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

Monday 29 September 2014

DIY inspirational classroom posters

I need to do this.... they look so awesome and I feel like as uncreative/artistic as I have become over the years (I used to be really quite the artist.... you don't use it, you lose it I guess) I could probably do this...

THIS IS SO EASY, Y'ALL. I can't stress that enough. All you need to do is:

1) Pick a quote you want to use. 
2) Sketch out the quote on a piece of watercolor paper in pencil.
3) Paint over it in watercolor.
4) Erase the pencil.

This one's a little hard to read, but it says, "And above all, watch with glittering eyes the world around you." Roald Dahl wins again.  For this one, I wrote the quote first in white crayon (which is a little scary because you can't see it at ALL), then just painted over with watercolor.

Newspaper Blackout - poetry art in the classroom

In case you missed it, here’s a brief history of blackout poetry.

I love this activity - it is very easy, but very interesting.

I have seen it done with newspapers, pages of an old book, anything really. I have also seen pages decorated, not just "blacked out" but with drawings that relate to the words not crossed out.

Anyhow here are some examples:

SOURCE: http://newspaperblackout.com/

Here are some (small) examples of the picture black outs:

Sunday 28 September 2014

Project Wet - Water Education

I was asking colleagues on facebook about resources for a water cycle / environmental unit I may be teaching in Science. A friend suggested I check out http://www.projectwet.org/ and I suggest you do as well!

There are publications, interactive online activities, lesson plans, printables, information on workshop and training, maps, posters, books, events and so much more.

It is appropriate for a variety of grade levels and looks at the importance of water and how we use it and how we can protect it.

Saturday 27 September 2014

5 Tips for teaching 'tough kids'

Photo credit: Thinkstock

This Blog has some great ideas (although some are common sense) on how to deal with that one student who you can't seem to get through to at first...

Every teacher remembers his or her first "tough kid" experience. Maybe the student ignored your directions or laughed at your attempts to utilize the classroom discipline steps. We all have at least one story to share, and for some teachers, teaching a tough kid is a daily challenge. It seems that no matter what teaching techniques you try to pull out of your educator hat, nothing changes their behavior.

1. Set the tone
2. Be a mentor
3. Make connections
4. Take it personally (in a good way)
5. Expect anything and everything

Thursday 25 September 2014

After a few months hiatus...

After taking some blogging time off, I am back with some back to school posts coming up this weekend.

In case you are not a colleague in B.C. let me give you a quick run down of something that have been happening here in our neck of the woods....

After months of failed negotiations, teachers were taking minor job action which included not supervising at recess. The government then locked us out at recess/lunch/before/after school and deducted 10% of our wages. We moved to a provincial rotating strike, one day a week for each district, with multiple districts out at once. Things were not improving.

Finally, the last rotating strike was Friday, June 13 and the following Monday we started a full walk out. All schools shut down as of June 16 and were not back in session until this past Monday, September 22.

As a zone captain on the local executive, striking days meant that we met at the CTA office early in the morning to discuss issues, then we would drive around to our "zone" of schools (6-12 schools we visited daily)

Our district cancelled summer school and so we didn't have to picket over the summer, but many areas of B.C. did. As September drew closer, we hoped for a deal, especially when mediator Vince Ready got involved. But, with the parties "too far apart" he walked away and our hopes faded.

There were rallies put on by students, parents and the community, there were events hosted by BC Fed and other unions, there was support in the form of solidarity, money, and more from across Canada. It was truly a historic event.

When teachers voted 99% for binding arbitration, it sent a strong message that we wanted to get a deal, even if it meant going to binding arbitration. The government still disagreed but finally, there were some discussions again. After a promise to bargain 25/7 all summer, the government only met once with BCTF and this final push at least got both parties back at the table again.

Finally, last week, with Vince Ready back and some discussions between parties, they reached a deal.

The deal was not the deal teachers hoped for, but it had modest improvements in some areas and allowed us to get back to work, kids back to school and focus on the next issues were are trustee elections and our court case.

It was a tough time for many teachers, parents, students, community - but we go through it.

I feel like it was one battle in the bigger war. With a government like this, it feels like there are many more battles in this war and we need to stay united in our fight to stand up for quality public education. We can not allow have/have not privatization of education. We can not allow this government to break our union.

I did not blog the past few months because (mostly, I didn't have the time... but also...) there was so much going on on any given day with bargaining and job action and government moves - I didn't want this blog to become a political opinion blog (although that is part of who I am) but to stay focused on classroom ideas and such.

So, there are no guarantees I won't post more on this issue and any others that come.... but for now, we are back to school and I am ready to share some more classroom ideas!


If you want some info on this check out some of these great posts:





Wednesday 24 September 2014

Leaf Learning

As the leaves change colour and begun to fall, why not use nature in the classroom?

Collect and graph different colours and styles of leaves, use them for art, math, science....

Here are some awesome ideas from E is for Explore Blog

Tuesday 23 September 2014

What to Do With That Awkward 5 or 10 Minutes of Class You Have Left

Last week in a Grade 8 class, I found the students getting the "back to school - start up your class" activities in far less time than anticipated. I used to teach summer camp and I was a youth worker AND I have been in a variety of classes of various grade levels over the past nine years. I have a very large 'bag of tricks' and don't mind filling 5-10 minute 'gaps' with activities, but sometimes I want to try new ideas and I know some teachers, especially new teachers and new TTOCs, aren't always sure how to fill these blocks of time.

When I started teaching I did my "short practicum" with a middle school teacher who called these activities "SPONGE" activities. There is debate over using these "time fillers" but I feel if they are educational, or serve a purpose (getting to know your classmates, team building, academic, etc.) then go for it.

Here are some ideas from WE ARE TEACHERS blog:

1) Show your students one of these videos and relate it back to your lesson/content somehow.

VideoDescriptionPossible way of relating back to lesson/topic
The Awareness TestA fun test of student's awarenessThe importance of paying attention
Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and StudentsA young man's heartwarming pep talkThe power of positivity/goal-setting
Zombie Kid Likes TurtlesA reporter asks a boy a question, and ... well, you'll just have to watch it.The importance of staying on-topic 
The Power of WordsA short (fictional) interaction between a homeless man and a woman who understands the power of wordsThe power of words
Kseniya Simonova - Sand AnimationSimonova uses sand as a storytelling medium. Amazing! The power of visuals

Eric Whitacre: A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong
Whitacre creates a virtual choir with 2,000 submitted videos The limitlessness of creativity 

**I haven't watched these videos all yet, as always  -  a teacher should fully view any video before showing it to a class!!!

2. Play Trashketball
3. Play Reviewsical Chairs
4. Write down as many ### as you can (animals, provinces, states, vegetables, etc.)
5. Hold a limmerick contest

6) Create fun structured conversations. Give the whole class a sentence stem that they have to fill in themselves, and then make them go find at least 10 different partners to practice it with. The repetition of both speaking and listening will help cement it in their brains, and the not-sitting-in-their-chairs will make it fun. 
  • "One thing I will remember to tell my future grandchildren about differential equations is _____"
  • "I shall uphold the honor of my English teacher, Ms./Mr. _____ and never mix up 'you're' and 'your.' I will remember the difference by _____."
  • "I'm going to go straight home and tell everyone on Facebook how the most important thing I learned about cells is ____."
  • "If I made a modern-day movie about the Shakespeare play we read today, I would cast _____ as _______ because they are both ______."