They soon found their loot, and sat down to enjoy a delicious breakfast of CHOCOLATE!!!
Despite staying up late to watch the passion play at Queensway Cathedral last night, the boys were up bright and early to search for Easter Clues...
They soon found their loot, and sat down to enjoy a delicious breakfast of CHOCOLATE!!!
Happy Birthday to Me!
For my 40th, I'm hoping for 40 books to take to Argentina next year to homeschool Alex and Simon.
Once we've finished using the books, our plan is to leave most of them behind, donating them to a local school or library down there.
The list includes books about Canada, non-fiction texts on Grade 4 Science topics, socially sensitive picture books, and an assortment of age-appropriate novels.
I got about 14 of the books from my list for my birthday this morning. Yay!
If you're looking for a small gift to make to a practical purpose and a good cause, please check out my amazon wish list here. Thanks for looking.
Tree Climbing and Airplane Flying
The boys climb a tree near the playground city side, before heading over to CYTZ, where Tats took each of the four of them up in a Cessna 150 today. Boy, were they ever excited!
So, it turns out “21 century skills” is not just the latest edu-catch phrase, as I discovered while working with my two sons on a project for German School this afternoon.
Just ‘cause your kid’s gifted, don’t mean he ain’t lacking major skills!!!
After spending a frustrating hour toiling away on a research project for Saturday Morning Language school with my boys, I realised that both of them have no idea how to search for information online, nor how to take jot notes from written text and photos.
I am stunned!
Simon and Alex each and collectively have an immense body of knowledge spanning the usual suspects like Superheroes, dinosaurs and animals as well as more atypical topics, like death, Art, germs…
This is in contrast to the vast majority of my students, who have quite limited schema about some things one would think they knew a little more about, like where Mississauga is in relation to the country they came from (no, it's not in the USA, kids!!!), or that 11:30 p.m. is not a normal bed time for an 8-year-old, or that a bag of candy, some chips and a nutella sandwhich on white bread does not constitute a balanced lunch.
But, slow and struggling as they may be in some areas, my Grade 3s can all search for things online, and know how to click on a website to find information. And many of them can take key words from a non-fiction text, and turn those words into informational sentences about the text in their ”personal voice”. (Some of their “research” even accurately summarizes the original content of their sources!)
Alex and Simon, on the other hand, whose scores on a recent psych-ed assessment were both well above the 99th percentile, allegedly, have mastered finding Youtube videos about Wii games they enjoy playing, but were unable to Google information about Austria and Switzerland. Finding even basic information, like the name of the capital cities of these two countries they are supposed to complete a research project on, eluded them!!!
Frustrating as this experience was for me (and for them!), it gave me hope: By teaching the students in my classroom how to find information they don’t have, and how to interact with that information in order to make meaning of it, I am opening doors for them which even some “smart” kids won’t be able to access, if their school and/or home experience does not equip them with the tools to open said doors of knowledge and information.
Never in a million years did I think I would find myself sitting next to a computer, doing a “gradual release of responsibility” reading lessons on Internet research with my own two kids!!!
Spent an hour at Weston Rd Public Library this evening, and finally experienced some synergy in a complex situation. We've been trying to coordinate some decent volunteers to help out a family with twins and triplets I sometimes support, but it's been a bit like pulling teeth: A perpetual lack of committed and qualified volunteers all available on the same weeknight has stalled our plan for a simultaneous "group" session for over a year.
Ahhh, but tonight, things finally came together...
My co-volunteer and I both brought our own twins to the library, and met the twiplets mom there with her brood. Her older two were soon hooked up with a former Tyndale student of mine, who is running a mini guided reading group with them to help with some decoding and comprehension skills.
While the "big" twins were reading upstairs, the triplets and our two sets of "little" twins amused themselves in the rather noisy children's section of the old library, downstairs. This arrangement enabled my my co-volunteer to help mom sort through some of the MANY forms and official school records she had collected for each boy, but which had hitherto no organized "home". (They now live in clearly labled blue files, one for each child, housed together in a large, zippered, maroon courier envelope.)
The deal sealer came in the form of another volunteer, an expressive arts therapist, who has volunteered to do some work with the triplets, now in Grade Two. Having the twins out at the library once a week frees up some space in the rather tight family home for her to work with the three younger boys, using a combination of music, drama, dance and visual art. No doubt it will be an enriching and unique experience for all involved!
This synergistic arrangement is only set to run for 6-8 weeks, however, it really brings some structure and growth into the usually chaotic and somewhat restricted lives of these five delightful boys, not to mention a weekly, 45-minute reprieve for
Awww.... it's cute, even in Winter
Reading a professional article about a particular instructional strategy and actually experiencing it first hand in your classroom are two entirely different things… so it was for me this afternoon after school, as I sat at my desk, assessing a stack of student work that had piled up over the past week or so.
In question were two particular pieces of writing students had completed:
The first was a sort of meta-cognitive exercise, a letter written to me about activities undertaken at school last week, and which Learning Skills students needed to participate effectively in these activities. We had preceded the writing exercise with lots of talk, first a group brainstorming session, and then, the opportunity to discuss both activities and learning skills used, with a partner, before actually writing me the letter.
The second writing task involved students summarizing a fairly high-interest passage about which they had some previous schema, but about which we did not really spend any time engaged in oral language immediately preceding the written task. Students were allowed and encouraged to jot down key words on a sticky note as they read the passage, for use when they summarized it afterwards.
I marked the more recent piece, the summary, first, since we’ve been working on summarizing text using key words a lot lately.
Many of the students did surprisingly well, and I was pleased to see that the key word strategy had apparently been working, though some of the usual suspects showed the typical struggles in their work. A few of the students in particular wrote in rather a disorganized fashion, even though they are generally decent readers.
Then I marked the earlier piece of writing, the letter to me that had been preceded by lots of talk.
WOW, was I ever surprised!
The difference, especially for the kids whose summary demonstrated considerable difficulty, was profound: Whereas the summaries lacked topic sentences and conclusions, the letters were well organized and made sense. The ideas in the letters were well-laid out, but the ideas in the summaries bounced around a lot. In some cases, even the handwriting showed noticeably differently, as in the two samples above, both written by the same student!
Although the tasks were not identical, it seems clear to me that the extensive talk students engaged in before the writing of the letter generated far better quality of writing than the task that was not preceded by an oral language experience.
My reading of ESL literature confirms this supposition, and I am curious to try it out in more similar tasks, to compare the results. I also intend to make more time for oral language in my writing program, and link written tasks to writing where possible.
Busted... by a Student!
This is the note I found on my desk after engaging in an apparently too-loud confessional with my colleague in the hall, about having devoured my stash of gummie bears and german chocolate -- intended to supply me with an occasional treat from my desk drawer for the next three months -- in THREE DAYS!!! :-)
When I was in my late teens, I traveled to southern Germany to work, for a few months, at a small hotel in the Alps. Away from home and on my own for the first time, it was in many ways a life changing experience.
During this time, my mother sent me a card in the mail with a Marcel Proust quote:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
I have often wrestled with this quote over the years since that summer for, as someone who enjoys "seeking new landscapes", it made me wonder if my travels were somehow frivilous or unnecessary. Was I just too shallow to see the existing landscape with new eyes, I wondered?
But today I read a quote from the son of a man who's just on his way home after walking around the globe (yes, on foot!) Asked what he thought of his father's eccentric, 11-year journey, he replied, "Often, without travelling, the media can impose a point of view".
This made me realise once again just how important travel, if possible, can be.
Many people have marveled at my desire to take my two 9-year-olds to Argentina for a school year, and their dad's alleged support of this apparently hair-brained scheme. But I can already see the impact of media and peer group on Alex and Simon's points of view, despite their fairly "liberal" family, and I desperately want to broaden their horizons while they are still young enough for it to make a powerful impact.
I am also not so arrogant as to think that I have nothing to learn from this next adventure: It will be the longest time I am away from "home", and in particular, living in a language that is not English or German.
Inevitably, there will be challenges to face, both philosophical and practical, along the way. But I am convinced that one of the best ways to see the old landscape with new eyes is to experience new landscapes that shape one's perspective.
New Landscape -- Here we Come!
A Cacophony of Birds
Although I plan to show my Grade 3’s photos of my trip to Europe, I also want to share with them some inspiration for a writing exercise, on “small moments”. Sometimes, the best photos are created in our minds, an the episode below is not one I caught on film.
I hope to share it with my students next week, and have them consider a “small moment” which they would like to write about, too.
A moment of my recent trip to Europe that will forever stand out in my mind is the “Bird Wall”, a wall outside our hotel room in Paris. When we got back to our room the first evening after a full day of sightseeing, we opened the door and were greeted with the noisy evening chatter of a hundred birds! We’d left the window open, and so we could hear them singing in the courtyard outside when we arrived. The wall across the yard from our hotel room was covered in ivy plants, and a variety of feathered friends lived there, making their music each evening and late into the night. Such a cacophony I’ve rarely heard, but I enjoyed this special symphony tremendously!
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.