Homework Reminder

Happy Weekend! Just a friendly reminder that students should be spending some time reading their Kenneth Oppel book. We held our first book talk on Friday, and not everyone had met their agreed upon goal. So….. we will be meeting again this coming Friday, where we will be expected to have half the book read to we can contribute actively.

On Friday we also sent home some geometry practise – transforming polygons and describing their movements. The task is open ended, so students can use regular polygons until they get more confident, or if they are ready for a challenge, select more complex/irregular shapes and movements. The descriptions are to be clear, specific and use appropriate vocabulary. This is due on Thursday.  

‘Straw Inspired’ Learning

From our discovery of the number of drinking straws disposed of each day, to the United Nations’ declaration of the level of plastics in our oceans as a crisis, we generated 2 main questions to explore: What is being done around the world to help keep straws (and other plastics) out of our oceans/waters? How can we use the information to help us take action in Waterdown?

Today we spent time gathering, recording, and sharing pertinent information to help answer our questions. As we find places in the world where governments or non governmental groups have taken some sort of action, we are adding  latitude and longitude points to our map, using colour coding to indicate the type of action being taken. Did you know…  in Kenya you can receive a $40 000 fine or jail time for producing or distributing plastic bags? Seattle is one of the the first major cities to ban plastic straws and utensils? Several communities around the world have stopped using plastic drinking straws at the request of local school children?  We are inspired to take action, but we also know we have to gather enough facts in order to communicate effectively. So, we will continue to track the usage of straws at our school, visit or call restaurants to estimate the use of straws in Waterdown, look at media texts like logos and slogans, read and interpret graphs, and then, plan our next steps. To be continued…  

 Image result for no straw logo


HOMEWORK REMINDER: Students are to be reading their Kenneth Oppel book to be ready for their first book talk on Friday.

What’s Up? Wednesday

So, what have been up to this week?

Geometric work in math: measuring and identifying angles, sorting polygons using geometric properties and proper vocabulary.

Reading: First we followed up on a summarizing activity from last week, and then we were introduced to the idea of signposts. ‘Signposts’ are signals in a text that readers can use to determine which parts they need to pay close attention to (as outlined in a resource called Close Reading). Quickly summarized, the ‘signs’ include: characters facing a Tough Question, Contrast/Contradiction (when a character does something out of character), Memory Moment (a pause in the action for remembering/flashback), Again and Again ( a repeated action, phrase or image), Words of the Wiser (a character receiving advice from another character, usually older), and, an A HA moment, when a character makes a realization. With author Kenneth Oppel scheduled to visit our school in April, students have been asked to select one of his books to read, looking for signposts along the way. Today they formed their own groups, and met to set a reading goal for when they meet next. Commitments were written in their agendas.

Writing: In addition to working on a draft of a style of their own choosing, students have been working to strengthen their skills at writing complex sentences. In writing warm ups, students are given a few informational sentences about an issue, work to combine the ideas to form a complex sentence, and then offer their opinion on the issue.

Social Studies: Weeks ago, we came across a statistic about the number of plastic straws that were being used and found within the oceans. We generated some questions at the time and wondered if there was anything we could do to help. Knowing I only see the class for a portion of each day, I looked for ways we could incorporate their interest into our day, and be accountable to the curriculum. Since we are generating questions, researching a variety of sources to find answers, looking at ways governments and non governmental groups are addressing environmental issues, and, locating places in the world that have already taken action, Social Studies is an ideal ‘ávenue’ for our wonders . In addition to researching, we are designing ways we might take action ourselves. We generated a list of restaurants in Waterdown, wanting to ask them how many straws they use in a day/week. A few students have already taken the initiative to gather some data, which we will be using for further calculations. The challenge is on for others to do the same. We also placed a cup in each of the classes in our school, to get an idea of the number of straws thrown into our garbage bins each day. We’re not sure how far we will get with our plans, but are excited by the possibilities.

Reminder: Last skating day tomorrow!

Thursday Update

This has been a week of fine tuning some skills…

Building vocabulary using root words and and a good old fashioned dictionary

Locating cities with United Nation offices and identifying their latitude and longitude

Using a protractor to measure angles

To get a bit more practice in, students have some angle homework (Due: Monday), as well as some Social studies research to do (for Monday as well).

Tomorrow: A bilingual theatre company will be coming to perform. 

Popcorn: We Have Questions

Welcome Back Everyone!

Just before the break we generated some mathematical wonders about popcorn that required further time to investigate. So, today we did just that.

Presented with a jar of kernels, a box of microwave popcorn and a bag of popped corn each with a $2.99 price tag, students asked many questions: 

Which product is the best buy? What is the ratio of pooped kernels to ‘not popped’kernels? How many kernels in each package? Which fills the bowl? How long does it take to prepare each of the products? How many would fit safely in our classmates’mouth? Which popcorn do people like best? Which popcorn is healthiest?

Of course, these questions needed answers, so we just had to make popcorn,  I mean, investigate!  

We counted kernels, before and after popping, we timed the process, we compared the the amounts of generated popcorn, and of course, sampled the products. We concluded the kernels on their own was the best buy based on price value. To ensure each person (present that day) received a cup of popcorn it took:

microwave popcorn: whole package – $2.99

popped corn: 2 packages – $5.98

Kernels: 2/9 of package – $0.66 

So, what is the purpose of such an activity? To foster curiosity,  problem solving skills, be a smart/informed consumer, and as one student put it, to make math fun.

Speech Success

Today we spent the morning listening to speeches from students in Gr. 4 to 8 and were very proud of our classmates who both demonstrated very strong speaking skills. During a follow up discussion and writing task, many students recognized the quality of presentations and what it must be like to be in the contestants’ shoes. They also mentioned the difficult task it must be for judges to select one junior winner and one intermediate winner. In the end, a decision was announced at the end of the day, and we’re happy to say the junior winner is one of our very own classmates who will now move on to represent the school at the next level of competition in April. Congratulations!!

And now that we are good and inspired, the rest of the class has booked a day to present their own speech.

Lots of Math Today

It was a very math focused day today. In addition to ‘warming-up’ with some surface area and volume calculations,


we did a number of geometric activities involving linking cubes. These are the same manipulatives we have used with our isometric drawings.

We were challenged to : recreate an irregular 3D structure based on verbal descriptions of its top view, side view and front view. We realized the importance of clear, precise communication when comparing our resulting interpretations!

We then took turns being both the describer and the listener.

Another challenge was to create 8 different 4 cube structures and then use combinations of them to construct  a new structure based on an isometric image.

It was interesting to see who was willing to persevere and who was tempted to give up because it was hard! We then wrote a reflection about our experiences and discoveries.

During another part of our day we took some time to further consider information about straw pollution (a continuation of last week’s discoveries). Rotating in small groups, we read information from various sources and generated some more of our own wonders that we plan to further explore.


In other news… 6 of our classmates earned E for initiative as they challenged themselves to present their speeches yesterday in hopes of representing the Gr 6 classes at the school level. I have to say, I’m not cut out to be a judge! I am so proud of each of them for their courage, preparation, and clear, confident voices, that I want them all to represent us! So, in collaboration with Ms. Steinberg and all the Gr 6 students, a decision was made, and our 2 Gr. 6 representatives will be presenting tomorrow. Good luck to them both. We are confident you will make us proud!

The rest of the class have the rest of this week and the first week after the break to present a speech within the class.

Eco House Visit

It was nice change of scenery in which to do our learning today as we spent the afternoon at Hamilton’s Eco House. In addition to being respectful visitors and active participants, students were asked to look for information they could incorporate into their current science project at school.

Today’s activities included:

identifying a variety of mystery objects and presenting our ideas on how we thought the objects could help conserve energy, 

creating a decomposition timeline of organic and manufactured products,  

observing the process of composting,

playing a group game about energy usage,

learning about the value of hybrid and community share cars,

a mathematical game calculating the usage of non renewable and renewable resources, and


comparing the amount of water used for different toilets. 

And one invention that impressed many of us, was a toilet that incorporates a sink on top of its tank. When the toilet is flushed, the clean water from the tank goes to the tap for people to wash their hands before it enters the toilet bowl. 

Tomorrow we will utilize an information booklet that was given to us as we left and work to incorporate ideas from the trip into our projects.

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Selecting Our Means of Communication

Today we spent time adding finishing touches to our science ‘projects’. Knowing they had to identify, describe, and explain a variety of information about electrical energy, students selected a means of communication they felt would be effective. The students generated ideas that include: a model (e.g. museums, an ‘ElectriCity’), brochures, a children’s story, newscast, a cartoon, report, drawing, and a science show.

To work on fluency and expression today, we did some science based Reader’s Theatre, where groups rehearsed their roles as electrons.


Out of Curiosity Comes Discovery

In a conversation about the plastics that end up in our oceans, the topic of straws came up. Not an obvious polluter or even the biggest, but plastic straws are problematic to marine life. We sought out information and found that National Geographic reports Americans as using about 500 million straws a day. Enough to circle the earth twice, and enough to fill 127 school buses. A few students wondered, “How many straws would be needed to fill our classroom?”

Our recent work on volume came in handy as students knew which dimensions they would need to determine the volume of the room. Our room is an irregular shape and we rounded to the nearest whole number, but we determined the volume to be approximately 297 cubic metres. We then determined the volume of a box of straws (honest, they were in the room already), and found it to be approx. 1895 cubic centimetres. 

So… how many boxes would fit in the room? 

Students determined they would have to make a conversion so both volumes were in the same unit. 100 cm in a metre – no problem. We made the conversions and determined 15 boxes of straws would fit in the room. But, wait. That did not make sense. Through discussions, we realized we would have to account for each linear measurement when converting: length, width and height. So…. 297 cubic metres is NOT 29 700 cubic centimetres but 297 000 000 cubic centimetres. Which means 156 728 boxes of straws could fit into our room. That made much more sense to us. Knowing each box held 500 straws we could finish our calculations. 

Out of curiosity, we made both an environmental and mathematical discovery.  We’re now considering what to do with this information.