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$25 TPT Giveaway starts today!

summer is over

Back to school has well and truly started.  Meetings, classroom decorating and trying to get those first lesson plans down are all in swing.  It is HARD to come back but maybe this will make it a little bit easier.

August 12 2016 $25 TpT giveaway

Click on the picture to be sent to the rafflecopter for multipe chances to win.  Best of luck!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  
 
Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
 
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
 
 
 
 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 8/19/16 and is open worldwide.
 
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

You can also use this link to be sent to the rafflecopter.  a Rafflecopter giveaway  Let’s start this year off right!

Little Vikings

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A Common Language?

americanversusbritishenglishI have been making classroom resources since before I became a teacher. I started making display lettering and clip art when I worked as a classroom assistant and continued with scheduling cards, calendars, posters, worksheets, etc. during my university teaching placements and moving into teaching in my own classroom. While I have always been happy to share my resources with my colleagues at school, the things I created were the things I wanted and needed for my own classroom. Since I have chosen British as my mode of English, that is what I used when creating my resources. (As a Swede taught a mix of British and American in school and exposed to both in all areas of life, it’s not always easy to keep the two apart but I do try to stick with British English, especially when writing.)

That’s why, when Jenny encouraged me to upload my resources to TPT, I just did what I have always done – I shared the resources I made for my classroom. It honestly never crossed my mind to edit those resources more than changing some fonts to commercially licenced ones. That is until last week, when two different TPT buyers asked me if I could ‘translate’ the resources they bought into American English. In retrospect, I wonder why I never thought of that before!

I have gone through all my PYP resources and added American English versions where needed, so if you prefer these to British please re-download (or purchase!) them. I think I caught all the differences, but please let me know if you find any I’ve missed and I will re-upload them for you.

Anya's PYP Adventures

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Unit Overviews

During my first year as a PYP classroom teacher I kept parents informed about our unit of inquiry by posting some basic information and classroom photos on the class webpage. I put the central idea, lines of inquiry and learning outcomes up the week before we started a new unit and added photos and short descriptions of our classroom activities at the end of each week. I did have a fair number of parents let me know that they really appreciated the posts, though I quickly realised that many parents never logged in to the website and missed out. While I certainly felt that I had done my job and provided the information and that it was up to the parents to keep up to date, I still felt a need to improve the reach so that all the families got to see what we were doing.

Example 1

Unit Overview for our PYP3 Human Body unit.

That’s why, in my second year, I added a display in the hallway outside our classroom with a unit overview. I picked a good sized display board and created a Unit Overview to post in the middle, leaving the rest of the board empty. As the unit went on, I printed out photos of our activities and added them around the unit overview.

The students began each day with looking at the display board to check for new photos, dragging their family and friends over to show the new pictures and discuss the activity. I realised that only using the online method had not only not reached all the parents, it had not reached the students! They were incredibly proud and engaged with the display, often asking if they could take certain photos home when the display came down.

Unit Overview 2

Unit Overview and photo display.

As for the parents, those that waited with their children in the morning, or waited for them in the afternoon, began to use the display to pass time, looking at the photos and reading through the Unit Overview. They would discuss the photos and Overviews with each other and point out the display when grandparents and family friends came by. I even observed parents photographing the display to send it on to other family members!

The combination of the display and the web page, now implemented as standard across the school, meant that the information reached a wider section of the class community. I even added the Unit Overview to the webpage to allow parents to download and share.

Unit Overview 3

Class webpage with Unit Overview.

I also used the Unit Overview as section dividers in the students’ portfolios, keeping them organised and ensuring that if a teacher, student or parent ever looks back at the old portfolios they have a context for the items kept in it.

The Unit Overview is a great addition to my classroom and is definitely here to stay! If you think it could be a good addition to your classroom, head on over to my TPT store where the Unit Overview Handout Templates (including mini Key Concept Keys clip art) is available as a flash freebie until 5 August.

Unit Overview 4

Anya's PYP Adventures

 

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Beginning Sounds-Let the Letters Dry!

Learning our Beginning Sounds was the first step to start reading. This was a fun activity I had out during our Inquiry into Beginning Sounds a while back, and is one I still bring out from time to time to help students who needs extra practice with deciphering beginning sounds while reading!

The point of the game is to match the picture cards to the right beginning sounds and let the pair dry. To set up the clothesline, I used the two easels in my classroom and tied a piece of yarn to both easels. You are also going to need clothes pegs. I always keep a huge stash in my classroom for several games as it helps develop fine motor skills.

easels

You are then going to need the letters and picture cards. For the letters, I searched on Goggle ‘alphabet cue cards’ and found this cute set! The picture cards were courtesy of the awesome teacher who taught this age group last year (Thanks!).

alphabet cuecards

picture cue cards

The students love this simple game. This game can be recreated while teaching beginning, middle, ending sounds etc.!

begining sounds line

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Fun With Sight Words!

The idea of becoming one of the first people to teach a student how to read I have to admit can be bit nerve wracking! But one thing I have learned while teaching is that you can’t let the students sense your fear; not that they would ridicule you (never that…) but that you can ignite a fear in trying something new amongst students!

So, with the task of teaching my kindergarten students the first 100 sight words (Fry’s Edition) I decided to make it a fun experience where my students feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when they have learned a new word! And what better way to commemorate accomplishment but then to display it for everyone to see. I present to you, Room 14’s Sight Word Tree!

The sight word tree

We usually focus on 1-2 sight words a week. I introduce the students to the new sight word at the beginning of the week and put it on display for them on our sight word on the week board. I also accompany the word with a sentence that the students can easily connect to and inspire them to make their own sentences using the very sight word.

 

sight word of the week

Throughout the week, we work on various games and activities to help reinforce the learning of the new sight words and their memory of said words.

Thursdays are the days we dedicate our whole reading period on the sight word. Students play games, write sentences, do puzzles etc surrounding on the sight words. At the end of the reading period, we make a new apple and write the sight word on it.

This is the fun part and where the sense of accomplishment is fostered! All week, I keep my eyes open for a student who has displayed initiative towards their learning, inquiring into reading and learning new words. The students are all aware that I am looking for that special students who will be given the very exciting task of placing the new sight word on the tree once we have successfully learned the word. The look on the students faces when they, or a fellow friend has won the special prize is really priceless. They are so incredibly proud of themselves and one another; they cannot help cheering. And you would think after a few weeks, this would die down. Let me tell you, it hasn’t. If you come around my room on a Thursday, you’ll hear a lot of screaming and me trying to calm down the lot!

sight word tree closeup

The Sight Word Tree serves so many useful purposes in our classroom; the students look to the tree to help them write sentences, remember the phonetic sound of a letter, etc. The most interesting use they have come up with as of late-when coming across a ‘bigger’ word in a book they are reading, they try to locate if there is a ‘smaller word’ (think root word) in the ‘bigger word’. For example, this past week one of my students ran up to me to exclaim he found the word ‘The’ in ‘There’ and that it was easy for him to read this ‘big word’ because he recognized ‘The’.

I am so glad I decided to construct this sight word tree in my classroom! it has definitely taken the load of being the sole teacher of sight words and reading; in many ways this tree is my pseudo Teacher Assistant 😀

If you have any ideas you have incorporated in your classroom to support learning of sight words and reading, let us know in the comments below!

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Extinction: Hey, Where Did These Bones Come From?!

Every 5/6 year old’s favourite topic: Dinosaurs and Extinction! I am absolutely loving experiencing this unit with my student and reveling in all the inquiry that is occurring in our class at the moment. The students decided that we needed to become experts on extinction and specifically dinosaurs! We are keeping it a secret from the whole school and conducting research so that we can become that best palentologiest in the history of our school! As you can imagine, they are just loving every minute of it, and I have to admit, so am I!

 

To be completely honest, there is a lot of staged activities and discoveries that I have done to get the inquiry going (I guess that’s my job, huh). One of the first activities I had set out for the students was measuring bones of dinosaurs and prediciting what part of the dinosaurs body could the bone have come from. I obviously do not have access to real dinosaur bones so straight to Mr. Google I went. I printed a whole bunch of pictures of dinosaur fossils and bones and places them all over the classroom, iin plain sight, so that the students would spend the whole day randomly finding these bones. It all started with a few students finding the bones in their bins and math notebooks first thing in the morning. Some students were not convinced; some suggesting that I, the most honest teacher in the world, planned and planted these bones; and some telling others they were just pictures from the internet. Rest assured after a few more discoveries, these students were completely convinced that someone placed these bones in our classroom to help steer us in the right direction to become palentologists.

 

When it came time to begin our research for our unit and becoming palentologists, many students suggested that good palentologists measure how long bones are so that they can tell the world what part of a dinosaur body the bone is from. This spurred their initial inquiry into measurement. First, we found the right way to use a ruler and measure and all together made an anchor chart to help remind us how use a measurement tool such a ruler to measure. Students then used the following sheet to record their finding and hypothesis of where they think the bone came from.

Measurement bones

 

The conversations being had during this activity were, as you can imagine, colourful and full of excitement. Although my cover was almost blown and it was exhausting to keep a straight face, it was so worth seeing the look on students faces when they found ‘dinosaur’ bones around our classroom!

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Thinking about a Light Table?

If you are lucky enough to have a light table in your classroom, then you know the benefits of having such an equipment in an inquiry driven classroom. Light tables offer students a different way of viewing everyday materials; inevitably presenting a new perspectives and meanings of things that are just ‘ordinary’. It can be used in a variety of ways and in many different subject areas. I have used it for inquiries into math, language and phonics, scienece..i mean the options are endless! All you need is some confidence, zeal and trust in your students that it will be used in the right way.

In the kindergarten class I worked with last year, there was a light table neatly stowed away behind a shelving unit. After inquiring into that awkwardly hidden contraption in the corner, I quickly came to realize many teachers (especially those in the kindergarten/pre school realm) are hesitant in utilizing light tables as a means of instruction and tool of inquiry. And I too can understand where the anxiety and frustration lie in using such a tool; there are several safety concerns that can present itself quickly in a classroom of 20-30 5 year olds not to mention, what do I do with this apparatus?! But the key is to trust that once a value is placed on an item, it will be taken care of and used appropriately.

First and for most, if you are interested in some ideas as to how to use a light table in your classroom or at home, you are going to need one. Many schools are very lucky in the fact that they have one readily available. Likewise, Amazon has many great options for light tables (links here).

light table

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Whitney-Brothers-WB0724-Light-Table/dp/B0039KB4MQ

 

Don’t fret, for my fellow DIY connoisseurs there are loads of great DIY ideas on how to make a light table for your inquiry space (Link DIY and steps). This is something I plan on doing for my classroom.

light table diy

 

This is a great DIY I found on pintrest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/203858320604864171/

 

So now, there you have it; a new light table. Now what? Right…you probably want to know how to use it. I could go into this long spiel on how to use it in the most effective way to support the inquiry at home or in your classroom, but the reality is that there is really not set handbook or guideline on how to use a light table in your inquiry space. The most benefical way to think about how light tables could possibly work in any learning environment is through a couple or real life examples that have come to be success stories on how to effectively use light tables in an inquiry space.

 

Language:

One subject area I loved to use a light table is language and supporting language acquisition, especially in the midst of EAL students. Language in the form of reading and writing can become a very anxious and scary feat for many students especially those who are tasked with learning a new language! ‘playing’ on a light table eliminates the anxiety that might be endured by students when immersed in a traditional learning setting. When our class began to learn our first sight words, the light table was used to get the students to become more familiarized with the words and what letters and letter sounds were needed to make the word. Using transparency paper, we wrote the sight words and cut them up in cue card form. We also took mini glasses and using permanent markers (if I did this again I would use colored markers… color makes everything more fun!) wrote the letters of the alphabet. We were hoping that the students would use the glasses to spell the sight words but the truth is that my co teacher and I did not give specific direction to the students on how to use these materials (supporting inquiry and student led learning), but what we instantly found was that the students were matching the glasses with the corresponding letters needed to make the sight word. They were stacking them, reading them out to each other; the students really led the inquiry and learning experience at the light table when introduced to these materials.

Light table 1 activity

 

 

Math:

In our math unit, we had the students engage with different 2d and 3d shapes. I don’t know about you, but our students were OBSESSED with monsters and superheroes, but that’s normal for 4-5 year olds. We gave students pieces of transparency paper to draw and create their own superhero. When the table began to fill up with various superheroes, students began engaging with their friends superhero and almost instantaneously began to pinpoint which shapes their friends incorporated in their heroes. Whats not pictured here is the introduction of little plastic 2d shapes that we put on the light table when we started to realize they began to inquire into shapes in plain sight. The students began to match up the plastic shapes to the part of the superhero that resembled a 2d shape.

 

light table 2 activity

These are just two ideas on how to use a light table to enhance and inspire inquiry at home or in your classroom. The possibilities are endless, just use your imagination! If you have any other great ideas and examples of how you used a light table in your learning environment, leave it in the comments below!