Thursday, September 19, 2019

How to Write a Summary Paragraph

I was in a classroom this past year where the teacher had her students writing a summary paragraph and her way of writing it was different from what I've seen/done in the past.

Typically what someone will suggest when summarzing something you've read is to read it, put it off to the side, and then put it into your own words.  Sometimes it works and sometimes its VERY similar to the original.

Well, here's what this teacher did.

We started off by watching a video on Youtube

In case you aren't taking the few minutes to actually watch the video (it's really not all that important anyway)... it's on indoor gardening.

After watching the video the first time each student comes up with 2 questions they have about what they watched.  No one had to answer the questions they just had to ask them (or write them down).  So something like "I wonder...." would work wonderfully.

Then we watched it a second time but this time we took some jot notes while watching.  Because it was the first time they had ever done this I also took some jot notes on the board and if they didn't take enough notes they could borrow some of mine.

Here's what my jot notes looked like:

Jot notes for summary paragraph

Then we picked 3 powerful words that summarizes the video (you can see ours at the bottom of our jot notes: Indoor, Plants, and Winter)

I modeled the actual writing of a sample paragraph for this class and this is how it goes:
1) Start your paragraph with a question (choose one of the 2 you wrote down earlier)
2)  Make a sentence about at least 4 of your jot note points
3) End your paragraph with a sentence that includes all 3 of your powerful words.

Here's what we came up with together:

Summary Paragraph

We wrote our sentences based off of the jot note points that were starred.

Do you have any sure fire way to get kids to summarize their reading (or in this case their watching)?
What do you do?

Monday, September 16, 2019

What Parents Need to Know About Reddit

This summer I'm doing a series on What Parent's Need to Know about *insert some type of online thing here*... because it's not just parents that need to know these things but teachers too AND if there is one thing we all know it's that online stuff changes so often it's hard to keep up (especially when you aren't even using that app/program)!

Today I'm talking about Reddit!

I haven't scrolled through Reddit much but I have a little and from what I've seen it appears to be a site where people post topics and others comment on them or add to the story.  I'm assuming there are millions of topics and that once you are logged in on the site anyone can see and comment on anything.  I can't see the site being super popular amongst younger kids or teenagers though.  Of course because anyone can post there could be inappropriate topics for young readers (much like the rest of the world wide web).

Sorry, I know this one is blurry, you can find the actual PDF version of this on National Online Safety

What I didn't know about Reddit

You can pay for a membership.  I guess some people are just really bothered by all the ads and likely use the site frequently that they can justify paying for the membership.

You can also give gifts.  I guess if it's you are really enjoying a topic?  The poster didn't say if the person being gifted the money (which is recommended to start at $20 actually gets the money... but I'm assuming they do).

You can turn off adult content which will hopefully hide a lot of the more inappropriate topics for young viewers.

Be careful what you believe.  Since anyone can post it is largely everyone's own opinions and bias'.  Not only this but fake news could easily be spread (and believed).  It's like the new Wikipedia (or was I the only one ever told not to believe everything you read on there?).  Regardless, it's always good to form your own opinions on things and double check things before you go around making claims.

Last week I talked about what we all need to know about Live Streaming

Saturday, September 14, 2019

This Week At School and a Free Calm App Membership

I know this is a long post folks but make sure you at least scroll down to the bottom to look into how you can get your own free Calm app subscription (it's a $60 value!)

Well folks it didn't take long for this substitute teacher to get her first subbing job!

... and it just so happened to be on the 2nd day of school these kids had this year

... and it just so happened to be home economics and art so all of the classes were new to her on this day.

Needless to say there were definitely parts of the day that were a bit of a gong show.

I had 40 plus students show up to my room for art at the end of the day which seemed not right at all so I called down to the office for some help deciphering what the problem might be... turns out I had 2 classes of art in my room (so double the students).  Naturally I sent half of the class on their way to their actual class.

In art I had my students doing 2 different name drawings (a graffiti name and a name tangle)  here were the teachers examples that she sent me via text.

name graffiti

name tangle

I'll get into what the instructions are in a later post (but it may not be until next year *gasp*)

In home economics I had one class of cooking (we made biscuits) and one class of sewing (I introduced the class to them).

I can't say it was a great day.... but I was still [sort of] suffering from my sinus infection in the form of what seemed like a lot of pressure on my ears.

Luckily, while I was at that school on Monday another teacher asked if I would come back for her the following day and thus began my official busy week!

Next up I was teaching grade 7 ELA which was a pretty easy half day...not much to report here.

Then I managed to book myself a day at another school as a "teacher vacancy"... which ended up being cancelled the day prior by the person who made the job.  Which is disappointing because...

Pro tip: If you want to find a way to meet a lot of teachers (and their classes) all in the same day search for a teacher vacancy!  You'll likely be in at least 4 teachers classrooms and get to spend time with their classes in their classroom (so you'll know if you want to come back!)

Everyone and their mom has been posting "back to school" pictures of their kids well... here's mine

Finally, when I wasn't working (because lets be honest I wasn't working every day this week)

I made some apple muffins here is the recipe and they are delicious!

Although there is a few alterations I would make... cut the butter you need for spreading on top of them to an 1/8 cup and also cut the cinnamon sugar down by a bit too... because you will have leftovers and that's just wasteful.

I also made some peanut butter chocolate ice cream!  Which I regret to inform you was not that good... we'll find a better one and eventually link that recipe!

And I visited the doctor again in the hopes that I would regain proper feelings in my ear

There is one last thing I wanted to throw out there before I closed off this post.  A few weeks ago I mentioned how Calm was offering free memberships to educators (a $60 value) and they offered me another membership for my readers (ideally an educator but I'm not going to know if you aren't one).  So, if you are interested in one please email me at

I'll pick a winner from those that email me and announce it here and on next weeks TWAS post.

Although, my guess is I don't actually have THAT many readers and even fewer will have made it all the way down here so if you are seeing this late and I haven't posted a winner please email me... you may not be too late [maybe]!

I'd be interested to know how you would use the app in your classroom.  I've been working my way through the 21 Days of Calm (I'm on day 7) and to be honest I'm just not sure how calm of a person I am to focus on it... yet.  I do like that it requires me to close my eyes for about 13 minutes a day and relax though.

Anyways, if you want your own membership please email me!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Year Round Schooling

My brother in law (who is also a teacher) asked me the other week if I had heard what they were doing in some schools in Edmonton where they were switching the yearly schedule up so that students wouldn't get such a long break in the summer (where a lot of retention is lost) and instead have year round schooling with more frequent (but shorter breaks).  I hadn't heard of it but I have talked about it read what my opinion was click here.

And what do I think now?

I still think it's a great idea!  So much retention can be lost over the summer holidays and shortening them will definitely (in my opinion) help with this.  Plus, what they are trying out this year is only shortening the summer break by a little bit.  They still get 5 weeks of holidays.

There is at least one downside that I can think of that I hadn't previously discussed though. 

If it were province wide it might be hard to vacation places within your province as everyone will have that same shorter time span to do all their typical summer holiday things.  Luckily, in Edmonton's case they are just doing it in 3 schools so I can't see 3 schools worth of families booking up camp grounds and overcrowding water parks nearby.  If it were hundreds of schools that get the same 5 weeks off it might be a problem though.  A possible solution... stagger the summer holidays so that different divisions in the province start the holidays at different times.  If you stagger it by divisions it will likely help with siblings who attend different schools (but remain in the same division) still having the same break.

Otherwise, I'm all for it.  

I like that there is 2 weeks at spring break especially.  This means that if you want to go away somewhere hot (like Mexico) during your break you don't have to jet off the first Saturday and quickly fly back a week later and jump right back into school.  You can leave on a Tuesday instead (which might even make a vacation less expensive) and come back with still a few days before school is back in session.

I kind of wish they would have given a bit extra time at Christmas though.  It just always feels like I'm super swamped with family things to do (and this is usually when I get sick as well) that once all the gatherings are done and I'm starting to feel better it's already time to go back to school.  

Here is the article I've referenced in this post

Anyways, what do you think?  Are you on board with year round schooling?

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