Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The ABC's of Art

Using art in the classroom will surprise and excite you in what your students are able to accomplish and surprise you in how creative and original they can be.
I have had probably my most artistic class in my second year in Grade Four and I'm very impressed that my grade room teaching career will end (at this point) with this very artistic and creative class.
The biggest thing that has helped me plan lessons for examples of the principles and elements was the website called the ABC's of Art from (
Check out their different posters that really helped my students to understand what we asked of them.


Monday, April 28, 2014

When Art, Technology, & Classrooms Come Together

This year our class has been very fortunate to have participated in many different activities that have spanned many different facets outside the classroom.

Our latest endeavour is being part of Jennifer Wagner's (@jenwagner) Picture It! 2014.  This is the second project by Jen that our class has taken part off (we earlier stacked Oreo Cookies as part of the O.R.E.O. Project 2014) and it is a very interesting project.

It works as each class involved is separated into groups, with 24 classrooms involved in a group.  A picture is decided upon - this year's picture is Van Gogh's Starry Night.  Each classroom needs to colour a section of that picture and mail it to the other 23 schools participating.

Our classroom has been busy colouring section three of our group's rendition of Starry Night and the kids have used alot of their creativity.

In addition to colouring, each school sends along an All About Us brochure telling the schools involved about their class, including how many students, what they learn, and interesting things about the school, and most importantly where they are from.

My kids have been very interested in where each of these schools are and what they do.  Each time we get a picture (to this point we have received four), we post it up on our board and paste the parts together.  Each time we get a piece of the picture, the kids want to know who coloured it and if they are Grade Four or not.

They are even so amazed if it's coloured by a Grade Six (to which point they go, I can colour better than a Grade Six, ahaha!)

This project not only shows the impact of art, but also of technology and classroom integration.  It incoroporates colour, line, shape, and texture in art and also the idea that the world is much bigger than just our classrooms.

My students have been amazed by it and are really waiting in anticipation for the school in our group from New Zealand to send their picture! (especially since there are only three schools in our group not from the United States - including us).

A big thank you to Jen for her hard work organizing such an enormous undertaking and making it fun!  Make sure to visit her website, to find out more about her yearly projects!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The More Things Change, The More Things Shouldn't Stay the Same

Is it April already?!

Two and a half or so months left with our munchkins!

Spring Break was very well placed this year, but it gave me a refreshed outlook on my teaching.

This year, my second year of teaching, has really shown me how much preparation, planning, and then how to put into effect our lessons with proper supports in-class needs to go into our days.  We NEED to make sure things change, not stay stale, push the envelope and make our lessons more engaging and activating for our students.

Some teachers you can see have hit a wall and no amount of summer vacation, Spring Break, or Christmas vacation can refresh their outlook on how and what they teach.

It's sad because the kids are the ones who will suffer.

So the more things change, the more things shouldn't stay the same.

Meaning, our kids will file past our classroom door and then leave for the next year, but we want to make sure that each one learned something valuable.

I am a big believer in memorization and repitition in engraining information for my students.  That's why I continually have our Multiplication Table up on the wall.  It helps the kids to find the answers and eventually I have seen students not use it to solve questions. 

More practice/repetition/memorization = better retention (not all the time though).

We need to make sure we are fresh, engaging, and fun.

Because that's what teaching is all about.

And believe me, kids remember the teachers who make lessons engaging and FUN (I know I do)!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Who Listens in Class Anyways?

Yesterday, I did a small exercise with my class having to do with listening and reading instructions.

My kids are notorious for not putting their name or date on papers, even though there's a sign in front of the in-bin asking if they have.

My kids are also notorious for coming to me stating they don't understand a question without reading it at least once, luckily they may have even read it once!  I always stress they should read a question at least two-three times before they ask for help!

So, here's a template of the first Pop Quiz I gave them yesterday.
Now, the fact that my kids enjoyed this pop quiz so much obviously was attributed to the fact that alot of the instructions on this pop quiz were silly or goofy (you need to have fun learning) shows me that they may not have gotten the real reason of the quiz.
I had to sit down with them afterwards before the final bell rang to discuss with them the meaning of the quiz. 
It was not for them to have extra time to fool around and read - it was to test HOW WELL THEY LISTEN and READ INSTRUCTIONS.
A pre-cursor to this quiz above was that when the come to #5 the third time, they skip it.  I gave them oral instructions beforehand explaining this, even writing it on the board.
Some of my kids asked me what the consquences were, I put their name on the board.  Some looked at me as I wandered around the classroom, I also put their names on the board.  Some laughed, their names went on the board.  At the end of the day, those who continually asked what the serious consequences were were not listening to instruction and I wasn't surprised by who those students were.
I gave each of those kids who kept asking a strike for everytime they asked, so they stopped asking very quickly.
I will definitely do this again, but keeping in mind I am doing it because there are those kids in my classroom who do not read or follow instructions consistently.  I knew right away who the ones were that could follow instructions and they did every single one perfectly.
Try this in your class, see what you might find!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Learning Persevering & Discipline in Grade Four

It is once again report card season and while I started earlier than most of my colleagues (and finished in time to use our "Report Card Writing PD Day" to plan and prep lessons), it is still a very busy time in the year with under four months to go until summer holidays.

The biggest project we have on the go right now is on a famous Canadian who has shown the characteristics of Perseverance and Discipline.

Each of my students drew a name out of a hat and we discussed each of their famous Canadians.  I gave them some background on their Canadian so they went into researching their person knowing what to expect.

There was a long range: Terry Fox, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard, Rick Hansen, Alexander Graham Bell, Chris Hadfield, Roberta Bondar, Dr. Frederick Banting, Shania Twain, Timothy Eaton, Wayne Gretzky, and Dr. David Suzuki to name a few.

Of course, everyone's first thought when I introduced this research project was Terry Fox and rightly so.  We already ran the annual Terry Fox Run back in September and watch the ESPN documentary "Into the Wind" as I do every year with my kids.  I know I always get extremely emotional watching it every year so I'm hoping the kids really take to heart how important it is to have perseverance and discipline to get somewhere in life.

Some of their Canadians they have to research maybe had things come a little easier than others, but the entire project is focused on how if you work hard and are determined, you can do great things.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Texture Landscapes: Using Texture, Lines, Colous, & Shapes

I was absolutley floored at how creative my kids can be, even six months into the school year!

Even our principal came by and remarked on how well some of my students did on their artwork.  Learning about the Elements and Principles of Design this year has been a much smoother process, in which I have included Powerpoint presentations to show the kids what they can possibly make and give them that little extra inspiration if they have none.

For the Texture Landscapes, you need:
- cardstock
- black construction paper (for background)
- glue
- black fine tip felt pen or fine tipped Sharpie
- pencils
- pencil crayons, crayons, or markers
- creativity

Step 1: Sketch out your landscape, including mountains, sky, sun or moon, clouds, river or lake, hills, tree, grass, and dirt with pencil.

Step 2: Trace over your pencil drawing with a fine tip black felt pen or fine tipped Sharpie.

Step 3: Pick a different colour for every part of your artwork.  Every part must also include different shapes and lines to define how they look - whether rough, smooth, jagged, or soft.  Show texture through your shapes and lines.

Step 4: Make sure there is no white space if you can help it.  Fill your space (another element of design) up a completely as you can.



Step 7: Display your artwork for all to see!

Teaching How to be Good Citizens in Today's Society

I find it very hard to understand how people do not know how to be good citizens - whether it be taking care of themselves, others, or the world around them.

I have posters that I post on the wall above my classroom door that display the different character traits I want my students to exude every single day - no matter if they are in the classroom, in park during recess, at home, on the way home, in gym - EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS!

Citizenship wraps all the different traits into one: Respect, Responsibility, Trustworthiness, Compassion, Diligence, Justice, and Perseverence - these are the main traits that I see our future world leaders needing more of than we see now.

These Citizenship collages are a bit sparse, but it wasn't the outcome of these collages that I was carign for, it was the co-operation that took place between the groups and the emphasis that they had to work together with specific jobs and roles if they wanted to complete a good, clean final project.  As Grade Four has progressed this year, they have gained an understanding of what their roles need to be if they want success in a group and individually.

Some, obviously more than others.