Saturday, October 29, 2011

Exercises in Frustration

This past week was a long one. Too many long hours at work, not enough sleep and a migraine sandwiched in the middle. It was one of those weeks when the activities that usually run smoothly felt like they were covered in speed bumps. Everything seemed to take longer, the kids seemed to talk more, nothing seemed to get done quite the way I intended or envisioned.

This was especially true with two of the lessons we did. One was an art lesson on illusion that all of the students in Divisions 13, 14 and 15 did. The task was to draw 7 pumpkins so that they look like they are sitting in a v shape. Sounds easy enough, right?

We had the lesson together as one big group and then went off to our individual rooms to do the actual art. It quickly became apparent that this lesson would have turned out better (for my sanity!) if I had done it as a teacher directed step by step activity. The class had a lot of trouble remembering all of the instructions and, while the samples did not look difficult, the actual creating of the illusion was tricky for a lot of them. I felt very frazzled by the end of the activity. Lesson learned. Even with all the frustration I was pleased with the finished results; the class should be proud of them, too. It was not an easy activity! Here are some examples:

The second activity that felt like it was not going AT ALL as I had anticipated was a math activity that involved following step by step instructions. The whole group was having some major issues with talking on the day that we did this. It was the morning after I had been away due to my migraine (note to self: never, ever, ever try to do a teacher directed lesson the day after having an EOC teaching my class). The lesson I thought would take about 25 minutes took nearly an hour. Can you say frustration?!?! However, the final result are some pretty cute shape monsters. Check them out...

And some close ups...

 I am hoping for a calmer week next week - although I am really not sure that calm and Halloween are possible!!!! Regardless of how the week rolls out, I know that I will be more rested with all the sleeping I am getting in this weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scholastic Book Fair & Halloween Activities

The PAC is running a Scholastic Book Fair for this entire week. If you have the opportunity, take a moment to visit before school, at lunch or at hometime. There are some wonderful reads to be had at very reasonable prices. As we are not yet doing Scholastic Book Clubs this year, due to job action, this may be your only chance to check out the great deals Scholastic offers! Happy Reading!!!!

Halloween is Coming!!!

On Monday, October 31st, we will be doing Halloween stations from 10:45 - 12:00 and again from 1:00 - 2:00. We need parent volunteers! If you are able to help out please sign up on the Parent Board in our classroom.

We also need food items for our Halloween party in the afternoon. There is a sign up list for this on the Parent Board as well.

Thanks ahead of time for your help in making Halloween a fun event at school!

Friday, October 21, 2011

It is funny how 4 day teaching weeks seem significantly longer than the regular 5 day week. Maybe it is because we are trying to jam even more stuff in? Or maybe it is just indicative of my needing to sleep more!!!!!

We made a Halloween project with our grade 4 buddies last Monday. I have seen these before and they always look so difficult to do. Imagine my surprise when I learned how easy they are to make!

We have also been very busy learning more Word Work activities in Daily 5. We are now doing the following:
 - word sorts
This is the simple version where the students cut and paste (or copy) the given words into the correct columns. We were doing a vowel sort this week.

This is an example of a student working beyond the basic activity. She has looked all around the room and in books to find as many words as she can for the vowel sort.

- word tally
Students choose a book and then read it, making a tally mark every time they find one of the words on the list. Eventually, I will have them create their own word choices but, right now, I am giving them basic sight words to find.

I have also introduced building new words using the letters from another word but forgot to take pics. Next week we will start clipboard cruising and probably stamping words.

In math, we did a glyph this week. It is a scarecrow glyph. I like to do it in the fall. It makes such a great wall display! And gives me such a good indication of which students have good listening skills and which ones need work!

Well, that is it for now. Have a great weekend!
Ms. Hughes

Monday, October 17, 2011

Photo Proofs sent home today...

Students were sent home with their photo proofs today. If you are planning to order, please fill in the forms and RETURN THEM TO THE OFFICE before Monday, October, 24.

If your child needs to have a retake done (if their eyes are closed or hair in their face etc) then they can have a new photo taken on November 3.

Friday, October 14, 2011

As promised, a few pictures of the totems that the grade 1's in Division 13, 14 & 15 created in Social Studies. I love all the colours and individuality that came out in their work!

This afternoon my class did hand print Autumn trees. I wanted to do a really simple art project because so many of the kids had work they still need to finish before they could go to choosing time. (Don't know if it was a full moon this week or what but there was not a single kid in the class that got all their work done in the assigned time. And I know that they had plenty of time to finish if they spent the time working and not chatting!!)

I just think that there is just something about art made with a child's hands, you know? When I look at the things my daughter made at this age it is hard to believe that she now has hands as big as mine! These will definitely go into the students' scrapbooks!

Ms. Hughes

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Social Studies was a blast today!

So, I was talking the other day about having to change up my lessons on Canadian symbols because I am teaching it earlier in the year than usual. The group of grade 1's is not quite ready for the lessons I usually teach. Today we were learning about totem poles. I came up with a new lesson and it was a BIG hit with all of the grade 1's.

First, we watched these two youtube videos.

Then we talked about what we noticed about totem poles in the videos. We talked about colour and shape. They were very observant!

Our last activity was to choose from a variety of eyes, noses, mouths etc and create our own totems. Some were so into it that they made two!!!! We didn't get them all finished so we will finish them up tomorrow. I will post some pictures then. It was my favourite lesson on Canadian symbols yet!

Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today in class I read the book Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon as part of our Healthy Living lesson. I am so glad that I did because a little later in the day one of the students cut off a big chunk of his beautiful blond hair. He has a great look - all long and shaggy like in the 70's. Only today, one of the other students asked him if he was a boy or a girl. Hence the hair cutting later in the day.

I was glad that I had read Molly Lou earlier because it is the story of a girl who is very small, with buck teeth and a voice like a bull frog being squeezed. She is not a girl who looks like anyone else. Throughout the story her grandmother tells her to be true to herself and others will follow. When she moves to a new school and is bullied by one of the students she just keeps on going being herself and, in the end, the bully's behaviour changes and he becomes her friend.

Ms. Hughes
I have discovered the best way to keep lesson plans. For years I would draw out a weekly schedule and then painstakingly print in each activity. There were inevitably changes on a weekly basis for the first few months and white out was my best friend!

Then I started creating my weekly plans on my computer. Much easier but still needed lots of cutting and pasting as I had to change columns etc as the weeks went on. And another big negative was that my plans were saved on my computer at school and could only be accessed by me with my user name and password. This was really difficult on days when I was away as my sub couldn't access my weekly plans. I would have to get up (no matter how ill I was) and create an email to send in to my secretary with the plans. A major inconvenience and not always easy to do when I was sick!!!!

This year I have discover planbookedu and have been using it. I love, love, love it!!! First of all, I can easily access it at home or school. Secondly, it lets me attach files and links right to the lesson plans. Third, it is so easy!!!  Check out a sample of an upcoming week in October here. And have I mentioned how much I like being able to colour code? I live to colour code and organize!!!

If you have been thinking about entering the world of technology with your planning then this is the site to start with. You will not regret it!

Ms. Hughes

p.s. I need to just add that I am not in any way connected to planbookedu. I just am a very happy camper with the $25 I spent to create my plans for this school year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Just back from a relaxing long weekend away (where I am proud to say I did NO school work of any kind!) and, of course, I was checking out my education sites and blogs within minutes of getting home!!! It is always nice to get away but it is equally nice to come home and start planning and thinking about what we will be doing in class in the coming weeks.

This week the grade 1's will be finishing our study of Canadian symbols. So far we have learned about the maple leaf, hockey,and the animals buffalo, caribou, Canada goose, loon, beaver and polar bear. This week we will be finishing off with the R.C.M.P., the totem pole and Canadian money.

It is amazing how different my teaching methods have had to be for this unit. Most years, I teach this unit later in the year - in February or March - and the students are ready for more higher level thinking. This early in the year they just aren't ready. The result has been my having to change each lesson to better meet the needs of the students right now and make sure that they are learning the required curriculum. It will be interesting to see how this group has grown when I get them again in a couple of months!

Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Introducing C.A.F.E.

Today we learned about the Reading C.A.F.E. in Daily 5. I have it up on a board that looks like this... It is the "menu" of reading strategies that good readers use all the time. I want the class to be aware of the strategies and start to see which ones they are good at and which ones they need work on.

C is for Comprehension. A is for Accuracy & Awareness. F is for Fluency. E is for Expanding Vocabulary. I have wanted to add this dimension to the Daily 5 ever since I first read about it on the Daily 5 site. I have had the best of intentions each year but somehow have just never got it together. Well, this year is THE year!

We learned about two strategies today for Comprehension. One is the Picture Walk which readers do to determine if they are interested in a picture book and also to give them a hint of what the story might be about. This strategy is one of the prediction strategies.

And we started to learn about the 5 Reading Powers. We started with the strategy of making text to self connections. I read the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by JudithViorst and shared my connections with the class. It is hard to get the idea of us "thinking about our thinking" but it is so important to put our thinking into words to help us be better readers.
The class all liked me sharing stories about my childhood that came up as my connections. I loved the chorus of "me, too" that I heard when I was telling them about my sneaky older brother who would tease me until I yelled and then I would get sent to my room while he just sat there looking innocent!!!! Obviously the sibling relationship hasn't changed all that much in 30 years!

Tomorrow I am going to re-read the story and have the class give their connections. I know that they were already thinking of them because so many hands went up when the story was finished. They were not happy to have to wait a whole day to hear the story and get their turn but the bell was about to ring and lunch was calling!

I am loving, loving, loving how into reading this group is. Reading has always been such a huge part of my life and I love being able to share that love with my students. The world may be moving towards books on computer devices but I don't think that anything can ever replace the feeling of holding a book in your hands and feeling like the author is speaking right to you. Of flipping through the pages as fast as you can read because you can't wait to find out how it ends. Of walking through a library and seeing all the wonderful book spines just waiting for you to reach for them and pull them out. Nothing can beat the feeling of reading a book. Nothing. 

Ms. Hughes

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Cutest Turkeys Ever!

Look at these wonderful turkeys my class did last week with the guest teacher. I am always a bit worried when I leave a new task for a sub because I have had some guest teachers who did the exact opposite of what I asked! But the sub I had last week was awesome!!!

They brainstormed things for which they are thankful and wrote them on the tail feathers before doing the turkey craft. They were thankful for school - trees - gardens - sea creatures - playing with cars - themselves - vegetables - their parents - dogs - peace - their parents for making money - water - cats - their house - turtles - air - life - turkey - beds - food - candy - the stars and moon - electricity - books to read and the Earth just to name a few! Reading these just warms the heart doesn't it?

Ms. Hughes

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It is amazing to me that October is here already! Where did the first few weeks of school go? It seems that every year of teaching goes faster than the one before. I am happy to say that even with the job action that teachers here in BC are currently doing, our school year started smoothly and everything in the classroom is moving along as always.

Friday was our Terry Fox Run at school. We walked over to a nearby park and did the run. If you don't know about Terry Fox, he is a true Canadian hero. His story is inspiring and we do a run in his honour each year. It is a way to pay tribute to him and also raise money in the fight against cancer. Check out this wonderful video about Terry Fox on youtube here.

With job action we were not allowed to collect donations this year so all families had to donate online. I hope that we did well with donations. Our school has a wonderful reputation as a big fundraising school. I hope that we have kept the tradition alive with this latest fundraiser to help find a cure for cancer.

After missing two days of school last week trying to get over this cold (I am still fighting it but am definitely on the mend) I forced myself to stay late on Friday to hang up our self-portraits. I was seriously exhausted after doing the Terry Fox run in the morning and having our first pizza day at lunch but I was determined! I finally finished around 6pm and headed home. It was a late day but worth it. They are so wonderful and add such a nice tone to our walls. I tried to put these into a slide show but for some reason my computer won't copy the video over to the blog. I finally gave up and uploaded all the self-portraits. Check them out. Aren't they wonderful?

I am missing one self-portrait for a student who came into our class after we made these. I will have to get him to do one this week.

In other class news, we are working on patterns and sorting. Tomorrow I am going to put more time into getting our math stations going. We have been doing lots of small group activities but I have yet to have them practice the actual routine of doing the math stations. This week my goal is to get the math stations up and running. I am using my previous methods for teaching math combined with things I have learned from Laney Sammon's Guided Math books and the book Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller. I have very high expectations for my math program and know that this class will quickly figure out the station rotation and get to work. Wish me luck!

I will be using the book The Button Box on Tuesday for our Math & Literature lesson. I created a couple of worksheets for the students to use after we have worked with real buttons sorting them by different attributes. If you would like to have a copy of the assorted buttons click here. The kids will get to decide on the attribute they will use to sort the buttons. Shape, colour, design etc. I will post some pics when I have them!

I have been teaching the grade 1's their first Social Studies unit. Twice a week, we group all the 1's together with me while the 2's go to the other two teachers in our pod. The grade 1's are learning about Canadian symbols. So far we have learned about the maple leaf and Canadian flag. We have also learned about some Canadian animals. This week we will be learning about hockey. I expect that most of the kids can teach this part! I am sure that they know more than i do about the sport!!!!

Here's to finally getting over this cold and having a good week!

Ms. Hughes