Classroom Learning – Feb. 2 – 13, 2015

February is a short month to begin with and we’ve added a lot of events which have also made for some short weeks. However my students know, a short week means even harder work and effort to ensure we continue learning.

Here is a brief overview of the past week’s learning and what we can anticipate coming up!

Language Arts

Student reading groups have been created and they have collaboratively chosen a book they will all read and reflect upon together. Reading time will be provided in class in addition to our daily Drop Everything And Read Time as I truly believe we need to provide our students with not only time for directed reading but also time for reading books of choice to build their love of books. We will be co-creating assessment criteria this week for their reading groups and get started! They have been so excited to begin and seeing this makes me realize that they love to read!

They have also been doing an incredible job updating their GoodReads and also sharing, reviewing and recommending books they have read. Keep it up guys!

We have started reading Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard together, which is a very detailed, descriptive Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Adventure book. This is a harder transition for students who are used to the more general Fiction reads and so we have  reviewed the characters and their roles as well as the settings of each section together to gather understandings. It is essential for students to connect to concepts in books in order to comprehend so its been quite interesting to hear their take on this story so far.

Our narrative writing pieces will start this week based off of Wendell. The students will brainstorm their characters and create brain cloud maps with descriptive details of their character. They will then create a draft outline of their story. This will all be in their Language Arts folder in Google Docs.

Mathematics

We hope to finish our Resort Report this week or early next week. This includes all of the student’s multiplication equation work in their duotangs as well as their reflections. Their entire completed project will be in their Google Docs accounts and also posted to their blogs along with their reflection on their learning and understandings of multiplication. I am so very proud of their work so far and some have even begun multiplying 4 digits by 4 digits using the strategy they feel comfortable with. However, any additional review of those facts at home would be immensely helpful! We will tie in this learning with Division which starts following the completion of this project.

Science

We’ve had a blast mixing and creating liquids and solids. The students engaged in multiple hands-on experiments last week and documented their findings in their Science folders.

Here are a few photos from last week:

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

They were excited to document the changes.

They were excited to document the changes.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

We'll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

We’ll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

This week we will be working on an a project experiment called Fill’er Up where students will have to create a device, mechanism or find a way to move liquids across a solid.

Social Studies

We completed our See, Think, Wonders about both the Arctic and the Great Lakes Lowlands regions and these can be located in their Google Docs Social Studies folder. They were fascinated by Niagara Falls as well as the sizes of the Great Lakes. Each student then created two separate Google Presentation documents with each slide titled with a focus question, which they will have to answer with their research:

Examples:

  • How does the land shape life in the Arctic?
  • What are the challenges of developing natural resources in the Arctic?
  • How are Inuit ways of life traditional and modern?
  • How does climate influence quality of life?
  • Why does this region have the largest population in Canada?
  • What makes this region unique?

This week students will be shown how to effectively conduct research using the internet, how to cite their sources and we will review copyright practices and plagiarism. They will also be provided with written texts from which they will be required to pull information and re-word in their own words to ensure they are able to find the information they are looking for but also to create their own understandings of it. Their individual and completed presentations will then be posted on to their blogs.

Art

Art is one of our favourite subjects. We get to be creative, wacky and representative of ourselves. We have been working on a drawn piece called ‘Falling Backwards’. Students had to trace their hands and feet, in which ever perspective they chose,draw themselves, and then decide what would scare them the most if they were to fall backwards into something. They then outlined their drawing with a Sharpie and learned how to use watercolour paint to create texture. Their results are awesome and I can’t wait to showcase them with you once they are completed. Here are a few pictures of their work in progress:

IMG_0933

IMG_0934

IMG_0941Stay tuned for more from LC5B!

 

Advertisements

Classroom Learning – Term Two Update

Hi everyone,

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday break and a great first week back to school! We eased back into our routine last week and have begun some new projects. Below is a brief overview of the learning focus for in our room for this term:

Language Arts

We are finishing the book Out Of My Mind for our read aloud and students will continue making predictions, connections, inferences and asking questions for our reading strategies. They will post their reflections on their blogs and this term we will have a deeper focus on conventions in their writing. Emphasis and assessment will be placed on capitals and punctuation use in all writing.

We will also be focusing on the Organization trait in writing and students will be learning how to gather their thoughts and compose them in a fluent way. We will start a group read aloud on the book Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard and students will have the opportunity to write their own stories with detailed beginning, middle and end while also connecting predictions, inferences and questions with other classes also reading this book.

Students will also start their own book clubs and literature circles this term. Books will be chosen by student groups so as to focus on their interest but also their instructional levels. This may involve some at home reading if a student is not able to read in time allotted in class time. They will meet daily with groups and discuss the book, its contents, their reflections and predictions. Individual at home reading is still to continue whenever possible and is to be recorded on Good Reads or in their reading duotang  – whichever they have been assigned. Students are encouraged to continue to review their books, provide recommendations and search for additional books they want to read on Good Reads as well as set their 2015 Reading Challenge goals.

Our Reading Tree!

Our Reading Tree!

We had a beautiful Reading Tree drawn and painted by the incredibly talented artist Aiden. which we cut out and placed in our room. Students have begun to fill it up with all of the books they have read and rated. Our goal is to have it overflowing by June with all of the books we have read!

Mathematics
We are working on our multiplication strategies with integrated division strategies so students can make the deeper connections between the two with a focus on fact families and deep meaning and understanding of multiplication and division. Students are also working in groups on Tuesdays and Wednesday with Mrs. Krefting‘s class to strengthen their mathematical understandings. We also are continuing with our Problem Of The Week every Fridays and students will reflect on their processes on their blogs.

This term we have also started participating in the Math Photo A Day Challenge with other classrooms around the world. Students are provided with mathematical prompts daily and they are to find and represent their understandings through a photo. We have begun to tweet our photos on Twitter using the hashtag #MathPhotoADay and I will curate all of their photos monthly and post them to this blog for you!

We are also learning how to use charts and graphs by integrating our understandings with an upcoming Science unit of Weather. Students will be graphing weather trends globally.

Science
We began our Classroom Chemistry unit and students have started learning about the States of Matter : Solid, Liquid and Gas. We have watched a Bill Nye video and they have implemented their jot note skills on the states of matter. Students will begin experiments this week with key learning features: mixtures, crystallization, properties of matter and chemical reactions.

Social Studies
Students have worked so incredibly hard on their family history presentations and we are all so honoured to learn about one another’s ancestries and family backgrounds. They began their presentations to our class this week while at the same time received feedback from both myself and two peers. They have been using an assessment tool and interactive feedback document in their Google Docs which allows them to leave and receive peer and teacher feedback. As a student presented, two peers were leaving them feedback and everyone else was practicing their jot note taking and picking out the most important features of their peer’s presentation. I have never been more proud of the hard work and dedication they are demonstrating!

IMG_0353

Presenting, providing feedback and taking jot notes!

Working hard on our presentations and our feedback/assessment documents.

Working hard on our presentations and our feedback/assessment documents.

Providing feedback and taking jot notes, working on our 1000 piece Map of Canada puzzle and presenting!

Providing feedback and taking jot notes, working on our 1000 piece Map of Canada puzzle and presenting!

We will be meeting with Mr. Kolody and Mrs. Krefting’s class this week and re-presenting our family histories in small groups and making connections between the histories of one another.

This term we will also be focusing heavily on the Regions of Canada. There are six regions:  Atlantic, Arctic,  Plains, Canadian Shield, Great Lakes St. Lawrence and The Cordillera. We will be diving deep into the Arctic and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence regions and then collaborating with our peers in  Mr. Kolody and Mrs. Krefting’s class to make the connections between the other four regions. Students will research and participate in a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of each region. They will then write a persuasive argument for one of the regions and present to the LC 5 groups in a Socratic Circle.

Students who are participating in the Minecraft region creation can continue and share their building as they go.

I will continue to update you on our learning adventures as we continue!

Miss D. Ariss

Classroom Learning – October 27 – October 31, 2014

Here is a brief overview of the learning and events happening in our classroom this upcoming week:

Mathematics

There will be continued review in the three estimation strategies, as well as place value. Students will also be working on their real estate projects.

Language Arts

Students will be working on creating ideas with juicy details in their writing. They will integrate observation skills learned in Science to observe objects around them and create writing pieces to reflect this learning on their blog. We are also still reading The Fourteenth Goldfish together and generating predictions and conversations around our ideas. Students will also be writing a piece integrating their understanding of ideas while also connecting it to our reading.

Science

We have reviewed the information pieces regarding what an electrical circuit is and what are its components. Students will be working in groups to conduct experiments focused on creating circuits using acidic fruits as well as experiments using vinegar, nails and copper wire to light up an LED bulb.

Social Studies

Social Studies interviews were due on Friday, however I was away and so students were given this weekend in addition to the past two weeks to conduct interviews with family members about their heritage and bring back their findings. We will be gathering the data created and reviewing our collective social histories and backgrounds. Please ensure interviews are brought back in any form.

Art

Students were working on lines and patterns to create optical illusion art pieces. These will be displayed this week and we have moved on to looking at positive and negative space. As a spin on Halloween and to add some fun hands-on creation, we are attempting to create paper mache pumpkins….stay tuned!

Events

Halloween – Students may come to school dressed in their Halloween costumes, however as Halloween falls on a Friday this year, we have Phys.Ed. first block of the day. Students will need to have a change of clothes. Following lunch recess, there will be multiple fun activities and events planned around the school for students to engage in based on their own interests, which we call Spookapalooza! Students may bring in treats to share, but please note that we have a severe peanut allergy in our classroom and anything brought in, must be peanut-free.

Flip The Dynamic

Eyes closed and demonstrating deep and focused peer-listening skills.

Eyes closed and demonstrating deep and focused peer-listening skills.

When creating a learning environment of sharing, open communication and collaboration, it’s easy to forget that students might not know how to actively apply these skills. This is the foundation of which our classroom community is built upon and these vital life lessons are what we are learning to use in our everyday life and in our learning.

This afternoon we talked about what makes a good listener and how to communicate with one another and not at one another. With one month behind us, I am starting to recognize how dependent students are on me for their every move in the classroom. While we have mutual respect, my goal for my students is to help them achieve independence and ownership of their learning in our classroom and to help them foster leadership skills.

We started by participating in an activity which helped us to understand that listening is very different than hearing. Students closed their eyes for the entire activity and every student had the opportunity to share one statement to the group about themselves. As soon as their statement was shared, their peers had to guess who was speaking by not only listening but “hearing” their peer’s individuality in their statement. This was not an easy task as they are constantly engaging in conversations and filtering sounds, but to quietly sit and reflect on each individual’s one statement allowed them to understand the difference.

This led us to the importance of having a communication circle and why a circle shape is ideal for open conversations. I have often noticed that students are so used to only talking and sharing with me as their teacher, that they ignore their peers when we are having discussions. This leads to one isolated conversation, between myself and that students, while their peers are merely watching. I needed to change this dynamic and allow them to share and discuss with one another instead. I recognize just how strong my presence can be and so I made sure to stand behind every student speaker in our circle. This helped the students to focus on the speaker and also allowed the speaker to not be distracted by me but to focus on their larger audience.

Sharing stories and engaging with each other.

Sharing stories and engaging with each other.

This was difficult to do for some as their eyes would always try to find me, but they soon saw the power they had in sharing their thoughts with a larger peer audience.

Sharing stories with one another and really focusing on each other.

Sharing stories with one another and really focusing on each other.

Once they started getting comfortable with this, their true personalities started to shine. We had funny stories, sad stories and some scary stories about ghosts. The best part was watching them demonstrate independence and show courage in sharing.

Telling funny stories which helped us to connect.

Telling funny stories which helped us to connect.

I am so very proud of my students and the growth they are demonstrating every day. The foundations they are building will support them in all aspects of life and learning.

Classroom Learning – September 22, 2014

Providing peer feedback

Providing peer feedback.

Students today reflected and brainstormed on the differences between leaving comments to generate conversation on a written piece and providing effective feedback to help peers grow their learning.

They shared their written pieces via Google Docs based on the topic “Microsoft bought Minecraft…Now What?” and practiced providing feedback to their peers focused on how, where and why their work could be improved. Students also ensured that their feedback was kind and helpful instead of judgemental. I was really impressed with how they thought and re-thought the wording of their feedback to make sure it provided growth opportunities.

photo 3-9

Collaborating on peer feedback.

What has also really stood out was the enthusiasm students had for this writing topic. We had discussed the implications of the sale and how it might impact them as the target audience, and they had quite a lot to say about the situation. Their posts will be uploaded to their blogs by the end of this week, revised using the feedback provided to them by their peers.

photo 2-16

Working on peer feedback.

We have also began our focus on the importance of understanding mathematical place value and the role it plays in our lives. Students were asked to think about where a knowledge place value is needed, and the majority struggled to find examples beyond the use of math in a classroom. Students will be asked this year to step outside of the box, and apply in-class learning to real-world necessities and applications. This is a difficult concept, but will be vital for their growth.

I have also noticed a struggle in saying large numbers, beyond a thousand, out loud and so today we practiced visualizing and saying numbers through an activity using a deck of cards and student-made place value holders. The place value focus this year is on whole numbers to 1,000,000.

Visualizing place value.

Visualizing place value.

This activity assisted students in visualizing numbers spoken and applying their individual values. It was a great way to have them practice saying the larger numbers out loud in a fun setting.

Miss D. Ariss

Classroom Learning – September 10, 2014

Working hard on their paper blogs.

Working hard on their paper blogs.

Students have been learning how to write an effective blog post to reflect, connect and share their learning with the world.  We started this activity yesterday by brainstorming ideas on how we can represent ourselves. Students came up with many ideas as to who they are and what they would like to share while also focusing on Digital Citizenship and ensuring that whatever information they share is safe, appropriate and representative of themselves. We have started with paper blogs and will be discussing how to provide feedback through commenting on Friday by reading one another’s blogs and leaving comments via sticky notes. Once students have shown growth and confidence, they will begin to create their own personal online blog.

As we continue our journey into seamless technology integration, students have begun to use their PSD70 logins on their own and school-provided devices. This is the time where they are learning how to use the tools that will be applied in our classroom. Today, students had the opportunity to explore Google Maps in Social Studies to gain perspective on our location while also gaining insight into how the program works as it will play a large role in our classroom learning.

Students exploring the world through Google Maps.

Students exploring the world through Google Maps.

Students working in exploration groups.

Students working in exploration groups.

photo 3-7

Google Maps exploration groups.

“It’s Not A Competition, We Are A Team.”

 

Building a stable structure.

Building a stable structure.

As the morning bell rang throughout the halls of our school, I looked towards the faces of my new students and saw excitement, anticipation and wonder. Some of their questions were also mine: What will this year bring? What will we learn? Who will we become?

We started our day by getting to know one another and creating an environment of trust and community. I asked students to move their chairs into one big circle so that we were all united and facing each other, ensuring we started the year off as one collective, united team of individuals. We shared our funny stories, we laughed and started to really know who we all are and how we may learn with and from one another.

One of the highlights of the day was providing my students with an open-ended, collaborative activity of building a structure using pasta and marshmallows. I’ve always loved this because it provides me with a view into how each student learns, how they tackle challenges and how well they work as a team. As I worked with each group, I was blown away by the amount of creativity they each had and the resilience they showed in continuing to build when the marshmallows were sticking to everything but their pasta.

Resilience through tough challenges.

Resilience through tough challenges.

Teamwork

Working with the challenges not against them!

The true value in this activity came to light towards the end when one group had finished and looked to me for what to do next. I looked back and replied, “it’s not a competition, we are a team.” They pondered this for a moment and they moved and dispersed themselves among the other groups to help them complete their creations. I was filled with immediate joy to know that our journey towards building a supportive learning community had started.

Working together as a team!

Working together as a team!

On our first day, I learned that learning occurs in an environment of trust, compassion and support from everyone – students, teachers, colleagues and administrators. I learned that if we model collaborative, supportive teamwork in an atmosphere of fun, our students will not only reciprocate but build upon it and grow.