Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beginning of Kinder.......walking down memory lane

 I am not getting ready for a new class this year, but instead getting my spousal visa paperwork figured out so I can move to England with my soon to be husband!! And planning the London wedding that seems like a monumental task as my family is coming from America and fiance's family is coming from South Africa!

Anyway, I came across these photos and thought I would share them. Happy planning to you all that are getting ready for the year. Hopefully I will have my own class later in the year, in jolly 'ol England!

Pictures of students following our rules.
Environmental print that students brought in. We also made a class book in a similiar style.

Not a beginning of kindergarten Predictable Chart, but you get the idea.

Monday, July 25, 2011

from the English Language School in Melbourne, Australia......

Why did I go to Australia?

Hmmmm, how to keep this story short? It was 2009, I was in my seventh year of teaching, halfway through my Masters degree, living in Phoenix. I had already moved and lived in England twice (fiance in British Army).....and had a nice kindergarten teaching job. However, enrollment was down and my team was being cut from 5 to 4 classes. Someone would need to leave or be asked to leave.

I loved (still love and see frequently) my team but as the last hired, not to mention super unrooted gypsy that I am, I thought this may be a door closing with a window opening elseware......I volunteered to leave and "maybe go to Australia?!" soldier was getting ready for another deployment to Afghansitan (hence why I wasn't living in England.......deployments and training kept him......occupied to say the least) I thought expanding my teaching career somewhere would be a good idea.

New York? possibly. Australia? how great would that be? the beaches, the kangaroos, the accents! Looked into it, my chance for a visa was coming to a close sharply (working holiday visas for Americans--must be between 18-30 years old.......I turned 30 that summer)...........I bought a one-way ticket and began as a sub before I landed my dream job at the English Language School.

Australia. Best 15 months.E V E R.  

So some pictures from my classroom in Melbourne (p.s. no Lakeshore, etc there and hardly any funding for the ESL schools so don't mind the makeshift everything and I could only bring my teaching supplies that would fit in 1 suitcase!)

Our "greeting" sign that we added words to over the weeks and months. Every morning when I took attendance, I would say "Good morning, ______" and "How are you?" All they really knew was "Good, how are you?" So we got into the thesaurus to learn new words. They loved using these new words! Love this little poster.   *Remember spelling is different in England and AU (didn't want you to think I spelled marvelous wrong......and excuse the's Victorian font)

Ah, weekend writing. This is a great concept for English Language Learners or any learners! This make-shift poster had pictures of things we do over the weekend with a simple sentence (On the weekend I went to the market, etc). I also made mini-books for the students with the same pictures.

Every Monday was a similiar lesson. Reviewing present/past tense verbs and transition words (first, next, then) as some students are ready for paragraphs. I did modeled writing and then we got into small groups to have speaking and listening practice about our weekend (these classes only have 9-12 students!!! loved it!).....Then the students used resources to help them in their writing, and the next day we used computers to type it up!

The consistency was great for my pre-literate, interrupted or equivalent schooling students. They were always very proud of their work and the growth that they would see. Some literally started by drawing pictures only, and then by the end were writing in paragraphs with no resource help!
Weekend writing picture up close.

Job board (this one is for literacy centers) for one of the groups. With the various levels in my class, I needed literacy centers to be differentiated for all of my learners. Some of the students were pre-lit and in the silent stage, learning Zoo Phonics while some students were reading chapters books and focusing on higher level grammar, vocabulary etc.

This job board shows the picture icons for all of my literacy activities/games. The picture icons help them find the activities, because the tubs they're kept in have the same icon. The students can move on to the next "job" when they're finished. They don't have to wait for the others in their group. The jobs hit writing, phonics/spelling words, sight words, and phonemic awareness each day. I call them over to read to me during this time.

I've also used a job board in kindergarten and believe it can work in and K-3 classroom.  It has been the best way I've seen to incorporate differentiated literacy centers. It's not my idea, I came across it when I was subbing one day and have adapted it over the years.

Yes, students sometimes don't get through all of their jobs, and some finish earlier, but we have a procedure for finishing early. I love that the students get literacy activities and games for their level. It's G R E A T! I got my kinder team in Phoenix hooked before I went to Australia. 

Job board notebook-this student is showing that he glued in his spelling list for the week. The students do some of their literacy centers into a notebook (vocabulary graphic organizers, making words, cutting up spelling words and gluing them back together, etc).

Having the spelling list in their literacy centers notebook ensures they also have their spelling words (because there are different lists of course! Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate!)

I started cutting out pictures and small articles from the free newspapers I would read on the train going home from work (have I mentioned I love public transport in Australia and Europe?!! love it!) and then we could discuss captions, titles, different things we read about, etc. Then the students started bringing in clippings!!! Awww, melt my heart! Some of these little guys were refugees from Burma, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sudan and more and they really started to catch on! I loved this teaching job AND I really loved Australia.

Hope I can teach there again someday.

OK, I'm really going to try and blog.........

Only now I am discovering all of these teacher blogs!!! Where have I been?!!

I want to begin blogging to share my love of my FAVORITE teaching tool ever-everydayPORTFOLIOS or Interactive Notebooks as I saw in England and Australia (called exercise books there). I also want to post teaching ideas and photos from British classrooms since I will be returning there in the fall after I get married : )

Please help with tips, advice or suggestions for is all very new to me!


What are your thoughts on Interactive Notebooks/everydayPORTFOLIOS and/or international school systems?

Friday, July 1, 2011

everydayPORTFOLIOS: writing a description

writing a description-kindergarten

everydayPORTFOLIOS: sorting sounds

kdg-sorting sounds

everydayPORTFOLIOS: word problems

third grade-word problems

everydayPORTFOLIOS: math notes

third grade-near doubles

What is this blog for?

I have added this blog to my website so that I can add photos from the various classrooms I visit........hoping you also do the same, adding photos from your classroom so we can all learn from each other.  After spending time traveling and teaching in various countries, I reflected about all of the ideas I had come across.  The exercise books used in countries around the world is my favorite teaching tool, by far. 

It seems most countries outside of the United States use exercise books.  The books are essentially notebooks for students to record all daily work in.  My website: explains it all in greater detail. I call them everydayPORTFOLIOS and have worked over the past couple years to develop books that match the American system, standards, etc. 

Soooo.......I will kick this blog off with some photos of student work, as recorded into exercise books (portfolios). I hope to see more photos in the future, as more and more American teachers try this amazing concept!