Inspired, I continued on down the hall to soak up the learning…
In response to some photos a teacher at our school recently sent of his newborn twin girls, one of our Kindergarten classes wrote a letter offering advice. (click to enlarge)
Inspired, I continued on down the hall to soak up the learning…
Shopping with Nilloah's Neighbour
I laughed so hard when I re-read the email I was getting ready to post in my Smart Bansho math blog, that I just had to repost it here, too, for a wider audience...
One of the best activities parents can do to support their children in math (and in general) is to take them shopping. Although it is of course far easier to just do it yourself sometimes, taking children along for a grocery run, and asking them to consider food choices, costs of items, sales, etc., builds vocabulary and schema.
On of the students in my class this year is very lucky to have a neighbour who does lots of schema building with him She shared this experience with me the other day and -- with her permission (and a few edits to protect privacy) -- I am reprinting it here:
As I'm sure you can imagine, this neighbour has the patience of a saint!
When I greeted Niloah in class the next morning with, "hey, so I hear you went shopping!", he almost fainted. It was like magic! "HOW did you know that, Ms. Teschow?!" he exclaimed!
A little email is a miraculous thing.
A Few Good Books
After our class vote a few weeks ago, I decided to map out a few oral language, reading and writing lessons for the coming month, incorporating some of the strategies I picked up (or was reminded of) at RFTLOI last week.
Readers may recall that the winners for this month were "Those Shoes", "A+ Custodian" and "The Chimpanzees I Love".
I must confess, as I was preparing these lessons, that I thought about how true it is that WE (the teachers) are the curriculum -- there is no "objective" teaching; the resources we choose to use in our classrooms, and how we use them reflect our beliefs, and invariably, rub off on the students in our care for the year. (Case in point: One of my African Canadian students had such a look of pride and joy on her face this morning when I read aloud Langston Hughes' "My People" just before lunch, enthusiastically telling the kids how Hughes was one of my favourite poets, and excitedly sharing with them how I had recently learned that he was one of the first black writers in North America to actually make a living from his craft... how would this child's interpretation of the poets of her people be different had I not shared his work quite so enthusiastically -- or even not shared his work at all -- in class?! And what about the Asian student whom I "shushed" as he was about to say something about how he didn't like all those black people in the photographs of the book I was reading? Did my reaction teach him that black is beautiful? Or did he learn -- not my intention, but a possible side effect of my impulse -- that his opinion doesn't count?)
In the lessons below, I am selling empathy and awareness of blue-collar professions, generosity and sharing, and animal rights activism.
If you have a Smart Board and a few good books, you can sell these, too -- Enjoy!
The research on concerns-based adoption model (CBAM) notes that many educators who take the time to attend a conference such as the one I did last week will not move past orientation or preparation stages of implementation (i.e. they will remain non-users).
Those who do implement will struggle to move past the mechanical phase and into the routine, refinement and integration phases. Very few teachers who adopt a new innovation will find themselves in the highest, or renewal, phase of CBAM.
I have found that reflecting on new learning as soon as possible after initial exposure, and then making immediate plans to incorporate the new practice (assuming I find it valuable for my students and/or myself) can greatly increase the chances of becoming at least a routine user of an apparently high yield strategy.
This past weekend, I blogged about my experiences at RFTLOI; this morning I implemented two strategies I picked up from the sessions I attended.
The first strategy we used was “mapping the text”
"Mapping the Text" involves overlaying an acetate on top of a non-fiction text, and circling and labeling favious features of print and text, e.g. "picture", "caption", "heading", etc. I found that actually "writing on the page" really increased student engagement, and three our of four of the learners in my little group this morning walked away with a pretty solid grasp of print features.
Next, I used a new twist of an old stand-by: The RAN chart (Tony Stead)!
Although this strategy is meant to be used with non-fiction text, I was so eager to make use of it immediately, that I incorporated it into a pciture book read-aloud I had planned, called the A+ Custodian.
I had students create a little "RAN folder", to which they could affix sticky notes, and move them around as we read together.
It was interesting to watch many students' preconceptions about the job(s) of custodians evlove as we read the story together.
This afternoon, I planned future lessons using the same strategies: I plan to use the RAN folders in small guided reading groups later this week, with non-fiction text from Teaching Kids News.
I also prepared a lesson for the week after March Break, making use of a third idea I picked up at the conference, namely the poem from non-fiction text keywords. (Stay tuned for upcoming blog post and student samples in a few weeks!!)
I am excited about my renewed instructional repertoire, and I look forward to refining these new strategies in my classroom and beyond. Yep, just put me on the fast track to the refinement and integration phases of CBAM!
Inviting Kathleen Wynne to Dinner
Kathleen Wynne’s coming for dinner. Or at least, she could be, according to my kids!
Alex and Simon hear so much “shop talk” at home with two teacher parents, and they are so used to the networking second nature of their extravert Mommy that it seemed only natural to them that, as they heard us wondering aloud about our new provincial premier , we should invite her to dinner.
“But I don’t even know her!” I protested when one of the boys suggested the plan.
“Chat her up, Mommy! You’re good at that!” he pointed out, completely oblivious to the fact that perhaps his mom, even as much of a social butterfly as she was, might not ever come into personal contact with the political leader of the province he lives in!!!
I also explained to the boys that a political leader has a very busy public life, with little time for personal social engagements like dinner with people she hardly knows. There are meetings to attend, letters to write, inequitable bills to craft and pass… you get the idea.
The boys, however, seemed not to consider that these obligations ran on weekends too, rather than just Monday to Friday: They suggested I call her up right now, and invite her now, tonight, or maybe tomorrow (Sunday).
While I enjoy the sweet innocence of my children, I will confess that I am not likely to follow up on their suggestion.
After all, Kathleen Wynne is not the only busy dyke in this province. ;-P
An Afternoon with the Russians
Although the touted shadow puppets turned out to be a bit of a misleading advertisement (of the 14 pieces featured, only two boasted the use of shadow puppets as an accompaniment!) Simon, Alex and I nevertheless enjoyed the TSO’s most recent children’s concert.
On the programme was Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmilla. Excerpts from various works by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake) and Mussorgksy were also featured, in some cases, they were accompanied by puppets from the Windsor Dance eXperience.
As I sat listening to the music, it occurred to me that the Russian orchestral composers really knew their percussion… like a smattering of fine herbs to bring out the essence in a gourmet meal, these composers knew exactly which ping, clack or rachet would effectively flavour every bar of their eclectic music. As a percussionist myself, I was pleased to see -- in addition to a busy timpanist -- four other percussionists on the stage throughout the concert. They were kept busy throughout the concert with triangles, rachets, various snare drums and an assortment of other instruments.
From our elevated side view (read: nosebleed seats in a side balcony), we could see both the puppets and the musicians quite well. I was pleased to have an unobstructed bird’s eye view of the percussion section throughout the performance!
Reading the Anne books of LM Montgomery made me a Canadian.” (Adrienne Clarkson)
My first Introduction to Reading for the Love of It (RFTLOI), one of Canada’s largest reading conferences for educators, was as a student teacher at OISE nearly two decades ago, where I and a few of my fellow pre-service teacher candidates were invited by Larry Swartz to help out with room set ups and speaker introductions.
It was the first “teacher conference” I had been to, and I was very impressed with the size and the scope of the event.
Over the years, I have attended RFTLOI several times, and I continue to be very impressed with this 2-day conference. The presenters and key note speakers are numerous and varied, and the exhibitors' display is an enormous conglomeration of the expected and the eccentric. Freebies and prizes are in abundance at the latter; food for thought is made available in abundance at the former.
Now at such events, I see many people I have met and/or worked with other the years. It is fun to learn new things, rediscover old favourites, meet new people, and reconnect with, well, more "old favourites" from various points in my teaching career thus far.
It’s been a while since I attended a literacy workshop. Especially with this year’s TLLP project focus, there seems to be little time for much else. But I decided to attend this year’s event, just to broaden my narrowing horizons a little, and also to socialize with colleagues I don’t always get a chance to talk with in great detail (6 teachers from our school attended this year’s event!)
What follows is a synopsis of the sessions I attended, for anyone interested in reading about what I got out of them. (Please note my attention span is fairly limited, and I am easily distracted, so in many cases I took only very cursory notes, or I focussed mainly on the beginnings of sessions, before my mind wandered to my classroom, my teaching practice, the focus for my math project, an upcoming workshop I have to facilitate, preparing for Argentina and home-schooling my own two kids next year, flying, the concert I am going to this weekend, PEI, etc., etc., etc.)
Over the two days, I attended 7 sessions including, but not limited to, Sharon Taberski, Karen Hume and David Sousa… I have included relevant links below, i.e. to speakers's sites, so that the reader can pursue more on his or her own, if so desired.
Learning to Play "Chest"
Alex is learning to play chess (or, as he calls it and it’s so cute we don’t want to correct him, ‘chest’).
Tonight, he brought home his chess set, a laminated roll-up affair with numbered and lettered squares that help to describe the movement of pieces. In an effort to teach me to play (I know nothing about the game, so it was an easy assignment; I was bound to learn something), Alex set up the board, confidently describing where each piece goes, and how best to remember where each piece goes.
But in order to understand the game, it was best to begin with the pawns, he explained to me, soon removing the other pieces from the game board. We’d best try “pawn challenge” first, he decided, as this was a warm up game to introduce new players to “chest”.
We did the pawns challenge, and in fact, it really did illustrate quite nicely how this piece works.
I am looking forward to learning more about this age-old game from my 8-year-old, who seems to be picking up quickly, and is eager to share his new-found expertise!
Medieval Life... Online!
In planning ahead for a year of home-schooling my two 9-year-olds next year, I have begun digging around for apps that might act as a useful resource. This past week, I stumbled upon a company called iHome Educators Inc., a family team that develops apps to support teachers and home-schoolers.
Their timeline app is just the sort of thing I was hoping to find, to supplement my Medieval Times unit, since this a topic addressed in the Grade 4 Social Studies curriculum in Ontario.
Jane Goodall Wins by a Long Shot!
Seeing as how there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and considering that I want students to feel as though they have some say over their classroom content, I once again set up a vote for read-alouds.
Selecting books from our intended “February List”, I wrote up and displayed a brief blurb about each one, then had students vote on the ones they most wanted to read aloud and discuss together.
Jane Goodall's "The Chimpanzees I Love" won by a long shot (and, well, yes, my description of that one was admittedly more passionate than the others, hehe), followed by a tie for second place between "A+ Custodian" and "Those Shoes".
In addition to our current daily read-aloud (C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"), we'll read all three picture book winners over the coming weeks, and use them as the basis for both grand conversations and CAFE reading strategy lessons.
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!)
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.