Friday, 26 August 2011

TGIF: Free for All Friday!

It's Friday!!! Yay!! For some of you this has been your first week back at school - how are your tired feet, aching jaws, sore throats??? I know I was always shocked at just how much talking I did everyday during the first week of school...holidays were always a wonderful respite!

Well, as it's Friday Blog Hoppin' is having a Free for All! Head on over to download a host of marvellous ideas! I have a little activity you can do with your young students within the first few weeks of term. It is an All about ME! Cube. The students fill in their information/drawings/pictures on the sides of a cube which can then be assembled and hung in the classroom as decoration! Fun and functional!!

This is Me! Cube TpT

Hope you enjoy using this!
I'll be back with more articles in my Maths thread this weekend so make sure you pop by!

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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Today is Teacher Talk Tuesday over at Blog Hoppin' and teachers everywhere will be offering up advice to new (and "old") teachers.

My motto is: "Prepare, prepare, prepare...and be prepared to have your preparation fly out of the window!"

No matter how well you organise and prepare, when you are teaching little (and big) kids you can always expect a drama or two to rock the boat at some time or another. Try to stay calm...and remember tomorrow is another day!

Have a great Tuesday!
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Monday, 22 August 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

Hi everybody, I'm participating in the Meet the Teacher link up at Blog Hoppin'.

Tell us a little something about you...
My name is Michelle Walker and I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I was born in beautiful Cape Town and moved to PE when I was 12 years old. I attended High School at Alexander Road High and completed a Bachelors of Primary Education degree at the University of Port Elizabeth (now known as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University or NMMU!). I am married to a kind, gentle man and have 2 stepsons (Bradley, 23 and Dane, 15) and a gorgeous, intelligent 3 year old daughter, Keira, who makes us all laugh! I love every minute we spend together and am learning so many new things about myself through the time I spend with her.

How long have you been teaching?
My gorgeous Keira!
Well, my first teaching post was a combined Grade 1 and 2 class in a small town, Jeffreys Bay, about an hour from Port Elizabeth. I only taught there for a year as I missed my family and friends dreadfully! I was then offered a Grade 2 position at a private school in Port Elizabeth. I taught Grade 2 and Art at Theodor Herzl for almost 16 years before my daughter was born. I am a teach-a-holic and despite the odd wobbly (let's face it...we all have these!) I LOVED my years in the classroom and was so worried about leaving my classroom in the care of someone else while on maternity leave! Well, suffice it to say, I soooo fell in love with my new baby that I never returned to my beloved classroom. (And I don't regret it for a minute!) I now teach extra (intervention) Maths to a handful of sweet children from Grades 2-7 from my home in the afternoons. I also help 2 children with their homework everyday....and try to run my small business Creative Classroom in the mornings and evenings between making snacks, meals, running to potties, reading stories, playing tea parties, shopping, laundry, play dates...and everything else that comes with being a wife and mommy!

You might not know...
Pretty much everything, I guess, as I am so new to the blogging world! So to begin with a few tidbits! When I arrived home from school after my first day in Grade 1, I announced that I was going to become a teacher...and that thought never changed (except for when I thought I might like to be a brain surgeon!...despite not being able to stand the sight of blood!) I think I was born with teacher genes! Everywhere I go, everything I see is a potential lesson, or sparks an idea for one! 
I am a keen traveller, although I haven't had much chance for it since I married and became a mom. I have been to the USA twice (California, Las Vegas and Washington DC), Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, Europe, the UK and well as extensive travels around South Africa as a child on family holidays and as a student. As a student I also travelled to Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia. 
My two favourite places on earth are Jubilee Creek in the Knysna Forest, South Africa, and Venice! I have to get back to Venice one day!

What are you looking forward to most this year? 
Here in South Africa we are already at the midpoint of our year...but I am looking forward to getting my blog "out there" to South African teachers and those internationally. The edublogging concept has not yet caught on in SA and I hope to be starting a trend here as I can see what a terrific community support it can be and I have learnt so much from the blog hopping I have done to date!

What do you need to improve?
My 'getting down to serious work routine'! I have become a blog and FB addict and have to learn to put aside those things and get down to the work that brings in the income!

What teaching supply can you not live without? 
Sharp HB (No.2) pencils and a soft white eraser! I am one of those exceedingly anal people that will only write in my diary/notebooks with a pencil!! I think if we could get 'Sharpies' in SA I would probably love those too!  And my trusted Apple Mac...I don't know what I ever did before my husband introduced me to all things Apple!

Well that's it from me for now! Keep following...and hop on over to Blog Hoppin' to tell us more about you! 

Have a great Monday!


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Confidence is the key!

Math/s has to be my favourite subject to teach! As a student myself I discovered I was really good at Maths in Grades 8 and 9, yet I didn't achieve spectacularly well in Maths further on. Why, you may ask? Well, I lacked confidence in my own ability. As an educator I have taught both classroom Maths to Grades 1 and 2 and extra/intervention Maths to children from Grades 1 to 7 and I have discovered that with most children who have a problem with Maths, confidence is the key!

Children need the confidence provided by a solid foundation in simple Maths skills, "bonds" or number facts, skip counting, tables, number sense... and need to meet with success when completing early Maths tasks to develop the confidence to try - and sometimes make a mistake! In the early years practise, practise, practise is essential to building confidence. Using manipulatives or physical materials/things is of utmost importance - even into the higher grades. It is my belief that unless a child can understand what is being learnt by seeing, touching, manipulating, hearing and doing they will never fully grasp a new concept.

What does this mean for teachers? Well, from my viewpoint - have masses and masses of concrete apparatus available. Money (plastic/paper coins and notes are fine), clocks that can be manipulated (both analogue and digital), stop watches, unifix cubes, 10's, 100's and 1000's manipulatives, counters, fraction strips and fraction circles, tape measures, rulers, metre sticks, non-standard measures, different size containers for measuring capacity, balance scales, scales, objects for measuring mass, 3 dimensional shapes, etc, etc, etc.

And practise, practise, practise...never forget about the basics. Even as children become older and more able. Knowing that 3 and 7 makes 10, helps the understanding of 30 and 70 is 100, 300 and 700 is 100, 0,3 and 0,7 is 1 and so on.

Someone once told me..."Maths is a language. You have to "speak" it everyday to become good at it." Parents play a vital role here. By introducing young children to the world of numbers early on through games, chores, counting, etc the stage is set for later learning and CONFIDENCE! Over the next few days I will share some simple ideas relating to teaching Maths and to developing early Maths skills in young children. I will also post some make sure to visit often!


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Inspired by the blogging world!

I have spent days thinking about what I should write in my first blog and kept hitting a road block! I have just been so inspired by video clips I viewed on 2 blogs I have been following for some time now...and am so envious of the teachers in the US who have Cara Carroll and Abby Mullins to arrange what will most certainly be a fantastic blogging/teaching conference! (If you live in the US and don't yet know about the event they are planning head over to one of their blogs to find out more!- just click on their names above...)

Even though I am no longer in a classroom full time I still...and will always...consider myself a teacher! Right now my most important student is my 3 year old daughter (...and the handful of kids I help with homework and extra Maths lessons). I also spend many hours a day nurturing my business, Creative Classroom, a subscription based website supplying resources to teachers in South Africa. If you teach in SA and haven't yet subscribed to Creative Classroom please visit the website or leave me a comment and I will send you more information.

It is my hope that through this blog I will be able to promote the products I add to my TpT store and those that are posted to my website. I will also have freebies available and tips and ideas from my years of experience in a classroom. Please follow me and share a link to my blog with your teacher friends and other bloggers!

I look forward to becoming a member of this exciting teacher-blogging world!
Happy teaching!