Thursday, 20 December 2012

Goodbye 2012 School Year

And then there was one day left...

This week was such a hectic and busy week. It is the week before Christmas, the last week of the school year, the week of graduation and also the week to pack up our whole school to move to our new site.

I can't believe the end of the year is already here. As a sixth grade teacher, I am full of emotion seeing my students get ready for high school. On Tuesday night, we held their graduation ceremony. It was a lovely night and the kids had a blast. I am so glad that we are able to give our students such a wonderful send off.  (Check out the wonderful cake we had made for our graduates!)

The remainder of this week has been spent wrapping up the school year and moving all at once. Teaching in a classroom with no chairs, whiteboards and desks proves to be a tricky task but all the teachers seem to be adapting their lessons very well. It definitely makes you appreciate how lucky we are to teach in a country where those resources are so readily available.

And today I got to meet my new class. I am so excited with the students I have and for what is in store next year. I am overwhelmed with a mix of emotions; sad to see my six's move on to high school, while being excited for them at the same time, and also being excited for a new school year.  Less than 5 more teaching hours left and this school year is over. Good bye 2012 school year, it has been a pleasure!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Perimeter and Area Challenge

Today's measurement task: To construct 4 different rectangles, two with a perimeter of 24cm and two with an area of 24cm squared. 

Students were given these simple instructions and off they went. Some students began to use their knowledge of times tables and recognized how that could help them. Others struggled with understanding the concept of perimeter but used unifix blocks to help them.

And our results during share time were the following:

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wow! Two weeks left...

Seriously, two weeks left...where has the time gone. It is almost the end of the year and I am faced with mixed emotions as expected. This year has been challenging, exciting, rewarding and definitely a year of professional growth for myself. 

My students are moving on to high school and I feel like they are my little babies and I want to protect them but know that I can't. I just hope that I have prepared them as much as I could. 

And...graduation is in one more week! ***mini heart attack*** I've been a ball of stress lately over running graduation. This is the first time I've been the one leading the organisation of this event and boy is it ever a big job. One week left and we still need to practise our songs, order the balloons, get pictures printed, frame our pictures, do a dress rehearsal and sound check, etc, etc, the list goes on....

On a very positive note, today I got to meet my new team members and plan for next year. It was really sad to not be planning for next year with the same team I've had for nearly two years. But at the same time, it was wonderful to meet the two new staff members who are joining our team. They are super keen and seem like they will fit right in no problem. Today was a very exciting day as we planned out new topics of study and how we are going to run our year level next year. And at the beginning of next year, we will be moving into a shiny brand new school!!! ***exciting*** So there is a lot that will be new for us as teachers as well as the students. It will be a joint learning experience. Our new school is an open concept teaching and learning space, so for those who do not know what that is, it basically is one large space without distinct teaching classrooms. All of the 5/6 teachers are responsible for all of the 5/6 students, although we do have home groups for administration purposes. We have been moving slowly towards this concept but next year will be a huge change. And as much as I am nervous, I am also very excited to see how it all pans out. 

Two more weeks...two more weeks... oh and did I mention that I am going home (Canada) for Christmas. Which means I have to plan graduation, organise the end of the year, start planning for next year andddddd pack for my holidays all in two weeks!!! Hopefully I can keep my blog up to speed on all the exciting adventures in store. :)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nominated for the Liebster Award!!!

Thank you to Amanda Kilgore from 6th Grade and Going   for the nomination. 

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated, and to help spread the word about new blogs.

 There are some rules that go along with it...
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
5. No tag back.

 Okay, then. Let's get started.

11 Random Things About Me

1. I have played softball for more than half of my life. 
2. My partner is more than a foot taller than me. 
3. I have a small...ok, very large obsession with Taylor Swift.
4. My absolute favourite place in Australia is Byron Bay! So amazing!
5. I have traveled to 11 countries and countless number of cities. (adding two more countries to the list in less than two weeks)
6. I am a reality show junkie although it is hard to find time to watch TV. Jersey Shore, The Hills, any reality name it, I love it. 
7. My favourite book is still the Kite Runner (nothing has topped it yet).
8. I love board games, especially Cranium. This is where my competitive side comes out. 
9. I started playing a new sport (netball) at the age of 26 and although I am still developing my skills, I love every game that I play. 
10. Even though Australian's don't celebrate Halloween, it is still my favourite holiday. 
11. Fireworks make me excited every single time.

6th Grade and Going's questions for me

1. What is your favorite band? Band...hmmm that's tricky, so let me go back to my youth and say Backstreet Boys.
2. If you could do anything in life with no limitations, what would you do? I would love to teach children in developing countries and help them develop their language skills and entrepreneurship capabilities.
3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and who would you take with you? I would love to go the Maldives with my partner.
4. What is the best moment that you have had as a teacher? There are so many, but I think the day that I left my old contract and the overwhelming thank you's from students and presents that they bought with their own allowances was just an amazing experience.
5. What is your pet peeve? When people don't change the toilet paper roll.
6. What is your favorite movie? Toss up between Dirty Dancing and Grease.
7. If you had to eat one thing every day for life what would it be? Lobster, lobster and more lobster.
8. What time do you wake up? For work, 5:50am. On the weekends, around 8am because the sun wakes me up.
9. What is/will be the name of your first born? I have no idea.
10. What did you have for breakfast today? A banana.
11. Would you choose teaching if given the chance to go back and do it all over again? Absolutely!!!

11 Questions for the People I nominate:
1. What is your favorite band?
2. If you could do anything in life with no limitations, what would you do?
3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and who would you take with you?
4. What is the best moment that you have had as a teacher?
5. What is your pet peeve?
6. What is your favorite movie?
7. If you had to eat one thing every day for life what would it be?
8. What time do you wake up?
9. What is/will be the name of your first born?
10. What did you have for breakfast today?
11. Would you choose teaching if given the chance to go back and do it all over again?
11 Blogs that I love:

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Definition of Perimeter and Area

My learning coach presented this activity to me to use in the classroom as we are working on measurement. It focuses on the use of a learning objective and summary of learning after the task is complete.

As a class, we came up with our own definition for perimeter and area. It needed some prompts and the definitions aren't perfect but they are what the best that the kids came up with and what they will use to remember. When we finished our lesson, students wrote on a sticky note what they had learnt that day and posted the sticky notes in the Summary of our Learning section. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Incredibly Shrinking Notes

The third strategy we used in summarising was "Incredibly Shrinking Notes" (the other ones were One Dollar Sentences and Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then).

For our example in class, we watched a video from Behind the News about Gangnam Style. I thought I would pick a topic that students are interested in so that they could learn what Gangnam Style is actually about since it is the new craze. 

We watched the video first and students jotted down all the facts they could remember from the video.  We came up with a list of ten different facts.

Next, we began to shrink our notes. As a class, we selected the five most important facts that we thought reflected the main idea of the video. This proves to be a challenging activity as some students struggle to decide facts that are related to the main idea and those facts that are supporting details. 

And finally, we created one sentence to reflect what we believed the main idea of the video was by taking two to three of our facts and placing it into a sentence.

And that, folks, is how you incredibly shrink your notes.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Maths Vocabulary Posters

The importance of using proper terminology in maths has been proven in numerous studies. Thus, when beginning new units in maths, I also make sure that we come up with a class vocabulary poster. This poster begins with all the vocabulary that the students initially can think of that relate to the topic and as we work through the unit, we add more words to the poster. 

This is also very important for any EAL students in your classroom as it helps them to develop their knowledge of the English language and add to their maths vocabulary. 

Here are some examples from different maths units in my class:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Planning for a Narrative

To help students get used to creating a plan for a narrative, we did a bit of practise. 

We began by creating massive lists for "setting", "characters", and "plot" and all students in the class contributed their ideas to our class posters. This helped generate ideas of what you could write a narrative about. 

In the next session when we introduced the planning template to the students, our class completed the following activity. I wrote each different idea for characters (ex. cowboys, astronauts, doctors, aliens) and each different idea for settings (ex. beach, archeology dig, museum, bank) on little slips of paper. 

One by one, each students came up and selected one paper for setting and one paper for characters from a jar. They then had to create a plot and storyline that involved the settings and characters they selected and complete a planning document for that.

An example is the following:

Setting: Outer Space

Characters: Cowboys

(Students had to create their own plots related to those items)

Plot: Cowboys get trapped in outer space as punishment for losing a rodeo. 

Resolution: The cowboys use their lassos to catch Earth and drag themselves back to Earth. 

This activity was wonderful and students had so much fun coming up with all their amazing creative ideas. Also, this activity is great for EAL students as it forces them to think outside of what they are familiar with. An EAL student in my class picked "ocean" as his setting and "soccer players" as his characters. He knew what soccer players were as he loves soccer but had to ask what the "ocean" was. After explaining to him and showing him a picture, he knew exactly what it was and was then able to plan a story.