Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

The importance of mentorship for early career teachers

Miami teacher, David Cutler, writes about the importance of mentorship for early career teachers:

Today, my success as a teacher -- not to mention the lives of all the students I hope I have inspired and changed in my seven years in the classroom -- is directly related to the caring, high-quality mentorship I received during my first year of teaching. Without it, I would have become another statistic, quitting after my first few years on the job.

David talks about a mentor as confidant, observer, and confidence builder. I am part of our district mentorship program and enjoy hearing about other programs and how mentors have positively helped new teachers.

Read More Here

Science Centers

Science Centers are a great idea to change up the 'stations' in your class. I know many primary classes have centers for play-based learning and I have seen some classes do 'math centers' and 'literacy centers' but more recently I have been exploring science centers and ways to adapt units to work within this idea.

So when I saw this post I was excited!

Read It - Reading about topic and writing a couple notes. You can be specific with questions for them to answer if you wish. EG: Polar Bears, write two facts about them. or two adaptations for cold environment.

Sort It - With a t-chart or venn diagram students can sort facts about two topics/items. EG: Comparing Grizzly Bears and Polar Bears.  or Frogs and Toads.

Match It - photos to match up or words and definitions or items and facts. EG: photos of animals feet and their environments to match. Baby and Adult animal names.

Create It - read and create using drawing or building or writing. EG: Read about two animals and ten create your own animal that could survive in a different biome, for example camel in Arctic. Could write a story on topic.

Draw It - Draw item for each vocabulary word

Tech It - using tablets or computers. EG: type up information, research information, create etc.

Analyze It - analyze video, photo, article on topic.

Explain It - read on topic, writing to example EG: Read about Black bears and polar bears, compare/contrast them. Maybe answer questions.

Some ideas, templates and more are provided here. But feel free to create your own 'Science Centers'

Monday 20 January 2014

Fab Five Writing

A nice visual rubric for primary and early writers with 5 cues to help with writing:

Mrs. Lirette has more great resouces for 'Fab Five' - - - See it all here!

UBC News: Gay-straight alliances in schools reduce suicide risk for all students

Gay-straight alliances in schools reduce suicide risk for all students

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Canadian schools with explicit anti-homophobia interventions such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs) may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers.
Gay-straight alliances are student-led clubs that aim to make the school community a safer place for all students regardless of their sexual orientation. Their members include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their straight allies.
“We know that LGBTQ students are at higher risk for suicide, in part because they are more often targeted for bullying and discrimination,” says Elizabeth Saewyc, lead author of the study and professor with the UBC School of Nursing. “But heterosexual students can also be the target of homophobic bullying. When policies and supportive programs like GSAs are in place long enough to change the environment of the school, it’s better for students’ mental health, no matter what their orientation.”
LGBTQ youth and heterosexual students in schools with anti-homophobia policies and GSAs had lower odds of discrimination, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, primarily when both strategies were enacted, or when the polices and GSAs had been in place for three years or more.

Key findings:
In schools with gay-straight alliances implemented three or more years ago:
  • The odds of homophobic discrimination and suicidal thoughts were reduced by more than half among lesbian, gay, bisexual boys and girls compared to schools with no GSA.
  • There were also significantly lower odds of sexual orientation discrimination for heterosexual boys and girls.
  • Heterosexual boys were half as likely to attempt suicide as those in schools without GSAs.
In schools where anti-homophobic policies have been in place for more than three years:
  • The odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts for gay and bisexual boys were more than 70 per cent lower. Suicide attempts among lesbian and bisexual girls were two-thirds lower.
  • Heterosexual boys had 27 per cent lower odds of suicidal thoughts than heterosexual boys in schools without such policies.

Read more at Source

Sunday 19 January 2014

1981 LEGO Ad compared to today's feminized 'girl toys'

Pay attention, 2014 Mad Men: This little girl is holding a LEGO set. The LEGOs are not pink or "made for girls." She isn't even wearing pink. The copy is about "younger children" who "build for fun." Not just "girls" who build. ALL KIDS.
In an age when little girls and boys are treated as though they are two entirely different species by toy marketers, this 1981 ad for LEGO -- one of our favorite images ever -- issues an important reminder.

You need to check out the comparisons of toys then and now - it is astonishing how much things have changed and how much "girlie girl" advertising is happening now compared to the 80s [which is when I grew up with transformers, lego, barbies, Rainbow Brite, She-Ra, He-Man and G.I. Joes]
Why have toys for girls become so feminized?  

Saturday 18 January 2014

Mindfulness and SEL improving student achievement


Many teachers in Coquitlam have had 'MindUp' training and having been a TTOC in classes that use this mindfulness in class, I can say that it can be very beneficial. A colleague shared this article and I wanted to share a piece of it and the link to the full article for further reading if you are interested.
Schools across the country are beginning to use mindfulness as part of an effort to address the social and emotional needs of children, improving student achievement in the process.
“Before we can teach a kid how to academically excel in school, we need to teach him how to have stillness, pay attention, stay on task, regulate, make good choices,” said Larochette. “We tell kids be quiet, calm yourself down, be still. We tell them all these things they need in the classroom, but we’re not teaching them how to do that.”
It makes sense doesn't it? Less time managing behaviour as students learn to self regulate and use skills to help them learn.


Thursday 16 January 2014

Real Life Math Projects.

I love "real life math" lessons. There is a facebook meme going around that talks about how school never taught you to balance a cheque book, pay bills, interest on credit cards, etc. etc. but they were so glad they knew Pythagoras theorem. 

Funny, but comes from truth. I think 'real life math' helps students relate more and be more engaged in going through the process. Here are a few examples from Raki's Rad Resources, another great edu-blog I follow. Though most of her resources are for sale on 'TPT' if you don't want to buy them, they are still awesome starting points to create your own.

I have done shopping projects with budgets to teach tax and shopping and the kids loved it.... 

Grade 2 and 3 students completed a Holiday Shopping Project.  They used websites like www.amazon.com to do mock holiday shopping.  Each student was assigned $100 and chose 3 different presents to purchase.  They then practiced rounding, addition and subtraction while putting together their project sheet. 
Holiday Shopping project - real life application of math skills

One student decided to spend half of his money on a video game for his brother because “he’ll share it  with me!”  It was fun to watch him figure out how to get presents for the rest of his family with the money he had left!

Grade 5 and 6 students completed a Balanced Checkbook Project.  The students were randomly assigned to a job card, which dictated their salary and bills.  Students had to take their annual salary and figure out how much money they would have to work with each month.  Then, they had to balance their checkbook by paying their bills and making a grocery list and estimating a grocery budget.  Students also had the option of buying luxury items and even had a “surprise” – some good and some bad.

Monday 13 January 2014

Poverty: Why are our children still hungry?

One of the schools I work at has a breakfast program, but it struggles to stay running and was recently saved by 'adopt a school' sponsorship. Our amazing youth worker prepares smoothies each morning for students who arrive hungry.

This article caught my eye, I wonder why Canada is the only G8 country without a program in place for our hungry students?

This morning, one in seven Canadian children went to school hungry. In the poorest communities that number can reach 50 per cent. Despite this, Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a national child nutrition program in our schools.
Many people don’t realize the extent of hunger in Canada. In a developed country like ours, it can be easily overlooked. Every month, nearly 900,000 Canadians receive assistance from food banks — 38 per cent of them are children and youth. These youth frequently go to school on an empty stomach.

This needs to change! This is not about money, it is about priorities. 

Saturday 11 January 2014

Currently - January 2014

I love Farley's 'Currently' each month. It has been a while since I did one, so I thought... better late than never...

Listening - to Seahawks beat Saints in a rainy amazing playoff game.
Loving - having a weekend with no marking, no plans, just relaxation (and housework)
Thinking - about ways to connect with my new students this term
Wanting - a massage
Needing - to organize my teaching resources that I am not using this year (different position)
Memory/Tradition - Kiddo tried Snowboarding for first time, we went to Cavalia Odysseo, which was amazing and we got all five cousins (my sisters kids, and mine) together for the first time since the youngest was born!!!

That's it for now

Friday 10 January 2014

Apps for creative story writing

This blog wrote a great post on apps to help students with creative story writing:
Today, there are lots of apps that can help students generate creative story ideas. Here are five worth taking a look at.
Things to Think About is a free iPad app that offers 100 writing prompts created by students for students. The prompts were created by 2nd through 5th grade students in Jackson County, Michigan. The app itself was built by two high school students in the same county. Things to Think About has writing prompts spread across twelve categories. Each prompt has a picture drawn by a student. A short audio recording of a student reading each prompt can be heard too.
Write About This is an iPad app (free and paid versions available) containing visual, text, voice writing prompts for students. Students can respond to the writing prompts they see by writing directly in the app or anywhere else that you want them to write. Write About This allows students and teachers to create their own writing prompts too. To create a writing prompt you choose  picture from your camera roll, type a prompt, then record your voice to go along with the prompt. Prompts and responses to prompts can be shared via email. Sharing via email is disabled by default. Sharing can be activated in the app’s settings. The free version of Write About This contains 50 prompts. The paid version of Write About This (currently priced at $3.99) has nearly 500 prompts.
Shake-a-Phrase is a fun iPad app (currently priced at $1.99) for elementary school and middle school students to use to start stories and practice recognizing parts of speech. Shake-a-Phrase has three basic modes; shake it, story starter, and quiz mode. Each mode has five themes; animals, monsters, fairytales, sports, and random. In “shake it” mode students shake their iPads to have complete, but random sentences appear on their screens. The “story starter” mode presents students with a new random story prompt each time they shake their iPads. In both of these modes students can favorite sentences and prompts to refer to later. Shake-a-Phrase’s quiz mode presents students with random sentences in which they have to identify nouns, adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, and prepositions.
Brainstormer is an iPad app (current price $1.99) that started out as a website in 2009. The web version has been replaced the the iPad app that quickly generates story starters for you. The basic Brainstormer app has three wheels of words and themes that you can spin. You can spin each wheel separately until you have a combination of words that you think you can use. When you have selected a story starter you can share it with others through email, Twitter, or Facebook.  That’s all there is to the basic Brainstormer app. You can add more words and themes to the app through in-app purchases of “character creator” and “world builder.”
Sentence Builder from Abitalk is a series of iPad apps designed to help elementary school students learn to construct sentences. The app asks students to build sentences about the pictures that they see in the app. Each picture is accompanied by a set of words that students drag and drop into place to write the sentence that they hear read by the narrator. For example, in one picture children will see two people running and they will have to write the sentence that they hear the narrator read. Sentence Builder will tell students if they have written the sentence correctly or not. Sentence Builder allows parents and teachers to create their own lessons. To create a lesson start by selecting a picture from your iPad’s camera roll then write out the sentence that you want students to create. You can use your own voice to narrate the sentence or use the app’s native voice for narration. Sentence Builder Free is a free app for Kindergarten through grade 2. The full version of Sentence Builder costs $2.99. The full version offers more pre-made sentences, more complex sentences, and more word choices.


Thursday 9 January 2014

Bullet Journals - for those who still love the pen and paper

As "techie" as I am, I still love pen and paper.

I use it for my dayplanner and also journaling and note-taking.

I loved this site with some ideas for 'Bullet Journals"

Check it out: http://www.bulletjournal.com/

Monday 6 January 2014

Student Tracking Board

Love this!

Terri writes:
FINALLY finished my new board for students leaving the classroom. I have so many of them leaving throughout the day and I can never remember who is where. Students will now have to move their magnet to the proper spot when they leave. I am hoping this will save on markers and will eliminate the doodling on the board!


Monday Quote: Superpowers of teachers....