Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shattered Ice

I received a great comment from Karime Diaz, and she wants some ice breaker ideas. She is working with 2-5 year-old children, teaching English to Spanish speakers.

Getting to know you...
Have students sit in a circle and go around having everyone answer one simple question each round. Questions that ask their name, favourite colour, number of siblings, what they had for breakfast, etc. Since Karime is teaching English, she can translate some of the answers and actually teach something during the game.

Name tags.
Have a piece of bristolboard (or similar sturdy paper) about the size of letter paper for each child. Have the students fold their page in half (smaller children will need help) and write their first name on it (oriented so the name tag will stand up and you can read their name). On the underneath of the paper have them draw to represent their favourite game in one corner, something exciting they did recently (What I did this summer...) in another corner, maybe their favourite animal, and their favourite food in the other corners. When this is done, the students can share what they drew on their name tags, and the name tags can be used until you get to know their names.

Yes, no, maybe...
Put three posters up on different walls of the room (or different areas) one will say 'Yes', one will say 'No', and the third will say 'Maybe'. You can also use smilies so they are :) :( :| (but not sideways). Explain that you will ask questions and the students are to move to the area of their answer (you may want to emphasize walk vs. run, or else make sure there is nothing in the way). Then ask a bunch of questions that have yes, no, or maybe answers. ie: I LOVE chocolate. My favourite colour is blue, I have two sisters (start to wonder about kids who answer maybe to that).

Two great sites I found are Kim's Korner and icebreakers.ws; many of these games may need to be simplified/modified for younger students.

Do YOU have any ice breaker ideas for Karime?

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Two! Four! Six! Eight! We ought to associate!!!!

It is a good idea for teachers to join their respective associations.

There are many different types of associations, some are free, some have membership fees, some have annual conferences, and most are great treasure troves of resources.

There are local associations, subject associations, grade level associations. I challenge you to do some research and check out a couple of teacher associations that apply to you. All through teacher's college, and hopefully this year too, I attended the NOMA conference Northern Ontario Math teachers' Association. Speaking of which, I better head over to the OAME website and see when this year's conference is.

Happy associating!

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do your SHARE!

Ever since you were little you have been encouraged to share. If you are a parent you are encouraging your children to share. As a teacher you want your students to share. So... are you sharing?

I have a mission for you: make a team and share your lessons. I know I've talked a little about this before, but this time I want to be a little more specific.

If you share your lessons, you'll have so much more time to do other things. First things first, you need someone to share with. I suggest getting a group together of teachers near you who teach the same grades/subjects as you. If you are in a large school, and there are three grade 7 classes, and you teach one of them, then work with the other two grade 7 teachers. If you are not in a large school look to the other schools in your board/area. Any teacher that works or lives within a reasonable drive from you and has to cover the same curriculum as you is a potential group member.

Also, try and think outside the box. In Ontario, there are public schools and Catholic schools. But they both have to cover the Ontario curriculum. It *should* be relatively easy for a Catholic teacher to take a 'generic' lesson and add some faith ideas into it; especially with all of the extra time they will have from the process.

So do a little research, make contact with some colleagues, and set up a meeting. Try to emphasize that this is a time-saving meeting and not a time-wasting meeting. I suggest that after your initial meeting, most of your lesson sharing be done via email, so that you can easily edit each others work for your own purposes.

Things to consider during your first meeting:
  • Divvy up the lessons (will each teacher take one subject for the year, or one unit of math this month and one unit of science for next month?)
  • How often do these lessons need to be exchanged? (plan a lesson at a time, a week at a time, a unit at a time?)
  • Are you sharing EVERYTHING or just a few subjects?
  • If emailing lessons, what format to use? (old Microsoft office, new Microsoft office (annoyingly not backwards, compatible), wordperfect, within the body of the email, .txt, other)
  • What units have already been covered by each teacher (you could share these, or if all teachers have already covered the same unit, you can move on)
By the end of your meeting you should have a clear idea of who will be responsible for what units, and when the first units can be ready for.

Let me know if you try this, and remember, the more teachers in your group, the less units you will have to prepare yourself. And, don't be afraid to tweak the lessons you receive.

You could even take this one step further and have meetings to reflect on the units after they have been implemented.

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Dollar Store

I love my local dollar store. Every single item is for sale at the price of one dollar, or less! Now you do need to be careful, and not everything in there is a bargain, but most of it is such a good deal.

The obvious place to start as a teacher is bins. You can have buckets for play stations. Bins for books. Inboxes and outboxes. Almost every small item in your classroom needs to be containerized. There are stacking bins, nesting bins, regular bins, plastic bins, cardboard bins, decorative bins.... You just can't go wrong with bins at the dollar store.

Next, office supplies. Oh. My. Goodness. I just love the school supply aisle at my dollar store. It is so hard to resist all of the neat things there. Now for a dollar, you can get one really cool pencil, several nice pencils, or a LOT of regular pencils; it depends what you want to do with them. All the different notepads, and composition books. They even have teacher and student planners! I love getting binder clips too. My dollar store has binder clips in pastel colours and various sizes, those 1/2" ones are so cute!

I find the dollar store is a great place if you have some kind of reward system in your class. You can stock up on some fun rewards for your students without breaking the bank!

One word of caution: Please be careful when selecting items from the dollar store. There is a reason they are able to sell some of these items for such a low price. If you see something in your dollar store that you would normally pay $10-20 for, there is probably a big quality difference. I don't buy electronic goods from the dollar store except for name brand batteries and headphones, I'm not saying that their electronics are bad, but I'm being cautious here.

For everyday items the dollar store is the perfect place to stock up! Enjoy!!

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Dreaded Subject

Dum, dum, dum.... it's MATH! (Or had you guessed?)

When I was in teacher's college (not that we call it that...) a lot of my fellow student teachers were almost afraid of teaching math. They talked to me a lot about it since I was one of only two people taking the math teachable on our year, and the only one in my section.

Now, setting aside the fact that I am the 'math person' teaching math is not all that difficult. I think that many of the textbook companies realize that teaching math is not looked upon very fondly and have helped greatly to ease the pain. I mean, seriously, you don't even really need to plan math too much, the teacher's resource for the textbook practically hands you the lesson on a silver platter!

Now as I said in Don't Re-invent the Wheel, once the lesson plan is ready, you have the freedom to be creative. Following this train of thought, math class has the potential to be MORE fun than your other subjects, because you have to spend so little time planning the lesson, you have a lot more time to be inventive and make it fun!

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Routine Revamp

Well, I can't believe it's October already. A lot of us have had almost a whole month of school. Now is the time for a major reflection. Think about the routines and systems in your classroom both for your students and for you.

  • Is homework coming in to the designated place you've assigned (inbox) or is that place not working because of location or lack of routine?
  • Do students have time twice daily for you to check their agendas?
  • Do you have time to keep on top of planning and marking?
  • Are the resources that you have for you and for your students in logical places that are easily accessible?
  • Are your daily and weekly routines working out?
Now is a great time to tweak your routines, organization, placement of items, and systems.

Please comment or send your questions to me at organizingteacher@hotmail.com

Have great day!

Valerie :)