May 23, 2017

Tomorrow is the big day!

Today was all about EQAO prep and stress-relief! We went over all kinds of different concepts and problem solving situations. We reviewed do "can do" and "can not do" rules of the assessment and I reminded the students of the importance of bringing a larger than usual lunch and arriving on time.  

We also practiced our "last minute stuff we gotta know" chant! 

Horizontal, vertical,
52 weeks a year.
Quadrilateral: four sides, equal, 
Give a cheer!

To relieve some of our stress, I answered all kinds of questions and we talked about this isn't a test!  We also read a special story called "Mrs. Spitzer's Garden".  

We ended the day by practicing our Parts of Speech song.  I don't have a recording of it yet to post, but at least the boys and girls can practice the lyrics using the pictures below. I'm sure the kids know the tune by now.  

I want to wish all the boys and girls in Grades Three and Six at our school good luck on their booklets. Everyone has worked so hard to get to this point and I just know we'll do great!  

May 20, 2017

Don't Forget!

Just a reminder parents, the kids will need an extra-large lunch next week. The extra snacks and goodies are great motivators and keep the boys and girls full and focused. This is my 16th round of EQAO and I've never heard a child complain their lunch was *too big*!

A reminder that the boys and girls are writing EQAO on the following dates: 

  • Wednesday May 24 -all day
  • Thursday May 25 -all day
  • Monday May 29 -all day 

Please do not schedule appointments or other events during these times. And please bring your child to school on time, with a very full, nutritious lunch.  

May 19, 2017

Persuasive Writing

I'm just about finished my conferences with my students about their persuasive letters. I am so pleased with how this task has gone. The key for persuasive writing is to use the most compelling reasons you can come up with. We emphasize that we avoid statements that might plant seeds in the readers mind that will cause them to dismiss our suggestion.   

I have a seven-step formula to help students to be successful with this type of writing.  

Here is a video of the Powerpoint I created for my lesson and sadly, the volume is really, really low (perhaps that's a good thing, LOL!). 

We've moved on to story-writing and we're off to a great start! 

May 09, 2017

Smokey Night by Eve Bunting

Since Christmas, we've had an ongoing discussion about the Civil Rights movement and how, in order to build community, we must respect the rights, religion, culture and dignity of all members of society. 

To keep our conversation going, and to assist the boys and girls in understanding what we mean by text-to-world connections (the hardest one to teach, in my opinion), I read my students Smokey Night by Eve Bunting last week. 

Eve Bunting is known for writing children's stories based on read-world events, making her books a perfect fit for teachers looking to explore text-to-world connections with their students. 

Smokey Night takes place during the riots in Los Angeles in 1992.  We talked briefly about how and why the riots started without going into too many inappropriate-for-their-age details.  

We talked about how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr led people to demonstrate peacefully and we wondered what he would have thought of the riots.  

It was a very lively discussion and students had all kinds of questions and comments. We talk a lot about how good writing evokes a response from the reader and we all agreed that once again, Eve Bunting had got us thinking, taking and questioning. We agreed that she had indeed evoked a response from us all. 

May 04, 2017

A compelling blog post ;)

We're about to embark on persuasive writing and as part of our study, we're learning that an author must write compelling reasons for their suggestion or idea. 

We've talked all about the meaning of the word compelling and how it kind of suggests, "come to my way of thinking".

We will also review four "classic" compelling starting points as seen in the photo below and one "never-do" sentence. 

We know that just writing, "It will be fun" will never, ever
win us points with our reader! 

May 01, 2017

Being present

After Mass in the Gym this morning, I thought it would be a good idea to address something very important with the boys and girls.  They've reached an age now where they're able to focus for a longer period of time and enjoy listening to others speak and present. But what happens if something gets in the way of that? 

We were a bit short on time, but I think I made my point.  I showed the class the book pictured below and talked about what it means to be "present",  and what happens when someone or something gets in the way of allowing you to be fully present in the moment.  

In addition to talking about what being fully present means and looks like, we explored ways we can advocate for ourselves when there are distractions that prevent us from being present. I'm embarrassed to admit that we didn't actually get to read the book.  I mistakenly thought I had already read it to the class earlier in the year.  That's what happens when you teach the same grade for a hundred years...they all begin to blend together. I'll be sure to read it to the class on Tuesday.   

We looked at situations such as when someone seated near you is being disruptive, or perhaps that someone makes you uncomfortable because they've been unkind to you in the past. We read a story back in September about a boy who said to a classmate, "Give me a dollar or I'll spit on you!". Well, what are you supposed to do if you happen to end up next to that person at an assembly, or a concert? What if you feel anxious or unsafe? How can you feel present in that situation?  We looked at that word: advocate, and explored ways in which you could speak up and make your needs known.  

I explained to the class that it's always okay to approach a teacher or adult and let them know that you have a problem and you need their help.  As much as we encourage children to solve their own problems, sometimes adult intervention is what's best.  We did a bit of role-playing today around what the conversation with the adult might look like.  In some cases, it's quite easy to just pick up and move on your own, without an adult's support, but if you're in an assembly at school, how are you supposed to just get up and ask to sit somewhere else? Well, you just do it. That's what advocating is all about. It's not always easy and it takes a bit of courage, doesn't it? 

More than ever, being present in the moment is essential. And for some, it's a skill they must practice in order to master. And if someone is making it hard for an individual to enjoy, learn, meditate, play, that needs to be addressed. My hope is that our conversation today was a positive step in helping my students understand that advocating for themselves doesn't mean we're tattling or being unkind, it means we are aware of every individual's need for a healthy and safe space.  


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