Thursday, 14 February 2013

Billionaire of Moments

Two summers ago, I was watching an episode of Idea City. (For my American friends, Idea City is like a Canadian version of TED Talks - where intellectuals speak to an auditorium of people about a variety of subjects.) This particular episode featured a woman named Lakshmi Pratury. Lakshmi, a brilliant entrepreneur, says that she asked wealthy people "What is the one story that you will take with you to your grave; that you will cherish forever?" She discovered that no one would ever say 'the day they sold their business for x amount of dollars', or 'the day they made manager at their company.' Instead, Lakshmi heard stories of the day when a woman held her daughter for the first time; the final moment a man had with his father before he died; etc. The moments we live for are the moments that our lives are affected by love, joy, and kindness. Being a 'billionaire' isn't about the money. It's about the moments we collect that fill our hearts.

AHA! I had just come up with a fabulous idea for my students. Personal Memoirs. Using this theory, students would write about a moment in their life that touched their heart. A moment that they would cherish and remember for a long, long time. [note: I do not actually show my students the Idea City video. It is a bit too mature for them. I only explain the important concepts outlined by Lakshmi.]

We worked on our memoirs for weeks. Students learned all the conventions of writing. They did lots of brainstorming to try and find the perfect topic.

They also learned how to 'explode a moment,' how to write an interesting lead, and how to proofread and edit their work for their final draft. 

As a year-end present, I combined all of their memoirs into a book that they could take home as a momento of the year. On the last day of school, I presented my students with their gifts. They were all very excited to find their own memoir in the book and to read the memoirs of their friends. Enscripted into their book was a personal note from me and one last final lesson about becoming successful:

"Everyone has the opportunity to become a billionaire of moments. It's simple, every time you experience a moment that touches your heart you count that as one moment. The more moments you experience, the closer you will get to a billion. BUT, if you do something to show love and kindness to others so that they are touched by your actions - you get to count their moment too! Be kind, be happy, and always cherish those moments that take your breath away."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Anchor Charts & Classroom Management

Hello! It's been a busy week! Lots of supply teaching days, I worked extra shifts at my other part-time job, and I'm FINALLY getting back into a workout routine. Before heading back to the gym this afternoon, I thought I'd squeeze in a blog post about some of my favourite classroom anchor charts.

Earlier this year, supply teaching was very slow. I don't like sitting around doing nothing - so on some of my days off I made anchor charts for my future classroom. I searched for inspiration, and found a few anchor charts that would have been very useful in my Grade 6 class last year. I took these ideas and made my own charts from scratch. I'll show you three of my faves.

The first one is  a voice level chart. If you've ever had a large class, you know how annoying it can be to keep saying "Use your indoor voice!" This chart has some neat names for its voice levels. I love the idea of "Spy Talk." I think my students would get a kick out of being 'spies' while they work.

The next chart is an assessment chart. I am a big proponent  of "self-assessment." I talk about it with my students all the time. This chart could be used at the end of a lesson on a post-it note as an exit activity. I'd have students write down where they are on the assessment scale and have them write one or two sentences about why they feel they are at that level.

Last but not least, I have a character education anchor chart. It's probably my favourite out of the three. I definitely could have used this last year. As you know, a Grade 6 class is at the beginning point of puberty. Emotions often run high, and blurting out comments without thinking is quite common.This chart allows students to 'think' before they speak. My favourite question is "Is it Inspiring?"

I laminated my anchor charts at Staples. NOT a good idea. While they turned out great, Staples costs an arm and a leg for laminating. It defeated the purpose of creating my own charts instead of buying them. So, if I make more charts in the future, I will be holding off on laminating until I am with a school that has a laminating budget.

Can't wait to make some more of these anchor charts! I'm always looking for inspiration...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Let's Get Bloggin'

I have been wanting to start a blog for the last year or two, but had no idea where to begin! At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted  to tackle some things in 2013 that I've ALWAYS wanted to do - and thankfully, blogging was near the top of my list!

If you know me, you know that I eat, sleep, and breathe teaching. I am currently a supply teacher - who has, reluctantly, been put back on the supply list after a (wonderful!) Grade 6 LTO last year. I work for an excellent Board, but it is very difficult to get a full-time contract with them. Job opportunities for elementary teachers are slim everywhere in this province - but I know it is the ones who really want it that will get the jobs in the end.

And I really, really, realllllly want it.

This blog will highlight some of my favourite things about being a teacher: funny kids' stories, the "AHA moments" that let me know I have chosen the field of work that I am truly meant to be in, and (mostly) the creative aspect of teaching: designing lessons, creating a classroom community, and making learning fun for my students.

The title of my blog "Teaching for Fame and Money" is a play on words. Teachers work endless hours with lots of unpaid overtime. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this gig. But honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. I truly know in my heart that this is the perfect job for me!