Sunday, 29 March 2015

On holiday

Oh joy! Rapture! Bliss! Two whole weeks off! I may even do a blog post :)

We had an awesome last week of school with fun, fun, fun activities so as soon as I stop procrastinating and get the photos off the camera and onto the computer I will share the excitement.

Hey, I may even do two blog posts this holiday!! Go me!!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Mystery Writing

This was actually a Halloween activity but I was scrolling through all my photos just now and came across the pictures of this writing idea - and remembered how much fun it was.
Since I'm on half term break right now - and therefore in planning mode - I thought I'd plan another one of these fun exercises.

This year I'm teaching Language to Year 6 - different age group, different concepts but the same drill work it seems. Capitalization, punctuation, vocabulary, connectives, interesting openers...

Sometimes it's hard to make writing fun when there are so many rules.

Our Mystery Writing activity made things fun again.

Rule number 1:

Students had to work with a partner. Instant smiles - it took the pressure off for those who aren't such strong writers and provided the oral storytellers with a scribe.

I provided a story starter for each pair of writers - that I had glued onto their page in advance. We'd been working on settings so I made sure to write very descriptive setting openers :)

Rule number 2:

Students chose a mystery word and a mystery question out of the hat and glued them onto their sheet. (All words/phrases and questions written by me in advance and totally random. :) )

Some examples were:  "purple, furry spider" and "Who ate the blueberries?"

Rule number 3:

Somewhere in the story students had to include the mystery object (in its exact words) and the story had to ANSWER the mystery question. At the end, when they read the story to the class, everyone was supposed to be able to identify the mystery object and guess the mystery question.

Rule number 4:

The story had to be finished by the end of the lesson.


Instant engagement, hysterical giggles, heads together, frantic writing, more gales of laughter...

... and at the end of the lesson hands shooting up to be the first to read their stories!

We all loved it - and there was some fantastic writing!

I'm definitely going to do this again - or a variation of it. Perhaps partner/group writing of some sort. I've already got some ideas :)

The Teacher Studio has a Loved that Lesson link-up with lots of great ideas for lessons. Check it out.

Here's the link for  Loved that Lesson: February :)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Time flies

I cannot believe it has been so long since I last posted anything! In my defense there's been a lot going on in my life - and starting the new year group was somewhat challenging.

But... I love Year 6 (grade 5)!! What a great age! They're able to do so much more, can work independently, are able to have fantastic discussions... Yep, I love it!

At some point I'll gather myself together enough to post about some things we did this term but at the moment I am back in Boston in full care-giver mode - with little virtual forays into my classroom by sending letters to the substitute to post on the whiteboard and checking the class blog every day. I have a couple of students who have started "books" on the blog and it's quite fun reviewing their prologues, advertisements and first chapters.

This week I am emailing my daughter letters from Saint Nicholas - and instructing her to buy the traditional chocolate santa treats - to take into my classroom sneakily on Thursday evening and put on all the desks.

What DID we all do before the internet? I love being able to email the substitute teacher, see the videos of the Mars rovers my kiddies made and raced, get photos of the book reports that they're doing so I can check to make sure they're on the right path... The only thing we haven't done yet is arrange a face-to-face call :) Maybe that should be the next project :)

I find that being away from my home, my class, my family has made me a lot more chatty with emails and blogging - much more stream of consciousness, for which I make no apology. It's cathartic!

Just so this isn't a "text only" post here are a couple of photos from our home away from home :)
I do love the autumn colors - almost all gone now but I'm glad I managed to see a little bit of the fall display.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Getting ready for school?

This duck has absolutely nothing to do with the post.
I just like the photo - it's soothing. 

In September I move from Year 4 (grade 3) to Year 6 (grade 5) and will be teaching Project work and Language only. I love the new project work curriculum - the International Primary Curriculum - and have started looking at our first unit.

It's fabulous - very student driven, lots of research and exploration and open to many different recording and assessment types. And turning my classroom into a Space Academy for a Mission to Mars will be tremendous fun! Making Mars rovers, designing habitats, growing "crops" for Mars - all of these things will be wonderful...

... but right now, trying to make the time to do the preparation is slightly challenging.

I did finally put everything on a flash drive and locate a place that could print all the papers - I plan a lot better with paper copies spread around me :) (Having to scroll up and down a pdf is not so good.)

But I kind of miss my home, my desk, my own surroundings - and I miss being able to pop in and out of school during the summer. And I miss having a dog at my feet.

But on the other hand the positives are: computers go anywhere and I have the summer to spend with my husband! And I may even find the Lego kits I need over here - more chance of that than at home for sure :) And Boston is a lovely place :)

Ready for school? Not quite - but that's okay :)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

For the birds :)

I am currently in the middle of a wildlife photographic competition with my sister and aunt - all spawning from my sister's recent trip to Puerto Rico and my current stay in Boston. My aunt in Scotland has joined in :) Have to love the technology that allows this type of fun on face book!!

It's been a little hard to compete with the tarpons and iguanas of Puerto Rico, not to mention the pretty awesome jelly fish that washed up on the western shore of Scotland so my last entry was literally for the birds :)

Ducks and starlings - could it get more exotic? :) I need to find more urban wildlife out here!!

Here are some of our "entries" - just for fun!

Starlings in the bath

I love the reflections on this :)

Cute rodent

Nesting swans - sadly infertile so no cygnets :(

Fabulous Scottish jellyfish

Would love to see one of these one day in the flesh!!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

It's been a long time...

... since I've blogged. In fact I'm not sure I even remember how :)

Life changed quite considerably for our family in May this year when my husband was, out of the blue and with no symptoms other than a few weird bruises, diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia. We got air ambulanced to Boston and he became an inmate of Brigham and Women's hospital for three and a half weeks where he lived in a "pod" with a whole crew of amazingly fabulous nurses and doctors looking after him.
He has been considerably blessed in that he has responded well to treatment and does not, at this time, need a stem cell transplant. Instead we have embarked on a 2-year long treatment plan that involves multiple rounds of chemo and some radiation therapy as an outpatient at Dana Farber. He'll be in Boston probably until the end of September before being allowed home for a few weeks and then will return for another 6 weeks of treatment before starting an 18-month long maintenance program.
I had 6 weeks off school to be with him through all the changes - and the roller coaster ride that is leukemia - and now, am spending the summer holidays in Boston as we enter phase 2. It is such a blessing having school holidays!!
My class were tremendous while I was away and we used our class blog to stay in touch. The girls wrote me the nicest letters (sadly many were totally unpunctuated!) and kept me up to date on all the projects. I also wrote my reports in Boston, surrounded by all their assessment papers, which my sister brought up when she came to visit. Thankfully I had done most of their "big test" review before I left and they all did me proud!! Great exam marks this year, which was a relief :) I love that blog!!! It was such a great way to talk to my kiddies!!
I trotted home for the last week of school when my son arrived to look after his dad - met my new class, said goodbye to the current class and cleaned my classroom from top to bottom for the new teacher who will take over my grade 3 class in September. I'm moving to Grade 5. This seemed like a really good idea in January but...  I'm sure it will be fine - I'm going to spend the summer preparing stuff while my hubby naps :)
So... it's a whole new world now. Priorities change when this sort of thing happens - and the old adage "one day at a time" is very, very true!! We've already made it through a massive E. coli infection with the attendant 30 pounds of fluid gain and loss, 20 pounds of muscle loss, hair loss and a truly spectacular allergic reaction to a chemo drug - I'm sure there are many more such adventures coming our way. It won't be an easy ride all the way but we are very secure in our faith, know that God has this - and us - and it will work out according to His will.
We've had tremendous support from family and friends and church and our jobs and we've had a lot of very grateful, tearful moments as a result. I've written a zillion emails - and have discovered that writing is extremely therapeutic :) So this blog may wander off topic sometimes - be warned :)
Actually, I may just use it as a personal journal because I'm not at all sure that many people read what I write :) It's kind of fun to have an empty space in front of me... and kind of nice to be back in the blogosphere :)
I can't seem to find any decent photos of us but here's a quick glimpse of our family - the men are in Boston and the girls are at home :) Gotta love technology - and the silly hats the men are wearing!!!