Looking for a new twist on a Christmas tree art project. We’ve searched high and low to find and test out some of our favourites and here they are just for you!
When composing pieces like these we often encourage students to use an odd number of objects. We also ask them to have part of their drawing go off the page. Students have a page to use to practice the steps or skills before trying out their “good copy.” Give students direct instruction on how to use pastels, paint brushes or how to complete specific strokes. Don’t forget to teach students how to look after the different materials and resources.
Let’s get started. Continue Reading
Are you looking for a twist on a Book Club? Using Google Hangouts can be just the twist you need to get students reading, writing and talking about books. If you need a lesson on how to use Google Hangouts, you can check out the lessons from Google. Continue Reading
Our students love to have some choice over what they read as part of the Language Arts program. Book Clubs are one way to encourage reading and discussions-just like adults do. Students read for enjoyment and then talk about what they have read and recommend books to others. Continue Reading
As we were growing up, many of us had family members who had served in World War II. It was easier to understand the purpose of Remembrance Day when Grandpa would wear his medals to our school service. Our current students are a few generations removed from that war, though some have had family members serve in Korea, Afghanistan or with the United Nations Peacekeepers. It is difficult for some of them to understand the abstractness of war, so it is even more important for us to give them a realistic view of those events. Continue Reading
Incorporating the stories and culture of Indigenous people is important to us. It’s woven throughout our subject areas, but we often look for other places to provide opportunities to bring cultures together. Some years we’ve had several students who share their Cree and Dene cultures with us. Other years we’ve had no one in our classroom with a direct connection to our Indigenous people We want all of our students to feel connected to the history of our country and the people who were here first.
So, in what ways do we bring the Indigenous culture to our school and classroom? Continue Reading
How do we create a classroom community where all students feel they are equal and belong? It turns out we’ve had more combined grade classes that straight grade classes since we began teaching, so we can’t imagine teaching any other way. First of all, we call it a combined class rather than a split class. It’s the first thing we do with parents because our combined classes are not like the old ‘split’ classes.
When students come into our classroom on the first day of school they immediately collect into two different groups-the lower grade and the upper grade. They don’t know each other well and like to sit with their friends. We don’t give students a seating plan right away (or sometimes at all) so we can see which relationships form or are already in place, but then we slowly start changing their mindset about the combined class.
So, what are our secrets?
Read aloud novels are a huge part of our daily literacy routine. We built in fifteen minutes each day where one of us reads from a novel to our students. It is important (even at the higher grades) to model fluency, self-monitoring and questioning techniques when reading aloud to students and we include these minutes in our weekly Language Arts minutes.
Another bonus to having a novel always as the ready is to use it after transitions like recess or lunch to calm students or to fill those minutes between transitions when you’re waiting for another teacher or moving to another location.
Each year we select a theme for choosing our read aloud novels and this year’s theme was protagonists that face their fears. Our goal was to show students that like real people, characters are not perfect and can be challenged to become stronger. Continue Reading
The year has started. Things are starting to settle and it’s time to count your blessings in the classroom. We call the start of year through Thanksgiving (well, Canadian Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October) the beta period. It’s the time of year to try things out, get to know the students, build relationships and set up the year for success.
The beta period is not the time of year we spend getting deep into content. We review. We read. We talk about what is coming next. We check out our skills and show what we can or can’t do.
It’s the perfect time to take a look at what’s working, what’s starting to work and what needs to be scrapped. It’s time to count our blessings and make a list of all the things we are thankful for in our classroom. So, here is a little checklist we use to decide how are things working so far. Continue Reading
Having trouble getting students to want to try new books? Try having students do the recommending.
We’ve started using recommendations-super simple recommendations-to get students to convince other students to read.
It was so simple, we weren’t really expecting the effect to take off.
Step 1: A student reads a book.
Step 2: The student fills out a recommendation sticky note.
Step 3: The sticky note is placed on the cover of the book.
Step 4: Place the recommended book out for viewing. This could be on a shelf of recommended books or a basket of recommendations.
Step 5: Keep repeating the process as students start recommending more books.
We stepped this up a notch with our junior high students by encouraging them to post about their recommendation on social media by tagging our library Instagram account. The librarian then printed some of these pictures and added them to our recommendation display. They were quite excited to get the attention causing many more students to take part.
Here are our sticky note recommendations that you can use for free, too. We also have READO in our store in English and French. It is designed to get students reading a variety of genres and we use it as our home reading program.
What are some of the ways your encourage readers in your room or at the library? Leave us a comment below.
Project based learning can be a challenge because it moves the control from the teacher to the student. When we began our teaching journey, controlling every aspect of student work from beginning to end seemed like the right thing to do. As we’ve evolved as teachers, we learned that loosening the reigns has many benefits. Check out some of the best reasons we use project based learning in our classroom. Continue Reading