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!  

April 18, 2017

Unit 8 Fractions: learning goals and big ideas

We're ready to begin our next unit in Math! It's unit 8 and it's all about Fractions! 

Please note: there is no workbook for this unit. We'll be using our slates and doing a variety of hands-on problem solving activities to develop skills and demonstrate understanding. Students will also create a "Fractions Folder" that will support their learning. 

Unit 8: Fractions (click here)

April 11, 2017

Let's compare!

As part of our ever-growing Morning Message activities, I have been slowly introducing the concept of comparative writing to the boys and girls. 

We began back in late February/early March with a look at a photo like the one in the slide below. Students were asked to use words like right and left to describe similarities and differences. 

After that, I asked students to write their comparative sentences on a Post-it Note, proofread it into their whisper-phone, and then share it with the class.  

Soon, I introduced the idea of using the word however to connect the sentences and make the mini-paragraph more fluid.  
Students began writing things like: The boy on the left is holding a pot of gold. However, the boy on the right is holding just one coin. 

We worked on the correct use of the word however for a few mornings. Then I asked students to be more creative in their sentences. I showed them the slide below and asked them to compare two features of the picture that no one else would consider.  

Then we worked with this slide for another opportunity to use the word however AND write unique and creative comparative sentences. I also began introducing the phrase on the other hand as a means of writing about something the characters in the picture have in common. 

We also practiced using this slide.  
The next task was to write a mini-comparative paragraph about the slide below.  Students were expected to include the following: 
  • include their purpose for writing 
  • write two creative differences they see in the slide below using the word however
  • write about something the characters below have in common using the phrase on the other hand
  • use commas appropriately as all of the comparative words and phrases require them
  • write a closing sentence 
  • all this needs to be completed, proofread and polished in just ten minutes or so! 

Soon, we'll start using comparative writing in Math. Students will be looking at two gardens with different areas and perimeters. They're asked to use the "comparative writing formula" (7 steps) as their guide.  

Here's the text I wrote for students to write about. They're job is to compare Andrew and Dana. I'm really excited to read these paragraphs. What will my students choose as the similarities and differences they want to write about?! 

On Wednesday, I'll explain to my students that they can use comparative words in a variety of ways and that they need not reserve however only for describing differences and on the other hand for similarities.

April 07, 2017

Unit 6 Practice Test

Please find a link below to the Unit 6 Practice Test.  

The boys and girls are going to have their Unit 6 Math test on Thursday April 13th.  

We have covered quite a bit in this large unit:

  • the calendar
  • money 
  • how to tell time
  • millilitres and litres 
  • grams and kilograms 
  • along with problem solving using all of these concepts

Here are the two practice tests that will assist the boys and girls in preparing for the test.  

Unit 6 Practice Test 

Unit 6 Practice Test: Money

April 06, 2017

Do you follow us?

Whether you're Apple or Android, you can follow @meandmythrees on Instagram!  It's like a whole other mini-blog over there and it's one of my favourite ways to share our day-to-day news with families and friends.  It's also terrific way for parents to interact with us and enjoy a glimpse into what makes 208 so great. 

You can always see the rotating photos here on the blog, down in the right corner, but by following us on Instagram, you can really join in the fun in a unique way and see the new pics right away! 

I especially love it because sharing the news of our day can be done so in a much more timely manner than blogging. 

If you haven't checked out our page yet, please consider following my class here at Instagram.  

Hope to see you there! 

April 05, 2017

Success Checklist

I have created a very full list of things students need to know to feel confident and prepared for EQAO week in late May. 

This list will not be distributed in class, it's for study purposes only.  I'm asking that parents review each item with their child, check off what they know and then spend some time on those items that need revisiting. This is for your home-use only and is not to be returned to school. 

There are still a number items to cover in class on the checklist, so some material may be unfamiliar to students.

The checklist is to be used as a kind of study guide. You can formulate questions to ask your child based on this guide to be sure they are confident before you check off an item.  

I have indicated that "students should be able to check-off each item" on the checklist, but it should be a parent doing so.

While the big "E" isn't a test, kids understandably do feel nervous as it approaches. My hope is that by using this document as a guide, students will feel more confident when they see just how fully prepared they really are. 

Success Checklist

April 04, 2017

How To Solve Bake Shop Problems

Bake-Shop problems are multi-step problems that involve money.  We call them "Bake-Shop" problems because anytime you make Math delicious, you immediately have everyone's attention!  

Here's a video where I explain how to solve these types of problems. If you play the video on full screen, it starts a bit blurry and then clears up nicely about 20 seconds in.

A correction: near the very end of the video, I say that $2.40-$0.85 is $0.55 when I should have said: $2.40-$1.85 is $0.55.   

After watching the video, please solve the following problem:

Mrs. M has these coins: 

5 quarters

4 dimes
2 nickels 

I'd like to buy 4 giant chocolate fudge cupcakes (possibly to share with some people I like, but possibly to keep all for myself). 

Each cupcake costs $0.75.

How much more money do I need to buy myself my friends the cupcakes?  


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