My name is Terry-Lynn and I am a middle years teacher in the Canadian prairies. I decided to start this blog because there is a lack of truly Canadian resources and perspective on the net. Thus the purpose of this blog is to critique websites and generally talk about my experiences as a Canadian teacher.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frozen Teen Texting in the Snow

Yesterday, a teen, while texting, stood in the snow, looked around and did not see her shadow. In middle school, this means spring will come early.I kid you not. Texting teens are much more reliable than a pudgy rodent with dental problems.

Late winter in Canada is difficult for teens. Various body parts are perpetually red and swollen from never wearing appropriate winter wear. I never did either as a teen and I'm amazed that I still have my ears and fingers. They want to go outside but can't because it's too cold to wear anything fashionable.(Oh my God, the horror of not being in fashion!). And the snow isn't melting, giving the impression that winter will last forever.

And we have to teach these happy, happy bundles of teen joy! Here's a list of ideas that may help.

1. Have incentives in the classroom for good behaviour.
  • extra gym time
  • movie afternoon
  • computer time
  • trip to indoor swimming pool
2. Teach "spring" topics (Easter, spring vocabulary etc) a little early.
3. Play happy music (brainstorm list with class) 
4. Plant something in planter's pots.
5. have a noon hour potluck
6. Decorate the classroom spring like (I never decorated, I just bought the stuff and hand them to my students)

Hope my brief list helps. And if you have any ideas, list them in the comments section.

The Canuck Teacher

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Valentine's Day Activities for Middle Years Students

Valentine's day is funny in the middle years. Overactive hormones makes every love affair a "seriously committed relationship". And like a parent, I hear way too much about their love lives. Also, they want to be considered adults, but have all the privileges of children. Therefore, all Valentine's Day activities need to be "adult" or at least not too frilly and cute. Here is a list of academic and fun activities for the middle years.

1. Movie afternoon -  with popcorn, pop and cake (Do NOT show "My Bloody Valentine", trust me they'll ask)
2. Candy making, specifically chocolate - you can buy the molds but dipping cookies in melted chocolate and making "bark" works too.
3. Candy grams - Little bags of candy that people buy and give to others (school activity)
4. Valentine's Day themed book buddies - The teens read Valentine's Day books and then help their buddies make Valentine Day cards or crafts
5. Baking afternoon - make rice krispies treats, jello, pudding, ice cream cone cupcakes and brownies (if you have an oven)
6. Valentine's Day Bake Sale - Okay technically I did this around Easter. But it was so successful I wished I would have done it during Valentine's Day like first thought.
7. Valentine's Day Webquest
8. Origin of Valentine's Day reading comprehension (abcteach.com has one)
9. Wordstudy and Puzzle booklet (I made one or make your own)
10. Red, or pink dress up day

Notice that I don't have a card exchange in the list. The reason is because teens really can't handle rejection. And I think a card exchange is too public a way for someone to discover how unpopular they are in the classroom.

So that's my brief list. What's yours?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Valentine's Day Sale Anouncement

I'm going to have a pure capitalist moment and promote my sale of Valentine's Day resources for middle years students. It's on right now and ends Sunday, Jan. 23rd., 2011. I know, it's shameful. I'll feel bad tomorrow. My resources are described in the previous post. They're also linked to my store - http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Terry-lynn-Mcleod .

The Canuck Teacher

Monday, January 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Activities From My TpT Store

With less than a month until Valentine's Day, I thought I would link people to some of the materials I posted in my store http://teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Terry-lynn-Mcleod-2 .

Valentine's Day Language Arts Activities
This is a collection of Language Arts activities with a Valentine's Day theme. It is good as enrichment activity for grade 5 and 6 or as an anchor activity for grades 7 and 8. Included in the collection is an acrostic poem template, brainstorm, alphabetizing, wordsearch, missing letter, word scramble, sentence writing, and colouring pages.

Valentine's Day Math Warm Up
This is a math warm up for middle years students, to take place on or right before Valentine's Day. There are 2 parts to this warm up. "Mind Math" is a set of 10 basic operation questions to be completed by the students without a calculator. "Problem" is 1 multi-step problem with a Valentine's Day theme. This warm up should take between 5 to 10 minutes. I included an answer key with the worksheet.

Valentines Day Research Project
With this project, middle years students develop internet reseach skills to write an expository paragraph on either Valentine's Day trivia or origins. The objective of the lesson is for students to practice the reading strategy of prioritizing so to create a product. Students prioritize internet information to create a paragraph. This download includes an assignment sheet for students and two graphic organizers.

Valentines Day Writing Activities
This is a collection of Middle Years writing activities following the theme of Valentine's Day. These activities follow the 6 traits of writing- Word Choice, Voice, Conventions, Ideas, Organization, and Sentence Fluency. There are 9 writing activities and one tic-tac-toe board.

Valentines Day Bake Sale Plan
Need to make a little money for your class's yearend trip? Why not have a bake sale. This plan will help you organize a bake sale. It includes a step by step plan, shopping and supply lists, letter to parents, brainstorm list and sign up sheet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fluffy Pink Elephant


Literacy is a big, fluffy pink elephant hiding behind the blinds of your classroom. It looms and lurks, suspiciously staring as you teach. And yes, I'm sober as a write this. But literacy is the elephant in the room. Everyone talks about it, but nothing is ever done about it. So it is often ignored in teaching, at least in the middle years.  Literacy is very important, as every teacher knows. But its amazing how something so important is so misunderstood by most people. And sadly, some of those people are teachers.

When I went to university, I learned next to nothing about literacy. Even the class called "Literacy" lacked any knowledge about "the pink elephant". The class taught me that "kids don't know how to read, but should", and that's it. Wait, strike that...The class also taught me to keep a lot of books around.

Now the education of teachers is always inadequate for the real world. My fellow university students were a lot more attentive than my actual students. But with the lack of functional literacy being lower than expected in most of North America, it is important for teachers to drag the pink elephant into the spotlight.

I am a balance literacy middle years teacher. This means that my beliefs in how curriculum should be is different to what the curriculum actually is in the prairies. Teaching the pink elephant according to the curriculum should only take 300 minutes per week within English Language Arts. I think this is problematic to reality. One, students are still learning to read in the middle years. So 300 minutes per week may be inadequate. Two, the curriculum assumes literacy is within the domain of English Language Arts in totality, which is not true. Every school subject has their own literacy which must be taught within that subject.

On a positive note, people are finally noticing the fluffy, pink elephant. We are at the brink of a change in how literacy is taught within all subject areas. But we are in the beginning of this change. So it is still unknown whether the elephant will come out from behind the classroom's blinds, or stay there and stagnate.

The Canuck Teacher

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Website Critique Criteria

I thought I would just post my criteria for critiquing websites.          

 Ease of Use                           1                     2                        3                          4                         5
Quantity of Materials            1                     2                        3                          4                         5
Quality of Materials              1                     2                        3                          4                         5
Price                                       1                     2                        3                          4                         5

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


If net surfing was a sport, I would be an extreme sport rock star, with my own endorsement deals, video game and heavily tattooed boyfriend. Good teaching involves resource-based student learning. The main issue with resource-based learning is the time involved making materials for the students. But teaching is not a new profession. Since Socrates was corrupting the minds of young boys, teachers have been using various resources and techniques to encourage students to question their world. So there is no reason to over-stress, pull hair and stay up all night. Just like in literature, everything has already been created and made, we just need to access them.

The Internet has made the task of teaching easier and also more difficult. And the reason is the same - the wealth of unfiltered ideas. The Internet has made teaching easier in that we have at our fingertips every teaching idea and theory ever created. If I need ideas about how to teach spelling, then all I have to do is google "spelling", and I will be overloaded with thousands of ideas and theories. But it is this overload which makes teaching more difficult. The amount of information on the Internet can overwhelm a teacher, making them feel inadequate. Even I can feel small to the more creative, organized and intelligent people who post their ideas on the web. Another problem is the amount of "crap" on the net. Not every idea or theory is golden, or even bronze, and it takes a lot to filter out the "crap"  so a teacher can surf in pure water.

A side problem when surfing is the amount of spyware, malware, viruses and general smut your wave can smash into. I have programs to protect from every but the smut. Once I was surfing the "teaching, Balance Literacy, printables" google wave, just to be upended by a pair of breasts popping up. And for some reason, after I net surf, I receive a lot of spam encouraging me to "expand my penis". I don't teach Sexual Education. But my surfing history says differently.

So when surfing the stormy seas of the Internet, it helps to have the arrogance of an extreme athlete. A teacher needs to be very specific in what information on the Internet they want. I tend to use at least 3 words or more to describe what I want. Also, a teacher needs to be fast and confident, deciding on the relevance of websites within seconds. It often takes me 10-seconds to decide whether I will stay on a website. A final tip is to ask other teacher what websites they like and check them out. Some of these sites will even suggest sites of their own.

Lastly, surfing can be just fun, no matter the topic so just play around. But avoid the popping breasts.


The Canuck Teacher.

P.S. - If you have websites you like, list them in the comment section. You will notice a small sampling of the sites I use at the right of the blog.