Sunday, February 22, 2015

Next Inquiry...

The snow has been piling up around the chalet!
Sheesh! Good thing there's a great furnace working hard inside! Oh, and we're working hard too, but having some fun at the same time.

This past week my Grade 4 students had a new object to investigate.
It's quite beat up and only one bar resonates because it's held up by an elastic. The kids have begun researching what the instrument is (they found out it's a glockenspiel, not a xylophone). Next I'm challenging them to find out how we can repair it. They're pretty excited. I'm excited to see where their findings take us!

In Grade 2 Science, we finished up our unit on Mechanics, so as a final activity we created a mural of "Things that move" or, "Les choses que bougent" I love how it turned out!

These drawings remind me of Dr. Seuss's illustrations in "Green Eggs and Ham".

This was loads of fun for the students - and myself! Have a fun day at school tomorrow, everyone!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

     Bonjour! Yesterday was Family Literacy Day, and also Pyjama Day, so kids could snuggle up with a good book at school. Parents were invited to come and read with their kids, and even to be special guest readers. It was a lot of fun, and I LOVE a day when I can wear cozy pyjamas to work!

     My copy of "Inquiry-Based Learning Using Every Day Objects" by Amy Edmonds Alvarado and Patricia R. Herr arrived on Monday!
This book is really inspiring! I'm just beginning to read it, and had tried out an idea from it before I got the book - because I'm a keener, I guess!  I brought a larch conch shell in for the students'  first object inquiry. They began practicing their questioning skills, and using research skills to find answers.  The students came up with all kinds of questions about it. Some were for quick surface knowledge, like, "Where did you get it?", whereas other questions were openers to deeper learning, like, "Why is there a colour pattern on the shell?",  "Why is it a spiral?" and "Why does it sound like a toilet flushing?". That one was my favourite!

     Today they researched patterns in conch shells, which led to so much more. One group learned the anatomy of the conch and its stages of development. Another group found a video on how to play a conch shell as a wind instrument, and they tried it! By the way,  it's not as easy as it looks! Yet another group discovered that the conch is an endangered species because of overfishing, and that it's a food source for sea turtles. The kids began to link this to their knowledge of Canadian endangered species, and the need to protect wildlife.

    The students were very excited about what they were finding! They were super engaged and were becoming the experts. This inquiry was a first run at what I'll be doing more of. I have set up an Inquiry Centre in the class, where the object of inquiry can be seen and touched.

The students can write their questions on a phone template card, and place it in the Ipense.
 I read their questions each day to note their questioning, then give them back so they glue them into their "Je me demande" notebook. They also write their discoveries in this notebook, so this way I can track their questioning skills and learning. Woohoo!

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy New Year!!! My goodness, I've been away for long time! My family went through some challenging times, and I didn't have it in me to blog here. It's a new year, and I have been inspired by my friends and colleagues' ideas and passion for teaching. So I'm back!

Two weeks ago I was at the ETFO ICT conference in Toronto. I learned so much! By the end of it I was ready to jump into using tech more in my classroom. The presenters were fantastic! The amazing Natasha Feghali (@NEFeghali) gave a fantastic workshop on using Twitter, Skype and blogging in the classroom. She had a very cool exit card board that looked like an iPhone. The Apps on the phone were pockets for us to leave our feedback cards in. It was entitled iConnect. Super cute, right? So I decided to make my own for my class. Here it is...

 I can't wait to use it on Monday! I will be using the book "Inquiry-Based Learning Using Everyday Objects" by Amy Edmonds Alvarado. My copy has been shipped from Chapters, so I hope it arrives quickly! 

I'm working on asking better questioning of my students, to promote deeper thinking. I am also going to use the techniques in the book to help my students develop their own questioning skills. Each week, I will bring in an interesting object (i.e. rotary phone, loom, seashell) for them to observe and ask questions about. The students will be coached to ask questions that lead to deeper critical thinking. Then they will write their questions on their exit cards, and slip them into one of the App pockets. I will collect their cards to keep track of their progress. Natasha Feghali gave me the cute iPhone exit card template she gave us in her workshop. Merci, Natasha!  I'm super excited to see how this plays out! And it just so happens I have a loom.

Have a spectacular Sunday!

Monday, October 21, 2013

And now for the AFTER photos

I promised to post some pics of my new and improved classroom, so here we go. First, the new carpet, floor and reading area. 

Here is a close up of one of the newly painted bookshelves, and a few small friends.

I have a small mask collection on display. 

Here is the newly painted cupboard with friends up high. 

I use the Harlem Globetrotters 4 point marker to show the target of Level 4 for Physical Education participation, safe play and respectful behaviour. I also love Groovy Girls. They just look so happy!

Here is a close up of La Valise Magique.

It was a bit of a rush job, so I will have to redo it soon. Today I brought it to the Grade 2 science class with a surprise inside...

A class set of nerdy glasses! 
I went to the movie theatre and asked for some discarded pairs, and they gave me new ones FOR FREE! Not only that, I got another class set for my own class and I have a super cool art idea that we will be doing with them. More on that later. The kids in Grade 2 were super excited to have their own pair of science glasses. It was so much fun to see them all wearing them!

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I had no intention of being away from the blogosphere for so long, just after I had started this blog. My family has been through a lot these past few months, but now I'm back.

Okay, get ready for some UGLY... Here is my new classroom before I set it up...Trust me, there is a happy ending.

One of the crazy things that happened was that my portable classroom was given a new floor! Yay! I wasn't able to work in the classroom for a week, but it was so worth it! 

I did some painting of book cases and cupboards first, to try to brighten up the place. I ordered a matching carpet which just arrived 10 days ago. Here is a photo of the class library and word wall taken before the kidlets arrived. You can see a bit of the new floor here.

I will take a photo of the new reading area and carpet tomorrow and post it. 

     I am very happy at my new school. I miss my lovely friends at my former school, but that's what texting and Facebook are for, right? I have a large class - 28 as of Tuesday, and they are all great kids. I am teaching 4-5 this year, which I have done twice before. At first I was sad to be leaving Primary, but I am totally loving being back in Juniorland. This class is a DREAM. They arrive with bright smiles each morning and ask excitedly, "What are we doing today, Madame?". They are so thirsty to learn and try new things! And who doesn't love students who love to help you with jobs around the class? Merci, merci, merci, les amis!

 I have a lot to share about my class programming but I will leave it for now, to talk about...


I LOVE teaching Grade 2 science! I have an outfit and everything! 
     I'm using la Valise Magique (Magic Suitcase) to introduce the Science units to the students at the carpet. The picture is blurry, but I think it gives you the idea of what I'm up to.  To introduce the unit on weather and seasonal changes, the suitcase held a thermometer, a water bottle, a tuque, a paperweight with blue "ocean" water and dolphins inside, a rubber ducky and some wooden toy trees. We talked about each object and how it was related to water or weather. The kids were instantly engaged and curious. The suitcase idea has been around for a while, but I thought I would share what I'm doing with it. On Friday, we started a unit on Animals, so I had a whole bunch of different Ravensberger plastic animals and a plush skunk inside the suitcase. After we talked about what is unique about each animal, I gave the students a worksheet I made up for them to draw their favourite animal write down one thing that is unique about that animal. 

     In September, the kids did some awesome collages to illustrate the Water Cycle, and I'll be sharing some of them with you here later this week.

Sorry for being away so long, and thanks for dropping by.

Happy fresh new week!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Me, nominated? Shut the Front Door!

Allo, allo! I have been away from the blogoshpere for a while, and so it was quite a surprise to find that Melissa of Teacher Abroad had nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thanks so much, Melissa! I am so grateful to you!

I’m so excited to be nominated for this award! Teachers are such giving, creative people, and I feel so lucky to get to know more of you through your blogs!

To accept this nomination there are some things I have to do:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5 - 11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them 

My nominations are:

Jamie at Teaching Tidbits and More with Jamie
Dani at A Place to Thrive
Brittany at Contemporary South Teacher
Donna at Mrs. Flaherty's Fab in 4th
Kristen at Chalk & Apples
Liz at Floating Through Fifth

Here are my answers to Melissa's 11 questions:

1. Who has inspired you in your career?
My children had the good fortune of being taught by Madame Donna, a happy, creative and nurturing kindergarten teacher. I volunteered in her classroom and was amazed by her kind heart and love for her students. She inspired me to go back to school to get my B. of Ed.

2. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would go to Hawaii! I am part Hawaiian, and I would love to look up some relatives and see the gorgeous beaches, plants, birds and maybe even a volcano!

3. What’s one piece of advice you would give to a new teacher?

You won't be the best you can be in all areas, and that's okay. Do your best in one subject your first year and then develop another subject the next year. Take care of yourself by eating well, trying to sleep, and making sure to do something you love that does not involve school!

4. What inspired you to start your blog?
My friend Lisa Bee of Grade 4 Buzz started her blog this summer, and she was having so much fun, I wanted to do it too! Also, I got a LOT of help from Shannon at Madame Belle Feuille this year, when I switched to Primary, and I hope I can share some ideas that can help other teachers.

5. What’s the most embarrassing/funny thing that’s happened to you in the classroom?

I wanted my students to remember the word for eyelashes in French ( ``les cils``) so I pointed to my own and asked the class what they were. A boy in the class raised his had energetically and said ``BAGS!``. 

6. What’s your favourite chocolate bar?
I love Lindt plain dark chocolate with 50% cocoa.

7. If you could teach any grade, which would you choose? Why?

I love Grade 2 and Grade 4. Grade 2`s are so exuberant and Grade 4`s are so ready to take risks! 

8. If you weren’t a teacher, what job do you think you’d do instead?

I am also an actor, so I would love to do that more often. I would also like to be a photographer. I LOVE taking pictures! Or maybe a folk singer...

9. What has your best success in the classroom been?

This year I had a challenging group of kidlets. So many were emotionally unstable and having learning difficulties. I was still able to teach the whole group the importance of kindness and forgiveness. The kids were so caring and thoughtful of each other, even after they witnessed episodes of rage.  The troubled kids knew that I cared for them and would always be there to help. One boy in the class who had a hard year told me on the last day of class :``Madame, I had a BLAST this year!``. That made me feel like a success.

10. In your opinion, what book should every teacher have on their shelves?

``Amazing Grace`` by Mary Hoffman. It`s a great book to inspire us all to be what we want, no matter what some people think we should be. Grace loves to become her favourite characters from books and put on plays. I might be a bit like her...

11. What do you like to do outside of school (hobby, sport, etc.)
Yoga keeps me calm, strong, flexible and joyful. I love creating with photography, knitting, sewing, gardening and crafting. I also love to doodle! 

Here are 11 random facts about myself:

1. I love the crazy new flavours of TicTacs, and I HAVE to chew them up once they are in my mouth. 
2. I love to drink lemon and lime water.
3. I love finding treasures at thrift stores.
4. ``To Kill a Mockingbird`` is one of my most favourite books.
5. I made strawberry and raspberry jam this summer and intend to make peach jam this week.
6. I have dual citizenship (Canadian and American).
7. I have a lot of memories of being a toddler, including standing in my crib making spit bubbles. My crib was set on top of an orange shag carpet. Groovy.
8. I grew up watching a different classic movie every Saturday night on public television, so I LOVE old movies!
9. My laugh seems to get louder the older I get.
10. I have a very good musical memory. 
11. I sing in a choir made up of elementary and secondary teachers. 

And now here are the 11 questions for my nominees...

1. If you could only listen to one song for a year, what would it be?
2. If you could have a super power, what would you choose?
3. What is your favourite dessert?
4. What is your favourite colour, and does it change from time to time?
5. What sound do you love to hear?
6. When you need help with school stuff, who do you turn to?
7. What is your favourite animal and why?
8. What was your favourite book as a child?
9. Describe an activity or game that you tried this past year with your class that was a huge hit with the kids. (Not a question, I know. Forgive me!)
10. At the end of a long day, what gets you energized and happy?
11. What 3 words best describe you?

Thank you again, Melissa for nominating me!
Congratulations to my nominees! Have fun!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Chenilles et Papillons!

For the past several years, I have brought Monarch caterpillars into my classroom. I am fortunate to have a good friend, a retired teacher, who lives on a lovely nearby island, and raises monarchs each year. And she shares her caterpillars! If you have brought Monarchs into your classroom, you know how magical an experience it is for the students! Instant student engagement! The caterpillars are fascinating to watch as they eat, grow, create their chrysalis and eventually emerge. Here are some pictures from inside the mosquito net where they were kept safe.

It was definitely a challenge to keep the enclosure from being jostled, so the solution was to mark a no entry zone on the floor with masking tape, directly in front of the enclosure table. Phew!

We had a total of 8 caterpillars this year! These two rascals were the first to emerge, and wouldn't you know it, they emerged on a Saturday morning, when all the kids were away! I carefully transport them home to watch over them as they waited for their wings to dry. I also took a lot of pictures to show the kids on Monday. The butterflies stayed together on this plant until 5:30pm and then they took off together!

The butterflies are obviously great for Science units on insects, plants, life cycles and habitats, but we also did a lot of other work based on the Monarchs. We kept journals of the caterpillars activities and practised drawing them in our art notebooks. In Math, I like to start the year with patterning, so my Grade 1/2's created their own pattern caterpillars out of paper chains.

I like to visit a local framing shop and ask for their matte boards cast offs. Then I cut them into rectangles and they make a sturdy base for plasticine pictures. The students were asked to create an image of the Monarchs at a point in their development. They were expected to show pattern and texture in their art work. Here is our class Monarch art, and a few close-ups.

In keeping with our Patterning unit, the students were also asked to create a dance made up of a repeating pattern of movements. They could do this in partners or alone. They presented their dance to the class, explaining the pattern, and completed a simple sheet to visually represent their dance (You can see the sheet in the bottom left corner of the photo of all the plasticine butterfly art). It turned out to be a quick, easy and ACTIVE way to get the kids to demonstrate their knowledge. They loved it, and I got a quick Math assessment out of it, as well as Physical Education and Dance assessments! Woohoo! Gotta love a triple duty task!

I also wanted to show you the first Art assignment of the year, no matter what grades I happen to be teaching. (Did you catch the plural of "grades"? I still haven't landed a single grade class. Sigh.) I give the kids the same matte boards and plasticine to create a self portrait. It's a great way to introduce texture and background. The results are always fantastic and unique to each child! Check these babies out!

Have a Terrific Tuesday et un mardi merveilleux