A Review of Our First Week Back

Despite a few yawns on Monday, we’re back in the swing of things. Hope everyone had a enjoyable holiday, and for those of you who took ill, hope you’re back to healthy status!

This week involved some reviewing and some ‘starting anew’.

Language: We looked at a piece of fiction to see how the writer created suspense and determined where the main character faced a tough question. Formulating an answer that includes details and justifications was also a skill we were working on. We also continued looking at the features and messages in newspaper advertisements. We will be involved in a Spectator activity/contest this month. More info. to come.

Math: We reviewed the relationships between fractions, decimals, and percents this week, as well as worked with ratios. One of our activities involved some video provocations that inspired us to make lemonade! Students had to determine the ratio of water to lemon juice to sugar that would provide them with the perfect amount of flavour for their taste buds, using a small 2 oz. cup. (We used the imperial units this time round for easier calculations).  Using the same ratio, they then generated a recipe for the 16 oz. cup.

Science: Presented with a variety of related objects, some familiar, some not, students generated a variety of wonder questions. We have a tendency to use words like  ‘it’, ‘thing’ or ‘thingamajig‘, so ,we were really trying to emphasize specific vocabulary. We also worked to distinguish between wonders that were ‘quick to answer’ and those that would involve some thought or investigation. One of the unknown objects was a group of black plastic rods. Students explored for a while and speculated the rods must be involved with static electricity, (rising hair and bending water). More wonders and discoveries to come!

Social Studies Homework: On Friday we looked at a poster design that included many images meant to celebrate Canada and its identity. After some discussion, students were assigned the task of creating their own collage of images and/or words that represent Canada’s identity. Instructions and paper for the collage were provided as we will need the finished product for class on this coming Friday.            

Working Towards the Holidays

Yesterday we discussed the difference between an explicit message and an implicit message by looking at a holiday themed advertisement.

In addition to incorporating probability into our door decorating, we also explored tree diagrams as a tool for determining the number of potential outcomes in a candy cane scenario. (Who knew that pickles and gravy have been inspirations for candy cane flavours?!) The other part of our door decorating focused on the gifts we see in each other. After creating their own ‘gift box’ , each student then created a tag for another classmate highlighting one of the gifts they share with the world. They were both thoughtful and pleased with their final creation.


Our creativity continued as students experimented with string art and puff paint. This was a choice activity they planned and pursued after completing all their assigned work.

Coming Up:

Thursday: Skating Forms Due, Gr 6-8 Dance (bring a canned food)

Friday – P.J. Day, Latkes, Last Day for two of our classmates, Last Day before Break

Gingerbread Crime Scene

Another holiday request made by the students was to make some gingerbread cookies. And a few wanted to relive their ”good ol’ kindergarten days, when we had to hunt for the escaped cookies. Of course I was game, but wanted to ”up” the challenge for a Gr. 6 audience.

First, we had work that needed finishing before we could start cooking. So, after organizing into groups, students set out to ensure each group member was on task, completing their work tasks by offering support and guidance. The collaboration was impressive both before the cooking and during. Groups worked to create their cookie dough in the morning and in the afternoon, rolled the dough to cut and bake. That was Friday.

Today the plan was to decorate the cookies, but then, a crime was committed!!!! Our cookies were gone.

Entering the room for lunch, students came upon a crime scene with caution tape and evidence cards placed by various clues left behind. Their challenge was to record their observations and come up with suspects.

Each group then received mathematical codes to solve. The answers led to various locations around the school, where they gathered letter clues. Unscrambling the letter clues then provided them with a clue about the perpetrator. Their final step was to approach the suspect and question them about their motive. After all that effort, the investigation teams returned with their cookies, and proceeded to decorate them.

A little tougher for them (and me!) than our kindergarten hunt, but just as fun and motivational!!


Holiday Decorating=Mathematical Thinking

When students asked if we could hang some holiday decorations, they probably didn’t realize they would get a math problem in return.

Put a pile of garland on the floor with the question, “”Is there enough garland to go across our room?”” and students are engaged. Right away, they started making predictions and asking questions of their own.Then they were told they couldn’t touch the garland/stretch it out to answer the question. Time to problem solve.

Some students read the tag on the garland to determine length of one garland, measured the floor, and did numerical calculations. Some didn’t want to wait for a metre stick so they compared floor tiles and ceiling tiles, since they already knew the length of a floor tile. And others realized they first had to determine which way was across and which way the garlands would be hung, straight or ”loopy”.

Lots of thinking to answer a little question.  



Still Working Away

With time just flying by, I’ve been ‘slipping’ in my photo taking, and consequently, my posts!! But, here a few updates on our latest learning.

Reflection Books: Last week, students reflected on how well they have been using their learning skills since the progress reports.  They justified their thoughts honestly, and decided what areas they would continue to work on.

Writing: Students are wrapping up their second informational reports, working to improve on their first efforts. They pursued their own areas of interests and  generated a wide range of topics, from motorcycle safety, aircrafts, and cool cars, to pesticides, chlorine side affects, and pig slaughter. Working to use all the strategies we have discussed in writing workshops, students are encouraged to `mess up`their drafts with revisions.

Math – in addition to continued algebra challenges, we have begun work on probability. In so doing, we have noticed the usefulness of ratios, fractions, and percents. We have used objects (like the coloured snowflakes below) as provocations to discuss theoretical probability, and, have incorporated art to represent experimental results.


A Few Week Highlights

Summarizing a few learning highlights from the week:

Coding challenges in the computer lab with Mrs. W

Making Words Challenge in the classroom

Generating questions for the Gr. 5’s as we listened to their presentations

Striving to complete our science art so it could be displayed in the front foyer. (We hope to put together some pics to post online.)

And now that we have communicated our thinking artistically, students have been asked to collect some numerical data to support the big idea of their art so we can communicate mathematically. Information is due by next Wednesday 

Algebraic Thinking

Today we saw how a picture book could be used for different audiences and purposes. Equal Shmequal  is a book I have used with primary students to teach the idea of balancing a scale. Today we showed how algebraic thinking could show what was happening with the characters, representing each animal with a variable .

Following the plot of the story, students were then given a question that required them to find eqalities between variables and generate several possible equations.

“I don’t get it!!”

As we were reminded of how the Pink Shirt day got started, we were also reminded of the power of taking positive action. Students shared their thoughts through discussions and short pieces of writing. One of our classmates inspired applause when he read his writing aloud:

Blue and pink. I don’t get it. When I look in my wardrobe, I don’t see “girl” clothes or “boy” clothes. I see clothes. When I look at markers, I don’t separate them into girl colours and boy colours. I see colours! When I watch TV,  I see TV shows. NOT girl shows and boy shows. They’re all the same thing. This stuff is an outrage. We need to MAKE IT STOP!! 


Tidbits From Friday

Thank you to Mrs Hood and School Council for Friday’s Pizza Lunch in recognition of our collaborative Pumpkin Carving efforts in October.

In small Reading Groups, we have been looking for clues and strategies for identifying the main message of non-fiction texts. THIEVES is one strategy we tested out. Before reading a text, we looked at the Title, Headings, Introduction, Every first (or second) sentence, Visuals and Ending to Steal away clues and predict what the main focus or message of the text might be. While we read, we also recognized the author’s use of purposeful repetition to emphasize the ‘Big Idea”. 

In addition to using our white boards for algebra talks this week, we also used them to our answer Friday’s question of the day: What act of kindness do you remember someone doing that brightened your day? 

Homework Challenge: Students did not get an outline or written expectations about their homework task this week. This was a purposeful choice. In efforts to develop leadership, we had discussions in class, and the challenge to take initiative was put forth. Students should be ready to contribute/share ideas tomorrow. We’ll see who was listening !! 

Guest Instructor and Heartfelt Talk

With a guest instructor from DanceMakerz studio today, we had an extended gym class where we learned a number of movements, transitions, and formations to use in our  dance assignment from Ms. Marion. The session involved the practice of isolated moves, opportunities to show some courage while dancing in front of a large group, and a freeze dance to finish things off.

Later in the day, we set aside some time to discuss the effect of our word choices when speaking to others. In an anonymous questionnaire, students agreed 100% that the language being used by Gr 6 students towards one another needs to improve. To reinforce the lasting effect of unkind/uninvited/offensive comments, we poked a hole in our paper hearts for each example that was generated. We were left with hearts that could not be completely repaired. So, now we are asking ourselves: Is this how we want to feel? Is this how we want our classmates/schoolmates to feel? How are we going to BE THE CHANGE? Students will be asked to reflect on these questions as we strive to encourage kindness over negativity well beyond Bully Awareness Week.