Thursday, 17 July 2014

Teachers Funding Public Education

I don't normally write political posts on my blog but in light of our current union strike I knew I had to write this one. I have heard many times that teachers knew what they were getting into when they decided to become teachers so we should be happy with what we have. Part of that statement is true, most of it is not. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me when I began my teaching practicums and then transitioned into my own classroom was the amount of stuff teachers buy for their classroom out of their own money. 

Many people have asked my why I buy so much stuff for my classroom when I teach in a public school that is funded by the government. Well, that is why I am writing this post. This year I am moving schools AGAIN (I have been teaching for 9 years and have moved 8 times) and thought this year I would take before and after pictures of my classroom to show what it is that I have purchased and what was in the classroom for me to use.

Here is what my classroom looked like on the last day of school before we went on strike (everything was left in hopes of a return before the actual end of the school year).



Lets go through my classroom section by section and you will see the major differences.




No baskets, borders, and only a few books left. Most of the books here are from a previous teacher but I included them because I didn't buy them.

No alphabet line or posters.

No calendar or moveable carpet. I left the black paper up because it was from the school.







No bins or labels for organizing.


No number line or word work centres.

No magnets or posters.

 

No posters, charts, or clothes pins. 











No games for the kids to play on rainy/cold days.
No Math or Literacy activities to work on.
No comfy chair for reading in.
The top shelf has a few textbooks but for any grade below 3, there are no textbooks.
My before picture of this was too dark to see but here is the empty shelf behind my desk.

Once I packed up my teaching resources this is what is left. Three math textbooks, a binder with answer keys for one of the textbooks, cd player, and some random teaching units. Oh yeah and a hole punch!
I didn't take an after shot of this but I wanted to include the rug I bought so my students didn't have to sit on the floor while reading or doing work. Because of budget cuts, the floor only gets washed once a week (no fault of our great custodian) and the kids don't want to sit on the dirty floor. Everyone was trying to cram on the blue carpet by the classroom library, so I gave them more room to sit.
 
 
These are just a few pictures of what I have spent my personal money on. They don't include the shelves and shelves of resources I have at home or the many different art supplies, food for those hungry students, seat cushions for comfort, parent gifts (Christmas, Mother's Day, and Father's Day), photo development, etc. which I have paid for.
 
So why do I do it and why will I continue to spend my own money (which could be spent on/with my son and husband), on things for my classroom and my students? The answer is two-fold.
 
Reason #1: I spend many, many hours a day in my classroom (another surprise going into teaching. Surprise no 8:30-2:30) and I want it to be an atmosphere I can feel happy being in. If I am not happy in my surroundings how can I be inspired to plan great lessons? If I was in a bland environment I would be desperate to leave and get outside. In my opinion, creating an inviting environment also welcomes my students and helps make them feel comfortable being in the classroom. They also spend a great deal of time here and they need to be happy/comfortable as well. I could go on and on with this point but I will stop :)
 
Reason #2: Students need to have engaging lessons and it is very, very difficult to do this by teaching strictly from the textbooks. If we have textbooks. Remember I said that for Kindergarten to Grade 2 there are no textbooks. I suppose I could say to my student day in and day out, "Okay, now turn to page ?? and we will carry on from where we left off yesterday." Really it would make teaching and planning a whole lot easier, but WOW would I be bored and so would my students. To get around not relying solely on textbooks, teachers have to find materials elsewhere and this usually comes from buying resources or searching online for something that might work.
 
If we were just "greedy teachers" we would not be buying things for our classroom/students. Everywhere across B.C. and the country, teachers would be heard saying things like "I am sorry that you are uncomfortable sitting in that hard plastic chair but we only can get one cushion for our classroom." "Oh you didn't come to school with pencil crayons or scissors. Sorry, I guess you won't be able to complete this art project." "Yup, it is raining again. What can you do? Well there is paper. Draw again. Or you can read one of the 20 books we have in the classroom." Again I could go on but will stop.
 
This strike action is more than just about teachers' wages and benefits. It is about the government adequately funding our public schools and investing in our children, like teachers have been doing for many years.
 
Cheers,
 
 

 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Bright Idea Blog Hop: Organizing Unfinished Work

I know we all have those students who chronically do not finish their work and if you are teaching in a school like me, inevitably there will be students who will not do homework or who will not bring it back. A few years ago I really needed a solution to organizing all of the work that was not done or that had corrections to do.
Every year now I have an unfinished work folder for each of my students. Like the name says, this is where all of students unfinished work goes, along with any work that has corrections to do.

When students have spare time they know their first job is to go check their folder to see if they have any work in there. These folders have been a huge time saver and organizational dream.
No longer do students need to go through one stack of papers looking for anything that might be theirs and I no longer have stacks of random papers lying on my desk.
 
At the end of a work period anyone who has work that didn't get done, just puts the work in their folder (that is if I don't collect them to mark what they have done so far). Also a few times a week we hand out the folders and add any work that needs to be added.

Over the years I have gone through different folder types. I started by folding construction paper and stapling it together; they didn't last very long. I tried regular duotang folders but they ripped easily. This year, I bought plastic folders that I will be able to use for a few years. The labels I put on them at the beginning of the year, had to be fancy and color coordinated to my classroom (of course) but they didn't stick very well to the plastic so I had to come up with another plan. With my love of duct tape it didn't take long before I knew what to do. I found some white duct tape and used that. It was perfect... the labels are very secure!!! Oh Yah... I can color coordinate with the color of marker I use for the names :)
I hope this will help you with your organization and I would love to hear if you have any other brilliant ideas for organizing paper.
For more bright ideas more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!
 
 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Gifts for Students

Hi All,
I haven't written a blog post in awhile. Things are crazy here with the teacher strike and being locked out, not to mention the problems I am having with my home computer.
ANYWAYS... I wrote a blog post for a collaborative blog I am part of. It is all about my year end gifts for students. 
Check it out by clicking on the photo!!!!

Cheers,

Saturday, 19 April 2014

What Does the Fox Say


We just finished our animal unit in Science and I used a little fox to help me! I saw the book What Does The Fox Say a while back and bought it immediately because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. We had a day where we revisited What Does The Fox Say many times.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Does-Fox-Say-Ylvis/dp/1481422235/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397970553&sr=8-1&keywords=what+does+the+fox+sayTo start I read the class the book. Let me tell you it is actually pretty hard (and humorous) to read. My kids laughed many times at me trying to pronounce some of the words (if you can call them words). It was hard to read the words and not read them. My students kept trying to sing along as I was reading so we compromised. I read a page and then they sang that page. I was pretty impressed with their ability to get the right tune (beat?) when they were singing page by page.

After we read/sang the book we had a movement break and did the Just Dance Video for the song. This is one of our favourite brain break activities.


After this we completed a guided drawing of a fox from one of my Draw Write Now books (another favourite in my class).

Once the drawings were finished we brainstormed the characteristics of all the animal groups we studied. Here are the anchor charts we created.

After the brainstorming was completed students had to chose an animal group and 2 of the facts about that group. They had to combine the 2 facts into 1 sentence (this was tough for some of the kids to do) and then print the sentence on a speech bubble. The speech bubbles were cut out and glued on their fox picture to complete their What Does the Fox Say About Animals picture.
 
Here are some examples of students work.


The bulletin board display was topped of with a giant speech bubble and the only animal print border have. The students were excited to see the final product and their work is informing other students in the school. I think this is one of my most popular bulletin boards so far. There are lots of students and parents reading what my class wrote on their pictures.

What else is new.... we started learning multiplication and my students are LOVING it. So far we have learned out 0,1,2,5 times tables and 10 times tables will be next week. To give them more practice I created a fun Earth Day item. It includes 8 interactive (colouring, cutting, sorting) math activities to practice 2,5, and 10 times tables. I am in love with the graphics and I know I will hear my students say "There are those little kids again!" because I use Melonheadz clipart for so many things.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Earth-Day-Multiplication-Print-and-Go-1209157

One of the best things about these pages are they are all in black and white so it saves on ink. Perfect for Earth Day.
Cheers,



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bright Idea #3 - Using Your Eyes While Reading

Yay another Bright Ideas Blog Hop. I love them greatly !! I have gotten so many great ideas from them each time.


For this month I thought I would share with you all how I motivate my students to track while they are reading. During my guided reading groups I felt like a broken record always saying "Remember to track with your finger." or "Follow along as we read." Well in a moment of frustration I decided I needed to come up with some motivation for students to track. That night I pulled out my craft box and created these cute popsicle sticks with googly eyes. Students pick one of the sticks and use it to follow along on the page. So far it seems to be working and they like picking their stick color.

The sticks also work great for pairing up students for partner reading. If you have 2 of each color the students with the same colors can be partners. If you only have one of each color they you can say blue and green (or any other color combination) read together.
 

Shortly after I made the popsicle sticks I came across (I think at Micheal's) these super cute rings that work perfectly. Our guided reading motto has become "Keep your eyes on your reading!" Students are now reminding each other of the motto and I don't have to sound like a broken record.

I will now always be on the look out for fun tracking tools to use.
 
Be sure to hop through these wonderful blog posts for more BRIGHT ideas!! 
An InLinkz Link-up

Cheers,
 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Spring Cleaning

Wow I thought we were moving into Spring here but Mother Nature had other ideas and we got a DUMPING of snow the other day. Since I am avoiding shovelling the driveway I thought it would be a good time to start cleaning out some closets. I actually went through some boxes in my son's closet that had not been opened since we moved in. Yikes.
To continue with the Spring cleaning I am joining a bunch of other Teachers Pay Teachers sellers to have a Spring Cleaning sale. I am excited to open up my wish list closet and purchase some of the items that have been waiting in there.

Many stores are offering up to discounts and so am I !!! Look at all those stores on sale. Wowzers :)

Everything in my store will be 15% off Saturday through Monday.

If you head over to Georgia Grown Kiddo's blog you will find a link to all these stores.












Before I go I thought I would share with you all my latest creation. It is an Easter addition to my Syllable Sort Literacy Centers.

There are 30 Easter words that students sort into 1,2,3, or 4 syllables.





Cheers,


Sunday, 16 March 2014

AHHH Spring Break


Well the week before Spring Break has come and gone. It was a challenge to keep the kiddos going but we did it. I think they might have faired (fared?) better than I did. I am definitely needing a break, especially after writing report cards. YIKES. There may have been a time last week that I tried erasing the smartboard with a chalk brush and was completely confused as to why it wasn't erasing. I may have even said "Hey, I have never seen it do that before!" As the lines on the smartboard just moved around with the brush. My students may have just had to explain to me that I had the wrong brush :) I'm just saying I am in need of some much needed sleep.
 
This past week we started handwriting or as some places call it cursive (what do you call it?). I love teaching handwriting and seeing how some students go from being frustrated with not being able to do it, to being proud that they can.
 
For my handwriting I use a mixture of 2 resources. The first one is beginner pages from Learning Pages and it is FREE !!! Click on the picture if you want to check it out. These pages are pretty basic so work great for students starting out.
http://www.learningpage.com/free_pages/galleries/basics.html

The second resource I just found this year and I LOVE. Not only does it include individual letter practice, it also includes word practice pages and then sentence practice pages for each letter. It is a paid item on TeachersPayTeachers but I think it is worth all 138 pages. Again click on the picture to go see it.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Cursive-Handwriting-Practice-Pages-A-Cursive-Unit-138-Pages-729702
I have 3 students in my class who are not learning handwriting because they are still learning how to print letters and words. I came across this AMAZING. Yup AMAZING resource and the best part is it is free. There are separate pages for each letter (upper case and lower case), word printing practice, as well as pages for numbers.
http://www.childdevelopment.ca/School-Age_Therapy_Practice_Resources.aspx
 
I am hoping with these resources my students will have great handwriting. I know there is some debate on whether students should even learn handwriting. I say yes. I feel that they have to be able to read something if it is given to them in handwriting as well as be able to sign their name. My son was not taught handwriting (he is in Gr 8 now) and we had to teach him at home because when we were applying for his passport he didn't know how to sign his name.
What do you think...should we be teaching handwriting in school?
 
Cheers from this Spring Breaker!!!!

 
 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Bright Idea Blog Hop #2

Yay Another Bright Ideas Blog Hop. I got so many great ideas from the last one!!!!
As soon as I heard about the next bright ideas blog hop my brain started working over time and not on the report cards I should be writing. I was going through all the possible ideas I could think of and the one of my colleagues was mentioning how she had art in the afternoon and needed paint containers but didn't have any. I knew instantly what my blog post was going to be about.

I am not sure exactly when I had this idea but I know that it has made painting in my classroom a whole lot easier and clutter free. Being a teacher I like to "collect" many old things. Yup you know the saying "a teacher can find use out of someone else's garbage." Well that is exactly what I do.

Many of my students bring in lunchables for lunch time and there is SOOOO much garbage. One day I thought there has to be a use for them. Well there is !!! I have my students save them and we use them as paint containers. Genius I know :)


Instead of students carefully putting multiple containers of paint on their desk or table and hoping it doesn't get knocked over all they have is ONE container with multiple paint colors in it. Yay! Less mess. The plastic containers are super easy to clean and stack nicely in the cupboard. I have used both tempera and acrylic paints in the containers and they both wash out easily. I love finding useful tools and even better that this one can be recycled and avoid the landfills for a little longer !

If you want more awesome bright ideas head on over to The Perks of Teaching Primary by: The Write Stuff to see what brilliance Shelley has for you on teaching beginning , middle, and end strategies.

You can also browse through any of the blogs below for more grade specific bright ideas :)



Cheers,


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