Using Our Homework # Facts

When students brought in their large number facts last Thursday, we used the opportunity for some oral language skills as well. Each student presented their information in front of the group, while their classmates were responsible for recording key notes, asking for clarification when needed (as good listeners do).

The next day, groups were given the same numbers and facts as a mixed pile. Together they found matches, and then worked to sequence the numbers from least to greatest.

A few of the interesting facts we heard: Did you know there were 15 000 vacuum cleaner related accidents in 1990? That in one year, Americans eat 1.2 million pounds of chips and buy 3 million miles of dental floss?

Wanakita Reminder

Two more sleeps!

Tomorrow students will receive a last reminder note for Tuesday’s trip to Camp Wanakita: Please remember:

  • we plan to leave at 8:00- please come at 7:45 a.m. to load luggage on the bus.
  • to make sure any medication is clearly labelled in a ziplock bag, and times and dosages are clear. This includes “just in case” medications, like Tylenol or Advil. Teachers must keep all medication, except  frequent use inhalers and epipens.
  • to administer Gravol for the ride to Wanakita at home, and make sure to give to me Gravol for the way home- again in labelled bag.
  • space will be limited on the bus for luggage- try to stick to the packing list!
  • to include a lunch to eat when we arrive at Wanakita.  The first prepared meal for us is dinner (about 5:00)
  • to pack a reusable water bottle that can be refilled, used on hikes, lunch the first day, bus rides, and for medication
  • our bathroom stop will be about Barrie. Students will not be able to buy anything and need no money on our trip.
  • hats, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, as well as layers for cooler weather at night.

Students not attending Wanakita will be joined by some students from Ms. Steinberg’s class and will follow our regular schedule with a supply teacher.


‘Luck of the Draw’ Seating

We have a variety of seating options in our class and during the first week, students selected their seat of choice as they entered each day.

This week we have changed it up a bit. Desks/Tables were numbered (into the millions) and students prepared a number word card to match each spot. Now, as students enter, they select a card from a bag and must find their corresponding #. Not only are we reinforcing some number sense, but we are challenging our flexibility, getting a chance to explore different seating options, and, learning to collaborate with a variety of classmates. 

We might find ourselves at a table for 3, a cozy spot for 2, a window seat with plenty of natural lighting, or high up at a counter ‘desk’.  


Students are not ‘glued’ to these spots, however. Bean bag chairs, saucer chairs, milk crates, the floor, and the carpet are popular reading locations.     

Monarchs in Our Classroom

No matter what the grade, monarch caterpillars can find a place in the curriculum. In Grade 6, our 3 caterpillars (four if you count the chrysalis), are helping us engage in conversations about biodiversity.

One of the ways biodiversity is shown is within a species. (e.g. butterflies). 

But why is there a need for so many kinds of butterflies? For a few years, many people have been concerned about the decline of monarch butterflies. But does it matter if they go extinct? What would happen?  

During writing workshop, we discussed the difference between ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ questions a writer might ask to produce an informative, deep thinking piece of writing. We have just started generating our own topics to support the big idea: Biodiversity is critical to the health of the planet. Once students have narrowed down their topic, and generated some thick (deep thinking) questions, they are encouraged to gather information from which to research. They will be doing the writing at school.

Reminder about tomorrow: Large number facts are due. Meet the Teacher 5:30-7:00.

Looking at Large Numbers

Over these first couple weeks, we are looking at large numbers (to the millions) – how to read, write and represent them. In addition to demonstrating our knowledge in small groups, students were asked to match a variety of large numbers to descriptors that made sense for their number. The surprising facts came from National Geographic and a DLK books. Did you know our bodies contain about 96 561 km of blood vessels? Slugs have 3 000 teeth, there are 31 556 926 seconds in a year, and, a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair once sold for       $115 120!


We then looked at the design of the pages within, to incorporate some media. We identified the audience and purpose of the pages, as well as the strategies used to effectively engage readers. (different fonts, colours, pictures, layouts etc.)


Students are now working to create their own page design, utilizing facts that incorporate large numbers (represented in words and numerals), and, the strategies/features they feel will attract others to read their facts.

Homework: Students have been asked to bring in two more large number facts to school by Thursday.  



Week of Sept. 11 – Reminders

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Here are a few updates for the week ahead:

PLEASE make sure you send in paperwork for the office ASAP and Wanakita payments by Tuesday. Students will be selecting cabin mates this week.

Kleenex request: It is really appreciated if all students contributed one box of kleenex to our classroom so we have a supply to last the year through.

Gym Clothes: Students also need to bring gym clothes to change for gym this week.  Each student should have a timetable for their agenda, their locker, and one to keep at home. We’ve recorded the rotary days for September in the agenda. 6A and 6B have gym together on Day 2, 4, and 5.  Gym shirts and shorts can be ordered at the Meet the Teacher event.

Meet the Teacher: This Thursday 5:30-7 p.m.  There are many events outside during this time, and teachers will be inside in classrooms from 6- 6:30. Our classroom is room 25, (also labelled 209 for the Fire Department’s sake).Hope you can make it!

Only One First Day

We only get that one first day of the new school year! Why not try to make it unexpected? Of course, there are agendas to hand out and lockers to assign, but essentially, I want students going home feeling positive about the upcoming year. So, we didn’t spend our day labeling notebooks, or reading and writing about rules, (we will slip that in throughout the week). Instead, we pulled out the paints and the baking supplies, and focused on collaborating.

First, the students gave a ‘thumbs up’ to our classroom. We are located in Rm. 26 (also known as Rm. 209 for office and fire department reasons), and also referred to as the ‘kitchen room’. The room was intended for Home Economics when the school was built, but then, the program was cancelled! Keeping in mind the importance of the physical space of a classroom (often referred to as the ‘Third Teacher’), we have been able to utilize the space in a unique way that allows for both collaboration and quiet work spaces.  

  • We then rotated through 6 activities over the course of the day, working with a variety of different classmates. Our challenge was to listen/read/observe the contributions of others, and then show respect by adding on to their ideas, rather than changing or omitting the ideas. We practised these skills through:
  • a piece of art, pieces of writing, suggestions and questions, creating an ecosystem, and the one they were most excited about: baking!  
  • Upon reflection, students felt that everyone worked really well together, showed flexibility, patience, and respect. And not surprisingly, our suggestion board filled with requests to utilize the kitchen part of our room again!  

Welcome to 6B !

Welcome to a new school year and to our class blog. It has been a wonderful welcome back to Greenleaf after a few years away, and I’m thrilled to see so many familiar faces in both the hallways and in our very own classroom.

On our blog, we’ll be posting ‘need to know’ information, reminders, and highlights of our learning activities throughout the year. Subscribing on the right hand side is a great way to be notified of our posts.  You may notice unfamiliar posts from my previous class. This is because I’ve decided to just change the name and continue on with the same site.  

In addition to the blog, we will continue to use agendas. Students all received theirs on the first day containing all those fun forms to fill in! Students will travel to each class with their agendas, so all teachers can  use them as a communication tool. Please check the agendas on a regular basis.

Speaking of fun forms! Please return Emergency Contacts and Health information, as well as photo consent, ASAP. Thank you for your help!

You were also sent a paper copy of the school newsletter for September and can subscribe for future newsletters at

Little did I know when I accepted this Gr. 6 position I’d be ‘camping’ in September!!  Ms. Steinberg has been very busy preparing notes for students who are signed up to go to Wanakita AND for Gr. 6  students new to our school. Those forms were sent home today. The trip is coming up VERY SOON! (Tuesday, September 19- Friday, September 22) She has posted the following information on her class blog as well:

I will be sending home this week trip forms for parents to complete. There will also be another copy of a packing list. I will let you know of  balances owed and any forms that still need to be completed.  Remaining balances will include the bus costs, and payments not made in June.  Please return all forms as soon as possible, at the latest by Tuesday, September 12. If you have not done so already, it is extremely important that I am made aware of any food allergies or diet requirements immediately, so that Wanakita is prepared and able to accommodate them.   New students are also welcome to come on the trip; please get in touch with any questions and return forms as soon as possible.   Please note that there will be class and activities planned for students who are staying at school that week.

Sincerely, Ms. Steinberg

I’m looking forward to meeting you at the “Meet the Teacher” night on Thursday, September 14, 5:30-7:00. In addition, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

I look forward to working with you and your children, and, sharing our days with you via our blog.

Ms. R. Urfey

Happy September!

Hello Everybody! I hope you have all had a happy, healthy summer.

This post is just a notice/reminder that this blog will now be geared towards my new Gr. 6 class at Allan A. Greenleaf. If you do not wish to continue getting notifications, don’t forget to unsubscribe. If for whatever reason, the unsubscribing does not work, just send me an email and I can do it for you.

I wish you and your children all the very best. Please tell them I hope they have a very happy year in Grade 4!! 


Rhonda Urfey

A Feature in Hamilton Newsletter

Before moving on to a new position at a new school, I’d like to share the following email which I received yesterday. Be sure to check out the included link:).  

Hi Rhonda,
We haven’t completed our video yet.  BUT, we did launch our very first Our Future Hamilton e-newsletter the other day and we have a short clip from the May 3rd Chase the Future Event.  The clip features one of your students at the water bottle display. 
Thanks again for allowing us the opportunity to engage with your students on this exciting initiative!
Cheers, Cindy
Here’s the link:
Cindy Mutch
Senior Project Manager, Community Special Projects
Neighbourhood and Community Initiatives Division
Community and Emergency Services Department