February 28, 2017

Tuesday's Practice Page

It was kind of a hairy-canary sort of day and I didn't explain tonight's Practice Page quite as thoroughly as I usually do. Here's a quick video that I promised the kids I would post that helps explain exactly what's expected tonight.  

February 25, 2017


As part of Morning Message (it's really evolved into more of a "morning meeting" by this time of year), we talk about all kinds of good stuff. I've tried to set it up so that it kind of resembles a morning news program: a little bit of everything, including the weather! 

This helps to reinforce important skills from earlier in the year and build on new ones. I love that students can see the connections from what we learned back in September and what we're doing now.  

Through Morning Message, we've covered most of our probability unit in Math (normally, we'd teach this in May/June) along with many aspects of our Social Studies unit. 

Morning Message is usually about 20-30 minutes long and each little segment can take from 30 seconds to 5 or so minutes, which (and here I go beating the drum again for why I like my students at school on time) is why if you miss a minute or two, you miss a lot.  

This week, we were talking once again about adding plusses and comments to our writing.  I wrapped up the week by telling students about my favourite video game as a child: Atari's Pitfall.  Telling you that it's my favourite game doesn't really tell you much.  But adding many extra details really helps readers to develop an overall understanding about the game and why I loved it as a 10 year old.  
The information in bold is all my "plus" information. 

Students were really interested in what that red and white wall was about
near the bottom left of the screen.  

This little segment of our Morning Message really generated a lot of questions and it was a super-fun start to the day.  I explained to the kids that this *is* what good writing should do: spark conversation. The kids wanted to know all kinds of things about the game: 
  • Did you ever complete the game and get all the treasures?
  • What's up with the wall at the bottom of the screen?
  • Was there a girl Pitfall character?
  • Do they still make the game?
  • Where can I play this game? 
  • What other game systems did you have?
  • What other games did you play?
  • Why were your toys so much cooler than ours? (←ha ha! They didn't really ask that)

Who would have thought our most lively conversation of the week would be about this 30 year old video game, but that's how things in teaching so often go! Sure we had bubble-gum Math the other day with ACTUAL bubble gum, but that didn't even come close to the enthusiastic conversation we had on Friday morning!  

If you'd like to pop in one morning to see Morning Message in action, please do so! Just give me a heads up the day before and I'll put the coffee on! It's not a lights and laser show or anything like that, and I'm not riding a unicycle while juggling chainsaws, but over the years, it's evolved into not only something I'm really proud of as a teacher, but a meaningful, purposeful way to start the day.  

February 23, 2017

Bubble-Gum Math!

Well, we've officially wrapped up our mini-Math unit on quarters.  Now that they've finished their quarter files, students should be able to:  
  • divide numbers by four 
  • explain how two quarters are the same as a half
  • explain a quarter of an hour 
  • tell us about quarters in a dollar
  • count by 25s to 100 
  • divide the months of the year into quarters 
  • tells us how many cups a litre of liquid will fill (four, 250 mL cups) 
We wrapped up the mini-unit with a bubble-gum Math craftivity this afternoon. Students practiced their division and gum-chewing skills and created this adorable gumball machine!  

February 14, 2017

What a special day!

Even our weather report from Morning Message this morning was feeling the Valentine love!

Here's a midday video I posted earlier today to show you just how much fun we were having! Have a look at the photos below! They tell a story of one very memorable day! 

For fun, we started our day with a neat activity on our whiteboards. Students had to choose "A" or "B" from the slides below and then were given instructions as to which feature to add to their robot. For example, if you chose flowers A for your Mom, you gave your robot a circle head. Flowers B meant a square head.  Monster truck A meant four arms, and B meant 2 arms.  And on and on we went.  After students finished drawing, they went for a little tour around the room to look at each other's work! 

After that, we exchanged our cards and goodies and enjoyed the time together until lunch!  

After lunch, it was time to switch gears and celebrate the 100th day of school! Students shared the story of their t-shirts and played some fun games with the red cups and bean bags! 

Everyone worked so hard to make today a special one. Thank you to all the parents for your support with our t-shirt project. Thank you also to the boys and girls in Room 208 for a very memorable day! I loved every minute of it and I hope you did too!  

February 13, 2017

Bundle Up!

We finished 2016 by writing about what Mrs. Claus does on Christmas Eve. The boys and girls were asked to describe her evening using transitional words.  

Now it's time to take that one step further and use transitional words to provide instructions for a specific task. In this case, students are asked to explain how to get dressed for outdoor winter play. 

I thought we'd start with something fairly simple. The focus on critical thinking tasks such as this is: can the child provided instructions for a task that are sequential and make sense to the reader? Another focus is: can the child strike a balance between providing the reader with sufficient details but not overwhelming them at the same time?

I'm also asking students to add a "plus" to each sentence. We've been talking about plusses all week. You can read more about them here.  

Students are off to a great start! They finished their idea web and many even got going on the paragraph itself.  

It will be fun to have the boys and girls share their paragraphs with the class. It's great for them to hear a variety of perspectives. That's always one of my favourite times as a teacher: hearing them read their own work! 


February 08, 2017

Wednesday's Quiz

The boys and girls had a Math quiz on Wednesday.  The quiz was scored according to the four levels of achievement.

Here's a general breakdown of how the levels work: 
Level 1: student did not demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of the task and/or the required skills.  

Level 2: student demonstrated some understanding.
Level 3: student demonstrated a good understanding. 
Level 4: student demonstrated all of the required skills.  

Pictured below are four samples of level 4 responses to assist parents and students in understanding how their own quiz was scored.  I've also made a brief video that I hope assists parents and students. My hope is that parents will review the video with their child to help them see where they went wrong and what they did right. 

February 07, 2017

Ruby Bridges: Partner writing activity

Last week, we learned all about Ruby Bridges.  On Monday and Tuesday, the boys and girls completed a partner-writing task. They worked with their elbow partner to respond to the question:  
How does Ruby Bridges show that she is a brave person? Use evidence from the text and your own ideas.  
We call this question an "RRWEP" because it's a reading response with evidence plus question. The "plus" part means students are to add their own information such as plusses or comments.  
The chart below shows the success-checklist for the task and as you can see by the photos, students worked really hard to do their very best.  

TIGGTY stands for: Today I'm going to tell you and NYKMA
stands for: Now you know more about. These are our
opening and closing sentences for our longer responses.

On Tuesday, we set up a kind of gallery, where students could roam the room and read one another's responses. Overall, this was a very effective activity. Not only did students get to practice and share their outstanding writing skills, but they also used all kinds of interpersonal skills that helped them work together on a challenge. I enjoyed listening in on their conversations about all the different ways this extraordinary child showed courage and bravery.  


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