“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Summer Project from Pinterest #2

Recently I saw some cute bubble gum containers used as eraser dispensers on Pinterest but I thought to myself...yeah right that won't work.  Well yesterday I was I EFADS (Everything for a Dollar or More) picking up something else, and I saw a little plastic bubble gum machine for $1.25.  I also saw a package of the colourful end of the pencil erasers for $2.  I thought "what the heck?" and bought them.  Brought them home and put the erasers in the bubble gum dispenser and low and behold...it does work!  It's not perfect, you sometimes have to shake the dispenser (and of course the lid came flying off and the erasers flew everywhere....the dogs and my hubby wondered what was going on) to get the erasers to come out, but for $3.25 I am stoked.  It will look really cute with my other new finds (my NO  NAME sign, my teacher organizer) and whatever I decide to do with the really cute mini blackboards I bought yesterday.  I couldn't resist!

Here is the finished product on display in my classroom at the end of August:

In case you didn't notice...

I am obsessed with Pinterest.  I seem to be filling my hours this summer finding new "projects" to do.  P.S. I am almost finished the teacher organizer!  I just added my "Teaching Pin Addict" to my blog.  I love TBA because it introduces me to new people, ideas and projects each and everyday!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

My Summer Project #1

Well, I cannot say I am getting bored yet...but I have spent way too much time on Pinterest.  I keep seeing these neat organizers the teachers have made to hold all the little things you find in your desk (e.g. clips, rings, erasers etc.).  I thought to myself "I would LIKE one of those".  I could not find one to purchase at Lowe's or Home Depot (as some teachers mentioned online) BUT I did find one at a local Walmart.  It looks like this, except mine has 38 drawers.  I don't want to post a pic of my finished project until it is actually FINISHED. 

Some Pinners suggested painting their organizer with spray paint to make it look better.   Well let me tell you, I tried a little "painting project" the other night myself.  I was inspired again by Pinterest to make a plaque that you glue clothes pegs to and then write/stencil "NO NAME" on it. You then hang it on the classroom wall to "display" student work handed in with no name.  (Usually I just put it in the "blue filing cabinet" after posting it on the blackboard for half a day).  I was NOT happy with my painting skills so I am NOT going to ruin my organizer by trying to paint it.  If you try it, let me know how it works out.

None of the labels for organizers I could download fit into the drawers of my organizer so I decided to create my own.  They are super simple in design.  I have posted them as a .doc file on my TPT site for FREE if anyone feels like using them. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Organizer-Labels-Small. I only posted the small labels as I have not decided what will go in the large drawers in the bottom yet.  I will have to wait until I am back at school to figure that out.

After making the labels, I affixed them using bright coloured POST-IT page markers (in the pink, orange, purple package) and SCOTCH restickable tabs for mounting.  I got both of these from the local Dollarama for $1.50 a package.  I am glad I decided to use these because now I can switch the labels on the drawers easily just by switching the colour of the post-its in the background.  Note to those who are a little OCD like moi.  Put all the labels in alphabetical order, then decide your colour pattern, then put them in the drawers!
Here is the finished project in my classroom.  I still have lots of extra drawers.  I am sure I will fill them with something!

Not sure what the next project will be but I am sure I will be inspired by something on Pinterest.  Today I found the cutest little blackboards surrounded by a wooden frame with a picture hanger at the back.  They were only $1.25 each at EFADS (Everything for a Dollar or More Store).  I so want to paint them Tiffany blue....

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Student Treasures really are treasures!

This spring our school received a fax advertising Student Treasures publishing.  I scanned the text and thought to myself "I could do this for our kindergarten reading buddies!".  My grade 6 gifted class had been working with the kindergarten classes in our school all year.  The students had excellent rapport and were such a joy to watch reading together.  I had done some basic student publishing in my classroom in previous years and had paid out my own pocket to have the student books published...to the tune of almost $600.00.  Let's just say I could NOT afford to do that again!  My students publish a yearly poetry anthology with a company called Twiceachild in Toronto and they do an awesome job, for a reasonable price.($10.00 Cdn. per book) but I also knew I could not ask my students to pay TWICE this year for student publishing. 
I did some on line research into Studentreasures but could not find much about it's use in Canada.  I showed the fax to my principal and she was sceptical (as was I) that the program could be FREE.  I emailed the customer service department, and I asked for the two free books they will send out to any school who requests them.  The customer service department assured me that there was NO charge in having these beautiful hardcover books made for our students.  I received the two hard cover samples and was really impressed so I talked to the kindergarten teachers.  I asked them how they would feel about making a CLASS book for each kindergarten class.  They agreed to participate as long as I took the lead.  I also spoke to my grade 6 class about making an INDIVIDUAL book for each "reading buddy", even though some of students had more than 1 reading buddy.  I had 22 students this year and our kindergarten grew to over 40 after the school year started.  The students were all enthusiastic!
Samples of the kits they sent to the school.

I placed an order with Studentreasures for two classroom books and for over 40 individual books.  We waited awhile for the kits to come, and in the meantime, I had the students in my class talk to and research what their reading buddies liked in a book.  Each student in my class paid attention to the likes and dislikes of the kindergarten students, and started to create some ideas for individual books.

When the kits arrived, we broke our time into two distinct foci's.  One was on working WITH the kindergarten students to have them write and publish their own CLASS book.  Each of my students worked with their reading buddy (ies) and helped them to write a response to the prompt: In Kindergarten....
Each kindergarten student authored their own page and illustrated it too using Crayola markers.  The grade 6 students were there to support and assist their buddies at each step in the process.  Two students in my classroom created the fantastic covers for the books (Thank you Sophia and Doris...you are both amazing artists) and I assembled all the pages for each book into the kit envelopes.

The next job was to write the stories for each of the kindergarten buddies.  My students worked super hard on completing high quality stories in a really, really short amount of time.  As it took some time to receive the kits from the U.S., the students only had a week to complete the project.  Some students were writing the same book for more than one buddy, others were writing different books for more than one buddy!  I was amazed at how hard my students worked.  Looking back now, I wish I had told them more vocally how proud I was of their dedication!    The students completed the books which averaged 7 pages of text (typed) and 7 pages of detailed, colourful pictures.  They also completed a dedication page and an inner liner page.  All the students worked together to meet the crazy deadline had given them.  I had to have the kits returned via UPS by June 4th in order for the books to be published and returned to our school on time to give them as gifts the last week of June.
I feverishly packed all the kits into the return box and sent them off via UPS on the designated day (well actually a day late....I really did try!) 

We waited for weeks for our books to be returned and we almost didn't make it!  There was some sort of mix up at customs and the packages spent over a week being rerouted via UPS all across the States and Canada.  We finally received the shipment and let me tell you I was thrilled, the students in my class were thrilled, the kindergarten teachers were thrilled, and best of all the kindergarten students were overwhelmed!  Not only did they get a classbook published with their own work in it, but they each got a hard cover book to KEEP and enjoy reading over and over.  My students took pride in presenting the books to their buddies, and they each read their story aloud to the kindies.  Then Doris and Sophia read the class books to each class respectively.  I was so thrilled, I still get goosebumps thinking about it.  What a special moment! 
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Not our books, but they do look like this. 

Below you can see some pictures of my students sharing their "treasures" with their kindergarten reading buddies.

Here is one of my students sharing his published book with his reading buddy!
Each student in my class wrote an individualized book for their reading buddy.

They all loved sharing their special books with each other!

Some of my students had several reading buddies and wrote a book for each of them!

My students were really proud of the work they produced and the reading buddies loved having a book "just for me"!