September 29, 2012

Funnest day ever!

When I suggested to my kids that they bring their cowboy gear to school on Friday, never, ever (seriously ever) did I expect to see what I saw. 

They were ready for a good ol' fashioned ho-down!  

What you're about to see is our version of this week's poem. It's called "When Tillie Ate the Chili" and we gave it a country flair. We did this after just one take, so you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking that by the end of the year, we're going to have a hard time going anywhere in this town. People will be coming up to us saying, "Hey, didn't I see you in that hysterical video on youtube?"  I might have to teach the boys and girls cursive writing sooner than usual because they're going to need to know how to sign autographs!  

This is so hilarious!  
I hope you love it as much as we do.  
When Tillie Ate the Chili!

September 27, 2012

It was a great day!

I thought my day was off to a great start when I found a Tim Horton's gift card in a jacket I haven't worn for a few months.
Then I arrived at school and was asked if I had "seen the article". 

To which I replied, "What article?" 

And there it was...there was my name on the Toronto Star's Honour Roll of Teachers for 2012! Commence ear-to-ear grin!    

I can't think of a better way to kick off my 14th year in education! That's one big, shiny apple for this teacher!       

Field Trip Volunteers

Thank you so much to the many parents who (that?) offered to join us on our trip.  We drew names and the parent drawn has confirmed that she is able to come along.  


Our Fun Friday is going to have a bit of a country-western flair tomorrow.  I'm asking the boys and girls to bring in a cowboy hat or red bandana or harmonica tomorrow. Even a denim shirt works. Don't have that stuff? No problem feller, we'll make do. 

I reckon ya'll are gonna have some good ol' entertainment tomorrow night on that there youtube!  

September 26, 2012

Let's take inventory

We've been spending the last 15 days talking about what good readers do so it's time to show what we know. 

We're writing a book!  

The boys and girls are asked to complete the page attached.  They need to use full sentences, make sure their work both looks and sounds smart, and use the vocabulary they've been taught (words such as: schema, fluency, connection, relate). 

The expectation is that the students will use the knowledge they've gained, but also the anchor charts in the room to assist them in completing this exercise. You never need to look far in Room 208 to find some nugget of information that will help you succeed. Everything in our class has a purpose and nothing is there by accident. 

I want my students to make the most of the resources available to them. They're not expected to memorize each and every lesson taught, but they are expected to remember that the anchor charts we create, the word lists, the tools they're given, those are all there to help them be more successful.

When everyone is finished their page, we'll put them together to make our very first class book, which is another great opportunity for learning. The boys and girls always enjoy reading these books and quite often these can be very powerful tools in helping children self-assess and improve their skills.  

What Do Good Readers Do?    

I had 'em today!

Today was the Math lesson that every teacher dreams of. 
Picture it:  
Math...10:30 this morning. 

The best way to kick off the lesson is with a demonstration. The problem is that the demonstration is really most effective when presented to a small group. 

What to do? What to do? 

I made a video.  

At first recess, I recorded my demonstration, popped it up on the Smartboard and I had 'em.  
Had them big time.  

I've linked the video below and as you'll see, it's nothing fancy.  Maybe it was the novelty of it all, I don't know, but each and every child was engaged, excited and doing that "Yyyesss!" thing kids do when they get an answer right.  

After the video, we moved into the main lesson, followed by independent practice and light bulbs continued to go off. 

I'm hoping I'm on to something here.  And the really nifty thing is this: we can start tomorrow's lesson by watching the video again.  It helps the students activate their learning and those children aren't quite as confident in this as they want to be? Well, my hope is that when they watch the video again, they'll put into place any missing pieces.

High fives to everyone!  

Placing Numbers on a Number Line

September 25, 2012

Sometimes you just gotta say goodbye...

Yesterday, as part of our daily chat about what good readers do, we brainstormed reasons why a reader might have to abandon a book.  I recorded the suggestions and told the boys and girls I would make us an anchor chart with their ideas. 
Why do teachers call it an "anchor chart"?  It's a chart that "anchors" our thinking.  The way an anchor holds the ship in place, the anchor chart holds our ideas in place.  Isn't that neat? 
I'll share this chart with my threes tomorrow but one little fella told me he reads the blog every night, so he'll get a sneak peak!

September 24, 2012

Monday's Message

Today in Math, the boys and girls learned all about using a number line to count. They learned that you can use a ruler to help you add. My hope is that they can explain this to their families tonight. 
We also talked about how one can count by twos starting at 1 and this would mean each number one lands on would be an odd one. We know this isn't normally how we count by twos, but it's an option that we should be aware of.  

In our Literacy Block this afternoon, we talked about reasons a reader might abandon a book. The kids came up with all kinds of good ones! We all agreed that if one is constantly abandoning a book, they might not be a "real" reader.  

We also had our first Social Studies lesson today! The boys an girls are learning about our First Nations people.  They will be expected to complete a learning journal after (almost) every lesson. They will need to record three interesting things they learned in nice, complete sentences and then they'll need to tell something they'd like to learn more about.  We will complete the first few journals together to make sure everyone gets the swing of things.  

Social Studies Journal (PDF)

I would like the boys and girls to continue to work on those short term goals posted here the other day.  I would also like them to work on spelling all of the words from the Spelling Inventory correctly.  

Oh Dear

Goodness...two posts in a row and I'm asking for forgiveness.     
Because I like to be super organzied/ready for anything/always have a lasagna in the freezer, I gave out Lesson Three of the Math program on Friday so it would be ready to go for today (Monday). 


That afternoon, I asked the kids to finish up any incomplete pages in their math booklet over the weekend.  I forgot one teeny-tiny detail: don't do Lesson Three, I haven't taught it yet.  

The World's Hardest Working Class, what do they do? They complete lesson three of course, because they are just the best class ever.  

Meanwhile, sometime around 6:00 this morning, I realize my mistake.  I'm so sorry. I can't imagine what your homework hour must've been like last weekend.

I bet there was lots of learning that took place around your kitchen tables, but perhaps I learned the most important lesson of all: it just might be possible to be "too organized".  

September 23, 2012

Hmmm...where are they?

In my desire to have everything in my classroom all neat and tidy for Curriculum Night the other day, I put the children's Poem of the Week tests somewhere very important.  

You know where this is going don't you?  

Yep. I have put them somewhere so important that I don't remember where that important spot is exactly.  I have searched high and low. I even went back to the school yesterday with my fresh Saturday morning eyes to see if I could find them and no luck.  

Never did I think that I, Mrs. Teacher, would be the one to play the "I lost my homework" card first.  

The good news is that the boys and girls all did very well on this test.  They are really get the swing of the POTW test format and the general test-taking procedures and expectations for grade three. So that's good.  

I'm hoping that because my luck tends to resemble a Seinfeld episode, now that I've told you I've lost them, in some ironic plot twist, they'll turn up.  

September 22, 2012

Math Homework

I'm not one for weekend homework, but sometimes it's necessary so that we can maximize our class time for the week to come.  I'm asking the boys and girls to complete any incomplete questions from their math workbook.  Some kids are worried they won't be able to get it all done, but I don't think there is too much left to do.  In class, we worked on specific questions from each of the two lessons so I could assess where we're at and where I need to focus my instruction.  Any questions that remain should come easily to the children. 
Homework this weekend should only take as long as my students decide they want it to take.  If they're motivated and focused, I'm hoping they'll have their work done in about 30 minutes and then they can get back to their weekend adventures.  

Fun Friday!

Let me tell you this...there is no place in the world like our class on a Friday.  We laughed our socks off yesterday afternoon! 

We walked to Mass in the morning and that all went very well. The boys and girls love to follow expectations and let's face it, that's what successful trips are all about. When everyone does what they are supposed to do, you can cope with the surprises better. I've said this before and I'm sure it's a message I'll repeat this year: this is a group of children who follow routines easily and confidently. 

So after Mass, we had lunch and then it was time for "FF".  The kids got out their slates and the fun began. We played a listening game where I gave clues about a word on the word wall and the first child to write it *correctly* on their slate and hold it up, won a point for their table. That's a section of our word wall below. As you know, it goes
the room. 

Listening to the clues was the name of the game, so all kinds of skills were required. 

Let's look at the photo and I'll give you an example.  

I'm thinking of a three syllable word. It's a compound word.  You could use it in this sentence: Has _____ seen my phone?  

Did you guess the word was anyone?  
High fives!   

We also had a good talk about being a good sport.  So this means that ya, sometimes other tables are going to win and sometimes your table wins.  It's no fun to lose, but at the same time, it's fun to have fun, so we have to cope well with these situations and be able to laugh at ourselves.  This kind of emotional maturity is developed through activities such as this.  

Next came another listening game.  I gave the students an item to draw and the first child to draw it according to the instructions earned a team point.  

So when I asked for a picture of a new super hero called "Super Carrot Boy" or angry turtle, we had moments where we could barely speak from laughing so hard at some of the interpretations.  
It was definitely the funnest activity we've had in our 12 days together.  

So there you have it!
That's Fun Friday!  

September 21, 2012

Meet the Teacher Night: An overview for those unable to attend

Dear Parents and Guests,

I’m trying something different tonight. I’m writing you a letter.  There are several reasons for this. One is because I have a story to tell and I want to get it right.  

This is my dog.  Her name was Winnie and I’m not going to lie, she might have been the greatest dog that ever lived. 

There’s a bit of a back story here. 
I bought Winnie for myself when I turned 25. I was single, just started  teaching and ready to take on the world, just me and my dog.  
Soon, I met my husband Paul, we got married and as they say, the rest is history.
Last month, at the age of 15 years and three months, we put Winnie down.  I agonized over this decision for several months.  I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. 

On the day we put her down, I took her to the park just up the street from our house. It was part of our morning routine and I wanted her to have one last visit.  Buses once on our street and there are several concrete pads that mark the former stops. 

That morning, standing on one of the stops, was an elderly lady. I had never seen her before. This neatly dressed woman looked exactly as you might imagine.  Her hair was perfect, she wore a cardigan and carried the kind of purse filled with all kinds of grandmotherly goodies. She was obviously waiting for someone. In fact,  I was worried she thought it was still a stop and I considered letting her know.  I soon realized she knew exactly what she was doing and I needed to mind my own business. 

As Winnie and I walked toward her on our way to the park, she stopped me and said, “What a beautiful dog. How old is she?” As she patted Winnie on the head,  I replied and told her, “15".  The lady looked me in the eye and with the voice of an angel said, “Well, you have been blessed.”  

What remarkable words on such a heartbreaking day.  I didn’t tell the lady what was about to happen just a few hours later. I couldn’t. I was stunned that I was hearing exactly what I needed to hear, from a complete stranger who just happened to be standing on my quiet street.  When we arrived at the park, I looked back and her ride was arriving, she got in the car and I’ve never seen her since.  I am pretty sure she was an angel.  

That brings me to the reason I share this story with you: She told me I was blessed.  And I am. As hard as it was to say goodbye to my dog, I was blessed to have her in my life for 15 years. This grandma angel really gave me something to think about. To love what you do for a living, really love it, to share your gifts with others, to impart knowledge, to laugh and create and then go home and share your life with your best friend? That’s blessed and I’m grateful. 

So why share this story with you?  Well, because one person can make a profound difference in our lives.  Since that encounter, I’ve become more aware of just how blessed my life is.  What a difference just a few words can make. And now, as we begin a new school year, I hope I too can make a difference in your child’s life. I hope the year ahead is full of all kinds of memories, adventures. lessons and goals achieved. I hope that years from now your children look back on their year in grade three and feel as blessed as I do that we had this time together. 

Patti Mihalides

My Teaching Principles (video)

September 19, 2012

A few short term goals

Let me tell you, this is one hard workin' bunch!  
So, with that in mind, we have a few short term goals were working on over the next few days.  
Here's some of our goals and home support, as always is welcome and appreciated.  

  • we want to be able to tie our shoe laces
  • we want to memorize our doubles facts (1+1, 2+2, etc. to 9+9) 
  • we want to be able to recite our address and important phone numbers from memory
  • we want to be able to spell all the words easily and correctly from the no-excuse word list (attached below) 
  • we want to speak in full sentences that include part of the question
  • we want to make eye-contact with one another while conversing 
  • we want to say each other's name while engaging in conversation 
This group of kids doesn't mess around. They love a challenge and they rise to it every time. Do you know how many times I've asked them to shake hands with their right hand? Once.  
That's this group. So these goals we have, I bet we'll have them accomplished in no time and then look out, because we'll be on to on even bigger things!   
No Excuse Word List (Printable)

Wednesday's Message

We had a fabulous day today! 
After Morning Message, we had a Math quiz. Please see the video linked below where I explain the quiz and the answer required to receive full marks.  

In our Literacy Block, I took a "Spelling Inventory" to see where our strengths and needs lie in terms of our spelling skills.  I've attached a copy of the words that the boys and girls were asked to spell. This type of test helps me fine-tune my instruction. Now I can create lessons that target our specific spelling needs.  The Spelling Inventory comes from this resource: 
Words Their Way

The printable I've attached below can be a great resource for parents because they can test their child at home and monitor their spelling progress. 

We had an important talk on the carpet today. I spoke to the boys and girls about participating in class and how everyone has something important to contribute to our little community. I am hoping that with time and a little nudge from home everyone will feel comfortable and confident sharing their ideas, connections and answers.  

Primary Spelling Inventory (printable)

Today's Math Quiz (video)

September 18, 2012

Tuesday's Message

From lousy experiences, good lessons can be learned.  More about this later, first, let's talk about our day. 

Today was a very, very productive day in our class. We moved on to our next lesson in Math, where we talked about all the practical uses for a hundreds chart.  By the way, we're using a 120s chart now! I've heard they're all the rage down in the States and I can see why. Many children, when asked to, for example, count by 10s, starting at 75,  have trouble when they get to 100.  By having this tool to refer too, this will allow the boys and girls to see the number that comes next and make better connections. Seeing how the numbers work will also help the students when it comes time to counting money. Counting money can be very challenging for some kids because they need to skip count by many different denominations. My hope is this will help them to see the connection now and be more successful when the money unit rolls around later in the year.  

The boys and girls also received their slates today! Woo-hoo! They were so thrilled! We *had* to start using them right away! We began with a few two-digit addition questions and everyone did really well! It was like a game show in our class with everyone working so hard to solve their problems. I didn't do this on purpose, but handing them out on a rainy day was a great way to keep everyone engaged and on task. 

In our Literacy Block, we continued with our writing-about-reading activity we began yesterday. I am asking the students to write about their connections to the story (Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts).  The main character wants a pair of fancy-schmancy shoes and I would like the boys and girls to tell me how they can relate to this story.  Many students finished the activity today and I'm very pleased with the quality of their work.  We have some great writers in our class.

I had an interesting day today myself.  A lightbulb went off on the drive home.  During lunch hour, I emailed back and forth with a company I buy my clipart from. I was confused by a part of the checkout process on their site.  Rather than address my question personally, they kept sending me "cut and paste" responses, directing me to various parts of their site to find my answers. The problem was, their responses didn't help because my question couldn't be answered by "just reading this section".  I kept at them and continued to ask my question and finally gave up. The entire experience made me feel like no one really cared what I had to say and they just wanted to respond to my email, but not "respond" to my email, if you know what I mean. Needless to say, I'm not doing business with them anymore. 

During my drive,  I was thinking to my self, "Thank goodness my classroom doesn't work this way." Can you imagine how a child would feel if they weren't treated with respect and given an opportunity for authentic engagement?  I felt disrespected today. I felt like I wasn't being heard.  So that brings me to my lightbulb moment.  Starting tomorrow, I am really going to encourage the students in my class to participate more fully. I want hands up and ideas shared.  I have always encouraged kids to participate, but tomorrow, we're taking it up a notch.  Everyone deserves to have an opportunity to speak, to be heard and to engage in authentic, 100% real, not cut and pasted conversation. Please encourage your child to share, especially the quieter, shy child.  They deserve the very best and whatever we can do to make that happen...well, let's do it. 

So clipart taught this teacher a lesson.  Your customer service is well, lackluster, but the flip-side of that is this: I realized today how much I value genuine connections and that's a win for everyone.  
Slates are great! 

September 17, 2012

Look what the kids get tomorrow!

I'm so excited to present each child with their very own "slate" tomorrow!  We call them slates, even though they're whiteboards,  because Grade Three is all about Pioneers and as you know, those pioneer kids used slates and chalk in their studies.  

I started using slates last year and this low-tech tool made a *huge* impact.  Perhaps it's the novelty of it, I don't know, but the students were engaged and on task when using them to solve problems that they'd otherwise solve on paper and let's face it, this is what we're all striving for right? We want our students to be as successful as they can and if a whiteboard and marker does the trick,  then sign us up!  

    Can't wait for Math tomorrow!   

Monday's Message

Remember that moment when you moved into your first apartment? The one that was all your's? Remember how excited you were to decorate and have friends over to share in your happiness? This is how I feel about my new blog!  I's crazy!
Thinking about my blog!

I think about this blog the way some people think about scrapbooking. I get to have all the creative fun with none of the mess!  
It's going to be so great to share even more of what goes on in our classroom with you here in a way that is more reflective of my personality. Hopefully it'll feel like we sit down and have a coffee every afternoon.
So, what did we do today?  

Well, it was a busy one.  In Math we're done, done, done with those "find a diagonal on the hundreds chart and write about it" type-questions.  We are still going to work with the hundreds charts, but we'll use it in a more practical way.  I'm also going to warm up the kids over the next few days by practicing two-digit addition and subtraction at the start of each Math lesson. It would be great if the boys and girls could practice this at home as well. 

Oh, one more skill that would also be beneficial to practice are the doubles facts (2+2, 3+3, etc.) up to 9. I'd like the  boys and girls to have these memorized by the end of the week. 

In our Literacy Block, we talked about how good readers relate to the text. They make what we call "text to self" connections.  I read the class a book by Maribeth Boelts called Those Shoes and asked them to think about something they've always wanted. The boy in the story really, really wants those shoes.  The students are completing their very first writing about reading task where they have to write about the connection they have to this story. They are also asked to complete a writing checklist to see that their work meets expectations before handing it in.

It's Monday.
It's Week 3.
It's going to be another fabulous week in our class! 

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

September 16, 2012

Poem of the Week: Week 3

Here we go with our third poem! To help the students improve their oral reading skills, I ask that on each Monday night, the boys and girls read all the POTWs in their collection  aloud like a teacher. 
I've suggested to the kids that they read to their toys to help them feel more like a teacher. Students want to focus on adding expression, focusing on punctuation and listening to hear that they don't "robot read". That's when we get all the words right, but we don't modulate our voice to bring life to the text.  

Poem of the Week (click here)

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello! Welcome to my blog! I have been toying with the idea of creating my own classroom blog for some time, but I just couldn't figure out how to customize it so that it better reflected my personality. The blog templates provided are very..."builder's beige". 
If you're a fussy-pants like me, you like things to look "just so". I also come from a long line of do-it-yourselfers and  I just couldn't bring myself to pay someone to create a blog template for me. This meant I needed to learn how to do it myself and that means sitting down and spending the time needed to do it right.  
So here we's not as super-fancy as some of those great teacher blogs that are out there but it works for me.  My blog is a work in progress, but right now, I'm really excited to share it with you. I'll fancy it up in the weeks and months to come, as I learn more but at the same time, I'm pretty thrilled what I was able to achieve after a whole lot o' coffee and a few hours on the couch!
So from now on, I'll post the daily messages here on this site, along with links to documents, photos and videos. This blog replaces the class portal.  I still need to figure out if there is a way to post documents here, but until then, I may have to rely on a third party host that I'll link to.  
As a creative type, I'm thrilled to find a new way to share what goes on in my classroom and I hope you enjoy it too!  


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