You know that week in December when you’re constantly called down to the auditorium for concert rehearsals, some of your students are away sick, some have left for vacation early and you have to keep a classroom full of excited kids busy? Christmas is fun and all, but it’s so hard to keep kids interested in learning and it’s a challenging time to introduce new concepts with all those interruptions. What’s a teacher to do? Continue Reading
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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?
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
Teaching students to overcome challenges can be difficult when we live in a society that is all about getting things done quickly. We have technology, parents and constant distractions constantly telling students they can learn anything anytime with little or no effort. As a teacher, this is very challenging when students feel they’ve failed, get frustrated or give up right away.
This was what was happening in our classroom. Students that could manage challenges were more successful overall because they kept working until they got it. It felt like it was a lack of effort, but it was much more than that. So we started investigating and researching best practices to help us teach students to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Continue Reading
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
Brag Tags seem to be all over the place, but our students in grades four and five didn’t like all the little kid clip art and they weren’t going to be caught dead wearing a tag on a necklace, so we asked them what they wanted instead and they came up with a brilliant solution. Continue Reading
The Brain Ninjas are TWO YEARS OLD! On May 29, 2014 we officially opened our store. It was nearly two weeks later when we sold our first item and made a whopping $2.16 and from then on we were hooked. Continue Reading