What the Leaves Blew In…

fall_leaves_1_Winter is just around the corner (pout, moan, cry). But before its official debut, I thought I’d pay tribute to the wonderful adventures we embarked on during our study of Autumn.

Autumn LeavesWe began our exploration by taking an investigative walk around the school yard, looking for evidence of Fall.  Among the many things we observed, students marveled at the beautiful, colourful leaves everywhere; leaves of different shape, size and colour.

IMG_3884As with any great investigation, we had to gather specimens to bring back and explore further in our classroom – red leaves, yellow leaves, big leaves, little leaves, oak leaves, maple leaves, and what’s this – acorns, pine cones, flowers, twigs and rocks – all were welcomed.

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Over the next several weeks, we were quite busy inquiring, learning and integrating our artifacts into every aspect of our day. We read many books about Fall, trees, seeds and leaves.

leafmanredleafyellowleafwhentheleafblewin mousefirstfall

We documented and wrote about Fall changes. We learned about and labeled the different parts of a leaf. We counted, graphed, sorted and made patterns with leaves. We even made a pine cone shaker (to complement the seed shaker we previously made during our Apple inquiry – it turned out to be a great way to distinguish between the different sounds seeds can make).

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We created art with leaf rubbings and leaf stamps (students loved creating their own Leaf Creatures, which after being displayed on our walls, made an entertaining class book).

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It was endless! The ideas kept pouring, and the fun and learning continued.

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For the culminating activity, we created a class book where each student got to contribute their idea to a page about leaves (parents really enjoyed looking through it during our Fall conferences). Students also had a chance to read a personalized book about leaves with our Grade Three Reading Buddies – they were so excited, I was so proud.

IMG_4373Though I generally have an overall sense of where I’d like an inquiry based opportunity to lead, I can never truly predict how vast or fruitful it will grow to be. It is the students’ curiosity and eagerness that determines the direction and range of learning. Regardless, I am always pleasantly surprised and excited to see where each inquiry will take us.

GravatarEnjoy the last bit of Fall everyone. Thank you for your time.

Lora

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Apples Big and Apples Small, Apples, Apples, One and All

appleMy first inquiry-based unit this year started off with a simple school snack – apples. I walked into the classroom just after Snack Break, and to my surprise, found a bin full of Golden Delicious apples.  Apparently, my three, four and five year-old students already had some pre-conceived ideas about apples – green ones specifically.

“I don’t like green apples,” the explaining began.

“Green apples are sour,” chimed in a few others.

Well, with that said, I walked over to the snack table, curiously staring at the batch of rejected apples. I grabbed one, inspected it for good measure and then took a big bite (good thing I always enjoyed Drama class in school – it sure comes in handy teaching Kindergarten).

“Hmmm, yummy,” I teased. “It doesn’t taste sour to me.” I shrug my shoulders and continued promenading around the tables, crunching along, making my usual small talk.  I then finally sat down to enjoy the rest of my juicy apple.

Across the room, I noticed one student get up and grab an apple from the bin.

“This is sweet,” she announced (thank goodness for those unknowing volunteers). Soon, another green apple landed in the hands of an unsuspecting child, and before long, nearly all of the apples had been gone.

Continue reading

Making Back-to-School a Success

Making Back-to-School a Success
by Stacy Cline


In my blog in July, I noted that old refrain “…no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…”
Guess what? We’re baaaa-aack!

I have heard the following phrase often in the last few weeks: “School is a dirty word in our house.” No one wants to let go of summer. But school is around the corner and it’s time to think about it (even if you don’t want to say it, being a dirty word, apparently) so that we’re well prepared to return to you-know-what.

Summer is often a time of lazy days, with a side of ice cream. School is a time of routine. It’s critical to return to those old routines, so that the first week of September isn’t such a shock.

Bedtime routines should be back in place before school begins, if you’ve been lax over the summer. Morning routines should also be revisited. If they have been sauntering into the kitchen to eat breakfast in PJs, then get back into the old habit of getting dressed first, if that had been procedure. Write a checklist for the first week to remind you of all that needs to be done to get out the door. I will, because I know I might not remember to pack their water bottles or something like that. Two summer months is sufficient time to forget.

If nightly read alouds or your child’s independent reading time fell by the wayside over the summer because of late bedtimes, restore that good habit now. A new book of their choice is a great back-to-school gift. A reluctant reader might like a graphic novel or even a comic book.

Ensure there is ample time to eat a nutritious breakfast every morning. This is crucial, and one of my greatest worries as a teacher. Children who arrive at school nourished are energized and perform far better. Aside from nutritional concerns, hungry kids often have difficulty focussing.

Practice new skills. Maybe they are learning to tie shoelaces, dress themselves or pack their own lunch (preferably the night before). Homework policies should be planned and discussed. Where will homework be completed, such that it is a quiet space with little distraction? What time of day? Before or after TV? Prepare for effective and consistent study habits now, and this will help avoid conflicts later.

Organize their supplies. Assuming that the zipper on the pencil case isn’t busted, there aren’t holes in the knapsack and the lunch bag doesn’t smell like feet then all can be reused. Purchase only what needs to be replaced, and teach responsible spending and good environmental stewardship to your children. That doesn’t mean a fresh box of crayons or a fancy pencil isn’t in order. A few little back-to-school treats might brighten your child’s day.

If your kids, like mine, have mostly been wearing sport sandals all summer, then try their running shoes to ensure they still fit. They’ll need them for phys ed.

Some children experience anxiety prior to the start of school. They might even have trouble sleeping. As a teacher, this is something that I have struggled with. I’m excited, nervous, tense, a bit scared, you name it. Perhaps your child is too. New teacher, new grade, new challenge, new faces…

Remain upbeat, optimistic and calm. Listen and demonstrate empathy by validating their concerns. I can’t tell my daughter, “It’s nothing!” when I can barely eat. Remind them of old friends they will see, and the fun things they will learn and do. Talk about favourite subjects, even recess! Set up play dates with friends who they haven’t seen all summer to reconnect and to give them some comfort, and something to which they can look forward.

Last but not least, your pen-and-paper, traditional school teacher here strongly recommends you use a wall calendar to help your family organize your weeks. I know, you have everything stored on your tablet/desktop/smartphone but a wall calendar is a visual aid that your family can use for reference at any time. Anyone can add notes to it so everyone is literally on the same page. It will never fail you. It will also engage your kids to take responsibility and participate in daily planning. And if GYM TODAY is written down for your child to see, it will take one thing off your plate to remember.


STACY CLINE
Stacey Cline is an elementary school teacher and educational consultant. She is amazed by what she learns from her students every day. Stacey is passionate about reading, and has amassed a fantastic collection of children’s literature that her family enjoys daily. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two daughters and two cats. As a result, she loves strong espresso and good wine.
Stacey can be reached at sclineconsulting@gmail.com.


Check out this article and more at: Her Magazine

Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar???

handJar

Shhh, don’t tell them, but it was me!

Here is a fun and tasty idea for the first week back to school …


Print and cut-out enough cookiecookiesLyrics templates so that each student has one with their name written on the back (you may want to invite students who are able to write their name independently, to do so prior to beginning). Place all the cookies in a jar and with all the students sitting in a circle, introduce the song, Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar.  While singing, pull out one cookie at a time and hold it up for the class to read. You may want to help by encouraging students to look at the letters for clues. For example, “This person’s name begins with the letter B, which makes a bbb sound.  I wonder whose name this could be?” If you like having your students wear name tags during the first few weeks of school, you may want to invite them to take off their tags at this point and look closely at the letters in their name. Throughout the day, continue to pull out more cookies from the jar until each child’s name has been called (if you have a small class, one sitting may do).

cookiesWritingYou might also want to revisit this activity with a small group of students or else with a different focus in mind (i.e., sorting: girls and boys, long names and short names; counting: number of letters in each name, number of students; graphing: organizing the information, etc.).  I like to repeat this activity several times during the first couple of weeks of school. Students are quite amused by it and it is a great way to learn each other’s names while learning important skills at the same time. As an extension, I prepared a follow-up writing piece where students are invited to write their name and draw a picture of themselves eating cookies (a great time for an art lesson).  While some students may be able to write their name independently, others may need to copy or trace the letters from their name tag (tracing over a highlighted name works well too).

cookieTemplatesThe jar can then be put to further use by placing it somewhere in the room for students to access during Centre/Play time. Depending on the various skills you introduced with the activity, students may want to explore some of them independently or in a small group (i.e., counting, sorting, etc.).


** To download a copy of the song, cookie templates and follow-up writing activity, press on the cookie jar below.

Please take a moment & let us know if you enjoy this Free Teacher Content by pressing  Like button or visiting us on our Facebook Page.

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Thank you and have a sweet and fabulous start to the school year.

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Lora

Please Stay Awhile

peekingGirl

Hello everyone.  Hard to believe, but the summer months are drawing to a close.  September is right around the corner and a new school year is about to commence.  For us, teachers, it is that time again – setting up, organizing, preparing and planning for the year ahead.  As we get ready to open our doors and our hearts to the newest treasures, I would like to share a poem I wrote, welcoming everyone on this great journey together.  Feel free to download a copy of the poem and use it in your classroom – just click on the image below.

PleaseStayAwhile!

One of the things I like to set up at this time of year is individual student portfolios.  I designate a specific area in the classroom for showcasing each child’s work in a bulletin format.  Throughout the year I make sure to add new writing pieces to each child’s portfolio, highlighting their growth and changes over the course of the year.  It is always fascinating to see their progress, however big or small their steps may be.

boyPeekingAs an extension to the poem, Please Stay Awhile, I prepared an initial portfolio assignment.  Toward the end of the first week of school, students will be invited (in small groups) to sketch a picture of themselves and write their name.  Please note that this is not an assessment piece.  It merely gives me an indication of where my students are at – a point of reference for each child’s starting point.  It is also a great way for me to see what my returning SK students retained from the previous year.  Perhaps the best use of this task is that it allows me to plan my program in a way to address whole-group as well as individual needs.  Feel free to download a copy of the template by clicking on the image below.

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Happy Start-of-the-Year everyone.  As always, your comments and feedback are most welcome.

If you enjoy the Free Teacher Content, please let us know by pressing  Like button
or visiting us on our Facebook Page.

Thank you,

Lora


Creative Commons License
Please Stay Awhile by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Three Lessons My First Year in Teaching Taught Me

GravatarA young woman walks into a school, dressed in a tailored suit, just loose enough to mask her anxious composure. In one hand she holds a resume, in the other a leather portfolio.


“You can do this. You can do this,” she chants to herself, while quickening her steps, fighting an impulse to run back to her car. She heads straight to the office, looking for the principal. Minutes later, a tall bearded man steps out of the adjacent office and extends his arm.

“Hi, I’m Craig,” he begins and the young woman’s shoulders relax as she looks into his warm eyes. Phew, she can breathe again. “Yes, I received your resume this morning,” he explains. “We’ve actually just finished interviewing for all the positions we have available.” The young woman’s spirit sinks; but is reignited as he continues. “I have to say, though, I love your assertiveness and determination. How would you like to stay for an interview?” A smile breaks on the young woman’s face as the principal proceeds to call in other staff members to join in on the interview.

So began my journey as a primary grade school teacher. Continue reading

Every Ending is a New Beginning

cute-flower-girl-summer-sun-Favim.com-281317As the school year draws to a close, so does another year’s journey in both teachers’ and students’ lives.  For some children, this sudden abandon from all they have grown accustomed to (and love) is not an easy transition.

I recall, several years ago, when one of my beloved students had a very hard time ending the year.  Any time there was any reference made to the summer holidays, this otherwise happy-go-lucky girl, would break down into tears.  It completely took me by surprise (and melted my heart) when she confessed to being sad about not having me as her teacher anymore (she had been with me for both JK and SK). I consoled her as best as I could and we came up with a plan – she would come in to help me pack for the rest of the week and also be my special helper during recess the following school year.  It wasn’t an ending.  It was a new beginning.

It has been two years since, and this precious child still comes in every single day to help me.  I appreciate her dedication and support, but more than anything else I value the lesson she has taught me and continues to remind me of each day.  Regardless of age, background, title, position, etc., there is a beautiful bond that exists between people, if we just recognize it and let it flourish.

With that thought, I’d like to share a poem I wrote.  As I often do with my students (and family and friends alike), I would love to hear your interpretations of it.

Please let us know if you enjoy our content by pressing  Like button
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Thank you,

Lora


We Made a Pact

runningWe made a pact, he and I.
He’d come out and I’d join too.

We made a pact, not long ago.
He’d bring the warmth and I’d rejoice.

We made a pact, this much is true.
He’d light the sky and I’d lead the way.

We made a pact, but he bailed out.
Just like that, got up and left.

I searched for him as night crept in,
across the field,
between the clouds,
over the hills.

No sign of him.

I called to him but silence followed.
I grunted, frowned – I was not pleased.

I won’t forgive him.
I won’t. I won’t.

And now, because of his shenanigans,
Mommy said to go inside.

bedI ate my dinner but I was mad.
I brushed my teeth but I was livid.

I lay in bed, covered in heaps.
I won’t forgive this – we had a pact.

I tossed and turned and missed him so.
Perhaps I should forgive him.

I closed my eyes as sleep crept in.
Maybe, just maybe, I thought,
I’ll give him one last chance tomorrow.


Creative Commons License

We Made a Pact by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Words

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Softcover Marketing           

New Release – Words French Translation – Mots

MOTS Hardcover


In this emotional and highly visual picture book, a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning. As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice.

Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying.

Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.


 “WORDS” Picture Book
Available at all major online and in store
retailers including:
  barnes_noble_samsung   chapters


Creative Commons License
Words by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Are you mother? by P.D. Eastman

AreyoumymotherAre you mother? by P.D. Eastman
Published by HarperCollins

While a mother bird is away from her nest, the egg in it hatches. The baby bird’s first words are, “Where is my mother?” He jumps out of the nest, tumbles to the ground and begins looking for his mother. Since he doesn’t know what his mother looks like, he begins by approaching different animals, and asking each of them, “Are you my mother?” He talks to a kitten, a hen, a cow, and a dog, but he can’t find his mother.

The baby bird thinks the red boat in the river or the big plane in the sky might be his mother, but they don’t stop when he calls to them. Finally, he sees a big red steam shovel. The baby bird is so sure that the steam shovel is his mother that he eagerly hops into its shovel, only to be terrified when it gives a big snort and starts moving. To the little bird’s surprise, the shovel rises higher and higher and he is deposited back into his very own nest. Not only that, but he has found his mother, who has just returned from searching for worms for him.