Reading Intervention and Learning to Read

This post highlights some helpful tools to use when teaching students to read and/or practicing during intervention times. This is an awesome website for teaching reading in Kindergarten and beyond is Starfall. I recommend game-based reading programs, as the kids seem to engage more and learn the strategies faster! I now have an entire binder overflowing with resources, games, and tricks that can supplement programs like Fountas and Pinnell. (How many binders will I have after a 35 year career?)

Intervention time and Kindergarten time are easily some of my best moments everyday and the more I work in a school the more I realize that my passion is teaching kids to read. I am enjoying, more than I ever would have guessed, working with young children. I could definitely envision myself as a Kindergarten or Grades 3-6 teacher, if I do not get my preferred SST placement!

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Hosting Provincials – Gold Medal Champs!

This past weekend Mossbank, with the help of Assiniboia high school, hosted 1A Boys’ Volleyball Provincials. It was amazing to see the community and staff come together and take on the daunting task; it may seem small but all of the little things add up! And once again, it was a great opportunity to give back to my school and volunteer for SRC (working on global fundraising to buy goats, cows, etc. and employ Kenya women/support families) and scorekeeping the games. It didn’t hurt that our coed team got PROVINCIAL GOLD either. They played so well and as a solid unit! Their efforts, as well as those of my colleagues, make me very proud to be at Mossbank school! 🙂

Kindergarten works of art:

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Some of the various food served and meals we provided:

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Go Mossbank Go! Lots of kids had signs, too!

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The gold medal on display with the District gold medal that my boys earned this same season! Talk about success!

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#1 team in the province:

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🙂

Coaching, Coaching, and More Coaching!

Last weekend our Mossbank Bantam Boys Volleyball Team got 1st place at Districts! After a rather on-and-off playoff tournament the previous weekend, where they still came out victorious despite a shaky start to the day, it was nice to see the boys come out stress free and playing their best! Whether it was the starting lineup or the guys cheering on the bench, all the students made me a proud coach! Sports – or teams and groups in general – are so vital for children. I believe the boys were doing more on the court than bumping and spiking a ball. They were learning how to persevere, come back from a loss, be a good sport, respect opponents, cope when things aren’t going their way, shake off mistakes, take and use feedback, support and cheer on one another, take turns on the sidelines but give it their all when they got on the court, set and meet goals, and celebrate successes. They were learning that they can be good at something if they practice. They were learning that all members and roles in a group matter. They were learning how to be inclusive. They were having fun. They were learning. And just maybe they will connect those two ideas!

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Extra-Curricular Activities, Interning, and the Essence of Time

My belief has always been that life is about others and not ourselves. Thus, I have always been an avid volunteer and even though I get tired, or feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or wonder “why am I doing this?” there are always those moments that show you just how important your time is.

As an intern, I believe the program allows us to gracefully enter into full-time responsibilities. Therefore, to keep myself busy and not coasting through the first month or two (as this will never be a reality once I have my own classroom), I decided to help coach/mentor Cross Country, Bantam Boys Volleyball, and the SRC. I believe that although I am giving my time, it is not selfless because you always benefit from being kind to others. This post is not to say that giving up your lunch hour or weekend is easy but what I am saying is that this volunteer time matters and there are benefits to doing so for both myself and the students. This week alone, I had three “this-is-why-I’m-doing-this” moments!

Moment number one: This weekend I had one student attending Cross Country Provincials after getting 6th place at Districts. It was so nice to see him thrive in athletics and to build a relationship with him in an environment that he enjoys. Furthermore, at Districts he was nothing but kind; congratulating people as they finished the race, shaking his competitors’ hands before starting, and hugging the kid that encouraged him to continue are just a few of the GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP things I saw him do. Note: I saw him do these things but never told him to.

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Moment number two: This week several students on the SRC gave up their lunch hours to help organize and wrap up recent fundraisers. Students were not required to volunteer their time but chose to take responsibility for the work and make their school a better place. It is easy to forget how much kids really care about their school and what is going on around them but they DO CARE and most of them are willing to put in EXTRA EFFORT to make their environment the best place possible.

Moment number three: This weekend the Bantam Boys Volleyball team placed first at the Gravelbourg tournament. However, it is not the standing that touches me. It’s that this group of boys LOVES what they are doing and GIVES IT THEIR ALL. It is nice to see them in an environment that they enjoy and thrive in. Not only do they try hard, but they are very nice to each other if someone makes a mistake. With fair playing time and younger students learning it is not uncommon for older students to get frustrated but instead, these boys support one another and allow each other to grow. After the tenth set out of eleven this week, I was surprised to have a kid come off the court and say “I don’t want it to be over. I LOVE VOLLEYBALL SOO MUCH! Why does the season have to be over in October?” The others nodded in agreement. I couldn’t help but think, “aren’t you tired?” as I smiled at his enthusiasm. And that was my third “this-is-why-I’m-volunteering-my-time” moment this week. Because what happens on the court (or on a committee) may not follow a curriculum. It is not school work and it may not be considered formal learning. But on the court (or on a committee) the students ARE LEARNING – to get along, preserver, focus during boring games, support one another, work hard, achieve greatness, bounce back from a mistake, react/problem solve quickly, be lifelong learners, be engaged citizens, use metacognition, and the importance of an active lifestyle –  and they ARE ENGAGED! My time matters and to any other teacher, community member, or parent who volunteers their time: your time matters, too!

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Classroom Management

So far, classroom management has been the most challenging part about teaching for me. Firstly, because I am more of a caring person than an authoritative figure – both types are needed in schools and at times teachers must try both roles – and secondly, because the very nature of education revolves around intrinsic motivation. However, I believe that although teachers cannot make students have intrinsic motivation, being an extrinsic force and a reminder will never hurt.

With this in mind, I will be trying popsicle sticks question asking with my Grade 3/4 class so that anyone can be called upon at any time. I think it is also important to use my professional discretion, and call upon students at random, when needed. I will also be using a marble jar reward system, where I add marbles to the jar when students are being good. In the end, they get the reward of extra recess, as physical activity is vital for learning and the children also love it. The idea is that kids will support each other to make good choices and spend less time laughing at/or with those who are impulsive. Both of these ideas are from the Teaching Channel and have been discussed in my ECS 410 assessment class (see my Classroom Experiment blog post). Since most behavioral issues come from not understanding the work presented, I will be differentiating my work and stopping to check for understanding with exit questions and “thumbs up or down” breaks. These ideas are things I will be using in every grade I teach (3 to 12). Secondly, I believe behavioral issues come from an excess of energy so Brain Gym will be used in my 3/4 class and art drama cards for my grade 7/8 class. For my Grade 9/10 class, this article (and idea I read about in First Days of School by Harry Wong) is something I am considering. In summary, the strategy involves writing students’ names on the board every time they blurt out, etc. so that it acts as a visual reminder. These students often seem to want to avoid their work when it gets tough and it is hard to think of ways to keep them accountable for completing the work and not take away learning opportunities for those that are engaged. Things like sending them to the office or outside do not help because then they have achieved their goal and get to avoid the work. Hopefully this strategy works!

Classroom management will always be something that I need to focus on. It won’t ever be something I can ignore, as a well-managed class allows for learning and a class without management does not. What ideas do you have? How do you manage your classroom?

Internship Seminar

The Internship Seminar at Kenosee Lake was beautiful! Not only was the location outstanding, but the food was good, the seminars were informative, and it was nice to take a breather after completing 1/4th of our internship placements. Aside from all of the fun, the most beneficial parts of the internship seminar were creating a contract with one of my cooperating teachers. It was nice to outline when and how I will take over classes for my three-week block. It was also great to go over the assessment of my work so that we are both clear about what is expected. I can now apply each criteria piece in at least one of my classes and let the criteria drive my professional development data collection sheets. It was also nice to see how being in a SST placement fits with the internship criteria, as it is a very different placement! Lastly, and most importantly, it was great to continue to build a relationship with Katie. Her philosophies and beliefs about teaching are inspiring and often we would get sidetracked and talk about these, only to come back with a quarter of the assignment completed but a lot of insight gained. I have a lot to learn from her and my other cooperating teacher, Leanne. I feel blessed to be in the placement that I am – with support and K to 12 experiences. I also get to learn from two very passionate teachers with different strengths. I couldn’t ask for an experience that fits me better and I cannot wait to see how much I grow, through both successes and mistakes and A LOT OF HARD WORK!

Working “hard” at Kenosee Lake:

Health 3/4 Unit Plan: Healthy Eating, Exercise, and the Immune System

Note: if you are interested in the accompanying worksheets that are not attached but are mentioned in the unit plan, send me a comment and I can email them to you!

Happy planning/teaching! 🙂

Update: I added a station, differentiated lesson.

Some pictures from a lesson I added to make it more hands-on: 20141126_09584120141126_09583020141126_095855 (1)20141126_09584820141126_09590820141126_095915

Final Assignment:

my food guideWeekly ActivityWeekly FoodEat Well frontEat Well back  Healthy Action Plan