Friday Reads #1 – Holiday Edition

We’re over half-way through the Summer holiday break here in Australia and for a lot of teachers that means getting back into the swing of things. I know I’ve spent more time that I normally would in at school preparing my classroom (one of the hazards of changing rooms and year levels), but I’ve also had the best opportunity to start thinking about the books I’ll be sharing in my classroom in 2019.

I’m hoping this year to share a post every Friday with a list of some of the books my class and I have read together in the hope that you, my wonderful teacher friends, might find a book that’s new to you, or one that will fit topics you’re teaching.

Once school goes back, these lists might be a bit more ‘thematic’ but since it’s the holidays I thought I’d share 4 new picture books I’ve added to my collection recently that I’m very excited to share with my class throughout the first term of 2019.

The Word Collector – Peter H. Reynolds

Some of you will be very familiar with Peter H. Reynolds other books, The Dot and Ish, but this book was one I thought would be perfect for my 3/4 students. It’s about Jerome, who loves to collect words. He has notebooks and notebooks full of them, and then he discovers how to put these words together, and how to share them with others and it’s just beautiful. This is a wonderful book for vocabulary and for inspiring students to look for new words all around them.

Are the Star Engineer – Komal Singh

I stumbled upon this in a bookstore and had to buy it. Ara is a girl who loves numbers and maths and wants to count all the stars but isn’t sure how to do it. She visits Google’s Innovation Plex and meets with four (real-life) female engineers and learns about their jobs and learns new ways to approach solving her problem. This is a great book for girls in STEM fields, as well as looking at problem solving and coding.

Islandborn – Junot Diaz

One day, Lola’s teacher asks her students to draw a picture of where their families emigrated from. It’s a project that gets everyone excited – except for Lola, who was so young when her family emigrated that she can’t remember the Island her family called home. What follows is Lola’s conversations with family and friends to unlock their memories – which are at times joyful, heartbreaking, scary and lovely. This book celebrates cultural diversity, family and identity, and is just a gorgeous book to share with others.

Armstrong – Torben Kuhlmann

This beautifully illustrated children’s picture book explores the history of the first moon landing through the eyes of Moon Mouse, a young mouse who dreams of reaching the moon. It’s a story told in pictures and words and every page has lots of detail to unpack, and the last few pages have short paragraphs on the history of those people who made it possible for humans t land on the moon. It’s perfect for discussion determination, persistence and patience, as well as following your dreams and the history of space flight.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share your reads in the comments or add you blog link below for others to follow along!

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Big News for 2019!

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Christmas filled with love and family and friends.

Now that I’m on Summer holidays here in Australia, I’m taking the opportunity to rest and relax (as much as I can in the scorching heat) and read as much as I can.

I’ll also be spending a lot of time preparing for the upcoming year because in 2019 I am moving out of my comfort zone (the junior grades) and into Grade 3/4. I’m nervous and excited and I can’t wait to wrap my head around everything that I need to know and do… although I suspect that’s a lot and it’s going to hurt my brain for a little while!

I also have some goals for 2019:

  • Post more regularly on my blog (it fell to the wayside this year unfortunately!)
  • Share book recommendations for the classroom
  • Start vlogging my teaching experience? (This one makes me super nervous, so we’ll see how I go!)

What grade are you teaching in 2019?

What are your goals for the new year?

Tranquil Tuesday

Hello, teacher friends!

It’s been a while, and lots of things have been happening behind the scenes here at Little Bookish Teacher. I’ve got lots of things planner for the coming months for this little blog, so stay tuned.

Today I wanted to reflect on one of my favourite classroom resources – GoNoodle.

Many of you know I’ve been a GoNoodle Ambassador for a while now and I absolutely love the website and fully believe in the benefits it has for my class.

One thing I’ve really loved that GoNoodle has released recently is the weekly planners that have a suggested activity for each day of the week. This month, they’re focusing on Tranquil Tuesday – which is always a perfect opportunity for students to stop, slow down and refocus on themselves and get themselves back on track.

Today’s suggested video is Swirling, which is the digital equivalent of a glitter jar and is quite mesmerising to watch on a screen.

But really, every video in the FLOW collection can be used in every grade:

Some of my class’ favourites include:

  • Swirling
  • Victorious
  • Rainbow Breath
  • Weather the Storm, and,
  • Bring It Down

In the comments, let me know if you use GoNoodle in your class, and what is YOUR perfect Tranquil Tuesday activity?

How do YOU teach?

Park Troopers

Some of you may not know that I come from a family of teachers. Not my immediate family, but there’s a few extended family members floating around that work in both the primary and secondary sector, in various forms from retired to currently teaching to studying. It always makes family get-togethers interesting, because no matter how hard we try to avoid it, there’s always a bit of shop-talk (that quite often involves the non-teaching members of our families to roll their eyes!).

Today we went out to celebrate my Nonno’s 85th birthday, and it’s always a lot of fun.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my aunts, who retired a few years back after nearly 30 years in the classroom. It didn’t start out as school related – we were talking about science-fiction movies, and how the future is often depicted as quite bleak – when she asked me:

How do you teach your kids about the world?

This may seem innocuous enough, but it was really about how I address the issues in the present day world that kids (and adults) find distressing. We live in a world where there are a lot of things happening that our students are confronted with.

My answer?

Conversation

I have a class that loves to chat – about anything, at anytime and to anyone – so it should come to noone’s surprise that we have a lot of good conversations about things. And I’m not just talking about conversations about what we’re learning.

I’ve been known to lose who sessions of pre-planned lessons because some thoughtful soul in my class asked a provocative questions and we’ve gone down the rabbit hole trying to find an answer, or debating an answer… or found more questions we wanted to unpack.

In this day and age of teaching, where lesson planning is deemed a crucial part of daily life and documentation MUST be had, it may sound a bit flippant when I admit to losing ‘lessons’ of ‘preplanned curriculum’ to chat, but the reality is that my students (no matter their home circumstances) don’t have the opportunity to sit and explore their thoughts and ideas on topics of their choice with a big group of people very often.

And it’s SO important.

I learn more about my students in these conversations than I do in something that’s been carefully prepared. Why? Undoubtably there’s an element of ‘well you haven’t got pre-prepared answers floating in your head’ there, but also, when you allow students’ licence to just talk, they show you what they really know – more than a worksheet or game might ever tell you.

What have I learnt from this:

Every child learns from it – not just the ones talking. Often those students who don’t participate are absorbing all the information their peers are sharing, and they’ll join in when a topic is more closely aligned to their understanding.

Young children need an outlet to talk about the ‘bad’ things happening in life. Not just the things concerning them, but also the things they might see on the news or overhear the grown-ups in their lives talking about. I’ve had incredible conversations with 6 and 7 year olds this year on why lockdowns are important to practice (because even though our gun violence in Australia is really low, we still prepare and practise). We’ve talked about the reasons why we are respectful during Anzac Day preparations and services. We’ve wondered about why different parts of the world have seasons, what an axis is and why Earth has one and why some parts of the world have minimal daylight hours during the year and how does this affect living things.

6 and 7 year olds want to know this stuff.

And yes, it’s important to be sensitive about some of the more hard-hitting things – it breaks my heart that my young students are aware that oversees some schools witness gun violence (it breaks my heart that it even occurs) – but school is a safe place for them to discuss these things with adults who can help them understand in kid friendly language.

If nothing else, I want my students to know that their questions and thoughts and opinions matter. They’re worthy of discussion. These are the people who will one day shape the future and being able to take turns, acknowledge other people’s opinions respectfully and to clarify will stand them in good stead.

Monsters book review

Last month I was fortunate to review a review copy of Monsters by Anna Fienberg for review from Allen and Unwin. I wrote a review of it on my book review blog, but given that it is a children’s book and I haven’t posted here for ages, I thought it might be fun to share some ways this wonderful children’s book could be used in the classroom.

Monsters tells the story of a young girl, Tildy, who is afraid of monsters that appear once the sun sets each night. She seeks the help of the adults in her life, only to be met with disbelief and dismissal. It’s not until she makes a new friend at school that she begins to overcome her fear and find compassion for her monsters.

So how could you use it in the classroom?

Fears

People often find it difficult or confronting to talk about the fears, but most children can be quite open – often because they’re trying to find ways to overcome them. (Obviously, you know your students or child and if this kind of conversation might be triggering for them, frame it in a way that would meet the needs of the children you’re working with.)

Discuss fears. Whether they’re the fears that students have or fears that they know other people have, make a list. Have students choose a fear and write or draw a picture about how they might overcome the fear they have chosen.

Friendship

Discuss a time when a friend helped you overcome something that was bothering you. Whether it’s a fear, a difficult situation or a time when you were sad, what did your friend do to help you feel better?

Monsters

Make monsters!

Choose an art style you’re comfortable with (or better yet, one you’re NOT comfortable with) and work with your students to make monsters. Use pencils, markers, paint, glitter, paper… the sky is the limit.

I’m partial to the method of adding blobs of paint and folding the paper in half and creating a squished-paint monster, because there’s a satisfying sensory experience for students squishing the paint.

Alternatively, I’ve made ‘Happiness Monsters’ using food dye and straws and blowing the food dye around the page then adding googly eyes and black markers to make the monster’s features.

Or, you could do as Tildy and Henrik do in the book – pair students up and have one child describe a monster and the other draw it. Then students swap roles.

 

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to incorporate books into your classroom for both resilience, friendship and fun.

Little Bookish Teacher 

 

Monsters is written by Anna Fienberg and illustrated by Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen. It was published in May 2018 by Allen and Unwin and retails for $24.99 AUD. This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Seesaw Ambassador

I’m so excited to share that I am now a Seesaw Ambassador!

Seesaw is one of my favourite apps to use with students, because of it’s versatility, ease of use (for students AND teachers) and because it helps students create a record of their learning. I’ve used it for nearly 3 and half years now, and I keep finding new and interesting ways to incorporate it into the classroom.

The training course for ambassador’s really inspired me and I’m going to putting some new practices into place and I’ll definitely be sharing them on the blog with all of you in the upcoming months.

Do you use Seesaw in your classroom? What is your favourite way to use it?

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#betterthanchocolate TPT Sale

Easter is nearly upon us and in celebration, some wonderful teacher-creators are sharing some eggcelent deals on TPT this weekend! Lots of fabulous resources are just $1 for three days!

You can click the banner above to be taken to the TPT search (or simply type in #betterthanchocolate in the search bar) or scroll down for a list of my resources that are included in the weekend sale!

Easter-themed?

Looking for some Easter and Easter-themed resources? I got your covered:

Chicks Build Words (CVC)

Alphabet Hop (Print) and Alphabet Hop (Victorian Modern Cursive)

Sight Word Crash

Bunnies Love Jellybeans (0-20)

Mother’s Day-themed

Love in a Box Craft

Mother’s Day Activities on the Run

Other Resources

Bump Dice Games

Teacher Top 3 Organisation

Word Wall Display Alphabet

Love Bird Alphabet Match

Interesting Word Journal

Student Alphabet Posters

I’m sure there’s something there for every body!

I hope you all have a marvellous weekend!

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

It’s a strange feeling when you realise that you’ve over half-way through the first term of the year.

For me, I start panicking about what I’ve taught (or not taught) and what I’ve got to fit in before the start of second term because report-writing is now officially around the corner, and honestly it’s completely exhausting.

Schools are intensely busy places – we’re forever fitting in special events, guest speakers, updated timetables, buddy activities, curriculum and just about anything else you can think of. It requires a certain amount of flexibility and I know that I am (currently) a much more relaxed teacher when it comes to accomodating these, often last minute, changes.

I wasn’t always, though, and it’s something that takes time, patience -and possible a few tears every now and then – to understand that leadership is actually very understanding of the interruptions and that if something slips, the world won’t end. It’s often OURSELVES who are the ones putting pressure on our own selves when everyone else is willing to give us a break.

As such, it’s obviously been a completely nutty term for me, hence my absence in posting. So many things have been happening:

  • Starting back in a classroom
  • Parent information nights
  • Leading the Literacy team
  • Leading the Graduate Liaison Program at my school
  • Expanding the Graduate Liaison Program (with a colleague) to incorporate graduates from local schools
  • Swimming lessons
  • House Athletics Carnival
  • And… oh, yeah, teaching!

I haven’t had a chance to create more video content for my teaching youtube channel because I just haven’t had the time, and I’ve come to terms with it. (Mostly. It’s hard when you want to do a good job at something and yet find it difficult to actually find the time.) That said, it’s still on the agenda.

The most important thing is that my class is fantastic and they’re doing so much work and doing it so well. They’re an awesome bunch of little learners and I’m so lucky to do what I do, and be surrounding by such great kids, and colleagues.

Now it’s only a few short weeks (filled with public holidays, professional development days, professional learning days and planning days – go figure!) until the end of the first time and I’m exhausted, but loving my job.

How are YOU doing? What’s been happening in your classroom this term?

My 2018 Classroom Tour!

Welcome to my 2018 classroom tour!

This year I went for a full-on theme, which is not something I’ve done in the past. (Usually I’ve just opted for lots of bright colours!) But this year my school has a focus on developing curious learners so I opted to go with an Alice in Wonderland theme and I love  how it turned out, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

I have a video tour, which I’m going to include in this blog post, where you can see and hear me walk you through my classroom and the different areas and features. I’ve also got some photos below for you to check out.

If there is anything you would like more information on, let me know in the comments and I will happily do specific blog posts to answer your questions.

Do you have a classroom theme? Let me know in the comments what you do to set your classroom up at the start of a new year!

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Elizabeth Richards Teacher Diary 2018

Over the years I’ve used various teacher planners – Erin Condren, bullet journals, generic teacher planners, printed planners from TPT, a Kikki.K binder planner. I love planners. I love trialling new ones. I’m honest with myself when they don’t work, and when they do. I also know I need to switch it up now and then because change reinvigorates the way I interact with them.

I’m going to share a few thoughts on the planner I’m going to begin 2018 using – I’ve also got a video flip through of it, so you can scroll down and hear my thoughts if you like!

This year I decided to trial the Elizabeth Richards Teacher Diary, and bought myself one just to see how it goes.

It’s very similar to an Erin Condren planner – it’s A4 size, and quite thick and thus heavy. However, depending on how you plan to use this, it may not be a problem. I intend to use this as a bit of a classroom ‘bible’ and it will stay at work during the week, and come home on weekends so I can map out my week. (If this is something you’d be interested in seeing as a video, let me know in the comments.)

Let’s talk about a few of the features:

  • The front cover is actually a plastic pocket that you can slip covers in and out of easily.
  • It comes with 2 sturdy covers, with 2 designs on each (total of 4)
  • The back cover is a thick/sturdy plastic with an elastic strap

It has:

  • A yearly planner
  • Note pages
  • Dividers for each month
  • Undated monthly layouts
  • Undated weekly spreads
  • Lesson review space
  • Password lists
  • Student contact details
  • Health information
  • Parent communication logs
  • Classroom expense tracker
  • Professional Development log
  • Assessment Checklists

It is very colourful and well laid out. For my intended purpose, which is weekly overviews and on-the-go notes, it’s going to do exactly what I need it to do as a desk planner.

The paper is about the same thickness as general copy paper, so it’s not a planner to be using permanent markers in, but that’s easy to work with.

I’ll be very honest and say I don’t know if I’ll use this one planner for the whole year (I’ve yet to manage an entire year in a single planner), but I want to give it a good go. My detailed lesson plans are all electronic, so this is purely for ensuring that I have a clear visual overview each week and that system works pretty well for me.

Do you use a physical planner? Which one do you love to use?