Friday, April 5, 2013

Five on Friday! Meet a Fellow Blogger!

Hello everyone!  Last week I let you know a little bit more about me--today I want to introduce you to a blogger I have been getting to know better and better over recent months.  She teaches in Bermuda and is doing some AMAZING things with her students!  I hope you take the time to check out her blog and snoop around her TpT store.  She really understands how students learn AND what keeps them engaged.  Her blog has gorgeous photos of some of her work!  Check it out!

Fun in the Fours - inquire, create, learn

1.  Tell us a little about yourself...

Well, I was born in Bermuda and have lived here my entire life except for brief schooling interludes in Canada for 2 years and England for 3 years. My parents are actually from Scotland and originally came to Bermuda on a 2-year contract. My dad has now been here for 50 years and my mom just returned to Scotland 3 years ago. :) Bermuda is a place you either love or hate and my parents loved it. It's a teeny tiny island - only 20 miles long and 2 miles across at the widest point - but we have a population of over 60,000, lots of golf courses, pink sand beaches and probably more churches per square mile than anywhere in the world :) On the personal front, I've been married for 25 years, have 2 children (a son who is now married to his high school sweetheart and a daughter who is just finishing her first year of university), 2 dogs and a tortoise. I've been teaching for 18 years now, the last 4 of which have been in Grade 3. I love to read (especially old children's school stories) walk or hike (although the walking has been pretty non-existent for a while so it's a good job there are lots of stairs in our school cause that's the only exercise I'm getting at the moment!) and I'm vegetarian/vegan (the slash mark is there because sometimes I just HAVE to have cheese!)

2.  Tell us about your school...

The school I teach at is a private all-girls school with just under 600 students. We're the only single sex school on the island, founded in 1894, and are very proud of our history and our academic standing. We are a Round Square school and also an IB school - we do take boys for the IB program :) Many of our staff, myself included, are alumnae of the school - I started there as a pupil when I was 4 years old and left when I was 16, then went back again to teach. Right now in our Primary department 11 out of 18 class teachers are alumnae - I think that says a lot about the school and how we all feel about it. :) Both my children attended the school as well ( my son only for IB) and my mother worked there for 30 years as a Year 1 (Kindergarten) teacher at first, then Head of Primary and finally Deputy Head of the school (and interim Head for a while as well) My poor daughter had a dreadful time with both her mother and her grandmother at school with her. :)

3.  Tell us how the school system in Bermuda is different from the U.S. schools...

I have to say I'm really not sure about the US system other than what I've been reading (or trying to read) about the Common Core. Obviously our terminology is a little different - we start with Year 1 which is your Kindergarten and go up to Year 12 or 13 so my Year 4 class is the same level as a US Grade 3 class. Our school follows the UK National Curriculum (Keystage 1 to 4) as do some of the other 7 major private schools. A couple of schools also offer the IB program and the AP (Advanced Placement) program is followed in one school. Within the government school system we have 18 primary schools, 10 middle schools and 2 senior high schools - about 6000 students in total. They are currently following the Cambridge curriculum. We don't have the Common Core but change happens frequently so you never know what may happen in the future. :) 

4.  What are some of your favorite teaching activities, lessons, units, etc?  

I have recently become enamored of inquiry-based learning and am trying to read as much as I can about it so I can use the approach more effectively in my class. 
I LOVE critical thinking activities and open-ended projects that challenge the kids.  I really dislike worksheets and boring "pour information into their heads" lessons!! I love it when the kids can teach each other and explain to each other how to solve a problem - often in ways I would never have thought of. I love center work. With the way our Math curriculum is structured it is absolutely the best way to teach since I can differentiate very easily and do small group instruction when teaching new concepts. I'm beginning to introduce more Language centers now as well and would like to increase that more as the year progresses. I love it when I can meet objectives in different subjects (e.g. Math and History) at the same time by doing a fun project that tests what the kids have learned and shows them how their learning is applied to real life.  I really love it when school is fun. Kids spend so much time at school it needs to be a place they like going to!  And I love it most of all when my students say, "Oh boy! We're doing one of these fun Math/Science/Grammar projects again." I've discovered that nearly all learning can be fun - it might take a lot of planning and extra work but it is absolutely worth every minute of that time! 

Some of my favorite projects this year have been:

  •  . . . our Roman Garrison Town project where we made models using measurement, symmetry and nets for 3-D shapes to build a town that we filled with little soldiers. It met our Topic objectives, 3 Math objectives and was a great rainy day toy afterwards. 

  •  . . . our Perimeter farms - another model building project where we designed animal enclosures using perimeter, then populated our farm with pigs, horses, ducks and chickens.

  •  . . . open-ended Math projects like our Leprechaun party and Fantastic Fish Aquarium where the kids used mixed operations and a budgeted amount of money to decide what to buy and how much to buy.

  •  . . . our animal adaptation project which met science objectives and gave me a formative assessment - each child designed an animal with specific adaptations to help it survive in a specific environment.

  • . . . Fractions of a Number bracelets - always a hit with little girls due to the vast amounts of glitter and sparklies :)
  • Rainforest matching cards - this was fun. We mixed up place value facts with rainforest animal research and made little booklets. It was a great center activity and covered 2 objectives at once.

  •  . . . our class blog. This has been fabulous and is totally worth all the extra work. My girls are suddenly becoming writers - in fact, one child is producing a serial story which the whole class looks forward to reading!

5.  Something that inspires you . . .

  • In terms of teaching . . .

Reading blogs in general. There are SO many outstanding teachers out there. I wish I had known about this world much sooner! Whenever I am feeling discouraged or blue I go blog stalking and see what will re-inspire me to do my best :)

Poodling around on Pinterest :) I love seeing all the teaching ideas out there.

My mom - she has a wealth of knowledge and I know that if I email her with a problem I'll get back a TON of ideas (that will keep flowing for days as she thinks of more and more!!) I love walking around Aberdeen talking to her about my class and listening to her stories of what she used to do :)

  • In terms of my personal state of mind . . .

My husband. He's my best friend and I know (based on what we've already been through) that he will always be there for me. He's one of those solid-as-a-rock types with a faith that could probably move mountains and a certainty about life that is very comforting. He's a great person to get on a plane with if you're a nervous flyer like me :)

Some of my old, favorite books. My mom gave me a book when I was 10 years old that has become my go-to book whenever I'm feeling sad. It's a child's story that she read as a little girl herself (so it's old!); it's stained and battered and has practically no cover left but it's just one of those timeless, classic stories that make me believe and have faith.  

Farmer Macrae's New Field - an open-ended Math project

Open-ended Math Projects - Bundled Set

Problems with Pets - Math Word Problems (Mixed Operations)

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Lynn!  Leave her a nice comment on her blog when you scoot over there!  Let her know that you saw her interview over here!

Have a great weekend...


  1. Meg!!! You left out one of my inspirations - YOU!!

    (After I TOLD you to leave it in too! I knew you'd do that!)

    So, just for the record everyone - Meg is one of my huge teaching inspirations. I discovered her blog when I was just starting blogging, TpTing and everything and now I consider her to be one of my best friends - I can email her with any problem and I instantly get great advice and sympathy (if needed). She is an awesome teacher buddy :)
    Plus her blog is just great reading!! :)


  2. Thank you for sharing! I'm glad to meet you!

  3. I loved learning about Lynn - hers is one of my favorite blogs!!

    Science for Kids Blog

  4. Isn't she GREAT?!?!? I can proudly say I know her as a blogger--but now truly as a friend! The internet is an amazing thing! Check her blog regularly and prepared to be "Wow'ed"!