Teach it Tuesday: New Year, New Plans

As this new year is off and running I though I would follow up on last years RESOURCE post with some of the new things that I’m planning to try this year. Currently I’m starting up a grade 6 class but jobs haven’t been filled yet in our district. I’m feeling a bit jaded with the job process this year… well a lot jaded to be honest. BUT I’m feeling very excited and enthusiastic to get going with this school year and I have lots of exciting ideas that I want to try out!

Advisory:
Along with trying Karley’s Fika and Feel Good Friday regulars. I’m going to bring back the Thursday Thought Blocks, and I’m excited to add in two new things this year. Growth Mindset is something you’ve all been hearing lots about for the past couple of years. This year I’m going to dedicate an Advisory block once a week to learning about growth mindset and practicing some of the essentials. The other new thing I’m going to do is dedicate a few minutes each day to a guided meditation practice with my students. I’m hoping with the regular practice students will start to internalize the practice and we can be calm (well as calm as middle schoolers can be) to start the day.

Language Arts:
I have heard about the Global Read Aloud for a few years now but have never been in the position to actually take part. I don’t know what grade I will be teaching yet but I’m really leaning towards doing Pax (unless I get grade 8). Has anyone else participated in this before? Would love to hear some feedback!

Math:
After taking Jo Boaler’s online course this summer most of my focus for planning has been in math. I’m going to start off the year using the Week of Inspirational Maths lessons and I really can’t wait! I think this will be such a good way to introduce a year of working differently in math. I’m also keen to start the Collaborative Math Teams approach in my classroom and I’ve signed up for the course. I just really hope that I can find someone else to do this with me at the school I end up at – It would be great to have a partner to run things by!

Since I don’t know what else I will be teaching yet in terms of Science/Socials/French/PE I haven’t done too much planning in other areas. I would love to hear about some of the exciting things you are planning on trying this year! Let me know in the comments.


Meaghan

Teach it Tuesday: Drawing Circles

A main part of the new curriculum in BC are the core competencies: communication, thinking, and personal/social. I have been trying to be a little more deliberate to incorporate these into my planning. Here is one activity that I tried the day before Spring Break, and considering the timing it went really well!

Materials:

Each group needs:

  • Large paper
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Compass or geotool
  • Meter stick
  • Instruction sheet

Instructions: I took some of the bonus questions from a different resource that I can’t seem to find again. If anyone knows the source please let me know and I will update to include the link.

Document: Drawing Circles Challenge

Front – On one side of your groups paper you need to draw the following circles:
A. Circle with a diameter of 80 cm.

B. Circle with a radius of 10 cm.

C. Circle with a diameter of 5 cm.

D. Circle with a radius of 0.5 cm.

Back – Try as many of these challenges as you can:
A. How big does a circle need to be to fit two smaller circles with 4 cm diameter inside? Draw it!

B. Draw a quadrilateral (rectangle, square, parallelogram) and see if you can draw a circle inside that touches all four sides of the quadrilateral.

C. Using only circles, can you create a familiar shape (star, heart, etc.)?

How it worked for us:

Hard at work

Hard at work

For my class I gave very minimal instructions for this assignment. We reviewed briefly how to use the geotool to draw circles (slightly more complicated then a compass for some) and then I gave them the materials and sent them on there way. I really wanted this to be a collaborative problem solving activity and it became just that! It was very interesting to see how students worked together and came up with solutions.

Drawing the large circle with the string took longer than I expected but I absolutely LOVED the conversations about radius and diameter that came from the activity. Communication and creative thinking came out in full force for this activity! I also loved that the creative part of it allowed for different students to take leadership roles than normally occurs with math group work.

We used almost a full double block to complete this (two 43 minutes periods) but keep in mind that it was the Friday before Spring Break so focus was not the easiest… If I were to do it again I would definitely keep it in a double block and I would follow up with some meaningful reflection/discussion.

How do you bring the core competencies into the math classroom?

If you use this activity, I would LOVE to hear how it goes!

Meaghan

Go To Lessons: Primary

Since most of our posts relate to intermediate/middle grades I thought I would add my go to primary lesson. It’s only one lesson because it has three parts and can take up a bunch of time! I did this lesson on my first day of 100% teaching on my second practicum (grade 1/2) and it went so well that it became a regular in my TOC plans!

This lesson is based on the book “Children Make Terrible Pets” by Peter Brown. It is one of my favorites for drama activities because the main character is oh so dramatic!

Part 1
I make sure to hide the book from the kids because the title and picture would give away a key part of the lesson
For the first part of the lesson I do a drama activity called a Swish Story. A swish story is where you tell a story and have students silently act out parts of the story. The “swish” is the sound you make at a scene change when students head back to their seats. When I do the swish story for this lesson I use the characters names (Lucy and Squeaker) and tell the same story but I never give away any details about what species the characters are.

Swish Story example: One day Lucy (student stands up to be Lucy) goes for a walk in the forest (a couple students act out trees) when suddenly she hears Squeaker (student acts out squeaker) who was hiding in a bush (couple of students make a bush for Squeaker to hide behind)

The students really love acting out the Swish Story! I usually make it last about 20 minutes including the explanation and practice of a swish story.

Part 2
Next I have to students make guesses about what kind of creatures they think Squeaker and Lucy might be. I really encourage creativity here (I’ve had peacocks and fairies and everything in between!)

I give students a worksheet and they return to their desk to draw and color a picture of what they think Lucy and Squeaker look like.

This part usually takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how much detail you ask for in the drawing.

Part 3
Read aloud time! If you have spread these activities out throughout the day then students will be VERY excited to find out the real story. This part is simply reading it aloud but I always make sure that I add conversation about how our drawings weren’t right or wrong and just creative ideas. At the end of the story we have a discussion about pets (the story ends with foreshadowing about a new type of pet…)

As I said this is one of my favourite lessons to do and I’ve done it in grades 1, 2 and 3. I think the activities could easily be adapted to other stories as well and I would love to hear where you take the ideas! Please leave a comment or message me if you end up using this lesson!

20130829-212955.jpg

Go To Lessons: Phys Ed

So as you may have read here, we have been trying to compile some of our favourite “Go To Lessons” for different subjects. Most of these were developed for the substitute teacher but can easily be used as one off lessons for the regular classroom teacher as well. Also, check out our new Teachers Pay Teachers store for more ideas!

This here is really my “Go To” lesson for any PE class I teach (grades 4 and up) – I use it pretty much everytime I teach PE if there isn’t a lesson plan left for me. I like it because the three games are a progression on each other and all three are really popular with students. I follow the old adage where you finish a game on it’s high point and then switch it up but by keeping the games relatively similar I find that students are engaged throughout the class wondering what comes next.

I always play them in the order that follows and then if there is time left in the class I ask the students to vote on their favourite game and we re-play that one.

*Head Shot Rule: If anyone hits anyone in the head it is a 2 minute sit out whether it is an accident or not. I always use this rule and stand by it because it makes kids really careful about their throws and eliminates the he said she said of “But I didn’t mean to…”

1. Ga-Ga Ball

This started as a summer camp favourite for me but has soon become a go to indoor game as well.

Goal: To be the last one standing

Supplies needed: dodgeballs (usually 6-8 in a class of 25-30), half of a gym (must have distinct boundaries)

Rules: To start the game we throw the balls in the air and yell “Ga-Ga Ball” as they hit the ground. After that all the balls must remain on the ground and cannot be picked up at any point. Students must use and open hand or fist to hit the ball towards others (we play knees down for this game as the ball shouldn’t be leaving the ground). If you get hit below the knees you need to remember who hit you and go to the outside of the boundaries. When the person who hit you gets out then you get to go back into the game. I usually yell “free life” a few times and have everyone get back in just to keep it going.

2. Poison Ball

This is an easy progression from Ga-Ga Ball by just adding a couple of rules (same equipment and boundaries).

Rules: You may now pick up the ball but when the ball is in your hand you cannot move your feet. You must hit waist down for this game and if you are hit you sit down right where you were hit and can’t move from that position. If you get a ball while you are down you can hit someone who is standing up to get back up (so they go down and you get up). Again, I often yell “free life” and let everyone back up to keep the game going.

3. Chinook Ball

This game only has one change from Poison Ball but it definitely adds another element that works really well (especially in the older grades!)

Rules: Same as Poison Ball except now if you are down and you get a ball you can pass it to other people who are down (as long as it doesn’t touch the ground in between) to make a train. When someone who is standing gets hit by the ball then every person who was a part of the train gets to stand back up. This usually keeps the game going long enough without needing to call “free life.”

20130828-200512.jpgI love how well this sequence of games works together! I really like that by the time you get to Chinook Ball the kids really buy into the teamwork aspect. I find it makes a big difference doing the progression instead of just playing a couple of different games and the class feels way more organized to me. My biggest tip for PE lessons… Join in! The kids will absolutely love it if you play with them and it makes for a nice break in the teaching day to run around a little bit.

Meaghan

Go To Lessons: French

Since it’s almost that time of year for us… BACK TO SCHOOL! We thought we would do a couple of posts on our “Go To Lessons” for different subjects. Along with this, our Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) site is up and running so go check it out!

Whether you are a substitute teacher or a classroom teacher we are hoping our ideas will start some inspiration for sharing those NEVER FAIL (ha!) lessons that you use.

I’m going to start with my “go to” lessons for French. I find French is the one subject where it’s always good to have a back up lesson in mind when you are substituting – and I know I always love those one off lessons that are a little more fun for a core French class.

1. Guess Who

I got a Guess Who sheet from a prof in my education program but I feel like it is pretty easy to create your own (if I make my own ever I will let you all know!). The sheet I use has 9 different aliens with various amounts of eyes, mouths, legs, etc. Basically I go over the key terms for the different body parts, how to ask questions (“Est-ce qu’il a…”) and then review the numbers briefly. I usually do a couple of rounds where I choose the character and they have to come up with a question in a group to narrow down their options. After we do a couple of rounds as a full class I have them play within their groups. This lesson is usually good for a 45 minute class when you go over the question asking and key terms before you play.

2. “Ami! Ami?” by Chris Raschka

Like any good substitute, I carry around a good supply of go to books in the back of my car. This is one of my favourites! I have a sheet (available for free here) that I carry with me in case I need a quick lesson for a French class. With the students in small groups I have them cut up the phrases and try to put them in order. It’s usually pretty tricky to get it exactly right but I try to get them to look for clues (like punctuation) and I explain to them that it is just a simple conversation between the two boys from the cover. After they are done we read the book and they see how many they got in the right order. If there is still time at the end I get them to read the parts of the book in two teams (with points for expression or prizes if you carry them with you!)

3. Verb Corners

This game requires a bit more knowledge of French then the other two but it is pretty simple to play and can be done indoors or out! I use four different verbs that they know how to conjugate (usually avoir, être, faire, aller) and put each verb in a different corner. With everyone in the middle I yell out a conjugated form of one of the verbs and they have to run to the corner with that name (e.g. “Je suis” and they run to être). If we are outside, after a couple of rounds for practice I have it become a race and the last one to the corner has to shout out the next conjugated verb from the middle (with help if needed).

Hope these ideas are helpful for you!

What are your “Go To French Lessons”?

Meaghan