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.

 

February 2

#beSUPERkind

Today we had the pleasure and privilege of welcoming a special mystery reader into our class…via Skype! Her name is Savannah Whitson and she is a grade 1 teacher and also a published author! She was so delighted to be invited to share her first book with us. Prior to her Skype chat, she gave us a few clues about where she is from:

  • English is the main language spoken
  • Corn is a major crop grown in her area
  • There is a major car race that takes place annually in her area (The Indianapolis 500)

When we first met Savannah on Skype, we wanted to know exactly where she was skyping from, as the clues just weren’t enough. We retrieved an Atlas and with a few more clues, we learned she is from the state of Indiana in the city of Indianapolis.

The book is called “I Wish i Were a Superhero”.  It tells the story of several characters who imagine themselves as superheros with superhero powers such as being able to fly, have super strength, lightning speed, and so on. Towards the end of the book, the characters realize that they only need to look within themselves to see that each one of them already have superpowers such as the strength to help others. All kids have superpowers!

Savannah walked through the process of writing her book (she started writing it 3 years ago) and told us one of the most important things we can do as authors is to read and re-read our own writing, carefully listening for it to sound just right. She told us that even though her book is now published, she can still find small things she might change.

The illustrations by Clark McReynolds really brought Savannah’s message to life. The pictures are colourful, expressive, and fun to look at it. They are done in what some might call a ‘comic book style’.  There are even a few colouring pages at the very back of the book to encourage students to draw themselves as a superhero. Savannah is going to send us an order form for the book so we can add it to our class library and she will also give us a copy of the colouring pages.

Our Skype call with Savannah lasted 30 minutes and was a great opportunity for the students to ask questions directly to her and enjoy listening to a story written by the author herself!

We asked Savannah if she is planning on another book and she said YES! The next one will be about dogs (she has a Jack Russel) and what kinds of things that dogs might be thinking. Sounds interesting!

If you’re interested in ordering a copy of her book ($15 USD) before it hits the stores, click here

The link provided expires Feb.10th at midnight.

You can pay by credit card or pay pal. Savannah will personally sign each copy!

January 21

Mystery Reader Revealed!

Last week we were, once again, privileged to invite another mystery reader into our classroom…Beatrice’s mom!

She read a BIG book to us called Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. This is a book that was published in 1992 and still, years later, delivers a very positive message about the joy of sharing. Rainbow Fish tells the story of a fish with beautifully shiny scales. One day, another fish asks Rainbow Fish to share one of his scales, but is rudely told no. Eventually, the other fish start to push away from Rainbow Fish, leaving him feeling lonely and upset. With some advice from Octopus, Rainbow Fish realizes the value in sharing and that it can make you feel really great when you do so.

We had a chance to discuss our own experiences about a time when we shared something and it made us feel good. We all agreed that being generous with our time, our resources, our love, our kindness leads to happiness within ourselves.

A big thank you to Beatrice’s mom for sharing your time with us! We loved having you visit our class.

If you’ve never read the book before, check out a reading of the book by clicking here

January 19

We Are Nonfiction Readers

Nonfiction seems to be the genre of book that gets the least amount of recognition. However, as it turns out in our class, we can’t seem to get enough of it! We love getting to choose nonfiction books and learn new things about topics of our choice.

Reading nonfiction is a bit different from reading fiction. In nonfiction, we don’t always have to read the text from cover to cover. Instead, we may only choose to read certain sections of the book, depending on what we want to learn about. Using the table of contents and index can help us with this.

In fiction, we read the whole book because the story has a beginning, middle, and an ending. We would miss out on important information about the characters and plot if we only read certain chapters.

We’ve learned about many of the text features that nonfiction uses including:

  • table of contents
  • index
  • glossary
  • photographs or pictures with captions
  • diagrams
  • a change in font style (bold words, highlighted words)
  • and many more!

When reading nonfiction, we need to slow down and use the text features to help us understand what we are reading. Have a look below at some of our classmates sharing something new they learned from their nonfiction book.

 

 

January 16

Mystery Reader Revealed!

Last Thursday we had the pleasure of inviting another mystery reader into our classroom. It was Luca F’s dad! Luca had his suspicions based on the clues that were released. He was right.

The book this time around was not any book we had heard of before because Luca’s dad wrote the story himself! What a treat!

It was a story called Dream Chaser and was about a young boy who learns that having a goal in mind and working diligently to aim for that goal is part of life’s journey. Working hard towards achieving our dream can’t start too early. Doing our very best in school is a great way to start!

After the story was read to us, the class was asked to share with a partner adream that we have and what is one thing we can do to help us achieve our dream. Lots of chatter ensued and some of us shared our dreams with the class.

Thank you, Luca’s dad, for coming in to share such a wonderful story! We look forward to adding your book to our class library for us to enjoy again and again.