Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mini Maths Sets

I had some spare wooden boxes for dominoes as I had emptied them all into one shared basket. I decided the boxes were perfect for mini maths kits that I could grab quickly. We are currently learning about numbers 0-20, so in these boxes so far are 20 counters. We might add some flashcards and dice also. It's much easier to ask a pair of students to take a box and have all the resources they need for that lesson ready. Prior to this I had been counting out 10 or 20 counters for each student, which takes a lot of time away from learning. I find it very handy and students can count out their own counters they need for that lesson. As we move topics, I might change the contents. 



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tray Labels

I wanted something a little different for my studio (classroom) this year and so in the first week, during a tour around the school, we collected leaves. When we came back we made these for our trays. 

Names hidden for privacy reasons
Leaves are glued onto white paper and then stuck onto trays with clear contact. I have taped down sections of contact that needed it. This year, student trays are for their lunch boxes, drink bottles and hats. Books are stored elsewhere and so far I am finding it works really well. 

I followed the leaf theme through to other sorts of labels. 



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recount Writing

We are learning about recount writing. In the first week of school, I asked students to write a recount about their holidays. I used this as an initial assessment to determine the starting teaching point for recount.

We started with a blank template.
Download the template here.

It then became clear that students needed help in understanding the structure and purpose of a recount. I then wrote a recount and together we analysed the text using the colours and rules of Functional Grammar.

Together we also brainstormed all the processes (verbs) that students knew. These were then used in the following lesson plans. Students were asked to cut and paste words in the correct order. 

You can download all three sets below.




I am currently in the middle of creating a picture dictionary that students can use during writing time. My more abled students will be given this sheet.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How explicit is my teaching?

Today I was a part of a panel discussion for teachers who may be embarking in a new direction of English as an additional Language or Dialect (EALD) teaching. I'm no expert, and funnily enough, that is the very reason I was asked to be there. It wasn't too long ago that I was given this wonderful opportunity to work with EALD students as part of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) and so I can definitely relate to how these educators are feeling. 

I had 2-3 minutes to introduce myself and explain my role, which is no easy feat and it was after in the car (as it always is) I was thinking of all the other things I would have loved to say. I am a teacher in a Reception-Year 2 classroom of EALD learners. I have been teaching in IELP since 2011 and have had various roles in that time. 

Once I had finished my introduction I was asked the question "So how explicit is your teaching?" and I tried to reinforce how important this was but again, there were so many things that I could have said, given the time. This is what this blog post is about, for all those teachers out there who have EALD learners in their class. Being explicit with your teaching is key to how successful EALD learners will be. 

It is not about assuming that the EALD learner does not 'know anything' because they come with a wealth of knowledge and previous learning, whether this be from school, home or their community. It is about recognising that your learners may not understand the vocabulary you are using and asking them to use within the context of your classroom. Understanding that some learners have never been to school before. Acknowledging that some of your learners have had extremely traumatic experiences and may still be experiencing challenges in Australia surrounding separation of family, settlement, permanency, living situations and so on. 

These are the teaching practices that I incorporate in my classroom wherever possible to make learning explicit or to guide my planning in order to achieve this

  • Use photographs instead of cartoons. These should be relevant to students and depict behaviours that you expect of your students or photos representing specific vocabulary e.g. sitting on the mat, lining up at the door, cutting with scissors, book, pencil, car etc. 
  • Encouraging students to not erase during writing time. I use this to assess where my students are and what they may need more support with. 
  • Implementing the principles of Functional Grammar.
  • Seeing mistakes as a learning tool
  • Brainstorming with my students before a unit of work to determine the previous knowledge that they have about a particular concept. Mapping the various entry points of my students in the unit plan/curriculum.
  • Design a Teaching and Learning Cycle or Backwards Planning
  • Being very clear with students when they have achieved an outcome or when they are on the way of achieving that goal. Letting them know that they are successful.
  • Modelling behaviour and learning e.g. modelling reading strategies through big books or pair reading. 
  • Making learning visual e.g. making a journal of learning or posters, charts, photographs
  • Using peers and BSSOs in a positive way and encouraging students in both English and their home languages.
  • Allowing students to play and explore the classroom. Hands on learning offers a greater chance of cementing knowledge. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Library

I found these great IKEA dish racks for $2.95 and I use them to store some of the books we have. They are really easy to assemble too. I have found that students who wouldn't have usually searched through the box to find a book have been drawn to these racks, which means they are definitely reading more often.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Studio

I have a new studio (classroom) this year and had the long task of arranging the room, and then of course rearranging the room. It is not 'finished' and it is almost certain that I will change things around after seeing how the students interact with the room. I'll post any changes I make, so check back soon.



This corner of the room will serve as a space where students can sit and relax and read, use it as a workspace or perhaps to calm down. I have already scored a new cane table to put in the corner and place the plant on top.

This is my 'home corner'. The coffee table will be used in play, but also serve as another table for students to work.

 A very sturdy shelf for students to stand on in order to reach the whiteboard. It will also be used to store whiteboard markers, dusters and name tags for students when we have a guest or relief teacher in the studio.


I currently have 3 pot plants in the room and these drawers were donated to me from a teacher who was cleaning out her studio. Inside I have placed student whiteboards, blackboards etc. I wrapped the plastic pot in hessian and tied it with a rope. It was a quick and cheap way of transforming it. 


 Pencil pots were made from mugs, glass jars and black metal tins, which I have covered with material or string. There is a colour theme of green and blue, mixed with natural colours. I have tried to reduce the amount of plastic that is used in my studio. This will be an ongoing process.























Items in the rooms are stored in baskets and containers made from natural resources where possible.

This is the entrance to my studio. The table will be used throughout the year to display and inform others of our learning.



Saturday, January 10, 2015

DIY Fabric Covered Baskets

Plastic is not exactly what we go for in our classrooms at my school but I know I personally have collected plastic containers over the years. They always seem to be 'the right size' but I found this idea on Tales from a cottage through Pintrest while looking at DIY ideas (My new addiction) and I think that it's probably more of a better fit in my school environment.

Photo is a direct screenshot from the website. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Liebster Award

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Julie from Teacher Fluff & Really Good Stuff. I actually really appreciate being a part of the online teaching community and if it wasn't for the nomination I may not have come across Julie's blog, which I bookmarked immediately...You really should too!

The Liebster Award was created to highlight blogs with smaller amount of followers, but none the less worthy of recognition. 

The rules for receiving this award are
1. In your post link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and a 'shout out'.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer. (The questions I have answered please)
3. Nominate 11 people (Blogs with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post. 
4. Let your nominees know and provide them with a link back to your post (so they can see the rules)
5. No nominating the person who nominated you, however send them a thank you :)

These are the questions that Julie has set for me to answer...

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I started this blog back in 2006. I had graduated university in 2005 and was about to embark on a whole new adventure in Japan, teaching in a kindergarten so it became a way to document my journey. 

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Evolving. My blog changed direction a little, and I have actually removed some of the posts over time because they didn't represent the teacher I am now. I have also edited posts because I believe that we never stop learning as educators, so opinions and approaches have been challenged and I have adjusted. 

3. Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey you wished you knew before?
That to have a successful blog you need to become involved with the blogging world. That means visiting other educators blog, recognising other's achievements and commenting. Everyone appreciates that sharing of resources and knowledge, however I used to rarely spare the time commenting.

4. What is your favourite past time other than blogging?
I love taking photos. My camera is with me most of the time and if not, my mobile is always in my pocket. I actually have another travel blog where I upload some of my favourite photos. Passport, Tickets & a Suitcase

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?
It varies, but approximately 3 hours. 

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
Literacy. I have a passion for teaching EALD students and absolutely love teaching English using a Functional Grammar approach BUT who doesn't love posting about the cute crafts we make too?!

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from?
Everyone around me. My students inspire me and I like to share our learning. I also like sneaking into colleague's classrooms and checking out what they are doing. 

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
Proud, I am not sure, but passionate, yes. A post called How do you know?. It is about asking students to share their thinking to promote greater self awareness while at the same time, perhaps helping another student to think about thinking.

9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now?
Not a specific post but I find that I never seem to have enough time to post everything I want to.

10. What's your favourite aspect of blogging?
Writing and receiving comments. Hint hint :)

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself?
I love love love the post on Intentional Kindness

My Nominees
Kinderdi
Aileen @ Mrs Miracles Music Room

Bloglovin'

I am a little behind the ball with this one, but better to be late than never. It's a great resource for all bloggers. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Use old photo albums in the classroom

I will admit I find it difficult to throw things away because I always think I will find a use for them in the classroom. Well I am happy to say that I do actually have a reason this time. I found this old slide in photo album (non-adhesive) that I am using as reading assessment. I wrote the words on post it notes which helps to stop the paper from sliding about.


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