Friday, January 10, 2014

Favorite book to teach for Art.... "The Dot"

I was a terrible artist as a child.  I couldn't cut, stay in the lines or make anything that looked anything at all like what the teachers and other students seemed to be making.  I was terrible at art and I didn't much want to do it. It wasn't until university that I discovered the cookie cutter reproductions of teacher created projects wasn't what being an artist was suppose to be. It was about exploring and playing and creating and making a mess and getting better at it a little at a time.

Every year in September when we go to do out first art project I look around and know that somewhere in the class there is someone who just KNOWS they are terrible at art. Someone who dreads taking out the paints. Someone who would rather be doing anything else.

That is why every September I read "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds to my students. If you don't already know that story you can listen to it here:

I always tear up a bit when I watch Zoé pass on her teachers words the the little boy who admired her work. A lesson well learned is a lesson shared.

After the students and I play with paint and paper and pens and felts and make dots. Lots of dots.  We have fun with the supplies and we learn that sometimes we like what we create and sometimes we don't. We also find out that art can be pretty easy and fun too. For our big finally we make a "Dot without making a dot." I love seeing the different ways students do this. I always learn a lot about my students when I look at their finished product.

 The book exists in French. It is called "Un bon point pour Zoé"   I love the little video above so I often turn off the volume and read my french version of the book as the movie plays on my smartboard.  What about you? Do you have a favorite art story or any other book you just love reading to your students?

PS - If you haven't seen it already check out

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Connecting with Students - Better Teaching for 2014

Todays #Kinderchat prompt is One resolution for 2014. @Math_Johnson asked the same thing a December 29th.

At the time I had posted "Have a meaningful one on one interaction with each student every day"

@Math_Johnson had responded with "Great One. That is the heart of good teaching."  

He is right, connecting with our students is important for good teaching. It isn't always easy though and it requires some thought and effort on my part. The question is how do we do it effectively? What does a meaningful one on one interaction look like? How do we find time to do this on a daily basis? Also, as a second language teacher is it harder to make connections when you can only speak to students in the target language?

One thing that I try to do everyday is to meet every student at the door in the morning. This is something I learned from Harry Wong's "First Day of School." I stand at the door and greet everyone as they come in.  It is a quick interaction, good morning, how are you good to see you today but I get a chance to talk to everyone. I also do the same thing at the end of the day making sure that I say goodbye to all my students individually. One challenge here is to make sure I connect with my students who arrive late or leave early.

Another idea for a quick interaction is the daily compliment. Try to find one thing positive to say to each of your students every day.  Research shows that well given, honest compliments help build relationship and increases retention of information too. Article:  Receiving Compliments has Positive Effect.
Here is a blog article on tips for giving effective compliments.  One of my challenges here is remembering who I haven't complimented yet in a day. I'm considering using Class Dojo to record this interaction for myself. I don't use Class Dojo to track students behaviour but I could use it to track mine! 

My favorite way to connect with students daily though has to be student conferencing and this is the area that I really need to work on too. I use Daily 5 in my room which in theory should give me a chance to meet one on one with all my students often.  I track my interactions with students using CONFER. I blogged about why here. My goal for 2014 is to make those conferences a priority in my schedule.

So what did I learn at school today? Relationships affect student learning.  There are some easy things I can do to connect with students on a daily basis. They aren't without challenges and I need to be conscious about making them a priority. What about you? How do you connect with your students on a daily basis? Do you have issues building relationships with students in your target language? How important do you think it is to connect with students on a daily basis?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions, blogging more and the #Kinderchat challenge.

I saw this tweet this morning

It lead me here:

As I read the post I could hear my inner Barney Stinson say "Challenge Accepted!" So I took a look at the first assignment. Easy enough 1. Wordless Wednesday "A photo to represent 2013" Well actually not as easy as you might think. Here is my contribution. it is one image file... so what if it is a photo collage! Don't judge me! As for being wordless... well as these words don't count. Not really. Right?

What did I learn today? Wordless blogging and symbolic pictures are hard for me. Are you planning on blogging more in 2014? Check out the #Kinderchat blogging challenge. Do you know of any other blogging challenges for teachers out there?