Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Story Mapping

Just a quick share. I created a fun little story map that I'll be using with my reading groups in the coming weeks. Hopefully the room for pictures will help some of my lower learners with the language barrier...
Hope it helps!

- Amanda

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Weekend in Bahrain

It was only two nights, but it felt oh-so great to get away. We stayed at a great hotel {mainly because we got a Great deal, thanks to Agoda} and had a nice old time. We didn't see a ton, but we did a lot of walking around the Juffair area and were able to enjoy some {adult} beverages...!

The Old Palace

At the Gold Souq

It really was a lovely trip. We had massages {and even if some parts of this one felt like actual torture, I love the tradition we have of getting massages in all the countries we visit!}, marveled at the more western feel, despite how close we are in Kuwait, and just slowed down for two entire days. One thing that threw me, though, one thing that I was really, really, really not ready for, in the least, not even close, hadn't fully considered despite all the travel-blogger warnings, was the prostitution. I was shocked by the blatant hooker-client negotiations I witnessed! Shocked. I have never seen such obvious prostitution anywhere that I've ever been, and that includes the heart of Bangkok! It made me feel very lucky to lead the life I do. To put it into perspective, it makes me see my job as a teacher as even more important.

Another bit of a disappointment is the fact that I didn't bring my Kobo! So sad. I think it's the first trip I've ever taken without a book... And speaking of books on vacation, at Christmas in Sri Lanka I read a hilarious book that I highly recommend called The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost. I forgot to add it to my post way back then. If you're looking for a great island read, this is it!The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

Listen to me going on about "disappointments" after a weekend vacation! Bahrain will see me again, of that I am certain. I admit I had really great feelings as we wandered through the city. I'll quit rambling and leave you with just a couple more photos for today.
Here I am in the cold seaside wind

Jeff and I are looking forward to the next long weekend trip - who knows when - but for now, it's back to the grind. I've been working on a few documents today that I will share later on!

- Amanda

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some fractions stuff I didn't quite get to...

Awhile ago I made a little printable to use with our fractions unit. I wanted an activity that was hands-on for my kids and that showed them exactly what it means to cut a shape in half to create a fraction by...yep, cutting a shape in half. And in thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. I didn't have time to get to it before the unit was over, but here are a couple pages at any rate:

It took me quite awhile to make considering a glitchy text box {that only showed when I saved as PDF, of course} and the fact that I neglected to consider the size of the margins for the fraction parts! Anyway, feel free to Click here to download. The title page border is by From the Pond and the font is His Name is Honey from Kevin and Amanda.

I also wanted to make fraction bookmarks after seeing the teacher wife's photo here. {She has such cute units!} But again, didn't quite get to them. But since reading is not a regular extra-curricular for a lot of my class, I'm not heartbroken. {They have reading strategies bookmarks that we use often in class anyway!}

We did, however, get to the test {haha} - it's a plain old boring test. It's really quite simple, but download here in case you're looking for something...simple?

Hope someone out there can use any of this!

OH! And, I found a great clip art site for educators: ClipArt ETC. It's where I found the fractions pies and strips. There are all kinds of things that could be useful. Happy creating!

- Amanda

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ahhh, weekend!

It's finally here...

It was a long week. Longer than most. At our school this week we had International Week presentations AND Kuwait National Day assemblies and performances AND a school-wide BBQ AND a ton of stress-filled fun. I am so happy that my class enjoyed this week - SO HAPPY behaviour issues were at a minimum. In fact, one day I actually had EVERY student in my class at "Amazing!" And that's simply amazing. In retrospect, it really was a great week. Difficult, yes, and I probably complained too much, but in the end it was pretty fun.

One day happened to be so stressful, though, that Jeff and I went straight home from school {early even - gasp!} and booked tickets to Bahrain for our four-day weekend. So looking forward to this!

Anyway, here are just a few photos of the things that happened this week:

We hosted a lot of kids in our classroom this week to present our learning about Peru. My students were so cute and helpful with all of the SK classes {there are five altogether!} and it made me love their crazy antics more.

For our presentation, my students explained the symbols on Peru's coat of arms and then we had each visiting student complete a personal coat of arms. This is one of my favs.

We read "Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus!" by Mo Willems and created our own "rules" for the pigeon. This one is just the sweetest.

 I was inspired by The First Grade Parade's fraction caterpillars. Of course, hers are MUCH cuter, but it was still a fun little project.

Today we used our Language Arts time to create our penguin books. They look great! We read a couple non-fiction books together and then recalled some of the new facts. The cutting was not as tedious as I expected! See my post here for the printable. I love that this kid has henna all over her hands - who's teaching a penguin unit in a desert country? Yep, that's me.

And today, since I only had 11 of my 21 students, we did "The Blubber Glove" experiment to find our how penguins stay warm in their natural habitat. So fun and the kids Loved it! I found instructions here. Not gonna lie, though - I'm not sure I would do this experiment with a whole class! They were just too excited. I love how this penguin unit is shaping up! I'll have to combine all of the ideas into a grand unit plan. {Ooops - isn't that what we're supposed to do BEFORE we teach? Because we use our text books Sunday through Wednesday I really only have time for fun fillers on Thursdays.}

I'll be posting a few fractions printables next, but only if I get to post before we fly out. In that case, I think the next post will have to be photos from Bahrain!

Happy almost weekend to all of my western buds and happy long weekend to all of my middle eastern buds. Enjoy!

- Amanda

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I just got really excited about this idea!

So excited, in fact, that I thought I'd write a blog post straight away! I just received my follower update from that artist woman and she shared this fantastic acrostic poem book idea: 

How cute, right? I LOVE HER BLOG! Gail is also a very kind blogger AND Canadian to boot! She has so many great Language-Art-Social Studies connections that you're bound to find something you can use on her site.

I have decided to use this book idea in my classroom with my lingering unit on penguins, because I know that my ESL learners struggle with acrostic poetry {flashback to a Social Studies lesson in my room where my students
failed miserably intried creating poems with their first names ...sigh}. Anyway, I don't have a lot of the materials she used, so I'm majorly simplifying her idea to create a fact booklet. I just made this super quick template:

All the kids have to do is try to cut as nicely as possible on the black lines {workin' on those fine motor skills!} and then we will staple the pages together. Ta da! I'll post again when I have some finished products! Download my fact book here, if you'd like.

Friday, February 17, 2012

clip chart revisited

This week, I thought I'd focus on the great in my room. I made a bunch of positive phone calls home because I was feeling a little down about some of the really poor behaviour from some students in my class. Sometimes I don't think I give the wonderful kids enough of my attention...

I try to keep it positive in my room. Try. Sometimes it is draining, but I feel it is SO SO important. I realize that I rely on my clip chart a lot to focus my student's toward striving for the top. I love love love my clip chart! Often, all I have to do is walk toward or stand beside it to get the full attention of {most} of my little friends. I can tell that my students are working so hard to remember to listen and show respect, as there has been some major improvements in classroom behaviour. Phew! I still have one or two students that have never ended a day on "Amazing," which makes me very sad, but I just have to keep on trying...

Also, my class is loving the scratch cards, and I was SO pleased that I had to make more {...and maybe a little exhausted at the prospect of mixing and gluing the night I realized I needed more}!!! See my post about that here. I keep the scratched cards in a Ziploc on the white board as a little visual reminder for the class {OR maybe because I always forget which student has won what prize!}. After they have claimed the prize, I glue them into the kid's communication book so they can share their success with their family.

As teachers, one of the most important things we can do is share our student's great accomplishments with their family {no major epiphany, I know, but something not to be forgotten - no matter how busy I feel}. When a student ends the day on "Amazing," the next day I will glue a little happy note into his/her book so parents are consistently involved and can easily reference their child's behaviour. These are the new cards I made with illustrations from Nikki at MelonHeadz Illustrating and Michelle at Cre8ive Hands. They have the cutest art!

Feel free to grab these PDFs (five pages) here: Clip Chart notes home

I hope you can use them!

- Amanda

Monday, February 13, 2012

Still crafting!

Today we made our butterfly lollipop holders. They're pretty darn cute, too. What Valentine's Day craft is not cute, though? All those hearts and pastel colours...

All that is left to add is the sweet little treat {for the butterfly's head} and the friendly greeting.


On a completely non-teaching related note, a big thanks to Nine West for the great additions to my shoe family:

I took the black pair out for a test drive on Friday night - little too much dancing maybe for four inches. But, come on, how cute?!

Happy almost-Valentine's Day!

- Amanda

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Crafting

I spent way too much of my Saturday morning creating templates and examples for the Valentine's Day crafts we worked on today! I have to say, though, they turned out pretty great!

One of my team teachers had a cute little idea to make paper bag card holders. I saw these puppets

 here and decided to make the giraffe and the bear. I used Word and my good friend HB to make the giraffe template, so that one is not the most professional looking thing...whatever. I printed the templates on coloured paper to make life a whole lot easier! {I love teaching Art but find it stresses me out ha!} Just make sure the kids glue on the words so they don't show on the finished product.

Giraffe Templates:

Giraffe inner ear, nose and ossicones {Yep, I had to Google "giraffe antlers or horns" to find the actual name - ossicones!}

Giraffe head and ears {Not too pretty, but it works.}

Bear Templates:

Bear ears and nose

Bear inner ear and mouth

The last craft we will create is the cute little butterfly lollipop gift that I'm sure you've seen fluttering around the blogosphere lately. We will be exchanging these after randomly drawing names so that each of the grade two classes can participate in a little gift-giving. Fun!

I'm looking forward to reading about all of the other great ideas teachers are sharing about their class Valentine's Day creations! Here's hoping checking out blogs doesn't become an unhealthy obsession...

- Amanda

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rice Pudding {affectionately known in 2C as Arroz con Leche}

Okay, so it isn't the "next" post...

At my school we have an "International Week" where each class chooses a country to study and thinks up some activities to bring into the classroom. I chose Peru, because it's where Jeff and I will go in the summer on our honeymoon! I've had to be pretty creative with this unit... I looked up some Peruvian cuisine and found a lot of recipes for Arroz con Leche. I LOVE rice pudding, so I had to do this one {plus it's cheap to make!}. Initially I wanted it to be something the class could make together, but rice pudding has to be made on the stovetop, so I decided to turn it into graphing and Language extension activities instead.

First, we tested the dessert, and I gave each student a cut out graphic of a bowl of rice. Then we graphed it: Love it; Like it; Do not like it. I only had two kids that didn't like it! Next we will interpret the results. In Language, the students will write the recipe as a list, then do a simple "First, Next, Last" writing activity based on my retell of the procedure and a few photos I took.

I love love love this recipe, and I was rather irritated when I misplaced it and had to put it back together from memory. It's a mix of different recipes I found online. It's super easy, but a bit time consuming, so keep that in mind.
  • 1/2 cup rice

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 cups warmed milk {I used one can of sweetened condensed milk and filled up to the 2 cup mark using regular milk}

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • Some vanilla
First, boil the rice with water, salt and cinnamon sticks in a pot. Lower and cook, covered, until there is no more liquid. As this works away, use a fork to mix the egg with the warm milk {so the eggs don't start to cook when you add it to the rice}. When the rice is ready, pour in the milk mixture and add the sugar. Stir constantly on the same low heat. Yep, it takes awhile. When it gets thick, add some vanilla, and stir it in well. Take the pot off the burner and it will continue to thicken as it cools.


- Amanda

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Water Cycle

That is one catchy title up there, if I do say so meself!

This week I introduced the Water Cycle and reinforced some of those tricky-for-language-learners terms (con-den-sa-tion; e-vap-or-a-tion - eek) and we did a super kinesthetic activity to reach the expectations: we made water cycle bracelets! I got this idea a long time ago from someone else, but do you think I could remember from whom? Of course not - so I googled it {Fact: "googled" is considered a transitive verb, is an entry in the OED (since 2006, actually!) and was first used by Larry Page himself. To further its merit, it was deemed the "most useful word" in 2002. Thanks, wikipedia! But I digress...}. As it turns out, this a fairly common activity! Ha - and I thought I was being interesting and thinking outside the box. Not to worry, I still think it's a great idea.

I separated yellow, green, white, and blue beads for each student in my class. I only separated one of each colour to ensure sanity maintenance during the lesson - any more and I'm sure I would have had my hands full with kids not following in sequence/stringing to slowly/stringing too quickly/eerrrgg. {I should note that ideally, there would be a clear bead in there to more closely represent the evaporation stage, but my big bin of IKEA beads just didn't have any so - ah, well.}

Yellow represents the sun, which heats up the water on the earth {green - or ideally dark blue, but again, ah, well}, which then evaporates {this would be the clear bead...} and travels up to clouds {white} where the vapour cools and condenses, causing precipitation {light blue}. And, as you know, we start the cycle over again... My students ate it right up! Today during parent-student-teacher conferences I got a few knowing chuckles from parents for still having mine strapped to my wrist. Great success!

I highly recommend using this lesson as a memorable and hands-on activity. Here is the worksheet I made for students to complete.

The cute little border is from Mel at From the Pond.

Happy blogging, all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Individual Word Walls

Last week I did a trial run of individual word walls. Here's how it worked:

I created a very simple table and added some of the words that I know some of my students can't read. A lot of them are VERY simple words, and that's a shame, despite everything I'm trying to do in class. The rest of the space in each box is reserved for words the students will add themselves. I printed the "word walls" and placed them in binder protectors, then taped them to each student's desk. I have a long room, and it's pretty small, but some of students just can't see the word wall from their desks, and with all of the motivational and behavioural issues I deal with in my room, it is difficult to do any whole-class activities that focus on it. Plus, by the time some students get to the carpet from their desk to stare up at it, they have forgotten why they went there in the first place!

When I introduced these word walls to the class, I told them it was a gift from dear teacher, because I love them soooo much! {I tell my students I love them everyday. Every.Single.Day. Even when I'm annoyed. In fact, often when I'm annoyed. Maybe that's to help me keep my cool. Ha!} I want them to have somewhere to find words that they don't know how to spell, and somewhere to add new words that interest them. I really tried to hype this up. I was shocked and pleased when all day after that I had students asking if they could add new words to their word wall! The first word request was "predict" after a Science experiment we had to start early in the morning. Awesome. So far, a success! I hope it works out because it could be a huge benefit teaching ESL. Download the file here, if you please. I left it as a Word doc so you can edit the words.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Imagine my surprise!

The other day when we started Math centers, a student looked through his group's bucket at the task cards and asked: "Miss, is it only subtraction?" To which I replied, "Yes, my friend, just subtraction this time." He quickly leaned over to a friend, and in a very concerned voice, groaned, "Ohhh, only subtraction." I was thrilled, to say the least! I am so happy that my students are starting to love Math centers as much as I do. I even got a class-wide"Yay!" the last time I announced we were about to start centers. {Double yay!}

Anyway, to rectify this little *issue* {haha} I made these addition task cards to use during centers. Super simple, but cute, thanks to Mel at From the Pond and Nikki at Melonheadz Illustrating.

Download these addition cards here!

Here's a little look at the rotation we had goin' on last week. Fun stuff!

Before the break I posted about a gingerbread measurement activity I got from Grade ONEderful. Well, I put it into center rotation to go along with our measurement unit {just finished} and because a lot of students didn't show up for the last day of school {no big surprise at my school}. They had a ton of fun with this! Also, I adapted her worksheet for Canadian units, but I see now she has one! Just check out her post {above} to grab one. The whole class loved this center!

This is the infamous subtraction center. I got the cards from Amy Lemons at Step into 2nd Grade. It's a great I-Spy activity {even if I couldn't use it as an I-Spy because some of my students would take advantage} so if you need a quick printable, find these here.

Some of my students still struggle with fact families, so I try to slip 'em in here and there. I found this activity from Heather Price at Heather's Heart and the class loved the penguin theme. Find them here.

The last center: estimating 100 steps. Have I mentioned yet how wonderful it is to have an EA with me for *MOST of the* day? It is so wonderful. Here she is with one group after they estimated and drew a picture together of how far 100 steps would take them from our classroom. They are about to test it out! The groups were all really excited for this one!

And finally, maybe you noticed the pages under protective paper taped to each student's desk in some of the photos. I made a quick "personal word wall" template for each student in my class - I'll post about that after my trial period!

I did promise a rice pudding recipe. After the bulletin board is finished and the graphing results totaled on Sunday with the class, I will put it up.

Hoppy Reading!

Nikki is so great - she already sent the graphics I requested! Which means I have already finished the Reader Response Forms I was working on. They are a little bit simple, but teaching ESL {and primary in general, I suppose}, I know they will get the point across. I plan to use them during my Guided Reading time.

 The forms include:

Some guiding questions {that I just pulled from Google after a quick search, so really, nothing too creative}

My favourite part

Text-to-Text, -Self, -World connectioins

Making predictions

Characters {likes and dislikes}

Alternate ending

If you're interested, download Reader Response Forms here!