Happy Spring! Tomorrow is World Poetry Day!! Read about it here...
World Poetry Day (March 21st) | Days Of The Year
Here's a fun lesson for intermediate/high school teachers to celebrate World Poetry Day. As shared on Facebook and Created by: Stacey Joy #AllBlackLivesMatter (@Joyteamstars) / Twitter
Click the link below for an interactive PDF:
Here is a poetic prompt...
Creating Art - Exploration & Problem Solving - Perfect for Developing a Growth Mindset in Students
This post focuses on pied colouring pages of seven Easter Eggs to paint.
One little girl (G1), immediately settled at the table, grabbed her paint brush and started filling up her eggs with colours. Being the Arty soul that I am, I joined her at the table. I started filling my eggs with patterns. Two other girls came over (G2 and G3) and they wanted in on this Egg-painting Extravaganza. I gladly gave up my paint brush and used a pencil to fill in the rest of my eggs.
Now, working with water paints sounds simple, but it provides ample opportunity to problem solve: too much water results in a wishy washy colour; if you don’t rinse the brush well enough, the colours blend in the tray; you are limited by the colours in the tray,… or are you?!
G1 filled about six pages of eggs with solid colours before she was brave enough to try some patterns and colour-blending. But she kept counting the eggs she had left to colour, thus working on her numeracy skills, naturally, without being instructed to do so. This nicely illustrates how young children use their daily “play” activities as natural learning opportunities, and how a knowledgeable educator can use natural conversations to encourage the process. This girl probably filled about 70 eggs, increasing her exploration and discovery as she proceeded.
G2 was quite meticulous in her methods. She only used one page of seven eggs, but she immediately realized that she could mix her own colours by layering them directly on her paper. She discovered this by simply observing what happened when she placed the different colours beside each other. (The colours blend where they meet, making a new colour.) I said, “I love making new colours! It’s super neat because you can make your very own colour and then it’s fun to give it a name.” She agreed. I gave her validity of her process and provided an opportunity for higher order thinking. She also stated she was going to make a lighter colour. I asked her, “How are you going to do this?” She proceeded to choose a lighter colour to mix with a darker one. These special moments of wonder and awe come so often in young learners as they engage in art (and play). It happens naturally. An educator’s skill lies in providing the materials for the students. The educator does this with intent. Of course, the young learners explore things that were not even thought of by the educator! - This is true, you know it is! And, of course, recognizing these ample moments for rich conversation to push their thinking further.
Now, back to our learning situation… I used paper towel to wipe excess water off my brush and G2 noticed this method that I had subtly modelled. She began to do the same. She independently took this line of thinking further; she decided that she could mix colours on the paper towel before applying the process to her paper. The final discovery she made was that she could paint her finger and press it to her paper, making mini-eggs, with a finger-print pattern. I told her that was a great idea and I immediately did the same to colour the rest of my eggs. (Recall, I gave up the third paintbrush to G3 because I am a sacrificing teacher… ha ha!)
Throughout the whole situation, G3, very quietly, observed me, and she went about using the pencil to try her own patterns to fill her eggs. She also tried what G2 did with her careful blending and finger-painting techniques. I provided gentle encouragement and reassurance, and she became increasing braver in proudly showing her work.
The Goal of Educators: to nurture the belief in our students that “I can do ANYthing!”
Here’s another nugget of fine advice from Bob Ross,
“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”
Young children really do believe that they can do anything - watch them play and listen to them tell a story! They have this bold and fiery attitude until they are told differently; life will tell them differently; as a teacher, I aim to nurture and develop it.
Even the boys, whom had gravitated to the intentionally-chosen computer game, were learning turn-taking, which is very hard to do - nobody enjoys waiting, but 5 year olds really hate it! But these are some topics for another day and another post:)
A Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher... So much more than meets the eye!
... a prep payback cover teacher, what the heck is that? That's got to be made up! The truth is, that while the title is, in fact, made up by me, it is a 'thing'. This is when you cover a different class each period throughout the day while teachers have meetings, or have missed prep time paid back, or even have anticipated missed prep time paid back (prep-forward, if you will). It's usually a pretty interesting day as you get to work with different grades across different subjects. And, since the teacher is at school, the day is planned and you just sub in and take over with whatever the classroom teacher would have done. All in all, a pretty sweet deal. So... my day went like this: grade 2 gym, grade 4 art, grade 1/2 drama & dance, grade 7 French, and grade 2 health & nutrition... What's a gal to do but to enjoy her day and marvel about how she is actually getting paid for this!
Teacher Reflection: Not all days are like this. These days make the not-so-nice days worth it.
Well now, you can't just let kids boogie down all willy nilly. (Trust me, I've tried it, realized the mistakes in that method, reflected upon said mistakes, learned from them - I utilized a Growth Mindset, if you will.) First, you gotta use...
Clever Teacher Move #3: Checking Out the Dynamics of Your Crew
For a bit of diagnostic assessment, I like to start with Freeze Dance. I direct the students to find a square on the floor, not next to any one else’s square. That is their square and in fact, I tell them they can even name their square, if they’d like. So one foot should always be in (or returning to, if jumping) your square. Then we are ready to begin.
The square on the floor defines each of the student’s personal space for this activity. You could even have a discussion about this if a class required it. I can quickly tell who has an understanding of spatial sense and the ability to move and return to their space. It is always evident who those students are that just don’t have this skill, and in my experience, usually students who don’t stick to their area; they just can’t, rather than they are not paying attention, or they don't want to. They usually do not have the inhibitory control/self-control and sense of personal space to be successful at this task. So, don’t worry about it; because most of the class are in their places leaving it much safer for the couple movers/runners to do their thing with less bumping into their friends. Sorted. Differentiation. Unique needs of a few students met whilst still meeting the needs of all students. Priceless.
Moving and stopping is very hard for some of our young learners. This skill requires listening skills, plus body control (inhibitory control, self control and spatial sense).
For the ol' Supply Teacher Bag O' Tricks, here are some games designed to give kids a self-regulation workout: (from: http://www.parentingscience.com/teaching-self-control.html)...
As it turned out, this particular class had no such problems.
Teacher Reflection: Physical age doesn't so much matter here, as much as past experiences. Some groups, on the whole will not have had many movement experiences, and may require extra work. If this is the case, stick to the self-regulation control dancing games.
We were ready to Just Dance! And dance we did... we did some Free Dance to some different styles of music: from classical to hip hop and popular songs.
In between songs, I questioned the students about what they were doing, referring to grade-level dance expectations from the curriculum, for example:
I would use a 'Creative Movement' Word Wall to display words to help students talk about how they are moving, which likely would turn out to be an Arts word wall as the words are helpful across subjects.
Next, we tried a Jam Fest activity, from a DPA Dance and Movement Workshop, called Cardio Hip Hop with Marissa Murphy, presented for Professional Development by HWOTL a few years back:
Clever Teacher Move #4: State some safety rules.
Together, create a couple of rules to keep everyone safe. Some kids are super dancers but not everyone is safe to imitate their moves. For example, upright dance moves, no gymnastics, feel free to adapt the move to something you can do, etc.,...
Clever Teacher Move #5: Resting Area
Part of self-regulation is knowing when we are tired and need a rest. So, I designate a spot to do so. In this case, the students could sit atop the tables on their bottoms with their feet dangling down (the classroom teacher's approved table top sitting method). I stipulated that they must still be moving by keeping the beat somehow: clapping, snapping, rocking, patting lap, or with voice (woo woo, uh huh), etc.,...
There are countless benefits to dancing, so many, in fact, that I will focus on the ones that can be observed in a one-off, spontaneous dance party that I can conduct as a supply teacher:
This is acknowledged not only in our Ontario Curriculum Document and by science, but those who dance, just know these things to be true!
Our CURRICULUM says...
Dance Elements are: body, space, time, energy, and relationship
In the primary grades, students should be moving creatively every day. Students begin to use personal experience, imagination, and familiar movements to develop a movement vocabulary, to respond to prompts and express ideas, and to communicate their thoughts and feelings in various situations. Through a balance of free exploration and guided exploration, students develop awareness of their bodies and of the many different ways they can move. Through modelling and guided movement explorations, they expand their movement vocabulary to include some of the elements of dance. In particular, students begin to travel through pathways, use gesture to communicate feelings, and explore a range of levels, shapes, and locomotor and non-locomotor movements. Students also develop their ability to move and control their bodies in space and time and begin to create short dance pieces using the elements of dance.
PHE CANADA gives Five Reasons to Teach Dance, for anyone still unconvinced:
As a teacher it is important to remember that everyone CAN dance! By using an approach that provides an opportunity for guided movement expression, all students can bring their unique abilities to create movement.
And, of course, SCIENCE agrees that dancing is good for us:
Bonus Clever Supply Teacher Move: Choose a VGB
Last class at the end of the day... tired 6 and 7 year olds... meant to be learning about health and nutrition, but they weren't exactly into it. It's not that they were against it, but they were just really wiggly and tired and grumpy, and I just couldn't see peace lasting until home time.
Oh, Look What I Just Happen to have in my Supply Teacher Bag O' Tricks!... This VGB (very good book), which is a very versatile read-aloud that is good across MANY grades; has enjoyment factor + matches a plethora of curriculum expectations....
The Candy Conspiracy: A Tale of Sweet Victory, by Carrie Snyder (2015)
In Candyville, the Juicy Jelly Worm rules over a land where lollipop trees grow beside rivers of root beer and powdered sugar falls like snow. Every day, he devours his candy throne, jujube crown and cupcake castle. Day in and day out, the children of Candyville must make new ones -- never getting so much as a nibble of nougat for themselves. Finally, one child comes up with an idea to outsmart the self-centered tyrant. The children plant a secret garden, hoping the fruits of their labor, which include sugar snap peas, candy cane beets, sweet potatoes, and watermelon radishes, might appeal to the Juicy Jelly Worm just enough to spark the sweetest trade ever.
We just had a fairly quick read aloud (due to time) and these same wiggly kids managed to sit mostly still in their chairs for the entire story! VGB = Priceless. (Especially if you use your public library! I love my library; Hamilton Public Libraries Rock!)
If I were a classroom teacher...
I would do so much more with this story. For example, we could do some word work to expand the students' vocabulary and the story lends itself well to using the Prediction Literacy Strategy.
I hope you enjoyed my post and can use some of my ideas in your own teaching. I just love my job!
A Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher... So much more than meets the eye!
Nicola Schneider, Occasional Teacher, 13 years