“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

Friday, 31 May 2013

Kicking it old school! and a FREEBIE!

Do you remember playing outside at recess when you were a kid?  I used to LOVE recess!  I would play a game called "UPSY" where we would throw a ball (remember those tri-coloured balls which were red, white and blue?) up against a wall and say a chant while we did it.  "One two three and upsy, four five six and upsy, seven eight nine and upsy, ten and upsy, start again!"
I would play this mindless game for ages!  The chant has stayed with me my whole life!  At my school, I am responsible for maintaining a supply cart for outdoor recess play.  It is filled with utility balls, skipping ropes, frisbees, tennis balls, footballs, soccer balls and other fun things!  My students take it out at each recess and sign out the equipment for the students to play with.  They also collect all the materials back and maintain inventory as well.  I have to say they do an outstanding job!

Last spring I bought YOGI ropes (also known as Chinese skipping ropes) at the dollar store.  When I was at school, we just knotted a big bunch of elastics together.  We didn't have store bought ropes.  Thinking back on the games I used to play I decided I wanted to teach my students some of the ones I used to play on the playground when I was young.  I also wanted to put these ropes in the equipment cart and see if I could get the younger children interested in trying them.  


Chinese Jump rope courtesy of splendidlittleblog.com

I remember that I had been to a workshop which dealt with outdoor games.  The resource they gave us included a card which explained how to play YOGI.  Today we went outside and my students taught themselves how to play in groups of three.  We had so much fun that we decided to teach the grade two class how to play too.  The students actually had a great time and were surprised at how challenging some of them found it. I really enjoyed watching them learn the chant and the foot sequence.  We will have the whole school kicking it old school in no time...or would that be jumping it old school?

Photo courtesy of Toronto Public Health

How to Play
2 players stand 1.5 m (4 feet) away from each other with legs
shoulder width apart.The Yogi rope is held at the ankles of
the 2 players to form a rectangle.
The third player, the Jumper, does a variety of actions (see Variations) which all players have agreed on prior to playing.
Once the Jumper has completed the routine, the rope can be moved to different levels on the body (calf, knees, thighs, hips,waist).
The Jumper repeats the routine until they miss the intended jump.Then the Jumper changes places with 1 of the other players
holding the rope.

Players make their own routines by combining different moves to different rhymes.
The player recites the chant, jumps in and places their feet when they land according to the routine. When they say the second line they can create new actions,do them in reverse or make up new ones.

Photo courtesy of Toronto Public Health

For your own FREE copy of the simplified instructions, just click on the image above!  

Have a great weekend everyone, I still have 28 days until summer holidays...not that I'm counting or anything!

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

post signature


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

And the WINNER is....

The awesome organizer tote giveaway is over but I would like to announce the grand winner:  
Jennifer P.  

Our generous 31 Gifts consultant Jen B. has mailed the prize to Jennifer.  We hope you LOVE it!  It's not too late to order though.   CLICK HERE OR contact Jen @ Jen.Bellinger@hotmail.com and order.  Until the end of May if your order is over $35 you can get any thermal for 50% off!

post signature

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Pink Slip

I wish I could say that I don't have to use this right now.  I wish I could tell you that all my students do their homework and hand in all assignments on time.  I really, really wish that was true, but we all know that I would telling you a fib!  

As the end of the year approaches, many of my students seem to feel that they are done!  They start to lag behind in homework, they don't do work in class and hand it in, there is the return of the "Ilostititis" and the "I forgotitathomeitis".  The weather is getting nicer each day, the schedule has been off for things like track and field and open house.  These changes seem to throw some students right back to September in terms of following classroom norms. 

Re-enter the PINK SLIP.  I have used this form for years and years, and I know it is not original BUT it has made my life much easier. At the beginning of the year I explain to my students and their parents what the meaning of receiving a "pink slip" is in the real world.  Then I tell them that if I have to send home a pink slip for undone homework or missed assignments, it is the equivalent of receiving a "pink slip" in the real world. It is not a first warning, it means that something has gone awry with home and school communication.  

Parents in my classroom know to watch for the first sign of the pink page in their child's school agenda/planner.  It is a reminder that somewhere along the way, something has gone off the rails.  I ask that the parents ensure the missing work is either finished and or returned to me ASAP.  As well, I ask that the parents sign the form to acknowledge that they have seen it.  I track these notes (sent home stapled to student agendas) in my PARENT COMMUNICATION binder.  I also have the students fill out a HOMEWORK NOT COMPLETE form as well.  I am all about personal accountability.

Sometimes I need to make a follow up phone call, but I always make sure the form is returned and I keep it with the student HOMEWORK NOT COMPLETE form in my homework binder.

Another rule in my classroom is that everything which has been evaluated by me, MUST be signed by a parent/guardian and returned to school.  I do this to ensure that there are no surprises at reporting time.  I also like to display student work.  I do many other things too (such as maintain a parent blog, classroom website, newsletters, etc.) but I find that having parents look at the student work, with success criteria and rubric attached, helps when we are discussing student progress at parent/teacher meetings.  When I send something home to be signed, I use a Parent Signature Requested stamp with RED INK.
If the item is not returned in a timely manner, I use the YELLOW SLIP.  It is a friendly reminder that a piece of work has been sent home for review and signature but has not been returned.  

Using these forms have saved me hours of aggravation!  I have been teaching for almost 23 years now and I have been using one version of the PINK SLIP or another for most of my career.  It's quick, it's simple, it takes emotion out of the transaction and it puts the onus back on the student.

If you would like a FREE copy of the PINK and YELLOW slips just click on the image below.  You can photocopy them on whatever colour of paper appeals to you!

Have an awesome weekend!

post signature


Friday, 10 May 2013

It's Here! The secret is out!

Pssssst!  Yes, you!  Guess what?

It is that time of year again...NO not summer vacation (not yet!)  It's time to write REPORT CARDS...or at least it is in Ontario.  I see some of my American blogger buddies are almost done their year!  Their reports are probably signed, sealed and delivered!  Not so for us Canadians, we hearty folks have to soldier on for another 48 days! (but who's counting?)

To help beat the report card blues, I am hosting the FIRST EVER 31Gifts Blog Party!  Yeah!  If you are Canadian you can finally order these awesome bags and have them shipped to you from my new teacher buddy Jen.   

Personally I want this one!  Can't you picture it personalized with HOT PINK stitching?  I might even get one with my blog name on it!  This tote is an steal at only $36!  Think of all the use you will get out of it.  If you buy this, you can get the matching thermal tote for only $11!  Think of the last time you were able to buy such cute items for such a great price?
I also really like this one...

Who doesn't need a nice lanyard for hanging classroom keys and ID Cards?  This super cute one comes in a variety of designs and and a charm with an inspirational word.  Only $6!  

There are LOTS of other great designs and colours...I just happen to be IN LOVE with this one!  To view more great products click HERE.

Love personalized products?  I DO!  Look at this cute tote!  Make sure you check out the embroidery guide while you are shopping!

Not convinced yet?  Check out all the cute styles and designs!

Here is Jen's son showing off his personalized CAMO cinch sack and thermal!
These would great for CAMP!

Ready to shop? 
Get 50% off any thermal 
when you spend $35 or more in May!

The prices are really reasonable for such high quality merchandise...go ahead click on the image above to browse the catalogue, you will be amazed by the awesome variety!

IN ONTARIO: Just click on the image above or HERE.  
 If you live elsewhere in Canada you can view the catalogue through the link and then email: jen.bellinger@hotmail.com

IN the US: You can access the party HERE.  Michelle is a NY teacher who is also a Thirty-One Gifts consultant.

Ready for the giveaway?  
Who wouldn't want to win this awesome tote full of supplies to help with marking and report card writing?

Please read the terms and conditions of the GIVEAWAY.  

Do any of you struggle with personalizing the comments?  I find that I have the expectations (standards) and I can write a great standard comment, but it needs to be tweaked to fit different students.  Very much like a rubric!  I have created a list (it's by no means exhaustive) of qualifiers that might help you make your comments a little more specific.  
Click on the image above to download this FREEBIE.  I hope it helps with report card writing!

Pinkadots Elementary is hosting their first ever LINKY PARTY!  The theme is school supply lists.  What better for next year than a great tote or organizer from 31Gifts? Click on the image above to find out what other people have on their school supply lists! 

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

post signature

Thursday, 9 May 2013

It's coming! Watch for it….

Starting tomorrow I will be giving my awesome readers the chance to own something I just know every teacher south of the border (US/Canada) loves and probably owns, but every teacher NORTH of the border is dying to get their hands on! Come back and check out this amazing opportunity, enter for the giveaway and download a FREEBIE while you are at it!

post signature

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Favourite Read Alouds of the Year Linky Party and Blog Hop

Every year I carefully choose the books I will read aloud to my class.  Some are old favourites like "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "A Wrinkle In Time" while others I have come across more recently.   You can read more about my other favourite read alouds HERE.   If you have a great read aloud to share, grab the button from above (make sure it links back to this original post), add it to your post, link up and join the best of end of year party yet!

Last year I read my class the book "Chasing Vermeer" by Blue Balliett with Illustrations by Brett Helquist.  My class seemed to like it, as it is a mystery involving two sixth graders who are very intelligent, and ART.  My class last year loved ART of any sort, so they gobbled up the story and were satisfied when I was finished reading it aloud to them.  I enjoyed it too and wanted to revisit it this year.  I thought I would do a better job reading it aloud as I knew the story better.  

My class this year, loves MATH and SCIENCE.  They are great artists but they don't seem as keen on art as my class last year was.  I wondered if they would enjoy the story as much as my previous class.  They LOVE IT.  One of the main characters, Calder Pillay, is obsessed with pentominoes and puzzles.  He carries around a set of these interesting puzzle pieces in his pocket at all times, and they help him think and make connections.

A set of pentominoes shown as letters of the alphabet.

A pentomino is a polyomino composed of five (Ancient Greek πέντε/ pénte) congruent squares, connected along their edges (orthogonal connections). There are 12 different free pentominoes, named after the letters of the Latin alphabet they resemble. Each of the twelve pentominoes can be tiled to fill the plane. In addition, each chiral pentomino can be tiled without using its reflection. (source: Wikipedia)

The novel takes place in Hyde Park, Chicago near the University of Chicago.  It  follows two sixth graders, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee. When a famous Johannes Vermeer painting is stolen  Calder and Petra work together to try to recover it.  Along the way we meet the eccentric teacher Ms. Hussey, the imperious neighbour Mrs. Sharpe and a variety of other interesting Hyde Park characters.  

Eventually, the thief publishes advertisements in the local newspaper, explaining that he will only give the painting back if the community at large can discover which paintings under Vermeer's name were really painted by him.  Petra, Calder, and the rest of the characters in the novel then examine the concept of  art more closely. The two amateur sleuths do a lot of research into coincidence and chance along the way, with the discovery of a book entitled Lo! by Charles Fort.

The novel was written for Balliett's classroom intended to deal with real-world issues. Balliett values children's ideas and wrote the book specifically to highlight that. Chasing Vermeer has won several awards, including the Edgar and the Agatha.  the sequel entitled The Wright 3 was published, followed by The Calder Game in 2008. (source: Wikipedia)

My class LOVED Chasing Vermeer!  They were on the edge of their seats each day, waiting to hear what would happen next as the mystery unfolded.  Much of what I was reading aloud sounded as if it could happen right there in our very own classroom.  I do know my students think I am a bit eccentric and odd much like the teacher in the novel, Ms. Hussey.  They loved the story so much, and I loved seeing their reaction to it, so I had to read them the sequel, The Wright Three.  I could not for the life of me find a copy in print, so I downloaded it on my Kobo ereader and started reading it to the class right away.  We are about half way through and the story is as captivating as the previous novel.  It chronicles how Calder, Petra, and Tommy are attempting to save a house called the Robie House in their neighbourhood.  So far the story has introduced 3-D pentominoes, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Robie House, Fibonacci numbers, The Invisible Man, and mysterious occurrences.
(source: Wikipedia) 

We cannot wait to find out what happens next!

It turns out there is a third book in the series!  I wonder if we will have time to read it...

It might just have to wait until next year!

What was your favourite read aloud this year?  Be sure to grab the button from the top of the post (right click and "save image as" then upload to your own blog and add the URL from this post as a link to the button)  and add your link below!

If you would like to get the code to add your post to the blog hop, click below and choose the appropriate code for your platform.
get the InLinkz code.

I did a quick search on TpT for products related to "Chasing Vermeer" and there are lots of great ideas in case you decide you want to turn your read aloud into something more.  Click HERE to go to TpT.

post signature