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The Rookie Teacher


Archive for the ‘Literacy’


Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading 0

Posted on March 08, 2014 by Andrew

image c/o: Amazon.com

Rookie Teacher Reads…

Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading

Every wonder how to start a lesson on examining the importance of reading comprehension strategies? This one is chalked full of great hands on activities that make abstract concepts more concrete. Personally used several of these activities to help create purposeful talk around making meaning in my Grade 5/6 Class this year. Easy to read, and easy to pick up and use when you need an idea.

Grab a copy now: http://www.amazon.ca/Comprehension-Connections-Bridges-Strategic-Reading/dp/0325008876

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Invitation 0

Posted on July 04, 2013 by Natasha
Truth is revealed as darkness descends

via Flickrcc.net, cindy_k

INVITATION

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer …
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Shel Silverstein

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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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Summer Learning Loss 0

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Lauren

A Canadian study has revealed that summer learning loss is not an equal opportunity issue. According to the research, kids from high income families experience increased reading levels while kids from low income families experience decreased reading levels over the summer months.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article: Summer Widens Rich/Poor Learning Gap

photo credit: besteducationapossible.blogspot.com

These results may seem obvious at first, but the research is valuable because it raises the questions WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? and WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY IN SEPTEMBER TO EVEN OUT THE PLAYING FIELD?

Considerations: summer program availability/ cost, support for parents, school/school board/community/private initiatives, neighbourhood demographics.

The Toronto Star article cites summer literacy camps as an effective way to reduce the summer loss of children from low income families. Unfortunately it seems as though access to these programs is limited and inequitable. For example, in the Halton region I have not heard of any free/low cost summer literacy programs for students; even after a bit of digging I came up with nothing. It is very possible that such programs do exist, but if they are not widely known or easy to find then I would suggest that they are ineffective. Other regions have excellent programs. The Brantford Public Library has been running a 100% free math and literacy program for over 20 years. The library hires university students to provide 1:1 summer tutoring. Each region has it’s own programs; what is available for students in your area?

The Rookie Teacher would love to hear from you. Please join the discussion by adding your comment. Let us know – What will you be doing in the 2012/2013 school year to overcome summer learning loss? How can teachers support low income families to increase literacy skills in our students? What programs are available in your school/school board/community?

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Long Range Planning: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 9 4

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Natasha

We’re back with another great episode of The Lounge Podcast.  We were extremely lucky to have Lisa Dabbs from Edutopia.org and Edutopia’s New Teacher Connections Group Facilitator Skype in for the show.  She was able to enrich our conversation, give us lots of great tips and web 2.0 tools, and advise us where to start when it comes to Long Range Planning.

Cursive Calendar - photo by: Your Secret Admiral

photo by: Your Secret Admiral

I think it’s safe to say that this topic is very important to think about at this time of year (and as the school year goes on…after all, we consider plans to be working documents).  We all agreed how valuable and powerful the act of collaborating with a grade/division team plays in the process of long range planning and how successful backwards design/mapping can be when creating strong plans.

Listen in to hear our conversations about long range plans, curriculum, split/combination classes, backwards design/mapping, web 2.0 tools, staying organized, Post-It Notes, Pinterest, Evernote, Twitter, Live Binder, and more!

Find Lisa on twitter, Wednesday nights at 8:00pm EST for the New Teacher Chat (#ntchat).

This is by far one of my personal favourite podcasts yet! Huge thank you again to Lisa Dabbs for joining us…it was a pleasure to have you on, and we hope you’ll come back to continue the discussion another time.  Andrew and I really appreciate all that you are doing for new teachers.

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

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

Topic: Long Range Planning

photo by: Pedro Vezini

photo by: Pedro Vezini

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: About Me heads
  • Natasha: SMARTboard attendance
  • Lisa: One Little Word (http://goo.gl/NbNHO)
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
  1. We will be working this summer to develop some content – what would you like to read about? Email or send us a tweet.
  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)

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!

Thanks for listening. Join us for our Summer Podcast Series. Topics included will be: More about AQs, Classroom set up, the first day of school, Applying for Jobs, Setting up your Day Book, Developing classroom routines for your first month of school.

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What is Literacy? 1

Posted on July 09, 2012 by Andrew

I am taking the AQ Reading Part 1 over the summer and have decided to blog some of my ideas and the discussion questions being addressed in the course. Our first discussion question was:  Define literacy. Comment on how literacy has changed in the 21st Century and what we as teachers need to consider to be effective literacy instructors due to that change.

Here’s what I think…

I strongly believe that in the traditional sense, literacy can be defined within the realm of reading and writing. However, I believe in the 21st Century we must adopt a more generalized sense of the term, as the mode of literacy changes. I believe in a definition that encompasses the interpretation and creation of communication. We hear of Media Literacy, Critical Literacy, and Technological Literacy. It is the ability to absorb and internalize a message someone is creating (reading) and it is then interpreting that message and creating a response in a variety of forms (writing, oral communication, texting, slogans, etc). In that sense we see Literacy as the ability to infer and interpret images as well as text. In fact Literacy in the broadest sense could be defined as the intake of information, images, signals and then the production of more or new information to be passed on to others.

When we were sitting at my staff meeting yesterday and examining our strategic goal we spent a lot of time discussing a general goal we could apply to JKs to Grade 8s and the connection between image and text as all literacy comes from an image.

clicking away! by eirikso

Clicking away! by eirikso, flickrcc.net

One change in the mode of communication in the 21st Century is the accessibility to a variety of modes of writing.  The Internet and other technology has allowed millions of ideas to be published on a second by second basis with little to supervision or accountability. Even 30 years ago if I had an idea I wanted to write down and show other people I would have to go through the publishing process with countless edits, re-writes and the potential for rejection. In 2012, I can, in less than 10 minutes, share my ideas with the world regardless of validity, quality and restraint. I am by no means criticizing the ability for people to publish their creative, genuine ideas which are truly incredible when you think of all of the things we see on YouTube, Blogs, Facebook on a daily basis. I applaud the accessibility to publish information. However, the concern can exist that we as educators need to teach our students the ability to think critically when looking for information and asking themselves questions like who wrote this, what is their message, which voices are heard or not being heard. We have to teach on the basic level the ability to distinguish fact and opinion in order to ensure our students are able to successfully navigate the massive resources at their digital fingertips. We have to teach children to read for the deeper meaning, which is a daunting task at best.

What is your definition of Literacy?  Comment below, join the discussion on Facebook, or send us a tweet @RookieTeacherCA.

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The Hunger Games – part 1 0

Posted on April 06, 2012 by Lauren

I was recently in a grade 7 class during DEAR where at least 5 copies of The Hunger Games trilogy were being read, a table group was huddled over the People magazine Hunger Games special edition and another student returned from the library complaining that the school never has an available copy to borrow (they have 6 copies of the first book). As an elementary or secondary educator, it is impossible to ignore the tremendous popularity of The Hunger Games trilogy and recently released movie. It seems that we just can’t get enough.

If you have somehow managed to escape The Hunger Games craze then I would encourage you to get your hands on the book for two reasons. #1 – If you work with kids and/or young adults then you will benefit from being knowledgable about their interests. #2 – I can almost guarantee you will enjoy it yourself.

photo from: HungerTimes.com

Scholastic plot summary

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

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Breakfast for the Brain: Quick Tip for Tomorrow 0

Posted on February 13, 2012 by Natasha

“That’s not a word!

Of course it’s a word.
And unless I’m very much mistaken, I think it’s going to prove a
rather useful one.”

If you’ve listened to The Lounge Podcast, then you’re familiar with our segment called “Quick Tip for Tomorrow.”  This segment is dedicated to building a list of quick, simple tasks that you can do in your classroom the next day with little to no prep AND is applicable to most grade levels.

I wanted to share my most recent post from my classroom blog where I touch on Breakfast for the Brain (problem of the day, morning challenge, etc):

Friday, February 10, 2012.

Each morning when students from 5-1 arrive in the class, we take 10/15 minutes to settle in, sing O Canada, listen to morning announcements, and work on a problem of the day, called “Breakfast for the Brain.”

Today, was Musical Friday!

Because I am a musical buff – I was excited to see where this challenge would take the students.

Recently, I saw the Broadway musical, Mary Poppins…and I just knew that this song would be a PERFECT activity for students.  I developed this Breakfast for the Brain activity with the idea of a word study in mind.  Students were required to use their knowledge of letter combinations and sounds to spell out:

S-U-P-E-R-C-A-L-I-F-R-A-G-I-L-I-S-T-I-C-E-X-P-I-A-L-I-D-O-C-I-O-U-S!

photo: N.Dunn

photo: N.Dunn

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Communicating in Math 1

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Michelle

Why is communication important in mathematics?

Communication is an essential piece in the learning process – it provides students an opportunity to justify their reasoning or formulate a question, leading to gained insights about their thinking. In order to communicate their thinking to others, students must be given authentic tasks to reflect on. Through cooperative learning, students can learn from the perspectives and mathematical processes of others. Further, they can learn to evaluate the thinking of others, building on those ideas for their own assessment.

Check out this Scholastic webinar on “Connecting the Literacy and Math Challenge”.

Teaching Strategies for Mathematical Communication

1. Math Word Walls

The purpose of the Math Word Wall [MWW] is to identify mathematical language that students need to understand and use. If they are unfamiliar with this vocabulary, they will struggle to effectively apply strategies in the problem-solving process and will have difficulty communicating their thinking with others.

♦ Introduce math vocabulary using relevant objects, pictures and/or diagrams. Visuals are KEY!

♦ Clearly explain word meanings and make connections frequently

♦ Do not teach math vocabulary in isolation — use open-ended questions to helping students understand mathematical ideas and model how to use mathematical terms correctly.

Check out these MWW resources – ideas for math walls and mathematics word wall

2. Children’s Math Literature

Using literature in math can spark students’ imaginations, helping to dispel the myth that math is dull, inapplicable, and inaccessible. Reading about math can help reach at-risk students who struggle in the mathematical process, opening their minds to the ever-present phenomenon in their world that is math!

  • Integrate the curriculum — teach mathematical concepts and skills through literacy
  • Helps to motivate and engage students in problem-solving experiences connected with real world
  • Addresses different learning styles and helps to promote an appreciation for both math and literature

Check out these resources for teaching mathematics through literature –

Math in Children’s Literature

Living Math Book List

Children’s Math Literature

Math Book List

Children’s Literature in Mathematics

 3. Writing in Math

When students are encouraged to write in math, they examine, express, and keep track of their thinking, which is especially useful for assessment and differentiation. To enhance and support their learning, students must first understand the reasoning behind writing in math. Further, they need to understand how to write in math – explain and model mathematical writing using details such as pictures, numbers, and words. Students’ writing can be used as springboards for classroom ‘math chats’, highlighting different approaches to problem-solving.

Be sure to provide writing prompts

  • What do you think? What idea do you have?
  • What are you confused about?
  • What did you learn?
  • Describe what was easy and hard for you.
  • What type of math concepts do you find interesting?  Why?
  • When I hear this math word, I think….
  • If I could ask for one thing in math, it would be…
  • Tell me about your prediction.  Were you right or wrong?
  • What strategies do you like to use the most? The least? Why?

Check out Writing to Learn Math to get started with journaling in your math class!

4. Math Talk

When students are given an opportunity to talk about math, they are better able to clarify their own thinking, ‘talk out’ misconceptions, and learn from others’ problem-solving strategies. It is the role of the teacher to facilitate these discussions by engaging students in sharing and listening, questioning and responding, and agreeing and disagreeing. During ‘math chats’, the teacher can further assess students’ understanding of concepts and redirect or differentiate instruction based on the students’ immediate learning needs.

However, the classroom must be a safe and inclusive learning environment so that students feel comfortable to share and make mistakes publically. Students need clear, highly set expectations on what ‘doing math’ looks like, sounds like, and feels like in the classroom. Once the ground rules for respect have been established, then authentic mathematical dialogue and collaboration can evolve…that’s when the real learning begins!

Math think-alouds can engage students and help them to make their way step-by-step through the problem-solving process. Best of all, they can be used quite effectively both in school and at home! For more on getting students to talk, check out these Math Teacher Tools!

Watch as these students from the Calgary Science School ‘talk math’ – thanks to Amy Park for sharing!

- – -

How do you […or will you] encourage communication in math in your classroom?

Original post at The Learning Journey Blog

 

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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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