This is cooler than the title sounds, that's for sure!

While I was stalking reading through some of the wonderful blogs I follow out there I came across something that sounds AMAZING!!! It's a bit like Christmas - but with people all over the place.

The idea is this - you sign up over at Lessons With Coffee and she will hook everyone up with a couple of other teachers.  We get to know each other and then send a box on out!  Is that fun or what??!?!!

I've signed up, and I think you should too.  Go on... You know you want to!


The SLANT Box Exchange
Erin
The E-Z Class
Well it's still true that I've just gone back to school, it's just that it was after Winter break, not Summer!

I'm linking up with Jess over at I {heart} Recess to bring you my back to school goals.  We are now OFFICIALLY half way through the school year, and that is both really exciting, and terrifying at the same time!  My students are NOT ready to be big smelly intermediate students, and I am most definitely NOT ready to send them off.  Good thing we still have half a year together.

Here are my goals.

Personal - Well earlier this year I started training for a half marathon that was supposed to happen this Sunday.  That training went down hill fast when I got really sick.  SO I've reset the challenge and I'm going to do a 10k in November.  Better start training again!

Organisation - My desk is a mess 95% of the time.  It's a wonder I can ever get anything done!  I will keep it tidy this term, even if it means I can't leave school till later.

Planning - I've started running workshops instead of guided groups for literacy.  The kids sign up for the workshops they want to attend each cycle.  This makes planning slightly more on the go, but definitely more focussed to actual needs!

Professional - Something I was supposed to have done last term, so I'm a bit behind in my PD this year. If I catch up soon then everything will be all good!

Students - This goes with the workshops, they will NEED independence to be able to cope with this style of teaching and learning.  They are fairly independent as it is, but the more independent they are the better!

Motto - I love laughing, and while this isn't a motto I actually live by, I think that it is something that I should start thinking about as life gets a little bit stressful.  Laughter really is the best medicine - ALWAYS!

The E-Z Class


Erin

OOO before I forget - in other exciting news, we're now linked up with instagram!  While there is nothing too exciting there just yet head over and follow us at theezclass - Also leave me a comment with your instaname and I will be sure to follow you! 

I don't know about any one else, but life sure does have a way of being full on!  School is already so busy, and it's only lunchtime on day one!
I thought I'd share how I'm going to organise my literacy block this term.  I'm not trained in CAFE, or Daily 5, or anything like that, so everything I'm doing is 100% based on little tidbits I've picked up from reading the wonderful blogs I follow! Thanks wonderful people.

First thing - in the E-Z Class we run a 6 day cycle.  It makes planning easier, and it makes it more manageable with 48 students.  Monday-Thursday are included in this cycle, and then Friday is separate.  This isn't a school wide things, but still works well enough in just our class.


So the first thing the students need to do is decide which reading and writing workshops they are going to attend.  I put up a sheet of paper like this on my white board on day 1 and the kids have to choose at least 1 reading and at least 1 writing workshop each cycle.  The lessons are based on what they have written down as their goals. Check out this post here to find out how we do this.  If you are from NZ and want a copy of the standards in the format that we use just send me and email and I'll send it out to ya!  
Second thing they do is fill in their sheet showing what they are going to work on each day, this is where I have taken some ideas from some if my fellow bloggers.   They choose from the following options, each with a different requirement for each cycle.  (I realise that these are quite similar/exactly the same as some of the things in daily 5). Reading to myself, book club (which is a reciprocal reading group of at least 2 people), computer, word work, writing.  
At the moment I expect the students to fill in their workshop options at the start of the cycle, but the other things they can fill in throughout the week.  They have 4 15 minute sessions to fill in each day. I take two 30 minute workshops - which will change if needed.
I'd say that this is awesome and that you should all try it out, but to be honest we are only just starting out this way! I normally write contracts that have everything in them based on a couple books/articles.  
One thing I'm not looking forward to is the word word part. I hate teaching spelling, and think it takes up far too much time, but at the same time I hate it when my students can't spell words that they should know how to spell at 10 years old, so it's kind of a necessary evil.

I will check in again in a couple of cycles time to let you know how successful we have been.  Failing that I will check in and tell you how bad it was!  

Erin


Every now and then in your life someone comes along who does more for you than you ever realised.   Until they're gone.  I feel eternally blessed that I was a part of one such legacy until earlier this week.
A very dear friend, teacher, mentor, surrogate/honorary mother, careers advisor, and confidant passed suddenly from this world on Tuesday.
While my faith gives me hope for the future, it doesn't ever stop the pain and heart ache we feel in the present.  Please indulge me while I work through it all in this blog post.

As we gear up to head back to school in the morning, my thoughts are with you.  You will forever be remembered by countless students in Taupo for your warm, yet firm teaching style.  All the students who graced Room 23 were your children, for good, bad, or ugly.  The stories you told captured their hearts, minds, and imaginations.
While I was never in your class at school you were still my teacher.  You taught me in ways I think I will keep discovering as I go through life.  I will hold close memories of your laughter and smile, and the way that you could guide me into making a decision all the while making me think that I had come up with it in the first place.  You loved me like a daughter, and scolded me as such on many an occasion.  I will miss being able to share my teaching thoughts with you, as you listened when my parents didn't want to.  I wont remember how you set up your desks, or how organised your planning was.  I wont remember the wall displays you put up, or even the way you taught your lessons.  What will stay with me for all my days is the passion and love you put into teaching, and into every life you encountered.  I know that I would not be the teacher I am today without the support and guidance you gave me, even if it was from afar.

Rest in peace now Bronwyn, your mantle has been passed, and while our hearts are heavy we will take up the challenge.

Every day is a journey, and I plan on taking one today!


Ok, the first week of the holidays were taken up by my 12 year old son's rugby.  He played in a representative team. If you didn't already know, rugby is a BIG deal to Kiwi's (and South Africans)!!  I feel very fortunate that I was able to support him every day.


I must admit, I am not ready to think about school and planning yet, but I will have to, sooner or later :(

I love to integrate maths to our topic (concept).  It has been a challenge in the past.  Look what I found for our Creativity, Invention and Design topic.



I think our students are going to have so much fun creating, inventing and designing with the Lego Dacta Technic kits.  I plan to give them one day in a 6 day cycle to work on this.  Watch this space for photo's of our completed projects.





While catching up on my Bloglovin' feed, I saw this linky over at Miss Kindergarten called "10 things I've learnt from teaching" and thought I'd join in too.

1. Teaching is messy!  Never wear your favourite clothing, even when you teach year 6's! We weren't even doing art at the time and I got covered in yellow paint a couple weeks back - right before heading to an assembly.  AWKWARD!

2.  Kids are weird! But awesome at the same time.  I teach 10-11 year olds, and EVERY day at least one of them will do/say something strange.  It makes life interesting and fun.

3.  Boys are awesome!  And by that I mean that TEACHING boys is awesome.  because we team teach, we get the opportunity to split our kids in a myriad of ways.  Normally when there is anything to do with sports/PE we split the kids into boys and girls.  Mrs Z has so far taken the kids to the sporting activities, which has given me the chance to work with the leftovers in literacy!  You can do some really cool writing projects when you just have boys.  Check out this earlier post if you don't believe me!

4.  24 is the perfect number.  My second year teaching I discovered the awesomeness that is the number 24.  It is the easiest number of kids to manage.  Unfortunately most NZ class sizes are several kids more than 24, but I have been lucky enough to hit this number a couple of times.  Technically we are there now, with 2 teachers and 48 kids.  Why is it perfect? - You can split the kids in so many different ways it's great!  2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12.  Brilliant.

5.  Friday Afternoon's are the perfect time for "Free Art".  I often give the kids "free art" time on a Friday afternoon.  This time is not wasted, it is a chance for the kids to experiment with their creativity is a way that is completely open and unrestricted.  I put on some relaxing music, and give the kids free range with the art gear (within reason).  Most often they love practising skills we have learnt earlier in the week that they may not have mastered yet.  I'll post on this later if you like, as I have had other teachers in my team say that I am very brave

6.  Music makes the world go round.  I'm the biggest believer that music should be played in every classroom as often as possible.  There is SOOOO much research out there on the benefits of music on the brain and your emotions.

7.  No matter how hard I try, I will never be an organised person.  That isn't to say that I'm not ready for my kids every lesson, it just means that my desk is, and probably always will be a mess!

8.  Term 3 is the worst!  There are no public holidays to break up the learning, and it's cold!

9.  Kids will ALWAYS learn more if you are learning with them.  They love it when you join in their conversations at their level, not as the all knowing teacher.  Sometimes I give my kids an activity and I don't teach them anything before hand.  Then I sit with a group for a couple of minutes to talk with them and see where their thinking is.  Sometimes I like to pretend I know nothing about a topic and the kids get a huge buzz out of being able to teach me.  This works really well in our class when they have been with Mrs Z. learning a new math strategy, and then we come back together for plenary. I pretend (haha, sometimes I don't have to pretend too hard) that I don't know the strategy and get them to teach me.  Not only are they continuing their learning by explaining the strategy, but they are excited to be the teacher.

10.  I am AWESOME!  And I tell myself this often.  No one else is out there to tell you, so you have to tell yourself!  Go on, try it, you'll feel better for it.  This helps especially in those moments when you have a million and one things going on and you are feeling overwhelmed.  Tell yourself you are awesome and things automatically seem better.

What things have you learnt from teaching?  Link up with Miss Kindergarten and find out what others have to say!


Miss Erin


The E-Z Class
Again I know! Late.  I have a good reason though.  Firstly, I'm on holiday!  Who really keeps up with the days when you are on holiday?  Secondly, I only took the photos on Sunday, and was too sore and tired to do anything last night.  You'll see why soon.

Firstly though, my amazing plan of getting a whole heap of $1 iPods?  Yeah it didn't work.  I was winning one auction at a dollar, and then the sneaky seller took my bid off and relisted it for $1000!!! Naughty! :(

Back to Saturday Snapshots with Run! Miss Nelson's got the camera - Arguably my favourite linky of all time.  Probably just for the fact it gets me actually using my camera for more than just school prizegiving!


Right so do you remember last week when I said "Mount Tauhara - If the weather holds up I might (MIGHT) climb her this week." ?? Well the weather held up so here is what we climbed yesterday.

It was only a 4 mile round trip, but it was straight up, and then straight down - SO IT WAS HARD.  It was the first decent walk I've done since getting really sick a few months ago, and my lungs still haven't forgiven me yet.  Legs, they're getting there, but I think I will be coughing for a few days yet. :(
Right-o, here are a few of the things we saw.  Sorry I had to pinch one of my dad's photos from the top. It clouded over before I could get a decent one.  

Photo courtesy of my Dad - This is Taupo from the summit of Mt Tauhara (with Mt Doom in the background)

On the way up - Lake Taupo

Further up - More of the lake


The bush we were walking through


From almost at the top


Just before entering the bush


So that was my Sunday.  I also went for a drive with my brother and Dad on Saturday so that they could go rock climbing in Kinloch (a bay round the western part of the lake).  But my brother forgot the rope.

Silly brother forgetting a rope.

Ollie the dog, and my Dad repping it for Oregon State! (My sister goes there :))




Adventurous weekend!  Might rest today before getting into planning for the next term!


The E-Z Class

Erin
After reading this post from Teaching with style, I went hunting on Trademe. For those of you in America it's kinda like a cross between a garage sale, Craig's list, and Ebay.  Anyone can post things that they want to sell, and likewise, anyone can buy them!

Now I've wanted a reading/listening post in my classroom for AGES!!  And by that I pretty much mean my entire teaching career.  That's a long time!  Right so this afternoon - after reading, and playing the piano, and having lunch with friends, I got to thinking "If I can get a whole bunch of old iPod's for $1 each, then I can make MY OWN listening post!".

Which is where my addiction problem the fun starts?  I'm currently bidding on about 30 $1 reserve iPod's on trademe.  I don't think I'll win any of them for a dollar, but hey wouldn't that be cool!

I guess time will tell - the auctions don't end until Saturday at the earliest.  Watch this space for an update!

Erin
I actually haven't looked forward to a Tuesday this much in a long time!  Nick over at Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason has, what I would call, one of the best linky parties out there! I'm a big fan of using music in your programme in as many ways as possible - just check out my earlier post here.

So the idea is that people link up and share a tune that can be used to teach an aspect of grammar!  I think that I need some of these lessons too, as when I first linked up last week I said I'd do a song that taught personification. Yeah nah!  I'm actually doing a song that teaches metaphors - sorry about that!  I will take myself through a grammar course while I'm on holiday these next two weeks!

Right-o here is the song - "The World's Greatest" By R. Kelly.  I taught this song to our school and we sung it at prize giving last year.  If I can figure it out I will upload my class singing it when I get back to Auckland.  You can also access a copy that you can edit here.

So make sure you head over and find out what everyone else has done!!

Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason

OK now onto something else I'm super excited about!  Head over to Saturday Snapshots with Run Miss Nelson's got the Camera!  

Run Miss Nelsons got the Camera

I've always loved photography - I've just never been all that good at it!  One of these days I will head off to a course and actually learn how to use my camera!  In the meantime, check out what I saw this afternoon.  I live in Auckland (1), but I come from Paradise (also known as Taupo, 2).


It's about a 3 and a half hour drive, and this is what I saw when I got home! 

Excuse the massive amounts of grass in the foreground - That is Lake Taupo

Mount's Ruapehu, Ngaruahoe, and Tongariro - The middle one is on Lord of the Rings (Mount Doom)


Mount Tauhara - If the weather holds up I might (MIGHT) climb her this week.

Kaimanawa Ranges 
Paradise :)

So that is my Saturday Snapshots on a Tuesday - because I'm all about breaking the rules!  Right - back to relaxing and enjoying my winter break... See ya next time!

Erin




The E-Z Class
The holidays have officially started, and the weather has come to the party!  I'm sitting in the sun enjoying a hot chocolate, hoping that this weather sticks around for the next couple of weeks!

I just wanted to share something that is an ABSOLUTE love of mine during writing time.  When I first started this blog I intended it to be something that the kids would eventually take over.  I was all lined up to go to a PD course on how to use blogging in your class and was quite excited.  Then the course was cancelled.

While I didn't learn any thing from the course, I think I'm starting to learn HEAPS from my other bloggy friends so it's ok.  I did however glean one piece of information from the course before they cancelled it (I was the only one who signed up!).  What is that one thing I hear you ask?  Why it was KIDBLOG of course!

It's a fun, FREE, (my favourite word), fantastic, and such a great learning tool for students of ALL ages. (OK so I ran out of F words!).  

Step 1 - Sign up
Step 2 - Sign your kids up (just in name only really, they don't need email addresses - Another bonus!)
Step 3 - Get writing.

And that is it!  You as the teacher have complete control over what is posted, as you have to okay everything.  You can bypass this if you want, but it is handy to keep track of who is posting, and what they are posting too.

Top 5 things I love about kidblog.org

1 - It's free.  Have I mentioned that yet?
2 - It was designed by teachers, for teachers.  Which means it makes sense.
3 - It's super easy to use.  All 48 of my students have logins and they more often than not will choose to complete their homework on it.  Easy for them, even easier for us!  We don't have to sift through 48 books on Friday morning.  We can mark as they go and give feedback/forward on their writing instantly.  
4 - You can access it on your smart thingies.  Although I should mention I've not looked for an android version as I only have iStuff
5 - It has motivated all of my students in their writing.  Including the boys - And those kids who HATE writing.  They all love seeing comments from their classmates as they are writing.  

I love that they have an authentic audience for their writing - and authentic editors on hand too!  

That's a SURE FIRE way to keep writing (and homework, which I hate!!) E-Z!

The E-Z Class
Miss E
You know a day is going to be great when you are rocking a sweet side ponytail!  And that's just what I'm doing.  So many awesome things to wake up to today!  
1. It's the last day of a long term - two weeks off starting at 3pm.  
2. I try and read books that have been made into a movie to my class so that we can compare them at the end of the term.  This term we read Holes.  Our librarian ordered the movie for our school collection, and while we hoped it would be here yesterday, it arrived this morning.
3. I woke up to an email from my bloggy friend Jamie over at  Sixth Grade Tales,  saying that I'd been nominated for an award!  Wow thanks soooo much!! 

Feeling rather blessed today.


So here's the breakdown.

  • Link back to the blog that nominated me
  • Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
  • Share 11 random facts about myself
  • Create 11 questions for my nominees
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  • Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them
So here are the answers to Jamie's questions! 
  1. What is your best advice for starting a new school year? - Set your expectations/routines BEFORE the kids arrive.  If you are trying to figure out how you want your students to behave after they get there you will have twice as much work to do.  I've learnt that lesson the hard way!
  2. What is your favourite book for professional development and why? - I'm not sure that I have a favourite, but my school is using Clarity in the Classroom for our PD at the moment.  
  3. How do you deal with giving homework? Is it the same each week? - I HATE homework. I'm not a big fan, and if I had my way I wouldn't give any.  However, as I'm pretty much the only one in the world that thinks this way I've had to change.  I expect my students to practice their basic facts, and read every night, and then I usually set between 3-5 more activities each week.  Given Monday, due Friday, the students get up to 5 points based on how much/how well they do.  Once they get to 20 points they can cash it in for a week off homework.
  4. I you weren't a teacher, what profession would you be in? - I've wanted to be a teacher since I was six, except for a stint where I wanted to be a lawyer.  My dream really is to be a mum so probably that!
  5. What is your favourite thing to cook? - I love baking!  Cakes, bikkies, muffins, I even tried my hand at macarons (they tasted good, but looked terrible).  
  6. Outside of teaching, what do you like to do for fun? - I like playing games with friends and family.  Monopoly and Risk are my all time favourites.
  7. What is your favourite place to shop? - Look Sharp Store.  It's a bit like a cross between a Dollar Tree and a costume shop.
  8. What is your favourite educational website? - it's a toss up between www.kidblog.org and www.sumdog.com
  9. What kind of music do you like to listen to? - I'm a big fan of all kinds of music at different times.  At the moment I'm listening to Rascal Flatts and Colton Dixon.
  10. What is your favourite television show? - I'm a bit of a TV nut.  I quite like watching TV.  The show I can't pass up at the moment is The Block Australia.  I love seeing them transform run down derelict houses into multimillion dollar homes.
  11. What book do you love reading to your students the most? - Any book that is written by Roald Dahl, and then any book that has a movie.

My 11 Random Facts
  1. I'm a Christian
  2. I'm the eldest of 5 children
  3. I went to boarding school for my last 3 years of high school
  4. I been to 4 different countries travelling (not including New Zealand).  Australia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and the USA (CA, OR, WA, and NV)
  5. I would LOVE to teach in the USA 
  6. A side ponytail is my all time favourite hairstyle (I was born mid 80's so missed that awesome fashion trend.  I'm trying to get it to make a comeback!)
  7. I was a qualified Piano teacher at age 17.  I also have my performance certificate in Modern Piano
  8. I get the giggles often.  Sometimes I can laugh uncontrollably for time periods up to about an hour! 
  9. My favourite movie is "The Princess Bride"
  10. My favourite colour is green
  11. I can wiggle my ears

I'm going to nominate these awesome bloggers.  I found that I was following a lot of really established bloggers, so this was an awesome chance to get out there and look for some newer bloggers!
  1. Heather at A Special Kind of Place 
  2. Sarah at MissKinBK
  3. Christin at Shifting Teacher K-2
  4. Jen at Tech with Jen
SO lovely people - Answer me this if you will!  

  1. What is your favourite childhood memory?
  2. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
  3. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  4. What is your favourite movie?
  5. Who inspires you to do what you do?
  6. How many different jobs have you had in your life?
  7. If you could be a flavour of pie, what would you be?
  8. How many countries have you visited?
  9. What is your best advice to a new teacher?
  10. If you could live in any time era other than now, what would it be?
  11. What is the best thing about teaching?
Thanks again Jamie - I feel honoured to have been nominated!

It is now 3:28 and I am on HOLIDAY!!  Yay for winter break.  Two weeks of relaxing, reading, and fun.

Enjoy your break New Zealand - We deserve it!!


The E-Z Class

Miss Erin


I tried to make my blog look cool tonight - I feel like I've not quite got there!  Hmmm might have to have another go in the morning!

On a more exciting note!!  I've just found something that is sooooooo   ooooooo  oooooo AWESOME!!  (With a capital O for all you people that know what I'm talking about! haha)
Nick over at Sweet Rhyme Pure Reason has come up with this EPIC idea to use songs to teach grammar skills!  Hmmm as I type this I am seeing that maybe I need to learn some of these skills again too...


So I'm going to link up with him and his sweet deal of a linky party, and I hope heaps of you do the same!  Check out all the info in his post here, and join me for the revolution.

Basically, choose a song and a grammar skill that could be taught/shown through that song.  Next, link up and your kids will love you for it!

Check it out - I for one CAN'T WAIT!! (and neither can my backspace button!)

Miss E

At the end of each term we have a treat for those students who are awesome.  Normally this is a rotation based activity - such as a fun academic decathalon, or athletics day.  This term however, our deputy principal managed to score us some tickets to a show.  No one was privy to what the show was about so we were all in suspense walking down the road to the arena.  It was the New Zealand Youth Orchestra!
Kids in the pit

At the end a group of about 50 7-10 year olds who are just starting to learn showed us what they are learning.  They were AMAZING!!

A performer when they played "Pink Panther"

Our kids in amongst it hearing what the instruments sound like

They invited our kids on stage to hear what the orchestra sounds like from the stage

Sorry about the quality - she is having a go conducting

The first piece they played was William Tell Overture - The song I have as a clean up song.  The E-Z kids was really excited.

Our kids having fun

The E-Z class in the best seats in the house!


The whole school walking to the show

What an awesome way to end the term.

If you have any cool ideas for presentations - please link up on this post.  I'd love to get some fresh ideas on sharing back what learning has happened in our classes.  Remember, this can be ANY learning area!

Thanks!

Miss E

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