Ending the Blogging Drought!

Since my January routine can pretty much be summed up with the words – planning, preparing, marking, report card writing, repeat – blogging once again took a back seat. So, summarizing some of what we’ve been up to…

Math: We’ve been working on estimating, measuring, recording, and making conversions for length, mass, and capacity. In addition to generating their own wonders to investigate, (e.g. How much water do our sinks hold?  What is the perimeter of the gym? How far do we walk each day in the halls?), students have also been presented with a variety of objects. We’ve had several discussions about strategies for estimating (e.g. visualizing, using previous knowledge, using a frame of reference), how to best determine the actual measurement, and how to record the measurements in different units.


Today, students predicted the length and the mass of an extension cord. Determining the length was pretty straight forward, but the cord did not fit properly on the scale to measure mass accurately. So, we had to strategize. 

This week’s’ homework task is meant to reinforce the above skills in a hands on manner, as well as, encourage students to divide the task up through the week rather than wait until the last minute. Due this Friday.

Social StudiesAfter sharing our homework collages with each other, students are now designing a legend for the images to explain how each is significant in contributing to Canada’s identity. 

Science– Continued practice with various objects, has us thinking we have definitely fine tuned our identification skills. We have also reinforced our understanding of circuit building with different tools and generating diagrams of our creations with the ipads. Scientist in the Classroom coming on Friday. 


The Spectator photographer was in to take a picture of us ‘in action’ (ok, it was posed) but, we have been working on designing ads and giving each other feedback. We are supposed to be getting our ‘client’ in the next day or so, and will then begin our entries to the ad contest.


Showing Initiative: Just before Christmas, a few students asked if we could do a Secret Santa, but we decided it was pretty short notice. So recently, they have collaborated to organize a Secret Friend activity for February. After a brainstorming session at recess, the students proposed a plan to their classmates, asked for feedback and surveyed to see if there was interest. Everyone agreed to participate and filled out a questionnaire. We are just waiting for a couple of freinds who have been sick to complete the questions, and then we’ll give further information.

Filling out a questionnaire for Secret Friend.

Skating: I have no photos, but the day went really well. I was really pleased with how supportive the class was with one another, and that many students made sure to thank Ms. Marion for organizing the school wide event. It was a huge undertaking!

Science Homework

Today, in our agendas, we recorded our next homework assignment: Science Research. The task is to supplement the information we are gathering in class, since students have been encouraged to seek a variety of sources. This is NOT a project, students will just be adding the research to their duo tangs, to be used in coming weeks. Information we are looking for:

-materials that are good conductors of electricity and good insulators

-ways in which electrical energy is transformed into other forms of energy

-where series circuits and parallel circuits are used

-describe  how forms of energy can be transformed into electrical energy

describe the difference between series circuits and parallel circuits

ways in which society’s use of electricity has changed over time (how and how much)

-difference between current and static electricity

-the functions of the components of a simple electrical circuit

Research  Due/Needed: Wed. Jan. 24


Some Science Exploration

To begin each of science sessions, we are warming up our skills by reinforcing the difference between identifying and describing. E.g. identify the objects below…

Not surprisingly, the immediate response was “apple.” When asked to be more specific, students responded green apple, round apple, apple with a stem etc. until they realized Granny Smith apple was a more specific identification. Green, round, large etc., were actually descriptions. Students then tried it with a battery, I mean, a ProCell AA alkaline battery!

After a bit of researching time, students were then presented with a bin of items   (wires, batteries, switches, light bulbs, buttons etc.) for them to explore. Students were very engaged as they asked many questions, explored to find answers, and guided each other with suggestions and discoveries.

Will the battery make the light bulb work? The light doesn’t go on with one wire, but will it work with two? Why won’t our battery work but the other group’s battery does? If we use two batteries will the light be brighter? How can we get the buzzer to work? Will the light and the buzzer work if they are in the same circuit?

Everyone in the class was purposeful and collaborated extremely well today. Super job 6B!!!

NOTE: Social Studies homework due on Friday and a Photo Consent note was sent home today for the Spectator Media ‘project’.

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.