back to school busy-ness

Hi everyone! I am officially back to school, and I have to say, though it took a while to sink in, I am very excited to see what my second year has in store!

Back to School

It looks like my prediction about being less busy may have been a bit of a flop… Aside from my 5 classes and being an RA (Resident Assistant) AND (possibly! – I haven’t heard back from the office in a while…) an In-School Mentor for Big Brothers of Regina, I also have three classes with integrated “practicums” or field experience:

ELNG 200 (Linguistic Diversity and Teaching English Language Arts): I will be going into an elementary or high school for an hour/week for 8 weeks and working with an ESL/EAL/ELL (there are SO many abbreviations for the same thing! haha) student.

ECE 200 (Teaching and Learning in Pre-K to 5): I will be observing a 3+ year old child for one hour per week, for 8 weeks. This experience will help to develop my knowledge about ECE students’ behaviour, learning and growth.

KIN 120 (Rec-Persons with Disabilities): I will have 6 one hour sessions to do physical activity and games with a Regina elementary/high school student who has a disability.

So, as you can see, I am going to be a very busy girl! And while this may be a lot to juggle, I am always up for the challenge! I am going to learn SO much this semester and I say, bring it on! πŸ™‚


a reflection about reflections

I think a good skill for a teacher to have is the ability to think on your feet. While I am always a girl with a down-to-the-minute plan, I find myself to be pleasantly surprised when I can latch onto a lesson idea on my toes – and it actually turns out really well!

During today’s tutoring session, an idea fell into my lap and I ran with it! I was very happy to have such an instantaneous idea turn out well, especially because it was an activity that I had never even thought of bringing up.

We were doing a little activity with tear-out letter cards from a phonics workbook, and my student noticed that turning the lower-case ‘n’ upside down made a ‘u.’ Then we explored other letters that could be turned to make others. My student instantly latched on to a ‘b’ being a ‘d,’ but was a bit puzzled when turning it wouldn’t give him the desired outcome. Cue light bulb!

I told him that in order for a ‘b’ to turn into a ‘d,’ we would need to put it up to a mirror. Luckily, there was a glass-cased storage cupboard right by where we were working in the library, so I held the ‘b’ up to the mirror, and he was pretty amazed (and, at first, a little skeptical – I think he thought I was playing a trick on him at first! haha) when a ‘d’ appeared in the reflection.

Continuing to ride my brain wave, I told him I could prove it to him by letting him write a ‘b’ and a ‘d’ on paper and transforming then. That flicker of discovery that crossed his face is the moment I live for! πŸ™‚

I continued to write his name the right way and showed him the mirror image. Then I wrote his name so that it would show up correctly in the mirror. I then let him write ‘Hi’ and got him to switch it around so that it, too, would read the right way in the mirror. It was a good moment of learning for both of us.

In future, I think I could turn this into a whole lesson about symmetry and mirror images. It could even be a hybrid Math-English lesson! And I would love to dig a little deeper into letters that would look the same in the mirror (like a capital ‘H’).

There are so many cool ideas that you could fabricate using letters, words, and a mirror! I am excited at the possibility of using this in a real classroom someday! πŸ™‚

word of the day

It’s truly amazing the times of day I get the urge to write a blog post. The idea that sparked this post came to me while I was washing my face (I always get my most brilliant ideas when doing the most mundane of tasks – showering, brushing my teeth, washing my face, laying in bed at night, etc…). In one of my previous blogs, I made a goal to expand my vocabulary and realized that I was failing miserably at carrying this goal out. So I have decided to do a test run for Word of the Day during the month of August! I will (hopefully!) be tweeting out my new finds every day, so please check it out on Twitter @kfidelack! I am a big believer in goal setting leading to goal achieving, so fingers crossed that I will follow through!

Maybe I’m crazy in saying this, but I actually feel that I am MORE busy this summer than I was during the school year. Or maybe I just forget what it felt like to be IN school, because it’s been a LONG time! It will be weird to get back in the swing of things. And I don’t think this school year is going to slow down by any means. I have signed up to be an In-School Mentor once a week through Big Brothers of Regina AND have a job as an RA (Residence Assistant) on top of being a full-time student, so I will definitely be busy! Good thing I pride myself in being an expert on time management. I can sleep when I’m dead, right? Never have I found the wish for ‘more hours in day’ as true as in my life after high school – and I was plenty busy then, too! Thankfully, I seem to thrive on keeping occupied so I think the bustling environment of an Elementary School classroom is the perfect niche for me! πŸ™‚

Just a super quick update on tutoring:

It’s going really well – at our last session, my student absolutely nailed his Silent E words, which I have been drilling into him for a few sessions now! He is a very hard worker and I am really starting to see him warming up to me – I think it helps that I can be such a goof to ease his nerves. When we learned how ‘R’ affects vowels, I made up actions to go with them and I think he giggled at my seal noises and clapping for ‘or’!

And to finish, I thought I’d share with you the new word that I learned today: Pareidolia. It’s the ability to see faces where there isn’t one. For example, this sink:

I learned this from a YouTube video on the channel Vsauce. Go check it out! His videos are all very informational and interesting – and his enunciation is superb! (Note: it really is amazing all the educational resources you can find on YouTube – I have used a couple of videos in my tutoring already!)

Until next time, I challenge you to go out and learn something new! It’s truly a gift of life that there is so much for us to learn about this amazing world we live in!

ipads and cheerios

Just a quick little catch-up post here everyone:

1. No tutoring Tuesday or Thursday this week, BUT I have 4 sessions next week to make up for it. I am going to be a lesson planning machine this week and #1 is done! Sticking to my previous goal of adding more technology and interactive activities, I made the ENTIRE lesson with only iPad apps! I am very excited to try it out and see how it goes!

Here are the apps I am using:

Sight Words 2, Word Monsters, Dog Story, Phonics Genius

Maybe in a later post I can give my likes and dislikes about these apps and their functionality, but I am gunna take them for a real test drive first (because I don’t count my experimental playing of all these games, which I have to say, is actually a lot of fun… haha. The perks of this occupation are endless, I tell you!)

Wish me luck!

2. As an avid YouTube watcher, I spent the last day of my holiday catching up on all of the uploaded videos I had missed over the past little while. One of my favorite series is the _________ React by the Fine Brothers. There are many different groups of people who react to videos and internet sensations chosen by viewers. Teens, Elders, Kids, YouTubers all give their insight.

The newest Kids React is about an allegedly “controversial” Cheerios commercial. Why is it controversial? You’ll have to watch it and see.

I myself was waiting for something terrible to be said on the commercial. But the only reason that this commercial is turning heads is because of the mixed race parents. This seems like such a joke to me because this is an everyday, normal situation for so many people.

While the fact that Cheerios is getting heat for displaying a realistic family situation made me angry, the children’s reactions really brightened my day. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason I am ecstatic to spend my career with children. They truly give me hope for a brighter tomorrow. It reminds me a lot of my favorite quote:

See life through the eyes of a child: Everything being beautiful.

So let’s all try and adopt the view that these kids had. They didn’t see anything wrong. Because there wasn’t.

tutoring recap (sessions 1, 2 and 3)

I have had my first three sessions with my new ‘summer student’ and I feel like I have already learned a few good lessons – as well as accumulating a lot more questions, too!

The student is going into Grade 5 in the fall but struggles considerably with reading. Right now, he is only at a mid-Kindergarten level of reading so I am really hoping to enforce the basic rules of reading over the summer so he can continue to grow as a young reader!

He is a very shy young guy, so I feel like he is still warming up to me after 3 sessions, but I hope that he will feel more comfortable with me as we go on! His teacher mentioned to me that he really likes using technology, so I have been researching useful online resources and incorporating a ‘tech’ aspect into every session thus far. He seems to be enjoying it but I think I should be incorporating technology that isn’t just on my laptop. My goal is to download some apps for the iPad and try those as well! Goodness knows how many educational apps are at our fingertips! If you have any suggestions of great apps for inspiring or assisting young readers, please let me know!

I found our first session very helpful in planning for the following meetings because I finally had first-hand experience with how far the student was and what exactly needed to be focused on. I soon realized that the basics of reading still needed reinforcement, so have worked on ‘Silent E’ words and ‘When 2 Vowels Go Walking’ concepts since. His teacher mentioned that he would need continual repetition to solidly grasp a concept, so I hope to keep reviewing these concepts in future meetings. In true future-teacher fashion, I enjoy making up my own little, student-personalized worksheets for my tutoring students, so that has been a good exercise for me to really focus in on what the student needs.

The one thing I found slightly disheartening today was how disinterested he seemed. Granted, no one wants to have to go to ‘school’ during the summer time, but I honestly am trying to throw in as much fun and ‘gamey’ style stuff as I can! Today was a lot of working on rules and worksheets, so maybe I needed to put a few more activity-style items on the agenda! Also, his mom mentioned when she walked in that he was ‘grumpy’ today, so perhaps today was just an unlucky day to have lots of word work rather than games.

Next time, I think I should at least mix up the straight pen and paper stuff with movement or an activity or something so it isn’t a big chunk of ‘the boring.’

One thing I have noticed is that the student really likes to fidget and I made the mistake of putting all the writing utensils in front of him for his use, which just ended up in him playing with the pens and pencils instead of paying attention. Since then, I have tried to keep all the loose items on my side of the table to avoid distraction as much as possible.

Today was our only meeting this week, as I am headed off for my ONLY days off this summer on Thursday! But after my 5-day weekend, you can bet I will be right back to the grind to try and help my student as much as possible!

I realize that this particular student’s growth is very slow and takes a lot of repetition, so I have to make realistic goals and not expect him to improve drastically just from 2 hours/week of work. But I do hope that he can continue to have opportunities to read and doesn’t slip backwards over the summer – which is the sad truth for lots of kids! If I can help to improve his reading repertoire even a little bit, I will have achieved something great!

One last thought before I go…

English is such a weird language where lots of basic rules won’t apply to an unfortunately big number of words. When I think back on myself learning to read, it honestly amazes me that I did it, or that any kid does it for that matter! It is something that is really taken for granted in our society (we automatically assume that EVERYONE can read, and those who can’t are at a major disadvantage). It is really about repeating and repeating and repeating and then repeating AGAIN! Some of the most used words follow no rhyme or reason whatsoever and I think that is one of my other goals for my tutoring is to familiarize my student with these high frequency words that he will use every day!

This got me thinking though… We use the same words ALL THE TIME. And just because I know how to read now, I don’t have any need to expand my vocabulary and learn how to read new words. So I have made a bit of a personal goal to work on expanding my personal vocabulary and actively look up words I don’t know so I am always learning. After all, you can NEVER be too old to learn. And that is a pivotal idea behind being a teacher, don’t you think?

bits and bobs

Hi loyal blog readers or any newcomers who have just stopped by for the first time!

I have been saving up a list of things to chat about and finally got around to it! So brace yourself for a bunch of totally unrelated items that have crossed my mind since I last posted. Warning: LONG POST!

1. A little preamble: I am currently working at the Affinity Credit Union in my hometown this summer (more about this under item #3)- and I LOVE it! All the staff there are unbelievably friendly, welcoming, and all-around nice people! That’s what makes it so easy to go to work every day.

Anyways… One day, one of my co-workers (let’s call her Rachel) mentioned that a member (let’s call her Miranda) told her she got a job interview at a financial institution. Rachel noted what a friendly young girl Miranda is, but said she almost wanted to tell Miranda to take her lip ring out for her interview, otherwise she surely wouldn’t get it.

This encounter made me, as my ECS prof would be proud to hear, go “Hmmm…” And not in regards to what Rachel said, because I can agree that she’s right: people don’t associate piercings with professionalism. And THAT is what made me go “Hmm…” Why does society automatically look down on individuals that have rainbow-coloured hair, dark makeup or piercings (and I can’t lie, I myself do this because it is so far from my personal style, not to mention piercings make me cringe because of my intense fear of needles – haha)?

All of the labels like ’emo’ and ‘goth’ have given society as a whole a negative view on people who sport these personal style choices. When you think about it, it’s a bit silly to think of people as unsuitable for a job simply because of a nose ring or their purple hair. It’s like not hiring me because I chose to wear a necklace that day, or a green shirt.

These choices have no effect whatsoever on how hardworking, trustworthy, etc, etc, etc a potential employee is. And just because hair dye and eyebrow rings didn’t exist ‘back in the day’ we think that they are inappropriate for a job interview? That, my friends, seems just a little bit wrong. If I choose to keep my hair brown and my face unpierced, that is my choice, but it doesn’t make me better suited for a job than someone who didn’t choose the same. I wouldn’t want to get a job based on that fact. And we shouldn’t expect people to change their appearances in order to be accepted. I am not going to dye my hair blonde and start wearing lipstick to get a job. And someone with green hair and a tongue ring probably doesn’t want to have to change their appearance, either!

What do you think? Why does society have such a bad view of piercings, dyed hair, etc?

Note: I can understand having to take your piercings out when it is a safety hazard. For example, I used to work at Subway and employees couldn’t have their facial piercings in while working because they were considered ‘an open wound.’ But in a job outside of the food industry, why does it matter?

2. This item is about a comment I got on my Ten Tree Apparel post (see my last post from May 22, “ten tree gets a zero out of ten from me”) that sparked my thinking in a different way.

I won’t quote anything the commenter said but the gist was: You made a good point until the very last piece where you used the word ‘twig’ to describe the models. Derogatory terms should be eliminated for girls who are slim as well as curvy.

I had to admit, I was a bit disheartened that someone had something that wasn’t purely positive to say about my remarks, but I can also admit that this person was 100% right. While I meant the line “just because your brand is named 10 tree doesn’t mean your models all have to be twigs, because all women aren’t,” to be a play on words with the company name, it truly is derogatory towards thin girls.

It isn’t just the girls that are larger than the models in magazines that are negatively affected by the fashion industry: it is also the slim girls! They get called names like ‘anorexic’ simply for being naturally thin, and that isn’t fair anymore than a girl who can’t help being larger than celebrities on the television. I was frustrated that someone had criticism for my post, but I am glad that this person spoke out and made me realize that I was being a hypocrite in an unintentional way. I won’t turn down a chance to learn and expand my horizons! So thank you, to my critic. You have helped me grow as a person!

Just to finish off, it’s interesting to note that one of the most famous models was named “Twiggy.” It kinda makes you think what the fashion industry is all about and seeking to promote…

3. As I mentioned previously, I am working at Affinity Credit Union as a summer student. I am a Member Services Representative (MSR, or, as most people know us as, tellers) and so far, it is going really well!

And while I really like my summer job, it has also reinforced my passion for education. I can truly say that even after trying out a compelling job, I wouldn’t change my future plans for the world. A couple of people on staff have asked in passing if I will end up working at ACU forever, and I just have to smile because, while I can truly say it’s a desirable work environment in every aspect, nothing can sway me from my plans as a teacher.

It’s especially funny, too, because in the very beginning, I was worried that I would end up liking it so much that it WOULD sway me! haha That’s the honeymoon phase for you, I guess! Don’t worry, though, nothing is stopping this girl from achieving her life long dream of looking out into a crowd of 30 little glowing faces sitting in desks. πŸ™‚

4. One of my coworkers has a young boy who has some learning challenges and struggles with reading. She mentioned one day last week that she was hoping to hire a tutor this summer and I immediately said “Pick me!” because I have tutored a boy the same age for the last two summers and loved it!

Thankfully, she agreed to entrust her son’s precious little mind to me, and I am already super excited to get started! I have been in contact with his homeroom teacher and am going to meet to chat about his needs. I always like to have a little get-together with their teacher to talk about any resources they may suggest, or get activities that the child was working on in class time and could be continued throughout the summer, as well as any general comments or suggestions.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions, I would gladly soak them up, so chime in, please! It would be greatly appreciated! I will hopefully post some of my plans/ideas later on when my schedule is a little more solid, so stay tuned!

5. As a last little, fluffy, feel-good piece, I thought I’d tell a little story of what happened to me just before I sat down to write this post…

I am staying at my grandparents’ house in Saskatoon tonight as I have a 2-day training course here for ACU. We were just coming back from supper and a girl was knocking on their door. After one glance, I realized that I recognized her from a volleyball camp we both attended 4 years ago! I didn’t want to say hi in case she didn’t recognize me (which happens A LOT to me – once I meet you once I won’t forget your face! And I creep a lot of people out because I know who they are, but they don’t know me haha). Fortunately, she recognized me right away and we had a really good chat, which totally made my day!

The whole experience just left me thinking what are the chances that… she was working for Sask party and knocking door-to-door in Saskatoon, she was at my grandparents’ house just as we got home, I just happened to be in town ONLY for tonight because I am working at Affinity and had my training in the city?

It was just one of those moments where you have to take a step back and go… ‘Wow!’ Life is truly so amazing because its twists and turns can work out in such mysterious ways. It makes me so excited to see what life has in store for me behind some crazy twists and turns!

Wishing everyone reading this a blessed day! πŸ™‚

in-school mentoring

A few weeks ago, the university hosted an Education Career Fair, with presenters from school divisions and other organizations that can help future teachers gain resources and volunteer experience. Because I am only a first year, lots of people just gave me a smile and waved me on to the next station, as their information was mostly for third and fourth year students who will soon be applying for jobs in the field. However, I still found the experience very exciting and useful. It got me thinking about where I would like to intern and eventually work (and I got to talk to the reps from my old school division where I graduated from!). And some of the booths that were geared towards volunteers of any year in the program were of extra interest to me.

One of the first booths I stopped at was Big Brothers of Regina, and the friendly lady there told me about a program they have that Education students are usually interested in: In-School Mentoring. Volunteers 18 and over are matched up with a child between the grades of 1 and 8 and get to go to their school for one hour, once a week to spend time with the child and develop a relationship. You can play with them in the gym, do crafts or assist them with their homework. I was instantly interested in joining this program and within a week, got an application sent in as a possible candidate.

I have now been in contact with the coordinator and we have an interview booked this Friday! I am so excited to get a chance to be back in a school and spend one-on-one time with a child who may need a little extra help or has trouble making social connections with their peers.

If I am accepted into the program as a volunteer, I won’t be starting until September, but I am already very excited about the possibility (especially because there is no guaranteed work in a school or with children in the ECS 200 and 210 courses in the program)! Wish me luck and I will keep you posted on what happens!

interprofessional collaboration (pd event)

The second Professional Development Event I went to was all about Interprofessional Collaboration. I figured that this would be a good place to put down what I learned and my thoughts on the topic.

Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) is when different professionals work together in order to benefit the child as a whole. Occupational therapists (OT), Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP), Social Workers (SW), Educational Psychologists (Ed. Psych.), Educational Assistants and teachers can all work together to provide support for every need that a child has.

In order to have successful IPC, there must be good communication and conflict resolution skills. Also, stereotypes need to be left behind in order to work efficiently (this comes from both sides).

The most interesting and beneficial thing I learned is that IPC groups can observe each other in the field. For example, a teacher is having difficulty with a few children in the class’ listening skills. An SLP and OT sit in on her teaching the class and afterwards, they strategize towards ways to improve the learning environment. This saves time and efforts for both groups. It can also work the other way. Often times, teachers don’t know what goes on in the private sessions between a student and an OT or SLP. If teachers know what these professionals are working on with their students, they can reinforce these ideas in the classroom every day, and model other students to reflect this, so the child can learn it faster and more seamlessly.

This subject is very interesting to me because it really is so practical. Teachers work with so many other professionals, so the relationship might as well be an efficient one!