September 30, 2014

Marking at the start of the line

On Tuesday, I explained to the boys and girls how I mark at the start of the line in order to help them find their own corrections and improve their writing skills. It'll also help them to improve their investigation skills! 

Here's a video I made yesterday to explain how this works to parents and families.  

Marking at the ends of the line

A little bit of Math homework tonight!

The boys and girls have some very simple Math homework tonight. It's pages 1 and 2 of their workbook. I'm giving our workbook a makeover, so the students only have the first eight pages of their unit work. We'll add pages as they are created.  

The workbook wouldn't be complete without a nice batch of typos from me. It serves me right for trying to create Math pages on a Sunday afternoon after eating the hugest, most delicious piece of Apple-Spice Cake! Oh my goodness, I could blog about this cake for a long, long time.  

Anyways, enough about cake. Please have a look at what we're working on in Math. Tomorrow the boys and girls will learn all about related facts.

That cake. Honestly, it was so good.

I went with no nuts and apple pie filling since we didn't have any applesauce in the house (ironic isn't it?). Oh, and 2 cups of icing sugar worked fine for me.  

Apple Spice Cake Recipe

September 26, 2014

Fall Y'all Day was a hit!

We had an absolutely spectacular day today! It was such a thrill to greet my students this morning all dressed in their western duds!  

I cannot wait for our next theme day! We had a ball today! The applesauce was a real hit and the boys and girls learned a thing or two about procedural writing. We are going to continue work on our Fall Y'all folders next week as we didn't as much done as I anticipated. I have a tendency to over-plan and that's usually served me well because sometimes a lesson just, you know, flops. But everything was a smooth as can be today, so that leaves us with a few carry-over activities for next week. 

Please be sure to check out our newest photo album on!  The day was a huge success and I want to thank parents for your support. To the boys and girls: thank you all for a wonderful and memorable day!  

It's Fall Y'all! (click here for photos)

Look how great the Fall Y'all folders turned out! 
The boys and girls learned about how to complete a Venn Diagram, the difference between an adjective and a noun, how to spot a compound word and look forward to playing the super-terrific board game tomorrow!

September 25, 2014

Today's Math Check-in

We had a Math "check-in" today which is a little bit like a quiz. Check-ins help me assess where we are and where I need to focus my instruction. The boys and girls wrote it independently, with minimal assistance from me. It wasn't scored, although I did read them. 
I reviewed the problem (pictured below) with students prior to having them start. 

The purpose of this activity is for me to see where we're at in terms of our subtraction and problem solving skills. We have been talking a lot about flipping the question to check our work and I wanted to see if students could apply this skill to a word problem. I was really pleased with how the boys and girls highlighted the key information in the question. 

After everyone was finished, we took the problem up together. Students were able to see where their own strengths and needs lie. We're going to focus more on subtraction with regrouping next week and try our hand at word problems later, after we've had more practice with the operation itself. I want to first make sure everyone has this regrouping thing down pat before we shake it up again with word problems.  

I may send home extra practice pages for students to complete as homework next week. I think we just need that extra work with respect to regrouping and quickly calculating single-digit subtraction. 

For your own reference: a "Level 4" response to the question is: Mrs. Linse has 105 more points than Mrs. Mihalides. I know this because I flipped the question and added 178 and 105 and it equals 283.

I posted this video earlier in the week. Please watch it with your child, as it goes through the problem solving process step-by-step.  

Good readers can say "goodbye"

Good readers know that sometimes they need to abandon a book. We talked about some of the reasons a reader might abandon a book this morning.  

Before we even started our discussion, I asked the boys and girls to write why they think a reader might need to abandon a book and share it on our chart. 

Some of the reasons we abandon books are:

  • it's too easy or too hard
  • there are too many characters
  • the story is too complicated
  • the story is boring
  • they have to return the book to the owner or Library
  • the story is too similar to other texts we've read

Applesauce Recipe

As part of our Fall Y'all fun on Friday, we're going to make applesauce and learn all about procedural writing in the process (see what I did right there? Came up with a legit reason to make something tasty in the class!) 

Here is the recipe we'll use.  I'll send home a copy with the kids on Thursday as well. After the applesauce is made, each child will have a little Costco sample of it to enjoy. 

Click here for your own printable copy. 

September 24, 2014

Wednesday's Homework

We have started doing "Morning Work" to replace what I once called "Morning Jumpstarts".

Morning Work is work that students complete as soon as they've copied their agendas in the morning.  The students receive 15-20 minutes to complete the page and if it is not completed in that time, it becomes homework. 

We do Morning Work about three times a week. All children will write: "Complete Morning Work" in their agendas, but if they complete it in class, they won't actually have it for homework that night. This system is just easier and more efficient than having only those who actually have it for homework writing it down. Children who do not have it for homework are always allowed to erase it from their agendas.  

Here is today's Morning Work.  I have explained to the boys and girls that I'm looking for a very detailed paragraph about the character they'd like to meet from our novel and why. Their work must look smart(neat and tidy)and sound smart (make sense).  

Here are the character's names in case the children need a little prompting: 

Carla Davis

Here's a printable copy of the worksheet in case another one is needed.  

September 24 Morning Work 

September 23, 2014

So funny!

We usually do a "Photo of the Day" as part of our Morning Message, but I think tomorrow, we're going to do a "Video of the Day."  

This is just so adorable!

Three Types of Problems

Today we talked about the three levels of day-to-day problems one might encounter as a student. Now, these aren't math problems, they're those situations that arise where one wonders, "What do I do?". I want my students to develop life-long problem solving skills. I want them to be leaders. I want them to be the person in an emergency that everyone says, "Whew, thank goodness_____ is here." In most cases, this is a skill that needs to be taught.  At the Grade Three level, it might not look like much, but as a teacher with years of experience, I can tell you, when we give kids permission to solve their own problems, we teach kids to be leaders.  

So, what do we mean by the three types of problems? 

Level One: 

  • kids can solve these all on their own
  • no teacher or parent intervention is required
  • level one problems include needing a band-aid for a paper cut, not being sure where an item goes in terms of recycling, finding a book in the wrong basket or not being sure what we're to do when we finish our assignment 
  • in most cases, asking a classmate helps one resolve a level one problem

Level Two: 

  • these problems likely need teacher intervention to be solved 
  • level two problems include: forgetting one's lunch, an injury that needs ice, a playground matter that needs addressing, a disagreement among friend 
  • in most cases, these are minor problems that might take place once or twice a month for an individual

Level Three: 

  • these are the biggie problems
  • they require intervention from teacher(s) and the two "Ps": parents and Principals 
  • these are major problems which rarely occur
  • problems such as: a serious injury, "I think I'm gonna throw up", bullying or consistent lateness would all be level three problems 

Over the next few days, we'll have many discussions around the three levels of problems. I'll work with the boys and girls to help them categorize situations so they can begin to explore ways in which they can solve level one problems on their own so they can focus more on learning.  Everyone wins when students and teachers can do their job with minimal distraction and by giving children permission (and the tools) to solve their own Level One problems, we develop early leadership skills and maximize our learning time and environment. 

Subtraction Action!

Unit two of the Math Make Sense program focuses on addition and subtraction strategies, so we're working on applying those skills to problem solving situations. 

We took our first crack at it on Monday with the word problems shown below.  

We did the first problem together as a class and then I had the boys and girls work with their elbow partner on the second problem.  

We covered a lot in just one Math lesson and I wanted to capture it all on video so that the kids could review it not only in class over the next few days, but at home as well.  

Here's a video summary of yesterday's lesson.


September 22, 2014

Week 4: New Goals! (updated 9/23)

There are five new goals that I would like the boys and girls to work on both in class and at home over the next week or so: 

  • blessing ourselves correctly when we pray
  • copying our agenda neatly, quickly and accurately
  • No-Excuse words must be memorized (a copy of the word list can be found across the top of the blog homepage) 
  • we want to break the habit of humming and making other noises with our mouths during quiet times in the classroom so that we are not disturbing others 
  • I would like all students to have their doubles facts up to 11+11 memorized (e.g. 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, etc.) 
  • we want to make our oral reading sound more like natural speech (we joke that we don't want to sound like a robot;) 

Great questions!

We talk a lot about how good readers ask questions while they are reading. 

This morning, I read the boys and girls the first page of One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. 

I asked them to write the questions they had from just that one page.  

After we posted our questions for others to read, I continued reading the text. It was a really rich experience for the boys and girls because they were able to see how just the first page of a text can grab our attention and get us thinking. 

It was a quick activity that took less than 20 minutes, but it helps students see how good readers think critically about the text.


September 21, 2014

New Photos!

Thursday was Picture Day! Click here!

Room 208 has gone to the dogs!

As part of our Fun Friday fun, the boys and girls learned how to draw Freddie from our Poem of the Week. 

It was a great first lesson in cartooning! We'll finish up the good copy drawings on Monday, so don't tell the Fun Friday Society that we're breaking the rules! 

I would like to teach the boys and girls about warm and cool colours so they can colour the letters in his name according to their preference.  

The boys and girls will colour the letters in Freddie's name in either warm or cool colours.

September 18, 2014

Today's comparison of the day!

We had lots of fun with this one from today's Morning Message!

September 17, 2014

A couple of "big" words!

As part of our "What do good readers do?" conversations, it's only natural that we would also discuss what good writers do.  
This week, we're talking a lot about how good writing evokes a response from the reader and I'm using that word: evoke.

The boys and girls are learning that all writing has a purpose and good authors are able to evoke a response from their reader.  

While reading from our novel at Evening Meeting, I have been stopping in a variety of places to ask the boys and girls, "How do you feel right now?". We have a brief chat about how the author is able to make us laugh, build suspense or even make us angry or sad.

We'll talk lots and lots about the ways we as authors can evoke a response from our reader in our future Writer's Workshop, but for now, just building that awareness of how writing makes us feel is key.

Here's a great writing sample from a student in the class that helped the boys and girls see how, as Grade Three authors, they too can evoke a response from readers: 

Today I'm going to tell you about my weekend. On Saturday, I went to my uncle's house to have pizza and to feed his fish. They are gigantic! The fish suck your hands like there is no tomorrow! I really think that my uncle's house is great!

Everyone loved B's description of the fish. His choice of words made us both laugh and understand the fish better! 

The other word we're talking about is flip with respect to checking work in Math. We're looking at subtraction strategies right now and the students are learning to check their work by flipping the question and changing the sign. 
So to check if 35-12=23, they flip the question and write: 23+12. If the answer is 35, they know they're correct.
They're learning that "flip is your friend." This practice also helps students understand the relationship between mathematical operations.   

September 16, 2014

Curriculum Night

Thursday night is Curriculum Night. Please join us first in the Gym for the Principal's Address and then up in the classroom for a kind of "Open House". 

One of the great features of having a blog is that I can have a bit of a conversation with parents and families everyday. I hope you are enjoying reading the blog, tweets, etc. It's a fun way to keep in touch isn't it? 

Everything I might normally share at Curriculum Night is already here! So come on up to Room 208 on Thursday night, say hello, ask questions and have a look around. It's really one of only a few nights of the year where parents and families can visit their child's home away from home.

Looking forward to meeting you all!   

A new approach to Math

We're slowly moving away from using the traditional Math workbook. It's important for the boys and girls to have the basics down and there will be plenty of instruction and practice with respect to this, but it is essential that students can apply those skills to problem solving situations. 

"Apply" is the key word there. After all, its one thing to be able to read words, but if you can't connect them to make meaning, are you really reading?

The same is true for Math. If you can solve problems such as 3+4, but can't use that to help you figure out if you have enough money to make a purchase at a garage sale, your Math skills really only developing. 

In Grade Three, the boys and girls do a lot of problem solving. They work in partners and on their own to apply the skills they've learned. To learn the skills (e.g. how to multiply and divide), we'll use some pages from the workbook and our slates, but it's not page after page of questions. 

There are five steps to problem solving and we'll take a baby-step approach. You can see the steps in the photo below. Our naughty pal, Turkey Lurkey, will be the subject of many of the problems we'll solve over the coming weeks. 

A great workout!

Part of our discussion of "What do good readers do?" has focused on asking questions. Good readers ask questions. They can articulate specific things they want to know about a text while they are reading.

Reading is active. It's a workout for the mind. As we move through the school year and read for a variety of purposes, the students will learn that reading is a very rewarding workout that produces super-fast results; much faster than hours and hours on the treadmill. Provided we're willing to put in the work, readers grow stronger every day! 

As part of our Evening Meeting (3:00 -3:15 daily), we've been reading a wonderful novel called There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar. 
I've used this very rich and relatable text to support my instruction on questions.  I'll stop reading a key points and ask the boys and girls, "What do you want to know? What questions do you have?" Sometimes, the questions are very "right there", meaning a reader wants to know what will happen next. Other times, the questions are a bit thicker or big picture.  I love this because it means the kids are thinking while I'm reading. It means they are paying attention, making a movie in their mind and genuinely curious about the text.  

They are active listeners while being read to, which means hopefully means their minds are working hard when they are reading independently.  

September 15, 2014

We had a guest on Friday!

We are loving reading the book called, There's a Boy in the Girls Washroom by Louis Sachar. In the story, the main character, Bradley Chalkers, has a lot of difficulty in life.  He is having trouble managing his behaviour, his school work and his relationships. Life is hard for Bradley and he seems to be his own worst enemy at times.  

On the suggestion of his teacher, Bradley begins visiting with his school counselor named Miss Davis. She is incredibly patient and very compassionate. In fact, it's her patience that brings about a change in Bradley's behaviour.  

On Friday, we had a visit from our own "Miss Davis". Mrs. Dawson, our school's Child and Youth Counsellor was in to visit with my students to talk about how she supports the boys and girls at our school. 

It was so wonderful when Mrs. Dawson came in and all the boys and girls already had an idea about what a wonderful and helpful person she must be. She explained a bit about her role here at our school and we got the impression that just like Miss Davis, she makes a big difference in the lives of many people. 

We were a warm and friendly audience for our very first special guest, and I hope everyone enjoyed learning about the important work Mrs. Dawson does at our school.

Math Makes Sense: Unit 2

Our first official Math unit is called "Patterns in Addition and Subtraction" (it's actually Unit 2, we'll get to Unit 1 later). 

What are the Big Ideas? 

  • Addition and subtraction are inverse operations
  • Addition and subtraction have certain properties. For example, there is the commutative property of addition.
  • Strategies for solving 1-and 2- digit addition and subtraction problems can be used to solve problems involving numbers with increasing digits. 

How Will these Concepts Develop?

  • Students use patterns to develop strategies for addition and subtraction of 1-digit numbers, including finding missing numbers.
  • Students use Base Ten Blocks and place-value mats to add and subtract 1 and 2 digit numbers, and later to add and subtract 3-digit numbers.
  • Students use mental math to add and subtract. They estimate sums and differences. 
  • Students develop proficiency with adding and subtracting 3-digit numbers using the standard algorithm. 

Why are these concepts important? 
The ability to recognize patterns assists students to recall basic facts proficiently. Fluency with computations involving the addition and subtraction of whole numbers is essential in the world around us. Students should have a good understanding of number and the meanings of and relationships between the operations of addition and subtraction. A solid foundation is necessary for learning and applying math to higher grades. 

From: Math Makes Sense: OntarioTeacher Guide: Pearson Education Canada, 2004. 

September 14, 2014


The other day I posted about the Spelling Inventory. I mentioned that the boys and girls would have a retest on Monday (tomorrow) if they scored less than 20/26. 

Well, the tests are sitting here on my dining room table! I completely forgot to give them back on Friday. 

So let's go ahead and move that retest to Wednesday. I'll give the boys and girls back their tests on Monday and that'll give them some time to study if needed.  

Once again, you can find a copy of the test words here: 

Spelling Inventory

September 13, 2014

That's a wrap!

We had a terrific second week of school and wrapped things up with our second "Fun Friday" yesterday. 

On Thursday, as part of our Morning Work (more on that in a later post) we got to talking about all the delicious foods we can make with apples.  Our list was quite extensive (and delicious!). Apple pie, apple crisp, apple-sauce, you name it, we had it on our list! 

This was the page that got our bellies rumbling!

I thought it would be fun, on Fun Friday, to have the boys and girls make their own Apple-Men. You know, an apple with great running shoes because let's face it, when you think about it, it really doesn't end well for the apple in most of those delicious foods we talked about.   

Because of all that work we did with the Number-Sense Math folders, this first Art activity was a smooth as you can imagine. Judging by how well the kids worked, you would have thought this was the 10th week of school, not the second! 

You simply must check out the photos from the event. These kids are talented!  I planted a seed (get it? Seed? Apples?) that maybe the kids might want to make their apple-guy look tough or angry so as to fend off the apple-peeler, and as you'll see in the pics, a few kids did just that!  Others went for the cuteness factor, which would probably also be very effective. 

Remember to ask the kids for the password to the albums!

Please note: winkflash is going out of business at the end of the year. Classroom albums will be securely posted at 

September 11, 2014

The Game With No Name (Mental Math Practice)

One of the learning goals of the second unit in the Math program is for students to develop mental math skills. 

We played this Math game recently in class and it was a real hit!  I promised I would post it on the blog so students could play it at home with their families. 

It's a great activity, especially for those students who are still developing their single digit addition skills and those who are proficient. It's a win-win for everyone! 

Spelling Inventory

I had the boys and girls complete a Spelling Inventory today so that I can learn more about them as spellers and at the same time, the various spelling patterns we'll need to focus on in the weeks ahead during our Word Study lessons.  

The "test" is out of 26. If a child scored less than 20, I'd like to give them an opportunity to practice at home and rewrite the test on Monday. 

Sometimes all students need is a little refresher and then they're back on track. If students are still not as successful as they would like to be on Monday, after the rewrite, I'll create lessons where we focus on spelling the common errors that were made.  

The Inventory is from a resource called, Words Their Way and the test provides an overview of many common spelling patterns (e.g. to change "try" to "tries", you have to drop the letter y and add -ies) It's through practice, memory and asking ourselves, "Hey does this word look right?" that we start to catch these errors ourselves. We all know that spellcheck will find these mistakes in essays, resumes and reports in later years, but if children don't have a foundation for spelling now, their reading comprehension is at risk. 

My goal is for each child to achieve at least 22/26 on the Inventory.  

A copy of the words can be found here.  

September 09, 2014

A quick reminder

Just a reminder that all students require a pair of indoor shoes they can keep here at school in their lockers. It's easier for everyone if the shoes stay here. 
If you require your child to bring them home on the weekend, please write a note in the agenda on Fridays and I'll remind them.  

What's Morning Message?

Why, it's just the best way ever to start the day! 
Check out this video I made of how we begin each great day in 208! 

Oh! A favour: please ignore the error in the Morning Message regarding the amount of money shown on screen...I was still only on my first cup of coffee this morning. I'll fix that by the time the kids roll on in. ;)   

September 08, 2014

One of my favourite learning tools!

As part of our Morning Message today, we looked at the illustration below of a General Store from about 100 or so years ago. 

While it wasn't exactly the "Pioneer Days" back in 1914, the picture was a great way to start a discussion this morning about what we notice about the way stores have changed and the way they have stayed the same.

Since I'm asking the children to speak in full sentences that include a part of the question, the illustration provided us with a very rich discussion opportunity. Speaking in full sentences will also assist the boys and girls in their writing.  

From here, we talked about how the children in the pioneer days were taught in a one-room schoolhouse and used slates and chalk instead of using paper and pencils. 

One of my favourite and most effective learning tools (in addition to that whisper-phone I mentioned the other day) is a white-board.  

I love that I am able to provide each child in the class with their own board, marker and eraser because the participation and learning just soars when we use them. It's a very effective, very low-tech learning tool that can be used across all subject areas for a variety of purposes.

The boys and girls understand that if they misuse their slates or are not following my instructions while using them (e.g. doodling on them instead of doing the work assigned), they'll loose them for a week. 
We're going to pay homage to our pioneer friends by referring to our white-boards as "slates" for the year. 

The kids also got a kick out of learning all the ways their teacher violates the pioneer "Teacher Contract": wears jewelry, paints her nails, shows her ankles, annnndddd she even eats ice-cream in public with her husband! Tsk. Tsk.  


September 05, 2014

Happy Fun Friday!

We had a terrific first Fun Friday! We learned (in a very entertaining way, I might add) all about the different types of manners: 
  • Healthy manners
  • Classroom manners 
  • Friendship manners 
  • Food manners 
  • Family and Home manners 
We watched some funny cartoons from the Hoops and Yo-yo website and played a really "Password"-type game where everyone was able to demonstrate good sportsmanship and friendship. We also had indoor recess this afternoon due to the heat, which gave the boys and girls a great opportunity to play with some of the games and toys I have in my classroom. It was fun to watch them interact with each other and enjoy the time together.  

You can see the videos we watched here. Our favourite was the one about how to open a door. We watched that one several times!

And of course, it wouldn't be a Fun Friday without Full House on the Smartboard at lunch. We watched the episode where little Stephanie accidentally cuts off Uncle Jesse's hair. We won't be able to watch every episode this year, but I've chosen 40 or so of them from the show's eight seasons that present especially positive messages and are in line with the themes we'll cover as part of our Religion program. 

Thank you again to all the boys and girls for a great first week of school! 

September 04, 2014

Preparing for the weekly POTW test

Each Friday (occasionally a Thursday), the boys and girls will write their Poem of the Week test. For short, we call it a "POTW test".

We do the bulk of the preparation of the test as part of our Morning Message, so very little studying is required at home.

In order to help your child prepare for the weekly test, I have prepared a two-page printable for parents and families. 

Click on the picture below to download the full document.

This week, we'll write the POTW test together as a class. I want us to work through the test together so that the boys and girls will be ready to write the test on their own next week.  

September 03, 2014

Day Two!

Our second day of school was another hit! 

We began the day the way we'll begin everyday moving forward: with our morning handshake in the hallway. The boys and girls line up with their lunches and their agendas and I shake each of their hands as they enter the classroom.

If you are a teacher yourself, I highly recommend this as a way to begin the school day. It's a wonderful way to welcome each student in the morning. Greeting my students at the door each day not only teaches them about how to give a good handshake, it gives me a chance to connect with each one of them before our day even starts. 

Those quick conversations we have each morning go a long way in making each child feel at ease and an important member of our classroom community. 

We moved on to copying our agendas together. We reviewed that routine and talked about the importance of responding to any notes I might write to the child in their agenda. 

We are working on a booklet called, "All About Me" that I'm really looking forward to sharing with you on Curriculum Night. The students are sharing all kinds of interesting facts about themselves and at the same time, I'm able to show them how we use the Smartboard and Document Camera to help us with our assignments.  

It's kind of a 2-in-1 activity in that sense! 

I had some fun this morning modeling my own answers on the Document Camera. This helps the boys and girls know the quality of written work I'm looking for, and at the same time, demonstrates the extent of my fine art skills known as "stick people with big mouths".  

Math Lesson #1

We had our first Math lesson this afternoon. We're reviewing just some basic number sense skills that I am sure will come very easy to the boys and girls. 

We're reviewing and practicing the following: 

  • when we add, our numbers grow
  • when we subtract, our numbers shrink
  • constructing numbers using Base-Ten-Blocks 
  • how can we use a hundreds chart to help us with addition and subtraction? 
  • what patterns do we see on a hundreds chart?
  • what's an ordinal number?
The boys and girls will also learn about our routines and procedures for working with glue and scissors. 
We're going to make a "Number Sense Folder" as part of our learning, which allows me to teach the classroom expectations for Art and other times when we'll need to make a mess to create. 

Here we are working away on our folders. I think my students and I are a match made in heaven because I figured this activity would be a big ol' mess of paper and glue and it wasn't. I thought for sure there'd be all kinds of bits of paper on the floor at the end of the day. 

No, no, no! 

In fact, my room is tidier now, at the end of the day than it was at the beginning! 

Sigh. Ten months with a group of polite, friendly, funny kids who dislike mess as much as I do! 


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