Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Two reasons to smile.

While I'm sure that I can actually find far more than 2 reasons to smile I'm only going to share two with you right now.

1. Last week a colleague brought me a piece of paper. I thought this was kind of odd, especially when she said it was from one of her students (who is also a former student of mine). When I opened it up I was surprised and full of joy. This letter was written to me.

I've heard many teacher tells stories of how students come up to them years after they have taught them and told stories of their time in class. Well this is a student that I taught only 2 years ago. But to have a heart-felt letter like this written to me was an honour. There are definitely days when I'm frustrated and don't know if this whole teaching thing is for me. But then you get something like this and it makes it all better. I will forever keep this letter in a safe place so on those bad days I can smile because I have made a difference in someone's life.

2. Yesterday it was COLD here in Manitoba. We're talking -42C with the windchill. Well, luckily for teachers, days like this result in no school for the kids. It's a bonus day to get stuff done at school that you might not normally have time to do, or at least you don't have to take it home to finish it up. While somehow my list still seems very long (as it always is!), one thing did get finished in my classroom yesterday.

My Smartboard!!!! I'm so excited about this. You remember how earlier last fall I said " the best way to get something from your principal is to ask"? Well I did, and this is what I got! 
I've been waiting since the end of October for this baby. After some problems with the manufacturer, it was delivered right after Christmas break only to find that one of the chords was too short and didn't reach my desk so I had to wait. Well luckily for me no kids at school meant that the tech guys from the division office were able to come and install the new chord for me! This just made my day. The bad news, this morning I won't be at school so I can't even show it to the kids right away. They will have to wait until Wednesday. They are going to be SO pumped.

Now my job is to find some amazing things to do with it. So if anyone out there has out of this world ideas that they use their board for, I'd love to hear them.

Needless to say, I'm in a pretty good mood right now! Happy Monday! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Partner Work

Grade 2 social studies is all about communities.

We are still working at learning more about our community. Right now we are learning about the jobs that people in our community have.

Research is such a great skill for students to have, so we started a very small research project. Students worked in partners to find information from books. (They thought that reading books would be the best way to gather information).

I was so excited when we got started. Students did a great job choosing which job they would like to work on and got started reading for information right away. All the groups worked really well together.

The final product is not yet finished as I want them to make a poster about what they have learned. (We will be working on that today.) But the information that they wrote down is great.

Something that I'm still thinking about, and will have to make a decision very quickly, is do I edit for spelling or let them use their best try at spelling.  I'm leaning more towards just having them use their spelling. These posters will not be put up in the hallway, just our classroom, so I don't feel they need to be in published form.

I will try to post the final products tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Report Cards

It's that time of year... report cards.

November reporting is always a tough time for me and from what I can tell, for teachers in general. For me personally, I feel as though I'm still getting to know my students and having share the information I have gathered and put it in a child's file seems kind of daunting. The information that I have is always my opinion on how I see things. Another teacher who may see that same thing may interpret in another way. They may not even see the same things that I see. And this always stresses me out. Am I doing it right?

Teachers aren't really taught how to write a report card or make comments to parents during university courses. It's kind of a sink or float thing.

For anyone who doesn't actually know a teacher personally, I believe, doesn't actually understand what goes into making a report card. Words are carefully chosen as we would never want to come out and say things to upset a parent yet we want them to know the truth about their child's learning and behaviours . Hours are spent going over notes from conversations, observations and the products we collect to paint a complete picture of a child in as few words as we possibly can so as to not overwhelm parents. Giving each child a score out of 5, or a percentage becomes difficult. What do you really base this number on? An arbitrary ideal in your head? A mathematical formula?

For me, report cards are the hardest part of being a teacher. These reports cards are permanently with each child as they make their way through school and can be looked at when needed by future teachers. This is a lot of pressure for anyone. Is the information we are writing down accurate and written in a way that is not making things sound all good for a student who is really struggling?

If I could change one thing about teaching... no report cards! Just informal meetings with parents throughout the year as they are interested in how their child is learning at school.

I know this would never happen in the near future, but maybe one day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trucking Along

I feel as though this year is just flying by.

Report cards are going to be here before I know it... like next week!

My life in and out of school has gotten into a good routine... nothing too out of the ordinary happens around here! I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Not only am I thinking of report cards, I'm also getting my head wrapped around this whole winter season called Christmas that will be approaching before we know it. Again this year each home room teacher in the early years will be helping their class to get something ready to perform on stage. Last year my class did a short play called "The Littlest Christmas Tree". Of course I can't do the same thing again, so I'm going to try to figure something else out. Luckily, this year I can count on the help of my colleague and put our brains together to come up with something great. But of course if anyone out there has a suggestion I'd be more than willing to listen!

This week in my social studies class we are starting to talk about Remembrance Day. I always find it hard to share something so big, and in our world, very abstract. 6 and 7 year old children aren't familiar with the reality of war. Part of me thinks that it's really important for my students to know and understand that we have things pretty good when we compare Canada to many other places around the world. The other part of me hates to have these young kids grow up so fast with the reality of life.

In the long run, Remembrance Day is in our curriculum and I will teach what is age appropriate to my students. The line is just really thin and deciding how much these little people should be exposed to can be  bit of a challenge. But I'm doing my best, and I guess that's all I can really do.

Hope everyone out there has an enjoyable week!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Every year in Manitoba SAGE is held. This is a day where all teachers from around the province get together to learn things in their chosen field.

This year I attended a session put on by MELIT (Manitoba Early Literacy Intervention Teacher) and I really enjoyed it. They had Regie Routman and her colleague Sandra Figueroa come to Winnipeg to speak. For those of you who have never heard of Regie Routman and are teaching writing the. You need to look up her stuff. Se has become a very well known writing guru.

Our school division has done some work with Regie's work in the past so it was really amazing to see and hear her in person. She is very passionate about what she does and it really shows in her work. She holds every child to a high standard and believes that they can achieve no matter what their label or past history with writing.

Throughout the day listening to Regie and Snadra speak my mind was racing thinking of how I can change the way that I teach writing for the better. I came away with a few things that I would like to try with my students. One such thing being to take the time and have public conferences with students so students can learn for each other. I also need and want to take the time and share and celebrate my student's learning. I know the this will take time and that's why I haven't really done it up until now but the things that will come out of sharing and celebrating should be well worth the investment of time.

If you ever get the chance to hear these ladies speak or have them in your school then count yourself lucky and enjoy! This is the first SAGE in a long time or maybe even ever that I have truly enjoyed and am excited to put some things into action!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reading Help

I've always had to encourage kids to wait to help when another child gets stuck while reading until they've had time to try it out.

This summer I watched this video and got a great idea as to how I could have students wait to share their answers. 

While working with a small group of readers this week I was finding that kids were interrupting each other with the correct word when thinking was still going on. In order for them to wait to help I had them hold the answer in their hand. If the kiddo who's stuck was not able to figure out the word then the other students can blow out the correct answer, similar to in the video. I'm finding that this is really working well with one of my groups in particular. 

This coming week one of my goals during guided reading groups will be to have the others students work at this so each child has the opportunity to do some problem solving with words.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I was reading on of the many blogs that I follow and saw a song in this post and I am in love with it!

I may have played it on repeat too many times today. But I really think the message is a great one. I played it for my students on Friday and I'm thinking that I will be playing it again fairly often for them.

Here it is:

Have a listen, you'll love it.

On another note, this week in Grade 2 we talked a lot about Terry Fox. This very special man did something really amazing for this country. The Terry Fox Foundation has some really great lesson plans available for all age groups that really give students a feeling of who Terry Fox was and what his goals were. I think that every child can learn from this man and never give up on their goals.

Check out these lesson plans here.

This year more than ever this run is important for our school to participate in (we held our run yesterday). This past spring a student from our school passed away from cancer. This run was another great way for our school to connect in a positive way around the memory of this little boy.

Have a great weekend everyone!