February 26, 2016

Mystery Math!

Our Quarter Folders are all done! Now we can use them as part of our "warm up" activity for Unit 6: Measurement. 

We put the folders to work this afternoon! Watch the video below to learn all about Math Mystery Day! 

The boys and girls needed to use what they've learned about quarters to help them solve the problems. The detectives needed to use all kinds of Math skills to help them solve their problems, but each mystery required an understanding of quarters.  

And here's how the activity concluded:

First, students had to spin to find out which mystery they'd be solving. 

The detectives were doing secret work and found lots of hiding places
in the classroom to conduct their investigations! 

February 25, 2016

An updated dance lesson video!

We've had another dance lesson with Miss Jackie this week and the boys and girls are encouraged to practice the updated routine.  
Thank you to Miss Jackie for allowing me to record the routine and share it here on the blog so that our students can practice at home.  

February 23, 2016

This is gonna be so fun!

It's time to get a little creative! We're going to tackle letter writing by writing a letter to our favourite toy/stuffy/action figure/whatever-but-it-can't-be-an-i-pad. The purpose of this letter is to prepare our toy for a pretend sleepover in the classroom! The secondary purpose of this writing task is to help students generate their own ideas and then select only their top 5-6 from their graphic organizer. 

We all know that the wild animals in Room 208 come alive at night and have themselves one, well...wild time!  They build forts with the pillows, watch Full House non-stop and drink all the extra chocolate milk in the fridge!  The challenge I've posed to my students is this: what advice would you give to your own toy if they were to spend the night in our classroom with the rest of the stuffies?  

Here are the slides from my lesson today: 

February 17, 2016

Meet a new friend!

This is Pete the Polar Bear. He's pretty cute isn't he? He's been the main character in a few stories I've written for my students over the course of the year.  He's drawn by a clipart company named Scrappin' Doodles, but I've given him his little (big!) personality.  

Here's the low-down on Pete: 

  • He's in Kindergarten.
  • He's really, really funny. 
  • He is in love with a classmate named Pammy.
  • He loves Lucky Charms.
  • He tells stories very quickly. 
  • He likes to say things like, "Do you know how I could solve the problem? I will tell you how I can solve the problem right now." 
  • His big brother is Poppy.
  • Did I mention he loves Pammy?
We had a Christmas story with Pete and today, we wrapped up his Valentine story. The story is presented on the Smartboard and each day we read a few pages aloud. The goal is for each child to read a little bit each day.  

Well, today was the conclusion of the story.  When it looked like Pete wasn't going to be able to give Pammy her Valentine (a brown one with hockey pucks glued on it, because she plays hockey) because she was sick, all the boys and girls were stunned this morning when they came to the part of the story where the doorbell rang and sure enough...it was Pammy!  

Their reaction was just so precious and hilarious, I had to ask them to recreate it so we could share it here on the blog. The video also gives you a bit of an idea as to how this story has been presented over the last few weeks.  The entire story-reading process has been exactly as you'll hear in this video. It's been an absolute riot starting each morning with a little dose of Pete. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this video is no exaggeration.  We really do have this much fun! 

Thank you to Christina, who made me this
Pete-inspired Valentine! 

But how do you know?

We had a Math quiz similar to the one pictured below last week and talked about that part of the problem that asks: How do you know? 

Ignore the date on the quiz,  this is 2015's copy pictured. 

We talked about how challenging (and sometimes frustrating) it can be to have to explain your thinking (I call it EYT for short). I explained to the kids that it's really not enough to say things like, "I know I'm right because I did it in my head" and at the same time, you can't launch into a super-long story about things. One has to be precise and intentional with their words. One has to tell a story, without "telling a story". 

Explaining your thinking it tough! It has to be detailed AND make sense to other readers. Not an easy task for anyone, but we're getting there!  And the best way to get there is through lots and lots of practice! 

So keep your eyes and ears open for lots of talk about "EYT-ing"! 

February 12, 2016

A Day to Remember!

How much fun was today? Can I go all Elizabeth on you and say "Let me count the ways"?  You need to hum this song while you read this post.  

We celebrated Valentine's Day in the morning and the 100th Day in the afternoon and it was an absolutely fantastic day! 
Thank you so much to parents and families for helping to make the 100th day t-shirt project such a tremendous success. Talk about creativity! God bless all the parents who cut out pucks, sewed on buttons and burned finger tips on glue guns...you deserve a big hug and a big glass of something this weekend. 

Here's the breakdown of our day:
We started the day as we always do, with Morning Message. Today though, was a wee bit different. We did this cute activity where you draw a "Love Bug" based on your preference in each of the photos below. 

So if you liked photo "A", you'd draw a large circle for your Love Bug's head. Prefer option "B"? You need to draw yourself a rectangle.  And on and on we went. After the bugs were drawn, we set down our markers and walked around the room for a tour de cuteness.  Check out the video after the photos.  Let's try not to notice how many times I say "Oh my goodness." #findanewcatchphraselady

Prefer cookie A? Give your Love Bug one big eye. Cookie B? Two eyes...
this continued until we had drawn our own unique LBs. 

After recess, it was time to hand out the Valentines. This never gets old and any teacher that tells you it's no big deal is a big 'ol liar. I've been teaching for about 18 or so years and this particular activity is probably my favourite event of the year. Watching kids deliver their Valentines to each other is THEE cutest thing you can possibly imagine. 

After the delivery of the mail, it was on to preferred activity time, which amounted to about three seconds, because the kids were so busy devouring their cards and goodies.  

Then the party punch. You want to captivate a group of kids? Make them punch. They were absolutely mezmerized by this process. I'm proud to report that once again my party punch was a hit.  In fact, (and I'm full-on bragging here) it was, according to one awesome-blossom, "The greatest thing I've ever tasted."  

After lunch, we moved on to the 100th day games. We played a bunch of minute-to-win-it games that were adapted to 100 seconds or in some cases, 25 seconds (we're all about quarters next week, so this was very timely).  

The games were a hit!  These kids know how to have fun, that's for sure.  

Then we watched a how-much-cuteness-can-you-take video called "Hoppy the Deer" about a fawn that finds his way to the front porch of a couple from Quebec a few years ago. It's a really heart-warming story about caring for all of God's creatures, and was absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day. 

We ended the day with the story of my first marriage. It was 1978. I was six. He wore overalls and black Converse. We were married by another six-year old. We high-fived instead of kissing...'cause that's gross.  

So there you have it! Today is always one of my favourite days of the year, and my hope is that all the boys and girls in my class had a day they too will remember for years to come!

February 10, 2016

Our Dance Routine: Part 1

Miss Jackie was kind enough to allow me to record the first part of our dance routine so that I could post it here for students to practice at home.  
Thank you so much to Miss Jackie for allowing us to do this! 

February 08, 2016

Blogger frustrations!

I'm not sure why, but over the last 72 hours, my blog has been experiencing technical issues. It works on mobile devices but not on laptops, etc.  I'm trying to get to the bottom of what the problem might be. In the meantime, please visit the blog on your phone.  

I may have found a temporary solution. It's not that pretty, but it'll do for now until I have a chance to spend more time to devote to the *real* solution.  

February 04, 2016

All About Quarters

Quarters come up a lot in the Grade Three Mathematics Program. 
Today, we talked about how the understanding of quarters can help with interpreting circle graphs when 100 people have participated. 

To support this, I've created a poster for our classroom to remind students that anytime we divide something into four equal groups, we call each part of that group a quarter. 

February 03, 2016

Water bottles please!

Starting Thursday, I'm asking that each child bring a refillable water bottle to school each day as opposed to a juice box or other juice-type beverage. In addition to being a much healthier and eco-friendly option, it's easier to clean up should there be a spill. Some of the boys and girls in class are having difficulty managing the juice boxes and other juice-beverages.  

Rather then spend our very precious time together cleaning up spills and sticky surfaces, I would like my students and I to use that time toward the important teaching, learning and community-building we do so well each day.  

I am hoping for the support of all my students' families around this new classroom policy.  

February 02, 2016

The Story of Ruby Bridges: Part 2

This week in our Writer's Workshop, we're learning and reviewing many skills that I hope will benefit my students for the rest of their lives. 

As you know, the boys and girls are learning about responding to higher level questions about the texts we've read, which will include providing evidence from the text to support ideas and opinions. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, we're using The Story of Ruby Bridges as our mentor text for this task. It's a very rich text that generates all kinds of thick questions.  

We're focusing on the following key habits: 
  • using a highlighter to highlight the important information or evidence you want to cite from an article 
  • writing (reasonably) small, but not too small, to fit your response in the designated space(helps with EQAO) 
  • opening your paragraph/answer by stating your purpose for writing: Today I'm going to tell you... or restate the question in an affirmative way (e.g. Ruby Bridges is brave.) 
  • giving evidence from the text by stating: I know this because...
  • proofreading your work to see that it addresses the question posed, makes sense and is error-free
It's time to write and do so in a meaningful, real-life way. Spelling, grammar and punctuation always count of course, and I'm a real stickler for them, but now we want students to focus on expressing their ideas and communicating in writing for a specific purpose. In other words, the expectation is that students have these skills (basic spelling and punctuation) mastered for their grade-level, know how to find the spelling of unfamiliar words when needed and are now learning to apply those skills in their assignments.   

This is kind of a "tipping point" where students are now expected to know how to spell, proofread and use punctuation effectively. Now we're moving to more "grown up" writing, like the kind you do at the Junior level and beyond. 

Pretty soon, we'll move on to creative writing. Students will learn exciting new and interesting ways to start theie paragraphs (called "hooks"). We're going to alternate between creative and non-fiction writing right through until June, but our focus will be on the non-fiction component, which research indicates is an essential skill for the 21st century student.

If you're finding your child is not ready to make that leap because their spelling and reading skills are still at a developing stage, I recommend you to do the following each night:
  • read for at least 20 minutes with your child, asking questions to monitor comprehension (click here for a printable set of questions) 
  • test them on their No-Excuse words nightly, have a good old fashioned spelling test (there's a list at the top of the blog home-page) 
  • complete extra practice workbooks from the teacher supply stores or Costco (they seem to be in stock all the time)
The Story of Ruby Bridges is the perfect book to use in helping young writers develop their critical thinking skills.  When we teach children to think deeply about the texts they read, they begin to transfer those skills to the texts they write.  

February 01, 2016


We needed a little afternoon chuckle! Here's the funny song we enjoyed singing to this afternoon. We're having fun learning about sarcasm and irony, but this is an example of humour where there is a misunderstanding or a play on words.  I promised the boys and girls that I would post the link to the rest of the Songdrops songs here on the blog.  


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