give me 5’s

It’s amazing how many little activity ideas I come up with when I’m in the shower. Is this anyone else’s place for thinking? Anyways, this is what my shampoo rinse routine gave me today:

Learning to count to 100 by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s is an important math skill that is worked on early in elementary school. I thought up a fun way to help kids learn their ‘counting by 5’s’ and it is called Give Me 5’s!

The common expression “give me 5” refers to a high five, and I thought this would be a fun activity to incorporate into a math lesson on counting.

I picture this activity with a big hundreds chart at the front of the room and maybe even some smaller ones for the students. Basically, the gist of it is giving a high five every time you say a multiple of five. It would go like this:

5 *high five* 10 *high five* 15 *high five* 20 *high five* and so on and so forth.

You could mix this up in a lot of ways. After you have explained the activity to the students, you could practice with them sitting in their desks facing you. They will all count out loud with you and give an air high five to you as you say the multiples. After they get the hang of it, you can get them to go into partners or small groups and do different combinations. For example:

1. Count to ___ using your right hand/left hand only.

2. Count to ___ using both hands.

3. Count to ___ using alternating hands.

4. Count to ___ using your feet!

5. Make up your own body part to count with.

6. Clap your own hands once and then your partner’s for each alternating multiple of 5.

7. Stamp your feet, jump, spin, etc, for each multiple!

(There are so many variations you could use with this activity. It’s always nice when you can get kids moving during math!)

You could also mix it up by having slips of paper they could draw that had differing values they had to count to (15, 40, 75, etc.) so they weren’t counting all way to 100 every time. This also helps them find different multiples.

Another more advanced idea (that is a bit of a bridge into multiplication) is having one partner count up by fives and the other count how many high fives it took to get to a certain multiple. For 20, one partner would could 5, 10, 15, 20 and the other would count 1, 2, 3, 4 high fives to get to 20! You could get them to draw different numbers and record how many high fives it took them to get to that number each time.

Have fun and high five for having fun in math class! 🙂

delicate balance

It feels like a long time since I’ve written, but it really hasn’t been! First post of April, though! And sorry to anyone who sees how many posts I had in March, that isn’t indicative of how much I usually post.

As per usual, I have just come back from ECS class and have a few things I thought were worth sharing.

1. For our ECS assignment, we had to read an article about Indigenous Education and respond to it. I chose one by Verna J. Kirkness and one thing that really resonated with me is when she talked about the Indian Control of Indian Education policy of 1972. She pointed out that “we continue to base education on white, urban culture and history” (22). As a white pre-service teacher, this brought up a nerve-wracking question for me:

If people who have Indigenous blood/culture in their past can’t implement Indigenous ways of knowing into the curriculum, how can I?

This also got me thinking about my preconceptions, though. Just because people have Indigenous family members doesn’t mean they know any more about the culture than I do! My ancestors are German, Polish, French, etc, etc, etc but I know nothing or very little about those traditional cultures. We automatically assume that Aboriginal people are experts on their cultural traditions, but, the truth is, they are just like us! Lots of Aboriginal teachers have to learn how to implement Indigenous ways of knowing in their classrooms too!

Kirkness, Verna J. “Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Retrospective and a Prospective.” Journal of American Indian Education 39.1 (1999). Print.

2. Talking about incorporating Indigenous knowledges not into singular activities, but the classroom as a whole leaves me with a million questions. Most of all: HOW? I really wish I could observe a classroom that models these practices so I could see for myself how it is done! I just hope that the program continues to prepare me for real-life teaching situations like these so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

3. After attending the Education Career Fair early in the semester, I have been seriously considering doing my fourth year internship in a predominantly Métis or Indigenous community. I think this would really help to answer lots of my questions about teaching students with these backgrounds so they can achieve academic success! I have heard that any experience with children of these diverse backgrounds (which will make up 40% of classrooms by 2016!) is a wonderful opportunity and asset for young teachers. As a dominant figure in terms of race, class, and sexual orientation (and gender in the field of education), I also think it would be a great learning experience for me to be in an environment where I am the ‘minority.’ While this may be uncomfortable at first, I think it will give me a better understanding of minority students’ perspectives and feelings in a school setting. Hopefully this can help me to be aware of ensuring that all students feel welcome in my classroom!

As a side note, I was SHOCKED when my professor told me that ZERO students have done their internships in Métis/Indigenous communities (unless they were in Indigenous Teacher programs)! When Saskatchewan schools have a high population of these students, it really surprises me that no pre-service teachers are eager to gain useful experience like this! Maybe I will be #1! 🙂

4. When dealing with any social justice issues (homosexuality, class, gender, race, etc.) in your students’ identities, I think it is really all about striking that delicate balance between treating students the same AND different. You want all of your students to receive the same respect, care and expectations so the classroom is EQUAL. However, you want to address your learners’ individual needs and identities so your classroom is EQUITABLE. It’s absolutely impossible for me to judge this while I am sitting on my bed, typing on a laptop. I think so many facets of teaching can’t be learned in any other way than experiencing them first-hand in a classroom; that’s why I am so eager to get out into the field so I can start answering some of my endless swarms of questions!

i think i need to watch juno again

ImageToday in my ECS 110 class, we looked at some videos of successful culturally responsive schools that create environments in which their Aboriginal students can achieve academic success. One of the schools had a day care right in the building and some of the video clips showed teen mothers with their children at the daycare.

I can’t say I am proud of this, but it is the honest truth that I immediately caught myself looking down on these teen mothers. In true teacher fashion, I quickly stepped back and thought, “Why do I feel this way?”

Any mention of teen pregnancy in my schooling presented it as shameful, irresponsible, a HUGE mistake, etc etc etc. Shows like ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ don’t always present the situation in a positive light, either. TV shows involving characters who think they are pregnant or get pregnant are scandalous incidents. Media urges teens to ‘abstain from sex’ and ‘use protection.’ So is it really any wonder that I reacted this way? Feel free to disagree, but I think that many of the representations of teen pregnancy in our world today have TAUGHT me to think of it like this. 

I don’t condone teen pregnancy and this post isn’t meant to promote unprotected sex. All I am trying to say is: What can we do for/what supports can we offer to girls who do get pregnant?

And this is exactly why the day care at the school is such a genuinely helpful thing. A mistake or bad decision shouldn’t affect the ability for a young mother (or father) to experience success in their life. Yes, having a baby at a young age is a HUGE responsibility and will change your life immensely, but that doesn’t mean that the mother/father should lose their right to an education. 

At first I thought, “I don’t plan on teaching high school students, so why should this even matter to me?” But teen parenthood can affect elementary school teachers as well because students’ parents may be very young. I want to ensure that I am open minded and understanding towards any potential parents who did have teenage pregnancies. 

In closing, I have learned a lot about myself through this experience! I cannot look down on people who have been in these situations that society portrays so negatively. Each person I interact with as a professional deserves my respect. I can’t judge them until I have walked a mile in their shoes. Which is why I am interested in watching Juno again and finding other resources that can allow me to see things through a teen mother’s eyes.


just a little tuesday afternoon thinking…

It seems that every time I come back from my ECS 110 class, I have something I need to get down in words! Not only does that class make me think while I am there, but I also catch myself noticing things throughout my daily life that, as my prof would say, “make me go hmmm…”

I have a couple hmmmm moments that I’d like to address today:

1. I have read or heard that “the field of education is dominated by white, middle-class females” too many times to count. But for some reason, when I saw this familiar statement in our last reading, something just clicked in my head and it said: Hey… Was I unknowingly steered towards this career path because I am a white, middle-class, female? Have my identity, my previous experiences, and society’s views of me slowly pushed me towards being in the Faculty of Education today?

I have to say, this thought made me rather uneasy and troubled! I like to think that I made the decision to pursue this path because I was born to be a teacher. I have always felt a subtle tugging towards teaching and realizing that society may have influenced this decision honestly ticked me off a little bit!

Thinking about it now, people experience this every day (and in much more offensive aspects than a simple nudge in the direction of a career choice). Aboriginal people are automatically assumed by many to be drug or alcohol abusers, Asian students should be exceptionally smart and concerned with school, men should be buff and women petite, etc, etc, etc. The list never ends. And these assumptions can end up steering us away from our own path if we aren’t careful! If you hear from others what you “are” or should be enough times, you have a good chance of becoming it.

Granted, IF society did push me towards a teacher education program, I have nothing but thanks to give! There is no doubt in my mind that I am exactly where I should be in the world. On the other hand, though, I can think of numerous times when I was very subtly persuaded to choose a different career path because, “I am so smart and could do anything, why would I want to bother being a teacher, of all things?” and that clearly didn’t change anything, did it? So I will stick to my opinion that nothing could have stopped me from becoming a teacher, simply because it is my biggest dream and goal. 🙂

2. The second thing that got my mind’s gears turning was a comment a classmate had regarding our discussion about whiteness and white privilege. She noticed that when people are telling stories that involve people of an ethnicity other than Caucasian, they will actually link that person to their race. For example: “I saw a lady fall down in the street, and 3 Chinese women came and helped her up.”

The question she posed was: Why does it matter if the women were Chinese and why does this always end up slipping into our language, presumably unconsciously?

While I agree that these statements are blatantly pointing out the race of the stories’ subjects, and positioning them as ‘other’ to the norm, I can also see the other side of things as well.

If the speaker had just said “women,” I can guess that people will automatically picture these women as white. And while this is a troubling realization, it can’t be blamed, because white people have been systematically placed and understood as the norm.

So… is the speaker actually just trying for accuracy of the story to avoid the listener’s assumption of the subjects as white? Are they trying to portray another race in a positive light (which, I would argue is difficult to fight against, when criminals’ ethnicities are very pointedly acknowledged on the news…)? Or is this a racist act, whether intentional or unintentional?

What do you think? Is this wrong to be linking people with their race, or is it an attempt to get our heads to see someone of a colour other than white?

Just something to think about…

the “mine” monster

 I can recall multiple incidents when I was volunteering in Elementary school classrooms in my Grade 11 and 12 years when a student would come up to me, claiming that another classmate had taken something of theirs and wouldn’t give it back because “it was theirs.”

This is an age old problem for young children. It happened when I was that age, it clearly still happens today and, unless some technology comes around that tags your personal items to you genetically, it will happen in the future. It is also difficult to address because you can’t accuse either child of lying.

I have come up with a way to solve this dilemma through PREVENTION, so that rather than having to deal with it, you can hopefully discourage it from happening altogether. It is called the “mine” monster.

I imagine the introduction of this concept to the kids to go something like this…

“Has anyone here ever heard of the mine monster? No? Well, let me tell you, he is a sneaky little creature that likes to take children’s belonging and call them his own. And once he steals something from you, you will probably never get it back.

Has anyone heard the word “envy” or “jealousy” before? Do you know what it means? Yes, you’re right, it is when someone wants things that other people have. That is what the mine monster has – jealousy. He takes your things and then squeals “IT’S MINE!” (in a silly voice) and he runs away to his hiding place and you can never get your stolen item back! He is very sneaky, so you have to watch out for him!

Did you know that people can become mine monsters sometimes? Yes, it’s true. When we see someone else has a sparkly pencil or a brand new ball cap that we like, we may want to take it from them so we can have it. But that is NOT right. That is jealousy. And we can’t take other people’s things and call it our own. Because we don’t want to be a mine monster, do we? No, of course not!

So how can we stop the mine monster? First, we can make sure that our name is on our things, so everyone knows who it belongs to. Second, if we like something that someone has, like a special box of markers or a toy, we can’t take it from them, but we can ask them nicely if they would let us try it if they are not using it. That is called sharing, and it makes the mine monster VERY mad because he hates sharing, because it is a nice thing to do.

If we do these things, we can stop the mine monster from striking in our classroom! So does anyone remember what the first rule is? Yes, it’s PUT YOUR NAME ON EVERYTHING. And what about the second rule? You’re right, it is to share and ask first before taking something from someone else!”

I just thought this was a cute little idea that you could do with your class to prevent kids from taking things that aren’t theirs. Maybe you could even ask the class if they wanted to see what the mine monster looked like and have a little sock puppet or something you could put on your hand and go around the classroom saying “I’m on a hunt, what will I find? A _____________ (ex. red pencil case, box of crayons, etc, etc, etc.) that is mine!” (and take something from a student’s desk in the mine monster’s “mouth!” That would be sure to get your point across).

Let’s all fight the mine monster together!

does school kill creativity?

Well, it’s official – this is my first brand new post on my WordPress blog (all of my previous posts from my old Blogger blog have been brought over now – glad that’s finished)! And what a great way to start fresh!

I came across this TedTalk on We Inspire Futures and absolutely loved it! Sir Ken Robinson gets his point across very clearly and peppers his presentation with his sweet sense of humour, making the video both informative and entertaining. It also led me to question my views as a future educator.

I think with all of the debates about standardized testing, the issue of creativity is often brought into question as well. I remember someone on Twitter saying “Is standardized testing producing standardized thinkers?” or something to that effect. This video gave me a similar question. Can our artistic students truly flourish in the education system we have set up for them? And how can we ensure that our future choreographers and filmmakers and actors/actresses are being properly stimulated and engaged in the classroom?

As I think more and more about it, I realize that Arts Integration is going to be  HUGE part of my future classroom. Some statistic somewhere said that children who play an instrument are more likely to do well in school, and I truly believe that we can’t focus entirely on Math formulas and English concepts to educate our children. Their education deserves to be much more enriched with creativity and opportunities for artistic expression and discovery.

I have loved music as long as I can remember. I always made up songs and sang them to myself when I was playing outside as a kid. One Christmas, one of my cousins got a miniature electric keyboard and one of the pre-set songs it played was “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic and I was maybe 5-ish at the time and was just belting it! haha My uncle ended up telling my parents that I had a future in voice and that led to me being put in piano lessons and, later on, I took up voice AND guitar lessons instead, which I am sorely missing this year! I also loved being part of the Drama club at my old high school. And while I don’t consider myself a good dancer or artist by any stretch, I still find these types of art beautiful and a wonderful way for people to express feelings that they can’t elsewhere (and I am VERY jealous of people who are good dancers or artists, because I would LOVE to be!). That is what music feels like to me and I would never want to stop a student from developing these amazing talents.

Because the arts are so near and dear to my heart (which is kind of surprising, seeing as I am also a very analytical and organized person, not your typical artist personality), I really want that to show in my future classroom. I smile when I picture myself, guitar in hand, singing with my students and I insist that this future become a reality someday!

This topic also gave me a lesson idea…

I am in Art 100 this semester and one of the things that is clearly stressed to us over and over is that art, while primarily considered to be made primarily for its aesthetic appeal and visual beauty, is more modernly geared towards expressing one’s opinion. So I think it would be great for students to pick a side of an argument or a controversial issue that they feel very connected to, and turn it into art. Whether they want to make something out of clay, draw a picture, write a song, choreograph a dance, it doesn’t matter! But expressing their interest in a topic in a medium outside of a report or powerpoint could really help them deepen their thinking (and also, it’s way more fun, am I right?). This may be a bit difficult for a Grade 1 class, but I never want to underestimate the creative capacity of kids these days (seems like kids in school know WAY more than I did at their age – kind of scary! haha) and there are many ways you could adapt this for younger students.

I am sure that I will have WAY more posts about fostering creativity and integrating art into other subject areas, so stay tuned! I think I’m gunna go dance crazily around my room and sing into my hairbrush for a while – haha! :p



i’ve been thinking…

My ECS 110 professor always prompts us at the beginning of class to share anything “that made us go ‘hmmm…'” and just now, I had a ‘hmmmm… moment’ regarding the new Kinder Eggs for girls.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a girl power kind of girl but this particular marketing choice kind of makes me wonder.

One of my friends told me that she saw a little boy grab one and exclaim to his mom, ‘Wow! They have different toys now!” and his mother quickly squashed his excitement by saying, “You don’t want that.”

I think this is a very contemporary, pertinent issue. Some parents have their children extremely pigeon-holed into the toys, activities and clothes they THINK their child’s gender requires. Little boys can’t play with Barbies and little girls can’t use tools and trucks. Frankly, I think this is ridiculous. Toys are toys. They are offering the amazing educational opportunity of PLAY. What does it matter if your son likes to dress up his dolls if he is learning?

That’s why it makes me leery that the Kinder Eggs are marketed specifically for girls. I am sure there are little boys out there who would love to play with the toys that come inside them just as much as girls.

And on the other side of the argument, not only are these Kinder Eggs stopping boys from buying them because it ‘isn’t a thing boys would like’ but it is also giving a specific view on what girls should like to play with as well.

It was International Women’s Day on Friday and I think the whole point of that is to say that women aren’t just the homemakers anymore. We can do whatever we want and our gender shouldn’t hold us back from success and status. I am sure those Kinder Eggs are full of pink and frills and sugar, spice and everything nice, but what about the girl that wants to grow up and be a carpenter? Or a mechanic? Or the Prime Minister? Sure, girls can live both lives of the mom and the businesswoman, but by only presenting girls with the feminine view, we are telling them that this is what girls do, no questions asked.

And the problem with these Kinder Eggs is that bringing out a line for boys wouldn’t fix anything, it would hold the same double-standard. So let’s break through the notion that there are specific things for girls and boys, because there aren’t. I would like to live in a world where boys playing with dolls and girls wrestling in the dirt aren’t frowned upon or even second-guessed. Let’s give our children and students the opportunity to be whoever they choose!

let’s make gay mean “happy” again

In my Religious Studies class today, we started our section about Judaism. As the professor was giving her lecture, she was using the word “Jew” a lot (not in a rude way) and it really made me think about how a popular saying with teens nowadays is, “That’s so Jewish.” In these cases, Jewish is used as a synonym for something the speaker doesn’t approve of or finds useless or stupid (which is another arguably derogatory term, especially in the field of education). And it really made me think… Why Jewish people? Why does that specific religion get a bad rap? We can even see this historically; the Holocaust was one of the largest human tragedies, and it was all based on a certain group’s religion – but why?

You can see the same thing regarding homosexual people. Teenagers will exclaim, “That’s gay!” with the same connotation as “That’s Jewish.” It’s hard to imagine anyone saying “That’s so Christian” or “That’s just straight.” Is our society so against others who are ‘different,’ or don’t reflect the “normal,” straight, white, Christian identity that we must use them as synonyms to things that displease us?

I saw one of the pictures below on Facebook (and found the other one on Google) and I think they convey such a great message! The second one, which I saw on Facebook, was posted by an openly gay pre-service teacher at the university. I have always wondered what his experiences have been/will be with his students (he wants to teach high school English). In ECS 110, we read an article about how homosexual teachers are othered, and if any straight teachers stand up for homosexual teachers’ rights, they are automatically assumed to be gay or lesbian themselves (McKenzie-Bassant, 2007). I find this so upsetting and I truly hope that this particular Facebook friend finds an accepting and supportive community as he heads into his internship in the fall!

I know I will be censoring myself from saying “that’s gay” from now on! Isn’t it funny how a word that once meant ‘happy’ is now associated with something completely opposite? I hope that we can once again have a day where “gay” is associated with happiness and good things, rather than bad!


McKenzie-Bassant, Claudette, “Lesbian Teachers Walking the Line between Inclusion and Exposure,” International Journal of Art & Design Education, 26 (1), p54-62, Feb 2007.

getting ready to go song

1, 2, 3, 4
Get in line to go out the door
5, 6, 7, 8
Hurry now, we can’t be late!
9, 10, 11, 12
Check my partner and myself
Now that we are ready to go,
Lights, camera, action and on with the show!

I came up with this little chant randomly one day and thought it was kind of cute. When you are teaching the class the song, you can elaborate on the “Check my partner and myself” line so that children look at the person next to them and make sure that they are standing still, with hands at sides and ‘zip their lips’ to get ready for the hallway!

instructor magazine: arts integration

This year, rather than ordering Seventeen magazine from the local high school fundraiser, I decided to get a magazine especially for teachers! I have only gotten two issues so far, but I already love it! One of my favourite ideas in the last issue was using artwork to teach other subjects! 

Arts integration is especially interesting to me, as I am taking an ART 100 class for my Fine Arts elective this semester. As soon as I saw the familiar water lilies painting by Claude Monet (which we covered in my Art class) with a headline for using it to teach a subject other than art, I was hooked! The example in the magazine uses Monet’s piece as an introduction to plants, what they need to survive, and man-made versus naturally occurring parts of the environment (for the other ideas, check out the Winter 2013 issue of Instructor by Scholastic).

It has been stressed in Education to me already that students have multiple intelligences and, often times, the more artistic or outdoorsy types of learners’ learning styles aren’t acknowledged or adapted to as much as the other visual or auditory types. 

This is an inspiring idea for me and as I progress through my program, I will keep my eyes peeled for any further artworks and links to lessons they may have use in my future!

1. Art can have different types of patterns or balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial (radiating out from a centre point of a circular object). Using works with these pattens can be a great visual for math lessons!

This is a great example of symmetry (Sayre, 2012). What is symmetrical in this picture? What is not?

Coronation of the Virgin, Enguerrand Quarton

Here is an artwork containing asymmetry (Sayre, 2012). How is it asymmetrical? How does this piece still contain balance, though?

Boston Common at Twilight, Childe Hassam

This final work is from the Chartes Cathedral in France. It showcases radial symmetry (Sayre, 2012). How is the symmetry of a square different from symmetry in this circular piece?

Rose Window, Chartes Cathedral

Sayre, Henry M., A World of Art, 7th Edition. New York: Pearson, 2012.