December 18, 2013

Oh to be 8 again!

We had a wonderful day today! The boys and girls enjoyed our Christmas party where we played some silly games, decorated cake and enjoyed some time with their friends.  And then, this afternoon, we all headed down to the Gym for a wonderful presentation by some of the children in Grades 2,5 and 6. They presented the Christmas Story and the highlight of the play was the fact that baby Jesus was a REAL baby! Congratulations to my colleagues on a wonderful job!  

Once again, we had a guest photographer for our party. Have a look at the photos here. Don't you wish you were in Grade Three again?  

December 17, 2013

A whole lotta cute!




We finished our Christmas craft today and they're just as cute as the kids that made them! 
Have a look at the photos right here!  


December 16, 2013

Monday Funnies

Mrs. M's desk: 8:40 am (five minutes before the kids arrive) 





Mrs. M's desk:  8:50 am (five minutes after the kids arrive) 


New Photos!



We have new photos to share from Week 15! I asked a student to be the "guest photographer" and I think she did a great job!  

Week 15 photos

Week 16: It's here already?

Can you believe we're here already? Week 16: how is this possible? Even though reports and interviews have come and gone, it seems hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that Christmas is here.  
This is probably my favourite week of the year.  The kids are so, so excited and we can put all the heavy-duty stuff on hold. Sure, we're still working hard, but we're working on super-fun stuff, like writing about Mrs. Claus and talking about family traditions and we're doing fun arts and crafts!  
Wednesday is our class party and it'll be a ball! We're going to have a few goodies, play some games and just spend time together.  It's cozy, it's fun, it's so good!  

December 13, 2013

A teacher to us all...

Oh boy. 
Here we go.  
It was December of 1998.  I had just graduated from Teacher's College and was very pleased to be getting lots of experience as a supply teacher. I was covering for a French teacher at Holy Family School and was to be there for 3 days. 

Here's how a conversation went in the French office, shortly after I arrived.  

Me:  Hi, I'm Patti.
Other teacher: Hi I'm _____.  
Me:  I'm here for three days for Madame Soandso.

OT: Great.  Let me know if you need any help. 
Me: Thanks.
OT: Did you just graduated from teacher's college? 
ME: Yes, Queens.  
OT: What area?
Me: Primary/Junior
OT: You need to see Mrs. Cekota.  She's the most incredible teacher I know. While you're here, make sure you stop in to visit with her.  

I make a point to visit Mrs. Cekota and carry on with my day. I go to the Staff Room at lunch that first day and I see this woman, sitting at the table, cheerfully chatting with everyone. She's so warm, friendly and personable. I knew it was Mrs. Cekota. I was too shy to interrupt and introduce myself...so I listened, real close.  

That was how many years ago? That's Mrs. Cekota, you see.  You know her before you even meet her. Not only does her reputation as an outstanding educator precede her, but just by observing her interactions with others, you can quickly figure out that she is someone special. 

Being around Mrs. Cekota fills you with the kind of warmth you get from watching a child open that much longed-for Christmas gift. You feel warm and fuzzy when you're with Mrs. Cekota. 

Of course, I went to her room that day and saw the most wonderful learning environment one can imagine. It was a young student's paradise. Mrs. Cekota doesn't know I was in there...I snooped...for a while. I'm not sure where she was when I popped in but I got to have a real good look around. I made all kinds of mental notes about what my first classroom would look like!  

Mrs. Cekota is retiring this month and our school won't be the same. She has made a difference in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children and adults, and it's hard to find the words to express my gratitude for her kindness, guidance and example.  

Mrs. Cekota is old school good.  New teachers have all kinds of new skills to bring to our profession, but Mrs. Cekota started teaching in a different time. She couldn't rely on google for a lesson plan or pinterest for an art activity. She wrote the book on being a creative teacher.  She really did.  

You should also know that if you ever go to Tim Horton's and they tell you they've run out of gift cards, it's because of Mrs. Cekota. She is the most gracious and thoughtful person. Twice I purposely chose her name in the Staff Secret Santa as a way to pay her back for all the Horton's gift cards she's given me over the years.  

This is what she does: you lend her a book, she buys you a gift card to thank you. You give her some pom-poms for a craft, she buys you a gift card to thank you. It's no secret...she does this for everyone. She's Mrs Cekota. 

You know how they say you may not remember what people wore or what they said but you always remember how they made you feel? Mrs. Cekota makes me feel like a million bucks. She makes me feel like the best teacher on the planet.  

She's Mrs. Cekota. 
She's incredible. 
I'm going to miss her like crazy.  

December 11, 2013

Oh Mrs. Claus, you fun lovin' gal!

See, this is what you miss when you're not in Room 208.  Did you know that on Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus is one busy gal?  

I gave the boys and girls a procedural writing assignment this morning. The question was: What does Mrs. C do on Christmas Eve?  

We've been working so hard on paragraph writing, it was time do have some extra special fun! Mrs. C is very busy on Christmas Eve! You should hear about some of the things she does! I read every child's idea web today and my oh my, what a talented and busy lady she is.  She entertains the reindeer, makes turkeys and pies, plays chess and even manages to squeeze in some shopping, all on December 24th!   

Students will bring home their paragraphs to share around the Christmas dinner table in a few days. I'm sure everyone will be entertained!  

It's Poll Time Again!

Please take a moment to vote in our latest poll!  Do you think Santa has a cellphone?  
The results were split in our class! We want to know what you think! 

Where's the extra homework?

On Friday, students were asked to complete an extra practice problem from the blog. Not everyone was able to get to it, so I reassigned it on Tuesday night. A number of folks were unable to find it last night. 

The post has been bumped to the second page of the blog. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, click on "older posts" and it'll be there.  

I guess when you have as much to say as I do, things move from first page to second page pretty fast! :D 

Good readers notice things

Is this a good idea? 
Should I really be blogging about something that I haven't done with the kids yet? Surely there is something I need to be photo copying before the kids get here!

Well, I have a few minutes this morning, so I'm going to share with you what we'll be discussing in the Morning Message today.  Good readers notice things (notice the double "s" in the photo below. Let's see if the kids spot it!) 

Good readers know when a story falls off the rails. They pay attention to their own comprehension. They don't just read words, they connect them and create meaning.  When they can't make meaning, they go back and re-read to find where things fell apart. 

I wrote this little paragraph in the photo this morning and I'm going to ask the kids where their comprehension broke down so that we can talk about the importance of doing a self-check while reading to make we understand the text. I also want to demonstrate for them how we go back and look for the precise spot where it broke down. 

It should be interesting!  I purposely made the weird words in the story easy to break into chunks so that kids could use their decoding skills to figure out how to say them.

Let's see how they do!

Wait...spell check didn't highlight "combatulator". Is that a real thing???  




December 10, 2013

Two stars and a wish

The boys and girls participated in a really important activity this morning. We all have one of those friends we can count on for honesty. They're special to us because they can tell us what we need to hear and not necessarily what we want to hear.  We appreciate them for the tact and compassion they show when they provide constructive feedback. 

Today, students were that friend to one another. Each child was given another child's assignment to review. Students were asked to provide "two stars and a wish". They had to state two things their classmate did really well and the wish was something the child might want to consider next time.  

Everyone worked very, very hard on this. We've been talking a lot lately about being tactful and oh, how proud you would have been to read the care and thought that was put in to this task. Even when giving suggestions for next steps, students still added plusses such as, "You're awesome at drawing by the way." It was a very heart-warming experience.  

Children were asked to consider the descriptive feedback they've received from me in the past.  They were reminded to consider their own printing when suggesting their classmate print neater, if their suggestion was that the child make sure the no-excuse words were spelled correctly, they'd want to make sure they to were doing this too when filling in their form (see photo). 

Then, the students were asked to meet with each other and review the feedback. It was so important that they sit down with each other and explain their rationale for the comments and have a bit of a peer review session. 

This is the direction that education is going and to see children so young engaging in such accountable discussion was remarkable. Everyone learns (and wins) with rich activities such as this. 

   

December 09, 2013

Unit Three Math Test (study guide)

We're having our Unit Three Math test on Thursday. I've attached the study guide that that will help students to prepare for this test. This will not be a hard test for the boys and girls and we will do plenty of review in class. 

If all tasks on the study guide can be completed independently, then students should be very successful on this test. 

Geometry test study guide

December 07, 2013

New Photos!

We have lots of things to show you from the last two weeks! Have a look at what we've been up to!
You'll see photos of us working on our Snow Bear art, our Word Party and even a special event that a student of our's generously participated in! 

Photos from Weeks 13 and 14

Our Word Party was a real hit!

It was so much fun walking around the room and listening to the boys and girls so confidently introduce themselves and share their word's meaning.  

After the party, we had a bit of a "quiz" (not a real one, just Q and A) about the words and everyone did a great job! We now have nine new words in our vocabulary. We think the toughest one to incorporate on a regular basis would be the word rustic.  Perhaps we'll get some mileage out of that one during our Pioneer unit! 

Extra Practice Problem!


The data from our survey shows that 52 people voted. It also shows: 


  • 18 people chose shopping
  • 7 people chose skiing
  • 27 people chose at home with a bag of chips
Here is your challenge: 
You must keep chips in first place, shopping in second and skiing in third.  What are some different ways the results could work still using 52 voters, but changing up the data itself?  

If your parents give you permission, you can write your answer in the comments box below or, if you prefer, you can write it in your agenda.  

December 05, 2013

And now the news...a Math update!

Today in Math, we talked all about three dimensional shapes. We learned about edges, vertices and faces. We learned that some shapes have a base, which is also a face.  We learned that the base is the shape's...ahem, "bottom". 

We learned a great trick to help us remember the difference between a pyramid and a prism. Have a look at the photos below. This is a tricky one and I hope that my little tool will help the kids to decipher between the two.


 

What's the meaning of this?

We learned how to use a dictionary today!  
As preparation for tomorrow's meet and mingle Word Party, the boys and girls had to look up the meaning of their new name. We also reviewed the following skills: 


  • making eye-contact when we shake hands
  • how we shake hands (even though we do it every morning) 
  • how we introduce ourselves and tell a little about ourselves (in this case, students will share their new name and its meaning) 
  • how we behave at "mingle"-type parties 


You'll find out their temporary new names tonight when you sign the agenda! 


December 04, 2013

We're having a party!!!

We're having a party! On Friday, the boys and girls are changing their names for the afternoon. I know! What on earth could I mean? How long did it take you to choose your child's name and I just waltz on in and change it!  

We'll have punch and cookies and get to know each other's new names, just like a real party! 

Everyone will receive their new name on Thursday and it's going to be so much fun! 

Don't tell the kids but it's also going to be highly educational.  
They'll get their old names back by 3:20, I'm promise. ;)  

December 03, 2013

The General Store




Today we combined two subjects! 
After reading The Hockey Sweater on Monday, the boys and girls learned about how the mother in the story preferred to buy her family's clothes from the Eaton's catalogue and not the General Store.  

Of course, one of the most popular and useful buildings in the pioneer village was indeed the General Store.  So we jumped a little ahead in our Social Studies unit today to learn all about this multi-functional building in the community.  

Instead of writing in their Learning Journal, the boys and girls began a paragraph about the General Store using the steps they've learned as part of our Creative Writing unit.  

We began with an idea web, where students had to write 5-7 ideas and then from there, choose their top 3-4 and begin their paragraphs. The paragraph also had to include a "plus" (see the photo below).  




We'll pick up where we left off in Social Studies a week or so ago. If I remember correctly, we were just about to learn about the Beaver War.  I just couldn't resist this opportunity to tell the boys and girls all about the General Store and have them exercise their paragraph writing skills.  

November 30, 2013

The Hockey Sweater!




In light of Saturday night's hockey game, my intention was to read this to the kids as part of Fun Friday. We ran out of time, but we'll be reading and watching on Monday. 

Do your remember this story? Did you learn read it in school like me? 

I was a Grade Six student at St. Raphael School in Burlington when we learned all about Roch Carrier and the great Rocket Richard! 

The Hockey Sweater 

November 29, 2013

A time to be grateful

We're focusing on gratitude for the month of December. We had an important talk yesterday about how much of this month is about "getting". In fact, there was no prompting required when I asked my class to fill in the blanks:  Kids _____ a lot in December.  They knew the missing word. 

We talked about how fun it is for us grown-ups to give to children this time of year, how much we enjoy watching their faces light up when they receive a present, especially when it is something they truly long for. 

Then we discussed what it feels like to receive a special gift. We talked about that word: gratitude and how when we show gratitude, we show appreciation for all the wonderful gifts in our lives. A heart full of gratitude beats within a very happy person. And a happy person? Aren't they the best kind of people to be around?  

So we'll fill up our bulletin board with "gratitude tickets". Each day, students will be encouraged to take a ticket and think about something very, very specific they are grateful for that day. Perhaps they appreciate the extra love that went into the days lunch or that Mom returned to school to drop off a forgotten knapsack (You know who you are;). We're going to watch this bulletin board fill up with messages of thanks for all the blessings, big or small, in our lives.  

Take our Poll!

The Data Management Unit in Math will be here before we know it, so let's get a head start now!

This morning on Breakfast Televsion, host Kevin Frankish considered the question, "Shopping? Skiing? or at home with a bag of chips?"

Which activity would you choose? Take our poll(over at the top right corner of the page) and we'll monitor the results.  

Talk about an awesome and interactive learning opportunity!  

November 28, 2013

We had a Math quiz today!

We had a Math quiz today where students had to demonstrate two skills: 

  • they had to describe the difference between parallel and intersecting lines 
  • they had to describe a shape based on the angles they see 
The quiz will come home on Friday to be signed. Here's a copy of a quiz with two "level four" responses.  

I was pleased with the results of the quiz. Students are very good at explaining the difference between parallel and intersecting lines.  The boys and girls did quite well with the second part of the quiz too (identifying angles) but I think we still need a little bit more practice reviewing our work to make sure we've identified all the angles shown.  

Quizzes are great because they help teachers to determine where we need to focus our instruction while the unit is unfolding. Small quizzes like these are a win-win for everyone: I learn where my students are in terms of what's being taught and they get to show off what they know. If they have a disaster of a quiz, it's really not that big of a deal, provided it's part of a series. With the results, I can then determine what our next steps are. Sometimes it means we fly through certain lessons and other times it means we focus on our areas of need.  

Here's that level four sample. Please look for the quiz to come home Friday.  


A Very Funny Book!


For no other reason, other than the fact that it's hilarious, we read this story today.  I picked it up on the recommendation of another teacher last year and I loved reading it again! It's just so funny! 

I wouldn't recommend it for kids younger than Second Grade, (there's quite a bit of text) but it's a great way to kick off a conversation about text-to-self connections. I could see it being very useful at the start of the year when teachers are talking about what good readers do. 

Everyone can find something to relate to in this book!  

November 27, 2013

Writing from a web...it's harder than it looks!

Oh sure, when you're, um...over 35, it's easy to write all kinds of ideas on a web.  But when you're 8? Not so easy!

Idea webs are what good writers complete before they begin their writing piece but what happens when you don't have any good ideas? Well, two things: 

  • Perhaps you've chosen the wrong topic (if there were options) 
  • You might have to get really, really creative (if it's a mandatory subject or question -especially in later grades) 
Right now, most of our topics are "choice" topics and I think that's a better route to go. The reason for this is simple: since we're trying to help students develop their voice as authors, they need to be excited about what they're writing about.  

But even still, you choose that exciting topic and you're all geared up to write about it and then you hit a wall.  Sure you're favourite colour is purple, but how many interesting things can you really say about it?  After you name the colour, what else is there?  Not exactly paragraph material.  

So back you go to the list of topics. Sure, you might not be in *love* with some of them but you might find you have more to say about hockey than the colour purple.  The boys and girls are learning that this is all a lot harder than it looks and that sometimes the ideas don't come right away. Sometimes you have to strike out a few times before you it the ol' home run and that's a-okay.

We're currently working on our very first, all on our own paragraphs.  There's a link to the paragraph checklist students have to use for this task.  There were about eight or so topics to choose from and most kids started with one and then moved on to another as they realized the ideas weren't coming to them as they had hoped. The same way good readers know when to abandon a book, good writers know when to abandon a topic.

It's been a really rich learning experience for everyone.  

Here's that checklist.  


November 26, 2013

Punctuation Saves Lives!

We talk a lot about commas in Grade Three and for the next few days we'll talk about how not only does it let you pause and take a breath, but it could save a life.
 

Counting by 4

I wrote these "counting by" songs while walking our dogs years ago. We're working toward making videos for all the songs so that students everywhere can learn their times-tables lickety-split!  

Here's the link to the counting by threes song.

And now, here's the link to the counting by fours song!  

November 23, 2013

Parent-Teacher Night

It was a pleasure to meet with you all on Thursday evening.  On the drive home that night, I was thinking about how important these meetings are. We certainly get a lot covered in just ten minutes, don't we? We share a special person in common and to sit down and discuss ways we can help them to be more successful says so much about what we value.  


Our meeting was the coming together of people who work hard.  You work very hard to raise your children to be the best they can be, and it shows.  They represent you so well. I see your hard work every day from the lunches you prepare to the kindness and compassion your children show to one another. I work hard to give them the very best learning environment I can and I hope you saw that Thursday night. I hope you see that in everything I do. 

And finally, the children work hard.  They work so very hard don't they? We see evidence of this everyday. We see how from one day to another they grow in all kinds of ways.  Up and up they go, on their way to making a difference in the world and they do it through hard work, one day at a time.  

I hope that when you drove home Thursday night, like me, you had a warm heart and a big smile. 

Thank you again for meeting with me. We're a quarter of the way through our time together and we're off to a great start! Let's keep working hard!   

November 21, 2013

What do good readers do?

I feel like I should be standing on a balcony with sweeping hand gestures when I say this, but good writers know how to evoke a response from their reader. We're talking a lot about this lately. The boys and girls know that great writers find ways to make readers laugh, cry, get angry, feel calm, convinced and so on.  They know that it's through word choice and ideas that we achieve this.  

We're taking baby steps, but one this phrase evoke a response is going to be one that we'll focus on in our writing for some time.  

We're also talking about other things that great writers do. Have a look at the photo and you'll see what else we're focused on right now.  

The Black Lagoon...dun,dun,dun!

For the next week or so, we're going to spend some time together as a class reading this great little story that Scholastic sent teachers a few years ago.


  
I think teachers received a class set of this book for placing their first book order over $100.00, or something like that. I also think we were supposed to give the books to our students to keep (I had every intention of doing this...honest!). 

The book is only about 10 or so pages long but it is chock-full of all the different text features we teach our students. On the first page alone you'll see there are at least three mini-lessons right there!  



We're really focusing on making our reading sound like natural speech. We're also paying attention to punctuation. For fun, we read an entire page and made each sentence into a question. It sounded hilarious, but it helped everyone to see the importance of punctuation. The author puts it there for a reason; to tell us how to read his/her work, so in order to fully enjoy the text, we need to attend to punctuation.  



A Thursday Hug

FREE! In this classroom poster or sign. Printable high resolution JPEG file 

November 20, 2013

Report Card Reflection

The boys and girls worked on a Report Card Reflection today.  They were asked to write:

  • three things they do well at school
  • three areas where they need to improve
  • how they will go about achieving their goals
Students who were not able to finish the assignment in the time allotted are bringing it home for homework tonight (Wednesday).  

November 19, 2013

It's Report Card Day!

I was so pleased to send home the Progress Reports with the boys and girls this afternoon. Everyone has worked so hard, these first 55 days of Grade Three and I'm very proud of my students. 

Please review the Report with your child. All students should be able to identify areas where they do well and their specific learning goals moving forward. 

We're going to complete reflection page on Wednesday and students will be asked to identify these points.  They'll also have to write about ways they can achieve their personal goals. I'd like them to consider specific strategies that will help them to be more successful. For some children, it might be making sure they practice reading aloud each night, or proofreading their work into a whisper-phone. Either way, I would like to see students write, in their own words, how they can achieve their goals.  

Once it's complete, I'll send the Reflection home for your signature. Then we'll keep it in the Writer's Notebook to reflect on over the course of the term.  

Congratulations to all my students for working so hard in Grade Three!   

November 17, 2013

Who's ready for a Sunday smile?

Mr. M and I visited his Uncle Dennis last night. Uncle D is one of those awesome, awesome people that make this world a better place. He taught 7th Grade to Wayne Gretzky and even went to his wedding!  He retired a few years ago as a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He's just a really, really cool person. His house feels like a big hug, the moment you walk in the front door.  

His house is also full of all kinds of great family photos. While looking through them on Saturday night, I came upon this one.  

This is one awesome photo, lemme tell ya because if you know anything about my classroom, you know what we do Fridays at lunch.  

Check.
This.
Out.   




That's Uncle Jessie and Joey with three of Uncle D's four sons back in the late 90s/early 2000s!  

I can't wait to show the boys and girls on Monday. We do a "Photo of the Day" each morning as part of our Morning Message and I think this one will be our best one yet! 



November 15, 2013

Photos from the week!

To prepare for our Math test today, we did some partner problem solving this week. There are some hard working kids in these photos, that's for sure! 

Week 11 pics

November 14, 2013

Hello creative writing!

Now that we have finished our third Reading Response Letter, we're moving on to creative writing.  We will continue to revisit writing activities based on our reading, but right now, our focus has shifted.  

This morning we talked about the importance of using a web to help you to keep your main idea in mind and track your details.  It's very simple, but here's a copy of the web we'll use in class for this purpose. The main idea goes in the bubble and from there, students write their interesting facts.  

After recording their interesting ideas, students now have to decide which ones to keep and which to toss. We call them "treasures and trash".  Students are asked to choose 3-4 of their treasures and write a paragraph that opens by stating their purpose (Today I'm going to tell you about) and ends with a concluding statement (Now you know more about___).  

When we teach students the formula for a successful and effective writing piece, it gives them the structure they need at this age but provides them with the creative freedom they crave.  

Here's a web I showed the kids today.  



As a follower of the Gradual Release Method, we're first going to write our paragraph together as a class and then slowly, I'll pull back and students will be writing all on their own before they know it.  


We've identified our strengths and needs as a class: 

Strengths: 


  • we're really good at writing detailed and informative opinions of things 
  • we use quality checklists very effectively
  • we understand that our work needs to look smart (neat) in order for readers to enjoy it 
  • we use our class time very, very well -no time wasters in this group! 
Needs: 
  • we need to make sure our No-Excuse words are spelled correctly more consistently
  • we need to follow the procedure for when we need a word spelled (bring me your Personal Dictionary) 
  • we need to make better use of our whisper-phones to make sure our work sounds smart (read it aloud to be sure it makes sense) 
After reading over their third RRLs, we are well on our way to a year of exciting and entertaining Writer's Workshops!  

November 13, 2013

Hi, is this Miss Colontino?

I had the nicest call after school today. It was a former student. We think she might have been in my second or third class of kids. 

It was so thoughtful of her to call me. She had spent some time trying to track me down and it was such a pleasure to speak with her.  
She's now 23 and she remembers all kinds of funny things from her year in my Grade Five class. Imagine remembering the name of your Grade Five teacher's dog? It was so fun to hear things from her now grown-up perspective. I have to say, I sounded like quite a funny teacher back then. I hope this year's students will track me down in 13 years to report the same.  

Sometimes, as we go on in life, we wonder if we still have that sparkle we once had. I'm certainly not the same teacher or person I was back then but I hope that if she sat down with kids from this year, there would be lots of similar things to share that were loved and appreciated.  

"Miss A" asked me if I still shake the kids' hands and I do. That will never change. It's an important skill and a wonderful way to connect with each child, each day.   

I think there are others things I'll always do too: give out big stickers, tell funny stories from when I was a kid, insist on good manners and try to be the teacher kids call up when they're 23.  

Thanks to Miss A for making this teacher feel very special. That's some "big sticker" you gave me today!  

November 11, 2013

Math Quiz #2

We had a Math quiz last Thursday and I wanted to share with you a level four response so that parents and families would understand the rationale for their child's score.  

I was very pleased with the results from this quiz and most students did very well. We reviewed the quiz together as a class, so the boys and girls understand their scores and what was required to achieve a level four.  

Below you'll find an example of a level four response. 

November 07, 2013

Things teachers get excited about...

So we've started our third Reading Response letter. It's based on the book called Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. The boys and girls received their feedback letters from their second RRL (The Lotus Seed, also by E.B).

We've talked a lot lately about the word implement. Students know that when I ask them to "implement the feedback you've been given", they have an important responsibility on their plates.  

I'm excited to read these next RRLs for two reasons: first, I love this book because it poses so many opportunities for thick, juicy questions and second, I love seeing how kids have used my feedback to improve their work. It's exciting to watch this all come together.  

I'll send home the entire Writer's Notebook (it's a binder actually) in the next week or so and you can have a look through all the interesting things we've worked on. There's not a ton of stuff, I'm a quality versus quantity kinda gal, but it's good stuff. Really good.  


After this RRL, we'll move on to more creative type stuff. We're right on track in terms of where I like to be this time of year, so that pleases me even more.  


November 06, 2013

What's a Morning Jumpstart?

A post from 2012 that tells blog visitors all about Morning Jumpstarts (we started them this week!). 


We've added a new routine to our morning.   

Jumpstarts are an excellent way for children to practice their skills and manage their time.  While the majority of the class works on their Jumpstart, I'm able to work with my small reading groups.  The boys and girls all understand that Jumpstarts are completed independently and once we've reviewed the page together, only very minimal assistance is provided.  

Please have a look at this video that explains a little more about how the Morning Jumpstart will work.

Look at these grown ups!

So we're sittin' in rows now and what a difference it makes. The conversations are richer, students can check in with their partners on a variety of things, they can all see the Smartboard easily...I could go on and on.  It's just better this way. 

It's important to build community at the start of the year, so groups certainly have their place, but after week 8 or so, it's time to take it up a notch.  

We'll stay in rows for the rest of the year, providing it works for the kids and it seems like it does.  

We all rely on partners, be they spouses, team-mates or colleagues. We need these people in our lives to be successful. I want students in my class to not be dependent on me for all the answers. I want them to develop their communications skills and reciprocate support. It makes for a wonderful learning community and builds essential life-long skills for success. 

After all, who hasn't ran an email by a colleague before sending to the boss? I want students to start to develop these kinds of habits now. It's a bit old school but like my 1976 blender, it works really well. (Updated in 2014 to add that my '76 blender still works. Still work!)  




Plus, kids speak a really neat language that only they understand and when you teach, you learn too. I think this is a win-win for everyone.  

November 05, 2013

Using Quotation Marks

For tonight's Practice Page, the boys and girls will need to use the "Five Parts of Quotation Usage".  

Here's a blog post from last year that provides the steps.  

November 04, 2013

Math Words!

In Math this week, we're going to focus on adding and subtracting 2- and 3-digit numbers. We'll take a problem solving approach to this and this will mean the boys and girls will have to use their detective skills to determine whether or not they need add or subtract. 
We'll also talk a lot about explaining your thinking (or as the cool kids say, "E.Y.T-ing".  ;)

Here's the chart that was presented to the kids today to help them with their addition vocabulary. The expectation is that when kids are EYT-ing, they'll use words like "sum" and "addend" whenever appropriate.  


A D.I.Y Poem!

I was looking for something a little different for this week's poem. I wanted to find one that combined many or most of the text features we've been talking about in class so that students could really put their skills to work.   

When I couldn't find one, I decided to write it myself...here it is! 



I Made A Mess
An original poem by Patti Mihalides   


I made a mess,
It’s really bad,
My Mom and Dad are pretty mad.
I thought I knew, 
how to make,
cheesey lasagna and chocolate cake.
Turns out I don’t.
I have no clue,
about cooking stuff and recipes too.
There’s cheese and chocolate on the floor,
the ceiling fan and sliding door.
I don’t know why-  
Hey is that salsa there?
It’s on the fridge!
Ewww!!! And in my hair?
I can’t explain the pickles either.
And who let in that baby beaver? 
He’s chewing on the table legs!
OH NO! I stepped on all the eggs!
(Sigh) 
I’m calling Grandma, she’ll save me.
I’ll come back when I’m 33.

In this poem (and kids should be mindful of this in preparation for Friday's weekly test) we have: 
  • a focus on attending to punctuation when reading aloud with all those commas, periods and question marks (parents really encourage your child to focus on this aspect of the poem) 
  • words that are sounds such as "sigh" and "EWWW" 
  • adjective (cheesey and chocolate) 
  • words in italics  
  • how to "read" that long hyphen at the end of the "I don't know why" line (I know there must be a proper name for that thing) 
  • the importance of writing with detail to create a picture in the reader's mind 
  • contractions galore! 





Answer key for the quiz


We had a Math quiz last Friday and a part of our Math lesson today, we reviewed what a 4/4 score should look like. I wanted to share this information with you here as well.  

November 01, 2013

Fun Friday?

I don't know, I figured that since yesterday was such a fun-filled day of candy and activity, we'd forego our usual "Fun Friday" and get back to business.  But you what? Even an "un-fun" Friday in 208 is still a ball.  
We wrote our POTW test this morning and then I had the boys and girls work on a "Halloween Reflection" page that I created. 

If you're a teacher and you'd like to do this with your class next year, help yourself to a copy here.  

After that, the kids had Gym with Ms. Bellmore and then we watched our usual Full House episode during lunch(we do this every Friday, grab a coffee and join us sometime!). 

After lunch, we had Math Message (something new we're doing and I'm *totally* loving) and had a quiz on subtraction of two-digit numbers. 

Then we moved our desks into rows.  Hello grown up students! Our room suddenly looks so mature and sophisticated. It's going to be great! No more turning to go into "Smartboard Mode" and lots and lots of important conversations to be had between elbow partners.  

Seems like a pretty regular school day doesn't it? But somehow, SOMEHOW! we made it fun. We laughed a lot today and I couldn't tell you why.  No wait, we did laugh about how some kids keep their Halloween candy 'til Easter (help me understand their self-discipline please?), how some kids eat the good candy first and then give the rest to Mom and Dad and how one little classmate got a full-sized chocolate bar from one house and Dad got a beer! 

Let's face it, even when we're not having "fun",  208 is really great.     

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