Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Layout

After many hours searching around, I finally found a blog layout that I liked the look of. So many of the edu-bloggers out there have beautiful blogs, and I felt like I was slacking! The new layout is brighter and (hopefully) easier to read. The only downside is that it's two columns instead of the usual three, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

At the moment, the back-end of Blogger is having some trouble. Every time I try to tweak the layout, Avast anti-virus tells me that the javascript trying to load is a trojan. It's very frustrating, so I hope that Blogger/Avast sort themselves out. I want to fidget with my layout some more!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Ready for School

You will see a lot of blog entries with this title at this time of the year- Getting Ready for School. As you all know, in the Northern Hemisphere school starts in September. The majority of edu-bloggers are from the US and, as expected, all of the bloggers I follow are discussing classroom layout, parent packs and display ideas.

Here in South Africa, school starts in January. The big summer holiday is December - January, with a smaller (but significant) winter break June - July. This fact also makes a lot of beautiful calendar and planning resources useless to me, they are often decorated and planned seasonally and our seasons are opposite here! Let's see some love for the teachers in the Southern Hemisphere! Gecko at The Red Pen of Doom is a South African teacher, hi Gecko!, but I wonder if there are any more out there? If there are signs of life, maybe we could get a Southern Hemisphere linky-party started.

 The emphasis on starting the school year at the moment is beneficial to my own plans, though- I start my final teaching practice in two weeks! I've met my host teacher and discussed our plan for the first week of term. I'll be at Queenspark School (as usual, not it's real name) for 5 whole weeks. My class, Grade 2 (age 7/8), will be starting third term with me there from the first day. I love this because it helps to cement my authority if I'm there from the 'start'. There are 16 students, with a 50/50 split between those who are home-language English speakers and those who are not. It's my first time in a private school, so I'm excited to see the contrast between Queenspark and Sandlot, which was a well-supported government school.

My host teacher said that she wasn't happy with her current method of classroom discipline, which was grouping rows of desks into teams. This wasn't working for two reasons:
  • The students are young and not very assertive, meaning members of Dragonfly Group didn't feel they were brave enough to tell other Dragonflies to be quiet/behave.
  • My host teacher often changes the seating plan to accomodate her students' needs.
We discussed this and I mentioned my Clip Chart which had worked so successfully at Sandlot School. The result: I'm going to make another Clip Chart and bring it into my new Grade 2 classroom! I'm excited to have the opportunity to create another Clip Chart so soon, and I hope that my class will like it. I have 1 week before school starts, so with luck I'll have more pictures up here of Clip Chart #2 soon.

As a side note, I finally realised I didn't have the "Follow My Blog" gadget installed- whoops! If you read my blog, please sign up and follow me. There will be cookies! Virtual cookies.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My First Clip Chart

I had a chance to visit Sandlot School today. My old class are coming along well, I'm so proud of them! They are really growing up into fine little people. While I was there, I was able to take some photos of the Clip Chart that I made in June. Here's how it looks!

As explained in this amazing post at Clutter-Free Classroom, each student in the class has a peg with their name on it. For behaviour, they are told to clip up (good) or down (bad). It's a great, visual, way for younger students to understand how they are doing. What I loved about it is that it really worked with my class. I introduced it and, within two days, students who were normally troublesome were hovering around the top of the chart. When I left Sandlot School, my host teacher asked to keep the Clip Chart. To my happiness, they are still using it over two months later.

"We like the colours" - student, age 7, when talking about the clip chart this morning.

Each student goes back to Ready to Learn at the end of every day, showing that being ready to learn is the goal of this operation.
I don't have a .pdf to share with you all- my own Clip Chart was just made from labels I made in OpenOffice Writer, stuck to coloured card/paper. The coloured paper was then stuck together and the whole thing was laminated. I punched two holes in the top and threaded a shoelace through it, to make the hanging height adjustable. My cutting of the labels wasn't exactly straight, if I use this method again I'll use a guillotine to do the cutting!

In general, I'm pleased with how my first Clip Chart turned out- and especially thrilled that my host teacher wants to keep using it with her students. Now that I know how well they can work, I'm looking forward to creating the next one!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Great giveaway at First Grade O.W.L.s!

There is an amazing giveaway happening at First Grade O.W.L.s right now, have a link: Click here to check out the giveaway.

What you could win:
  • 4 Writing Work Stations The Complete Set by Deedee Wills
  • 4 Everything OWL Classroom Bundle by Nicole Bunt
On the same blog post, there is also a great freebie for Whole Brain Teaching. I was discussing the concept in one of my previous posts- here. When you have your classroom rules, it's essential to have them posted in the classroom.The ones that are up at First Grade O.W.L.s are just adorable, look!

I can't wait to get my own classroom and have it decorated beautifully, much like the colourful polka dots on display there.

Freebies and giveaways are just some of the valuable things you can gain from joining the online world of networking with other teachers. I have already learned so much from my fellow educators around the world, and perhaps I should do a post at a later date talking about how the blogosphere works in a teaching-sharing context.