Dinner being ready = me scoring "good wife" points ;)
Dinner being ready = me scoring “good wife” points 😉

I’ve been having some quality friend time lately (these two just happen to both be teachers) and Joel has been working so hard these past few weeks (on our house and at his job); here are our gratitude statements for the past two days.

If you’ve been reading our blog throughout the fall you’ll know that this term has been quite the challenge for me.  I’m two months into my first year long contract and my grade 8 class is slowly starting to come around in the community building department; therefore, our next hurdle is to dig into our curriculum a little bit more.

My class is similar to many other kids their age in that they don’t really love to learn from textbooks, so lately we’ve been doing some hands on learning, especially in science.  Our current unit of study in science is the human body.  A few weeks ago my friend Naomi, of Keane to Be Fit, came in to speak to my class about nutrition and fitness and how these two components of health affect the circulatory system.  Naomi and I planned and implemented a lab that had my students running stairs and doing squats, all while checking their resting and active heart rates.  I will admit that I was a bit nervous to bring Naomi into my class because of some of my students’ behavioural exceptionalities; however, my class rose to the occasion and participated in our lab extremely well.  My class’ engagement with this lab and their respect for Naomi made me realize that they are, indeed, entirely capable when it comes to hands on learning!  This realization made me scrap much of my unit plan for the rest of the term and devise some more tangible lessons.

Naomi and I posing with our science lab on the circulatory system.
Naomi and I posing with our science lab on the circulatory system.

In addition to the circulatory system lab, our life size human bodies have really started to take shape (but they aren’t done yet).  We usually work on these in the hallway because that’s where we can access the most space.

Nervous System
Nervous System
Skeletal System
Skeletal System
Circulatory System
Circulatory System

We also completed a mini-demonstration on how our intestines work…kind of.  Thankfully my husband works for a central vacuum and home theatre company, so I was able to borrow a 33ft “hose hugger” to act as our life size small and large intestine.  We stood out in the hall and staggered ourselves along the hose hugger.  Then we put a floor hockey ball into the hose hugger and squeezed it along the entire 33 feet (i.e. a piece of food exiting the stomach and going into the small intestine, passing through into the large intestine and eventually coming out the colon).  This hands on demo took us longer than I anticipated, but it allowed for some small group discussion (and team work!) about digestion and digestive diseases.  My favourite moment was with a group of students near the “colon end” who were waiting to…catch the poop, shall we say.  While we were waiting for our floor hockey ball to fully digest we discussed the notion of the colonoscopy and its function/importance.  One student said, “Wait, you mean the Times Colonist?” (This won’t make sense to you if you don’t live in Victoria; the Times Colonist is our local newspaper).  I looked at the student and saw that she was serious and then burst out laughing (along with some others).  My reply was, “Nooo…but at least you heard part of the word?”  We’ve joked several times about the Times Colonist- colonoscopy joke since then.

It takes team work to digest a floor hockey ball through a 33ft long vacuum hose hugger.
It takes team work to digest a floor hockey ball through a 33ft long vacuum hose hugger.

A few other fun things to keep my students engaged during this nutty season include our “Would you rather…” board and our Chain of Gratitude.  Every morning when I get to school I write a quick “Would you rather…” statement on the board (thanks to my lovely friend, Jess, for this idea!) As my students arrive to school most of the them usually wander up the board and make their choice by moving their name tag under the option they prefer.  Lots of my students can’t stand the fact that there is no “in between” option and not all of them participate, but I do this every day anyhow because most of them enjoy it.  Our Chain of Gratitude started just this past Monday.  Every morning during Advisory my class has been writing personal statements of gratitude on a thin slip of paper that we staple into a chain.  I have 26 students in my class, so we add 26 new chain links every day.  On our last day of school before our break we are going to read through all 260 links and find out what we’re all grateful for!

Gratitude Chain in the making.
Gratitude Chain in the making.
This is not an actual example of what our board usually looks like...imagine a more messy, scattered version of this :)
This is not an actual example of what our board usually looks like…imagine a more messy, scattered version of this 🙂

Finally, today we took some time to create Christmas cards for a dear, well deserving elderly couple in PEI.  A sweet teacher friend of mine shared this story on her Facebook page and tagged my name in it (which obviously made me want to follow through with the request to heed the call for Christmas cards!)  I’m always on the prowl for thoughtful ideas to share/experience with my class, so I decided we’d take a block of time and dedicate it to Don and Bev.  This was our final product (to be popped in the mail tomorrow):handson9

It’s been happy days in Mrs. Alleyn’s class for the past five school days…I don’t know why, especially at one of the craziest times during the year.  Perhaps my class and I are finally settling into a nice pattern?

Karley