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Saturday, 17 January 2015

I'm Zendoodling my (free) time away...

Let me tell you about the past few weeks...

My job has changed since my last post.  I've been teaching Grade 4 this year full time, but I knew it would be ending, as I was covering a maternity leave.  I knew the other teacher was returning after our winter break and I'd have to find something new, but in a happy turn of events, she decided to only come back part time.  As she now has two small children at home, she decided to come back for Thursdays and Fridays, which means I get to keep my Grade 4's until the end of the school year for the beginning of each week!  I was so happy to keep my kids, and now I have an amazing partner teacher who I can learn from as well.

As for the rest of the week, I have picked up a part time Grade 1 class on Fridays.  As a teacher who feels the most comfortable with Middle School students, I was terrified to go down to primary! I completed a practicum in Grade 1 while I was a student teacher (it was actually at the school where I am now teaching Grade 1, coincidentally!), but that was over 5 years ago and I haven't been in a primary class since then.  Luckily, I know the teacher who was leaving the post (to have her own new baby - Congrats Jess and Derrick!), and she told me about the group and gave me some pointers before she left.

So I am now splitting my week between two grades and two schools.  It's been a very busy few weeks figuring out what to do and working with two new partner teachers, but I feel like I am finding my rhythm again.  The downside is that I feel like I don't have enough time with either group to do everything I want to do (with holidays and non-instructional days, I will only see my Grade 1 class 16 more times for the rest of the school year!).  Thankfully, though, I have great partners who are there to share the workload and collaborate with.

In my free time, I have turned to a creative outlet - doodling!  My sister has always been artistic and creative, and she has turned me on to zentangles.  If you don`t know what that is, do a Pinterest search and you`ll find many-an-example!  Last weekend, Teresa (my sister) and I had a doodle date.  We didn`t realize how long we had been drawing until her husband called around 11pm to ask if she was coming home!  It is a lot of fun, and it becomes very meditative to sit and complete an image.  Here is my first picture that I created during our doodle date:

Altogether, it took about 6 hours to complete.  I used Sharpie markers on a white card stock paper.  When I was finished this one, I tried another.  In the past week, I`ve completed two more doodles, and my plan is to frame them for my bedroom. 

I loved the process so much that I showed it to my Grade 4`s.  They each created a zentangle bookmark to send to their pen pals in California.  They had a great time, and they turned out amazing!  I wish I had taken pictures of them before I put them in the mail!

Here are the other two completed doodles that I`ve done this week:

I didn`t have an idea for them when I started, they just sort of grew out of each other.  I think I want to make some mandalas or at least something more structured and planned next time.  We`ll see...

What do you do to unwind after a long day of teaching  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Note-Taking Graphic Organizers for Any Subject!

When I was in University, my reading professor gave us the idea of a one-page basic book report for young readers.  She called it the Bare Bones Book Report.  Basically, she folded a piece of paper into quarters and had us fill in each quarter with a different aspect of the book (character, plot, setting, and conflict).  She only wanted the bare bones of the book.

I've used versions of this idea for so many assignments, with elementary, middle, and high school students.  Last year, I used it as a note-taking strategy in Grade 8 Social Studies.  As my students watched a film about the crisis in the Middle East, they took notes in the four section of the paper with these headings: Important People, Important Places, Vocabulary to Know, Questions I Have. 

With a Grade 4/5 class, I used it when I was teaching connections in reading.  My students made notes about the connections they made in their free choice books. The four headings were: Text-to-Text Connections, Text-to-World Connections, Text-to-Media Connections, and Text-to-Self Connections.

With a Grade 9 English class, I had the students use this in our poetry unit.  When we discussed a new poem, students completed a note page, with the four section headings: Examples of Figurative Language, Rhyme Scheme and Rhythm, Imagery, My Understandings.

In a high school French course, I used this format for teaching verb tense.  When the students learned a new verb, they conjugated it in four verb tense: Present, Passe Compose, Futur Simple, and Futur Proche.

This is a simple, easy, and no-prep lesson that can be adapted to any grade level and subject area.  If you have any ideas on how to use this format, please let me know in the comments.

I have modified the 4-Section Book report from my professor's original idea to create my own "Bear Bones Book Report" for primary readers.  This FREEBIE can be found in my TpT store.

To download your own FREE copy of this book review page, click on the picture, or click here.