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Thirteen Steps to Easy Long Range Planning 0

Posted on October 20, 2014 by Lauren

[OR: How I Spent My Summer Vacation…]

This summer I knew that I was going to be starting a new job in September. I have spent the past couple of years teaching in a self-contained grade 1/2 class where all of the students had IEPs with at least some curriculum modifications. I was focused on IEP goals. My new job was going to be in a ‘regular’* grade 1/2 class. I needed to figure out what teaching would look the same and what gaps I would need to fill in order to cover the whole curriculum. The following is a glimpse into the madness to my method.

*As a side note, I really dislike the term ‘regular class’, but it is widely used; some schools use the term ‘community class’.

Thirteen Steps to Easy Long Range Planning

  1. Pick a subject area- I started with math because it is one of my favourites and the specific expectations are pretty specific (who would have thought?!).
  2. Get your long range plans ready and know which strands you are going to report on in each term- I already knew loosely what big ideas/ strands I wanted to cover in each month. For K-8 math in Ontario it is expected you will report on 4 of the 5 strands in each term. Some school boards dictate what you will report on, mine does not. I decided on Term 1: Number Sense, Data Management and Probability, Measurement and Geometry. In Term 2 I will also report on Patterning and Algebra, but not Data Management.
  3. Set up a calendar system- I labeled pieces of paper with the months Sept-June and laid them out on the floor. Because I am teaching a split class I also made two columns and labelled them Grade 1 and Grade 2.
  4. Print the curriculum for the grade- I printed all of the math curriculum for grades 1 and 2.  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/subjects.html
  5. Colour code- I used crayons because it was quick and cheap (no colour ink). I shaded each strand a different colour. Number Sense white, Measurement pink etc.
  6. Cut apart the specific expectations- If you are comfortable with the curriculum then you may want to keep some pieces together.  For example, I knew that I was going to teach the patterning expectations together so I didn’t need to cut them apart. If you teach more than one grade then you will want to be careful the pieces separate.
  7. Start lining up specific expectations with your long range plans- I started with September. I knew that I wanted to focus on reviewing some basic number sense (counting, number recognition etc.) and that the calendar routine would be a big part of the first weeks of school. I found the expectations that fell under these two categories in the grade one curriculum and then matched up the corresponding grade two curriculum directly beside it. This was also a good chance to review the similarities and differences. I moved through the first term and paused.
  8. Double check the term- Does everything make sense? Are there are any other expectations that could go together? Do I have enough material to report on? At this point I found that I still had a lot of expectations left to cover in term 2. Too many? I decided to write the number of weeks available in each month. I needed to be realistic. The first week of school was about routines and relationships so I didn’t count it. The last two weeks of June are full of interruptions and happen after reports are due to the office so I didn’t count them either.
  9. Fill in the second term- I went back to my long range plans and filled in the rest.
  10. Double check again- Again I checked to make sure it was realistic. I knew that addition and subtraction strategies would take a serious chunk of time, but we will probably breeze through 2D shapes. I also checked to make sure the grade 1 and 2 expectations lined up. There are a couple of times that the grade 2s will be working on expectations that the grade 1s don’t even touch on (e.g., multiplication and division), I needed to think about how that time will best be spent with the grade 1s.
  11. Glue the pieces down- I actually used tape so I can keep moving them.
  12. Remember that plans change- I did all of this before I even met my class. We may need more time for some expectations and less for others. I do know that the year will fly by so I need to be aware of the time line.
  13. Keep the overall expectations/ big picture in mind- I got into the really nitty gritty because it made sense for me. I’m not going to lose sleep if we don’t get to every single specific expectation, but I do know exactly which ones I am willing to gloss over and which ones I will slow down for if necessary.

Long Range Math folioPhoto: **Natasha loved the idea — here’s what it looks like for Grade 7**

 

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Field Trip in a Bag 0

Posted on October 05, 2014 by Allison Dyjach

“Effective teachers of science can use a discovery approach, which emphasizes 1) a positive attitude 2) the science process skills, and 3) a hands on approach.”

-Michael Bentley, Christine Ebert, Edward Ebert; The Natural Investigator: a Constructivist Approach to Teaching Elementary and Middle School Science

Recently, my science and technology professor took us on a field trip out to a conservation area down the road from our university. When we arrived to the park, we were each given one Ziploc freezer bag full of supplies and were told to stand in a circle.

“So everyone, this is all you need to get students interested in science,” our professor began. “This bag is all you need, and you will be able to get your students engaging in all of their senses, asking questions and guiding their own learning, and truly exploring the world around them.”

I have to say for the next hour and a half, I was completely enthralled in the lessons and ideas that our professor was sharing with us. It is so easy to get scared about leading a science field trip because most of us wouldn’t call ourselves “nature experts.” I for one am not even close to knowing the name of every tree species in the forest, every birdcall that I hear, or every wild flower that I see–but I do know that nature is beautiful. And I do know that there are many incredible things to explore if we just look a little bit closer at the ground below us.

Below is a list of some activities that I learned on my field trip that involve minimal to no supplies, can be done in any outdoor space (even the school playground!) and can be led by anyone, even if you are the farthest thing from a “nature expert.”

IMG_0005

Nature Scattegories

Opening Activities:

  • Treasure Hunt: When students arrive, let them take some time to walk around and find an object that “excites” them.  When they all have an item, get them to describe their item to a partner and show off their newfound collection. Next, instruct students to find as close of a match as possible to their partner’s item and compare.
  • Adjective Hunt: Come up with 2-3 adjectives (depending on your grade) and  tell your students that they must find an object that fits those words. Get them to share with you and their peers why they chose it, and why they think the object fits with those words (oral communication and descriptive language skills!). Some examples include bumpy, small, smooth, round, short, soft.

Giving students the opportunity to find what they want allows students to be in control of their own learning, and starts the day off with a student-centered learning environment.

What’s in the Bag?

Texture samples: Find some pieces of fabric or paper with different textures on them (eg. felt, corduroy, sand paper, burlap etc) and put one in each student’s bag. Get students to search around to find something in nature that matches their texture.

IMG_0014

Pipe Cleaner Frame

Mini clipboards and list games: Using cardboard and a clothespin, create a clipboard for your students. Create games such as “nature scattegories” (find something in this space that starts with each letter of the alphabet), nature by numbers (find something in this space that has a number pattern in it, example: 6 legs on an insect, 5 petals on a flower, 4 wings on a butterfly), or nature rainbow (find something in this space that matches every colour of the rainbow). Think about keeping their answers and transferring them to a bulletin board display in the classroom.

Toilet paper tubes: Using tape and string, create binoculars for students to use. It is sometimes amazing how a simple prop can lead students to whole new level of excitement and engagement.

Pipe cleaner: With just a few bends, a pipe cleaner can turn into a magnifying glass or a picture frame for an interesting find in the environment. Students can choose a scene in nature that they like and share with others what they see in their frame.

IMG_0008

Painting with Nature

Paint chips: Finding an object in nature that matches a paint chip can be a tricky task, but allows students to see how complex and detailed our environment really can be.

Bird calls: Find a variety of different phonetic bird calls online (great website here), create 2 or 3 little papers of each, and put one in each bag. Get students to find the other birds in their species by calling out the sound. Afterwards, discuss why birds use their calls, why they all have different calls, if students hear any calls where they live etc.

Deli container, mesh, and wire: Use the wire to attach the mesh to the hole in the lid, and voila, you have a new habitat! Students can catch bugs, caterpillars, or just collect objects that they like while on your trip. Having something that they can call their own fosters passion and excitement for what they are learning about.

IMG_0017

Perfect holder for new treasures

All of these items are simple to find and can lead into some great science discovery with your students. These activities might not fit with the exact curriculum requirement that you are trying to cover, but think of them as jumping off points that can be easily modified to fit different themes by follow up discussions, questions, or activities (eg. classifying the objects that they have found in different activities by size or colour, discussing if an object is living or non-living). They can also be jumping off points for activities to be done in the classroom. At least a dozen kids will ask questions about something that they found that you don’t know the answer to. But instead of being stunned by a surprise question, it is really just another learning opportunity that can be continued throughout your science unit.

It’s not enough to just teach science in the classroom. Kids need to go outside, discover using their senses, and see what makes the earth the way it is. Take your kids outside, let them explore, and let them see for themselves all of the beauty that nature has to offer them.

What are some of your favourite nature games for students? Share with us your go to activities and supplies for science field trips!

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“Field Trip in a Bag”

And a special thanks to Diane Lawrence from Queen’s University for all of the ideas that went into this post, and the inspiring field trip!

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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An Update 0

Posted on October 05, 2013 by Sarah

My, my it’s been far too long since I’ve shared my thoughts with the awesome Rookie Team and it’s readers. Almost a full year in fact, my apologies. But nonetheless what an amazing public forum for discussion that I’m super grateful to be part of!

In the last year I’ve finished my Master of Education, enjoyed a beautiful summer in Toronto, and landed a permanent position at a school with an awesome staff! Evidently my days as of late are spent planning furiously and resting!

My M.Ed (in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development) is one of the best decisions I made. I think I gained the most valuable, transformative experiences of my life (too early to say?) collaborating and discussing with professors, teachers and peers at large. Every course (I had 10 over 2 years) engaged me in a new way and pushed me to think critically about the world and my role within it. I certainly miss being challenged the way that I was so regularly during my time at OISE, it has truly shone as a leader in educational thinking. My time there has made me a stronger teacher and person without a doubt. Thank you to all who supported me throughout that chapter completing 7 years of formal Education Studies (I completed  a 4 year Honours at Brock in Education as my undergrad as well).

The courses I took at OISE for my M.Ed (and I wouldn’t trade ANY in!) are:

  • Foundations of Curriculum
  • Teaching and Learning About Science and Technology: Beyond Schools
  • The Holistic Curriculum
  • Transformative Education
  • Cooperative Learning Research and Practice
  • Poststructuralism and Education
  • Media, Education and Popular Culture
  • Special Topics in Adult Education: The Pedagogy of Food
  • Environmental Decision Making
  • Environmental Finance

photo: flickrcc.net / giulia.forsythe

 

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Teaching a Combination Class: The Lounge: Episode 12 0

Posted on May 07, 2013 by Natasha

On today’s show, Andrew and Natasha join up for the long awaited return of The Lounge Podcast.  It has been a while, but as many of you know, life as a teacher is hard work…and can be quite busy too!  This episode features conversations about life as a combination/split grade teacher.  Listen in to hear about tips, tricks, must-do activities, and more!  Read the show notes below and don’t forget to download & subscribe to the podcast on iTunes today!

Photo via: Sanya Khetani, articles.businessinsider.com

SHOW NOTES
Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Teaching a Combination Class

Quick Tip for Tomorrow:
Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Inside/Outside Circles or Concentric Circles
  • Natasha: Food Bin

The Rookie Resource Bank:
Any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.

  • Andrew: Ontario Curriculum Unit Planners (link)
  • Natasha: Knowing What Counts Series (Anne Davies)

Quick Shout Outs

  1. We want to take a moment and thank everyone for continuing to support our site – we have reached over 10,000 visitors. Thank you !
  2. We hope you continue to watch for Natasha who is co-moderating the #ntchat with Lisa Dabbs – on Wednesday nights at 8:00pm EST
  3. Please join us and 248 others on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher
  4. We are also spending time gathering some great ideas for the classroom on Pinterest (http://bit.ly/rookiepins) – we are up to 2742 followers on our collab board – let us know if you’d like to contribute.
  5. If you believe in what we’re doing & want to support our team, we have buttons available – send us a FB message, tweet, or email and we will get one out to you ASAP!
  6. Watch for our Lounge Express Series – starting soon!

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Andrew: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, or email me Andrew@TheRookieTeacher.ca, I am currently focusing on pinterest as my social media project

Natasha: I blog at TheRookieTeacher.ca, follow me on twitter @yoMsDunn, or email me Natasha@TheRookieTeacher.ca

RookieTeacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCA, Facebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

 

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Setting up a Solid Literacy Program: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 10 2

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Natasha
"Gumby Reader" photo by N.Dunn

“Gumby Reader” photo by N.Dunn

On today’s show, Andrew and Natasha are joined by a talented teacher and wise educator, Lisa Harkness.  Lisa teaches grade 1 in SW Ontario, Canada.  She attended teachers college in Scotland and taught there for three years before returning home.  She has her Reading Specialist, and is passionate about literacy, providing her students with authentic learning experiences and differentiated instruction.  Her passion for literacy is just one of the many reasons we asked her to join us today on The Lounge.  Listen in to hear about what a solid literacy program looks like, tips to get started, and creative ways to integrate cross-curricular connections.

Oh yeah, and Lisa is an expert in Read Aloud books!  Tweet her if you’re looking for a great book (based on subject, interest, topic, or grade level).

Many thanks to our guest Lisa Harkness who took time out of a nice summer day to Skype in with us.  Your wisdom and openness to collaborate with new teachers is very much appreciated by The Rookie Team, our readers, and our listeners.  We wish you the very best in teaching.  Read On!

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Setting up a Solid Literacy Program

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Schedule wisely: plan ‘downtime’ for you & your students
  • Natasha: Pencil bins>”sharp/dull” (similar to this pin) (*note* searching “sharp pencils” on Pinterest will find multiple creative ways to display your pencil bins)
  • Lisa: Magnet clips to display student writing (also, see these ideas via Pinterest)
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
Quick Shout Outs
"Kookaburra on the line" photo by: aussiegall

“Kookaburra on the line” photo by: aussiegall

  1. Natasha has been asked to co-moderate the #ntchat with Lisa Dabbs – Wednesday nights at 8:00pm EST (watch the @RookieTeacherCA twitter feed or follow @teachingwthsoul & @yoMsDunn for more information)
  2. Please join our discussions on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher
  3. We are also spending time gathering some great ideas for the classroom on Pinterest (http://bit.ly/rookiepins) – we are up to 1688 followers on our collab board – let us know if you’d like to contribute.

Like what you’ve heard? Have more questions? Contact us:

Rookie Teacher Online

We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

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Scratching the Surface of Online Collaboration 2

Posted on August 10, 2012 by Natasha

Online collaboration is such a vast subject that I’m having difficulty beginning this blog post.  I supposed I should start with the social media I use most often in education: twitter & pinterest.  Here we go…

Twitter by Webdesigner Depot, via IconFinder

Twitter by Webdesigner Depot, via IconFinder

1. Twitter: Wow, what a powerful form of social media and online collaboration!

I was first introduced to twitter back in ’09 when my friend @zoic suggested it.  At the time, I had no idea just how engaging twitter would become.  I learned the lingo pretty quickly: following, follower, 140Characters, @reply, #hashtag, #FF, DM, HootSuite, TweetDeck, etc.  Then I started my year at the faculty of education where all BEd students were encouraged to sign up for Twitter (actually, it was a prerequisite for the course, thanks to @zbpipe & #brocktechies).  We started following other educators, administrators, boards of education, like minded people who believed in the same philosophies of education as we did.  I experimented with Twitter Chats and watched in on some live web presentations.

Since then I have been able to collaborate with some great educators, we share resources, articles, a friendly hello, and I still participate in some useful chats…such as #ntchat.  This past Wednesday was my first co-mod with host Lisa Dabbs (who may be familiar thanks to The Lounge Episode 9: Long Range Planning) and Remind101.com.  Here’s what Remind101 had to say about the experience: Until You Try a Twitter Chat, You Haven’t Lived.

Ilovepins by Sneh Roy, via IconFinder

Ilovepins by Sneh Roy, via IconFinder

2. Pinterest: This year I found myself checking Pinterest before Google when searching for lesson plan ideas.  There are so many creative and talented teachers who are very willing to share their ideas and support new teachers.  I was able to come across some fantastic ideas to enhance my lessons on inferencing.  There were several anchor charts and activities – and all of them extremely creative (which helps to get my creative juices flowing).

Check out my pinboards and our Rookie Teacher Collab board (where, at the time of this post we sit at 1607 followers and 294 pins).

 

What about you? What are your favourite online collaboration sites? Tools? Let us know – comment below or join the discussion on facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher and twitter.com/TheRookieTeacher.

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Composting in the Classroom 0

Posted on August 05, 2012 by Sarah
"aw shucks - corn on the cob for dinner" photo by: sean dreilinger

“aw shucks – corn on the cob for dinner” photo by: sean dreilinger

For my group’s presentation in Holistic Education we discussed “Integrating a Food Culture in the Classroom”. The groups for the class were formed by sharing in a circle our interests followed by a mingling period. At first I thought it lacked too much structure as many of us couldn’t commit to one idea. In the end I ended up with 2 other like minded ladies. Our interests and work ethic matched well and our ideas flowed harmoniously. We broke our 90 minutes into 2 main activities. We introduced our project through a visualization asking everyone to close their eyes and imagine a basket of lemons (a descriptive script was read aloud to assist in the visualization). After our introduction we moved into our first activity what I’ve been calling “World Cafe” where the class is broken into small groups (in our case by naming Ontario fruits in season) and one student is appointed in each group as the facilitataor. The facilitators are the leaders and stay at each given ‘cafe’ while the rest of the groups rotate at a given time. Evidently our group were the facilitators for each of our stations. We also had one unguided station that had resources, herbs, and a brainstorm board addressing how to overcome barriers of our topic. The second activity was a whole group circle sharing of a food memory. We laughed and connected as various stories were told  by people regarding food.

My café specifically addressed introducing and integrating vermiculture (or composting with worms) in the classroom. In 10 minutes we created a worm bin as a group and I discussed how to care, maintain and learn with the worms.

"new reactor level" photo by: blurdom

“new reactor level” photo by: blurdom

I also brought in my worm bin to demonstrate how it looks, how easy it is and how it DOES NOT SMELL.  All my peers were amazed at how it smelt earthy but there was no odour. Odour is a sign that your worm bin is out of balance but it won’t take long before everyone learns the right balance of air, moisture and food. Worm composting helps foster important conversations about our consumption and food waste habits, food production, life cycles, food security and many others. There are many Ontario Curriculum connections that can be made in Science and in Health. Not to mention it’s a great experiment of trial and error until you have your own balanced ecosystem. Depending on age level, space and interest, there are a variety of ways you can integrate a worm bin. Primary students may need more guidance as you introduce a class compost, but Junior and Senior students will have no problem taking on this responsibility. You may have 4 smaller bins per group that allows for greater involvement. It’s also a great project to get gifted students or early finishers started on, let them figure out how to make it! From my experience this is a project that students are very interested in at all levels! It is a great way to begin conversations about learning gardens at schools or the next step if your school already has a garden. The soil your worms will make is extremely rich and you will certainly notice a difference in the quality of your plant life.

"New worm bins (2 of 7)" photo by: Tim Musson

“New worm bins (2 of 7)” photo by: Tim Musson

Vermi-composting is educational, responsible, interesting and FUN! There is tons of information online but I’ve attached my own Composting in the Classroom Brochure or check out Shedd Aquarium’s 10 page How-to Guide for the Novice Vermiculturalist (written in fun student friendly language — an essential resource in the class).

 

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Aboriginal Education – Resource Bank 1

Posted on January 04, 2012 by Lauren

Sometimes the best resources are found in the unlikeliest of places…

I have a bit of a book buying problem, so the other day when I saw a sign for a book sale I made an impulse detour into the store. It was not at all what I expected. It looked like a regular downtown building on the outside but on the inside it was an old fashioned blacksmiths shop. The displays of books were mostly focused on local history; not exactly what I was looking for or needed. As I turned to leave a picture of a book seller posing with Walter Gretzky caught my attention. At the table was a man selling his book called Western Hooves of Thunder alongside a display of Six Nations Iroquois Program Teachers Guides (by Zig Misiak, Facebook). Teachers Guides – now that is something I can use!

Historical Society and Resources

photos: L.Hughes

I love this resource for a few reasons:

  1. Every Ontario school board has at least one copy available for teacher use (many have more than a dozen copies)
  2. It was recently designed in cooperation with First Nations educators and historians making the information accurate, current and culturally sensitive
  3. The program contains complete lesson plans which include stories, music, art and videos appropriate for any grade
  4. It meets many curriculum expectations and follows the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework
  5. It provides educators with limited First Nations knowledge with the information they need to feel comfortable teaching this subject material
  6. I feel strongly about the importance of Aboriginal education for all students AND I always love finding resources that contain quality lesson or unit ideas

If you are teaching elementary or secondary students in Canada, then this is a resource you should definitely look into. To locate a copy you can contact your school board, faculty of education or visit www.realpeopleshistory.com.

I know there are countless resources available and sometimes it can be overwhelming to determine which are valuable. Please use this space to share your favourites with fellow Rookie Teachers!

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