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September 2, 2016

Where is Everyone? - Keeping Track of Students

I have a terrible memory and can never remember who asked (or how many) to go to the washroom.  I'm also very visual (and have poor distance vision!).  I needed a system to keep track of who has left the classroom at any point during the day. It had to be easy enough for students to use themselves (quickly), and big enough for me to see from anywhere in the classroom. This is a system a colleague and friend of mine used when I was an educational assistant in her room. It is my favourite way to keep track of students.

Each student has a pocket on this poster. Their names are there but I hid them with the green "tape" to respect their privacy in this blog post. I have different coloured cards for Absent, Washroom-Boys, Washroom-Girls, Office, Library, and Other. When students leave the room, they insert the correct card in their pocket, and remove it when they get back. For washroom use, I only have one card for boys and one card for girls. Students don't need to ask permission to use it (as long as I'm not in the middle of a lesson) and that way I'm sure that there is only one gone at a time.  When a student is absent, another student (or myself) puts the Absent card in their pocket. It helps me when I take attendance, but also when the older kids come to deliver the milk before lunch and they don't need to interrupt me to ask who's away. 

A quick glance at the chart and I know where everyone is!

Now... on another note... my OCD self is SUPER annoyed at THIS!  This is going to bug me all year! 

How do you keep track of your students who leave the room?

August 8, 2016

The Water Pollution Experiment

I’m always thinking about school, even during the summer holidays.  This is when I work on my long range plans and try out new experiments for my science units.  My kids are usually happily involved with this.  Last week, we tried to “clean” polluted water.  I have seen this experiment on several blogs (gotta love pinterest!) and this is my own version of it.

Since I absolutely love The Magic School Bus, we watched the episode called Wet All Over together. It explains the water cycle and the treatment process very well. Before we do this experiment in class, I’ll also have my students do a bit of research on water treatment plants.  These are great websites to get them started.

I started off by sending the kids to pollute some water.  I live in the country and I could easily have found pond water nearby, but I wanted this to mimic what we would do in class.  Seeing as I’m still not really sure of the time of year I’ll be teaching the Habitats and Communities unit and doing this experiment (it could easily be in the dead of winter when pond water is frozen over!), this was the best way to do it.  The kids filled a jar with water and added vegetable oil (oil spills!), food colouring, dirt and rocks, carrot and cucumber peels, cracker crumbs, plastic wrappers, paper and even dog kibble.  We put the lid back on and let our water rest for a couple of days.

When we opened the jar, we weren’t ready for the smell. Gross! A great way to show the kids what happens to stagnant water in a heatwave!  We filtered our water by putting a coffee filter inside a funnel, then pouring the water through the funnel into a second jar.  That coffee filter caught a lot of “pollution”!

Our water already looked much better, but it was still pretty dirty.  I added about a tablespoon of alum in the water, stirred it and let it rest for a few hours.  The alum forms clumps with the smaller dirt and it falls to the bottom of the jar. We filtered it again and we were amazed at how clean the water was!

The last step was to add a bit of bleach to represent the chlorine.  It didn’t change the look of our water, but it changed the smell a little. This is where the kids really realized how difficult it is to clean polluted water, because our water was still blue from the food colouring!  In a real water treatment facility, there are more steps to cleaning the water before it is ready for us to drink.  I like the idea of putting food colouring in there because I have some students who will probably try to drink it if I turn my back.  We all have students like that, right?  The colour in the water is just another reminder that it’s not for drinking.

What a great way to learn about human impact on natural habitats.  This lesson is part of my my Habitats and Communities Unit on TPT. You will love this fun and engaging unit that 6 detailed lesson plans, learning goals in student friendly language, PowerPoint presentations with beautiful photos, interactive notebook pages for each lesson, a brochure and booklet filled with information and photos, and 3 assessment choices with rubrics (quiz, research project and report). As a bonus, there are also photos of suggested notebook presentations.

I can't wait to do this again with my students!  Have you ever done a similar experiment? I'd love to hear about it!

July 20, 2016

My Work Space

My work space is probably my favourite room in my house.  I have taken over our sunroom/dining room to put my desk and my favourite things there.  It is usually super cluttered with everyone else's stuff and I always have to spend a few minutes cleaning it and reorganizing it before I can get to work. It drives me crazy!

After attending the TPT conference, I feel super motivated and inspired, so I did a major clean up.  Here's the result!  I love it!

In my space, I have pictures of my kids, nephews and nieces up and just a few knick knacks that are important to me.  I love plants and a colleague gave me a beautiful spider plant at the end of the school year.  I'm usually TERRIBLE with plants.  It's amazing to me that I can keep my kids alive but not a plant!  I hope I can keep from killing this one! 

I also have two super comfy chairs in my favourite colour, even though I never sit in them.  But they're there just in case.  My diplomas are hanging up because...well...God knows how hard and how long I worked for them, may as well display them!

Aside from that, I have all the usual work tools (those are B.O.R.I.N.G.) but do you spy Erin Cobb's and Shelly Rees' AMAZING planners on my desk?!  I've already started using them and I tell you, they are going to be a HUGE lifesaver!

What are some special things that you have in your work space? And how do you keep it organized?

July 19, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference, 2016

For the last two years, I’ve been enviously reading about the Teachers Pay Teachers conference on other blogs and I’ve been dying to go.  For the past ten years, I’ve been promising my kids that I would take them to Disney World…someday.

When TPT changed the location of the conference from Vegas to Orlando, I knew that I absolutely had to go and make it a family trip. I registered for the July 13-14 conference and started saving money for the trip. I read all the descriptions (several time) to the different sessions and talked about them with other TpT friends to make sure I picked the right ones for me. One of my besties, who wasn’t able to sign up for the conference this year, kept asking me if I was excited, and even though I was, it didn’t feel real until we left for Orlando.  Tuesday night, when I went to bed, the nerves hit and I barely slept because I was so excited!
My lanyard!  Business cards ready to swap!
I didn’t sign up for any of the meetups before and after the conference because I brought my kids and husband to Orlando with me.  This was our first time at Disney World and Universal Studios and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them.  Come Wednesday morning though, they were ready for a quiet day at the hotel pool, so I was in luck and I didn’t miss much.

Wednesday morning, I met up with Erin, Christina, Patti, Monica, Tammy, Nicole, Sandra, Margie and Holly, all other Canadian TPTers that I know through our Facebook group.  Some I had already met before, and it was so much fun to see them again.  It was amazing to meet everyone else for the first time in real life and get to know them a little bit better. I had so much fun with everyone of them!  I have so many pictures that it was hard to pick just a few.  I'm a little sad that some of them are so blurry that I couldn't post them.  We might have to plan a meetup just so I can take more pictures!

Some highlights of my two days were meeting Adam and Amy.  I am blown away by how humble they are and by how much they want to hear from us, Canadian sellers.  They both spoke at the Keynote Wednesday morning and at the Breakfast Question and Answer Panel at breakfast on Thursday.  I “saw” Paul a couple of times, but I was way too shy to go up to him. He even walked between two friends and I while we were waiting in line for lunch and none of us said anything! We just watched him, totally star struck! 
Adam, giving his keynote speech
Amy, giving her keynote speech
Several members of Team TPT answering some of our questions during breakfast by the pool.

I am super happy with the sessions I picked to attend and am so grateful to the presenters for doing this.  I’ve learned so much from Hope King, Michelle Oakes, Rachelle Smith, Erin Cobb, Meg Anderson, Amie Bentley, Rachel Lynette, Angela Watson, Jen Bengel, Shelly Rees and Kristin Oldham!  I had the chance to take pictures with some of them and it was like meeting celebrities.  I know they don’t necessarily think of themselves that way, but to me, a small fish in the TPT pool, they are rock stars!

Another highlight of the conference was creating our TpTribe at the Rachel Lynette session. Check us out!  We’re 5/6 In The mix (we’re still trying to come up with a better name)!  I look forward to getting to know these ladies and learning from each one of them. I hope I can contribute something worthwhile because some of them are rock stars like I mentioned before!  I’m totally intimidated!

5/6 In The Mix- TpTribe at the Rachel Lynette session
I’ve come back completely exhausted but inspired, motivated and ready to get to work!  I hope I can make it to next year’s conference, and that my bestie can come with me this time!  

Were you at the conference this year?  What was your favourite Wow Moment?

April 20, 2016

Earth Day Photo Scavenger Hunt Freebie

After a long winter, signs of spring are becoming more and more evident. Pick a sunny day during the week prior to Earth Day and do a Photo Scavenger Hunt with your students! On Earth Day, students can create a slideshow with PowerPoint to present to other classes what they found in nature. Or you could print the pictures and create a photo display on a bulletin board. Turn it into an even bigger project and encourage students to find ways to protect the environment and present that along with their photos!

Students can take photographs with their own cameras, electronic devices or school/class cameras. If the technology isn’t available, simply have students draw their finds on the included worksheet! Remind students disturb as little as possible while on your nature hike. Bark should not be removed from trees and trash should be brought back to school to dispose of properly (it might be a good idea to bring gloves and garbage bags with you) Open your eyes to the world around us and listen for evidence of living creatures while having fun!

To grab this freebie, click on the picture below!