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)

A Little Work From Home

If things were normal, yesterday would have been the first day back at school after the March Break but instead we are all practicing social distancing and staying at home. In the morning, I logged into my work email and responded to the ones I had waiting for me from the parents. Reading the email from my principal, the message I got from it was to be patient. I then decided to work on binding the inquiry my class had worked on and completed before the break.

While working, I listened to the second digital book I have borrowed from the library. I chose a book that was immediately available: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. I have previously read and enjoyed some of her stories so knew that this one would pleasantly pass the time while doing a mind-numbing task. I am loving the story so far – and laughing out loud at some of the antics the characters get up to (as well as what they say!).

This morning I woke up to an email once again reminding us to be patient as the school board works on the guidelines for distance learning: they want to consider the implications of not all families having access to technology; and the fact that many parents are expected to work at their own job. Today I will begin to figure out my planning and think of ways in which parents can implement what I had planned for the rest of the school year.

Today I begin my second day of working from home while my own children learn from home. The experience is going to be challenging in the small space we have but we are up for it.

Are you working from home?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

School Closures in Ontario

Yesterday evening I was made aware of breaking news: that the schools in Ontario would be shut down for two weeks after March Break to help fight the spread of COVID-19. I was shocked to learn of this decision as there had been no lead-up at all to the decision.

Today is the last day of school before March Break – our week off school before the final stretch of the academic year. I am sure parents are currently scrambling to find daycare for their kids due to the extra two weeks they will be at home. My hope is that companies will not punish parents who need to stay at home. It would be unfair if parents were forced to take leave, or lose a paycheck.

The caretaking staff at the schools are going to take this time to sanitise the environment in addition to the cleanup they usually do doing the Break. I am hoping that the closure doesn’t extend past two weeks – and that they will work. I do not really want to spend more time away from my students.

Has the advent of the COVID-19 virus affected you in any way?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

An Unexpected Response

During the past week, my students have been playing with tangrams – I have given them the opportunity to copy patterns and images that I have printed out on numerous cards. They love moving the shapes to create different things and spent the 20 minutes set aside for the task actively engaged in in the activity. At the end of last week, I gave them the opportunity to create their own images which they did so with confidence.

Yesterday was the chance for them to show me what they could do. Using a pair of scissors, they cut out the tangrams, placed the shapes to create an image, and then glued the pieces onto a new sheet of paper. Thereafter, they coloured in their image and, using the sentence up on the board as a guide, they wrote down what they had created.

The response of one student made me smile: “J’ai construit Mme Kook-Chun qui fait le Zumba avec les tangrams.” (I made Madame Kook-chun who is doing Zumba with the tangrams).

I smiled for so many reasons: she knows my love of Zumba, she placed the pieces accurately, and her inserted phrase was written perfectly! This is a response that I will definitely be keeping a copy of. 😀

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

In Solidarity at Queen’s Park

On Friday 21 February, all four teacher unions in Ontario united and walked out of classrooms – that is a total of 200 000 members – to show solidarity. The members working in my locale were asked to go and picket at Queen’s Park for one shift. The day dawned with blue skies and crisp air. It was chilly – but not as cold as it had been for previous walkouts.

When I arrived at Queen’s Park, the crowds were already gathering and by 10:15am people filled the closed off streets around the park. The flags of the four unions waved above the heads of educators fighting for the right of a decent public education programme.

I was proud to be standing with the others (it was reported to be over 30 000 bodies at Queen’s Park – including some parents with their children). Children in the province have a right to a decent education without having to pay for it and I was proud to be their voice at the rally.

We walked the route at a slow pace with each turn taking about half an hour. At the end of the day when I arrived home, my feet were aching (winter boots are not made for walking!) but I was satisfied with making a stand.

The teachers of our union, ETFO, have now entered phase 6 of the strike action. No walkouts have been planned but some physical and online picketing are to occur within the next two weeks. Time will tell whether these efforts will make a difference.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Beginning Structures

Yesterday in class, we began my favourite unit of the year. I enjoy teaching structures as the children have the opportunity to build with a variety of materials – and enjoy it. Even all the girls get into it – though some of them tell me they are not good at it. It saddens me to hear a 7 year old already inhibited by the social expectation that girls are not good at building and at math.

Yesterday I gave my students the opportunity to build with blocks and lego. The classroom was buzzing with activity as the children tried to build what was in their mind. I love seeing their creativity. The structures that they build also give me an idea of where they are in understanding three dimensions.

I spent the day stepping over lego and blocks but I did not mind. Learning was at work – even in their attempts to draw what they had created.

The children in my classroom were exploring and learning today. I am sure that they went home and told their parents they played with lego the whole day but hopefully, by now, the parents will understand that the day was more than just play.

What structures did you build yesterday?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

A Valentine’s Wish

Each year, my students hand me cards for Valentine’s Day. My favourites are always the homemade cards with a personalized message inside. This year, I received one that I will have to keep.

I have a binder filled with cards that I have received in the past from my own children as well as the children I have thought. Looking through them always makes me smile and this card will be an added smile.

Did you receive any homemade cards this Valentine’s Day?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Strange Week

If we were having coffee, I would admire the falling snow with you that I see through the window. I enjoy it when the snow falls as the world seems to be quiet and at peace. In a little while, I will need to go out and do my weekly grocery shopping and I will enjoy the walk because not much snow has fallen and I will not struggle too much with the shopping cart. Yesterday sidewalks were cleared so walking is made a little easier.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the week was strange because I taught for only three days of the week. On Thursday and Friday, the elementary teachers in Ontario, Canada walked out of the classrooms to protest the changes that the government are proposing to public education. Yesterday I posted a summary of my experience which you can read here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I planned and wrote yesterday’s post early in the morning. However I was having some issues with uploading my photos I managed to publish quite late in the day so many of you will have missed my summary. For some reason, the comments weren’t open – which I have now rectified. I love having the comments open on my posts as conversation is what I enjoy most about blogging.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday after school I went to a teacher’s evening at the textile museum. We were given a tour of their new textile exhibit which features the printing on fabric in the past by the indigenous peoples in Canada. I enjoy these evenings as they are informative and I enjoy seeing the creativity of people when they work with fabric. My intention is to work on a post this week so that I can share with you some of my favourite pieces.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I am recovering from being outside in the cold (and the below 0c temperatures) for 4 hours two days in a row. My throat is scratchy and I am coughing. I am trying to recover quickly as the upcoming week brings with it more picketing – unless the government moves towards the bargaining table. We do not have any hopes though that this will happen.

If we were having coffee, I wish you a wonderful day and the best week.

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)

Grateful for Principal’s Support

If you have read my recent posts, you will know that the teachers in Ontario, Canada are in a strike position. Today, all 83 000 members of the elementary union (k-8) are walking out of schools to show support for the following: small class sizes, maintaining the current kindergarten model, and protesting cuts to special education for children with needs. We are picketing this morning in rotations of three hours no matter what the weather. This morning it is snowing (with chances of sleet) and the temperatures are below 0c. I know the ice, snow, and cold are not going to be pleasant.

Yesterday in our mail boxes, all teachers received a package given to us on behalf of our principal. I could not help but feel emotional when I picked it up. The package shows her care and support – so important at a time like this. Included in the package were some snacks and – most important – hand warmers. These will definitely come in handy for today’s below 0c temperatures.

I am certainly grateful for the support of our principal, and of the admin staff in general. It means so much to have their support and to know that we, the teachers at the school, do not have to butt heads with those people who supervise us from day to day.

What are you grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Walking the Picket Line

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.

Have you walked the picket line?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge.)