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Tuesday 30 October 2012

Happy Halloween

I was talking with a friend of mine who teaches Primary. After the pumpkin patch field trip and hours of baking in preparation for her young students 'Halloween Party' at school tomorrow, she asked, "So what are you doing with Middle Schoolers?"

Yes, Halloween has arrived and while "parties" can be fun, so can learning! I try to avoid "parties" in class, but I do love to have "holiday activities" and with Middle Schoolers there are a lot of options that are educational AND fun!

My teaching partner and I have planned a few Halloween themed lessons which will cover math, grammar, writing, critical thinking and eating treats... 4 out of 5 are highly educational, not to mention fun.

I have a SMARTboard interactive lesson I created last month and have been saving for Halloween. It is a grammar game with spooky characters and themes.

Also, I teach French and we will be doing L'Halloween vocabulary review BINGO for "les bonbons"

Some other classes in our school are doing pumpkin carving/decorating and the leadership team is creating a "haunted portable" for classes to go through.... spooky fun!

The internet is a wealth of resources for Halloween acitvities. If you are TTOCing having some fun activities ready to go is a good idea as the students are often excited for the holiday and anything fun, education and structured will help you get through the day.

Here are some things I found.... you may also check out pintrest for great ideas!

High School:

SmartBoard Lessons:

Arts & Crafts:

All Levels:

Monday 29 October 2012

The Rainbow Fish

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of the most popular books I see in elementary school libraries. Kids love the cool illustrations and glittery cover.
LearningParade has an  eye-catching craft activity designed around this book. Students create a tissue paper lantern that closely resemble the colors associated with the popular book series covers. Students can also work on a cut/paste activity and color their own rainbow fish in this printable sheet from the site.
As an added bonus, check out MrsRojas's story maps made with post-it notes! They are just the right size for a little story analysis for students. She's even included a printable sheet to include information about different story elements.

Monday 15 October 2012

Photos as teaching tools...

Some of my friends and I have started to take more photos of nature and things we find beautiful or interesting. I love sharing photos with my class and using them as prompts for discussions, writing, etc.

In the past, when I have taught EAL/ESL (English as an Additional/a Second Language)I have used photos, magazine covers, pictures of any type and allowed them to write sentences or talk about the picture as a warm-up activity. This helps them with written and / or speaking because they are using vocabulary and forming sentences.

In a regular class I have used photos as prompts for story writing, making connections, and speaking/mini-speeches.

I now make it a point to try and use my own photos and usually have my camera with me to capture things I think may be interesting to use for my classroom activity.

As a TTOC, having a few photos in your 'bag of tricks' you can use them for any of the above ideas. Here are a few more recent photos:

Value of a Journal

The past week I have really started to journal again. I had forgotten, or perhaps lost appreciation for the art.

As a teen, I used to write and journal daily. It helped me focus, express myself, sort my ideas and thoughts.

This week, I have used it to deal with my feelings around tragedy, my goals both professionally and personally, as a way to brainstorm and sort ideas to share with colleagues, and as a tool with students and my own daughter to express what is on their mind.

Students who use journals are actively engaged in their own learning and have the opportunity to clarify and reflect upon their thinking. When students write in journals, they can record such things as ideas and feelings, special words and expressions they have heard, interesting things that have happened to them or information about interesting people. Journal writing offers students opportunities to write without fear often associated with marking. Every journal entry is individualized.

Check out these strategies for using journals in the classroom

Here is another great resource with things to consider if you want to use journals in the classroom and ways to use them.

As a TTOC, having a writing prompt, journal or discussion point can be a great idea! Allow students to write then share (I always give the option to pass)

We use this strategy in our mentoring program for new teachers and TTOCs, we always start with a 5 minute quiet write and then allow the participants to share out or pass. It helps us as mentors see where the participants are at and guide our meeting, as well as gives everyone a chance to "vent" or let out their feelings.

I am learning to re-appreciate the value of writing and journals as I use it in my classroom, with my colleagues and for my own personal reflection.

Friday 12 October 2012

RIP Amanda Todd

I am still processing this tragedy. It has reminded me of the important job I have as a teacher to be a positive role model and support for students. This is more than bullying, this needs to stop. We need to protevct our children.

"If you are not part of the SOLUTION, you are part of the PROBLEM"