Thursday, 1 November 2012

Welcome Back Bulletin Board - better late than never!

I am a little late posting this, but it's just been that kind of a year. I can't believe it took me being sick to post my welcome back bulletin board, but here it is.

After the Lorax came out this summer, I thought it would be a great scene to use to welcome the kids back. They loved the look and were able to relate to it. The poem on the cloud says:

Oh! The places you'll go!
All the things you will see.
Oh! Your learning will grow,
All in grade three!

These are the pictures I took just minutes before the students arrived on September 4, 2012. What an exciting day.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Best PhysEd Web Site! Ever!

I am so excited about this new Physical Education web site that I just found. I am sure some of you have already seen it, but I wanted to share it anyways.
It has many different games for warm-up as well as sports related drills. The best part is that it is all explained using video! I have been showing my students these videos before we head to the gym to try it out. I find that the visual is so helpful. We don't waste time in the gym trying to figure out the game or drill. Since I have to split the gym with the other grade three class, I also get to save my voice. Love it. I hope you check it out. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Back With Some Great Ideas

After a long break from blogging and teaching, I am back feeling a little more ready to take on this year. My summer was not a restful one and so it took time and energy to even look at this blog. I love looking at other people's blogs and sharing ideas, so really I am excited and happy to be back in the blogging world!

I'd like to talk about ideas. Where do you get your great ideas? I have to be honest and say that most of my ideas are stolen from other teachers. I prefer to say that they inspire me, which is so true, and I then use their ideas because of how great the ideas are. Looking through blogs and seeing what other teachers are doing always gives me that excited, bubble feeling inside. I often feel re-energized and think 'I could do that, too!'
Since it is the beginning of the year, I wanted to reflect on some of those great ideas I did last year and give credit where credit is due.  Many of the ideas I altered slightly to fit my style and my students.
Take a look.

Idea: End of the year gift: Personal Wordle

Source: Confessions of a Teaching Junkie
Comment: My students spent time at the end of the year writing one word to describe every classmate. It was a challenging task for some of them. I loved seeing the students reach for the thesaurus and work hard to find just the perfect word to describe their peer. Many of my students came up with words that I hadn't even thought of. I love this when it happens. After I collected all the adjectives they chose for each other, I made wordles for each student. Following this, I downloaded the wordles and created DVD covers for my students. These were the covers to the class DVD I made of all their grade three photos. 

Idea: Non-Fiction Reading Marathon

Source: Fabulous in Fourth
Comment:This was a cool idea. My students loved the idea of having a marathon. I made a few changes to the version found in Fabulous in Fourth by shortening the time between stops. I did make the mistake of providing non-fiction books that were not long enough. In the end, the students were really proud of their work. I hope to try the fiction reading marathon as well this year.

Idea: Making 3-D Shapes with Manipulatives

Photo taken from Learning Ideas-Grade K-8

Source: Learning Ideas - Grade K-8
Comment: After studying 3-D shapes I gave them the task of building a few 3-D shapes. I began the lesson with these posted on the SMARTboard:
Choose 2 questions and build the 3-D shape.
1. What shape has 8 edges and 5 vertices?
2. What shape has 8 edges and 8 vertices?
3. What shape has 9 edges and 6 vertices?
4. What shape has 6 edges and 4 vertices?
The student had to build the shape and then name the 3-D shape. Many of my students were able to complete all four shapes even though they were only required to finish two. A few were only able to figure out 1 or worked the entire time on 2 questions. It was a great assessment of their understanding of the concept.
 My students loved the idea of using candy as a math manipulative. Instead of pretzels, I used toothpicks. I found that this was easier for the students to connect to the candies.

Idea: Self Portraits

Source: I am not sure where I got this idea, but it wasn't mine. If I remember or come across the site, I will be sure to post it. 
 Comment: Since I don't have the source, I'll explain how the students created these pictures.
1. Print off a picture of each student
2. Provide a transparency for each student as well as a thin permanent black marker. Tape the picture to the transparency.
3. Have students outline their faces on the transparency using the marker.
4. Provide paper for student to paint and create a background.
5. Use black construction paper to create a frame.
6. Carefully glue the edges of the transparency onto the background and stick it in the frame.
I also had students write simile poems as a way to describe themselves. We posted the poems with the pictures to create a hallway bulletin board. 

These are just a few of the ideas that I wanted to share. I am looking forward to another year of blogging and collecting more ideas.

It's good to be back!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Weaving in Grade 3

Have I mentioned before how much I love my Social Studies curriculum? Our focus is on four unique and different countries: India, Peru, Ukraine and Tunisia. I love the curriculum because there are so many cross-curricular connections that can be made. My favourite has to be tying in art projects.
A few weeks ago my class successfully weaved mini-rugs. They worked so hard and all of them had such a positive attitude about it. I am was very impressed.
Like most of my ideas, I can't truly claim ownership. This art project was first shown to me when I invited a few members of our cities local art gallery to come in to teach my students about weaving. The set up and instructions were so easy I decided to make my own weaving boards and have done this project every since with my students.

-       14cm x 18cm cardboard square (cut 1 cm slits into two opposite edges)
-       different colours of yarn
-       Powerpoint

1.   Create a Powerpoint with pictures of weaving.
2.  Cut out 22 cardboard squares.
3.  Cut 1 cm slits into two opposite edges. There should be 13 on each side.
4.  String yarn from one slip to the others. End the string on the opposite side in which you started.
5.  Cut 50 cm pieces of coloured yarn.

1.   Begin by showing students the Powerpoint presentation of weaving in Tunisia and Peru.
2.  Demonstrate how to weave.
a.   Have students choose 5 different colours of string and a weaving board.
b.  Tie the string on the weaving string about 1 inch from the edge.
c.   Weave under and then over… alternating each time.
d.   When the string is almost completely weaved through, tie another string to the end and continue to weave.
e.   When all the stings are weaved through tie the string to the weaving board string.
f.   Clip the weaving board strings that are tied around the edge slits and tie two together to create tassels.
g.  Trim the tassels. Be careful that students don’t trim these too short of else the knots will fall out.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Best Mother's Day Gift...

Oh the joy of Mother's Day. Who knew it could be so stressful! It seems as though the best things in life do take time and effort. This was the same for the Mother's Day gift my students made last week.
This is the picture I chose to transfer onto wood. It is a photo of my mom, sister and myself.

This year for Mother's Day gifts, my students and I opted to be adventurous. Well, I made the choice for them even though I did ask for their opinion. We made wooden pictures that turned out beautifully, for the most part, but caused me a lot of stress. Why was it stressful? As a teacher I strive to help my students find success. Usually I am able to provide opportunities for them to find success. With this project, I had no control. Some pictures came off clearly, while others were really scratched.
You may not have any idea what I am talking about, so I have included the video where I got the idea. It explains the entire process in a very simple, straight forward way.

The materials I used are as follows:
  • 2x6 blocks of wood (My husband and I are in the process of remodeling a house, so we had a bunch of 2x6 boards lying around.)
  • 80 grit and 150 grit sandpaper  
  • pictures of students with their moms
  • Mod Podge (found at Michaels)
  • medium gel gloss (found at Michaels)

I first tried it out a few times for myself. I found that one of the the ink from one of the photocopiers in my school worked better than the other one. I also discovered that sanding the surface with 120 or 150 grit sandpaper was helpful, but I am not convinced it made that much of a difference.
In the end the students were so pleased. Only one didn't turn out, even after we tried a second time. For this student, I printed a coloured version of her photo and we glued it on the wood and painted mod podge over it.

Here are few samples of my student's work. 

Monday, 30 April 2012

Building...With a Twist

 Hey Teacher Bloggers,
I wanted to share with you the building unit I just finished teaching my students. We had been working on testing materials and designs as well as building with a variety of materials and designs. Instead of having my students complete building and testing tasks out of context, I create a fictional character name Mr. Smithwick who has hired my class to complete these tasks for him. I used the program xtranormal to introduce Mr. Smithwick.

Peepz Movie
by: Deonaward

Of course I had the question, "Is he real?". My response was always, "You saw him. That is exactly who he is." I still think some of them are still confused.

I divided my students into 6 different building companies. They were asked to come up with a name for their building company and then assign a CEO, a secretary and a treasure. (I only have 18 students in my class, so each person received a job. Next year I may add board members or vice-president).
Here is the expectations for each job:
CEO - makes sure things run smoothly. He/she is in charge of managing the group and overseeing the work before the data or project is handed in.
Secretary - reads the letters and communicates with Mr. Smithwick.
Treasure - keeps track of the finances and holds on to the cheques before they are deposited into the company bank account.

The Tasks
Every day the students were given a job from Mr. Smithwick. The tasks were all pretend community projects that Mr. Smithwicks company had been hired to do. Each activity taught a different building concept or had the students test and compare materials.
The tasks were delivered in an envelop or package. I had my school secretary in on the project and she would often call one of my students down right before our science class started for a special delivery. The package contained a letter identifying what was needed to be done as well as the supplies and the promise of being paid. The students only earned the full amount of money if their observation sheet was completed properly. Previous to this, we had talked about fair tests. Almost each task required that students create a testable question, hypothesis, draw and label their observations and write a conclusion. If all of this was completed properly and thoughtfully, they received the full amount. If not, they only received a portion.
With every new package, Mr. Smithwick sent the cheques from the previous job. My students loved receiving these cheques and made sure the treasurers recorded the amount in their banking pages. Of course groups were paid differently according to their quality of work.

The Final Project (aka the assessment piece)
When all the jobs were completed, they received the final task of building a model bridge for Mr. Smithwick. This required the students to use all the knowledge that they had gained from the building tasks to design and construct a stable bridge that spanned 30 cm and could support 4 kg. (We also spent sometime researching different types of bridges.)
The catch was that each group had to use the money they earned to buy the supplies to build the bridge. Groups calculated the sum of their cheques (income) and brought it to the Bank of Ward to deposit it into their account. After doing this, they received a company credit card as well as a spending recording sheet. I instructed my students to keep close tabs on their spending. If they went over their account limit they would be in debt. If that happened and they failed to pay their credit bill, the bank would repossess some of their materials.

Mrs. Ward's Extremely Expensive Supply Store
After carefully planning out their bridge and identifying the supplies they would need, groups visited Mrs. Ward's Extremely Expensive Supply Store and purchased their materials. I had given them a list of the materials available as well as the price of each materials so that students could budget. When they came to the store they received a receipt and used this to keep track of their spending. If groups bought materials but wanted to return them, they could do so if they could guarantee that another group would purchase it.
The store was open all class long.

My students loved this project. They learned so much more than just what design shapes are strong. I am sure this model can be used with different curriculum as well. If you give it a try, or if you have done something like this in the last, I'd love to hear about your experience.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sandpaper Prints!

Sandpaper prints were a huge success in my class.  I first heard about these kind of prints when my colleague took his grade four class to the Leighton Centre near Calgary. Following this, I looked on the internet for instructions and found a lesson written up by Shelley Port. You can find the instructions through this link: 

Of course, I ran the lesson a little bit differently to fit my students and my curriculum. I chose to print their pictures on clothe rather than paper. (I was also thinking that this would be a great way to make t-shirts! Maybe next year....) 
 Below is the basic outline of the lesson I did with my students.
- a poem about Spring (choose one with a lot of imagery)
- 80 grit sandpaper (cut each sheet into quarters)
- wax crayons
- broad clothe or paper
- an iron

1. Read a poem about Spring. Have the students follow along with their own copy. Then, have students draw the pictures of Spring that they got from listening to the poem.
2. Ask students to choose one simple picture and draw it on a piece of sandpaper using wax crayon.
They must colour the entire piece of sandpaper and apply a lot of wax onto the sandpaper. 
3. Iron the wax picture onto broad clothe or a piece of paper. Do this by placing the sandpaper face down on the clothe. When the sandpaper starts to lift off the edges it should be finished. 
4. Students can reapply wax crayon to their sandpaper when it has cooled down. Following this, they can have it reprinted. (I usually let them know that their second and third prints are not going to turn out as well as the first.) 

Like I said, this project was a huge hit with my students. I am not sure what turned out better, the first sandpaper print on the clothe, or the melted wax picture on the sandpaper in the end. We saved the sandpaper and pasted it in our art portfolios. 

Here are a few more pictures of their masterpieces:

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Personification Poetry about Nature!

One of my favourite writing activities is personification poetry. This is the second year I have done this lesson with my students and it is always a huge success. I first want to give you a few examples of their poems and then tell you how I go about facilitating the lesson.

by Halanna & Mackenzie

I am snow.
I waltz in the air landing on
the white ground. 
I sometimes rest on flaky trees. 
I paint the leaves on 
my way down to the coated earth. 
I am snow!

I am a Volcano
by Shinae & Advik

I am a volcano,
Roaring loudly as I spew
over the land. 
I pounce on the hard rocks 
as I skip and tease them. 
I melt the rough bark
of the tree. 
It's been a long day.
I'd better go to sleep. 
I am a volcano.

I am the Stars
 by Anisha

I am the stars
shining bright in the night. 
 I paint the black sky making
children smile. 
I sleep in the day and awake
when the sun says goodbye. 
I try with all my might to stay 
awake at night. 
I am the stars.

I am Storm
by Daniel & Marc

I am storm. 
Tickling the shuttering alders, 
I touch the solid ground,
Pouncing on the muddy dirt. 

I work on smashing
the scared pine trees, 
and scream at the wet people.
I dance around the slippery

After I get tired,
I go to sleep.
I am storm. 

I am a Flower
by Madeline & Jacob

I am a flower.
I embrace the fireball
sun into a deep relaxing sleep.
I dance for the big moon
to calm it down. 
I cry when nice people are not around me.
I love to drink good water.
The wiggly worm tickles my roots,
I am happy when the buzzing bee comes to
take my pollen.
I am a flower.

I am the Wind
by Jillian & Annika

I am the wind,
I steal every
chilly leaf off
the ground. 
I whisper softly
through the air 
as I swiftly pass by the 
little children. 
I touch the girl's and boy's warm faces as 
I slowly pass by.
When I dive down into the green grass
I get weak and fall asleep.
I am the wind!

In this lesson, we focus on personification and word choice. I begin by introducing personification using examples in poetry. There are many different poems you can use and find on the Internet. I give a few examples of sentences like, The wind played tag with the clouds or  The sun kissed my face.  We talk about how the author is describing something in an unusual way. I explain that personifications are sentences where non-human things or ideas are given human characteristics. When students have an idea of what personification is and it's purpose, we start our poems. 

Part 1 - Brainstorming
1. I write the word rain on the board and start to model writing down verbs that could personify rain. For example: paint, race, slap, stomp, greet, sing, slide. 
2. Then, I come up with a sentence using one of these verbs. The rain raced down from the sky and greeted the dirt.  
3. Next, I have the students partner up and choose a topic about nature. I have big 11x14 pieces of paper with one word written in the middle. My options for the students are: sun, wind, moon, star, tornado, volcano, flowers, trees and storm. Each group must choose a different topic. 
4. Then, I read out a list of action verbs and have students decided whether or not the verb fits their topic. It if does, they write it on their paper to create a brainstorming web. 
Here are a few of the verbs I read: (I am sure you can think of more)
dance, paint, sing, stomp, clap, race, fall, sleep, whisper, scream, cry, tickle, drink, touch, embrace, pounce, speak, giggle, laugh, chuckle, steal, run, hop, jump, waltz, boogie, jive, kiss, hug, play 
5. When the students are finished deciding which verbs best fit their topic, they write a personification sentences using one of their verbs. 

Part 2 - Writing the Poem
6. The next day we review personifications. Then, I go back to my web of verbs for rain. I model writing a poem using the verbs. I am very conscious of talking out loud while I write so the students can hear what I am thinking. Here is usually what I come up with: 

I am rain,
Racing down to the earth. 
I slap the ground,
Greeting the dirt.
I paint the leaves of the trees.
I slide down the bark. 
I am rain.   

7. Next, I talk to the students about revising and adding adjectives and adverbs. They are already very familiar with this. I underline the nouns like earth, ground, dirt, trees and bark. Then I add interesting words and change a few things to add more detail. I model using a thesaurus and usually ask for their input at this time.

I am rain,
Racing down to the parched earth. 
I slap the hard ground,
Greeting the dirt with a smile.
I paint the leaves of the young poplars.
Then, I slide down the brown bark,
Weaving in and out of it's grooves. 
I am rain. 

8. The students are asked to write their own poems and follow the same process.  We all start and end our poems with I am...
9. When they have written their rough draft, revised and then edited, I get all the students to write their own good copy and illustrate and individually illustrate their poem.

The challenge for students is the punctuation and knowing when to go to the next line. I briefly talk to students about this, but that part doesn't always come through. The important part is the ideas and word choice.

If you give this a try, I'd love to hear how it turns out. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Dear Journal

Dear Journal,
How time flies. I can't believe that it is already March 26 and I haven't written a post all month! I am sorry for that and if you would believe, I do have some excuses reasons I'd like to share with you. Well, the first is that it's March and in my school that means it's report card time. I spent the first week of March assessing 17 wonderful children and writing a monstrous amount of comments. Then, I turned 28 and well, I had to deal with that for a few days. In the end I decided that age would come no matter what I did and I just can't stop people from singing 'Happy Birthday', so enjoy it. My husband did bake me two cakes, which was just the best part of my day.
My third reason from my absence from cyber world has to do with this house that we bought in January. I may have mentioned that it's 100 year old and that it is was a dump, a slum, a project more than a livable building. Needless to say, we have been spending every weekend and spare moment ripping the place a part and planning how to put it back together. Steve's (my husband's) father is coming on Thursday (in 3 days -yikes!) to help. In order to get ready for him, we had to have the entire thing gutted, the plans drawn up and materials ordered. If my husband wasn't knee deep in his own teaching practicum, I think it would be a smoother, less stressful process.
Well, those are my three main reasons for neglecting you. I really did miss expressing my ideas and thoughts and of course cruising through other teacher web sites for amazing ideas. I am truly happy to have returned and offer my sincerest of apologizes if you missed me.
March may be almost over, but I have a week off in April and plan to post a few times to keep up to date with my ideas and what is happening in grade three.
Well, I should get back to Student Led Conferences, yes I am still at school and will be until 7 tonight.
Until next time Journal...


Monday, 27 February 2012