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Educational Buzz

It has been a long time since I sat down to blog.  I have not had a ton of time, nor have I made the time.  A few weeks ago, my role in my school changed and I was thrown into teaching reading and writing again.  It is evident that I need to start writing again.  How can I preach to my kids that they should be reading and writing on a regular basis if I am not doing so myself? So, on with some thoughts.

Along with being a teacher, I am also a mom of a preschooler.  My poor daughter has teachers for a mom, a grandma and a grandpa, and a dad and another set of grandparents who highly value learning.  Everywhere she goes, she is encouraged to play “games” that teach her something!  She also has a mom who has been rather discouraged by the fact that she just wouldn’t write her letters! I know that she knows them and under threat of not being able to go to school next year without writing her name, I can sometimes force her to write out the simple 5-letter word.

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday.  While preparing his card, I thought I would ask if she could sign her own name.  I explained that it was for Daddy’s birthday card.  Not only was there no resistance, there was sheer excitement as she said “Oh!  Daddy will just love this card!” Within a few seconds, those beautiful five letters appeared on the card.  We put it in the envelope then I asked her: “How will Daddy know the card is for him?” (Ever the teacher…)  She immediately offered that we should write his name on the outside of the envelope.  I offered to let her write Dad, and again, with a gusto I have not seen from her with regards to writing, the three letters D-A-D appeared on the envelope.  I was thrilled!

card

Now that she has gone to bed, and I am back to planning, my thoughts wander between my two roles as teacher and mother.  I am often surprised by how valuable the knowledge I’ve gained in one role has helped me in the other and vise versa.  The experience tonight is no different.  It got be thinking about the connections between what happened with my daughter and what happens with my “kids.”

Over the last number of years, as technology, blogging and social media have made their way into the classroom, we have heard the phrases “authentic purpose” and “authentic audience” over and over.  They have become somewhat of education buzz words.  As with anything that buzzes, after time, we stop hearing them.  Or at the minimum, we forget how important they are.  They become part of the background, until they aren’t.

It is clear to me, as I reflect, that my daughter is CAPABLE of writing her letters. She has CHOSEN not to write them (until under duress).  Tonight, when given an authentic purpose, an important reason to write her letters, she eagerly did so.

How may of my “kids” are capable of doing things but have chosen not to show it?  How can I help create authentic purpose for them?  What does authentic purpose look like? I need to revisit these buzzwords like they are new again.  I need to get back to my planning and see if I can infuse more of this into my lessons.

What are some things that you are doing to create that buzz in your classroom?  How do you create purpose for your kids in different subject areas?  Please share!

 

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Crochet along moving along

Hello all.  It has been a long time since I blogged here.  Since my little girl started crawling, I have had very little time to do anything but ensure she doesn’t get into anything dangerous.  Even finding time to pee has been a challenge at times! She likes climbing, a lot, and pictures like the one below appear often enough that we have to keep high vigilance!

Our little monkey

In addition to this, sadly, my maternity leave is finished and I started back to work today. As a result, I am no longer able to run the crochet along.  HOWEVER, one of my dearest friends, Myra, over at itago sa bato has graciously agreed to take over the crochet along.  She has done a wonderful recap of the squares we have already finished and posted the next pattern here

I wish you well and happy crocheting!

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A good Mexico Story

So, my family spent most of the month of February in Mazatlan, Mexico.  We heard nothing by “Are you crazy???” and “Do you know how dangerous it is there?” for weeks and weeks before we left. Of course, there have been many stories of horrible things that have happened there this year.  However, my parents have lived there for winters for the last three years.  They admit that there are several neighbourhoods where they wouldn’t go, and a few more places they wouldn’t venture at night.  But what major city in Canada or the US doesn’t have those areas? 

We had an absolute blast while we were there! We didn’t stay holed up in my parents condo or on their property.  In fact, we went out almost every evening during our month there, never repeating places.  We experienced both tourist things and local sites. We met and talked with many Mexican people, all of whom were friendly and absolutely enamoured with Gracie. But I mean, who wouldn’t be?

Much of the concern in travelling to Mexico is the potential of dealing with the police. This morning, my mom shared with me an experience of having to deal with them.  I wanted to share it with you…

Well yeterday we had our first dealings with the local police. We were in a minor fender bender (no one was hurt). We were rear ended by a bus. The bus immediately pulled over, as we did. There happened to be a local police on foot patrol who saw the accident. A total stranger who happened to come out of a shop asked if we needed an interpreter, which we did. Our insurance agent talked to the poli…ce on the phone and this kind gentleman stayed with us the whole time. The transit police came for the bus company and another police car. They took our information and the bus drivers information. Then the adjuster came right to the accident and gave us an adjustment of the damage. The bus company is paying for everthing! The police were more than helpful stating they were not here to make our lives difficult. They also stated that if today we felt sick or needed to go to the hospital they would come and get us and pay for that also. We could not have been treated better and were made to feel at ease. Later in the day we saw the bus driver and he gave us a big smile and a wave. There are nice people here and yesterday was proof of it!

So, Mexico is a lovely place to visit.  We felt safe.  We loved the people and the scenery.  Please consider all sides before disregarding Mexico as a place to visit.

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Hats for Babies

About a month ago, my husband and I went to Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar for a YQR (Regina) Tweet-up.  That night I met many amazing people.  One of those I had the good fortune of meeting was Jacqui.  She goes by @saskjacqui on Twitter.  We had a brief conversation that night but since then have developed quite a friendship over Twitter and in person.

She has a son named Rylan who has a seizure disorder.  They will be spending the month of January in Vancouver where Rylan will be receiving some medical treatments that will hopefully help diminish the seizure activity he experiences.  We have developed a hashtag ( #Rylan ) and quite a group of followers who are all pulling for him.

One night on Twitter, we got into a conversation about crocheting.  I’m not sure how it came about, but we decided that Jacqui needed a project to help keep her busy while she is at the hospital with Rylan.  I know how to crochet, so I offered to help teach her.

My little girl, Grace, was born 8 weeks premature in September and spent 42 days in our NICU.  I have been wanting to give something back, so I asked Jacqui how she would feel about making hats to donate.  Every baby born at the hospital receives a hat when they are born.  Many of the babies in the NICU receive more than one as they grow stronger through the good work the unit does for our little ones.  Jacqui jumped right on board, as did two other friends of mine, Stephanie and Jennifer.  We created a hashtag on Twitter for our little venture (#hatsforbabies) as well as a public group on Facebook called Rylan’s Hats for Babies.  On the Facebook page you will find a document that links to a crochet pattern and a knitting pattern for preemie and baby hats.

Jacqui upped the anti today by inviting all her Kinette friends to join in our project.  She made it a goal to have one person from each province make at least one hat for their local Mom&Baby unit or NICU and post the picture in the Facebook group.  So, I’m putting the invitation out there.  Come join us!  Make a hat to donate.  Let’s see how big we can get this thing!  It only takes a couple of hours to make a hat, but speaking as a mom who received one, it is a heartwarming gift that stays with us!

Here are the hats that have been posted since Saturday:

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Common curriculum

I’ve been on Twitter for almost two years now. Before that, my only experience with teaching an curriculum was that of Saskatchewan. Here, for those from outside SK, we have a common curriculum for the province. That means, regardless of where you are in the province, if you are in grade 3, you should be learning the same things. Most likely it won’t be taught in the same way, but the teachers still have the same set of standards (or outcomes as they are now called) to follow.

As a girl who grew up moving around, I see the benefits of this core curriculum. I moved from Alberta to Saskatchewan the summer between fifth and sixth grade. In AB, the push to learn verb conjugation (in French immersion) was in grade six. In SK, it is learned progressively starting in grade three, with most of the basics learned by sixth grade. This left me struggling as a student. To this day, I’m really good at using tools to help me, and even though I teach French, I still doubt myself every time I have to write.

So, where is this going? Back to Twitter… I see so many of the people I follow many negative comments about common core curriculum. Why? I can completely understand being against creating common lessons that every teacher needs to follow. I believe that teachers need to use their own strengths and knowledge and to also use the interests and knowledge of the students when planning and executing lessons. It engages all involved. But what is wrong in saying that in a given year a student should be able to […]? I am not trying to be argumentative, I just truly don’t understand what people have against this. Maybe I can get some comments explaining different viewpoints…

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99 and counting

Today I read my 99th book of 2011. In January 2011 I pledged to read 111 books this year. I have 12 more to go in almost two months. I think that I will be able to make it!

I have read picture books, beginner chapter books, graphic novels, adult books, teen books, audio books, poetry books… It has been a blast! I have kept track of them all using the Goodreads website. You can see my profile here. It is a great way to keep track of books you want to read, and those you have read. Join and friend me! There is a Goodreads app for your cell phone if you get your apps from iTunes. I don’t know if there is one for Blackberry or Android… The app makes it super easy to add books.

Next year I plan on making my goal 112. Will you join me?

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Frustrated voter

I don’t usually talk politics with people. I have some staunch party people in my family and they are not on the same side of the political coin. So, we have learned to keep our election chatter to a minimum.

However, I am so annoyed that I feel the need to say something, or write it. I still have no plan of publicly picking sides though.

Firstly, I am tired of political parties phoning me and asking if they can count on my vote. It is truly none of your business who I plan on voting for. Now, if you phoned to ask if I had any questions about their party’s platform, I might be less annoyed. But you don’t. I’ve never been asked that question. I have had some friends who were visited by canvassers and completely insulted when they did have the chance to ask their questions. They were treated like they were stupid for questioning the party’s positions and past actions. That makes me angry.

Secondly, as a teacher, I have a particular point of view that perhaps non-teachers don’t share. I imagine that everyone, such as business owners, would have their own point-of-view too. So, a big part of who I choose to vote for is based on a party’s platform surrounding Education. I am thoroughly annoyed with both leading political parties for the campaign promises made this year without consulting any of the education community. I truly believe that teachers should be consulted more often about these decisions. Now, I am realistic and know that every teacher cannot be consulted. In fact, you would probably get tons of different opinions and directions. However, we do have representatives who can speak for us. Many of whom have used letters to the editor as a means to be heard.

So, now I am left still an undecided voter, and a frustrated one at that. Luckily I have 5 days left to think and decide, then it will be over again until next time.

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Kids say the darnedest things

I took Grace to school today to visit my former students and colleagues. We were there in time to take in the Pre-K to Grade 4 Halloween parade.

As the Pre-K class went past, one little girl asked what Grace was dressed as… I said: “She’s a citrouille!” A little boy further down the row looked at me and said: “My mom’s going to have a citrouille too!”

I just about died laughing! Then I explained that citrouille was pumpkin and that he meant to say bébé. So cute!

Kids make me smile.

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Welcome and why math is important…

This is my first post on my new blog.  My last blog was created for a class and I felt like it was too constricting for my new identity.

 

Seven weeks ago I had a beautiful daughter named Grace.  She arrived into our world 8 weeks early and spent the first 42 days of her life in the NICU and Special Care Nursery.  During this time, I had a bit of an identity crisis.  She was born September 1st, which meant that my colleagues were heading back to the classroom.  My baby was not at home with me.  I found myself living between being the teacher and the mom.  Hence the inspiration for the name of this blog.

 

So, on this blog, you will find posts related to motherhood, teaching, education in general, books, and whatever else happens to inspire me to write.

 

This morning, it was a commercial selling a power tool.  The power tool itself is not really important in the equation, so I won’t go into details about it.  It was the sales pitch and price that caught my attention.  This commercial was selling the item in question for three payments of $49.99 plus shipping and handling.  The fine print on this was roughly $20.  Now, my mathematical mind immediately came to roughly $170.  Since I know nothing about power tools, I accepted this as reasonable…  This is until they said “This item retails at Lowes for $155 or you can get it at this special offer by calling…”  Now, I’m pretty sure that $155 is less than $170.  Granted, three payments of $49.99 is less than $155, but not by much.  I suppose that since they never ever mention the total in the commercial, $49.99 seems like a lot less than $155.  This is why having a basic grasp of numbers and facts in math is so important in life… so you don’t get fooled by a commercial.

 

Take care all.  See you when the next inspiration hits!

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