Saturday, 28 May 2016

Tips for Changing Teaching Assignments

As the end of the school year approaches, it's often safe to say that someone you know is about to change teaching assignments.  This could very well be you.  When the teaching assignment change is by choice, it becomes exciting.  But when the assignment is due to a surplus in staffing, then the anxiety sets in.  Here are a few tips to help you ease into your new assignment and to think about ways to prepare for the upcoming school year :

Make your lists as soon as you know which grade you are teaching.  Think of it as a "to do".  If you're unsure about what a particular grade needs, do ask for some feedback from same grade teachers.  Teachers often love to give advice and are willing to help out a colleague.  Never think you have to plan and begin the school year in isolation.  If you are still at your present school, do ask to shadow a teacher who is teaching the same grade you will be the following year.

Know your curriculum.  Spend time learning what the expectations are.  Before you look for resources, look at what needs to be covered.  Often, scope and sequence charts are created by jurisdiction.  These will help assist you in seeing what the students should have known the year before and what they will learn the following year. They are also useful when teaching combined grades.

Establish routines from the beginning.  Ask same grade or division partner what routines have been established prior to your assignment.  If you are working with older students, routines and expectations can be co-constructed together if routines have not been set in place by division.  Students love when they have some voice and some choice.  It gives them ownership of the class and makes for a better transition from their last grade.

When you are able to, reach out to parents.  Remember this is partnering of education. Begin the school year with a newsletter and start a website. I used the Remind101 app to keep in touch with the parents of my students.  The app is free and parents loved knowing I would give them a friendly reminder for field trips, forms, book orders, etc.via text message.  What I love is that the app never gives out my own number.  I am assigned a number through the app.  Do make a call after the first week to touch base and let parents know the lines of communication are open.

Remember that you can create a caring classroom community wherever you are placed.  A transition is challenging at any grade level.  Remember to team up with other members in the school and community.  It's ok to ask for help.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Math Tip Monday - Time & Money

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to be part of this month's Math Tip Monday, hosted by K's Klassroom Kreations and Theresa's Teaching Tidbits.  This month, the focus in on Time and Money.  


When teaching time, teachers are encouraged to begin with one handed clocks.  Using only the hour hand is a great way to begin.  Have students directly point the hour hand to a number on the clock. When the hand is between two numbers, the students are encouraged to understand that indicates that some extra minutes may be added.  Once students understand the hours on a clock, the minute hand can be returned to the clock itself, replacing the hour hand.

When students realize that the bigger hand represents minutes, manipulatives such as tiles or linking cubes may be used to represent those.  For example, 5 linking cubes represents 5 minutes on the clock.  Students are encouraged to explore the minute hand this way.

As students become more comfortable with the minute hand, the hour hand may be returned.  Then both can be used simultaneously.  

Students may also be encouraged to talk about time in terms of minutes.  I often talk about a minute and what can be accomplished in a minute, then five minutes, then ten and so on.  Using math talk such as "Is this reasonable?" is also helpful.  For example,a variety of situations may be discussed or a question of the day may be posed.  Here are some examples:

1) Is it reasonable or unreasonable to have recess for 15 minutes?

2) Is it reasonable or unreasonable to brush your teeth in 2 minutes?

3) Is it reasonable or unreasonable that there are 12 hours in a day?

During the course of a school day, I randomly stop and ask students the time.  This is a great way to practice telling time and to identify anchor times during the day.  For example, if lunch is at noon, ask the students what time it is a few minutes before.  Than, have them tell you how many more minutes to lunch?


Often students need to be able to identify, know the value and understand the relationship between coins.  Using a number line from the first day of school, I have the "star of the day/week" add a penny on day 1, day 2, day 3 and so on. Once the 5th day approaches, the pennies are substituted for a nickel, then a dime on the 10th, a quarter on the 25th.  When the concept of money is then introduced as a unit, students have a generally good understanding of  money.

Another fun activity is to have a bag filled with a variety of coins.  Give one bag to each child.  Then sing a song to the tune of "clap your hands".  "If you have a penny, hold it high....If you have a penny, hold it high....If  you have a penny and your know it's worth one cent...If  you have a penny, hold it high...."  

For extended activities, I use these task cards at stations so students can represent coin values in a variety of ways:

I encourage you to begin with these activities early in the year.  They can both be used as part of your daily calendar or opening routines. Familiarity with time and money is a skill that students are encouraged to master on a daily basis and not in isolation.