" Addie Education - Teacher Talk: February 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Laughing At Limericks - FREE Limerick Writing Activity!

Top o'the day to you all!  It's March and I'm tenuously holding on to some small Irish heritage as an excuse to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  I don't spend a lot of time on holiday related writing, but when I can, I do incorporate it into our day.

Limericks are fun and silly and appeal to just about every grade level.  I know that my Grade 8s have had a blast with these in the past... their imaginations and sense of humour are awesome!  However, I also know that some of them have struggled to come up with a limerick of their own and I've heard the familiar whine... "I don't know what to write about..." too many times!  So I created a set of "recipes" to help students write their own limericks.  They're easy to use and appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities.

Have fun and let the silliness begin!  Click on the image below to download your FREE copy.

Check out more fabulous FREEBIES at The Cornerstone for Teachers Blog!  This FREEBIE as well as several others was featured there for the month of March.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

How Very Pinteresting?!?

So... I am in LOVE with Pinterest... it's like a visual feast of ideas and creativity.  But lately I've been wondering about the ethical aspects of pinning and repinning people's ideas / photos / blog posts / recipes etc.  There's a lot of chat going on right now about Pinterest and copyright... and the conversations are important and necessary, as always when dealing with issues of this nature on the internet.  Read this great post from Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections for some ideas about how to be ethical while using Pinterest.  I know that the article has changed how I look at Pinterest and how I will be using it in the future!

Permission to Pin!
However, I see the value in pinning and the value in sharing ideas and inspirations on Pinterest so I'm giving you all Permission to Pin from this blog or from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  And if you're interested... check out my Pinterest Boards

Have Fun & Happy Pinning!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Picture Prompts

It can be so hard to get students writing sometimes... I'm sure you've all heard students whine that they "don't know what to write about...".  Well, the amazing teacher bloggers of the Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher and Classroom Magic have teamed up to create a fabulous linky party of picture prompts.  Join in the fun and check out the the amazing collection of visual writing prompts just by clicking on the picture below.

I love using photos in the classroom to inspire student writing - I sometimes use old postcards, but with the computer it's so easy to make my own... so I've turned some of my personal photos into Picture Prompts.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fieldtrips - Fun or Fiasco??

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I've been teaching for over 10 years and have participated in my fair share of fieldtrips over the years.  I've done short local fieldtrips to aquariums, parks, museums, courthouses... and have even ventured as far as Hawaii and Europe.  Fieldtrips are a valuable and amazing learning tool for students and I love getting out of the classroom and into the "real world"!  The lessons that can be learned are infinite and I think are often worth the work and planning that go into a successful fieldtrip.

I've learned a few tips and tricks along the way to avoid some of the fiascoes (I'm quite sure that I could write a very funny booked called "Fieldtrip Fiascoes") that I've experienced over the years.  I thought I'd share my Top 3 Fiascoes and share some tips with you to have some Field Trip Fun and avoid the dreaded Field Trip Fiasco!

Top Three Field Trip Fiascoes

3.  Bus Breakdown - while returning from a fantastic ski trip at a resort about 5 hours away, our bus broke down.  Actually... the engine blew up!  We blew a piston rod and left a trail of engine parts and oil on the highway behind us.  We knew there was something wrong when the bus filled with smoke and we came to a grinding halt in the middle of the highway.  So after a quick evacuation I found myself on the side of a very busy and dangerous mountain highway with 24 high-school students.  Long story short... we had a replacement bus in just under two hours.
TIP - Expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything! This is a hard one to prepare for... but a good lesson for us about the importance of students wearing appropriate footwear and clothing on the bus (one student was in flip flops and it was very cold and we could have easily been pulled over in snow). Several students didn't have jackets readily accessible and had the bus been really damaged they might not have been able to access them in the storage compartments down below. 

2.  Blocked Bowel - Despite giving all of the students the "Importance of Eating Fruit & Fibre On A School Trip Talk" someone still managed to have a blocked bowel on a trip to Europe.  The student was also too embarrassed initially to properly explain the issue... so it took us a two days to realize that the situation was serious. Nothing like a trip to a French hospital to reinforce the importance of fiber in one's diet and the importance of sharing personal and  embarrassing information with your teachers while in a foreign country.
TIP -  Often when we're in a new country students don't or can't eat their regular diet and it can be hard to find fresh fruit and veggies. To make things a little easier, I always bring granola bars, fruit leather and fibre bars. They're easy and light to pack and do wonders at keeping everything "moving through your system".  I really stress to the students the importance of  eating healthy food, drinking water and being honest about their medical symptoms... caught early enough, we probably could have avoided a trip to the hospital.

3. France Fiasco - After spending two great days in Paris with 30 high-school students seeing the beautiful sights, my worst fears came true when we "lost" a student on the way back to our hotel.  It was a Friday night and we were near the Paris Opera house. Just before we jumped on the metro we did one last count of all the students.... and we were missing one!! I tried my best not to panic... but I'm not going to lie... inside I was a mess!  Luckily we had a very good plan in place, the student in question did exactly what he was told to do if he got separated from our group, and we managed to find him relatively quickly.
TIP - Develop an easy plan to reconnect with students if they get separated from your group. Review the procedure... often!  I always print out and laminate an EMERGENCY CONTACT CARD for all the students on the trip and insist that they go in their wallets.  On the card I list the names, phone numbers and address of all the hotels that we'll be staying at in each city, an emergency teacher contact cell number, and the long distance prefix if one is needed to phone home. 

Here's a copy of the card I give students for short / local field trips. I usually photocopy the wallet cards on a really bright paper (hot pink is fabulous!) so that it's easy to spot in their wallets. 

Here is the field trip card I give students for a longer / overnight field trip. I always laminate this and put it on bright paper.
I truly hope you all get the chance to got on a fieldtrip with your students.  Some of my craziest best memories are of being on a trip with students and seeing the world through their eyes... nothing beats the look on a student's face when they see something up close and personal for the first time.  A little preperation and planning goes a long way when it comes to fieldtrips!

I'd love to hear your stories of Field Trip Fun or a Field Trip Fiasco....


Saturday, February 4, 2012

International Relations

I had an amazing opportunity this week to present a learning strategy to 16 visiting teachers from China.  They were all high-school teachers from a large IB school and they taught everything from math to english.  I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet them and I loved their enthusiasm for learning new ideas and techniques to take home with them.  

I also had the pleasure of having several of their students sit in on one of my classes during the week.  What a great opportunity for my students to meets students from half-way around the world!  My students were quick to learn that students from China are really no different from students in Canada. However, I did appreciate the fact that the visitors emphasized how much more relaxed schools in Canada are, compared to their school back home.  My students were gobsmacked that their school in China did not allow makeup, jewellery, tattoos or earring AND they had to wear a uniform.

Here are some of my highlights from the experience:

Kids are kids no matter where they are from!  I saw one of the visiting kids had a lunch of french fries, pudding and pop... he saw me take notice and said "my mother is not here... she will not know".  I cracked up!

My students couldn't figure out how the Chinese students could text on their phones given the number of characters in the Chinese language.  So they asked if they could learn... so out came everyone's phones and away they went!  It was so fun to watch them sharing and learning about each other's languages.

Google Earth is an amazing way for students to connect! Despite some language barriers, the kids had a blast zipping from China to Canada and back again to show each other where they lived. 

The students were from Beijing which has a population of 22 million! Canada has a population of 34 million.  The Chinese students couldn't believe that so few people lived in the second largest country in the world. I don't think they believed me when I told them our population... so I told them to "Google It"... they were amazed to find out it was true.

If you ever have the chance to host international students in your classroom, even for a day, it's a great opportunity for students and teachers alike.  I would love to take students to visit a school in another country... maybe I'll have to see what I can come up with!  Beijing perhaps??

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