oopsie daisies…

Sorry everyone. I realized that I have now not posted for almost 2 months! When my goal was to post every 2 or 3 weeks maximum. I suppose this is a fitting portrayal of a first year teacher’s life – craziness and time warps. How is it already the second half of November?!

This will just be a quick post to update you on my life as of late, because I can’t possibly fill you in all of the things that I have missed telling you about in the past two months (at least not without intense research and backtracking, which would waste precious planning time). Besides, I’m sure you don’t want to be bored with the tedious little details. Here are the highlights:

I am still love love loving Pre-K (although October was a very hard month because I was away A LOT for conferences, workshops, and PD). In fact, October was a hard month for me in general, because for 6 weeks straight, I was on the road every single weekend going home to visit family and attend weddings, trekking across the province for professional development, and visiting friends. I am very happy to say that this weekend is the first in 6 weeks that I have spent in Hudson Bay and I was not leaving for anything! I will be staying here until Christmas break now, so am looking forward to having free weekends to plan and tidy my humble abode.

Two colleagues from the school and I attended ECEC (Early Childhood Education Council) conference in Edmonton, Alberta on November 3, 4, 5, which was AMAZING! I went to umpteen PD events this fall and that conference was, by far, the most beneficial, inspiring, applicable, and enjoyable of them all (probably due to the fact that it was all geared to ECE, which is where my true passion lies, and the fact that EVERY SINGLE SESSION I attended was so informative and useful in my everyday classroom life – although it also didn’t hurt that the conference was in West Ed Mall, so some shopping and relaxation also took place). It was  a wonderful experience (and thank goodness the conference was so good – it made the 8.5 hour drive worth it) all around – as I got to grow as a professional and build relationships with 2 of the colleagues who are also in the primary grades at HBCS. Treasured memories and learning, for sure!

I have been feeling VERY behind in my planning and am relieved (although not exactly happy) to have spent a large majority of my weekend at the school to prep for the coming week – as I have had a few days where I am planning extremely last minute for upcoming lessons (say, the night before – EEK! – prepared me’s nightmare). I was chatting with a close friend (and fellow first year teacher) last night though, and I told her that I am not ashamed to tell people how difficult being a first year teacher (or teacher in general, quite frankly) is, because sometimes we don’t hear that side of things. My friend was telling me how she struggles with comparing herself to others when she sees the amazing lesson they are posting about on social media. My thoughts on this were twofold:

  • Sharing our amazing lessons is GREAT! That is what teaching is all about – sharing our successes and cheering each other on for the wonderful things we are doing in our classrooms for our students.
  • However, I don’t think it is possible to have a stand-out, picture perfect, mind blowing lesson every single period, every single day. Nor should we have the impression that that is our job to create. Sometimes, things get interrupted, or sidetracked, or they just go completely horrible. And that is okay (and should be mandatory, I think) to share too! As teachers, we should support each other through the hard times even more than the good. That way, we will always have great teachers for our students, rather than burnt-out, jaded, exhausted, at-the-end-of-their-rope, teacher zombies.

That’s all for now. Sorry this post was all words and no pictures! Hopefully I will be back here much sooner for a more visual update.

Until then,

Cheers!

–KKF, Ms. F, Ms. Fidelack, teacher, Mrs. Fidelack…

***P.S. I am choosing not to read over and edit this post, in my rush to get it posted and return to planning, so please enjoy this slice of human-ness and non-perfection (as I am sure there is some typos in here somewhere…)

i am getting paid to do this?!

I think I can say that school is now in full swing – although due to Labor Day holiday and PD days, I have yet to spend five full days in a row with students!

I am happy to announce that I now know all of my 90 students’ names! I teach half of the students in the elementary division of the school, which was a lot to get to know at first, but is definitely a wonderful way to get to know as many students as possible, since I am new to town. You can definitely see connections between siblings this way as well!

I am absolutely LOVING Pre-Kindergarten! I feel like I have truly found my place in the world; a precious gift has truly been dropped into my lap by fate and I am so grateful. My EA is also fantastic and I feel so lucky to have her! She is new to Pre-K as well, but I think we make a great team, and we are learning together (she attended an Intro to Pre-K PD Conference with me last week even!).

I am getting to know all of my (currently) 15 students a lot better, but they continue to surprise me! I don’t expect these surprises to ever stop coming, either!

Here are just a few pictures of what we have been up to lately…

You can see:

-a teddy bear picnic

-a student showing her pre-writing skills (she made pages and pages of her ‘writing’)

-fine motor practice using large beads and shoelaces

-construction and building skills

-making the letter S out of homemade smelly play dough (cinnamon and vanilla – yum!)

-a young artist creating one of her many, many masterpieces

-outdoor block play and cooperation

All through PLAY! 🙂

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I just took this one (above) today to document our first time in the gymnasium. I think this picture is absolutely priceless. It’s definitely worth several thousand words, so I will let it speak for itself.

It’s crazy to reflect how my ideal grade level has changed since I began my university degree. I started out thinking I would like to teach Grade 1 in my first years of university. In my third year, I did my pre-internship in Grade 3 and loved it! Then I was placed out of my comfort zone in Kindergarten for my internship, which I also fell in love with and still adore today (I get to teach K Art at the end of every day, which is a great way to end the day). Now, here I am teaching Pre-Kindergarten and I honestly feel like this is what I was meant to do. I would not trade these littles for anything!

Not to mention, I am also teaching Grade 5 and 6, higher than I ever pictured myself teaching, and DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone and area of expertise. I can’t lie, these older grades have definitely taken some getting used to, and are still my biggest struggle and steepest learning curve. But I will admit that I enjoy these students too, although they are VERY different from what I am used to and what I feel my personality is most suited to.

Plus, being the prep teacher who just comes in for a small portion of the day can be a struggle at times because you don’t know the ins and outs of the classroom like their regular teacher. All I can hope for is to make a small difference in these students’ lives! I don’t think I’m totally failing, as there are certain ones in each grade that at least seem excited to see me every day – haha!

In closing, it’s still sinking in that I am going to ‘work’ every day, and for the first few weeks of school, I couldn’t really believe that this was my job I was getting paid for (although this first long-awaited pay cheque sure helped to give a dose of reality – haha!). All I can say is that I am blessed to do the job I do because today I read books, watered plants, made cookies out of play dough, danced with scarves, played with hula hoops, sang and danced, laughed and smiled, ate popcorn, and used puppets to become a chef, astronaut, lizard, and monkey, and THIS IS MY CAREER! Pinch me!

More updates soon! Keep calm and teach on!

-Ms. F. (or as one of my K’s calls me – Miss Penelope! Don’t know where that one came from, but we are rolling with it!)

pre-k FINALLY started!!!

Well, my friends, after the first two days of Pre-K, I can finally say that I feel the school year (and my career) has begun!

Was it messy? Yes.

Was it completely chaotic at times? YES.

Did I almost lose my voice after the first morning? Yes.

Did we have a few tears? Yes (but way fewer than I mentally prepared myself for).

Did I have to run after a wandering student several times? Yes.

Did I tie shoes, zip zippers, and pull sweaters over heads? Yes. About 100 times. And we are going to start working on independence with these tasks ASAP – haha.

Did I absolutely love it? Yes!

 

Having my mornings filled with Pre-K now makes my day go a lot faster! The time really flies when you spend your time with 15 three and four year olds. And boy, do they keep you on your toes! Never a dull moment.

I would say that the first two days were a major success! We are working on learning basic routines and procedures at school, and I think this next full week coming up will help solidify these expectations.

I even got all of my students sitting in small groups doing table work on the SECOND DAY!!! Sure, it may have only lasted a few minutes, but I call that a victory!

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I think this picture perfectly sums up Pre-K. It looks chaotic and messy. But all of the students are engaged and learning in their own way. That is what I think our entire education system should strive towards. 

As I looked back through pictures of the two morning we spent together, my heart soared. I was overwhelmed with pride and love for these amazing little people I get to call my students. It truly is amazing that I am getting paid to spend my day with these lovely, blossoming little learners and be a part of their lives. I promise I won’t take it for granted.

-Ms. F

 

classroom tour + first days of school

School (and my career) has officially begun! I can hardly believe it; I think it is still sinking in.

Quick recap of my life as of late:

-the last couple days of August were spent in PD (2 days for new teachers, 2 days in the school as a staff, and 1 day of teacher convention with the whole division – who all came to our school to see the new building)

-the first two days of September marked the beginning of the 2016-17 school year and, boy, were they a whirlwind!

-in the Pre-K program, we do home visits with all of the students and their families before they actually start school, so I have met just over half of my Pre-K students; their first official day of school all together as a class is this Thursday (September 8th). I can hardly wait to have them all in my class!

-the first days of school for everyone else didn’t quite feel like that for me, as my main group of students (Pre-K) have not been at school yet. In a way, I kind of get 2 first days of school (as if 1 isn’t exciting enough!): the first first day we had on September 1st (and with my afternoon students in Grades 6, 5, and Kindergarten) and the first day of Pre-K coming up this week

-all of my Pre-K students are so sweet (and obviously adorable)! I am so excited to get to know them all and grow and learn with them this year. Send me good vibes for the first few days when they come to school – I am just hoping for minimal tears and separation anxiety!

-I have met and taught my Grade 6 Social Studies, my Grade 5 Music, and my Kindergarten Art, and I have to say, as a new teacher, I have really hit the jackpot. All of these classes are good groups of kids and I look forward to spending my afternoons with my mixed bunch of learners. I think that being in Grade 5 and 6 will be my biggest area of adjustment and growth this year; having never taught students higher than Grade 3, it feels like a whole new world. Luckily, I get to start and end my days with my little ones, where I definitely feel more at home.

Now… The moment you’ve all been waiting for (haha)… My classroom!

First, I have to preface the pictures by saying that I am unbelievable lucky and spoiled to have been placed in this program; NESD has been putting a lot of effort and resources into their early learning programs in previous years, and it definitely shows! All of my numerous cupboards are bursting with toys, manipulatives, and activities (in fact, I didn’t really have much room to put my own things that I brought). Also, all of the furniture was supplied and it is beautiful! The Reggio approach is very evidently displayed.

I will admit, when I first heart about this neutral and natural colours thing (back in university), I thought it was a load of hooey (also, I was reluctant to give up my vision of primary colours for my primary classroom). Every time I walk into my room, though, I can see the difference that it makes. It is so calming and warm. Having pops of colour here and there keeps things interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but the base of natural colours prevents things from becoming too overwhelming and visually distracting. In short, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my room and feel blessed to call it my learning space.

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This is my Morning Meeting/carpet area. To the left is the VIP (Very Important Pre-K of the Day) chair. I also have a SMART whiteboard, which was new to me and very cool!

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This is my lovely little bookshelf. It is at the right side of my carpet. The back side of it doubles as display space for invitations and storage (see picture below).

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Here is the back view of the bookshelf. This area will be primarily used as a centre focusing on pre-reading, writing, and mathematics skills. Right now I’ve got it set up as numbers and patterns with the rocks. 

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This space is right beside the previous station. This will house rotating invitations. Right now, I have it set up as colours (left) and puzzles (right). I love the pop of colour this centre gives to the room. 

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This, right here, is the money shot! This is my amazing loft/fort area. Underneath, I have a calming/cozy area. Up top, I have puppets, beanbag chairs, and cushions. 

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A peek under the loft. I have set up comfy furniture, a beanbag chair, cushions, sensory bottles, noisemaking tubes, and books about feelings/self regulation. I hope this area will be used by students who need a break from the busyness of the room or quiet time to themselves. 

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Top of the loft

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Block centre

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There is a large stretch of rug to build on. You can also catch a glimpse at our family tree (soon to be filled up with students’ family pictures). 

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This is what I have in my sensory bin/sand table at the moment. 

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This is the far wall of my classroom. It features a full span of windows that look out onto our Pre-K only playground (and means that we get tons of natural light). This picture also shows the art studio. 

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Bird’s eye view 🙂

 

life update

Degree complete: check.

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Received teaching certificate: check.

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Convocation fast approaching: check.

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Oh, and did I mention? Job for the fall: check!

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Yep, you read that right! I am ecstatic to officially announce that I am the new Pre-Kindergarten teacher in the beautiful Hudson Bay Community School in Hudson Bay, SK for the 2016-17 school year! I will get to spend my mornings with spunky 3 and 4 year olds and my afternoons teaching Grade 6 Social Studies, Grade 5 Health and Music, and Kindergarten Art.

It is crazy that, after 4 years of university and a lifetime of knowing I wanted to grow up to be a teacher, I AM all grown up and have made it here: on the cusp of starting my dream career! Even though I adored every second of my university education, learned so much, and grew immensely as a person and future educator, I still feel as though I have no idea what I am doing (I am hoping this is something every new teacher feels – haha). But I am looking forward to having my own classroom and really jumping into the field of education with both feet.

I hope to share many of my first year teacher adventures here – when I am not buried under a pile of school work, that is. This blog has been my journal throughout my 4 years in the Faculty of Education, and I want to continue to share my journey of ‘Learning to Teach.’

Until next time,

-KKF

yes, i’m still alive

Hi everyone! I know that I have not posted in a LONG, LONG time (more than two months – yikes!) and I am sorry – and have definitely missed blogging. I have realized since coming back to university for my final semester that I grossly underestimated how busy these final four months of my degree would be!

This is just a quick little post to say hello again and to ensure that I am, indeed, still on my journey to becoming a teacher. I really enjoyed a few weeks of rest and relaxation during Christmas break (and, in true teacher form, spent holidays recovering from a nasty cold that stuck around much too long) and have jumped back into action in this final semester. I am taking a full slate of classes as well as working as a Resident Assistant at the U of R one last time. I have also been doing some volunteering and lots and lots of job applications and interviews, not to mention some well-deserved catch up time with my friends and fellow colleagues coming back from their internships. It truly inspires me to talk to fellow future educators and hear about all of the wonderful things they did in their 4 months in the classroom – I have high hopes for a bright Saskatchewan education future in these capable professionals’ hands!

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It is really starting to sink in that my degree is almost complete and that I will be a “real” teacher very soon! I am excited to begin a career that has been on the horizon as long as I can remember, but am also trying to soak up the perks of student life while I still can, although it is hard to do after being in a school and with students every day.

In preparation for job interviews, most of my online efforts have gone into polishing my professional online portfolio, which you are welcome to check out here. I hope to post more on here in the future, so stay tuned.

Until next time,

-KKF

amazing, awful, average

This morning, I saw a quote on Facebook that really stuck with me. I’ve been thinking about it all day and decided that, in mulling it over, I should write up a little post to help solidify my thoughts. I find that, in writing things down, I can often pull some new reflections and learning out of an experience. Words can be so powerful to help me collect and analyze my thoughts.

Cutting to the chase, here is the aforementioned quote:

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While this is a beautiful and insightful quote about life, in true teacher fashion, I find that you can replace the word “life” with “teaching” and it seems to make even more sense (I guess you could say teaching basically IS life when you’re a teacher, so these two words are one and the same – haha).

I’m going to take a second to be completely realistic here (which, for optimistic, sunshine and rainbows me, is a change of pace): teaching is no tea party. Teaching is REALLY, REALLY hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done yet in my life. Now, don’t take me the wrong way, I absolutely love teaching and getting to spend my days with young children, but things aren’t always perfect and sunshiny (which I have had a surprisingly hard time coming to terms with; it seems that my idealized mental picture of what teaching looks like isn’t entirely true – imagine that!).

There are days that, like the quote says, are amazing! Everything goes smoothly, the students are lovely and full of smiles and you feel on top of the world, like you can do no wrong. The students are on-task and engaged, your lessons are well planned and go smoothly, a student gives you an extra hug, a challenging student has a fantastic day… You think, “Yes! THIS right here is why I became a teacher. I love my job!”

And, like yin and yang, there are always going to be some awful* days or moments to balance out those amazing ones. Maybe a student that you’ve been putting your all into has a huge backslide after weeks of effort and progress. Maybe you realize, a few lessons deep into a unit on Numbers, that you didn’t start with teaching the students how to form their numbers (face palm). Maybe your whole day feels like a huge lump of wasted time trying to wade through heaps of ski pants, and toques, and random missing mittens. Maybe you don’t have a lesson planned and end up pulling something out of thin air and then feeling guilty for being so disorganized (I know, I know, my new teacher complex and OCD are showing. Seriously, who has a formal lesson planned for EVERY class ALL THE TIME? If that’s you, I bow down.) Maybe, at the end of the day, you regret a decision you made or you wish you had handled something differently. Maybe I’m talking from experience? We’ll never know (ha). The point is, sometimes teaching wears you down, chews you up, and spits you out. The important thing is that, even at the end of the worst day imaginable, you think, “Yes, THIS right here is why I became a teacher. So I can learn and grow every day. Tomorrow will be better.”

*Note: Keep in mind that, to your eyes, the day may have seemed awful when, in reality, it was merely just average. Teachers are funny little creatures who are often perfectionists and far too self-critical. It can be very deceiving when you are only looking at the day through your own lens. At times like this, I encourage you to get a pep talk from a mentor, loved one, colleague, or friend. They will tell you that you are, in fact, doing MORE than enough and they can probably help to convince you that things weren’t so awful after all, or perhaps that the awful can be blotted out in the future. 

Finally, we come to the average day. The everyday, run of the mill, go through the motions, put yourself on autopilot days where nothing goes momentously wrong but nothing goes awe-inspiringly right, either. As a chronic optimistic, I have a hard time accepting these average days. Something in my greedy little brain wants awesome, fantastic, super-dee-dooper days every day – THANKS A LOT, BRAIN! That is a lot to live up to. It’s a great goal to aspire to but, sadly, not all that realistic. I have to work on giving myself permission to have an average day and not feeling bad about it. If every day was amazing, then amazing would become average (wow, I just dropped a wisdom bomb on myself there). And, to be perfectly honest (and biased), teacher average IS amazing.

Transitioning to a bit more informal chat here, this whole philosophical, soppy rambling DOES stem from something. Lately, I feel like I’ve had an endless string of average days, with mixed in amazing and awful moments. After getting praise or a ‘job well done,’ I end up feeling worse because I think, “I don’t feel like I’m doing the best job I can. I could be doing more.” In a way, that is good because I am expecting more out of myself. But on the other hand, that can start to drive a person crazy. In the teaching profession, there will always be something more you could do, something you could improve, something you wish you would have done. Internship has been such a journey for me accepting the fact that my teacher self IS NOT and WILL NEVER BE perfect. And THAT IS OKAY. Actually, it’s more than okay; it’s wonderful because it means that even 20 years down the road, I will still be growing and learning in this profession. Granted, I’m still working on accepting all of that (it’s a lot for a perfectionist to swallow, all right?).

My point is, teachers are so amazing and dedicated and passionate. But they sometimes forget to give themselves the credit that they deserve. We do so many amazing things in our classrooms every day that we get used to it and forget. Then we end up feeling that we are only average, when, really, we are and have always been amazing.

To any of my fellow interns or teachers: 90% of what we see on social media and hear from our colleagues is success stories. I see so many posts on Facebook about how wonderful things are going or a cool activity that a peer did (and that’s great – I celebrate alongside all of the other teachers out there who are doing an exceptional job). But I think we also need to share when we are having a tough time, or struggling with something. It is freeing to admit that things aren’t always peachy keen, and it helps to affirm to others that, if they are experiencing the same thing, there is someone out there who is in the same boat. So if anyone reading this is also having a string of average days or feeling that, despite all of your best efforts, you can’t reach a student who needs you, or whatever else may be dragging your spirits down, know that I am with you. And know that others out there are with you too.

Accept your struggles. Learn from them. Think of 3 things you do EVERY day that are amazing (I guarantee you, there are more than three). And get ready for all of the amazing that is headed your way in the near future.

Cheers and wishes for amazing teaching,

-KKF

P.S. Sorry for the long and fluffy post. If you made it this far, THANK YOU. I hope you got something half-worthwhile out of this. And if not, that’s okay too because this was really more of a self pep talk. I came into this post feeling a bit down and disappointed and have now amped myself up to finish the week strong with an AMAZING day tomorrow. As my teacher self would say: “Pat yourself on the back and say ‘Good job me!'”.

live in the moment

Recently, I have noticed how much more comfortable and confident I am feeling in the teacher role in the classroom. Three week block is a non-stop adventure, but it has allowed me to truly hit my stride. Now that I don’t have to focus as much on general management of the classroom, I can more fully enjoy the students. Thursday especially seemed like such an easy, happy-go-lucky day full of shared laughter and smiles.

During Leader Time, several students had their hands up to share stories and ask questions. After calling on one student with a raised hand, she sweetly says, “I love you.” My heart just melted. Only in Elementary school will a student raise their hand just to tell you that they love you. Such a precious moment.

We also had a pep rally one day this week. In typical Kindergarten fashion, my cooperating teacher and I explained what a pep rally is and what we do at them. After recess, a student comes up to me and asks, “Miss Fidelack, when is the pepperoni?” How cute is that?!

This week, we are continuing our inquiry unit by doing some research on the iPads with our room buddies, the Grade 6 class. I have converted related websites into QR codes for the students to peruse in pairs. Fingers crossed that the QR codes, iPads, and WiFi network all run smoothly for us!

-KKF

3 week block = blog slacking

Hi everyone! I am now currently in my 3 week full-time teaching block (and loving it). This means that I have shirked my blogging duties lately but I am here to make up for it. Enjoy some pictures and quick stories about what we’ve been up to lately.

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Our grass seeds finally grew! We drew a face on the side of the cup and then gave our ‘plant people’ a haircut.

After our Medicine Wheel pattern lesson was such a success, I created a First Nations art centre where students could colour sample art work in First Nations styles. The students were so excited to make their own Medicine Wheels! It was so rewarding to see them really embrace this new learning.

After our Medicine Wheel pattern lesson was such a success, I created a First Nations art centre where students could colour sample art work in First Nations styles. The students were so excited to make their own Medicine Wheels! It was so rewarding to see them really embrace this new learning.

Here's what the centre looked like.

Here’s what the centre looked like.

And we have the Teeth centre! Voila!

And we have the Teeth centre! Voila!

Students are flossing play dough (plaque/food) out of Lego (teeth).

Students are flossing play dough (plaque/food) out of Lego (teeth).

I had a Fish/Underwater centre a few weeks ago

I had a Fish/Underwater centre a few weeks ago

The kids LOVED this one

The kids LOVED this one

Students LOVE doing our Word of the Day work on the SMART board so I created this page for them to make their own patterns.

Students LOVE doing our Word of the Day work on the SMART board so I created this page for them to make their own patterns.

Students learned to draw a pattern on the iPad app Seesaw and then record their voice saying their pattern. They caught on to this so quick and loved doing it!

Students learned to draw a pattern on the iPad app Seesaw and then record their voice saying their pattern. They caught on to this so quick and loved doing it!

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Here is a post with the audio of the student explaining their pattern. Too cute not to share.

We learned this choral poem for Remembrance Day.

We learned this choral poem for Remembrance Day.

We also read the book "A Poppy is To Remember." I was astounded at how solemn and serious the students were. They truly connected with the concepts in the book.

We also read the book “A Poppy is To Remember.” I was astounded at how solemn and serious the students were. They truly connected with the concepts in the book.

During the reading of our Remembrance Day book, I looked out into a crowd of solemn faces. One student remarked, “Miss Fidelack, this book is so sad. I feel like I’m going to cry.” These students had so many comments and questions and we had a great conversation. It was such an empowering and eye-opening moment for me as an educator to realize how much these young students bring to the table, even at the tender age of 5. They are ready and capable of talking about these difficult and serious subjects.

Here are the students tracing their hands and cutting them out to create a class wreath.

Here are the students tracing their hands and cutting them out to create a class wreath.

The finished product

The finished product

New this week: a colour sorting centre.

New this week: a colour sorting centre.

We started our inquiry unit on birds and nests this week. I decided to set out a collection of real birds' nests as the 'spark' for the unit.

We started our inquiry unit on birds and nests this week. I decided to set out a collection of real birds’ nests as the ‘spark’ for the unit.

Love the squinting going on in this photo

Love the squinting going on in this photo

The kids sure love using magnifying glasses

The kids sure love using magnifying glasses

Students were pretty interested in the nests!

Students were pretty interested in the nests!

I am going to continue evolving this centre as our inquiry unit continues. Now, we have colouring pages to do.

I am going to continue evolving this centre as our inquiry unit continues. Now, we have colouring pages to do.

That’s all for now. I figure pictures are worth a thousand words, so I won’t bore you with a bunch of reflections… this time.

Until next time,

Miss Fidelack