Category Archives: Advice

Whole Body Listening

I know that at the beginning of the year, I can only get six-eight solid minutes every carpet time out of my students, so I have to make it count. I have found that this isn’t always easy.

So this gang of sweet, great and smart kids likes to shout things, which is not uncommon in classrooms. And there was no trick that I could think of that was helping me solve that problem. I didn’t like asking them to leave our carpet, just because they shouted something out. I’m excited that they’re excited about learning. I want to capitalize on that excitement, but it’s impossible to do so when kids are just shouting over one another to be heard. They have to learn to take their turn. But of course, we forgot that they have to be taught that.

It’s not about being “quiet”, it’s about being respectful to the fact that we need to listen and hear each other while we’re having whole group discussions. It’s about being calm so that you can really hear what someone else is saying. It’s about looking at someone when they speak, so that you can watch their facial expression.

Listening is hard. Listening is hard for adults … can you imagine how hard it is for kids that are just learning to listen?

But with the help of the Cookie Monster, it got a whole lot easier.

The video I’m embedding is called “The Biscotti Karate”, and teaches the Cookie Monster how to listen with his whole body: eyes watch; ears listen; mouth quiet; body calm. And so far, so good – it’s the most respectful I’ve seen them since we’ve started coming together for discussions on the carpet. We’re taking turns, we’re being mindful, and we’re breathing in deep. We’re listening, instead of thinking about what we’re going to say next. We’re reflecting on the words of others, which is an important part of listening.

So really, at the end of the day, the question is this: what does the Cookie Monster have that I don’t? What does he have that none of us have? Watch it to find out.

Mon dictionnaire personnel

Every day, my students in the Grade 5/6 class, and my students in the Grade 4 class, and I do something we call “Comment ça va ?” This is what I do when I’m setting up my computer to the smart board, so that we don’t have any down time from when I walk in, we’re practicing conversation, and, as an added bonus, I get a pretty good pulse on what’s going on in their lives that day. It’s a way to connect with them, and for many of my students, it’s the part that they look most forward to in our 30 minute lesson. After they’ve said “Bien,” or “Mal,” or “Comme ci, comme ça,” depending on how they are feeling, they will then either say what’s going on in French, or if they can’t say the full thing in French, they will tell me in English, and then we will repeat what they said in French. I began noticing that they were asking me a lot of the same words over and over, like birthday, or weekend.

So, we’ve decided to be proactive about it. Continue reading Mon dictionnaire personnel

Class Dojo

One week into ClassDojo, and I’m psyched! I feel like it has completely revitalized my classroom. Because of the more hands-on with the iPad, I’m able to reward more frequently for good behaviour, rather than concentrating on the not-so-good behaviour that interrupts my lessons. I don’t have to pause lessons anymore to give points anymore! Wow! It’s such an amazing idea. Also, because it’s brand new, and it’s interactive, the kids are all up on doing great deeds to be rewarded so that they can see their name on the computer screen. Again, I feel like it’s eliminating so much bad behaviour. How did I not give into this sooner? I’m giving it until the end of the week to become a pro with this system, then I’m sending my parent codes out so that I can get my parents involved. The kids have already asked several times if they can get their codes already so that they can go home and show mom and dad! Yes, please! Continue reading Class Dojo

It Finally Caught Up

All week, I’ve been battling the beginnings of a cold. I would go to sleep at night and feel my throat tingle a little – uh oh! So I’ve spent the week drinking vitamin C and taking Cold Effects to great success. Apparently, this morning, my body decided it was done fighting the good fight, and the cold finally hit me.

So the good news is, it’s Sunday – so I’m at home, relaxing, laying in bed … and, obviously, playing on my iPad. Playing on my iPad really just means, for me, looking stuff up for my classroom and catching up on various reports. I’m always trying to find new and innovative ways to bring to bring technology into the classroom, so I cherish those times.

For several weeks, I’ve begun to notice that my behaviour incentive chart has begun to lose its punch. Sure, the points are still effective and the students enjoy spending their points for our classroom incentives, but they are just as happy waiting for the points to go up and down and accumulating them slowly instead of striving to improve behaviours. I’ve tried switching it up: rewarding positively more, having more group incentives, having a “star behaviour” that rewards more points, etc. I just find they’ve become … complacent. So I’ve been searching for something that I could use to shake things up a bit, without having to change my whole strategy.

I’m late to the party, but today, I’ve discovered ClassDojo, so I thought I would give some first impressions of the service before I implement it in my classroom. You know, kind of do a KWL chart … with myself. Continue reading It Finally Caught Up