October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Pics!

If you have a moment, can you send a photo of your Jack-o-lantern to me?  
I'd love,love, love to share them tomorrow on the Smartboard!  


(sorry for the short notice...the idea came to me on the drive home) 

Update: It's not too late!  Send them even today or tonight (Thursday).  

October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

We have a great day ahead of us tomorrow!We're going to the Boogie-A-Thon, we'll play games, eat treats, finish our craft and of course, we'll have our very own dance party up here!

The kids are asked to come with a great attitude and ready for fun!  

Please be sure to check back for the day's video. You know it's going to be a great one!  


October 29, 2012

Boogie Bones Photos!

It's been ages since I've made an actual photo album! I've been so hooked on videos and slide-shows, I've let my albums slide a little.  Here are the photos of our Boogie Bones art! I am sorry that a couple of them aren't as sharp as I'd like them to be.

A reminder that you'll need the password to access the albums. 

Boogie Bones Photo Album

Social Studies Journal

We had our Social Studies lesson today and we talked about all kind of interesting things! Some of the key points we covered were: 

  • the fur trade
  • the Beaver War 
  • the role of the chief 
  • a little dabble in the history of the Hudson's Bay Company 
The boys and girls were then asked to complete their learning journal. The quality of the work produced just keeps getting better and better!  The students are asked to write about three things they learned from the day's lesson.  Many students opt to write what I call "2 in 1" sentences. They'll give a fact but provide additional information to accompany it.  For example, one child wrote that: Today I learned about the role of the Chief and how only men could be Chief.  That's really taking this task to a higher level when a child writes a complex sentence such as this.  

Students are also asked to write a question they still have about the day's lesson. They've learned that it's important to write a detailed, thoughtful question and that simply writing something vague such as: I wonder where they lived,  just isn't going to cut it. 

The Social Studies learning journal is a great exercise for many reasons: 
  • it encourages students to pay attention during the lesson
  • students need to reflect on their learning
  • students need to summarize and report on their learning
  • students need to consider what they would still like to learn (more reflecting!) 
And then there's the writing component: 

  • students must write in full sentences
  • they must write detailed sentences so that someone unfamiliar with the topic would still learn something from the facts reported
  • they must use the vocabulary from the lesson 
  • they must structure their "I still want to know" in the form of a question (I'm humming the Jeopardy theme now) 

October 26, 2012

Can we talk about number lines?

I'm not sure if a math video is a good idea for me to create on a Friday afternoon, but here goes!  

I'm going to beg forgiveness now for any mistakes I've made in calculations and explanations in this video!   

The gist of it is this: the boys and girls will want to practice their number-line problem solving skills in preparation for Tuesday's test and the video provides Grade Three level samples.  

Solving Number Line Problems

October 25, 2012

Reading Response Letters: An Update

Almost everyone is finished their very first Reading Response Letter and I'm thrilled!  
I can't wait to send these assignments home to you and you can see the types of questions posed by the students. The structure for this writing assignment was pretty tight and as the kids become more confident in both their RRL writing-skills and their voice as a writer, they will find that there is plenty of creative freedom within the confines of the task.

I like to write the students a letter back, giving them feedback about their assignment and responding to any questions they've posed. The expectation is that they'll use this descriptive feedback to improve their next writing piece. 

This assignment was the students' first big writing assignment and they did great! I'd also like to add that they did a marvelous job using their checklist to see that their work met expectations. The checklist was verrrry specific and as we move on to more tasks, we can pull back on the number of items on our checklist as they become habit.  

Test Prep Problem #4

Boys and Girls, 
As you know, Little Batty likes to give himself homework assignments so he can feel like a big kid, just like you all. 

Here is his homework question: 

I am a three-digit number.
If you add all my digits, the sum will be 5.
My hundreds and tens digit are the same even number. 
My ones digit is odd. 
What number am I?  

Do you know the answer?

Ask Mom or Dad to post your answer in the comment section.  You are not allowed to use your real name. You must use the name of your favourite toy and you must add the word "head" to it. So for example, my name would be "Barbie-head".  Oh, that does sound funny doesn't it?  

Test Prep Problem #3

Have a look at this answer that Little Batty has written.  
Is he correct?  
Explain your thinking.

Be sure to include lots and lots of detail in your answer. 

October 24, 2012

Test Prep Problem #2

Mrs. M is buying the ingredients for her famous Halloween punch. She needs to buy the candy spiders.  They come in packages of 25. Mrs. M needs 500 spiders for her punch.  How many packages of spiders will Mrs. M need to buy?  

Explain your thinking. This part is tricky, I know, but if you explain the strategy you used and try not to explain it like a story, you'll do great.   

Test Prep Problem #1

To assist with preparing the boys and girls for the problem solving section of our test on Tuesday, I'll post problems on the blog as often as I can.  

This problem focuses on ordinal numbers.

Use the clues below to help figure out who won the race. 

  • There are five people in this race
  • Barbie came after Big Bird but before Elmo
  • Bert came before Ernie 
  • Ernie came in second place 
  • Elmo lost the race 

Too easy?  Okay, try this one! 

  • There are four people in this race
  • Elmo came lost the race again...poor guy  
  • Dora came after Barbie
  • Gi-Joe came before Elmo and after Dora

Quick Message about the Math duo-tang

The boys and girls are bringing home their green Math duo-tang. Please take the pages out and return the duo-tang. The pages themselves can stay home and be used for review for Tuesday's test.  The booklet is too thick to staple and I didn't have paper clips large enough to do the trick.  

Hate to sound like a nag here...can I trouble you to please make sure the green duo-tang is returned to school tomorrow?   

October 23, 2012

Math Test: Tuesday October 30

We're having our Unit One Math test on Tuesday. I realize this is the same day as the students' soils quiz. I think they'll be okay but if we find as Tuesday approaches we need more time, we'll extend the test date.  It's an awkward week to have a test with Halloween being on Wednesday, but we'll find a way to make this work. 

I typically have Math tests on Thursdays but who wants to study on Halloween night?  And Friday? Well, that's pushing it a little too late in the week.  And I do not support tests on Mondays.  I don't think that's good practice. 

So that leaves Tuesday.  

I'm going to send home the Math workbook tomorrow. It can stay home for good and be used for practice. Since this was our first unit, we completed most of the tasks together so the boys and girls would know what is expected of them at the Grade Three level.

The focus of our test will be on problem solving. I'm looking to see that the kids can use the skills they've learned to solve higher level thinking problems.  

There is a practice test attached that will assist with test preparation. We'll also do plenty of review in class.  

To further support their home study, I'll post Math problems daily leading up to the test. These problems are very close relatives to the actual test questions.

Please note: the test includes a section on rounding numbers. We're going to cover this concept after the test as a mini-unit. 

Unit 1 Practice Test  

October 22, 2012

Today was Class Picture Day!

It wouldn't be an *event* in our class without a video.  

You've been warned...the kids in this video were very naughty and the wise guy who gave these kids those teeth and glassess...you're in big trouble.

Picture Day!

The Best Seats in the House!

These are thee best seats in the house!  I was thinking of a way we could make the "Student of the Day" feel even more special when I came up with this nugget of an idea:  the Student of the Day gets to choose a friend to sit beside me for the day! It's been a huge hit so far!  

It's a real win-win for everyone.  The S.O.T.D and their partner get to feel really special and do all kinds of fancy jobs for the day and I can spend some time offering one on one support to them in a way that I might not do on a regular sort of day. Everyone deserves some extra attention and fuss and this is one way we can accomplish that in a manner that's fair. 

Gosh, remember when sitting next to the teacher was the least desirable spot in the class?    

Reading Response Questions

This little fella is Little Batty. He's a bat but he's more of a monkey. He visits our class for the month of October and boy, does he get himself into trouble!  

Little Batty has taken over our Morning Message. Each morning, we read a new chapter of Little Batty's story off the Smartboard.  He's only 6, but he's fallen in love with Little Betty. We've enjoyed reading about his adventures at the park and we've even helped him write a letter to his beloved Betty. 

The other day, Batty received some bad news.  It seems that Betty doesn't like the park they play at. The slide there is just not twirly enough. Batty was heartbroken. He thought it meant the end of their friendship.  In one short chapter he went from pure joy to singing the blues.  

As part of our "What do good readers do" focus for the first few months of school, I asked the boys and girls to write about how Batty's mood changed in the chapter.  

I've attached a copy of both the chapter (it's printed right off the Smartboard, so it's not very pretty) and the writing page they needed to complete.  As you can see, my expectations were high and the boys and girls did a fantastic job! We call this type of task a "Reading Response Question". Soon, in addition to giving evidence from the text to support their ideas, I'll be asking the kids to also add their opinion or "plus information" to take their writing up a notch.  

I had the kids work with a partner for this activity. We'll do this from time to time. I know I'm a better teacher because I partner up with Mrs. Linse, so if it works for me, surely it'll work for the kids!  The video is just a one-minute look at how well the kids did working together. 

Little Batty's Story

Little Batty Worksheet

Partner Writing (video)

October 20, 2012


I am not having good luck with cameras this month. The video camera my husband Paul bought me for Christmas so I could make all those fabulous videos of my awesome class is on the fritz and it's no longer covered by the warranty. 

It "sort of" works but not in a way that makes it convenient or easy in a classroom full of kids or when you want to film their spontaneous fabulous-ness. There is a slim chance it can be repaired, but I'm not holding my breath. 

So, I need your help.  

I need a not-too-expensive recommendation for a video camera.  It's only going to be used for the classroom and since I'll be paying for it, I need it cheap and good! 

Boogie Fever!

Happy Friday! :)

October 18, 2012

Boogie Bones!

We had thee nicest day today! 
From start to finish our day was just great!

Please read my post below about the Reading Response Letters.  We started those this morning. 

This afternoon we had Art! I have been teaching the kids how to cartoon as part of our Fun Friday time, but today was our first a-r-t lesson, if you know what I mean! We cut, we pasted, we created!  

First, we read a story called Boogie Bones and then we made our very own boogie-fever skeletons!  

Boogie Fever..hmm...that's a good song isn't it? ;) 

Reading Response Letters

We started writing our Reading Response Letters today. We're writing the first one as a class so the boys and girls know exactly how to complete this task. 

The next letter will be written by the children independently. One part of the letter that might be initially tricky for the students is the section where they share their opinion of the story. The kids are asked to explain why they did or did not care for a particular book and having to defend your opinion requires one to think critically about the text and sometimes it takes a little time and support for their voices to develop. Sometimes they just need the words themselves to explain why they loved a book. Maybe they felt like they could relate to it or they felt like they were part of the adventure.  

I'm not worried if the boys and girls have trouble with that area of the letter. During our writing time, they can share their opinion and I'll poke and help them with expressing why they feel that way. I'm sure they won't need my support for long...they catch on to things very quickly!  

Here is a youtube video of the Powerpoint presentation I shared with the class today.  It explains the steps to writing an RRL. These can also be done at home too! Any time you feel some extra practice is in order, you can assign an RRL. After you watch the video, you'll know exactly how it's done! 

Reading Response Letters 

October 17, 2012

We need pop bottles!

Please keep those two-litre pop bottles coming! I'd like the boys and girls to begin their Halloween craft on Tuesday October 23rd and right now, we have only 7 bottles.  

The best bottles are the ones that "Brisk" ice-tea comes in. I also think the Walmart brand of soda-pop come in a similar bottle. Both bottles are smooth and easier to decorate.  

October 16, 2012

Tuesday's Homework

Parents, just a quick heads up regarding homework tonight. 
The boys and girls are asked to complete their Practice Page (the focus tonight is on: to,too,two) and then some children need to complete work from Lesson 10 in Math.  It's just two pages and shouldn't take long as we've already had about 20 minutes in class to complete it today.  

October 14, 2012

Little Spidey's Cutie Cookies

To help the boys and girls with their "constructing numbers" skills, I've created this printable for home practice. 

After cutting out and sorting each piece into it's appropriate pile, parents should ask the child to construct a three-digit number in three different ways.  The child should be given about 3-4 minutes to do so and then call you back to check their work.  The numbers must be a multiple of 5 due to the denominations I've created.  

If you like, send me a picture of your child working with them and we'll use it as our Photo of the Day in our Morning Message! 


We've been doing this very activity on our Smartboard as part of our Morning Message, so this concept is familiar to the boys and girls. I hope this hands-on, home practice assists them in seeing how numbers can be constructed in a variety of ways. It's a lot of cutting to be done, but I think it's worth it!  

The file is quite large, so it may take a little longer to download. It will say "No preview available" and then "Sorry we are unable to scan this file for viruses", please click, "Download anyway". The file is just too big for google docs. It's a document I created, there are no viruses, I promise.  

Little Spidey's Cutie Cookies

This is cool!

My brother, Paul Colontino, is the Head Coach of the Women's Hockey Team at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.  

Today his team will play the Oakville Hornets in an exhibition game at the RMU Ice-Center!  
Isn't that neat?   

Most of the members of the Colonial team are also proud Canadians from the Southern Ontario region!  

On a side note, Paul was named Coach of the Year (and brother of EVERY year) for 2012! 

Coach of the Year Paul Colontino  

Robert Morris Women's Hockey

October 12, 2012

Our 20 Second Dance Party!

I'm sorry this link didn't work before! I'm so glad I checked!I couldn't figure out why the youtube views kept saying "0". 


Well, here is our video and it's awesome!  

Happy Friday!

Thursday's Video

Here's that video I promised from Thursday.  It covers three key topics:  

  • Problem solving where we are asked to "Explain our thinking" 
  • Constructing three digit numbers in a variety of ways (printable activity for home practice coming this weekend)
  • Adding a "plus" to written answers 

October 11, 2012

Thursday's Message

I suppose this isn't really a message, it's more like one of those "Please Come Again" signs they used to hang on shops back in the day.   

We had a really, really great day today and I wanted to tell you all about it. The best way to tell you is via a video and just my luck...the camera battery was dead. But that's totally in line with the way my afternoon went because after working on this nifty bulletin board set for the kids since July, I went to print it out after school and...you got it: my ink ran out.  

Would you come on back tomorrow and check out the video I'm going to make to tell you all about what we covered in Math today?  I also want to share with you something that really impressed me about last week's POTW test.  And then finally, I'd like to show you something the kids can do at home to help them construct three digit numbers in a variety of ways.  This will also assist them in skip counting by 5s, 10s, 25s, 50s and 100.  

Tomorrow is Fun Friday and boy, do we have some funners planned!  We have Music, Gym, Library, another drawing lesson, Smartboard funnies AND we're having another 10 second dance party!  I don't know how you spend your Fridays, but doesn't our's sounds fab-u-lous?  

October 10, 2012

More Short Term Goals

I'm asking all the boys and girls to work on the following short term goals at home: 

  • I can tie my own shoes
  • I can bless myself correctly
  • I can spell all my No-Excuse words correctly
  • I can easily identify verbs, including "being verbs" such as: am, are, is 
  • I can skip count by all kinds of different numbers such as 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and I can alternate numbers with confidence (example, I can count to 25 by 5s and then start counting by 25s from there) 
  • I can tell you how many 5s, 10s, 25s, 50s, are in 100 
  • I know what you mean when you say, "Put these words in alphabetical order" 
  • I know my doubles facts by heart (2+2, 3+3, etc. to 9+9)

Verbs are the word!

This week's Poem of the Week (POTW) is full of verbs, so we're focusing on this part of speech for next few days.  Students are learning that a verb is an action word and it's typically something you can do at recess. Tomorrow, they'll learn about "being verbs" such as is, are, and am. 

When assisting your child with their POTW test prep, please ask them to identify the different verbs in each line of the poem. 

Oh, don't forget, this week's test is on Friday, not Thursday.   

Here is a copy of this week's poem.  

Week 6 POTW

Quiz time and a homework suggestion

We had a Math quiz today, just to check in and see where everyone is at.  I was really pleased with the results! There's a copy of the quiz down below. To help build counting and problem solving confidence, it's a good idea for all students to practice counting by 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100.  Then, they'll want to take it a step further by alternating the ways they count.  So start off by counting by 50s, switch to 10s for a bit, then top it off with counting by 5s for a while.  It might be best for a parent or other adult to assist with this to make sure the counting is accurate.  

By practicing skip-counting in this manner, it will also help students when they are asked to count coins later in the year.  

Here is a copy of today's quiz.   

Today's Math Quiz

October 09, 2012

Tuesday's Message

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  It's nice to be back at it and away from the food!  My goodness the food!  
We visited my brother and his wife in Pittsburgh and we really pushed the limits on sensible when it comes to portion size, let me tell you.   
In Math today, our focus was on constructing three-digit numbers, but the real fun came when we had to problem solve.  If you're looking for some family math fun tonight, here's what we worked on (I think some boys and girls will need some time tomorrow to finish this up, so extra practice tonight might help) 
The problem goes like this:  
You need to buy 200 stamps.
They come in packages of 100, 50 and 10. 
List all the possible combinations you could make.  
I'm asking the kids to come up with five or six possibilities.

In our Literacy Block, we talked about how good readers read a variety of non-fiction texts.  At this level, we classify them into two categories: informational and biography. We ended up having a very interesting, but age-appropriate conversation about the texts I selected as examples:  Diary of Anne Frank  and The Titanic.Both texts are written for children at this age.  There may be questions about "bad guys" during World War Two tonight.  I kept things pretty simple and explained to the boys and girls that as they get older, they will learn more about these subjects. I did explain that Anne Frank and her family hid out from the bad guys during WW2 in an attic.  There may be some follow up questions from the children tonight that are best answered by parents. 

In January, we will take an age-appropriate look at the Civil Rights movement. There are many rich texts that we use to help children understand this time in History.  These books provide us with wonderful writing opportunities.  It is an excellent way for children to begin to write with perspective and give evidence from a text to support their ideas and opinions.  Children at this age are very interested in justice and equality.  
When we talk about the Civil Rights movement, some of the finest writing of the year is produced by the students.   
On a much lighter note, we're dismissing the students a little differently now at the school. We had our first run at it today and it went very smoothly. All students are escorted by their classroom teacher to various points throughout the school. Bused students are taken to the Gym where they wait for their buses to be called. 
So that's our Tuesday! 
Hope your's was as great as our's! 

Week 6: Poem of the Week

This week, the boys and girls will have their weekly Poem of the Week test on Friday,not Thursday. This will give us an extra day to review the poem and prepare.  


October 07, 2012

Come to Crawford Lake with us!

Here is our Crawford Lake video! I wanted to have a special photo of each child, but unfortunately, my camera wasn't cooperating. As you can see, the boys and girls had an excellent time.  Our guide, Alan, was wonderful and really helped the children understand how our Canadian culture has been shaped by the First Nations people. 

Crawford Lake

October 03, 2012

I'm puttin' the call out!

Halloween will be here before we know it, so I'm giving everyone lots of notice! We need two litre pop bottles for our Halloween craft.  

The best ones are the "Brisk" ice-tea bottles. They're perfectly smooth and work really well.  I know no one drinks pop anymore, but ice-tea is, well, very refreshing! ;) 

Send 'em in as you find 'em and come that last week in October, we'll be good to go and craftin' up a spooky storm! 

A nice easy day

Today we talked all about ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) in Math. At last, it seems like our Math unit has gotten a wee bit easier. I've put Post-it Notes everywhere for next year to remind me NOT to start the Math program with Unit One. I think we'd be better off with some review work and then we can jump into Unit Two and come back to One later on.  It's not my first go 'round with this Math program either but I have some ideas for how we can make our kids more successful next year and I'm going with it.  

We're continuing our talk about what good readers do in our Literacy Block. We chatted today about how good readers read a variety of fiction.  We looked at realistic fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy fiction and good ol' storybooks.  Then we continued with our work our page for our very first class book called, "What do good readers do?"  

I also explained to the boys and girls how I mark their work. I like to mark it in a way that encourages children to find their own errors. It takes a little longer for both parties, but it is totally worth it.  I made this great video to post on the blog to demonstrate what I mean then I left my camera at school. Not helpful.  So I'll be sure to post that video tomorrow. 

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm away in the morning at a workshop. I'm sure my supply teacher will love my class as much as I do. The boys and girls will attend the Thanksgiving Liturgy and then the RAD assembly.   I'll be back in the afternoon and we'll write our POTW test at that time.

I'm looking forward to sharing that video with you about how I mark the children's work. It really does help the kids find their own errors and in my experience, it's been very effective in improving students' writing skills.  

It's funny, I read over this post and think to myself, "That's only half of what we did today, I'm sure I'm leaving out all kinds of goodies."  But I guess that's how life is.  Our day is chock-full of so many rich discussions, funny moments and great learning. It's no different than any other class, but when you try to sit down and write about it, it's hard to capture that magic.  

Thank goodness for cameras.  

October 02, 2012

Your help please...

I have a big job ahead of me.  I need to put together the videos and photos from our fantastic trip today.  
I need some help. 
I need a song for our video. 
It has to be just the right mix of happy and cool.  My musical tastes are all over the map, so nothing is out.  
But I'm stumpered.  
Can you post your song suggestions?  
Remember though...we want something ultra cool but it also has to fit the field trippy theme.
I'm feelin' it's a country western kind of song but I'm not sure if those are just lingering feelings from last Friday! 

We have a winner!
I'm telling you...the guy beside me here on the couch is more than just a handsome face!  He has great taste in music too!  
We have our songs!  
Can't wait to show you the video!

Crawford Lake!

Can we just take a moment here to talk about my fantastic class?  
We had such a wonderful day today! Our trip was a huge success!  It's very early in the year to go on a Field Trip, you know. We're still getting to know the routines and procedures, but how did my class do? Oh ya! They knocked it out of the park! We still have a lot to learn when it comes to our First Nations study but this trip seemed to fast forward us by about 20 lessons and that's the sign of a great trip.  

(throw your hands up in the air when you read this next sentence) 

So much learning!  

Everyone was so well behaved, respectful and courteous toward each other. 

I have all kinds of great photos and videos to share.  I'll put a video together over the next day or two.  Sadly, my camera was malfunctioning and I wasn't able to get as many still photos as I hoped. 
On a side note, I did return it to Costco tonight and since it was still under warranty, I received a new one, so I'm pretty pleased about that. And the new one is purple, so my cool quotient just went waaay up (wink!)  So, the good news is: new camera for Mrs. M, the bad news is: not as many photos of the kids as I would have liked.  Tons and tons of video though, so look out! 
Thank you to all the boys and girls for an awesome trip today!  I can't wait to carry on with our Social Studies lesson now because we all have new information in our schema!  

What do we mean by schema?  
Schema notes (click here)

October 01, 2012

Monday's Message

And we're off!  
Week 5! 
In Math today, the boys and girls reviewed their skills. Unit One is thee longest unit of the year, so it's essential that every now and then, we pause, review and practice our skills and that's just what we did today. The focus was on grouping items into sets of ten to make counting more efficient and a place value challenge.  A review of identifying the ones and tens digit is always helpful.  We played this nifty warm-up game where we practiced our mental math and doubles facts. We drew number "buttons" on our slates (we called them ipads for today's lesson) and I called out the facts.  You had to push the correct "button" in order to save the day. So, for example, in order to rescue the hamster from the approaching vacuum, you had to quickly answer 6+6 and then push the buttons. It's an odd game and probably says a lot about my comic book imagination, but it did kept everyone on task and working hard...so there you go.  If your student doesn't have their doubles facts down pat, please encourage them to work to memorize them.  

We also had a Social Studies lesson! The kids learned all about the "Three Sisters" (corn, squash and beans), the longhouse, the palisade and the importance of working together as a tribe in order to survive. Students also learned about some of the different jobs that men and women held. The questions generated by the class were awesome! Thank you to all the boys and girls for their enthusiasm and participation! 
Please encouraged your child to continue to participate in our discussions and lessons. 

I'm asking that the boys and girls continue to work on their short term goals. This goals are best worked on at home:  

  • being able to tie their shoes
  • spell all the words from the Spelling Inventory
  • memorize their doubles facts 
  • speak in full sentences (that include a part of the question) 
So there you have it! Monday!  
We have a great day ahead of us tomorrow, so sleep well and pack a big lunch!  

Week 5: Poem of the Week

It's officially called, "Say What?" but we're taking a more polite route and calling this week's poem, "Pardon Me".  It's by a wonderful children's poet named Bruce Lansky.  

Pardon Me?


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