Sunday, 22 September 2013

Falling into place...

As we begin week three in grade three things are falling into place.  I try and make use of every inch of the classroom and the students respond well to the movement we do from subject to subject. Our language and math block have us, at the carpet, at our desks, in front of the smartboard, in the library, and then back at the carpet again, sometimes in one lesson.  I can usually tell when I am losing their interest and I am lucky to the have the extra room in my classroom to have the students roaming about from centre to centre, activity to activity.  We start our word centres this week. A different approach to spelling, than the typical copy and memorising that most of us did when we went to school.  Students use magnifying glasses, play dough, telephones, salt bins, and magnetic letters to name a few, to practise their September words.
We will be reading and doing activity with the story Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.
This was introduced to me by Kaitlin and she has done some amazing things with it. I like using it at the beginning of the year to tackle some of the "Friends" issues before they really begin. Then I refer back to it as needed throughout the year. I'm excited to try making a pie with the class this week.  I have made cookies, cinnamon buns,  pretzels, cake, bread, soup, apple grilled cheese, pizzas, caramel  apples, candy apples, stew, but not pie. 
Last week in the classroom, we finished examining the different story elements in "First Day Jitters". We also spent some time dissected the nouns, verbs and adjectives. The students began a word library where we stored some incredible words to use in our daily writing. 
We started to fill our blessings jar in the classroom with the small things that we can take for granted on a daily basis. I told the students I expect to fill the jar this year, and then we started making some really great predictions as to how long it will take us.  (Great open ended question for math) ;)
The students worked on portraits that began with a simple letter "U" and miraculously turned into incredible pictures of themselves. Here are a few.
When taking a bite into adjectives and apples, we took a sneak peak into fractions. |We won't be learning about fractions for a while but it was a great connection for us, and I told the students that we will need to know these particular fractions for next week when we are baking.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.
I want to say a special "Hi" to the parents and students of my grade three class that might be stopping by our blog for a look at all the great things happening in grade three!
I'm looking forward to a wonderful year with your children.

A New Beginning to a New Beginning

Where to begin? After 3 weeks of teaching grade 7/8, reorganization has taken place and I have been moved schools---- and I am now teaching a grade 7 class. On Thursday, I received the call, left my classroom at 4:00pm and headed to my new school for Meet the Teacher Night. It's really all a blur at this point! Ha! I am excited to be back in a permanent system position, but I have an overwhelming sense of guilt leaving the class I just taught for 3 weeks. Bittersweet..... But feeling VERY grateful for this opportunity.

Before leaving we really dove into some great work.....
I introduced my class to Expository Writing- I colour coded the introduction to show the students how to weave their subtopics into their writing. I find most students have a very hard time organizing their ideas and do not know where to start. This seemed to help them quite a bit.

We used this template and created a generic example as a class about a Dog - Buddy.

Then the students did the following:
1.) Brainstormed at least 5 topics they were interested in.
2.) Chose one of their favourite topics-- A topic they knew A LOT about.
3.) Created subtopics under their topic.
4.) Brief brainstorm with jot notes.
5.) Began creating draft.

I really like to have the kids use paper for brainstorming and the lap tops for their draft and good copies so that they can save be saved on their GoogleDocs. account.
*With hopes of created a virtual writing portfolio.
It makes it easy for them to work on their writing at home without forgetting books and
memory sticks.
If your students are working on computers frequently, GoogleDocs (Google Apps for Education) might be something worth checking out.

Also this week, I taught the students how to highlight and summarize large bodies of text-- We used newspaper articles to highlight key facts, important information and main ideas.
Each student chose articles of their choice and we used this as our "Reading Responses" this week.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -

After a busy and successful week, I gathered my marks and notes etc. and prepared for a new teacher to take the class over.

My dear friend and her daughter came to rescue for the umpteenth time and helped me put together my new room at my new school on Friday.
Here's a little look at it. Nice room, but very different from what I just left.
As Tim Gunn would say "Make it Work!" Haha!

Day one begins again tomorrow! Wish me luck!


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Like riding a bike....

It is the beginning of the third week back and routines are being established, the students are walking into the classroom knowing what is expected and what they need to do. Homework folders are going home tomorrow and it is meet the teacher on Tuesday.  Feels like I never left and it feels great. I am finding I am not as tired each night and preparing for each day is getting easier and easier.  Ideas are starting to fall into place and mesh together with the curriculum. 

Our job tree is up and running and the students are excited to have a job each week.
I had a birthday last week and finished the birthday bags and made a new tag to go with the new and improved homework folders. You can get the new birthday tag for free {HERE}!
As you can see they all hang at the front of the classroom.  The kids are so excited for their birthdays now that these bags are hanging up just waiting to be opened. Not all teachers do a special treat or bag for birthdays. There is no right or wrong rule here. I know that the reason I do the birthday bags is because I remember when I was in grade one, the teacher made time in the day to play a game where the birthday student got to start it, and they received a special surprise bag.  The main excitement was just wondering what was inside. I don't even know if I liked the gift as much as the anticipation of opening it.  I try to do the things I really enjoyed as a student myself and replicate those great ideas in my classroom now.  I told the class "That if I'm having fun, they must be too".
Hope everyone is settling into the routines as well as your classes. 
Happy Sunday!

Grade 7/8 - Real life connections and more!

Well, week 2 is now in the books! Ha! I survived! It's been a huge adjustment,
but it's going very well! :)

This week I launched the science program. The kids brainstormed different fluids and gases present in the world (independently) and then I put them into small groups and they categorized them in their own ways. We are now working on an interactive science book-- I will post that soon!
 (just need to take pictures of them). 

Their reading focus this month is "Making Connections". These kids have been making connections since grade one, so there are many "huffs" when the words are even mentioned! Haha! So I decided to take their readings and have them connect to the "real world". The grade 7's are reading about war and the grade 8's are reading about global & social issues.

This week I showed both the Canadian and American perspectives of the Syrian Civil War during our lab time. The students used their readings and connected their opinions and responses to the speeches/opinions given.

Some of the connections and opinions given were fabulous and well written. The kids are so intrigued about this issue. So much so, that they asked if we could debate the issue on whether it is our moral obligation to help Syrians out or not.

We have hooked up to GoogleDocs and have begun saving and sharing our writing.
What a great invention!

On a side note-This weeks weather went from 100F to 60F in a matter of a day---- Perfect baseball weather for Phys. Ed. Class!

Read this quote this week on Pinterest that someone I follow pinned--- Ahh, so very true.
My mind is-a-stretchin' in this new intermediate world.

Have a delightful Monday!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

This week in Grade 7 & 8!

Well, week one is in the books! If you have been following our teaching journey with K&C Love Grade 3, you know that I am now teaching grade 7/8 until December. {Post here}.

First here is a peak at my classroom.....

This prayer table cover was created by my dear friend Darlene! Thanks girl!
My classroom library labels were a joint effort--Thank you Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher for helping create some new classroom labels geared to the books I had in my classroom library.
You rock! Thank you also to Darlene, who helped sort these books for me! Luv ya!

 Here is my guided area.

 The word wall.

Here is a closer look at the classroom library bin labels

Here is how I will be grading their assignments (what each level and pegmark means)

Side view of Math Focus Board and Go Board

 I had a lot of nerves leading up to day one. The fear of the unknown, really. When people asked me "what are you teaching this year?" and I said "grade 7/8," I received a lot of "Stink Eyes!" HA! A lot of peoples reactions were "ohhh... good luck with that!" Those poor 12 and 13 year olds sure have a bad rap. Haha. And that's exactly how I approached grade 7/8. On day one, I spoke to my class about eliminating the "teen" stigma. I told them that I knew they were more than "attitudes and rolling eyes." And we were off....

I realize that week one is sometimes filled with smoke and mirrors, but it was a great first week. I couldn't have asked for a better start. We did the 'get to know you' activities for the first part of the day and then dove in.

One of my favourite activities this week was the Spaghetti Challenge. I broke the class into groups and gave each group 20 pieces of raw spaghetti, 1m of masking tape, 1m of string and 4 marshmallows. The challenge was to see who could build the tallest freestanding structure. Only catch was that they could not tear apart the marshmallows--- they had to sit on the top of the structure.

One of the focuses for Literacy this month is Making Connections. It was a great chance to use the Go Board---- Shared reading with complete class participation.

We have been busy, busy, busy..... Full Gear. No time to mess around! Ha!
4.5 hours of marking today was a great intro to intermediate. How much DID I assign them in the last few days!? Sheeesh!

Just need to find my niche and ways to incorporate my way of teaching.
I mean, even 12 and 13 year olds need to have a little fun learning, right?

My primary journey has ended (for now)..... but I am truly going to embrace this new story.
 Everyday the plot thickens and keeps me in suspense! :)


Week One in Grade 3-- Using What Works!

When something works why change it? The first week went by very quickly.  I am so excited to work with the new students in my class this year. Like every year, I feel I have the best class.  It is amazing to me how much smaller the students are at the beginning of grade 3 compared to the end.  I ran into a few of my students from last year, and they look so grown up to me already and it has only been a couple of months. 

Last year was my first year using the book "No David" to come up with some great classroom guidelines.  This year I made the "No David" with the students and had them help me draw him and colour him before the lesson.  The book was a favourite for many and they enjoyed me reading it to the class even though most of them had read it before.  That to me is a great book, when you don't hear the students sigh and say "I have already read that book".  Instead they were ready to listen to every page.  I found this activity on Pinterest and both Kaitlin and I used it at the beginning of last year.  The students came up with lots of things that David "Can" do. 
Here is our "Work Worth Tweeting About" board.
This week I will be introducing the new Monday to Monday homework folder program.  I am changing things up a little. I usually send home the Star Student project as the first homework assignment but this year I am going to spend sometime with the "Paragraph Tweeting Style" so that when the "Tweet Student of the Week" project goes home the student will have some experience writing really good paragraphs.
Have a great second week!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Twas the night before the first day of school....

Tis the night before the first day of school and I am almost ready to tuck myself into bed for a night of sweet dreams about children and chatter.

I was at the school today finishing up some last minute labels and books.  I like to decorate the notebooks for the children and I choose new ideas each year. This year I have light bulbs for open ended math questions for their math journals, it is going to be labelled "Bright Ideas".  I have a heart for our religion books to go with our jar of blessings bulletin board. The journals this year have a key on them, and they will be labelled "The key to good writing".  Finally the math workbooks I used a clock and I will have the students put the numbers in as an opening activity to telling time. Here are some pics.
I try and incorporate different textures, and the clock actually has working hands. 
I downloaded a great package that goes with the book "First Day Jitters" by CollaborationCuties
I made a package to go home with the students as a "Welcome to Grade 3"
And finally, my big purchase this summer was a wheel of fortune spinner. This magnetic spinner attaches to your reading cart, or boards if they are magnetic. You can use it for math, language, DPA, writing and reading centres, the possibilities are endless. For the first day of school I am using it as a getting to know something about you game. The students spin the spinner and have to share something about themselves. 
I hope everyone has a great first day tomorrow, and for all the teacher's that started before tomorrow, I hope your having a great start to the school year.
Christine :)