Our Multiplication Strategies

We have started to apply our understandings of place value and multiplication and extending our knowledge to multiplying two by two digit and three by two digit numbers.

In our classroom, there is no “right” or “wrong” strategy, it is about what works for you. Whichever strategy a child feels most comfortable with and understands not just the application of but the why of, is the best.

We have shared and learned three different multiplication strategies and the amazing Jessie Krefting has created mini-videos demonstrating some of them. Students do not have to demonstrate mastery in all strategies, but must find one they understand and can apply when required.

1. Standard Algorithm

2. Caroll Diagram

3.  Partial Product and Why Is Math Different Now by Dr. Raj Shah

Students have now started an inquiry math project called Resort Report.

All mathematical applications will be completed on paper so students can demonstrate their understandings, then uploaded to their document for a complete view of their learning.


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!

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.

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!


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 – November 24 – November 28, 2015

November has flown by in our room and we are looking forward to bringing together all of the incredible projects and learning we have been doing this term.

The following is an update on the activities happening in LC5B!

Language Arts

We have started a group read- aloud on the book “Out Of My Mind“. Its an incredibly powerful story of an 11 year old girl diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and the social and academic challenges she faces. The students have made some deep connections with the main character and are learning how to express empathy and understanding. I am reading this book to them and together we are discussing our thoughts and feelings. The students have also started to blog their own questions and understandings.

We are continuing with our daily reading and ensuring every student has access to reading materials reflective of their interests and ability. Please do let me know if students are not bringing any material home for additional reading time when possible.


We are shifting our main focus to multiplication now, however place value and estimation will still be a continued focus year-round to ensure understanding. The students are also meeting in three smaller groups for two periods a week with Mrs. Krefting’s class to work on combined skills and we continue with our problem of the week every Friday.

This week’s problem was called Grasshopper Jump Fest and I was so proud to see everyone just dive into solving it in their own ways. Students have now built the confidence to attempt problems without fear or hesitation from the work we began at the start of the year. We are working now on how to explain our thinking and how we are actually solving problems. This involves a strong understanding of one’s own strategies and how and why they applied those.

We all have our own strategy for solving the problem!

We all have our own strategy for solving the problem!

Students showed a lot of pride in their demonstrating their understandings.

Students showed a lot of pride in  demonstrating their understandings.

Focused and enjoying the level of difficulty of the problem!

Focused and enjoying the level of difficulty of the problem!

Chose to use Google Draw to work through her problem!

Chose to use Google Draw to work through her problem!

A few of the students were so proud of their process and in demonstrating their understandings that they asked me to video them solving the problem. As you can see below, some succeeded and the ones that didn’t during this taped version, continued on despite that fact and then refined their process with the feedback from myself and their peers. At the end of our lesson, they had all achieved success and began their reflection blogs.


We are wrapping up our units on Electricity and Magnetism. The students are working on their final projects which is to build a mechanism that features a working circuit and an element of magnetism. They have all done their research and will begin to plan their experiments this week. Our next unit is weather which will be a year-long focus as weather is happening every day around us. We have started watching and interpreting the weather radars on the weather network as well as tracking weather systems heading our way and globally. The students were fascinated by the extreme snow conditions in Buffalo, New York last week and began to question how being surrounded by lakes causes a Lake Effect. They also started to make connections between that and our location in Alberta versus British Columbia.

Social Studies

The students are now working on putting together their presentations with the information collected from you about their histories and heritage. They refined their questions and understandings last week and started exploring different presentation options. They were provided with a few technology tools as well as poster and paper options and were asked to choose which style worked best for them to represent their families’ story.


We love art in LC5B! Its never an easy task but it allows for students to demonstrate their own creativity. We worked on the use of chalk pastels and the aspect of defining space. Students are often asked to fill in every piece of a project and not to leave any white spaces, however with our chalk pastel pieces, that white space helps to define texture. Students were pushed and directed to actually colour outside of the lines and to make their images rough and not refined.

These are their scruffy Woozles:

Taking ownership and hanging their art pieces!

Taking ownership and hanging their art pieces!

Working together to display their work!

Working together to display their work!

Nadine's combination of colour and texture wowed us all!

Nadine’s combination of colour and texture wowed us all!

Really looking forward to this week!

Miss D. Ariss 

Classroom Learning – November 3 – November 7, 2015

We have had quite the event-filled weeks leading up to our current Fall Break. I sincerely hope everyone is resting and gearing up for the next few weeks of learning!

Here is a brief update on the learning activities happening in our classroom:


We continue to review and reinforce the three estimation strategies of FrontEnd, Compatible and Compensation. These are new concepts to students as most are familiar with the use of compatible which allows them to estimate or round to the nearest 10, 100, 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 but there are still struggles with rounding beyond 100 and we will be continuing to review and apply. Students will need to know when and how to apply these strategies when adding and subtracting whole numbers up to 1,000,000. They have demonstrated growth and understanding with addition, however subtraction across multiple place values is an area of focus.

Students are also completing their final place value and estimation project which they will have on padlet.com. They will be posting these to their blogs very soon. Here is a video made by Nate and Ashley describing this project with photos of Ian’s completed project.  It also features a student from Mrs. Krefting’s grade 5 classroom sharing about the Language Arts learning we are doing as well:

Language Arts

We have been focusing heavily on the writing trait of Ideas. Students observed a random object within their environment and listed the details. Then as a group we wrote a descriptive paragraph imagining ourselves as that object. Students then showcased their creativity as they assumed the role of their object and described themselves from its perspective. They posted these on their blogs and were so happy to see your guesses in the comments section. Some were very tricky but also quite descriptive.

We also read the book called Nothing Ever Happens On 90th Street and had a group discussion about whether things ever happen at our school. We discussed how we can observe things in our everyday environment so that it may help to spark ideas for our writing. Students then each chose a staff member in our school to visit and observe as they taught their class or worked in our front office. As they observed, students had to write what this person does and says. If this person required specific tools and what their working environment was like. They also had to imagine what superpower they would gift this individual and why and how it would affect them.

Students also had the opportunity to watch a short video called Ideas Are Scary and write a reflective piece on their observation and comprehension of its basic idea. I am trying to push them out of their comfort zones this year so that they can bring out their creativity and showcase their understandings in deeper more meaningful ways. These blog posts were truly inspiring to read.

Our Global Read Aloud is coming to an end as well. We are almost done reading The Fourteenth Goldfish together. The discussions and questions that have come up from this book have truly allowed for us to have very informative discussions surrounding Science and famous scientists. We will be sad to finish this book.


Electricity and Magnetism is really bringing out the student’s love of experimentation. We have discussed quite a bit of information so that students have a strong foundation of content to apply to their experiments. They have learned about conductors and insulators, cells, open and closed circuits, switches, symbols and components. They also are learning how to use the Scientific Method when conducting experiments ensuring they have documented the following: Question, Hypothesis, Materials, Procedure, Observations and Conclusion.

Their very first experiment was to build a circuit and conduct electricity through the use of acidic vinegar, copper wire and metal nails to light a single LED bulb. I didn’t provide students with the exact way to conduct this as I wanted to observe their initial understandings from what we had learned previously about circuits. The objective in this first experiment was to see whether students have fully grasped the concept of an electric circuit, how to apply the Scientific Method when experimenting and what they do when and if they should fail. We have had numerous conversations about scientists in our classroom and how they are continuous learners who fail, but learn from each situation to make their following experiments better.

Not a single group was able to get their bulb to light, which I expected, however every single group continued to change the variables within the experiment and learned from every situation they had attempted. Only one group from Mrs. Krefting’s class got their bulb to light and they came in and shared their findings with us. Students documented their experiment and shared with me.

Here are a few photos and videos of their experiment:

Working together on creating a functioning circuit.

Working together on creating a functioning circuit.

Reconfiguring their circuits numerous times.

Reconfiguring their circuits numerous times.


Our next step is to create fully functioning circuits and applying the skills learned.

Social Studies

Students have brought back their information from the interviews they conducted with you and their extended families. This was the very first step in our inquiry project into finding out more about our histories and backgrounds. Every student has brought varying amounts of information ranging from a few short answers, in-depth multi-person interviews to detailed family trees. Our next step is to review their content and provide one another with feedback as to how they can get deeper answers so that their information starts to build a complete story instead of random short facts. Once this feedback has been provided, please expect that students will come back to you with more detailed questions in order to improve on their first attempt. Once completed, they will be required to organize and assess their information in order to bring it together into a presentation to share with our other LC5 communities. Students will be provided with various methods of presentation and will have the opportunity to choose which method suits them best.

We have also reviewed our country and its location in the world. We also looked up our family names to find out what they might connect us to. They are very intrigued by the fact that their last names are connected to so many things in the world and have an extensive amount of questions as to who their relatives might have been. These would be wonderful discussion questions to have and learn together about at home.

Stay tuned for more updates this break!

Miss D. Ariss

How will you use $5,000,000?


Working on their place value project.

Our focus this year is on real-world applications of the mathematical foundations we build in our classroom. We have been working on understanding place value concepts to 1,000,000 and three strategies (front end, comparable and compensation) for estimation during Math. We’ve also been thinking of how and where we would need to understand and use these concepts in our lives.

The students were then presented with the following problem:

“You have inherited $5,000,000 from a long lost relative in your ancestor’s country. The problem is that you must use this money on purchasing 3 homes in Alberta. You can use http://www.realtor.ca. One house must be over $1,000,000 and the other two can be of your choosing, however you must share your reasoning as to why you have chosen these homes. Any money left over will be yours to keep, so choose and estimate your budget wisely. How will you use your money?”

They were also presented with website called Padlet, which is a virtual collaborative board, open to representing learning and projects in a variety of ways.

Students had to organize their three homes and their features. They were to also calculate the estimated value and cost of each home as well as the property taxes. Then calculate their estimated leftover amounts after purchases were processed. Once their calculations and reasonings were completed, they will draft a cheque for their homes using written and standard form for the amount they would pay home owner. Their learning and understandings, whether visual, oral or written along with their calculations would all be posted to their padlet wall for sharing.

Students were ecstatic to start exploring and were even more invested when they saw the connections between the google map they were using in Social Studies and the one on realtor.ca. They started out small and searched for homes within their city and soon afterwards started to branch out.

Exploring realtor.ca and padlet.com.

Exploring realtor.ca and padlet.com.

This is where things started to get exciting because they began to see just how much money a home can cost and some began to have questions.

“Do I only have to choose 3 homes?”

“What if I want two or more homes over $1,000,000?”

I thought about those questions and immediately questioned my reasonings behind creating the problem. I looked at them and said, “No, you have free choice. It is your $5,000,000 and so use it at your discretion so long as you can demonstrate your understandings.”

As soon as they realized they had ownership of the project and their money, their interest began to shine through which showed me that they were truly invested in this project and in applying the classroom concepts to the real world. Questions then became these (and to which I said yes):

“Can I purchase multiple rental homes and rent them out for more money?”

“I love art. Do I have to buy a house? Can I l buy art gallery spaces?”

They were making this project their own! Soon all you could hear in our classroom were:

  • Students sharing the costs of their homes which meant reading the larger numbers and vocalizing them to one another
  • Students using descriptive language to justify which properties they have chosen
  • Students learning about different parts of our province and questioning housing costs relative to locations

We even held discussions about why some properties were listed at $1 and what bidding wars were.

This project has helped to begin the conversations about how math is a part of our everyday lives. That math is not just something you need to “do” in class but that there is a real need for the skills you are learning, and where, why and how to apply them.

Classroom Learning – October 6 – October 9, 2014

Here is a quick review of the week that passed and what to expect for this upcoming week!


We are continuing to work on problem solving and we started the week with this visual map of a Ghost in the Mansion. I posted the visual on the SmartBoard and students immediately tried to figure out how to manoeuvre from one area to another while also discussing how and why they would choose each route.

Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.

Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.

As students worked together to find the best routes, I decided to make it trickier. I wanted them to apply their thinking beyond the problem written on a piece of paper. I told them I was providing each group with a roll of tape and wanted to see if they could re-create the map on a larger scale and then manoeuvre themselves through it.

Now this brought up many more problems for them beyond the mathematical application as they needed to work together effectively to produce a common group outcome. We decided to move out into our pod and use the carpet space provided.


Starting to figure out how to apply skills on a larger scale.


Getting past the struggles to create their models.

Working in a group proved to be a huge challenge for most as each had their own idea and vision for how their models would look. Some groups worked much more effectively and were able to listen to group member’s ideas and ensured that all were involved. Others hit major communication roadblocks which hindered their progress. This activity transformed itself from a math problem to a social and group work problem and some very valuable lessons were learned. I was very proud though of each group for being honest about what their struggles were and in trying to apply strategies to solve. In the end, some groups decided to part ways and others remained in tact. Students also wrote individual reflections for me regarding what challenges they faced during this activity and how it affected their ability to move forward.

Now that the blueprint is created...how do we make our way through it?

Now that the blueprint is created…how do we make our way through it?

I was really amazed to see them work their way through their larger scale models. It was much harder for some to visualize the map while also moving themselves through it. Just a simple transformation of a problem, allowed them to view it much differently and made for a different set of strategies.

This week, we will review this problem again and reflect on our learnings. The students have also completed a mini review of place value and all have shown their knowledge and so we will be moving forward with estimation strategies. We will be beginning a project based on real-life applications of place value and estimation focused on purchasing property in Alberta.

 Social Studies

We have been learning about our heritage and who we are. Our theme for this year is ” Who Do You Think You Are?” as we also focus on Canada as a country and its foundations. We had a lot of discussions about where we think our ancestors came from and how they may have come to Canada. One of our starting projects was the one sent home with the students this weekend. To prepare them for asking deeper questions that transcend beyond the “what is your favourite food?” and more along the lines of “where is my family from and how and why did they come to Canada?”, students were paired up to interview one another. One student was the interviewer, another was the interviewee and a third was the question collector.

Interviewing one another!

Interviewing one another!

We brainstormed together just how we could transform the what, where and when questions into deeper why and how questions. Then we paired up with student’s from Mrs. Krefting’s grade 5 classroom to watch an episode of the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” where actor Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory discovers his heritage by asking deeper questions to lead him on his quest for finding the answers.

Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.

Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.

Students from both classes brainstormed a variety of open-ended questions while collecting their favourite ones in either a google doc or in their social studies duo tangs. Working with peers from outside of our classroom really helped them to connect and express their ideas more openly. They also re-met with Mrs. Krefting’s class on Wednesday and had the opportunity to hear Mr. Dahliwal speak about his family’s journey to Canada and ask him questions. Following that interview, they practiced a cold-call interview with me where I didn’t provide my family’s story until they asked me the questions that would lead them to their answers. It was wonderful to see the realization in their faces when a one-answer question was asked and it didn’t provide them with what they needed and in fact allowed them to re-process and re-ask it in a different format.

This week we will review their findings from their home interviews, discuss deeper questioning and fill in gaps as needed for interviewing at home before beginning to piece together the information.


We are learning about the connections between electricity, magnetism and static. Students each received a balloon, a variety of different materials and provided with an outcome but not with the “how” or “why” to experiment with their findings. Some  of the outcomes were:

  • Make the balloon stick to the wall without using anything else for help
  • Make a cereal pendulum swing/bounce without touching it, blowing on it or shaking the table

  • Make the cereal jump/move without touching them, blowing on them or shaking the table

  • Turn the tap on so that a small stream of water is running out, make the stream bend without touching it or blowing on it

Students recorded their findings along with how they did it, why they think it worked and any questions they had regarding it. Some of the ways they came up with for moving their materials through static electricity were absolutely incredible.

Video – She decided to crush her cereal and use her balloon as a magnet

Video – Using the cereal to move her balloon

Video – Realizing how she could move the balloon with her leg

Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!

Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!

This week we will be focusing on electricity and circuits.

Language Arts

We are participating in the Global Read Aloud with the book The Fourteenth Goldfish. Students have been making predictions and tweeting their thoughts via our Twitter account. We have been connecting with a variety of classrooms online about the story and what we think is going to happen. Students have also began to utilize their blogs for reflection on the story and a variety of other topics.

They were overjoyed to see their parents leaving them comments last week and interacting with their learning. They immediately wanted to read not only theirs but their peers’ blogs too. They have been reading, reflecting and providing each other with comments and feedback and welcome you to join us!

They will be blogging daily and we look forward to connecting with you!

This was a long review due to parent conferences last week but I sincerely appreciate your time and feedback. Please let me know below in the comment section your thoughts!

Some questions to ponder and discuss with your child and in the comment section below:

  • How can you apply problem-solving strategies at home to help your child?
  • Where do you use place-value and estimation strategies in your daily life?
  • Have you discovered something new about your family or enjoyed sharing something with your child about their heritage this weekend?
  • Where in your home do you have electric circuits and can you share these with your child?

We look forward to hearing your feedback as a class!

Miss D. Ariss

Classroom Learning – September 26, 2014

We have jumped right in to building our foundation for life-long learning in LC5B. As our core focus in on inquiry and problem-solving through real-world applications, the students are learning how to ask questions and how to approach problems in every aspect of our curriculum.

To have students thinking about problems and ways to apply different strategies that work for them, we looked at assisting this Rocket Propelled Coyote from one place to another. Students came up with their own individual solutions through actively trying, failing and re-attempting different possible outcomes. I loved watching them push through their frustrations and share with one another the ways in which  they solved the coyote’s problem.

Figuring out how to get the coyote from one place to another.

Figuring out how to get the coyote from one place to another.

At one point during our session, Mr. McLean joined us and pointed out that he had a different interpretation of the problem. He was attempting to get the Coyote to his exact location, while we were attempting to get him there within one 1km. That moment allowed us to learn that how we read and interpret a problem may be different which would also produce different outcomes.

Our challenge to you….can you help the Coyote and show or tell us how you did it? Please leave us a comment below!