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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 7

In light of this very rough week, I've done one thing that provides relief from the "real" world.  At least for a bit.  I've read.  Mindless dribble at times but that is what I've needed this week.  A good easy read, that didn't require a lot of thinking and that had a happy ending.  I also finished The Book Whisperer.  An easy read because it's so inspiring.

The one thing that stuck out to me in this chapter was this line "I have been told many times, both to my face and through comments on my blog, that I am not preparing my students for the "real world" by letting them read whatever they want" p166.  This rang so true to me.  We (my EA's and I) have throughout the years not been supported (at times) in our radical views on reading instruction.  Does a child need to know the whole alphabet in order to learn how to read?  If a child is not "getting" certain letters do you drill, drill, drill until they do?  I have had older children come to me being unable to read even level one books (and hating it) and having not mastered the alphabet yet (I'm talking grade 3 or 4).  Each year on their IEP is "knows 15 letters working on the rest",  then the following year "knows 17 letters working on the rest" etc. you get the picture. They would be in high school before they knew the whole alphabet.  Do we start teaching them how to read then?  In the 8 weeks of reading instruction in my class these children often jump to level 4 or above and are actually asking to choose books and to read to me.  Unfortunately I only have these students for a short time  after surgery but they return to their home schools. I know the endless drills are not working.  Does that mean that I don't work on the alphabet or phonics? No, but I work on them in the context of activities and books and real time practice.   We read, read, and read more of the sight words we have practiced in real books.
Each of my students have the opportunity to choose a book they want to read and then read it to me everyday (they then take it home and read it to parents).  This takes up a huge amount of my time and I've often wondered if I should stop and just have the children take the book home or maybe even pick the book for them and send it home to save on time.  I now realize that I can't do that.  That the time they spend reading in my class has an impact on their reading levels and their motivation.   I know that the children argue about who comes to read to me first.  I hope this means I'm doing something right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

TPT Item of the month

School Box Treasures has a perment Linky Party in which TpT sellers post one featured item. It may be a sale item, newly added item, or a seasonal item.  If you are a TpT seller head over to add your link.  If you are not a seller, head over to find some great items.

Truth Me George!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New life

This was the post I was going to make the other day.  I had taken these pictures the day my friend died and I had planned to post them the day I found out about her death.  So instead I'm dedicating these pictures to her.  I know they would have brought her great joy.  Her love of all animals was evident in her houseful of pets and her frequent trips to the humane society.  She loved to garden and her favourite colour was green.

Over the past week I had been watching a pair of sparrows who decided to make a nest in the little cedar tree in front of my deck.  Everyday I would peek in on them and I watched as the eggs hatched into tiny birds.  I would sit on my deck and listen to the tiny birds cheep as their parents brought them food.  On Thursday I heard a cheeping that just wouldn't stop from a different tree.  On looking closer I realized that one of the baby birds had left the nest and was perched on a limb of this tree unsure of what to do next.  After several visits from mom he left the tree and flew over to the grass.  With a last chirp and a little pose for my camera, he flew away to start his own life.

As I think about my friend, I will always be reminded about the little sparrow that left the nest and took flight that day to begin his new life just as she left her body and took flight to be with the Lord and begin her new life. 

Namaste, my dear friend you will be missed very much.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I survived linky party

Karla over at Life in Special Education is having an "I survived" linky party. 

I thought I would share two stories from when I used to supply teach many moons ago (about 20).  Hopefully they will bring a smile to someones face, or a least get you to take sympathy on the supply teachers in your building.

1.  It was a Friday afternoon in a portable, I think about grade 5.  It was 2 minutes until the bell rang and the children were getting ready to go home.   I had the supply teacher handbook and portable key (which I took out of my pocket) and put them in a pile on the desk as I needed to return them to the office when the children were gone.  I went to the door of the portable to say goodbye to the children as they filed out of the door.  When the last child had gone I returned to the desk to grab all my things to discover that the key was gone.  That was fun to explain to the office on a Friday afternoon.  Honest, the kids took it.

2.  I once had an assignment in a French school (I don't speak French) which was apparently fine because they were going on a class trip to the skating rink.   Not fun trying to keep track of children you don't know in a public place.   I had no idea which kids were mine or not and didn't understand a thing they said.

but I survived..........I'm so glad I don't supply any more.

Do you have a good story?  Head over to Life in Special Education to link up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

S'mores in action

Junior over at Adaptions 4 Kidz tried out my s'more interactive easy reader.  Head over to his amazing blog to check out the book and to check out all the other fun camping activities that he is going to do. 

Three New Interactive Books

I have added three more interactive books to my Teacher Pay Teacher store just in time for the big Christmas in July sale tomorrow.

Each book is a set of three easy readers. Each set contain the same story but two of them are interactive. The first one is a regular book with easy repetitive text.  The second one involves putting the correct sentence to the picture.  The sentences can be cut up into individual words to make the activity harder. The third book is a fill in the blank activity. Children need to read the sentence and fill in the blank with the correct word by checking the picture. The books come packaged together and ready for you to print out, laminate and bind together.  These books also come with vocabulary flash cards.

 Under the Sea
 The Weather

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Book Whisperer Chapter 4

I am so honoured to be one of the bloggers hosting Chapter 4.   Are you still reading along?

Chapter 4 is all about Reading Freedom.  How do you choose a book to read?  Do you look at the front cover? Do you read the summary?  Do you look for the same author?  Maybe someone recommended a book?

What about all those reasons that we don't admit:  Do you choose a book because it's short?  the print is big? it's "fluffy", "silly" or contains for adults only materials?

Children should have the option to use whatever method they want to choose a book.  The important thing is that they are reading.  Right?

I really like the list that Donalyn Miller references in her book about the Rights of the Reader.   You can access the poster by clicking on the title.  I think my favourite is "the right to skip pages".   I'm not always into pages and pages of descriptions of scenery.  Who cares, just get to the story.  Those are the pages I tend to skip (ok, I admitted it.  Probably why I never did well in English but was more than likely the person that read the most books).

Here are the books that I got out of the library last week and the reasons I choose them.

The top 4 books are all by Margaret Peterson Haddix, an author that I love.   I hadn't read any of these titles yet so I scooped them up.  They are meant for a younger age group than the previous novels that I have read of her and are realistic fiction.  I loved them all and read 3 of them in one evening.  A lot of times I love books that are 1. easy to read 2. don't take a lot of brain power (this IS summer) 3. are fairly short (with 2 young children and a fully schedule, I don't have hours to devote to a book)

The bottom book, "Neptune's Children" by Boonie Dobkin was one that I just grabbed off the shelf and really liked the description.  Here's the description in the front of the book "A dream vacation at the Isles of Wonder theme park becomes a nightmare when biological terrorism causes the death of every adult on the Islands.  Younger teens and children survive, only to face the resulting horror and the chaos of a world without authority.  The figure of King Neptune, symbol of the Islands, unites them as they begin to build a society within the park, safe from outside dangers.  Led by a group called the Core, made up mostly of former park workers' children, the survivors slowly organize their world.  But when mysterious events bring danger, some of the Islanders begin to wonder if their home is as safe as they think and if their leaders can really be trusted.  As suspicions grow and rivalries intensify, the stage is set for a war that will determine the future of everyone on the Islands."  This book is taking me a little to read.  Mainly because darn housework keeps getting in the way.  But it is a really good book.  Makes you think about would truely happen if the children had to run the world.

How do you choose books to read?
Have you read any good books lately?
What would you recommend?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who wants S'More?

I just finished a few S'More activities for summer. 
The first is a set of Dolch Sight Word Games just like my Little Sheep Games and Little Deer Games

 Children must say the word on the marshmallow to be able to look under it to see if the chocolate is hidden underneath.  You can find the games here.

S'more Sight Word game pre-primer list
S'more Sight Word game primer list
S'more Sight Word game grade one list
S'more Sight Word game grade two list
S'more Sight Word game grade three list

Each game is only $1 so that so you mix and match which lists suit your needs.

The next activity is another interactive book like the other ones I have on summer, Easter and Little Pigs.
This book involves the steps in making a s'more.  The first book has easy text.  The second book involves putting the pictures on the right page and the third book involves putting the correct word in the sentence.
It can be found here on my TpT site.

Here is freebie for you.  A marshmallow sorting mat.  Use the giant, regular and mini marshmallows.

Marshmallow Sort

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Perfect House for a Teacher

What would be the perfect house for a teacher?  An old school house of course.

A couple of people asked about my house so I thought I would post a before and after picture.

Called Archer's School House (SS#1),  it was built in the 1800's.

This one room school house closed as a school in 1950 and was bought by a local family for $500.  They renovated the inside and in 1990 sold it.  It had one more owner before we bought it in 2006.  This is what it looks like today.  We added a covered porch last year and the deck this year.   I would love to find the bell and restore it on top of the house.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pet math station activities

My Pet Math Unit is ready.  This is first unit that I am going to do with my kids in September.  I'm still working on the literacy unit.
It includes eight activities.

A sorting activity.  Children can sort by colour and size.  Math talk cards are included.

 Adding and Subtracting story mats.   Use real manipulates or the pictures provided to act out adding and subrtacting stories.  Includes a response sheet.

Printing practice for numbers 1 to 10.

 5 and 10 frames.  Children use the 5 and 10 frames to help them count the number of fish in the tank.  They then put the right answer in the box. 
 Ordering numbers from 1 to 10

 Patterning.  Includes sample strips for children who need a model or are working on extending a pattern.  Includes math talk cards.
 Counting.  Children put the correct number of fish into the tank.
 Comparing.  Children give the second cat more, less or the same number of toys as the first cat.  Includes math talk cards.

My Pet math unit is available from my TpT store.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The top 10 things to know about me.

Mrs Owens is having a linky party.  The top 10 things to know about me.  Here is my list.
1.  I live in a old one room school house (It's not one room anymore).  Maybe one day I'll do a post about it and post a before and after picture.  It was built it the 1800's.
2. I'm a hockey mum.  Both my boys are goalies.  I love watching them play.
3. I like to cook.
4. I hate coffee and tea.   I can't even stand the smell of coffee.
5. I'm addicted to diet caffeine free Pepsi and love chocolate.
6.  I'm crafty.  I used to paint and cross stitch.  I knit. And now I blog.
7. I love to read.
8. I've been teaching at the same school since I graduated.  It will be 20 years this year.
9. My husband races a drag racing car and we are going to be racing it at the end of the month.
10.  I love playing board games like Scrabble.
If you want to join in on the linky party, head on over to .....