Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 31, 2015

Books for Kids

Trading gently-used kids’ books for tennis balls? Yup, that’s what we did at the December 19 Red Deer Rebels hockey game. We collected 1000 books – and over $300 in cash as patrons who hadn’t brought books donated money to get in on the “chuck a tennis ball for prizes” fun.

The back story: There are lots of kids in Red Deer who don’t have books and lots who do. How to get books from the haves to the have-nots? Hmmmm? What if we asked game patrons to bring books to a game, trade books for tennis balls and have our supporters write their name and phone number on a slip of paper to insert into the pre-cut ball. What if we got local Scott Subaru to drive a Forester around the ice at intermission with its sunroof open? What if patrons lofted their tennis balls into the vehicle to win prizes?

Thanks to the team’s support and the backing of local businesses, we pulled off a successful and rewarding night.


Wooly with Mayor Veer IMG_2112 copy

Wooly Bully with Mayor Tara Veer

Subaru gang - many boxes of books IMG_2105 copy

Scott Subaru staff

Donna, father and son IMG_2077 copy

Donna with father and son donating books for tennis balls

Terence, Brooke, Larissa, Creeann IMG_2109 copy

Creeann (from Reading College) with her family

Posted by: jockmackenzie | May 28, 2015

Motivation in Moose Jaw

I had the pleasure of addressing the teachers of the Holy Trinity Catholic School District in Moose Jaw on Monday, May 25. Great crowd and what a great town! 

 As we all know, this time of year sees teachers who have spent the last nine months doing all they can do to make their classes educational and engaging. Sometimes when you seem to be juggling flaming chainsaws, someone will ask, “Can you spin while you do that?”  Ah, the joys!

Flaming Chainsaw Juggling- 800px

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 11, 2014

TeachersPayTeachers (but not when it’s free)

I have recently joined the TeachersPayTeachers site but plan to have not only my first offering (which must be free as part of the site agreement) but most “soon-to-be-added” activities as freebies.

My first two-pager is about rhyme and explains 8 methods for finding rhyme and touches on the pervasive disease that strikes many a young poet – rhymemania. Check it out and watch for more at the store named after my blog: TeacherMan Teacher Ms

Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 4, 2014

YIMBY Reads in the Red Deer Express

YIMBY in Red Deer Express

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 21, 2013

YIMBY Reads – thank you, Doormasters

IMG_5537 IMG_5541


Special thanks go out to the folk at Doormasters here in Red Deer for their generous donation to YIMBY Reads. Their funds paid for 10 000 labels and a boatload of boxes (more will be painted by Carrie Waldo’s Grade 9 Art Class at Hunting Hills after Christmas). To date, about 5 000 books have been donated by Red Deer students and redistributed to other Red Deer students: Yes, In My Back Yard. 

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 11, 2013

250 000 views approaching

It’s nice to see a quarter of a million views (almost) on a blog created to share ideas learned over my life in teaching. Will you be the 250 000th visitor? If you are, or even if you’re close, it would be nice to hear from you. Please check out the blog and share. 

(Haven’t ridden into the sunset yet!)


View from our west deck

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 8, 2013

Christmas – Name the Carols

Carol #1 ____________________

Carol #2 ____________________

Carol #3 ____________________

Carol #4 ____________________

Carol #5 ____________________

Carol #6 ____________________

Carol #7 ____________________

Carol #8 ____________________

Once again, this file comes from ages ago and I cannot put a source to the

pictures . . . so many thanks to the artist wherever he/she is!

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 4, 2013

Christmas – Cartoon Sequence – Answer Key

Here’s the suggested order  of the cartoon panels. I have added a brief caption beneath each.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | December 1, 2013

Christmas Thank You Letters

Writing Christmas Thank You Letters

Wow! Now here’s an “old school” idea. Who writes letters anymore? And Christmas “thank you” letters?

Imagine the thrill of receiving such a letter. Why not take a walk down nostalgia lane and try this with your students.

Step One – ask students to bring special paper and a favorite pen. If possible, provide some of your own – a selection of colored paper would be a start as would a supply of some gel pens, speedballs, good quality ballpoints and maybe even a fountain pen.

Step Two – while you’re waiting for the supplies to arrive, try a practice copy. We’re talking “friendly letter” here so the format is simple. The date and a salutation are all that’s needed to get started. Even the term “salutation” may need to be explained.

Step Three – getting started. Introduce the idea of leaping right in to the purpose for the letter. I always used to start mine with “How are you? I am fine. I’m sorry it has taken so long to write but . . . then fill in some lame excuse.” My parents would force me to write my annual thank you letters but gave me little guidance.

The most obvious beginning is to say thanks for the gift. Name the gift. Talk about why you like it or what you’ve done with it. Give some specific details. CAUTION – depending on the gift, don’t immediately compare it to others that were more extravagant, larger, or more expensive. e.g. Thanks very much for the socks. I love the color purple and the cool lightning bolts that go down the sides. I also got new downhill skis, a helmet, and a digital camera. Too cool, eh?

 Step Four – Talk about the Christmas holiday and your life in the last weeks or months. Doing this makes the letter sound a little less like a chore being fulfilled – saying only thank you and nothing else.

 Step Five – This is an option and should only be considered if you really want to hear back from whomever you’re writing to. Ask questions – not necessarily about Christmas but anything you are truly interested in.

 Step No Number but Throughout the Writing – have a piece of scrap paper beside you. As you write, jot down other ideas that come to mind while you are in the midst of talking about something else. Use the scrap list to add the ideas at the appropriate moment. Also use the scrap paper to check words that are hard to spell. Sometimes I need to see a word written several ways in order to determine which one looks right.

 And have some fun. Add your latest joke. Draw a little picture. Share a cute saying you’ve heard. Sign off with something other than Love or Yours Truly – be creative. If you can, spice up the envelope a bit – color and a bit of calligraphy – and add a slightly different stamp.

 Step Six – show students the two ways to fold letters – see the iMovie. Because you’re just practicing, use the outside of the folder letter to act as an envelope and put the ideas noted above to use. Likely, you will have to show how to put the return address and sender’s address on the envelope.

 Step Seven – share. If you’ve had your kids write “pretend” letters for practice, it should be both fun and instructive to let your class look at a variety of samples.

 Step Eight – after Christmas, allow some class time for those who wish to participate to write the real McCoy. As an option, allow the writing of any friendly letter. While the kids write, write one of your own.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | November 29, 2013

Christmas – Cartoon Sequence

I can’t remember the source of the following cartoon sequence so I send my thanks to its creator(s). I often used the Saturday comics to find comic strips that told stories in a clear sequence. I would photocopy the cartoon, make an acetate, cut the story into its individual frames, give each frame a number or letter, and share them with the class using the overhead projector. Interactive white boards would offer a more Hollywood version.

Interestingly, answers other than the original were often acceptable and extremely creative. Here’s one to try with your classes:

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