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. 

November 05, 2015

Easy come, easy go!

This is a blog re-post from November of 2014. It might help the boys and girls with their Practice Page on Thursday night. The page focuses on bullet points. We actually just finished the comparison activity I talk about here on Monday! 

If you scroll through the post, you'll see some helpful information and and LOL moment right here: ↓  

So yesterday it was, "Are you a teenager?" from a Kindergarten student, and today a Grade One child asked, "Why do you have some hairs that are white?" 
Well, it was fun while it lasted. 

A few days ago, the boys and girls completed a character analysis(using a Venn Diagram) from the story This is NOT a Halloween Story. When I wrote the story, I was sure to include some distinctive similarities and differences in the characters for this activity. It was fun to see how students picked up on these little details! 

Today they worked with their elbow partners to create a larger version of only their best and most interesting facts about the characters.  We reviewed the expectations for working collaboratively and also the importance of making sure our words are spelled correctly. This was also an opportunity for students to practice using bullet points as we've been reviewing features of non-fictions texts in our Morning Messages.  

Here's what students have learned about bullet points: 
  • they emphasize important points
  • they can be written in full sentences or phrases
  • bullet points must be consistent (so if you start by writing sentences, they must all be sentences)
  • we can use numbered lists instead of bullet points
  • a bullet pointed list is preceded by a sentence that ends with a colon (:) 
In Math we looked at number lines. It's really important that students understand the halfway point between 10 and 20 is 15, between 20 and 30 is 25, etc.  This will help them when they are asked to estimate by drawing a number on a blank number line. 

We also reviewed our rounding skills as our introductory/warm-up activity in Math. It's essential that we constantly go back and revisit concepts in order for students to not only see the connection between Mathematical concepts, but also to master their skills. 


November 03, 2015

Week 9

With Halloween behind us, it's time to re-focus and get back to our routine. We're progressing well and given that we started the school year a week later than in 2014, we're on track in terms of where we need to be curriculum-wise.

The big focus right now is on using teacher feedback to improve our work. So that means develop really effective listening skills and understanding that those conversations with teachers about "What I do well, and where I need to improve" are just  

I want my students to understand that feedback doesn't always come in the form of a comment on their work and that reminders to print neater or use capitals at the beginning of sentences are also forms of feedback.  

Speaking of feedback, we're working on a set of short-term goals as a class and I'll post the list later this week so that you can have a conversation about them with your child at home.  

In the meantime, here are my own goals for the week!


On Sunday, I posted two Math strategies videos for parents and students.  If you haven't had a chance to watch them, I'm re-posting them here for your convenience.  

November 02, 2015

Happy Halloween!

We had a terrific time on Friday at the Boogie-A-Thon! Actually, the whole day was just so much fun. The kids were adorable in their costumes and so full of energy and happiness, they could turn anyone's frown upside-down.  
We watch Full House every Friday at lunch in my room and on Pizza Days, former students are welcome back to join us for the show. Last Friday, I think we had close to 50 kids in the room, all munching away on their pizza lunch and enjoying the show and I have to say, it was really cute.  

As you can see by the photos, it was clearly one of the best Fun Fridays so far...not to mention the spookiest! 

We had a big crowd for Full House! 

My desk was quite a fright itself come lunch time! 


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