Hello, World!

Welcome to my new online home!

My name is Gill (pronounced Jill, but with a G) and I’m a teacher. More specifically, I’m an Ontario elementary school teacher. This year I’ve been granted a fantastic grade 5/6 class and I’ve got to say…I’m lovin’ it! It’s my first year teaching a grade 5 group but I’ve had grade 6 ‘s in the past. I wasn’t sure what to expect this year. I worried that the 5′s would be needy, and whiny, and generally too immature for my liking. Fortunately, the group of kids I’ve got are the exact opposite. My class is such a wonderful collection of personalities and so far, I’ve had an absolute blast.


This is my first year returning from maternity leave. My precious baby girl was born in July 2011, so I ended up with just over a full year away from work. It was wonderful to have so much time home with my daughter, but I’ve got to admit that I was certainly ready to get back to work. When I first found out that I would be teaching a 5/6 class this year, I immediately hit up Pinterest for some creative ideas, and did I ever hit the jackpot! My classroom is littered with ideas that I’ve found online, and most of those ideas came from blogs! There are so many fantastic teacher blogs out there, and I’ve got to credit them with providing me the inspiration to start my own. Some of my favourites are The Clutter Free Classroom, Lessons from the Middle, Teaching my Friends, and A Teachers Treasure.


I’ve been intending to get this blog started since early September. However, life seems to have gotten in the way. Between back to school crazyness, weddings on weekends, and chasing after a 1 year old, I haven’t managed to find the time, until now! So, here’ goes nothing!


I thought a good way to start off would be to post a few pictures of my classroom, and some of the things happening in there right now. Let’s start with “my” areas of the classroom.


I think it’s pretty easy to tell that this is my desk area. Behind my computer table I’ve got my “Help Wanted” bulletin board. The background is made of classified ads. Each month, students apply for “jobs” such as Clutter Controller, Distribution Director, Emissary, Substitute Liaison, etc. They fill out an application (which is formatted just like a real life job application) and get it signed by their parents, and then I “hire” employees. Each job as a salary to be earned every week and students are paid with cheques from My Classroom Economy.

 

This is my guided reading area. All of my guided reading texts are kept on the shelf behind the horseshoe table for easy access.

These are my fun unit binders. I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it really jazzed up a bookshelf. My units are all in 3 ring binders (the kind with the clear pocket on the outside). Then I just put pieces of fun scrapbooking paper (mostly animal prints) in the pockets, and VOILA! Fun, animal print unit binders!

 

Next up are my classroom displays. The two posters below are posters I downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ve got to apologize as I can’t remember who created them. However, they’re great. Beneath them, I’ve got a selection of common “Grammar Goofs.”  They were inspired by THIS  infographic.

 

 These are my student mailboxes. Any time they’re absent, their missed work goes in here. Right now, they’re using them to keep track of their in-progress art, as well.

 

 This is my model Reading Response Letter. I found a very similar one on another blog and used it as the inspiration to create this one. Every other week, my students (both the 5/6 and 7/8 language arts classes) submit a reading response letter. The purpose is to talk about their thinking about the book they’re reading. I created this model letter and then broke it down with my students. The pink post-it notes deal with structural issues, while the yellow post-it notes deal with content. I wasn’t sure whether writing about Outlander was entirely appropriate (since there are some violent and fairly scandalous portions), but I figured that it would be better to write honestly about a book that I read and loved than to write a fictional letter about a book that is more grade appropriate. In the end, it didn’t matter. Not a single student asked me for details or to borrow it.


These are 4 of my 6 First Day of School posters. I had these posters displayed around the classroom on Day 1 and asked each student to add a post-it note to each poster over the course of the day. I made sure to make this extra fun by getting a variety of fun colours and shapes. They turned out so well that I decided to laminate them so that we could look back at our answers over the course of the year.

 



This is my Fluency poster. It also came from another blog. I liked it so much that I borrowed it! This one stays on display all the time, but the students also created replicas in their reading notebooks. Every day we do read-aloud plays, so we refer to this poster frequently. So far, so good!

 

Last but not least, I’ve got to post some of our art. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am no artist. Not even close. In fact, I hated art in school! In grades 7 and 8 I had a teacher who was really into art. He was a great artist himself, but he didn’t really make it that fun. He tended to grade student artwork based on skill rather than effort, and since I had/have zero skill, I didn’t do so well. So, my philosophy is that art needs to be fun! This is my first year really teaching the subject, and so far it’s gone really well. From what I can tell, the kids are engaged and enjoying “my” ideas (almost all are inspirations from Pinterest). This first picture is the first art project we did. We started the year off by talking about colour. I’ve been using the work sheets from the ABC’s of Art to teach the elements, and then we move to an activity that demonstrates understanding. This activity is a warm/cool colour grid. It was super easy, and turned out great!

 

 

Next are the Warm/Cool landscapes. We did these on black construction paper. Landscapes were drawn with pencil and then outlined with white glue. Once the glue dried, the kids used chalk pastels to shade in the foreground, middleground, and background. They turned out amazingly! 

 

Finally, this is the project we’re currently working on. We’re looking at gradients and will be creating them using city scapes made of different colours of denim. However, we needed to create the background first. Each student got a piece of black construction paper and was asked to use analogous colours of chalk pastels to create a background (which will become the sky once we get going on the city scapes). Then, I took the chalk pastel work outside and sprayed it with Krylon Fixatif in order to keep the chalk from rubbing off once the denim was added. Once this was dry, they were glued onto pieces of foam core board. We will add the denim city scapes on Friday. This is an example of one of the works in progress.

 


That’s it for now, folks. I’m hoping to stay on top of this blogging thing and get updates posted regularly. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions, and definitely check back soon!


Ta ta, for now!

Oops! Forgot to post a picture of my whole classroom! Here it is!

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