“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, 28 August 2015

First Day...NO Jitters!

People have been asking me what I recommend for the first day and first weeks of Back To School.  I have been teaching junior students for 25 years now and have found a few things really work well.

Before school even starts, I send home a letter to my incoming class.  I want them to know a little about me, and a lot about our upcoming year.  I know the parents and the kids themselves really enjoy getting mail from me at the end of August.  This idea has become so popular and I have had so many people ask me to share my letter that I have added it in my TpT store this year.  

Photo of Back to School Letter @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Click on image to get your own copy.

Start the day with a surprise!  Each year I give out a Back to School Survival Kit to my students.  I have been doing this long before there was Pinterest and TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers).  This year I am making them with plastic, reusable water bottles from the dollar store, but in the beginning I used humble brown paper bags and fastened my note to the top.

Photo of Back to School Survival Kit @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Back to School Survival Kit for Students  http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Click on the image above to get your own copy of this EDITABLE file.
Back to School Survival Kit for Students  http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

I also like to start the day off the way I expect each to start...so I have my Daily Math bell work copied and on the student desks.  It is a great way to introduce them to this daily procedure.  You can read more about how I use Daily Math by clicking HERE.

Photo of Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Click on image to find out how to buy your own copy.

After announcements and Daily Math, I have the students get up and out of their seats using my Back to School with Post Its activity.  I put up the prompts up around the classroom and give each student 6 different coloured post its.  I put them in small groups randomly and have them move from one prompt to the next. I give them a few minutes at each prompt to fill out a response (anonymously if they want) and then POST IT underneath the prompt.  

Photo of Back to School with Post Its @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Photo of Back to School with Post Its @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of Back to School with Post Its @teachingisagift.blogspot.caPicture of Back to School with Post Its @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

If you are interested in doing this in your own classroom, you can grab a copy of my new, editable prompts by clicking on the image below.

Usually by this point it is recess so the kids go outside and I run to the washroom!  After recess I like to introduce myself in greater depth and review my expectations for the year.   I like to use a Powerpoint presentation that I insert a variety of teacher memes into.  Most of my students have yet to be exposed to Powerpoint or memes, so they think it's new and novel.

Picture of Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

This year I found this funny video online  so I have added it to the end of my presentation.  This should make the kids smile!

I have a packet of fun activities on each student desk.  I want them to tell me a bit about themselves, and it gives me something for them to work on if I need a few minutes of time filled.  You can find lots of great free ideas on TpT.  I have created my packet from a variety of sources, and I tend to change it up each year based on feedback from previous years.

By now the French teacher is usually tapping her heels, waiting for me to finish my spiel.  After that the kids go off to lunch and I go and try to fix or copy whatever I have forgotten to do before school.

After lunch, we review how to come into class and they start their first bell work for language arts.  Last year I found that using the Nelson Communicating Skills workbooks the school purchases worked really well for after lunch bell work.  I post the page number on my whiteboard BEFORE lunch, and they have their books out before we go to lunch.  If you don't have workbooks such as these, you could use any daily grammar/or language program out there. 

After we review our Communicating Skills answers and make sure our planners are filled out. I introduce my favourite art activity. I have written about it before here.  This piece of art becomes a laminated desk mat which stays on the student desk all year.  They usually take great pride in finishing it, as they know they will be looking at it all day, everyday.

Each student receives a large sheet of cartridge paper.  Using a pencil, they make a border of 10 cm all around the page.  This border will be filled with pictures of school supplies.  I keep a large bin of different school supplies just for this project.  I try to find interesting shapes for the students to trace.  Using these found objects, students trace them around the outside border in pencil.  I show them how to overlap the objects so that there are no overlapping lines.  The more three dimensional the objects look, the better.

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

After students have traced as many objects as they can, the go back over them using a black, fine line marker.  They also add as many line designs as they can at this point.  I do not have them do the designs in pencil first as this will take too much time.  

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

This does NOT get finished the first day!  It usually takes an hour a day for the first week or so to finish this project.  You can see the next step is to have students fill in the center of their desk mat.  I allow them to put anything they want here, and this is where they are allowed to use COLOUR.  Some students draw something to represent themselves, others bring in pictures of family from home. I allow them to be as creative as they want.  

Back to School @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

The very last step before I laminate them is to have students fill in all the white space in the border with tiny dots using their fine line marker.  This technique can be ponderous, but the effect is amazing.  Some students vary the size of the dots from one area to the next, some vary the number of dots and others just want it done!  I rarely have a student who does NOT want to take their desk mat at the end of the year.  Many tell me years later that they still have them on their desks at home.

Usually by this point in the first day, it is time to pack up and go home.  I introduce my students to my last minute checklist which is posted on the cupboards in my classroom.  
Back to School Last MInute Checklist@teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

As you can see from the photos, I recently updated my checklist posters.   I am going to print and post them again this year.  If you are interested in seeing the new ones up close, or if you would like your own copy, click on the image below.
Back to School Last MInute Checklist@teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

After many years, I am still excited to go back to school each September.  I have learned that if I have a plan, and some fun things for the students to experience on the first day, nobody has the first day jitters!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Back to School Survival Kits

Something about going back to school puts us all in SURVIVAL mode!  I think the image pops up as MOST pinned on my Pinterest account is this one...
Photo of  Back to School Teacher Survival Kit @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Each year, I make back to school survival kits for my new teachers I think might need a boost and for student teachers who will be working in my room.

Photo of Back to School Teacher Survival Kit @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Photo of Back to School Teacher Survival Kit @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

This year, I remade the label for the Teacher Survival Kit and have included an editable version as well.  This way, you can grab the label from my TpT store, shop for the materials listed on label pictured below, print off the label and make a great little gift for a teacher you know.  You can make a Teacher Survival Kit inside any container you like.  I keep my eyes open for things like the little paint can pictured above.  You can grab these types of things at dollar and craft stores.  I tend to keep a little stash on hand, so I am ready when I need to create one in a hurry.

Or you can use the editable label, create your own list, print it and attach it to the container of your choice.  The editable label does include a funky font embedded in the file.  Just be aware, you cannot change up the fonts like you see on the version above.

In case you haven't seen my earlier post about making survival kits, I use this nifty label making machine to print out the labels before I attach them.  I love it and I found it at my local Walmart. It's called a Xyron Create A Sticker in case you want to run out and get one.  I have used this machine to label EVERYTHING in my classroom.  

Don't want to forget my students!  I am known in my school for giving each student a Back to School Survival Kit each September. This year I have decided I will print off the cute labels I have made and place them with the necessary supplies inside a plastic reusable water bottle.  

Picture of Back to School Studet Survival Kit @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
As the summer is coming to a close, I am going to start assembling my Back to School Student Survival kits.  You can check them out here!

Monday, 17 August 2015

A little BONUS! MORE15!


I have to say I am loathe to think about back to school.  I am going into my 25th year as an educator and I still LOVE my job, but I also LOVE my summer vacation.  Now, that being said, I have started to think about school.  How can I not?  I am seeing ads on T.V. and in the paper and the stores are starting to fill with school supplies.  Many of my teacher friends in the southern U.S. states have already gone back to class.

To help ease the transition back to thinking about school, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a little BONUS sale on Wednesday, August 19th.  I still think that is EARLY for us up here in the True North, but I know many teachers are getting in gear.  You can save up to 28% on all your purchases.  Make sure you use code MORE15 at checkout! This is the BEST time to get all the things on your wish-list!

Photo of Back to School Canadian eBook @Teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Click on the image to download your FREE copy!

A group of Canadian TpT sellers has again created an outstanding back to school eBook filled with cool tips, freebies and products that will take the sting out of the end of summer. Download this FREE Canadian Back to School eBook today, before the sale, to help you choose some great goodies to purchase on Wednesday. Get ready to shop by stocking up your TpT CART!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Back to School with the TpT EH Team!

I know most of us are studiously avoiding the thought of Back To School time...but this IS a great time to stock up on items you WILL want and need come the beginning of September.  
Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back To School sale and you can save up to 28% on sale items. The sale runs August 3rd and 4th.  

Use code BTS15 at checkout to ensure you get your full discount! 

If you are looking for Canadian stores in which to spend your hard earned cash (and use your TpT credits) look no further than the links below.