June 7

Building, Writing, Rolling

What are we up to you ask? The learning never ends in Room 124. We are building catapults, writing poetry, and rolling dice while we learn about probability.

Below you can see that students are working in partners or trios to design and build a catapult that must launch a marshmallow over a ‘wall’. They’ve put their thinking caps on and are busy gluing, sticking, and testing their designs. Good luck! (Thanks to Mrs. Bernardo for the pictures).

I’ve been blown away by the level of creative thinking by many students in our poetry unit so far. The vocabulary and ‘thinking outside the box’ is outstanding. We will be sure to share with you several of our poems. The students LOVE to share their poems with the class and are eager to keep writing…even into lunch hour! Woah. You can see us below writing a poem in a small group based on a regular, every day object that Mrs. Sullivan gave to us. Some of the objects included scissors, an orange cone, and a clipboard.

We were off to the races today playing a Horse Race game involving rolling a pair of dice and moving our ‘horse’ one space if the dice showed our horse’s number. If we were horse #5, then whenever someone threw a 5, we were allowed to move forward one space. Whomever crossed the finish line first was the winner. Some of us thought our horses were ‘cursed’ or that it was unlucky for some strange reason. Tomorrow we will discuss why certain horses were winning more than others. I have a feeling math has something to do with it!

June 3

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Probability is all around us! On Friday, we discussed the common game Rock, Paper, Scissors and how it is linked with math. What are the chances your partner will throw a ROCK? What are the chances your partner will throw PAPER? What about SCISSORS?

After pairs of students played 20 rounds of the game and recorded each of the outcomes as a fraction, we analyzed the results. What did the results say about our partner?  There was some interesting sharing of information. For example, one student used “Rock” 18/20 times and admitted this was because he thought he had a better chance of winning if he used it.

We looked at the different ways you could win and discovered you actually had an EQUAL CHANCE of winning if you used ANY of the ‘symbols’ in the game. However, if you know your partner typically uses one type of symbol over the others, perhaps your chances of winning increase because you can use that against him or her.

Rock–paper covers it

Paper–scissors cut it

Scissors–rock crushes it

 

When you play Rock, Paper, Scissors, do you use the symbols randomly or do you typically use one or two symbols more than another?  Does it depend on who you’re playing with?

Parents–if you’re interested, here is an interesting article from the BBC about the psychology behind the game

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27228416

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May 31

Launching into Poetry

Launching a unit in poetry means that we need to immerse ourselves in poems of course! Lots and lots of poems–not only written by famous poets like Shel Silverstein, T.S. Eliot, Naomi Shihab Nye, Dennis Lee, and Sheree Fitch, but also poems written by my past students.

So, what is poetry anyway? Some might say poetry is powerful words and that poems are hiding everywhere. Others may say poetry helps us tell a story, express our feelings, helps us heal.

Poems can be silly, nonsensical, sad, joyful, sorrowful, bright, confusing, thought-provoking, simple, complex, and so much more.

Our focus in this unit is on writing non-rhyming poems (free-verse poetry) and really learning how to use language to bring life to our thoughts and look at the world in different ways. I really love for students to learn to write free-verse poems because there are no rules and it gives permission to the students to think outside the box rather than conform to a certain structure. It really allows them to think freely and not have to worry about rhyming words so much.

Check us out immersing ourselves in reading some great poems with our friends on Tuesday.

May 30

What’s the Chance?

What is probability, anyways? We brainstormed together on Monday and came up with a whole array of vocabulary and ways in which we use probability in our every day lives.

Here are some of our ideas:

  • chance
  • likelihood
  • risk
  • certain/impossible
  • likely/unlikely
  • equal chance (50/50)
  • weather forecast (What’s the chance it will rain today?)
  • gambling/playing the lottery

Can you think of more ideas where we see or use probability in our lives?

Probability is the chance of something happening. We’ve learned about what are events that are certain (100% chance they will happen) and events that are impossible (no chance it will happen) and events that fall in between (likely, unlikely, equal chance).

For instance, what’s the chance you will eat dinner tonight? What’s the chance that you will be in grade 4 next year? What’s the chance it will snow tomorrow? What’s the chance Mrs. Sullivan will come to school tomorrow with blue hair? (hmmm….)

We looked at a number line and shared ideas of where different events would fall on the number line.

We love playing the game of SKUNK because we get to apply the game of chance and have fun at the same time! What? Math can be fun?

Have a look at us working hard today with spinners!

May 30

It’s Nice to Be Back

Dear Students and Parents,

   It feels super-duper great to be back in the classroom with all my friends and the staff. I thank you for all your well wishes and kind thoughts and prayers. My students have been on my mind since day 1 and seeing their smiling faces on Monday (yesterday) felt nothing short of wonderful.

   It is very difficult to be away from my class so I thank God that I am well enough to return and do what I love best…teach! When I am away from the class as a teacher, I am also missing being a student. I learn so much from my students each and every year…this year is no different. My classroom is my second home and it’s good to be home.

Mrs. Sullivan

 

 

April 25

Earth Day

Earth Day was last Saturday April 22 and even though we weren’t at school that day, I hope you all were enjoying the outdoors and even thinking about the Earth and how precious this planet really is.

What are some of the ways you are helping to take care of the Earth?

I know for myself, I make every effort to bring reusable bags when shopping. I also avoid using the thin plastic bags for produce at the grocery store. When I pack my lunch for work, I use Tupperware instead of lots of plastic baggies. Some people like to plant trees as a way of giving back to Mother Nature. There are so many things we can do to help keep the Earth healthy.

I watched a film called A Plastic Ocean (on Netflix) which really was eye-opening revealing just how devastating the plastic pieces in the ocean really are. As a certified SCUBA diver, I can say first hand that the amount of plastic (and other trash) in the oceans is beyond disturbing.

Here are some astounding facts about plastic:

  • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
  • We currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce.
  • The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
  • Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
  • Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
  • Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
  • It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.

 

What does Earth Day mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

April 25

Visiting Author: Andrea Beck

Last Friday, students were delighted to welcome guest author/illustrator, Andrea Beck.  Check out her website here.

She not only read to us but taught us about the writing process and how she illustrates her books. Students asked her all sorts of questions such as “Where do you get your inspiration?” and “What was your first published book?”

Andrea even shared with us that she just found out her book “Good Morning Canada” was chosen to be given to all first grade students across Canada! What an honour!

Andrea has written books that have even been made into TV shows. Her famous characters include Pierre, Buttercup the cow and of course Elliot the moose.

She showed us how simple shapes are used to help us achieve success at creating our own character. She sketched a picture of Elliot the moose and walked us through the fact that she starts with circles. Afterall, everyone can draw circles, she reminded us.

 

Andrea reminded us writers of something very important:

…it can be the simplest memories like digging on a beach or baking cakes as a kid that can become stories

 

I wholeheartedly agree!

April 20

What’s Your Opinion?

In our current writing unit on persuasive writing, the students are working towards writing a letter addressed to someone (or a group of people) and in that letter, share a concern or idea they may have on a topic they feel is important to them.  This letter will also serve as the basis for their speech on the same topic. It is my hope that they choose a topic they feel passionate about.

Today, the students brainstormed ideas for the letter. The topics the students came up with were quite diverse.

Some of the topics the students brainstormed included:

  • war
  • racism
  • should animals be kept in zoos/MarineLand?
  • smoking
  • using respectful language
  • the dangers of video games, Pokemon Go
  • girls should be treated as equals to boys
  • girls and women should be represented equally in sports
  • the importance of school (don’t take it for granted)

We began the unit with an activity called 4 Corners. Each corner of the classroom had a sign that read either Strongly Agree, Agree, Strongly Disagree, Disagree. The students had to think about their position on the topic and decide which sign to stand under. They needed to be able to justify why they believed what they did and were even allowed to change their minds if another group persuaded them to do so.

Topics ranged from “Should animal testing be allowed?” to “Should children be allowed to have a TV in their bedroom?”.  Several students were very passionate about their opinion while others were more easily swayed in any direction. Lots of chatter and discussion around these topics gave the students plenty of opportunity to practice their debating skills and how to respectfully disagree.

 

What is one topic/issue you feel strongly for or against?

 

April 16

Happy Easter!

On Holy Thursday, staff and students gathered in the gym to participate in the Stations of the Cross performed by Mrs. Hollis’ class. It was a beautiful presentation. Thank you, Mrs. Hollis.

Today is Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Lent is now over and we celebrate with food, family, and perhaps some chocolate 🙂

Many people around the world have customs or traditions at Easter time such as decorating eggs, making bread (in my family we make Babka), buying Easter Lily flowers, and many more.

How does your family celebrate Easter?

However you do, I wish you and yours a happy, holy, and blessed Easter.

Mrs. Sullivan

Here is one of our students celebrating Easter.  Here we see him at the Greek Orthodox Easter service where they light candles and sing “Christ is Risen!”