Wednesday, 26 June 2013


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Just trying to get myself updated and keep my 19 followers :)
Hopefully my lack of technology skills will not let me down here.


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Five for Friday (okay, maybe only 2 or 3)

I've been debating posting today. It's been one of those weeks where I thought it was Friday, on Wednesday, and really struggled to finish the week. Eek. Poor kiddos. So I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday. I can't believe that in a week I have lost the ability to figure out how to 'grab a button' from a blog. So ... I will insert the pic with the hyperlink beneath. I'm using Blogger and someone can remind me how to do this, it would be great.

On Wednesday our Year 3's had their annual trip to the Time and Tide Museum. This coincides with their World War 2 unit in History. I've been looking forward to this trip all year. I love that the students dress up as evacuees to get into the theme for the day. The day was divided into 4 parts. The children learned about 'Make do and Mend' and how people used things for other purposes. They were given the opportunity to make a rag rug and really enjoyed doing this easy activity.

Haven't seen them concentrate this hard in a long time...

One of the other activities they were able to involve themselves with was bombing drills. They learned about the ARP wardens and their jobs. Students were able to find out and reenact what it would be like if a siren went off and how to make themselves safe. It culminated in some marching in a line with pretend rifles (broomsticks).

Two students learning how to put out an incendiary bomb. You can kind of see the bomb under the hose.

Other activities included learning about rationing and making and tasting Spam sandwiches. The kids were surprised that they actually liked it.

In other news. I play Korfball this week for our summer league and jammed my finger with the ball. This is the 2nd time is has happened. I may have let a loud obscenity fly out of my mouth (oops). I did enjoy that one of my students the next day said that his mum had seen me at Korfball. Back to the finger ... Last year when I jammed my finger it took FOOOORRRREVERRR to go down. I hadn't thought about it until Dan popped down on one knee to propose ... and the ring wouldn't go past my knuckle. Like three weeks later I shoved that ring on my finger and it has been there since. On Thursday I took my ring off to clean the dishes (by hand, because as my mother puts it .. I live a hard life) and go to Korfball. Surprise, surprise, the ring won't go on again. So now ...

Right-handed engagment. Sad face. Wedding is in 6 weeks. It better have gone down by then! Please disregard the ghetto nails. I let a 9 year old paint them at our school fair and managed to not take the polish off this week.

One last thing (don't mind the bad phone photo), I bought these paper files for 20p. I don't know what to use them for. Any ideas? Mind you that I don't have to keep files on my children because the office has all the info. Any classroom ideas would be appreciated. I'd be willing to buy a class set when I know what to use them for.

Thanks for linking up!


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Workin' It Wednesday - Korfball (huh?) and a recipe

I've really enjoyed reading Corrina's blog over at Surfin' Through Second and love that she hosts the Workin' It Wednesday Linky. I love the different take on a teacher blog, not just posts about teaching (which I love reading), but giving ideas and inspiring teachers in a different way.

Okay, enough of the sappy yada yada yada. I put my hands up ... I haven't been amazing at the eating. I do really well during the week, but once Friday night comes, it's all over. I've been really trying to keep the workouts going though. I thought I'd do a post on a sport that I took up last year, Korfball.
When I started teaching at my school, which is super sporty, I was a little worried because the sports here aren't necessarily the ones I played. I was required to teach Korfball to my kiddos last school year. Umm Korfball? What is it? Thankfully a former teacher was coming in to help me, a teacher who has played korfball for like 15 years, and who runs a local team. She invited me along to play and I've been playing on one of our local teams since.

If you need ideas for a sport to introduce at your school, I would HIGHLY recommend korfball. It is a Dutch game invented by a teacher who wanted to create a fair sport for boys and girls. Basically it consists of a team of 8 - 4 girls and 4 boys. Girls can only defend girls and boys can only defend boys. It looks almost like a basketball court setup (almost), but you cannot cross the halfway line. One side is attack and the other is defense. Once two korfs (goals) are scored you swap. It promotes fairness. There are loads of rules but the basics are really great at getting children to work together. I'm inserting a Youtube promotional video for Korfball, so you can see it in action. I really love that girls are given as much credit as boys.

So my working it for this week, I've been playing in our summer korfball league for adults. It has been crazy, fun and at times intense. We play outdoors in summer. The other week it was absolutely pouring with rain and they didn't want to stop. Some of the adults I have played against, play for the England team. It is such a great way to get cardio in, as well as those ball skills and techniques. I love playing a team sports, I played softball for 10 years, so really wanted to find a sport to get into.

Just a little pic to kinda show what it looks like.

I have also been coaching our school's korfball team. Our summer tournament is on Friday. Eek!

Okay the recipe...
I wanted to make a Veggie Cottage Pie but, not so much, still good, but not a cottage pie. Dan and I enjoyed it and it is lowfat and filling. Win, win!
about 1lb of Vegetarian mince (you could use extra lean or turkey mince)
2 cloves of garlic (minced/chopped)
7 oz of onion (chopped)
1 chili (chopped)
1 pepper (chopped)
1/2 zucchini (grated)
stock cube
1 tin chopped tomatos
3 sweet potatos
1 potato
1/4 - 1/2 cup nonfat milk
(you can really chuck in what you like. I just used the veggies in our drawer)

*Pre-heat oven to 325.
1. Spray a fry pan with some non-stick spray. Pan should be on medium heat. Put in onions and fry for 5 minutes. Put in the garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
2. Throw in the meat/veg meat and cook for 5 minutes. Bung in the rest of the veg, tomatos and dissolve stock cube. Bring to a boil then simmer.
3. Meanwhile, cut potatos in chunks and boil while the meat and veg is cooking (about 15 mins).
4. Drain potatos and put in milk. Mash together.

Should look a little something like this ... not gourmet but still yummy
5. Get a small casserole dish and put the meat mixture on the bottom.

6. Put the mash potato mixture on top and spread evenly. I also take a fork and make swooshes. It makes it look crazy, but again...still yummy.
7. Put in the oven for 20 minutes and your done!

If you've managed to read this whole post, well done. If you have any workout or healthy recipe tips, I'd love to hear from you. If you also just want to say hi, that's cool



Monday, 17 June 2013

Monday (almost) Made It

I realised that I hadn't put in a reference for the font I used. I actually found these free fonts via Pinterest. They were created by Jennifer Jones over at Hello Literacy.

I'm still in school...
but because of all the blogs I subscribe to, I'm obsessing about my room, things I want to make, all things I really can't do at the moment.
I have also seen about a million bazillion posts about Erin Condren planners, up until a month or so ago, I didn't know what that was. I was reading Corrina's blog over at Surfin' Through Second where she had decided to make her own planner, which led me to think, I can't can attempt this. I've been 'working' on this planner for 2 weeks, which when you see the pics, is actually pathetic.

This + a weekly calendar (diary?) is what we are given every year. I use the mark book, but only about 10 pages out of 50 and I have never used the planner. It has been sitting, travelling, with me for 2 years. After looking at some awesome homemade planners, like this one from My Chocolate Moments, I thought about revamping the one I already had.
Now I know that this wouldn't work for many of you, mainly because all the pages inside are already formatted. BUT ... I thought I'd give it a go and combine, the weekly diary, planner and mark book because I already had the ugly one.
So here is my first ever Monday (almost) Made It:

First I bought some awesome digital Summer chevron paper from Corrina's TPT store. I printed off a new cover, laminated and glued it on.

I also created monthly calendars to go inside, but in typical fashion, I hadn't realised that I formatted it for larger paper. Being the lazy and 'eco-friendly' teacher that I am, I decided to cut the monthly calendar to go across two pages. I think this will still work ...

as long as I don't have anything important on Thursdays.

The planner was already divided into sections, but I've just adapted them a bit. I created some tabs to help me find my sections easier.

We'll see how long this lasts. I'm glad that I've been able to combine the planner, mark book and calendar into 1. I am hoping this keeps me slightly more organised next year.

Thanks for reading.
How do you plan? Keep yourself organised?


Saturday, 8 June 2013

An American teacher teaching Religious Education?

One of the biggest things I had to learn to teach when I came to England was religion. Everyone at my school was shocked that we didn't do RE (religious education) in the states, then I had to explain the whole seperation of church and state, etc. In England they think it is better to educate the children on the main religions and world views. The bulk of the RE curriculum is focused on Christianity, but other religions are introduced. I had a heck of a time teaching Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism last year, since I don't really have much experience with religion. Needless to say most of these lessons were BORING! not only for me, but for my students as well. I tried to find online resources and activities to jazz up the lessons, but the kids just weren't interested.

I really dreaded having to teach RE again this year ...
and have only felt more confident recently.
Questioning has been a HUGE focus recently and making lessons more student led. I decided to try this out with my introduction to Hinduism a few weeks ago.
First, I posted a question on the board: What types of roles do you play everyday?
I let the children discuss as a table for a few minutes and then brought them back together to discuss as a class. I recorded some of their answers on the WB, which led to more discussion and ideas (sweet!).

Next, I showed the students a picture of some Hindo gods. I didn't tell the children anything about the picture. I didn't even tell them what religion we would be studying. I passed out an A3 paper to each table with the picture on it. I asked the students to write anything they noticed about the picture, what it made them think of, and any questions they had about the picture. I let them to it for 15-20 minutes. I never thought they would be able to discuss for this long ... but they were so into it. Lots of the children kept coming up to the interactive white board to get a better look and loved discovering something new. I literally stood back and watched my lesson unfold. I walked around the tables and had the students tell me about the picture and man, did they come up with some amazing ideas!!
I have finally started to figure out that giving them time to think and discuss, it will produce better quality discussions. The rest of the lesson was spent recording ideas from each table as a spider diagram on the WB. They love love loved explaining to the other students what they noticed. I even got some great questions. (I wish I had taken a picture of their recording sheets)

The next lesson was spent revisiting the picture, again I still didn't mention what religion we were studying. We recapped some of their ideas. I then gave the students a Hinduism textbook and had them read in pairs 4 pages of information. I had students focus on the photos and went round and talked to them about what they were reading. They were soo excited when they were able to make the connections and found similar images in the book to our photo from the board. As a class we discussed any answers they found to their questions. I went back to our original question from day 1, what different roles do you play everyday? They were able to make the connection with the question and what we have just discovered. Amazeballs! I reinforced this idea with a short video clip from BBC Learning Zone. Seriously, if you haven't checked out this resource, do it now. They have video clips for just about anything!

FINALLY, sorry for the incredibly long-winded post, just soooo stoked on these lessons! Our third lesson was a chance for students to create (yea Bloom's taxonomy) their own gods based on what we had discovered in the last two lessons. We reviewed and discussed for 10 minutes and talked about some ideas they might have. It was great that they really understood why Hindu gods had special features and symbols based on their power and function. Well, the rest of the 45 minutes was spent with the kiddos working independently and showing off their work. Result!

Love the explanations!
 If you managed to the end, well done!!


Friday, 7 June 2013

Five for Friday

I'm linking again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky. I must say I am so jealous of all those people who are on summer vacation. I now only have 6 and a half weeks, not that I'm counting down...
1. Our class has been growing sunflowers as part of a competition for Espresso, which is a great online educational site. It has lessons, activities, news for every subject. My class watches their news every Thursday and then we take a quiz on what we've just watched after. I thought it would be great to enter their competition because we are about to start a unit on plants.
Here's a photo of our sunflowers so far (about 7-8 weeks)
Growing quickly, although rather crookedly
2. Okay, I'll be honest, my list is probably really strectching for 5, because my mind has been a bit -------- this week. I I did a double-take today though when I was on my way to a personal training session. I meet my friend at his school, which is in the countryside a bit.

Okay, seriously, this is an intersection, like as in a triangular patch of grass, with a small horse?! I'm pretty sure the horse's job was to eay the grass, he looks like he's doing a good job.
3. Another random ... I love this time of year in England. We are finally getting warm temperatures, woo hoo the high 60's (14-19 celcius). The days are getting really long and I love it. Every year this takes me by surprise. Coming from Southern California, the sun rising and setting doesn't change that much between summer and winter. It's crazy to think how much higher latitude wise England is because the sun stays our for-eva in the summer!!

So I know this isn't the most glamourous picture, but I just wanted to quickly give an example of what I meant. I took this picture outside my house, at 9:30pm!! The sun rises at 5 too!
4. No more pics, but I thought I'd at least attempt to write 2 more, since it is 5 for Friday. Today we had our school talent show, which was a take on Britain's Got Talent. I was unfortunately lucky to be made a judge, along with my headteacher and two studnets. It was such a great afternoon. 3 acts were chosen from each year group's earlier auditions. In total we had 12 amazing acts. I'll be honest, I was a little surprised, since I was present for the Year 3 auditions. I must say, our three acts worked really hard this week and performed amazingly.
5. Reports are due Monday. I have been 'working' on them for 2 weeks now. With each student's report being 10 pages long, it gets tedious. Needless to say my weekend will be full.
Thanks for linking up.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

June Goals & Workin' It Wednesday

I'm being a bit naughty and doing a double link up. I am linking up with Corinna over at Surfin' Through Second and I {Heart} Recess. I discovered Corinna's blog last week through another link up and saw her Workin' It Wednesday linky. I've been looking forward to posting for the last few days, not because I necessarily have anything insightful to say, but because I think this link up will keep me accountable.
Corinna's link up worked perfectly with I {Heart} Recess' June goals link up.

I am engaged and have exactly 2 months (from today!) until my wedding. Unfortunately, unlike most brides, I really haven't changed my eating habits and tried to lose weight. In January I decided that I did want to try and be healthier and by Easter, I finally started a workout routine.
Yoga/Climbing, step aerobic (1-2x a week),  korfball training, and personal training session. I really want to maintain this. It hasn't been easy with teaching and does take up a lot of time, but I think 3x a week is an achievable goal.
My personal goal sounds really horrible ... My fiance and I work at the same school, so essentially see each other all the time. I have noticed that since we've both gotten our fancy phones and laptops, it's quite easy to not actually interact as much while at home. I would like to go technology free for at least one day.
My other goal was to keep in contact more with my family. Being 8 time zones away, it can be hard. Thank god for WhatsApp.
The health goal I have set myself I think will be the hardest. I love sugar! I have it in coffee, sweets, biscuits - which are definitely my vices. I've not lost any weight since starting my workout regime 2 months ago and I know sugar is the main culprit.
Goals for school have not changed all year! I'm terrible when it comes to marking and planning. I go to school having a plan for my lessons and will write my maths plans, otherwise ... As far as marking goes, I literally forget they have done work in their books so often forget to mark straight away.
My blog/TPT goal is to try and blog at least once a week. It can be really hard to come up with ideas or have the time during term time, but again, I think once a week is an achievable goal. I'm also trying to get my blog out there a bit more, so am currently having it made over, should be ready by July!
The Reading Goal is a bit of a long shot. I used to love reading, but find that I only really make time for it during my holiday. I got Life of Pi for Christmas and have not had the urge time to read it. I know it's supposed to be brilliant, so I'm going to try and force myself to read it. The Polish Boxer is a book that was recommended by the local library and Waterstone's as a summer read. It has references to World War 2, which is always my favourite time to read about.

Going back to the health goal, I had read on Corinna's last Workin' It Wednesday post about My Fitness Pal. I have seen this app but was only tempted to use it when I read about how it has been working for her.
I've used apps like this before, but I didn't like that they didn't take into account the exercise I had done. I started using this app last week and like that it gives you a daily calorie goal. I managed to go to Step, so when I input that, it essentially increased my calorie intake, because of the calories I had lost. I'm determined to keep up with this app so I can achieve my weight loss goal. I know I won't lose 20 lbs by my wedding day, but hopefully I'll be looking good for my honeymoon.
If you've managed to read this far, well done!


Sunday, 2 June 2013

June Currently

I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy Fourth grade for her June currently.

So the sun is out (a rarity at the moment) and I should really be outside, but instead I'm watching a week's worth of Come Dine with Me. Damn you cooking shows!
Loving the teacher blogs at the moment. Okay I'll be honest, I like the teacher blogs all the time! Since I have had the last week off I have been able to catch up with my fave blogs and discover new ones.
I am not a keen gardener and to be honest, my garden (back yard) is quite small, but it's small in that actually it's too big for me to want to take care of it kinda way. So I really should be out there weeding (done maybe 4x a year) because I now have so many dandelions and other weeds that my garden doesn't actually seem to have any flowers of worth.
Wanting - I linked up with Kristen over at  Ladybug's Teacher Files last week for her Optimum Organization linky and saw all the amazing teacher tool boxes people had made. I went straight out and bought a toolbox and scrapbook paper, but have been unable to make it just yet because I haven't been at school. I didn't want to make the labels before I knew what I was going to put in the box.
Needing - So literally my man has just asked me what I was doing and when I said blogging (again) he burst out laughing because he thought I was being super productive for school. So yea, probably should be doing those reports since they are 10 pages long, but they aren't due until the end of next week ... (procrastinate much?)
I am excited that I actually get to go on holiday this summer, okay well it is my honeymoon, but thank god for that, or else I don't know when we'd get a chance to go away. Dan and I are headed to Sri Lanka at the end of August and I hope to be soaking up some sunshine, with a good book and a bit of sunscreen. I've heard Sri Lanka is really cheap, so I'm hoping we don't need too much money, but you always end up spending more than budgeted for on a holiday!



Saturday, 1 June 2013

Optimum Organization Linky or as they would write in England 'Organisation'

Kristen (Ladybug Teacher Files) and Elizabeth from (Fun in Room 4B) are hosting this weekly linky. I am more than a little excited to be able to link up and read everyone's ideas over the summer. I still have a half-term left, so it doesn't actually seem like summer is coming, but I am already excited about plans on organising my room and myself next year.

Now I don't know about you, from most of the blogs I have been reading, it seems like you teachers are super OCD and LOVE organising. I would love to be organised and I do get a little OCD about how things are placed and done in my room, but I must admit, I am a fraud. Lots of people come into my room, saying how neat it is, how organised I am, but little do they know what lurks in those desk drawers and cupboards. They aren't there during the day when I am having to ask my students where I might have put something or having to write reminders on the WB so I don't forget to do something important. I am really hoping to waste less time next year and get myself sorted earlier on.

One idea I did want to share was my maths book to keep track of students' progress with new ideas. To be completely honest, this worked really well at the beginning of the year and then I started to get lazy with it. Now that I am in the midst of writing my reports I have found this little book to be a treasure. It has also shown me that this is something I still want to implement next year and need to keep on top of.

This is my tiny maths book that I carry around with me when students are working independently. I also have it on my desk to jot notes if I notice something during the lesson or when I am marking. (Sorry for the glare).

This little gem works hand-in-hand with these traffic signals, which I first posted about here.
Each student has access to these cards in their basket. There are enough cards for each student to have a set. When students start working they put it on the colour they are feeling. Red meaning they don't understand and need my help, amber meaning they are kind of understanding but might need a bit of support and green meaning they feel confident.

The maths book helps because straight away I can write down the names of the students that need help. It also helps because if I haven't had time to see a student, they are already in my book, so I know to speak to them next maths session. This maths book also comes in handy because when I mark students' work, I can also note who isn't understanding or who needs to be extended.
This is an example of when we started learning column addition. I made note of what the mistakes were that students were making, ie not setting their numbers out properly, carrying numbers over. This helped me create focus groups to work on a specific area. Once students were able to demonstrate their understandings I double-ticked.
This shows an example of some groupings I did. The first group was being reinforced with column addition, whereas the second group was being extended with larger numbers.

As I mentioned before, I didn't keep this focus up all year, but I wish I had. From the notes I have made, it has helped me with parent's evening and  reports. I have been able to flick through my notes to remind myself of what the student may have struggled with or has been secure in.

BTW: In our school we have sets. This is why I might not be so familiar with my students' needs, because sometimes I only see the student for that hour in maths everyday. There are 75 students in Year 3 and I teach all of them in different subjects throughout the week. I also do something similar for my English set.

Hope this post made sense and was helpful. What types of things do you do to keep track of your students' progress?