Saturday, July 12, 2014

A mid-summer day's post

After a bit of a blogging hiatus, I thought I would check in with an update. I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted... but I'm sure other teachers can relate, the end of the school year can be an all-consuming and exhausting blur! Finishing up assessments, working on report cards, and getting my classroom ready for the summer took up allllll of my time, and I'm really only now starting to recover :)

I have to say that teaching grade 2 was a fantastic experience and I LOVED those kids. And the grade. It's such a great age, and there is so much you can do with the curriculum. I loved how they blossomed into fluent readers over the course of the school year... and the WRITING, ohmygoodness. Coming from a kindie background, these kids blew me away with their progression into writing. I can honestly say that by the end of the year, I had read stories that were funny, clever, suspenseful, engaging, and exciting... all from 7 and 8 year olds! 

That being said, as much as I've loved grade 2, in September I will be returning to another awesome grade-- grade 1. I've taught grade 1 for three years in the past, and it's right up there as one of my most-loved grades to teach. I'm excited to return to grade 1 and build on what I already know, making it the best year yet. 

For any of you who follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, this will mean a slight shift in focus in my store. You'll see new worksheets that are applicable to grade 1, but also units that are multi-level (suitable for all Primary grades)... not to mention a lot more center-based activities. I hope that you continue to find my products useful in your classroom!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Van Gogh artist study

Bonjour! I can't believe it is already April!!! I don't know about the weather where you live, but it has only just begun to feel like spring here in Ottawa within the past few days. Finally!! I am SO ready for sunshine and flowers :)

I wanted to share a really fun art project I did with my class that they absolutely loved, and that makes a really gorgeous display of art in the hallways.

First, we spent some time looking at several paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and discussing the lines, colour, and sense of movement in his pieces. After we had spent time becoming familiar with his style, the students then began to recreate a piece of his art using pastels on black construction paper.


They sketched their drawing in pencil and then filled it in with either oil pastels or chalk pastels. I was so impressed with their focus and attention to detail!

Many students opted to attempt a second piece after they were finished their first, and some even did multiple. Interestingly, while many of my students were keen to try reproducing different pieces of Van Gogh, I had a couple of kids who became determined to recreate the same painting over and over, and you could really see the style and attention to detail developing in their work as they made it their own :)

In all, we spent 4 art classes studying Van Gogh over a period of about two weeks.

The finished works of art are on display in the hallway outside my classroom. They are absolutely beautiful! I really encourage you to try this activity in your class, and leave a comment or share pictures if you do! :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Earth Hour

Since Earth Hour falls this Saturday, we have been talking a lot (even more than usual) about the environment and what we can to to reduce our carbon footprint.

I like to take the opportunity to also encourage my students' families to participate in Earth Hour, not only because it's good for awareness, but also because it can be a really enjoyable experience for families. Several years ago, I started marking Earth Hour with my family as a time to turn off the lights, light some nice candles, and pull out a board game or a puzzle. It's calmer, lots of fun, and it soon turned into something that I look forward to each year!

So, I wanted to share a list with you that I send out to parents of students in my class, in hopes that they also take the time to have some good old fashioned fun together!

Fun, family activities to do during Earth Hour:

- play a board game by candlelight
- go for a neighbourhood walk (incorporate math by counting & graphing the houses that have their lights off!)
- read together by candlelight
- build a puzzle
- play cards by candlelight
- colour together
- play charades
- go stargazing
- do yoga
- build a blanket fort
- make a domino maze... and then knock it over!
- build a city out of lego
- build a house of cards
- act out your family's favourite movie or book

Most of all, have fun! :)

~ B

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Classroom set-up (a tad late!)

  * EDIT:  I am having technical difficulties, as this post from back in the fall keeps reverting to draft. I apologize for those who have already seen it! *

Original post:

I hope all of your first weeks went wonderfully! I had a blast setting up my classroom, and though I didn't get a chance to share pictures before school started, I thought I'd share some now. My classroom decor was done on a budget, so it may not be as chic as some of the rooms I've seen out there, but I think it turned out nicely!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bonne Année!

Can you believe it's 2014 already? I, for one, know that I will end up writing 2013 at least a few dozen times (thanks to muscle memory) before I finally get it through my head that it's 2014(!)

2013 was a good year, full of many new things for me... I made the switch to teaching grade 2, which I couldn't be happier about. Seriously, these kids are just the BEST. Something about teaching kids who are capable and independent, yet haven't lost that sweetness and innocence of childhood is just wonderful. I truly look forward to going into work every day, and I know that not many people are fortunate enough to say that and mean it. Admittedly, I think I've said that "(blank) is my favourite grade EVER!" with every grade that I've taught so far... but I guess there are different things to love about kids of all ages. Grade one is a lot of fun because the kids are just learning to read and write, and again, are so open to eachother. They are incredibly tolerant of other kids, of differences, and have NO attitude or prejudice. They are just amazing. Kindergarten was a whole other kettle of fish... learning how to work with those little'uns was a huge adjustment, but man, kindies are HILARIOUS. I've never laughed so much on a daily basis... it was utterly exhausting keeping up with a class of four and five-year-olds, but oh-so-much fun. Thankfully, I am loving teaching grade 2 just as much (if not more!) than the other grades I have taught, and am so glad I was given the opportunity to take on this role in 2013.

2013 was also the year I discovered TPT. I had never heard of this marvellous site before, and I am so glad I stumbled upon it. It really is a fantastic idea; allowing educators to collaborate and share their creativity online, all while allowing you to be compensated for the immense effort and time spent creating teaching resources. For many years, I had scratched my head in wonder that it was really so necessary to 'reinvent the wheel' in teaching. Yes, I know there are (costly) programs available out there-- but without your school's willingness to invest in a program, you're really on your own. Not to mention that the resources I had seen up until that point were all very old, lackluster photocopies that didn't hold much excitement for me. Finding TPT was like hitting the jackpot-- there are so many cute, creative, and meaningful activities on that website! It's a goldmine! Admittedly, I do spend a lot of time trolling through the English resources and wishing they were available in French (sigh, the perpetual problem of a French teacher!) but there are some pretty great French activities available as well, and hopefully as time goes on the selection of resources will continue to grow.

I think the last major education-related thing that I began in 2013 was blogging. I've blog-stalked for years now, and have several blogs that I navigate to at least a few times a week. But, until this year, blogging was a new thing to me. I admit, at times it's still hard to sit down and write a post. Even when I'll think to myself "hey, it's been a while, I should make a blog post..." there's always that dilemma: do I have anything interesting to say? Anything that people will want to read? So to anyone reading this: thank you for sticking around as I get used to the whole blogging thing! :)

Is there anything new that you tried in 2013 and enjoyed? Anything you regretted?

Now that 2014 is here, I hope that you have all had a restful break and are looking forward to heading back to work. My class will be living through many changes, as we have a new student joining us and, I've just learned, another student leaving our class. Lots of transitions! But, I have a great group of kids and I'm confident it will go well. We go with the flow :)

My class and I will be starting our week with a discussion about resolutions: what are our strengths? Our weaknesses? What would we like to improve upon in 2014? As we write up our resolutions, I'll be using a mini-unit I put together called "Bonne année 2014".

{Bonne Année 2014!} A mini-unit for the New Year in Immers

Check it out if you're looking for a way to kick off the new year in your classroom!