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Saturday 26 October 2013

Another busy week of filling my teacher brain...

I spent a couple days in Williams Lake to present the New Teachers' SURT (School Union Rep Training) workshop to a group of new teachers' and TTOCs from Cariboo Chilcotin teachers.

It was awesome to talk about Professional Development, the History of the BCTF, Professional Relationships including the code of ethics and boundaries, Professional Autonomy, and the Collective Agreement. I found it so educational as the facilitator to learn some of the local language and how it differs from other locals I have presented in or my own local I work in.

Thank-you to the teachers' in Williams Lake as well as the BCTF and the CCTA for having me!

When I returned from Williams Lake I had a mentoring session with our district mentor team, where we went through some strategies and protocols to try with our own "mentees" or "prtoege" groups. I find these sessions so valuable as a mentor and hope to bring some of the strategies we practiced into our next TTOC Mentorship meeting.

Finally, on Friday, I joined the BCCLA PSA (BC Co-Operative Learning Provincial Specialist Association) at their annual conference. I am part of the new District Leadership Series and was excited to get a sampling of what we will be focusing on this year. We also had our CTA 1st VP, Chris King, as a keynote. Although I work with him often, it was incredible to listen to him speak on Safe Schools and SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and how important it is to have those connections and a safe environment so that students CAN learn.

Overall, this week was busy, but so educational! My brain felt so full at the end of each day, I am so glad I have my notebook to reflect in and return to, so that all these fabulous revelations do not get forgotten!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Halloween Door Decor and Photobooth Ideas

I love seeing all the students dressed in Halloween costumes. I love the idea of doing a costume parade through the school or other classes, having healthy snacks with the kids and doing fun holiday crafts.

I always take a lot of photos but loved the idea of a 'PHOTO BOOTH' area. I have seen at weddings and showes people set up a back drop and/or frames or signs to hold up for photos. There can also be props that fit the celebration.

Another thing I love about Halloween in Elementary schools especially, are the awesome decorations. I found some cool door designs at Tunstall's Teacher Blog.

So many neat ideas for Halloween! I love it!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Home Ec: Checking In #homeecteacher

Wow, October is half way over, I feel like I am finally getting my head wrapped around the ins and outs or teaching Home Ec again! I meant to post more sooner, but just haven't had the time... but I want to post more! As a new home ec teacher, I am learning so much and want to share it with others who may find themselves teaching home ec, but also to seek ideas from those of you more experienced home ec teachers =)

My job share partner teachers M-W and typically does the recipe and demo with the students along with the lessons. My Thurs and Fri is typically cooking/lab days and on off weeks continuation of the lessons.

We are doing just foods/cooking, not sewing, which I have taught in the past (Sock Monkeys for 6/7s, PJ pants for 8s)

I wanted to share some of the labs we have made. I didn't get photos of the cheese scones, quesadilla, fruit tarts or berry muffins, however, I do have some of our other labs....

Grade 6/7s did fruit crisps... messy but delicious!

Grade 8s did pizza pockets. Dough was Day 1, Stuffing was Day 2

Grade 6/7s made personal/co-operative pizzas

My face says it all... this was my FIRST lab day, It felt so great to see all the students enjoying their muffins!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - these were so yummy!
So, although things are VERY busy, they are going very well! I am really enjoying Home Ec and as first term comes to an end in a couple weeks, I feel like second term will be a blast now that I am used to my new position!!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Student-Centered Discussion Tips

It can be scary to let students guide discussion in the classroom, but the rewards are well worth it. Check out six tips for implementing student-centered discussion: http://bit.ly/19TdOht

  1. Start With a Challenging Text 
    In the Shared Inquiry method of discussion, the text provides the foundation for student understanding, multiple meanings, and debate. Both Damm and Benefiel found that when preparing for discussion, students were able to grapple with a text much more difficult than that they may have read on their own. “Sometimes I think a text is too hard,” says Damm, “and it has been proven to me over and over that it is not.”

    Take Away: Even if you think a text is above your students’ reading level, bring it in and plan opportunities for students to engage and grapple with it.
  2. Set the Stage 
    Before any discussion, Damm’s students spend five to ten minutes writing their response to the first question. This allows less outgoing students to share their carefully considered answers, and ensures that everyone has an opportunity to participate. After the discussion, students reconsider their answers based on what they’ve heard from other students, and are given a chance to change their initial responses. Damm reads the final responses to assess how students changed their minds during the discussion, and why.

    Take Away: Create and reinforce a structure for preparation, discussion, and reflection. During discussion, set a procedure to help you facilitate and monitor. Damm and Benefiel both recommend keeping a record of who has contributed to the conversation so you can ensure 100% participation.
  3. Seize Questions As Opportunities 
    Students at Sarah Smith Elementary School in Atlanta, GA, start learning Shared Inquiry discussion practices in kindergarten. By first grade, they’re starting to drive the conversation. “Once the students understand how to question, [the rest] comes naturally to them,” says principal Sidney Baker.

    When teachers seize on student questions and use them to drive discussion, it empowers students, agrees Denise Ahlquist, the vice president for training at Great Books. Underscoring the value of questions also helps open the floor to students who may struggle with reading in general.

    Take Away: Set the expectation that questions are valuable and take time to answer every question that you can during discussion.
  4. teens-studying-outside
  5. Encourage Interaction
    Damm and Benefiel sit outside of the discussion circle and interject only to facilitate or to invite students to participate. During discussion, asking students “why?” and “what do you think?” is enough to encourage students to deepen their understanding of the text without losing student ownership.

    Take Away: During discussion, give students simple directions to encourage them to interact with one another. If one student disagrees with another, for example, prompt her to turn to the other student and try to convince him of her point of view.
  6. Seek Support From Colleagues
    At Sarah Smith Elementary, a week before student discussions teachers have their own Shared Inquiry discussions about the stories they are reading in class. This helps teachers go through the process and become deeply familiar with the texts before they facilitate student discussions. It also provides a foundation for later reflection on classroom discussions.

    Take Away: You will find more success with student-centered discussions if you are able to prepare for them in collaboration with other teachers.
  7. Be Patient 
    How quickly or how effectively you will transition to student-centered discussions depends on your own experience as a learner and teacher, so be patient and plan to spend a few weeks teaching students how they work. “It really takes practice to support ideas with evidence and look for deeper meaning,” says Rachel Claff, editorial director of K-12 programs at the Great Books Foundation, but “it yields rich results.”

Four More Tips
Here are four more things to keep in mind when getting started with student-led discussion.

Welcome All Discussion
Talking about text does not just happen in a formal discussion, but throughout the week. Set up pair-shares, informal discussions, and other opportunities for talk as students work with a text. 

Resist the Urge to Explain
Your first instinct might be to explain the text, especially if students are stuck. But resist that urge and trust the process of discussion to get kids to form their own understandings and build off of each other’s ideas.

Model Curiosity
During Shared Inquiry, the role of the teacher is to be a model learner for students and to show what it means to go from not understanding to creating meaning. 

Take Risks
As you ask your students to take risks, be willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone as well. If a student asks you for more reading from a challenging author, run with it!

Friday 11 October 2013

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Sunday 6 October 2013

Secret Student

Fun behavior motivator! Great for a TTOC also!! Let the class know you are watching the secret student to see if they follow the rules, work hard and are on their best behaviour. Or don't tell them and make it a surprise!

Pick a student to reward. 

Thursday 3 October 2013

Educational Activities for Popcorn Month

October is popcorn month. I love popcorn, especially movie theatre popcorn.... but there are some amazing ways to use popcorn in the classroom. As a TTOC this is a sure way to be memorable (but still educational) Similarly, I have used candy hearts as BINGO markers on Valentines day and other food items for learning.

This awesome site posted this:

  • Use kernels for an estimation activity.  FirstGradeParade posted this and included cute little autumn-themed, printable cards for students to estimate how many popcorn kernels will fit on it.  After they estimate, they count the kernels to see how close their guess was.
  • Have students describe popcorn using as many adjectives that come to mind.  Here is Room-Mom101's take on BabblingAbby's adjective activity.
  • Challenge students to create a box that holds the most popcorn.  Fawnnguyen did this activity for sixth-graders studying volume.
  • Make a popcorn book club discussion.  This is also an idea from FirstGradeParade, complete with printable discussion-starters.  Students discuss their books and eat popcorn.
  • Create popcorn writing by crumpling up popcorn-shaped papers with characters and settings written on them.  Students randomly choose the papers and write a story using the elements written on their papers.  This comes from ApplestoApplique and is similar to my Build-A-Story activity, but with a popcorn theme!