I hope you had a fun-filled and not tooo ghouling October. It's unbelievable that 2 months have already passed in the school year and before you know it, Christmas will be here ... Really!!!

In this November newsletter, I'm going to discuss two main topics - 1. Report card comments and 2. Remembrance Day (Canada) or Veterans Day (USA) or Armistice Day (different parts of the world).

In the October newsletter, I gave suggestions of numerous expectations that you could use in your students' reports. In this newsletter, I will be giving you modifiers to use to describe your students' strengths and weaknesses to accompany those expectations.

Simple verbs to describe students' strengths

*shows *understands *uses *expresses

*experiments *applies *constructs *describes

*recognizes *builds *is able to *produces

*demonstrates *creates *has learned *knows

*organizes *solves *interprets *compares

*completes *participates *works well *continues to

*performs *develops *extends *illustrates

*explains *evaluates

Simple phrases to describe students' weaknesses

Avoid using strongly worded negative or judgemental phrases to describe weaknesses. Use phrases such as these:

* requires more time and practice with

* needs to improve

* needs support and encouragement with

* is benefiting from

* needs more opportunities to

* needs to develop

* is working at

* is receiving additional help with

* tries to

* requires adult support to

* continues to need help with

* experiences difficulty with

* needs ongoing help with

* attempts to

* is learning to

* is being encouraged to

I do hope that you find this helpful and beneficial as you write your first term report cards. Good Luck!!!

As I'm sure you all know, Remembrance Day/Veterans Day/Armistice Day occurs on November 11. Whatever you call it and wherever you live, I hope you take this opportunity to discuss with your students how we can all advocate peace and harmony. It can start in the schools and spread through a positive and enlightening environment.

In the schools where I taught, there were some staff members who organized a Remembrance Day assembly. There, certain classes were involved, either reading poetry, singing songs or reading a related story. At times there were guest speakers, such as a Veteran. The assembly always ended with a 2 minute silence, followed by the blowing of a trumpet. Obviously, it's a somber occasion.

Let me share with you some of the activities that I did with my students throughout the week of Remembrance Day.

1. I read them the history of the poppy and follow up with a discussion.

2. There are many poems written about war and peace. However, there are 2 poems that I focus on in great detail. They are "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae and "Why Wear A Poppy" by Don Crawford (it made me cry each year we discussed it).

3. You can incorporate music - quite a few songs written on this topic, e.g., "It's A Small World" - Disney Theme Park and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" by Peter Seeger.

4. Language Arts / Literacy - Students writing their own poetry, write about courage in certain areas - courage to stand up for your beliefs, courage to give up something for someone else, courage to continue against great odds, courage to resist peer pressure - cross curricular Art - draw a picture to accompany each courage section - draw a picture of the dove and then draw lines in the bird and have your students write down what "peace" means to them.

5. There are many books written about the wars, e.g., "Six War Years 1939-45, Memories of Canadians At Home And Abroad" by Harry Broadfoot. This is an excellent resource for your students to use, if they are writing about remembering certain details in their life.

6. Have your students write about sacrifice - something they had to give up and why. Have them illustrate the event.

7. Bring in DVDs/movies, e.g., "Diary of Anne Frank", with a discussion to follow (also used as a great novel study or just for reading the book to your class - kids love to be read to, at any age).

8. Create a "Memory Book" - have them include their personal timeline from birth (marking significant events in their lives), pictures of themselves or family to accompany the timeline, talk to grandparents about their childhood and war experiences. This "Memory Book" could also be in the form of a scrapbook or diary.

9. Open discussions of why it is important to share memories, why particular events remain in our memories, and why we all may remember the same memory slightly differently.

10. If you teach the older kids, grades 6-8, you can set up a "Peace Makers Class", where each month different students are a kind of ambassador and can deal with silly problems outside during recess time. The rest of the school is aware of these "peace makers", who can be identified (by an orange banner for example). Of course, if a major problem arises, they all go to the teacher on duty.

This all has to be approved by your admin staff first, before you can set this all in motion.

11. You can contact your "Veteran Affairs Department" of your country for ideas and activities for your class and grade level.

The possibilities are endless! What you must keep in mind is that memories from last month, last year or last century can never be forgotten, lest we forget.

However, the whole purpose of these activities are to create peace, harmony, having people talk and listen to each other and keep an open mind. And this all begins with you and your students!

Sooo, by the time you read my December newsletter (where I'll be discussing Parent Interviews), your 1st term report cards will be done - yea! and the holiday season will be upon us.

Happy November everyone! Prior to my December newsletter please be sure to read my page on parent teacher conferences for advice and ideas as well as my many pages on parent teacher communication.

Happy trails,


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