Monday, June 30, 2014

I know it has been a while (again). But can we all agree that the end of the year is a crazy time?  What perhaps makes it even more crazy is when you decide to leave for vacation the morning after your last day. But have no fear!  Give me till July 6th to get back home and I'll tell you all about the end of the year and show you some things I'm working on for next year. 

Until then...
(I tried to insert a picture that would show everything I'm learning in South Dakota but alas, I couldn't figure it out on my phone. So just pretend you see me learning a whole bunch!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dutch Tulip Fields

I had a smaller class the day we did these “paintings” it was nice to be able to sit and quietly work on some artwork for a couple of periods with my students.

I got the idea for this art project from the "A Faithful Attempt" blog

We started the lesson in the computer room where I had them Goggle Image Search images of “Dutch Tulip Fields” and they wrote down the colours of flowers that they saw in the photos. After they looked up the tulip fields they did another image search for “Dutch Windmills”. They searched through the photos of windmills until they found one that they liked and wanted to try to draw. I told them they had to have it approved by me first so that they wouldn’t be doing any crazy super modern looking windmills. Once they found the windmill they wanted to try to draw they drew it out 2 times on a piece of scrap paper.

The students always need to see what we are doing before we start doing it so I showed them some photos from these sites about what we would be doing and what it would look like in the end. We talked about things that we liked about them and how we might be able to improve on the examples (not that there was anything wrong with any of the examples… but everyone should strive to be unique and make their own piece)

Back in the classroom I gave each student a stiffer piece of white paper and we put it on our desk landscape way. They drew a line about ¼ of the way from the top of the page (we are studying fractions in math so this was a good reminder of what that would look like) and then picked a point to draw all our other lines out from.

Some drew the paths really narrow and we talked about how they would have a lot of work to do later on with colouring if they chose to keep it that way.

Once they had sectioned it off I then had them draw really thin sections between each larger section for the green paths.

I drew my own example on the white board as an example for them to follow along with.

Once they were all done drawing the lines they drew in things along the horizon. The only thing I told them they had to include was the windmill they had practiced drawing in the computer lab. Some of them drew farm houses, trees, and fences as well.

This next part they had a little difficulty getting. I suspect it was the word “outline” that they didn’t understand. I told them to outline each tiny section of green with a green marker (naturally, some started to colour in the entire section with their green marker). So every other section would be green on their paper. Once they had outlined one or sections I had them take a small paintbrush with water on it and run it over the marker. They thought it was really cool how the colour spread out.

They then looked back on the colours they had looked up that tulips could be and picked some colours for the other sections of their fields.

I’m not one to micro manage in art class so I told them that they could do a design in each section of their tulip fields or just keep doing outlines. We filled in these with colours using the same water technique.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to use for the sky and horizon but I feel like we use paint a lot in our class so while we were working on coloruing with water I decided that they should also do the sky and everything along their horizon using the same technique (mostly because it would mean it was easier for myself).

Anywho, our final products are below… I think they turned out quite good.

Friday, June 06, 2014

This Week At School

(or perhaps a more appropriate title would be these last few weeks at school).

It's been a little crazy at the school these last few weeks (I believe the board said that we were down to only 13 school days this morning)... so it is time to wrap things up, get my assessments in order (for my grade 8's), and write those report cards.  But we've been trying to have some fun during all of this too.

-  In math we have powered right on through fractions, decimals, and money.  They were a synch after spending so much time on addition and subtraction at the beginning of the year for most of my students.  Right now we are looking at perimeter and area.  I'll post a link to a book we watched (yes, we just watched the youtube video of someone else reading the book) to learn about perimeter and area... it took us an entire hour to get through!  Wowzers!  But the kids were engaged the whole time!  Today to continue our investigations of area and perimeter I had them draw out their names on graph paper.  Then they had to count all the edges of the letters in their names and the squares each letter used to come up with the area and perimeter of their name.  They were so confused that I was letting them colour and draw in math class - we work really hard in math class (often doing the work out of the textbook).

-  In science we have been studying rocks and minerals.  I think my favourite part of this unit has been teaching about erosion.  We've gone out to the sandbox twice now to build mountains and dump water on them to see what would happen.  Then I had them come up with a plan of how to get their mountain to "weather the storm" so to speak.  After they came up with some ideas on their own we watched a Bill Nye video on it (one that I did not preview) and I was so impressed that many of things Bill Nye went over in the video we had already talked about and learned (I'll give myself a pat on the back for this later).  Then today I took them back out to the sandbox to reattempt building a mountain that would last.  We had a lot of fun.

-  On our way back in from the sandbox the kids pretended their waterbottles were wands and multiple students bopped me on the head to tell me I had their permission to get married tomorrow (Saturday).  Erm... thanks guys... I hope they are providing me with a guy to marry as well!

-  We did some folk art in art class (I'll post pictures sometime) and we have the supplies for Fathers Day sitting under the sink ready to go!  I even created a poem for the Father's Day presents... 
what's that?  I need another pat on my back?  Well... if you insist.

-  French is pretty much done.  I've got them counting to 50 and they know their school supplies and what to call common classroom objects (although, I don't think a VCR or cassette player are common classroom objects anymore).

-  ELA is finished.  We somehow survived poetry!  We started our assessments early and they are busy looking at newspapers.

-  All that's really left is to write these fabulous report card comments (hopefully I'll get all but my 8th graders done tomorrow), survive assessments, and figure out what I want to order for my classroom for next year (I discovered the black and white pages AND turquoise stuff in one of the catelogues already).

No pictures today but here is the video of the book we used in math class to learn about perimeter and area...  I paused it a lot during the reading so my students could come up with their own table arrangements.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


The final project in our science unit on Sound was for the students to make their own musical instruments.

Here was the criteria we came up with together as a class:
-  Does it make a sound?
-  Is it a percussion, wind, or string instrument? (student must be able to tell us)
-  Can the pitch or notes change?
-  Did you make it yourself?
-  Is it creative?

We had a lot of maracas on the day of the presentations (well, I was told we had a lot of maracas... I was at a meeting the day they presented most of their instruments).  This tells me a lot of my students didn't quite grasp the idea of pitch.  They thought that shaking their maracas slow gave off a low pitch and shaking it fast made it a high pitch.

Since I wasn't there they graded each others instruments using the above criteria.

On the 2nd day of presentations (the day I was there) I had them play hot cross buns on their instruments (because it is a simple tune and they had already learned how to play it on their recorders)... I imagine the maraca players may have finally understood that their instruments could not play that song and therefore the couldn't play different notes like they were earlier claiming they could.

Anywho, I was really impressed with the instruments they made (I think we had a lot of parent/older sibling involvement).




rain stick




There was apparently a really impressive guitar on the first day of presentations but that student took it home with her that same day... so I never saw it.

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