News Letter Page

Jan 25, 2020

And just like that, we are back to nice weather again!  Funny how you have to endure some pains in order to have a nicer payoff.  Much like learning.  A colleague of mine once said, "There is no growth without discomfort."  Just grateful the weather has turned a bit.  Hoping for a new direction in learning as well going forward.  Here's what we have been up to this week.

In Math, we started looking at 2x2 multiplication using both the expanded form and traditional method.  By the end of grade 5, students are expected to know multiplication facts up to 2x2.  Keep practicing this as this will be a vital skill not just in grade 5 but in years to come.  We are going to be wrapping this unit up this week and will probably have a short test the following week.  More news to follow.  Start thinking about division as well.  This is the next unit.  Just a heads up as well.  For the multiplication and division unit, I blocked out a few extra weeks to teach this because I personally believe it is a skill set that students need.  That being said, it means we need to put a bit of a hussle on the remaining math units moving forward.  You will see a bit of an increase in practice work but know that there are quite a few blocks in my day where kids can be working to cut down the amount of work needed to bring home.  To give you an example, on Tuesdays I have an 80 min. math block and a few other periods where students could be finishing.  If they are averaging only a few questions in an 80 min period, ask them about their use of time and what might be getting in the way.

In Language Arts, our novel study is well under way.  We are heading into chapter 5 and 6 this week of Bridge to Terabithia.  Students are working to improve comprehension but again, the answers will not jump out at them.  Critical thinking and re-reading is key to understanding how to respond.  When possible, students should practice the skills of predicting and/or connecting.  This will improve their understanding.  At the end of next week, I am going to assess and evaluate the first checkpoint.  Please make sure that chapters 1-6 are completed by Thursday, Jan 31.  We did some more paragraph writing as well this week.  There are still a few issues with the formatting of a 5 sentence paragraph so you can help at home by having your child write you a simple 5 sentence paragraph using the template I emailed a few weeks ago.  The ideas however, are starting to come along quite nicely and I am really surprised at how well the kids have bought into using the template I gave them.  We spent a lot of time this week deconstructing persuasive articles in preparation to do some persuasive writing.  We looked at the idea that you must take a stance or position about a topic (for or against) and developing good reasons with supporting details to try and convince someone to take your position.  You can help at home the next time you ask your child to do chores for example.  Rather than simply stating "because I said so" or "it is your responsibility" model good word choice and give them concrete reasons with support why they should be responsible for their job.  Have them also try to convince you of something as well.  Talk it through and listen.  Kids love to argue but teaching them how to do it respectfully is the key.  I call it "respectfully challenging."  We are going to take this idea and start writing a formative persuasive letter in a few weeks but we will also be applying this idea to the final social studies project I have in mind as well.

In Science, we did some experiments this week and looked at materials that conduct and insulate (block) the flow of electricity.  Next week we are going to do a few more small experiments with electricity before getting into my final building challenge.  Like the weather devices, students will need to think critically about their model.  They will need to develop a plan, tell what parts are working, what barriers they are facing and how they will go about problem solving to try and make improvements on their overall design.  Remember, the key to innovation and learning is the process, not necessarily the end result.  Do you think Steve Jobs got the Iphone right on the first try?

In Social Studies, we are getting close to the end of the Amazing Race Regions Edition.  Students are working really hard to gather information.  I have to say how impressed I am at the level of collaboration and also the way that they have been keeping up to the expectations.  We are going to take a short break from this for the following week.  Why you might ask?  I have a guest teacher coming in to share her views from an international point of view on regions.  Mrs. Salucop is back from her worldly adventures in Australia and she and I have been chatting this week about how the geographical regions of Australia, climate and resources impact the way people in Australia live.  She is going to come in and share her expertise with us this week over a 4 day period.  Students will need to be respectful and mindful of her time and what she has to say.  We are going to look and see if we can draw some similarities and/or differences in the way that regions affect Canadians and Australians.  I am super stoked to have her come in and share her experience with us.  I think it will be valuable and will really hit home the point I am trying to make with my project.  We will resume research on the final couple of regions the week after and will be heading into the final summative project in the second week of February.  The whole thing (if things work well) will be wrapped up before the February break.  My summative is a 3 mark deal.  There is a visual arts component, an LA component as well as a social studies component.  More news to follow.

In Health, we completed our unit on bullying and conflict.  Although we are done, students should be mindful of the differences and really work at conflict resolution.  We are here to support and listen, coach and guide but the ultimate goal is to build independence and help students problem solve without us always there.  In many cases, students will find that it they respectfully talk a situation out, it can be solved quickly.  Other times this may not be the case.  We are going to be moving into a final larger unit for the year that I call "Living a Healthy Lifestyle."  The first major component of this will be looking at healthy eating patterns and active living and how this has an impact on us as humans.

Looking ahead, I am always amazed at how fast the year blows by.  That being said, I have to start amping up the speed and expectations.  Managing time is going to be really key going forward.  Start having a discussion with your child about what independent and self directed learning looks like and sounds like.  We are going to start talking a bit more about this as I see that sometimes a lot of valuable time is being wasted.  It can make the difference between 20 mins of homework vs. a couple hrs and/or a significant difference in grades.  My biggest kick is trying to mark something that is half completed when I know that your child is better than that and simply forgot to follow through.  Have this discussion about the importance of staying on task, monitoring time and really challenging themselves to be their best self.  You guys can do it!  With a little extra GRIT, we will succeed.  We talked on Friday about what you thought you can improve on.  Now that you know, don't tell me what I want to hear.  Show me what I want to see.

If you have any questions about anything we are doing, please contact me at the school.  Spend some time in the sun this week.  I know BBQ is in order for me this weekend!


Jan 18, 2020

I say brrr, it's cold out I sit here warming up my truck in preparation to go out, I am reminded of the temperatures of back home and how much of a challenge this can be.  I am however grateful for the eventual chinooks that are suppose to warm things up in the next little while.  This should put us a bit more on track again.  Imagine 6-8 weeks of this cold and indoor recess for about 3 weeks straight.  One week of cold you say?  Meh.

In Language Arts, we have started our novel study.  The book I chose is called "Bridge to Terabithia."  It is a story of imagination and true GRIT in the face of tragedy.  Comprehension questions are designed to push students to think very higher level and support their reasoning with evidence from the text.  I give the students the questions and post them on the board as "look fors" when we read.  Students are expected to go back and re-read the chapters after I have read it to them.  You can help at home by encouraging them to re-read the chapters to you and signing off on their novel study each time we do this to ensure that they are keeping up and not falling behind.  We have also begun to deconstruct persuasive writing.  Next week, we are going to get more into persuasive arguments and how to respectfully take a stance and support with reasons and supporting details.  This is a tricky form of writing because it means coming up with logical reasons to try and convince someone to take your side.  We are also working on writing a solid 5 sentence paragraph.  This is a skill that lacks in all grades beyond grade 5.  Please refer to the template I sent home and practice this with your child from time to time.  Doing so will improve their overall writing long term.

In Math, we are going to start looking at 2x2 multiplication facts.  This will conclude the unit on multiplication and I will be giving a short test in probably a couple weeks.  From there we are going to move onto division.  I have two strategies for teaching this so be open minded to the one that may not look as traditional as you and I learned.  Surprisingly enough, many have a very solid handle on multiplication.  This is the first big step in understanding division.  Continue to practice basic multiplication facts at home in preparation for this unit in a few weeks.

In Science, we conducted some experiments and looked at the difference between series vs. parallel circuits.  We talked about why light bulbs might light up or not light up if there was a break in both models.  Next week, we are going to do some work with conductors and insulators and a few more small hands on experiments before getting into my end task building challenge.  More news to follow when we get closer to this.  Like the weather building challenges, students will need to document successes and barriers to their design and think critically about how they want to make changes throughout the process.

In Social Studies, the second half of the Amazing Race Regions Edition has started up again.  Students are taking more of a focused look at very specific things that define the make up of each region.  I am going to take a pause from looking at Canadian regions in about a week and have a guest speaker coming in to share her experiences.  Mrs. Salucop (our AP) is back from Australia and she is going to come in and share her experiences about living in Australia and how, much like Canada, things like climate, natural resources, physical land regions etc. can impact the way that people live in Australia.  I think it will be neat to see how things compare internationally as well.

In Health, we talked a bit about when someone should tell about conflict and bullying situations.  The goal is to provide strategies to deal with conflict respectfully before seeking help from an adult.  We did talk about when it would be a good time to seek adult help though as well.  In the next few weeks, I will be giving a short quiz on bullying.  The last half of the year in health will focus on a 3 part unit I call "living a healthy lifestyle."  Topics covered include healthy eating and active living, substance use and abuse and sexual education (not until closer to June).  More news to follow as each unfolds.

We are cruising along despite many disruptions in weather (and cold portables) and getting back into a routine.  The expectations are starting to amp up a bit more and students will need to show GRIT and ownership for following through on completion of tasks.  Please continue to check PowerSchool often.  I am working on trying to get things in there a bit more often.  Bare with me.  Continue to remind your child about their time management in class and also setting routines for completion at home if need be.  If you have any questions, please email or call the school.  Stay warm everyone!


Jan 11, 2020

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a relaxing holiday.  It was nice to get back into the swing of things this week.  January often is a time to really re-set and get ready for the next half of the year, which always seems to fly by quickly.  It is a long and often cold one but lots of learning happens during these longer weeks.  Here is what we have been up to this week:

In Language Arts, we continued to look at some inferencing in preparation for our upcoming novel study.  We also started learning how to put together a 5 sentence paragraph.  We will keep working on this as it will be necessary for when we do some persuasive writing in the next couple of weeks.  A reminder that students should be meeting deadlines for each draft.  These are evaluated and entered into PowerSchool as well.  As mentioned we will be starting a novel study this week.  It is a story of true friendship and GRIT in the face of a tragedy.  The novel I chose to do is called Bridge to Terabithia.  As we go through it, I want students to see how the characters overcome barriers and push through all while creating a magical world just for themselves.  You can help at home by having your child re-read chapters to you each night we do novel study.  Please sign off on their novel study to ensure that they are keeping up to the expectations and not falling behind.

In Math, we looked at multiplying 3x1 digit numbers using expanded form.  We started to look at the traditional method this week too.  We will be reviewing the traditional method next week.  The final step in the multiplication is learning 2x2 digit facts.  More news to follow.  Continue to work on basic facts with your child.  The speed is coming and will be necessary for learning division.

In Science, we took a look at open vs. closed circuits and also how a series and parallel circuit work and differ.  We are going to do a few more investigations with circuits before jumping into our final building challenge.

In Social Studies, we started the second half of the Amazing Race Regions edition.  Students should really start looking at specific details in each region and really start to consider who might benefit from working or visiting the region and who might not.

In Health, we took a look at a pretty serious and current bullying trend; cyberbullying.  I explained that I (and probably many of you) didn't have to deal with this.  As we continue to live in a technological society, students need to be mindful of how they use tech and social media sites.  We talked about ways that they can help eliminate the threats of cyberbullying and what to do if they, or someone they knew, was being cyberbullied.  The information highway can be a vast source of knowledge and learning but it can also be dangerous and not so kind.

It was a bit of a tough start but we pushed through with GRIT.  Next week it is suppose to be cold (I say this because it actually is looking like what we get in Ontario.  Although we get closer to 6-8 weeks of this cold snap).  It will be important for students to remember to follow through with expectations, particularly at lunch if they are asked to stay indoors.  As I said before, this second half seems to fly by quickly and it will be important for students to set goals for themselves and continue to work towards them.  A good entry point of talking at home might be around setting goals for managing time in class.  Many are still finding this difficult and as a result, feel rushed to complete work and/or don't.  Have a conversation with your child, set some goals at home and continue to monitor and encourage them.

If you have any questions, please contact me at the school.  Stay warm and welcome back to the madness!


Dec 21, 2019

We made it!  It was a long week but the holidays are here.  Time to rest and reconnect with friends and family.  It was a busy week despite being the last before the holidays.  Students pushed through with GRIT.  Here was our final week of 2019:

In Language Arts, we did some work around inferencing.  This week I simulated a crime scene in my room.  This caused a bit of worry and a whole lot of investigation.  Many theories were presented as to who could have ransacked our room and took my computer.  In the end, the point was to teach a lesson on inferring and how to draw a conclusion based on clues.  This is a tricky concept so we have moved from some visual strategies to starting to read short comprehension passages and trying to pull proof from the text.  This strategy will be important for the novel study I am planning in the new year.  More details to follow.

In Math, we looked at multiplication using 2x1 digits using the traditional method (the one that you and I probably grew up learning).  The goal is to show students that there is more than one way to learn multiplication.  In the new year we are going to move towards 3x1 digit and eventually 2x2 multiplication.  Keep practicing basic facts.  Play cards and practice online using web math minute or

In Science, we did some reading comprehension around some concepts that we will look at in electricity.  In the new year we are going to start building circuits and reviewing the ways in which circuits work.

In Social Studies, we are at the half way point of the Amazing Race Regions Edition.  Over the holidays, I will be going through travel logs to see if students have kept up and done their part.  This will be the first checkpoint assessment.  In the new year, students will complete the research for the last 3 regions before applying what they know to a persuasive argument.

This was a tight week with lots of unexpected.  A good lesson in pushing through with GRIT.

I want to take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Take time to relax and reconnect with friends and family.  Thank you for your continued support throughout the first part of the year.  We'll see you next year!


Dec 15, 2019

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, AAAAHHH!  Christmas madness is in full swing!  Despite changes in schedules, unexpected guests and a whole lot of bizzare, students are managing to push through.  One more week to go.  Let's continue to jump the barriers!

In Language Arts, we wrapped up our unit on procedure writing by completing our final draft of a Recipe for Me.  The goal was to imagine combining physical characteristics with personality traits into a recipe-esque type of procedure.  Creative word choice and clear steps is the key.  We also continue to work on the reading strategy "inferencing."  This is a really difficult concept.  We did a gallery walk this week and looked at picture clues to see if students could infer what was happening in each picture.  They had to tell what they thought was happening and also what the evidence was that supported their inferences.  This will be key when we start a novel study after the break.  Questions will require more than a one line answer and will need supporting details from the text.

In Math, we worked on 2x1 multiplication using expanded form.  Although a bit of a longer process and perhaps not the way you or I learned, for some this is an easier way to do the math.  Be open minded to the change.  Know that by the time we get to a test, students will have an opportunity to show which ever strategy works best for them.  Keep working on basic multiplication.  Really target 6, 7, 8 and 9 times tables.  This is usually where the errors occur.

In Science, we did a web hunt of some terms that will pop up in our study of electricity.  These first set of tasks were done online.  When the activities are an online activity, students must use their time wisely to complete.  Usually, 80 mins is given.  It is important that students read carefully as we will apply some of these concepts over the course of this unit.  We are going to start looking at circuits in the near future.

In Social Studies, students continue to research regions as the Amazing Race Regions Editions continues.  This upcoming week, my goal is to have students complete at least 3 full regions.  I plan to do an assessment over the Christmas break to see where everyone is at with things.

In Health, we looked at 3 major types of bullying and why some are a bit more difficult to identify.  Mindfulness is key to understanding how and when these forms occur and what to do about them.

Just a heads up that term two rotations have started.  Students in my class are fortunate to have Mrs. Meisner for French and Foods this term.  It is important that they show the same respect as they would in my class and approach each new learning opportunity with a growth mindset and a willingness to learn some new things.

As we head into this busy week ahead, I want to remind students that although this can be a happy time of year for most, for some, it isn't as happy.  It is important to be mindful and aware of the unexpected and to take a deep breath from time to time.  Hang in there!  We are almost there!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the school.



Dec 6, 2019

Another short and flipped upside down week.  Let Christmas madness begin.  I told the kids to expect the unexpected in December.  Anything from schedule flips to last minute assemblies can happen during this month.  As crazy and chaotic as this month can be, we are still going to persevere through this.  Here is what we have been up to this week:

In Language Arts, we are getting ready to put the finishing touches on our "Recipe For Me."  Next week, students will write out their good copy on 11x17 paper which should include a self portrait.  It will describe the steps needed to create the perfect version of them.  We started a new reading strategy this week called "inferring."  Making an inference about something is an extremely difficult concept, especially when you have no visual pictures to help you draw a conclusion.  A good reader will draw a conclusion about a situation, characters, etc based on what is written.  Solid evidence from the text is necessary to support thinking in an inference.  To start this week, we looked at facial features and expressions and talked about what the people might be thinking and/or feeling.  Students were also asked to look closely and tell what the proof (evidence) was to support their inference.  Without it, it is just an assumption.  We also looked at comics that had a part of text missing and students were asked to guess, based on pictures and the small text what the missing phrases were.  We are going to need to work on this strategy a lot.  This is difficult for even adults to do.  You can help at home by asking your child to tell you about what they think certain characters in a book are like.  What are their personalities like?  Often this is a great place to start.  Authors always write descriptive language that gives clues as to the type of people that these characters are.  It's a great place to start.  When your child tells you what they are thinking, ask them to go back, re-read and find text clues that support or prove what they are thinking.  For example, in the story I am reading called "Fish in a Tree" there is a character named Shay.  The kids described her as rude and sassy (this is their inference).  I asked them to think of words that the author uses to prove that this character may act like this.  They said that every time this character makes fun of the main character and says things like "you're such a freak" this is some of the support.  They went on to describe how this Shay character acts with other characters in the book.  We will continue to work on this strategy for a few more weeks.  My goal with the three reading strategies we have looked at so far (predictions, connections and inferencing) is to set kids up for the right path when we do a novel study after Christmas break.  Questions will lend themselves to these strategies.

In Math, we continued working on basic 1x1 multiplication.  I introduced the ladder challenge to them this week to work on speed using cards.  Ask them about the game and how challenging this was not only from a math point of view but from a growth mindset point of view as well.  We touched briefly on 2x1 digit multiplication using expanded form.  This is the strategy I will be looking at first starting next week.  To you and I, it probably looks pretty foreign compared to the way we learned multiplication but to some kids, it makes more sense than the traditional cross multiplication method.  It's not stupid, it's just different.  Growth mindset!

In Social Studies, students continue to collaborate and work through researching the 6 geographical regions of Canada.  I have had some interesting conversations about natural resources, jobs and what benefits they see of living and/or visiting places.  You should ask about what they are thinking as they research.  A great way for students to see the region (without actually going there) is to use Google Earth.  If they type in the name of a region, they will be able to see a sky view of the regions.  Technology allows students to explore without actually having to travel there.  I wish I had this as a kid.  It would have made more sense.

In Science, we started our new unit on electricity.  This week we started to look at safety hazards associated with electricity use and safer alternatives.  As we get going, we are going to start looking at building circuits.  Clear diagrams and scientific vocabulary will be necessary and collaboration skills will be important.

In Health we looked at situations and had to decide if they met the criteria for bullying.  This is a term that gets thrown around too loosely and often we are all too quick to run and take up the call to arms before understanding the full story.  To meet the criteria of bullying, situations must meet 3 things 1) repeated 2) targeted 3) an imbalance of power.  We talked about what that might look like and how there is a lot of situations that may start out like conflict and lead to bullying.  This is where things get grey.  A lot of work needs to be done to fully understand the extent of this term.  As adults, we often forget this as well.

In the past few weeks, our school has started writing in a gratitude journal.  Mrs. Beaudry is very big on showing gratitude.  This movement was started by our gr. 7 team and we are participating in a school wide push to see if we are able to shift the thinking and be more gracious about what we have in our daily lives.  Perhaps your child has brought their journal home from time to time?  If they have (or haven't) you should ask them to share what they are most grateful for.  Initially it can be small things but lately I have heard some amazing stories as part of my weekly community circle.  I am hoping that the kids really buy into this.

Just a heads up that the next few weeks are going to be busy times.  Students are expected to put forth their best efforts over the next couple weeks.  I know they are getting tired and the excitement of the season is starting to hit.  Just a reminder to have a conversation with them to be mindful about the season.  For some, it is a stressful time and not everyone views the holidays with the same enthusiasm.  If you have any questions, please email me or call the school.


Dec 2, 2019

What seemed like a shorter week (due to our field trip) was a super busy one full of all kinds of new learning.  Here's what we have been up to this week.

In Language Arts, we are in the middle of writing a "Recipe for Me."  The goal is to describe, using cooking vocabulary, measurement vocabulary and personality traits, how to make the perfect you.  This is tricky because students have to imagine creating themselves from scratch (like cooking or baking).  We are also wrapping up the reading strategy of making connections.  This week, we read a story called "One."  It was about a colour who liked to pick on and bully the other colours until a number comes and stands up for what is right and teaches the other colours to take back control and empower each other to do the right thing.  Many students could identify with situations where they may have experienced bullying and/or have seen their friends being bullied.  This reading strategy should continue to be practiced at home.  When students are reading, they should always be thinking of when something they read reminds them of an experience they have had, something else they may have read in another text and/or something perhaps they know that is a global issue.  We are going to be working on the next really big reading strategy called "inferring."  This is a really broad and abstract concept that is going to require a bit of work.  The goal is to draw conclusions based on clues.  It's kind of like making an assumption but the proof needs to be based around what the author writes and how characters interact with other characters.  This is a tricky idea even for adults to get their heads wrapped around.  Many kids are good at inferring but the tricky thing is providing evidence from the text to proof and support their thinking.

In Math, we have started our journey into multiplication.  I have tried to set a good chunk of time aside to teach this concept.  We are starting off slow with some basic 1x1 multiplication to review.  A good majority of errors are usually around the 6,7,8 and 9 times tables.  I sent home a package of basic multiplication pages that students should continue to practice.  I advised students to use those sheets to focus on the areas that they are struggling on or need a bit more practice on.  We are going to be working on 2x1 multiplication in the next few weeks.  I will be teaching 2 strategies, one that seems a bit unorthodox and bizzare but for some kids, it works.  To give you an example the traditional cross multiplication strategy doesn't work for all kids so giving students an opportunity to demonstrate this concept in another way is important.  I told a story this week of how I always got the wrong answer but knew the steps involved in multiplication.  If I was allowed to share my thinking and demonstrate another way, I think I wouldn't have struggled as much.  A strong handle on multiplication is super important before we even tackle division.  If nothing else your kids learn this year in math, please make sure they have a solid foundation on this fundamental skill.  For future years, it will be necessary.

In Social Studies, students continue to collaborate and research about the 6 geographical regions in Canada.  My goal is to have students complete the research for 3 regions before the Christmas break.  I will check in on their travel logs over the holidays and give feedback on their progress so far.  The big picture question that students should always be thinking about is "which region has had the biggest impact on our identity?"  Loosely translated, if students think about which region might be the best or the worst place to live in and/or visit, this will help with their research.

In Science, we are wrapping up our extreme weather projects and we will be working on concepts in electricity.  We had an amazing day at Telus Spark and the presenters outlined some of the basic concepts that we will reinforce in the classroom.  Students are going to need to collaborate and document their findings and using their knowledge, they will apply this to a final building challenge at the end of the unit.  More news to follow.

In Health, we jumped into a new unit dealing with one of the biggest unexpected behaviours that many kids face today; bullying.  We talked about this definition and what types of things must be present in order for a situation to be considered "bullying."  All too often we as a society, misuse this term.  There is a bit of grey area around the difference between "conflict" and "bullying."  We had a great discussion this week about the differences.  I want students to recognize what bullying is, the various forms and ways to deal with and empower each other to stand up for what is right (this is part of the reason for reading the story "One" in LA this week).  Sadly, the world isn't a nice place and teaching students appropriate ways to handle this is important.  A strong growth mindset is necessary to do this.

In Art, we wrapped up our Modern Day Mona Lisa pictures.  You may see in PowerSchool that there is an Art subject and an Art Enrichment subject.  There is a core art class that must be taught all year long (I am currently working on re-jigging my schedule for this) and the Art Enrichment class is sort of like an option class.  The Art Enrichment class will be ending at the end of term 1.  My goal with art enrichment was to teach about famous artists and their specialty in the art world and how to appreciate their technique and style.  For core art, there will be a lot of cross curricular projects that may show up here (ex. the rockin' road show t-shirt design for social and the wind building challenges in science).

Just a heads up that we are moving into term two.  The expectations are going to start increasing and the work load will start to increase as well.  If students are managing their time however, they should be able to get things done in a timely manner.  Students are reminded to monitor their work carefully and really take a good look before handing things in.  Using feedback to improve and set goals is also highly encouraged.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Nov 22, 2019

Amazing things are happening this week as students have been engaged in quite a number of projects.  Here's what we have been up to:

In Language Arts, we are working on a procedure called "A Recipe for Me."  Using terms that deal with cooking, measurement and personality traits, students must write a fictional recipe to make the perfect me.  We are working on good word choice so deconstructing actual recipes was the first step.  A reminder that draft copies are marked as formative assessments so make sure you are checking to see if your child is bringing their writing home.  We are still working on connections as a reading strategy.  This is still difficult for many to get their heads wrapped around.  The part that is confusing is bringing things back to the story.  You can help at home by having your child read and when they come to a part that reminds them of something, have them tell you about it.  Ex.  The part in the story (title of the story) when...reminds me of...Have them go deeper with their thinking.  Have them tell about their experience (text to self) or if they have read something like this in another book (text to text).  Tell them to be very specific about their experiences.  The part that is missing in responses and what I would like to work on is how to bring it back to the story.  This can be as simple as saying, "it is just like when....did...." and making a solid comparison between the similarities and differences.  We are going to work on one more this week before I move onto an extremely hard concept in reading comprehension, inferring.  More news to follow on this one.

In Math, students finished up their "Show What You Love in Numbers" posters this week.  We will be working on multiplication over the next few weeks and into December.  This is a very tricky concept for some so I sent home some practice sheets and strategies that can help.  Encourage your child to learn their basic facts as these seem to be lacking and are crucial for future math success long after they leave me.  We will be starting with multiplication and moving on to division probably in January.

In Social Studies, students jumped into the Amazing Race Regions Edition.  They are currently working on researching about the 6 geographical regions of Canada and gathering information to make a persuasive argument.  I will be teaching persuasive writing soon in LA as we continue to gather the information needed for this.  Students should always be considering who would benefit from living and/or traveling to this region and also why would someone want to move or stay away from this region.  If they bring it back to the simulation game I played a few weeks ago, things will start to make a bit of sense.

In Science, students are researching an extreme weather.  Starting next week, we will be putting the finishing touches on the research and working on the end task.  Students must display their findings either as a brochure, a poster or a google slide show.

In Art, we will be putting the finishing touches on our Mona Lisa picture.  I have to do a bit of magic in the next couple of weeks to continue teaching art as things are getting a bit tight with schedule changes.

In Health, we looked today at what characteristics make a good friend.  I was explaining today that in today's world with so much access to social media, do we really know who are friends are vs. our acquaintances?  I asked students to think really deep about who would be there for them in an emergency situation.  It is something I think all of us could be mindful of and perhaps it would really force us to look at our social media and relationships a bit closer.  This is the first step into looking at the topic of bullying.  We are going to look deeper at this unexpected behaviour and really dive in deep.  Discussions will deal with recognizing signs vs. signs of conflict (which may or may not turn into bullying) and ways to handle these situations.  I find this term gets loosely thrown around by everyone and not very many of us truly understand the term.  I plan to go over this a bit more in the next few weeks.

Next week is the official end of term 1.  We are currently working on collaboration as a focus (especially for social).  It is important that students are using their time wisely and really monitoring their work carefully to make and achieve goals.  Please continue to check PowerSchool and MyBlueprint often.  Have a discussion with your child around what might be happening and how things are progressing towards their goals.  See where they are at and if they have strategies to show resilience and push through with GRIT.  The bar gets raised a bit higher this term but I believe that they can do it.  If you have any questions, please contact me at the school.


Nov 15, 2019

Another short week but filled with some newer things.  Here is what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we have been looking at deconstructing recipes and looking for vocabulary that can be used to enhance our writing.  We looked at words that described cooking terms as well as words that are associated with measurement.  These words will be used as part of our new procedure writing which we will begin next week.  A reminder that drafts need to be completed as they are marked as formative assessments.  We continue to look at the reading strategy of making connections.  Some of the experiences are great but we still need to work on bringing it back to the book.  What parts of students' experiences are similar and/or different than the events in the book read?  This week we also looked at a text to text connection.  We read two stories that had similar ways that the main characters had to show GRIT to overcome barriers and achieve goals.  We read the books "Giraffe's Can't Dance" and "The Most Magnificent Thing."  Check them out if you get a minute.  I think there are also versions on YouTube as well.

In Math, we are into our project called "Show What You Love in Numbers."  Students needed to chose a topic to research that had numbers embedded in the facts.  Ex. Dogs can live for ____ years.  They have to display their facts on bristol board and take all the numbers and represent them in the various ways that we have studied in this unit.  We are onto the math component and will be working on this next week.  Students will have all week to complete this project so by Thursday everything must be completed.  This is not a homework task so using their time effectively will be key.

In Science, students have started research on an extreme weather.  They must conduct research and make jot notes before presenting their facts in a final project form of their choosing.  They can chose to make a brochure, a slide show presentation or a poster.  Currently, we are working on gathering the information needed to tackle this end task.

In Social Studies, The Amazing Race Regions edition has begun!  Students will be working in pairs next week to collect information about each of the 6 geographical locations in Canada.  This is a big unit and effective collaboration skills are the key to student success.  They will gather information in a travel log.  The research gathered will be used for the final summative project (probably into Jan).  There will be a visual arts component as well as a writing component for this.  Along the way, students will need to think about trying to persuade someone that the region of their choosing is the best region to live in or the worst.  We will be doing some persuasive writing in the next little while to prepare for the final summative of this project.  Just a heads up about the research.  There are roadblocks and pitstops that students must complete.  Each roadblock card is designed to gather information.  The pitstop cards are more of a creative component where students must apply what they know from their research and do something creative.  There will be two check point evaluations.  After 3 regions have been completed, I will be giving a mark for completion and research skills.  Once the last 3 have been completed, I will be giving another mark.  Students are expected to work collaboratively and manage their times effectively.  Watch for due dates but know that the majority of this work will be done at school.  Two 80 min periods are blocked out each week to do this plus a short 40 min period as well.  On average, students should be able to get through a region a week if they use their time effectively.  Although I call this "The Amazing Race," it is by no means a race.  I want students to identify factors that affect the way people live within a region and how these regions shape their identity as Canadians.

In Art, we are putting the finishing touches on our Modern Day Mona Lisa pictures.  Students were asked to consider what Mona Lisa would wear, how she might style her hair etc and where she would go for fun if she got stuck in the now.

In Health, we reviewed expected and unexpected scenarios that happen in our classroom.  The goal was to identify when they happen in order to reduce the number of disruptions and/or time wasted throughout the week.  As we start getting into these bigger projects, understanding how to solve these conflicts are going to be key to keep us moving forward.  Being mindful of our actions and owning our mistakes is also key to making us respectful and successful.

As we are coming to the end of term one, I wanted to tell you about a "teacher philosophy" called gradual release of responsibility.  What that basically means is that students have been given opportunities to demonstrate with a lot of heavy support and scaffolding in term one.  As we move into term two, it will be time for students to demonstrate and work with each other to problem solve.  I am here for support and guidance and also to model trickier concepts but I am going to challenge students to think a bit more outside the box.  The expectations get a bit higher as each term passes.  My goal by term 3 is to be a facilitator of learning and have students take the lead on this.  By then, they should know what is expected and have the tools necessary for success.  By no means does this mean I stop teaching but there is a little less hand holding and more of a (as the name implies) a gradual release.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the school.


Nov 9, 2019

This was a busy week.  Snow, simulations in science and social studies and a need to show gratitude were jammed into the week.  Here is what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we finished our first procedure writing.  Although this was a formative assessment designed to test students ability to write descriptively, starting next week they are going to have to apply what they know and write a "recipe about me."  More news to follow.  We also looked at the reading strategy "making connections" again.  This is still a tricky one because the part that students are forgetting is to bring their experiences back to the book.  Having them explain why their experience is similar or different to the events and/or characters in the story is key.  Please continue to have your child read and connect out loud to you at night.  Ask them, how does your experience remind you of...(whatever they have read)?  Really have them explain their thinking to you.

In Math, we finished a short math quiz on representing numbers.  We are on to our final project for this unit.  Students will be doing a project called "Show What You Love in Numbers."  They must chose a topic that they want to research.  The facts have to have numbers embedded in them.  They must meet a certain set of criteria up to 1 million.  We are in the early research phase.  Next week we will wrap up the research and begin displaying the facts on bristol board and also changing the numbers using standard, expanded, word, base 10 and place value charts to represent the numbers.  It is a combined LA/Math mark so keeping up is important.

In Science, we simulated a tornado this week.  We looked at the conditions that need to happen in order for a tornado to occur.  Next week we are going to start an extreme weather project.  Students will need to research about an extreme weather condition and present facts.  We will be working on the research in class.

In Social Studies, we started our investigation into the 6 regions of Canada.  To do this, I simulated a game in which the room was divided into 4 regions.  Students in each region had access to certain resources that other groups didn't have (ex. the kids nearest to the door and garbage bins had the most advantage).  Each group that needed to borrow or use a resource from another group had to pay the other group a popsicle stick to use the resource.  When we debriefed in the afternoon, I explained that regions have various natural resources that they sell off to other provinces and areas in order to make money and grow their economy.  I told the story of how the small pulp and paper town I was living in once had 5 schools and by the time I left, they only had 2.  Before things got any worse, I decided to make a decision and leap of faith to come out here.  I joked that resources were the reason why they need to deal with me everyday.

In Art, we started looking at the works of Leonardo DaVinci and the famous Mona Lisa.  We looked at the mysteriousness of her gaze and also her boring clothing style.  I asked the kids to think of what she might look like in the modern world today if she got trapped in the now and where she might go for fun.  The assignment is called "Modern Day Mona Lisa."

In Health, we completed our look at expected and unexpected behaviours.  Although we finished the work, the work is far from over.  I would love for students to start recognizing when these happen and problem solve how to deal with them.  We are going to start looking at a very serious unexpected behaviour that is often misinterpreted.  Our next talks will deal with bullying and how to handle this.  Bullying is a word that gets thrown around too loosely by everyone.  It is often misused in places where simple conflict may just be happening.  The goal is to recognize what bullying actually is and to empower each other to be brave enough to stop it.

Another long weekend is upon us but I want to take the time to remind students to take a few minutes on Monday to reflect and remember the brave men and women who fought for us and continue to fight for what is right.  Be mindful and never take what you have for granted.  Show your gratitude if you should meet a veteran.  Next week is going to be busy.  Lots of projects are getting started and we will be kicking off some new units.

If you have any questions, please call or email me at the school.


Nov 1, 2019

This was a week of ups and downs and unexpected things.  Originally I had thought that the only day I was going to have to contend with was Halloween Thursday but as luck would have it, the flu hit me and it was a bit of an unexpected week.  Here is what we were up to (until I tapped out for a few days).

In Language Arts we were working on an edited draft of a procedure.  The goal is to teach someone how to blow a bubble using bubble gum.  As part of this writing process, students are formatively assessed on changes they are making during the writing process.  It is important that students are handing in drafts on time.  Check PowerSchool to see if you child is keeping up.  Although we are practicing this writing style, in the next few weeks we are going to dive deeper into it and apply what we know and write a recipe (no it's not what you think).

In Math, we did some work around rounding numbers to the nearest tens, hundreds and thousands.  We are wrapping up this unit with a short quiz on Tuesday and I will be starting my LA/Math report with the kids.  This is going to take a bit of time to research but again, class time will be given to do the research and time will be given for the math component.  Students are expected to use their time effectively at each stage in this project.

In Science, we are onto our second building challenge.  This time the students must build a device that measures the wind speed.  The barrier this time is time.  They must do this in a shorter amount of time.  A couple class periods were used to do this.  Next week, final testing and reflection must be done.  We will move into one final project before wrapping up this unit on weather.  More details to follow.

In Social Studies, we took a small break after completing our Rockin' Road Show projects.  Starting next week, we are going to look at the 6 geographical regions of Canada.  There is a bit of front loading that I am going to do but essentially this research will be done in pairs.  Students must collaborate and take themselves across Canada in the Amazing Race Regions Edition.  They must collect information at various roadblocks and must fill out a travel log of information that will be used for two final summative pieces in LA and in Social.  Strong collaborations skills and problem solving  will be the key to success.  I will go over what this looks like when we jump into it but first I have a game that is going to test their ability to be resilient and show GRIT.

In Art we are putting the finishing touches on our Salvador Dali inspired elephants.  Next week we will look at the works of famous artist Leonardo DaVinci.

In Health, we took another look at what unexpected behaviours looked like in our classroom.  We tried to pin point why these might be happening, how the person doing them might feel and how we felt about it.  We also started working on ways to work towards resolution.  It was perfect timing given the fact that I was down and out with the flu for a few days.  A valuable lesson on being mindful and also knowing what is expected regardless of whether I am present or not.  Trust and respect are a big part of these lessons and I am counting on students to show me why they are the best in the building.

Just a heads up that next Friday Windsong will be remembering our veterans and holding a Remembrance Day assembly.  A reminder that this is not a ra, ra assembly.  It is a time to be respectful and mindful of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and continue to do so so that we have the opportunities available for us.  Please have a discussion with your child regarding this.

We are clipping along and I can't believe it is already November.  Routines are set and the ball is rolling pretty quick.  Despite some barriers that have gotten in our way this week, students toughed it out with GRIT.  Apologies for missing the Halloween fun.  I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable time.

If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact me at the school.


Oct 27, 2019

I want to thank those of you who attended 3 way conferences this week with your child.  If you still want to meet to discuss your child's progress, please fire me an email and I will arrange for a time to meet with you.  It's been a busy week of exploration, inquiry and innovation.  Here's what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we are working on a higher level reading strategy called "making connections."  This is a tricky concept because having some experience is key to deeper understanding.  There are 3 ways that good readers connect to their reading:

  • Text to self - A part in the story that reminds the reader of something they have experienced.
  • Text to text - A part in a story in one book that reminds the reader of something they may have read in another piece of text.
  • Text to world - A part in the story that reminds the reader of a real world issue.

You can help at home by having your child read to you and pausing to reflect on things that remind them of experiences they have had and/or other books they have read.  The goal is to make sure they can share their experiences and also how it is related to what has been read.  The connections must go beyond a surface level connection.  For example, if a reader reads about a pet (dog or cat), a very surface level connection would be "The part in the story where they owned a cat/dog reminds me of me.  I have a dog/cat."  Although a good start, there is no deeper thinking about how the experience is similar/different than what is going on in the story.  We are going to do some work around this strategy.  It's a tricky one so it will take a bit more time.  We are also working on developing our writing.  We have started to look at how to write an effective procedure with descriptive language.  The goal of a procedure is to teach someone how to do something.  Having clear steps that are specific is the key to achieving a goal.  Think about how many times you may have had to put something together with really terrible instructions.  This is something we are working on fixing.

In Math, we continue to work on representing numbers in various ways.  This week, we started working on rounding numbers to the nearest tens, hundreds and thousands.  This is a tricky concept so I will be reviewing it.  I gave a real world example of when I use rounding.  Everytime I go to the grocery store, I round the dollar amount up to the nearest dollar to keep within a budget.  I feel amazing when I end up getting change and I don't overspend.  We will be having a quiz on representing numbers in the near future so watch for this in the homework.  We will also be applying our knowledge to a report called "Show What You Love in Numbers."  This project will combine research skills in LA with what we know in Math about representing numbers.

In Social Studies, we have completed our mapping unit.  Students completed the final pieces of the Rockin' Road Show project.  Next week, we are going to add photos and a small reflection to MyBlueprint so we can showcase our work.  We are moving into the next big unit in social.  We will be looking at the 6 geographical regions in Canada and the importance they have in shaping our identity.  To do this, students will be working in pairs and must collaborate to collect research notes about the regions.  They will embark on the Amazing Race - Regions Edition.  More news to follow.

In Science, it has been one amazingly innovative week.  Students continued to build, test and refine their wind devices.  The goal was to design a device that would measure which direction the wind  was blowing from.  Evidence of learning can be seen on your child's portfolio in MyBlueprint.  I am super excited about the learning that took place and the GRIT that was shown throughout the process.  Next week, we are going to take on a new building challenge.  The goal will be to build a device that tests the wind speed.  There is a catch this time.  Students will have less time to build than they did the first time.  What they might see quickly though is that some parts of their original design may be the key to their new design.  In my story "The Most Magnificent Thing" the little girl makes a bunch of designs that she believes are no good.  She gets frustrated and mad.  After calming down, she realizes that parts of all of her design are actually quite good and can be used to create the most magnificent thing.  My hope is that students realize that they may not necessarily have to start from scratch.  Also a way to connect to the story we read a couple weeks ago.  Following this building challenge, we will be working on an extreme weather report.  More news to follow as we get closer to this.

In Art, we have been finishing up a few pieces this week.  We have been busy building in science, completing our rock t-shirts for social and we are putting the finishing touches on our Dali inspired elephant designs.

In Health, we reviewed what unexpected behaviours were, why they could be happening, how the person who is doing them might be feeling and how we feel when we see this happening.  Being mindful of all of these things is the key to starting to resolve conflict.  Although not the easiest thing to do, we are going to start looking at ways to solve these conflicts in the upcoming weeks.  The goal is to lessen the unexpected behaviours that might be causing barriers in our learning and keep moving forward.

Just a reminder that with changes in the weather, there is a need for students to dress accordingly.  At times, they will still be expected to go outside.  The sickness often starts around this time as well.  It has been cycling through my home and so far (knock on wood) I haven't gotten it.  Here's to hoping it stays away.  If you are feeling ill, please take time to rest and get well.  This is going to be a busy week with Halloween as well so take time to get some much needed rest.  If you have any questions, please call the school.

Oct 18, 2019

Another short but busy week this week.  Here is what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we did a few more predictions and check ins to strengthen our comprehension.  Next week we are going to start looking at the reading strategy of making connections to what is read.  This is a very tricky one because not everyone will have an experience related to parts of books.  It also goes beyond a one line answer that compares your own experience to the part in the story.  We also started to look at how to write a procedure using descriptive language this week.  We are going to work on our first one starting next week.  You should note that I will be asking for three drafts.  Usually, I will have the kids write and then hand it in the next day.  I will alternate writing days to allow enough time for me to give feedback and reteach should the need arise.  It will be extremely important that students meet draft deadlines in order to receive proper and timely feedback.  Please check the homework board nightly for due dates.

In Math, we looked at comparing and ordering numbers from least to greatest and greatest to least.  This week we are going to be looking at rounding numbers.  This is a very tricky concept so some practice at home is highly recommended.  There are a number of short but great YouTube videos that help explain some of the ways for students to explain their thinking when dealing with numbers.  Please help and go over rounding with your child.  We are getting closer to my math/LA project in a week or so.  More news to follow.

In Social Studies, we continue to work on our Rockin' Road Show project.  By now, the map and the writing telling which directions and how far the band will travel, should be handed in completed.  The final stage is an art component that asks students to design a tour T-shirt that could be sold at their gigs.  Creative compositions and visual appeal are the key.  I brought in a bunch of my rock t-shirts to show what a real concert shirt looks like.  The goal I told the kids is to try and sell me another shirt for my wardrobe.

In Science, we started our building challenge this week.  The goal is to design a device that can show the direction of the wind.  We will be reflecting using MyBlueprint as this process unfolds.  Watch the homework page for updates to MyBlueprint.

In Art, we are designing our backgrounds for our Salvador Dali inspired elephants.  The goal is to think of a place where a long legged elephant might not make sense.  This is called juxtaposition.

In Health, we looked at reasons why someone might exhibit unexpected behaviours.  I asked kids to think of the most common reasons that might pop up in a classroom.  The first step is trying to identify what is unexpected and how you feel about it but it is also to be mindful of how the other person might be feeling.  Once those two things are in place, steps can be made to solve conflict in an acceptable manner.  I told the kids that I didn't simply want to see it on paper but rather I wanted to practice and make it a habit.

Just a reminder that this week on Wednesday and Thursday, we are holding 3 way conferences.  This is a triangulated approach that should involve your child as well.  If you haven't already booked conference times, please do so.  If the times and/or dates don't work out, please email me directly and I can arrange for another day.

If you have any questions, please call or email me at the school.


Oct 12, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone.  Please take some much needed family time to relax and be thankful for whatever makes your heart feel warm inside.  A short week and another short one to follow so we kicked it into high gear this week.  Here's what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we were working on some formal reading responses.  Our focus was on the reading strategy of using predictions.  I read two stories this week (Honey, Honey, Lion and the Hockey Sweater) to practice our predictions and check ins.  The results are not bad but there is still a bit of work to be done around the check in piece.  Being able to summarize and pick out evidence from the text is a very tricky skill.  You can help at home by having your child practice using whatever they are currently reading and the template I sent you regarding predictions.  Next week we are going to continue practicing predictions and written responses and start looking at some descriptive writing in the form of a procedure.

In Math, we continue to work on representing numbers in various ways.  The ways that I want students to be familiar with are as follows:

  • Standard form
  • Expanded form (this one sometimes needs a bit of work)
  • Base 10 block models (this one is tricky as well)
  • Words

Students should refer back to examples in their workbooks and duotangs.  In the next few weeks, students will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned in a research project combining math and LA skills.  More news to follow.

In Science, we talked about wind this week and how it affects patterns in weather.  We had a special guest speaker from CTV weather come and speak to all grade 5's about the weather.  It was amazing to make a real world connection to what we are learning.  This upcoming week, students will be working on an engineering challenge.  The task will push the students creativity and resilience.  A great amount of GRIT will be needed to stick with it when things don't always go as planned.  Documenting successes as well as barriers and what they tried different each time is the key to this learning process.  For perfectionists like me, this can be a challenge to let go and really trust in the learning that can come of this.  At some stages I plan to use MyBlueprint to document some of the testing and process.

In Social Studies, our Rockin' Road Show projects are underway.  Students had to come up with a creative band name and take them on a cross Canadian tour to various cities.  This week we worked on getting all the parts of the map completed (compass rose, scale, legend, title, provinces/territories and capital cities properly labeled).  Some are onto the writing stage.  Students should continuously review and monitor all stages of this project from time to time to ensure that they are meeting the criteria set out.  It is all there for them and in their social duotangs.  Next week, we are going to be doing the writing part.  Students will have to describe the directions that their band will travel from one city to the next as well as the distance (converted into km from their chosen scale) traveled from one city to the next.  They will also need to calculate the total distance traveled by their band at the end of the tour.  I am going to start working on the art component as well.  Students will have to design a tour t shirt that could be sold at their show.  They must come up with a creative and legible font as well as a logo for their band.  On the back will be the list of cities (according to their map) that their band will visit.  I plan to bring in my heavy metal wardrobe to show samples of what this could look like.

In Health, we took a look at 2 sides to unexpected behaviours.  When unexpected behaviours occur, it is important to look at how we feel about it but also to question what the other person might be thinking or feeling.  These are often the first steps in solving conflict and making sure that we can work through these barriers.

In Art, we continue to work on our elephants with long legs as inspired by the surrealism of Salvador Dali.  This week we applied ink and water colour painting techniques to the design.  This upcoming week, we are going to talk about juxtaposition and why this was important in creating a surrealistic piece of art.  For those of you who don't know what juxtaposition is, it is the pairing of things together that often don't go together and/or don't always make sense.  This is what makes surrealism amazing.

This upcoming week is a short one again and we are really starting to fall into a routine.  I am trying to develop my own routine in regards to real time reporting.  Thank you for your patience on this one as we continue to iron out the bugs and how to do this effectively.  Please continue to check often.  3 way conferences are coming up soon.  Please book a time with me to come and discuss your child's progress.  Encourage that they come along as well.  As part of a triangulated model, they are the key player in their learning as well and it is important that they take ownership of this.  If you have any questions, please email or call the school.  Happy turkey eating everyone!


Oct 6, 2019

Snow, sun, snow.  Welcome to Alberta.  That's what I was told when I first arrived.  Someone once said that it is the only province that can experience all 4 seasons in a day.  I still can't believe it when it happens.  That being said though, still warmer than where I come from.  Despite some unexpected twists in our week, we still pushed forward.  Here is what we have been up to.

In Language Arts, we worked on making predictions and checking in on our predictions.  Students were asked to choose a book of their liking, make a prediction, read for a small portion of time and check in on their prediction.  The check in piece is super important to comprehension.  Students must state whether or not their predictions were right or wrong and provide enough evidence from the text (based on what they read) to support their prediction and provide another reader with a clear mind movie in their heads.  This is a very higher level reading comprehension strategy.  I am thinking many students predict as they read but the ability to write a written reading response takes a bit of time.  We are going to work a bit more on this concept this week.  To do this, I plan to use picture books.  The catch however is that students will not have a copy of the text in front of them.  Making notes in the moment and listening carefully is key to understanding.

In Math, we started a new unit on place value and representing numbers.  Throughout this unit, students will be asked to identify and represent numbers in various ways: standard form, expanded form, place value charts, base 10 block picture models and word form.  As we work through this unit, we will be applying these skills to a bigger research project at the end.  It will combine research in Language Arts and combine the skills learned in math.

In Science, we continue to look at concepts centered around weather.  This past week, we looked at the 3 major types of clouds and how they are formed.  Next week we are going to look at how wind affects the weather.  We are getting closer to our first building challenge.  To do this, I am looking for students to bring recycled materials to make sculptures and models that must meet certain criteria.  More to come in the next few weeks.

In Social Studies, I pitched our first major project of the year I call "Rockin' Road Show."  This project asks students to create a fictional band and take them on a cross Canada tour.  To do this, students will need to re-create a map of Canada with proper labels on it.  They must plot the cities in which their band will play at.  Concepts dealing with direction and scale are going to be applied so students should review their notes and all that they have done in social so far.  The final component of this project will ask students to design a concert t-shirt that could be bought from the event.  This project will be tackled at school and will be broken down into stages.

In Health, we continue to look at the difference between "expected" vs. "unexpected behaviours."  We looked at how we felt about when unexpected things happen but we also took a look this week at how the person that is doing these things might be feeling.  There is always two sides to the unexpected and understanding how we all feel about it is the first step in working towards resolving conflict and moving forward.

In Art, we completed our pop art and are looking at the works of Salvador Dali and his style called "surrealism."  Surrealists often took imagery that was sometimes like a dream like state or from ones' unconscious and paired it with imagery that didn't always make sense (juxtaposition).  We are working on a take on Salvador Dali's elephant paintings in which the elephants have incredibly long legs.

The next few weeks are going to be shorter due to a PL day and Thanksgiving.  We are going to compact a ton of learning into the next few short weeks.  Students will need to show GRIT to push through the pace of the next few weeks.

If you have any questions, please email me or call the school.


Sept 28, 2019

"I am going to take myself to the limit for this cause."  A line from a short video we watched this week about Terry Fox and his determination and GRIT to fight cancer.  Amazingly powerful stuff.  A true Canadian hero in my books and a great example of GRIT and growth mindset.  What a busy week this has been.

In Language Arts, we finished off our growth mindset workbooks and started to set some personal and academic goals for ourselves.  Even though we are done putting this book together, students should refer to it often to remind themselves of their strengths and what to do when times get difficult.  We all could use a little motivation in our lives and the more we see it, hear it and buy into it, our mindset will change little by little.  Joking with two of my students this week I said that Bob Marley said it best.  "Baby don't worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright."  (Insert Mr. Hayashi's really bad Jamaican accent and singing here).  I modeled how to do a written response for predictions based on the novel I was reading called "The 14th Goldfish."  I am going to review this concept this week and also have students practice this written part using books of their choosing.  We will start to look closer at a more formal response near the end of next week and into the following weeks.  To do this and practice this strategy, I use picture books.  I sent you a template that I will be using for reading responses centred around predictions.  If you would like to practice this at home with your child, this would be beneficial.  It's a very tricky higher order comprehension strategy.

In Math, we are nearing the end of our first unit on data management and graphing.  This week, students created a survey question and collected first and second hand data from two grade 5 classes (ours and one other).  They were asked to write about and compare the trends in each class to see if grade 5 students thought the same about certain topics.  Results were put into a double bar graph.  Next week, we will do one final double bar graph using our science data about the weather.  Moving forward, we will start to look at place value and representing numbers in various forms.  At the end of this unit, students will need to apply their learning to a research project of interest that combines LA skill and math skills.

In Science, we did some experiments with thermometers.  We looked at how to read one and what factors might affect the temperature ratings on thermometers.  Next week, we are going to look at cloud formation and a few other concepts.  We are getting closer to our science building challenges so if you can continue to collect recycled materials that would be great.

In Social Studies, we looked at the concept of reading lines of latitude and longitude.  This is a very tricky concept so I am going to review it a bit this week.  The best way to explain this and understand how to read coordinate grids is to think of the board game Battleship.  If you have a basic understanding of this game, reading coordinates are a bit easier.  Upon completion of this concept this week, I will be pitching our first major project of the year called "Rockin' Road Show."  More details to follow.  Stay "tuned."

In Art, we are putting the finishing touches on our pop art a la Marilyn Monroe.  Students were asked to create a 4 block design of themselves (similar to Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe print) and choose colours that compliment and contrast.  Careful application and colour saturation are key.  Choosing colours and planning each stage carefully is the mark of a good artist.

In Health, we indirectly learned about unexpected this week.  Although I didn't conduct a formal health class on Friday, the unexpected that interfered with this is what I will review next week.  When we identify our feelings and what might be underlying these behaviours, then we can take the necessary steps to overcoming challenges and barriers.

My goal this weekend is to start looking at and entering marks into PowerSchool and start the process of real time reporting.  This is a very new step for me and there is still a bit of grey around this but I am going to dive in head first and give it a go.  I will email you when I have begun this process.  The journey of learning takes time so don't panic if things start off slower than you expect.  By June you will see remarkable growth in your child.

If you have any questions, please email or call the school.


Sept 21, 2019

A routine is being established and things are starting to pick up.  Here is what we have been up to this week:

In Language Arts, we have continued to add to our growth mindset workbooks.  This week's focus was on strategies that can help us when we run into a barrier and remembering to celebrate little successes along the way.  We did a little bit of work making oral predictions while I read the book "The 14th Goldfish."  We are going to start looking at written reading responses in the next couple of weeks.  This is a real challenge for some.  It will be increasingly difficult given the fact that students will not have the text in front of them.  They will need to write jot notes that will assist with making predictions and doing a proper check in.  I will model this process and show what this looks like.  You can help at home by...having your child as they read make a written prediction on page (ex. Based on what I have read so far, I predict...).  Have them read a bit further into the book and pause to do a check in.  A proper check in would start with "I was right about or I was wrong about...and then tell what they were right or wrong about and what they have learned.  The details and recall is important to improving comprehension skills.

In Math, we looked at how to create and interpret double bar graphs this week.  A double bar graph must have a legend with first and second hand data clearly indicated.  Trends in a double bar graph can be a lot more involved so students should continue to practice identifying the trends in these types of graphs.  We are going to start wrapping up this unit this week with two summative tasks.  One is to create and interpret the trends in a double bar graph about the weather.  Students have been collecting data about the weather for two weeks.  The other will involve students creating a survey question, collecting data from our class as well as another grade 5 class and being able to compare the results.

In Science, we took an in depth look at the way that the water cycle affects the weather.  Proper scientific vocabulary is important in explaining their scientific findings.  I simulated the water cycle in an experiment and students had to compare parts of my simulation to what happens in the real water cycle.  This upcoming week, we are going to work on reading thermometers and factors that can affect the temperature rating on a thermometer.

In Social Studies, we started to look at how to convert distances using a scale on a map. This is a tricky concept so students are encouraged to look at scales on a map, plot lines from one place to the next, measure in cm and convert to km base on the scales that a map might have on it or they can create a scale.  Ex. 1 cm=100km.  There is a math component that will be assessed once we get to the project.  This is the second big component for our upcoming project so some extra practice is encouraged.

In Health, we talked a bit about how we feel when "unexpected" behaviours occur.  Identifying how we feel about the situation is the first step in being able to react and respond appropriately and support those that may need help.

In Art, we continue to work on a self portrait a la Warhol.  This week, students started to apply colour to their pop art design.  Using a colour wheel, students needed to pick colours that compliment or create contrast.

The next couple of weeks are going to be short ones so it will be important that students really start showing some GRIT and pushing through as the pace picks up a bit.  I sent home an orange card with students on Friday.  On it is a QR code for students to access their MyBlueprint portfolio, a code for a reading comprehension site called and students' RVSchools email and password.  Please keep this card handy somewhere.  As the weeks go on, I am hoping to start using each a bit more.  We will probably start off a bit slower in order to make sure that these sites are working and glitches are out of the way.  As we progress into the year, the use of MyBlueprint will go hand in hand with real time reporting.  It is a good way to see what we have been up to in class.  Stay tuned for more information as this process unfolds a bit.

If you have any questions, please call the school or email.

Sept 13, 2019

Well the first full week is under our belts.  We have started the ball rolling on a few things and will continue to build our skills in the weeks to come.  Here's what we have been up to this week:

In Language Arts, we continue to look at growth mindset and ways to stay calm, take a breath and relax in the face of barriers.  Positive self talk and a willingness to give it a go are part in part of having a growth mindset.  This week's video included a clip from America's Got Talent about a boy who was born blind and autistic.  His name is Kodi Lee and he has the most amazing singing voice ever.  If you get a chance to check it out, it is worth the watch.  It was to show that despite barriers, you can accomplish great things if you put your mind to it.  Another video called "The Death Crawl Scene from Facing the Giants" proves that the struggles will be there but continuing to work through the struggles will put you that much closer to the goal.  You can help at home by...sharing your own personal stories about times where you set goals but things may have gotten in the way.  Did you continue to pursue them?  Was the road full of barriers?  How did you feel?  What did you feel like when you succeeded?  Stories like this inspire.  One of my personal favourite quotes from the video "The Wisdom of a Third Grade Drop Out" is when the mom asks why the dad gets up early in the morning. The response that he hopes that his son catches him in the act of excellence is inspiring and a reason to do the right thing and model how to persevere.  On top of my story I told about how I managed to move to Alberta and the barriers that got in my way before finally making it here, I joke that one of my true tests of GRIT is being a Maple Leafs fan.  I am pumped with the recent signing of Mitch Marner.  One step closer to the ultimate goal!

In Math, we were working on creating single bar graphs based on data collected.  Students were also responsible for telling about the trends they saw in the graphs.  It is the first step in reading and interpreting graphs.  We are collecting data in science that will be used for a summative math task as well.

In Science, we started a unit on weather.  We started to track the weather daily and will eventually use this data to create a double bar graph in math.  We watched a Bill Nye video about seasons as a starter.  Next week we are going to focus on the water cycle.  I will be simulating small experiments so students will be required to use their observations and clear scientific vocabulary to explain their findings.  Clear, labeled diagrams and proper scientific vocabulary is the key to their success.

In Social Studies, we started looking at the difference between "cardinal" and "intermediate" directions.  Cardinal directions are your basic directions on a compass rose (N, S, E, W).  Intermediate directions are secondary directions (NW, NE, SW, SE).  Knowing the directions from one place to the next will be the first of a few mapping skills that students will need to know to pull of one part of the project I will be pitching in a few weeks.  Each mapping skill will be practiced and then will be applied to a bigger project in weeks to come.  More to follow when we get closer to this.

In Art, we are studying the works of Andy Warhol and the pop art movement.  Students are re-creating a picture of themselves a la Marilyn Monroe.  If you have ever seen Andy Warhol's iconic picture of Marilyn, wait until you see what your child is about to pull off.

In Health we continued to discuss what the difference between "expected" vs. "unexpected" behaviours were.  We looked at scenarios that can cause a bit of confusion and debate.  The purpose is to recognize when the unexpected occurs, how we feel about it and how to move past the barrier.

Just a quick heads up.  I am slowly starting to get some things set up.  I am still working on getting my head wrapped around real time reporting.  We have a PL day in a few weeks and I am hoping to have a bit more understanding of this.  I will let you know when I have started to enter grades into PowerSchool.  If you haven't already set up an account, please make sure you do so.  I also printed off QR codes for an online portfolio that the district is expecting us to use.  It is called My Blueprint.  It will go hand in hand with real time reporting.  You will be able to see examples of projects and things that your child is doing.  We haven't started yet but I am getting there.  The last thing I am working on getting set up is getting students set up on an online reading comprehension site called Read  I need to set up student accounts and will practice this with the kids in school.  When they are ready to go, I will be sending information home about how students can access both My Blueprint and Read Theory from home.  I will email when I have all this set up.  I am getting there.

If you have any questions about anything, please email me or call the school.

Sept 8, 2019

Welcome back and welcome to grade 5!  This short week proved to be filled with excitement, nerves and hopefully anticipation of good things to come.  For a short week, we packed in a few things that hopefully will continue to grow throughout the year.  Here's a run down of what we were up to for this first short week.

In Language Arts, we just cracked the surface of a unit dealing with GRIT and growth mindset.  For those of you who don't know what GRIT means (no it's not the stuff in your shoes), it stands for Growth, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity.  Over the next 10 months, students will go through a series of challenges that will push them to use GRIT and have a growth mindset when barriers get in their way.  We have only begun our journey but the path to success is not always as clear cut as one would like.  Inspirational videos such as "The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout" and "Rocky Balboa's Inspirational Speech" from Rocky Balboa, were used to show students that to achieve a goal and live your best lives, you need to be mindful and continue to work through barriers.  As we move into this week, more work around growth mindset and what do do when you run into a barrier will be the focus of lessons.

We also started a read a loud and will be using it to do some focused lessons on predictions.  This year, students will be required to read for meaning, not just to decode.  The purpose of having readers predict is to get meaning from a text by making informed predictions . Good readers use predicting as a way to connect their existing knowledge to new information from a text to get meaning from what they read.  We will be looking at this a bit closer and will be doing some written responses over the next few weeks.  This is one of a few higher order reading strategies that will improve your child's comprehension.  YOU CAN HELP AT HOME BY:

  • Having your child start a new book.  Before they start reading, have them look at the cover, the back synopsis and any other clues that may help them form a prediction.  Get them in the habit of saying "I predict that..."
  • If your child has already started reading something, have them pause and make a prediction part way through.  Have them get in the habit of saying "Based on what I have read so far, I predict..." Listen to see if they have used clues from what they have read to make their predictions.  You will get a better sense of whether they are understanding what they read.
  • Check in.  After they have read for a bit, have them "check in" on their prediction.  Have them start by saying "I was right about or I was wrong about..." Stress that they should tell you what it is that they learned from what they read.  Have them give a short summary to check in and see if they remember what they read.

We will be working through this process over the next few weeks.  To do this, I use children's picture books.  Written responses will need to be done in class and will not be sent home for homework so practice this strategy carefully.  For many, this is going to be an eye opener.

In Math, we started a unit on data management.  This week's focus was to look at bar graphs and identify whether they were constructed correctly and also for the trends in the graph.  For those of you who don't know what a trend is, it is what the graph tells the mathematician.  In this case, the most obvious thing usually is the "most" and "least" but comparing data to other parts of the graph is going to be something we will continue to work on.  In math this year, students will be challenged to explain their math thinking and using proper math vocabulary.  We will continue to work on this in the upcoming week.

We haven't started Science yet because I am looking to track the weather and use it for a math assignment.  To do this, I want to start fresh on a full week.  Stay tuned.  More to come this week.

In Social Studies, we started to colour and label a map of Canada.  We are going to review provinces, territories and capital cities.  As simple as it sounds, labeling a map correctly is quite a skill.  I reminded the kids that this is a working document that can be used by people who may not be from Canada so the map has to be neat and legible.  For example, I told them not to colour two provinces the same colour.  If you were from another country and couldn't read English, you may assume that the two similar colours are the same piece of land.  We are going to look at some key mapping skills in preparation for our first social studies project of the year.  A little bit of front loading from me will be key to make sure students can demonstrate their understanding.  More news to follow in the coming weeks.

In Health, students started to look at the difference between "expected" vs. "unexpected" behaviours.  In many social situations, there are behaviours that creep up (both expected and unexpected).  The focus will be on identifying them both, how we feel about it and how we want to respond in an appropriate manner.  This unit goes hand in hand with the need to show GRIT.

Just a few things to remember.  The portables are super hot and probably will be for the first few months.  Dress for the weather and be sure to have a water bottle in the room.  For gym, students are expected to have gym strip to change into.  This will be part of your marks this year.  It doesn't have to be the wolf wear, just a change of clothes.  Although this was a short week, the ball has slowly started to roll.  We are going to hit the ground running next week and there will be a need for students to really push through.  It was a slow start and I am pretty excited for the potential I see.  As we settle into routines, the workload will start to increase.  Be sure to check the homework page nightly.  If you haven't already set up a PowerSchool account, be sure to do so.  This will be important as we move into the realm of real time reporting.  This will be my GRIT challenge along with maintaining a sense of balance with everything in my world.  If you have any questions about anything, please email me or call the school.  In the words of my favourite singer Mr. Ozzy Osbourne, "LET THE MADNESS BEGIN!"

Document Actions