Monday, 14 May 2018

Wonder Walls

If you're looking for a springboard for authentic discussion and research, beginning a "Wonder Wall" is the perfect place to start.  Students are filled with inquiry.  Often questions are asked and left unanswered.  Why does a an elephant have a small tail?  Why do skunks sleep during the day?  Why do birds fly?  I've often asked students to place their wondering on a wonder wall.   This is a fun way to jumpstart inquiry in your classroom.

Some benefits for generating a wonder wall:

  • critical thinking
  • igniting inquiry
  • extending and sharing learning
  • developing discourse with peers
  • generating unique ways to showcase learning
If you're looking for a bulletin board wall, this Wonder Wall  set has everything you need to get started. 

Sunday, 6 May 2018

$100 TPT Card Giveaway

I've teamed up with some amazing Tpt Teachers for a $100.00 gift card giveaway.  Just enter the rafflecopter below.

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 5/13/18 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Spring into Savings on April 22nd and 23rd

If you're looking for some great deals at 50% off, some teacher authors have joined in starting a #SPRINGSAVINGS hashtag sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Here a few of the deals:


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Super Bundles are 50% off on TpT - April 16th and 17th

Some Teachers Pay Teachers authors are advertising bundles for 50% off on April 16th and 17th, 2018.  Just search the hashtag #bundlebonanza

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Celebrating National Poetry Month

April is a great time to celebrate poetry reading, writing and a poetry cafe!  I've worked with the youngest of authors to create list poems and rhyming couplets.  I often work with older students who are writing diamante, haiku and shape poems. Once our writing has been completed, students are asked to select a few poems to read aloud. My goal is to transform the class into a fun cafe setting.  Here's the plan:

1)  Have students choose the poem they are proudest of.  Place the poem in a folder.  Have the students decorate the folder.  This can include hand drawn images or paper crafting activities (origami is always fun when you glue the creations onto the folder).   

2)  Have students practice reciting their poems.  Some may choose to do this from memory.  Others may decide to use the page that's in the folder.

3)  Talk about voice projection!  I usually have students stand opposite a partner across the room. They can project their voice.  Then the partner moves to the halfway point of the room. Voices are then projected to the halfway mark.  The partner moves close enough (within an earshot) for the last reading.  Voice projections are important.  I start with a warm up such as "Today is a wonderful day."  Students are encouraged to put on their best voices.

4) Create some handwritten invitations for students from other classes to attend.  Invite some parents or grandparents to attend.  You can even make this a community partnership.  Invite some of your local community members to attend.   

4)  Prior to the poetry cafe launch, make sure you have some tealight candles.  These must be the ones that you don't have to use a lighter to light.  I bought mine around Christmas when they were readily available.  They are distributed around the room.  Our desks are transformed into cafe tables.  You may choose to turn off most of the lights.

5) Have an author's stool or special chair for your budding authors.  Students are encouraged to wear author hats and dark clothing.

6) Students will come up and read their poems.  No clapping after that!  We use our snapping fingers.

7)  End with some cafe treats.  I often serve baked goods and juice boxes.

Here are some great free posters to help students comprehend literary devices and how they can be embedded in their written poetry creations:


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Author's Chair - Celebrating Student Writing

The Author’s Chair is a celebration of sharing a piece of writing.  It is considered a culminating task in the writing process.  The Author’s Chair is a good way to gain positive feedback from students’ peers.  An Author’s Chair has many purposes:

ü To develop ownership of a piece of writing
ü To develop learning skills that involve collaboration
ü To develop peer editing skills
ü To ensure motivation
ü To develop active listening skills as an audience
ü To reflect upon student work

     An Author’s Chair should have criteria co-constructed by both the teacher and students.  The teacher should model what reading in the Author’s Chair looks and sound like.  Some helpful hints to help your students look forward to their day in the Author's chair include:  

1) Providing a tag to wear.  Here's a sample:

2)  Validating the student's work with a certificate once the reading is completed

3)  Invite other students to come in to "hear" the author read.  A great example is if you have reading buddies or book buddies.  The "author" can showcase his or her work during reading time. 

4) Create an "Amazing Authors" bulletin board display showcasing students' work.

5) Ensure feedback is provided.  Reading is the fun part but having students directly involved in feedback allows the author to feel important, while creating a positive sense of ownership.  "TAG" feedback works well (Tell what you liked, Ask a question, Give a suggestion).    

6) Keep ideas on hand for writing.  Samples include:  Write About Books, Journal Task Cards, and Writing Choice Boards.  The possibilities are endless.   

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Value of Part-Part-Whole Relationships in Mathematics

As an instructional coach, I was often asked to focus on early development of number sense for addition and subtraction.  Providing students with a wide range of experiences to compose and decompose a number was the best way to approach this. I wanted to create a way to have teachers understand how developing part-part whole relationships is critical to building an understanding of addition and subtraction concepts.

My work has often included English language learners.  Instead of using focusing on strictly number talks, I began to explore pictures as well.  This included themed part-part-whole cards.  Each card was divided into three equal frames.  Based on themes, students would explore the missing part.  For example, the first frame had a number listed.  The remaining frames were made up of parts of the whole number.

Cards had one foldable flap.  I was absolutely delighted when a 6 year old student created his own cards to use in a partner math chat.  I have often used the cards in addition to number talks, placed them at math stations and used them for assessment purposes.

While assessing students, I observe how they "see" the objects.  Do they count them?  Can they subitize based on prior experiences?  These cards become a useful tool to develop part-part-whole relationships while building some thematic vocabulary.