Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Snow day!!! Yah...

I know most of the people that will read this post have either just started their summer break, or about to... but here on the other side of the world winter is here! And I have the proof...

And I know to alot of people this is just a sprinkle, but here, it is enough to close all our schools for the day! We don't get snow every year, and certainly not for months on end.

I am just hoping that it stays long enough for us to have a couple of days off school! :-)

The fact that Monday was a holiday (God Bless the Queen) is neither here nor there... nor the fact that I had classroom release last Friday (giving me an extra long weekend break from the kids)... I will take snow days ANYTIME!... I so deserve them with the class that I have this year!

Enjoy your summer break, while I sit here sipping on my hot chocolate!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A moment of brilliance!

Sometimes I spend hours trying to come up with some kind of activity that will stimulate, motivate and most importantly keep them busy learning! But it doesn't quite work.

Today I was just puddling when I had this brainwave... My kids LOVE playing cards and they enjoy write the room as part of my literacy activities. So I combined the two of them! Brillance... I KNOW!! :-)

They had to take the top card of the deck, and whatever the number was (J,Q,K A all mean more than 10 letters) they had to find a word in our room with that many letters and write it down.

They LOVED it... there was lots of discussion about the words they were finding, and trying to decode some of them as well using a range of strategies.

It was fantastic to watch! Brilliant infact!

And the best thing... didn't cost me a cent! I just grabbed the cards from the maths box and away they went!

I do have photos to share some other things we have been doing... but they are on my camera at school!

What brilliant activities have you stumbled across?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thanks.... and a freebie!

I have spent every spare minute today madly clicking and saving files from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Living on the other side of the world I had NO IDEA when the sale actually started. It turns out I could have started last night (my time)but the first few I clicked on had not yet started, so I was unaware of the wasted minutes!

So today was revenge day for me with the sparrows... I was up farting first!!!

I even had a SHORT shower so that I had more time for clicking and saving! Gulped down my breakfast in a somewhat awkward postion so as to not even tempt fate to spill my breakfast on my laptop.... all with the single-minded focus of saving money so that I can provide even more motivating, authentic, realistic learning opportunities for some of my ungrateful students!

THANK YOU to all the fantastic teachers who took part in this day. I will endeavor to go back and look at your other resources as I just did not have the time today.

I would like to share a resource that I made to go with what my student teacher started teaching my students last week.

I have called it Ladybird Facts. I have printed and laminated the sheets to put in the group boxes for my groups. I can also print them as a worksheet to check their learning/understanding. The file include addition, subtraction and family fact sheets. Please click here for a copy.

Today in the scheme of things was a good day! I had 3 of my challenging students away today and what a difference!!! I was even able to mark some writing samples as they read at library time. I loved being able to glance around and see all (ok... all but 1) of my students reading and sharing together without me having to reinforce remind them of what they are supposed to be doing!

See.. so it isn't me that is the bad teacher... I just have a VERY challenging mix of students, who individually are wonderful wee human beings... but together become the devil incarnate!

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?!

How was your day?

Monday, April 30, 2012


The bubble has burst!

We had a pretty good first week back at school... yes it was only 4 days. There is alot to be said for having a Wednesday holiday!

How do you teach children to talk in a whisper?

This group of kids just can not do it! It is soooooo difficult to try a teach small groups when I constantly have to stop and tell them to be quiet.

The task for writing today after our shared writing was to draw a picture of the new sentence we had written (focussing on adjectives)... I couldn't even type an email, I had to constantly walk the room, whispering to children to lower their voices...

And it's only Monday...

It's going to be a long week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I love teaching writing!... Adjectives Anchor Chart

Yah!!!! I have my files from my old laptop! And he even retrieved 'my favourites' links ... soooooo happy!

This term for writing our main focus is going to be descriptive writing.

I have made a couple of anchor charts for adjectives.

If you would like a copy click here

I have purchased a couple of toy windmills that are like flower petals and have vibrant coloured petals. With our book characters(Splat the Cat and Chester) I will put a picture of the cat, and the children will come up with adjectives (in their reading groups)to describe the cat and then using word art will make them to put on the windmill.

Looks good in my mind, ticks all my boxes for catering for different learning styles, using technology and being meaningful. We will also use a venn diagram to compare the two different book characters.

Can't wait to start it this week! Do you enjoy teaching writing? What is your favourite part?

Friday, April 27, 2012

M.I.A... my excuse.. don't multi task! & a chuckle!

I blinked... and now the 2 week break is over and we have just completed the first week of school! What happened to my holidays??? All my best intentions were thwarted!

I managed to last a week not going in to school. On the Monday of the second week I was all set to go into school, all I had to do was quickly email from home to school a couple of things I had made for 'my darlings'.

I opened my laptop picked up my breakfast, took a couple of mouthfuls and when I went to put my bowl down it slipped out of my hand!! Nutrigrain and milk all over my laptop and me!!

I hate those split second decisions to make that feel like time is standing still.... do I tip the milk on the floor or onto me??!! I lost!... milk on the carpet would be harder to clean than putting my clothes in the wash!

But the damage was done!

I cleaned and dried up as much milk as I could, and left it in the sunny autumn sun to dry, but to no avail. I fried the motherboard. :-(

I took it into the insurance company, but of course they had to send it away to confirm it couldn't be fixed. By the time they did that, then they got quotes to replace it a week had passed. Thankfully I will be able to retrieve all my files, just waiting on a kind friend to do it for me!

I rushed down to purchase my new laptop, only to get home to discover that some contractor in town had damaged 2 of the main cables in town that supplies my landline and internet! THWARTED again!!! It took 2 days for us to get phones and then internet back again!

But all is well now. I have a nice new shiny laptop :-) Thanks insurance company. I am now banned from having liquids near my laptop... Hubby and kids order!

I don't have anything to share with you today that you can use until I can access my files again. But I thought I would share a laugh from my week.

This week I have been doing a real focus on being a smart fish (see my earlier post on what that is). We had been having a discussion about how people say things, trying to make us do things that isn't good. How we should just ignore them, walk away or be a brick wall.

Miss 6 was obviously listening and thinking about things in her life. Her question... "so if Mum and Dad are trying to make me eat my vegetables can I ignore them?" Bless her!!!!

I have no idea how I managed to keep a straight face, because in my mind I was rolling on the floor laughing! But I managed to explain the difference between people trying to be mean, and people trying to look out for us. When parents are telling us to eat our vegetables they are trying to make sure we grow up healthy, and that is a good thing, not a mean thing... so I think we should listen to our parents when they tell us that. She agreed... reluctantly!

Did you have a chuckle this week you could share?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A confession... I really tried!

I promised myself that when the term holidays began I would not go into school... not even THINK about school for one week! (This also included pinterest!!! no more than 5 mins a day to check the latest pins... I couldn't not check just incase I missed something marvellous!) I lasted 6 days!

I had to go back today to pick up a video that I left in my room. It was due back today, so I had no choice. I was really good though... I looked around and then left. That was this morning.

This afternoon though was a different matter. The visit this morning started my brain ticking over... I am having a change around to see if it will help with some of my challenging children. It involved a change of desk furniture, so of course, I now need to re-configure my room.

So I was sitting at home, thinking and planning. No-one else was here, Hubby and daughter were at work, son off on a camp. I was bored... If I was thinking about it, I might as well go in and do it... right???

I set myself a time limit... no more than an hour! And I did it in 40 mins! Has to be a world record for me!!! Not sure I am totally satisfied, but time will tell.

I figured if I had broken my promise I might as well do it properly!

I was searching through pinterest and found this wonderful anchor chart by
Abby on reading questions to ask yourself when reading.

I have spent some time this afternoon making an electronic copy. If you would like a copy then click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gotta love rainy days... and being on holiday!

While it was brilliant to have such a wonderful Easter with plenty of sunshine, it is nice to have a rainy day where I can sit guilt free and play on my puter, tweaking my blog!

First up... changing my background. I found this wonderful site full of free scrapbooking images to use.

I spent hours searching, finding different combinations of things I might use. I started off in one direction, and ended up going another totally... but I love the colours of my new background.

While playing with this I discovered that I can make an image with publisher! Save as a jpeg file interchange format. Change dpi to 300. I then used paint to tweak further and help resize my picture.

That done I then set about creating my own button! For directions on how to do this go to this tutorial here

A tip... when making your button picture, resize to 125x125. I had mine too large, and kept getting the dreaded red x!!

What do you think?
Sowing Seeds Of Learning

I am thinking about having a go at doing the header for my blog, but I kinda like it the way it is now. I like things to be simple, not too much clutter. Will have to wait and see.

Have you tweaked your own blog, or have you had someone do it for you?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Helping students to take control when being teased or excluded.

Gosh kids can be nasty sometimes... and other times they don't even realise they are being mean.

There are some behaviours just starting to surface in our class.  Until now I would have said I didn't have anyone 'mean' this year, but the cattiness is starting to appear.

I was browsing on pinterest (yes... I know... I LIVE on there!) and I stumbled across this blog by Michelle The Creative Counselor

It got me thinking, while she uses a smartboard, I have an promeathean board, but not everyone in our school does, so I made up this powerpoint so that everyone at school could use.

I am really keen to use this with my students this week.  There are only 4 days till the holidays, so it will just be an introduction and discussion this week.  After the holidays I will relook at it with them and do some follow up activities.  I really like the smart fish that Michelle has the bottom of her post.

I haven't loaded a powerpoint to share before on slideshare.  If you are not able to get a copy of it, let me know and I will try and find another way to share (unless you can tell me what to do!)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blogging Tips

I am so new to this blogging thing.  I like how people sign with a link to their blog, and wanted to do the same.  I now have this mastered!  (I think!!)

So if you are new and want to leave a link to your blog without all the address showing then this is how to do it.

copy this and paste to a blank document-

      <a href="">Sowing Seeds of Learning</a>

between the speechmarks, remove my address and copy and paste the address of the post you want to link to.  (either your home page, or if you want a specific link then grab that address).

between the > < part, remove my title and type in what you want to see in the comment box.

When you have finished your comment, leave a line or two, then paste your code at the bottom.

Tip: save the document to your desktop so you can quickly access the code whenever you make a comment.

Please feel free to leave a comment to test it out.  If you have other posts that you found helpful with your blogging journey then please leave a link.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Goals and self/peer assessment in writing.

I always find it a challenge when conferencing with my students to leave written feedback or feedforward that is meaningful to them, ie they can refer back to, as most are not able to read what I would write... and my drawings suck! so no point doing that.

I stumbled across a fantastic idea on pinterest the other day {here} from teaching blog addict.  I have modified it as we don't write on loose paper very often, most of our writing is in our draft books.  What I have done is made a template that I can laminate and stick to the back of their books, so they can see the targets that they need to work on. 

{click here for a copy of the version to be anchored in their writing books}  I have two on a page, trim off the excess and cut in half.  Then I laminate each section.  Then cellotape to the inside back cover of their writing book.  (when the book is full, I can remove to the next new book)

Students can choose one or two goals for that day's piece of writing.  I like that idea as it gives them ownership, motivation and focus to include that aspect in that days writing. 

When they have finished their piece of writing they  stick a copy of the template to the bottom of their writing.  They can check to see if they have managed to include their goal before sharing with a buddy.

{click here for a copy of the versions to be stuck in their book each day}  I cut them into strips, and have them already sitting in a container for them to grab when they have finished.

The buddy will read/look at the writing and if they think the goal has been included in the writing then they can initial it on the line below.

I will conference with the student, and when they have mastered that skill then I will sign on the original template (in vivid) and place a sticker on it saying they have achieved that goal. 

It is still near the beginning of our school year.  As they complete templates I will give them a new one that reflects the next learning step or next whole class focus with a new genre of writing.  As the year progresses and their learning increases I will be adding goals like using adjectives, verbs, describing words etc.

What kind of things do you do to promote self/peer assessment in your class?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing Instructions

I am loving teaching instructions with my students.  I have been kind of using the Lane Clark approach to writing.  First we followed some instructions on how to play hopscotch.  And then filled out a P B E and S.W.SW organiser that breaks down all the different aspects of instructional writing.  Click here for a copy.

We then repeated this using a youtube video on how to moonwalk.  Kids LOVE trying to be like MJ, but I have to admit I find it sad that I have to explain to them about the gloves and white socks.

We then created a venn diagram to compare the two instructions and come up with what we think good instructions should have.  We then used this to create a checklist to compare 3 more instructions.  Click here for a copy of our hypothesis organiser.

Once we had checked all of the instructions we then co-constructed our writing criteria for Instructions. 

We have been swimming the last 2 weeks and are experts on the routine of getting ready for swimming.  So we have been writing instructions for the new entrants in Room 14 who will start swimming next week.

Check out our classroom wiki to see pictures of our learning.

What kind of things do you do to teach instructional writing?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Counting Chickens...

I may well be counting my chickens before they have hatched... but I have had 2 days in a row with next to no blurting - or volcanoes as we call it in our room!  But I am taking all the positives that I can find with this class, they are so few and far between so far.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Class tree-ty!

Having students come up with their own rules for the classroom is much more rewarding because students have ownership. If students own it, then they are more likely to follow them. Of course I am allowed to have input, but mainly I turn the words into positives rather than starting with 'don't'. If we don't do something, what do we do instead?

I record their rules on our interactive whiteboard using a wood background.  Then each child is given a leaf to decorate with their name for our tree-ty.  This is how they sign the treaty.  It is a great visual to refer back to when rules are not being followed.

Behaviour Management

This year my class is testing all my knowledge and beliefs about managing behaviours in our classroom.  I am a strong believer in positive classroom behaviour, but have to admit, after 5 weeks of being a broken record it has become very difficult to remain positive!!  But it is a new week... sMonday's are always positive :-)... Friday's are another matter! :-(

Here is what I started the year with.  Once again while on pinterest I found this great link using warm fluzzies.  Click here for the original post that Sesusstastic posted. The resources on here are fantastic so I have basically copied everything from that link to set up my 'warm fuzzie' management. (no point re-inventing the wheel!!!)  I have added extra coupons that are relevant to our school and our class and not used some that are 'american'.

I started out handing out warm fuzzies for anything and everything positive that I saw in our classroom.  I would have a daily focus (book bags in desks, reading books away etc) as well as general classroom behaviours.  At an appropriate time children would put their warm fuzzies in their cup. (I have colour co-ordinated with their house colours red= pink, yellow = orange, green, blue)  At the end of the week children count up their warm fuzzies and then record their score on a graph (linking to graphing that we did at the start of the year for maths).  

The students love getting warm fuzzies, and hate having to give them back if caught doing something they shouldn't be doing.

If children have managed to get 10 warm fuzzies then they are able to trade in for 1 coupon from my organiser.  For every 5 after that they get to choose another one.  I have to admit that I haven't been totally organised when it comes to redeeming them in, but I am aiming to have trading Tuesday and Thursdays.

I have followed the original post and not allowed students to count their fuzzies until the end of the week.  With continuing behaviour issues with several of my students, I wondered if visually seeing what they had, would help motivate them to keep going with good behaviour.  So I have now started a reward chart that I give them ticks, and at the end of the day, I make a big deal about how many warm fuzzies they have achieved and hand them out.  The chart starts fresh the next day, and warm fuzzies are added to their cup again at the end of the day.

What do you do for positive behaviour management?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Problem with students calling out?

ABSOLUTELY!!!  And this year it isn't just one or two... I have six of them.  I discovered this fantastic book on pinterest to read to my students. 
  When a child would call out I would remind them they were being a volcano.  Even some of their peers would tell them that as well.  However 2 weeks later I was over constantly having to remind these children about calling out.  While browsing pinterest (yet again) I discovered a pin {click here for the original} that got me thinking.  Using the blurt chart idea I created my own version using 'My Mouth is a Volcano' theme.

I really want to remove my voice from the classroom some more.  To be honest, I am over saying the same children's name a hundred times a day. (ok, I exagerate, but you know what I mean). 

Our rules are -
- if a child calls out, then I will point to them and then the chart.
- child gets up (without talking) and removes one of their volcanoes. (they have 3 volcanoes)
- for every volcano that is missing, they owe me a minute at the next break.
- if all 3 volcanoes are missing, then they owe me 3 minutes plus a warm fuzzy (will post about this later)
- if their mouth is a volcano for more than 3 then they come up with the agreement that it is in the 'sin bin' for 15 mins at the next break.
- everyone who still has their 3 volcanoes gets a warm fuzzy from me.

At the moment (we have only been doing this for 3 days) I am doing it for each session.  So at the beginning of the next session they start with 3 volcanoes again.  I hope in a couple of weeks I can extend it out longer - we shall see!!!

I am pleased to report, that in the short time we have been doing this I have noticed a good improvement in calling out.  My voice is not being heard, I am using visual and kinesthetic methods to help them take ownership of their behaviours.  As I said previously, so far, so good!


Click here for a copy of my volcano chart.  Please leave a comment if you use it.  I would love to hear your stories about how you have dealt with children calling out in class.


My absolute addiction and ideas generator for my classroom this year.  I have discovered so many wonderful blogs written by teachers willing to share their ideas and resources.  This is one reason I have created my own blog, so that I can give back, rather than always taking.  The other reason is, I am a wiki fan, and want to learn more about blogging so that I can make an informed choice about which format to use in my classroom.

This year has been a very difficult start for me.  I have some very challenging children in my class and only now, after 4 weeks of  'very trying times' do I feel like I am starting to make some progress.  I hopefully have 'head space' time to share what I have been trialling in our classroom thanks to all the wonderful ideas on pinterest.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Holidays... just a distant memory!

3 days into the new school year and the holidays are but a distant memory.  My big find over the holidays was!  I would hate to add up how many hours I spent browsing through pinterest and other pinners boards.  But boy, I have found some wonderful things to use in my classroom.  I have created a number of them and over the following days I will share these, plus some other things we do in our class.

Not much of a first post... but Rome wasn't built in a day!