September 28, 2016

Apples, apples everywhere, let's all take a BITE!

We are working on problem solving in math where we either have to add or subtract to find our solution, but we're also working on our inferring skills in reading, so today I combined the two concepts! More about inferring at the end of this post.  

This morning, the boys and girls had to solve the problem pictured below. They were given a variety of manipulatives and had to work with their elbow partner to find a solution.

After reviewing the five steps to problem solving, off they went! 

After l lunch, we moved on to our Literacy Block, where we talked about inferring. We've been talking about this for a few days now.  Inferring is like being a detective. You have to read between the lines to understand the message. This can be a hard concept to teach, so photos help a lot. We looked at the photo below this week and I asked the class, "What do you infer about how this child feels about dinner?"  

Students use the clues in the photo, along with their own prior knowledge to infer that he likely doesn't like vegetables. 

Then we moved on to my favorite part!  I showed the class this little gift. I asked them to infer what might be inside. They figured it was a gift of sorts and that it was in pieces based on the noise it made. But that was about it.  Without more information (see where I'm going here?) it's hard to infer.  

Slowly, but surely, the more information  I gave the kids, the more they could infer.  The key take-away from this was just that: the more prior knowledge we bring to a text, the better we can infer. This is why it's essential to activate that prior knowledge before we read a text.  

The best and funniest part of all this was when the kids did finally figure out that it was an apple peeler in the box, I told them we were going to make applesauce on Friday as part of Fun Friday.  Well, they thought that was just grand.  But punch-line came when I announced that thanks to them solving that Math problem in the morning, I now knew how many apples I needed to buy! Whomp-whomp!  

September 26, 2016

Let's talk about self-regulation.

Over the course of the last few weeks, we've had brief discussions about self-regulation. On Monday, we had a longer talk where we were able to delve more fully into what this looks like in our classroom.  We did some role-playing, I answered questions and we set some goals.  

I explained to the boys and girls that as their teacher, I want to create the best possible learning environment and grade-three experience for all of the children in our class. I explained that exercising self-regulation will help to achieve this goal. 

I wanted to keep things at a level my students could relate to, so we talked about how self-regulation boils down to being in control and thinking about decisions.  As adults we know self-regulation consists of more than these two factors, but I didn't want to overwhelm the boys and girls.  

We talked about thinking critically about our strengths and needs and setting some personal goals.  I used these questions to help my students self-assess and set their own goals.  

  • Am I able to focus on the teacher when she gives instructions that have two or three steps? 
  • Can I resist the urge to call out answers?  
  • Do I solve playground problems appropriately (e.g respectful language and hands to self)?
  • Do I respect the classroom rules that help everyone learn and stay safe (e.g. taking care of the books, remaining quiet during a test, lining up /exiting quietly during a fire drill)? 
  • Do I keep my emotions in check when I'm stressed?
  • Do I treat others as I want to be treated? 
  • It's Pizza Day, am I able to remain focused on my school work even though I'm really excited for lunch? 
  • With respect to my own learning and achievement, do I know what I do well and where I need to improve?
We also talked about how important it is to be an enthusiastic and active participant in class, but also to manage that energy so that it is not disruptive to others or inappropriate. I used an example that went like this:  Patti loves learning and really enjoys the stories her teacher reads the class. During the story, the teacher asks the class some questions or invites them to share their comments.  Patti is so excited about the story and how she can relate to it, that she calls out answers and interrupts others when they are sharing. This leaves the rest of the class wondering when they'll have their turn to share and if maybe they too should be calling out.  I referred to a book we had recently read called, "What if Everybody Did That?" 

By raising her hand, Patti can share her ideas and demonstrate her learning, and she also shows consideration for others.   

Our talk about self-regulation will continue all year, because true self-regulation means conducting oneself appropriately whether a teacher/parent/boss is watching or not,  and I think this is what defines a true leader.  

Helping children develop their leadership skills is an ongoing professional goal of mine and I want to provide consistent leadership myself that both inspires and supports my students.

Before we know it,  we'll all be self-regulation Super-Heroes!  

September 25, 2016

Math Time!

The boys and girls did a terrific job on their number-sense folders. We started these back in the first week of school. They helped everyone review skills and hopefully aid in curing any cases of the ol' "summer slump"  

We're now ready to get going with our first official Math unit. The number-sense folders lead nicely into this unit because it's all about addition and subtraction. It's actually "Unit 2" of the official program.  We'll come back to Unit 1 after this one. Starting on Unit 2 just makes more sense in terms of the skills the kids need in order to tackle Unit 1.  Sounds weird, I'm sure.  

As we move through the year, you'll notice that we're slowly moving away from using the traditional Math workbook and toward problem-solving based Math. It's important for the boys and girls to have the basics down and there will be plenty of instruction and practice with respect to this, but it is essential that students can apply those skills to problem solving situations.

"Apply" is the key word there. After all, its one thing to be able to read words, but if you can't connect them to make meaning, are you really reading?

The same is true for Math. If you can solve problems such as 50+25, but can't use that to help you figure out if you have enough money to buy two items at a garage sale, your Math skills really only developing.

In Grade Three, the boys and girls do a lot of problem solving. They work in partners and on their own to apply the skills they've learned. To learn the skills (e.g. how to multiply and divide), we'll use some pages from the workbook and our slates, but it's not page after page of questions. In fact, when students or parents wish, they are welcome to complete those parts of the workbook on their own. Wait. That doesn't sound right.  The kids will complete the pages. The parents will direct them to do so. Geez Patti.   
There are five steps to problem solving and we'll take a baby-step approach. You can see the steps in the photo below. Our naughty pal, Turkey Lurkey, will be the subject of many of the problems we'll solve over the coming weeks.

September 22, 2016


What to call tonight's blog post? 
I met a bunch of really, really nice people, who have equally nice, really sweet children.  It was a special night wasn't it? You all visited one of my most favorite places in the world and I loved every minute of it. I've loved all 17 of these nights.  Please come again.  

My classroom.  It's mine and for many years now. But it's theirs too: my little friends that I get to spend every day with laughing, learning and more laughing. And weren't they just so proud tonight?  Weren't they just adorable showing you all around our home away from home?  Didn't you love the little popcorn guys they made? Did you notice how many of them wrote about how their favourite thing about me is that I give them candy?! Come on! I give them stickers too!  I promise, it's not that much candy, but I speak their language and it's important to appreciate their hard work and extra miles.

I'm so glad you came.  And if you weren't able to make it tonight, you will not feel guilty when you read this post.  You will drop in some Friday and join us for Fun Friday (price of admission is a coffee cream). 

You're welcome to come by anytime, not just on those #specialnights. Give me a heads up the night before and come by anytime you like; sometimes it's really messy. 

Now check this out.  This is our new reading space and I'm always really proud of our new additions.  They say teaching is the only profession where you steal stuff from home and bring it to work. And if you look around my room, you'll see a whole lotta stolen stuff. Well this little space is brand new. My husband put the chairs together and delivered them to our room (behind every great teacher is a handy and supportive spouse you know!). That's kind of how this room rolls. It's a whole buncha people working behind the scenes: Principals who say "Yes Patti" a lot (seriously a lot), parents who are on #fullycompletely board and one husband who gets it.  

But I especially love the little print: Love can change the world.  I think more than ever, that's what we all need to hear. Mr. Mercury got it right when he said (hashtag goosebumps), "Love dares you to change our ways of caring about ourselves." It's a crazy world and it just seems like we need love, a lot of it.  My hope is that my students feel loved in my room and use this love to...ya, change the world.  

So much of my home is in my classroom. Old furniture, our '86 kitchen cupboards and even my very first "big ticket purchase" is in Room 208. That denim chair is from 1996. That's like the centerpiece of our room and to think at one time, it was my only piece of furniture.  And it all kinda works together, the old and the new, to create this warm and loving space where my kids feel warm and loved.  

As I mentioned to one parent tonight, we only have about 190 days together and it's gonna fly.  Let's get it right.  Let's do our best to make sure these kids soar.  

I'll do my part, I promise.  
And there's our title.  

September 19, 2016

Ooops, I did it again.

The boys and girls came home on Monday with their Text of the Week test from last Friday.  We wrote the bulk of the test together as a class and then the students independently completed questions 5 and 6. 

They're learning all about the 5cm rule (I'm hoping they can explain it to you), using the question to help them begin their response and what it means to state our purpose for writing (required for question 6).  

They're also learning that their teacher does her best proofreading after she photocopies and distributes the test.  

Question four was a whoops.  There's no possible answer for it in the story itself.  I stuck a label on the back of each child's test with a question on it that better reflects the types of questions students can anticipate on their weekly tests.  
Add caption
I'd like to promise you this is the last time there will be a typo on something I create for my class, but I don't think I can. And why bother right?  It makes for great talks about how we all make mistakes and the importance of being able to laugh at ourselves (and drink more coffee).  

I also think this supports my long-standing claim that Tim Hortons needs to deliver to schools. 

Number Sense Folders!

Oh my gosh, what a hit these are! The boys and girls are doing a wonderful job completing their back-to-school Math work!  

I created this resource for a number of reasons. Of course, reviewing basic math skills was my priority.  But it also functions as an exercise that helps support the routines and expectations we have in our classroom. 

Throughout this activity, students will review their key Math skills such as addition and subtraction, place value, and ordinal numbers. 

We'll also look at new concepts such as finding patterns on a hundreds chart.

While working on this activity, the class will learn about expectations around how we distribute materials, how we colour neatly, use the document camera/Smartboard to learn/demonstrate, how we clean up, appropriate noise level, how to follow both oral and written instructions, and so much more. 

It also helps me to establish the routine for our Math lessons, which go like this: 

  • warm up activity or story
  • discussion of learning goals
  • lesson and practice
  • follow-up discussion/clarification of concepts 

The folder activity also gives students an opportunity to work on their fine- motor skills (e.g. cutting, colouring and gluing).  

Upon completion, we'll use the folder to "warm up" our minds for about a week or so prior to our main lesson. There are plenty of good discussion goodies to be had around the work that is to be completed. The students can bring their folder to the carpet, and I can ask them a variety of questions around the skills we reviewed.  It becomes a kind of self-created textbook! 

September 18, 2016

A most "puzzling" day!

We had a great Fun Friday last week!  The boys and girls enjoyed "Puzzle Day" AND learned our doubles facts song found below.  

We started the afternoon with a puzzle itself! Students had to answer doubles facts to click on a "card" on the Smartboard to reveal just what we were up to in the afternoon. It was a great way to kick off the fun! 

And then after a quick chat about expectations and inclusion, off they went!  The kids worked hard to complete their puzzles and many came really close! We'll have Puzzle Day again in the future and I'm sure we'll hear the hoots and hollers that come with finishing a group task! 

Thank you to all the boys and girls for another great week! I'm looking forward to another round of fun next Friday! 

September 13, 2016

When I met ya in the summer...

It's so hard to believe we all only just met five days ago!  We walked to Mass today like pros and it's just the sweetest thing ever to share in these special times together. Special thanks to Mrs. Angerilli, who walked with our class.  I lead the way and Mrs. A kept track of the kids at the end of the line.  We make a great team Mrs. A! 

We all returned to school pooped and hungry and ready to take on the afternoon...which ended up being equally sweet.  

I had such big plans for the afternoon, but by the time we had a leisurely lunch and then "Morning Message" it was time for our Student of the Day to do her 2:00 presentation and then it was recess all over again!  It's an older blog post, but you can learn more about Morning Message here.  

After recess, we have DEAR time (drop everything and read) and it's a non-negotiable. I don't mess around with DEAR. It's just the nicest and most special time of our day.  We're quiet, we lounge, listen to our quiet music and then devour books.  

After DEAR, we have Evening Meeting and that's also a special time. We gather together at the carpet, share songs, laugh a bit, hand out Brag Tags and then read from our novel.  

We're currently reading There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom by Louis Sachar. I think I've read it as our first novel for the last 15 years.  It brings the class together.  It's a very age-appropriate emotional journey. At first we can't understand why Bradley treats others the way he does, then he gets really honest with himself and makes changes.  The process is both warm and funny.  In the end, well, I won't give it away, but Bradley becomes a bit of a classroom hero for us.  In the past, we would refer back to him constantly throughout the duration of the year.    

Today, I asked the boys and girls to do what good readers do and to think of a question they'd ask Bradley if he were to visit the classroom.  This was an excellent opportunity to gauge whether or not the boys and girls are keeping track of and understanding what we're reading.  The questions were outstanding!  They were thoughtful, critical and get this: they were the same questions I bet you'd ask! 

This week's TOTW (text of the week) is another great way for kids to think about questions they have for characters, authors or about the text in general.  We're going to have our weekly Text of the Week test this Friday. We'll write this one together as a class so the boys and girls know what to expect each week. We can also use this as an opportunity to revisit expectations for independent work such as tests and quizzes.  

Please check in tomorrow for more information about the TOTW tests.  

September 11, 2016

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof fun was our first Fun Friday? We had such a poppin' great time!!! 

The theme for the afternoon was "I'm poppin' with happiness after the first week of school". We learned a great new song that was all about how to make popcorn and it had everyone up on their feet! I wish I had asked someone to record this, because it was so fun seeing everyone popping all over the classroom in some mad attempt to sing, clap and dance all at once!  
Then, we started working on the "craftivity" pictured below. We're going to add arms to him on Monday. My initial plan was for legs only, but I feel like if you're a giant popcorn box, you need arms to fend off people who will try to eat you.  Just sayin'.  

We'll finish up the writing reflection on Monday or Tuesday. I wanted the kids to have time on Friday to learn about how we'll do art in Room 208.  With so many routines and procedures to learn, it's nice to do things in small doses. All this time invested in teaching my students about routines and procedures pays off when December/January rolls around and my students are highly independent, creative and critical thinkers and problem solvers.  

Thank you to all the boys and girls for a terrific first week of school! I can't wait for you all to receive your first Brag Tags on Monday! 

September 08, 2016

Second day...hooray!

Today we got a little closer to what I would describe as a more typical day. We copied our agendas (see video below) and we added table points for those children that had them signed! Woo-hoo!  

The boys and girls were able to learn about and read at the different reading areas we have in the room. We had our first official "Student of the Day" (thank you Miss Abby!) and she gave a very interesting 2:00 presentation (a more sophisticated version of show and tell).  We'll move through the class list alphabetically by first name for the Student of the Day schedule.  
We also carried on with our Sailing into Third Grade booklets and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you all on Curriculum Night on September 22nd.  

The boys and girls also learned all about Brag Tags today! Whoa-baby were these a hit last year!  And judging by the enthusiastic response to them today, I think it's going to be another home-run!  Read more about Brag Tags here. 

We'll have our first official Math lesson on Friday, and then in the afternoon, we'll have my favourite part of the week: Fun Friday, and I can't wait to tell you all about it! 

A reminder to sign the agenda each night, deliver the kids to school on time (pleeeeeze!), bring indoor shoes and make arrangements for after school (e.g. take the bus or pick up) before the school day begins as this keeps the kids safe and minimizes disruptions to the classroom to communicate the change in plans.  

September 07, 2016

Day 1 was "oh-fish-ially" a hit!

Let me tell you all about our fantastic day today! 
Or should I say our "fin-tastic" day? ← See what I did there? "Fin" tastic!  

We started our day the way we'll begin every day, with Morning Message. The boys and girls got a little sampling of how this special time in our day will roll. We talked about the importance of arriving to school on time (please, please, please deliver your children to school on time!) so that one doesn't miss any part of Morning Message.  It's my feeling that if you miss a part of it, it's like coming into a movie or a meeting late: you never really feel caught up to speed.  

We also reviewed the "Big 12". These are the important rules and expectations we have in our class.  There's a zillion more than 12, but for today, I wanted to cover the basics, because these all are like doors that open to other expectations we have. They really point to the big picture, which is that everyone in Room 208 has a job to do and that is to contribute to a positive learning environment.  Why did I go with these 12 expectations? Well, as the hip kids like to say, "there's no simple explanation for anything important, any of us do."  ;) 

Here's just a few of the Big 12:

After Morning Message, we got to work! We started on our "Sailing into Third Grade" booklets where the kids get to tell me all about themselves and their summertime adventures.  

Then we read a really funny story called "Memoirs of a Goldfish". I like this book a lot because it fits with the with the overall tone I like my room to have: let's stick together, let's take care of each other.  

We also played a really fun game I made about opposites. There was no special reason for the subject of the game (opposites) but rather I used this as an opportunity for us to work together, learn about focusing and attending and to establish the expectations for game play.  

Indoor recess at lunch because of the heat, was a great opportunity for the boys and girls to get reacquainted with their friends and enjoy some of the games and toys we have in our room.  

From there, it was all about manners and rude cakes. Yep, you read that correctly. We read a great book about a rude cake and learned it's never to late to turn things around. We also learned that in the middle of the night, a giant cyclops might pluck you from your bed and wear you as a hat. Bottom line: it's always best to be polite.  

We ended the day the way I've ended most of my days in my classroom for the last 17 or so years: with DEAR time, followed by Evening Meeting.  At Evening Meeting, we sit at the carpet, have a few laughs, sing a song or two and read our novel together. This first novel is an oldie, but a goodie, it's called, "There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom" by Louis Sachar. It's a great story and I think it really brings us together as a class. The main character, Bradly, drives us crazy with his rude ways and complicated behavior, but by the end of the novel, we're all cheering for the guy.  It's really a great book and if you're a teacher teaching grades 3-5, I highly recommend it.  

Whew! And that's just one day!  I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow when I get to tell the kids all about Brag Tags! 

Thank you to all the boys and girls and their families for a terrific first day of school! I can't wait to see you tomorrow morning at 8:45 (please be on time!). 


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