" Addie Education - Teacher Talk

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Fun - What This Teacher Does to RELAX

Thanks to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for hosting another great Secondary Smorgasboard Blog Hop - I always love reading everyone's posts!  

My Summer Plans!

We're Hittin' the Road - I happen to be married to the world's most organized man... he starts planning our summer adventures in the fall!  In fact this summer's vacation plans have been booked since early January!  He also does a ton of research into where we're going, what we can do, restaurants to check out... I basically pack my bags and just make sure I'm ready on time!  Our "big" trip this summer is to California - one of our favourite destinations!!  We're flying down and then driving Hwy 101 along the coast! Can't wait!! 

Vineyards of BC's Wine Region.

 We've also got some smaller weekend trips planned to some local get away spots along Vancouver's gorgeous coastline and a trip up to British Columbia's wine country for a little relaxing!  Here's a pic from the B&B we stayed at on our last trip there... views of the lake were wonderful!  We had a very relaxing week there biking, hiking and wine tasting - can't wait to go again.

Hiking, Biking, Adventuring - I'm so lucky to live in Vancouver! We're steps from the beach and a few minutes drive to the mountains... there's never nothing to do.  We love to hike and bike the Coast Mtns. and enjoy all that greater Vancouver has to offer. As well, the city has a fantastic sea wall that goes around the entire coastline for over 22km - and it's beautiful.  We separate lanes for walking and biking it's a buzz of activity... and I LOVE it!!  

English Bay, Vancouver, BC

Reading, Relaxing, Writing, Relaxing and Gardening - can't wait to catch up on some summer reading, create some new TpT products, plan for my classes next year,  and spend some time in the garden!  I'm also going to plunk myself on a beach, with a book, as often as I can!

What about you? What are your big summer plans?!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

End of Year - Calming the Chaos Blog Hop

The end is near... well.. it might be for some of you... but it isn't for me.  I work right up until the end of June, but we don't start back up until the first week of September so it all works out in the end!


I've teamed up with some other TpT sellers to offers tips on how to survive those last few weeks of school. I know how hard it can be to keep our students focused on learning when the sun is shining and the lure of summer freedom is just around the corner.  Thanks to Kristy at 2 Peas and a Dog for hosting again!

Here are some ways I "Calm the Chaos" and the "End of Year Wiggles" that seem to infect my students every year.

1.  Mixing it Up
I like to mix it up a lot more than I do at the start of the year.  By now my students and I know each other, they've hopefully mastered my class routines and we're into a groove.  Although it may seem counterintuitive, I actually like to give them a little more freedom at the end of the year.  It's their reward for all their hard work. I play a few more "games" (my fancy word for review activities - it's all in how you sell it!) and I play a bit more music and I give them more choices.

2.  Grooving to the Tunes
As I mentioned above, I play more music in class towards the end of the year... and if I can theme it around something we're studying or reviewing that's an extra bonus!  For example, I'm teaching a poetry unit right now and it's easy to use music to teach figurative language.  I also teach science and we're studying weather and climate - it's amazing how many songs have lyrics about clouds, the sun, the rain and thunder... it's a fun activity to brainstorm titles as a class.

3. Review Extravaganza!
Like many of your students, my kids are required to write final exams so I spend significant time at the end of the year helping them get organized and prepared.  Here's a FREE review activity that works for ANY subject!! Click the image below to grab a copy!


Be sure to check out the other awesome tips and tricks to "Calm the Chaos" on the linky below!

Happy Countdown to Summer!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Teaching What Matters - Teaching Vs. Learning

Thrilled to be linking up with Room 213 in the Teaching What Matters Most Blog Hop

This is a question that's been on my mind lately as I face a classroom full of students who are increasingly dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression... as well as students who are becoming disengaged with school and the curriculum.  Now, more than ever I have to find a way to make my course relevant and current... sometimes easier said than done.  I have to find a way to connect old world poetry to their lives, show them how grammar still "counts", how to express themselves through their writing, how to read a book simply for the pleasure of it, how to notice the world around them and connect to it in a meaningful and real way.

One of the things I've done over the last few years is to change my frame of mind... I've switched from thinking about "What do I need to teach?" to thinking about "What do I want my students to learn?".   

For example, I have to teach poetry and figurative language as part of my ELA class.  Instead of just thinking about all of the terms my students need to know, I'm focusing more on what I want them to learn about poetry and how to enjoy poetry so that there isn't a collective groan when I say the word.  I want them to learn that poetry is having fun with language, it's playing with words, it can be gut wrenchingly sad, it can be silly, it can be beautiful and most importantly it can be their own creative expression. I want them to learn that poetry is in our music, it's in advertising, it's in the books they read, the movies they watch... and that there's a place for poetry in their world.  Thinking about what the end goal is rather than ticking off the learning outcomes for the course has made the subject more relevant and more engaging.

Ultimately, although I teach ELA, I want my students to learn so much more than just my subject...

I want them to learn to love words and language as much as I do...
... to love to read
... to learn how to pick themselves up when the going gets rough
... to learn how to advocate for themselves in a respectful way
... to learn to be respectful and thoughtful
... to learn to be inquisitive
... to learn that it's okay to make mistakes
... to learn to love themselves
... to learn that the world of social media isn't "real life"
... to learn that I really do want the best for them and I really do care...

I could probably write a list of a hundred things I want my students to learn... and nowhere on my list would be things like "using apostrophes correctly" or "how to identify a simile".

What about you?? What do you want your students to learn??

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Poetry... Yes, It Can Be Fun!

I know when I tell my 8th grade students that we're starting a poetry unit, there's usually a collective groan... especially in my classes that have a lot of boys!  However, I have learned over the years that we can have a lot of fun with poetry and that by the end of our poetry unit I've usually convinced many of my students that poetry's not so bad after all.

Here are a few of the tricks I have up my sleeve:

#1 - Use music and song lyrics when you can to teach the elements of poetry.  There are so many opportunities to use current songs in the classroom.  Challenge your students to find examples of figurative language in their favorite song lyrics!  Have a class debate to decide if music lyrics are the same as poetry? Have students work with a partner to present their favorite song to the class - they need to discuss meaning and show example of literary terms in their presentation.

#2 - Use Youtube - there are a multitude of videos that illustrate figurative language and literary devices using examples from popular movies and music. There are so many available online it's a little overwhelming (be sure to preview for inappropriate lyrics!)  Here's a link to one of my favorite videos and it's always well received by my students!


#3 - Allow your students the chance to be silly! Poetry is all about playing with words and language and there are plenty of opportunities to have fun.  As part of learning about figurative language I ask students to write examples on the classroom whiteboard.  I hand out about 5 pens at a time and there's a flurry of activity as students write and then pass the pen to someone else. (The buzz of activity at the board means no students feel put on the spot and they can write anonymously.  Or... give each student a sticky note and have them post their example that way.  Either way, we have a lot of laughs reading everyone's examples.... it's hard to keep a straight face when I read out "He dances like a  horse when he eats tacos"!

#4 - Use interactive notebooks and flip books - give your students the chance to use their hands.  I love interactive notebooks / flip books for a variety of reasons, but one of my favorite things about them is that it gives my students a break.  The chance to get up out of their seats to grab scissors and glue, the chance to chat with a neighbor while they're cutting and the chance to use their hands is the best way to break up a long 75 minute English class.  My students also really benefit from the ease with which they can use their interactive activities to do review.   Click on the picture below to link to my Figurative Language / Poetry Terms Mini Flip Book.  Check out all of my Poetry Resources HERE.


#5 - Don't be afraid to try something new, step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.  Model that for your students and share your adventures together!  Have fun!

Thanks for reading!  Here's a fun freebie for you to use as a handy reference and review of Figurative Language with your students. Just click the image below to grab a copy!


Best of luck with your poetry unit!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes - Super Secondary Sale on TpT!

Thrilled to have connected with such an amazing group of Teacher-Authors through TeachersPayTeachers to participate in the 
Teachers Are Heroes Super Secondary Sale ~ Feb. 25 & 26, 2015
on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Many of us are offering up to 20% off plus the 10% that TpT has!  So check out our stores and set up your wishlists.

Don't forget to use Promo Code HEROES... the last sale I forget to use the code ~ Oopss!!

Addie Williams
Danielle Knight (Study All Knight) 
The Classroom Sparrow
Michele Luck's Social Studies 
Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy

Mad Science Lessons 
Juggling ELA
Krystal Mills - Lessons From The Middle 
Teaching High School Math 
To the square inch- Kate Bing Coners 
Charlene Tess 
Pamela Kranz
The Creative Classroom

Kristin Lee
Mrs. Brosseau's Binder 
James Whitaker's SophistThoughts

Darlene Anne
ELA Everyday
Lessons With Coffee
Teaching FSL
Room 213
Lindsay Perro 
Liz's Lessons 
21st Century Math Projects

The SuperHERO Teacher
Science Stuff 
Kate's Classroom Cafe 
A Space to Create

Created by MrHughes
Leah Cleary
Secondary Solutions
All Things Algebra
Tracee Orman
Live Love Math

Ruth S.

2 Peas and a Dog
FisherReyna Education
Rachel Friedrich
Linda Jennifer
For the Love of Teaching Math
The Career Ready Teacher 

Mrs S's Health and PE Resources

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop 2015 - Valentine Writing Activities

I love that I've teamed up with the wonderful gals at Faulkner's Fast Five, The Language Arts Classroom and The Literary Maven for another Secondary Blog Hop! This month's theme is "Feeling the Love" in honour of Valentine's Day.

What I LOVE about teaching...
I love that each day is different and that I know I'm guaranteed a good laugh with each of my classes.  I also love seeing the "light bulb go on"... I love seeing a student suddenly realize that poetry isn't really that bad after all... I love it when former students come to find me in the school to say hello... and I love it when students see their hard work and perseverance pay off. 

Valentine's Day Resource I LOVE...
I have a series of resources called "Interview With A __________" and the one I created for Valentine's Day is one of my favourites.  Interview With Cupid asks students to pretend they have the opportunity to interview Cupid - what would they ask? What questions would they have for Cupid?  Students must create questions and then make up the answers to complete a Cupid Biography.  The things my students come up with are always hilarious and love reading their work when they're done.


Funny Valentine's Day Gift
On old boyfriend of mine once sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to me at school.  I was thrilled... and proudly put them in a vase on my desk.  I had no idea that those dang flowers would result in a student bursting into tears upon entering my classroom.  She walked in and said something along the lines of "Are those flowers yours? Are they for Valentine's Day?"  When I sweetly explained that they were from my boyfriend, she threw herself down at her desk, burst into tears and wailed "I HATE Valentine's Day and I HATE boys."  I managed to calm her down and quickly put the flowers in my office... hopefully out of her sight and out of her mind.  Aahh... the ups and downs of teen romance.

Something I'd LOVE to do??  
Do I only get to pick one thing? This is too hard... my list is really long:  Travel the South Pacific, do an African safari, adventure through South America... learn to cook better, drink less Coca-Cola, workout more often... I feel like I'm listing my failed New Year's resolutions... 

A Book I've Loved Reading Recently
I'm cheating again... I have two.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubika - If you loved Gone Girl, I think you'll also love The Good Girl. A great story - kept me guessing and on my toes.

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu - A fantastic young adult novel that focuses on a girl called Alice and the impact that one rumour had on her high school life.  A hard hitting a realistic look at high school bullying.

Happy Valentine's Day!
~ Addie

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