Below is one of my favourites.
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.
Reading strategies are very important for developing good reading skills. They help children to make meaning out of unfamiliar words and ideas in a variety of ways. Many children get stuck when they rely on only one or two strategies. Introducing these 8 strategies and practicing them will give them the tools to better understand the material they are reading.
About 3 years ago, I was introduced to these cute animals and their uses as reading strategies. I loved how the children engaged with them. I had to get my own stuffies so that they could actually hold them and interact with them. I use them all the time now in my guided reading groups.
I created a set of bookmarks and posters to go with these strategies. If you would like to get a copy of these bookmarks and posters, click the image below.
I hope you find these tools helpful with your young readers. I would love to hear how you use strategies in reading.
Using games and activities that are fun will help to engage children and they will learn skills without realizing that they are learning. It is wonderful to see them taking risks and challenges and enjoying learning.
I have always tried to include games in my guided reading lessons and my literacy blocks. Children can often get frustrated if they are working hard at learning to decode or make meaning of what they are reading. Using games to focus on some of the skills relieves some of that stress and allows them to practice the skills in a fun environment.
I use lots of different boxed games, but I also use task cards and other games that I have created. The ones that I have made are specific for what I might be covering in groups. I have many different themes for my sight words so that they are always fun to use because they are linked to different holidays, or special times.
Here are some other types of activities that I have used with my students. Depending on the abilities and the needs, I have made the materials simple for learning letter sounds and names and more difficult for learning about figurative language and parts of speech. I have also created activities for the interactive whiteboard. Bingo games that go with various topics are also fun to create.
If you are interested in checking out some of these products or other literacy activities that I have created, click here.
I volunteer at school and work with several guided reading groups. I create games and activities for them. Another retired teacher volunteers as well. She asked me to make up some game boards for her. You can check them out here.
Here is a free sample from the set of game boards. Click the image below to get your copy.
I have fun creating games and I love seeing the children react when a new game is presented to them. But more importantly, I am excited to see them learning skills that they were struggling with. It is so thrilling to see them applying the skills to their reading and writing lessons.
I would love to hear how you use games in your classroom to teach skills.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating materials? For me it comes from a need for certain resources in the classroom or for my grandchildren to support them in their learning.
I just started tutoring my grandson in French. He moved into a K/1 French Immersion class in March. He is in grade 1, but he is a capable student, so my son decided to move him early rather than do lots of tutoring over the summer and then move him into a grade 2 class. Already he is showing a good understanding of the language and he is able to figure out what is needed during the school day.
He can read the words and he has a few phrases that he can use, but he is really starting all over again. As I began creating a few materials for him, I noticed how similar it was to creating materials for my guided reading groups of emergent readers.
I decided to create a French version and an English version of each booklet or activity. So far I have created a few little readers and a package of interactive materials using basic vocabulary.
I took my little English readers into the Learning Support Teacher and she was so excited. She said it was like Christmas! I am happy that she will be able to use them with her struggling readers. I also plan on using them with some of my emergent readers when I go in to volunteer with reading groups.
When learning to read, it is the same process, no matter what language you are learning.
I am looking forward to creating more resources that will be covering a variety of themes. Stayed tuned for the next group of books.
Learning a second language doesn't have to be difficult. There are many ways to learn. Today I will be touching on a few strategies and steps that can help.
There are 6 steps to follow if you want to really learn to use a second or third language. Not surprisingly, these are the same steps we use when learning our first language. They do not necessarily need to be done in this order or one at a time.
Step one is to begin by listening to others speak so that you become accustomed to how the language sounds. This may seem a bit crazy, but if you go into any area where there are different languages being spoken, you will notice differences in the way the languages sound.
I find it interesting to listen to people speaking to each other in a store or at the airport or some sightseeing venue. It doesn't take too long to recognize whether they are speaking in French, Spanish, Asian, or other languages. I may not be able to understand what they are saying, but some accents and sounds are distinguishable and characteristic of different regions or countries.
Step two is to try speaking some of the words and phrases. This is usually done by copying what someone else is saying. It may be copying from a language program on the computer or at a listening center, or it may be copying someone who is speaking to you. With constant repetition, this will become easier and more natural sounding.
Step three is to work on the pronunciation so that it is as close as possible to the native sound of the language. This will take practice. Recording oneself when speaking and playing it back may be helpful. Using a "telephone" is also a good way to hear what is being said.
Step four is to develop a good vocabulary. The bigger the vocabulary acquired, the more a person will be able to communicate with others on a variety of topics.
Step five is to practice reading the words and reading simple passages that use the vocabulary in written form. As fluency and comprehension develops the passages can get more difficult and varied. It is important that comprehension be included, because it is possible to read words fluently without understanding what is being said. This is particularly true for some languages that are very phonetic.
Step six is to practice writing the language. The most difficult part of this process will be getting the grammar and syntax correct. Most languages are not translated literally, so you need to have an understanding of the language and how phrases are formed in order to communicate well.
There are many different approaches, but these steps have worked well in our schools and with my own children and grandchildren.
If you have other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Have you ever noticed that kids seem to learn languages more easily than adults? Children seem to be able to pick up the inflections and sounds more readily and they often mimic accents and dialects when they are around them for extended periods of time. This is not to say that adults cannot learn to be just as fluent as children, but sometimes it takes more effort to master it.
When our children were young, we decided to put them in French Immersion. I live in Canada, and French is one of our official languages. We thought it would be good to have them learn a second language while they were young. Both my husband and I took French in school, and we managed to do quite well, but it was sometimes difficult to get the correct pronunciation for some words. The programs then were more focused on writing rather than on speaking. They were just beginning to use oral language for teaching. I continued to study oral French in university and then went on to teach in a French Immersion school. My husband studied other languages as well and he finds language acquisition easy.
Many people opt to put their children into a language immersion program rather than have them study it as a course. Being immersed in a language, they tend to become familiar with the inflections, syntax, and basic grammar through hearing it being used on a continuous basis. When they are introduced to it in written form, it makes more sense. Of course, immersion is not for everyone and many people are able to learn well through classes also. (I found learning French fairly easy even though I didn't have the immersion setting.)
Oral language acquisition is best done in a conversational setting. This allows for practicing phrases that are useful and practical with others rather than doing worksheets full of conjugating verbs, and learning lists of vocabulary words. Of course, in order to do written work and read passages or books in another language, some of these exercises are useful as well. It is important to find a balance that works.
My next post will focus on 6 steps for learning a second language.
If you are interested in finding out more about French materials for language and numbers, check here.
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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