Tag Archives: games

Disrupting the Classroom Norm

You know that feeling that you want to write about your first week of school to document it and yet you don’t want to do it. But I have to tell myself over and over that there is only one first week of school for the year. This first week of school is very special because this year, I have my own class, my very own class as a permanent teacher!

Now, does that make it more valid to be worth writing about?

A few weeks before the new school year started, Twitter has been overflowing with back-to-school ideas. Three of them I picked in particular to get me started: Play-Doh activity found in Teach Like A Pirate book by Dave Burgess, Youcubed.org videos by Dr. Jo Boaler, and 5 Questions to Ask Your Students by George Couros.

Here’s my learning at the end of the week.

Using Play-Doh on the first day of school lessened the anxiety of students. It made the atmosphere more relaxed. Grade 4-5 students were surprised to see a Play-Doh on a plate waiting for them. A new student actually wrote about it on her “Highlights of the Week.”

It’s interesting to see some students struggled in deciding what to make to represent themselves while other exactly knew what to do. This activity gave me an opportunity to learn about them right away.

With Dr. Jo Boaler and her students sharing their love for math in a video for students to watch, how can this be not worth a try? I had the youcubed.org posters printed off and laminated. Another poster from Ikea coincide with the idea of making mistakes. Only after 4 days of school, I hear my students saying that math is not about speed. It’s more about depth. They are more open to making mistakes and keep on trying which was visible when they did the Stack-A-Red-Cup Challenge. So far, we worked on 3 word problems from the University of Waterloo. Then, topped it up with a card game on place value which they truly enjoyed.

The classroom norm, we asked the students about classroom expectations during the first week of school. With George Couros’ list, we asked them about the qualities they look for in a teacher, their passion, their question for the year, their strengths and what success looks like to them. I took the risk and gave them this questionnaire and am so glad I did. It gave me an insight of who they are beyond the classroom. I’m going to put them in a chart and see what’s common and what’s different.

I also want to open that window for parents and guardians to get a peek of our learning beginning the first week. On Friday, students came home with the Parent Invite to connect to our class through Seesaw. Out of 24, 10 are already connected. They can listen, watch or see what’s taking place which can be a good starting point of conversation at home. When they ask their child, “How’s school?” The one word response “good” won’t be enough.

Highlights of Our Week
Trust. A Safe Place. Respect. Like any human being, we would like to be around people that we trust. We would like to be in a place where we feel safe and individual differences are respected. This is the kind of environment that we try to build at the beginning of a new school year. For four days that they’ve been coming to school with smiles on their faces, I know we are on our way. It will take time for some but we will get there!

This is a new journey for me. I’m opening myself to take more risks to better myself in the classroom, make mistakes and learn with my students, collaborate more, share what I know and learn much more with and from other educators.

Lastly, a question I’d like to ask you, “How’s your first week of school?”




Kindergarten: The Noise in the Background

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to work in a kindergarten class at Ridgeview Public School. Unlike other grades, there are a lot of different activities going on in kinder at the same time and I would like to capture them not just with still pictures but the conversations that take place when their talking out loud their creative minds.

What fascinates me more upon hearing these captured talks are the noise in the background. I played the video over and over to listen closely to what’s happening beyond what the lens can cover. I knew what exactly took place to the little ones that I was speaking with but there were more speakers around that were talking meaningfully at the same time.



Until now, I still find myself watching and listening to these videos and wonder. And yes, kindergarten is very busy.

Hats off to all the educators out there who make learning so much fun and meaningful for these young minds during their first years in school. How do you capture all these moments?

1, 2, 3, Blow!

A slice of measurement for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 22.

One of my favourite topics in math is measurement. There are just so many fun things to do using non-standard and standard units.

Instead of doing everything that’s planned for today, students were given the time to finish their Easter egg symmetry and math measurement activity that they started working on yesterday.

Before they headed off to Music at the end of the day, we read a short story titled, Measurement Day. It’s about the different activities that students brainstormed that they can do on Measurement Day in the gym. One of them was Blowing Feather. They were all ears while I was reading the story. Why not do one of them?

There was no feather in the classroom but crepe papers. I cut a small piece from each colour: green, purple, pink, fuchsia. The class was divided into 4 groups of 4. Two metre sticks were laid on the carpet as starting point. The distance of each paper will be measured from the starting point to where it will land using a ruler (cm). One member from each group every turn. 1, 2, 3, Blow!

It’s a spur of the moment simple math activity and yet, students were so engaged during the learning process. Who would have thought?


A Game of Pick-up Sticks

A slice of pick-up sticks for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 28.

One of the kids prizes that were given yesterday during our Easter celebration was a set of “old school games” in one box: pick-up sticks, dominoes and jacks.

The one that these three boys chose to play was Pick-up Sticks. These boys are 18, 15 and 11 years of age. They had no clue how to play the game and didn’t even know what it’s called until they looked into that small piece of paper called instruction.

At an early age, they’re very much exposed to playing games online. They can figure out the mechanics of these games easily. Their interaction to players is not limited to physical presence but rather open to a global community.

But I would like to strike a balance. Touching what you’re actually playing with, winning the battle face-to-face, and an actual human interaction in this digitally connected world are also essential and one of the basic needs of people.

I wonder how many households have these games still. Or how many families spend time together playing them.

When students ask me if they can play a board game whenever there’s time, my answer is always yes. I will not stop them from learning something new but will also give them a taste of both worlds: appreciation of the old.