December 25, 2015

The Christmas News Report!

After the gifts have been opened, the turkey has been enjoyed, the dishes are cleared and you're thinking, "What can we do before dessert?" Well, I'll tell you what you can do! 

You can listen to the Christmas News Report from the kids in Room 208!

I'm sure you'll agree they did a fantastic job!

Here's Part 1:  

Here's Part 2: 

December 16, 2015

Your Wednesday morning chuckle:

And be sure to check out your Elf-Name on the chart below! 

For the entire month of December, we've had fun with these really odd gifts I found online. I give the kids clues and they buzz with their neighbours about what the mystery gift might be. 
It's all part of Morning Message and I decided to record it today to share with you.  I'd also like to publicly apologize to Becker for forgetting his name.  I think I have Christmas fever.  I also tried to open my classroom this morning with my house key.  

We also really like this commercial: 

December 15, 2015

The last Practice Page of 2015!

A reminder to the boys and girls that tonight's Practice Page must include a very detailed caption. 
Your caption needs to identify the who, what, where, when and why of the illustration. Don't worry about the "how".  I know we had talked about that in class, but let's leave it out for now.  

Lists, lists and more lists!

It's such a busy time of year isn't it? I find 8:00 pm rolls around and I remember...oh ya, I forgot to blog!  
Can someone please share their secrets for how they manage to get it all done? 
Even in the classroom, we have so much on the go right now that if I don't write it down, it's not happening!  

Here's our plan for this week in Room 208:  
  • we're finishing up our Mrs. Claus procedural writing
  • we're starting a new file folder activity in Math (it's all about attributes)
  • we're going to record our News Report
  • we're finishing up our Christmas craft
  • we have our party on Thursday
  • we'll have a Practice Page on Tuesday, but not Thursday
  • the POTW test will be on Thursday this week 
  • we're going to start (and it's okay if we don't finish it before the break) an adorable polar bear directed drawing 
  • we're going to read as many Christmas stories as we can
  • we'll enjoy DEAR time by the "fireside" (thank you youtube)
Whew! That's quite a list! And since it's not a wedding that we're planning here, it's okay if this doesn't all get done in time for Friday's dismissal. My focus is on getting those special crafts wrapped and home to you, but other than that, it's a-okay if we still have Christmas work to finish when we return in January. At least, that's what I keep telling myself (wink).  

December 09, 2015

Oh my word, what a hilarious day!

Maybe it was the venti-Starbucks this morning, I don't know, but when I got to school this morning, I was
My brother likes to tease me that I get up so early in the morning, I break bones and they have enough time to heal before most (normal) people wake up. It's this running joke that won't go away, and it's really funny when he says it because he sounds like some kind of old-school southern preacher when he gets to the "heal" part.  

By the time I got to school this morning, I had ran 5k, baked buns (I giggle whenever I say this word), done my groceries at Walmart and sewn a button on Mr. M's shirt.  
Why can't every morning be this productive!

Oh,and for some reason, a trip to Starbucks for the XL coffee seemed like a good idea.  

By 8:30, I was all "Look out kids, you don't know what you're in for!" 

We covered three days worth of material today, I'm sure.  In fact, we had so much to do, I set the timer on my laptop/Smartboard and made a giant to-do list. The kids thought it was hysterical because I was all, "There's no time for two syllable words!" and "Can you eat your snack while doing Math and painting your craft? Can you? Can you?" 

The funny thing is, we got it all done.  Well, just about, but that's okay, we got the big stuff done and saved the funnest item until tomorrow.  

I really wanted to blog tonight about our procedural writing activity (What does Mrs. Claus do on Christmas Eve?) but today was just so funny that I wanted to let you in on it.  

Come back tomorrow for all the news about this awesome writing activity we're doing. It's really great! 

It's now 7:30-ish and this girl is ready for bed!  That coffee wore off a loooong time ago and since we were all so productive today, I think I'll hit the sack early.  Who knows what the kids are in for tomorrow! LOL! 

We also had this fun moment where we finished memorizing our counting by 7s song! 

One more thing! We're having a Spirit Day on Friday and the kids and staff are invited to wear red and green or any other Christmas duds they have! I'd love for my entire class to participate in this!  

December 05, 2015

You could hear a pin drop!

We started our Christmas craft today! Thank you so much to my colleague and friend, Miss Penwarden for sharing this adorable craft with us! 
Each child will create a canvas of snowmen to reflect their family members.  

While some children were painting, others were busy working with Christmas stencils on the carpet and enjoying the crackling "fire". It was such a cozy and fun afternoon...and it was unbeeee-lievably silent!

December 03, 2015

Non-Fiction Article of the Week

For the next three or so weeks, the boys and girls will receive a non-fiction article of the week to read at night. This week's article is all about our Friday lunch show, Full House.  

Our test on Friday will be all about the article and how the features of the text help readers to find information. The test will look a little different than what students have become used to. The focus is less on word study and more on content and the text format.  

In addition to learning new information and exploring a different type of text, the non-fiction texts will assist the students in developing their reading fluency. 

Our goal is to read aloud so that our reading sounds like natural speech. Another goal of this focus on non-fiction reading is for students to make text-to-world connections to age-appropriate materials.  

When we focus on teaching children how to read non-fiction or informational texts, we help them develop life-long skills. These are skills that help them not only understand the information being presented, but how to use text features to help find exactly what their looking for. 

Over the coming weeks, we'll revisit our talks about the text features of non-fiction writing: 

  • captions
  • charts
  • cut-away diagrams and illustrations 
  • descriptions
  • diagrams
  • directions
  • drawings
  • glossary 
  • graphs
  • headings
  • index
  • labels
  • lists
  • maps
  • photos
  • procedures
  • table of contents
  • title
  • bold print 

December 02, 2015

It's lunch...let's chat!

The kids are outside for lunch as we speak and my coffee from this morning is stone cold.  Someone needs to talk to Tim's about a mobile coffee stop.  

I'm loving this new notebook I picked up over the weekend at Homesense. It's pretty and sparkly and kinda looks like it came from Tiffany's and it's making me feel oh so productive. I love a good list and even more, I love checking things off my list. 

This morning and then again after lunch, we're going to "make things happen" in Social Studies. We're talking about the Hudson Bay Lowlands and we're going to do some investigative work with our elbow partners. Students will receive an article with some questions that are fairly tight in terms of their responses.  As we progress through our Social Studies work this year, the questions will become more open-ended and students will do more of their own investigations

Right now, our focus is on how to find answers and that needs to be directly taught. How do we use non-fiction text features and search engines to assist us: that's the focus right now.  

We've been talking a lot about collaboration and self-regulation lately, so I thought I would have my students do a little self-assessing at the end of all this. Nowadays, more so than ever, we must work with our colleagues and teammates to make it all happen, so exercises such as this one are really beneficial for my little learners.   

November 27, 2015

Just for the kids!

Hi boys and girls, 
I have two videos to show you! I put up the Christmas decorations today! On Saturday, I'm going to go to Michaels, the craft store, and see if I can find some more goodies to decorate our wonderful room with! I hear they're having a big sale! 

It was so much fun meeting your parents and talking about how terrific you all are! Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday! 

Mrs. M

November 26, 2015

Who is your safe side adult?

Today we learned all about personal safety as part of our Fun Friday (Thursday).  We watched a very, very entertaining video about a very serious topic. What could be better than learning about something that can be a little scary in a fun way?  

Please visit the link at the bottom of this blog post. You can download the teacher guide for the video and watch clips too. 

The big ideas from today's discussion were: 
  • always go to a woman with children when you are lost or separated from your parent (when no store/facility employee is available) 
  • there are safe-side adults, "kinda knows" and "don't knows"  -we never talk to kinda knows and don't knows without our safe-side adult's permission
  • a safe side adult is a parent, relative, teacher and can also be a close adult friend chosen by your parents
  • if you are pulled away by someone who is not your safe-side adult, you yell, "Help, this is not my mother/father" 
  • run away if someone you don't know comes into your safety circle (personal space) 
  • we never ever agree to help an adult we don't know find their lost puppy or item
  • when an adult tells you that something is a secret, you should tell that secret to your safe-side adult 
  • a child needs at least three safe-side adults in their life 
We had a really good discussion before and after the video. The boys and girls may have follow-up questions tonight that are best addressed by parents. 

November 25, 2015

A mid-week update

We've had a really busy week! The boys and girls are excited to go shopping at the book fair on Thursday morning. I was informed today by one chickadee that the Geronimo Stilton mascot that's been roaming the school is not *thee* real Geronimo Stilton. I appreciated this because if I'm going to devote a page in my autograph book to G.S, he'd better be the real deal!

We've had some fun with this poster this week! 

We're continuing our work in the "Those Shoes" booklet I created. I'm really pleased with the quality of answers and responses the students have written. I can see an effort being made to focus on our latest writing goals pictured in the post below. One goal (the No-Excuse one) is an ongoing goal of ours; one that I'd really like to see all students master. 

Throughout this booklet, I've asked students to come visit with me at our reading table. We review what they've done so far, they get a little bit of feedback or progress update and then they get back to work. It's a really effective way to keep track of the activity and give them that ongoing feedback that is so essential. The reading table is a lot like the family kitchen table during homework time. It's a mess, there's lots of good discussion and everyone gets to have a little bit of Mom/Dad/Mrs. M's attention.  

Our reading table is even complete with my old kitchen cupboards that Mr. M delivered to our class a few years ago! 

In Math we learned about hatch marks.  Once we had that mastered, we moved on to the second problem on the page pictured below. That actually proved to be quite challenging for the boys and girls! It was fun to watch them problem solve how to draw a triangle with two equal sides.

It turned out to be a bit trickier than they anticipated. The most common problem the kids ran into was this: they could get two sides equal, but for some reason, that third side often ended up being the same length as the others and that's not what the problem specified! Lots of hands on learning with this one! 

A reminder that Friday is a PA Day. We'll have our POTW test for this week on Monday. I totally forgot to have the boys and girls record this in their agendas, so we'll hold off until next week.  

Our latest writing goals...

Since that first Reading Response Letter came home last week, we've talked a lot about our next set of writing goals. We've reviewed them almost everyday and I want to share them here for families.  

Practice Page #15: a hint!

Need a bit of help with tonight's Practice Page? 
Please watch this video for some tips and hints! 

November 21, 2015

I Bought My Cat a Jetpack!

This week's Poem of the Week was hilarious! We loved reading it with expression and we loved talking about the picture we made in our mind while we read.  

So for Fun Friday, we just had to draw this cat! We call a lesson like this "directed drawing".  I provide the boys and girls with instructions as to how to draw the cat itself and then they can add their own flair. As you might guess, the kids did a fantastic job!  

I made a no-sound recording of how to draw the cat, then I provided my students with live, step-by-step instructions using the document camera. 

Once my little learners got the cat drawn, it was time to personalize their pet and what a great job they did! 

November 19, 2015

Thursday Funnies

In addition to doing Morning Message, we also do something called "Math Message". We have Morning Message everyday and Math Message about three times a week. Math Message always includes a bunch of quick activities or slides that we either review or learn for the first time and then add to the rotation (something about that entire sentence sounds a bit redundant doesn't it, but shoes are on sale at The Bay! No time for fancy-proofreading today! LOL!) 

Since day one, we've been working on counting money. It's a great skill to have, and by counting by 1s, 2s 25s, 10s and 5s, you really develop some great number sense.  I highly recommend having your child practice sorting and then counting change at home.  

Today, I gave each child a small container of play money to keep for the year. From now on, instead of counting the money from the Smartboard, they'll have to create the money shown using their own money. And then we'll count it.  

So using the document camera, I first showed my little learners how to organize their money, then we counted it and then they made that same amount on their desks and we counted it again. 

After that, we moved on to Gary and Lucy. While their love will never end, our time with them has. On Monday we move on to a new Math unit: Geometry.  It's a lot less romantic than G and L.  

November 16, 2015

Future best-sellers right here!

Tonight I marked the boys and girls Reading Response Letters (RRLs) for a story I wrote called This is NOT a Halloween Story.  

Students were charged with choosing three of the six topics pictured below to write about. I was so excited about this because in the past, I've set this assignment up to be a bit more structured. Each letter was like a little present!  Can you imagine how exciting it is to write a story and then have your own students read it and write about it? 

The quality of my students' work is off the charts! I'm telling you, this is one talented group and I attribute that to their commitment to success and the checklist we created (pictured below).  
Each child will receive their response letter from me which highlights things they did well and what I'd like to see on their next letter or paragraph or story or whatever.  Many students received the suggestion to include comments and plusses next time. Students will bring their work and my feedback home on Tuesday night for parent signatures.  

You can read all about plusses and comments in this post from last year right here

I want my students to see the value in implementing feedback, so on Tuesday, when students start writing their responses to prompts and questions from our new story (I didn't write this one) called Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, they'll be expected to use my feedback right away so I can help them see how their writing has improved. 

November 15, 2015

A bit of a change...

Every good teacher knows that if something isn't working in her classroom or for a particular student, then she needs to go back to the drawing board and try things from a different angle.  
Every good teacher also knows that sometimes the best lessons happen spontaneously.  

For these reasons, I've decided not to continue posting our "weekly plan" on the blog.  I had started this back in June of last year and *kinda* liked it. I was on the fence in September and decided to give it a fair shake. It's been ten weeks and it's not working for me.

One of the best things about being a teacher is being creative and letting your students show you where they need you to go in terms of their learning needs. This can be hard when you've announced to the world on Sunday what you intend to accomplish that week.  In other words, I felt locked in and it was starting to stress me out.  

Tuesday night I gave myself permission to shelve this weekly plan idea because I think it's a win for everyone. My little learners get exactly what they need instruction-wise and I have a bit more wiggle room to make sure they are confident in their knowledge and understanding before moving on to the next task or concept. 

I'd prefer to spend my blogging hours telling you about what we have accomplished rather than raising concerns as to why we aren't finished a particular task from the weekly plan.

In my 17 years in the classroom, I have tried all kinds of new things that really worked, but this wasn't one of them, and I'm not going to let anything get in the way of me being the very best teacher I can to my students.  

November 12, 2015

Look at all this great work!

One of the things I love about being a teacher are those moments (usually in the middle of the night) where I come up with what I think will be a great activity for my students. 

The night before the Remembrance Day Liturgy, I came up with this cinquain poetry template for my students.  After the Liturgy we brainstormed a list of words that were associated with Remembrance Day and then off they went. 

The quality of their work is outstanding and really special. I'm going to post the poems on the bulletin board outside our classroom for the entire school community to read.  

Of course, completing this creative writing activity meant that something had to be pulled from that weekly plan I posted back on Monday and I'm actually going to talk about this on Sunday, so do come back. Good teachers know they need to make changes when things aren't working. This weekly plan thing might be stifling me a bit creativity-wise.  So let's talk on Sunday.  

The rounding folders are just about finished and they turned out to be one of the best activities students have completed thus far.  I am so pleased with the learning that took place throughout this process. My students even self-assessed their own work and could quickly identify when they rounded incorrectly. 

Just to tie this altogether, I added in some problem solving on the back panel. This way, students could use those skills from our last unit in Math. This was a win-win for everyone. I love it when my students complete high-quality, purposeful tasks and my little learners love it when they get to create!   I did ongoing marking of this project, so it'll be coming home on Friday to stay.  Those students who are not yet finished will bring theirs home as soon as they are done.  

November 11, 2015

New Math Video!

Y'all this is some good math stuff right here. 
I created this chant to help the boys and girls at our school remember their doubles facts. I then enlisted the help of these great kids, who I think have a future on the big screen, I'm just sayin'.  

Please watch this video a million times with your own children until they have those fact-eroos memorized!  And just think, when the kids in this video make it big, we can all say, "We knew them back when they were just gettin' started!"


Such a special day.

The boys and girls in Grade Three did a wonderful job this morning presenting the Remembrance Day Liturgy. It was truly one of their most special days of the school year thus far. 

I felt so proud of all the students when they spoke, read, recited and sang.  

What could be more touching than having a group of young children honour those who have fought for this great country?

There was silence among the 800 or so people in the Gym during the that special time and I found it so inspiring myself. 
Even a technical glitch on my end could not take away from this special service.  

Thank you to all the Grade Three students and my colleagues for a most memorable Liturgy.  

November 09, 2015

Please join us

The Grade Three students are presenting the 
Remembrance Day Liturgy. 
We hope you can join us. 

November 08, 2015

Math and Literacy Stations!

Okay, so we didn't quite get to spend as much time actually doing stations as I would have liked, but that's okay. The first day is always a bit slow-ish because so much teacher-talk and instruction is required. And there are a LOT of questions from the kids about how these all work: do we all get a turn at each station? Yes. What happens if we are assigned to a station we've already been to? You do it again, they're designed to be open ended that way.  What if I'm finished my station before the 12 minutes are up? You tidy up the station and return to your seat and read.  So many good questions and between those, the instructions, the set-ups and the what-ifs, it takes time! 

We got through just one rotation and that's a-okay. We'll try stations again soon and this time, I'm sure we'll be able to increase the number of rounds because all the hard work has been done.  

Work stations are such an effective way for students to practice their academic and collaborative skills.  Working together with others on a task is what good learning communities are all about.  Some of the stations are old school (e.g. let's practice our spelling skills or read to each other) and some are off the charts, we couldn't have imagined this when we were kids ourselves (e.g. let's be guest tweeters for Mrs. M).  

Have a look at the photos below and you'll see what I mean. Everyone is on task and yet everyone is working on something different and purposeful. Stations are a great way to review and consolidate learning all while building a warm and enriching classroom environment. 


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