Weekend Coffee Share: A Week of Reporting

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still living under restrictions. We are now able to have a social bubble up to 10 people so at least social interaction with other families can happen. Plenty of stores are still closed, however, as the number of cases has not gone down enough in the city to move completely into what is called stage 2. So no eating at restaurants, having your hair cut, or visiting the library.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have spent the week in front of the computer writing my report cards. It was not an easy task because of the school closure and not having worked with children face-to-face for 3 months now. On Thursday afternoon I finished and submitted them with a sigh of relief. Next week I will do the corrections and I will then be done with another end of the year task.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I am tired and yesterday I took a day off away from the computer screen. Teaching remotely does mean I am in front of the computer more often. It also means that when it comes time to blog, I need a break from from sitting in front of my laptop and therefore can no longer foster the desire to type and stare at the screen. Hopefully this upcoming week it will be easier.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather was a little chilly for the last four days. The cooler temperatures made my morning walks more refreshing and also made it easier to breathe in our home (which does not have air conditioning). I am sure it will get warm again soon so I am currently enjoying the milder temperatures.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there are 2 more weeks left of school and then it will be the summer holidays! I am hoping by then that I will be able to meet up with my friend and go shopping for things we need at home. In the meantime, I will continue with my work and look forward to the time that I can do so.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of June

If we were having coffee, we would still be meeting virtually. Even though some stores have opened up in our city for curbside pickup, we cannot yet meet up for coffee at our local coffee shop. I long for the time that I can do so and I look forward to chatting with a friend and experiencing the buzz of people around me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the final week of May, we were told that we would continue with remote teaching until the end of June and the end of the school year. I was disappointed to learn that I would not be spending time with my students, but the decision was what I expected. We will know by the end of June what the new school year will look like in September. Our province is looking to others to see what their experience of going back to school is like.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Tuesday afternoon I went into school to place my students’ belongings into bags and to tidy up things a little in the classroom. My heart felt a little sad as I saw the incomplete projects lying around in the room; projects that I will not be able to complete with this year’s group of students. I had to organise and tidy everything within a 3 hour framework. Both my daughters came to help me and I would not have managed to do as much as I did without their help.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have noticed the new banner on my blog. My daughter (who is studying art at university) created it for me. She also created the specific banner for my weekly coffee share. What do you think? I like the clean-cut lines of it – and the banners definitely make my space look more professional. Slowly I am cleaning up my blog and hopefully taking it to the next level.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during the next week I will be focusing on report cards. I have not seen my students for 3 months and I know that writing them is not going to be easy. I will be focusing on what we did in class before the March Break, and mentioning as well the tasks that they have completed during the school closure and the remote learning period. The upcoming week is definitely not going to be an easy one as I grapple with them.

If we were having coffee, I would encouraged you to enjoy the upcoming week and to focus on the positive. This is what I am going to try and do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Visual Arts: Inspired by Van Gogh

The Ontario Curriculum of Visual Arts for grades 1 and 2 encourages the exploration of lines, colour, and a variety of media with which to create art. For one of my lessons created on the remote teaching platform, I thought students would enjoy a break from math and literacy to create a little and work with paint.

After asking them to watch some videos – in French – on the life and art of Vincent van Gogh, I asked my students to use the painting titled Starry Night as an inspiration for their own night scene.

In order to determine whether the project was possible, I decided to do a painting of my own. I laid out my materials for the project: acrylic paint, a paintbrush, a jar of water, a pencil, a sheet of card stock, a plastic fork, and a copy of Van Gogh’s painting.

For my first step, I lightly penciled in what I wanted to paint. I looked to the original painting for inspiration, knowing that I would not be able to copy the original exactly.

To recreate the lines seen as in the original painting, I used a plastic fork. For the lines to show up, I noticed that I had to layer the paint thickly onto the card.

I painted section by section and then used the fork in specific areas before the paint dried.

I enjoyed the activity and found it calming. I am hoping that the children I work with will find it calming as well – especially those who enjoy creating art with paint.

I like the effect of using the fork on the painting and am now thinking of other ways in which my students can practice this technique.

The acrylic paint is a bit sticky to use – or maybe it is because the paint I had was a little dry. The next time I do this activity (hopefully when in the classroom), I will attempt the task with tempura paint. It would be interesting to make a comparison and to see which medium is more effective.

My final product is not bad for a first attempt though it it nowhere near to what my daughters (who are art students) would produce.

I now look forward to seeing what my students create.

Have you attempted to recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Night?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Measurement of Area

In grade 1 and 2, children are introduced to the concept of area. The learning goal of the activities I prepare for them is for them to measure the surfaces of objects using non-standard units of measure and in class I usually offer them math manipulatives such as pattern blocks and interlocking cubes. Parents, however, do not have these resources at home so I had to be a little creative with my task when planning a lesson for my students to do at home.

The curriculum does not state precisely what unit of measure children are to use, so I instructed the children to use a household object. I showed them an example that I did in which I used forks:

In addition, I gave my students the sentence starter to use when they wrote down their response. Translated, the sentence states: I measured a(name of object). The surface of the (name of object) is (number used) (name of household object used).

I liked seeing my students’ innovative choices of units.

Food played a role in some responses:

As did the games they play with:

Other responses included the use of business cards, Lego, and toilet paper rolls (I loved this one!).

I am sure these children will not forget what it is to measure the surface area of an object – even when thy have to use standardised units of measure in the higher grades.

What would you use to measure the surface of an area?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Neighbourhood Maps

Before schools were closed in response to the COVID-19 virus, my class and I had almost finished the unit on Communities. We had explored mapping and had competed a number of tasks. Unfortunately I am unable to introduce them to the final activity that I had planned for the class but I did come up with an alternative.

Using the Google Maps application, I encouraged them to explore the aerial view of their neighbourhood (we had explored the school’s neighbourhood in class). Once that was done, I asked them to to draw a two block radius of their own neighbourhood using Google Maps as a reference. When assigning the task, I listed the success criteria for them so that they would know my expectations. The task was a perfect way for them to put into practice what we had been learning in class.

The children have done a magnificent job. Here is a section of the first submission I received:

I could see that the student had spent a long time on the task and that she had replicated her neighbourhood block accurately. Another student did not draw her immediate surrounding area but instead chose a block that was more interesting to draw:

I love that she coloured it in so beautifully and her legend showed a knowledge of the area. My favourite aerial map submitted took the student over a week to draw:

Her map followed all of the success criteria and shows an excellent understanding of mapping. If we were in the classroom, her map would have been pinned to the board outside:

I am currently thinking of another long-term assignment that my students can work on. Next week is an oral one – but the week after? I am not sure yet.

Do you often use the Google Maps application?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Weekend Coffee Share: Another Week Staying At Home

If we were having coffee, I would greet you at a distance as we are still under the mandate to practice social distancing and stay at home. By now you would think that we are used to living like this. On some level I am used to it – but it is not my preference. I do miss going outside without being conscious of my physical closeness to others; and I do miss connecting with people in my everyday life.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been keeping up with my morning walk for a week now. I leave home at 7:30am and walk for an hour. The air at that time is still crisp – especially this past week as the temperatures have dropped. There is not too much traffic on the road and the pedestrians are few. The people I pass by are out walking their dogs; and very occasionally a runner may overtake me. I do prefer walking at this hour when there are less people out and about – I am less stressed about keeping my distance from strangers.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week of remote teaching was very busy. On Tuesday I had a check-in meeting with my principal and she suggested checking in with families. The replies to my check-in email did tell me what I suspected – that I was giving too much work to my students (who do rely on their parents to help them to read and understand instructions). And, as can be expected, many of my students are missing their friends as well as their teacher (me 🙂 ). I decided to address this issue by organising my first video conference with my class (yet another thing I had to learn how to do). The call was successful (yay!) and I plan to connect with my students again in this way during the next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that remote teaching takes a lot of time – and that all of that time is spent in front of the computer. By the time my workday was done, I could not face sitting in front of the screen to blog. The result is that for the entire workweek, I did not post – neither on my blog nor on my Instagram account. I had all the ideas mulling in my brain but I needed a break from the screen.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the upcoming week looks very similar to the week that just passed. I am going to try and remember to be kind to myself and to focus on the positive. May you have a good week while staying at home.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Remote Teaching versus Physical Classroom Teaching

This week has been a challenge for me as I sit in front of the computer to work on lesson plans for my students, post daily tasks, answer emails from parents and the school admin, as well as correct the tasks that my students have submitted. I am not used to sitting at a table in front of a computer for an entire day and it has been hard for me to adjust.

On Thursday I had my first remote get-together with my class. The children were so excited and were talking non-stop! The meeting was a success and will enable me to move onto the next step – meeting with my students in small groups. I have planned sessions for next week and we will see how it goes.

I do miss being in my classroom with my students in front of me. It is so much easier to work with young children without the barrier of distance. In the classroom, I do not have to rely on the parents to help me teach their children – and I do not have to rely on quirky technology or dodgy internet connections. In addition, in the classroom I am able to help those children who remain quiet and often fade into the background.

Hopefully, though, I will soon be a physical presence in front of my students and interact with them throughout the day. In the meantime, I will continue to figure out ways to connect with them and to expose them to experiences and ideas that will enhance their learning.

I want to share a video with you that encapsulates a lot of what I am experiencing at the moment with distance teaching. Obviously a lot of the content has been exaggerated for its comedic value – but buried within the humour, there are seeds of truth.

As we move into the next week of remote teaching, we have been told that the date for the re-opening of schools has been pushed back once again. As of now, our schools will hopefully open 14 May. Until then, our province will continue with the State of Emergency and the social distancing protocol.

What has been your experience of remote teaching/learning?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to the Six Word Saturday challenge)

Planning Faux Pas

Two weeks ago when planing my lessons for remote learning, I found I was struggling to keep all the necessary dates and lessons organised in my head. As my lesson planner is locked away in my classroom at school, I decided to create a table in my bullet journal to help me organise all the learning experiences I had created for my students. The plan was meant to help me keep on top of things as I worked on lessons for the month.

Imagine my chagrin when I realised yesterday afternoon that this weekend was the Easter weekend! Staying at home has meant that the days seem to merge with one another and weekends seem to have no meaning. Luckily I realised my error before Friday this week so all it took to correct my plan was a few red lines to cross out activities as well as some arrows to move tasks to another day. Changing the dates for the scheduled posts on my online classroom was also a quick fix.

As I work on my planning for the rest of next week, I smile to myself as I think of the panic I averted caused by my forgetfulness.

Did you forget that Easter was this weekend?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Dictée Responses

I am currently working with my grade 1 and 2 French Immersion students online in a distance learning programme because of the stay-at-home mandate given by the government as a result of the COVID-19 virus. When creating tasks for them to do at home, I tried as much as possible to continue with our in-class routine so that my students could work independently of their parents for most of the time.

One of the activities we do in class is spelling practice. At the dictée centre, my students practice the week’s spelling list in a variety of ways: stamping, using play dough, writing in salt, writing with coloured pens, etc. I have prepared a list of spelling words for my students to practice at home for each week of the stay-at-home mandate; and have given parents a list of instructions on how the children are to proceed.

I have received a number of assignments back showing me that my students are practicing their dictée words. I loved the presentation of this student’s work as well as the time she took working on her task:

One of my younger students has been practicing with flour. I loved how he added his lego pieces to show his understanding of the word:

Another of my students came up with an innovative way to practice that I had not thought of – she used scrabble tiles:

I love seeing the ways in which my students are practicing their spelling at home. The innovative ways they have chosen definitely brings a smile to my face.

Which way would you choose to practice spelling?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. During the month of April, we are challenged to share photos featuring #squaretops)

Weekend Coffee Share: Third Week Done

If we were having coffee, it would once again be virtual. This week I have connected with many online: my colleagues as I have ‘attended’ staff meetings, as well as a number of webinars in order to improve my knowledge of the Google apps available to us at our school board to provide distance learning to our students.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my online classroom seems to be working well. Each day I am learning something new and trying to implement it in tasks for my students. It has been exciting to see the boys and girls in my class submitting their assignments. And it is definitely exciting to think that they are doing their work independently. A few students have handed in more than one assignment – and I am sure they are uploading it independently by now. I think that a lot of what I have taught them on the iPad when face to face is now being used at home in our current situation.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though I am doing a little exercise at home I know it is not enough. I am seeing some weight gain and it is frustrating as I have worked so hard to lose weight over the past few years. My husband and I have now started a habit of taking a long walk in the late afternoon (for an hour). I am hoping to see the results of that soon as it is definitely helping me to get my steps in!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am pleased with my productivity during the past week. I also read an excellent fiction novel on postpartum depression titled Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer. Look out for my review on this one as it is well worth the read. Speaking of reviews – I am a little behind on them so expect a deluge as I try to catch up!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the days are feeling less cold – though you still need to wear a jacket when walking outside. I do look forward to the warmer weather so that I can set up our balcony and create another space for my family and I to spend time in.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to look after yourself and stay healthy.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)