Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Can you see the leader in me?

Ah, man, I love The Leader in Me* paradigm!

I was fortunate enough to receive the Signature Training two years ago,  and am excited for my transition into using it with my homeroom this year. I have come up with so many ideas recently to help implement The Leader In Me that my brain is just spinning!

I cannot say enough good things about the training. I truly believe that the 7 Habits changed my life, and will continue to do so. This year, I have decided to drench students with the common language of the 7 Habits, and to merge our goals and rewards within that framework.

How to do it in French? That is something I am working out, as I would love to use it with all my FSL classes as well. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them here or at @MmePoulet on Twitter.

Here are the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.* If you would like to know more, there are literally thousands of resources on the Web.

1. Be Proactive.
2. Begin With The End In Mind.
3. Put First Things First.
4. Think Win-Win.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
6. Synergize.
7. Sharpen the Saw.

I would explain further, but as my principal said in conversation today, "This is a journey and everyone takes it at their own pace." If you are curious, go for the read! Perhaps they are on to something massive!

Cheers, and I PROMISE to do a French post soon!
Mme Poulet

*Written by Steven Covey

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Get Ready to go Back to School!


Curated and edited by Shannon Ossinger (
Well, it’s almost that time here in Alberta-- where the vast majority of kids and teachers head back to school. I have been researching some fun and engaging ways to make that first day special, as well as effectively setting the year up for success.

This year, my school will be involved with The Leader in Me, and I will most definitely be doing some activities specific to that later on. As for now, getting through the first day(s) are a task of survival, especially for those newbies out there.

Here are a few of my favourite activities, taken from throughout the Web and also compiled from my years of teaching, as well as from the wisdom of my wonderful friends and colleagues.
I took the liberty of giving these activities a title if they were without one, so that they can be more easily identified in our 21st century world.

Remember this, before the first day of school gets you bogged down:
“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do,
they never get around to what they want to do.”
Kathleen Winsor (American Author)
(Thank you to @teachertoolkit on Twitter for sharing that wisdom!)

We’re All in This Together
Author: Shannon Ossinger
Source: Original Unknown, ideas found at @mmepoulet on Twitter. That’s me!

Starting with the teacher, each person shares a quirky/cool/unknown fact about themselves with the class, then passes the ball of yarn to the next person. Each person continues to hold on to part of the string. At the end of the activity, there is a visual “web,” showing how we are all connected.
* I would preface this with “Be sure it is something you feel comfortable sharing with a crowd,” as over-sharers need protective boundaries in this activity.

This activity helps demonstrate the need for integrity and cohesiveness in the classroom, and could be used for grades 4-12, in my opinion. It could also be used in a variety of ways, including demonstrating how the web is much like The Web, in that everyone has access to everyone else.

Shannon’s note: My daughter is in sixth grade and we bought a ball of yarn for her teacher as well. She is beginning a new school this year, and a shared activity is a great way to introduce herself to her class.

The Empathy Poster
Source: @edutopia on Twitter.
Start the year right with a poster detailing how to use and foster empathy in the classroom.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Author: Janet


 I bring a sack with a running shoe, a bread pan, a piece of stained glass, something of my daughter's etc. I group students and dump a few things on each table, then give them a few minutes to decide what they think each item says about me. I invite them to bring their own sack on the following day and you may be surprised at how many actually bring one!

 I also give them a paper with questions on it about where they were born, where they've lived, who they live with, their previous schools, and their favorite/worst subject. I also throw in some "What is your favorite band, clothing, person, color, food, etc?” You can either have them share their own paper with the class, or use it in groups of 2 as an interview and have the students introduce each other.

People Bingo
Source: My dear friend, retired teacher Bev Gibson
A fun activity to do with grades 2-6.

The Time Capsule
Author:  Dawn Schurman

1) Give each student an empty Pringles can to decorate as a "Time Capsule."

2) Each child will fill out a short interest inventory: a handwriting sample, a tracing of their hand, a self-portrait, and a few other things. (You can get creative here -- make the task fit your grade)

3) They will place their sheets into their time capsule and have a little ceremony to put them away until the end of the year. I'm planning to cheat and open the time capsules that night in order to learn a little more about each student's interests and abilities) 

4) At the end of the year, have the kids complete the same sheets and then open their time capsule to compare how they have changed during the school year.

Shannon’s PS: You don’t need Pringles cans! Spaghetti tins, jam jars, etc.

We’re On A Roll!
Author: Kelly Evans
Grade: all
Concepts: Getting to know your classmates
Materials: two rolls of toilet paper (perforated, so it's easy to tear)
Activity time: 30 - 45 minutes
  1. Have all the students sit at their desk, without talking.
  2. Take out two rolls of TP and tell the students to "Take as much as you think you'll need." This provokes a lot of questions, but DO NOT say anything more.
  3. Send a roll around at both sides of the room (this helps the activity to move along more quickly).
  4. Once all students have taken "what they need," collect the unused TP.
  5. Now tell the students that for each square they ripped off, they have to give one fact about themselves.
TEACHER'S NOTE: My sixth graders always love this activity.
Editor's Note: There are other variations of this game that use candy (M&M's, Smarties, etc.).

Remember Me?
Grade: Any
Materials: None
Activity time: About 60 min
On the first day of school challenge the students to a competition.
Them against you.
Who can remember the most about the other?
The students start, taking turns they each stand up and tell at least 5 facts about themselves.
For example: "My name is Shelley. This is my first year at this school. I have 3 sisters and one brother. I have a pet goldfish called "Fluffy", and I like soccer."
 Then tell at least 30 facts about yourself.
For example: "I'm married. I have 2 teenaged children, a girl Kelly and a boy, Doug. I have a pet dog called "Baby" and about 50 walking stick bugs, etc etc."
When you are finished introducing yourself, the children get to start. Let them volunteer answers and give them a tally mark for each new fact they remember about you. After they have exhausted all possibilities, (usually around 39 facts for a room of 28 grade 6/7 students) go around the room and try to remember facts about them.
 Extending a Warm Welcome to Students on the First Day
Author:  Brenda  
Modified from: Susan Kovalik's ITI (Integrated Thematic Instruction) ITI: The Model by Susan Kovalik with Karen Olsen. ISBN-1-878631-18-7.

The following is a list of ways that I feel you can help students feel comfortable on the first day and throughout the year.

1)  Let students know that you are a "real" person.  Tell them about yourself through pictures and stories.

2)  If you want students to know that you care about them show them by greeting them at the door, use eye contact when speaking with them, show compassion and always be honest.

3)  Establish procedures in the beginning. Let them know what is expected of them. Do not make a list of rules telling them what they can't do. Instead make a student created list of what is expected.  For instance, do not say "Don't run in the hall," say "Walk calmly and quietly in the hall." 

Review the procedures often. Most of all, be consistent.

4)  Create an atmosphere in the classroom that makes the students feel comfortable. The colors blue, green and purple are most calming. Natural lighting and plants are also good ideas for a comfortable classroom.
 (TEACHER'S NOTE: This point hit home when the instructor at the seminar I attended asked us to think about the places we go to feel relaxed and what colors were there.  Try it.)
5)  Be realistic in your expectations.  Don't expect the students to do more than they are capable of - this causes anxiety.  At the same time, don't make things so easy that they become bored.

6)  Make an effort to create a community in your classroom.  Use activities that help the class get to know each other as well as developing a sense of trust.

Remember to continue doing these activities throughout the school year.

(TEACHER'S NOTE:  The book Tribes by Jeanne Gibbs is loaded with activities that promote these things in the classroom.)

7)  Teach to all learning styles, beginning on day one.  Remember that all students do not learn the same way.  Give choices whenever possible.

8)  Learn the students’ names quickly and use their names when talking to them.

Be Careful With Your Words
Author: Submitted by: Anna XannaRod@email-removed Source:
Grades: Any

Help students understand the importance of thinking before they speak. I just went to an inservice that did an interesting thing in the beginning. The instructor asked for a volunteer to come up. She was handed a tube of toothpaste to squeeze out all over a piece of construction paper. The volunteer squeezed it all out. Then the instructor asked her to put it back in the tube. The volunteer said she couldn't. Then she was thanked and sat down. The instructor said the toothpaste symbolized words that are said and they cannot be taken back. It is "out there" and no apology can erase it. I thought this would be a good beginning of the year demonstration. I think I'm going to use it to remind my class to be more careful with their words. 

Have a wonderful first week back, teachers…enjoy your students!

Mme Poulet