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:

Positive Learning Environments

Positive Hallway Space – featuring school reading goal visual and student cubbies

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Student Lunchroom

Student Lunchroom

Art Room (My Cooperating Teacher’s Room). Also, an SST strategy poster for reading!

Art RoomExamplars in the Art RoomReading Strategies in the SST Room

Student Exemplars and Writing Process Visual Idea in the Art Room

Classroom Rules, In and Out Buckets, Information by GradeWriting Process Idea

Grade 1/2 Classroom – featuring classroom rules, curtains, SLOs, hall pass system idea, and desks in pods.

Grade 1 Classroom RulesInteractive Table, Covered Resources in the Grade 1 RoomGrade 1 Room OrganizationBirthday Calendar; Desks in Pods in the Grade 1 RoomSLO's in the Grade 1 RoomBathroom Break System

Kindergarten Room – featuring visual schedules, attendance ideas, behavioral rules, SLOs at all activity stations, reading corners, picture labels for clean up, and hallway walking procedure (Marshmallow Mouths).

Kindergarten OrganizationVisual Schedule in KindergartenAttendance IdeaKindergarten Behaviour ChartSLO's at Learning Stations in KindergartenKindergarten Reading CornerPicture Labels to Assist K's CleaningScience Area in KindergartenArt Area in KindergartenArt Area in KindergartenKitchen Area in KindergartenVisual SLO's in KindergartenMarshmallow Mouths in Kindergarten

Grade 5/6 Room – featuring a science/rock center, lots of plants, fish tanks, curtains, individual student work stations with daily schedules, shared resources and supplies, sand/calming area, and guided reading station with positive message. Also, the desks are arranged in a horseshoe-like way!  This is a room of exploring!

Science/Rock Area Grades 5/6Fish Tanks in the 5/6 RoomDaily Schedule and Individual Work Station in 5/6Plants and Resources in 5/6Cool Classroom Setup 5/6Cloth Covers in 5/6Sand Area in 5/6Shared Supplies in 5/6Guided Reading Station 5/6

Grade 3/4 Room – featuring SLOs visuals, organization ideas, curtains, large student working spaces, individual working tables, and a guided reading station. Very organized, non-chaotic room!

Student Outcome VisualCool Organizational Idea 3/4Grade 3/4 Organization and SLO

Desk Setup 3/4Work Tables and Curtains 3/4Teacher Organization/Work SpaceReading Station 3/4

High School Classrooms – featuring “What Did I Miss” handout sections, SLOs visuals, due date boards, reading strategies, standing desks, desks in rows, handout stations, etc.

Missing Class? Folders High SchoolSLO's High SchoolCreating Student Independence High SchoolHigh School Posters and Visuals

(My Cooperating Teacher’s Room for ELA)

ELA RoomReading Strategies in the ELA RoomStanding Desk in ELA RoomELA OrganizationDid You Miss Class? Bucket in ELA Room

LIT Goals/Circle of Courage/Reading Data

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First Week Observations – Internship

Well, it is that time again. Another great summer at Camp Easter Seal has come and gone and I am a new and better person for it. But this year instead of the post-camp depression and keeping Triffons in business due to excessive orders of pity pizzas, I get to bypass all the feels and ENTER THE CLASSROOM. However, I’d like to note that staff room snacks aren’t much healthier than pity pizzas. What I have learned thus far is that they are completely earned: TEACHERS WORK HARD! Teachers in the school have spent nights there until 1 am and I have already put in at least 15 hours this weekend unit planning, only to feel like I’ve just begun. This is no 9-5, “I will do the minimum” kind of job. And the obvious reason is because of the kids! The kids who chase you down the hall to sing you happy birthday. The kids that tell you their dreams involve “not becoming that famous, like only featuring in two or so movies because I want to be a mom of five and a plastic surgeon and a framer’s wife.” The kids that sing about tacos when they should be listening, but you can’t help laughing anyways. The kids who love your class. The kids that pretend to hate your class. And the kids that actually hate your class. The kids that act out because they need your attention. The kids who aren’t really sure who they are yet and the ones confident enough to get up and dance when music plays. It’s for all those kids and the 100 others that us educators do what we do.

These first few weeks have been nothing short of amazing. A little intimidating, yes. But amazing. The first week was a lot of information to take in but the reading professional development was a great refresher and I plan to utilize most of the reading strategies we were shown. I loved the way they passed out resources freely and modeled the ideal rather than just stating what it was.

During my three week block, I will be teaching 3/4 Health, 7/8 Arts Ed., 9/10 ELA, 11/12 ELA, and student support work focusing on numeracy, literacy, and reading intervention. I am also involved with cross country, SRC, boys volleyball, and supported learning. Later on, I may work with other teachers to start a girls group. I am also getting the opportunity to observe many teachers at work and have two cooperating teachers that I get to learn from. I love that I get to work with every grade in the school, including Kindergarten. I couldn’t have created a better placement for myself if I tried. I wanted nothing more than to experience multiple grades, multiple needs, and multiple subjects. So far, I think my niche is Grades 3-12 due to the independence these learners have.

I welcome any readers to join me on my internship journey at Mossbank school. Stay tuned for weekly pictures of positive environments, lesson plans, reflections and more!

“Do what you love; love what you do.”