Here we are on October 1 feeling like we have just begun. Wait a minute….yes, it has been a strange start to the year, but in many ways things feel just as they should. Students are settling in, learning new routines, and reviewing previous ones. I was excited and delighted to meet my class this year. What an enthusiastic bunch. I have taught many siblings to this group so my apologies if I call you your brother’s or sister’s name. I will (or hope to) get over that.
We are almost ready to begin journal writing, something I love, and most of the students enjoy too. As a parent I know that having this memento from your child’s year is very special. It’s nice to go back ten years down the road and read what the world looked like for them when they were nine or ten. Yes, I know this from experience!
We have started a read aloud that I chose after reading a couple of glowing reviews. You may be familiar with the author, Kevin Henkes, from some picture books he has written. We have some favourites from my teacher-librarian days, available in our library. Does anyone remember Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum, and Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse? Anyway, Henkes has written a novel called The Year of Billy Miller. I wonder if any of my students can remember why it has this title? Hint: Chinese New Year.
I love using articles from the newspaper in our classroom activities. There have been some good ones this year that have afforded wonderful opportunities for the students and me to learn together. Today we read about and discussed this Globe and Mail article about the blue whale that has washed up in Newfoundland.
This gallery contains 13 photos.
Division 5 has been a hotbed of scientific exploration for the last few weeks. After spending some time learning about the scientific method each student was given the task of researching an experiment that he or she would … Continue reading
Division five has been working very hard in class since they returned from the holidays. Those holidays seem like a distant memory and spring break is hovering just around the corner already. This weekend marks our second British Columbia Family Day. Here’s hoping that the Coquihalla stays bare and dry all weekend! Please check out the new gallery on this blog. I added a few of our winter Haiku poems. When we did them I contemplated starting spring poems instead, as it was a particularly mild week. This blast of winter, however, is making them feel particularly appropriate. I didn’t pay attention to whether the groundhog saw his or her shadow, but I am thinking probably not!
I am sitting on the sofa on a Friday night and I am not inclined to move, so that might be an indication of the energy I expended this week. I am done! But it was a good week, a little hectic, but good. Between several “run-throughs” and rehearsals for our Christmas concert, we managed to do a little math and language arts. Earlier in the week we even took on writing computer code, with Khan Academy’s great “Hour of Code” tutorial. Despite a few difficulties getting all of our laptops to play the video tutorials, the students forged ahead and did a great job. I loved their enthusiasm as they accomplished the different tasks. And I loved how the activity self-differentiated. Students worked at their own pace, taking their time or flying through to tasks I hadn’t even tried, and were fully engaged. As Mr. Erker tweeted about our activity, there was problem solving, math, imagination and critical thinking involved in what the students were doing during this hour. When I tried it first at home the night before, I was aware of how I was being asked to think differently. It was very illuminating in that way.
Anyway, the weekend has arrived, and Monday brings us to our last few days before the holidays. We shall have to get back to our routine, at least through Thursday. Let’s hope for some dry weather and outside days. At least we will have our gym time back again! 🙂
We have been doing research on endangered animals in socials for the past couple of weeks. It’s been really interesting helping the students learn to research and take effective notes. Today we switched gears to write from our heads and hearts creatively. The prompt was, if you could be any animal in the world, which would you choose to be and why would you choose it? We discussed the writing trait “voice” and how that might be developed. It’s a tough trait to teach because it’s not a correction, like adding a period or comma as needed. It’s very individual. I encouraged the students to try to avoid writing another factual sounding piece about an animal. For this one I wanted to see imagination, figurative language (similes!) and maybe some humour if it fit. Click on comments below to see how they did!
Last week we read a beautiful picture book called My Blue is Happy. It is told from the perspective of a child who explains her family members’ different connections to various colours, and then shares what each colour means to her as well. For example, yellow is a cheerful colour to her grandmother, but for the child it is sad, like a wilting flower or a butterfly caught in a net. It’s great because it allowed us to talk about what associations we typically have with things, and how they might be different from other people’s. After reading the book I challenged the students to write some colour similes of their own, in a similar style, and then created a Haiku Deck of what they had written. Using figurative language is not an easy thing to do. It’s moving from thinking about the concrete to the abstract. Haiku Deck provided an opportunity to create great visuals for each simile, as the range of pictures to choose from is vast. Here is one example. I will add a few more in the coming days. These look great on a phone or iPad. If you look at them on a computer be sure to go to full screen! 🙂
I am late getting my blog going again this year, and the reason is due to my typical indecisiveness. I was going to switch to a different blogging site, and I tinkered with it a little, but it didn’t really click with me and I ended up feeling stuck. The thing that has me moving now is that I feel really inspired after spending an evening with some dynamic people, talking about digital literacy and engaging learners today. The keynote speaker, Antonio Vendramin, gave real legitimacy to what many teachers feel excited about already, making learning in our classrooms a more engaging, student centred, creative, endeavour. Technology can help us do this, but we need to make the leap, and take some chances. I look forward to trying some new things. I know my students will teach me a lot!
My students have been using Haiku Deck lately, as a fabulous way to both enhance their own understanding of material we are studying, as well as to demonstrate learning. Haiku Deck is an app on our school iPads which helps students create simplified presentations on any topic they like. For example, we worked with our little buddies to make alphabet books, or decks, as they are called. In socials my grade 4 students made decks on the explorers and my grade 5’s made them on Quebec. Today we used them in science to review material from the first chapters of the units we are now learning about. For the 4’s this meant creating a deck on the properties of light and for the 5’s, force and friction. I find it is an excellent tool for students with different learning styles to be able to showcase their knowledge with pride. It also helps students retain the material they are learning, as they spend time creating a presentation that requires them to have an understanding before they begin. It’s a great way to prepare for a test too! I was super happy with the results from today. All the completed ones were uploaded to the website, and then I can review the students’ work at home. One hitch….most students did not put their names on them, and Josh K seemed to show up as the name on more than one. I know how to fix this though! 🙂 Check out a couple of decks here. The first is by Hannah, the second by Newton, and the third is by Eric.