Can you believe it's already October 20th? Just 11 days out from Halloween! Can I also get a heck yes to Halloween near the end of the week this year?!  Last year, when Halloween was on a Wednesday, I wasn't sure we were going to make it, ha! Monday and Tuesday my students were SO EXCITED, Wednesday was Halloween, and then Thursday and Friday they were exhausted and coming down from their sugar highs. The scariest part of the whole week was definitely those sugar crashes combined with a late mid-week bedtime! This year, I actually have PD on November 1st, so that worked out pretty well for my students! (Less so for me, because I'll have to drive 2.5 hours the morning of Nov 1 to get there, but them's the breaks!) I am on the Halloween committee at my school this year, so I'm in charge of planning some fun Halloween activities (en français) for the K-2 students. I figured I would share some of them with you today, in ca...
I know I'm not alone when I say that one challenge that I have every year as a teacher is how to display my posters. Of course, we have four classroom walls and, theoretically, plenty of space...but that's not always the case! Many of us have administrations that require us to hang certain things on our walls and/or bulletin boards, which takes away space for things we want to display. Also, if you're like me, your fire marshall doesn't let you hang up very much, either! At my school, we are only allowed to hang things on 20% of the wall... which is basically just the bulletin board space. And I only have one bulletin board! I've come up with some ways of getting around this, though, so keep reading to learn my tips for ways to display classroom posters. 4 Ways to Display Classroom Posters Any référentiels or anything that I make, I do with my students, and we post them as we go. But, I do like to have my alphabet posters up all throughout...
Call me crazy, but we start using glue in my classroom from Day 1. We do a lot of crafts, which means a lot of cutting and gluing. If you teach or have ever taught maternelle, then you know that glue can be a hot mess. Today, I will be sharing my secrets of how we glue lots of things with no mess at all - even in Week 1 - by using glue sponges in maternelle! Using Glue in Maternelle I use the most amazing creation I have ever come across as a teacher: glue sponges! ...
One thing that is so cool about teaching is how we grow and evolve with experience. It's an amazing career for seeing tangible improvement and growth as a teacher (and as a human!) , starting in just your first year. It's pretty crazy how you have to adjust and change in order to adapt to new students, new behaviours, new curriculum, and more, year after year. Since I started teaching, many of my "limiting beliefs" about myself and what I do/don't do best have changed drastically - for the better. For example, when I first started teaching, I basically flew by the seat of my pants, believing that it's better to always go with the flow and follow my heart - to basically teach what I wanted to teach and do what I wanted to do... often switching up my plans at the drop of a hat. I reasoned that that's how I worked best, and nobody would get bored. Up until that point, I had spent my whole life "following my heart" and doing what I felt l...
I'm not sure if you can relate, but sometimes I feel like half the battle in maternelle is just getting the day started on the right foot. If I can get my students calm, happy, and speaking French right from the get-go, we generally have a calm, happy, French-filled day. If not, I've sometimes had students climbing on window sills (true story!!) , throwing tantrums because someone didn't share, and/or speaking English all day long. Just like with adults (I have a super strict morning routine myself!!) , I think that our students can really benefit from starting the day in the way that we would like for it to continue. There is a particular way that we start our school day in my maternelle classroom, every day, right from Day 1. Read on if you're curious to learn more! ...
Can you take a second to imagine this scenario? Pretend that it's about 7am, and you're driving a huge, noisy, yellow bus through your neighbourhood, after getting up super early to inspect the bus and make sure it's safe. You pick up student after student - who may range in age from 3 (YUP - here in NS, we have 3-year-olds who take the bus!!!) to 18. After an hour or so, your bus is full of kids - sleepy kids, excited kids, nervous kids, hyper kids, hungry kids, kids with "attitude"... all kinds of kids! Now imagine having to supervise all of those kids... while also keeping them safe on the road. Watching for errant drivers, deer/wildlife, and who knows what else! Driving through rainstorms, ice storms, snowstorms, in 30+ degree heat with no AC, etc. All the while knowing that one mistake, one lapse in judgment, or one distraction (even though your bus is FULL of distractions!) could lead to tragedy for any of those kids and their families. I ca...
When I first started teaching maternelle, I must admit... I liked to make things complicated. Not on purpose, of course - I just wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted my students to have THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER in my class. So I had treasure chests and classroom jobs, students of the week and elaborate show and tell plans. And for my students' birthdays, I had a big fancy poster where I spent ages handwriting their birthdays and adding pretty stickers. I had a special crown for my students to wear, and I gave them a gift (from the dollar store, but still!) and it was just... a lot. A lot of time spent on things that my students could really do themselves. Since that first year, I have definitely calmed down. I work hard to ensure that my students still have an amazing experience in my class, but I have found that my limited time is much better spent on developing amazing lesson plans and actual learning activities, rather than birthday celebrations and fancy decor...
We all know that maternelle is a... special adventure, especially in September ;) When we school starts in September, some of our students may have never been in an environment where they have to follow group rules before. (Or ANY rules ;) haha) I remember one year having a student think it was okay to start a game of TAG in the classroom, while I was teaching! Our students in maternelle are just getting familiar with school and all of the routines that come with it. Plus, they're really young, so sometimes learning rules takes some time to stick! There's also the fact that not all of our students speak and/or understand French yet. So, how do I introduce classroom rules in maternelle? Keep reading to learn all of my teaching tips and tricks! Introducing Classroom Rules in Maternelle On Day 1, of course, we talk about classroom rules and expectations. Like I said above, this can be a challenge since not everyone can speak/understand French! ...
I think I speak for educators everywhere when I say that laminating is both a blessing and a curse! While it does wonders to make our teaching materials last for years, it is so incredibly time-consuming! We all have a love/hate relationship with laminating, don't we? And who else only has one laminator for the whole school?! How are we supposed to get anything laminated before we need it?! All jokes aside, I've found ways to make laminating more efficient over my years in the classroom. I'm sure you might have already heard of some of these tips, but I hope that others are new to you! We can master the beast that is laminating by sharing our best practices and time-saving tips...right? So, keep reading to learn about my suggestions for you. Laminating Tips for Classroom Teachers First of all, laminating is way more fun if you do it while you watch Netflix. ;) #justsaying Also, it goes much faster if you can enlist some help! I get my husband to hel...
Rhyming is fun, and knowing how to rhyme is very important for anyone wanting to learn to read. Last week, I shared with you how much little Andrea loved to rhyme, and how crazy she drove her parents with The Name Song (along with begging for 100 bedtime stories per night, most of which rhymed) . (If you missed it, you can read more about that HERE .) I also explain how (according to a quick Google search - I did not personally do any research/check the validity/sources of this statement) , fewer and fewer kids are starting school adept at rhyming, likely because fewer and fewer parents are teaching their children nursery rhymes and reading them lots of rhyme-y bedtime stories. This is a problem for us maternelle teachers! There is a correlation between rhyming mastery and reading readiness, so if we want our students to learn to read (and read well), we have got to make sure that they have rhyming down pat. And, if they aren't learning nursery rhymes at home with their...
When I was a little girl, I went through lots of weird phases. I don't remember learning to rhyme per say, but I DO remember being obsessed with "The Name Song". I think it was from a TV show, or possibly sung by Sharon, Lois, & Bram, but either way, it went like this: Andrea, Andrea Bo-Bandrea Banana Fana Fo-Fandrea Me Mi Mo Mandrea Andrea! (Substitute any name of your choosing for Andrea, and rhyme accordingly). I remember singing it over and over and over in the car, putting in everyone's name that I could think of. I'm sure my parents LOVED it 😉 I don't know if that song was how I first learned to rhyme, or if it just provided me with (ample) practice, but my love of rhyming continued throughout my childhood. One of my few memories from elementary school is actually writing a poem of which my second-grade teacher was so proud, she had the principal read it over the PA system. (Pretty sure it wasn't that great - I remember the ...
Teachers are busy. We are busy inside of school, and outside of school. During the school day, we are teaching lessons, wiping noses, tying shoes (jk, I don't tie shoes haha) , tracking down lunches, writing notes in agendas, mediating conflicts, and loving our students as if they are our own. After school (and often before school) , we are planning, prepping, answering emails, attending meetings, and you know, trying to live our lives. We have lots to teach! In maternelle especially, we have so many things to teach that don't even necessarily fall under curriculum... but we know that our students won't be really ready for learning until these things are addressed. Sometimes, we spend all of September and October just helping our students learn how to follow a routine and open their lunch containers... and then, suddenly it's Christmas and we feel like we haven't taught anything at all. At this time, if you're anything like me, you might start to f...
If you've been following my blog a bit, you may have already seen my post about My Favourite Ways to Warm up my Students for Guided Reading . But let's be honest for a second, here... Some days are less than ideal in maternelle, and you won't always have time for an elaborate warm-up activity! Take Tuesday, February 19th for example. How do I remember the exact date? Well, that was the day of the February full moon! Enough said, I'm guessing, haha - if you teach kids (of any age!), I'm sure you know EXACTLY what kind of day it was! My students were literally and figuratively Bouncing. Off. The. WALLS.  There was NO WAY they could do their literacy centres for 20 minutes straight, affording me all the time I would need to work with my groups.  But, I had to see my groups, so I tried anyway, and WOW.  By the end of Round 1, I had one student covered head to toe in marker, and another who apparently ate an entire crayon. Yu...
Teaching five-year-olds to read is super fun, and one of my favourite parts of the job. But, it isn't always easy! Most students catch on to the idea of looking at the picture to help them figure out an unknown word, and many grasp looking at the first letter pretty quickly, too. BUT, struggles can ensue when you ask your students to look at the rest of the letters, and blend the sounds together. My maternelle students can feel really overwhelmed and stressed out when I ask them to "read" a new word. And, finding engaging ways to get my students to practice decoding/blending in French without discouraging them used to be challenging. SO MANY FRENCH WORDS in their books have sons composés or letters that don't even talk! My kiddos would be so excited to come across a short word that they felt they could blend... like auto , for example. They would take a deep breath, look at the word, and say "aaa...uuu...ttttt...ooo... ah-u-to!" And, of cou...
Confession time! As you probably know, I am anglophone. I grew up speaking English, in an English household, in an English community. I fell in love with the French language in the sixth grade and never looked back, but I was taught completely in English up until grade seven. (In grade six, I had the most amazing Core French teacher who completely opened my eyes to the French language and got me so excited to give learning a second language a go!) Everything I was taught about reading, grammar, etc. as a child was in English. Now that I am teaching 5-year-olds en français, I have to be sure I am teaching them the right things. Most things are pretty evident, but not all! For example... syllables! English and French have different rules about syllables and when to divide a word into parts/how many parts are in a word. Most of my students come from English-speaking homes as well, so I wanted to be sure I understood the rules correctly before trying to teach them. And,...
Has this ever happened to you in maternelle? It's September, and your kindergarten students know pretty much nothing about being in school. You're bustling about trying to teach them how to properly use scissors and open their lunch boxes... forget about learning to read and write! At the beginning of the year in maternelle, it can feel like you are putting out fires and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Our main goal is to keep everyone happy, alive, and in one piece! I've always struggled with letting go of the idea of jumping right into learning. We have so much to cover, and so little time! Plus, what in the world do you even DO with these 20 five-year-olds if you don't start teaching right away?! I don't like wasting time. Spending all of September and October learning how to walk in a line and use a glue sponge can feel like a waste of time sometimes, even though I *know* it's an important and crucial investment. But...
A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine who teaches in another school board. (We both teach en français, but I teach with the francophone board, whereas she is teaching French immersion with an anglophone board). We both teach maternelle, and so we experience many of the same experiences and frustrations. Even though my students have French heritage, most of them do not speak French at home, so it can be challenging for them to reach our expectations and outcomes. Our outcomes assume that they DO speak French, and fluently. One difficulty my friend and I both share is that even though lots of our students can't really speak French yet, we are still expected to teach them how to read. Guy. I don't know if you know this, but... You can't read if you can't speak! It feels so silly to me that we are expecting our students to LEARN TO READ (aka use all THREE types of clues - visual, structure, and sense) when they can't even speak yet. Ho...
If you're a teacher, I am CERTAIN what I'm about to say is something you already know from first-hand experience, but teachers don't receive a lot of (any?) money to help outfit their classroom . I had to start my teaching career with recycled alphabet posters - none of which matched! My students were probably so confused because in one area of the classroom, D was for dragon , in another, D was for dauphin , and for their writing folder linking charts, D was for dinosaure ! But I didn't have much choice - I didn't have the money to buy three copies of everything, or the time to make three versions of the same alphabet myself. I've gotten a bit smarter and a bit more resourceful over the years, so today I want to share a little tip for you that has worked really well for me and my students. We need to create/purchase sooo many resources for our classrooms, so today I will share a way to "double dip" and re-purpose any digital posters that you...
Fun fact: prior to last year, I always taught math whole-group. I knew small group math would be valuable, but I didn't have the TIME to sit down and figure it out, and my students were still getting great results with how I was teaching math whole-group. (I do a workshop model, with hands-on practice with a partner every single day, so my students were still getting lots of great math experiences.) Buuuuut, as you may or may not know, I missed half of last year because I was out on maternity leave. I came back to work in January, and I felt so behind in math! My students still hadn't even mastered numbers 1-5, and not only had I not taught any content yet, but it often takes me a few weeks to get the workshop model off the ground. I knew I wouldn't have enough time to make sure every student was meeting every outcome in the few months I had left. With whole-group math, it can be hard to see who isn't grasping each concept until it's time for evaluatio...
This is my seventh year teaching maternelle, and it STILL blows my mind I get to help teach children to read. I remember my very first year teaching, when I had my first ever guided reading group sitting across from me at the table.  I had absolutely NO IDEA what to do with them!!! I had three pairs of eyes staring expectantly at me and no idea how to even START to teach them how to read the words on the pages of their new level one books.  You need to know so many things to be able to read... what do you teach first?   How can you make your students feel successful from the very first lesson? I think other grades have an advantage when it comes to teaching reading (aside from the fact that their students' brains are older and more ready haha) - their students have all already been taught at least *something*, and have a jumping off point. But what do you do when your students are starting from nothing??  How do you get guided reading off the groun...
We all know teachers are busy. And I mean, BUSY. I thought I was busy before, and then I had a baby, and all I can say is WOW. You teachers out there with more than one child and no stay at home parent, you ladies & gents are the real heroes of the world.  2018 was a whole new experience for me. I went back to work when Leah was 5 months old, and her dad stayed home with her (thank you Canada for amazing maternity/parental leaves!) .  Even with Ben at home, life got CRAZY and I had to get really good at prioritizing and really bad at procrastinating.  (I have always been a procrastination queen, so it was a hard habit to unlearn 😉) As a family, we have our feet under us a lot more solidly now and are once again finding time to do the things we enjoy. For me, that means going to the beach, playing hockey, and stalking teacher blogs! In case your 2018 was as insane as mine, I decided to compile a little list for you of my top 5 blog posts you...