third semester eye openers

I can’t think of a better reason to stay up than to do a blog post! Here are some of the interesting tidbits that have happened in the past few weeks…

1. My Field Experiences/Practicums This Semester

I have had two sessions at Balfour Collegiate working with ESL students and have really enjoyed it! One big realization I had was a result of talking with the cooperating teacher (that is so graciously letting 30 pre-service teachers into his classroom this semester), who was in the Elementary program, like me, when he was in university. He told my two other classmates and I that you can end up getting offered a Grade 11 Chemistry job right out of university, and you take it! I always find it interesting when teachers end up in different grades and subject areas than they were trained for. While I think it is beneficial in some situations to have the flexibility of a BEd. giving you the certification to teach any grade, I also feel that I would feel uncomfortable, unconfident, and totally out of my element in a high school. I suppose sometimes that is the best way to get your foot in the door and try something new and challenging, though!

However, volunteering in a mixed Grade 9-12 ESL class has really opened my mind to the possibility of ending up working with high school students at some point in my career. I feel that if I did, by some chance, end up in a high school, I would like to teach ESL students because, like Elementary, the teacher for the tutorial sessions works with all subjects, not one specialized area.

Another thing that I’ve been pondering lately… Why are there so many different acronyms for students who speak English as an additional language? ESL, EAL, ELL, oh my! Can’t they just pick one to use? haha

2. I am part of the Ambassador program at the U of R and I just got an e-mail from the head of the Ambassador program yesterday asking if I wanted to have a Campus For All Ambassador buddy. I was so excited and honoured to be given this opportunity! As an Education student, we are always ecstatic to get the chance to work with others and add these wonderful experiences to our resume. We keep hearing that all resumes and portfolios look the same, so it is really the additional experiences you have that will make you stand out and get you a job. There are hundreds of Ambassadors at the U of R, so I was tickled pink that the coordinator thought of me as a candidate! I’m sure I will have more to tell you about this once I get to meet my buddy and do some events with him!

If you want to learn more about the Campus For All program at the U of R, check their page out here!

3. I never posted some pictures of activities I did during my final tutoring session, so here you go:


This is a reading board game I whipped up! It turned out really well and I’d love to use it again someday (sorry the image is so small. The spaces read: “Pick up a new word,” “Use your word in a sentence,” “Move ahead 3 spaces,” “Say a word that rhymes with yours,” “Read 2 new words,” “Spell your word,” “Move back 2 spaces,” “Act out your word,” “Make a new word using letters from yours,” “How many syllables in your word?,” and “How many vowels in your word?”). The only thing I would change is maybe making corresponding piles of word cards to pick from for certain spaces, because not all of the word cards I made could be easily used for all of the space tasks. For example, some of the words were very short, so you couldn’t arrange their letters to make other words; or some of the words were abstract terms that couldn’t be acted out.


This is a fun little drawing activity that I linked to the online resource Bembo’s Zoo (check it out – I LOVE it!). It is a fun way to incorporate language into art.

4. Today in my ECE (Early Childhood Education) class, the instructor was teaching us the Waldorf ECE approach by actually treating the students like we were Kindergarteners, and I absolutely LOVED it! Some students were hesitant and embarrassed to sing the songs and perform the actions, but I thought it was a nice change of pace from the normal university class. This just affirmed for me how overjoyed I am to be heading towards a career that will let me sing songs and dance and fingerpaint and tell stories every single day! I truly am blessed! My work with the ESL students has opened up my eyes to the possibility of working with teenage students, and now my ECE class has me considering all the awesome aspects of working with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students as well. Don’t get me wrong, Grade 1 will probably always have my heart, but I am finding, more and more every day, that it isn’t about the age of the students to me, it is simply the act of teaching and fostering a love of learning that draws me to this field. It’s a nice epiphany to have and it makes it easy for me to say that I can enjoy any Grade that I may teach in the future.

This semester is shaping up to be a very busy (but wonderful!) one, so I am sure I will have more things to share soon! I hope whoever and wherever you are, you have a splendid day!

sound switch reading game

I was just surfing the net, collecting ideas for a tutoring lesson plan and came across this little gem… I call it “Sound Switch.”

Sound Switch game

  • Choose a simple word like ‘take’ and let child choose one sound to remove (ex. ‘k’)
  • Replace the removed sound with another to make a word (ex. ‘l’ to make tale or tail)
  • Keep going until all of the word’s sounds have been replaced
  • Good words to use: mail, fun, bump, chunk, slice, pan, gave, same, like, small

Just thought I’d share this quick little update! Tutoring is quickly coming to a close, which makes me sad because the last few sessions have been really great – probably the best yet! I have found two activities that click really well with my student.

1. We have worked on a lot of sounds over the summer, and after reflection, I realized that the last few were rushed through by me. So to really enforce the ones that hadn’t stuck as well, I made a little game. I wrote out the sounds (like ch, ow, ar, etc) on ‘flashcards’ and showed them to the student. If he verbalizes the sound correctly, he gets to keep the flashcard. If he answers incorrectly, I keep the flashcard (to review the troublesome ones later) and he has to do something for me.  I make up little tasks for him to do (like pushups, stacking chairs, walking like a seal, folding a blanket, etc. – it can be ANYTHING!). My student likes to keep his hands busy, so I have found this activity VERY helpful and beneficial for both of us – he loves the challenge and competitive-ness of getting them right (and especially loves when his stack of sounds is way larger than mine at the end of the game). This game is also really easy to mix up and make harder (for example, one time through, I gave him a 3-Mississippi time limit to come up with the answer and he enjoyed that a lot as well!).

2. I have a list of common but tricky words (where, were, their, why, who, etc…) that are written out on a piece of paper. Each day we work on them, he uses a different coloured pen (I started with red and have continued to go through the rainbow). Each time the student reads a word correctly, he underlines it in the colour of the day. This makes it really easy for not only the student, but also the instructor, to see the progress and recognize the trickiest words. I have found that this constant review of these words really helps to enforce them and he is improving every time!

I hope that these sessions will really help him when he gets back to school in a few weeks! I know it has helped me to continue to grow as a teacher! 🙂