they partner up with a different charity around the world and raise money for them by selling products online and donating seven dollars from each purchase to the cause. Another cool thing about Sevenly is each week, the products they have are tailored to the cause, so the owner can raise awareness simply by wearing what they buy. For example, this week’s cause is Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships is a global ship-based medical organization, which has huge ocean liners detailed as hospitals to allow those in impoverished countries to have access to medical care that otherwise would not be available to them. Every year thousands of children die from easily correctable birth defects, such as cleft palates. By purchasing an article of clothing, a poster, a piece of jewelry or a bag from Sevenly this week, you could help a child in Congo to receive a life-saving surgery. And as an added bonus, due to generous sponsors this week your donation is doubled! Visit to contribute to the cause or to find out more about what your money can do.

~ Tristan Skretting

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One Project,Many Outcomes; What Makes Project Based Learning Successful?

The Ultimate Treasure is Learning!

The Ultimate Treasure is Learning!

My fifth grade social studies teacher is to blame, or to credit, for the kind of teacher I am today.  I couldn’t wait to get into her class.  That was the year we would get to learn about the history of Alberta!  I wasn’t the only one buzzing about it either.  My classmates were excited too. We couldn’t wait!

So what made us so excited to learn history and look forward to going into grade five? It sure wasn’t the thought of having excellent class discussions, gleaning the pages of a new textbook or even our love for sitting in desks all day, that got our enthusiasm revved.  In fact, we all knew that though we would  inevitably do those things, they would be in the context of  this amazing project that everyone who entered Mrs. Walman’s grade five class would get to do.  That was the year we would get to put on the Alberta History Fair!

All year long we learned so that we could prepare for our final project.  We learned about the food of the pioneers so we could prepare it for others to taste at our fair. We learned about the clothing so we could find items or make them to dress up during the fair.  We made maps and learned the names of all the locations, rivers, etc. so that we could display them and explain to fair-goers about the important events that had happened in these places. We created skits about important events and  we practised square-dancing so that we could put on a show for a the audience we knew would come.  In short, the project provided us with purpose and allowed us to “experience” history as we learned.  Knowing that we would get to put on the fair, gave us reason and motivated us to learn so we could be the “experts” when the people came. To this day, it is the only year of my schooling that I really remember.

Think back to your schooling. What do you remember the most?  I would venture to guess that it is the projects that you did.  Therein lies the beauty of teaching through projects!  When we are learning to accomplish something greater than just the learning itself,  then we are willing to take on new  challenges  and work through them to get to the end result.  All the curriculum objectives were accomplished and  connected  for us through that project .  We cared about history because we wanted to put on the fair!

What about the time factor to teach the curriculum? I don’t have time to do a project for every unit. I can hear the critics expounding their protests and I offer the following guidelines:

  1. One project, many outcomes/objectives:  Many of your year’s outcomes can be brought together and achieved in one project that is accomplished over the year.  An example of one such project was the “Smoovie” project that my grade four class did last year.  The class wanted to make a “movie” of a  novel that I wrote for them called The Jewel of Peru.   Through the project they practised and learned many of the language arts , art and technology outcomes in the curriculum.  In art,we had lessons about horizon lines, perspective, color and texture to create the backgrounds.  In language arts they listened to the story, did vocabulary searches for the words so they would fully understand the story, they rephrased, summarized, retold and practised reading their chapters with expression and voices.  The project provided a natural reason to read the story over and over again, improving their fluency so they could produce the audio for the smoovie.  The technology outcomes were many, too. They learned how to navigate the ipads, how to produce audio files, how to do stop animation and edit out scenes. They blogged about their projects on Kidblog , thus improving their writing, while learning how to do safe blogging on the internet.  This is not to mention the many social skills that were practised  through the collaborations that took place while they planned, produced and shared their projects.  The story, too, had a plot that embedded  many science and social studies outcomes.  They learned about rocks and minerals, rainforest, caring for the environment, hearing and sound, community, etc..  Learning and teaching was never so much fun!
  2. Know the outcomes and share with the students how you will evaluate each part of the project.   One project will also have many different assessments within.  I assessed their artwork according to each of the lesson objectives.  I assessed their blog posts for content, organization and conventions. I provided students with rubrics, check lists and exemplars to show them what their project should look like and sound like. Such feedback is a valuable part of the learning process as our students need it to grow.
  3. Be organized.  A project will be successful when it is well organized and students are given clear guidance about the time, the expectations, the resources, and the  tools that are at their disposal to complete the project.   Planning up front will save you a lot of headache as the project gets under way and allows you more time to act as the facilitator of learning while the students are busy working.

As we start the new year, it is my hope that each of us will have some captivating projects that will provide our students with purpose for learning this year.  This was the reason that I wrote a novel based on the curriculum. I allows me to create so many spin off projects that bring the curriculum to life and allow my students to experience the learning rather than just talk about it. I hope you find some wonderful  projects, too!   Come back and share them with me through your replies. I would love to hear from you.

The final project can be seen at: 

Kidblog posts at

More insight about the success of project based learning:

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