Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WBT: Hands and Eyes

"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something." Wilson Mizner

One of the most important things to happen in any classroom is listening. Many people would assume learning would come first, but the truth is, if your students are not listening, they cannot learn. Therefore listening is the first skill a teacher must teach every year.

Sometimes in order to learn, a teacher needs to teach a class how to focus so they will hear what they are saying. In my classroom I found myself usually alternating between two different focusers. Sometimes I used "If you can hear me, raise your hand," while the rest of the time I usually relied on "Magic Hands". Magic Hands seems to be very much the same as Hands and Eyes. I would call it out to my class while they were seated at their desks, and they were expected to clap their hands loudly over their desks, clasp their hands together and smile up at me.

Hands and Eyes is basically the same, except the students aren't loud with their hands, instead they repeat the teachers command and stare intently at her. I would combine the two, and expect to see happy faces smiling up at me after they repeat the command to show me their Hands and Eyes. I like how this focuser is more of a follow up to Class-Yes than it is a replacement. When students hear it they know they need to hurry up and pay attention!

As a teacher without a classroom, I like how this could work with both my preferred elementary age groups as well as the high school students I could end up substituting when I go back to work. In my experience when you are called to sub, about half the time you are brought to a classroom where the teacher forgot to leave you her classroom management plan. This plan would be easy to use when dropping in on a class for a single day, without taking too much time to teach and begin to implement.


This was in response to The first steps Article Focuser: Hands and Eyes
If you would like the poster please click on the image to go to the Google document.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

WBT: K-4th Scoreboard Game

"We need to make education a community obsession." Joan Kowal

Every classroom needs a way to motivate its students to learn; they’re not going to want to learn without a reason. While some students already have some external motivation in the form of their parents and older siblings, there are many others who need to be pushed from day one by their teacher. But having the teacher pushing you can make a few students feel self-conscience, so the introduction of a motivational tool which makes the classroom a community can be a godsend. The WBT Scoreboard seems designed to become a class wide obsession which will form a diverse group of students into a cooperative community.

How does the Scoreboard do that?
It's actually a very simple classroom management system. As a class, students are rewarded or not depending on class wide following of rules and directions. Unlike other systems where students are often rewarded with tangible things like extra recess or prizes, and lose recess or have detention as punishment, the WBT scoreboard awards students with a one second party for class wide attention, or a Mighty Groan when a great portion of the class is not following directions quickly and properly. Students get to use their voices and body for each smiley and frowny achieved, but of course will be motivated to win one second parties for their class. No student in the class is singled out for earning the class a Mighty Groan, but a classroom obsession with earning parties should help to build a community of achievers.

The cons to this system at first glance seem to be very few. In many classrooms there will be one or two students who fail to be motivated by the silliness of this motivator. They will be the ones that teachers will have to find a way to give them their own motivation to want to become part of the classroom cooperative community. I look forward to learning more about this part of WBT to see what suggestions are made for this con by Biffle and other teachers using the system.

I look forward to seeing how such instant motivation will encourage my future class towards forming a tight knit community for the duration of the school year.

This was in response to First Steps Motivator 1


To get the scoreboard header just click on the image at the top to go to the Google Document.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, July 27, 2012

WBT: Teach-Okay (Superhero Included)

Hands up if you're guilty of relying on worksheets.
Is your hand up? Mine is...
Tell me I'm not the only one to use them more than just as a review...
"The medium is the message"- Marshall McLuhan.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our students could be involved in their learning? Hopefully after learning more about Whole Brain Teaching, I'll be better prepared to make my students the medium of their learning instead of endless worksheets. One of the foundational methods of using WBT in the classroom is Teach-Okay, and I believe this is one way that can do just that. It enables the students to use the four learning modes recognized by WBT- seeing, saying, hearing and doing. Having these four learning modes activated simultaneously should prove to be the way to make students be the message they are learning. In other words, they are completely involved in their learning.

But how does Teach-Okay do this? Students are directed through the teachers double clap to turn to their partner and teach their partner exactly what the teacher just taught the class in words and action, and then have their partner teach them in return.

Seeing- they see the actions performed by their partner
Saying- they repeat the lesson (message) verbally
Hearing- they hear their partner say the words
Doing- they perform the teachers actions for the lesson (message)

     By breaking up my own teaching of concepts, and by having the information repeated so many times and ways simultaneously, students become more able to hold onto new knowledge in their short term memories. Why is this important? That is because traditionally teachers talk for long periods of time in front of their class, and students are unable to hold onto concepts because we would too quickly move onto the next without adequately checking for understanding. With teach-okay students are given many chances to repeat their new knowledge before switching concepts.

     In my future classroom using teach-okay will help my students critical thinking skills because they will have immediate review. There will be no waiting until homework or a test to see if they've held onto it; they'll know for themselves immediately by whether they can or cannot teach their partner. How will they know? Either they will completely blank on the concept, or their partner will kindly inform them that they missed something, and will teach it to them again. While I walk around the room observing teach-okay, I will be able to see who isn't comprehending, and will know that I need to teach again, or that I can continue onward to the next mini concept. It's much better to find out when I'm initially teaching something that my student doesn't get it, that way I'm not trying to build on a foundation that's not strongly built.

This post is in response to the First Steps Article: Whole Brain Developer: Teach-Okay


To obtain my Superhero poster, simply click on the image to go to the Google document.

Imaginary classroom project #1

If you've been following me for awhile, you know I'm on Canadian Maternity leave, and don't have a class to prepare for this year. But that isn't stopping me from imagining what I'd like to do in my future class.

Today I was thinking about the crate seats everyone is making, and I've wondered in the past how easy it would be to beg a set of crates from the milk man. Then just now I was reading Nancy at First Grade Wow's post about making hers with buckets she found at Lowe's. So that got me thinking about how I could make that project even cheaper.


Do you have a cat?
I don't, but mom does, and for awhile she's been buying the buckets of kitty litter instead of the bags because they work out cheaper, and are easier to use with no mess. When she empty's a bucket she stacks them inside each other and has quite the collection. We're currently using one as a garbage pail in our bathroom. (Don't worry, it doesn't look tacky. We took the label and handle off and it blends right in).

My idea?
Take six of these buckets, remove the labels and turn them into seats!

And just like Nancy said, great for storage, yay!!

From this...

To This!

If anyone uses this idea, I'd love to see how it turned out!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Destination Summer Vacation Linky Party

I'm linking up with Krista at The Second Grade Superkids for her new linky party!

It was really hard to pick just three since we saw so much of Canada when we drove halfway across it, but I've narrowed it down to three of my favourites.

1.  When my husband (then fiance) and I drove across the country a few years ago we drove the Northern route through Ontario so he could visit Timmons and the Shania Twain Centre. For me the highlight was panning for gold. Unfortunately it was a wet day, but we still had fun.

Shania Twain Centre, Timmons ON, Gold

Shania Twain Centre, Timmins, ONShania Twain Centre

2. Earlier that Summer we visited Lunenburg Nova Scotia for the first time. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is also where the Bluenose was built (in case you didn't know, that's the schooner pictured on the Canadian dime). We didn't see the Bluenose, but that's okay, we've seen it a bunch in Halifax over the years. There are so many beautiful buildings here. The picture of us is inside a neat restaurant where the bar looks like a barrel. The first building pictured is (or was) a local Elementary school. It has since been consolidated. The last picture is an Ice-cream shop you HAVE to visit. Yum!

3. And Finally, last summer a week after our wedding we took a day trip as our Honeymoon to Peggy's Cove, NS. I'd never been, but many kids have been as part of a school trip. In the first picture you can see the lighthouse behind us. You can also see another Icecream parlour, this one with a very nice name, lol. The rock structure is one I saw daily on a local commercial. Well, not a commercial exactly. Do you remember when stations used to fill the last five minutes with another video?

I hope these are the best three. I debated including Niagara Falls, Upper Clements parks, Winnipeg and Thompson, Mb....


Today I put my first item up on Tpt, eek!

To those of you with me for over a month now, you've already seen my Journal papers, but I've decided to make that the first item I transfer there from Google Docs.

I present full and half pages in a variety of font sizes for the elementary classroom.

Here's a sneak peek:

Just click on the cover to go to my new store!

Monday, July 23, 2012

You're awesome!


I knew I'd get a few more followers by joining up with the Newbie Blog Hop this past weekend, and I can only imagine how many I would have gained if I had the stamina to keep visiting and commenting on new blogs. It was seriously addicting, wasn't it?

Now I have a conundrum.

I intended to have something ready for a 50 followers giveaway, but I don't have
 anything for my TPT shop yet. Everything I've made so far has been for free.

I'm working on revamping a unit I made before, but I'm not sure how long it'll take. I need to track down the fonts I used and see if I can use them.  Is everyone okay with waiting for a 100 followers giveaway instead? Hopefully when I get to 100 I can also have donations from other bloggers to go with my own creation?


Past Projects #2

I've never loved teaching Math, which is probably (maybe?) why I spend so much time trying to make it fun.

My grade 3 class had to learn about 3D shapes, and we did a big unit on this. I wish I still had my plans, but I do have pictures from three of the lessons I did with my kiddos.

1. This picture shows three of the charts we made for an introductory lesson. The kiddos had to look through magazines to find objects that were each of the pictured 3D shapes. First we brainstormed a few ideas like a Tee-pee and an Ice cream cone for the cone. As you can see, most of the examples they found were rectangular prisms, and NONE were cones. I know at least one magazine had a cone in it, but no one found it.

Here they are using small bits of clay and cut up straws to build their own shapes. Many started out by simply making 2D shapes, but with encouragement they were able to expand. Pictured is their favourite shape, which meant a teachable moment: A house is made up of what two 3D shapes? This isn't the best example, but you get the idea right?

3. And here is a game. We played  A LOT of math games in my room. This one has the kids playing a game of memory trying to find two matching cards. If they can name it, they get to keep the pair, if they can't, their partner gets to try.

I wish I could take credit for all of these ideas, but my school mandated that all classes at my grade level use Hands-On Mathematics by Portage and Main Press. I liked the program because you couldn't miss any curriculum outcomes, but at the same time there wasn't much room for originality. 
Math Textbook - Hands-On Mathematics, Grade 3

Do you have favourite activities for teaching 3D shapes?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop!!

Hi there, and thanks for "hopping" over to my little blog. Thank you to Janis for hosting this great idea.

    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I'm in the beautiful East Coast province of Nova Scotia right now, it's also where I'm from.
2. Unfortunately none. My last position fell through last school year, and since I wanted to get enough work hours to qualify for maternity leave, I didn't even substitute last year, choosing to work in retail instead. If I had been able to hold onto the position, they'd have to be holding onto it for me.
3. I substituted for 3 years before accepting a full time probationary position in Northern Manitoba on a Cree reserve, where I taught for two years. The first year in grade 3, and the second in grade 2. After that I came home and subbed for half a year before landing a term teaching grade 1 at a private school.
4. I started near the end of my year teaching grade 1, AKA last spring.
5. Comment, comment, comment. And whenever possible, leave a live link to your blog.

Your turn!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Passing Along Awards to other bloggers

Way back on July 10th, I was nominated for two awards by  Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars! The Liesbster Blog award and the Versatile Blogger award. Thank you Andrea!

To accept them I have to follow these rules, and It's taken me some time to come up with some bloggers who haven't already posted about having been awarded these, but here goes:

There are three rules:
1. Copy and paste the award on to your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Nominate five other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blogs.

My five Nominations are:

     There are 7 rules to follow when receiving this award.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

My seven random facts about me:
1. I got married last summer to a man I've known since we were in junior high (1993) 
2. We had our first daughter in February and named her for our grandmothers.
3. I have big hopes to someday be a teacher with a classroom again, even if it means moving or teaching Junior High!
4. My favourite colour is pink!
5. I don't have my drivers license because I'm afraid to drive.
6. I LOVE to bake cookies
7. I'm addicted to cookbooks and Pinterest.

I'm Nominating those same five lovely ladies listed above, as well as the following ten bloggers:

Teaching is a work of Heart
Shelley at Teaching in the Early Years
Miss Kelley at 2care2teach4kids
A teacher without a Class
Emer at a Crucial Week in the Life of an NQT
Laura at Come together kids
Angelia at Extra Special Teaching

Congratulations Everyone, you deserve it!

Kindergarten Memories

Actually, for me they're Primary Memories because here in Nova Scotia that's what we call that grade. Weird I know, but it's the system I'm used to. I think it's because of the British connection?

Here's my class picture from 1985.

I can remember, in no special order (because honestly, who remembers the order things happened 20+ years before?

*Making tissue paper flowers that remind me of the poms teachers are making today to decorate their classrooms.

*Being out sick with the Measles, and my mom having to bring proof that I HAD had my booster shots. Nevertheless, I still had to get it again, ouch!

*The most popular game at recess was "Kissing boys and Kissing girls", where we chased each other around to kiss them. I stayed clear, but still managed to get my first Kiss from Christopher Pickles.

*Our classroom teacher, Mrs. Rathbun, also taught us gym. I don't remember the rules, but we had to chase each other around for one game to steal the "tails" of other students. Probably at Easter time?

*The cut off date for the start of school was in a weird place of the school calendar, and so I missed out on starting school by only a week. As a result, I was ALWAYS the oldest in my class. I hated it. I felt like I had failed at some point. If I was starting school today, I would  have been a whole year ahead, but I wouldn't have made the friends I did.

* My teacher had ten little Indian posters on the wall for learning to count. I bet today they wouldn't be allowed!

* Every first day of school my grandparents took a picture of us (me, my sister and two cousins) on their front porch before we walked to school. It's actually a nice tradition I want to continue when my baby gets older.

I'm linking this post up with Jennifer from Simply Kinder.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WBT: Class-Yes (Superhero included)

This is my first post about Whole Brain Teaching, yay!

I’ve been watching my Google reader feed for months now, and have noticed a steady increase in the number of posts dedicated to the various aspects of Whole Brain Teaching. (This may be in part because I keep adding bloggers whose ideas I’ve fallen in love with via Pinterest.)

 It’s been over a year now since I first saw a video of a teacher using this in her classroom, and I wish I had learned about this so much sooner because in my first two years of teaching I taught in a school with major discipline issues, and I’m sure that using this system would have helped make me a more confident and comfortable teacher.

In the past to get my students attention I used the very standard “If you can hear me, raise your hand” or "1 2 3 eyes on me", and I alternated my voice volume and what I wanted my kiddos to do. I had them tap their nose, clap their hands, stamp their feet, wave, bow, etc. But sometimes it got ridiculous, and it took far too many repeats of the question to get the attention of the majority in my classroom, and I got very frustrated. Too often I lost attention of the first few to hear me. I did however, reward my class with high fives for successfully paying attention.

What I think will make Class-Yes a better tool in my future classrooms is that it’s a much shorter command, and it’s a verbal response, so the kiddos who didn’t hear me say “Class”  should be quickly notified by the verbalizations around them instead of the growing silence I used to hope would notify them.

I love how the kiddos still get the fun aspect I was trying to get by changing where they were touching or the action they were performing with the addition of voices (Accents), whispers, and wording (Classity-class-class).

I wish I had a school to use these in when my maternity leave is over in February, but I’ll definitely get to use them! I’m going to try and use as many aspects of WBT as possible in my Sunday School classroom starting this fall. In February if I’m lucky enough to be called as a substitute teacher in my board (where there are way too many subs due to teacher reductions the last several years). If a teacher I’m subbing for forgets to leave a note explaining her management plan, I’ll get the chance to implement Class-Yes, Yay!

To celebrate my newfound love of WBT and my constant sharing of Freebies matching my posts, here are two posters for Class-Yes. One is for use in Sunday School (which is where I hope to use it) or a Christian School, and the other is for my Future classroom where I’m currently obsessing over a Superhero theme. I plan on creating matching posters for each aspect of WBT in both themes as I explore them.

Just click on the one you like to go to it's Google document!

This post is in response to: Class-Yes

Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Teacher Tip #2 Photos

The last couple of days I've seen this image floating around Facebook, Pinterest and the Blogosphere.

Please take it as you wish, but I think it's brilliant! Pass along please, so everyone in charge of vulnerable children sees this suggestion and uses it. I know I will.

What do you do to ensure your kids/students safety?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Just checking to see if my blogger button grab is working, because I was awarded a blogger award today (yay) but the blogger who awarded me didn't use my button.

-Took my grabber Html, posted it on this page as Html and will now check to see if it links back like it's supposed to.

Do me a favour please? Could you click on it and/or paste the button yourself to see if it works?



edit- it shows on my screen, and links to my main page like it's supposed tom at least for me...

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