May 25, 2017

Said/Replied/Said:It's time for story writing!

In the midst of all the EQAO talk we've had here on the blog recently, I forgot to tell you about where we are in our writing program!  

It's time for story writing and it's one of my favourite writing units of the year. I've now met with each student and we've reviewed their story-planning page (pictured below). Everyone is off to a creative and engaging start! 

I'm also encouraging students to include dialogue in their stories.  I came up with this idea/formula a few years ago to teach kids how to write dialogue in their stories correctly. I call it the "Said/Replied/Said" method and I think it works quite well.

Over the course of the year, we've talked about how good writing evokes a response from the reader. My hope is that my students will use dialogue to do just this! 

Please have a look at this youtube video I made of my Powerpoint so you can see how it's taught and support your child or students in your own classroom.  


May 24, 2017

Day one is done!

Room 208 is always great, but today it was also very quiet. 
Everyone worked so very hard on their booklets. The only sound you could hear was the sound of pencils writing away! 

For some children, it was a long day, but for others, the day flew by. Either way, everyone has earned extra dessert tonight! 

Typically, the boys and girls feel less nervous going into Day Two and then Day Three is a breeze. 

We're off to a terrific start and looking forward to a HUGE party in the next week or so to celebrate all our hard work.  
Thank you for bringing your children to school on time and for the large lunches you've packed. The students appreciated the good fuel for their minds and bodies! 

As we head into Day 2 tomorrow, please don't hesitate to write a little note of encouragement to your child in the agenda.  

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 17, 2017

Bring something you love!

I'm asking the boys and girls to bring a small memento to school while we write EQAO. 

They'll keep it on their desk to make them feel warm and fuzzy while they write their booklets.  

Photo, teeny-tiny toy, good luck charm, anything, as long as it reminds them of how much they are loved and it's not too big and won't break if it falls off their desk. I've told the kids it shouldn't be bigger than a Smurf that I keep on my desk.   

Displaying 20170517_122337.jpg
Please have your child bring their memento as soon as possible so everything is set up and ready to go for that first day: Wednesday May 24.

May 16, 2017

Five more school days!

With just five school days left until students begin their EQAO booklets (May 24, 25, 29), it seems appropriate to read this storybook to my class today!

As promised to my students, here are the links again to the EQAO practice resources and the "success checklist" that I created.  

May 15, 2017

The Measurement Family!

It's a few years old, but here's a super-quick (and verrrry close-up!) video of the four members of the measurement family!  

The boys and girls can watch this video and revisit who's who and how they are related!  

The Measurement Famliy

May 10, 2017

Math Makes Sense: Unit 9 Length, Area and Perimeter

We've begun our next Math unit! This is the last official unit of the year! After this unit, we'll be revisiting skills and problem solving using ALL the new stuff we've learned. For this final unit, the boys and girls will learn all about length, area and perimeter. 

What are the Big Ideas? 
  • The centimetre, the metre, and the kilometre can be used to measure the length, width, and height of an object.
  • Standard units of measure, such as the centimetre and the metre, are used to measure the perimeter of two-dimensional figures.
  • Uniform non-standard units can be used to estimate and measure perimeter and area.

How Will the Concepts Develop?

Students use metre sticks and rulers to explore standard units of measure. They measure the lengths, widths, heights, and perimeters of a variety of real world objects and they establish benchmarks for the standard units, the centimetre and the metre. 

Students use these benchmarks to estimate linear dimensions. 

After much practical experience, students will be better able to select the most appropriate unit to measure length.

Students measure and compare the perimeters of two-dimensional figures using standard units. They use non-standard units such as Pattern Blocks and paper squares, to cover a figure and measure its area.

Students find the areas of figures drawn on grid paper by counting squares and partial squares. Through exploration, students see that figures with the same area can have different perimeters.

Why Are These Concepts Important?

Measuring skills are practical skills students will use. Experience in measurement lays a foundation for the use of measuring tools and formulas that students will encounter in later grades. As their measuring skills improve, students should be able to solve increasingly complex measurement problems. These skills may be applied in other areas, such as science, art, and geography.


Math Makes Sense: Ontario Teacher's Guide 
Published by: Pearson Education Canada. 2004  

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 03, 2017

Unit 8: Fractions Practice Test

The boys and girls will have their Fractions test on Tuesday May 9.  I have created a practice test that will assist them in preparing for the test. 

A study guide is coming home with students on Wednesday. Please note: we are covering simplest terms on Wednesday/Thursday.  

You can download the Practice Test by clicking here.

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.  

April 30, 2017

Only Mrs. C can make science this fun!

Last week, Mrs. Chiarotto had the boys and girls set up in an alternate location within our school to do a tour of soil.  As always, she's gone out of her way to see that students are provided with rich learning opportunities! 

The boys and girls are learning about the particles of soil. They're visiting five different soil stations: rock, sand, slit, clay and loam. At each station, students are using magnifying glasses to observe different factors such as appearance, smell and texture.  They're also looking for evidence of specific nutrients such as humus and how each soil receives air and water. 

April 26, 2017

The Venus Flytrap

Well, this might very well be the grossest post of the year. Brace yourself.  

As part of our preparation for EQAO, we're having Wednesday Workshops. The boys and girls will complete practice activities that are very similar to EQAO-type exercises. 

As you know, EQAO preparation is built into my instruction, so this means the students have been preparing for their booklets since day one.  But the Wednesday Workshops are more intense practice opportunities with actual EQAO resources and practice materials. 

Today's workshop focused on a non-fiction article about the Venus Flytrap.  I had everyone's attention when I told them we'd be learning about a really gross plant that would fascinate them. By the looks on their faces throughout the lesson, they were indeed fascinated! It was so fun to see them light up with question after question about this very special plant! They were just bubbling with enthusiasm!  

After the lesson, the boys and girls where then asked to write about how this is an unusual plant by providing evidence from the text and their own ideas. We call this an RRWEP (Reading Response With Evidence).   

The boys and girls were told that there are many interesting facts, photos and videos to view on Youtube.  I reminded them that if they wish to learn more about the Venus Flytrap online, they'll need your assistance and permission.  

They loved watching this video created by some botany students from the United States. A while back, we talked about how the music in a video or movie is chosen very carefully to evoke a response from the viewer or to set the mood. I'm sure you'll agree, this piece of music was a perfect choice!   

April 25, 2017


These writing skills!  
Just amazing!
Students are finishing up their comparative writing paragraphs this week and they've done an incredible job. The boys and girls were asked to compare the two characters from the mini-story below.

It takes about two weeks for a writing piece to go from start to finish and that's not necessarily because the assignment is long or the expectations are too high. It's more of a practical issue: at times, we need to shelve it for a day or two in order to get the other stuff done.

The kids have been plugging away at these paragraphs and judging by the ones I read today, the boys and girls are continuing to reach higher and higher when it comes to achieving their personal best.  

As each child completes their paragraph and checklist, we have a little conference and review their work together.  It's incredible to watch the growth in their writing over the course of the year together. Watching them implement feedback and add new words from their own reading and experiences is so, so exciting.  

Please have a look at the high-quality work below and you'll see what I'm talking about.  I cannot wait to conference with the rest of my class in the coming days.  Congratulations to all the boys and girls in room 208, your work is a pleasure to read! You do everything right: you're work is neat and easy to read, you add funny and interesting details and your writing consistently evokes a response from the reader!

Even the artwork is great! 

Thanks to cookie-jar Charlie for covering up my students' names! 

Here's some of the great work from a recent "Morning Work" page.  This particular paragraph helps get our mind ready for persuasive writing, which comes next.  

April 24, 2017

How to find a fraction of a set

In Math, we're learning all about how to find a fraction of a number or set. We've talked about how we're passed the stage where we're dividing shapes into fractions. This is a video I made a few years ago and it can be viewed by students to help them practice or review their skills at home. Students are invited to follow up with me with any questions they might have about finding a fraction of a set. 

At the end of the video, there is a quiz. A printable version of the quiz can be found here.

When students know how to find a fraction of a number or set, they can solve all kinds of higher order thinking problems. I also like teaching the concept this way because it helps students to see the connection between fractions and division. The more we find ways to connect concepts for children, it's only natural that their confidence soars and as for their problem solving abilities, well, they do the same! 

April 20, 2017

Week 30 is here (yikes!)

This week is a short one, but it's kind of a bittersweet one. It's week 30. This means we have just ten weeks left together as a little class family.  It's been such an incredible year hasn't it? And it certainly has flown by.  

Like the first ten weeks, the last ten weeks are an exciting time.  There's lots of fun to be had, lessons and skills to be learned, new books to discover and of course, EQAO to write. After that, we'll have a field trip to Country Heritage Park, learn how to do cursive writing (Yep! You read that correctly!),throw a bubble party and enjoy all the good times and popsicles that June brings.  

As we begin the final quarter of the school year, I look back on the many memories I've made with my little group and smile. It's been a terrific year so far and I hope the next ten weeks are even better!  


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