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Are you looking for some great teaching resources?
How would you like to win some money to use?
Check out the giveaway below and enter for a chance
to win a $30 TPT gift card.
Check out these stores by clicking on the logos below. If you see things you like you can add them to your wishlist while you wait for the contest to end or you can buy them and go back to shop again later.
Good luck! The winner will be notified when the giveaway closes. That will still give you time to shop on the 15th.
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Who said being retired would be relaxing. It has been 2 1/2 years since I retired and I am busier than ever. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, just commenting.
I still go to school and work with kids. The difference is, I am now a volunteer. I get to do reading groups and help out in classrooms, but I don't have the assessments, meetings, and politics to deal with. I just get to do what I love, work with kids.
I also do some French tutoring and I work with several ukulele groups.
I often wondered how people that are retired remained motivated to create materials. I didn't know if I would be able to feel connected enough to do so. I was wrong. I am creating materials for my tutoring and then translating them to English. I am also creating materials for my reading groups.
When my son and daughter-in-law were working on their teaching degrees I also had the privilege of creating materials for them to use in their practicums.
The fun part is trying out my games and little books with the kids at school. It is so rewarding to see them engaging and learning. I also learn what works and what doesn't from them. I am able to make changes and fine tune things when needed.
My family sometimes gives me a hard time about spending so much time at school, but they don't understand that I love what I am doing and I don't feel stressed out when I am at there. Some of the other commitments can be more daunting, particularly during concert seasons. It is important to continue to do things you love.
I LOVE TEACHING!
It is hard to believe that it is almost time for the winter games to begin again. Every time I think about them I remember the excitement we felt when they were held in Vancouver in 2010. It was such a special time for those of us who live in British Columbia.
My students were so engaged and felt connected to the athletes and their accomplishments. We would listen to the theme song I Believe and this became our song in class. As some of you may know, "believe" is my power word and it comes up often as I am constantly coming across things with the word on them.
It is times like this that I miss having my own class. There are so many things I would love to do with my students. During the last winter games, I created some activities that could be used to make writing and Math time winter game focused. I would certainly be doing some of them in the next few weeks if I had the opportunity.
Here are some task card templates that can be used to create your own questions, games, or activities. I hope you find them helpful as we watch the athletes compete to represent the various countries.
I know this will be an exciting time for people all around the world as they cheer on their athletes. It is a time when we focus on the good in the world. It is a time to unite instead of divide. I hope for more caring and kindness towards one another, not just during the games but everyday.
I love using story books for springboards into teaching concepts. It is always fun to see where the ideas go. One of my favourite stories is Stone Soup. I have 2 versions that I usually share with the children.
I like to read the version by Marcia Brown. It is great to present it when studying about veterans because in the story the soldiers were returning from war. It is a good springboard for discussions.
It is interesting to see how the children react when the villagers hide the food. Just last week, when I read the story with my reading group, they kept commenting on how everyone was "lying". They also found it to be magical that stones could make soup for a king.
We also read the version by Ann McGovern. We then did a comparison of the two versions and how they had many similarities but they also had some differences.
I created some activities to further explore these ideas. Some of these activities can be used for single versions as well.
If I still had my own class, I would continue to investigate further and discuss how caring and sharing are inclusive and we can all be richer as a result. Sharing of the stone soup was not just about eating soup, but reconnecting with others and working together. As the villagers learned, because of the stone soup experience, they would never go hungry again.
As a culminating activity, I would make stone soup with my class. They were always amazed that the soup tasted so good. They really thought it was because of the stones!
I told my reading group that I usually did this with my class and they asked if they could be in my class. Unfortunately, I don't have my own class now and I don't have the opportunity to do things like make soup anymore. It warmed my heart to have them say that though.
What are some stories you have used to create discussions and do other activities with? I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.
I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
I am proud of my new products. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them here. Just click on the images below.
As we come to the end of October, it is time to think about the many things we can be thankful for. We are blessed to live in a country where freedom is available for everyone. This is huge and we need to always remember that there are many places where this is not true.
I have been retired for 2 years now, but I still volunteer at the school and I like to be able to participate in the Remembrance Day assembly and some of the activities leading up to it in the classrooms. It is so heartwarming to see that the teachers are still spending a significant amount of time sharing this important message with children.
In Canada, we celebrate Remembrance Day, and in the USA, they celebrate Veterans Day. Our celebrations may differ slightly, but they are similar in one respect. They are a day to give thanks and remember. We have freedom because of the actions taken by our veterans. We would not have that luxury if it wasn't for their sacrifices both many years ago and still today.
War is a reality in many countries and it is important that our students understand this. War is not a glamorized video game or action movie, it is a dangerous and painful situation that many children live with every day. They also need to see that they are able to do something to help make a difference even as children.
I love using videos to help kids to see what peace can be. Here is a link to a former post that I wrote that has several videos on it that we would watch the week before Remembrance Day. They led to many very important discussions.
Below is one of my favourites.
I hope that these thoughts will be helpful for you as you prepare to share this important time with you classes. If you would like some more materials to use in your classroom, check out the Remembrance Day/Veterans Day category in my TPT store for several free products.
Here in Canada, summer vacation is nearing an end and teachers are preparing their classrooms for a new year. In other places, some teachers are already back at school. It is always exciting to freshen up a classroom, prepare for the new students, and just begin a new adventure.
Back to school sales are happening everywhere. Who doesn't want to have new pencils, felts, crayons, notebooks, backpacks and clothes?
Well, teachers love back to school sales too! Teachers Pay Teachers is having a special Back to School Ready Bonus sale just for teachers.
I am excited to be able to offer a $10 TPT gift card to one lucky person as well as a product valued up to $5.00 from my TPT store. In order to enter, comment below with the item that you would choose if you were the winner and your email contact. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted Tuesday. This will still allow you to use the gift card for the sale.
I am excited to be able to share all of my products with you for an extra discount for one day only. Here are some of my favourites. Click on the images to see more about them.
Several of my Canadian teacher friends collaborated to put together a back to school e-book of tips and freebies just for you. Check it out here or by clicking on the image.
Enjoy your time with your new students and returning ones too. Don't forget to get lots of rest also. I always forget just how tired a teacher can get the first few weeks of school.
I wish you a very happy and rewarding year.
This is an update to a previous blog post. I feel it is still relevant today so I am re-sharing it.
Building Relationships is one of the most important things we can do when we get our new students. We need to help them to understand that we are there for them, we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I feel that this is crucial for a successful year.
Team building and getting to know each other is essential. Everyone will do this in different ways depending on their personalities and interests, but that is okay. It helps with learning to accept uniqueness and diversity.
Getting to know your students is very important. Who better to ask than the parents. Every year I send home a form called "Getting Acquainted". It is a way for parents to share some insights about their child and the family. Since so many parents are now working, it is harder to have face to face conversations with them. They want to be involved in their child's learning, but sometimes we have to be more creative to make sure this happens.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that we can have the frank conversations when necessary. I believe that each day is a fresh start, so if I can focus on what is right in the classroom and help my students to do the same, this can be communicated to the family through notes, phone calls, or face to face conversations when possible.
Often parents will ask what they can do at home to help support the learning that is happening at school. I believe that the best way to help is to read with their child and give them lots of real life experiences that use the skills and concepts taught. I send home a paper that explains how to go about doing Home Reading so that it can be effectively done and a positive experience for everyone. It is amazing how stressful home reading can be in some homes otherwise.
Here are samples from my letters. These are also available in my Back to School Start Up Forms package.
Maintaining a positive relationship with support staff is also very important. They can be great allies throughout the year. We need to help them to feel appreciated for all that they do. Sometimes they can feel like they are taken for granted and a smile or a friendly comment can make their day. A special note also makes them feel special.
Heading back to school can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. Here are some tips to help the school year start of well.
1. Make sure that you are mentally prepared and refreshed so that you will have the energy for the first few weeks. It is amazing how tired teachers can get the first few weeks of school. Take some time for yourself and allow yourself to be pampered. You are worth it and you will find that you have more energy and stamina if you go into the year refreshed and relaxed.
2. Have a plan for organizing your classroom, but don't worry about it being just perfect. You can always tweak it later. The main thing is to have the basics in place so that you can welcome in your students and begin working with them. Perhaps they can help you to make the classroom their own by adding some of their own ideas and decor during the first few weeks.
3. Change up your room a bit even if you plan on using the same decor. It has the same affect as doing spring cleaning and working around the yard tidying it up after the winter. Things are fresh again and organized. I found that this was great for the kids as well. In our schools we get the same students back for the first week or two as the new classes are organized. Sometimes with split grades, some of the students will also be in your class for a second year. Having a different arrangement of furniture or a change in the way things looks helps them to feel like they are moving on also.
4. Begin the first few classes with a focus on class community, self esteem activities, and review or introduction of school and classroom routines. This will pay big time in the months to come. When kids know that you care about them, they will be more willing to engage and work for you. It isn't about making buddies with them, you are the teacher and they are the students, but rather it is gaining their respect by showing kindness and respect.
5. Share some of your life with your students. Let them know a bit about who you are outside of the classroom.
I loved to share stories about my family and my pets with my students. They would often refer to them throughout the year and want to know more. Little things can mean a lot. My students loved singing Happy Birthday to my mom or my kids. I would put them on speaker phone and they would sing. My mom still remembers those calls and how special they made her feel.
6. Be consistent and follow through when you set routines and consequences. If you let up on these, the kids will push the boundaries and it will be tough to get them to believe what you say. They will test you to see if you mean what you say. When they realize that you mean it, they will stop pushing so hard.
If the routines and consequences make sense and they have been explained and accepted as part of the class rules, then it will be easier to enforce them as well.
7. Have a schedule to follow and lessons prepared, but be willing to throw it out or postpone it for teachable moments. If something happens during the day that is relevant to your students, it deserves to be allowed to be discussed, explored, and experienced. Kids learn more from teachable moments than they do from a structured lesson that is presented at the wrong time. No matter how fabulous the lesson is, if it is taught at the wrong time, it won't have the same impact.
8. Differentiate when necessary. Every child comes to school with different needs and abilities. It doesn't work to try and teach exactly the same material to each one. Although it takes time and some extra planning, differentiating the subject will allow everyone to engage and experience some success. Sometimes this might be as simple as finding reading material of different levels on the same topic. Or maybe it might be reducing the number of questions to do on a written assignment, answering orally instead of writing things down, or showing learning in a different way. Varying teaching styles to reach the different types of learners might also work well.
9. Make sure that you have brain breaks or physical movement added to your day. Nobody works well without breaks. Think about what things you start to do when it is time to write report cards. If you are anything like me, you will write for a bit and then need to do something different before continuing. You want to avoid doing them so you look for reasons to take breaks as well. This feeling could be the same for your students. Not everyone enjoys doing seat work for long periods of time.
10. Have fun with your students. If your students are happy they will enjoy learning. If you are happy, you will enjoy teaching more. Teaching can be hard enough nowadays with all the added pressures of assessment, social and political environments, and burnout. You need to do things to protect yourself from the stress these things cause. Laughing and enjoying your classroom experiences with your students is one way to do this.
Well, there you have it. I hope these tips help. I wish you a happy and fulfilling new school year.
I would love to hear about some of the other tips you might have. Add them into the comments below.
If you are interested in checking out some of the materials that I use for starting up the school year, click here.
I have been adding a line of French products to my store lately. If you teach French Immersion or French as a Second Language, you can check these products out here.
I just love the characters from Winnie the Pooh. The stories are whimsical but they are full of truths. I was looking at my stuffed characters that I have for my grandchildren and I decided I had to create some posters to share some of the well-known quotes that are part of the stories.
Piglet warms my heart with all that he shares and the wonder he sees in life. He may be small, but he definitely fills the heart with love.
What a boring world it would be if everyone was the same. Different doesn't mean bad, and it is important that we see the value in our uniqueness. Eeyore would not be Eeyore if he didn't see the other side of things first.
Tigger is so bouncy he is hard to miss. He has a big presence and he is able to add energy to every situation.
This is one of my favorites. Pooh says it best: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
What a powerful thing to share with others.
Click here or on the image above to get all 16 free posters. I hope you enjoy them and that they bring you smiles and happy thoughts.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother or 8, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.
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