Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

We aren't "celebrating" Halloween at school.  I'm going to assume that most people don't "celebrate" it... we just all partake in Halloween activities.

So we are instead having Fall Fest at school.
Complete with a "spirit" week and pumpkin carving competition.

Today was obviously costume day.  Nothing scary could be worn, nothing with weapons and no masks.  So, what did I go as?

I posted this picture a while ago
Asking what we thought this could be turning into

I gathered my inspiration from here
Originally seeing this photo on Pinterest

After some hunting around for a non scandelous adult version of this I came across this lovely blog
and got to working making my version of a peacock costume.  

I took ideas from both costumes and here are some tips when making it:
Unless you know you are getting a great deal at the fabric store do not buy your felt there.  I think I could have saved a bundle on the felt if I had boughten those small sheets of it at Michaels.
I believe I ended up buying 2 meters of black tulle and 1 meter of each blue and purple.  I wish I would have boughten 3 meters of black though.

I tied the black tulle onto a ribbon... the black tulle sticks out further than the coloured ones.  Then I tied everything else onto a second ribbon which I attached onto the first black ribbon (this seems very confusing but it's not).  Then all I do is tie the ribbon around my waist.  Easy peasy.

I'm planning on wearing it with black boots.

I considered putting a little glue on the back of each felt feather so that it wouldn't flip the wrong way... but never got around to it (and I was a little worried it would somehow ruin everything).

Another tip:  I bought a bunch of peacock feathers at Michaels with one of their 40% off coupons (they have them all the time).  The bunch came together and were glued onto this giant stick.  I just pulled every feather off of it (I had to cut them all pretty short to stick in my hair anyways).  I THINK this was cheaper then purchasing the feathers individually.  I must have priced it out in store.  

I already had peacock feather earrings so those were free!

What were you for Halloween?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This Week at School

-  I had my first ever observation as a teacher!... results pending (I haven't met with the admin about it yet)
- We started (and almost finished) these adorable owl toilet paper tube things in art.  They are pretty cute.  Hopefully they will stick to the bulletin board.  (I left my phone in the city the day we made these and then had a meeting in the city the following day (Friday) so I never got a picture of them.
-  Almost finished unit 1 in math!
-  I made students write newspaper articles and thought the lesson was a little unfocused but my students handed in awesome stories!  So proud!... now to work on the editing process.  (lesson will be posted soon).  The articles were so good that I stuck them all in duotangs for the class to read.
-  Ad projects got posted on the wall.
-  French students are ready for another quiz!  Colours, weather, and seasons will be tested on Tuesday!  We move on to parts of the body this week (I put up a giant scarecrow for us to label on the board)
-  We started a novel study in ELA and most of the kids are super into the book!  Huzzah!  Many of them are reading WAY ahead.

Not many photos this week due to me forgetting my phone in the city.

Ad posters

The month is almost over and we have been busy on the student blogs!

Stay tuned for a look at my Halloween costume!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What I Wore

I was going to post another outfit that involved me wearing jeans to school but then decided against it...
 I don't ALWAYS wear jeans.

Those are black tights... not sweats and not pants (even though they look a little big).
I paired it with some black boots (sometimes I wear tights that only go to just below the knee and will pair it with sandals though)

I'm excited to show off what I'll be wearing next week.  
It's "spirit week" AND halloween
which means pajamas and my awesome halloween costume (which I did manage to finish)
And no, my black pants still aren't hemmed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Optical Illusion Art

As promised here is one of the art projects that we did over the last month (in my opinion it took us WAY too long to get finished... still looking for a way to keep all the kids at relatively the same point in a project.

We always have art right after recess (and use 2 periods for it... which means it takes us till lunch).  They also will often come in and expect to be given a chance to eat their snack inside the classroom.  For the first month of school I obliged with a snack and story time but now they either eat it outside or eat it while I'm talking to them about what we will be doing that class. 
 Ain't nobody got time for snack and story.  
Anyways, we started this lesson when snack and story was still very much in existence in our room.

I had gone to the public library in the city to pick up 3 books for this lesson on optical illusions.

The pictures in these books are amazing.  Depending on how you look at them you might see 2 different things.  The students enjoyed trying to see the 2 different ways to see each picture.  I then put all 3 books on the back counter in our room and students could look at them when they had free time or reading time.
 They loved them.  

Then I turned on the projector and showed them different kinds of optical illusions.  They really enjoyed the old lady vs. young lady one... mostly because I had forgotten how to find the young lady (we never figured it out that class so one boy went home, printed off a picture of it, and came back to school the next day to show me how to see it).
cup/profile illusion

old/young lady illusion

How many feet does the elephant have?

Then we just did a quick google image search for Escher together and the students picked different pictures they wanted me to click on to see larger.

By now they were long done their snack and ready to get into an art project.  I started by getting them to take out a pencil, ruler, and passed out a plain white piece of paper.

I pulled up this website on the projector and for the most part we simply followed along with what it said and my amazing rendition of the drawing on the board.

Put a small dot on your page.  Anywhere on your page.

Make an even number of straight lines coming out of this dot (they used their ruler) to help with this most of them took the suggestion to just draw one long line that would pass through the dot... you are guaranteed an even number of lines this way.  I told them not to make more than 14 lines total (the more lines you have the more work it will be later on).
I drew my version of this nice and big on the board

To help students with this next part I labelled my sections on the board (in this example I had 8 sections). I told them to draw "happy faces" on all the odd sections (every other section in their drawing) and showed them what I meant by this (basically a curved line).  I walked around the room to make sure everyone was skipping a section and doing this correctly which was when I noticed that one of my students actually drew happy faces in every other section.  Whoops.

On the even sections they did frowning faces (or curved lines going the opposite way).  I guess the frowning faces vs happy faces only works if you rotate your paper while you are drawing... my students were rotating their paper.

Pick your colours!
I pulled up a picture of a colour wheel on the projector and we talked about complimentary colours (if you don't know complimentary colours are those that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel).  To make things easy we said that blue was opposite orange, purple was opposite yellow, and green was opposite red.  Once they picked one colour the other colour they would use would be easy.. just look to the other side of the wheel.  They took out these colours in markers and ones that matched their markers in pencil crayons.

Start colouring!
Every other section would be the same colour (so in my this examples case all odd sections would be blue and even sections would be orange.  THEN you only colour every other part in that section.  I went back to my huge example on the board to demonstrate what I meant.  Most got it... some got a little confused.  A lot of my students dabbed a little colour on each part they needed to colour so they wouldn't get confused.

This was pretty well how far we got the first day but with the magic of the blog I'll just continue acting like we were super colourers and were able to get the entire lesson done in one day and not 4 (or more).  

Once they finished colouring I had them use their pencil crayons to do some shading between each coloured part.  Just because I thought it might look better (and I also read it on the linked page)

I gave them an index card and told them to write on it what they thought it looked like. I told them to trim their cards afterwards (most forgot about that though) and then glue it on their picture somewhere that it wouldn't be in the way.

Voila!  We were done!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Week at School

-  Booked my first ever sub all on my own (and let me tell you... I'm STILL worried that either a) something went wrong and no one will show up or b) 2 subs will show up.  Oh Monday morning... I hope you work out.  I also left a 3 page sub plan.  Whoops.  My poor sub also has duty AND no preps (only because he/she will only be in for the morning) I apologized profusely in my sub plan.
-  Played a bunch of action de graces lotto (Thanksgiving Bingo).  I had to switch gears from Hallowe'en to Thanksgiving in French *harumph*
-  I started my Hallowe'en costume for school last weekend.  Hopefully I'll finish it today.  There is a sneak peak of it below...
-  My students are understanding math!  HUZZAH!  I never thought I would see the day when I could go up to a bunch of my students who have been having trouble and ask if they were getting it and they were all smiling and enjoying themselves.  Next week we move on to multiplication again.  I believe I wrote in my sub plan that they would likely all have a heart attack when they realized we were not done with multiplying.
-  I (ok, my EA actually did most of it) put up their optical illusion art.  Stay tuned for the lesson... they still aren't all done but I'm not willing to take away from math or science to work on it... how do you make sure all your students get their artwork finished in the classtime provided?
-  We FINALLY finished our media unit in ELA.  I feel like we've been doing it forever (or 1.5 months to be exact).  I'm glad they are all excited to move on to a novel study... I'm a little concerned that the work load will be too much for them.  I handed out a bunch of papers for them to put in a "novel study" duotang so that when I send them to do work in their computer lab classes that they don't have to haul a binder back and forth (I'm way too nice... grade 8's can handle that!).  After telling them all to take it and put it in their locker in case they are in the lab before they see me again one student promptly left it behind.  AND he/she didn't put their name on it so I don't know who's it is. Grr...
-  Started looking ahead in science and I'm almost done the unit on Habitats and Communities... yikes.  This was supposed to take me until Christmas. I'm thinking I can get them to do a really cool final project that will take a while to create.
-  Over the next few weeks I'll be adding art to a big bulletin board in the hallway (fish and owls).  It will relate great to habitats and communities (mostly because we talk about animals too much in my opinion) and I want to showcase their learning along with the art work... haven't figured out how to do that yet though.
-  One of my grade 8's spilled the beans about what he gives every teacher for Christmas so I started dropping hints for my Christmas Wishlist
-  Supervised a volleyball tournament (we won one and lost one)
-  Went to a first year teachers banquet and walked away with some fabulous welcome to the division gifts.

The beginnings of what will hopefully be an amazing Halloween costume

The beginnings of what will hopefully be an amazing art project

School pictures are in!

I come to my classroom with little notes like this all the time!
Check back on Tuesday for an art lesson on optical illusions!

Friday, October 18, 2013

What I Wore...

Somehow I've gone ahead and gotten the label as some kind of teacher who always looks fashionable.  I must admit that yes, somedays I do try to look good but there are definitely days that I don't want to try and just throw on a dress because it is easy.  No matter what I do one of my grade 8 students insists that I always look great (and boosts my ego every day)

So... what have I been wearing the last week or so at school?
This past week we had picture day and here is the number I wore that day.  I wasn't sure what to wear so I went with white jeans *gasp* (isn't it a rule not to wear white after labour day AND jeans... at school!?!).  I just didn't see the point of getting super dressy just for a photo.  Also, my black pants are too big on me (and have been for some time now).  Which is why I bought new black pants months ago and for some reason STILL haven't gotten around to hemming them.  I will.  This week!
Yes, I wear jeans at school.  Our school is fairly casual.  But I do try to only wear blue jeans on Friday's (and always have paired it with a nicer shirt).

My favourite accessory as a teacher (or substitute) a big bag!  You can't tell by this picture but this bag is massive!  I've easily fit my lunch, a water bottle, a binder, and 20 duotangs in here at the same time.  
It is a must.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Student Blogging

I had been talking to my teaching partner one day after school about how I just didn't have time to have my students do much writing in my grade 8 ELA class and she suggested blogging.  

I loved the idea as soon as I heard it.

Our class blogs are set up on Kidblog.  It's very simple to understand and if you do any blogging of your own already I'm sure it will be a snap.  

It took us a couple of weeks to get started with the blogging (in my defense I only see them every other day) but here is how I started off with (for many) this new concept of blogging...

1)  I told them about my blog.  I told them how I've earned about  a whole $1.50 off my blog.  We talked about how many people have successful careers just being bloggers.  They can sit around at home in their pyjamas eating bonbons and watching day time television while working (in fact some people probably earn a living by blogging about those day time television shows that they are watching!).  They thought it was hilarious how little I had made off of blogging begging me to spend it on them.  But it got them interested.  Make sure you tell your students that they will not be making any money off of these blogs but it could be practice for the possibility of one day making money this way.

2)  I showed them others blogs. 
 I started off by showing them my blog (the ads were all blocked by the school division but I explained where they were).  I read them a story or 2 off of it and we discussed the theme of my blog (teaching/subbing).
Next we jumped to a blog about a woman who just blogs about her every day life.  I told them the theme to their blog doesn't have to be anything special... it just had to be something they knew a lot about.
This one took a bit of hunting around to find but one class was super into Duck Dynasty.  I had told them they could probably find a blog on almost anything and so my challenege was to find one on that show.  While I found one and we looked at it and they made fun of me for not knowing how to pronounce all their names.
Finally, I showed them a funny blog (look up Reasons Why My Son is Crying).

3)  We discussed ideas on what the themes to their blogs could be.  Many of these kids come from farming families so I've got a couple of blogs on farming/horses, I've got at least 1 on volleyball (perhaps because it is volleyball season) and another student who is supposed to be reporting on the hockey games.  Some don't have a theme yet and that's ok.  I post questions/videos/websites on the weekend for them to look at and respond to.  

4)  I let them help me come up with a rubric.  Below is what I posted to my Kidblog about how they will be graded.  

Now that we are halfway through the month I'll make up a better rubric and pass it out so that students have a really good idea of how they will be marked.  Once students start letting me know they are done with their posts I'll starting marking them (I've already got some claiming to be finished which is great - less marking to do at the end of the month).

5)  I have no plans on paying for that blog.  But no one loved the tree and bird theme as much as I did.  To solve this had an online vote.  Basically I posted photos of their options and in the comments section they told me which one they wanted (doodle won).

-  Originally I only had it set up so that I had to approve their comments.  But I was constantly about 100 behind them.  I had to be really firm about leaving quality comments and eventually I took off this function so that they could post their comments right away without my approval... I warned them about the consequence if they started posting anything inappropriate.
-  Students started posting in German and I got really firm with them that it was an English Language Arts class and that any posts with German in them would get deleted.  I've stuck by this.
-  Since a couple of my students ruined it for the bunch I put comment moderation back on AND blog post moderation.  Now I have to approve everything they post.
-  I gave my students the option to switch back to pen and paper journals because some were complaining about the typing (A LOT) but I strongly urged them to stick with blogging telling them that typing would get easier with practice.  Also, if they make the switch they will be required to write 4 journals a month instead of 3 and will not have any access to the blog.
-  I've got 2 students on my radar when it comes to what they post. I spoke with both on Friday about appropriate behaviour for the blog.  I warned them that if  I don't see improvement they will be removed from the blog.  The nice thing is that everyone wants access to that blog so I have yet to hear of anyone wanting to switch from blogging to writing and no one has acted out again to have themselves removed from it.
-  I handed out a couple of "How To" handouts.  One was how to access the blogs and write a comment (they were required to practice leaving a comment on one of my posts) and the other was on how to write a blog post.  They were pretty fancy if i do say so and I think they helped them out a lot.  If you are planning to get your class into blogging I would be happy to share them (we were using the tree and bird theme at the time so all pictures have to do with that)

And... here is what our blog currently looks like (the screen shot is of my page - each student has their own page to blog on)

I made this post shortly after I found all the German comments... can you tell I was a little mad?

Since the post was so long...
Most of us are having a great time blogging in grade 8!

Do you have questions?  
Don't hesitate to post your questions here.  I know I've been a little absent from posting for a while but I do respond to my e-mails and I will also respond to comments.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This Week at School

-  My grade 4's discovered I can't say "more" and one of them likes the way I say it!
-  We rushed to get some kind of Thanksgiving craft/art project done (that I now realize I forgot to take a picture of).
-  We have been doing ad presentations in ELA and my students are bribing me with treats!  Also, for the most part, they have been doing a really great job at presenting!
-  In French we are spending the month learning Thanksgiving/Fall vocabulary (I wasn't allowed to teach Hallowe'en).  I'm hopeful that by the end of the month they will be ready to learn parts of the body and we can label a giant scarecrow (and maybe a skeleton too) with the names.
-  In science class the grade 4's have been working on legends to showcase their knowledge of a habitat and animal adaptations.  They have been busy typing them out all week... hopefully we can get them done in 2 computer classes
-  We are collecting empty toilet paper rolls for an art project.... stay tuned!
-  We are wrapping up our Media Unit in ELA.  Hopefully we will have time to get through a novel study (we will be doing The Outsiders) and then start a comic unit before we break for Christmas.
-  Math is hectic but everyone eventually managed to return their math games (one journal never made it back though) so I sent out the games for round 2.  This time I gave them an incentive.  If they return their game and journal (with the journal filled in) by Wednesday this coming week they will get a sticker.  Collect 5 stickers and you get a pencil (or eraser or something).  Hopefully I get a few more games back.
-  In health we are setting goals.  I strongly suggested a lot of their goals be to play their math game and do the work for this week.  Next health class we will see if they managed to make any of their goals (they were all short term goals - just for the week).


I took in the kids French duotangs to find all these drawings...

I leave fairly early... sometimes it's still darkish out.  Sometimes I see some really beautiful sunrises.

Notes on the board from my students

Presentation treat #1 half a vanilla cookie half a chocolate cookie

Presentation treat #2 super power brownie... or pure icing.

TV rules for kids (they were making rules for people who put out tv shows for kids)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

This Week at School

-  My grade 8's discovered I can't say the word "more" and now that it's out I feel like I say it all the time.  How do I say it... "mahr".  I don't notice that I say it wrong.  It sound right to me.  But everyone else notices.
-  Final cross country run was on Friday.  It was a high of 7 but without any sun coming through the clouds and the wind I'm sure it was much cooler.  But we survived!
-  Finally convinced my grade 8's that blogging isn't lame, boring, or a waste of time.  Or... at least I convinced 90% of them.  (I will hopefully get around to posting more about blogging in the upcoming week or 2)
-  Gave my grade 5's a French quiz that they all did AMAZING on
-  Had my first full day substitute in on Friday while I went to cross country.
-  Gave my grade 4's the option of finishing up art or working on their legends... they choose legends *shocked*
-  Planning  "Art Around the World" for my grade 4's.  And by planning I mean I thought up the idea one night... but haven't looked further into it.  I'm sure it can take us through the entire year though which would be good.

I'll take more pictures next week... I promise we do get things done in school... some of it is even up on the walls as proof!

One of my (female) students really likes me!  This was the comment she left on one of my blog posts.  I have some pretty great students.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Teaching What you Don't Know

I've already told you about the time I became the go to French Music teacher and the time I became a violin substitute. But I also do not know much about a high school computer class. Especially when they are doing fancy things (which they almost always are).

So this teacher is in a grade 5-9 school and I naturally assume going in that I'll be teaching something normal like math or social studies but no no no... that is only a small part of the job. The majority of the day is computer class.

I should also say this school was located in one of the more well to do areas of the city and so all the kids had cell phones or iPods and had a way to sneakily work their way around the schools security system to access Facebook all class.

I should also say that since it was grade 9 students I basically blended right in with them.

So they are all in Computer class with their cells under the tables and on Facebook. I know all of this and my way around it is usually "oh that's cool what you are doing right there, can I just see you mouse for a second" and then close out of whatever program/website they are using that they should not be.

But grade 9's are scary and this was in my first year as a substitute teacher.

So instead, of fighting them all day on it, I let it happen writing down all the usernames of students who were not working on the assignment (which let's be honest was basically everyone).

At one point one kid even decides to print off what ends up being hundreds of pages of a website.

The teacher must have received my detailed note about how horrible computer class went and what does he do?

He keeps inviting and requesting me back every day he cannot be there.... and I keep accepting because let's face it I'm new to the game and need all the jobs I can get.

It wasn't terrible but it did make me look poorly on some of the students...

When I asked them to do their work they said they didn't need to because their parents would or it didn't matter what marks they got because they wouldn't have to really work.

Sometimes I think that the presents may get bigger and more expensive when you work in a school in a well to do area but I think the kids are just so much more appreciative of you when you head to an inner school... Definitely not true of all students or schools. Just sometimes.
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