Saturday, March 29, 2014




Spring Break has arrived!
Yeah! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

What I Wore

On Friday's I generally dress a little more casual.  I TRY not to wear jeans any of the other days of the week (I don't count my coloured jeans though).


Last week I said I would look for new black boots... I should probably start looking for new flats too.  Most of mine have seen better days.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Edgar Degas Art

I posted this last week


I found the idea for this art project at Artolazzi

To create these masterpieces it took us about 3 one hour classes.

Class 1
I didn't need to do much teaching this class because we were just going to be creating the scratch paper to go behind the tinfoil.  I didn't tell them what it was for or anything.  I just told them to make sure their entire paper was covered in crayon (and to make it dark).  Then we painted all over it (mix in a little dish soap to your paint) and they thought it was crazy.  For some of them we did multiple coats of paint.

Then we left that scratch paper for about a month.  Valentine's day, days with substitutes, and snow days all got in the way.

Class 2
For the 2nd lesson I told them what we would be doing.  I had made a printout of Edgar Degas and read it to them, we looked at some of his work, and talked about how it often looked like his paintings were of a moment in time (like something we would take with a camera).  I would preview and decide which pictures you were going to show ahead of time... some of them are not appropriate for kids.  I showed dancers and horses and while looking at them we talked about what it looked like they were in the middle of doing.

We also talked about his one and only sculpture that was ever put on display "Little Dancer" and how people had originally dismissed it as ugly.  Then Edgar became a famous artist and I'm sure that ugly sculpture is worth a pretty penny now.  Moral of the story:  don't judge someone or something based on a part of them.

I also showed them some examples from the above website.  

Then I let them create their background by either using a toothpick or a cap of pen (some used mechanical pencils with no led coming out) to scratch in their design.  While they were scratching their design they had an idea of what they were going to have the person doing on it.  So, for example, one girl did a surfing one and wrote "surfing USA" all over here background.

Final Class
For this class we spent some time standing very still.  I had them all turn to the person sitting next to them and say "you are my partner".  The partner would tell the other person what they wanted them to act like and then to hold the pose.  I had people pretend to swim, shoot baskets, cannon ball, hunt, surf, and dance.  While their partner was holding the pose they had to quickly sketch out what they looked like.  Then they switched roles.

Then we got out the tinfoil.  I didn't give them much instruction as to how to create their figures other than I didn't want to be gluing on multiple pieces to the body to the background and to make it big enough to fill the background.  

Most of them ended up making heads, arms, legs, and bodies and then not being sure how to attach them all.  I ended up wrapping large pieces of tinfoil around them to hold them together.  I'm not really sure if there is a better way... perhaps creating a very loose basic shape and then crunching the tinfoil tightly to form arms, legs, and a head off the main piece might work?  I would say this definitely took the longest.  If you have a better way of forming figures out of tinfoil you should definitely leave a comment!
Most of them also ended up making their figures REALLY small.  While wrapping them in a larger piece I often tried to make them at least a little bigger though.

They glued their scratch art to another piece of construction paper and then I hot glued their tinfoil figure onto their scratch art wherever they told me to put it.  They were very good with this.  No one asked me to use the glue gun, no one even wanted to go near it which was lovely.

When I take this down I'll get some close up shots of some of my students work and add to this post.  The adults in the school have been commenting on how lovely it is... I think we are all pretty proud of ourselves in 4CP.

Here are some of our masterpieces closer up!











Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Story Number 3

Here is the 3rd (and final) story to our comic unit.
I've already written about how we wrote about inanimate objects, and fairy tales.

I don't have a great title for the third story we wrote.  Even in class when we talked about it I stumbled over what to call it.  I think we called it a comic story, picture story, and the third story.  

What exactly was it?

I found online somewhere (they are saved on my work computer and I'm currently at home but if you want them let me know and I'll make a point of getting them to my home computer) a bunch of pictures that kind of looked like a comic book without any words (see what I'm doing here... because it is a comic unit).  They were super basic pictures and I think on each page there was a series of 6 or 8 frames and they had the option of about 8 or so different "stories" to choose from.  

I didn't do much teaching for this one and basically let them have at it.

I told them to choose whichever series of pictures they wanted and to write a 3 page (same length as their fairy tales) story on it.  They were allowed to add in other things that were outside of the pictures if they needed to.

Luckily, by now I had caught on that they weren't doing an amazing job at editing so while they were working on it I worked my way around the room and sat down and edited their stories with them (sometimes I ran out of time and brought them home though).  I refused to do all the editing work though.  If I couldn't read something (it happened a lot) I circled it. If I thought they needed more description I wrote it in the margins for them to add in.  Paragraphs are a huge issue with these grade 8's and I wrote at the end of a good number of their stories that they had to use a new paragraph for new ideas and for every time a new person spoke (and to please indent them).  I think they are starting to get it.

They were required to add in a bunch of descriptive words by now... I mean we did a whole lesson on descriptive language and they loved sandwich making day!... they knew how to do it.  PLUS, this was all in preparation for our comics.  Where they would be drawing what their characters looked like rather than saying what they looked like "create an image in your readers minds" was also a common comment I wrote.  

Once I edited their work they were required to look over my revisions and add to them.  Then, once again, type out their good copy during all this extra computer time that they have.

Al three of these stories took about 2 months BUT in our defence we missed a bunch of classes due to snow days (and natural gas explosions), extra programing, AND we only see each other every other day.

But we came out of all of it.  It was a busy 2 months and I was more than happy to give them time to write and illustrate some awesome comic books at the end of it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What I Wore

We [hopefully] got our last blast of winter this week leaving us (once again) in a deep freeze.  Thankfully, I got my duty day out of the way just before the deep freeze hit and was even wearing my rain boots!

Anywho, I took the chilly temperatures to continue wearing some of my warmer clothes (boy am I looking forward to actual spring like temperatures!).  


Next week is spring break which over here means painting and shopping.  Hopefully I'll find some new black boots while I'm out (there have seen better days).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This Week At School

I realize I didn't post one of these last week.  But in my defense not much has been happening.

Report cards were handed out yesterday.  Hopefully parents are somewhat understanding.

We started dividing in math and so far this isn't going too bad.  Thankfully we did a lot of learning for multiplication which is making division easier (for those that understand multiplication.

We tried to make kazoos out of toilet paper rolls and wax paper for our sound unit but failed at it.  There must be a trick to it that I didn't know.

We got some artwork up in the main hallway and it is kind of impressive!

My grade 8's have been better.  They were doing so good.  SO GOOD.  And then everything fell to pieces. Ugh.  We are spending out last week working on our good copies of our comics.  Hopefully that can be somewhat relaxing and issue free.  I've also started having them read for 10-20 minutes at the beginning of class.  I get them right after lunch and boy are they excited (but not about ELA).  I find it calms them down.

I did a one-on-one inservice to figure out a plan for my end of the year assessment.  We are doing newspapers.  The lady who came to talk to me about it also loved my rubric for my comic unit and is going to pass it around the division.  Yay!  I'm willing to share it with others.  If you are doing a unit on writing comic books you should definitely inquire about my comic rubric!

No one is doing their French homework. Okay, I shouldn't say no one but most of them aren't.  Ugh.  These French books are taking FOREVER.

After giving my students a multiplication test I realized they don't understand how to create word problems for anything but addition.  So we've started doing a problem every morning.  This was Friday's... no one thought anything of it.

In health class we are talking about respectful classrooms (I also did this with my grade 8's).  We came up with a list of what a respectful classroom looks, feels, and sounds like and went from there.  I forgot to take a picture of the poster I made for them after this but I'll snap one this week and write about it later.

Edgar Degas inspired art.  I've seen so many people stop to read about Edgar Degas and how we created these!  I'll post the lesson later.

Some of the French books that have been turned in.  On Friday we are going to spend the class listening to the authors share their stories.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quick Writing Ideas

My grade 8's are supposed to be using some of their time in the computer lab to write blogs.  I thought it was a genius idea at the time.. the thing is they have been slacking.  BUT we are in the process of reviving these blogs of theirs and to help I've been given them one written suggestion that they can do every week and one commercial that they can respond to.

This week they can either respond to this question

What if it actually rained cats and dogs?

OR

I showed them the Dove Real Beauty Sketches Commercial


I warned the class ahead of time that it was about girls... except I think it went a little something like this

"So I'm going to show you a commercial and I don't want any of you to complain.  Especially the guys.  I think we can all learn something from this and we have moms, sisters, aunts, grandmas, cousins, and friends who are all girls."

"So there's a girl in it Miss Penner?"

"Umm... yeah... there's a girl in it"

They were all quiet for the commercial (I showed them the longer 7 minute version posted above).
We had a short discussion about it after.
Just basically going over what we saw ourselves as was not always what the rest of the world would see us as.
I asked them if they thought the first sketch (where the person described herself) was more accurate or the one where a stranger did.  They agreed that the 2nd one usually was more accurate (except in one case).  
I heard them talking about it on the way out and I REALLY hope that if there are any issues with beauty or someone not feeling good enough that this well help.
I also hope that someone forms a response to it on their blog.  
That would be cool.

No one cared about the Sony Bouncy Ball commercial enough to write about it (they loved watching it though... I showed them many different Sony commercials over the course of the week).

Oh yeah, and if they choose to not write about either of these this week that is also allowed... they just have to think up something else they could write about.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Story Number 2

You can find the first story I had my students write in preparation for our comic unit here.

Our second story fit nicely with the first (isn't it nice when that happens?) and they were to pick any fairy tale they wanted but tell that fairy tale from another characters perspective.

I started the unit off by reading them the story "Little Red Riding Hood"
THEN, if I would have been more prepared I would have read them "Honestly, Little Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!" by Trisha Speed Shaskan only we didn't have it in our school library or any library in the city (I'm pretty sure I even checked online at Chapters and they didn't have it either).  So instead I found some stories online that kids wrote on it from another characters perspective (one was the wolf and the other the wood cutter I believe).  They weren't the greatest but they were okay.  PLUS this way we could discuss what we would change and how we thought they were a little weird.  

Sidenote: one of the stories was written by a student in Australia somewhere and when I told my students they insisted that I read it with an Australian accent.  I did not oblige.

Anywho, we talked about the parts of the story that didn't change even though the perspective of it did change.  We discussed how in the wolf's version he was made out to be a good guy and Red Riding Hood was made out be bad.

Then I let them use the rest of the class to look through the fairy tales I had brought to class to pick a fairy tale they wanted to write on.

Sidenote:  Next time I think I would make them all choose the same fairy tale OR give them the option of 3 that I'm familiar with (I'm sure I could find them online, print them, and then they could highlight the important parts that wouldn't change no matter who told the story).

Once they had picked their fairy tale I had them write out [about] 10 points of the story that would not change no matter who was telling the story (so for example in Little Red Riding Hood things that don't change is that the wolf becomes the grandma, the dialogue between Little Red and the wolf, grandma is sick, etc).  

The next class we started writing our rough drafts of our fairy tales.  This time they had to do 1.5 pages (or 3 sides of a page - single spaced).  Some got the assignment, others definitely just rewrote the main parts of the story and didn't seem to change much (if anything).  
This is why I think it would work better if you gave them 3 options or so... you could put them in groups and they could brainstorm some ideas 
(look at me making my lesson better for you)

I don't recall how many days I gave them to work on their rough drafts - probably 1.5 hours or so (maybe 2) and then we did self and peer editing again (because remember it took me a while to catch on that they weren't doing a great job at this - only because most of them have a hard time handing things in).

Once again they typed out their good copies and handed them in with their rough drafts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Story Number 1

Here is the idea I had for the first story I had each student write in preparation for our comic unit.

I started the class by reading them a story Dear Mrs La Rue by Mark Teague 
(If you don't have a copy of the book but have a projector and access to Youtube you are in luck)

We took time to discuss the pages and talk about if obedience school was really as awful as the dog was making it out to be.
Why?
I'm glad you asked.

Their first story was on perspective.

I showed them some cartoons


that we discussed 
and then we came up with a definition of perspective.

Then I gave them a writing prompt:
Their task was to write one paragraph that talked about what the pencil sharpener in our room went through (this is kind of funny now because the boys have been putting way too short of pencils in there lately and breaking it - well I've only fixed it once but the pencil sharpener has been the water cooler of our classroom for a while for the boys so who knows how many times it has actually been broken).
Does it like sharpening pencils, is it painful for it, frustrating?

They wrote them and finished them for homework and then we shared them the next day.

Then I gave them their assignment.
I gave them the choice of 6 objects that most of them likely use every day 
(things like pencils, chairs, shoes, etc)
They were to write a "day in the life of a ______" story

I can't recall how long I told them to make it... one page (both sides) I believe.
Which apparently some thought was way too long.
So they challenged me... they told me I should try to write a story that long.
Well, in the words of Barney Stinson
 "Challenge Accepted"
I even let them pick my topic.... they choose a pickle
I finished my story by the end of class and basically got a standing ovation (if I can find it - it may be saved on my computer at work) I'll post it because it is kind of good.
My students were shocked I could write that much in one class.  Then remembered I was their ELA teacher... of course I can write that much in one class.

I gave them the class to finish writing their story and they were supposed to do it for homework after that (naturally, it is over a month later and I'm still waiting for some to be handed in) so that we could move on to some peer and self editing.
I don't recall where I found a peer and self editing checklist but I found one somewhere and assumed my students had the ability to peer and self edit some simple stories.  So we went through the checklist together and off they went to do some editing.

Naturally, I was wrong, some did not have the ability to self or peer edit.
Did I catch on to this before they started their 2nd story?
NOPE

Anywho, I let them type out their good copies and then they were required to hand in their rough drafts along with their good copies so I could see how their editing went (anyone who didn't hand it in was losing 10 marks right off the hop - naturally many handed it in without a rough copy - because they never wrote one!)


In total this lesson probably should have used up about 3 classes (our ELA classes are just over an hour long).  One for reading the book and writing about the pencil sharpener, another for writing their rough draft, and a third for editing (my students get extra time in the computer lab with another teacher so I never bring them for actual ELA but if you want your students to type out their story expect that to take AT LEAST one other class).

Sunday, March 09, 2014

What I Wore

I realized today that I hadn't done one of these in a couple weeks.  That's probably because I am running out of clothes to wear!

By Friday I wasn't feeling all that great and was so done with stupid winter (we had a snow day the day before which meant that a bunch of snow came with that snow day)
To embrace my hatred for winter and to help urge on spring I wore some spring colours!

I apparently also thought that with all the new snow it would be a great day to wear runners!
My secret test was to see if I got any compliments on them... I often get compliments when I wear my Puma's... apparently it is just the Puma's that my students love because no one bothered to notice these runners.
Ah well... dully noted.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

This Week At School

I've been a bit of a sicky this week (but went to school every day).  What started off as a slight sore throat has officially turned into a full blown cold.  Luckily, we had a snow day this week so I did have one extra day to relax (and catch up on my pile of marking).

-  In MATH we are finishing up our unit on multiplication.  Test on Wednesday!
-  In SCIENCE we finished up our unit on Light (test and everything) and then since I was feeling a little overwhelmed with my pile of marking I had us mark the test together. This was probably my only genius idea this week.  Not only did they learn what the correct answers were (and were forced to look at them since they were marking a classmates test) but it saved me from having to mark them myself.  Everyone wins!
-  We sadly missed art this week due to the snow day which is extra unfortunate because I'm to put something up on the big bulletin board in the hallway.  
-  In ELA we are doing some co-constructing curriculum to do with their behaviour.  I've already started to see a big difference in some of my students and I'm looking forward to a great end to our year.  Plus, some of the ideas we are talking about in this class can probably be carried over to my class of grade 4's.

We have been making French books in French class - we used these 5 to learn how to read and come up with ideas of our own.  Looking forward to getting the books done and up on the wall!

No, I didn't lie - this week they did last week without me.  Yes I realize it was early but I needed a simple art lesson that didn't involve teaching on a day I was away for my grade 4's
I've spent the majority of this morning lazing around, sneezing, and blowing my nose but I'm determined to get my science comments done and at least start my ELA ones.  Here's hoping I manage to get at least one class of ELA finished.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Paul Klee Art Lesson

You can find the lesson I used here 

I started off my art class much the same way.  I quickly googled "Paul Klee" in an image search and we looked at some of the pictures he had done and talked about them.  We talked about what we think he used to create his images and what we saw in them... it was nothing too deep or spectacular but this is only grade 4.  I also had a short biography on Paul Klee printed that I showed the kids (you can see it in the middle of one of my bulletin boards below).  They thought the picture I choose to put on the bottom was scary and told me to switch it to something else.  
I did not oblige 
(yes, the ones who get to school early were watching me create the biography)

We spent 2 classes (so about an hour) learning about Paul and doing the line drawing and crayon colouring part of the lesson.
I'm not entirely sure but I don't think I did a great job at explaining how to do this step... although I did mention numerous times to not do too careful of a job of colouring and to leave white spaces so that the paint would have something to stick to.
The kids wanted me to make one... can you guess which is mine?

The following week we finished up our colouring (if we needed to) and then painted over them (I only gave them the option of purple, pink, or red paint)

My Paul Klee art is on this bulletin board.


What step did we forget?
We were supposed to dab off the excess paint.
Whoops.
I guess some of the paint was thin enough that the paint doesn't completely take over the art... but some *ahemREDahem* definitely went on a little thick.

Ah well, they still enjoyed doing it and think it looks good.

Also, we don't have those hockey puck type paints.   I think what we have is acrylic paint (in MASSIVE containers) so I just squirt a little in a yogurt cup and mix in some water with it to thin it out.  It works alright.


SNOW DAY


Nothing like a perfectly timed snow day in March!
Yes, I said perfectly timed
Why?
I\ve been feeling a little under the weather this week
I've got [what seems like] a never ending pile of marking
It's report card season!

My plan for the day is to get through this marking and write my ELA and science comments (I would have done French but I left a sheet at school that I need for the comments.  Aww shucks)

The only downside?
Today was our art day and I'm in charge of the all important main hallway bulletin board this month... but we need to get some artwork done first (I might add that we started this artwork about a month ago but Valentine's day, snow days, and substitutes being in for me kept getting in the way of completing it).
Today was also our computer lab day and we were going to learn how to graph in Excel so that I could put up their Olympic Medal Count bar graphs.  Looks like the Olympics continue in class 4CP!... our bar graphs will be going up on our Olympic bulletin board - also in the hallway.  

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Comics

I wrote a couple weeks ago about a lesson I did on descriptive language using some made sandwich making skills and looking at/listening to/smelling/feeling/eating Hershey's Chocolate Kisses.  The hope with these lessons was that my students story writing would be more... colourful, vibrant, erm... less boring?
Has it worked?  
For some, yes.. but naturally as in most classrooms not everyone is writing exactly what I want to read.  
CRAZY

Anywho, I planned a comic unit for them over the break (and by planned I mean I planned out the stories they would write and didn't do a thing with comics). 
Honestly, I've been dreading the actual comic part of this unit for one reason.  
My ex was supposed to plan it for me 
*cry me a river*

Anyways, like I said we are in the comic part of the unit (FINALLY) and I'm actually super impressed what I was able to throw together ALL ON MY OWN

This girl.  Who has never read a graphic novel.
This girl.  Who doesn't read comics.
This girl.  Who just isn't into that kind of stuff.

But my students are into that kind of stuff (I knew I had to do a graphic novel/comic unit with them when the majority handed in a survey at the beginning of the year telling me they prefer to read graphic novels and comics)... and I REALLY want them to like ELA.  
So I've tried.

The hard part?  My students have asked when my "boyfriend" is coming in to teach them a class (because months ago I told them he would) and they have asked if my "boyfriend" put the unit together.  When I told them it was I who did it all one said that it showed because it wasn't very good 
*cry me another river*
BUT THEN... an adult told me it was a cool idea... phew... ego stroked.

ANYWHO, I decided in January when I was trying to plan this comic unit a couple of days before going back to school (I had the flu, give me a break) that they couldn't start writing a comic book without having a story first.  
So story writing is where we started.

Look forward to the next few Tuesday's there being a post about the stories we wrote 
(hopefully by then I'll have some quality comic books that my students have written to share with you).


Saturday, March 01, 2014

This Week At School

... Honestly, nothing too exciting happened this week at school.
Except that I took my grade 8's on their ski [day] trip.  
I went snowboarding for the first time ever and I'm already fully recovered (from my numerous falls and from my early wake up call - I got up at 5am so we could leave the city by 5:30am)
don't be fooled by the sunshine.  It was COLD

*On day 5's the middle school teachers can send their students to the computer lab over the lunch hour to get work done that just isn't getting done.  This week, I pretty much sent every single one of my grade 8's.  I actually felt super bad about it.  
The good news?  
I just finished putting in their marks and so far it looks like I'll only have to send 19 this week.  Huzzah!

Our report cards are due in a couple of weeks so I spent some time this weekend getting in some grades and starting writing my math comments (it's a start).  Hopefully no one does anything too drastic in the next couple of weeks so that I have to go in and change them.  Luckily, this report card season I'm not house hunting, buying a house, moving, packing, or getting broken up with (well... one can hope I don't start and end a relationship in the next 2 weeks - if I do I don't think I'll be too broken up about it ending).  BUT, you can expect a few less posts until spring break probably.

On Friday we had a professional development day and the guy who spoke to us was AMAZING.  Seriously, I could have listened to him all day. 

What did I get out of it?  
Hooks

I need to give my students a hook to get them interested in what we are doing... which I think I'll apply to my ELA classes.  
Right now, we are about to start writing and illustrating our comic books and I'm super excited for them to look amazing (hopefully).  While writing these comic books we are also to be working on our blogs (which are like on going journals).  The thing is, those blogs have pretty well died.  They have died and I need to resurrect them... Lazerus style.

SO... I spent last night googling and Youtubing motivational, beautiful, and inspirational commercials.  My plan is to end the commercial right before you see the product placement and have them write a blog post on what they think the tag line could mean.  Our speaker gave us an example and naturally I have no idea what the commercial is anymore. Grr...

I'm not planning to show them one this week - because I already gave them the great idea of writing about the ski [day] trip.
But next week... next week we will be watching this commercial 
(I think - I'm actually torn between 2 Sony Brovia commercials right now)
But I prefer this one
1) because I love the song (Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats)
2)  It's a beautiful commercial
3)  There is a message right before the product placement 


* FYI we have a 6 day school cycle here (and likely across Canada).  I believe it is so that if you miss school because of a holiday or an admin day you aren't always missing your Monday/Friday classes (because let's face it... holidays generally fall on Monday's and Friday's).  When we get to university then it changes to a 5 day cycle where we just go by the days of the week.

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