Yesterday my colleagues and I participated in the fourth phase of our ongoing strike by withdrawing full services. The day dawned with the frigid temperatures of -18c but we were determined to stand up for what we believe is important.
Our bodies constantly moving to keep warm, we gathered together in front of the school where we teach. The school is not at full capacity, so the group was small. However, we cheered one another on as our bodies got used to being out in the extreme cold. As someone mentioned, it was a little like yard duty – but for an extended period of time.
I am proud to be working as a teacher for our school board. I know that we have an important job to do – a job that some in our society do not appreciate. However, the parents at our school are very supportive and understanding. They realise that the reason we are standing up to the government and the cuts they want to enforce is for the good of their children, our students.
A few parents brought their children over to show them that yesterday was not just a day away from school; these parents had explained to the children what it is we are fighting for. Two of our students yesterday morning walked the picket line with us to experience strike action. Definitely a learning moment.
It is not often that we were able to catch the sunlight and stand in its warmth. Our neighbourhood has been changing over the last few years as condos are sprouting up in its streets. We became sun seekers, searching for any spot in which to stand. Sunlight was rare, though, and we walked up and down a section of the street to keep ourselves warm (especially our feet!).
We are hoping that the government ministers see the light (did you see what I did there Becky 😀 ) – but we do not have any hope that they will. Today the secondary schools are going on their third walkout and, thankfully, the temperatures have risen by 15c. Hopefully the next time we walk out of our classrooms for the strike action, it won’t be so cold.
This week Jean-Jean, the classroom’s Elf on the Shelf, made an appearance. As per tradition, I read the story about the elf to the children on Monday and some children in the class shared stories about the elves that are visiting their home.
Each morning I place the elf in a different place, often linked to what the children are currently doing in class. I remind the children that they are not to touch the elf as he will lose his magic and return to the North Pole. Those children who have an elf at home already know about this admonition.
As always, there are children who don’t believe – which is okay. However, there were some children this year who decided to touch the elf in order to test whether he was magic or not. So Jean-Jean was put away much to the dismay of some of the children. Hopefully the class, as a whole, will learn the lesson to follow the instruction given and not spoil the experience for others.
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf who visits your home or work space?
I was so happy when I saw that The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds had been translated in French which meant that I could use it in my classroom. I love the story about a little boy who enjoys words so much that he collects them. Eventually he makes sentences with his collection; and when his collection gets too big, he shares the words with everyone.
This week I read the story to my grade 1 and 2 students and afterwards I opened a centre at which they browsed through some books and found words to record in a notebook. My plan is that at the end of every week, my students will take the notebook home in order to practice reading and writing the words they have collected.
The children love the activity – especially as they are able to write using colorful gel pens. This is one task that they will all complete with joy!
This week I am grateful for authors and illustrators who create stories that inspire my lessons and centre tasks. It always makes me smile to see the children enjoying both the stories and the activities.
Today is the Fall Fair at our school – one of the major fundraisers that are organised by the parents. This week, teachers were tasked with helping students decorate a pumpkin for the silent auction. After a discussion with my students, I decided to work on my idea that would encourage all students to participate in the decoration.
I divided the pumpkin into 20 segments and asked each student to paint a segment with acrylic paint. As we are currently working on patterns, I asked them to use the colour that was next in the pattern. We used red, green, and blue as these colours show up nicely on the orange of the pumpkin (yellow definitely does not work).
Once the paint was dry, I asked each child to spell out a word that we would use during Halloween with foam letters. After I had checked the spelling, the child pasted their word onto the pumpkin.
The students were proud of their work; and I was happy that I had incorporated both literacy and math into the task.
Our pumpkin is currently sitting on a table in front of the office for the silent auction. I am interested to know who will finally take it home.
During this past week I began re-reading the book written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser titled The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. My first reading was five years ago and I decided to refresh my memory a little on some of the characteristics of using The Daily Five in the classroom.
Reading the introduction reminded me of why I like the Daily Five concept:
“We wanted to change the atmosphere in our classrooms and our own roles, from trying to “manage” students, rushing around the room putting out fires, to creating routines and procedures that fostered independent literacy behaviours that were ingrained to the point of being habits. Our goal was for all students to have internalized these expectations and shared experiences in a way that allowed for every child to become engrossed in their reading and writing.” (p9, Stenhouse Publishers, 2006)
I have fostered independence in my classroom and this year I aim to fine-tune my students’ independence. Hopefully a re-reading of this book will help me do so.
What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments.
Yesterday I attended the last in a series of Teacher workshops on Assessment. In addition to the resource we received (Talk About Assessment by Damion Cooper), we were introduced to many techniques and strategies that would be useful in assessing our students’ work. Yesterday a variation of the assessment rubric was shown to us (a one point rubric showing level 3) and I am excited to begin using it.
We were also introduced to ways in which our students can show their thinking. I learned of a placemat that I had not heard of before: the Frayer model. In groups, the students fill in the different sections of the placemat and show their understanding of the concept that has been taught. At our table groups, we had the opportunity to try this out (I love it when we get to try the methods out. It gives us a chance to collaborate with our colleagues.) Our discussion was on formative assessment and our result showed that we had a good understanding of what it is. A look at another group’s work afterwards showed that our table had mostly primary teachers who liked to draw 🙂
This week I am grateful for the workshops run by the Beginning Teacher’s group for the TDSB. The sessions are always enriching, and I often learn things that I want to implement in my classroom.
I am currently doing an inquiry on structures with my class. One of the first activities was for the children to choose a structure from around the world, look for the shapes within it, and then draw what they saw. One of the choices was, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
Four children chose to replicate this well-known structure – one of whom had learned that his ancestors were from France during the Inquiry “Tout sur Moi” (All About Myself).
The drawings have been posted on the bulletin board outside my classroom and are being admired by many passers-by.
Report cards have been handed out and it is now time to meet with the parents to discuss their child’s progress. My interview schedule is full and it is important to stay as close as I can within the allotted fifteen minutes. At times I need to use a timer (it alerts the parents to the fact that their time has passed); and I keep an eye on the clock (I have positioned myself so that I can see the one on the wall).
This afternoon and evening I shall be talking until late. Afterwards meeting with all parents will be over until the next round.
Do you find meeting with your child’s teacher is useful?
My days are not quiet. During the day I hear the sound of constant chatter as children move around the classroom doing their various activities or chatting to their friends. This year I am with a group of children who find it difficult to keep quiet: on the carpet, while working, during a test. I am doing my best to teach them that working in silence means that they can work faster. Am I succeeding? Not yet – but there is hope.
The part of my day which I have learned to embrace is the quiet at the end of the day. The children have gone and the halls are empty of parents and children. The silence embraces me and I breathe a sigh of relaxation. These moments during which I tidy the classroom and organise the work to be corrected or filed, have come to be healing. When I leave the school after these moments of quiet, I am in the right frame of mind to go home and be with my family.
During the Inquiry on themselves, my students discovered where their ancestors came from. They explored their ancestral countries by using the Google App, looked through the atlas to see the shape of the country, and touched the country and its neighbours on an old-fashioned globe.
With each child I tracked the countries of their ancestors on a world map. When looking at the map afterwards, we noticed that we were a group of people who had history from all over the world.
The next step in the inquiry was for the children to find out more about one of their ancestral counrties. This they did by interviewing one of their family members. Their results were presented to me last week on poster boards and in an oral presentation.
What I noted, as I was reading the work, that many families had come to Canada for the same reason:
Many families left their countries of birth in the hopes of finding a better life for their families. One hopes that their optimism bore fruit.