March 29, 2013

Happy Easter!

We had so much fun on Thursday afternoon! 
Happy Easter to all of our family and friends! 

Happy Easter! (video)

March 26, 2013

A Prayer for Those Who Suffer

For those who suffer,
and those who cry this night,
give them repose, Lord;
a pause in their burdens.
Let there be minutes
where they experience peace,
not of man
but of angels.
Love them, Lord,
when others cannot.
Hold them, Lord,
when we fail with human arms.
Hear their prayers
and give them the ability to hear You back
in whatever language they best understand.



There is a will and a way! An update on student feedback

I'm not sure if it's a touch of arthritis or a lack of use because of my fondness for technology as a communication tool, but I can't write the way I used to.  
I mean write-write. Like with a pen and a paper.  
It's not very neat, it seems to take me forever and after a few minutes, it hurts my hand and fingers.  Of course, with young students as readers, one must also print, and do so neatly, which compounds my problem.  

I love to give my students written feedback on their work and back when I was 10 and would play school in my basement, I dreamed of having perfect printing and writing all kinds of wonderful things to my students
Well, I still do that, but I'm afraid in order to do it in a timely manner, I need to rely on my computer. Sometimes I can write my feedback to the students, but in the last few years, I find myself relying on typing it, printing it and attaching it to their work.  
I try to make it as personalized as possible but I get that it's missing that *something special*. 

Handwriting the level of detailed feedback to each of my students on multiple assignments takes longer than I feel is appropriate and I can appreciate my students need for a quick turnaround time on their tasks and activities.

The good thing is that in typing their feedback, I can say a little more than I would if I were writing with my pen, since my hands don't have to work as hard. 

For me, it's all about that turnaround time and marking only a few students work a night because my hands get sore means that students wait longer for their work to be returned and that doesn't sit right with me, nor does it help my students to be more successful. 

So in the near future, there will be a number of assignments to be returned to the kids and I wanted to give you this heads up as to why so many of them have typed's not because I'm trying to be all 'official-like'. It's all about being the very best teacher I can be.  

It's funny, as I am typing this post, I can almost hear the narrator from a 60s Anacin commercial!    

Our Class Library

I have over 1000 books in my Class Library and thanks to your generous support of the Scholastic Book Order, I am able to add new titles to it all the time.  
Students are always welcome to sign out a book or two for the night using our Class Sign-Out book.  
I've noticed that in the last two weeks, interest in signing out books has gone down. What's a book lovin' gal to do?  Well, I made a commercial. Judging by Mr. M's reaction, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who finds this animation utterly hysterical, but I'm sharing it anyways.  
The kids thought it was kinda funny too and I hope you get a kick out of it. Seriously, how can you not laugh at the boy classmate blowing kisses at the beginning of the video? 
Please encourage your child to sign out the books as often as they like. As long as the books are returned each day, they can be signed out as often as a child wishes.  

March 25, 2013

Math Quiz Tomorrow

I had scheduled a Math quiz for today to see where the boys and girls are at in terms of their understanding of the millilitre and  litre.  
We didn't get to the quiz today so we'll have it tomorrow. 
To help your child prepare for the "surprise" quiz, please remind them that a litre contains 1000 millilitres and that it is essential to write the correct unit of measurement.  

Social Studies Journal

I am asking the boys and girls to finish up their Social Studies Journals for homework tonight.  Please ensure that the second part of the exercise is completed, which is the back of the Journal page where the students must ask a detailed question related to the day's topic.  
For everyone's convenience, I have linked a pdf of the slides covered today. While they lack the animation of the original Powerpoint and my presentation, they should prove to be helpful.

The Pioneer Village   

March 22, 2013

Call Me Maybe!

We were on our way to Library this afternoon when we couldn't help but notice the fun Mrs. Linse's kids were having in their classroom. 

We just *had* to join in!  
Thanks Mrs. Linse! You're the best!  

Just Dance!

March 21, 2013

More of the Venus Flytrap!

We worked very hard on our RRWEs for the Venus Flytrap (Question was: How is the Venus Flytrap a unique plant?). With just a few minutes to go until lunch, I asked the boys and girls how they felt they were doing in terms of their progress and time management. Everyone agreed they had been making excellent use of their time and were progressing nicely. 

I asked them, "What if I told you you had to have it finished by lunch? What if I said you only had 12 minutes to finish it?" 

Everyone gave me "the face".Picture eyes wide open, hands clutching heads and mouth wide open.    

I told them this wasn't really the case. 
So we pretended.  

I told the kids to pretend they really do only have 12 minutes to finish this task and let's see just how much we can accomplish.  The results were incredible! At the end of this experiment everyone agreed that they got a lot more done than expected.  

Here is a quick video I took of the event.  

12 Minutes to go!

March 20, 2013

What's needed for Friday?

For Friday, I'm asking each child to bring an empty, washed container.  It can be soup can, juice bottle, a liquid soap container, anything that is has a measurement in millilitres on it.  We're going to play a fun game as part of Fun Friday that will help the boys and girls with their measurement estimation skills.  

A Personal Post

Yesterday, I posted about how I want my students to understand that when they play by the rules, do their best and use their manners, anyone that loves and cares about them will always give them the break they deserve if they make a mistake.  

Who would have thought that the very next day, I'd need that "break".  My husband was in a car accident this morning.  It was very minor but at the time of his phone call, I didn't know this and I panicked.  

By the time the students entered the classroom, I was well entrenched in all the phone calls that need to be made at a time like this. I told my students what had happened and that I needed a few minutes to check in with my husband again and make sure everything was okay.  

It was about five minutes that I needed, but it meant the world to me that they were so willing to help me.  They understood that the day would start a little differently than usual and that they needed to work independently, without my assistance for a few minutes.  

I can't tell you how proud and grateful I am to have such a compassionate and kind-hearted group of students to spend my day with.  

Those five extra minutes helped me in many ways. Not only did I learn that my husband was indeed okay and got important questions answered, I was reminded that when we ask for help,understanding or forgiveness from others who love, respect and care for us, we receive it.  It's heartwarming to think that just yesterday I told my students they could count on this from me and here we are a day later and I've received it from them.  

Sometimes you have to look hard to find a silver lining in a difficult situation. 

It was easy today. 

March 19, 2013

A good talk today!

This is a very long post and might indeed be too long for some folks to read. If that's the case, please scroll down to the bottom for the key points from our discussion today.  

We had a good talk this afternoon at Evening Meeting. We talked about stress and how some of the things we think are going to be huge problems or "get us in trouble" are really no big deal. Now that's not saying our feelings are no big deal, but that sometimes the problems or worries we have might indeed be nothing to fret about because we are surrounded by people who want to help.  

We can't have kids overly-worried about things such as their incomplete work at school, tests that have not yet been announced or quizzes we didn't do well on. Of course we all need to be responsible for ourselves and our own success but there is a limit to what we can and cannot control. 

This is a very relaxed classroom with expectations that are consistently followed. In fact, that's the reason we can be so relaxed and light-hearted...because expectations and procedures are indeed followed. I do not spend my day putting out fires related to behaviour or procedures. We spent a lot of time at the start of the year establishing our routines and that's why we make such good use of our time now. I think we put in two days worth of learning for every one.  

I want my students to apply this same idea to their owns lives: because they work hard, follow expectations and do their best on each and every task, when they make a mistake, the consequences are logical and not something to stress about. I want them to be able to self-talk, so that they can calm their minds when they feel worried about things. So, if they spill water on a page they have been colouring, they'll likely need to start over. If they cut a piece of paper the wrong way for art, they can take another one. If they forget their homework at home occasionally, they can write themselves a reminder note and bring it the next day.  

My job as their teacher at this age is to help them to be successful academically now, but also to help them develop the skills that will assist them ten years from now and this includes stress-management.  

By communicating with me now about why their homework will be late, they'll develop the confidence to tell their professors in 10 or so years that they have two exams scheduled for the same time period and need to problem solve.   

What we don't want is for children to be so worried about these small matters now (such as forgetting to get a test signed), that they don't develop that confidence in both themselves and their teachers. We live in a more complicated world now and many children have more on their plates then we did at their age. With that, must come an understanding that things are not always black and white and everyone deserves a break sometimes.

We're not saying it's okay to be forgetful and irresponsible all the time, but because mistake making is routinely demonstrated in their class by their teacher, they see that I'm still a good  person for wishing them a Happy Birthday a day early or forgetting one child's test on the dining room table.  

I also think we need to be honest with kids and help them put things into perspective by helping them to understand that when we make honest and minor errors, there aren't Disney-villain worthy punishments that follow. 

I want students in my class to do their best, be kind to themselves when they are not as successful as they'd like to be and to know that the people in their lives who care about them are always willing to listen because that's what we want in return. We want to be heard, understood and treated with compassion and respect. We are going to continue this discussion for some time, I will continue to model mistake-making ;), help my students challenge their worrying thoughts and communicate their concerns and feelings effectively.  

Here are the main points from our discussion today: 

  • sometimes we all worry about things needlessly (e.g. we have a level 1 problem and we're worried like it's a level 3 problem) 
  • how can we help ourselves during those worrying times? 
  • we can communicate our feelings or predicament with our parents and teachers and they'll help us problem solve  
  • there might be logical consequences to our actions (e.g. having to start a task over or needing to study longer)but we can handle that   
  • when people truly love and care about us, they cut us some slack and understand themselves that life doesn't always run as smoothly as we'd like it to    

March 18, 2013

March Break Reflection

The boys and girls were asked to complete the March Break Reflection below for homework tonight (we worked on it for about 40 minutes today in class).  We're going to put them all together and make a class booklet. These homemade booklets are kept in our class library and are very popular reading selections during our daily independent reading time.  

If your child isn't happy with the way their's is going and would prefer to start over, I've linked to a copy of the document below.  

March Break Reflection

We know all about loopholes!

A teacher blogger I follow said that her Grade One students love books by Jan Thomas. She says her students find them positively hilarious and since I always recommend that my students practice their reading fluency by reading super-easy books aloud, I thought I'd see if our Library has any of her books.

We took a coffee break from our work today and read the story called, Is Everyone Ready For Fun? and we loved it!  We must track down more of her books!  

A few weeks ago a student had asked me about the meaning of the word loophole and I did my best to explain it to him and the other children that were around at the time. As soon as we read the first few pages of this story, we knew what the characters were up to and that made this funny story even more enjoyable to share together. The characters in this story have found a way around the "don't jump on the couch rule". 

It's so rewarding to explain something to a child and then weeks later, have it resurface and have the same child identify the very skill/question/concept and explain it to their classmates.

We're definitely going to keep our eyes open for more Jan Thomas books!   

March 06, 2013

Beach Day!

Friday is Beach Day in our classroom and all the boys and girls are asked to bring in any appropriate props for another great video!

Giant sunglasses, hats, Hawaiian shirts, other than bathing suits, just about anything is welcome!  

And now it all comes together!

  • We've learned about using webs to help us keep our writing on topic.
  • We've learned about adding plusses and interesting details.
  • We know all about trash or treasure details.
  • We know five great hooks that will grab our reader's attention and make them excited about our work.
  • We know how to end our paragraphs in a way that links back to the main idea.

So now it's time to write!  

We're currently working on using all our skills learned during our Writer's Workshop to write a paragraph about one of our favourite topics:  Full House!  As part of Fun Friday, we watch Full House during lunch time and the boys and girls are asked to choose their favourite character and write a great paragraph using all their newly acquired skills. 

It's not quite as easy as it sounds, as we're finding, but we are off to a very enthusiastic start! 

March 04, 2013

Giving Change

In Math today, we continued to talk about how to give change.  First though, we needed to talk about what exactly change is.  I think we're all on the same page now.  

We learned that when calculating change, we must, must, must subtract. We had so much fun dramatizing what happens when you add to give change, that I used my two volunteers in this very important Public Service Announcement.  

I am hoping that after today's very memorable and hilarious lesson about the importance of subtracting in order to calculate change, no one will ever find them in a real-life or testing situation where they confuse what they are to do.  

The gasps that came from our audience (my class) when they realized that by adding instead of subtracting when calculating change, you are essentially giving the customer the item they bought, the money they gave you PLUS the cost of the item! Perhaps today was also a bit of a business lesson! 

This lesson really wasn't about making a video, but about dramatizing the reality of what happens when we use the wrong operation in Math.  My hope is that in doing these types of memorable and funny activities, children can measure the reasonableness of their own answers and be able to judge on their own if they are on track or not.  It's all about becoming an independent Math thinker. 

For us grown-ups, we get it because we can apply that logic that tells us, "No, I just bought an item, the change I get back should not exceed the cost of the item or the money I gave the clerk". Kids don't know this and it's important to provide crystal clear(and hopefully funny) examples of why we must subtract.  While the video is a little out of context within the confines of this blog posting, my hope is that parents and blog visitors will see how critical it is to make Math fun and memorable.  A few minutes of silly goes a long way in a child's learning.  


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