November 29, 2014

Snow Bear Art!

It's not quite winter yet, but we're reading a great story about a group of polar bear friends during Morning Message, so I couldn't resist this Fun Friday activity! 

It was also "Paint the Town Red" day to support the United Way and as you can see, my students take these theme days very, very seriously! 

Check out our Fun Friday pics! (click here) 

November 26, 2014

Let's have some fun!

Parents, we had so much fun practicing our ordinal numbers today, that I promised the kids I'd create a few extra for the blog.

Here are three bonus problems for the kids to solve. They should have their own little character cut-outs in their Zippy.

The videos are not the greatest of quality and I'm not sure why. Hopefully they will still be enjoyed by the kids.  

November 25, 2014

Partner problem-solving!

To help the boys and girls work on their "explain your thinking" area of their problem-solving, we did some partner work yesterday. 

It is a fairly simple problem from Unit 1, but the focus was on "how do you know you're right?" (that's often the tricky part of the problem!).

After giving the kids ten or so minutes to complete the problem, we looked at each other's work on the Smartboard, while each set of partners explained their work.  I

It was a great learning opportunity and now that everyone is more familiar with classroom expectations, routines and some problem solving strategies, we can explore more problem solving situations such as this one...only we're takin' the level of difficulty up a notch or two! ;) 

Happy Like Soccer

The boys and girls have now all received their feedback from their Reading Response Letter for Swindle

We're moving on to our next assignment, which is a paragraph about an event or gift that made us happy. 

Students are expected to use the feedback from their Swindle letter and implement it in this new assignment.  

We'll be reading a story called Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts shortly, and before we even start reading the text, we're going to fire up our own prior knowledge. The boys and girls will be connected to this story before we even begin reading!

On their checklist, the boys and girls are expected to write specifically about how they've used their Swindle feedback to improve this paragraph. 

I'm also asking students to focus on the 5Ws to be certain they have included sufficient detail in their writing. 

November 24, 2014

Unit 1 Practice Test

We're going to have next Math test on Thursday November 27.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys and girls do on this. Our first two units are very long that's for sure. The rest of the Math program moves along quite quickly, with each unit running about 10-12 school days. It will be nice to pick up the pace and move on to our next unit of study, which is Unit 3: Geometry. 

As with all Math units, I've created a Practice Test for students to complete at home.  

It's really important to note that we still have to cover two sections in preparing for this test: ordinal numbers and identifying numbers by their base-ten-names (e.g. 341 is three hundreds, four tens, one one). We've done a lot of work with ordinal numbers this year, but we haven't done any problem solving using them, so that's going to be our focus this week. 

We'll do lots of review this week and if necessary, we can move the test to Friday, but I'm aiming for Thursday.  

Unit 1: Practice Test  

Here's a link to the answer key for this test: 

Unit 1: Answer Key to Practice Test

Questions to ask while reading

I'm sending home a copy of this set of questions to ask your children while you are reading with them. These questions help you to monitor your child's comprehension and help students learn to defend their ideas and opinions by giving evidence from the text. Good readers talk about the books they are reading and this set of questions is a great starting point.  

During a typical 20-30 minute reading session, I would limit the number of questions to between three and five, otherwise the fun begins to evaporate, if you know what I mean. 

Here's a printable copy (click here). 

November 21, 2014

Thank you!

It was such a pleasure to meet with you all over the last two days. I got home on Thursday night and my husband called down, "How'd they go sweetie?" my response was "Just perfect."  

Then I poured myself a glass of something and just stood in the kitchen for a bit thinking of how much I enjoyed chatting with you all and how lucky my students are to have such wonderful families supporting them. 

And Friday morning was more of the same...great people raising great kids.  

Thank you for all your hard work and thank you for the kind things you said about me. I think we all make a great team. 

It is so inspiring and gratifying to know that my students enjoy coming to school. As we move forward through the year, don't hesitate to call or get in touch. Our "conversation" will continue here on the blog, but if you would like to meet again in person or by phone, I'd be happy to do so.   

November 19, 2014

A room full of super-heroes!

With so much on the go this week, it's nice to have something purposeful for the kids to work on when they finish their work. With a bigger writing assignment like a Reading Response Letter (RRL), I often have kids handing them in at varying rates.

As children finish their RRLS, they are to work on this Super-Hero activity I created. We've been having fun with labels, captions and interesting sentences.  

I thought this activity would be a fun way to combine our knowledge of labels and our skills as writers. I've made it clear to the kids that typically labels are just a word or two, but for this activity, we're going to bend the rules just a bit. 

My hope is that we'll have these posted on our bulletin board outside Room 208 in time for parent-teacher interviews on Thursday and Friday! 

November 18, 2014

Tuesday Funnies

At Evening Meeting, around 3:15...

Student:  Mrs. M, that was the first bell. We should go now. 

Me: Why are you so interested in the first bell? 

Student: I'm worried I'm going to miss my bus.

Me: Hunny, I'll never let you miss your bus. If that happened, I would drive you home.

Student: Oh, well now I actually want to miss my bus!

Me: Now, just to clarify, I don't actually put you in the car. It's more of a strap you to the roof kind of thing. 

Student: Oh. In that case, I think I'll just take my bus. 

Labels vs Captions

I looooooove this anchor chart. Great supplement when introduction informational text. (From Eberhart's Explorers)
For the last week or so, as part of Morning Message, we've been looking at the various features of non-fiction texts. Right now our focus is on the difference between labels and captions.  

I found the adorable anchor chart/poster above on Pinterest and wanted to share it with the boys and girls. This is an example of an image that has been labelled. 

The photo below of that super-handsome man is an example of one that has a caption.  
Mrs. M and her Dad!

Parents, would you please review this blog post with your children tonight (Tuesday) as they may need this review/information to help them with Practice Page #10. 

The cat poster is not mine, but I believe it belongs to this gal who has a beautiful blog!  

November 17, 2014

About the Book Fair

I see a few questions in the agenda this morning about the Book Fair. 

My students go browsing this afternoon(Monday)and then our official shopping time is Tuesday.  

If you would like to send your child with a little money to shop with, please send it in a Ziploc, wallet or envelope.  In the past, most parents have sent between $5.00-$20.00.  

November 16, 2014


Fun Friday was a riot!
We practiced our fluency skills by reading the alphabet according to the chart pictured. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds!

After that, the boys and girls worked with their elbow partners on these simple little skits(pictured below). Easy enough right? 

Well old on there, fellas! 

Each set of partners received one situation. The kids could only use the letters of the alphabet to express themselves. If you walked by our room around 1:30, it sure sounded funny! 

It was all done in an effort to teach the boys and girls the importance of fluency and attending to punctuation when we read.  

Of course, it also helps students to see the connection between "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" because when you have a room full of kids using only abc, def, ghi, etc. to communicate, the emphasis really is on the "how you say it" factor in order to communicate the message.  

It was a lot of fun watching the kids present their skits to the class and then having the rest of the class try to guess what the situation might have been. In some cases, two groups had the same skit, so that made for even more interest! 

Thank you to all the boys and girls for another great week! 

We begin Week 11 on Monday and I'm looking forward to taking a little break from our POTWs and focusing more on non-fiction reading materials.  

November 14, 2014

Wanna have some fun with us?

It's Fun Friday and I know the kids will get a kick out of this! 

Can you look at the photo below and identify the sorting rule? 
It's a slide from our Morning Message and it's the most challenging one we've done so far. 

In the comment section below, tells us what you think might go in the middle loop of the Venn Diagram.  

In class, we say, "In the left loop, you have abc and in the right loop, you have xyz, so in the middle loop, you would have 123."  

I can't wait to see how the kids do with this! 

But hold on! If we get a parent respond with the correct answer in the comment section below, we will reward ourselves with a treat from our Jar of Happiness...and we'll send one home for you too, 'cause we're nice like that.


November 13, 2014

Let's Talk About Non-Fiction!

Tomorrow will be our last POTW test for a few weeks. We'll still have a weekly test, but we're going to take a little break from poems and focus our attention on non-fiction articles of the week...NFAOTW-doesn't quite roll of the tongue does it? 

The poems are lots of fun though, so we might end up doing a bit of alternating.  

The photo above shows some of the features of a non-fiction text.  For the tests on Friday, we'll still follow a similar format, only we'll have a few more higher level questions...questions that are in line with *ahem* EQAO(that talk with the class is coming very soon). 

The tests will take the class a little longer to write, but it will be excellent prep for future grades where non-fiction writing is the norm (e.g. short essay answers or reading comprehension questions) 

Just like with the POTW test, we'll review the article and features each day, so come Friday, the students will be very well prepared to write the test.  

It's a good idea to have your child read the article aloud each night, focusing on a few things: 
  • reading with appropriate expression
  • attending to punctuation 
  • focusing on sounding like a news reporter 
  • making sure their oral reading sounds like natural speech
Like last year, I'll likely stick with the non-fiction focus for at least four weeks and then I'll see where we're at, and we'll go from there.  

November 12, 2014

The Land of Many Colours

The boys and girls did a wonderful job reading The Land of Many Colours to our school as part of the Remembrance Day Liturgy. 

We decided to record our reading so that we could share it with parents and families who were not able to attend the Liturgy.  

It's a very special story to read on a very special day.  

Explain your thinking

Many of our Math problems in Grade Three are followed by the statement: Explain your thinking. We call it "EYT" for short.  

When we ask students to explain their thinking, we're asking them to tell us how they know they're right. We're not asking them to explain the steps to how they solved the problem.


I know, you're probably thinking how can a student describe how they know they're right without explaining steps?  It's a really, really fine line.  

We're asking students to tell us about the strategies they used WITHOUT telling us how to use those strategies. Have a look at this very basic example below: 

Patti has 12 stickers. 
Paul has 36 stickers. 
How many more stickers does Paul have than Patti?
Explain your thinking.

A student who "gets" how to EYT would explain that they subtracted 12 from 36 to find how many more stickers Paul has. Then,they might tell readers that they flipped the question and added 24+12 to make sure their calculations were correct.  

What they shouldn't do is write the instructions for HOW to subtract. For example: First, I subtracted the 2 from 6 in the ones column. Then I wrote down 4. Next, I subtracted the 1 from the 2 in the tens column...

This tends to be a common mistake early on and only lots and lots of practice helps students identify the difference between explaining their thinking and writing instructions. 

November 11, 2014

So proud

The boys and girls presented a beautiful Remembrance Day Liturgy this morning. We even recorded ourselves reading our story called The Land of Many Colors so we could share it with family and other blog visitors

Unfortunately, because we recorded it in the Gym, our sound quality was very poor so we'll try it again, in classroom tomorrow and share it with you all at that time. 

We wanted to post something here on the blog tonight to share with those loved ones who could not join us today. So, since I don't have any photos or other video to share, words will have to do. 

The students did a wonderful job. It was a simple, but touching Remembrance Day service. The message "We need to remember" was the ribbon that connected all of the parts to our Liturgy. Participants young and old, were asked to go forward and use their voice to create peace. 

Later on today, I had a very special talk with my own class. It was just before dismissal and I was talking about how we are all trying to build bridges to one another. I explained that even when I'm joking with my students, I'm trying to build connections. Not a "Hey, let's play football at recess" kind of connection, but a connection nonetheless. As the clock ticked on toward 3:20, I told the boys and girls that if they laugh, smile and remember to be polite, they really have all the tools they need to be wonderful citizens and peacemakers. My mother always said your manners will take you anywhere.  

Laugh, smile and be polite. I think it's a great recipe for success.  

Thank you again to all the boys and girls in Grade Three for a very special day.    

November 10, 2014

We have questions!

The boys and girls received their Reading Response Letters (RRL) back today. I've written them a letter back and provided them with some feedback. 

The expectation is that they'll apply the feedback in my letter to their next assignment. We're going to go ahead and write another RRL in response to the novel Swindle by Gordon Korman.  

We're reading this novel at Evening Meeting and it's a real gem!  There was a (dreadful) movie made of the novel last summer and many of the students are under the impression they already know what will happen.  The novel and movie are quite different, so I'm looking forward to seeing what students think when we finish reading.  

Since we're working on this new letter while we're reading the novel, it's a little different than a letter written after the novel is finished and that's a-okay.  

Today the boys and girls were asked to write three or four questions they have at this stage of the game (Chapter 4).  I'll read a little more tomorrow, say, up to Chapter 7, and then students will begin writing their letter. This will also be a great opportunity for students to reconsider any questions from today and add any additional ones they have after reading/listening to the story a little more. 

I'm changing something this time 'round though. Instead of simply giving their opinion of the book as part of their letter, I'm broadening this section and asking students to share their thoughts. This means they can write:
  • their very detailed opinion
  • their thoughts of why the writer wrote the book
  • how they relate to the text 
  • how they would feel if they were the main character, Griffin 
  • what they predict might happen next and why
The goal here is for students to provide detail, detail, detail! 

By having the kids widen the scope here, I think I'm presenting my students with a more authentic writing experience. I was really pleased with the first RRL and I think this sets my group of sophisticated writers up with a great opportunity to express themselves. You can see the higher expectations reflected in the student checklist pictured below. 

November 06, 2014

Little Red Poppy

To help the boys and girls prepare for our Liturgy on Tuesday, I'm asking them to practice singing our special song.  

I have found a video of the song and lyrics that will assist with this.  

Parents and families are welcome to join us at 10:30 in the Gym on Tuesday. Please be sure to sign in at the Office. 

The Even and Odd Song!

Check out our latest Math video that helps us determine even and odd numbers! 

November 04, 2014

A busy day!

The boys and girls were busy today! Would you believe today was the 41st day of school? And um, would you also believe that a Kindergardener asked me if I'm a teenager? Talk about a five-star Tuesday! 

This morning, we had a drama lesson with Mrs. Hill, where the boys and girls learned all about the plot of a story. 

Then we had a Social Studies lesson and talked about the different jobs that had to be done in the First Nations village. The students were surprised to learn that jobs were divided into "boys jobs" and "girls jobs". We all agreed that in 2014, anyone can do any job, regardless of whether they're a boy or a girl. I was really impressed when after just a brief lesson on the features of the village, students were able to brainstorm with their elbow partners and identify jobs that had to be done in order to keep a village running smoothly.

In Math, we jumped ahead and talked about even and odd numbers. We still have to go back and do some work with number lines, but the lesson on even and odd numbers is a good one and with the gray, gloominess of the day, I thought it was the perfect day for some fun(and a new Math video-coming soon!).  

At Evening Meeting, we began a new novel. It's called Swindle by Gordon Korman and even though it gets off to a slow start, it's well worth the read! It's a great opportunity to talk about the risk we all take if we abandon a book too soon because we find it boring.  

We've talked earlier in the year about reasons why good readers abandon books and yes, "it's boring" is one of them, but the bigger go-ahead-and-abandon-it rules are: 

  • it's too easy/too hard
  • I'm having trouble with too many of the words 
  • there are too many characters
  • it's too scary for me 
  • I don't like the subject matter after all
  • I've read other books that are very similar (which could make it boring)
In Morning Message we've been talking about bullet points. Soon we'll be looking at non-fiction texts and through Morning Message, I can give the boys and girls lots of creative experiences with a variety of non-fiction text features such as bullet points. Students are learning about our "Character of the month": Turkey Lurkey. I used bullet points to tell the kids some facts about him.  

And there you have it! Talk about a busy day! I always think we put in two hours for every one hour we spend here at school, but is it possible that we did a three-for-one today? 


November 03, 2014

I have, who has?

We've been having lot of fun playing this game in our class over the last week or so. As requested by the boys and girls, I'm posting the game here. 

The kids will be able to explain to you how it's played. It's really helped the boys and girls develop their mental math skills. 
We like the pressure that comes with timing our rounds. 

We can get through a whole round in 1:10 minutes. I think this game would work best with four or more players, otherwise it becomes a wee bit too confusing! 

We'll let you know when we beat our record time!  

Click here for a printable version of the game:

I have, who has? Click here!


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