Showing posts from 2013

My Thanksgiving

Those of you who know me are probably aware that I am going to the U.S. this week. Funny story: in 2010, a case of mistaken identity ended up with my husband Matt being invited to Thanksgiving by a family we didn't know. A quirky reply email actually got a response - a real invite! Apparently the family who invited us appreciated Matt's sense of humour and thought he was worth inviting to the annual family gathering.
We couldn't actually go in 2010 and regretfully declined. For various reasons, we were also unable to attend Thanksgiving in 2011 and 2012. So we decided that 2013 was the year we made it to the U.S. for Thanksgiving. There are only 4 days now before we leave, and we are both in the midst of preparations.
Thanksgiving with an Australian classAs it is only Week 6 of Term 4 in Canberra, I will be taking Long Service Leave to attend Thanksgiving. I thought it might be nice for my class (who will be having a relief teacher for the time I am away) to learn more about…

Arts Festival

Yesterday was our school's first Arts Festival. Although I am really tired, I wanted to share some of the creations we made to display in this showcase of visual art, music, drama and dance! There was so much going on yesterday it's hard to do it all justice. I'm going to concentrate on my little piece of the Arts Festival, and try to get some pictures of the rest of the celebrations for another post.
Each student needed to be involved in a performance of some kind (we did a dance video and a musical performance using percussion instruments and singing), display an artwork in the Art Gallery and have a lantern to hang from the rafters of our outdoor seating areas.
Artworks - Bug's Eye ViewI took on the challenge of leading the art component, including the lanterns for both my class and my teaching partner's class. That meant I had 50 artworks and 50 lanterns to help students create... it was a close call, but with a lot of assistance, we made it in the end!
As it's…

Mosaics Revisited

Last Wednesday, I went back to visit my old school. Tracey, my lovely ex-teaching partner and mosaic guru, invited me back to help teach some of the parents mosaicking techniques to create a mural for an outside planter box at the front of the school. We used pictures that the students created inspired by a beautiful Ngunnawal (local indigenous group) story. 

Here are some 'in progress' photos of three of the four panels we were working on. (I can't use some of my photos because they identify people.) 
There will eventually be twelve panels in all, telling the whole story around the planter box.

Before the evening started, I was taken to the wall where last year's mosaics were displayed. These mosaics were the ones that Tracey and I frantically finished in the last week of the year, and I unfortunately was not there when they were put up. Here's the original post about the mosaics. Here are the pictures I quickly snapped while I was there.

I was impressed with how fanta…

This term so far...

Let's face it: schools are busy places. We have just finished Week 7 of Term 3, with only 3 more weeks to go. It has been a hive of excitement in Year 2, with plenty more to come.
Literacy and Numeracy WeekWeek 2 was Literacy and Numeracy Week. My school chose to celebrate this by having a 'Poem in our Pocket'. Each class chose a poem or wrote a poem to share with their buddy classes. We chose A.A. Milne's Sneezles to share with our buddies. I chose this poem because of the delightful made-up language, which linked to our novel study on The BFGby Roald Dahl. We studied and practised the poem, then read it aloud to students in Year 1 and Year 3. The loveliest part of this was the amount of students who came into school with more A.A. Milne poems to share with the class after our 'Poem in our Pocket' was shared.

(BrickExpoThis isn't really school related, but something else that kept me busy this term! At the end of Week 3, I was an exhibitor at  Canberra's…

The BFG: Dream Jars, Dictionary and a FREEBIE

I'll start off with a warning: I love children's literature! One of my all time favourite authors is Roald Dahl. I just love the wonderful characters, the quirky made-up language and the tales of small children overcoming insurmountable odds. I really enjoy sharing my love of these tales with my classes. We started reading The BFG last term, and we are really enjoying hearing about snozzcumbers, frobscottle and the most amusing by far, whizzpoppers
DreamsIf you have never read The BFG, here's a synopsis.  We are up to the 14th chapter: Dreams. In this chapter, The BFG describes the dreams to Sophie. There are two main kinds of dreams, Golden Phizzwizards(good dreams) and Trogglehumpers (nightmares).
After reading this chapter, we created our own dream jars filled with either a Golden Phizzwizard or a Trogglehumper. Here's a photo of our dream jars all displayed on the window together.
Some of the dream jars were filled with interesting dreams. 

The class had fun creating …

Writer's Notebook and Evernote

It has been quite a while since I last updated this blog. We have been busy, busy, busy at school to the point where I have so much I want to share, but not enough time to share it... oh, the dilemma!
EvernoteRecently, my two teaching partners and I have started to use Evernote to collaboratively create and share lesson plan ideas. To set this up, at least one of you needs a premium account to invite the others to use the shared notebooks. Once that is done, you can all edit and see the notebooks wherever and whenever you want. When inspiration strikes, one might say. So here's a screenshot of our shared Evernote notebook:

We can add text, images, links and photos of our Evernote Moleskine notebooks to this notebook and access it from our phones, tablet PC or iPad (I'm the Android user, the odd one out...), desktop computers or our Smartboards. 
Writer's NotebookAt the beginning of the year, we were using an A2 size sketchbook as our sample Writer's Notebook where we sup…


On the first day of stand-down (AKA school holidays), I went into school. Yes, I went to school on my first day of holidays. I wasn't the only one! I went in to re-arrange my classroom.

We are in the midst of a cold Winter here in Canberra. It's freezing! (The other day when all the Year 2s were out skipping to practise for Jump Rope for Heart it was 3 degrees centigrade. 3 degrees!)

My classroom has an external door that we go in and out of all day long. It opens several times through the day, and the gusts of frigid wind that blow through my classroom are enough to make an Inuit shiver.

To make matters worse, it opens at my floor space, where my Smartboard and my mini whiteboard are. I sit trembling with cold each time the door opens, and I can't imagine how cold my students are.

So, with this in mind, I decided to change the orientation of my teaching space. It's still at the front, where my Smartboard is, but now we are no longer huddled around a frequently opening doo…

Paper Plane Flight School

On Friday 21st June, we had our Paper Plane Flight School for all of Year 2 (approximately 75 students). Basically we took an investigation from the iMaths program (Investigation 7: Up, up and away) and made a fun day of it. The first step was to organise themselves into groups of three or four and then follow a procedure to create 2 types of paper plane, a dart and a glider. We then asked the students to create a modified plane. Each group ended up with 3 paper planes to fly in the flight test area (our school's gym).
After construction the of the paper planes came the testing. We took our flight school cadets to the flight test area and allowed them some practice flights before the real testing began. The planes were flown, essential data was documented and further testing commenced.  Coincidentally, our Paper Plane Flight School was held on the same day as the school's Pyjama Day to fund-raise for Missing School. Which I hope explains the interesting attire of the students (a…

Mentoring Preservice Teachers

Busy, Busy, Busy!Recently I have been incredibly busy - both at home and at school. Due to this, I haven't had a chance to post about my teaching intern and the things I learnt about mentoring along the way. As this was my first time mentoring an intern, I felt like I was learning so much alongside her.

Teaching InternDuring this term, I have had a preservice teacher from the local university complete her teaching internship. I had a bit of an 'old teacher' moment when I reflected on the length of my internship (8 weeks) and the 4 weeks that are expected now. It seems like a short amount of time, but we made the most of it.

The BeginningMy intern was very proactive and ensured that she came in to visit the school before her internship commenced, meeting the deputy principal, myself and 2H.  She wrote a note to introduce herself to the 2H parent community and actively sought programs and planning documents to assist her in 'getting straight to work' when she starte…

What is a Writer's Notebook?

What is a Writer's Notebook?Good question! I was thinking the same thing when I first arrived at my new school.  The 'official' notes I was given describe a Writer's Notebook as a book: in which writers unpack individual ideas as seeds for writing and shape those ideas into a topic and text type,designed to collect personal thoughts, ideas and observations,that allows you the opportunity to explore topics of interest and passion,where you can unpack your thinking explicitly by using graphic organisers,that provides a structure to investigate and choose appropriate text types,that supports you in making decisions about your writing because you have ownership of topics and text types,that provides authentic assessment opportunities, as you are choosing a text type to suit your audience and purpose,where you have the freedom to decorate the cover.
After reading all that, I felt that I understood the concept a little better. I tried my first Writer's Notebook lesson.
The …

Jack and the Beanstalk

In the last few weeks of Term 1, we read several versions of Jack and the Beanstalk. We used Making Connections with Deep Meaning by The Teaching Reef to connect with the stories. For the Text to World connection, my class decided they wanted to grow their own beanstalks.
As we were also studying procedural texts, we made a procedure out of planting our beanstalks. While searching Pinterest to find further inspiration for my lessons on text connections, I came across this.
As soon as I saw it, I knew my class would love to make castles in the clouds for their beanstalks. I found a clip art clouds and castles, printed them onto coloured card and collected cotton wool and skewers. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be at school when my students created their castles, but I did see them when I popped into school the other day to organise things for next term.
Here are two of my beanstalks complete with castles. I think they look fantastic!
So I guess my original lesson went off on a tangent…

Last Day of Term 1

So, today is the last day of Term 1 for 2013. What was I doing on the last day?  Resting. I got laryngitis and a chest infection in the last week of term. I only went to school on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and felt really guilty about it. My new school sends home student portfolios at the end of Term 1, and mine weren't ready to go. So on Wednesday afternoon (after struggling through the day without a voice) I collected 24 folders and 24 sets of work, photos and general evidence on how great my class is and set about using my days off to put it all together.
I popped into school at lunchtime today (having been told by the doctor not to speak) and delivered all the portfolios to their owners. I felt much better about myself after that was accomplished!
I also went to school to drop off a gift to my current teaching partner. He was given a term-long contract at my school and it was his last day. The Year 2 team gave him a bottle of red, a card and a great picture book called The V…

Classroom Photos: Start of the Year

Moving to a new school is always a daunting task. After five years in the same place, I managed to accumulate a vast array of 'important' papers, folders, books and teaching resources. I also inherited quite a few things from teachers who were retiring or leaving the profession. This created quite a lot of stuff which needed to be moved from my old school, transported to my home where it could be sorted and organised (or recycled, given away or binned) and then finally moved into my new teaching space.
Here are photos of part of the sorting process and the mess it created. Yes, that's right, two rooms in our house were filled with my teaching junk (as my husband calls it).

So, once all the sorting and re-packing was done, I had to take it into my new school. At my new school, I have no teacher office to store all my things in. To make up for this, the lovely staff at my school found a barely used cupboard and moved it to my room just for little old me! I felt very spoilt!