Monday, June 10, 2013

Habitudes and Mindfulness and Painting with food colouring and more fundraising...

Time is slipping away or more accurately running away.  Three more weeks and this year will have ended and I will say good-bye to my last class!  Wow!  I am now into report card writing and I figure that unless I get busy this morning this post won't get written.

In June I think many of us just feel as if we are keeping a lid on a boiling pot especially if you teach Grade Seven and it's the senior class in your school.  They are very excited about going to high school but also in a bit of a state about saying good-bye to their beloved elementary schools and of course most importantly to their friends as even at 12 and 13 you know that things just don't stay the same (and that can be both good and bad).

For me, there is the realization that there are just things I won't get finished.  Once again chemistry just hasn't been taught yet, and we probably won't get to do their presentations on their collections in French.  We didn't really have time to do a proper job on Ancient Rome projects!  And I have lots I have to get done like valedictorian speeches and I would at least like to expose them to circle graphs!  But I don't feel too guilty because there is way too much curriculum and I think we have been doing a lot of learning that hopefully they will take with them to be successful in high school.

Our intermediate teachers' book club this year chose a book called Classroom Habitudes: Teaching
21st Century Habits and Attitudes by Angela Maiers.  We all liked the ideas but were having trouble teaching them as lessons in the classroom.  Language seemed a bit too difficult for our kids, and lessons too time consuming and really not "teacher ready".  I found the book a bit annoying as I had to download black line masters and had to get a little scanning app for my ipad to get links to other websites.  I felt as if it might have worked better as an e-book but it is not available in that format.  She made so many references to Seth Godin's Linchpin I had to go read that book as well (okay that's enjoyable and I have it as an e-book so that I can read it on my ipad when I feel like it)

But somehow I couldn't quite let this book go and decided to start trying to teach some of the lessons and at least get my class mindful of what habitudes are.  Okay, what are they you ask!  The idea is that to be successful in the 21st century you need the following habits and attitudes and they are imagination, courage, passion, curiosity, self-awareness, and adaptability.  Note I start doing this in May as we are finishing the book club.

Well I have to say it is turning out really well.  And I decided to let them do projects of their own choice for the end of the year and these projects have to demonstrate how they have used these "habitudes".  This could be interesting.  We began as she suggested by defining the habitudes and then I had the kids decide which one they thought they already had and which they needed to work on.  Many wanted to work on self-awareness so we started there.  They completed surveys on what and how they best learned etc. and then asked what they discovered.  Here is a link to some of these black line masters.  They loved how I recently learned when Pharman and Brandon had to help me with my new wireless speaker when I couldn't get it to work despite reading the instruction booklet but then after their help,  I was able to successfully operate it on my own.

This has also been going perfectly for the other project we are involved in currently, a series of four one hour workshops entitled, Coping with Life's Ups and Downs, given by two facilitators from the Crisis Centre.  I have to say my class sitting quietly in a circle for an hour at a time isn't the easiest for some of them but they all are really appreciative of the experience and are finding it very helpful.  They like trying to be mindful and practicing STOP (Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed) before reacting.  I am finding it useful as well.  Many teachers in my school have attended workshops on mindfulness but I hadn't so it has been interesting.  I look forward to seeing what we are doing this week.

On the fun side my class did still life portraits painting with water and food colouring.  They did this with Allison (teacher/librarian, resource teacher, and art teacher) and I was stunned by the beauty of their work.

And yes, we were back at fundraising (well I wasn't, they were).  They were selling lemonade and freezies Friday and some baked treats as well.  They are back in business Monday.  I am not sure about the nutritional content but I figure the money is going to a worthy cause.  They made about 245 dollars on Friday.  So now they have over 500 dollars to contribute to Room to Read Girls' Education fund.  I think they are selling for the Compassionate Eye Foundation today.

When the day started with pouring rain, when the freezies didn't stay frozen they had to use some
adaptability and creativity (back to habitudes).  And of course the project is fueled by their passion.  When they misplaced my classroom keys and I couldn't find them after school I tried to use STOP!  Oh well!

Well I must go back to writing report cards but just wanted to reflect a bit on the last couple of weeks.  I notice that learning and teaching work best with a little help!

It was our principal's retirement party on Friday and I thought I would share the beautiful card they made.  The hearts contain their favorite memories or what they have liked best about him. Most of them have known him since first grade and they adore him!

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