Thursday, December 15, 2011

last day of school in ireland!

Today we did maths, Spanish, Art, worked on BT presentations, had my farewell and also watched most of the movie "Twister". It is crazy that we can just show it and dont have to send home permissions due to language and whatnot. Does make it a lot easier not having to worry about those things but..... in the states cursing in school is way more looked down upon... as some of the students pointed out to me, you wouldnt be irish if you didnt curse every once in awhile. Interesting to say the least.

I hope to post more later but need to head to bed to be able to wake for my flight home tomorrow morning.

The snowflakes in the window are the ones I taught the kiddos to do and the rest of the pictures are of their lighthouse projects.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Last Week

I hope to get pictures up soon of the snow flake project that I did with the kids for art the other day. I found a more complex way of making snowflakes to give them more of a challenge. When I started in on the lesson with them I ask them if anyone could tell me how snowflakes formed and did a little science background with them. As I walked them through the steps and the diagram I drew on the board I was a little worried that it was too complicated for them. However, they proved me wrong and their snowflakes look fabulous!

Their lighthouses for young scientist look amazing as well, I will try to take some pictures to put up here to show you guys. They are wiring them at the moment.

The students are also working on a presentation in their junior achievement groups. They got invited to the BT headquarters in Ireland to present their findings on the environment and renewable energy to staff there. I am sad that I wouldn't get to see it!

Don't forget you can always see what we are up to on the school site. Click here to see some pictures from our science projects over the past few weeks

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Field trip update

1. The dad that came in who works for Electric Ireland put on a fantastic presentation about energy, electricity, and numbers for the students... he didn't get to finish it all but will be coming back in some other time to finish it up.

2. the musical- it was great to see so many different schools there to watch the performance. Everyone was even given a snack during intermission from the secondary school.  It was kind of hard to follow but the music was good-- can't go wrong with Queen. Although, there was some swearing in the play that was not exactly school appropriate, but the kids didn't react to it so that was good.

3. We have been practicing for the carol service-- their christmas play. The students have done an excellant job in acting their roles. Quite sad I am barely going to miss their performance... It takes place Monday night, the 19th.

4. Tomorrow we are going to the ASPCA with the kids to talk about animal cruelty and the responsibilities of being a pet owner. I am quite pumped because I love animals. The kids already asked Mr. Malseed if they could adopt one of the animals as a class pet. (The response was no to that if you were wondering).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Field Trips Galore!

Even with funding cuts and a strict budgets Irish schools seem to find the ways to still give students great experiences through educational field trips. Tomorrow, one of my students father is coming in to do a workshop with the kids over Energy. He works at Electric Ireland so should be great. After that we are walking to Newpark school in Blackrock, a ways down the road, to see them perform  their musical We Will Rock You Then we will return to school and the day will be finished! On Friday we are going to DSPCA, which is an animal rescue place. The students will get a tour and learn about how they care for animals and wildlife, and the responsibilities that come with a pet. Looking at their website they have some cute residents. 

On another note, the Christmas tree is up in the classroom and we are doing a Kris Kringle gift exchange next week. Definitely wouldn't experience such a thing in public schools back home. It was funny the other day in the teacher's lounge they started talking about how in the states we have division between church and state. Most the teachers couldn't believe it and had questions about what all we could do in schools and what we couldn't in regards to religious holidays. When I told them how Wal-mart called their Christmas trees 'Holiday Trees'  they all couldn't believe it.

Interesting News in Education

 So an article has come out in the UK about calculator use in primary schools. They are close to banning them in primary schools since they have dropped in PIMMS (?) rankings in maths.  I agree that more students are struggling with math due to over relying on the calculator. I even think that I fell into some of that reliance on the technology. It will be interesting to see if it actually is implemented in the schools and what the results will be.

click this to read an article about it

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still getting the hang of it....

Above are pictures of my classroom.. I will try to get some pictures up of some of the projects we have been working on.. in the window sill you can see pringle cans on boards with chickent wire.. this was at the start of our light house project for young scientist.

It has been quite the overall switch from my time at Merrill to here. I have learned quite a lot in this new setting as well. One thing that is difficult to work around is that the students have homework limits so that they only get a certain amount of time's worth of work so that "parents don't complain", and Friday they don't assign any homework at all. Some of the things I want them to complete at home they can't due to the amount of time they need for other hw in Irish, history, or whatever it is that I myself didn't assign. So some of my stuff gets pushed to the side, I have been trying to make my lessons have time for them to work on things that I normally would have assigned as homework. What this all makes me think of is the old debate of whether hw is important enough to have still a part of school.  I definitely think homework has its place in schools as long as it is meaningful to the students and within reason. But what it further makes me reflect on is the question of am I asking too much of the students? Am I giving them too much homework?'

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday's lessons

I continued creative writing from the previous week the students. Since they were having issues with mechanics I decided to really break it down and start from the beginning with them. I introduced the 5 step process to them and basically let them do a creative writing piece following the steps. We picked up on Friday with the proofreading/editing bit.  I wanted them to not only get in the habit of proofreading their own work but seeing the importance of it. I also wanted them to do some peer editing. I found a nice checklist that suited for both types of editing and went over it with the kids. I was kind of shocked when Mr. Malseed said they had never done peer editing before. Whoa! He seemed to like it and might perhaps use it once I leave. On Monday I plan on having them finish up editing and writing their final draft and submit that to me. I haven't decided if I want them to publish it on a nice piece of paper and then display these in the room. I think the amount of errors in the writing is going to be significantly less then what I have been finding. I am also hoping that the class goal of having perfect punctuation happens! (cross my fingers)

oh and did i mention we can't assign the students homework on Friday!!!!
-management wise: I kind of feel at a loss to what other strategies to use. I know that management has always been something for me to improve upon in but these students are really stumping me. I notice it is not just with me but the main classroom teacher as well that the students misbehave for. They are a chatty bunch. To get them back on track or to squelch any side conversations seems almost impossible some days. They get bold and will keep on talking even after I have said their name, given the warning of extra homework, and tried multiple other ways of correcting the behavior. I have tried clapping, raised voice, waiting, etc. and nothing has worked. They don't really have a time out place. If i see a student with repeated issues I usually just sit him/her out of the activity.  I think part of it is that they did not have a firm management style from the beginning so when I entered the picture not only was that a factor but they know that I am not from here so they try to take advantage of that as well.  It is a bit frustrating but I am  definitely learning things from the situation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Apparently my last post didn't actually post and is not in any of the drafts... but here is my weekly update:
  1. Been teaching more regularly now. Which is great! I love being able to introduce the students to my style of teaching mixed in with theirs.
  2. I have just started a unit on Length (metric system) with them in math. Thinking about everything in metric units does make me pause. The kids also corrected me right away when i wrote on the board "meter" because they spell it "metre".  I first introduced lengths to them by asking them what system of measurement do they use in ireland (metric system). I also asked them if anyone knew the name of the system that we use in the united states (English System)  none of them knew but that was ok. I gave a brief history on the system and why the states have a different one. I then progressed into the lesson with having them list the names of metric units from the basic meter. I wrote them down on the smartboard as we went.  We then went over prefixes of the units and how each related to the meter.  We then dived directly into conversion of mm to cm and vice versa. The students caught on to this immediately. Class then had a break. Later in the afternoon we returned back to math. I discussed with them the tools we use to measure length.. a trundle wheel, a ruler, a metre stick, and a tape measure.  I had the kids tell me what kind of situation would be appropriate for each tool.  I then did a quick review over the names of the units. Progressing on, I told them we were going to have a scavenger hunt. I had them get out their math copy books and a pencil and to make the chart I was making on the smartboard with me to record their data in. Once I had that complete I explained that in the scavenger hunt they would be in pairs. One student would draw a card (which i had made) and read what the measurement was on it and record it (i.e. 5 cm). The same person would then have to look around the classroom for an object that they thought was the same length and record what it was in the chart.  The second person then would check their partner's answer by measuring it using the appropriate measuring tool. They were expected to write down the actual measurement. Last part of the chart was that they had to find the difference between the actual length and the length that they were looking for and record it. In the end once all the cards had been used they had to find the average (many of them had to convert cm-mm or mm-cm for this to work.  They did great with measuring the objects they chose and using the correct tools. I did have a student though who was way off task after multiple attempts of me to get him back on track. He was not working with his partner he chose and was instead distracting other groups. I had to take him aside and talk with him about my expectations and directions for the activity. I am not the only one who has been having difficulties with this particular student behavior wise. My mentor and the resource teacher have been constantly having issues with him as well. I have tried multiple approaches and none have worked. Contact was made today with his family and I am researching more behavioral management ideas and approaches to try to use with him.  
  3. Dec. 9th I get to go on another field trip with the kids to the animal shelter up by the mountains. Should be a really great trip!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Field Trip!

Today after school the class went on a field trip to the Irish Times printing press. The Irish Times is the longest running newspaper here in Ireland. It is a non-profit newspaper and is ran by a Trust group, not a corporate company (so no shareholders). It is not that often that they give tours through the place so it was a great opportunity for the kids.  They took us throughout the printing facility and we got to get up really close to everything (which health and safety would probably have had an issue with, but what they don't know won't hurt). Personally, my favorite part was the paper storage area with the robots... so incredibly cool. No school transport was used for the trip so parents were vital to making this work. We had 4 parent volunteers drive the kids over to the press and join in the tour.Upon arriving we broke the kids up into 2 groups to make it more manageable to do our tour in. The whole printing and distributing process was explained to us along our tour. The students asked a lot of great questions in regards to supply and demand, cost, employment, and technology. I was especially proud when they asked how Eco-friendly the company was.
I was also impressed by the fact that in planning this trip the students were given the permission slips just yesterday for the trip and all of them remembered their forms today to go.
Even if there was not a specific connection to our units of study the field trip was worthwhile in that it exposed the students to another career path and how the use of technology has increased production and cut cost.

- I also taught a comprehension lesson today with the focus on Salvador Dali... used the smart board (which I have fallen in LOVE with... I want one in my future classroom.!!!). Went well except all the students got really into looking at the pieces and making comments to each other so it got a little out of hand and I had to really pull to get them back on track.  Will be finishing the lesson up tomorrow with them writing responses to a specific piece.
- Correcting their English: I was so frustrated in seeing their  half completed (which should have been completely done) corrections with so many mistakes.. even when I wrote in the correction they needed (all they had to do was re-write the sentence with the corrections, easy peasy). I think a lot of them rush through their work and don't really take the time to do it correctly. I would think they would know when to capitalize letters in a sentence at this point in school but I am just not seeing it from them in their individual work consistantly. I need to construct some more lessons for this upcoming week to work on core grammar to get this cleared up. They are such great creative writers.... if only the mechanics were perfect as well!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Staff Meeting!

Had a staff meeting Monday after school for an update on quite a few upcoming and important things happening at the school:
  1. Christmas fair- What craft is each class responsible for. Dec. 3rd is the date set, so just right around the corner.
  2. Night school is coming back, although the computer lab has to have serious upgrades for this to be permenant.
  3. Workbooks- talked to company, will be offered reduced price on old versions next year. Still trying to  decide what will be done since this new verison is not that great.
  4. ground works.
  5. Special Ed strategies
  6. Behavioural Management strategies- focus on challenging behaviours. Research has shown students need to be sitting face on with teacher and no group seating. (The research wasn't cited in the meeting- but i would like to find out where she got that information. Would be interesting to look at).
  7. Math educational strategies- 40% of Irish people have trouble with general, everyday math.
  8. Dyslexia- focus on
  9. And finally one of big discussion makers: In December 1,500 teachers will lose their jobs (financial cuts- obviously this is not just focused in my school this is the country-- well republic of Ireland at least). Furthermore, class sizes will be increased. Already class sizes are in the high twenties and low 30's.  There is going to be a big march in Dublin coming up  in a week or two as well as a flash mob on o'Connolly street (which is a very, very busy street) to bring attention to the issue.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Update for this week!

  • Teaching English (Creative Writing) tomorrow- going to work with the students on run-on sentences, adverbs, adjectives, punctuation, and concise writing. I am excited to see what they come up with! They are a very creative bunch. When grading their last creative writing assignment I was very impressed! (not to mention, I am still amazed at the wonderful handwriting! I think this is something that U.S. schools could use more of in their curriculum. Due to the limited amount of time in a day it seems like handwriting has kind of gone to the wayside. Cursive has already gotten the axe in a lot of schools. Being able to write legible is something worth while!)
  • In science the students will be working with potato and lemon batteries. The big upcoming project though is construction of lighthouses! They have to make a battery to run the light in their lighthouses and construct the whole structure itself.. complete with rocky landscape surround the lighthouse.
  • Today the whole school gathered for the send off of Christmas boxes to charity. The students could bring in over the week a wrapped box with items for either a boy or girl for Christmas. A Dublin single decker bus came to the school to pick the boxes up. It was fun to see all the infants extremely excited to see the bus. Overall they collect around 160 boxes! way to go Kill!
  • The students had Spanish today and it was great to be able to help out some of the struggling students with the vocab! (Thank you LSN and IB for forcing me to take Spanish!)
  • They also had cycle training for P.E. Monday. Only 2 of the kiddos didn't know how to ride but they were persistent in trying. One pretty much had it down by the end of the session, although braking and more controlled steering is a thing we will be working on. No injuries though! (few close wall encounters and almost head on crash with another bike but crisis adverted)
  • It is such a great experience to see how a classroom teacher can take on all the extracurricular areas (music, p.e., and art). 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back in Session

Today, things got back on track from our holiday break. I got to teach English today to the students. We did a lesson on adverbs and I got to show them the schoolhouse rock for adverbs. They had never heard of schoolhouse rock so it was cool that I got to introduce them to a classic. I started my lesson off with that and then went into taking adjectives and adding 'ly' to turn them into adverbs (simple stuff). I then progressed them to complete a challenge in which they were given a sentence in their work book with some highlighted words that they had to change into an adverb. i.e. My auntie comes to visit us once and awhile.  The answer would be: My auntie comes to visit us occasionally. There were a couple problems were they had to change the adjective ending to make it 'ly' so that was a challenge. I am doing another English based lesson tomorrow over comprehension of a short story we will read in class together.
One of the English workbooks they use is this (click here)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Great Site!

Thanks to Megan Roberts I learned about this site today.
What a great resource!
I love how structured it is and how everything is verified so money is not being wasted!

My daily Classroom Schedule

8:30- 8:50  Assembly time
8:50-9 mental maths
9-9:20 Religious education
9:20-9:30 Roll
9:30-10:30 Gaeilge
10:30-10:45 SOS (break)
10:45-11:45 Maths
11:45-12:15 English
12:15-12:45 LO'N (break)
12:45-1:15 English
1:15- 2:15 History

8:30-8:50 assembly time
8:50-9 Mental maths
9-10 P.E.
10-10:30 Gaeilge
10:30- 10:45 SOS
10:45-11:15 Gaeilge
11:15-12:15 Maths
12:15- 12:45 LON
12:45-1:15 SPHE (Social Poltical Health Education)
1:15-2:15 English

8:30-8:50 assembly time
8:50-9 Mental Maths
9-9:20 Maths
9:20-9:30 Roll
9:30-10:30 Science
10:30- 10:45 SOS
12:15-12:45 LON
12:45-1:15 Gaeilge
1:15-2:15 Music

8:30-8:50 assembly time
8:50-9 Mental Maths
9-9:20 Religious Education
9:20-9:30 Roll
9:30-10:30 Gaeilge
10:30-10:45 SOS
12:15-12:45 LON
12:45-1:45 ART
1:45-2:15 English

8:30-8:50 assembly time
8:50-9:15 Assembly (school wide)
9:15-9:30 Roll
9:30-10 Spelling and Mental Maths
10-10:30 Maths
10:30-10:45 SOS
10:45-11:45 English (Creative Writing)
11:45-12:15 Geography
12:15-12:45 LON
12:45-1:15 Geography
1:15-2:15 Challenge

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Third Day!

Yesterday was pretty uneventful, I did get a tour of the school which was nice.
In P.E. the kids are learning hip hop so I am dancing with them.. although it is quite funny-- the young pastor (or is it Reverend?) is teaching them! I got asked if I could teach a dance module here coming up to the kids, either ballet or tap. So I am looking into planning some stuff. One cool use of technology was used today. The students brought in their Nintendo ds' and we did a math study review by linking them all together on the network and they competed against one another.  Almost all the kids had a DS.  The heat was still not fixed so it was a chilly day and everyone was talking about the flooding.  The kids got really excited to work with the junior infants (basically the preschool kiddos) downstairs. Each of the 6th graders was paired with an infant and helped the little ones make balloon spiders and trick-or-treat bags. The junior infants were incredibly cute in their little uniforms. The sixth graders also read to them when they were finished. 
As for today:
- we had a sub today who was extremely nice. She hasn't been out of college for that long.  She helped me find the curriculum online and is going to email me a bunch of lesson plans and different things to help me with planning and to see the format they learn  in the colleges.  She also gave me her email and phone number and told me never to hesitate to call if I need anything teaching wise, need a lift, or just want someone to hangout with since I am all on my own. Definitely grateful. She also let me teach SPHE today Which is Social, Political, Health, Education. We do mini lessons integrated in, today was over decisions and bullying. I started off with posing a question for them to answer (One day you are out walking, and you spot a 20 note on the ground. What would you do with the note? (Would you turn it in or keep it?)). Almost all of them said they would keep it and use to buy something! I told them I would never want to drop money around them. We talked through what things they think about when trying to make a decision (pros and cons) and  similar situations they had experienced.  We then moved into me giving them some situations dealing with gossiping and rumors. What they should do in the classroom if a given situation arose.  We ran out of time today but we also are going to be discussing texting and bullying through that medium and what to do about it.
I have half the students names down.. seeing that there are 27 it will be easy to get the rest although I have a lot of eoin's (Owen),Liam's  and  Emma's (Yes, Emma F. at Merrill there is an Emma F. here as well.). I do have a couple more unusual, but Irish names,  in the roster (zeph, Bronagh,Timea, Appoik). The last names are pretty much Irish to a tee. The only adjustment is I didn't get a class roster.... i found one posted on Robbie (the resource teachers desk) and wrote down all the names in my notebook.
- In math they are working on calculating fractions into decimals and then rounding. (no calculators).
-Art they are working on a project for an art contest by one of the credit places. It is something along the lines of what Ireland looks like through my eyes.  One of the funny ones that has been made is  a boy divided his paper in half and on one side he has a pro list and the other a con. On the pro side he listed Drinking Guinness and on the con side he wrote drinking too much Guinness.  Definitely would not be so appropriate in the states. I noticed a lot of the kids divided their paper and separate out things in northern Ireland to the rest of the country. I was told that Belfast really isn't that bad by my teacher but then some of the kids shouted out "what are you talking about Mr. Malseed, there is still loads of violence there". Music does have a vocal teacher that comes in,but art and PE are pretty much lead by the classroom teacher.
- in English they are working on contractions which they called differently. It is interesting to see that they don't read near as much as we do in the states. Reading is more of a passing period type thing and the students are expected to get books from the library on their own time (which the library is only open in the am before school and is run by parent volunteers). Although, Ms. McBain (the principal and my teacher who is also the deputy principal) went to a meeting today about pushing literacy more.
- It is a little bit frustrating of a start, since I haven't really been able to talk to my teacher about lessons and policies and what not due to him rushing in and out (his mother is in the hospital with a severe stroke) and him being out of the building today.  Although things should get less confusing with the start of the new term  Monday.
- I will hopefully get a copy of the daily schedule posted here soon-- it is really mish-mashed together.
- Instead of the kids having notebooks or binders they have little copy notebooks that are kept in class.. (It is included in tuition price). They also have old school writing pens and have excellent handwriting. They have worked on it since entering school and this is the first grade they haven't had to do handwriting exercises as part of the curriculum.
- I found the the name of the game they are all addicted to (luckily angry birds hasn't really caught on here since it is only available on the iPhone and ipod apps market) it is called 'warmux'. Click here to read more about it- i don't know if you can download it in the states.
- The curriculum that they use in the national schools is on the NCCA site (not to be confused with NCAA sports in the states). NCCA stands for National Council for Curriculum Assessment. click for link to the curriculum site. If you do look at this make sure you select the red section and do not click for Gaelic. From looking over it, it seems like a lot of information not organized in the best manner. When u put the Iowa core and their curriculum site up against one another it is quite the difference.

this picture is from 2008 but you can see some of the school uniforms that the kids still wear and my  teacher who is on the far left back row.  My teacher is known for his science projects and winning the young scientist fair  many times with his students.