Thursday, April 30, 2015

Questions About ME!

Here is the third (and final) installment on the questions I've gotten over the past couple of months.  
Aren't we all just a nosey bunch wanting to know more about yours truly.  

So without further ado.. some questions (and answers) about me!

Where do you live?

I don't recall how much information I've given out on this lovely blog of mine so I'm just going to stick with Canada, I live in Canada. We get snow and we get summer and we even get spring and fall (currently it's spring). It's kind of a fantastic place and you should visit it sometime.

Sidenote: Because I live in Canada a lot of the stuff that is in regards to curriculum taught is going to be Canadian stuff. I'm assuming it's the same thing in the states - every province here has their own standards so I would think every state does too.

How old are you?

I'm 29.

Do you take your summers off?

Last year I did and this year I likely will as well (only because I worked full years these last 2 years). When I substitute taught I usually found some kind of employment for over the summer (the last summer I worked I was a nanny).

You say you are a Christian in your profile. Would you ever (or have you ever) taught in a private school.

I have not ever taught in a private school. However, I have had interviews at them and am open to the idea of teaching at one. At my current school we do opening religious exercises that I help lead... basically it is The Lord's Prayer and a short devotional.

Are you single?

I am sorry but I am not (I'm actually not really sorry).

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Hmm... this is a tricky one. Based on this question it sounds like woodchucks do not normally chuck wood, however, in this case the woodchuck could chuck it. So I'm going to go ahead and say a lot... if a woodchuck could chuck wood it would chuck a lot.

And there you have it!

My first installment of all of this was Questions on Substitute Teaching
And my second was Questions on Teaching

If I missed anything in any of these 3 just send me an email or leave a comment.
I promise to email you back if you do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


One of my coworkers told me about this lovely little (big?) search engine. 

We've all been there when we get our students to do some kind of research and they type whatever it is they are looking up into Google only to be able to read 1 thing in the top 10 searches. 


KidRex is a search engine that is designed for kids. 

Now, I'll admit the main page is a little childish, I'm not sure what my students will think of it when I tell them to do their searches on there next time we have to do some research (we haven't used it yet). 

BUT, according to my coworker the articles on there are at a lower grade level so that most of your students will hopefully be able to read more of the articles that pop up (my coworker who has tried it teaches grade 3). 

So I did a little comparison using the word "mucus" (forgive me but we are studying the human body) 

Here is a side by side comparison 

What I noticed: 

1) My students will be attracted to the pictures that accompany nearly every link 

2) There are still "advertisements" (the Hyland's and Similasan are things you can buy - likely not telling us much about mucus) 

3) There is no image search (and I'm not sure about you but I find that no matter what image my students search for there is ALWAYS something inappropriate that comes through AND they always scroll through the search for forever so that they stumble across it) 

4) I clicked on the Britannica link to see how the wording was... it was still kind of wordy for what my grade 5 and 6 class would be able to read BUT it was short. 

5) Wikipedia didn't come up in the first page of searches. 

6) There were only 8 links on the first page... Google had quite a bit more links. 

7) The writing is larger 

8) There is also far less writing in KidRex

Want to try KidRex out?
You can find it at:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This Week At School

Play practice, play practice, play practice.
Here is a picture of the beginnings of our background for Pinocchio

That's pretty much ALL we did.

It was exhausting and I learned that even grades 5 and 6's go crazy when their regular schedules are disrupted.  And since they went crazy I also did.  

Here's to hoping our nearly normal routine for next week puts as all in a better mood!

The play was Thursday afternoon and evening which meant that Friday we could begin our regular schedule again.  
I was REALLY looking forward to a peaceful art period at the end of the day but my students quickly splattered some paint on their pages and were done.

I was too into doing my own that I didn't see what they ended up with... I have a feeling I'm going to be a little disappointed in what they accomplished - mostly because the drawing of these took us 2 weeks to get done.

I stayed after school to finish mine since I had the paints all out anyways.  I think I over diluted the water colours... next time I'll add less water and see if the colours are a little more vibrant.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Questions on Teaching

Last week I shared some questions I've been asked on substitute teaching.  You can view that post here.  

This week I'm sharing with you some questions (and answers) that I've had about teaching.

How long did it take to get a teaching position?

Years! Gosh it took a really long time. It's a hard job to acquire. But in late August 2013 I got my very first full time and full year job teaching grade 4, grade 5 French, and grade 8 ELA. It was a crazy year but I survived. I actually recently found a blog that I never posted from part way though that year as a way to encourage new teachers... I'll post it sometime (maybe).

What grades have you taught?

I taught a short term of kindergarten, a short term of gym, then a full year of grade 4, grade 5 French, and grade 8 ELA, and now I'm teaching a grade 5/6 split. I used to apply for any and all jobs but in a way I feel lucky that I've been exposed to so much these last couple of years... it has helped me to realize what kinds of jobs I should be applying for.

How did you get your current job?

To know how I got my current job we have to go back to the last school year.

The simple answer was, I applied for it.

My boyfriend at the time had a sister who had worked at the school and had suggested that I apply for the job there. I wasn't going to because the grade 8 one scared me. I wasn't sure what it was - if it was grade 8 science I wasn't sure I could do it. I had an interview for it at the end of August (I was a very late hire) and had the job before I even got home.

I'm not sure what stuck out on my resume that attracted them to me - I wish I knew now! But I feel very fortunate that I got the job. I may ocassionally complain about it but I feel very blessed by it.

My current job I got because it was at the same school and was only a term (until after spring break). I requested this job from my administration. I took a big risk because it only went to spring break (it has since gotten extended until the end of the year) but I knew it was the right job for me. Now, at the end of the year I will be up for permanent. Very exciting to perhaps not have to worry about a portfolio so much anymore! But also very nerve wraking not knowing if I'll be given permanent... and if I don't get it then I'm not sure what will happen.

What's your favourite subject to teach?

We recently filled out a paper at my school saying what our dream jobs would be. I wrote down art. I love teaching it to my students and we often end up with amazing pieces of work. It makes me feel really good when I get compliments on it... especially since it isn't even my work! We don't have an art program at my school... all students have to take band once they get to grade 7 and it would be my dream that they give them the option of band or art and hire me as the teacher.

I also wrote down math. I've been doing math journals with my students and if I had more time to focus on just a couple subjects rather than all of them I feel like I could really make them into something amazing. Plus, I'm not too shabby at math myself (but the highest level of math I've taught is grade 6 so please don't applaud me too much).

How long do report cards REALLY take?

They take a while. BUT if you are smart they are not so terrible. What is the smart way about going about them? You keep your grades up to date, every time you notice that one of your students is struggling with something on a test you make a comment on it in your records, and you start your reports a month before they are due.

Why a month? They take time. If you start a month before they are due you can get the easier ones out of the way. Art and health for example you can easily make your comments on before all their stuff is handed in. I like to do one subject a week until the last couple of weeks. Even if you aren't done assessing in all the subjects you can at least write parts of their comments now until the rest is handed in.

We are also given a day to work on report cards a few days before they are due. It is always my goal to be 100% done writing them before that date. I then use that date to read over their comments. I'm not perfect and I mess up their comments. Sometimes they don't make sense BUT having that extra day helps me catch some of the errors (my admin will hopefully catch the rest). I'm usually done by lunch and get to spend the rest of my day prepping for upcoming things while everyone else panics about their report cards.

Worst days?

I try not to talk about my WORST days on here. BUT, last year I was getting observed by my administration the day after spring break. I'm a very organized person who obviously had everything prepared on her USB. When I got to school I plugged it into my computer to print off my plan for my administration when it didn't come up. Not to panic I thought, and went to the technology guy at the school begging him that he had to fix it. It couldn't be done. So, I had no lesson.

I ended up having a major meltdown in the hallway and thankfully my administration was understanding and pushed it back a day or 2.

After I clamed myself down I realized that I knew what my plan was and I didn't need my USB because it was all in my head. I quickly typed it out again and went ahead with the scheduled date of that first Monday.

I don't recall exactly how the lesson and observation went. But considering that I went from what I felt like was nothing I would say it went amazingly.

Would you ever share your resources?

YES! I don't make my own because I'm not that talented on a computer. I mean I'm a fantastic writer (excuse me while I toot my own horn) but I'm not into design. I will likely never have a Teachers Pay Teachers store (even though I wish I could be that talented and motivated to have one). Anyways, because of all this most of my resources are not my own. Obviously there are copywrite laws and blah blah blah so I can't share EVERYTHING but I would love to share some of my lessons or some things I've gathered from friends. I don't want to ever sell myself because we are all in this crazy profession for the reason of educating children (although, I completely understand why some people do sell their stuff... I mean some of you put a lot of time and effort into that stuff and I thank you for that!)

I have one more week of questions left... what questions could there possibly be you ask?  I've already covered substitute teaching and teaching but apparently you are a curious bunch... so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Wish My Teacher Knew...

A teacher asked her students to write anonymous notes, and the results are heartbreaking.

What do you think?

What do I think?

I think the results are heartbreaking.  No matter how much we think we know our students the truth is we don't know them completely.  

It got me thinking about what my students might say.
Some would make a joke out of it
Some would tell me how wonderful I am
Some would tell me how wonderful they are
Some would tell me things they think I should do differently
And some would likely tell me some heartbreaking truths.

This might be something to consider for next year.  I'm thinking one could do this a few times a year.  Maybe once a month into school, another time after Christmas break, another time after Spring break, and the final time in June.

Use it as an opportunity to get to know your students better, use it is an opportunity to reflect on your teaching, and use it as an opportunity to see how much your students understand about writing a letter (I think I would tie this in with a letter writing lesson).

But, What do you think?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

This Week At School

No pictures for this week... mostly because between play practice and a talent show we didn't get too much accomplished (I feel).

Musical/play practice has been taking up most of our mornings.  Anyone who has a speaking role in the play or has something to do with a speaking role (like making sure a light is on them) is gone until first recess.  This means I'm left with maybe 10 kids in my class (which is quite nice except we don't do much because why teach them something when most of my class is missing).  On Friday I made them do a spelling test, a math sheet, and then told them we were going to the library to each pick out a book and we would read outside.  I had a blanket in my car that the girls and myself sat on and the 2 boys decided to read on the monkey bars.

In English Language Arts we have been writing letters to take part in "The Great Canadian Mail Race".  My students all picked schools to send them to and addressed their envelopes.  I now have a stack of letters to mail at some point today.  I still have to get the prize (the person to get the first letter back in my classroom is winning a $5 Tims card).

In science we are learning about the human body.  Before we left on Friday we set up an experiment that we will check in on Tuesday.  We are learning about how our bodies break down different kinds of food using enzymes.  I bought the cheapest sandwich meat I could find and some meat tenderizer for the experiment.  Apparently it should be so tenderized that we should be able to paint with that meat in a couple of days.  

In social studies we are learning about WW1.  I'm not exactly sure how much we are going to get done now to the end of the year... I'm reserving some decades projects for the students to do in June though.

We are almost done fractions in math!  I'm so happy that I started my guided math groups - we somehow got through fractions in 3 weeks (well, it will likely be closer to 4 but I'm losing a lot of math periods because of play practice).

In art we are making water colour zebras.  It was a really relaxing art class for once so even I started drawing one out.  Here is what mine looks like so far.  I'm really excited to see the finished products!

We FINALLY get our double art period back Friday afternoon (our play is on Thursday) so I'm hoping we can get them all painted in that time.

Other then that, I've almost got all the costumes for the play put together... I just need some cat ears and a tail.  Our play is on Thursday next week and we have a final round of our talent show for the community Friday evening.  Looks like I'll be spending some extra time at school this coming week!

Once again, I didn't have to bring home any school work with me.. 
*sigh* if only it could ALWAYS be like this.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Questions on Substitute Teaching

You asked and well I'm going to try to answer all of them... here is the first round of questions (all on substitute teaching).

How long have you been substitute teaching?

Well, I'm currently not substitute teaching and I hope that I can get my permanent teaching contract at the end of this school year, BUT I graduated with my education degree in May 2008 and I got my first full year of teaching in September 2013. The year before I got my full year term I took off (for the most part) to do a traveling ministry thing. SO, that means that I subbed from September 2008 - June 2012.

OR the short answer is 5 years (if I did my math right.... I actually had to really think about this one)

What do you wear when substitute teaching?

If I've never been to the school I dress nice. Depending on the grade I might wear a dress or skirt (if I'm certain I won't be on the floor with little ones) otherwise dress pants and a nice shirt.

If I've been to the school before and know how the teachers dress (and I know that they dress casually) I'll dress a little more casually... but very rarely would I wear jeans (coloured pants on the other hand... I would wear).

I'm sure we've all heard the saying "to dress for the job that you want to have" and I think in this case it is a good motto to follow. You are substitute teaching, the principal will likely see you. If they see a sloppy last minute you they might not see you as being super professional (even though I'm sure you are).

Here is a post on some other tips on what I would wear while substitute teaching.

And here is a post on some times I did not wear the correct attire for the job

How did you get your substitute teaching jobs?

In all the divisions I worked for (excluding private schools which would just call you - and I rarely got called by them) they were all online.

I spent a lot of time refreshing those substitute teaching sites in the hopes of something coming up. I would check them as soon as I got home, a few more times throughout the evening, and once more before I went to bed. Then, I would set my alarm for like 6:00am to start checking, again at 6:30, 7:00, and finally at 7:30. I much prefered being able to "shop" for my job than have the system call me.

Not too long ago I did a post for a handy app that would solve me having to get up and refresh so many times throughout the day. Now that we are in the age of smart phones the substitute teachers life has perhaps gotten a little easier (at least in terms of being able to find work). You can find that post on SubAssistant here

What about kids that misbehave?

Ugh, we all have those really awful days and as a substitute teacher I often feel like there is not much you can do about those students. EXCEPT of course, to call the principal in. For a long time I thought it would look bad if I had to call them to the class but it just means that you have a student who is choosing not to listen to you... you don't know the student, you can't call that students parent, you won't be around tomorrow to follow up. Just call in the principal.

AND, always, always, ALWAYS leave a note for the teacher. Whether it is good or bad I always left a note (and I love getting them now). Sometimes I had to leave that really awful note (I remember one time explaining in the note that I felt bad writing it but that the class was just not good - the teacher got back to me and apologized!)

AND, if you ever have a terrible time in a classroom or school remember that you are in control of the jobs you accept. If you don't want to go back, you don't have to. It's one of the perks of being a substitute teacher. 

Here is another tip on a signal you can introduce to the class for the day while you sub to get them to be quiet and listen... likely best for grades 6 and under.

Do you bring lessons and games?

In the beginning of my substitute teaching career I did. Then I realized I was never using them and so I stopped. Only once did I not find a plan for the day and only once (these were seperate occasions) did I get in "trouble" for not having a bag of stuff for the kids to do. In my opinion, you cannot possibly be prepared for every situation. One day you could be teaching kindergarten and the next day physics... are you really going to have stuff in your bag for both occassions just ready to go?

If you want to keep stuff in your bag this is what I would suggest

- word searches, sudukos, madlibs and other simple games like that

- a book to read to the class and an activity to go with it

- a ball to play silent ball

- stickers, pencils, erasers to give to students when they do something well.

So what do I bring in my bag?

Well, I bring a lunch. I bring a book for myself (to read on a prep or at lunch). I bring some incentives (sometimes, especially for early years) and I always brought a picture book to read with the class (again, if it were early years) another option would be The Book of Awesome for an older class I always survived.

And there you have it folks!

Any other questions that you've thought of or that are missing?  Send me an email or leave a comment and I'll do a round 2 (in like a month)

Next week:  Questions on Teaching!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Making Learning Fun

Here is the link to what this post is doing to reference 
(it's a short post today)

A few things... I'm slightly offended by the title of the post.  
I know that not all of my lessons are "fun" that is impossible to do.  Sometimes it does just have to be note taking or a worksheet or math problems.  I can't be "on" all the time.  But I do try hard not to make learning boring.  I would hope that most teachers do try hard to do this.

Next, I have a feeling I would get a talking to for doing some of these things.  
Thankfully no one has ever fallen asleep during any of my classes (because they are just oh so fun clearly).
I don't understand the fire one.
My students don't have cell phones (or they just don't bring them to school).
I'm not so artistic with a white board marker
I don't understand the scientific ones and I hopefully will never have to teach about the periodic table.

But the yearbook photos ones... those are straight up genius.

Let's all have a swell week at school!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

This Week At School

T'was the day after Easter and all through the school
Not many creatures were stirring since it was Easter Monday
So Miss Penner in her cardigan
and no one else to help her : (
Set up a scavenger hunt..
Claiming it to be "Eastery" since you know... Easter egg hunts

This week at school I learned something.
If you want your students to take good science notes make it a scavenger hunt!  
I'm assuming this works for other subjects as well.

Basically I printed off questions that they had to answer and then the answers were all on numbered yellow pieces of paper hidden around the room.
Some of them were easy to find but a bunch of them required clues that I wrote out on the board so that they would find them.
In the end everyone had all the notes written out and everyone learned a bunch of new and interesting things about the human body.
And those that didn't make it to school for our lovely scavenger hunt?
Too bad, so sad.

We also got our aboriginal dot art up in the hallway (it's been getting rave reviews)

Before spring break we FINALLY finished reading The Westing Game (my students LOVED it) and I put up their wanted posters for the characters that I had given them at the beginning of the novel study (not all of them are up because these things apparently take time).

In math we started guided math groups and it is like the storm cloud that had been hanging over my math class lifted and a bunch of sun shine has just been shining down on us.  It's been lovely.   Here is the website that I went to for information on them (I believe I actually googled "how to teach math in a split class" and this came up).  It was a HUGE help and it isn't nearly as daunting as I thought it would be.

Our grade 4-6 play is in less than 2 weeks!  
I'm incharge of costumes... please tell me these look like fish... sort of?

This is going to be Pinochino's nose (size medium - I still have to figure out how to get something to stick onto it so that it can be bigger yet).

I'm not sure I told you all about this lovely little box.

I was getting so many grievances after recess' that I was going insane.
So I glued wrapping paper around a cracker box and told them to put their problems in here and I would deal with them later... it has been empty since we came back from spring break!

My favourite thing about this week?

I didn't bring a single school thing home with me!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Common Core Math

This is an American thing... as far as I know we don't talk about "Common Core Math" up here in the great white North.  However, the math curriculum changes as often as the seasons (okay, that's a bit of an exageration) and it's hard for teachers to keep up with it, let alone parents (I'm sure, I'm not a parent).

Anyways, I came across this article a while ago and the example in the photo stumps me 

As far as I know, where I live we are required to teach our students a variety of strategies for solving problems.  BUT, what I tell my students is that once they find a way that they like and that they are good at, they should stick with it.  I won't ask them to do an addition question a certain way on a test, they can choose the way that works best for them... hopefully they will find a way that works best for them.

Anyways, if you are confused by all these new fangled math ways you are not alone!

Confession I taught my students this way to multiply this year 
None of them use it (hardly any of them used it after I taught it, probably because I didn't devote enough time to it which is likely part of the problem with this common core math)

But if your children are coming home with confusing multiplication homework... maybe that will explain at least one strategy?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Pink Shirt Day (round 2?)

I'm not sure what's going on here... because I looked it up and Pink Shirt Day was on February 25, 2015.  

But now I've gotten an email from someone at my school saying we are taking part in Pink Shirt Day which is on April 8, 2015 (tomorrow)

So here we go again...

We already did our Pink Shirt Day poems so I think I'll just show them a video that also came with the email and do some talking about it.  

And of course... wear pink

Here's the video we were instructed to show our students

And here is a link on some information about 
I like that on the 2nd page it gives examples on when you can use conflict resolution and when it wouldn't work.  We will probably go through some of those after reading the first page... but that will likely be it for us.

and finally, here is the link to the website for the 

If you want to see what my students did back on February 25th here is a link to that post: 

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Questions and Answers

A while ago (as in a long, long time ago) I asked you all for questions about teaching, about substitute teaching, about how to become a really awesome person in general (okay maybe not the last one).  Well some of you emailed me with questions (no one actually posted one in the comments, I get it, comments are an insanely scary thing - but not really) and most of you did not send questions.  But that's okay.. no hate!

Anywho, I think I responded to most questions individually anyways but I've been working on compiling them into a post for on here.  

I'm pretty much done the post actually BUT there is always room for more questions!  

So if you have any questions about substitute teaching or teaching (or possibly about anything else - I mean I'll try my very best to answer them) you should either leave a comment here OR email me at 
so I can add to my list before I post it in a couple of weeks! 

I'm sure I'm no expert in either the category of teaching or substitute teaching but isn't it always nice to have another persons input?  Yeah... that's what I thought.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Just before Spring Break we handed out report cards. 

Just before report cards I had to check my students reading levels.

Just before I did that we did a "Read-a-Thon" to raise money for a school in another country

I'm very lucky in that most of my students LOVE to read.
This does mean that they are all reading at grade level though.

How can we help our kids and students read at grade level?
To start would be to not have them skip out on those 20 minutes of reading that they should be doing every day (which doesn't mean just at school).

We don't always have time to read in class but when we do I almost always have them pair up with someone afterwards where they have to get 3 things completed.

1) They have to summarize to their partner what they read today
2)  They have to read one page to their partner
3)  They have to answer a question that I write on the board.
Some examples of questions might be:
-  What was your favourite part of what you read today?
-  What did you not like about what you read today?
-  What do you think is going to happen next?
-  Do you like the main character?

you get the idea.

Once they have done that with a partner I ask students to volunteer to share with the class.
However, they are no longer sharing about their book.

They must now
1)  Summarize the page that their partner read to them
2)  Tell us their partners answer to the question.
Why do this?
Are they understanding what they are reading enough to be able to share about it?
Are they understanding when being read to and listening enough to share?

Anywho, I came across this picture somewhere which is amazing!
I'm currently teaching grade 5 and 6 and I know that many of my students read a lot more than 20 minutes a day.  I love that they are being exposed to so much through what they read and are hopefully increasing their vocabulary and expanding their imaginations.  

So DO NOT skip your 20 minutes of reading!

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