Sunday, 23 March 2014

Free Poetry and Figurative Language Resources & A Look at Body Image

Super pleased with how well the first week of school ironed out after a week long Spring Break (March Break). The first few days were tough, as many students (and their teacher) had the luxury of sleeping in all week and eating when they wanted to. Ha!

The week started with St. Patrick's Day. As previously mentioned in my posts, holidays and celebrations are always a little different in intermediate classrooms. Nevertheless, we engaged in some St. Patrick themed activities. Here are a few freebies gathered from I'm Lovin' Lit that I used and loved!

This "Laughing with Limericks" pack was FABULOUS!!! My students did a terrific job--- many leaving us in stitches! After teaching the students how to write limericks (patterns, pacing etc.), we created a few as a class. Then I broke the students into pairs and each pair created one or two limericks. Each poem was entered into a mini-contest. I wrote each of their poetry titles on the board and read through each poem (so that there was no favoritism). The students each chose 3 that they liked (other than their own). There were 3 winning pairs who earned a prize. I was UBER impressed with the creativity and humour. Would definitely use this activity again. Lots of laughs and lots of fun was had by all.

Another great freebie I picked up was this "St. Patrick's Day Idiom" Pack. My students have been working on Figurative Language in their writing and being able to recognize it's use when reading. Again, using "the jar" to choose groups, I broke the students up in pairs as they dissected the various idioms that we see and use in our everyday speech.
"The Jar"

We finished up the week with this Metaphor round-up pack. We completed this pack "Over the Rainbow" as a shared lesson/activity. We discussed the use of Metaphors when writing and their purpose.
This month's writing focus is "Research". The students just recently completed a mini-research paper on natures phenomena's (Geography/Literacy) and will begin to create a slideshow to accompany their paper (key points and visuals).
This week I taught the students how to organize their writing when presenting research, once again.... But this time, in the format of a Biography. Using Erin Cobb's Research Pack, I was able to provide my students with clear examples, highlighting tricks and a clear outline to organize their ideas. The student seem to really be enjoying it, as I pretty much gave them free-reign on who they wanted to write about. I am getting pretty solid writing from them because they are interested in the person they are researching. At the end of the week, they will also transfer key ideas into a 10 slide presentation (using Google Presentation) to present their 'celebrity' to the class.

 In Fully Alive (Religion) and Health this month, we are focusing on a Body Image. These few lessons this week were very eye opening for me as teacher, as it really hit home how much work we need to do as parents and educators to help our kids sift their way through adolescence with a bombarding amount of false images being thrown at them every day.

The first lesson this week was about how we interpret and see magazine ads and images.
I passed around various ads from magazines and gave each student a mini pack of sticky notes. Each students wrote their feelings, ideas, thoughts.... whatever came to mind (that was appropriate) on the back of the ad on their sticky. At the end, we discussed the comments. Comments ranged from "He/She is so beautiful".... "I want to look like her/him"...... to "He looks so fake".

I polled the students and asked if they thought these people really looked like this in real life. MANY said YES.
I then used the video from Dove's Beauty Campaign- "Evolution" to show the students that our idea of "beauty" is distorted. Advertisements are usually 100% edited and that what we see isn't real.

Another lesson that took place this week was a look at how we see ourselves. Usually we see the worst in ourselves. Each student was asked to write a paragraph about the following ideas:
* What do you like about yourself?
*What do you not like about yourself?
*Do you think you are beautiful?
*Would you change anything about your looks?
*Do you think you are smart?
*Do you have friends?
*Is it easy for you to make friends?
*Do you feel like you belong?

This activity was a HUGE eye-opener. These writing pieces were not shared with the class. Even my most "seemingly confident" kids wanted to change things about them or were not happy with what they looked liked. We discussed as a class some things we might want to change (in regards to our appearances) and how we are often our worst critics. I then showed them this video below, which demonstrates how we see the worst in ourselves---- things that others never see or notice.
This is another Dove Campaign Video entitled "Sketches".

My message to the kids was this----

 Lots of work will continue in regards to body image, how we see ourselves and others in the coming weeks.
Have a wonderful week :)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Great Week Back!

Although I went back to work after March Break not feeling rested at ALL, the week was great!
St. Patrick's Day was fantastic. The students were on task all day but exhausted by the end of it.
Here are some pictures from that day.

Pots of Gold

Our Leprechaun point of view writing was amazing. I will post some finished products later in the week. The students enjoyed choosing a leprechaun name and writing as if they were a leprechaun. 
We have taken it a step further and tied it into fairy tales, with this incredible book written from the Wolf's perspective of the famous "Three Little Pigs".
We then used this WOW resource available to teachers and expanded into Media and 3rd person point of view. The first story is about the wolf being in the hospital from all his huffing and puffing.
This resource comes with an audio cd and the stories are read to you like a reporter making a newscast.
Looking forward.... I am preparing now for Springing into April and POETRY!
Starting the first week of April, we will have all new centres beginning, a very special Author Visit from a local Author and Poet as well as our annual poetry contest.
Check out our Poetry Packages!
Happy First Week of Spring Everyone!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Prepping for St. Patty!

Spending a day tasting the Rainbow!

We will begin the morning with some letter writing from the Leprechaun's point of view.  I found this incredible freebie at Teacher Pay Teacher to begin our morning and get our imaginations moving.
I have a rainbow craft planned that I found on Pinterest. I made a template of the pot of gold the students can trace and cut out, and we will be making the secondary colours we need out of primary colours as a class.
For math, we are going to Skittle our way into Median and Mode.
Each student will receive a package of skittles at the beginning of our lesson. I like to have the students take the skittles home with them instead of eating them at school, that way they can be shared with their families and they have the approval of their parents to eat them. They might sample one at school ;)
The Riddle Skittle math book is also a great resource we will be referring to, and as I mentioned I am also using this opportunity to teach median and mode. (something that needs to be covered but not found in the Math Makes Sense Manual)
Using special days in the year to teach concepts that students will need to remember for EQAO testing, is one trick that I have found useful. It gives them a memory different from the regular lessons we cover and they can easily think back to the activity.  
Here is the activity I found on Teacher Pay Teacher that I plan on using tomorrow.
For the students who finish early, here is a preview of the freebie I found that has estimating, sorting,  addition, subtractions, division and graphing for the students to work on.
As a treat in the afternoon we are making green floats. It is a science/math experiment on the reaction between sherbet and pop. I have the students predict what will happen when the two ingredients are mixed together, we measure the liquids and a solids needed in our recipe, then we get to taste the results.
Finally, at the end of the day we learn some simple steps to the jig and dance the jig as our DPA.
Have a Great St. Patrick's Day!!!

Used Canoe Commercials and Work with Music Videos

Oh March Break/Spring Break..... How I love you so! This break was SOOOO needed! Just to get away from the snow and feel a little bit of warmth can really change a persons attitude :)
I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to the regular scheduled programming.
Here is a little of what went on in 7E before the break.
My students have been learning about life in New France in History. With our consistent focus on author's purpose in literacy and the elements of a media presentation, my students created Used Birch Bark Canoe Commercials.
First, I showed my students some "Used Car Commercials". Together, we discussed the key features of the commercial--- especially the ones that garnered the audiences attention.

We then created Success Criteria (the list of things that needed to be present in their commercial).
As each pair presented, the other groups were responsible for a student assessment.
The students were also responsible for handing in a script which was a assessed separately from their presentation.
This week, the students will create a radio ad. This will help the students who struggle with presenting in front of a group get a little more creative and show more enthusiasm that they may have been lacking in their Live! commercial presentation. We will create a separate success criteria and discuss how t.v. and radio ads differ.

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Last week we also used Jimi Hendrix' Music to learn about Personification.

After discussing the lines of the song that used personification (a figure of speech in which human characteristics are attributed to an abstract quality, animal, or inanimate object), I matched students up in pairs.

Using their Chrome Books, each pairs task was to find the lyrics of a particular song, and write down the lines that demonstrated personification.

You can pick up this assignment HERE.
I definitely am able to reach more students when music and sound is incorporated in some way.

We will continue working on personification in the coming days, as we add in a few St. Patrick's Day figurative language activities to the mix.



Sunday, 2 March 2014

Visual Art lesson, under 90 minutes! Start to Finish!

Cardinal in a Tree
Winter is showing no signs of leaving just yet, so I thought I would get in another winter visual art lesson. The students and I have been noticing some cardinals outside lately, their beautiful red colour really stands out against the white snow. I came across a picture of this art activity and made up the directions on my own since there were none to follow. There might be an easier way but my students did just fine with the steps we followed.

Some prep before hand, that is optional: I found a template of a cardinal under images through a google search. I printed it and cut out 5 Bristol board templates that the students could trace if they wanted to for the cardinal's body. Of course depending on your grade the students can make their own cardinals.

Step one: Have a light blue sheet of construction paper portrait style on your desk. This will be the background sheet of your project.

Step two: Tear a white sheet the same size as the light blue across the bottom, making the snow on the ground for your background. Some students made hills, like the ones still in our playground. Glue this to the bottom of your page, the tear side should be towards the middle of your page and the straight cut edge should fit perfectly to your background.

Step three: Tear a darker blue sheet of construction paper the same way that you did the white sheet. This is the sky. Glue this to the background page. The torn side should be towards the middle of your page and the straight cut edge should fit perfectly to the background sheet.

Step four: Fold a black piece of construction paper the same size as your background in half, portrait style. Mark off the frame edge that you will not cut through. Have the students draw the tree, starting at the bottom making it wider and as you come to the top of your page the tree should become thinner. Then draw some branches that stretch to the frame. Very carefully cut out in between the branches and the tree, not cutting the frame edge you started with. When you open it up it should look like a tree with branches with a border all around it.

Step five: Glue the tree onto the background, making sure the base of your tree trunk is at the bottom of your background. (White snow)

Step six:  Trace and cut out cardinals and decorate the details of a beak and wings.

Step seven: Glue the cardinals in the tree.

Step eight: Take a step back and enjoy the incredible piece of art you just made.
These took our class just over 70 minutes to make, start to finish. You might need to help your students with the tree cutting and drawing portion of this project.

DPA Recipe Cards
 I took out my DPA recipe cards the other day and we started using them in the classroom. The students absolutely loved them. Almost every hand went up to volunteer to be a leader. During our language block the next day, we made one together as a class, and using that template I had the students come up with their own. In the past I have grouped students together for this activity but they were so excited I let them do them on their own.  STAY TUNED FOR THEIR FINISHED RECIPES !

WRITING KEY!- Find something they like to write about.

Journal Writing-Finding something the students want to write about is difficult, but when you can, the pencils just don't stop. I had the students think about what they might want to be when they grow up. I talked to them about how that might change from now until then, but that I wanted them to write about what they felt they wanted to be today.

Lists- I worked on teaching the importance of lists with the students, when we use them, why we would use them and then I gave them some activities to put what they know onto paper. In their "Key to Good Writing" books they had to make a list of things they would need for a day at the beach.
Let's face it, they are all getting tired of the snow. Not one student had less than 10 on their list, and most had more than 20.  That is great writing!
In math we are finishing up our measurement with Mass and Capacity.
Here is our Capacity lesson.
We made healthy and delicious fruit smoothies.

Congratulations to Kate for a great "Tweet of the Week" board. Thank you to MOM for a wonderful parent letter. Here is Kate's board.
Here is Owen's Fantastic "Tweet of the Week" board. A special thank you to Owen's mom for such a great poem about Owen.
Indoor recesses have been a struggle to say the least, on both the students and the teachers. I have found DPA in the classroom to be essential in keeping the students calm enough all day to learn.
(see DPA recipe cards) 
During indoor recess, when it is one teacher looking after 4 classrooms, these " learn how to draw books" have been helping to keep the students in one place and happy for the last couple of weeks.
Have a great last week before March Break!
Looking forward to St. Patrick's Day!