Next week is Thanksgiving in Canada which means that in class we are talking about this holiday: what it is, why we celebrate it, and what it means to us.
One of the tasks I usually set is for the children to copy a sentence from the board onto a colouring page and which they then work on when their tasks are done and we are waiting for everyone to finish the activity. Today a number of children completed filling in the lines with colour.
These turkeys may have the physical form of ones seen in reality but their feathers have been filled in with an array of colours. I kinda like the look of them! 🙂
What colours would you use to colour in your turkey?
Last week I started Writer’s Workshop with my grade 1 and 2 students. Before they begin writing, I like them to analyse the structure of the stories that they read. We begin with a read aloud and then, as a class, we discuss the beginning, middle, and end of a story.
The next step in my lesson is for them to work in pairs. The story that I give them to work on is a simple one in the which structure can be easily determined. Working in pairs means that they can discuss their options – and it also gives them the confidence to do the task.
Tomorrow I will encourage them to work solo to figure out the three parts of the story I will give them. Some children may make errors but it is a first step – they can only improve from there. I do not look for perfection but for the sense that they kind of understand the concept. After all, they are emerging readers.
In the month of July during my Summer Break from school, I have spent a little time every day reading teacher-related books to be inspired and gain some new ideas to keep my teaching practice fresh. The book I finished recently is the one Larry Swartz brought out last year titled Word By Word.
The book centres on vocabulary building and has many suggestions for activities that can be implemented in literacy centres. The aim of vocabulary building is to encourage children to collect words and to use them in their writing and speaking activities.
“Many of us – including young people – are collectors of things: stamps, coins, plush toys , dolls, figurines, comics, spoons, snow globes, etc. The goal … is to have students become word collectors so they can store them, use them, marvel in them, and expand their knowledge about them.” ( p11, 2019, Pembroke Publishers)
I am already implementing a couple of the activities in my classroom suggested by Swartz. I look forward to trying out a few more of his suggestions to get the kids excited about learning new vocabulary and using the words that they have learned.
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.
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.
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?
If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a resigned smile. We have now passed the 2 month mark of the social distancing and stay-at-home mandate – and the ending of this seems so far away. Ontario is moving into stage 1 of loosening the noose on Tuesday 19 May, but that will not in any way alter my current lifestyle. I cannot help but sigh as I look forward to another two weeks of remote teaching. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not we will go back to school on the 31st May – I am thinking we will be told in a week or so. Somehow I don’t think we will.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that tomorrow is a public holiday in Canada – Victoria Day – and yet it will seem the same as every other day. Tuesday will be filled with meetings as we discuss where we are going to place children for next year’s classes. I think that doing this remotely may be a bit of a challenge but we will do the best for the kids in our class. I am wondering what next year is going to look like and what the impact of the COVID-19 virus will have on our practice. At least the monotony of Tuesday will be broken by our small celebration for my youngest daughter who is turning 19 years old. My plan is to buy her a cake and to cook one of her favourite meals.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the remote teaching is becoming easier – but there are times when I am out of ideas to keep my students engaged. They do love my Google MEET sessions with me and sometimes when talking with them, their chatter inspires an idea to take seed in my brain.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that not only am I uninspired to create classes, but also to write blog posts. This past week, no ideas sprang to mind but I am hoping that the upcoming week will be better. The temperatures are slowly inching up so I am thinking it is time to set up our balcony which will give us another space to work in. Luckily our wifi reaches the space so we can take our laptops outside to work. Maybe breathing in the fresh air and sitting at a different table will be inspiring.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am reading (too much!) and am working on a crocheted afghan (while listening to audiobooks). I am also still enjoying my morning walks in the neighbourhood which have definitely become a part of my daily routine. I am looking forward to the time, though, when I can meet with friends and share a cup of tea or coffee in real time.
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?
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.
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.