Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa! And moving on....

Ok...I confess...I have stopped doing the book study. Just not into it for some reason. Plus, I feel pretty good about the dendrites I am building in my classroom right now!

So, no more guilt about not posting my chapter responses (hence the long absence from posting since I figured I should be posting about the book study!!! Aaaah...shoulda, woulda, coulda...) and moving on to new things...

I have recently started reading the book The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton to the class. Have you ever read it?

Image result for the secret world of og
click here to find it online

It is a true Canadian classic written in 1961. It is the story of four children who go on an adventure to rescue their baby brother who went through a trapdoor in the floor of their playhouse. The trapdoor leads to a secret underground world filled with mysterious little green people.

I am loving reading it again and am really enjoying watching the faces of the students as the adventure progresses. One of these days I am going to get them to draw what they are visualizing as I read since I know that their imaginations are in overdrive listening!

This book holds a special place in my childhood memory. In grade 5, I found myself  in a new school, that I really didn't like, with a teacher named Mrs. Gordon whom I didn't really like all that much either! I think she might be one of the reasons I went into teaching as I seem to recall the teachers I didn't like more than the ones I did. I guess I was inspired to NOT be like them!!!! But I digress....

One of my only positive memories of that year is of Mrs. Gordon sitting in the front of the class on a stool, reading to us from her copy of The Secret World of Og. Back then it had only been around for around 20 years (do the math and you can figure out how old I am!!!!) After she read us the book, we wrote letters to the author and Mrs. Gordon sent them off to his publisher. I will always remember the day the reply arrived. A letter for us! Written by Pierre Berton! On bright Og-green writing paper with a little drawing of a man from Og in the bottom corner. Oh! The excitement! 

The only other late elementary memory that comes close to topping my Og one is when Gordon Korman came to talk to our class about his book This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. He was only about 18 years old and had already written a chapter book (at age 12!) and published it! Wow! But that is a story for another day....  

Anywho, if you have never read The Secret World of Og then what are you waiting for? Go read it!!! And, if you have read it, go read it again! You won't be sorry. I promise!



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My bad....Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapter 9 Mnemonic Devices & Chapter 10 Movement

Okay, clearly I was on some other planet when I thought I was almost caught up with these. They are on Chapter 11 today people!!!! Seems I might have been only 2 chapters behind when I wrote the post for Chapter 8 on the weekend but, in the meantime, two more chapters have been done! Yikes!!!

So, I am going to do a combo post about Chapters 9 & 10 (note - I just double checked the schedule and EVERYONE did chapters 9 & 10 together! Seriously, I think I need my brain examined. It seems to be on the fritz lately!!!) AND...I am going to remember to link up. I keep writing the posts and then forgetting to link up to the hosting blog. Double Yikes!(note - just tried to link up and the linking system isn't working! Isn't that just the way?!?)

This will be short and snappy. I'm not even going to fill in the cutesy form for these two chapters. Mostly because I pretty much don't know what I would put on it!

Hmmm...Mnemonic Devices....Can't really say I use these much. In fact, can't really say that I use these at all. See wasn't that an easy chapter to write about?

I'll have to hop over to some of the other blogs participating to see what kind of mnemonic devices they use in grades 1 & 2. Honestly, besides good old Roy G. Biv for teaching the colours of the rainbow, I am at a total loss on this one.

On to movement!!!!

I do incorporate movement a lot but know I could do more. Some of the things we do are things like brain breaks (I am still trying to incorporate Go Noodle more in my room. Still need to work on this!) You can check out a little of it here in this youtube video...

We also have impromptu stretching times (usually in the middle of a lesson when the class is super squirmy) and impromptu dance parties (usually during Community Centres on a Friday afternoon). I also do things like put on boppier music when kids are working on something that does not require vast amounts of concentration. Like today the grade 1's were doing a very simple cut and paste on the seasons. It didn't require as much brain energy as writing or reading would have so I popped on my marimba cd and the kids took dancing breaks when they needed one!

I do want to add more yoga into our routine. Especially the parts of yoga that will help with focus and calming down (things like breathing techniques). 

Anywho, there it is..short and sweet today. Now I'll do another chapter tomorrow and be all caught up. Yay me!!!!



Monday, April 6, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapter 8: Metaphors, Analogies and Similes

OMG! I was sure I was at least 4 chapters behind in this study but turns out I just missed two! Yay me! Catching up won't be nearly as hard as I thought =)

So, backtracking to Chapter 8: Metaphors, Similes and Analogies.

Here's my thinking...

I think I use this strategy more than I think I do. I know that I use metaphors, analogies and similes in daily conversation a lot but also know that I could stand to improve on using these strategies deliberately.

So, here's what I know I do:

Reading strategies...I use the Beanie Baby strategies for teaching the different reading tricks for solving difficult words. These trading cards for six of the strategies are from Let's Get Fancy in First. She has strategy bookmarks that you can send home to parents. I am so going to do that this year!
I love using the animals to help the kids connect to the strategy. It really does help them to remember all of them! As with so many things this year, I haven't taught it as in depth as I have other years but we are currently reviewing all of the strategies during our Daily 5 mini-lessons. 

I also like to use the PB&J Sandwich analogy for teaching reading. I tell the kids that reading is like a sandwich. One side is the reading of the words (decoding) and the other is the understanding (comprehension). In the middle are all of the parts of the writing (story, plot, characters, setting etc.) I tell them without both sides they just have a one sided sandwich and that they need all three parts for the reading to be meaningful. This always works! What kid doesn't know what a PB&J is?

Making connections...we do this ALL OF THE TIME in our Literature books. We connect to our own lives and other stories. We are beginning to work on connecting to the outside world as well. I love to use good literature to help the students make meaningful connections. It improves their understanding of the story and also helps them to remember it!

Poetry writing...we are doing this right now. And I use the same book recommended by the author for one of my poetry lessons. It is called Quick as a Cricket and is by Audrey and Don Wood. 


It is a great way to get the kids to think about all the parts of themselves that make them unique. 

Another book I use every year is called The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn. It is perfect for the start of the year since it is about a ladybug who doesn't want to do what it should (fly) and so hops rides on other animals only to find that none of the other animals works out for her. It is about doing it yourself and finding your own strength. After reading the book, if a student is not doing their best I tell them not to be "a lazy ladybug" and they know exactly what I mean. Works like a charm every time!

Behaviour strategies...this is one where I do a lot of verbal use of this strategies. Like telling the class if they are "as quiet as mice" when they come to the carpet they will get a smilie on the board (not sure mice is the best example here since they often come to the carpet squeaking!!!) 

Ways to improve...too many!!! I don't really use this strategy for teaching concepts (or at least I don't do so consciously) and know that this is an area in which I can stand to improve.

Especially given that the author makes a point of saying that this strategy is one of the most effective of all 20 strategies. So, I have some learning and practice to put in where this one is concerned...



Sunday, April 5, 2015


I am a few days late linking up but here is the latest Currently link up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

listening...I have a bunch of playlists on iTunes. The yoga one is a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, I have been listening to it but NOT doing the yoga part! See my comments on needing below....

loving...I was so darn tired all last week and am so glad that it is a four day weekend! I slept all of Friday and much of Saturday, too. Now I get to have two days of weekend while I am awake!

thinking...I have been participating in the book study Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites and am falling so behind on linking up for each chapter. This week will be a bunch of catch up posts. Stay tuned....

wanting...I hate allergies!!! I especially hate that I didn't get any of them until my 30's. I was doing just fine without them, thank you very much! It's bad enough dealing with the dust allergy all year long but throw in the pollens etc in the Spring and I am one unhappy camper. And they are especially bad in our home office right now so I avoid coming down here to use the computer, hence my not posting as often! Ugh!!!

needing...this one is pretty self explanatory. I have been feeling sluggish, blah and generally not good for awhile now and I know that it is in part due to my self care (or lack thereof!) I haven't been exercising enough, getting enough sleep or eating enough of the right stuff. So, this month I am going to get my act in gear and get back to taking care of me.

Eggs-plain my name...well, the blog one, anywho. Many, many years ago (in my last school) I had a wonderful colleague who would hide turtles all over my classroom for me to find. I was going through some tough times and the turtles were meant to remind me to persevere. You know, that whole slow and steady wins the race thing...To this day, when I see a turtle, I think of her and what a strong, steadying support in my life she was during those early years in my teaching career. I used to call her my "other mother, mentor, friend" and know that I am a better person (and teacher) for having had her guidance and support during my first 8 years of teaching. I still miss teaching with her!

Well, then students started giving me turtles as gifts and, before I knew it, turtles had become my "thing". The funny thing is that everyone always assumed that turtles are my favourite animal. I like them well enough but am not sure they are my fave. Not really sure I have a favourite animal...

When I moved to my current school, my classroom got christened Turtlepond, and I found myself with a turtle shaped swimming pool (a class gift one year) filled with turtle fabric covered pillows, a multitude of stuffed turtles (over 40 by the time we moved to the new building) and more metal, glass and wood turtles than you would believe.

The move to the new building (and the community model of teaching) got rid of my themed classroom but I kept the blog name and still have a few special turtles around my current room. But my classroom is no longer known as Turtlepond and I very rarely get turtles as gifts any more, though I did get two beautiful Swarovski crystal turtles for my birthday this year from one student (her older brother was in Turtlepond a few years back so her family knows about the whole turtle thing!)

It's funny, though, because the primary monitors working in my class this term were all reminiscing about Turtlepond and all we did there when they were in Grade 1 in the old building. And I had a parent tell me that the turtle shaped name tag from grade 1 still hangs on her grade 4 son's door AND he still sleeps with the stuffed turtle he got from me (I let the kids in the class the year we moved buildings each take a stuffed turtle home with them) on his bed. So, while the pond doesn't exist anymore, it is still living on in the happy memories of former students which makes me feel great!

And there is another month of Currently for you!