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

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Poetry is still important...

High school poetry suffers from an image problem. Think of Dead Poet’s Society's scenes of red-cheeked lads standing on desks and reciting verse, or of dowdy Dickinson imitators mooning on park benches, filling up journals with noxious chapbook fodder. There’s also the tired lessons about iambic pentameter and teachers wringing interpretations from cryptic stanzas, their students bewildered and chuckling. Reading poetry is impractical, even frivolous. High school poets are antisocial and effete.

... poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes. 

It is true. Poetry is often the unit my students least look forward to because it is thought of negatively. I like to open the unit with a modern song loaded with metaphors and other literary devices. This shows them poetry is still relevant and, if I am being honest, pretty awesome!

Read more of this article at the source (link below)


Tuesday 29 April 2014

10 Profound Children's Book Quotes That Probably Changed Your Life

Think back to the books you read as a kid—chances are there was that one line from that one book that completely changed the way you thought about life, whether it was the poignant last phrase of The Polar Express or a quietly wise revelation from Winnie the Pooh.

1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“‘I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am an old stump. I am sorry…’
‘I don’t need very much now,’ said the boy, ‘just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.’
‘Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could. ‘Well, an old stump is a good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.”

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

3. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them–that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

5. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
“Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.”

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
“For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.”

7. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

9. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

10. A Light In the Attic by Shel Silverstein
“When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?”

Monday 28 April 2014

Monday Quote

Very True Monday Quote!

This is so true! I love teaching, though there are tough days, I am so happy to have a job I love so much!

Sunday 27 April 2014

4D Triorama Project

20130708-145552.jpg These look awesome, but complicated. Check out the source link below for step by step instructions with photos to create these cool 4D trioramas.

Source: http://reliefteachingideas.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/4d-trioramas/

Saturday 26 April 2014

Books to teach kids about protecting the environment

Earth Day just passed, but learning about the environment is important year round!

Before you can start teaching your children about how to protect the environment, take some time to show they why it’s so important. Choose books that tell a story about what happens to people and animals when the environment becomes unsustainable. Like adults, children need to understand why something matters so much before they can get into how to fix it.

Read more here

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is one of the best kids books about protecting the environment!

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss - Way back in 1971, Dr. Seuss saw the potential for a problem in the future and tried to reach our generation while we were still impressionable. Now, his timeless story about the dangers of destroying the environment and driving away everything that makes an area unique and beautiful still resonates. The beauty of The Lorax is that it uses colorful illustrations and fun made-up words to really engage young children. After over 40 years, it still remains one of the best kids books about protecting the environment. It is a great book to start your conservation journey, as it gives a good overall picture of why it’s so important.

Read the rest of the list here

Wednesday 23 April 2014

What Students Really Need to Hear - teacher blog spot

You need to read this blog post by a Michigan teacher.

It is amazing and as a teacher, very easy to relate to. I care about my students, I worry about my students, and I want them to know that they are loved and should never quit.... Here is one excerpt that really summarizes the post:

As long as you are in my life, I am not going to let quitting be easy for you.  I am going to challenge you, confront you, push you, and coach you.  You can whine.  You can throw a tantrum.  You can shout and swear and stomp and cry.  And the next day, guess what?  I will be here waiting — smiling and patient — to give you a fresh start.  Because you are worth it.

Please read the entire post at Source

#BCED cuts are not the only option - local teacher blog post

#BCED Cuts Are Not the Only Option: It Is Time for Trustees and Parents To Stand Together

This post by a local teacher is fabulous! I want to copy the whole thing, but instead, here are some highlights... I HIGHLY recommend you read the entire post here!

School boards across BC are releasing their proposed budgets this month, and overwhelmingly, school communities are grappling with shortfalls in the millions of dollars. Trustees are struggling with the prospect of gutting essential programs and services, and parents, students, and teachers are rallying to advocate for programs that have made a difference in their lives.
The cuts being proposed are drastic. In the words of one of my local trustees, “There is no more fat to cut, it is just bone now”. The Vancouver School board is considering eliminating their entire elementary band and strings program.

Over the coming month, parents, students, and teachers will write letters and attend local school board meetings to fight for the programs and services they care about. This is an important thing to do, and people need to make their voice heard to try to save what is important to them, however, we can’t stop at trying to save our program of choice for just one more year. We need to band together and go after the root of why our programs are at risk.
In all the conflict to come over what may be cut or what may be saved, there is one thing that trustees, teachers, and parents agree on with startling clarity; these proposed cuts are here because of the actions and policies of the provincial government.
The operating budget for #BCED has remained frozen for the third straight year as school districts grapple with price increases for basic costs such as hydro/power and MSP. Add the fact that inflation continues at 2% a year and you have significant and consistent cuts to school districts all over the province. As if that wasn’t enough, this year the provincial government has chosen to remove up to 50% of funding for future capital projects such as building repairs and seismic upgrades. What that actually means is that the province’s decision to cut the education budget in the province is literally putting the lives of students at risk by not funding earthquake repairs in an active earthquake zone. This is in addition to the lives put at risk through counseling and at risk youth programs cut through underfunding.
Many trustees are angry with the province for putting them in a position where they feel they are forced to be the instrument of gutting the essential and lifesaving services that students need so badly.
Boards feel bound to balanced budget legislation in the School Act, which states that any board that does not submit a balanced budget can be dismissed and replaced with a government appointed administrator.
The law itself is ludicrous; the fact that representatives elected by the people can be replaced with an unelected administrator goes against the very idea of our democracy.

School board trustees – you don’t need to be the instrument of harmful government cuts to what you care about so dearly. You can choose to be the leaders we need by joining together, submitting needs budgets to the province, and showing them with real action that they need to put money back to into public education. Now is the moment to do this. The cuts this year are so extreme that parents, students, and teachers are hungry for real solutions, and many of them want you to show the kind of moral courage that this action entails. If you banded together and the parents supported you, the government wouldn’t be able to dismiss you all, and you could make a real difference in the lives of the students in your care.
Parents, students and teachers – yes go to local school board meetings and fight for what you care about, but as you do, don’t just ask your school board to save your program for one more year. Ask your trustees to work together with their colleagues across the province to ensure that the programs and people you care about are here for years to come. They need to know that you support them in doing all that they can do to advocate for your kids and you need to advocate with them to by taking your message to the provincial government and demanding that they make students and schools a priority in this province again.
If we work together, we can change this for the better. It is time we started.


What you say to students... Positivity...

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Earth Day Craft

These Earth Day "Handprint Globes" glued on black construction paper, along with students' creative writing assignments would make a visually stunning Earth Day bulletin board display.

Thursday 17 April 2014

50 Earth Day Activities

Next week is Earth Day... Here are 50 Earth Day Activities that work with natural materials, recycled materials, indoor crafts, outdoor activities and more....

50 Earth Day Activities for kids | TinkerLab

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Novel Reading: Post-It Note Tumblr Class activity

imageimageimage  I absolutely LOVE this activity. I have tried similar strategies, but this teacher describes in detail the process and outcome - I love it!

In this class, students read the John Green novel of their choice.  We didn’t attempt to balance the groups. Because it was enrichment, we really wanted students to have choice and to read the novels that spoke to them.  We had about 35 students read The Fault in Our Stars.  We had just 6 students readWill Grayson, Will Grayson.  The rest of the students were scattered about equally between Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines.    
Our Goals
1) Students read independently. 2) Students come prepared to engage in text-based discussions. 3) Students write analytically about the text.
The strategy we introduced on the first day was a way of cataloging their Post-It notes during their reading.  We knew students would find a great number of passages in their reading that they found meaningful, but I wanted to push them to think more about why they passages they marked were significant.  (In previous Breakfast Club sessions, we’d found students didn’t want to annotate IN THEIR BOOKS.  For many of our kids, this was the first new book they’d ever owned and they were reluctant to write in them!)
Our students loved to highlight their favorite passages by copying them onto Post-Its.  We asked them to tag those significant passages #quotes.  We also asked them to consider other hashtags, like #characterization, #plot, and #figlang.  Students were also encouraged to write their questions and reactions on Post-Its and to tag them accordingly.  From the first week, students were excited.
Every student had a large piece of construction paper where they were able to arrange their Post-Its each week.  We used them for first check ins.  Students would read the “Tumblrs” of their group mates.  We encouraged them to “like” and “comment” on each other’s Post-Its.  They were also able to “reblog” other student’s thoughts if they wanted to add to them.  (We made sure they gave their classmates credit.)  We also had a “Teacher Tumblr”. We used this to keep track of comments we heard when listening to the group discussions and questions that came up for us.  We also invited students to add questions and comments, which they did.  With enthusiasm.
Integrating Evidence Meaningfully in Discussion and Writing
One way we used the Post-It Notes to help students get ready to speak and write about their texts was to ask them to pull out those Post-Its on which they’d written significant lines or passages from the text.  We knew our students could read and opine about the action and the characters, but they struggled to present substantial evidence to support their assertions.  Their first instincts were not to begin with the text and work out from there.  Often we’d receive writing assignments that included NO evidence from the text.  In revision, students would go back to the text looking for three or four quotes to shove into the already-written essay.  Not a lot of commentary there.  
So we asked students to pull out those quotes, and then on new Post-Its, we asked them to write a sentence or two of context.  What’s happening in the quote or passage?  What would a reader need to know?  #context Now, get another Post-It.  What does it mean?  What is the writer doing? Why is it significant to the greater meaning of the text? #commentary
Students began to understand the ways they could be commenting on the text, and they began making these notes independently as they were reading.  
It was powerful because when we asked students to come together and discuss questions about their text, they were ready to talk.  They had things to say.  They went to their Post-It Notes and some of the processing had already begun.  
The flexibility and mobility of the Post-Its also helped our students to track the development of characters and themes across the text.  They could group patterns together, they could look at statements characters made early in the text side by side with statements they’d made later in the text. 
We introduced “The Author Says, I Say” to help students see how to seamlessly integrate evidence into their own writing. 
On the last day, when we gave the students an unannounced on-demand writing assignment, you could hear a pin drop in the room.  Students who used to struggle to write a sentence had something to say.  In all the weeks leading up to the last class, we never told the students they would be expected to write, but when we asked them to, they were ready, because they had already had multiple opportunities to process their thinking, and discuss and write about the text.
Our students reported feeling more confident as readers and writers and during the debrief, they talked about ways they could use the strategies in other classes.


Tuesday 15 April 2014

Inspiring short Video - what is it that you desire most?

This is a must watch. I love it! So inspiring!

Evaporation Friend

Have kids construct an Evaporation Cup Man or Lady! Check out Miss Klipfel's first grade evaporation project! Kids decorate a cup, add water, cover the top with a material (punch holes or not), and wait till it evaporates! They measure their "friend" and keep track of any changes. Does material affect how fast or slow water will evaporate? If you don't punch holes in your material, will it evaporate?! Have kids make a prediction. As a class, create agraph showing their predictions. See the experiment in action here!

Via E is for Explore Blog

The Lollipop Moment

I went to see Lois Zachary at the mentoring conference last week. She opened with this video and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. So powerful.

If you don't have time to watch the video, here is the commentary written (of most of the video, missing some at the end):

I want to start just by asking everyone in the audience a question: How many of you are completely comfortable calling yourselves a leader?
See, I've asked that question all the way across the country, and everywhere I ask it, no matter where, there's always a huge portion of the audience that won't put up their hand. And I've come to realize that we have made leadership into something bigger than us. We've made it into something beyond us. And I worry sometimes that we spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do that we've convinced ourselves that those are the only things worth celebrating, and we start to devalue the things that we can do every day.
I went to a little school called Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, and on my last day there a girl came up to me and she said, "I remember the first time that I met you." And then she told me a story that happened four years earlier.
She said, "On the day before I started University I was in the hotel room with my mom and my dad. And I was so scared and so convinced that I couldn't do this; that I wasn't ready for university that I just burst into tears. And my mom and my dad were amazing. They were like, 'Look, we know you're scared, but let's just go tomorrow, let's go to the first day and if at any point you feel as if you can't do this, that's fine, just tell us, we'll take you home. We love you no matter what.'"
She said, "And so I went the next day and was standing in line getting ready for registration and I looked around and I just knew I couldn't do it. I knew I wasn't ready, I knew I had to quit. And I turned to my mom and my dad to tell them that we needed to go home, and just at that moment you came out of the student union building wearing the stupidest hat I have ever seen in my life. It was awesome. And you had a bucket full of lollipops. And you were walking along and you were handing the lollipops out to people in line and talking about [a charity called] Shinerama. And all of a sudden you got to me, and you just stopped. And you stared. It was creepy. And then you looked at the guy next to me, and you smiled, and you reached in to your bucket and you pulled out a lollipop and you held it out to him. And you said to him, 'You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman standing next to you.' "
And she said, "I have never seen anyone get more embarrassed faster in my life. He turned beet-red and wouldn't even look at me and just kinda held the lollipop out like this." [shyly giving the lollipop] "And I felt so bad for this dude that I took the lollipop and as soon as I did you got this incredibly severe look on your face and you looked at my mom and my dad and you said, 'Look at that. Look at that. First day away from home and already she's taking candy from a stranger!'"
And she said, "Everybody lost it. Twenty feet in every direction, everyone started to howl. And I know this is cheesy, and I don't know why I'm telling you this, but in that moment when everyone was laughing, I knew that I shouldn't quit. And I haven't spoken to you once in the four years since that day, but I heard that you were leaving, and I had to come up and tell you that you've been an incredibly important person in my life, and I'm going to miss you."
And she walks away. And I'm flattened. And she gets about six feet away and she turns around and smiles and goes, "And you should probably know this too. I'm still dating that guy four years later." A year and half after I moved to Toronto, I got an invitation to their wedding.
Here's the kicker. I don't remember that.
How many of you guys have a lollipop moment? A moment where someone said something or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better?
We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments, how many of them we create, how many of them we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward, and how many of them we say thank you for. Because we've made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world, there are only six billion understandings of it. And if you change one person's understanding of it, one person's understanding of what they're capable of, one person's understanding of how much people care about them, one person's understanding of how powerful an agent of change they can be in this world, you've changed the whole thing.

Remember to tell people who made your lollipop moment. Thank them. Chances are they do not know it. As teachers, we create lollipop moments each day and often never know it. Be the change. Be kind!

Sunday 13 April 2014

How to raise happy kids, according to science

It may seem dated, but science shows family dinners are still key to happier kids.
Eating dinner as a family, though dated, leads to happier kids.

Sometimes it's hard to balance what's best for children with what makes them happy — but the two don't have to be mutually exclusive. Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.
Science shows us some ways to raise happy kids..

Here are the ten steps:
1. Get happy yourself
2. Teach them to build relationships 
3. Expect effort, not perfection
4. Teach optimism5. Teach emotional intelligence6. Form happiness habits 
Teach self-discipline
More playtime 
Rig their environment for happiness 
Eat dinner together

Source: http://theweek.com/article/index/259364/how-to-raise-happy-kids-according-to-science

Saturday 12 April 2014

Cool Art Projet

Cute and easy art project!

While this artist used acryllic paint, canvass and other materials, you could easily do something similar in class with regular paper and glue. Very cool looking, try different shap cut-outs even.

See website here.

Friday 11 April 2014

Battery life of a teacher...

Who can relate to this? I know I sure can... it is so important to recharge - what are you doing this weekend to recharge?

Teacher wellness is so important - remember to take 'you' time.

This weekend I am going with friends to an escape room (45 minutes to try to "escape" a themed room by solving puzzles) I am also going to my daughter's field hockey game and maybe a movie... down time after a busy week. Recharging my "battery" for next week!

It's Friday, I'm in love...

Love this song.... 80's music holds a special place in my heart =) Happy Friday!

We dare you not to start humming.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Vivid Word Choices

Dead words in middle, colorful words on the petals for word choice

Love this idea to get creative with words we use in writing. Eliminate the 'dead' words in favour of more interesting, vivid word choices.


Tuesday 8 April 2014

Video: English is Crazy

I love this. I have this conversation with many students learning english as their second (or third +) language. English IS crazy!

Teacher responds to profane letter but proofreading the letter with red pen....

A student wrote this letter to their teacher, who proceeded to edit it like any submitted written work in an English class. Pretty nicely done, though I wouldn't leave the end comment about "looking stupid"

The teacher went through and sliced and diced the letter in red marker, noting everything from not having a date to not indenting the signature line to a comma splice.

See the letter below. Note: Some readers might find some of the language offensive.


Source: WGNTV and Reddit

Making Room for Wonder in Children's Lives

Yes, focusing is important, but so is daydreaming, wondering, reflecting. Here's why. http://owl.li/uTMZ1

In her new book Thrive, Arianna Huffington writes of the importance of "making room" for wonder -- a change in how we measure success that would have an especially great impact on the lives of our children.
Right now, parents and teachers expend a lot of energy getting kids to pay attention, concentrate, and focus on the task in front of them. What we adults don't do, according to University of Southern California education professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, is teach children the value of the more diffuse mental activity that characterizes our inner lives: wondering, remembering, reflecting.
Yet this kind of introspection is crucial to our mental health, to our relationships, and to our emotional and moral development. And it promotes the skill parents and teachers care so much about: the capacity to focus on the world outside our heads.
Ironically, a lack of time to daydream may even hamper kids' capacity to pay attention when they need to. The ability to become absorbed in our own thoughts is linked to our ability to focus intently on the world outside, research indicates. In one recent neuro-imaging study, for example, participants alternated periods of mental rest with periods of looking at images and listening to sounds. The more effectively the neural regions associated with "looking in" were activated during rest and deactivated while attending to the visual and auditory stimuli, the more engaged were the brain's sensory cortices in response to sights and sounds. 

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

7 tips for struggling readers

3 kinds of readers:

  • Those who are good at reading and love to read.
  • Those who are good at reading, but yet “don’t like” to read.
  • Those who struggle with reading and do not like to read.
1)  Those who love to read.
Your biggest problem is going to be staying current with the newest books.  These kids know what’s new and they want to be reading it. 
2) Those who are good at reading but “don’t like” it. 
This is the type of student that will read if they have the right material.  Pay attention to what they read and what books/magazine that they talk about.  Non-fiction: informational books, biographies, how-to books or stories that are short. Also, Magazines, Comics, high interest reading appeals to these types of readers.
3) Those who struggle with reading and  do not like to read… mainly because it’s hard for them. 
Most of us don’t enjoy doing something that is hard for us.
You know reading is important, but this child just doesn't want to read! Here are 7 tips to help...

7 Tips to help your struggling reader

1)  Set aside time to read at least 4-5 times a week.  Yes…this will be a struggle since they’re going to buck you. Be consistent… this should be a non-negotiable.  These are the types of kids to set page goals with, not minutes.  They will know every trick in the book to waste time.  By setting a page goal of say… 5-10 pages per day, this gives them some power.  When the pages are read, they are done for the day.
2)  Use incentives such as…
  • Trade time for something they love to do… certain number of pages read translate into minutes to spend watching TV or playing video games.
  • Or so many books read= a trip to the swimming pool or a park.
  • Or just down and out bribe them…(yes I went there…) Try a buck a book (with guidelines).  Some times, desperate times call for desperate measures.
3) Read WITH your child…they read a page, you read a page.  
4) Have “reading parties” where every one brings a book and snuggles in a spot to read their book.  Sometimes just snuggling in next to mom or dad is enough motivation to read for a while.
5) If your struggling reader has a younger brother or sister, you have just scored big time! Get them to read to their younger sibling(s).
Have them read a picture book.  This means the stories are usually shorter (and less intimidating) and probably at a lower reading level (which will make them feel successful when they read it).  They get practice reading and the younger sibling gets the benefit of being read to… also very important!
6) Make sure your struggling reader is reading books that are interesting to them.  Kids will read “above their reading level” if they find the book interesting.  But also keep in mind not all of their choices will be high quality literature. At this point, the goal is to get them reading… and the best way to do that is make sure they are interested in what they read.
7) If the book your kid is reading (and enjoying) is part of a series, try sticking to the series.  A series gives your reader the same format, the same characters, and often the same setting for several books.  These familiar things will help them understand the story more quickly.