Teachers Talk about PITA Workshops

Here are some stories about using the ideas from PITA Workshops:

Workshop Title: Show! Don’t Tell by Bryan Gidinski
I just began his writing unit with my class. I used his story Green Bean Dragon Queen as an introduction to short story writing. The kids pointed out the usage of his words, and how he used different words to describe things. In turn, I asked my kids to go through their own short story to pick a sentence and add.change that sentence to make it more exciting. They saw the difference almost instantly. I look forward to using more of his lessons on writing.
-Vancouver teacher

I attended Mary Moody’s workshop “From Zip to Zippy” at the PITA
conference in Kelowna – spring 2008 I think- and I found this workshop–
her ideas– very useful. I like her idea of using a giant graphic
organizer to write the first draft of an essay, so that students’ work is
pre-organized from the moment they begin to write. I like her advice to
have students write the introduction and conclusion at the end, after
they’ve written three or four paragraphs of the body. (When they first
start writing, it’s hard for them to write an introduction because they
don’t yet know what they’re going to say!) Finally,I liked her idea of
having students keep the rough drafts of several projects, without
necessarily finishing them, so they master the skill of drafting and
organizing ideas without having to go through all the work of taking that
first essay to final publishable form. Students can go back to their
drafts later on to work on simple objectives like adding transition words,
adding examples, or using more specific vocabulary, which is much easier
than taking an essay from rough draft to polished form all at once. This
workshop changed how I teach writing. It made me more confident and I get
better results from my students, so I know my students have benefited as
-Teacher in Merritt.

I attended a workshop at the fall 2009 PITA conference called “Extending Literature Through Art” presented by Trudy Jenkins. I have already used two art lessons from the excellent compilation of resources from the workshop. In one of these lessons (demonstrated with workshop participants), pairs of students work cooperatively to illustrate a passage from the Japanese folktale, Mouse’s Marriage. In the other, students read the poem “I Am the Greatest” [at a variety of nonsense or whimsical activities, such as “potato jumping”) brainstorm similar activities (e.g., cloud swimming, volcano diving, wig dancing), then choose one of the activities and follow criteria to create an illustration with lettering.
The activities in Trudy’s collection are wonderful, and I plan to use others throughout the term.
-Thanks! SD 40 teacher.

I have used the hundreds’ chart to reinforce multiplication facts to grade 6’s as suggested by Katie Pallos-Haden in her “helping struggling students with Math” workshop at the Fall Pita Conference. Once students feel confident about their math facts, a lot of other math gets easier for them. thanks.
-Teacher in Surrey.

I attended Liliana Lanfanchi’s workshop at the Fall PITA conference in Abbotsford (??). I’ve used several of her handout lessons and ideas about increasing the use of oral language in FSL classes. The most useful activity involved having students rehearse dialogues and then video-tape them and show in class. I’ve done this several times with great success.
-Hope I win! :)- SD 27 teacher.

One strategy from a workshop that I’ve used was greeting each student at the door on the first day of school and then directing them to their assigned seat. It really helped me with setting up effective classroom management from the beginning. I learned this strategy from a workshop for TOCs that was presented by Ray Myrtle at a Burnaby Pro-D day last February. Thanks very much.

-Teacher in Doha, Qatar!!!!!

When in Kelowna a number of years a ago I attended a PE workshop

  • and I learned a number of minor games. One was called ‘Bloody Knuckles’
  • and the kids (grade 4/5) absolutely go crazy for it! More PE games for
  • non specialists really helps. Thanks J.S.

Bloody Knuckles (a handball game)
The game Bloody Knuckles is a handball game which apparently originated in barns on the prairies, at least that is how they apparently got the ‘bloody’ knuckles. The kids like that part too. You set benches up on the floor, on their sides so the tops are facing in. Use one wall as one side of thesides of the rectangle and then put the benches side by each usually 2 on each opposite side, and one longer one at the end across from the wall that is used as a side also. (5 or 6 benches in all) BE SURE TO COVER ALL OF THE MEDAL SIDES OF THE BENCHESwith MATS WHICH ARE NOW SOMEWHAT OF A SAFETY ISSUE so if the students fall backwards at all (which they can do) the mats will break the fall. The kids stand with their heels against the perimeter of the rectangle (inside of course) and one st. takes the ball and calls ‘Bloody Knuckles”. The ball is on the floor and is hit with the flat of the hand or the fist ( I encourage the hand). If the ball hits you (usually the feet or leg area) you are out. They have to move, jump or get out of the way of the ball. You can only hit it once and then someone else has to hit it. It should go fast and then as a player you are either moving and/or hitting the ball. When you are hit, you go outside the ‘court’ and spot the others with your hands being ready to catch anyone who may fall. They usually lay on the mats but I would recommend they sit on their knees with arms ready. Also you could get hit with the ball if it flies out. If a student scoops the ball out when they hit it, they are also out. That controls the scooping or over hitting aspect. If it hits someone before it goes flying out it doesn’t put the hitter out. Just restart.. Sometimes it gets down to 2 and it can go on and on because they both have to hit it only once so although they are getting lots of extra exercise, the others are not. I call it on my judgement and they never complain as they all get started again. Sometimes I have another activitiy at the end so they can do something while they wait because this only takes a small part of the gym. I have 30 students and it works fine up to that number. There is actually a lot of strategy involved, if they figure it out (9 yr. olds). Every age loves this game, teachers, too!!! Have fun.
D.Jill Spearn