“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

Monday, 25 February 2013

Classroom Management Freebie!

 One year I had a student teacher who asked me for ideas for classroom management for her BF who was also a student teacher.  He had a more challenging class than mine, and wanted to know how to prevent all the students from charging the teacher desk when he was finished giving instructions.  I suggested the "green cup, red cup" idea.  I bought several packages of inexpensive green and red cups (enough for one per student) and taped a red cup to a green cup using duct tape. 

I put them all in a box, gave them to my student teacher and asked her to try them out first...before giving them to her BF.  When the student needed help they put the red side of the cup facing up and continued to work or wait quietly at their desk.  If they didn't  need assistance or did not have a question, they put the green side of the cup up.  This worked really well in with my gifted students, so the student teacher took them to give to her BF to use.  He was teaching a different demographic of students and a different grade level (one grade higher) but he reported back that the cups worked really well for him.  When he was finished his teaching block, he made his own cups and kindly returned my box to me.  I put them away on a shelf and left them there for several years.  

I pulled them out again this past year when I had a student teacher who was having difficulty managing the "student rush" when she was conferencing with students.  In the pinch it was nice to have them pre-made, and she started using them right away.  This technique worked for her too!  She was able to gain some space, some time and her sanity.  She was able to go around the room and meet with students while not disrupting the whole class.

I have used them successfully in a testing situation, but I usually just stick to the "silent time hand signals" I taught my class at the beginning of the year (pointer finger I need to talk, 2 fingers I need to leave my seat, 3 fingers I need assistance).

Click on the image above to read about how Dr.Jean uses cups in her classroom.

There was just something about using them that did not jive for ME.  I like the concept, I like the simplicity, but somehow I wanted something different.  I have seen where you can stack a red cup on a green cup and then just switch them out...you don't have to tape them.  I am sure this would be more sturdy.  You can even put a yellow cup in the middle.  I love the idea but... The other day I saw a picture on Pinterest (what else is new?) that I liked so much that I have pinned it more than once!  It was a picture of a trifold sign a teacher had made that said "I am working hard" "I need help" and "I am finished".  I thought this was a really great idea.  

Friday, 22 February 2013

I have been sooo sick I need a HALL PASS!

What should have been a glorious long weekend and a short work week has turned into one of the worst weeks of my life. I had a dinner out last week with my daughter, her friend and my hubby to celebrate my daughter's big 13!  She was really excited and chose to visit a Korean BBQ restaurant we had read about.  My daughter is obsessed with all things Asian and more specifically K-POP related, so we took her and her buddy for Korean meal.  

It all seemed to go wrong from the start.  We could NOT for the life of us find the restaurant.  We had looked it up on line but when we went to the address, the restaurant was NOT there.  There was another Korean BBQ restaurant, but not the one we had made RESERVATIONS for.  So the hubby went inside and asked directions.  They told us "one plaza North".  Just trying to go North from the plaza we were in was like trying to enter the Grand Prix from a standing start.  When we finally navigated the traffic, and made a sharp left into the next plaza (without being plowed into from behind), we drove around and NO restaurant.  My hubby got out of the car again and trudged around asking for directions.  This time they told us to go ONE plaza south.  We had just been there, but heh, the two kids in the backseat were getting a little nervous based on how agitated the driver (ME) was becoming.  We headed back to the same plaza and well of course the restaurant had NOT suddenly made an appearance in some corner we had missed.  So the hubby got out again (remember it is frigid, mid-winter, Scarberia here) and he asked at several local businesses.  

After quite a long wait, he returned to tell us that the restaurant we wanted was TWO plazas North.  Well, let's just leave out what the driver (ME again) was thinking and feeling by now.  We exited the circus parking lot again, dodged missiles driven by maniacs and made it to the aforementioned plaza.  Low and behold, there was the restaurant.  

Now almost a half hour late, we all piled out of the car and into the tiny, completely EMPTY restaurant.  That should have been my next warning signal.  An empty restaurant is never a good sign.  We persevered.  Don't want to disappoint the birthday girl.  We had already looked up the menu on line so we knew what we wanted to order.  

The plates of raw meat arrived (did I mention the RAW meat?) and were told to dip it in the "soup for meat".  Well this broth looked like something I had coughed up, not something I would dunk my food in, but what do I know?  The kids had fun cooking beef ribs, lamb, pork, squid, shrimp, and some other things on the BBQ.  There were some interesting side dishes.  Spicy bean sprouts, kimchi, pickles, pickled bean sprouts, and the such.  

I tried to eat the meat I cooked but found I just couldn't get it down.  I spit some of it out politely and put it in my napkin.  No one else seemed concerned, so I cooked a little more and tried some different types of meat.  I tried a piece of lamb, which I thought was good, and some pork which I thought was NOT good at all.  I thought to myself "should pork taste like THIS?".  That was enough for me.  The rest of the party finished the meal.  We paid (over $100) and left.  No one had room for the red velvet cake I had purchased although we all tried it.  

The rest of the evening passed uneventfully and I drove home my daughter's friend, came home, kissed my beautiful, wonderful, now thirteen year old daughter good night and headed off to bed.  I didn't stay there long.  I was feeling really nauseous very quickly.  I was feeling bad stomach pains and knew I was going to be sick to my stomach.  During the night I was sick at least 4 times and could not believe I was able to vomit that many times and that there would still be something to throw up!

I finally fell asleep around 4 a.m.  I awoke at 6:00 a.m. exhausted and thinking to myself "Why do I still feel "full" and have a stomach ache?"  I got up, showered, changed, made lunch for myself and my daughter, kissed the hubby goodbye and headed off for school.  I stopped at McDonald's for my favourite coffee (no we Canadians don't ALL love the "other drive thru" coffee...see I won't even write the name of the place, I hate it that much!)  When I made it to school, I gathered my things, got out of my car and promptly vomited in the school yard!  I was shocked and disgusted and a little scared because the vomit was pure black!  But, having been through this "coffee grounds" vomit scenario several times before and having had a complete stomach scope the previous year, I didn't worry too much.

I was unable to eat my muffin or drink my coffee, so I headed up to class and set up for the day.  I drank water all day, had very little to eat (it was our special Valentine luncheon but I couldn't eat anything but potatoes) and went back to class.  I made it through the rest of the day and went home to celebrate my 9th anniversary with my hubby!  I was such a bundle of fun...I curled up on the couch and went to sleep!  Poor J....I am lucky he LOVES me so much.

The rest of the weekend went by without much issue. I was feeling better and eating more normally.  I even made my special stuffed spinach shells for him on Sunday.  I was trying to make up for missing out on our anniversary.  The shells were delicious and I headed off to sleep feeling very satisfied with how the weekend was turning out.

4 a.m.  I awoke in a cloud of STENCH that in no way could have come from MY body!!!  Unfortunately, it was emanating from me!  I rushed to the bathroom and was overwhelmed by a bout of diarrhea like nothing I had ever experienced or imagined.  I wondered "Did the shells do this to me?" as I crawled back into bed and tried to get back to sleep.  The pains in my abdomen were really intense and I had trouble drifting off, but I knew that if I could just sleep, everything would be better.

Boy was I wrong!  By the next day, I had spiked a fever of 103.7 and was in and out of the toilet ever 10-15 minutes.  I assumed that I had the flu because I also had a horrible headache and I was alternating the fever with really, body shaking chills.  I started to berate myself for not getting a flu shot!  I don't get flu shots though because the one time I did, I was almost as sick as I felt at this very moment.  

Around this time my daughter was arriving home.  Her father was dropping her off a little early as she had left the resort they were staying at with a headache, aches and diarrhea.  "Oh no!" I thought "She has it too."  She came home, put on her pj's and snuggled up with Mom on the couch.  We watched TV for most of the afternoon.

As the day went on the fever and chills worsened as did the gastrointestinal effects.  I tried to take Tylenol cold.  It didn't work.  I tried Tylenol Extra Strength, it didn't work either.  I didn't have anything else at home and of course it was the Family Day provincial holiday and nothing nearby was open. I was not physically able to drive, and my hubby (who does not drive) had no-where to walk to that was open.  I decided the symptoms would pass, so I lay on the couch all day hoping my daughter and I would feel better by the evening.  

Needless to say, I called in sick the next day (and my daughter stayed home from school) and luckily my student teacher and a dear friend who is a supply teacher picked up the slack for me.  I have NEVER been so sick that I was unable to write supply plans.  This was a first for me.  I decided I would tough it out.  I went back to Google and put in my symptoms "high fever, chills, headache" and mostly what came up was "rotavirus" and "viral gastroenteritis".  This seemed to fit.  Rotavirus is linked mainly to children, but my daughter was sick and I am a teacher after all.  What I read said there is no treatment, but to drink lots of fluids and rest.  So that is what we did.  I got sicker and sicker.  My daughter did not develop the same intensity of symptoms I had.  She really felt nauseous but did not have the headache, and fever that I did.

Several more days passed in a fog of pain, diarrhea, and inability to sleep.  I had never taken off more than a day or two in a row except for when I had surgery.  My daughter and I stayed in our pj's, drank liquids but ate next to nothing. Nothing would stay IN!  By Thursday, I knew I would have to go to the doctor, so I called first thing in the a.m. when the office opened.  I was shocked to get an appointment right away for both of us. I headed to the shower for the first time in days and struggled to dry my hair and put on clean clothes.  Just as I was putting on my shoes, the phone rang.  It was the doctor's office calling to say the doctor was not coming in.  She had a family emergency and had to cancel, but she would be in the next day at 9:00 a.m.

Both my daughter and I were feeling somewhat better.  I finally seemed to be fever free and had a little appetite.  We bought juice, some bananas, some chicken rice soup and ginger ale.  We decided to go and see the doctor the next day if we still were not fully well.  We had both tried taking anti-diarrheal medication but it didn't seem to do a thing for either of us.  When I read on line that you shouldn't take this medication concurrently with a fever, I thought, "Well, I probably shouldn't take it anyhow."   By Thursday night both my daughter and I still had diarrhea but no other real symptoms except for some dehydration and fatigue.  She was very concerned about having missed several days of school, so spent some time trying to catch up on homework.  Finally, I told her she needed to rest and sent her to bed.

Well, when we awoke this morning my daughter told me that she was feeling much better and wanted to go to school.  She no longer had any severe symptoms and wanted to work on her science fair project with her partner at school.  She got up, got dressed, had her breakfast and made her lunch, so I decided I would take her to school and then drop in on the doctor right when her clinic opened.  Well, I was thwarted once again!  The doctor still was not in, and now it was Friday!  I decided to see the walk-in doctor.  Oh, and did I mention that now my hubby has diarrhea???  He went in with me.  The walk-in doctor was very thorough, and unimpressed with my not wanting to go to the hospital as my hubby had suggested on Tuesday night.  She gave me a full examination.  I really didn't expect this.  I assumed I would hear that the stomach flu was going around, to drink plenty of fluids, rest and I'd be fine by Monday.  

What she DID say surprised me.  She asked where I had been, and did I prepare food for other people?  I said only at home when I felt better, but I was a teacher so I had probably picked up the stomach flu from a student.  I really just wanted to make sure that I had documented proof of seeing a doctor in case the school board asked me for it.  She told me my diarrhea should not be ongoing, and that I needed to have immediate blood work, and to return with two stool samples as soon as possible.  

It sounds like I have a parasitic infection of some sort.  I can't help but think about how my daughter, then myself and now my hubby have all come down with a version of the same thing.  I can't help but think about eating out last week, and how sick I was.  I can't help but worry about what I will do if I DO have a parasitic infection (YUCK!).  All I can do now is rest, drink plenty of fluids, and wait.

All this is why I need a HALL PASS...I know really not that funny...it seemed like it at the time!  Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits is having a linky party and I thought "Oh that would be less typing than writing a regular blog post!"  I now realize that was wishful thinking!  If you have held on this long you might want to check out Reagan's linky and read the instructions below.  I will endeavour to keep this part of the blog entry SHORT!

Product~ My favourite product is probably my Welcome Back to School Letter to Students and Families.  I send this home each year in August.  I keep changing it and updating it, but I find it sets a very positive tone with my class families at the start of the new school year.  If you click on the link above you can get an EDITABLE copy.

Area~I would have to say my desk is my favourite area.  I spend so much time here and it is so unlike any other area in my classroom or my home.  I am usually very minimal.  I like to keep things spare and neat and organized.  My desk does NOT look like it is any of the things I just mentioned.  School allows me to be a kid again.  I am VERY organized and there is a place for everything you see.  Most of the time I can lay my hands on what I am looking for right away.  Also, I have no storage in my classroom, so I have had to create storage for all my teaching materials myself.  I have collected a mishmash of tables, filing cabinets, bookshelves and organizers.

I try to keep it fun so the kids will WANT to be called to the teacher's desk!

I love my "Martha Stewart" file folders which I laminated (one for each day of the week) and keep on my filing cabinet.  I have all my photocopies for each day of the week organized here. 
A favourite project idea from Pinterest.

My "Teacher is Busy" sign and numbered apples in the little basket.  I turn the sign around when I need to work quietly at my desk with a student.  The students simply take a number, and wait for me to call them up when I am finished.  Also, have a look at the little dollar store bubble gum machine full of pencil top erasers...the students LOVE using this machine, even if it doesn't have gum in it!

Signal~I tend to use a hand signal for attention when I want the students to listen.  I have a HIGH FIVE poster on my board.  One day  I found a HUGE hand clapper at the local dollar store.  When I wave it back and forth it makes a loud clacking noise which seems to get the attention of my class VERY quickly.  I don't use it often, but when I need it...it sure is awesome!

Sanity~ Coffee! nuf said!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Awesome FREEBIES from a great TPT seller

I have been meaning to write about this fantastic teacher who creates great posters and other teaching materials and sells them on TPT.  Her name is Valerie King and I LOVE her products.  You can visit her store HERE.

This past week the students in my class completed Valerie's Valentine posters.  I love that they are open ended and encourage the students to express themselves creatively.

I first used Valerie's posters for the New Year.  The students used her creations to draw, make lists, and set goals for themselves.  The final products the students created were excellent.  

Adding inexpensive clipboards to a bulletin board makes changing the materials fun and easy.  I often allow the students to choose what they want to put on the board.

Below you can see my favourite bulletin board.  I got this idea from Pinterest and I LOVE it.  Using the clip boards makes changing up the work frequently easy, fast and efficient.  If you have not tried this on one of your boards, I highly recommend it!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Currently….hoping to get home alive!

To be really HONEST currently I am wondering how I will make it home today.  Toronto is in the grips of a HUGE snowstorm and the weather keeps getting worse.  My school board kept the schools open even though all buses were cancelled and half of my class stayed home today.  

I have never linked up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade but I decided to finally link up.  You can also tell by reading my Currently visual that I am CURRENTLY... LATE….I filled out my currently post last weekend while debating whether to mark, or to watch the Super Bowl.  I am happy to say that I succumbed to the excellent teamwork of the Ravens and I was able to get my marking done during the "power outage". 

I don't have a FREEBIE that I created to share today, but I do have one you can download from Education.com.  I was looking for something fun and challenging for my grade six gifted class to celebrate Lunar New Year.  I found the puzzle below for FREE and handed it out to the brave students who managed to get to school today.  My students are busy working with my student teacher, and they have the puzzle to keep them busy if they finish her project early.   If you would like a copy of this puzzle click HERE.  

Mensa for Kids also regularly publishes Ken Ken puzzles as part of their monthly newsletter.  If you teach gifted students and do not receive the newsletter from Mensa, I recommend that you sign up at at the Mensa for Kids website.

Freebie Fridays

Friday, 1 February 2013

Figurative Language Freebie

This has been another busy but exciting week for me.  I was chosen to be a guest blogger for "The Teacher's Lounge" at Really Good Stuff.  I have a passion for teaching science, and they asked me to write about a favourite experiment.  You can read more about how to make a colourful kaleidoscope like the one your see above HERE.  This investigation aligns really well with the grade 4 topic Light and Sound but is fun to do with any age group.  I have created kaleidoscopes with students as young as first grade right up to adults.  I still love to create a new one each time I work with students.

In my grade six gifted program we started reading the novel Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

I love the action and adventure in the story.  For each chapter the students are writing chapter summaries and character summaries using the Twitter Tweet Chapter Summary activity created by Tracee Orman.  I found this idea on Pinterest as a FREEBIE and you can get your own copy via Teachers Pay Teachers.

As they are reading the novel, students are also completing a literature unit I discovered on the Airborn.ca website.  A main focus of this unit is to teach students about common literary elements found in narrative texts.  Throughout the novel students are required to examine parts of the text and identify examples of figurative language.  Over the past few years, I have supplemented the literature unit mentioned above with handouts of my own.  Below is a handout I created for students to refer to when identifying figurative language.  I also have some great posters in my room which I use as anchor charts, but I like to also give students a handout to refer to when they need it.

If you would like your own copy to use with your students, please feel free to download your FREEBIE by clicking on the link below.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday