Monday, 29 December 2014

School's Out (for the summer)

I haven't updated this blog in over a month. I'm a terrible blogger, I know!

The last few weeks of term were pretty busy. I spent a lot of the time in the office finishing off the two school books and designing the presentation day program. I spent so much time in front of the computer, that when I got home from work, all I wanted to do was give my eyes a rest. I do not know how anyone can spend all day staring at a computer screen!

I also got the big new that next year I will be on Kindergarten! I am very excited to be back on class and I have already gone on a bit of a design, print and laminate frenzy. My classroom theme? rainbow. I love having everything bright and colourful and I want my students to look forward to coming to a cheerful looking classroom. Is it wrong that I am already looking forward to when I actually get to start putting everything up? You can check out my rainbow themed resources here.

I haven't had my own Kindy class before, so next year will be a learning curve for me. Overall I am excited, though I am paranoid that on the first day everyone will be crying and I will have no idea what to do or how to make them stop. I'm sure I will be fine though. I am reading through a bunch of awesome Kindergarten blogs to prepare myself :)

It feels weird to already be on holidays. 2014 has felt like a pretty short year for me, I guess because I was on holiday for half the year :P My plans?

* Continue to learn how to swim
* Read up on the new syllabus documents (they changed while I was away)
* Design and make resources
* Do outdoorsy things while avoiding the heat
* Finish the comprehension series blog posts
* Relax

I can pretty much guarantee I will do everything but the last one!

That's about it for now, happy teaching!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

We Published a Book!

Through Big W Photo Books service! (Australian department store).

Student authored informational texts are a great activity for getting students to write for an authentic purpose. For the past few weeks, the year 4 class I have been supporting has been hard at work on a book about the local community. These students have been highly engaged and are very proud of their work. They are buzzing with excitement to see the finished product. I cannot wait to show them what it looks like!

So how was this implemented?

First, students were introduced to the informational text structure. They were given example texts to read, to identify the structure and features.

The task was then explained to them; they needed to write an information text about the local community for the year 1 and year 2 students. Once the task was explained, the students had to brainstorm and research what services to include in the book. Students then chose what service they would like to cover.

The class jointly constructed the section about the local museum. This was an important step as it gave them practice for writing their own section.

Students then researched their selected service and wrote a piece complete with pictures. This class was very enthusiastic about it, they did some research at home and then posted their work on Edmodo. This made the whole process go a lot faster than if it was done purely at school. I also liked how they would comment on each others' work :D

The work was then edited and then I took their work and inserted it into the online photo book software. It was a bit of a tedious task in terms of positioning the text and making sure everything was coordinated, especially when the website was down and I thought I had lost everything! But the excitement and enthusiasm of the students made it worth it. I completed it on Thursday and according to the website, it is ready to ship! So fingers crossed it comes in sometime this week. They worked very hard on it so of course I want them to see their finished product by the end of the year.

I would definitely do this again. I feel that the authentic purpose boosted student engagement as they were excited to produce an actual book that would be read to other classes within the school. If it were just a piece of work that would sit in their writing book, it wouldn't have been as exciting.

Obviously printing photo books would be quite expensive to do on a regular basis, so to combat this, you could easily whip one up using Microsoft Office or even Photoshop and print it yourself at home. Most schools should have a binding machine in the photocopy room, so you could bind it there. Laminate the pages for durability. Alternatively, you could use a display folder.

For my American readers, I believe you can use the photo books service at Staples - yes, I did actually Google this so you wouldn't be left out :P

I am also working on another school book. A book of poems about the school. It is coming along quite nicely. I have the cover done and quite a few of the poems are typed up. This one is being published at the school, so it has been a lot easier, as I am using good old PowerPoint to create it. I cannot wait until this one is finished as well.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

I Got a Liebster!

Kathleen from Kidpeople Classroom nominated me for a Liebster Award! How exciting! :D Be sure to check out her blog!

In order to accept the nomination I must answer the following questions from Kathleen;

1. What one word sums up the heart of your blog? 

2. What is your favorite post, or your favorite category of post?
Teaching. I love sharing my ideas with others. I also like scrolling back through past posts, it's like a diary of lessons :D

3. What one blog tip would you pass on to other bloggers?
Sign up to Bloglovin'. Makes following blogs a lot easier and they have an app! I use my commute time to read up on all the latest from my feed.
4. What one thing would you most like to learn?
I would love to be fluent in another language. I'm not quite sure what language, but I think it would be pretty cool to be bilingual.

5. What's your favorite holiday and why?
Easter. Hello chocolate!
6. How do you spend your summers?
Hiding inside with the aircon up full blast. I know that's not too exciting, but I burn really easily, so any outdoor activity usually involves me turning into a lobster. However, this summer I will probably be making use of the pool in our apartment complex. My goal is to learn how to swim.
7. If you could live some place else, in some other time, where would it be?
I quite like the idea of living in Europe. Purely for the cooler temperatures and interesting buildings.
8. And I GOTTA ask this :) What idea on my blog is most useful to you?
Five for Friday posts. I love reading about what others do in their classrooms.

Now, here are 5 random facts about me;
  1.  My nails are currently painted teal, pink, purple and cornflower blue. At 26, I still love painting my nails with crazy colour combinations.
  2. I own over 200 headbands. Yes, OVER 200.
  3. Last year, I travelled to 67 cities across Europe and lived in England.
  4.  If I wasn't a teacher, I would probably be a graphics designer.
  5. My all time favourite place to go is the Zoo.
Now it is my turn to nominate 5 people :D Click on their buttons to check out their blogs.

Juliana @ Kinder Bilingue

Here are my 5 questions;

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog?
3. What tip would you give to other bloggers?
4. What tip would you give to new teachers?
5. What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend? 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! :D 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Comprehension - Part #4. Making Connections

Making Connections is a great strategy to get students thinking about the text and how it is similar to themselves, another text or the world in which they live in. Making connections helps develop a deeper understanding of the text and the characters.

The easiest one to start with is Text-To-Self Connections.

To introduce this, I would pick a basic book that is about a situation that pretty much anyone can relate to. For the younger grades, any Charlie & Lola book is perfect. Before reading, tell students that you want them to listen to find a part of the book that is similar to their life. Read through the book and then have students talk with a partner about how they are similar to book/character.

Put up the prompt "This reminds me of..." on the board and have students use this to guide their answer for reporting back to the class.

In terms of bookwork, have students draw a picture and then write a sentence/paragraph about their connection. You can use the following sentence starters;

* This reminds me of...
* The character is like me because...
* I remember when...

Once students are comfortable with Text-To-Self connections, move onto Text-To-Text. Make the connection (ha!) between what they have just done and what they will be doing now (listening to connect). Good texts to use for this;

* The Gruffao and The Gruffalo's Child
* The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
*  The Stinky Cheeseman & Other Fairly Stupid Tales and any fairytale covered in the book
* Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf's Story

Once again have students discuss and then write. This time use the sentence starters;

* The character _______ reminds me of ____________ in ________ because...
* The text ____________ reminds me of ___________ because...
* This story is like _______ because...

Teaching Text-To-Text connections provides a great starting block for comparing texts.

The last connection to teach is Text-To-World. Any text that is about a global issue would be fine. One of my favourites is George Saves the World by Lunchtime. This text is also great for reminding students about recycling and disposing of rubbish thoughtfully :D

Use these sentence starters to guide student responses;

* This reminds me of _________ because...
* This is like when....
* Something similar happened....

Once you have introduced these strategies, you can then use them as reading response activities. A great way to practice writing and encourage deeper thinking about what students have been reading!

I have a pack of posters and thinking stems in my TPT store that would be a perfect companion for teaching this strategy;

Next up: Questioning!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Digital Learners

Technology is everywhere. Homes, schools and out in public. I think it is very important that we teach our students how to be responsible while using technology. I feel very strongly about this as I have had my own issues with people abusing technology and it's something that no one should have to go through or put up with.

So here are three resources that can be used to help teach students about the safe and responsible use of technology :)

Resource 1 - Internet Safety

This resource covers the topics of;
1) What is the Internet and what is it used for?
2) What is Cyberbullying? What can you do about it?
3) What is Cyberharassment? What can you do about it?
4) Tips for Internet safety
5) Permanency of things posted online
6) Police involvement

I think there are some people out there who think that because things are done online, it's not as serious as it is not "real life". The thing is, technology has now become such a big part of everyday life, that things done online are in fact done in "real life". To use the excuse that "it doesn't matter because it's online" is ignorant and a pretty weak way to try and justify bad behaviour. It doesn't matter whether it's done in person or online; if it's wrong, it's wrong. No excuses. If you know you would get intro trouble for doing it offline, you can get in trouble for doing it online.

I also think that people are unaware of the fact that they can seek help from the police over cyber issues. I know for a fact that in Australia, the police can and will get involved over issues such as Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking. People may assume that the police have bigger issues to deal with, but the reality is that they are there to help us whether the issue be big or small. 

The issue of permanency is also a big one. I think this stems from a lack of understanding about what the Internet is and what it's made up of. Perhaps a good way of demonstrating this, would be to use two iPads and send a message between them. Have one person delete the message from one of the iPads and make a point about how it is still on the other iPad. Then show how the message can then be sent and uploaded to anyone.

Resource 2 - Digital Citizens

We are all digital citizens and the notion of Digital Citizenship is an issue that we come across in our classrooms when implementing online learning environments. We want our students to use technology effectively, so we must teach them how to use it effectively. 

This resource covers the topics of;
1) What is a Digital Citizen and how can you be a good Digital Citizen?
2) Don't be a Digital Pest (bad Digital Citizen)
3) Digital Footprints and how they can convey information about you

This resource would be perfect to use when setting up a class blog or Edmodo group.

Resource 3 - Cyberbullying

This is also a pretty big issue. Once again, I think people assume that because things are done online it's not as serious and they can get away with it.  

Included in this resource;
1) What is Cyberbullying? What are some examples of Cyberbullying?
2) What can you do about it?
3) Perspectives of a victim and a bully 

With this resource I wanted to get students thinking about the two perspectives; from the victim and the bully. So included in this resource are two stories. One from the victim of cyberbullying and one from a cyberbully. There are discussion questions which look at the feelings, actions and reasoning behind the actions. This also opens up a discussion about what students can do. 

By educating and making students aware of these issues, we can help prevent technology from being used in an abusive and negative way.

You can check out these resources by clicking here.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Back to School + FREEBIE

I've kind of neglected this blog over the past week or so. Whoops!

The school holidays are over now. I didn't spend that much time on the computer, hence the lack of posting. My goal for the holidays was to spend at least an hour each day doing something active outdoors. The area that I live in has quite a few parks and walking/bike tracks. So my boyfriend and I went for lots of walks, runs and scooter sessions. Our building has a pool too, so on the hot days we went swimming (i.e I learned to swim). It was nice being able to do things outdoors during the week. On weekends, it's always a bit hectic with all the bike riders and dog walkers.

Aside from doing outdoorsy things, I went shopping and bought an iPhone. I got the 5c in blue. I love it! Now I finally get to hear the magical Ka-Ching that all the teachers talk about on the forums :D

School is back for the final term of 2014. I am still working with the same classes and focusing on reading groups. This week, we started with new texts. One activity that we have been working with is a Predict-O-Gram. Click on the picture to get your own FREE copy on TPT! (celebrating 300 products freebie).
Before reading, we fill out the boxes. Students make predictions about the vocab, characters, setting, problem, events and resolution. After reading, we look back at the predictions and confirm or reject as well as discuss the similarities and differences. Great activity to get students thinking about the text!

Will try and find some time this week to add to my Comprehension series.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Comprehension - Part #3. Predicting.

Predicting is also an easy strategy to teach. Chances are, you are already doing it with your students, but the aim of this is to;

a) get your students to look closely at the clues in the text 
b) get them to do it automatically, rather than have the teacher prompting all the time

To start off, define what predicting means. Explain that we predict before, during and after reading. Talk about what students can use to make a prediction; cover, titles, illustrations, blurb and text.

Pick a text and have students make a prediction. Give them the sentence starter "I predict". When they tell you their prediction, ask them why they think that. What clues from the text did they use? The sentence starter now becomes "I predict.....because.....".

You can use the above discussion for during reading predictions too.

As for after reading, the discussion turns to talking about what would happen if the author were to write a sequel. Students will use the events from the story to make this prediction. The sentence starter would be "I predict that......would happen next because.....". This can then turn into a writing task if you wish.

It is also important to confirm or reject predictions. That is, talking about whether they were right or wrong. Confirm or reject is just a more technical and nicer way of putting it. At this point, emphasise that it's totally okay if their predictions were rejected. Build up esteem by talking about how well they used the clues from the text :)

A neat way to set up this activity is to use three columns. My Prediction, What Happened and Confirm/Reject. The first two columns are pretty self explanatory, the confirm/reject can be completed with either a tick or a cross, or a C or a R.

If you want students to write about their predictions, here are some ideas;
1) Sentence starter "I predict" or "I predict....because..." Students can draw a picture to support their writing
2) Two columns. My Prediction and Clues From The Text
3) Have students predict what the characters will do, what the problem will be and how they will solve the problem.

My all time favourite activity is to stop reading just before the big ending. Have students write what they think will happen and draw a picture. Then read the ending and compare. It's one activity that the students absolutely love and it's pretty interesting seeing what they come out with.

That's pretty much it for predicting. If you are looking for some graphic organisers they can be found in my Super Six Activity Pack;

Next up in the series; Making Connections!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Five for Friday!

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday!

School - Friday was the last day of Term 3. I am now on holidays for 2 weeks! :D My plans? scootering, swimming, days out and resource making. I am keen to get back out on the scooter as it's been ages since we've been able to do it. Next term I officially start my contract! woo hoo!

TV - We got the TV we wanted! Now our lounge room has a brand new, 50', 3D, smart TV. It's awesome. I love it, especially watching movies in 3D. We watched the Lego Movie and it looked pretty cool especially when there was lots of movement. Of course watching that movie got the Everything is Awesome song stuck in my head, which lead to random outbursts of "everything is awesome!" over the past few days.

There are also other neat features with the TV, like the ability to go online, download apps or even tweet from the TV.

Resources - I've been pretty productive with my TPT store lately. I've made a few new things as well as made different designs for some of my most popular products. This morning I revamped my 2D Shapes pack because I felt like it should be more colourful. It wasn't ugly or anything, I just decided that rainbow paper would make it even better! (did I ever mention I was a perfectionist?). Click on the picture to see it in my store :)

Text Type and Purpose - This week one of the focus points of my reading groups was talking about the text type and author's purpose. I introduced the three types; Informative, Imaginative and Persuasive. We then talked about how we know which type it is, e.g. whether it was giving us facts, about a made up person or telling us why something is good. These three types then link to the author's purpose; inform, entertain or persuade. To help with these concepts I created a few posters.

Comprehension - In my reading groups we are also using the Super Six Comprehension strategies. We do a lot of discussion, which is great but then I want the students to be writing/recording ideas so the classroom teacher has a way to see what we have been doing. So to cater for this, I am using my Super Six Journal Prompts!

These are great because I simply need to print off one or two copies of a page, cut out the strips and then the students glue the prompt at the top of their page. They then complete the activity. So now when the teacher looks back in their book they will be able to easily see what the activity was :)

That wraps up my Five for Friday. Will work on the next part of my Comprehension series sometime in the first week of the holidays.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lost my voice!

This is my first week on the support job and I am already off sick! Yesterday my voice was pretty croaky all day and by the afternoon it was gone. So I decided to take the day off and rest my voice in the hopes that it will come back asap.

I am being a bit of a workaholic by making, printing and laminating resources to use in my new role :)

Here are some things that I have done so far;

This week has been good so far. On Monday I started the Year 6 Reading Program. We worked with the text Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. Our focus for this week is on Vocabulary. After the reading program, I spent the day with people from Stage 2 and we talked about the teaching of Writing. I picked up on a few interesting ideas. One idea which I thought was pretty cool is the See, Think, Wonder strategy. I am going to try this out with my little groups. You can check out one of my See, Think, Wonder resources by clicking the picture below :)

Yesterday, I got to work with the 2 classes I have been assigned to. I didn't get to work with the year 4 class as they had a guest speaker come in, but I did get to do some reading with the year 3. We focused on Fluency as that seems to be a common need.

In terms of TPT, I have been creating different designs for some of my most popular products. This is because I realise that people have different tastes in terms of colours and themes so I am trying my best to cater for everyone.

In personal news, I have sent the boyfriend out to buy that huge TV that we have been wanting. I'm hoping that it's still in stock and that he comes home with it :)

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

200 Products!

This is my 3rd post this weekend! I have never been so active on this blog before, haha :P Don't worry this is just a short post!

Today I posted my 200th item on my TPT store. To celebrate this milestone I am offering a FREEBIE! I figured I'd make it pirate themed as Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up soon. Click on the picture to download it for yourself :)

Hope this week is a good one!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Comprehension - Part #2. Visualising.

It's time for part 2 of my comprehension series!

This is the easiest strategy to work on, so it's the best one to start with.

Introduce the strategy using a poster/PowerPoint/movie e.t.c. Find a text that has a description of a character, object or place. Texts that are good for this are; The Twits by Rhald Dahl, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson and Inside Mary Elizabeth's House by Pamela Allen.

Read with an emphasis on key features that you want the children to pick up on (i.e change your tone of voice). This will signal to students that they should pay attention to this feature for their visualisation. Of course, once students are more familiar with this strategy you will not need to alter your tone.

Depending on what age group you have, you can get students to label their drawing using words and phrases from the text that they used to create their visualisation. These labels can then be used to write sentences. Don't you just love it when everything links together? At the end, show students the picture in the book and have them make comparisons between their drawing, the book and their classmates' drawings.

Music is the perfect text for visualising scenery/setting. YouTube has lots of great clips for rainforest, oceans, cities and whatever else you want. Start off by playing the music, have students close their eyes and visualise the place. After the piece has finished, brainstorm a list of this that they heard and talk about what kind of place it would be. Students can either draw or create a mixed media artwork to represent their visualisation.

Another fun visualising activity is to read sections of a text and have students draw what is happening. You could even extend the activity and have each student visualise a different section, then put all the pictures together at the end to create a comic strip of the text.

Create a wall that teaches in your classroom by hanging up student work samples under posters/anchor charts. The students will love it, it will make your room look bright and colourful and it provides a visual reminder for student learning! 

If you are looking to do the Super Six in your classroom, I have a range of posters in my store. Click here to check out the Comprehension category.

I'm pretty proud of these posters. The backgrounds and borders were made by myself :D

Next strategy; Predicting!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Five for Friday!

Once again I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday! I love this linky party!

Work. This week I received some awesome work related news, for the rest of the year I will be working as a support teacher on Year 3 and 4. I am super excited to start this new job as I have been enjoying working on the older grades this year. Will be a great opportunity to build up even more experience.

Birthday Celebrations. It was my mum's 60th birthday on Tuesday. After work, we went out for dinner and then on Wednesday we went out for lunch and shopping. We had the most delicious lunch from Salsa's. I love their chicken burritos and Mexi-crinkles. It was nice spending some time with my mum as well, I do miss her now that I've moved out.

Surprise blender! I came home from work on Thursday to be greeted with a blender from the boyfriend's parents! (lol, this probably sounds funny, but I was actually excited about it). We have been meaning to get one for a while now so we can make smoothies/milkshakes. This weekend I am going to make some Orero and Tim Tam shakes. It's pretty easy to do; one cup of milk, some ice cubes and 2 biscuits. No more trips down to the coffee shop and spending ridiculous amounts on these things :D Of course, now that we have this appliance, we're on to the next one; a bigger TV! Furnishing this apartment is fun.

Wanderlust. Sometimes I miss the travel lifestyle. We have been looking up some things to do for the end of the year/school holidays next year. So far the one trip that looks very appealing is a 2 week Japan and other Asian countries trip. I would absolutely love to go to Japan. I studied Japanese in high school so getting to experience the culture would be awesome. However at the moment it's all just plans, nothing is actually booked or set. I really want to go to Disneyworld Japan though...

Free Travel Fridays. Loving the fact that my travel to work on a Friday will be free from now on. Using an Opal card means that when I travel for 4 days, the rest of the week is FREE! Brings a whole new meaning to TGIF!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

FREEBIE! Fall Paper and Frames

This week has been pretty awesome so far; 3 days of work and some great news (work related, but more on that later).

This is just a short post to advertise my latest FREEBIE!

I have branched out and started to make my own digital papers. I was making a resource the other day, I had an idea in my head of what paper I wanted, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I decided to give it a go myself. It was actually pretty easy and 10 minutes later, I had the design and colours that I wanted.

I am super excited to make more of these. I love playing around with colours and design. I actually find it relaxing (weird, right?).

To celebrate this new venture, I've created a FREEBIE. Click on the picture to get your own copy.

If you like it, you can follow the links through to the rest of my paper collection :)

Enjoy the rest of your week. Stay tuned for Part #2 of the Comprehension series!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Comprehension - Part #1

One of my favourite things to teach on a relief day is something related to comprehension. When I say comprehension I'm not talking about those 'read a passage and answer some basic questions' activities, I'm talking about metacognitive strategies.

One of the biggest impacts on my teaching was the 2 year long professional development program that I participated in while on year 1. The things I learned in that program have stuck with me and have changed the way I teach. I noticed a positive impact in my students growth, so of course I am passionate about it and keep on finding new ways to implement it in my teaching. This is reflected in my TPT store as quite a few of my products relate to comprehension.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing my knowledge and experiences as well as some teaching ideas :)

The Super Six Comprehension Strategies
Obviously this is the starting point as the rest of the ideas all relate back to the strategies. A while ago, I wrote a post about how I introduced them to my year 1 class. You can read all about that over here.

I recently revamped the strategies into 'Super Powers'. Kids love Super Heroes, so I thought that it would be cool to have a 'We can be reading superheroes by using our Super Six Comprehension Powers' theme. I think it works pretty well as by using these "super powers" they are able to have a deeper understanding of what they are reading :)

If I were on class, I'd have a wall with each poster hanging up and student work on display underneath each poster to form a wall that teaches. The work would rotate regularly to keep it fresh and be relevant to the topic that we are covering. Sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not that hard. The pride the students have when their work is up makes it worth it :)

My role is different this year, so what I do with these strategies is sort of the same but different. I'll use all the strategies with each text that we read, but I'll have a focus lesson on one of the strategies. In the lesson we define what the strategy is, what we do with it and how it helps us. Why do I do a focus lesson? because I think it's always beneficial to brush up on these skills! As a classroom teacher, I loved when a relief teacher would do a lesson that recapped key skills because there are always some kids that could do with that extra practice.

Examples of focus lessons for each strategy;
Visualising - read a section of text and have students draw what they think the character/scene/object looks like. Students label their picture and then write sentences to describe. By getting students to label you can what clues they used to form their visualisation (i.e it the text mentioned that the monster has red, bloodshot eyes and the student uses that exact label you can see that they have been paying close attention).

Making Connections - read the text and students use a sentence starter to write and draw their connections.

Predicting/Inferring - Have students orally tell or write down their predictions throughout the reading of the text. Get them to back up their predictions with evidence from the text.

Questioning - Have students come up with "I wonder..." statements and then have other students answer the questions. Great way to encourage accountable talk!

Summarising - Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then. I love this strategy for summarising. It's a great way to introduce it and a starting block for moving onto more detailed summaries. Have the younger grades draw a picture for each, the older grades can use it as a writing prompt. e.g ______ wanted to ____ but _______, so ________ and then ________.

Monitoring - Fix up strategies. This is probably the hardest one to do as a relief teacher, but if you're on class start off by introducing each strategy then slowly start integrating them into your reading groups. The more practice, the better :)

If you're on class, you'll notice your students using these automatically, once they have got the hang of them.

To help develop these strategies, I made two resources. I am finding this first resource very useful in my new role. As a relief teacher, I'm never quite sure if the class teacher would mind if I let students use their books, so naturally using paper is the easier and confrontation free option. Of course, if you're on class this is also very useful in developing the strategies with your students.

This pack is full of graphic organisers for each strategy. There are variations of each activity to cater for different grades and abilities. Each page has a cute border and heading that can be decorated at the end (because students always want to colour in and make it pretty).

Not only do these serve as an activity, they can be used a part of a comprehension journal, a portfolio, an assessment or even as part of your wall that teaches.

Another thing that can be done with the strategies is a Comprehension Journal. I created a collection of journal prompts that can easily be printed and stuck in student books. This will benefit students who struggle to copy off the board as well as combat those "Miss, I only copied the question" moments. Each prompt has a reminder of the strategy at the top for quick reference.

This is also a big help for teachers who face photocopying restrictions. Only a few copies need to be printed as opposed to a full class set :)

Visuals are a very important in student learning. I love walking into rooms full of anchor charts and walls that teach. However sometimes it's not practical to have students roaming around the room so this is where bookmarks and a quick reference page come in handy!

Simply print and laminate to have a colourful bookmark that students can easily refer to at their desks. The quick reference page can be stuck in their workbooks.

An important part of using these strategies is incorporating them into classroom discussion! By modelling these to your students, you will be encouraging them to use the strategies in their own conversations. Here is a fun way to get it started; Question Sticks!

These require little preparation! Just print, laminate and attach to a paddle pop stick. Alternatively you can just print, laminate and put in a jar. Make asking and answering questions a little bit more exciting by having students pick a question from a jar and have a class discussion. Think about it, what's more fun? sitting there being asked questions by the same person? or hearing from a variety of people? You'll also find that once students become familiar with these questions, they will start asking them without the prompts. Remember, modelling is the key!

Comprehension can be a lot of fun, integrate it as much as possible. The only time it should be a stand alone lesson is when you are introducing the strategies! Once your students have got it, they should become a natural part of your lessons.

The next couple of posts on this topic will be talking about specific strategies. Stay tuned!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Casual Teaching and a WOW Text!

I changed my blog layout again, I decided that I wanted something a bit more simple and clean looking. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. Though that never lasts long and in a week I'll want another layout :P

This week I worked 2 days. I didn't expect much work as the school production was. It was good timing, as I felt pretty sick on Wednesday and Thursday. There's no way I would have managed to drag myself into work anyway.

On Monday, I had year 5. I was excited about this because that meant I could finally use a book I recently bought; Journey by Aaron Becker.

This was one of those WOW! Books; you know when you pick it up for the first time and all these teaching points just jump out at you and you're just like "wow!"? (Please tell me I'm not the only book nerd out there).

If you've never heard of it before, it's a story told entirely by the pictures. So straight away it lends itself to Inferences. The illustrations are beautiful with lots of fine details and a clever use of colour. Each page can be used as a stimulus for deep discussion.

To kick of the lesson, I revised the skill of Making Inferences. What is it? Why do we do it? 

Then we viewed the book trailer. Which you can view here. That was a really great way to build excitement about the text. If only every text could have a trailer!

Students made an inference on what they thought would happen in the book and they had to back up their inference with the clues that they used.

Then we went through the text and discussed what they thought was happening on each page. At key points we stopped and students wrote down their during reading inferences. Once again it was important that they justified their response with what text clues they used. This was a way for them to show me their thinking and ability to read the visuals.

The ending of the story is awesome. Basically another lonely child rescues the main character and they become friends. People who were paying close attention to the first page would have noticed that the boy is also lonely at the start. It somewhat blends in so you don't notice it, but it's there.

The students loved this text. There is a part 2 called Quest. I am looking into getting that too. I would recommend this text to anyone. It can be used across all grades and for a variety of purposes. A must have for any casual/sub/relief teacher!

This class participates in Genius Hour. I have seen this going on in a few classrooms and I am quite interested by it. The class was supposed to go to the computer lab to work on it, but the lab was taken by another class due to room changes. Never mind, we made do inside the classroom with the iPads and few computers available. I sat with a group of ESL students and helped them research their questions about pirates. I learned a few things while helping them. Did you know that only one pirate ever buried their treasure? :) I can't wait to get my own class again to try this out as a regular thing.

For the past few days while I've been at home sick, I have worked on some more products for my TPT store. Here are three of my latest products. Click on the pictures to view them on TPT;

Writing Task Cards - List Making & Sentences

 These are great to use as part of your literacy groups or a 'work on writing' center. Each pack includes 52 cards as well as an instruction page for students.

Social Skills - Making Friends

This pack aims to teach students about making and keeping friends. I think this is an important skill for some students as they lack the knowledge of what makes a good friend. I created a text that explains 7 "rules" of being a great friend with an explanation of each. There is a poster, worksheets and a sorting activity. I love using these social skills packs on my casual days as it provides a simple 30 minute lesson on key skills that sometimes students need reminding of. Also helps with the smooth running of a classroom :) If you are interested you can check out my Social Skills collection here.

Lastly, I was super excited to FINALLY see myself on the front page of TPT. I just had to screenshot it! I've always wondered if I have been on there and well now I know :P

That's all from me, enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Five for Fiday! (on a rainy Saturday afternoon)

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday Linky Party!

Work, Work, Work! 
 I have had consistent days for the past few weeks. It has been awesome as well as tiring! I finished up on the Year 4 class and spent this week mainly on Kindergarten. It was definitely different, going from a class of 31 students, down to a class of only 19! I mainly focused on Reading Groups, TEN Groups (math) and Writing. The rest of the time was spent practicing for the school production next week.

I got to help paint a backdrop for the production. One of the teachers asked me if I could help her out as she knows that I am into all that artsy stuff like drawing and painting. It was fun, I added a bunch of glitter to the sky and trees so it will POP while under all that stage lighting. I don't think I will actually be going to the production, but I'm sure it will be a great night!

Book Week Parade
The best part of the week was the Book Parade. Last weekend, I brought a black wig and a witch's hat just in case I was working on the day of the parade (I didn't want to be THAT teacher that doesn't dress up). I wore them with a cute, black, corset dress with purple bow print. Of course, I had to wear leggings and a cardigan with it to make it work appropriate, but it looked pretty cool if I do say so myself :P I just love the book parade and seeing all the awesome costumes that people turn up in.

The weather this week was pretty lousy. It rained pretty much everyday. Quite a few days were spent inside all day. Luckily, I had GoNoodle to keep the kids active and not so fidgety. I love that site, it's so useful and the kids love earning points to make the monster grow and change.

Teachers Pay Teachers
My store has been flourishing! I never imagined that it would have taken off as much as it has. I spent the past few weekends making my covers and Pinterest images better - as in they show pages from the product. I think they look ten times better than before and I have noticed a huge jump in sales. I don't know whether this is just a coincidence with the time of year, but I think my store looks much better now so the effort was worth it :)

I love food! One of my favourite things to do is go out to a restaurant and eat, especially after a week of cooking. Tonight the boyfriend (or am I too old to be using that term and should I be referring to him as my partner?) and I are going out to dinner with his parents. We are going to a Chinese restaurant, they make a delicious Sizzling Mongolian Lamb. It's that good, that I could eat two servings of it! I can't wait.

That rounds up my Five for Friday, enjoy your weekend! :)