Monday, September 3, 2012

French Freebie

I have been working away, trying to prepare my rooms. I have meetings over the next two days and then school starts with the kiddos on Thursday. 

Looking ahead to the rest of this first week, I have mostly french classes. Since there are only two days this week, I don't want to start anything labour intensive. I also like to get to know my kids a little bit better.

So the first couple of days we will be doing some fun activities. I made up this cute Introduction Sheet for our bulletin boards. I plan on collecting them and reading the information, without the name, allowing the students to try and guess their classmates. 

Click here to get the freebie.
We will also be doing a French-English Dictionary search. We have cute picture dictionaries, so I used them to write out easy to find English words. They need to find the French words to match. Each section is divided into the topic page where the words can be found. I plan on letting them work in partners for this activity, since I know we do not have enough dictionaries for each person to have their own.

Well, that is all for now. I will post pictures of my rooms when they are done.

See you soon!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

A New Adventure

What a summer! Today is September the first and this summer has FLOWN! Along with moving 2000km home, we were in two weddings, did a Pre-War car tour weekend, AND I managed to apply for many jobs, interview for four and finally snag one on TUESDAY. Yup, school starts this week. Eeek!

My new job is teaching Music and French in two different schools. I start every morning in one school and then drive 15 minutes to the other school to finish my days. I will have a total of about 90 students at both schools in grades primary to six. I will teach Music to all grades and French to grades four to six.

This means that I have three classrooms to decorate (I have separate French and Music rooms at one school). I have taught Music as a specialist before, but not French. I have taught French to my own students in Ontario. The whole concept is a little overwhelming! But classes don't begin until Thursday, so we only have two days this week to worry about, so that helps. 

Here are a few before pics of my rooms.

 School #1: Multipurpose room. This room is used by others when I am not there, so I only really get about half of the room to decorate, etc. Three big tables with chairs for French (I only have about 14 students at a time here).
 School #1: View from the other side. This open space will be the music side of the room. This school is also very picky about things being stuck on the walls. They insist you stick to bulletin boards to appease the Fire Inspectors.
 School #2: Music Room. Big open space... with four large columns. Still, it is a great room. In the basement, so I won't disturb anyone with our "noise"! Piano in the corner.
School #2: Full set of Ukeleles. I might just have to teach myself to play! lol There is also about a half set of guitars, so I will need to wrap my head around that.

I forgot to take before pics of my French room at School #2. It was a storage room, so I pulled in my husband and he helped me clean it out and move furniture. It's a huge room, but the back third is still full of "stuff" that the admin team is going to sort through by the end of September, to make things neater!

I am really excited and really nervous taking on this new job. The staff at both schools seem really supportive and nice. I even have a French teacher from a neighbour school who is willing to sit down and go through curriculum with me! I LOVE small towns!

I will be posting more "specials"-type lessons and strategies here now, as that is my new world. I have learned there are not a lot of blogs dedicated to that area of the education world, so hopefully mine will help someone!

See you soon!


Monday, July 30, 2012

SOLD- Start the Chaos

Yes, our little house has sold! It was on the market less than a month and they wanted a closing date for one month after that. Wow! Fast! But great, as it means we will be settled in the new place before school starts. 

Speaking of school, the new board is on "Staffing Hiatus", which basically means that most of the board office is on summer vacation, so they won't be posting new jobs until August 17th. Again, this is good for me because it means all the house nonsense will be settled and I will be in the province for face-to-face interviews.

Now begins the packing frenzy! It's amazing how much JUNK you accumulate over time. My goal is to have zero "miscellaneous" boxes. I want everything organized and labelled so that unpacking will be easier. This is ever more important because we will be sharing the new house with my in-laws until they head to Florida in a few months.  So... it will be the "Great Transition" of their belongings to ours. Whew.

Well, happy summer!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Teacher Without a Class

Has summer started yet? I know we have been out of school for two weeks, but this time has been so packed with catching up on everything I neglected over that past few months that I really haven't had much time to relax.

I love that I have more time to blog browse, pinning all my favourite ideas that I might use in the future :)

I am also LOVING the time I have to read. I have a huge list of books that are just waiting to be read. I have already finished five novels since school ended (three audiobooks, two digital reads). I actually stayed up until after three am the other night because I just had to finish the book I was reading ("The Actor and the Housewife" which I will review another day!)

We are now gearing up to head East for our summer visit to the fam jam. My "To-Do Before we Leave" list is getting pretty long, but we are also checking lots off of it as the days tick by.

The only part of my life that leaves me a little empty is that I have no job lined up for the fall. How is a teacher supposed to spend the summer months when she doesn't know what she will be teaching in the fall? I have more application out, closing on Friday, hoping for interviews (in person this time!) next week. These two jobs are my current grade level (primary, one or two) and would be a pretty smooth transition for me. BUT I am pinning away all these great ideas, but I can't work on ANYTHING yet. I want to start making classroom decor! I want to start planning units! I want to start reading through curriculum! I know. It is a sickness. Even if I didn't actually start any of those things yet, just making my list and picturing my classroom would be nice.

Until then, I keep gathering ideas for all grades, all subjects, hoping my job will come to me!

I guess I should go and start packing, cleaning, calling to get more things scratched off my list!. I will leave you with this really cute Sticky Note To-Do list from Cornflower Blue (with a free printable from Finally in First) that I have been using for my day-to-day items. You all know how obsessed I am with sticky notes!

And if you like Freebies, don't forget that Clutter-Free Classroom is doing a Flash Freebie summer, doing limited time giveaways everyday! I love it!

 Enjoy your summer! See you soon!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Reading: Eoin Colfer

My books are stacked sky high, waiting for me to pull them out and read all summer! Actually, I do have a few hard copy books waiting, but I have been doing the digital and audiobook thing since school ended. I noticed that the last two books I read had something in common: Eoin Colfer.

If you are up on the world of Juvenile Fiction, you have likely heard the name. This brilliant Irishman is the brain behind the Artemis Fowl Series, among other accomplishments. Here is a rundown of my favourite Eoin Colfer books.

The series is coming to its conclusion in book eight, to be released in July. Since my copy is already on order, I decided to read book seven again. As a general synopsis, the series is about a teenage genius who has put his brains to use in the criminal underworld. He discovers that many of the creatures we thought were legend are in fact real and in the first book he sets out to catch one in order to ransom it back to "The People" for lots of gold. The fairies, goblins, trolls, demons are nothing like the traditional creatures of literature. It is also refreshing to see how Artemis changes through the series, helping the People and the world at large instead of himself only. Only two weeks until the next book! Oh, and the audiobooks for these are FANTASTIC! Great voice acting on the part of Nathaniel Parker! So many accents, one voice!

Perhaps my favourite stand alone book by Colfer is "Airman". Set in the 1800's, this is the story of Conor Brockhart, a young inventor and scientist who is falsely accused of murder and thrown in jail, forced to mine diamonds in extreme conditions. His plans for escape and revenge keep him alive and create a way for his mind to stay sharp. The book is filled with flying machines and explosions, yet it never gets too dark for young readers. There is always hope in the background and the ending is not what expected, but still satisfying. Amazing adventure and, as always, a great sense of humour.

If you like humour, you have to try "Half Moon Investigations". I don't know how many times I literally laughed out loud as I read this as a read-aloud to my grade five and six class. Fletcher Moon is not like other twelve year olds. It is not just his plastic detective badge, but his training at the Bernstein Academy to get that badge. He usually solves small mysteries, like stolen lunch boxes, but when an investigation lands him first in the hospital, and then in a file on the police detective's desk, he knows this is the most important case he has yet to solve. He teams up with an unlikely ally, the notorious criminal Red Sharkey, and they both try to clear their names. Filled with huge personalities and quick wit, this book is sure to please. Another great audiobook, by the way.

Lastly, I just finished reading "Plugged", Colfer's first and only novel for adults. The humour was the same. The plot twists kept me on my toes. The unlikely scenarios that worked their way out were very clever. BUT I wonder if he threw in "adult" humour and language just for the shock and awe factor, dropping F-bombs and sexual jokes on every second page. I think it is because I have been reading youth fiction for so long, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. If that doesn't bother you, then try this book. It was very funny. 

Daniel McEvoy is a bouncer at a seedy casino in a small town in New Jersey. His army past helps him read people and keep everyone at the establishment safe. Suddenly his best friend goes missing, his girlfriend is murdered and his apartment is ransacked. He has no idea what he has gotten himself in the middle of, but he knows he has to find out who wants him dead before they succeed.

 I hope that leads you to some entertaining summer reading. I am off on my next adventure, Rick Riordan!

See you soon!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Closing a Chapter

So many emotions. This past week has been FILLED with strong emotions.

Relief at finally being finished the school year and the chaotic activities of the past few weeks.
Sadness at saying goodbye to my students, their families and my colleagues.
Hope for the changes to come and our move.
Uncertainty as the "for sale" sign is put on the lawn.
Excitement for the coming trip home to meet my new nephew.
Trepidation at the uncertain future of my career, as I have no job lined up for the fall.
 So many emotions.

I spent most of two days packing up my classroom. Sorting out my personal belongings from those staying at the school. Passing on the books and curriculum to the new teacher (overwhelming her I am sure!) Packing my "teacher stuff" as organized as possible so it is ready for the move and I will be able to find what I need whenever I will need it next! My husband would have made me leave everything (he hates my "stuff" and thinks I hoard everything...not quite true...).

I made some tough choices and left a lot more than I had originally planned. I only had my pickup truck and didn't want to make two trips, so I was limited, especially in the furniture department. I left my rocking chair (which matched the curtains I left). I left behind my plastic kid chairs (that I picked up for $2 at walmart last fall and the kids used during Daily 5). I sifted through my art supplies, telling myself that would be the easiest to replace. As it was, this is how my truck looked when I got home.
Two boxes are removed already. It started to downpour right after this picture.

Kind of sad to see it all stacked up in my basement like that!
On the last day of school, I decided to start the day with our carpet meeting and then pulled out my guitar and we sang our favourite songs together, as I knew it would be our last time. A lot of moms were hanging around the halls. They stopped in and sat to watch us enjoy our music time. When we went back to our desks, the kids asked if they could give me their presents. I said sure, pulling up the chair into the middle of our ring of desks. The moms all stayed, pulling out their cameras, which should have been a clue. My EA handed me the first present. I unwrapped it and the tears started to spill. My class had been secretly making this beautiful tablecloth with their handprints on it. Each child signed it. They had pulled in the other teachers, hiding it in their room, distracting me on field day so I wouldn't notice that my entire class was missing!  It was really touching how much work and love went into this.


A few more homemade gifts and cards were shared. Lastly, one of the students handed me a card and all the cameras went up. Inside was this little printed photo. I recognized it immediately, as I had posted a link on my facebook about a month ago, talking about this site. They are called "Litographs" and the artists use the text of an entire book to make a print that can be hung on the wall. I thought it was such a cool concept and had said I loved the print for Jane Austen's Emma. One mom saw it on my facebook and all the moms chipped in and ordered it for me. I had to try really hard not to sob at that point. The fact that these women had taken the time to get to know me and knew this was something I would love, be able to bless my new house with, and remember the class every time I looked at it, well, it was overwhelming. The print is on its way and I can't wait to see it!

Later in the day, we had our Grade Eight graduation dinner and ceremony. The grade eight class was my first class that I had for a full year, all to myself! My principal always says that your first class is like your first love. There are many reasons, sometimes good and sometimes bad, that you will always feel connected to them. This was my class. I taught them in grade five and six. We knew each other well. We continued to work together when I bumped down to grade one and two. I had all of the girls from grade seven and eight in my choir for the last two years. Needless to say, we are close. This graduation was the toughest for me. It was great to hear all of the memories and see the pictures and how they have grown. I even sang a goodbye song with the grade eight girls at the graduation ceremony and we made it through without tears! I didn't even cry until two of my girls were hugging me goodbye at the end and they were bawling into my shoulder. That got me! 
The Grade 7/8 class made me two very special gifts. They each recorded a video message for me of their favourite memories and blessings for my move. That was sweet! They also made a memory book with letters from each of them and room in the back to add my new memories. To add to the personal nature, they made it in a notebook (I have a slight obsession with cute notebooks) and glued buttons to the centre of the flowers (Daisies are my favourite flower and I have a more than slight obsession with buttons!) Super sweet that they knew and remembered those details!

Overall, it was an emotionally draining week, but things are looking up. We have our first house showing on Wednesday! I am finishing my straighten and clean of the house and can now enjoy the sunshine with my long awaited summer reads. In about two weeks, we will be headed east to see my family and have a break at the beach!


Friday, June 15, 2012

A Cautionary Art Tale

Oh Pinterest. Oh Art Blogs. You give us such high hopes. Such lofty dreams. Sometimes the ideas I find online are gold! They work great, my kids love them, everything goes as planned. This is not one of those times.

I found this fabulous art blog called "Art Is What I Teach". I really do love this blog. She comes up with some really creative projects to teach basic art skills. Really outside the box.

I came across this awesome looking "Jellyfish Art" project a few months ago and thought my kiddos would love it. I Pinned it and moved on. I went onto my boards to find a nice art project for our last one of the year and was reminded how awesome this one looked. My kids have been one of the best classes I have had for using paint and not making big messes (just the regular residual mess, but no fooling around mess). So I decided to give it a try.

I decided that we would do this outside on the cement sidewalk behind my classroom door to lessen the mess. We have slanted desk tops and not much in the way of group tables in our room. We have done art outside before and it worked perfectly.

My art volunteer and my summer student got the tables set up and covered in newspaper. I mixed the paint (watery) and cut the bristol board. I brought the supplies outside and called my kiddos out, six at a time to keep thing orderly. The other stayed busy inside the classroom with their end of the year puzzle books.

Not even five minutes in, I hear yelling and turn to find two cups of paint had tipped onto two different art projects and were running all over the table, onto the cement, but thankfully, not onto my kiddos, who jumped out of the way. I grabbed the sudsy bucket, wiped down what I could and we covered the top with more paper.

I then came up with this little gem of an idea. I put the paint cups into any old plastic tubs I could find in my classroom (most are empty right now as I am cleaning the room out).

It worked perfectly. My summer student sarcastically asked why I couldn't have thought of that earlier.

For this project, the kids paint sloppy, wet paint circles and then hold their paper up to let it drip and make tentacles for their jellyfish. A few kids got a little too enthusiastic with their papers and were shaking/flapping them in the wind, getting paint on their clothes, arms, faces, shoes. Ug. We used my sudsy bucket and got most of it off, but it was a logistical nightmare, even with only a fraction of my class outside at a time! I didn't even attempt to do the final "splatter paint" at the end. I figured the fish were enough!

In the end, it made for a memorable last art project and they turned out really cool. The moral of the story is, beware of projects that may seem simple, because they probably aren't!

A few more days to go. On Monday, we are going to the Waterfun park for the day. Tuesday is pack up and sort day combined with Water Fun Afternoon with the Student Activities team. The we have a half day on Wednesday, Grade Eight graduation in the the evening. That's it! Of course, we have meetings on Thursday and other duties to complete, but my career at this school is coming to a close much too quickly for my liking.

See you soon!

UPDATE: When we made our end of the year memory books, I couldn't believe how many kids listed this as their favourite art project of the year! Go figure!