Comic Strips: The Fine Print


 

This month’s latest instalment of, The Craziest Things is coming out on Valentine’s Day since, as you may have guessed, it is Valentine themed. In this comic I explore the growing trend towards a more litigious society and with what is happening in the world when it comes to relationships.

Many of us have seen when someone says something it may be taken in the wrong way or come back and bit them in the behind. More and more we as a society are falling onto the law to help protect or prosecute many things.

I thought what would happen if the above trend was translated into the innocent world of giving Valentine cards. So many of us have given and received Valentine cards in our childhood. It was a time of innocent fun and an opportunity to say thank you to your classmates and friends for being your friend. Yet what if someone took it too far and wanted to protect them-selves for fear of some future scrutiny. When does it go to far?

I guess we should heed Winston Churchill’s warning…

‘If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.’ Winston Churchill

With this in mind, I hope you enjoy the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things; The Fine Print.

 

 

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Friday Two Cents: Beating The January Blahs


 

This past week was not the January Blahs but at times it sure felt like it. The students where their usually sweet selves, yet the days seemed to drag on. Yet I was able to introduce a concept to the students I hope/should carry them on in their lives. I introduced sentence structure to them. Yeah you are probably thinking big deal, but it is to a first grader.

The students were writing sentences for sometime, however I noticed that many would simply string words together when writing them. Their oral language is good and many read well for first graders but I thought it wise to help them get a foundation in writing. I began with introducing the different parts of the sentence in a language they would understand. I created a chart to help them. We did some practice writing to reinforce this “What Makes A Sentence”. I also introduced a writing success criteria chart to help them. It is set up like a checklist/success criteria; something very similar to one I created to remind them to take their things home at the end of the day. Then during the week I introduced new activities that would involve them writing a sentence, such as in social studies we wrote about their favourite place in their neighbourhood. This all came together on Friday when we made sentence puzzles.
The students would write a sentence using the success criteria to help them. They would cut the words out and then ask another student to try to put the sentence back together and read the sentence. This way they can use the success criteria to help guide their thinking when recreating the sentence. The capital is at the beginning, punctuation at the end. Below you can see some of their sentences and some of them are pretty funny.

In the end we all had a good laugh and I hope they learned something. In the end I guess that is a good way to beat the January Blahs.

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Friday Two Cents: Awaking Joy In Creative Expression And Knowledge


As the second week of me working in the grade 1 class came to an end, I believe the students and I are getting the hang of the new routine. I am trying to keep as much of the students routine they had with the other teacher but I am adding a few of my own touches.

One thing I introduced is a story time where I read a story picture book but I only read a few pages every day. They are large, colourful books that have about 100 pages. I have many Disney story books that fit this description and the students are familiar with many of these stories. I also have a bookmark that I use to mark where we left off. Every day I would read a few pages until Friday when I would finish off the story.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

This week we read “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, the story seen in the original 1940 Fantasia. Many haven’t seen this piece and it was not too long for a first book. Every day I read a few pages and I would ask the students to predict what would happen next in the story. Many had some imaginative ideas but most came very close to what would happen next in the story. Every morning and even once or twice in the afternoon I was asked when I would continue the story.
I thought this is a wonderful way to introduce longer stories to them then they are used to and for them to know that they can read longer books. All they need is a bookmark to mark were they left off. The nice thing is that one student wanted my bookmark after I finished reading the book, however I suggested if they wanted they could make their own bookmark during their free time. I have a few strips of paper I use for making notes, the perfect size of a bookmark. I gave them one and then one by one the students wanting to make their own bookmarks too. Many even got some yarn to make tassels.

Student’s bookmark

But I think the clincher was when I told them that at the end of Friday I would show them the video of the original “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from the original 1940 Fantasia, but only if they were good. Of course they were and just before the end of the day we watched the 9-minute video. They were enthralled, not one of them talked during the 9 minutes. And even though it is all music they never said anything about it not having words. They were so excited by it; many asked what story I was bringing in next week. I told them they had to wait and see. They were mildly disappointed but they smiled and I think they knew that was going to be my answer.
Amazing. Simply bringing in a book to read over the week helped the students get introduced to longer books they could enjoy over days, inspire creativity in making bookmarks and enthusiasm for reading. That’s why I love being a teacher. I guess Albert Einstein was right when he said …

 

 

‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.’ Albert Einstein

 

Friday Two Cents: A New Year With A New Experience


 

With the New Year I begin a new adventure.   I have been fortunate to been given the chance to be the teacher in a grade 1 class. It is a tremendous opportunity to teach a full grade one class and to put my years of education and experience into practice. I was lucky to teach in a kindergarten class at the end of last year’s school year and yet now I get another chance to teach many of the same students again in grade 1. I have been with them for the first week and it has been tiring but very enjoyable and enlightening.

The interesting thing is that I worked with a grade five class for about a week and a half before the Christmas break and now I go from a class of 10/11 year olds to one of 6/7 year olds. To say they are very different grades would be stating the obvious but they all have their own rewards. These little people in grade one are so full of wonder and excitement to learn that it has become a bit infectious. They have been eager to learn and I in turn am eager to teach the lessons with these students.
We work on subjects that I enjoy such as art but their enthusiasm for the core subjects like math and literacy is amazing. One literacy activity we did is a “Roll and Read” sight word game. Each student gets to roll the dice and whatever number it lands on they must say the words under that number as quickly as they can. I introduced it on Monday and everyday since they are eager to play the game.

Roll and Read Sight Game

Another activity I introduced is a subitizing activity. Subitizing is the ability to recognize the number of a group of items at a glance and without counting. I used bingo dabbers to make dots on a card and we practice this just before the math lessons. The real nice thing is that I noticed the students practicing on one-another during their indoor recess time.

Subtilizing Card game

It is only the bringing and I have no idea how long I will be in this class, but one thing is for sure, I am going to enjoy this experience with the students. Already I have noticed that they are learning new things but on the other side so am I.  

Comic Strips: Just Misunderstood


 

The December newsletter has been sent out and with it the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things along with it. This month explores a Christmas tradition from a new politically correct point of view.

Many of us have grown up singing and hearing the song about Santa Claus making a naughty and nice list. We all know the verse “He’s making a list. Checking it twice. Going to make sure who’s naughty or nice.” Many of us today sing it and tell it you their children. Many even use it to make sure their child acting good at least for the month before Christmas. But in this modern world of political correctness, how would the naughty and nice list hold up?

Well you’ll just have to read the comic and see what my take on it may be.

I hope you enjoy the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things; Just Misunderstood.

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Friday Two Cents: Teach The World


With the Christmas season upon us I indulged on a yearly tradition of setting up my Christmas town at school. A couple of students and the principal asked how long I have been setting up the town at the school. I told them it is the 8th year I have set it up, yet I started building the town about 10 years prior to that starting with only 5 buildings that I hand painted and with a simple train. Today it has grown to over 50 builds, all hand painted and some that I built myself.

Many have told me that once the town goes up then they start to feel that the Christmas season has arrived. I too feel this once I put up the town, my tree and my nativity scene, which are all up now, the feeling of the Christmas season is upon me. Yet with this feeling of joy and happiness there comes a bit of melancholy. Not because there are those who do not have much, I do feel for them but mostly for the people who have too much. For them Christmas is about acquiring things, or making sure that they get the perfect gift for someone so that you can look good; in other words, excessive consumerism.  
Mind you I do go out and get presents for my family, but I always add a personal note letting them know I care about them. Yet as I walk around the malls I have to laugh to myself. I do love to shop but shopping for me is looking at all the people as they scurry around obsessed with getting stuff. I love their reaction when they get the thing and when they cannot. They seem to miss the point of the whole Christmas season and spirit.  
Christmas for me is about giving thanks for what I have like my health, family and my passions. It’s not about getting or giving stuff; it’s about appreciating the time you have with others, about giving yourself to them to help them feel happy too. For me the tree, the nativity scene and the town is a symbol that everyone in my life is truly special to me. From my immediate to my extended family, close friends, friends/colleagues and even the students and their parents. Everyone that has touched my life is special to me. That is why I cannot get into this consumerism that seems to be everywhere.
I think the best way to sum up how I feel is a song I heard on a local radio station, CHFI 98.1, which is playing Christmas music until Boxing Day. It is by ‘The Tenors’ – Santa’s Wish (Teach the World). I placed a YouTube link below for you all to see it and I think if you do, you too may feel the same way.

 

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Comic Strips: Candy And Taxes


 

The November newsletter has been sent out and with it the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things along with it. This month explores a Halloween tradition from a funny point of view, the giving of treats.

Many of us remember the joy of putting on our Halloween costume and going out trick or treating. The day when you are allowed to get candy and then eat it. Yet as adults we now go out to buy the treats, only to dip into them and indulge a chocolate bar or two before the little trick or treaters show up. On many occasions I would buy treats for the kids a week in advance and then have the teachers raid it. Then to make sure the students have enough candy, I’d have to get some more.

They say, “The only constants in the universe are death and taxes”. Will I would like to add to that saying …

“The only constants in the universe are death, taxes and an empty bowl of chocolate in a room full of teachers.”

I hope you enjoy the latest instalment of, The Craziest Things; Candy and Taxes.

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