Two Walkouts in a Row

Despite the cold temperatures this past week, the teachers working in Ontario, Canada participated in walkouts to protest against the cuts to public education that the current government is proposing. On Thursday, the walkout was province-wide and included the 83 000 teachers that work for school boards across Ontario. Teachers bundled up and made their way to their designated picketing site.

My school was instructed to meet outside the constituency offices of Vincent Ke. We milled around on the sidewalk outside for a while but the cold drove us to walking. We spent the time walking up and down a section of Sheppard Avenue East. Not only did the walking warm us a little, but it also helped to pass away the time of our three hour shift.

When my shift had ended, I walked another 15 minutes to the subway station to get home. While on the train, I could feel the tingling in my toes as they slowly started to warm up. Getting off the train was difficult and, during the walk home, I constantly thought of the warm drink and meal I would be having. Once home, it took me the rest of the afternoon to warm up.

Yesterday it was our turn to take part in the rotating walkout action. My colleagues and I joined up in front of our school and walked the short bit to Yonge street. We had received permission to picket on the main street so that we could get more exposure – our school is in a small side street that is quiet during the day.

As we were standing on the corner, we were covered in snow. However, the group did not let the cold get them down – the music teacher had brought with her a speaker and prepared playlist which encouraged us to move to the music. We were also shown a lot of support from the community. The coffee and sweet treats given to us by parents were welcomed – the hot coffee arriving at an opportune time as it warmed my frozen fingers.

As of this morning, we have heard no notification that the government is going back at the bargaining table and more walkouts are planned for next week. I would rather be in my classroom teaching my students – but this issue is too important.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Teaser Tuesday: The Daily Five


Product DetailsDuring 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. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Week of Learning


Good morning. Hope you are well this week. I am feeling better this week but still need to have the tissue box nearby!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that despite my cold I have had a week jam-packed with learning. On Tuesday afternoon, I attended the third workshop session on Writing Development in children. Normally at these sessions, attention is focused on children learning in English. I was extremely pleased when they handed out a document pertaining to learning in a French Immersion setting. I came away from the session knowing that the sounds of a language should be taught (which I knew) and be tested (which I had never thought of). My intention is now to put into place a Spelling Test on sounds (the children write down what they think the sound looks like). Once the children understand the correlation between the spoken sound and the written sound, their spelling will improve. First the vowel sounds are tested, then the consonants, then the blends (i.e., ee, ea, sh).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my second learning experience took place on Thursday. For the first time, I signed up to visit an Exploration Classroom: a teacher in the School Board opens up her classroom to ten teachers from other schools within the same Board. The class was one on Art and we observed the teacher guiding the children in their application of printmaking. As a person who did not do Art at school, and who has a minimal amount of Art knowledge, the task was interesting. In the afternoon, the Art teacher guided us through the same activity. I am excited to try this with my students and am ready to order inks, rollers and polystyrene.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am working on a project with the library teacher at my school. I am helping her plan an Exploration Classroom, and she is helping me learn to bring technology into my classroom. Yesterday we had a planning session at lunch time. Not only did we begin the planning for our inquiry, but she also introduced me to Google Docs and how we can share the document with others. Our lunch together was fruitful and interesting –  the bonus was my unexpected learning.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today I am to attend another session of learning organised for the Beginning Teachers of the TDSB. The sessions are to take place in the morning and I am looking forward to listening to the ones I have signed up for. I would say good-bye now as it is almost time to leave home so that I can be on time.

Have a wonderful week.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diane, The Part-Time Monster)

Grateful for Assessment Workshop

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.

PictureWe 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.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

Last week:

Lavender Ladi was grateful for inspiration

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post so that I know you have participated)

Day 6: Anything is Possible

The high school students I taught at Qhakaza were often discouraged. Many had written, and failed, their grade 12 external exam. They had previously attended schools where teachers were continously on strike, or were not interested in teaching them. School riots were common in the townships at that time and often students’ education was interrupted.

I began each school year by helping my students believe that improvement in English is possible, that hard work can help them pass and improve their grade. Each student had a small glimmer of hope inside of them (which is why they attended school so far from their homes) and I set to fanning it so that their belief in themselves and their desire to receive the School Leaving Certificate grew.

Anything is possible. And I saw it many times. Children who had failed their English exam entered my classroom each year. Dedication and hard work on my part as well as that of the boys and girls in my class, led to children passing my subject – and sometimes surpassing all expectations. When scanning the results in the papers after Christmas, I always felt a sense of satisfaction that a goal had been achieved.

photo (52)© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: possible)

Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.

An Art Attack

On Saturday I attended a workshop for educators run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We were introduced to a range of activities to help children become more aware of the environment and the way in which it works. One of the activities was to create a fish based on the characteristics we had been given on a card with the recycled material available. We let our imagination flow:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A fishy art attack. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Once the art work and creativity had been admired, the items used were put back in the bins to be reused. What a fun way to teach children about the characteristics of fish. I would, of course, have to take many pictures before dismantling the art work 🙂

Doing the activity reminded me of a show my children loved to watch when they were younger: Art Attack. Here is a clip I found of one of the huge art attack’s that Neil Buchanan (the host) did on his show:

We always loved watching to see what he came up with.

Have you ever done an Art Attack?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014


A Time for Reflection

ddd-bannerThere are times when I finish reading a book that I take a moment to reflect on what I have read: how would I have reacted in that situation? What would have caused the character to react in that way? How can I implement what I have learned in my own life.

Reflection is what I find I am doing as I am nearing the end of the current book I am reading: The Language of Art by Ann Pelo. I find myself thinking about how I can change my teaching practice to incorporate the ideas I have read in the book. While reading the book, I gained, as well, a glimmer of understanding of how to implement the inquiry-based learning that the Ontario Ministry of Education wants us to implement in our classrooms. I have seen, through the example that Pelo gives, that it is possible for the children to learn academic knowledge through play and from the questions they ask that stems from their natural curiosity. The example she gives starts with the curiosity of a group of children who ask “Why do leaves change colour?” By the end of the school year, they realise that the change is based on seasonal temperatures; and they have discovered the life cycle of the leaf.

For me, reflection is a part of reading: whether I am reading fiction or non-fiction. Often it happens while I am reading the text; but it also happens once I have read the last page.

Do you take time to reflect on what you have read?

Five Minute Friday(This post was written for the Dreamy December Days Read-a-thon; and inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Dreamy December Days Read-a-thon: Day 4


Last night on the train ride home I began reading The Language of Art by Ann Pelo. This book is a discussion of how to use an inquiry-based method to teach Art to children in the Early Years. This year I am teaching kindergarten and am a part of the group teaching full day kindergarten in Ontario. As a teacher used to focusing on the academics, I am on a steep learning curve in my discovery of how to encourage learning in a class of 5 year olds. During the last workshop I attended, I took the opportunity to ask the presenter where I could start to implement inquiries in a play-based learning programme. She recommended this book. Art, she said, was the best subject through which to learn how to bring the new full day kindergarten programme into the classroom.

Today I will be reading more of this book. I have completed the introduction and will now move into the meat of the book. I am not much of an artists but I have enjoyed dabbling with paint now and then. I am sure my students will enjoy doing so as well.

Are you an artist? Do you enjoy creating with paint?

It is not too late to join the read-a-thon. Head on over to Books Keep Me Sane to join)

The Right to Write

Image from Teach Well, Teach Often.

I have a few students in my class who enjoy going to the writing centre almost every day. At the table they use the crayons and colours available to create and write their books. They draw, they copy words from the board, they write their names and weave stories around their pictures. They are excited about their writing and with creating messages of their own. They enjoy sharing their efforts with their friends and with me.

Their enjoyment and exploration leads me to think of a time when children did not have the opportunity to experiment with the written word. These children were never exposed to crayons, pens and paper. Instead they were prohibited from entering the enchantment of the written word and of expressing themselves on paper. Experimentation with letters was allowed only among the select few.

I am happy to live in an age where we all have the right to write. From a young age we can experiment with writing down our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences on paper. And at this moment, I am thrilled to create the opportunities for children to pursue their right.

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: Write)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

A Learning Journey

The last four weeks have been crazy for me:

  • Setting up a classroom;
  • Learning my way around a new school;
  • Trying to discover what it is that makes a successful senior kindergarten class in French Immersion;
  • Planning for my classes;
  • Meeting deadlines;
  • Helping my own children;
  • Doing housework;
  • Spending time with my family.

The list seems endless and there never seem to be enough hours in the day. I spend moments second-guessing myself: Am I doing things properly and in the right way? Have I done enough? My exhaustion drags me down. I feel tired. I cough. I lose my voice.

And yet it seems worth it when my students begin to ask “Puis-je allé aux toilettes?”; when they respond “jaune” after I ask the colour of an object (in French); when a parent tells me their child is singing French songs at home; when my students know to go to “le tapis” after hanging up their coats. What a pleasure it is for me when a child counts up to 15 with no errors; or when hands go up to answer a question I have asked and the correct responses are given – all in French.

What begins to blossom in my heart is the sense of satisfaction I know will only grow during the year. It is the small moments of satisfaction and the pleasure I get at seeing a child achieve the learning goals of the class that encourages me to go on, day after day, week after week, until I find the best way to teach them.

For now I continue to search, to discover, to learn the ways in which I can engage my students in their learning. And I know that as I am learning I have a forgiving audience in my students as they learn with me at their side. We are all on a journey of learning; and all we can hope for is to learn to the best of our ability – and to take pleasure in the journey.

What learning journey are you on at the moment?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013