Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

I was pleased to see that most of the class was able to fall into the routine of reading quietly, even without me asking them to read.  This is a sign of their growing independence and maturity.

We spent part of the morning looking at the Toronto Star article on plastic bags being littered into the adjacent trees near Dufferin Mall.  Here is an image, from the Toronto Star, of the issue in question:
The link for the original article is on the following website . When I returned the Reading Comprehension questions back to the students, I gave them detailed feedback of what they needed to do to improve.  In class, I went through each question and used the data projector to model what a "good" answer might sound like.

We continued writing this morning by spending a little more time on planning for the descriptive paragraph.  We are only in the stage of planning for it and I wanted each student to come up with a list of details about the thing  they are going to describe.  I will model this process in class with the students to assist them.

Since today was Day 6, the students were out on rotary a fair bit.  Both classes had Family Studies, but the Grade 7s had Music along with French, while the Grade 8s had Geography and Gym.

There was no homework assigned, but students with outstanding work were reminded to complete any work they have.  A homework/assignment tracking chart is up in the classroom (I will have to take a photo of it) for the students to check what they have and have not handed in. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I apologize for this late entry.
I was absent on Thursday, May 26 and did not do a post for that day.

Rachelle and Rhonda from the University were in to present the class with their iPods and iTouches and introduced the class to the MyVoice app.  There were a few technical problems, but the students were able to play and get familiar with the application.  CTV did a news story about the application and may be seen at the following link .

A fair bit of time was spent today ensuring that all of the Health projects were completed and uploaded to the correct folder for Mr. Moye to read.  Some of the students helped one another in completing the assignments.  I will be grading the assignment based on the research skills employed by the students and the final media presentation/slideshow.

There was no homework assigned for this weekend.  I have been noticing that some students are not completing their work.  Please check the blog or in the agendas to see what homework your son or daughter, sister or brother may have.  Thanks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I was away at a morning workshop for the new IEP program which will be available to the teachers for the 2011-2012 school year.  The IEP you receive in October, 2011 will look a lot different, but will contain a lot of the information already on the reports you receive.

During my absence, the students worked on a Reading Comprehension assignment.  This is something I would like to continue to do until the end of the year to support the skills of learning how to be detailed, curious, and critical readers.  The students, both in Grade 7 and 8, continued to work on some Algebra.  There will be a lot of reviewing and re-teaching before the students are evaluated to ensure they understand the work.

Ms. Wills, our Teacher Librarian, was at the IEP workshop today and left instructions with the class (who had Library today) to work on their keyboarding skills.  Tomorrow, Thursday, they will be spending an extended period of time completing their Health projects.

In the afternoon, the Grade 8s had Music class before they were involved in a workshop on Substance Abuse.  A group of youth, who are either former users or in recovery, spoke with the classes today about the dangers of becoming involved in the drug trade or abusing drugs.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the workshop but based on past experiences, I am sure it went over very well.  The students, for the most part, seem to respond favourably to hearing advice from their peers.

The Grade 7s spent most of the time in the afternoon reviewing the morning's Algebra work.  For some of the students, this work is quite new and quite challenging, but we will stick at it.  I plan on introducing some manipulatives into the work to assist some students with basic adding and subtracting.

The Grade 7s concluded the day with French while the leftover students completed either their Reading assignment from this morning or the reading response from last night.

Homework:  Grade 7s have to complete the assigned Algebra question and be prepared to show the steps they used to solve the question.
Quiznos sub forms are due on Friday.
Signed Progress Reports are due this Friday. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This morning we welcomed everyone back from a long weekend.  After snack and quiet reading, we had an extended Community Circle where everyone shared one special thing that really stood out from the weekend.

A Reading Comprehension assignment was returned to the students today.  The purpose of this assignment was to determine if improvements were made in understanding the ideas in the text.  Out of 13 students, 8 improved, 4 had their grades remain the same, and only 1 student when marginally down.  I encouraged the students to ask questions about questions they were confused about and a few did.  It is my aim, in the coming years, to have the students become stronger advocates for themselves and ask questions about things they may not understand.  This assignment will serve as part of their reading mark for this term.

The Grade 7s had Music and Family Studies today and the Grade8s has Geography with Ms. Ayearst along with Family Studies. 

We reviewed the concepts of longitude and latitude with the Grade 7s, but I think the concept is a little abstract for the class.  I will try to simplify the concept by using only the Prime Meridian and Equator as reference points for the class.  Once they have grasped that, we will proceed accordingly.

The Progress Reports were sent out today.  I hope that you will read them and sign them and have them returned by Friday, May 24.  If you would like to keep it, please let me know that you have seen it and I will return it to you.  Most of the comments I made concern the work habits of the students and are not academically based.

Homework:  Return Progress Reports (with signature by Friday, May 24), 
                    Quiznos sub forms due on Friday, May 24
                     Reading Response for article on Plastic Bags in the trees at Dufferin Mall

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011

The morning, for the most part, was consumed with working on the Health project.  All of the students are working on this project, but many of them have plagiarized their work by copying and pasting information from the Internet. 

I am attaching an image/document of the outline I have advised the class to use for planning this project.  Ms. Wills, AMG's Teacher Librarian, is supporting this research and having the students use the Microsoft Story Photo program.  This allows them to attach their voice and writing to images they select on the topic they are researching.

The sample jot notes I have left are for a couple of students who are researching about alcohol and ecstasy.  Because the students can be easily overwhelmed by too much information, I am directing some of them to look at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health web page for concise information on the topic they are researching.  Here is the link:

This project is not supposed to be long!  The  emphasis is on asking 3 main questions, reading and recording some information, and answering the questions.  The process is slow (and can be frustrating) but is meant to emphasize reading, reflection, and thought.  I am aiming to have the final due date for this project extended until Wednesday, May 25th.

The Grade 8s continued to work on their Algebra.  We moved from taking up some homework in the Grade 7 book to working on some questions from the Grade 8 textbook.  While not covering all of the material that the other students do in the other classes, I am attempting to bridge some of the Grade level work to give the Grade 8s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

This afternoon, the Grade 7 and 8s were on a lot of rotary (Music, Gym, and French).  When I did manage to see the Grade 7s, I spent time conferencing with a select group of students about their recent Math tests.  I went through the questions they got wrong and we strategized about the correct method for solving the question.  If the students were able to do this, with some prompting, they are awarded a mark which is equal to half the value of the question.  I call this process "Rewrites".  I worked with 5 students and they all improved their grades.

We will revisit the Geography homework from Wednesday on longitude and latitude next week.  Many of the students found this challenging.  I will look at the homework (attempted by some) and see if I can find a better way to teach the concept.

PROGRESS REPORTS ARE NOT GOING HOME TODAY.  I have 50% of them completed and will explain the purpose of them to the students when I send them home on Tuesday, May 24.  I am sorry for not having these done, but my plan for completing them this afternoon was put off so I could assist the students with their Math Rewrites.

Have an enjoyable long weekend.

Grade 8 -- Math textbook, Health project background research
Grade 7 -- Geography (pending) and Health project background research

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The morning began with snack and quiet reading.  Since the start of Term 1 (and throughout my classroom years of teaching) this has been are routine in the morning.  As part of the Reading program, the time in the morning is worth a small part of the final grade in the strand of Reading.  I encourage the students to read either from the newspaper, a magazine, a book or material in the classroom or from home.

A group of boys were out at the social skills support group this morning.  The balance of the class prepared for our Drama (improvisation) activity.  This was a continuation from yesterday's activity.  Here are some of the photos from the session:

When the Grade 8s were at Music, the 7s continued learning about place and location in Geography.  To be exact, they were learning about absolute location by locating points on a map of the African continent.  To reinforce some of the concepts learned in class, homework was given out.  The concepts will be reviewed, once again so the students are not confused.  Learning about the differences with the different hemispheres can be challenging. 

Homework:  Grade 7s have a map of the United States and the African continent.  Using the information they learned about latitude and longitude, they had to locate cities close to the following coordinates:
a) 20 degrees South and 46 degrees East       b) 39 degrees North and 10 degrees West
Additionally, they are to report on the coordinates of these two cities:
a) Havana, Cuba  b) Los Angeles, California

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011

For part of the morning, we returned to a Reading Comprehension assignment we had done earlier in the year.  Like the other classes in the Senior Division, the teachers are looking to see if there have been improvements in how the students comprehend the information they read.  I have not marked the assignments yet, but I am looking for some improvements given the progress I have observed from many of the learners in our class.

The balance of the morning was spent enjoying the sounds of the School of Creative and Performing Arts from Humber College.  They played a variety of music (Be Bop to Cuban to Cool Jazz) and the students were very responsive and enthusiastic.

The Grade 7s had Gym in the afternoon and the 8s had a more focused and intense session in Algebra.  Both classes joined together to do some improvisation in Drama.  The students worked in pairs and used one line from the script of Edward the Crazy Man  to begin the dialogue.  We will continue this activity tomorrow and, hopefully, post some photos.

Homework:  Review and memorize one line from Edward the Crazy Man for Drama on Wednesday
Grade 8s:  Math from textbook

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today the student got back a lot of work.

The first graded paragraph was returned to the students.  I was quite pleased with the results.  Most of the students scored above a grade of C (60%) and were able to follow the "Success Criteria" chart we established in the class.  This unit will continue and we will begin to work on writing a descriptive paragraph before the end of the week.  Please ask your daughter or son, sister or brother how they performed.

The Integer tests for the Grade 7s was returned.  There are a few students who will work with me, in a small group, to see if they can improve their marks and raise their score beyond the 50% mark.  Please ask your son or daughter, brother or sister about how they performed.

We spent a lot of the afternoon working on a Genki Note.  To quote from a publication I received, a Genki Note is "... a breath of hope, a smile, a laugh.  "Genki" means a source of energy and happiness...."  Some classes at AMG created these notes to send off to students in Japan who were the unfortunate victims of the Tsunami in March.   Here are some samples of the work we are going to send off to Japan:

Homework:  Read quietly for 20 minutes; complete outstanding homework

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

After snack, the morning was very busy in Room 52. 

The Grade 8s continued to work on their Algebra work in taking up some homework questions.  The Grade 7s, meanwhile, were having a class review on Integers.  They then broke into 2 smaller groups to prepare study and review charts for the test which was planned for today.  I felt it was important to review with the students because some of them may have forgotten ideas about Integers.

Grade 8 homework:  Using Interactions 7 book, p. 220 # 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 & p. 224 # 2, 3, 7

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today was the day of the play!
We left for Theatre Passe Muraille after snack time and took the streetcar Queen Street.  It was a moving performance and I am looking forward to reading the extensive written feedback from the class.  Be sure to ask how your son or daughter or brother or sister enjoyed the performance.  I think the play did a great job of breaking down some of the stereotypes of what suffering from a mental illness might be like.  The main character was a 12 year old boy named Charlie and I think the students were able to relate to him quite well.

Here are two photos from the performance, just outside of the theatre.  There is also another photo from yesterday's Drama work that I forgot to add.

The students were out for the afternoon, for the most part, on rotary.  The scheduled Math test for today was moved to another day so we can do a thorough review of the concepts.

There was no homework assigned tonight.  The Grade 7s were advised to review the Math pages in their red duotang.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today, we spent most of the day preparing for our visit to the play, Edward the Crazy Man.  After eating snack and reading quietly, we had a discussion about the amount of work that goes into putting on a play (production).  The class did an excellent job at brainstorming all of the possible roles involved in putting on a theatrical production.  Here is the list we came up with:

We then returned to the issue of mental health and what it is and why it is important.  Some reasons why people may have mental health issues were explored.  The information for this discussion came from the Teacher's Guide for the play as well as information from CAMH (Centre for Mental Health and Addiction).

One of the final activities of the morning, which extended into the afternoon, was the review of some of the lines of dialogue from the play.  This was used as the basis for a Drama activity (and also an Oral Communication and speaking exercise).  Each student had to memorize a line from the play and it will be used, in the future, as a exercise in improvisation.  Here are a few photos of some of the students reading their lines:

The students were encouraged to deliver their lines with a variety of expressions (serious, angry, sad....).

In addition to the Drama, we continued to read from Worse than Boys.  Ask your son or daughter, sister or brother about what is happening in the book to date.

Homework:  Grade 7 Integer quiz and review moved to Wednesday,  Return all permission forms for tomorrow's big trip, read article on plastic bags in the trees at Dufferin Mall.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Snack and quiet reading started off our day. Today was the first day where I did not have to mention that it was time to read!  Most of the students got to work right away.
In preparation for the Pyramid of Hate workshop, we did a journal response asking students to think of what the word "hate" meant and to think of a time when they were called a hurtful name and how that felt.  The model for the pyramid, in case I have not posted it, looks like this:
I will return to this model and follow up on the activities explored in the workshop.  You should ask your sister or brother, or daughter or son about what they learned today.  I think this activity is relevant for all students.  The students in Room 52 are deemed "exceptional" but it can also mean, for some, that they are a certain way.  I want the students to see that difference is not a negative or a stigma.

The afternoon period saw the Grade 7s and 8s take turns participating in the workshops.  They had to write a post journal response to the workshop.  I plan to read those this evening.

Homework:  Read for 20 minutes

It is very important that you check the agendas to see if their is homework.  Sometimes none is assigned, but I have noticed that some students are not completing, or even starting, the homework. Thanks.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Snack and quiet reading began our day.  This is something we have been doing as a regular routine since September.  Most of the students are able to get into this without being reminded, but there are still a few students who do not use this time wisely and should.  Quiet reading helps students develop their writing skills, spelling, vocabulary development, the  ability to make predictions and inferences.  Be sure to ask your daughter or son, sister or brother if they are reading during this time period.

In the morning, we spent some time reviewing some old news items.  First, we viewed a Power Point presentation on the wonders of the human brain.  This was like the Scientists in the School presentation we had in the Fall.  Here is an example of one the slides from the presentation:

One of the students had a question, after the Tsunami in Japan, about the effects of radiation on the body.  I was looking through some old issues of National Geographic and came across a visual I used to explain what happens to the body.  I attempted to upload it to this site, but I believe the image is too large.

We continued with our reading of Worse than Boys and added an interesting Drama activity to the read aloud.  It is called the Corridor of Voices.  Basically it involves using a character from the book that walks down a simulated corridor or hallway made up of students from the class.  The students are instructed to say something as the walking character passes by.  The comment should be based on a possible thought or emotions, or question.  It is intended to be creative and fun, but it also is used to check the listening and comprehension of the student during my read aloud period.  The exercise allows the students to get inside the many complex thoughts and emotions we might feel as human beings. 

The students had Family Studies this afternoon and we ended off the day by watching an animated film. 

Reading Response for Grade 7 and 8                     
Math for Grade 7:  select Algebra questions from sheet in red duotang
Math for Grade 8:  Algebra questions from sheet in red duotang

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday, May 6, 2011

The majority of today was spent preparing for the big Indigo performance tonight.  All of the Grade 7s from Room 52 were involved in the performance, but I forgot my camera and was unable to capture them in their fine performance.  Here are some photos from this morning's rehearsal:

Today the students spent a fair bit of time on rotary.  Some of that time was spent working on the Health project in the Library.  Ms. Wills, our Teacher Librarian assisted the students in refining their questions and showing them some useful websites to research from.

The Grade 7s had a period to take up the final piece of Math work on Integers before tomorrow's quiz.  The class split into 2 and began preparing a study sheet on everything they have learned about Integers.  Here are a few shots:

Once again, tonight is the grand performance thanking Indigo Books for there generous donation of money to our school to support the love of reading.

Homework:  Grade 7 mini quiz on Integers

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The class finally got around to watching the video, Speak Out.  It talked about bullying and how it shows up in homophobic, racist, and sexist comments.  In their journals, the students then wrote two things they learned from the journal and attempted to answer the questions they asked before previewing the film.

The majority of boys in the class went off to the Boys peer support group run by the Behaviour Itinerant Resource Support Team (BIRST).  In this program they learn social skills, conflict resolution skills, and play games.

The Grade 7s took up the Math homework.  It was more problem solving based, but still involved our unit on Integers.  A final test will be happening shortly after a review in class.  Like the Grade 7s, the Grade 8s had another short test involving the adding and subtracting of Integers.  The next Math unit will be Patterning and Algebra.  The strand will be the same, but the approach to delivering it will be different for both grades.

Tomorrow is the final day of practice before the big Indigo Book concert.  There was a rehearsal today and the Grade 7s were practicing.  One of the Grade 8 students helped set up the Gymnasium and this was appreciated.

Homework:  Grade 7, Integer worksheet, outstanding memo signatures from a parent or guardian
                     Grade 8, no homework
There are some students who have not completed old homework assignments.  There is a tracking chart in class which helps the students keep track of missing assignments.  They should be encouraged to review this.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We began the day, in out usual routine, of having snack and reading quietly.  Afterward, we prepared for our Community Circle and placed emphasis, again, on selecting a single topic and adding details to elaborate on it.

The paragraphs we have been working on have now been completed.  We will continue to work on this form of writing until the end of the year and will experiment with other types of paragraphs (narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive).  For some students, this is the first time they have worked on this type of writing.  We have spent a lot of time talking about what goes into making a strong paragraph.

An "anchor chart" was created for the students to check, while they were writing, what should be going into their paragraphs.  Mrs. Machado and I conferenced with the students to explain  the feedback I wrote on their paragraph outlines before they started writing their paragraphs.  I expect to have the paragraphs marked by the end of the week.  A photo of the chart the class used is here:
The Health project was discussed today.  Due to Mr. Moye's absence, many students are confused about how or where to begin.   Mrs. Machado and I decided that the project could be linked with the "paragraphing" unit by asking three key questions around a topic and answering those questions paragraphs.  I plan to do a parallel project to assist the students through the research process.

The Grade 8s have had a thorough review of the adding and subtracting of integers and will have a re-test tomorrow.  The Grade 7s are also working on integers, but are only dealing with the initial ideas of integers on a number line.

We will be finally viewing the documentary on bullying (Speak Out).  To activate some prior knowledge, I had the students do a couple of things:

1.  Think of 2 things they might learn from watching the documentary.
2.  Come up with 2 questions you want to ask about bullying.

All students completed this, will view the film, and then answer a question once the film is completed.

The photos of the mask making from last Friday are now available.

Homework:  Grade 7, Math (second page of JUMP Math on Integers)
                    Grade 8:  Integer re-test on Wednesday
                     Parent signature on memo sent home from last Friday