October 10

Author Mike Wade Visits!

We had a special visitor to our school today…Mike Wade, the author of And Then It Happened series. He made us laugh and taught us about the writing process. Did you know he used to be a prison guard?

Mike really tried to make the students understand that truly anyone can be a writer. He only started writing in his early 40s and is now in his 50s. You can start writing at any age! He also stressed the importance of revision. He said the average number of times he revises is 7 times. Wow!

Mike has now written a total of 13 books and luckily our class has them all! Our school library does too. His stories are suitable for anyone who likes a good laugh. His characters, Gordon, Paulo, and I are always up for challenges and anything that sounds like trouble!

If you’ve never read a Mike Wade book, give it a try! You won’t regret it.

September 11

Building our Reading Lives

Today we did some thinking about where we love to read. What does our cozy spot look like? Where are we–outside? At a desk? In our bed? In a treehouse? On the grass?

We thought about books we like to read over and over again because they are just SO GOOD!  I know one of my favourite childhood books is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I also remember my mom reading a pop-up book about dinosaurs that I adored. 

Do we like to read with someone or alone? What kinds of books do we tend to pick up? Chapter books? Picture books? Funny books? Serious books? 

We enjoyed watching this video in class today. It reminds us of the various characters we get to meet along the path of our reading journey.

How many characters can YOU name?

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!

April 12

Whodunnit?

A crime had been committed in room 124 and students were on the case to solve it! It was after lunch when students were ready to go back to class. Mrs. Sullivan stopped them at the class door informing them that a terrible crime had occurred at lunch while they were gone. All of our pillows went missing!  Nooooo!

The crime scene was cordoned off with caution tape and several clues were left behind at the scene. There was a large empty Tim Horton’s coffee cup, a basketball, and a muddy shoe print. With clipboards in hand, the students turned detectives were on the case. Careful inspection of the clues, recording our thoughts, and thinking of possible suspects were all on our minds.

After, we gathered on the carpet and began to collate our thoughts. We started with the facts: what did we see as the clues? Next, we talked about what we thought about what we saw, then we talked about thinking of possible suspects and their motives.

 

The students were incredibly thoughtful in their observations, even noting the little “c” on the coffee cup lid which we discussed could mean “cream”, “hot chocolate”, “cappuccino” or “coffee”.  They thought about which staff members coach or play basketball and who wears running shoes at school. Some students claimed they even saw Mr. T playing basketball at recess while on yard duty. Hmmmm.

Students discussed with those around them and firmed up their top suspects. They narrowed the list to 2 staff members: it could have been Mr. Annesley or Mr. T.   Students gave their motives citing that Mr. Annesley was a suspect because he’s known to be a prankster and would take our pillows because he does that kind of thing, being our next door neighbor. Mr. T was a suspect because he has bean bag chairs and may have wanted pillows to compliment his other comfortable chairs.

Mr. T came into our class to be interviewed by the detectives who bombarded him with questions. What size are your feet? Show us the bottom of your shoes. Are they muddy? What do you put in your coffee? Were you, in fact, outside at recess playing basketball? Do you drink Tim Horton’s coffee?

In the end, as suspected, Mr. T admitted the truth…he had our pillows in his room. What a sneaky guy! 

Were you correct in who you suspected? 

Welcome to the genre of MYSTERY which is our next reading unit. 🙂

March 13

Thank you Mystery Reader

Last week, we welcomed our latest mystery reader just before the March Break.

It was Joseph’s mom! She read to us a favourite book of her family’s called The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Shel is also the author of many other popular books and poems including the book Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Many of us have heard of or read The Giving Tree before.  It’s one of those stories that is a classic and is one of my personal childhood favourites. The message in the story never gets old. As we are in the season of Lent, this book serves as a nice reminder of the importance of giving to others and about making connections with others (and nature!). In class we talked about how it feels when we give to others and the different ways in which we can give to others.

Have you read The Giving Tree? What do you think is the message of the book?

Thank you, Joseph’s mom for sharing this beautiful story with us!

 

 

February 22

Our Mystery Reader Today was…

The clues our mystery reader left us had us stumped. We weren’t exactly sure who it could be. Even when she walked in to greet us, we didn’t recognize her. It was Mrs. Sullivan’s mom!

Mrs. B was so delighted to come and join us today to read us not one but TWO stories! She first read to us a story called Lizzy’s Lion by Dennis Lee–the same author as Alligator Pie and Garbage Delight. Mrs. B chose this book because it was one of Mrs. Sullivan’s  favourite books growing up. Mrs. B carefully showed us the illustrations and asked us questions as she read through the story. The story is about a girl and her pet lion. A robber enters the story and faces the wrath of the lion. The sentences rhyme and the illustrations are detailed and colourful. You’ll have to read the book to find out the ending. Can you guess what may happen?

The second book Mrs. B read was a classic Robert Munsch book called The Paperbag Princess. This is one of Mrs. B’s favourite picture books and so she wanted to share it with us today.

This is a book with a very strong female character. We talked about what the message may be in the book and how Robert Munsch often tries to tie in a message into what he writes. For instance, we thought that the message of this book could be that you can be your own hero.

This story certainly turns the typical ‘damsel in distress’ on its head.

Thank you Mrs. B (aka Mom) for spending some of your afternoon with us.

 

February 16

Thank you Mystery Reader!

A big thank you to our mystery reader today…Ava F’s mom! She brought in a book called Someday Is Not a Day of the Week by Denise Brennan-Nelson. It is a story about a beaver named Max who is continually being told ‘Someday’ when he asks to spend time and do things with his family members. This story reminds us all of the importance of making time for family members and seizing opportunities to make memories with our loved ones. What a lovely book to read prior to Family Day this coming Monday!

Thank you Mrs. F for sharing this endearing story with us. What a timely reminder! We also loved sharing how we are hoping to spend Family Day and why family is important to us.

 

February 16

Open Response Questions

Today, students were introduced to the A.P.E chart.  This is a new chapter for us as we learn to develop our reading response skills. To get students to think critically about what they read, we often ask those open-ended, thinking-type questions–questions that don’t have a definite answer and are subject to interpretation. (These are not yes or no questions). There is no wrong answer, but the quality of a good answer is based on the content within it.  The A.P.E chart, gives the students guidelines on how to answer these types of questions.

Words that begin open-ended questions:

  • What, Why, How, Tell Me, Describe, Explain, Compare, and Contrast

When discussing your child’s reading at home, you could ask him/her an open-ended question such as:

  • How is this character’s experience similar to something you’ve experienced?
  • Why do you think _______ did that?  Would you have done the same thing?
  • What’s your opinion of (situation, character)?
  • If you could describe the character of (name of main character), what would it be and why?
  • Why do you think the author…

These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions you can ask your child about what he/she is currently reading.  In response, whether in writing or orally, encourage him/her to follow the A.P.E model by Answering the question, provide Proof from the text, and Extend his/her thinking with personal opinions, thoughts, predictions or connections.  These are things that good readers do and that’s what we want our primary and junior students doing.

 

Here is an open-ended question to think about:

What are you most proud of in school this year?

February 8

Thank you Mystery Reader!

Once again, we have been blessed to have another special mystery reader visit our class. Today it was Ryerson’s mom! She read us a funny Robert Munsch book called Thomas’ Snowsuit. It’s a book that’s been around for a while. Robert Munsch has so many books, in fact, he’s just released his latest book called Black Flies. We can’t wait to add it to our class library.

Ryerson’s mom did such a terrific job reading the story. We couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the funny moments in the story, especially the moments where the teacher and principal were wearing each other’s clothing!

If you’ve never read Thomas’ Snowsuit before…here is the story behind the story from Mr. Munsch himself…

Thomas’ Snowsuit was made up in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I was talking to teachers about how to tell stories. Somebody said “Hey Bob Munsch, would you like to tell some stories to kids in daycare?”

I said that would be nice. So they called up all the daycare centres in Halifax and said “If you want to have stories by Bob Munsch come out to Mount Saint Vincent University.”

About three hundred kids came. They were three, four and five years old.

When I walked into the room and saw them I said “Oh Dear, I am supposed to keep them happy for an hour. I don’t have enough stories to keep three year olds happy for an hour.” And I didn’t. After forty-five minutes I ran out of stories.

I looked at the kids and they were all wearing snowsuits. I thought it must have been hard getting them into the snowsuits. I made up a snowsuit story about a little boy named Thomas who didn’t like to put on his snowsuit. The kids liked it because every time Thomas didn’t want to put on his snowsuit he yelled “Noooooo” and all three hundred kids would start yelling “Nooooo”.

It turns out that kids love to yell no. I use “no” a lot in my stories. Whenever I can’t think of what to do next I figure out some reason for somebody to yell “no”. Kids will always join in yelling “no”.

Thank you so much for reading to us today! We loved sharing our own funny stories with you, too.