Friday, November 29, 2013

Parent-teacher interviews

Many teachers find parent-teacher interviews to be a very stressful time of year. It is a time where you sometimes have to have difficult conversations with parents, and it's easy to get caught up in the anxiety these conversations bring.

This year, I found myself getting a bit nervous as I geared up for interviews (although I am fortunate this year to have very positive feedback to report). And so, I decided to go with a more student-centered approach to interviews. Although many of my students would not be present at the interviews, we decided to prepare a display for parents that would showcase their best work. 

Students were asked to select three pieces of work from the term that they were proud of, and write about it. They made a small label for each piece that explained why they were proud of each piece. 

Then, the fun (and adorable!) part! We made self-portraits on card stock, that I then spent about two hours (!!!) taping into place on each chair. The finished product was well worth the effort...

Parents thought it was fantastic to walk into a class seemingly full of kids (and I admit, I had to do several double-takes the night before interviews, when I was alone in my classroom prepping for interviews!) 

Some of the kids' expressions are downright hilarious, and I found it really interesting to see how they saw themselves (or wanted to present themselves to others!) You can see the three pieces of work laying out on the students' desks, ready for their parents to take a look. 

Overall, this project was so much fun, although a word of warning to anyone wanting to try it-- we did ours on bristol board and they were really floppy, so in the end I had to tape rulers to the back of each portrait to make it rigid. Next time, I would probably recommend using cardboard to make the portraits. 

If you're looking for a fun way to spice up interview night, this is definitely it! 

~ B

Sunday, November 10, 2013

La chasse des mots

I hope everyone is enjoying a nice Sunday! Yesterday we had our first real snowfall, with big fluffy flakes coming down, so it's feeling more and more like winter.

Right now I'm cuddled up with a scarf and a big cup of Earl Grey tea (<3) and I wanted to take a moment to share a fun idea for practicing phonological awareness in your classroom. 

I found this awesome activity last week, and decided that in my classroom it would work best as a shared activity. My students LOVED it!

I prepared a large tree, in this case with the sound "au", and students then went to work finding "au" words to decorate our tree. They looked in books around our classroom, and each time they found an "au" word, they would check the tree to make sure it wasn't already there, and then write it on a leaf, colour it, and stick it up! They worked in small groups (2-3 kids) and it went swimmingly.

The finished tree is not only beautiful on our wall, but also lends itself to so many other fun games, such as counting the leaves, seeing who can explain the meaning of certain words, playing I-spy (I spy a word with four letters...), and even playing twenty questions (does the word start with the letter a?)

I plan to continue this with other sounds as we go throughout the year, and I've also shared the activity with parents as something they can do at home for extra practice.

Have fun, and keep warm!