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
Imagine a classroom where the students monitored themselves-and not in that “hall pass police officer” type of way. Imagine a classroom where students encouraged each other to keep the room tidy, put things way and treat each other with respect.
It’s possible, because each year we turn out a classroom full of polite and respectful students, but it takes work. Creating a sense of agency is just as important as all the math and reading skills.
What is a sense of agency? It is a student-centered approach to classroom management.
Here are some ways we create a sense of agency.
It’s the first day we’ve been allowed to reenter the school after a major renovation. It’s a disaster. Nothing we carefully packed up and labeled before summer break has been returned to the rooms they once belonged and school starts in ONE day! Yup! You heard that right.
What a nightmare! But fortunately we worked with the most amazing staff on the planet and came up with a solution to bring everyone’s anxiety level down to a manageable level. We hosted a walking set-up bus.
Here’s what we did. Continue Reading
At the beginning of the school year we work hard to teach students some basic courtesies to make everyone happier and keep students responsible for their learning space. these are five basic things we teach repeatedly during the first month of school to our upper elementary students. We also want to stress that just because this is how we do things, doesn’t mean these procedures will work ‘as is’ in your classroom. Feel free to solve the issues in your own way. Continue Reading
Teachers out there know that smell…the new crayon. It’s still perfect. It still has all its paper wrapping and is perfectly pointy. It hasn’t rubbed up against other crayons and gotten dirty. It hasn’t been dropped on the floor, or broken in half or left in the lost and found bin with a bunch of broken crayons. And if you close your eyes and take a whiff of that new crayon, you can still transport yourself back to your childhood. For teachers, the crayon smell is a high. For students, not so much.
Do you like a lighthearted and fun prank? Do you have students that enjoy a good laugh? Are you looking for a way to celebrate April Fool’s Day? Continue Reading
Do you need an activity that you can use to teach students about color while making something special for Valentine’s Day? Do you dread having to find something do for Valentine’s Day? Are you a Valentine’s Day fool? Or Scrooge? This is for you!
There are several variations to make this project listed below, but basically it’s a tree with heart-shaped leaves. Sounds great, right?
Who doesn’t need a heart-shaped leaf?
Recommended Materials: paper, water-soluble markers (Crayola and Mr. Sketch work best), watercolor paint, watercolor paintbrushes, coffee filters, ice cream pail lids or plastic plates, black thick marker (Sharpie works great), scissors, glue, spray bottle.
Remember, these are just recommendations. Feel free to take the idea and use it with whatever you have available. Continue Reading
Phew! You made it! Christmas is over, but remember how crazy and busy it was? That’s why we always get prepared one year in advance. Are we crazy? No, just thrifty.
Think about all the Christmas items you needed this year. How much did it all cost? More than you planned, right? Here are five things we buy right after Christmas for the next school year to save some money. Continue Reading
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
Here’s a great reason to eat potato chips. Have your students collect Pringles cans and upcycle them into a great holiday activity. This activity will work with other types of cans that made of cardboard with a metal base and plastic lid.
We made our cans into snowmen, penguins, Santas, elves and reindeer. Continue Reading