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.


Our Educational World Is Changing

I recently was forwarded this incredible video by Dr. Tony Wagner who is the Expert in Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab. It’s a powerful talk about the status and direction of Education held at the World Innovation Summit For Education.

Our educational system is changing and I have never been more excited for the opportunities our students will have for a successful future. This talk focuses on the changes happening and why innovation, creative problem-solving and knowing HOW to apply information learned within collaborative environments is so vital for our students.

If you have a free moment, I would highly encourage you to watch:

“When knowledge is a free commodity, we need to innovate” Tony Wagner – WISE 2014 [Special Address]

Our “Who Do You Think You Are?” Presentations

Students today had the opportunity to connect, collaborate and share their family’s history with their peers from Mrs. Krefting and Mr. Kolody’s class. They each had presented their findings to one another in our classroom and received both peer and teacher feedback but this afternoon they connected with peers outside of our homeroom for a different perspective.

Each student paired up with one or two other students to present and learn about one another’s ancestors and family origins. Thier discussions were centered around our three guiding questions for Social Studies:

  • Why did your ancestors come to Canada?
  • Where did they settle?
  • Why did they choose to settle there?

Each student-chosen group was provided with a venn diagram document on which they took jot notes of their partner’s family history, their own family history and the differences and similarities between. Students were quickly able to pick out the most important of details and make those connections about their own families.

It was an incredible afternoon of connection and learning and I have never been more proud of LC5B!  Here are a few pictures of our learning this afternoon:





Our next step was for students to blog a reflection to share their learning with a focus on:

  • What they learned about themselves and their family
  • What they would do differently and what surprised them
  • What they felt was the most valuable part of the process

If you’d like to read their reflections, they are posted on their blogs at http://www.psdblogs.ca/dariss, however these are a few highlights:

Who Do You Think You Are Reflections

1. Ashley

2. Ian

3. Cassie

Connection Requires Vulnerability

My first farm visit.

The need to connect with my students’ lives; my first time ever on a farm.

One of the most powerful aspects of teaching for me has been that of connection. It’s the tie that binds, it’s the meaning behind learning and it’s what drives me to learn for and with my students every day.

I recall watching a very compelling TED talk a few years ago by Brené Brown called ” The Power of Vulnerability “. She discussed how authentic connection is made and its importance to relationships. One fundamental thought from her talk which helps to guide me in my teaching practices is the following:

  • In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

In education, there sometimes exists an imaginary wall which divides teachers from their students. We are seen only as Miss, or Mrs. or Mr., who never leave the classroom and whose lives do not exist beyond the walls of the school. Connection, for me, demolishes this barrier and instead creates an open, compassionate, and understanding community between myself and my students. I care and learn deeply about their lives outside of our classroom, their hobbies, interests, backgrounds and I share with them mine. Somewhere in those bonds, that connection is formed and relationships are fostered and grown.

Authentic connection requires vulnerability. We, as teachers, need to show our students our human side. We make mistakes, we have bad hair days, we trip and get back up, we cry, we laugh and we really don’t know everything and that’s ok!

In one of my very first practicums, I was asked to read with a struggling student who had immigrated to Canada and was not at grade level in reading. We sat in the library together and I listened as he read aloud. I was able to sense that he wasn’t comprehending the story and was just echoing syllables. It became even more apparent when the word cereal continuously evaded him. All of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks, does he know what cereal is?

Growing up juggling two very distinct cultures had placed me in a position to understand that what is obvious to one may not be to another. He bowed his head and said no, with embarrassment. In that moment, I knew and could empathize with the thoughts running through his mind. My mother would send me off to school with grape leaves wrapped in a pita or hummus and baba ghanoosh for lunch while my classmates were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I remember having to ask a friend after watching her eat this delicious-looking round piece of bread with some sort of cream in the centre, just what it was. That was my first introduction to bagels and cream cheese.

I had two options at this point, just tell him what cereal was and have him continue reading, or I could break those walls of embarrassment and feelings of insecurity and share with him my lunch stories and allow him to tell me his. I chose option two, I chose connection. We laughed and learned a lot more than just what cereal was that afternoon. That reading session turned into a cultural exchange as he also taught me about his favourite breakfast foods. Our reading time was forever changed, we had formed a connection and he was no longer embarrassed to tell me when he was struggling because he knew that I too struggled and that I would help him through and past it.

We have these options everyday, it’s just a matter of whether we see them or not.

I spent my first few years bouncing from classroom to classroom and never had the opportunity to be with a group from September to June, as I was filling temporary positions. It made it very hard to leave mid-year, especially when those bonds were formed. I consider myself extremely lucky in my current teaching position, as my students have been with me since grade two. When they leave me, I would have been their teacher for three years. Our connection as a group is strong. I know each of their passions whether its horses, rodeos, drawing, trucks or dancing. I know their fears, worries and what their hopes are. I attend their hockey and baseball games, music concerts and festivals and cheer from the stands. They take pride in teaching me about farming, quadding and fishing, among many other things.

They’ve seen me make mistakes, they know about my irrational fear of bugs, they worry about my commute because maybe I drove my vehicle into the ditch yet again, they know that my knowledge about farming comes from their stories, they know what makes me laugh and cry,  and that I get homesick and miss my family some days too. Most importantly, they know that I care about them as individuals, about their safety and their education. They know that I am their biggest supporter and that together we are a team; this is connection.

My Journey to Education

Your life’s passion has a way of finding you, but not in the way you would have ever expected it to. A career in Education never crossed my thoughts, yet looking back the seeds were slowly being sown without my realizing it.

I am a first-generation teacher in my family. I grew up during the turbulent Lebanese civil war. My earliest recollections of school were of being ushered onto the floor of a school bus with classmates under heavy shelling and transported to my teacher’s house for safety until my parents could arrive to pick me up. My teacher risked her life and opened up her home to protect her students, actions which stay with me to this day.

My family immigrated to Canada shortly after and I entered the educational system as an ESL student. I vividly remember working one-on-one with a dedicated teacher who brought out the love of the English language in me. Her persistence created a student who not only excelled in English but devoured books and wrote in journals at every opportunity.

Three more inspirational educator role models soon followed.

My fourth grade teacher who fostered an atmosphere of culture in her classroom and encouraged her students to learn about the world around them. I never felt more welcomed and proud of my heritage then when I was sharing with my classmates that year.

My eighth grade teacher who despite his very strict demeanour, only wanted the absolute best from his students. He pushed me to revise and edit absolutely everything I submitted to him to ensure the highest quality of my work. He taught me that easy isn’t necessarily best and to continually strive for more. Lessons which I apply to everything in life.

Then came my family’s transitional move back to Lebanon at the start of tenth grade. I entered an international American high school while juggling the cultural differences that surrounded me. I had a deep love for sports and was on the cross-country, track and field, soccer and basketball teams prior to our move, all of which did not exist beyond physical education classes at my new school. The exception was soccer but even then it was a boys-only team. I was determined to start a basketball and soccer team. and so I approached the coach with my ideas. He saw the fierce determination in a teenager whose passion for sports came through in everything she did, so he allowed me to put my plans into action. That year saw the creation of the first girl’s basketball team, and the first time a girl (me) played on the boy’s soccer team. The creation of a girl’s soccer team followed the next year. That educator showed me that I was capable of anything I put my mind to and that nothing is impossible if you really want it.

I moved by myself back to Ontario, Canada for university and planned on becoming a journalist to assist in writing the stories of others. I delved in and became a news editor for the university paper while interning at the city newspaper and a local public relations company. I was achieving the goals I had set out for myself, fuelled by the educational mentors who showed me the strength I had. I graduated and began in a corporate and internal communications position with an international corporation. I enjoyed the writing, interviewing, event-planning and travelling, but something was missing.

One day a friend mentioned that a co-worker was looking for an English tutor for her struggling fifth grade daughter. I immediately volunteered even though I hadn’t tutored anyone before. It only took one tutoring session and I immediately knew what I was looking for all along. Working with that student brought a sense of joy and meaning to my life like I had never experienced. Everyday I would look for ways to engage and connect her with her learning and soon realized that it was the one thing I looked forward to all week.

At that same time, my personal life was in transition and an opportunity to move to Alberta came about. I took a chance on the move and made sure to apply to both the Education program at the University of Alberta and public relations job positions. I told myself whichever works out was meant to be, and before I knew it, I was a student pursuing my B.Ed.

I’ve been an elementary teacher now for three years and though the journey was bumpy and unexpected, it’s allowed me to connect to what I love most which is working with amazing children and helping to foster their passions and strengths.

I laugh, love, and learn every day.