December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas

It was December of 1977 or '78. Mom was working at Sears at the Centre Mall in Hamilton. 

It was all about Dad, me and the apple of my eye, my little brother, Paul. Seriously, no little brother in the history of kids was more loved than this little guy. 

Dad takes us to the mall that night. I think we went to Eatons or maybe Sears to say hi to Mom. 

At that age I was, to put it mildly, obsessed with The Flintstones.  When Dad brought home the fancy new remote for the T.V., the most important information he needed to impart on his beloved first-born was which two channels aired my favourite show.  I knew every episode by heart. 12:00 pm and sometimes even 12:30 (if Agri-News wasn't airing that day), was all about my modern stone-age family. Look out world. I had my grilled cheese and my show. I may have needed a little more ketchup, but other than that...leave me alone, I was good. 

Back to my story. So that Friday night, Dad, me and the babe are at the Mall. 
Dad finds the Holy Grail of Christmas ornaments: The Flinstones ornament set. Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty; they're all there in their Christmas costumes.  

My ornament form. Whatever the cost, my six year old self needed them. 

Fear not.

Good ol' Sinatra-loving Dad understands my obsession. He gets it. I have nothing to worry about, we're going home with these ornaments tonight. 

I know what you're thinking. What a great man. And he is. He does not disappoint. Over the years I would learn that his discovery of the Flintstone ornaments only scratched the surface of this man's many talents. Cars fixed, dinners made, dogs entertained, you name it, this Dad does it all. Who else drives to Erie, PA and back to watch his son's hockey game in one night?  
He's that guy. 

Have you ever driven through Dunkirk, New York on your way to Erie? Even in July, you're bound to experience lake-effect snow.
My folks are just those kind of devoted parents. 

So we get home. Let's get these babies up on the tree right?  Well, slow down my friend. Dad appreciates that these ornaments are not just any ornaments. These are a big deal. These belong to Patti and she gets to put them up on the tree. 


So what do we do with that adorable little kid. That face that even six year old me couldn't help but love. Those cheeks. Good heavens those cheeks.  When he was born I literally thought to myself, I will kiss those cheeks so much! I was four at the time. How does a four-year old know this?   

Well, that night I learned about a little trick parents have been pulling for years.  
Dad told me to pretend to go to bed so that my adorable little puppy of a brother would be convinced that he too should do the same. And it worked. Big sister Patti trudged off to bed and little brother did the same. 

Ten minutes later, Dad came to get me and I put the ornaments up on the tree while the Ray Conniff Singers provided the soundtrack.

It was glorious.
I bet it was 8:15 pm, but it felt like the middle of the night. 

Special thanks to dear ol' Dad for going the extra mile to
take this photo for me! xo 
I hung my ornaments up on the tree, all on my own.  
My ornaments from my show. 
I got to stay up 'til Mom came home from work. I was living the dream.

Those ornaments go up every year at Mom and Dad's house. They are very well loved. Over the years, they've been used to act out many a Flintstones episode (only at Christmas of course!).

A few years ago, at Christmas, my father, Silvio Colontino, super-hero extraordinaire, hands me a carefully wrapped gift.  

Some things need no explanation. 

My set of ornaments didn't come with Pebbles. I think it's one of the most precious and thoughtful gifts my father has given me. Those ornaments are a special story from my childhood.  

I hope the students in my class receive the kind of gifts this year, and throughout their lives, that bring them the same kind of joyful memories my Flintstone ornaments bring me.  

New photos!

Check out the photos from our day! 
Click here to view the album! 

December 17, 2014

The Christmas News Report!

And now for the best 20 minutes of your day! Can you believe that in just a few days, my class went from receiving this massive script to recording it?  

I am so proud of my group of expressive and talented readers!  

I had so much fun writing this news report, but even MORE fun recording it with my class. They really worked as a team and developed many skills in the process! 
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 

December 15, 2014

We're working on something super-fun!

If all goes as planned, we hope to have our very first "School News Report: Christmas Edition" recorded and ready to go for Thursday!

The boys and girls have their scripts, they know their parts and they know what they have to do to really make their character come alive! 

We're focusing on reading with lots of appropriate expression, making our reading sound like natural speech and we're even working on our comedic timing!

The news is all make-believe, but the lessons learned through this project are not! My hope is that after this exercise, the boys and girls will have further developed their overall reading fluency and perhaps helped them to develop some important oral presentation skills! 

I'm asking the kids to really work at practicing their lines as much as they can. Memorization is not required since this will be a good ol' fashioned radio show!

I can't wait to share the final product with you all!    

December 14, 2014

So sweet

The Grade Three Focus on Faith theme is community and the common good. Isn't this a wonderful example of a community working together for a common good?  

Parents, would you ask your students to watch this video so we can discuss it tomorrow in class?  

December 11, 2014

So many things "wrapped" up!

The boys and girls have finished their sorting folders AND their Mrs. Claus paragraphs and they're fantastic! 
The sorting folders are coming home for you to see tonight. Please return them tomorrow.  
I am so thrilled with the quality of work the boys and girls have produced this week. Those Mrs. Claus paragraphs are truly something special. The level of detail and though that went into them is just incredible. I know you'll enjoy reading them when they come home.  

I'm writing students only a brief feedback "note" as opposed to a letter, and this is how feedback will work for the rest of the year. We have achieved some significant milestones in our writing, so long letters will no longer be required (in most cases). I think this will all be a little more clear when the Mrs. Claus paragraphs come home for your review/signatures. 

Today in Math, we talked about "nets". Those paper cut-outs of shapes that can be folded into a three-dimensional shape like the one pictured below. 
We'll do this actual activity after the holidays!

This particular one helped students see how a cube is composed of six congruent squares. We tried to see if you could make a rectangular prism out of six congruent rectangles, but nope, it wouldn't work.  ;) 

December 10, 2014

Unit 3: Quiz 1

We had our first Math quiz for Unit Three today. 

We've been talking for about a week about congruent shapes along with parallel lines and intersecting lines.  

I was looking to see how well the students can explain the difference between the two types of lines and that they can identify congruent shapes.  

In the photo below is an example of two answers that scored 4/4.


December 09, 2014

How to add sparkle and more detail to your writing!

The boys and girls are currently working on a writing assignment called "What does Mrs. Claus do on Christmas Eve?" 

The expectation is that they will use their feedback from their "Happy" paragraphs to make this writing assignment their best yet!

We are talking about how to add more sparkle, voice and personality to our writing. We watched this little video I created so the boys and girls would know just what I'm talking about, and exactly what I mean when I ask them for more detail, personality, sparkle, etc. 

We're going to continue to look at samples like the one in the video for the next few days to make sure everyone feels confident with this. 

December 08, 2014

Writers at Work!

So this afternoon, the boys and girls received their "Happy" paragraphs back. 

Each child received a feedback letter from me as well. The expectation is that students will implement the feedback while working on their "What does Mrs. Claus do on Christmas Eve?" paragraph.  

I provided each child with a specific next step and I'm looking forward to reading these next paragraphs. In many cases, children were asked to really focus on details. Not just details for the sake of details, but adding information about the subject (e.g. if you talk about your dog, share the name and breed). 

Since this is a description of Mrs. Claus' night, we're going to use transitional words. After reviewing the anchor chart pictured below the kids were off! 

December 05, 2014

Sometimes simple is best!

We had the nicest Fun Friday today. No frills, nothing fancy, just good ol' fashioned fun! 
I need to do this more often. This afternoon, after we put some finishing touches on our to-do list for the day, I showed the boys and girls some Christmas stencils that I had and invited them to enjoy some "Preferred activity time". 
It was so nice to sit back and watch the kids interact with each other.  They traced Christmas stencils, played games and enjoyed some of the other toys I keep in my room for indoor recess.  
I know we'll have a long winter ahead of us, and I'm sure there will be plenty of indoor recesses to come, but it was so, so nice to spend this quiet time with the kids.  
Seeing them all working away on the carpet on their different projects and then watching them move their things to different parts of the room with their friends so they could really focus was just really heartwarming. 

It's neat to watch the kids treat the classroom like a little home. They looked like such a family with all that sharing and passing around of the stencils, My Little Ponies and game pieces.  Then off they went to find their cozy space to get serious about their "work".  

I loved that 30 or so minutes so much I completely forgot to take pictures to share with you.  You'll just have to picture it all in your mind I guess...boy was it sweet.

It's fun to let the kids be kids and worry less about being in the driver's seat and more about letting them run the show. 

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

You always work so hard and make me so proud to be your teacher.  

What does Mrs. Claus do on Christmas Eve?

We're going to get a bit of a head start on procedural writing before Christmas! We'll take a more in-depth look at it in January/February, but I just couldn't resist this creative writing opportunity!

The boys and girls started this activity on Thursday by brainstorming some ideas about how Mrs. C spends the big night.  

The next step is to review transitional words such as first, then, next, finally and then students will begin writing their paragraphs.

If these paragraphs are anything like the work the boys and girls produced for their Practice Page 13, I'm in for a real treat! 

December 03, 2014

Math Makes Sense: Unit 3

We began our third Math Unit this week. It's all about Geometry. For your convenience, I have linked our learning goals and big ideas for this unit of study at the bottom of this post. 

Today the boys and girls learned about polygons. They learned that polygons must be closed shapes.  

Students also reviewed what they have learned about parallel lines. They have learned that parallel lines never touch and run side by side. 

On Thursday, we'll review the names of two dimensional shapes and talk about the word congruent and that it means "same size and same shape". These two attributes are essential in order for a shape to be named congruent. 

Students will also learn that a cube and a triangular based pyramid are happy solids because they are made up of only congruent shapes.  

Unit 3 Learning Goals


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