When I sat down to think about my very first post for this blog, it was suggested to me that I share some information about myself. So that is where I started. I would share that I have taught for 8 years in the Upper Grand DSB (Guelph and area), that I am currently released from the classroom as Chief Negotiator and Staff Officer at my Local ETFO Office, and that I am a crafter, musician, mother, wife, and animal lover. So many ideas came flooding through!
In reading through the first chapter of Heart and Art, I came across the Themes of Success: themes that emerged after over 2,500 teachers were asked to share their best teaching experience from that year. The heading Passion for Teaching (Page 8 ) really spoke to me.
Passion for Teaching highlights the importance of connecting your own personal experiences and passions with your teaching by drawing on your own personal “resources” for support. I decided this would be the perfect place to start, as I could share some ways that I have done this with my classes with great success, and in the process, you will get to know me a bit better!
Patterning with Quilts: As an avid quilter, I brought in fabric squares to my Grade 2 class and had students help me plan a quilt. They loved this activity because it was “real” to them. They got to lay out the squares, plan the repeating pattern of colours (in this case light pink, dark pink, yellow, orange) and then see it come together. I would take the squares home and sew a row or two and then come back and have them recall what came next. I would then sew a few vertical columns and see if they could figure out what the next column would look like as the pattern changes in that direction, but there is still a pattern. We did a problem solving based activity with this quilt for weeks!
When I worked with older grades, I brought in fabric measurements (i.e., 100cm x 75cm in blue, 125cm x 50cm in green, etc.) and had them plan out the entire quilt top from start to finish and then the class voted on their favourite quilt and that is the one I cut and made. It is amazing how many ways using quilts in math can be differentiated too! Giving some students a quilt plan and asking them to use colour tiles to plan the pattern, while others are being asked to measure the fabric that would be needed to make that same quilt, allows for extensions galore!
Animal Creative Writing: Living out in the country, we have lots of animals running around our property. One of my favourites is our chickens. We have 8 chickens that wonder the yard and every now and then, one of them disappears for a while. I often give my class an update on what the birds are up to and they write about them. They love using pictures of the chickens, that I take on the classroom iPad, to illustrate their stories using different apps.
I find bringing my own interests into the classroom really helps my students to connect with the activities we are working on and it makes them feel like what they are doing is relevant.