Sunday, December 29, 2013

My New Years Bookish Resolutions

Hello fellow readers,

As 2013 ends and a new year begins, it is time to bring out the resolutions. I love New Years because it gives everyone a fresh start to try new things or become better at what they love to do. This New Years I am lucky because I don't have school to get in the way of any of my resolutions because I have graduated and now have more time to spend on what I love to do.

What do I love to do. you ask? I love reading (can you tell?) and so I made up a few bookish resolutions for the year 2014 and I explain each of them below.



Don't mind the Super Woman sticker, I thought it was a little encouragement for me to complete each of these resolutions.

1. Read more middle grade books:
The reason I want to read more middle grade books is because I work with children in that age group but I have a limited number of books to recommend them. I can hardly remember the books I read during those years (which is saying something because I usually have a good memory) and I usually just recommend Harry Potter or Roald Dahl books. This year I want to become more acquainted with middle grade books (both Canadian and international) so I can recommend them to my students.

2. Write a review for each book I read.
Since starting this blog I have always wanted to review more books. I read a lot and I don't have many friends who read the same books as I do (or read very much at all) so I can't discuss books with them. I want this blog to be that outlet for me, where I write reviews and people share their opinions and I do the same on their blogs. This resolution may be the most difficult for me but I am up for the challenge.

3. Read 50 books this year.
Every year I put this as a new years resolution and every year I fail. I am hoping that not being in school will help me pursue this resolution more because I will have more time to read the books I love. Also, being apart of the book blogging community may help inspire me more to keep reading.

4. Visit and support more independent bookshops.
If there is one place you want to take me that will make me unbelievably happy, it would be a bookstore. An older bookstore with wooden shelves that are ageing, workers who care about books and reading, and comfortable squishy chairs to sit and read books in. Sadly, in the city I live in, there are no independent bookstores (just Chapters) but some Christian bookstores here and there. Luckily for me, I live just outside of Toronto and I visit the city a handful of times a year and Toronto has an ABUNDANCE of independent bookstores. I went in to one particular bookstore on my way to the Distillery District and I didn't want to leave. So I would like to make it a point to visit more and support them (by purchasing a book or two).

5. Utilize the public library more.
If bookstores are my favourite place, libraries are a close second. In particular, the children's section of a library just makes me feel so enchanted and inspired to read all of the stories. The staff who work at libraries are so knowledgeable and helpful as well, you are surrounded by people who also love reading. Another incentive to utilize the library more is that the books you borrow are free which will save me some money here and there.

That concludes my New Years Bookish  Resolutions for 2014. My non-book related resolution is to drink more water (which may also get me out of the habit of drinking Coke/Pepsi all the time). What are your book/non-book related New Years Resolutions? If you don't have any, why not?

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, I am looking forward to mine.

Happy Reading,
Tara

Friday, December 27, 2013

Boxing Day Book Haul

Hi fellow readers! 

With the passing of Christmas comes every shopaholic's dream: Boxing Day. For those of you who don't know, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas (but most sales last all week) where many retailers in Canada and the UK have sails (a lot like Black Friday). 

Being an avid book reader, I knew I would hAve to tale advantage of my Christmas money and go to chapters. Much to my surprise, Chapters was having 30% off any hardcover book. I was in heaven! I immediately went to look for Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park and I was happy to have found it along with Fangirl by the same author. I then found a paperback version of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

  

I am a huge fan of young adult fiction as well as historical fiction. I have read many book blogs which recommend all three of these books. I especially loved seeing the John Green review on the back of Eleanor & Park. I also enjoy love stories so I am excited to begin reading Rainbow Rowell's books. 

As one can see, each of the covers of these books are just gorgeous in all aspects. The simplicity of Eleanor & Park as well as Fangirl just makes me hesitate to put them away on a shelf. Between Shades of Gray has a beautiful closed eyelid with snow falling down on it. Absolutely stunning.

Look forward to book reviews on each of these books in the New Year. Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them!

Happy Reading,
Tara 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

TUTOR TIP: Christmas, Read Alouds, and Christmas Presents

Hello fellow readers,

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas holiday in which you read and ate a lot. I sure did and I didn't let a 13 hour power outage and ice storm get in the way of my Christmas spirit.

Before the ice storm hit, I had a tutoring session (the last one before Christmas) with a grade two student. Wanting to focus on Christmas and comprehension I found some useful online resources.

The first thing I found was a digital copy of Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dowdney. I have never read a Llama Llama book but I have seen them a lot at my local bookstore. When I found this digital copy, I knew I had to read it with my tutee. We have been focusing on comprehension when reading and stopping and asking ourselves who the main characters are and what is the main problem, how did they solve it etc... I also found this awesome Llama Llama holiday resource that is completely free! I have used other lesson plans from The Lesson Plan Diva and would highly recommend using her resources.

I also wanted to introduce some new vocabulary to my tutee because she is somewhat limited that way. So I had my tutee complete a crossword puzzle of words from the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and then we read it together.

Finally, we worked on some 3D Object geometry games because that is what we have been working on recently. For any tutors and teachers who do not know this, the Alberta Ministry of Education has awesome math games for primary students in all areas of the math curriculum. It is called Math Under the Sea.

Moving on from tutoring and into book reading, I asked for several books for Christmas. My best friend was sweet and got me Demi Lovato's Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year and when I opened the book, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the book is. The cover is translucent and has a picture of birds flying upwards and the hard cover part has the picture of Demi's face. I was expecting more of an autobiography than a day by day thought calendar, I am looking forward to reading her daily thoughts.

My sister and her fiance went to purchase me Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan but it was sold out in the bookshops near us so they have ordered it and I  can't wait to get into that book.

Alas, here is the picture of the Christmas presents my best friend purchased for me. He bought me the Demi Lovato book in the back, a nice smelling candle from B&BW and a mug with my initial, T, on it.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas holiday. What books did you open up for Christmas and are you planning on purchasing any during Boxing Day/Boxing Week?

Happy Reading,

Tara




Thursday, December 19, 2013

Young Adult Books with LGTBQ Characters

Hello fellow readers,

I have many friends who consider themselves to be part of the LGTBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual, or Questioning/Queer) community and I consider myself to be an ally for that community. As an avid reader I began to notice that most of the books I read had little to no LGTBQ characters so this year I took it upon myself to find books that had characters much like the friends I have in my own life.


The four books that I have read (all this year except for Will Grayson, Will Grayson) are:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan:
This novel was about a boy named Paul who is a gay teen that lives in a very accepting community. Paul has various friends and throughout the book, problems arise with several of them. Paul meets a guy named Noah who is really likes and they begin dating but problems arise when Paul's ex-boyfriend comes back into the picture. Paul also has a friend named Tony (I feel like many of us have a friend like Tony) who does not have an accepting family and he has to learn to treat his parents with respect while standing up for himself at the same time. I really enjoyed this book and felt that many of Paul's problems were not just applicable to an LGTBQ teenager but is applicable to any teenager (which I think is exactly the point).

Shine by Lauren Myracle:
Having been recommended this book both because I was a Hufflepuff and because I was looking for more books related to LGTBQ matters, I decided that this book would be my summer read. Opening the book made me instantly connect with the characters despite not having ever lived in a community like their own. This book is set in a small town in North Carolina where the church plays a big role in community. The main character is a girl named Cat whose best friend was beaten up and ended up in a coma in the hospital. Cat vows to solve the mystery of who attacked him (she definitely suspects a hate crime). This book has a great suspense to it also tied in with the sad realities not being able to accept who you truly are.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray:
This year I have read four of Libba Bray's books (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy and Beauty Queens). While the Gemma Doyle Trilogy (a 19th Century fantasy novel) is very different from Beauty Queens (a feminist satirical novel in the 21st Century) I still enjoyed both of them (I'm a fantasy fan and a feminist). The cover of Beauty Queens might have you pick it up and put it right back down again, don't be fooled. This book is about a group of Beauty Teen contestants who are flown out to record the show but their plane crashes onto a remote part of an island. As a group, the girls have to fend for themselves and hope that help comes near. Bray's writing is very satirical and pokes fun at large corporations (think Disney or ABC) but also contains a character who is a lesbian and a character who is transgender.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan:
It has been a while (three years possibly since I have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson but I will say that I loved the story and will definitely read it again. Both John Green and David Levithan wrote this novel from the perspective of two different characters (both named Will Grayson) who happen to meet. With characters like Tiny Cooper and Jane (I saw a little bit of myself in Jane) you can't go wrong with this happy story.


I hope this blog post helps you if you are also trying to read more books with LGTBQ characters or if you need to recommend any books for teenagers or young adults you might know. Let me know if there are any other books that I should read with LGTBQ characters in it.
Happy reading!
Tara

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Book Review: FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman
I love children's literature. I think some of the most unique and enchanting stories come from books written with children in mind. As a teacher, I like to be well read so I can give recommendations to students I may work with. Throughout my time working with junior grade students I realized that while I have a host of story books and young adult fiction I can recommend, I do not have a lot of recommendations for the 8-12 year-old range. So when I saw Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman, I had to read it.



The book filled with beautiful illustrations drawn by Skottie Young. The illustrations add to the story and so does the unique use of font. The font changes between the real time characters versus when the father is telling his story.Also when the characters seem to be doing something like climbing a ladder, the words will be placed in a position of like a ladder. 

The premise of the story is about a boy and his sister are left with their dad when their mom goes away on business. The boy and his sister want to eat breakfast but there is no milk for their cereal and so their father goes out to get milk but it takes him an unusually long time. When the father gets back with the milk he tells his children the story of why it took him so long and the story is very bizarre.

The story includes a Professor Steg who is a dinosaur, a queen pirate, and even Vumpires (there is a funny joke where his daughter pipes in about Vumpires falling in love). I liked how this story introduces the fantasy element while keeping the illusion of whether it is real or not real alive.




Overall, I really liked reading this book. I would recommend reading this book aloud to children aged 7 and up. I also think it could be a good Read to Self book for children aged 9 and up. I remember teaching a combined grade 2/3 class and they loved having a novel read to them and I can see them loving this book.

Let me know what you thought of the book and if you have read any other Neil Gaiman books, please let me know if you would recommend them.

Tara
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Disney's Frozen: Book and Movie Review

This past weekend I went to see Disney's Frozen with my sister, my nephew, and step-nephew. I was pretty excited because it was my nephew's second time seeing a movie in a theatre and my first time going with him. I didn't know much about the plot but I had heard good things about the movie and it was really good. The movie is set in Norway and stars two sisters who are princesses. One sister, Anna, has a magic power of turning things into ice. The other sister, Elsa, was hit by her magic as a young girl and was healed but the troll who healed her said she shouldn't be hurt again (especially in the heart) because it would be more difficult to heal her. Anna kept her magic powers hidden from her sister from then on until they opened the castle to the town and everyone saw her magical powers. The best part of the movie is dialogue, whoever wrote the screenplay for this movie was a genius! I also really liked the snowman character, Olaf, and the reindeer, Sven. Olaf is a comical character who is just a warm and fuzzy bundle of joy.

So naturally, after having seen the movie, I went to my local bookstore and bought two books. The first book was titled Disney's Fro\zen Read Along Storybook and CD. This book was fairly cheap ($7.99CAD) and came with a CD that reads the story aloud. I remember growing up and reading stories with cassette tapes (even though CD's were available back then) so seeing this feature brought back a lot of memories. The CD is pretty easy to use and can be put into a computer or a CD player and has clips of the characters saying certain lines from the movie. The story is identical to the movie and is very cute. I plan to use this book in tutoring with my grade two student.

The next book I purchased was for my nephew as a Christmas present and is called Disney's Frozen: Olaf's 1-2-3. This book is hard so that no young kids can rip the pages and is meant for pre-school to Grade 1. The book features the character Olaf counting winter things (he has 1 carrot nose, 2 very happy arms) all the way to 10. My three-year-old nephew knows how to count to 10 but needs practice counting objects and identifying the written number (1, 2, 3 etc...) so this is a perfect gift for him. I can also ask my sister if I can borrow it when I am teaching later down the road.

Overall, I highly recommend these two books for teaching and for home use. These would make great Christmas presents as well. There were several different versions of the Frozen story at my bookstore but I thought the read along book gave me more bang for my buck compared to the hardcover ones available. Also, the Olaf book was geared towards a young audience with simple sentences and counting as the main theme.

Let me know if you enjoyed the Frozen movie, bought any books based on Frozen, or purchased the two books based on my review!

Happy reading!
Tara

Friday, November 29, 2013

Classroom Management Tips: Give Me Five!

Hello,

Having had a placement in a Full day Kindergarten classroom, I learned very quickly that it is very important to have strong classroom management skills. After researching Classroom Management strategies while on my kindergarten placement, I was pointed in the direction of Barry Bennett's Bumps (this is just a brochure outlining the bumps, I read his textbook that a friend of mine lent to me). I liked that it gave simple instructions on how to deal with bad behaviour. 

Along with the bump system (all of the classes I taught in teacher's college had very few behaviour issues) I needed to really just get the students to listen and participate at carpet time. The first thing I looked up was the Give Me 5 poster on Pinterest, so I created one myself:


I posted this poster beside where I sat in the kindergarten room and reminded the students right away what five things I should see them doing at carpet time (they love to count along with their fingers). Sometimes during a lesson I would have to stop and remind the students of the five and bring their attention back to me and I really liked using this resource.

There are some other techniques that I use for when students are doing free play and I need to get them to clean up:

  • If you can hear me clap your hands once, if you can hear me clap your hands twice, if you can hear me, clap your hands three times.
  • Hands on top, that means stop (right now I am using this in the after school program that I work at and I think I need to try something else).
  • Saying "And the waterfall goes "shhhhhhhhhhh" while waving your hands down like a waterfall
I hope those tips were helpful. I feel that I am still working on my classroom management skills and it is something that I will continue to work on throughout my career working with children. 

Let me know if you have any classroom management techniques that you use when working with children.

Tara

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

iPad Application Review: Endless Reader



First off, I would like to tell you all about a book blogging directory I am now on called bookblogging.net. If I have any readers from that site, hello and welcome!

I have already stated my love for the iPad Application, Endless Alphabet. This iPad application is great for children beginning their journey as emerging readers. My nephew is three-years-old and has been playing it since he was two-and-a-half. It is thanks to that application that he knows most of the letters in the alphabet. I'm not saying that at 3 he can read or anything but he can identify the letters when you ask him because in the application it says it aloud. To read my review on the Endless Alphabet application, please click here.

To my surprise, the company Originator Inc. came out with another application much like Endless Alphabet but called Endless Reader. Endless Reader is an application that uses the fun of monsters to teach children how to spell sight words (high frequency words that children learn to spell by being exposed to them often). To start the application, there will be an alphabetical list of words inside of a 3-eyed monster mouth and you click one of those words. Once a word is chosen, a bunch of monsters come rushing in to drop off a word and letters get all mixed up. Like a puzzle, you have to drag and drop the letters in the right place to spell the word (much like Endless Alphabet). However, there is still more to the application. Next comes a sentence that uses the sight word and two other sight words which are knocked out of the sentence. It is your job to drag and drop the sights back into the sentence. Finally, the sentence is said aloud and there is a little monster animation to go with it (my nephew watched an animation about eating ALL the cookies over and over again).


This application brought up my main issue with Endless Alphabet, the words were just too big for the age-range the application is suited for. For instance, a word like harvest is not a sight word for kids aged 4-7 but it is one of the words that is used in Endless Alphabet. Now, Endless Reader makes learning sight words fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend parents using this application with their children and I think it would be great in a FDK (full-day kindergarten) classroom or grade 1 and 2.

Let me know if you have tried this application and what you think of it. Are there other applications like this you think I should try with the students I tutor or my nephew?

Tara

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Children's Guided Reading Literature Haul

If there is one thing I love to spend my money on, it would be books. I love all kinds of books from fantasy to classics, to young adult fiction, I could spend my whole life just consuming all the books in the world. However, I don't have a whole lot of money having just graduated, so I spend my money on books for the kids I tutor.

Children's literature is the most fun book genre out there. Almost anything can happen. I recently went to my local Chapters bookstore and bought some books to read with the kids I tutor. Now, the kids that I tutor are behind in their reading and I can't just give them any children's book and expect them to be able to read it or even want to read it. What makes my life easier are when books are levelled to help determine what book is suitable for the child. Although not always accurate (the Doc McStuffins book I bought is a pre-k book but is way too advanced for kindergarten), I can look at the sentences in the books and determine whether they would be too challenging or just the right fit. 

I also purchased a book geared towards 8-12-year-olds by Neil Gaiman titled Fortunately, The Milk. What attracted me to this book was the illustrations and fantasy element to the novel. I think I will do a book review on this blog of the book when I have read it. I have read and can recommend a lot of Young Adult fiction but I have stopped reading children's novels. I noticed last year that I couldn't recommend much other than Harry Potter and Roald Dahl.

Here is the book haul that I purchased. The Doc McStuffins book has pictures within the sentences which I really find helpful the child.



I would love to know where to buy the PM benchmark books that the students use in the schools but I have yet to find them in the bookstore.

If you tutor or do guided reading with students, let me know what books you use. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I would love to find new books to read with the kids I work with.

DFTBA,
Tara

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guided Reading Groups in Grade 5

Hello there!

Currently, I am volunteering in my Associate Teacher's classroom from last year doing some Grade 5 Guided Reading Groups. Knowing quite a bit about guided reading in the primary level, I am currently learning and creating plans for a junior level guided reading group. I have one group who are reading a Grade 3 level and another group who are reading at a Grade 5 level but need more confidence. So I am going to show you some of what I have been doing with the groups!

So the first resource that I use is the Guided Reading Cover sheet which you can find from Chrissy Beltram's TPT site. The next sheet that I use (mostly for the group reading at a Grade 3 level) is the Guided Reading Planning Sheets by blogger Erica's Ed-Ventures! Each time that I meet with the group, I give the students a different reading strategy and I use the Literacy Cafe strategies which I am familiar with because in two of my placements last year I helped run the Daily Five.

Right now, I am reading PM Benchmark Level H books with the group who reads at a Grade 3 level and with the group that needs a bit more self-confidence, we are reading Matilda! For word work, I have the students play Zap It! but with Grade 5 spelling words.

Let me know any strategies you have for running guided reading groups in the junior grades!

Tara

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tutor Tip: Two iPad Applications

As I have previously stated, I am tutoring and I love it. I am always trying to find ways to make the activities more fun and engaging for the student I tutor. So I thought I would share two iPad applications that I am using with the student and it seems to be going well.

For language arts (reading) we use the app Endless ABC:


NOTE: My 2 and a half-year-old nephew also LOVES this game and it has taught him most of the letters of the alphabet. 

Endless Alphabet (which I got free during an iTunes giveaway at Christmas time) uses cute monsters to spell out words. For instance, if the word was JUGGLE, the word would be stated in big letters and then little letters (with eyes and tongues to show they are monsters) will be scattered around the word. Like a puzzle, the student has to drag the monster letter to the letter in the word and once all of the letters are together it there is a little skit about the word. Playing this app is great positive reinforcement for the student to get her phonics sheets completed.

The mathematics application that I have been using for the grade 2 student is: TIC TAC MATH


This game comes with the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), can be a two player game (good for the tutor to always interact and keep the student engaged) and has three different levels (easy, advanced, and expert). So the game is played like tic tac toe but in order for you to put your mark down (an X or an O) you must complete an operation (just one operation per game). This can also be played without the application (create a Tic Tac Toe page, write down addition questions in each box and ask the student to complete the question before putting their mark down).

Anyways, those are two applications that I find helpful in tutoring. What are two applications that you find helpful?

T

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tutoring: ZAP IT Sight Word Game & ACHIEVEMENT CHART

Hello friends,

Like many newly graduated teacher candidates, I am currently in the business of private tutoring. I did not set out for this adventure as I had a weird experience with a statistics tutor in my third year of university and I felt like it was a money grab. However, I was approached by someone my sister and I had grown up with and she asked me to tutor her daughter who is in grade two. Having tutored two grade 2 boys in my first placement at Trent, I felt certain that I could do a decent job.

So I met Melanie and we filled out Get to know you mad-libs (see previous post) and I began to get to know her and what types of books she would like to read, where she was in math etc...

Since then, I have purchased to workbooks (one in math and one in reading) and I was given a list of sight words by her teacher that she should work on. So being an avid Pinterest user, I remembered a fun sight word game with coloured Popsicle sticks called Zap It! You write down the sight words you wish the student(s) to practice on Popsicle sticks and then you also write several Popsicle sticks saying Zap It! Using a timer (I use one on my iPod) you race with the student to see how many words you can read but when one person gets ZAP IT! all of the Popsicle sticks go back in the bin.

Here is the game ZAP IT!



Also, to keep Melanie motivated with each tutoring activity, I have created an achievement chart. For each activity we do (guided reading, worksheets, or games) she receives a sticker. For every 10 stickers she receives a treat.

Let me know if you tutor students and if so, what types of activities do you use? I am considering advertising online to see if I can get more clients. Let me know if you have any tips.

DFTBA,
T

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After School Program

It has been awhile since I last posted. I am very sorry for the delay in posting. Since last year I have completed both a placement in an early learning kindergarten class and a combined grade 4/5 class. I learned a lot from both placements. My final, alternative placement was completing anti-homophobia workshops throughout a school board which was also very interesting.

I am now currently working at an after school program Monday-Friday. The program is located at an elementary school within the city I live (finally, a local connection) and I am really enjoying it.

The main focus of the after school program is physical activity and healthy living. We play a lot of games and that is fun but sometimes participation can be low (they have had a full day of school and want free time) and to get the kids active, I will use music. I love when kids get excited to dance and play games to music but I am always looking for good quality children's music.

If you were to ask me to put a playlist together for a party for adults I would have no problem but when it comes to music for kids 6-12, there is not much out there. I find the music from The Wiggles is too babyish and music that provides learning (The Gingerbread man song) seems lame and silly to the kids. I don't have access to a SMART board or else I would use some YouTube videos to help us out. I have come up with a pretty good list but I know the kids will get board of these:


  • The Cha-Cha slide (they really like this one)
  • The Macarena
  • Witch Doctor: Ooh Eeh Ooh Ahh Ahh
  • Limbo Rock
  • Clean up Robot
  • Chicken Dance
  • Cotton Eyed Joe
I feel that because it is children's music, people are less focused on creating quality music and just focus on creating music for kids. I think all children deserve good quality music, tv programming, and especially books. 

Which songs do you recommend when working with children?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Closing Statement

I am currently wrapping up my year in the faculty of education by creating my Teaching Portfolio and with my portfolio comes a mock interview with my faculty advisor. At the end of my mock interview I will be asked to provide a closing statement on why a school board should hire me and this is what I have come up with:

Closing Statement:

I did not stumble randomly into teaching, I have had a clear goal since leaving elementary school and that was to become a teacher so that I could make sure that no student of mine would have had the not-so-good experiences that I had in school. The goal has always been clear but the road to achieving that goal has been bumpy. I have faced a lot of adversity in  becoming a teacher and instead of giving up, I became more dedicated. I might be the most outgoing or enthusiastic person you will interview today but I can tell you that I am the most dedicated and passionate. The most important highlight of my teaching career so far has been my creation of a unit on bullying for a grade 4/5 class that I was able to teach. This unit was cross-curricular with drama, visual arts, writing, and oral communication and involved the students writing plays on anti-bullying and creating a sock puppet show with those plays. This unit allowed me to help create an inclusive classroom environment all the while enticing my passion of having no student feeling that they are alone or unwanted in the classroom. If you want to hire a dedicated and compassionate teacher, you will hire me.

T.

Any thoughts or opinions on my closing statement would be appreciated.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Placement Tomorrow

This is it, the big leagues...kindergarten!

I start in a full day kindergarten class tomorrow which I am very excited about. I am nervous because we never discussed the kindergarten curriculum in depth in any class and so I feel a little blind going in.

However, my associate teacher and ECE I get to work with seem very lovely and informative. I am sure they will teach me what I need to know. I met the class a week and a half ago and they seem like great students.

I keep meaning to post about the creative projects I have completed but I haven't gotten around to it. This is just an update so stay tuned for more on what teaching kindergarten will be like.
Tara

Friday, January 4, 2013

Best Teaching Practice: Making Agendas Practical

Sadly, it is almost the end of my holidays and I will be back in the classroom for the month of January before I go out on my extended placement. With the end of the holidays comes the scramble of getting assignments completed that I should have done at the beginning of my holidays but I was distracted by free time and my big comfy bed.

In my practicum class we discuss best practices from my our initial placements and after the break, my turn comes up. I have decided to do a best practice of the agendas that my lovely associate teacher used in her classroom. The activity sheet can be found on Jamie's blog or on pinterest.

So here is a snippet of the handout I will give my practicum class:


Class: combined 2/3
What is it?
Instead of a regular agenda with large blocks for Monday-Friday and small blocks on Saturday and Sunday, the students were given a binded package of the same activity sheets. The activity sheet included a Number of the Day with which the teacher would write on a special spot on the chalkboard each day and the students were required to answer questions about that number. Then the teacher would also write a new sentence each day on the chalkboard that was grammatically incorrect and had spelling errors “dont 4get to be safe trick-or-tweating”. The students would then write down in the space provided the corrected version of the sentence. In the second line, if there was any correspondence with teachers and parents, it would be written in that line. Since the agendas were not looked at daily, the students would know when to show the teacher their agenda if there was a correspondence from their parent.
When did it occur: Each day the students had an 80 minute math block at the end of the day and the first 15-20 minutes was given to the students to work on their agendas.
How often did the agenda booklets change: Approximately every few months.
Positives of this practice:
I thought that this practice worked really well for the grade level of the class and because they did not receive any homework. On Thursday they had a file to take home with any handouts that were meant for their parents (i.e. permission forms, notices etc…) with their parents but other than that, there was nothing required for them to write in a regular agenda. I also liked how it was a good routine for the students, each of them new that after the last recess, they were to come in and get their agendas and start working on it.

Let me know what you think of the idea!
Later days, 
Tara