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: Worth The Trip


This week was as busy as usual but there was an added bonus that I did not anticipate. I had the usual practicum placement but we did not have lecture classes because we are getting for our two-week block placements for practicum.   However we did have one mandatory visit we had to go to for class. It was a visit to a literacy program for students in grade 1 & 2 called 5th Block.

To be honest I was not looking forward to going. I was swamped with work and to top it all off I had to go across town to get to the school. Lets put it this way, by car it would take me close to an hour to get there but by public transit it would take my over 2 hours. Either way I would have to leave home early to get there for 8:45 am. I did drive there and it took over an hour with all the traffic and I was late. Once there I was saying to myself this better be worth my time because I could be doing something else more important.

I got there before the children arrived for their morning program and got caught up with the teachers. Yet once the children arrived and the program started all my issues disappeared. The teacher went through a phonic program with the children to help them improve their reading and word recognition. She went through one activity after another that involved phonics, reading words on a word wall, reading from a storybook and having them read a story. They even read stories to each other and then discussed the story together. It was very impressive.

For me the part that made me very happy was that they encouraged the children to know the sounds of the letters or the phonics. I grow up with this strategy and when I began teaching as an early childhood educator (ECE) I helped the child to do the same thing. Also within my studies we learned that phonics is the most helpful way for children to begin to learn to read. Even when I was helping in some kindergarten classrooms many did the phonetic way of teaching the children yet others just taught the name of the letters not the sounds.

When I was teaching in a centre I was responsible for 10 students who’s parents wanted them stayed at the centre because they did not want their child to go into the school system until they where ready for grade one. Therefore I was responsible for teaching them the kindergarten curriculum and one area I focused was teaching the name of the letter and more importantly the phonetic sound of the letter. The parents appreciated my efforts and wanted the children to know both, and I agree. I worked with the children for one year and in that time I saw them go from knowing the letters and sounds to reading level A, B & C books.

I witnessed the value of learning teaching phonics to help improve literacy and I am overjoyed to see that there are great literacy programs doing the same thing. I guess it was worth the hour and a half trip to the school after all.


Friday Two Cents: Tom Clancy, Thank You


If you do not know me, the one thing you must know is that I love to read.  Oh I was never like this when I was younger.  Reading for me was a chore, something to be avoided.  I did not appreciate how wonderful reading can be until I read a fantastic book call The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. 

Well you see, I was never much of a reader in high school, mostly because I did not like the novels I had to read.  Surprisingly I liked reading Shakespeare, but the novels they had us read were boring.  I don’t even remember the books and to this day I wonder what the teachers were smoking when they came up with their list of books.  A book has to capture my interest right away or else it’s trash.  Amazingly I read Lord of the Rings and that started off at a snail’s pace.

Anyways, I was out of high school in my twenties, taking my ECE courses when this movie came out.  I heard that this is an adaptation of a book so I read the book before I went to see the movie.  Well right away I was hooked and I finished the book in a matter of days.  For me at the time that was a miracle.  I then went to see the movie and I liked it, but of course I did like the book better, but it started something inside of me. 

I so loved the book I looked for other books by Tom Clancy.  I began reading in earnest in-between my courses and work.  I fell in love with the characters and style of the books.  One particular book, Red Storm Rising I have read countless times. Every two years of so I pick it up again and re-read it.  It’s about a fictional war between the NATO Forces and the Warsaw Pack or USSR.  I read it during Desert Storm and the tactics used in that conflict was in the book but it was written 4 – 5 years before the conflict. 

If you think that is weird, I know many women who have read Pride and Prejudice at least as frequently as I have read Red Storm Rising.  I guess this book is a guys’ Pride and Prejudice. 

Tom Clancy’s books so affected my life that I could not stop reading.  I read everything I could, including Pride and Prejudice.  To this day I am reading more and more and it inspires me to create, both writing and drawing. 

Tom Clancy opened my eyes to a world of imagination in reading.  Not only fiction but I also read his non-fiction and his studies in command books.  I did not limit my reading to his work, but other area such as historical topics and countless other topics that peaked my interest. 

On October 1, 2013 Tom Clancy died in Baltimore and I had to stop and say a prayer for him and his family.  There are people who touch our lives without even being a part of it.  I began a love affair with reading and books because of his novels and for this I am eternally grateful. 

Rest in Peace Tom and Thank You. 

Cover of "The Hunt for Red October"

Cover of The Hunt for Red October

Cover of 1986 first edition

Cover of 1986 first edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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