Thursday, February 28, 2013

Simile and Metaphor Lesson and Freebie

We have been working on similes and metaphors this week.  With the vast majority of my class ESL, this has been extra difficult for them.  But we have not given up.  The goal was to focus on them as tools in writing.  We began by reading some stories to see how "real" authors use similes.  These books really helped us look at similes and metaphors.


The first two are quite simply simile books with a simple story.  The last two were much more fun for my kids to try to find the similes and metaphors as we read aloud.

After reading so many stories we made an anchor chart together.  Each student had to come up with a simile or metaphor to place on the chart.  I asked the class for the definition of each and wrote that very poorly at the bottom.  Some did not get the idea of it very well, so I knew we needed a little more practice.

As a wrap up to the lesson/concept we turned our thinking to writing and how we can use similes and metaphors to better our writing.  I had them describe a character or something that was happening using similes and metaphors.  The rules/expectations:  3-6 sentences,  a simile and/or a metaphor, neatness, color picture.  Most of them did really well.  Here are some samples.

EDIT:  Here is my sample and the chart we made together.  Overall I thought the lesson went great.  It was actually part of my formal observation so I was very pleased.

It was only after beginning this post that I realized I could have made the project cuter! So I whipped this up.  One of my first 'products'. Any feedback would be much appreciated!!  Thanks

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The past couple weeks have been full of events at school.  We have not had a full week of classes in awhile. I feel unable to really get into the groove because of it!! Anyone else ever feel that way when the schedule gets out of whack?  It doesn't help that it is a two-edged sword!  I love having fun activities and possibly extra free time but I hate losing teaching time and feeling rushed with things.

The reason today was Sports Day.  This is basically field day.  I believe the reason we have it in February is because come May/June it would be WAY to hot here to be safe.  It was quite a fun morning. I was in charge of a game called Ninja Time.  Who wouldn't like to play a game where you get to be ninjas!  Thankfully, Sports Day only goes until lunch so we did have the afternoon to work.

But nothing amazing happened to share.  Tomorrow I have a great lesson planned about similes...hopefully... so hopefully I can come back and share that with you then!

I did want to share one lovely event today with you.  I had the class check their homework with a partner.  I was standing over watching some students as they checked.  I pointed out to one student, who regularly tells me her answers are always right, that one of hers were wrong.  She looked at me quizzically and said, "But my dad wrote that one."  BAH!!! I just smiled and said "but its still wrong dear!"

Later I died laughing! Oh my goodness. How precious.  Hope you all are having a wonderful week.  Happy hump day! I will leave you with this.  Be thankful.  Found while Pinteresting

Monday, February 25, 2013

Its that time of year...

My brain can hardly wrap itself around the fact that we are almost done with the 3rd quarter. The rest of me can though! We have hit that dreaded time of year where everyone is on everyone's nerves!  The weather is starting to get hot.  We do not have spring break until April, so we have a long way to go! Thankfully, we have a couple short weeks before that which will be a welcomed escape.

Anyway, my beloved clip chart is losing effect on the kids and me.  It is probably mostly my fault as I forget to stay positive and focus on the negative behaviors.  It is losing its effectiveness for sure. Some days I have heard kids say that they do not care if they clip up or down :[ how sad!

SO I need a change.  At the beginning of the year I introduced to them the classdojo and they LOVED it!  But we were doing it and the clip chart which was a little much for me.  So I gave up on ClassDojo.  But I think now is the perfect time to bring it back.  In case you have been hiding under a rock for awhile here is the link to it!  Class Dojo 

I love the things that they are adding.  My kids and I love the avatars.  I have let them all choose their avatar to add a little more ownership and fun.  Check out my cute little avatar:

Hopefully this does the trick.  I think it will though!  I am hoping to focus on the good behaviors more rather than spending so much time on the negative behavior. It is so hard for me though! But I am going to try.  Each day is a new day right.  hmmm. just like my kids need to try each day to have good behavior.... wow lesson learned for me!

Anyway, with my clip chart I used a punch card as well. Each day they were above green they got a punch or more depending on where they were. After their chart was full they got to choose from the treasure box.  The punch card had 30 holes on it so it took roughly a month to get into the treasure box.  Since I am hoping to stay more positive and give out more awards maybe I will push that number up to 50.  So once a student gets 50 rewards they can get something from the treasure box.  Does that sound reasonable?  

Are you at that point of the year where you need a change in management?  What are you hoping to do?  Or has what you have been doing working just fine?  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hall Pass Linky

This Hall Pass linky is a huge hit so I thought I would link up!  Thanks to Reagan for the great linky.

At first I was confused about this linky, thinking it was actually sharing Hall Passes. I have my kiddos move their magnet to signal whenever they are out of the room.  Usually only to the restroom.

But that is not the purpose of this linky! It is a Pass for teachers! We all need a break occasionally.  This week more than others maybe?!?

P is for Product.  I still have not jumped into the product making completely yet.  So my favorite is a purchase my class and I use almost daily. Surprisingly it is our alphabet.  Some of us (yes I say us because I am too!) are still learning how to write in cursive.  So we keep it posted at the front of the room and check to make sure we are writing properly.  Sadly, I do not have a picture of it in my room so here is the link to Ladybugs Teacher Files DN Cursive Alphabet to check it out.

A is for area.  My favorite area was just re-done.  My kids love reading so the library is their favorite place.  We have giant bean bags and pillows for them to get comfy with.  I just got organized with the books and have them labeled with baskets!  I LOVE it.  

Right beside my library is a round table.  Here I meet with my groups for spelling, math, and reading.  I wish I had a kidney table but for now this works!  We get so much learning done here that it is one of my favorite places!  You can barely see the chair in the corner that is at the table where we work. 

S is for signal.  I have a couple tried and true methods.  My personal favorite is One *clap* Two *clap* Three *clap* FREEZE.  The class freezes whatever they are doing.  Some get in silly positions and try to hold it while I am talking.  When I am done giving instructions, I say "unfreeze and go" and the class moves on.  The other simple thing we do is when they are talking but should not be, generally not during group work time.  I will stand at the front of the room and raise my hand.  They know they are supposed to raise their hand as well, stop talking, put their eyes on me, and wait.  When everyone has done this I put my hand down, so do they and I continue. 

This summer I am hoping to learn more about Whole Brain Teaching and maybe start that next year!

S is for sanity!! We all need something to keep us sane.  I work at a small school with wonderful people.  Almost every day a group of us each lunch together.  It is wonderful.  We rarely talk about school, just life.  Often we laugh the entire time.  It is such a nice break from the day and motivates me to finish the day just as strong as I started.  

I can also easily be bribed with Reese's cups! 

What is your hall pass?  What gets you through the day? Link up and share!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Organizing my Classroom Library

I had had it with my classroom library.  Luckily I inherited gobs and gobs of books when I arrived at school. But they were in terrible condition.  The bookcases nor books had been dusted in ages.  I was overwhelmed with things to do at the beginning of the year and the library was the least of my concerns.  I had no system in place and no order.  The books were thrown everywhere and no care was given to the library by anyone.  It was sad.  But finally it got to me and I needed to fix it.

Here is a brief glimpse of how my bookcases looked after student use (I had already taken some books off but you get the idea)

Originally I thought this process would take me FOREVER! I had no idea how to organize the books or sort them or anything.  After reading countless blogs about it and realizing it does not and probably wont be perfect, I went for it.  Thank you to those who have helped me learn!

I started by sorting my books.  I made piles of biographies (I had a lot more than I realized), non-fiction, award winners, series (I knew I had a couple full series), fantasy books (my kids LOVE fantasy!), books with animal characters, and fairy tales/fables, and then piles of chapter books that I was not ready to deal with yet. And I still haven't!

I then cleaned my bookcases.... whew it was disgusting.  Then, I went home!  I had a rough estimate of the baskets that I could possibly need.  So I went shopping.  Finding large quantities of the same color basket was difficult for me, so I had to settle on less than perfect colors, but it works!  I went back to school to finish sorting and organizing.

Once I got the baskets, I had to decide which colors would hold what and which books where.  I had to try out some books before I decided.  My green baskets were the smallest so they needed to hold chapter books only, thus I decided on series baskets for them.  My white ones held the non-fiction books. And red hold fiction of all kinds!  I could probably use a few more white ones and definitely more red, but I bought the entire selection of both.  I guess I will have to wait until they restock... hopefully that happens soon!

Since I just wanted to get it done before school starts back on Monday, I did not care about cuteness. I can adjust and change later. I want to see how this goes first!  Anyway, I decided to hand make my labels for ease of change and quickness. I cut a plain white paper into 8 pieces and wrote on each label.  I then used masking tape and taped it over top of the label and the basket.  Whalah! Easy free labels!

I love it! I am so pleased.  Eventually it will look better but it is a start.  Hopefully the kids will be on board and we can keep it looking this way!  If you don't have an organized library, I strongly suggest organizing it. It makes the room look so much better and really does not have to take that much time.  I would say it took me about 5 hours from start to finish.  Not too bad!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thai Day cultural experience

Today was Thai Day.  Every year the school has a special cultural day.  It rotates with International Day, so next year we will have international day.  It is a celebration of culture, music, dance, games, crafts, food, and more.  This year Thai Day focused on the coming together of the ASEAN community, southeast Asian countries.

Brief schedule of the day:
  Normal first period... yea right! We did Spelling Tests and brief literature circles answering questions
  Second period get ready for ceremony - changing and make up
  9:30 head to ceremony
  9:45 ceremony
  11:15 (An hour and a half LATER!!)  ceremony ends. Back to class to change
  11:30 Lunch
  1:00 Games/activities begin
  2:30 LEAVE

Ok I am going to be very honest... I was very nervous for this day.  The whole school was involved plus parents plus community.  New things happening when I am supposed to be in charge scare me!  The day did not go as I thought it would.  I was frustrated most of the day.  Looking back on it though I realized my outlook affected my kids almost as much as it affected me.  I now know that I need to be energetic and try to enjoy things no matter what so that my students can try to do the same thing.  Lesson learned for sure!  My kids will feed off of my attitude.  When I am frustrated they see that and either get frustrated or out of control.  I could have made the day better by just changing my attitude!

Anyway, we separated guys and girls for changing.  The guys had pants and shirts - easy peasy!!  The girls were a whole other story.  Skirts that needed pinned, tops needed pinned, scarf things worn like a sleeve, hair, makeup the works!

I jumped right in pinning things saying over and over "I have no idea what I am doing!"  At one point I was not doing anything and asked a Thai mom what I could do.  She suggested makeup.  I was nervous.  So I carefully put some simple eye shadow on a girl and some lip color stuff.  The girl thought it was fine.  Later I noticed it was not fine because the mom took over and put more, LOTs more makeup on.  Make up was on almost, if not all, of the girls in K-6th grades.... crazy-ness!  OH and I had one of the Thai moms put flowers in my hair.  She thought it was so fun!

Then we headed to the ceremony.  Here is a picture of my class performing.  Each performance was in honor of something and all quite meaningful for the Thai folk.  For me, just seeing the costumes and the styles of dance were so fun!  The ceremony was quite long and warm but we made it.

4th Grade
4th Grade boys
4th Grade again - I couldn't resist!
These were the high school Thai Dance group.

High School Dancers
  Then there was a fashion show... yes, two guys without shirts on.  Half of the kids freaked out "eeeeeeewwwww that is so gross!"  
Models from fashion show...

 After lunch, we did some activities.  Each elementary class went to three different stations.  There were lots of stations with kids everywhere.  It was so fun to see what everyone was doing.  We did: Making Thai food, Muay Thai, and Painting Bags.  At the food station, we watched them cook a simple meal and sampled it (right after lunch might not have been my choice but thats ok!).  At Muay Thai (Thai boxing) we learned three simple moves, punching, kicking, and kneeing (is that a word?!).  I am sure my students would have rather learned more though!  Painting Bags was probably the favorite! We were in the shade - Thank goodness! - so that always helps.  Each student got a small draw string bag and painted it however they wished.  They turned out great!!

food making
Muay Thai

 Painting bags

By the end of the day we were all exhausted and ready to go home.  It was a day to remember for sure. The only picture I took of myself!

Sorry for the super long post full of pictures, but hopefully you enjoyed seeing cultural days at a Thailand international school!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

No way! Me? Really!?!

This morning I was shocked when I opened my email and read a blog comment from Layla at Fancy Free in Fourth saying that I won the upper grade giveaway that she hosted.  Still I am in shock. No way!  Me? I never win anything!! I am so so so so SO EXCITED!!!  Thank you so much Layla!! I love your blog as is and now even more! ha. You should check her blog out if you havent.  She is amazing.

Fancy Free in Fourth


Anyway, this week my school is having a special celebration on Thursday. (We don't have school Friday, but do on Monday ]:  ) We are celebrating Thai culture.  We will have a large ceremony where all the students are involved and then the afternoon will have Thai games, sort of like a carnival.  I am quite intrigued by it all and a little nervous.  I think it is great to celebrate the culture though.

Do any of your school celebrate culture like this or in any other way.  Would something like this even be considered in a public school?  Just curious.

Enjoy your Sunday folks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Fun

Valentine's in Thailand is very different.  Only similarities:  Everyone goes out to dinner.  Everyone buys flowers.  Both are quite cheap here.  Other than that it is different.  Valentine cards (for kids) are not possible to find here.  There are some "Happy Valentines Day" cards like what 'grown ups' send.  Candy is not made specially for Valentines other than M&Ms and I think it is just special packaging.  No fun hearts candy or anything like that.

Anyway, we made it work. It was fun.  Last week I had no idea what to do but was suggested to do the felt heart weaving basket.  It was fun! I learned a lot about my kids while doing it!  Some still struggle with fine motor skills like straight lines and cutting.  Some struggle with following directions or trying things that may be hard for them.  So it was a learning experience for us all!  Here is the tutorial that I found.  Pickin' and Throwin'.

My school is blessed to be able to order some supplies for crafts and things.  I had them order me felt. I got way more than I needed.  I had about 100 pieces of 5x12 in. I am so sad that I forgot to take a picture. It was silly how much felt I had, and still have.  I gave half to my buddy teacher.  After her class and my class did it  and a few mistakes, I still have 35 pieces left.

ANYWAY, it turned out great.  It is hard to tell in the pictures but the hearts do open.  I hot glued the edges a little so candy and things could stay in it without falling out.

The other thing that we did during our party time was play Valentine's Bingo.  It was a huge hit.  Even for my boys who HATE Valentine's Day as I was told so so SO many times!  I found it through Pinterest but it led me here: Prepared Not Scared.  It is beautiful. I did not have time to laminate it before playing but I made sure the kids did not destroy it so I can use it again next year.  I LOVE IT!!

Here we are in action: 

Finally, my Valentine/February bulletin board in our hallway.  Each student made a heart and wrote what book they LOVE reading and why.  I love the board and it was SO easy! I made the large heart 3-D by folding a file folder in between two construction sheets.  It flaps in the wind a little but it is quite fun!

What did you do for Valentine's Day?  I hope your day was as wonderful as mine!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Need help and a Giveaway

I can not believe Valentine's is THIS week.  Wow! Where has the year gone.  In Thailand Valentine's is not really celebrated. At my school we do acknowledge it but definitely not in the same way as in America.  We will have a small party do a craft and thats about it.  No Valentines to share or fun boxes or heart candy or any of those things.  My heart will be a little sad but we will try to make it fun.

The only problem is I am having trouble finding crafts that are simple that I can do here that don't require any of the specialty Valentine's things.  Do you have any suggestions for me????? Please help! What are you doing for it?

Also I wanted to share the giveaway that Shanyn from Coffee, Kids, and Compulsive Lists is hosting.  She has reached over 500 followers on her blog, TPT, and Pinterest! What a feat!!  Go be part of her giveaway!

Sorry to be so short. The school is hosting a MAJOR basketball tournament and I am volunteering! Hopefully it will be cool as some games are played outside!  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Comparing Fiction and Non Fiction

We have been studying fiction and non-fiction stories the past couple weeks. We have discussed how to write summaries for each and how they differ.  We then looked at how characters in a story can differ.

We read "Red Writing Hood" in our basal readers and the boys about had a heart attack when they were asked to play a girls part! It was hilarious (for a second) and then annoying (the 10 minutes after).

Then we read Wolf! by Becky Bloom to see a different fictional wolf that wanted to learn to read.  

We then read Wild, Wild Wolves and a Coyote & Wolves book both non-fiction.  

We discussed the characteristics of the wolves described.  We talked about how they looked and what they did.  This was very hard for my class to separate. One is real and one isn't..... that is all you need to know in their minds.  

I then asked them to illustrate and explain what we just talked about and the task grew impossible.  I eventually got some great work from them.  Sometimes kids just over think things.  They thought they had to come up with new information rather than using what we had just talked about.  Here are some samples of the students work.  I was quite pleased.

Well, tomorrow I will only have half of my class as the other half will be out at Elementary Track Meet. I assume they do track meets in the morning here to avoid the heat, but it is difficult to do anything at school when half of the class is missing!  I guess we will just have to have fun without them!

Pin It button on image hover