Project Based Learning about Owls

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This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

Here's another Project Based Learning unit I developed about Owls.  This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

 This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

 This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

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Inquiry Based Learning

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I've got a few new products up in my store.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

I've been working hard on products about Inquiry Based Learning.  I have just released one about Christmas Around the World.  I will post in more detail about this over the holidays, but for now, my class and I are right in the middle of this unit, and we're having a lot of fun.  

Project Based Learning is the way the new curriculum in British Columbia is going.  I developed this unit as a kind of step-by-step introduction to inquiry.  So if you are completely new to this method of teaching, this unit is perfect for you.

Check out some of the images below for more detail.  

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

This unit of inquiry is great for giving kids freedom to learn about the owl of their choice.  It's perfect for teachers who are new to units of inquiry.  There are step-by-step instructions for how to develop inquiry questions and set up the plan for kids to do their own research and project.

 
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TPT SALE!

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It`s been far too long since I`ve posted.  I`ve been furiously creating some new products.  I`m really excited about my line of Inquiry Based Research projects coming your way.  Below you will find a sneak peek of what`s new in my store.  I hope you get a chance to check them out before the big Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale on Monday and Tuesday this week.



If you are new to Inquiry Based Learning or Project Based Learning, this unit is exactly what you need.  There are step-by-step instructions on how to teach a beginning Inquiry unit to primary aged students.          If you are new to Inquiry Based Learning or Project Based Learning, this unit is exactly what you need.  There are step-by-step instructions on how to teach a beginning Inquiry unit to primary aged students.

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Stories from a First Year Teacher #1

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I remember my first day in front of my own students.  I remember feeling terrified.  I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated.

This post started as a single idea, which developed into a very, very, very long post.  So I’ve decided to make it into a series of posts, of which this is the first.   I hope that some of you who are in your very first classroom this year can commiserate and might find some support in the fact that you are not alone out there your first year.

I remember my first day in front of my own students.  I remember feeling terrified.  I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated.

I remember my first day in front of my own students.  I remember feeling terrified.  I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated.  I was really lucky my first year teaching.  I only had to work as a substitute teacher for 2 months before I found myself with my own classroom.  Those stories are for another day, however.  Today I want to tell you about my first year in my first classroom.

The classroom was old, as many are, in the city where I teach, which meant it was very big.  It was a Kindergarten classroom, so it had its own bathroom, an art sink, and a huge storage cupboard.  The kids were almost completely ELL, which was also something that I was struggling to get my head around.  Most of these children, although born here, did not speak English at home.  It was also a Kindergarten class.  My training had been in Grades one and two.  Fortunately, I had spent many days in those 2 months of substituting in a variety of Kindergarten classrooms in my district, so I had lots of ideas, just minimal experience.

The teacher who left this classroom, two months into the year, was close to retirement and had injured her back.  She didn’t return for the rest of that year, so I got to consider the classroom my own after some time.  She did pop by a few times to pick up some of her own things, but left most of them for me.  She had been teaching Kindergarten in that same classroom for 25 years.  She told me that of all the classes she had taught, this group was the calmest and easiest to manage of all the classes she had ever taught.  I didn’t realize at the time, but I had been given a true gift, with this well-behaved class.  I was able to concentrate more on covering the curriculum, and less on classroom management.  In fact, I must have reorganized that classroom multiple times over the year, and the kids were able to take the change with minimal disruption.  I can’t imagine that happening now.

The curriculum here was very vague and open-ended in 1992.  It was student centred, and very unclear.  I know I missed out a lot.  I feel badly for those kids, but I also know that I did my best.  I am a very organized and structured thinker, and open-ended curriculum was hard for me to get my head around.  I was also the only Kindergarten teacher at this school, and it was before the internet and social media, so I had nobody to reach out to for help.  Eventually I found an older curriculum guide that was much more specific, and I used it to guide my planning and lessons for the rest of the year. 

I realized that if I wanted to stay teaching Kindergarten, then I needed more guidance.  So I enrolled in an Early Childhood Certificate program at the local University.  This helped me somewhat, but I also found an excellent mentor my second year teaching and she really saved my tail if you know what I mean.

I remember my first day in front of my own students.  I remember feeling terrified.  I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated.

If you are a new teacher, remember that all of us teachers started somewhere, and most of us remember our first days.  Nobody is perfect.   One piece of advice I’d like to offer is to be open to all suggestions.  You don’t need to follow this advice, but you should at least listen to the ideas of more experienced teachers.  Just because someone is older and they don’t relate to you on a personal level doesn’t mean they don’t know a lot about teaching.  Something that contributed to my struggles as a beginning teacher was my resistance to advice from older teachers.  I call it the “arrogance of youth”.   I thought I knew a lot, when in fact I knew very little.  I only know that now in retrospect. 

So whether you are starting this year with your first class, or your 20th, I hope you have a great one.  Remember that all of us started out somewhere and there is nothing more rewarding than that look in a child’s eye when they finally “get it”.  And there’s no better job in the world than teaching to experience it.

I remember my first day in front of my own students.  I remember feeling terrified.  I remember feeling inadequate, and completely intimidated.



Thanks for stopping by again today.
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Back To School Blog Hop and GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the Back To School Blog Hop
Today I'm getting together with some other fantastic Teachers Pay Teachers sellers to share some wonderful freebies and a chance to win a gift card and some other fantastic products from Teachers Pay Teachers.
I wanted to share with you a great idea for setting up your classroom rules.  The great thing about this lesson is that I have a set for Kindergarten, and a set for older primary students as well.  Oh yeah, and it's FREE too (my favourite four letter word!)
First you need to read the book David Goes to School by David Shannon.
It's available on Amazon.


In the book David's Teacher say "No Running, No Pushing..."

In my classroom I like to use positive phrases when setting up the classroom rules.

I have 5 classroom rules:

Use nice words
Use a quiet voice
Walk carefully
Share the toys and supplies
Play carefully

These rules have served me well over the past 25 years.  And I really like the fact that they don't use the word 'no'.  So after reading David goes to school, I brainstorm with the class ways they can say what the teacher is telling David, without using the word "no".

FREEBIE – a perfect Back to School lesson about classroom rules for your class.  I love how easy to prep this is, and there’s even the flexibility for K to 3rd Grade.

Then we make the craftivity below to create a bulletin board showing their knowledge of the class rules.  I like it when they use 'I can' statements.  Like "I can walk carefully", or "I can share my toys".

FREEBIE – a perfect Back to School lesson about classroom rules for your class.  I love how easy to prep this is, and there’s even the flexibility for K to 3rd Grade.



for the instructions and templates.

Then get them to cut out a speech bubble and write down one of the phrases from the class brainstorm.  It can be one of my 5 rules above or any of the other positive statements that the class came up with.

Now on with the blog hop.   Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a Gift Card to TPT and the products in the picture.






a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for entering and click on the apple below to head on to the next part of the hop!

or you can CLICK HERE to go on with the hop!
Thanks again for taking the time to stop by today!
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Tips for New Teachers #1

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  Well, it’s been a long time since that first year, but I made a lot of mistakes.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON. 

I made a lot of mistakes that first year teaching.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.

The first thing I did was came in with assumptions.  We all presume to know things about the world around us, but sometimes it’s important to ASSUME NOTHING.  And, let me tell you, that is a very hard thing to do.

I made a lot of mistakes that first year teaching.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.

I remember spending a ton of time decorating my classroom.  I’m sure we all do when we get our first classroom.  Well, I remember getting very frustrated one day with one of my little boys.  You see, I hung a great poster on the wall near the sandbox.  And this poor little boy was playing with the sandbox, but he kept rubbing up against the poster.  Eventually he rubbed it so much that it ripped off the wall.  I was horribly disappointed.  I had spent a lot of time creating that poster (remember this is before we had color printers).  I assumed that this child had control of his body.  What I learned was that spacial awareness is a learned trait and that young children have not learned it yet.  I ASSUMED that he was aware of his actions and he wasn’t.

I remember asking a child to color and cut out a picture.   Now the child in this next story was not mentally delayed, she was not severely ELL, she was simply a child who had never had to do anything for herself.  Everything in her household was done for her.  So after asking her to color the picture, the child simply sat there until I finally noticed that she had not done any work.  I told her eventually to color the picture but until I pointed out what the other children were doing, she had not thought to look around and see what the others were doing.  I ASSUMED that she knew how to look around for help.  Some children need guidance to learn this skill.  When she finished coloring she sat there again.   I ASSUMED she would come and ask for help, but again, many children need help learning how to ask.  And finally, when I asked her how to cut out the picture she stared at me blankly.  I took her over to the supplies and pulled out the scissors and gave them to her.  She stared at me again and it finally clicked for me.  She had never used scissors before.  So I showed her how to put her fingers through the holes and make a cutting motion.  I ASSUMED that all school aged children knew how to use crayons and scissors.  Silly me.

I remember the time that somebody peed on the carpet.  But there was nobody with wet pants.  I ASSUMED that someone would fess up.  But nobody ever did.  All I can gather from this is that it was a girl in a skirt.  I also ASSUMED that all children came to school fully toilet trained, but I learned that accidents can happen.  I’ll never forget the day during Centers Time, a little girl followed me around the classroom to ask me if she could use the washroom.  The thing is that it took a while for me to notice her.  In the meantime, she had left a trail of pee all through the classroom while she followed me.  So after a quick phone call for help to the custodian, there I was standing in the middle of the room blocking children from stepping on the wet trail.

So, like I said at the start, the best way to start your teaching career is to ASSUME NOTHING, because children are people too and they come from all different experiences and backgrounds, so you cannot assume anything will be like you expect it to be.

If you are an experienced teacher, I'd love to hear a little anecdote from your first year, and if you are a new teacher, I'd love to hear what your biggest fear is about your first week of school.  Please leave me a comment below.

Speaking of new teachers.  I thought I'd help you out and offer you a little freebie.  Here's a checklist of classroom routines.

CLICK HERE
to get your own copy

Classroom Routines can be so confusing to remember.  This toolkit is perfect for setting up and making sure you remember everything for back to school

If you'd like to check out the entire toolkit it's now in my TPT store.
 It's part of my new product line:  New Teacher?  No Problem

CLICK HERE

Classroom Routines can be so confusing to remember.  This toolkit is perfect for setting up and making sure you remember everything for back to school

Thanks for stopping by today!

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BACK TO SCHOOL SALE!

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August 1 and 2 on TPT  28% off

The Back to School Sale is on Monday and Tuesday August 1 and 2.

You can get up to 28% off. 

It's a sitewide sale, so get your wishlist primed and ready!

I've got my store prepped and ready for you.

I can't wait to go shopping for some of my favourite things on my wishlist.



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BACK TO SCHOOL


Back to school is just around the corner for most of us.  I don’t actually go back until after Labour Day, but I assume that many of you are thinking about classroom set up and planning.  And some of you are already back in the classroom.  Even though the first day of school is a month away for me, I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts on back to school and what it means to me.



I am always excited to go back to school.  I love that feeling of being reunited with the people you spent so much time and effort, (and sometimes blood sweat and tears) with during the past year.   There’s a definite feeling of anticipation.  I wonder how many of my students went on a trip, how many saw each other over the holidays, how many went to summer school, etc. etc.   And I wonder if any of them will not be coming back to our school this year.  My school has a little bit of transiency and I usually have one or two kids who move away over the summer break.

The past few years have been very difficult for me as far as classroom management.  I feel that kids are changing and self-regulation is becoming the focus of all my time and effort in the classroom.  (But that’s a post for another day.)  I just want to bring this up, because the last few year ends have had me in a complete state of exhaustion.  I can’t think straight, I’m overwhelmed, I’m getting high blood pressure…  So even after all of this, I still feel that excitement of anticipation when the school year starts back up again 2 months later.

It’s something that you don’t find in most jobs, that sense of a new beginning every year.   A new year means a fresh start every time.  In June, I clean up the cobwebs, and the dust bunnies that have gathered over the year.  I find things that have fallen behind furniture, and put everything away in it’s place.  So this means in September I can start anew.  This year will be my 25th Back to School.  I feel the excitement just as much as I did my first year (I’m just not as nervous). 

There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

For the past 12 years I have been in the same classroom – some years I change up the room layout a bit, but for the most part I’ve been really happy with the layout I have.  This year, I’m not going to change it up.  I think I might change the theme.  I have several that I made in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I’m leaning towards the purple but I also love the Summer Party, so I have a decision to make.

There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

I’ve been busy this summer and I’m sure all of us have.  But after going to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Florida last July, I tried to focus on my family and let my store be my second focus.  The past few summers I have spent so much time and energy on my store, that I think my family has suffered.  This year I have tried to make it balance.  I think it worked out well.  My kids and my husband look happy and refreshed, and I feel like we had sufficient time to bond together.  My kids are of an age now that I really enjoy hanging out with them.  We have some very interesting conversations these days. And I know that once they are teenagers they will no longer want to hang out and talk with us, so I’m trying to savour these days.


       There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

Anyway, the school year will be starting soon, and my point is that even after all my years, and all the changes to me and my teaching, I am still excited about a new year, a fresh start, and a new group of students to hang out with every day.  I hope you feel the same.
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5 back to school ideas

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These are great tips for Back to School, especially for new teachers! I really like number two!

I found these 5 great ideas on Pinterest for Back To School.

NUMBER ONE:
I love this post from Aimee at Primarily Speaking.  She really gets into details about routines and procedures that will help.


NUMBER TWO:
This is a great idea from Jillian Starr at the Star Spangled Planner.  These Friend Wanted Ads are a great first week activity.


NUMBER THREE:
This great article by Michael Linsin from Smart Classroom Management about setting a good tone the first week of school is very insightful.


NUMBER FOUR:
I really like this great article from Jodi Southard at Fun in First.  She has some great ideas about how to explain classroom expectations using pictures.


NUMBER FIVE:
Here's another great article by Michael Linsin about how important a first lesson on classroom management can be for the rest of the school year.

After you look at these great articles about, check out this great post from Linda at Teach 4 the Heart.  She points out 10 common mistakes that you should avoid to have a great first week.



And there you have it. Some ideas that I hope you find really insightful to help you with your first week back to school.


Thanks for stopping by again today!

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ORLANDO 2016 for the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.

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I just got back from the trip of a lifetime.  The whole family and I went down to Orlando.  After going to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas last year, I knew I really wanted to go again this year.  And this year did not disappoint.

Here's what I learned from the top TPT sellers at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando Florida.


When I was there last year, I made a lot of good TPT friends and it was great to reconnect with them again this year.  I got to meet up with some TPT rock stars, and I also got to meet a few people in real life (IRL), who I have become facebook friends with over the past year.

This year I also came with my family, so once the conference was over we spent 5 days in Disney and had a great time (but that’s another blog post on another day).

The conference started out with the Cool Kids Meet and Greet put on by Kayse Morris and Sherri Tyler.  After that we went to the Florida Bloggers’ Meetup.  After that, a group of us Canadian TPT sellers hopped on a bus and went to Disney Springs to have drinks on the dock and watch some fireworks in the distance.

The next morning was early for breakfast and then the keynote by Amy and Adam from TPT and Jen Bengel from Out of this World Literacy.  After that the sessions started.  I attended 4 sessions each day.  Let me tell you, they were all fantastic, and they were all SOOOO informative and right now my brain is very full of all the information I learned.

The second night I went to the big Blogger Meetup and won $100 of Creative Clips swag!  Then I went out for dinner with some Canadian blogger friends.  I skipped the breakfast the next morning as it was outside and even at 7am it’s flipping HOT in Florida in July.  So I slept in and had 4 more sessions and then went to the Happy Hour put on by TPT as a wrap up and good bye.  I was really sad to say goodbye to everyone that I connected with, but then went out for dinner and to EPCOT with my family that night.


Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando 2016

Instead of boring you with the little details of the conference I thought I’d summarise what my takeaways from the conference were.

1                     COMMUNITY - The top sellers were all very friendly.  Whenever I met one, they were always happy to pose for a photo and spend a few minutes talking about TPT.
2                     FIND YOUR NICHE!  This one was drilled home to us in almost every session that I attended.  And after much time and thought, I think I may have found mine.  (I’ll leave that for now, and see if you can figure that out after a few more posts from me next week).
3                     TIME MANAGEMENT – plan out your TPT time.  This is one that I am terrible at.  I tent to just go with the flow when working on TPT and seriously, I need better time management.  I can manage my time really well in the classroom, so why not with TPT.
4                     SOCIAL MEDIA – it’s extremely important.  Find one or two platforms that you are comfortable with and then manage your time appropriately.  Learn all you can about them, but don’t waste your time on them.  Personally I can get totally sucked into facebook, and it’s such a time waster.
5                     VIDEO is the way of the future.  Get on the bandwagon now.  Learn how to put video in your posts on social media and your blog.

I can’t wait until next year to meet up with all the friends I connected with this year, and I can’t wait to develop the product line that I have in mind.
Thanks for stopping by again today!
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4 things that have changed after 24 years of teaching

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This post was originally titled, 4 Things That Have Changed Since I Started Teaching and Tips On How to Adapt.   But I decided to change that when I realized that one of the things that has changed is me, and not everyone changes in the same way.  

4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
I've been teaching for 24 years.  That makes me seem really old, but I don't feel old.  In fact, I feel that my wealth of experience can only make me a better, more energized teacher.  And, after all this time, I still love coming to work, and I still feel inspired to try new things all the time.  This post is a bit of a walk though the past to show you just how much things have changed.  If you are a younger teacher, just imagine all the fantastic changes that will come during the length of your career.  

TECHNOLOGY

Duh!  Right?  I mean this one is totally obvious.  And after writing this, I decided that this one deserves it's own future blog post because SO MUCH has changed with technology in the past 24 years.

For this post I'll highlight visual media where we've gone from this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
http://cogdogblog.com/2011/07/rediscovering-tech-roots/


to this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
By Liftarn, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22220395


to this.
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com

This is an image of my classroom's SMART Board in case the photo is not clear enough.

CURRICULUM

Oh boy, here's another biggie.   Now I realize that the Common Core and standardized tests are what is going on currently in the USA.  But here in Canada the pendulum has started swinging back towards what the curriculum was when I started teaching.  

So within my teaching career, we started with Whole Language and Centers Based learning where the kids have a lot of choice and there's very little structure to planning and curriculum.  Let me tell you, as a beginning teacher, I completely drowned.  I had no idea what I was doing.  This approach worked well for experienced teachers, but was a real struggle for beginners like me.

Then more structure came into play.  We got dedicated Science Topics to cover and the Math curriculum became far more specific.  Teaching reading became more structured and Guided Reading was a big buzz word.

For Americans the next step was the Common Core and lots of specifics.  Standardized testing started taking over and many teachers are not happy with this style of curriculum and assessment.

Here in BC where I live, we have a new curriculum starting in the fall.  It's very similar to that old curriculum that was in place when I started teaching and I worry that many beginning teachers are going to have a hard time with it.  I know that I will be able to use my experience to ensure that student's learn everything they need to move on to the next grade, even if these things are no longer specifically outlined in the curriculum.

BEHAVIOR
or BEHAVIOUR as we write it in Canada.

This is something that has changed over many generations.  Of course parents have different expectations of behaviour from their children than what our parents expected of us.  But somewhere along the way many children lost the ability to self-regulate.  Maybe it's society, maybe it's environmental, maybe it's parenting, or maybe it's too much technology at a young age.  Who knows?  All I know is that attention spans are getting shorter, and impulse control is extremely difficult for more and more kids, which makes our job, as a teacher, that much more challenging.

MY ATTITUDE

My attitude has changed a lot over the years.  When I started teaching, I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I was more driven by my own ideas, than what the kids needed or wanted.  Over the years I have learned to trust my own knowledge and instincts.  I have a much better understanding of what kids need to learn and how to pace out my year and this is something that comes more naturally the longer you teach.  I no longer feel inadequate or overwhelmed like I did when I was first teaching.  I have much more confidence in what I'm doing and how I'm doing it in the classroom.  Becoming a parent for the first time, after teaching for 15 years, really changed my classroom presence.  I am much less structured, and much more free flowing in my classroom management than I was before I had my own kids.  

Of course I find the job more tiring, but that might be because of the changes in children's behaviours these days, or it might be because I'm older than I was and I have less energy to spare.  Probably it's a mix of both these factors.  But the thing is that I still love my job.  I talk to lots of adults out there in the community who simply go through the paces to do their job every day, and then come home to live their life.  I feel that I live my life every day at work too.  Teaching is never boring and I'm always learning something new from the kids.  

So there you have it.  4 major changes over 24 years.  I thought I'd finish this post with a little summary of my teaching statistics.  It's an idea that's been floating around facebook these past few weeks.

At the end of the 2015-16 school year, here are my educator stats: 
24 years of teaching 
6 elementary schools 
2 cities, in 2 countries, in 2 different hemispheres
I've worked with 13 principals, and 11 vice principals
grades taught: K, 1, 2, and Music to K - 7
specialist positions: Music Teacher, ESL/ELL Teacher
students taught: 800 and counting!!!

Thanks for stopping by today!
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Father's Day Gift Idea

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Last week we sent our Father's Day gifts home.   I know that many of you do not teach in the month of June, but for those of us who do, Father's Day gifts are pretty important.

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

There's a few things I really like about this gift.  Firstly, it's really easy for a child to choose to give this gift to any loved one.  Some children do not live with, or see their fathers so they can choose to give it to their Mom, or Grandpa, or Uncle because it doesn't actually say anything about Dad on the gift, it just says "I love you to pieces".

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

First I took a picture of the student holding the sign which says "I love you to pieces".  They were in front of a black background so that the child's photo had more contrast.  

Second, I cut out the picture frame from cardboard boxes.  I usually save pieces of corrugated cardboard boxes and cut them up into small pieces.  These ones were 8 x 10 inches.  I used a box cutter to cut the opening from the middle to create the frame.  The kids painted the frames with tempera paint.

Third, the kids painted the backsides of old puzzle pieces.  You know when you lose a few pieces then a puzzle is useless?  Well I save them for art projects.  I set out the pieces and 6 colours of paint and asked the kids to each paint 10 pieces in random colours.  Then I let them dry and had the kids randomly chose some of them to glue onto their frames.  I also gave them some foam sports stickers that I bought last year on clearance.

Finally, I glued the photos to the back of the dried frames and voila!
It's really easy, and very cheap.

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

Thanks for coming by!
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5 Year End Ideas for Teachers (to help keep you sane)

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Memorial Day is upon us.  This is traditionally the start of summer in many American minds.  As the end of another school year approaches, it seems that everywhere you look, at least in teacher circles, there is so much talk about ‘survival,’  ‘exhaustion’ and ‘just getting through’ the end of the year. Personally I have one more month of teaching to go, and the thought is daunting. While it’s easy to fall into step with all of our colleagues and feel all the same emotions, I've decided that this year, rather than merely ‘survive’ the end-of-the-year, I'm going to thrive and celebrate it!  I've even decided to find several meaningful (and some frivolous) ways to revel in the completion of another academic year…

Teacher gifts for colleagues are great, but here’s also some other ideas to help make a teacher’s last few weeks go smoothly and help teachers feel good the last few weeks of the school year.

There will be more than enough time over the summer to look at what might not have worked well this past year, but for now, why not be kind to ourselves and honour all the hard work that we, as teachers, have put in all year long?  Here are some ways that I've chosen to celebrate the end of the school year--and I hope that some of you will think of ways to do the same for yourself:


1.  Say “Thank You” to a co-worker, with words or a small token of gratitude. Whether it’s the School Secretary, who always (and often cheerfully) helps when you need it, or the cafeteria lady who goes out of her way to smile at you every day, or the custodian who works harder than anyone should have to--I plan to stop at Starbucks and pick up a small gift card for each one of these folks.  Surely, they deserve some acknowledgement for all they do.

2.  I'm going to ‘Pay it Forward.’  Is there a fellow teacher or administrator at your school whose work you admire? I have at least one at my school.  I plan to leave them a little note in one of my hand made cards.  You could write a short note or send them a brief email telling them so.  My hope is that by doing this now, I will be sowing the seeds of kindness that will come back to me in the fall.

3.  I'm going to type up a short note to be copied and sent home to parents thanking them for the opportunity to teach their child this year. I will also take a quick 10 minutes to jot down just one sentence on each note, about what I will miss about their child.  Personalizing the message for them and their child will mean so much to them and will also round out the year in a very positive way.

4.  A book swap!  I'm going to send out an email to my team asking if they would grab a copy of their favourite professional development/teaching book, so that I could borrow it over the summer. I will also lend them one that I recommend too!  The one I just finished reading, and highly recommend is Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller.  I will also lend this one out to any of them who would like to read it! 

5.  A book sale!  Tying into the afore-mentioned book swap, I will look through my professional development books, many of which are tired dinosaurs that offer me nothing in the way of genuine help in my classroom, and find a few that may sell on Amazon over the summer. 
With the money from that sale, whether it’s $10 or $100, I plan to:

          A.   Enjoy an overpriced milkshake
          B.   Treat myself to a movie with my very OWN popcorn
          C.      Have lunch with friends
          D.    Get a pedicure
          E.      Be a tourist in my own town & visit a cool museum or park

I hope you will consider trying to stay focused on the positive and while doing that, have some fun by making a list of all the ways you can honour yourself, and others, at the end of another school year.

All my best to you for an awesome June and a relaxing & positive July!

Thanks for stopping by today. 
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Freebie and a Giveaway

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The school year is coming to an end soon, and teacher's minds are turning towards rest and relaxation.  In Canada we have 6 weeks left until summer holidays start and although I love my kiddos this year, I will truly enjoy some R&R come July.
This week something exciting happened to me and I thought I needed to celebrate!  I passed 1000 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Can you believe it?  1000 people are following my little store.  I am terribly flattered.
To celebrate I'm having a giveaway and a freebie.
Enter the rafflcopter below to win one of two products.  If you are a Primary teacher you will love all of my animal research units.  They are perfect for independent non-fiction study.  

CLICK HERE 
to check out the Animal Research
If you are NOT a primary teacher then perhaps you will be interested in ALL of my Digital Mini kits.  I"m adding 12 more this week.  That means there will be 24 Digital Mini kits up for grabs.  
CLICK HERE
to check out the Mini Kits.
These mini kits are great for classroom teachers to create new teaching resources.  There's graphics and background papers for teachers to make their lessons plans more pretty and fun.  These mini kits are great for classroom teachers to create new teaching resources.  There's graphics and background papers for teachers to make their lessons plans more pretty and fun.




a Rafflecopter giveaway
and the FREEBIE?
It's a sampler of many of my top sellers.
CLICK HERE
to grab your own copy.
thanks for stopping by today!
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