Hello again and welcome back to my monthly newsletter for October.

I do hope you survived the hectic first month of the school year with a SMILE and not too many headaches!!!

OCTOBER ..... I always had a Love/Hate relationship with this month and perhaps you share my feelings too. Can you guess why?

Love - Halloween / Hate - Report Cards.

I always start off with the positive - The Love - Halloween.

Right from the beginning of the month, the classroom is totally decorated - bulletin boards, windows, walls and classroom door. Have a look at my classroom layout page for some of my suggestions.

Because I had older kids, I had them decorate the classroom and they loved doing it. Even your primary students can make suggestions of where the Halloween decorations should go and can help put them up. After all, it's their room too.

I know of some teachers that like to surprise their students and decorate the room the night before (before Oct 1) and love seeing their reaction when they enter the room.

One colleague that I taught with created a wonderful haunted classroom with his intermediate students. He set up a schedule for other classes to visit. You took your class and entered slowly into the dark. It was fabulous and the kids had a great time.

Right at the beginning of October, I start two things:

1. My Halloween Contest - It's a wonderful, co-operative, motivating contest that your students will be totally into and you will love. Please visit my page on classroom contests where I describe how this works and then try it in your classroom, no matter what grade you teach.

Then of course, P-A-R-T-A-A-Y, at the end of the month. Costumes are optional - but I always wore a different one each year.

2. Halloween Activities - I start by reading the History of halloween to the class, followed by a discussion. Then I introduce about 5 - 6 Halloween activities of different types, e.g. crosswords, hidden pictures, colour in, math problems, writing stories, etc., etc., etc.

I explain what to do with each activity and make enough copies of materials for the class - either put them in a folder or in an envelope, with a copy of the activity stapled on the cover.

Each week, I introduce a few new activities and take away some. Students must finish their own assigned work before they can get a fun Halloween activity. After they have completed an activity, they must show you before they can start another one.

I place the various activity folders on the classroom window sill, accessible to the students. You can use an empty desk, book shelf or just improvise.

Make sure you read my page on Halloween classroom activities.

October is truly a busy, hectic but fun month and that's why I love it.

One other thing I do when Halloween is over, at the beginning of November is go to the party stores, dollar stores or party aisles in department stores and buy half price Halloween decorations or props.; something new for next year's Halloweeen in my classroom.

Now for the HATE part - Report Cards!!

I don't know about your school board/district/region but where I taught, teachers had to start preparing themselves and writing first term report cards, either in the middle or near the end of October, because they were due by the first or second week of November.

Of course, you should have been keeping either anecdotal notes and/or marks since the beginning of September, so hopefully you are prepared for report card writing.

Be sure to have a look at my page on report card writing.

At my school board, we choose report card comments from our curriculum guide. But you need to add qualifiers/dscriptors/modifiers to describe the student's strengths and/or weaknesses.

Also in other sections of the report card, you have to provide comments on different learning skills. Check out my page on report card templates that will give you some examples of phrases that describe various learning skills; i.e. phrases that describe your students' strengths and weaknesses (try not to be negative or judgemental).

Whether you are doing report cards for the first time or the 100th time, it's an extremely stressful, exhausting and time consuming process and that's where the HATE comes in.

October is a "bitter/sweet" month. Enjoy Halloween and the craziness that accompanies it.

May the Ghouls and Goblins not possess you while you write those report cards!

Look for my November newsletter where I will continue to give suggestions for your report cards and talk about parent interviews - Oh, what fun!!!

Happy trails,


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