December 22, 2016

Two very special guests!


We had two special guests visit our room today! In grade three, we talk a lot about making our community a better place.  We are learning that we all have a role to play in contributing to the common good.  Today we welcomed sisters, Miss Sarah and Miss Jessica to our room to share with us how they make a difference in our community. 



Miss Sarah told us all about her work as a nurse in a local nursing home and Miss Jessica explained how she coordinates hockey tournaments and brought an *extra special* trophy with her to show the boys and girls! Miss Jessica was also kind enough to leave each child with a special gift to remember this special visit.  




As we welcomed guests to our own little community, the boys and girls showed a great deal of respect, courtesy and active listening to our guests! They asked thoughtful questions and listened carefully to the response. 





I would say this afternoon was a win for everyone because my students were able to meet two very important members of the community and our guests got to know the nicest group of children a teacher could ask for!  


December 21, 2016

With more love than they'll ever know.

This is a favorite post of mine from 2015 and I'd like to re-post it again tonight. 

For about the last ten or so years, I've made my students these little snowmen ornaments. I got the idea when I was at my in-laws home and they had hung an ornament on their tree that was handmade by one of my husband's teachers. It was this little felt stocking with his name written on it in glitter. Here it was 30-odd years later, and I was so touched by his teacher's gesture.  I thought to myself, "Why am I not doing something like this?" I would love for my students to have something to hang on their own trees when they are adults with families of their own. 


So that following summer, I began scouring craft websites and magazines (this was long before Pinterest).  I don't recall where I found the idea for the snowmen, but that summer, I began sewing a few. Then, I set the project aside for a while.  
The night before the last day of school that December,  I realized that I hadn't made enough snowmen for my class. I got up in the middle of the night and began sewing. I couldn't believe that I had forgotten to sew the last five! It didn't take me long and they were well worth the lost sleep. I heard from a former student recently and she told me that she slept with hers for years after! 

I resolved the following year to make as many as I could in the summer so that I'd never have that last-minute madness again.  

Fast forward to the summer of 2014.  
That was a lousy year for me.  It started with a cancelled vacation in December of 2013 and by the following December, I'd felt like I'd aged ten years. Nothing went right that year.  It was bad news after bad news for the people I loved.  
It was also the five-year anniversary of the death of my beloved brother-in-law and truth-be-told, favourite Mihalides, Mark. He died tragically in March of 2009 and I had hoped that by five years later, we'd feel some sense of acceptance or peace with it all. We still don't.     

That summer, I drove myself to our place in Florida.  I was pretty scared, but with my fancy new-to-us car, three cell phones and an emergency kit that rivals anything Survivor-Man/expert outdoor person could put together, I figured I'd be okay.  

My mother called me every two hours on that drive down. My mother is my best friend. My mother is the best person you will ever meet.  She comforts, she bakes, she knows just what to say, and she listens. Boy oh boy does she listen, and I like to talk.   

So I get to Florida with among other things, my sewing machine, white felt and those little scissors that make the difference between "These are amazing! How do they cut those teeny strings?" and "We're throwing this project in the dumpster." You know the ones.  You hide them from your kids.They're that good, and you don't dare use them on paper.

I settle in and enjoy a few days with Florida all to myself. 

Mom is due to arrive soon and I can't wait to enjoy two weeks with her. Just the two of us.  We're going to enjoy the sun, do some shopping, eat, sleep and make those crazy snowmen. These are the things you pledge to do when it's 114 F outside and you're crazy enough to travel to Florida in the summer.

I picked her up at the airport and right away I knew something wasn't right, but I said nothing.  24 hours after picking her up, she turned my world upside down. Bad things don't happen to your mother.  Your mother will always be healthy and vibrant right?  

I won't go into the details, but after a brief, but scary time, Mom is doing just great now. She's her usual fudge-making, can't-wait-to-be-a-grandmother-in-March self (congratulations to my brother and his wife!). 

Back to Florida...after the shock of her news, Mom and I settled into this weird routine of trying to pretend we weren't scared.  Eventually we decided to make the snowmen. And we talked and we laughed and Skyped with my Dad, and I think we watched The Golden Girls or The Brady Bunch. We just kept sewing, trimming and gluing. I don't remember much about those two or three afternoons where we made the snowmen, except that I was so grateful to spend that time with her. My heart was over-flowing with love and fear all at the same time.  


We made about 60 snowmen that summer. This years students will receive the first 20 of them.  They are more special than any of the hundreds of snowmen I have given in the past.  They really are. 

They are quite literally made with love and hope, which, along with health, is my wish for you all in 2016 2017. 

Merry Christmas,
Love, 
Mrs. Mihalides   


Tuesday Fun!

Thank you so much to my wonderful colleague and friend, Miss Penwarden, for organizing our "Polar Express" day! The boys and girls enjoyed the movie, hot-chocolate and even received their own Christmas bell courtesy of Miss P!  
It was such a nice way to spend an afternoon in December! 



We were also busy working away on our Christmas craft and getting ready for our big party on Wednesday! It's a busy week, that's for sure!  



I can't wait for the boys and girls to see our Christmas tree on Wednesday morning. My gift to my students is "wrapped" so to speak, in a gift bag they decorated themselves. Christmas is certainly a time for fun secrets! They didn't know why they were doing it, but they'll find out at the party! 


December 18, 2016

Moments from the week

We've been super busy! We're plugging our way through the geometry unit in Math, finishing up our Mrs. Claus paragraphs about what she does on Christmas Eve and learning all about how a Canadian pioneer celebrated Christmas. And on top of that, we're working away on our Christmas craft and other festive activities!  

It's was a great week and with one more to go, my hope is this coming one will be even better!  

We'll have a little surprise on Tuesday afternoon, our party on Wednesday and then lots of fun and games on Thursday and Friday! Somewhere in there, I'd love to wrap up our geometry unit. It'll be weird, but we'll have the test for the unit in the new year after a quick review. It should all work out just fine...it always does ;) 

We came in second place for raising the most money for the Boogie-A-Thon back in
October and this week we enjoyed our ice-cream treat! 

Crafts, brag tags and lots of fun stuff! Room 208 is one busy workshop!

The kids have LOVED solving these math mysteries from the folks at mathmashup.com!

We have the coolest t-shirts in Room 208! 

Our first big snowfall of the year meant that everyone had important work to do at recess! 

December 14, 2016

The countdown is on!

Parents, you have some homework to do! Thursday night's Practice Page is all about you! The boys and girls are going to ask you about your favorite Christmas gift as a child.  
I'm posting this nice and early so you have time to think about that special gift. 

Maybe your gift was handmade by someone special in your life.  Perhaps it was a Cabbage Patch Kid or an Atari Game System!

You don't have to do the work for this assignment, but you do have to provide the subject.  I can't wait to read the results on Friday,  this is my favorite homework activity of the year! 

December 13, 2016

Santa stories as promised!

Boys and girls, here are those Santa stories I promised and the chart that helps you to figure out your Elf name! 



Find your initial for your first name and that tells you your new first name. Then, find the month of your birth for your last name! 

Ha-ha, my name is Gingerbread Snowypants McGee!  
What's your new name? 



December 09, 2016

Moments from our week

It was a great week. You know, it really was. Nothing super fancy, just a great week.  Sometimes, when I'm locking up for the night, I look around this place that literally looks like my house, because of all the stuff that my husband has been kind enough to deliver to our room, and I find it hard to believe that I actually get paid to be here in the first place. Those are good moments. 

I really should tell you that he's the man behind the scenes of room 208. He's the guy that staples the tests, fixes the unfortunate mistakes (like when I drop stuff in the parking lot), repairs the classroom furniture and makes sure the book order is all correct.  He sits through all my practice lessons and looks the other way when the sticker and Chapters deliveries arrive. Behind every good teacher is a great partner and I hit the jackpot with this guy. 

We've reached something I call "family status" as a class. It happens every year. Some years it comes late, but typically it comes around January. This year: December.  That's pretty neat. 

We feel like a little family. It's warm and happy and sometimes a little messy.  Yes, there's differences and I'm sorrys, but there's always respect. There's always humor and there's always love.  

It can't happen right away. That's just not authentic.  But after several months together, lots of stories, lots of routines and job assignments to kids, the wackiness that is Halloween comes and goes,  and then it's just a matter of time. The kids drive this bus. I do my thing and then one day, there they are, just doing their own thing together, loving each other and running my room to the point where I could meet you for lunch and they wouldn't notice I was gone.    

It's sweet and it makes my teacher heart happy.  
There's no other job like teaching. 
There's no other place like Room 208.  















December 08, 2016

Practice Page 16


I promised the kids that I'd post the instructions for tonight's Practice Page. We always review them in class, but this one is a little different than usual, so I wanted to make sure everyone was clear on what's expected. I know sometimes between when I review the page and when kids sit down at home to do their work, information can get lost! 

Here's the video that explains the page. 







December 07, 2016

Swindle!

Swindle by Gordon Korman is a roller coaster of a novel! It's full of humour, suspense and a group of friends with their heart in the right place, but oh my goodness, what trouble they get into!

We're currently reading this novel at our Evening Meetings and loving it! I promised the boys and girls a wild ride, and when that bell goes at 3:20, we just want to keep reading!  

There was a movie that was loosely based on the book. And when I say "loosely", I mean it's like trying to call Kraft Dinner lasagna.  It's...um...pretty bad. So let's not watch that okay?

My hope is that once we finish reading this story, the boys and girls will want to check out other books by Gordon Korman! 

Parallel Lines

We had a geometry quiz on Monday and I wanted to share a few level four samples with you from 2015.  By sharing these exemplars from my students, parents and fellow classmates can more fully understand why they received the score they did and in the case of my students, use this information to help them self-assess their strengths and needs.




In the last few weeks, the boys and girls have learned all about parallel lines, hatch marks and the word congruent. 

I came upon this work of art at the airport a few summers ago and made a quick recording to show the boys and girls how parallel lines work. Now, although it will look like it, I assure you I was not doing jumping jacks while filming it. Perhaps the shakey camera is just matter of too much coffee that morning? But seriously, can one ever really have too much coffee?! 




December 05, 2016

This week's Text of the Week

This week, for our Text of the Week or TOTW, we look at an info-graphic I created that tells readers all about the tour that's available at the North Pole.  I wanted to create a text that would be fun and engaging, but still allow us to check off a bunch of items from our "to learn" list.  

I have explained to the kids that they can expect to see info-graphic texts like this on EQAO.   

.

This week, we're really going to focus in on a number of key items from this text. I want to share them here so that parents and families can reinforce these items with their student at home. Our focus this week won't actually be so much on reading the text fluently (while that's always encouraged) but rather more on word study, responding to higher-level thinking questions and understanding the colon.  

We're looking at/discussing: 
  • What's an info-graphic? (a text that uses pictures/illustrations and a little bit of text to explain or provide information)  
  • Why would the North Pole be open for tours only from January to November?
  • What's a colon? (this thing→: )  It tells the reader: "Hey buddy, here comes a list or here comes instructions." 
  • There are a lot of new words in this text, what do they mean?  (e.g. extensive, monitor, voyage) 
  • Can you find the synonym in the text for the following words:  wide-variety, trip, part, supervise, reasonably-priced
  • Which area of the info-graphic would you most like to visit? 
  • How do you feel about giving pets as gifts? When can it be a great gift? For example, we planned it as a family. When can it be a disaster? For example,  when you surprised someone that didn't actually want the pet or wasn't ready for the responsibility of pet ownership.   

December 04, 2016

A very cozy Fun Friday!

Friday was snow much fun! I think it was my most favorite Fun Friday so far! It was such a sweet and cozy day and I'd love to tell you all about it. Everyone wore their jammies to school and I'm starting a campaign to make every Friday pajama day! 😆 #newcasualfridayidea

With our classroom decorated for Christmas, it only seemed right to kick off the season with a theme day! 


We started the day with a great story and a "craftivity". We read "The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas" and then started work on our own little Gingerbread Man. The kids will do the writing part (that white heart you see on his tummy) later next week.  

I started the hot chocolate while the kids were out at lunch recess and it was such a hit! While we waited for it to cool down, we had two super-fun activities to do!  




The first activity was a real team-builder. The kids were given a small amount of masking tape and just one sheet of construction paper. Their job was to build the longest possible paper chain. It was so fun watching them all work together with their elbow partners on this project.  I loved listening to all their strategies and ideas! 





After the paper-chain activity, the kids had a new challenge. They used Lucky Charms as their "markers" and they had to solve the "Pyramid Jump Game".  It was a another hit!  They could work with partners, or on their own. We used Lucky Charms cereal because we're reading a story right now about a polar bear who loves them!  

Somewhere around this time, we had our hot-chocolate.  
As Goldilocks would say, it wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold. It was juuuuust right! 



After that, it was time to relax and enjoy some quiet time together. We watched an adorable modern day version of the Christmas story.  We were going to have our gingerbread cookies but all of us agreed that with bellies full of hot-chocolate and cereal, it might be best to wait 'til next week.  

As you can see, it was such a sweet and cozy time.  These last photos are my favorite. They make my teacher heart so full and proud.  Thank you to all the boys and girls for a great day! I hope it's one you will never forget! 

Photo above displayed with parental permission. 



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