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.


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.


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:


  • 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 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_0941Stay tuned for more from LC5B!



Classroom Learning – October 16, 2014

Building community within a group of diverse learners is not a one time lesson or activity; it is an on-going and continuos conversation. As we get to know more about who we are as a team and how to work well together, certain themes continue to arise:

  • Demonstrating respect for one another
  • Showing care and understanding for one another’s needs
  • Taking personal responsibility for our actions
Sharing our promises to our learning community.

Sharing our promises to our learning community.

We took some time in the morning to review these conversations and to express what we are each bringing to the team. Students the shared out loud to the class to demonstrate ownership of their contributions.

In Math, we started to learn about estimation and rounding strategies. The three we are focusing on this year are Front-End, Compatible and Compensation. Students are learning how and when to use each strategy and the reasons behind why estimation and rounding is so important.

In Language Arts, we continued to read The Fourteenth Goldfish with our Global Read Aloud and make predictions. We also located a large Google world  map that had been started by a participating classroom detailing locations of all of the classrooms reading with us.

Students trying to figure out what the map is about.

Students trying to figure out what the map is about.

We then located Spruce Grove and placed our pin amongst the hundreds of others. Students immediately wanted to differentiate themselves and had figured out how to re-create the pin icon in Maps. We changed it to a fish, but in doing so….we accidently also changed everyone else’s! We hope they like our icon…

We changed our pin to a fish to represent The Fourteenth Goldfish!

We changed our pin to a fish to represent The Fourteenth Goldfish!

The afternoon was focused on Science as we learned what a circuit is and how it works. We worked through The Blobz Guide To Electric Circuits together and wrote the important information we would need to know when it comes time to building our own circuits and electrical inventions.

One of our classmates has a deep passion for creating and building electrical devices. He had brought in a fan he had built using batteries, wires and a computer fan. Once our discussion led to the use of batteries, negative and positive charges, the students asked him to show us what would happen if the batteries were not placed properly in the circuit.

What will happen if the batteries in a circuit are not positioned correctly?

What will happen if the batteries in a circuit are not positioned correctly?

Last week I had brought in a MakeyMakey that a teacher friend of mine generously let us borrow to experiment with. The students were absolutely fascinated by the intricate details of the circuit and after learning how circuits operate, we decided to try it out. No one knew how to operate it, myself included, but that was what made the learning more fun and authentic.

Working together to find out how we can build a working circuit.

Working together to find out how we can build a working circuit.

We figured it out together!

We figured it out together!

We used carrots that one of the student’s had grown at home, along with my laptop, alligator clips, the MakeyMakey and connectors. We finally got it working due to the student’s perseverance and sheer excitement to make it work : ” Try this!”, “It’s that cord!” “No, maybe this way?” until we saw the cursors on the laptop work through the circuit we built!

It was a great day full of learning! Students have been asked to find the electrical mains in their homes as well as research different ways we can use a MakeyMakey.

Do you have any suggestions or ideas for us in creating circuits?

Classroom Learning – September 17, 2014

Reflecting on problem solving.

Reflecting on problem solving.

We’ve been discussing in class how to solve problems and how problem-solving skills are essential in all aspects of lives. We had Mrs. Rogul join us for two periods today to help us think deeper about what strategies we can use when addressing problems across subjects and in life.

We worked together and reflected on what comes to mind when we think of the words “Problem-Solving”. These were some of the student’s answers:

  • Confused
  • Hard
  • Annoying
  • Math
  • Fight
  • Thinking
  • Tired
  • Bullying
  • Hard work
  • Voice
  • No fun
  • Trouble
  • Me

We also reflected on how we can solve a problem and some of their answers were:

  • Think hard
  • Ask a friend or teacher
  • Work it out
  • Think about other things on your mind
  • Teamwork and cooperation by working together
  • Always help
  • Get some sleep
  • Find a good compromise

This was a difficult task to complete as most students associate “problem-solving” with either math or in terms of social skills. They really worked together to breach those gaps.

Working to solve sample problems.

Working to solve sample problems.

Students were then provided with a sample problem and were asked to use some of the strategies they come up with to try and solve it. Some students jumped right in, while others really hesitated. I made sure to let them all know that the first step in tackling any problem is to try.

Our afternoon Social Studies activities also brought forth the opportunity for the students to implement the skills they learned that morning. They each created their own Google Map and were asked to identify the provinces, territories and capital cities of Canada. While this may sound like an easy task or one that could just as easily be done via a paper map, its a much deeper process when the students can manipulate a map and see the world move from a bird’s eye view.  They weren’t given any information as to the locations but had to reason, describe and search for the information requested.

Exploring Canada's geographic regions.

Exploring Canada’s geographic regions.

It was amazing to watch as a student hit their first problem … does Nunavut have any cities?…. as they couldn’t locate anything on the map. With some purposeful questioning, they realized they were searching too high north. As Nunavut is a northern territory without much access, cities are located near water for easy transportation of goods. They began to connect the pieces and formulate their own knowledge about the geography of our country.

Learning How To Blog

Students have been working very hard on their “All About Me” blog posts. We opted to create our first blogs on paper to practice format and also to decide together what content would be appropriate to share online.

A blog is a student-created website within the PSD70 network that allows for students to write and publish their work. “A blog post can be anything. It could be a reflection on an assignment, it could be about what students enjoy doing, it could be a video, a song or a poem. However, its MUCH more than just an online journal because it allows for open connection and communication.

A blog creates an authentic audience because when a student knows they are creating content which will be seen by everyone and not just their teacher, the quality of their work increases. It also provides a platform for student voice and an opportunity for students to practice citizenship skills in the online realm. One of the most powerful uses of a blog is that it chronicles a student’s classroom learning from the beginning of the year to the end and provides parents and educators open access to witness learning growth.

Working on their paper blogs!

Working on their paper blogs!

Students wrote or typed out their first posts and personalized them to reflect their individuality. Once their post was complete, they practiced effective commenting with a focus on introduction, response, connection to content and closing. They began to read one another’s posts and leaving them comments with the above criteria. As the continued, they soon realized the power of a great comment as it would generate a continued discussion.

Engaged and connected in their learning.

Engaged and connected in their learning.

They are getting so excited to showcase their blogs to our school community outside our classroom door and moving on to their very first online blogs!

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.

Flexibility Leads To Authentic Learning

photo 4

Double checking the continents!

“The best things in life are the things we don’t and ultimately can’t plan for.”

I find this to be especially true for the learning in our classroom and yet as an educator, planning is something that almost becomes an innate sixth sense. As I grow in my teaching, I have learned that the key to having a learning environment that is authentic, purposeful and connected to the real world, an educator must be flexible. Plans are great for back-up, but for me, they can never replace experiences which may suddenly arise that could enhance the learning in our room.

Real life is happening when we are in the classroom and as educators we can either ignore this fact or embrace it and welcome the events of the world into our room. With everything we learn, I try and find connections to our lives and invite my students to find and create those connections as well.

This year, we have been learning about world geography with a curriculum focus on India, Peru, Tunisia and the Ukraine. Our school is located in a tiny rural hamlet, and so for my students to really grasp just how large our world truly is, we have been researching and learning about as many cultures and countries as we can and tying them back to our lives. We’ve connected with classrooms in a wide variety of countries, had guest speakers Skype with us, tried foods from around the world and are becoming global citizens.

Imagining the world and its vastness can be a very difficult concept to grasp. I also know that some of my students still struggle with trying to fully understand this and so when I saw today that Google was pulling off an ingenious April Fools Day joke that could actually help my students search the world, I jumped at the opportunity to have some fun! The Google Maps Pokemon Challenge asks the world to find 150 hidden Pokemon characters all around the world using Google Maps.

Students divided themselves into groups, each with a self-created role (country researcher, landmark researcher, typer, Pokemon catcher), with one iPad and one laptop per group. We created a Google Spreadsheet called @Gr34bears’ Pokemon Challenge and each group logged in to record what Pokemon they found and where in the world they found it.

What transpired next was just incredible to watch! The learning and connections we have been involved in from the start of the year came out and I heard them working together saying phrases like:

  • “They must have hidden them in capital cities! What is the capital of the Ukraine? Kiev! What is the capital of Peru? Lima!”
  • “I remember that in India there was a huge palace! Oh the Taj Mahal….look up the Taj Mahal!”
  • “The biggest city I know is Edmonton. Do you think they came to Canada? Let’s see if they are near us!”
  • “What country has the most people? They would definitely hide them there but we need to find out its biggest city too.”
  • ” San Jose, California… my favourite hockey team is the San Jose Sharks….where is that? How close is it to me?”
  • ” Let’s remember the Olympics …what country and city were they held in again? Sochi, Russa!”
  • ” Google is in the United States, so they must have put more there. What is their most popular city? New York! I know the Statue of Liberty!”
  • “I did my research on Australia. I wonder if they placed some in Australia? Let’s go look!”
photo 3-2

Atlas, iPad and laptop on the go!

They were collectively using iPads, laptops, world maps and atlas’ and making connection after connection. I didn’t even have the heart to tell them we had to stop as it was lunch time. They had already located 73 of 150 Pokemon but they had looked at almost every country across all of the continents and had no intention of stopping. We were also watching the hashtags #GoogleMapsPokemonChallenge and #GottaCatchThemAll on Twitter and they knew so many people around the world were also searching and discovering new places with them.

As I reflect tonight, I am so thankful for opportunities like this. They allow me to witness first hand just how incredible my students are and just how much they have learned and continue to learn every day. The “plans” we had for that period couldn’t even come close to this experience and what they learned and showed me.

I continue to strive to bring the best of the world to my students and if that means being flexible enough to change, switch, or toss those plans out altogether for the sake of true learning, then that is what shall happen.