Monthly Archives: October 2014

Whole Group Discussion Tips- Non-fiction Text

A grade 5 teacher walks you through her who group discussion techniques that she does with her students before having them engage in a writing exercise.


New words- 2014

Vocabulary is always evolving and each year new words are added to the dictionary. Stay up-to-date with this list from the Marriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Do you know what a freegan or a tweep is? You have heard of a catfish, but do you know that added meaning in reference to the use of technology communication? Share these words with your students on a word list this week. They can probably tell you their meanings, but would their parents and grand-parents know what they are?


Do your students have ‘Grit’?

What is Grit?
“Grit is a disposition to pursue very long term goals with passion and perseverance.” Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania.

Watch this 6:20 minute video to see how one young boy demonstrates grit. Sample goals are provided by students to give you ideas to discuss with your students about setting an attainable goal. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals as a guide can help with the planning. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Sensitive.

Amy Lyon, a fifth grade teacher has developed lessons to help students to become ‘Gritty’. She demonstrates how she sets students on a task to find out how perseverance in someone’s life made a difference to them over time. Students are led on aPerseverance Walk.

Books for Teachers: Classroom Management Advice…

An earlier post introduced you to a book by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. I want to outline another Fountas and Pinnell book that you want to have — Guiding readers and writers Grades 3-6: Teaching comprehension genre, and content literacy. ISBN 0-325-00310-6

You may have just been placed in a class after a school reorganization and now are trying to get your class working independently so you can expand your Balanced Literacy Program to get to the essential guided reading lessons with your groups. There are many topics in this book, but do take time to read through Chapter Nine- Getting Started: The first twenty days of independent reading. The lessons outlined in this chapter show you how to do just that. They outline minilessons on 1. Lessons on management, 2. Lessons on strategies and skills, and 3. Lessons on literacy analysis. (Fountas & Pinnell, pg. 128, 2001)

The First 20 Days (Adapted from Guiding Readers and Writers, Grades 3-6, by Fountas & Pinnell)

Advice to new teachers…

You are well into the first term by now. From time to time you may feel overwhelmed. This is quite normal for novices and experienced teachers alike. You have got to know your students and some of their parents by phone or in person. You have attended a staff meeting or two by now, investigated the book room, and maybe come down with your first school-related cold. You may have also experienced that the “shine has come off the apple” concerning your classroom management. When I was in the classroom I remember, wow, this is good, my students seem to like me, I have arranged the seating plan that seems to work, the students are moving through transitions of the day quite well. And then by October—- it seems like there is a new class before me. How does this happen? Familiarity amongst the students kicks in, they have established tight friendships and alliances and I am looking at them from the outside. You might find that you have to re-establish class rules and routines once again. Constant reminders is quite normal with students. You need to maintain control of what goes on in your class.

You can use some iPad Apps to assist in your classroom management. Too Noisy Lite is a tool that helps to monitor classroom noise levels. It is available online, for iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Use Class Dojo to build positive behaviour with our students.

Lily Jones from Teacher Channel offers good new teacher advice about your “teacher mindset”. She offers some things to consider for a teacher survival guide.

Instagram and Internet Safety

Facebook has lost favour with our youth and Instagram is one of the social media sites that has replaced it. How can parents stay current with keeping our kids safe on the net? Well, MediaSmarts is here to help. MediaSmarts is a Canadian site that keeps a pulse on everything digital and media literacy. It is a go to site for parents, teachers and students. Teachers can access lesson plans and online activities for their classes. Students can get research information about media literacy in Canada. Parents can read helpful guides about media such as this instalment entitled “What parents need to know about Instagram“.


Wonderopolis- Where the wonders of learning never cease

Interesting content is found daily on Wonderopolis where teachers can engage students first with a short video on the a new topic each day, then students can read more on the topic. Teachers are provided with a vocabulary list. Students can use the words to take “The Wonder Word Challenge” online.  The ‘wonders’ are archived. This could be used first thing in the morning as bell work or a reading piece for centres during your literacy block.

The Classroom Energy Diet

Teachers from K-12 register your class to participate in this year’s National Geographic Classroom Energy Diet. 

How does it work? There are 3 streams to the competition: Classroom Challenge, Video Challenge, and, School Energy Project. Each class will complete a series of energy-themed, curriculum-linked challenges that teach them about diverse energy issues.

First World War Resources

Canadian Geographic has create a fabulous resource for you to use with your students as Remembrance Day approaches or as a resource for your history curriculum. The online printable package contains a tiled map entitled: ‘A Nation Takes Shape: Canada and the First World War’. There are 10 associated lesson plans to coincide as you assemble the 24 page map of Canada when it was still a Dominion and Newfoundland was a part of Great Britain. This resource is suitable for late junior to high school students.