Pumpkin Fact vs. Opinion Scoot

 

Fall is here in full force! The leaves are turning, pumpkins are out on front stoops, and the classroom is aflutter learning about bats, spiders, leaves, and pumpkins!

One of my favorite fall units is pumpkins! I know many teachers choose to have a pumpkin thematic unit during the fall. Here are just a few of my favorite ideas for things you can do to learn about pumpkins as a class:

  • Hold a class survey to decide what to carve on your class pumpkin. Graph the results.
  • Count the number of seeds in a pumpkin. Compare two different pumpkins.
  • Make hypotheses about which pumpkin is heavier and weigh both to see.
  • Measure the circumfrence of pumpkins.
  • Make a jack-o-lantern mural using orange construction paper and traces of your students hands.
  • Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin with a First, Next, Then, Last organizer from Nerissa Reddick.
  • Make baked pumpkin seeds for a yummy and healthy snack!
  • Take a class field trip to a pumpkin patch, either in person or by watching a video.

If you are looking for an activity to finish off your unit, try these fact vs. opinion pumpkin themed task cards, perfect for a game of scoot! Dots n Spots explains how she used these task cards on her blog.

original-1458042-1pumpkin fact and opinion scoot

(Un)Welcome

(un)welcome

“Welcome”.

It’s the first day of the new school year, and I shyly shuffle into class clutching my new pencils and a backpack that I don’t yet know where to put. It’s only been two months since I was last in school, but it feels like a lifetime- and there are so many things to worry about. Will the math be hard this year? Is Sara still my friend? Will I have to sit by the bully? What if I answer a question wrong? What if they laugh at me? Will my teacher be nice? What if I don’t belong?

All I want is to feel welcome.

But instead of a “Welcome” that feels like a reassuring presence and makes me excited for this new experience, I hear a terse robotic “Welcome”. One of a string of impersonal greetings to my fellow classmates and I, as we are handed a knowledge-gauging test disguised as a ‘fun’ worksheet, and told to find our designated seat, and sit quietly, sit quietly, sit quietly. 

I didn’t understand the instructions, but am too shy to ask the teacher. I ask my seatmate instead, but am berated for talking out of turn because “respectful communication is important in this classroom”.

I hand my worksheet into the wrong bin, and am publically reprimanded for not reading the sign that says ‘out’. The class laughs. I return to my seat with my face red and my heart pounding in my throat.

We play a getting to know you game. I don’t want to hold hands with these children, but “you need to participate”. By the end of the game I still don’t know anyone’s name, but my palms are sweaty and I want to cry.

The teacher calls me by a nickname I dislike. I correct her, but she continues using it. My classmates have now begun to use this nickname too.

I label my green folder Math and my blue folder Science. “Proper organization is important in this classroom”. I mixed up the colors.

There is a traffic light in the corner. If the class gets too loud it turns yellow. Every time it turns red we lose a minute of recess. I worry that if I cough it will turn red and my classmates will be mad at me, so I hold it in.

We are told that good behavior gets us tickets for a raffle. Sara gets a ticket. I don’t.

I have so many questions.

“I said put your hand down, you can ask questions later”.

“Later”.

“Later”.

I go home.

I wish I didn’t have to return tomorrow.

_____________________________________________________

The first day back is stressful for any teacher. New students, new classroom, maybe a new grade or curriculum. But no matter if you teach Kindergarten or Grade 12, the first day of school is often one of the most intimidating and stressful experiences for students. There is a long to-do list that every teacher has for the first day. Beginning classroom management, setting out rules and procedures, seeing where your students are at academically… But be aware of your language, your demeanor, the energy you create in your classroom.

This is your most stressful day of the school year, consider it is for your students too.

-Elizabeth

_____________________________________________________

This is a great video if you’d like some more food for thought about how students experience the school environment.

Effective Group DiscussionIf you’d like to talk about effective classroom discussion with your students, consider downloading my free interactive notebook

Best. Year. Ever.

 

Copy of BEST.YEAR.EVER.

Happy back to school season! It can be a stressful time of year as you prepare to welcome new students to your classroom, but I want this year to be your best teaching year ever! To help you out I’m giving away a $10 TpT gift certificate so that you can buy the product thats been sitting on your wishlist all summer long. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter! The giveaway will end on the 2nd so that you have time to purchase your product ON SALE during the TpT back to school sale.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Should I Purchase The Latest Classroom Decor Trend?

Every year when back to school season hits, social media is flooded with teachers sharing their ideas and purchases as they set up their classroom for the new year. And that’s great! Social media is a fantastic place to find new inspiration and bounce your own ideas off others. So what’s the problem?

Sometimes a trend will take social media by storm, and every teacher scrambles to get the latest and greatest decor item for their classroom. Milk crate chairs, bright pom pom accents, chevron carpets, even a certain color scheme can become trendy. This year the big trend seems to be lightboxes. Don’t get me wrong, many of these ideas are awesome and help to create a learning environment that both you and your students can enjoy. Classroom improvements like adaptive seating, or a new carpet for group time will always be beneficial. I only caution that sometimes these trends can become overwhelming. Back to school is stressful enough without worrying about whether your color scheme is trendy this year! Ask yourself a few questions before buying a new decor item for your classroom:

What is motivating me to make this purchase? Will it improve the learning environment for me or my students? Do I have the time and energy to impliment this in my classroom? Is the cost worth the benefit? Is there a way I could make this myself instead? Am I buying this because I need it, or just so I can take a picture for Instagram? Is this something I will throw out in a year, or does it have durability? Does this match my own design wishes for my classroom?

You can also consider these questions in a handy infographic form!

Should I Purchase The Latest Classroom Decore Trend?

These questions aren’t meant to make you feel bad for buying something that is trending, or to say that you shouldn’t buy trending items in the future. That lightbox you purchase might be the highlight of your classroom this year! It’s simply important to be clear and honest with yourself over why you are purchasing something, and to make sure its right for you and your students, so that you can save time, money, and energy this busy back to school season!

Election 2016 Resources For Teachers

Election Resources For Teachers

With all the media attention about the upcoming 2016 Election, now is the perfect time to get students engaged in critically understanding election coverage. This is a great opportunity for students to dialogue about citizenship, media, bias, and facts vs. opinions. Here are some great resources I’ve found for you to help your students understand election time this year.

Video: US Elections- How do they work?
The UK Parliament has put together a very good video explaining how US Elections work with great visuals.

Video: The Electoral College- does your vote count?
It can be difficult for students to understand why some states are constantly referred to as the ‘more important’ states. This video clearly explains the electoral college.

Website: Candidate Platforms
This website presents the platforms of each candidate in an easy to navigate way for students to compare and contrast.

Resource: Election Ballotoriginal-2656601-1
Busy Bee In Grade Three has provided a great freebie of classroom voting ballots if you would like to hold a vote in your classroom after learning about each candidate!

Resource: Analyze Political Ads In History
A through lesson plain is available here to guide students through an analysis of political ads, and specifically the use of children in political ads.

Resource: American Election Vocabulary Posters2016 Election Vocabulary Posters
While you dialogue with your students there is bound to be new vocabulary pop up. Use these half-size posters on a bulletin board to remind students of key terminology.

Website: Scholastic Election
Scholastic has created a website with many lesson plans, videos, and other information for students and teachers about the election. I especially recommend taking a look at their ‘Kid Reporter’ section.

Pinterest Board: Teaching Government     
For many more resources for not just the election, but other government topics, you might like to follow my ‘Teaching Government’ Pinterest board.


 

Learning About The Earth’s Layers

earth layers www.elizabeth-elle.com

Today I’d like to share a favourite Montessori-inspired activity for learning about the Earth’s layers. What better way to peel back the layers of the planet than by making one out of plasticine! Starting with a small yellow ball representing the inner core, students add layers of plasticine to represent the outer core, mantel, and crust, before adding some blue and green so that it becomes the planet we recognize. Then comes the big reveal, using a wet knife to avoid smudging the colours cut out a wedge and pull away to expose the complete layers. Have students label each layer and discuss what they know about each one.

Building the earth's layersPro tip: make sure to put down a piece of scrap paper on each table and use tin plates for display to avoid messy plasticine residue!

If you’d like to try this lesson with your students you might like my ‘Layers Of The Earth Lesson’. It includes full instructions for this activity, as well as a cut and paste note about each layer (including depth, composition, and state), and a foldable note in which students can use websites and research books to write about each layer. The note will fit easily into a small composition book, and it comes in both metric and imperial, so you get to choose what works best for you! You can download the full lesson here. 

 

Stop Reading “The Indian In The Cupboard”: Better Alternatives For Your Classroom

Every year teachers everywhere begin a social studies or literature unit where they discuss Indigenous history and contemporary Indigenous issues. Depending on the country or province you teach in, the requirements of this unit vary. But for many teachers, the arrival of this unit means reaching for the old standby tome “Indian In The Cupboard” by  Reid Banks.

You might have read this book in school and have thought nothing of it, but providing this book to our students is deeply problematic. What’s the issue? Though the story might initially seem innocent, it is an ethnocentric mess of misrepresentation, racism, anti-feminist undertones, and stereotype. This book is outdated and does not belong in our classrooms.

A critical read-through should be enough to realize that the representation of Indigenous peoples produced through this story is deeply problematic and unsuitable for the classroom. However, if you want to read more about why this book and others like it are so problematic you might like these articles:

Get The Indians Out Of The Cupboard  

Ethnocentrism In Indian In The Cupboard  

But what book should you pick up for your students instead? Here is a quick list of great books for a range of ages to critically engage your students in dialogue surrounding contemporary Indigenous issues and history.

Less Problematic Alternatives To Indian In The Cupboard'-2

Lower Elementary: || A River Lost- L. E. Bragg || A Coyote Columbus- Thomas King || As Long As The River Flows- Larry Loyie ||

Middle School: || The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian- Sherman Alexie || A Stranger At Home- Christy Jordan-Fenton || Lightning Rider- Jaqueline Guest ||

High School: || The Inconvenient Indian- Thomas King || Ends/Begins- David Alexander Robertson (Part of a seven book series) || Walking In The Woods: A Métis Journey- Herb Belcourt ||

Whenever we discuss big issues like this with students it is important that more than one story is read. Any book will offer only one perspective, and it is the job of educators to be willing to critically engage with students about issues in the texts they read.

It can be difficult to explore complex and often uncomfortable realities surrounding the  treatment of Indigenous peoples with students. But to reach for an outdated and racist book simply because it is more comfortable to teach or easier to avoid the ‘big issues’ is a disservice not only to Indigenous peoples, but to our students and ourselves.

For more book recommendations you might like to visit this list of books selected by BC teachers, or the lists for kids and teens at www.strongnations.com.  

Back To School Celebration

Back To School Self Care

Today kicked off my back to school celebration. I asked teachers what they did to take care of themselves during the busy back to school season. Between last minute Walmart runs for supplies and setting up your classroom, it can be difficult to make time for taking care of yourself. Wether you take a nap, watch your favourite tv show while you laminate, spend time with your kids, or sit on the porch with a big bowl of ice cream, make sure you spend some quality ‘you’ time before the school year starts.

What do you do to start of the year refreshed and relaxed? I’d love to hear from you on social media, in the comments below, or at lifelonglearning1234@gmail.com.

 

 

Back To School Celebration

BTS Celebration Lifelong Learning

It’s back to school season and I think that’s a reason to celebrate! Though it can be a busy season of stress and to do lists, it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of a new school year. For the next seven days I’ll be posting dollar deals, flash freebies, and more! Keep an eye out on social media to participate! While you’re on the lookout for flash freebies you can also join the conversation- comment on the back to school themed questions and see what other educators are thinking this back to school season.

Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to participate.

Beach Themed Sensory Bin

Summer is a great season for sensory play experiences. Water tables, gardening, and playing at the beach all provide children with valuable opportunities for sensory play. But what about those stormy summer days spent inside? Create a fun beach themed sensory bin to bring the summer indoors.

Beach Sensory Bin

In this bin the sand provides a fun foundation, and with the addition of water becomes a building material. Coloured threads mimic seaweed, and rounded beach glass, driftwood and seashells provide interesting textures and colours to explore. The best part? Most of these materials can be collected on your next trip to the beach.

Wan’t to learn more about sensory bins? You might like the following posts:

Sensory Play & Sensory Bins
Calming Sensory Bin
Autumn Sensory Bin