Saturday, November 22, 2014

What I'm Doing to Improve Student Writing

I need to start this post off by saying that I'm not getting paid to write this

So, what am I do doing to improve my students writing?
Well to start off I put up their quality writing on the wall.
They have even began to ask to put up their own writing instead of me doing it for them.

In my class we have something called the "MOLA" - The Museum of Language Arts.  
Usually we just have poems in our museum but that is all changing.


We've begun to use the MOLA so often that I'm now able to tell them that they need to be writing museum quality work and they know what that is.

But, lets be honest, not everyone cares about having their work up on the wall... do they?

So I went to an inservice a few weeks ago and at it this lady quickly showed us an app.  It was a very brief introduction to it and the sad thing about this app was it required wifi to work (something we don't have at my school so I dismissed it as a good idea if only we had wifi).  
It also required an iPad and what I'm about to say will seem odd but... I forget that we have a class iPad all the time. My students use it all the time to work on their writing (maybe I'll write about that app another time) but I rarely use it and so I forget about it. 

ANYWAYS, we had been making "how to..." videos and they were handing in writing to go with it but I wasn't entirely sure how it was all going to come together... then I thought "Aurasma"


This app is really cool.
I think my students think it's magic.

Anyways, when they do a good piece of writing that is "museum worthy" I have them read  or summarize it on video.  Then I take the writing home (because we don't have wifi at the school) and upload the video to this lovely little app and take a picture of their writing to go with it.  
Then I'll bring the writing back to school and tack it up in our museum and when a student opens the app and holds the iPad up to the writing the app recognizes the writing and pulls up the video on top of the writing.  

When I showed them how the app works on Thursday I asked them who was excited to do really good quality writing so that we could take videos of them and at least half the class put up their hands.  Another quarter of them I'm sure just didn't want to admit they were excited.

Anyways, that day I finally got a bunch of quality writing assignments for their how to videos that I took home (I always have to take their writing home because I have wifi at home and therefore can upload everything at home but the actually recognition works without wifi once everything is set up).  I paired everything up and I would say we probably have about 10 how to write ups in our MOLA that are attached to a video now.  

Friday was an exciting day because they could finally watch some of their videos through the app.

When they are done their work I'll give the iPad to a small group of students (about 3 at a time) and they wander through the MOLA watching videos and reading what others in the class are up to.

I LOVE IT!

They've been showing off the program to their friends in other rooms and any teacher that wanders through our room.  
I'm just so excited that they are excited.

Anyways, I found this YouTube video to help you see exactly what it does 
(we are just using it to pull up a video of the student but it appears there is so much more it can do!)



I should mention that the screen that recognizes photos comes up as soon as you open the app.  
So super easy for students to navigate because there really is nothing they have to do!

As soon as you pull the iPad away from the image the video disappears.  So in our MOLA they can walk through it and switch videos just by switching papers that they are holding it up to.

I've also told my students to either add a picture or outline their title with a colour to make it more distinguishable.  On the bottom of the screen when you take a picture of the image there is a bar that goes from red to green... it won't let you take the picture in red because it isn't distinguishable enough from other images... your goal is to get it to green but for my students most of their work has fallen under yellow which (so far) has worked out just fine for us.

You can also put the app on your iPhone (and probably iPod as well)

Oh, and best of all, the app is free!

So, in conclusion.:
My students love Aurasma
I'm sad that this iPad in my classroom isn't actually mine and is just on loan... I hope no one comes asking for it back anytime soon.

Do you think you'll try this app in your classroom?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm Back!

I know I know... 
"we've heard this before" 
but now that the stresses of report cards are done (and I'm planning a fairly chill weekend with only a stack of math tests to mark) I do plan to come back to you folks.

And I'm really excited about a post that I will try to compile for this weekend!

As a hint... I got an iPad to use in my classroom 
(I feel so incredibly blessed to get the iPad for my class and love that my students can have the opportunity to use it too).  
I'm not sure how long I have it for exactly but hopefully I'll have it for a while because... I'm using it to get my students excited to do work through the use of video.  

They think it is magic and I think it is wonderful. 

 I'll share all about this lovely little app this weekend so definitely stay tuned (you can also use the app on an iPhone and likely an iPod too.. you just have to be able to take pictures)

I'll also snap a bunch of pictures around my class tomorrow so you can see what we have been up to for the last month (or 2)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Apparently

Apparently I've taken a little break from blogging.
Actually, that is incorrect because as you can clearly tell I HAVE taken a break from posting anything from quite some time.  Long enough that one of my faithful readers complained to me that she was checking regularly and saddened by no new posts.  

Well fear not!
For I am back... for today at least.

And today's post is on "apparently"
Last night I was out with a friend when he used the word apparently much like I had above (where the word apparently isn't really appropriate) so I regaled him with a little tale from school.

You see I have a student who over uses the word apparently.
Apparently he was playing with someone at recess who apparently tripped.  Apparently because he tripped this caused my student who over uses the word apparently to bump into another girl.  Well, apparently that girl hurt her hand because of all of it.

What really happened?
Well I wasn't outside so I don't really know but I think it is safe to assume the following:
Student A was playing with student B when student B tripped.  This caused student A to bump into student C who hurt her hand.

And not a single use of the word apparently was needed.

Anywho, the point of all of this (which I told my friend last night) was so that I could show my friend this video 


I haven't shown it to my student yet... I'm not sure he would get it.

Have a fabulous week!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

This Week At School

I'm going to try something different for this TWAS post...
In my other life (my time that I don't teach) I belong to a church small group where we share our highs and our lows from the week.  So to help keep this post a little shorter I'm just going to share a high (or two) and a low from the week.

LOWS
-  I've had to make some phone calls home to parents this week.  I'm just fed up with a couple of my students behaviour and I'm hoping my talk with both of them has had some kind of impact on them for the following week... I'll have to follow up with them on the talk first thing Monday morning to remind them.

-  Why oh why can't students listen when I'm telling them things?  I feel like I just give instructions, I ask if there is any questions and immediately a hand shoots up to ask "so what do you want us to do?"  Good thing on our "Ask 3 Before Me" chart there is a listening category.

HIGHS
-  In science we made levers out of random objects.  
CD cases, rulers, spoons, forks, knives, chop sticks, even a pool noodle.  
I gave each student a marshmallow that they put their initials on (and I told them if they did not eat the gross markered up  marshmallow I would give them a good one at the end of the day... which was an hour away).  I gave them a couple minutes to think about how they would use their object and then I took them outside to launch them at me.  I grabbed some goggles from the science teacher announced to my class "safety first" and then let them shoot them at me.  They had a lot of fun.  No one hit me or had theirs land in the bucket but we had some close ones.  
When we came back inside we talked about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class levers.
Later on we are going to try it again but this time they are going to build catapults.  I'm looking forward to it!  But the REALLY interesting part was who could not wait until the end of the day to get a nice, clean, full marshmallow to eat... They knew they wouldn't get one if they ate theirs ahead of time.  
Some of us need to work on patience it seems.

-  We had our last cross country run on Friday!... and someone from my grade 5/6 team got first for her grade and gender category!  
I'm super impressed with all of my students... 
the previous Friday we were running in about +30 degree weather which was wonderful 
and then this Friday... 
I think it maybe got up to +3.  
But that wasn't the worst part... 
the worst was that it was snowing some of the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen!  Seriously, they were huge.. if you would of looked up at the sky and trees you would have thought it was the middle of winter.  Luckily, the snow was melting as soon as it hit the ground... unfortunately that just made for a very muddy and wet run.  
But everyone completed it and so everyone deserves a big HUZZAH!

I've signed my lovely self up for a teacher question and answer period... I'm not exactly sure what questions are going to come through but I would like you all to have a say in it!
If you have any questions about teaching (or substitute teaching) you should comment below OR email them to
confessionsofamodernday@live.com

I plan to use all the questions I get in a future blog post... so stand by.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Fears

Congrats!  We all made it to October and the first month of school is behind us.
I guess it is time to start getting some grades in so that I'm ready for report cards.

In the spirit of October and Halloween here are some fears that apparently, teachers have.

Do you have any teacher fears?


2 of my fears would be...
Budgetcutaphobia - This isn't a fear I have because of budget cuts... it is a fear I have because my term only goes until April.  I don't know what will happen after that.  If I can manage to stay at this school until the end of the year I will be up for permanent which would be amazing... so I'm hoping and praying that the lady I'm doing a mat leave for maybe decides she doesn't want to come back until next year.
Applicaphobia - I'm quite certain this happens every year.  

But desksquishaphobia - how is it that the desks ALWAYS move to the front of the classroom?  I always tease my students that they must just want to be closer to me... because they all notice the day I get them all pushed back to their original spots.  Also, I should note that this is not a fear... they can all slowly inch their tables closer to the front if that is what they want.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gift Bag Simple Machines

I mentioned in my TWAS that in science class we are learning about all the different kinds of simple machines.  I figured I would let them explore and learn about each machine on their own first before we went more in depth for all of them.  This week we are starting to talk about levers but last week students explored different types of simple machines by looking at random objects I put in gift bags.

What I did:
- I gathered together a bunch of random objects... math compass, ruler and eraser, nut cracker, can opener, stapler, car jack, tweezers, and a bunch of objects that we didn't have an official name for because we didn't know what they were (that I picked up at thrift stores) and I stuck them each in a bag that you couldn't see through.

-  Then I put them all by the window and let them sit there for a few days until we were ready for them.  Every day students would ask me what all the presents were for, who gave them to me, and if they could open them.  Anticipation was building (I actually didn't mean to do this so early but it just happened that we lost a science class somewhere and so it happened)

-  Finally, one day I scattered the bags around the room and explained this sheet that students would fill out with a partner.

-  I like to partner my students up with a grade 6 student and a grade 5 student because the grade 6's would have already done this unit (but they forget) so they went around the room opening each bag, trying to figure out what the purpose of the object could be (or making it up when they had no idea) and examing it for simple machines.
I gave them this worksheet to fill in while they went around the room.

-  They had an hour this class to look at the objects (well, slightly less because of the time it took to explain). Some got through them all (because they rushed) and some didn't get to them all.  So the next science class we took time opening each bag together and talking about what was in each bag and what simple machine was in it.  I originally planned to do it as sort of a debate but they just agreed on the simple machines for the most part.... no one wanted to play devils advocate because they were all just so smart about simple machines by this point.

-  For every time they said something was a lever I had them point out the fulcrum on it and by the end they were all experts on the fulcrum as well.

I should mention that prior to this class we filled out an illustrated dictionary on all the simple machines so they had a basic understanding on what each machine did AND they also played an Edheads game that took them through all the simple machines (and compound machines).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

This Week at School

I feel like I was hardly in the classroom this week at school (this is a lie I suppose as I didn't have a single meeting or outing until Thursday but I'm clearly choosing to remember the end of the school week here).

-  My students are so smart... I put a bunch of random objects that involved simple machines in gift bags and had them walk around the room pulling the objects out of the bags and picking simple machines that were in that object.  What did we discover?  A lot of objects use levers and (none that I brought in) use pulleys.  Now we are ready to start learning more about each specific simple machine.

-  We are still working on our Picasso portraits in art class.  I'm hoping to move onto something more fallish for our next art class... but with so many unfinished it may not happen.

-  In math we pulled out the textbooks for the first time and it was nearly a disaster.  I need to figure out how to teach 2 groups at once.. I feel like it is nearly impossible BUT I'm not the first person to ever teach in a split grade class so it must be doable... I just have to figure out a routine that works for me.

-  In SS we are learning about beringia, the land bridge, and the ice age.  I'm teaching both grades SS but didn't want to split the class in half for that class so we are just going to plow through both grades... but it has taken us nearly a month to get started so I'm thinking I'll just be picking and choosing what we learn.

-  LUCKILY, the grade 5 curriculum is on First People's and on Thursday we had aboriginal day.  I lead them in a craft so I'm not sure exactly what they did at all the other stations but hopefully they learned a lot so we don't have to spend so much time on it.  What was my craft?  Sash weaving.  Some got it... many found it hard.  I guess it didn't help that there was a bit of wind this day.  If I'm still around for next year I'll have to come up with another craft I think.

-  In ELA I discovered that many of my students don't know what a paragraph is.  So we took their writing folders and a story that I made with a bunch of errors in it and worked through the editing process with it.  We did the first half together and their job will be too fix up the last half.  We only got through checking spelling and punctuation so we'll be working on this for a while.

-  On Friday we had our first cross country meet (our 2nd and last one is this coming Friday).  It was the perfect afternoon to spend outside (I don't think we will be so lucky next Friday).  One of the students on my team got first and the grade 9 boys also came in with a first and second place.  I see some banners in our future....

-  Other than all of that I've had meetings for 2 of my students.  I've got some extra programing to do which is kind of frustrating but if you have a class where everyone is working at grade level without adaptations well then... lucky you. Our first step is going to be instilling the "ask 3 before me" rule for all subjects.  It is just too much for me to teach 2 grades in math and then deal with everyones questions and those who want me to just sit next to them and read them the problem.  So for our next health class we are going to talk about each of our strengths and make a poster for "ask 3 before me" where each student signs up for 2 subjects or areas that they think are their best that others can come to them when they have questions.  I'm thinking what people can sign up for will be:
- Math
- Social Studies
- Science
- Reading
- Writing (this person will hopefully be good at spelling)
- Listening (this person will hopefully be good at listening to instructions)
- Art (for everyone who needs me to draw them a circle (yes, it has happened this year)
Once everyone has signed up for someone all students have to do is check the poster to see who they should ask for any topic and pick a couple of people from there BEFORE asking me.

-  I switched up my seating plan after school on Friday... one of my students needs to be sitting in a way that she sees the least amount of distractions in the room.  So, I tried to sit her where she wouldn't see the back wall at all and instead mostly see the front which is just white boards.  I even sat in that spot for a while to make sure it was the least distracting.  
I'm feeling good by at least taking 2 of the suggestions given to me at one of these meetings already.

-  I also booked my classes first field trip!  We are going to see a local performance of Peter Pan right before Christmas.  It is kind of expensive so I'm going to try to use some of my classroom budget to off set the ticket costs for them... but I think it should be a fantastic play!

Next week is another busy week with meetings and a cross country meet... this time my meeting is after school so I guess at least I'll be in the classroom.

ANYWHO,
a while ago I mentioned I would start showing off bits and pieces of my halloween costume
for the record we do not celebrate halloween at my school
but I'm one of those people that doesn't think the idea of halloween is something that needs to be celebrated anyways.
But we do have a day where we get dressed up and we will likely have our first classroom party of the year.

so without further ado... here is the part of my costume that I didn't need to go out and buy.

It's hard to tell what it is because it is all black... on the left we've got some black tights and on the right is a black long sleeved shirt.

Any guesses as to what I could be going as?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Who is Terry Fox?

In Canada Terry Fox is such a big deal that (as far as I know) every school does a Terry Fox run every September.

The purpose?  

-  To show kids what a hero is
-  To raise awareness of cancer
-  To raise funds for cancer research
-  To realize how lucky we are to have 2 legs that work well
(I'm sure there are many other purposes... these are just the ones I thought up off the top of my head)

The school I teach at did their run this past Friday with the staff all sporting a lovely Terry Fox T-shirt




For those of us who don't know who Terry was this is a good website

But here are my Cole's notes on the topic
-  Terry was a young guy who at the age of 19 was told he had cancer in his knee
-  His leg ended up being amputated
- 3 years after his diagnosis Terry began his "Marathon of Hope" which would have him run across Canada.
it would start in St. John's, Newfoundland, and end in Victoria, BC.
-  On the back of my shirt it shows a bottle of water.  Terry took 2 bottles of water from the Atlantic ocean... one was to be a souvenir for him and the other he was going to pour out into the Pacific Ocean when he got to Victoria.  Unfortunately, he never got to do that.
- Terry made it all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario before he was forced to abandon his run
-  He raised about 1.7 million dollars during the course of his run and his dream was to see ever Canadian donate $2 to cancer research (which is why my students bring in a toonie for their donation)
-  He died 4 years after the initial diagnosis.
-  Now schools continue Terry's legacy by participating in a Terry Fox run each year... we are by no means finishing his run as even over the course of the 13 years that we are in school (kindergarten counts) we will not come close to running across Canada

Personally, I think all of this is amazing.
That Terry Fox wanted to run across Canada even with his disability of just one real leg
That he didn't want to quit and didn't want anyone to finish the run for him (he had many offers)
and
That over 30 years after his death we are still remembering Terry.

So on our school run each staff member takes a corner to cheer on students... mine was around the halfway point so after everyone passed me I met up with my students near the end.  A couple of my grade 4's from last year were walking so I raced them back to the school.

A fine time was had by all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writing


My plan for my students writing folders are for them to write a bunch of beginnings to stories/letters/speeches one week (like up to 3 things) and then the following week to pick their favourite and finish the rough draft and go through the editing process... 
Why?
Because not every student is into every last thing that we make them write about.

So here are the 3 pieces of writing that we started this week:

1.  We watched Kid President's Pep Talk video and they each started our own pep talk kind of speech

2.  I read them "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse" and had them each draw a person with a problem and then write out some details about that problem (for their prewriting/brainstorming).  Then they took those details and started turning them into a story
I had my students guess my characters problem.  At first they said his problem was that he was angry.. then someone noticed his pants were too short.  We talked about the details together and then they did their own.  I started my story while they were writing theirs... but alas, it's at school.
3.  For the last one, I asked them if they thought a story could be written on a chair... I got mixed answers.  So we came up with a list of everything that we thought a writer would need to include about a chair if he were to write about one.  Then I read them "The Hickory Chair" and we checked off which ones the author mentioned (and what ones were implied through the writing).  Then, to start their own writing I had them come up something they had that was a symbol of friendship, special in some way, or reminded them of a trip.  They came up with their list of questions they would have to answer about that object in their writing and then got to writing.

We've been working on getting good ideas and details into our writing this week (we will likely continue this theme in a couple of weeks when I go back to giving them more ideas to write about).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

This Week At School

I feel like the week flew by (although, I must admit there was one day where it was about 4th period (there are 5 in the morning) and I thought to myself "surely it must be the afternoon already... I've had lunch... no?"... I'm sure we've all had those days.

-  In math most of my students came back with their math posters.  We also made some math pendants (something I originally thought we would do the first day of school but then decided I would do a bunch of pre teaching first)

With all the math stuff being handed in we are running out of space to display it all!
You can purchase the math posters here
I had all but one of my students try the regular posters for this first month (I sent them home for homework - they had a week to get them back and parents/older siblings were allowed to help).  For the one students that didn't get the regular poster I pretty much gave her a poster with the same ideas... I just made it a little less wordy, added in examples (or pictures), and underlined important information in the word problems.

-  In art we are doing some Picasso inspired self portraits I got the idea from Artolazzi  and in a couple of weeks once we are finished ours I'll write up a post with my instructions to it (and another picture... this time of our finished pieces)
But here they are drying by the windowsill at the end of the day


-  In ELA we are working on our writing (hopefully this week - maybe next) we will start our spelling program).  My idea for writing is that one week I will give them a few ideas to start writing about and the next week they will take whatever one they really enjoyed and go through the editing process and finish it.  So, right now they all have 3 pieces of work in their rough draft sections of their writing folders.
(watch for a post on Tuesday about what those 3 pieces of work are)


One of my students put her speech up in the MOLA - it is her rough copy but I'm letting it slide just so we can have something in there.  In other news regarding the MOLA - the frames are starting to fall down (well one has and another is now crooked).

- In Science we finished learning a little bit about each simple machine on EdHeads and I sent them all home with homework to find simple machines in their house.  This week we will start looking at levers (by the end of this mini unit on levers they will all be making catapults)

- In SS we are still familiarizing ourselves with the textbook.  One more day of this and we can actually start learning about some First People's!

-  I've also had a number of meetings (and I think I've got at least 3 this coming week), have been having cross country practices (our first meet is Friday), and we did our Terry Fox run on Friday 
To support cancer research the staff at my school all purchased a Terry Fox t-shirt that we wore on Friday.  For my American friends who don't know who Terry Fox is stand by and watch for a post on Thursday about him.
It's been a busy week!

PS.
a student in the hall said I was so beautiful the day I wore this
Ego boosted!

Who says you can't wear white after labour day?








Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dangerous Journeys

So I came across these photos of the 25 Most Dangerous and Unusual Journeys to School

One question (I say that more but I will likely have a few).

Surely the people who built these schools knew that it would be a dangerous trek for the students to get to the school... surely the parents also know this... so would you choose to A) build a school there and endanger the lives of your students and B) send your children there!?!

To be honest they all look terrifying but the ones that stick out to me are...

1)  The school children climbing on unsecured wooden ladders.  Wouldn't they rot?  Even if they don't rot they aren't secured to the mountain which is straight up.  Gah... I would be crying somewhere near (okay, I would only be on the first rung) the bottom.

2) Pupils crossing a damaged suspension bridge.  You surely can't ignore the fact that it is more than just damaged... it is basically not able to be used.  It is more like a suspension rope in these photos.  But everyone is crossing it like it is no big deal "oh this bridge, it's a piece of cake, I'll cross it while holding this grocery bag, with a backpack on my pack, one handed while doing a summersault".  Thank goodness it is apparently in much better condition now!  I would be on the non school side of that bridge... crying.

3) School children walking across a plank on a wall.  So unlike some of the other previously mentioned treks to school I probably would do this one... but I would be crying and telling the girl behind me to get her hands off of me for fear of being pushed off.

4) 125 mile journey to boarding school.  Do these kids walk the whole way?  Is this a test?  Get through the long, long walk and then you will learn from the greatest masters ever and become wildly rich but if you decide you cannot make the journey... well then you will be destined to work in McDonalds or as a sumo wrestler (because it's China). Anyways, I don't mind a long walk but 125 miles is a bit long.  I'm assuming they are sleeping in tents inbetween home and boarding school... which I don't care for.  I also don't think I would care for the way they are walking along the side of that mountain...it seems a little dangerous.  Guess I would be one of the children heading back home to study the fine art of sumo wrestling *sigh*

5)  Pupils walking on a tightrope.  Why?  Just... I don't understand?  If this is a way of incorporating phys-ed into their walk to school surely they could find a tad safer way to do it other than above a river.


I'm assuming we all had a relatively safe journey to school in comparison to these... makes me thankful to have grown up in Canada!

I think I might show these pictures to my students sometime as a writing activity.  They could tell me what they think is happening in the photo or why they think the children choose to still go to school in those conditions.


Okay, you can't deny that the ziplining route to school would be a cool one... I just hope those ziplines go the other way too!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ruleopoly

I would like to start this post off by saying that none of the ideas in this post are my own original ideas.  I did not come up with any of them on my own and will not take credit for them (however, I did come up with the name "Ruleopoly" so that I will take credit for!).

I hummed and hawed about what to do for a behaviour incentive thing.  I wasn't sure if I was going to do anything for a while (although I did know that I wasn't going to do what the previous teacher was doing - only because I did not understand the colour chart at all).

In the end I channeled me 5 years ago and decided we were going to play a rule version of Monopoly.  Basically, if the students follow the rules of our classroom for the week (they are allowed slip ups but they must prove within a reasonable time that they have learned their lesson to earn the right to play again) they get to roll a dice and move their name around a giant game board that is on the wall.  When they don't follow the rules of the class I turn their name over and they don't get to play. 

This week I had multiple names turned over at Ruleopoly time and I saved those players for last and we had a discussion about what I want to see as an improvement for next week before letting a couple of them roll the dice and a couple of them didn't get to play because I had to talk to them too often.

Anywho, without further ado, here is our game board


Inside the game board on the left is the rules to play the game... basically what some of the spaces mean and how they get to play.  On the right inside the game board is a short version of our classroom rules - the rules they agreed to follow in order to play.

Their ames are currently all near the beginning/middle of the game.  I think all their names are turned the proper way right now because they get a fresh start at the end of the week... but when they misbehave their names get turned the wrong way so you can't read them until they can prove they have learned their lesson.

For example, I had one student who wasn't raising their hand the other day.  I turned their name over and told them I would turn in the proper way when I saw them raising their hand instead of talking out of turn.  The student did start raising their hand by the end of the day and was able to play.

The computer room and chance cards are just jobs that I would have my students doing in the classroom anyways (like emptying the compost, being my helper, line leaders and enders, etc) and then things like running a class madlib (or other game), reading to the class, or teaching us all something.  I gave them a warning that just like in real Monopoly the chance card or computer lab cards are not always good things.

When they land on math question or spelling question I give them a math question from something we learned that day or a spelling question from their list.  If they get it right I give them a candy and there is no penalty if they get it wrong.

Below is our classroom constitution.  They all signed it on the lines on the bottom and it is up in our classroom.  I highlighted the important parts because it is a little wordy.  But it was a great lesson in descriptive language!  


At one point recently I was just tired of the way some of the students were leaving the classroom at the end of the day so I left them a note on our whiteboard...


Exhibit A
Exhibit B

Want to play "Ruleopoly" in your classroom?
Homeworkopoly is where I got my idea from (including the board)

Do you believe in incentive programs (last year I didn't use one and the year went mostly okay so I don't feel the need to necessarily use one)?  
If you do use one what do you use?



Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Week At School

I'm sneaking in this post a little late this week... my excuse?
I wasn't feeling so great yesterday afternoon/evening which meant I pretty well did nothing all day so today I was forced to play catch up.

Anywho....
This week at school wasn't very eventful

We are doing a Science unit on Simple Machines so my students are playing a Simple Machines "game" on EdHeads.  For the first part they are looking in different rooms and finding all the simple machines they can (and listing them off for each room) and the 2nd part is answering some questions - which everyone is forgetting to do (but don't worry - I expected them to forget which is why we have the laptops for 3 periods instead of just 2).  Most were nearing the end of simple machines at the end of the first 3 periods... I'm debating on whether they should do the compound machines or not... they are pretty into the game so I'll probably let them do it (after all, I'm pretty sure I did photocopy those pages).  ANYWAYS, EdHeads in general is a great site and not only is there this game for simple machines but a bunch of lesson plans as well!

In Math we were learning about elapsed time so that I could send them all home with a math poster for homework.  It's due on Wednesday and on Friday I discovered someone left theirs behind (I gave it to them on Tuesday)... that sucks because it was a long weekend for students this weekend.  Math Journals continue to go well.  I told them that this was the last time we would do the left side of the page thinking together... so this week we will have to come up with our criteria for success and see how they do on their own.

In ELA we are doing the 6 Writing Traits.  So we are working on ideas... I have a double period of ELA scheduled at the end of the day but the end of the day is so hectic that I seem to lose a lot of classroom due to cleaning everything up at the end of the day.  Anyways, we also went through the entire TUSC book and everyone officially has a job.  Our first TUSC meeting isn't for a while though. This week I'll give them time to plan for their TUSC jobs and write stuff up so that isn't too overwhelming.  Also, I still need to make a TUSC job chart... I want it to be simple with clothespins (mostly because I already bought them).  I was thinking of something that would use paint chips in our class colours (which I got a while ago as well) but I meant to get more today while I was out and I completely forgot!

We started Social Studies... thankfully no one seems to remember the pages I gave them from last year but I paired up my 6th graders with my 5ths to help them.  They are just getting to know their textbooks right now.

In other news, today I spent the better part of my day in search for the most important part of my halloween costume and I can't find what I'm looking for anywhere (so far, I've mostly been checking 2nd hand stores... but I also went through the ENTIRE mall today).  I'm not going to disclose what I'm going as halloween this year but over the next few weeks I'll post a clue.

I've come up with a genius way of making my lunches super healthy and super easy in the mornings!... Okay, I didn't come up with it but I discovered it on this world wide web of ours.


Mason jar salads!
This week is buffalo chicken and a carrot and ham concoction.  
I plan to do a whole post on meals in the very near future (but give me a month, okay).

Anywho, the counters are cleaned, and my lunch is made... I guess there is nothing left to do but read before I go to bed (after all it is one of my goals) 
tonights reading: my science unit so I can write down all the picture books and random tools I need to collect.

Hope we all had a swell week at school!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pep Talk

At my school we are wrapping up our second week of school and I thought.. maybe it's time for a pep talk!

But any pep talk I gave you would not be as awesome as one that kid president would give


I'm thinking I might show this to my students sometime in the next couple of weeks for a writing activity.

They could brainstorm ideas into their writing folders for what their own pep talk might sound like and then eventually maybe turn it into a letter.

We'll see!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Goals


A new school year is nearly here and so I've taken the liberty of thinking up some goals for school and beyond 



SCHOOL: 


Do at least one fun math lesson a week (or at least start and end a math unit this way) 

Stay on top of my day planner and use it more often! 

Also stay on top of marking and handing things back. 

Stop dreading Social Studies 



PERSONAL:


Read the Bible nearly every morning (on the mornings I miss I'll have to do it as soon as I get home from work). If this means getting up slightly earlier so be it. 

Workout. Jillian Michaels, join a class, go for long walks after work and on weekends. 

Read again. I thought I would rediscover my love for reading this summer... but alas I've hardly read anything. New rule: read a chapter or 2 before bed... no movies, no tv shows... just me and a good book. 

All inclusive vacation (if it doesn't happen this year that's okay but I would like to put it on my 3 year plan)! 



HOME:

(can I have goals for my home?) 

Paint the hallway... honestly, I meant to do that this summer but I wasn't looking forward to going around all those doors.... 

Artwork! I put up a bunch of floating shelves (okay, me and my friend put up 2 but we needed someone better at measuring for the other 4) and they are looking pretty bare... I must find stuff to fill them! 

I want to make an ornament wreath for Christmas. 

Maybe I should change my spare room into an office? Currently there is a bed in there but maybe I could do some rearranging... or just get rid of the bed... I'll have to do some thinking. 



BLOG:


I've recently discovered the wonderful world of linky parties and I must admit they seem like a good thing (please say that like Martha Stewart when you read it). I'll try to do one a month 

3 Blog posts a week? This might be tough but I'm going to try. At least I know one can always be my "This Week At School" post. 

Increase blog traffic. I mean, I know I'm not offering free things or coming up with too many unique ideas... but I would like to think that every so often I have a story, thought, or something to say that is kind of profound and important... and you should all read it! 

Find more awesome teacher blogs to follow (and link to them in my sidebar by my substitute teaching blog list... because maybe just maybe my substitute teaching days are behind me?) 



Do you have any goals for yourself this school year? 
Psst... you don't have to be a teacher to have school year goals. 

You could be a student 
You could be the parent of a student 
You could be an educational assistant 
Or you could just like thinking of your year starting in September like I do!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

This Week At School

- first off it was only a 3 day week for my students... Monday was a holiday here and Tuesday was meetings for teachers and meet the teacher in the evening when students dropped off their supplies.

-  We did our first entry in our math journals!  I bought an interactive math journal document from TPT that is fantastic (plus I got it on sale which makes it even more fantastic).  It took us ALL morning but we did it (this also included decorating our books, setting up a table of contents, and picking out a ribbon that will be used as our bookmark. We still have to make some success criteria but I thought we would do that after we did a few entries together so that they know what I expect.  Naturally I forgot to snap a picture of my page of my math journal but I'll hopefully remember to do that tomorrow and I'll update this.



- We made these name spheres for our lockers as an art project.  We ended up cutting them out into circles so that they would fit on their lockers and then I laminated them so they would last (I'll take a better picture of mine tomorrow as well).




- I plan to save all their art projects this year and we will make a book out of them at the end of the year.  To go with every art piece we will do some poetry.  So we were doing a really simple poem about us for this piece of art.  Remember our writing folders?  Well we used them to go through the writing process for the poems.

-  I gave them homework for the weekend... I gave them each a piece of paper with a heart on it and they are to fill it with pictures and words of things that they like.  We are going to put that heart in the prewriting section of their writing folders so that they will have a whole heart full of things that they like... hopefully that will translate into things they like to write about as well.

-  We did "Where Did the Water Go?" in science class to learn about the scientific process.  I couldn't find sodium polyacrylate anywhere so I went the diaper route and took the powder stuff out of it. I tested it once at home and assumed it work in the classroom.  To be honest I was REALLY scared I was going to pour water all over someone's head (it was a super sweet girl too that guessed the cup with all the water) but it worked!... I must admit I added A LOT of the powder to ensure it would though.  One student had seen the experiment before but no one really listened to her and the thing went over like gangbusters!

Afterwards they wanted to see what would happen to the "water" if we left it overnight in the cup... so it turned into a further science lesson the next day.

-  I photocopied pages for my students from an "I'm Through, What Can I Do?" book and we put them into duotangs.  So far they are working great!

-  We got everyone into the computer lab to change their passwords.  HOPEFULLY they all changed their passwords to what they told me they would.

-  In my school we do opening religious exercises in the morning that I help to lead.  We started those up on Friday and I'm doing devotions from the Adventures in Odyssey Series that my 4-6's seem to be into.

-  I have an interpreter in my room for the first time ever!  She is pretty fantastic... I hope all my jokes are being translated well!

-  Everyone was excited to play "Ruleopoly" (one of my students even decided to make her password ruleopoly).  I was nice and let everyone roll this first week.  I told them that if I have to talk to them more than a couple of times in a short period of time I would tell them to turn their names over and they wouldn't get to roll the next week.  Boy does that work!  I also told them that anyone who wasn't signed out of their computers when the bell went was having their name turned over and everyone was in line within seconds.  I may have stumbled upon something really great here.

I got my Ruleopoly board from perhaps the more commonly known Homeworkopoly but I wanted to use it for more than just them getting their homework done (why have multiple behaviour things going on at once?) so I just changed the name!


Stay tuned for a post on our Ruleopoly

We did a group work project where they had to stack 6 cups using only an elastic band and 4 pieces of string (no hands could touch the cups).  I had to give them a hint that they needed to use everything and each of them had to have a part in stacking each individual cup.  They all eventually got it.

We are off to a swell start to the year in 5/6CP!


Friday, September 05, 2014

Five for Friday


This week I officially went back to work.
My students all had their first full day of 5/6 on Wednesday (but I met a lot of them on Tuesday evening when we had meet the teacher)

And my "Five for Friday" is for the week... not just Friday

Everyone is posting pictures of their darling kids first day at school.  Well, I don't have any kids so here is my first day back to school outfit!

This is what my classroom looked like after meet the teacher.  Students bring their supplies on this day and leave them at school.  We didn't do lockers because not everyone was there (or there at the same time) so that's why all their bags and supplies are on their tables.


After meet the teacher I went grocery shopping.  When I came back out to my car I thought someone had lost a mini cucumber that landed upright on my tire.  I was about to kick it away when I noticed it was a MASSIVE caterpillar.  Seriously... I've never seen them this big before!

After everyone got their lockers (and most learned how to use a combination lock) we made these for our lockers (we cut them out in circles because a full page wouldn't fit on a locker).  I also laminated them so that they will last a long, long time AND I think they look really sharp on all our lockers!


I'm queen of the slow cooker and it has officially returned to its permanent location on my counter for while I work.  So why did I decide to post a picture of half of my freezer instead?  I'm also queen of making and freezing leftovers so that I don't go hungry.. My stash of frozen lunches is already massive!  On the left I've got 9 prepackaged containers (5 are the lemon chicken I made last night), and on the right are pizza buns and meat buns (I've also got homemade pizza in the deep freeze).  The popsicles are for when I get home and need something to hold me over until I make dinner.  Stay tuned for a post all about meals for the busy teacher (or person in general).

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Problems Teachers Get

A friend posted a link to an article titled "33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand"

I must admit.. most of those problems I get but there are a few that I don't...

Starting with #1.  Perhaps I'm one of the lucky ones but I don't need a cup of coffee in the morning... and [I think] I'm a morning person!  Lucky me!

#9... if any of my students have found me on Facebook I don't know about it.  I think I'm fairly hard to find and my profile is pretty much locked down so it isn't like they would see anything too exciting.  PLUS, a lot of my students don't even have tv's in the room... I'm sure a lot only go on the internet at school too.

#19 I've never seen my students outside of school... it's the joys of working outside of the city I live in!  However, once another student in the school (not in any of my classes) spotted me at a neighbouring towns free BBQ (yes, I would go for a free BBQ).

#24  In my days of a substitute teacher students had cell phones and I'm sure they would text in class.  Now that I'm a teacher however I've never once caught one of my students with their cell phone out (if they even have one).  So nice to see that technology doesn't completely run their lives!

But my favourite by far is...

#27 We have our meetings at lunch!  Huzzah!








#8... Once I had a friend suggest that in order for my grade 8 class to see I mean business I should wait for one of the really good students to do something wrong and send them to the office to show everyone I mean business... I didn't see the logic in that and didn't want to deal with an angry parent so I did not choose to go that route.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Top 5 #1

And here you have it.. my number one sought after post of all time is... 
Please play the video for added emphasis on how big of a deal it is that we got to #1


Why I think this has the number 1 spot?

Honestly, I think you all think I told those kids to rub my feet all day long and am some kind of evil substitute teacher.  Hopefully you read the whole thing to realize that isn't what happened at all!
OR
Maybe you all think it is hilarious and go back to it often for a laugh?

Whatever the reason, you all search this out so much that it is far and beyond without any competition my most viewed post of all time.






Monday, September 01, 2014

Top 5 - #2

My second most viewed post was

Why I think this one made it into the top 5?
I don't want to say it is because of the words that I used and surely people don't just google "dress to impress" but maybe they do.  What I want to believe is that others out there want to know how to dress as a substitute teacher (or teacher) and so you've come back time and time again to double check... I imagine the conversation you have with yourself goes a little something like this:

"Alright, cool watch and shoes [check], something sparkly to distract the kinders [check], awesome tie that everyone will be talking about [check].. I'm ready to go!"

Please remember to put on pants and a shirt... those are important too!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top 5 - #3

My third most searched and viewed post was on 

Why I think this one made it into the top 5?
It's art!
I know I do a lot of internet searches when it comes to my art classes and so this doesn't surprise me.
PLUS, I think I did a rather good job with this lesson.  I mean, I included books and everything!

Would I do this lesson again in my classroom?
I would.  I can't this year because I have some of the same students as last year... but once I get a 100% fresh batch of kids i'll do it again!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top 5 - #4

My 4th most popular post of all time was


Why I think this made the top 5?

Much like Mad Libs, Telephone Pictionary is a fun time and people (you included) want to know about it!  Plus, it can have kids practicing descriptive words to really describe the scene that was drawn to get it as accurate as possible.

Do I use it in my classroom?

I haven't yet.  The problem with Telephone Pictionary is it works well with about 10 people.  My class size last year was 22.  Maybe I'll try it this year if half my class is ever out with the flu or something.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Top 5 - #5

Whelp,
It's the last [long] weekend before school starts
and I'm at the lake for one last vacation before early rises, marking, report cards, planning, and bandaiding.

For this ever so festive occasion I thought I (we) would take a look back on my blog at the top 5 liked posts of all time (one a day for the next 5 days)

So, starting at #5 we have 


Why I think this one made it into the top 5?

Let's be serious (even though the actual Mad Libs never are), Mad Libs are hilarious, teachers love them because it helps students think about nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc, and they are engaging.

Do I use them in my classroom?

Yes, of course.  Last year I taught grade 8 ELA and we used them there.  I know my teaching partner also used them in grade 4.  

So use them... use them lots!
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