"Raudy": Pronounced like rowdy! A blog about the day-to-day life of a very "Raudy" Combined Class teacher in Ontario, Canada!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Giftcard Giveaway and TPT Boost Sale

Tomorrow, Monday August 22nd is the TPT Boost sale.  Save 28% off of your Back to School wish listed items!

What's a better way to celebrate this, then giveaway Giftcards???



I've teamed up with Teaching is a Gift.  We are both dedicated to Combined Classes and creating quality resources that can help out teachers who are teaching more than one grade.  So we thought... why not combine a giveaway?

And even better... why not give you a chance to win a gift card, and one for a friend?

Click here to go to Teaching is a Gift's Blog. There is a Rafflecopter that you can enter. Follow the instructions! Good luck!!!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

How to Teach and Survive A Combined Grade Class


It's been a looooonng time since my last blog post.  I've been super busy with my two little ones, and a massive grade change.  Last year I took the leap and moved from 3/4 to 6/7.  And it was a year of learning and adjustments for me.  But what I have learned through it all is that I absolutely LOVE it! It was the right move for me.  And here I am, about to take another leap.  Same grade... different school. Although this is another big change for me, my confidence has risen.  As a result, I am working hard at creating new products for this age group.

Another thing that I have learned? I LOVE combined classes (or split grades as most call them)!  I bet you are reading this now and say "Yeah, sure you do! It's double the work!"  But it really isn't! In my opinion, there really is no such thing as a single grade anymore.  With differentiation, and our students learning at different levels, you could essentially be instructing 5 or more grades in one class!

So now with this year behind me, and a new one ahead, I thought that I would share my love of combined classes, as well as tips and tricks to really help you feel confident in teaching ANY combined grade!

TIP #1: LOOK AT THE BIG IDEAS AND OVERALL EXPECTATIONS!
A lot of people say to me, "Split Grades are so difficult, because the Science and Social Studies are different!" At the front of each section of these documents, there is an Overview of the Grade / Strand, Big Ideas and Overall Expectations.  Take the two (or more) grades that you are teaching.  Bring these paper out of the curriculum document, and look at them side by side.  What overall connections can you make? Where does the information overlap? Usually when you are looking at Science, they need to understand society and environmental effects of the unit of study.  There is also the Scientific Inquiry Process, and personal safety during experiments.  Make these the focus of your unit!
 

TIP #2: DON'T DO IT All AT ONCE!
Yes, A type personalities like me have difficulty with this one.  But it's true! Don't do it all at once!  What I mean by this, is DON'T TEACH SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES AT ONCE!
Break it up. Teach 6-8 weeks of Social Studies. Then switch to Science.  That way, you can integrate a lot more in your program and get deep thought on on topic at a time. I know this can be a little harder if you teacher a 6/7 or a 7/8. But it is doable!  If you allocate 3 periods 50 minute periods a week to your Science / Social Studies, you will be able to get it in... but you have to follow Tip #3 in order for it to be effective!

TIP #3: INTEGRATE, INTEGRATE AND INTEGRATE
I am a HUGE believer in integration!  I despise teaching one subject at a time, and in isolation!  I like my program to flow, with an overall goal and big idea.  And integration is KEY to getting this cohesive feeling within your classroom.
So, how do you integrate?
Literacy is the best place to integrate Science and Social Studies.  Look for Read Alouds that reflect the content that you are teaching.  Some great examples that I use for my 6/7 class include:
History / Canada Past and Present: Underground Railroad by Barbara Smucker
Science: Electricity: City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
Science: Form and Function: Titanic by Gordon Korman 

Don't forget 10 minutes of Shared Reading Daily!  I like to use articles that reflect the overall big idea that we are learning about. If you focus on being a Global Citizen or an Environmental Steward, you will find TONS of current and relevant articles to highlight your Big Idea.

Guided Reading - definitely the best bang for your buck!  Are you concerned that your students won't get in those key knowledge and understanding concepts for each Science / Social Studies Strand?  Select materials in Guided Reading that can really help to solidify these concepts.  Use your school resources, apps like Epic or even internet articles to work in small groups on these concepts.

Writing and Media - I integrate these concepts CONSTANTLY in my program.  I always have a rich task that my students need to do as a culminating task for the unit.  This is where I bring in the writing and media expectations.  Have focused mini lessons around the writer's workshop process, and around a specific text form you would like them to produce.  At the end, you will have a rich task that will hit more than one area in your curriculum.

TIP #4: USE INQUIRY
Yes, this is the "buzz" word that has been floating around for a while now.  But it is SO key to student engagement! It is also key to teachers feeling less stress about "fitting in their curriculum."
Use an article, (either in Shared Reading or Guided Reading as highlighted above).  Then, have students generate questions on things that they would like to learn more about in that particular concept.  It should spark some natural curiosity within the class.  Then, in your modelled writing lessons, focus on HOW to conduct the inquiry process, and become an efficient researcher.  You set the context, you foster the questioning and the learning.  And the students will run with it!

TIP #5 LOOK TO TPT FOR GREAT PRODUCTS
If you are still worried about putting it all together... have no fear!  For there are some amazing Combined Classroom Teachers on tpt!  I have really been focusing on developing my Combined Classroom Resources.  Currently, I have:



Want BOTH of my Combined History and Social Studies Units for a discounted price (save $5)!  Check This Bundle Out!

More combined classes resources will be posted! I am also going to bundle some of my other products for Grades 3 and 4 as Combined Classes Resources!  Please follow my tpt store for more updates!


Hopefully, you will feel more confident tackling a combined grade with these tips and tricks!  Please comment below if you have any more tips you would like to add!




Friday, July 31, 2015

TPT Back To School Sale


Get your Wishlists Ready, and Stock Up Your Carts!  TPT's annual Back To School Sale has been announced!  It's starts Monday, August 3rd, to Tuesday August 4th.  I know I have a ton of items I will be buying, what about you???

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer To Do List (For New Teachers and Teachers Changing Grades) PART 3

This is the last instalment of my Teacher Summer To Do List.  If you missed the first two posts, please find them below.

Summer To Do List Part 1
Summer To Do List Part 2

This section will outline the last 4 items on my Summer To Do List.

4. CREATE A SUMMER READING LIST AND... READ!!!

Now that I am moving up, I really need to think about incorporating more novels into my read alouds.  I have looked into different books for this grade level, and started to make a summer reading list.  It's really important to preview and read the texts yourself, prior to reading them to the class.  You never know if the topic might be too heavy, or if the vocabulary is inappropriate unless you screen it first.

I have downloaded the books to my iPad, and I'm just starting to get through them.  So far I have:




City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
*Please let me know if you have any other suggestions! Comment Below!

Hopefully my sons will let me read these books before the summer is up!

3. FIGURE OUT WHAT I WANT MY PROGRAM TO LOOK LIKE

The next item on my list revolves around what I want my program to look like.  In order to figure out what I want it to be, I need to be reflective, and ask questions about my students, my teaching styles and philosophy.  Here are some questions you can use to ask yourself to help you design your program:
- What are my teaching ideologies?
- How will I assess students?
- How will I address the needs of all students?
- How will I create a caring and safe environment?
- How will I incorporate inquiry and project based learning?
- How will I engage students?
- How will I set up groups and groupings?
- What kind of behaviour system do I want to have in place?
- How can I encourage positive behaviours? Decrease negative behaviours?
- How will I address inappropriate behaviours?
- How can I get my students to buy in and care about their work?
- What techniques can I use in my previous experience that will work with this age group?
- What techniques do I need to tweak?
- What techniques do I need to discontinue?
- How will I encourage positive social interactions among my students?

There is so much more to this profession than just teaching and learning.  You have to be reflective.  And you have to be willing to change based on the needs of your students.  I ask these questions on reflect on my practice ALL THE TIME.  Because what works for one class, may not work for the next.  And it is my job to meet the needs of all of those students.

Stay tuned to future posts so I can show you how I am addressing these questions! :)

 2. ADDRESS THE FIRST WEEK BACK

The number 2 item on my list is thinking about and addressing the First Week Back to School. It is important to use that time to establish routines and to get to know your students.  I have put together this package to address both of these areas.  Click on the picture to find this item in my tpt store!


 1. ENJOY THE SUMMER

This is by far the most important item on my list, and it should be your number 1 item too!  Enjoy your summer.  Make memories with your friends and families. I know I will be spending lots of my time with my boys, playing in the park, going swimming at my sister's pool, visiting friends, and going on day trips.  And I will leave all this "other stuff" for nap and bedtimes.

You cannot be an effective teacher unless you have down time.  So take it... enjoy it! I know I will! ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer To Do List (For New Teachers and Teachers Changing Grades) PART 2

Hopefully, you tuned in yesterday to the first in my series of Summer To Do List.  In it, I listed the first three steps in my List, and they all revolved around the topic of Organization.  If you didn't get a chance to read it, you can check it out here


In this second part of my Summer To Do List, you will find Items 7, 6 and 5.  These items all revolve around Curriculum and Planning.  Here's an inside look of how I dissect, prioritize and outline my program.


7. LOOK AT THE CURRICULUM




After I print out my templates, I pull all of my curriculum documents out. I like to highlight keep expectations and write notes in the margins of which expectations go with which expectations.  I love to write the big ideas of the curriculum, opportunities for inquiry, learning goals, success criteria and cross curricular connections.




Notice I write tons of stuff in the margins and on post it notes.  Highlighters, pencils and post its are my best friends!
Then I turn to my planning templates to help me make units and lessons.  This is an essential step, especially since I will be moving into new grades. Far more is expected at this grade level!


6. MAKE LONG RANGE PLANS

After I am finished examining the curriculum, I start to think about what I would like to teach at certain times of the year.  I also like to think about what areas of the curriculum co-relate so that I can create a fluidity in my program.  I have already my long range plan templates, and I am starting to write out what I would like to do in September.  Slowly, I will fill in the others areas.




If you like the template that I am using, you can find it in my Planning Templates Package in my TPT store.




5. BUILD UP MY WISHLIST

After this step, I am going to start looking at other TPT products from amazing Ontario sellers that can help me with this new transition, and fit in with this curriculum.  Then, I will add those products to my wishlist.  Of course I plan on creating my own products (please stay tuned for those), but there are so many wonderful TPT Ontario Sellers who have excellent work out there.  I want to see what kind of gaps that I have with the hard copy resources that I have in my school, and look towards wonderful TPT sellers to help me fill in those gaps! I have just started browsing and adding.  So far, I have:


 MATH JOURNAL BUNDLE from Jen Runde

COMMUNITIES IN CANADA FROM THE PAST AND PRESENT from Coach's Corner

NGO'S AND QR CODES from Coach's Corner

ELECTRICAL ARCADE GAME from Teachingisagift

RETELL, RELATE, REFLECT, REVIEW READING ASSIGNMENT from Two Peas and a Dog 

These are excellent J/I Ontario Sellers!  I can't wait to see what else I can add to my wishlist! :)


How do you start to plan out your new year?  How do you tackle the curriculum?  What kind of TPT items are on your wishlist? Are you a TPT seller with an excellent Middle School Resource? Share below in the comment section!

Please tune in tomorrow for the rest of my Summer To Do List.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer To Do List (For New Teachers and Teachers Changing Grades) PART 1

Well it's that wonderful time of the year... where we get to relax and rejuvenate for the new school year.  I am very excited to be off right now, but I do still take those moments to get my head into gear for the new year.  And this year, I'm changing grades... BY CHOICE! I've loved being in 3 and 3/4, but I really wanted to see what it's like in other grades.  So I am branching out and moving to...
a 6/7 SPLIT!  I can hear the audible gasp most of you are making!  It's the reaction I have had when I have told people of my move.  But I am looking forward to the new challenges ahead.

So, since I am moving on up, I have had to set a Summer To Do List.  And you should have one too.  Summer To Do Lists help to keep you focused and on track. It will also make your transition into the new year a little smoother, and help to calm those nerves. Especially if you are a new teacher, or a teacher changing grades.  It can be difficult because you don't know what to expect from students those first few days.  And that's why I started my list!

If you don't have a Summer to do list, read mine! Here are the first few items in my Top Ten Summer To Do List:



10. SET UP AND GET MY CLASSROOM DECOR READY


Over the years I have gone to Scholar's Choice and bought new packs of those letters, and have placed them in my classroom. But I don't know if this happens to you... they break by mid year, and just don't look right.  So, I have figured out what I want each of my walls to say:
Wonderful Writing
Marvelous Math
Exploring Science and Social Studies
Radical Reading
Awesome Art
I figured regardless of the grades that I teach in the future, these are the boards that I would like to have up. And of course I have Learning Goal and Key To Success for subtitles for each.
Other areas that I needed to create were word wall letters (yes even for this age group), an agenda board, and schedule and task cards.  I went through my classroom and took sketches of each of the boards, and then I planned out where I would put all of the items and what I would call those boards.

The next stage of this project required me to get a little crafty. I have opted to make these words and headers myself.  TPT has lots of wonderful clipart and nice looking fonts.  I have used powerpoint to create them, and I sent them to Staples to be printed on cardstock so that I don't waste my ink and my paper.  Next, I cut them out and laminated them.  This will look SO much better.  This will make my boards look more uniform, crisp and clean.

Although I have finished planning out my boards and creating the materials I needed for them, I still can't scratch #10 off of my list year.  I have to wait until the last week of summer and actually put these boards up and together! Once all the boards are finished, I will post them, and see what you think!

9. TAKE AN INVENTORY OF MY MATERIALS

With moving up in grades, I am also required to move rooms.  I'm leaving my lovely little grade 3, 4, 5 hallway to join the Middle School Hall. So, I have also already started #9 during the last week of school.  I looked at all of the materials I had in my classroom, and I was faced with a tough decision:
- Does it go to my new room?
- Do I take it home and store it?
- Do I donate it to a teaching partner?
- Do I pitch it?

Very little came with me to my new room, and very little came home with me.  I took a lot of my personal library books for my boys to read.  I also kept a lot of my bins and organizers.  But many of my other items I donated or pitched.  I had to look at it and ask myself:
- Do I use it?
- Do my students use it?
- Is it useful for my new set of students?
- Do I plan on returning to this grade and using this item again?

And I found that I hung on to a lot of stuff that I didn't even use.  I stopped using Scholastic Anchor Charts after my first year of teaching.  Now I make them with the students so that they are authentic.  So why hang on to it? It just adds clutter, and clutter will lead to a confused classroom.

This process is not over. As my husband likes to point out all of the time, I have 3 bins in my basement, waiting for me to go through.  I can see three, turning into one! At least that's my goal!  Less is best!  For my new classroom, and my basement ;)

8. ORGANIZE

I also have organization on my list!  Specifically, I want to start thinking about and planning for the organization of my classroom.  Here are somethings that I ask myself to help me plan this out:
- Where do I want my students to keep there materials?
- How will classroom shared materials and manipulatives be displayed?
- How am I going to display student work?
- How will I organize my classroom library?
- How should I arrange my desks?
- Should I have students in groups or rows?
- How will I organize my student assessment binder / materials?
- How should I organize materials for Substitute Teachers?
- What can I do to minimize clutter in the classroom?
- What kind of areas should I have in the room?
- What will their purpose be?
- How should I arrange my desk?
- SHOULD I EVEN HAVE A DESK? (Yes, I'm thinking about going "desk-less")

Some of these questions I have answered.  Others are still swirling in my head.  And I know that some of these will just have to come when I meet my class and the dynamics within them.  But if I have a plan in mind, and ideas just incase the plan falls through, then I will be more confident and run my classroom in a smooth manner.



Well, that's all for the First Addition to my Series "Summer To Do List." Please tune in tomorrow for Numbers 7, 6 and 5.  And please add comments below.  Are you getting your materials ready for your classroom?  Have you done a big purge of your old materials lately?  What are some items you had to hang on to?  What were some things you couldn't believe you kept? Do you have any answers to my organization questions? What works for you?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I'M BACK!

Wow! It's been such a long time that I wasn't even sure if I remembered how to write a new blog post!  Life has been crazy for the last few months.  I returned to work from mat leave in February. It was a hard adjustment coming back at that point in the year.  I had to figure things out... and I felt like a newbie all over again! :)
And then... I hurt my back. :(  So blogging and tpting were put on the back burner.  My back, neck and shoulders couldn't handle the long hours in front of the computer screen.
But now it is summer holiday, and I was just released from physio! And I FEEL GREAT! So, I thought I better get back into the swing of things.  And what better way to celebrate than create a new tpt product? lol!

Here it is... a package filled with templates of planners.  You have yearly planners, monthly planners, weekly planners... unit planners, lesson planners, for all subject areas.  There are more than 20 different planners in this product.

Please check it out on the link below.  And always, let me know what you think!


I promise not to be in hibernation for this long again!  I have great ideas swirling and lots of things will be coming shortly! Happy SUMMER!

(I should really count how many times I said PLANNERS in this post! lol!)