Tuesday 9 July 2019

Preparing for your new class: Handover Tips

The start of a new school year can be a daunting experience, particularly if you are new to a school, grade level or a new teacher.  Having time to talk to each students previous teacher can be really helpful for getting to know your new kids and their parents.

My current school provides time at the end of the school year for 'Class Handover' with the previous teacher. I record the information in a simple document that I refer back to during the year, an example of the information I collect is below.

I also update this information mid-year to make the transition process at the end of the year easier. As the end of the year is super busy I find updating the document a good way to be organised for the crazy end of year rush, which in Australia is December so Christmas + End of the School Year= Crazy.

If you would like a free editable version, click here to download.

If your school doesn't have designated time for this, here are a few tips for collecting the information:

Look through the previous reports for relevant information. 

Try to catch up with the previous teachers if your school doesn't have set time, this can cause extra stress but a casual chat over a coffee may be a solution. Asking your Principal to allow some extra time at the end of staff meetings in the last month of school may also be a way to collect this information.

Chat to your new students  either on your transition day or the first week of school. Ask questions like- what books do they like? what is their favourite & least favourite subject? 

Catch up with parents as early as possible. My school has parent teacher meetings within the first term of the new year. Meet the teacher nights may be another way to talk to parents. In the past I have also used Google Forms as a way to collect this information by setting up a computer during Information nights or Testing days.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Book Week 2017: Escape to Everywhere

We are loving the "Escape to Everywhere" theme for Book Week this year! It is a fantastic theme to discuss how books help us 'escape' and 'travel' to worlds we can only dream of.

This craftivity is super easy and fits the theme so well! We discussed books and movies where we time travel using objects or doors (Harry Potter, The Lion the witch & the Wardrobe, Dr Who). 

1. Students draw a land that they would love to escape to- we discussed different book characters or book symbols we could include.

2. Then decorate the door template (either double or single doors) to cover the land we will 'escape' to'.

3. Use 1 of the 4 writing templates to write about where we would "escape to everywhere".

This craftivity is a freebie on TpT. Download it here & enjoy :)

Thursday 15 June 2017

How to use Minuscule in the classroom & a freebie

Have you heard about Minuscule? It is a fantastic (and cute) animated tv show of short episodes about insects that is great to use in the classroom. All of episodes are available on YouTube, most running for between 2 and 5 minutes.

I was first introduced to these by our districts speech therapist and I have used them from grades Prep (or Foundation/Kinder) to Year 4 for reading and writing activities. These episodes are perfect for developing vocabulary and discussing what might be happening. They only have background music and sounds, no speaking.

How I use Minuscule in the classroom:
Using prior knowledge Before watching an episode I like to give my students the title or tell them the types of insects in the episode if it's not mentioned. We then brainstorm everything we already know about this insect, e.g. ants- they can carry 100 times their bodyweight, they are small, they work as a team, etc.

Before, During & After (Predicting & what happens next) 
Pause an episode in different parts and predict what might happen next. I love listening to my students exclaiming things while watching these episodes and trying to work out what is happening. Ants is great for this- what is that? are they sugar lumps? marshmallows? where are they going? wow ants can carry heavy stuff! :) so cute! My students find it helpful to record their thinking before, during and after reading. Find my freebie here.

Retell Students watch an episode (Ladybug is great for this) and then turn & talk with a partner to discuss the beginning, middle and end.

Vocabulary: Brainstorm Before watching an episode we brainstorm what might happen, based on the title. We write 10 key words that we think might fit with the story.

Vocabulary: Stretch a sentence After watching we use the colourful semantics cards to create the longest sentence (or 'most colourful' or 'most expensive' depending on what you call it) we possibly can to describe the story. We focus on including all parts of a good sentence- who, what doing, where, conjuctions, etc. For older grades, I use these cards to help us write a summary of the video. If you've never heard of colourful semantics there is a great explanation here.

Summarise When working on summarising I like to use these SWBST activities from Mrs Thomas' Teachable Moments to write a summary of the videos. It's a great way to introduce summarising. My students take turns telling a partner before writing using one the activities from this free pack.

Writing My grade 1 and 2 students loved writing "what happens next" stories after watching an episode.

Do you use this in any other ways? I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below.


Wednesday 26 October 2016

Easy Art Activity: Squiggle Line Drawings

Whenever I need a fast activity for a time filler, like when you all of a sudden have two grades for 20 minutes and or we bizarrely have finished all of our work before we need to my kids love Squiggle-Line pictures.

My mentor teacher showed me this activity in my first year of teaching and it has been a life saver every year. All you need to do is draw a continuous line on a page of plain paper (I prefer A3 paper as it takes the kids longer), overlapping until you eventually join the line back up. The aim is to create lots of different areas for the kids to colour in.

For little kids I make the rule that you cannot have the same colour 'touching' each other, for example, red in the bubble, blue, in the one next to it, etc. For older grades I have the same rule accept each 'section' must hold a different pattern as well as a different colour combination. 

Really easy but they also look super effective and great as a display.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Spooky Night Drawings

We created these fantastic 'Spooky Night' drawings today using soft pastels (aka chalk pastel). I gave the kiddos pretty much free reign as long as the drawing was a spooky night theme and I loved how creative they were! 

I showed them my example first (above), plus this one found on Pinterest and we discussed what other details we could include. Then we revisited how to use chalk pastel (the end like a pencil for sharp lines, the side for shading and adding large amounts of colour). 

We have created a few different types of these this year and it is amazing how far their skills have improved, particularly with using the whole page and adding lots of detail. So proud of my kiddos!


Friday 19 August 2016

Book Week 2016

Next week kicks off Book Week in Australia!  I always love sharing this week with my students, celebrating great Australian books and dressing-up like our favourite book characters.

I thought I would share a few activities and resources that I'm using next week. My first stop is always to the Children's Book Council site for this year's Shortlist. I usually focus on only the Early Childhood and Picture Book Categories in the classroom. 

I love going to the Zart Art Book Week PD and using the resource book they create each year to get ideas.  

Here are my favourite 3 books from this year's short list and 3 great  activities you might find useful. Click on the images for the original links & instructions.

Piranahas Don't Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabley
We love Aaron Blabley's books in my class and this one is hilarious! It is great for rhyming and there are also a heap of great crafts floating around.

Favourite Piranha activities:
1. Read the book or watch this YouTube video of the story being read by Two Teachers One Blog.

2. Make a Peg Piranha from Cleverpatch
Cleverpatch have a free template for this one & instructions here. You also needs wooden pegs, paint and glue.

3. Draw a 'Friendly Fish or Piranha' from Relief Teaching Ideas. All you need is an A4 or A3 piece of paper (depending on how big you want it. Too cute!

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson

This is another great book when teaching rhyme but is also fantastic for teaching about resilience, positive mindset and power of failure. And the illustrations by Laura Wood are gorgeous.

1. Read the book or watch this video of the author, Tony Wilson reading the story to his son (side note, watch this video it is beautiful).

2. 'Moon Jumping Cow' from Cleverpatch
This one is easy and only needs a paper plate, black and white cow template, foil, split pin and textas or blue paint. Click on the image for the instructions from Cleverpatch.

3. This is a great book to use for a STEM activity. Students could build their own machine or catapault to help the cow jump over the moon. I love this Cow Catapult activity from Science Sparks it only requires elastic bands, pop sticks and a milk top.

Finally my favourite book from this year's short list is Mr Huff by Anna WalkerThis book is perfect for teaching about managing emotions and feelings. Even though it is in the Early Childhood category I feel it has it's best potential used in grades 3-6 (and I even think with adults, I know I really relate to this one). 
I plan to use this with my whole class but also throughout the year for my high anxiety kiddos (it is also a great tool to describe depression). 

1. Watch Mr Huff being read on Play School. This is a great video with lots of the presenters from the past and present reading the book (Eddie Perfect reads in this... I could listen to that man read all day).

2. Discuss worries and how we can turn a bad day around. Look at Mr Huff and discuss how he becomes smaller as the boy does happy activities like going for a walk. Autism Teaching Strategies have some great worksheet for writing about emotions. Worksheet 6 (pictured) is the one I am planning to use with this book.

3. Make a Mr Huff (Zart Art activity). This was also my favourite activity from the Zart PD. It's really simple only needing some stocking, polyfill, joggle eyes and some pipe-cleanrers/chenille stems. Sorry I don't have instructions for this one but it is easy to work out.

Monday 1 August 2016

Olympics Art Activity

Olympics fever has hit my classroom this week! We have been on the countdown all term and the kiddos are very excited that Rio is not too far away.

We read about the Rio Olympic torch and then created this easy art activity (inspired by this post and idea from Art with Mr Giannetto).

I made the above as a sample but then realised I didn't have enough glitter glue so we created the version below using this template I whipped up (download it for free here).

The kiddos followed the following steps (you can get the pdf of the instructions here and the rings printable here):
If you haven't heard of or used Supertac it is kid friendly 'super' glue from Zart Art. It is a bit expensive at $20 a tub but it is worth the investment as it lasts for ages and really sticks.

Thanks for stopping by,

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