Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The class had their first period of Health today with Mr. Moye.  Each student will need to have a supply of paper, a binder, or duotang to keep track of their notes and handouts in this class.

Our journey into Math got a little deeper as we prepare for our first Test of the year.  We have been doing an extensive review in class and I have been reminding the students to review their work on a nightly basis.  Some of the students put answers on the board from last night's homework.  For the questions that were not answered, I am providing an example of the questions and answers that the students may review from.
On my absence on Tuesday, the students did some Art and created some different size pizzas.  I had them draw and put imaginary slices on them.  I will return to these creations once the students learn their multiplication tables because I want them to learn to add fractions, with different denominators, which go beyond the 2, 3, and 5 multiplication tables. 
Just before lunch the students had their once a cycle French Culture class with Madame Tucsa.

In the afternoon we began an exciting initiative with students from the Senior Kindergarten class of Ms. Bennett.  I would have taken a photo with the group, but I am not sure if the little ones have their TDSB Media Release form returned.  On Days 2 and 3 of the cycle, we will be visiting with them for approximately half an hour to assist them with reading and doing some of their small assisgnments.  I think this will provide our class with an opportunity to feel empowered -- and too feel good -- in assisting someone younger than they are.

The students started to work on a reading comprehension diagnostic that many of the other students in Grade 4-8 are doing.  I noticed that many of the students had difficulty understanding the questions.  If they cannot understand the questions, it is impossible for them to do the assessment!  So, I am shifting gears and going back to the questions to "break them down" so they understand what they are being asked.  This will take place over several days.  [This will be done on Friday]

The new link for the Blog is:

HOMEWORK:  Math Test on adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators.  Review questions and answers sent home by Mr. Proudfoot.  "Toonie for Terry" (we are 32% towards our class goal of raising $34 towards Cancer research for the Canadian Cancer Society)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This has been a late entry to this week's Blog.  My apologies.

I was absent yesterday to participate in the first of three sessions relating to the Strength Based Resilience (SBR) project for students with Learning Disabilities.  This is sponsored by the Human Rights department of the TDSB.  Resilience is the ability to "bounce back" when confronted with a challenging situation.

Students with Exceptionalities often faced difficult situations in relation to their learning and in developing relationships with their peers.   The program aims to build and develop some of the strengths each of them has and to use them when confronted with difficulties.

I have been trying to work with some of the ideas of strength building by on some of the ideas from the practice of Positive Psychology.  Monday's Community circle wanted the students to focus on sharing something positive or "good" from the weekend.  Here is the image:

Here is photo taken from Wednesday's Terry Fox walk in the school community.

I wanted to add in that we had a visit from Heather who works for the organization Scientists in the School.  When I was booking this program last June, I sensed I would be working on a fraction unit.  Her workshop today was called "Fractions in Action" and I think it did a good job in supporting the work we have doing in Math so far this term.  Here are some images from this afternoon's activities:

Subsequent Math lessons will make connections to the activities from this afternoon.

HOMEWORK:  JUMP Math worksheet (already started in class)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

This is going be a short entry based on two items.

The first concerns the students' successful completion of a JUMP Math review on adding and subtracting fractions using denominators with the same number.  The quiz was out of 13 and the majority of the class scored 12 and 13 and were very proud of themselves.  We will continue with an extensive review of what to do when the denominators are different when adding and subtracting fractions.  Please ask your son or daughter how they did on this quiz.  I am sure they will be happy to share the results!

The second item concerns the Ideal Society project we have started working on.  This is based on the novel, The Giver.  Over the weekend, they have a worksheet to work on thinking about two solutions and two problems they would solve if they were envisioning an "ideal society/community."  Here is the chart we brainstormed about the problems in today's society:
   Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today we began the day with quiet reading and followed it up by doing a reading response in our journal .  I modelled an entry for the students based on a project that Room 52 will be a part of this year.  The journal is meant to prompt the students to think about what they have read and to generate questions about the content of the material.

My particular reading was based on the Strength Based Resiliency (SBR) project our class will be participating in.  As parents and guardians, you will be involved in the project and I will inform you of those details when I get them.  One of my goals for this year involves working on having the students recognize their strengths, as well as understanding their needs, and how that can support them in recovering from challenges that they may face.  Maria Machado, the class Educational Assistant, will also be a part of this training. 

I have been introducing the idea of the project to the class so they are familiar with the language of the project as well as the ideas associated with thinking and believing in yourself.  These two things are particularly important to the students who will be moving onto high school next year. 

The class is quite large this year.  17 is a high number for an Intensive Support Program (ISP), but I believe we have the potential to have a very cohesive class community.  We reviewed the Class Expectations created in September and we will also review the Class Consequences.    I believe this is important to remind the students of why we are in Room 52 and how it is important to talk about what it means to put words or ideas into action. 

Creating a sense of community can be challenging.  Sometimes there are students who will not understand why certain students receive more support that others or different levels of support.  As part of the SBR project, I am planning on being more explicit about what Learning Disabilities are, how they are different, and how this relates to the students in Room 52.  Dr. Mel Levine, a Pediatrician who specializes in Learning Differences and Disabilities, talks about the importance of demystification.  This type of learning involves the students becoming aware of their strengths and needs.  As part of the SBR, the students will need to be more aware of how they learn, what they are good at, and what areas of school they need help in.  If you are interested in reading more about this, consult this link:

There will be no homework tonight on account of tonight's Curriculum Night.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Curriculum Night is this Thursday, September 22, 2011.  It starts at 6:30 in the Gym.  Parents are welcome to come up to the classrooms for a short visit and overview of the program.

I did not mention that in yesterday's class, I posed a journal response that was aimed at getting the students aware of some of the negative voices they may have in their heads about how they learn.  I took a photo of the two questions.
  I hope to continue the discussion, throughout this year, about how each student's Learning Disability/Difference presents itself and how to strategize around it.  The class is a part of a Resiliency based program this year (more information to follow) and it is my aim to work on supporting the Strengths your son or daughter has, particularly for those students moving on to high school.

We returned to the our fractions unit today and mastered, I would like to believe, the ability of adding fractions with the same denominator.  For example:  3/2 + 5/2.  A number of students were away today, but I will review this concept with them tomorrow, assuming they are here.

The class is in the process of preparing how to add fractions with unlike denominators.  We will only be doing this for a particular set of numbers -- the numbers 2, 3, and 5 -- which we reviewed during our multiplication quizzes. 

We followed up on a short reading response we did last week to an article on the tragedies of September 11, 2001.  Different members of the class read and asked further questions about the event.  We watched a short portion of a documentary on 911 that was on CBC Newsworld back in 2002 and began to record some observations on the characteristics of a documentary film.  We will do this with another type of film on 911 in order to compare the styles and approaches to film making.  I plan on integrating this into the Media Studies strand of the Language curriculum.

Homework:  Complete JUMP Math fractions worksheet (if not completed in class); review for a final quiz on the 2, 3, and 5 multiplication table; some outstanding office verification forms need to be returned + some IEP Parent/Guardian input forms

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

After quiet reading we began the start of the week with a Community Circle.  I am trying to develop a set of strategies the students can use to help them improve in particular areas of the Language program.  In terms of the Community Circle, I want to address the issue of being a "good speaker".  As a group, we came up the following chart:
This chart is placed at the front of the room for the students to reference during this activity.  I am trying to make a connection between the skills of speaking and how this will support them as they prepare to transition to high school and, eventually, to the world of work.

In Math, we continued to work our way through our unit on Fractions.  We introduced the concept of a Numerator and Denominator and showed how this relates to a few examples on the board.  A couple of students confused the top and bottom parts of the fraction, but this was practiced in a worksheet that was completed in class.  If it was not completed, it became homework.
Our note, recorded in the Math notebook, on Fractions.

One of the most important things that we did today concerns the development of the Individual Education Plan or IEP.  I will be spending some time this week talking about why an IEP is needed and how this related to the "Exceptionalities" or Learning Differences/Disabilities the students have (determined through the Identification Placement and Review Committee). 

I think it is very important that students be able to recognize their strengths and the areas where they need some support and growth.  I did a sample on the board and encouraged the students to complete a sheet listing their "Strengths" and "Challenges".

Every member of the class brought home a Parent/Guardian input form for the IEP.  You have probably seen this before, but your input will assist me in developing the IEP for your son or daughter.  Here is an example I quickly developed, based on my profile.  I did this to help kick-start some thinking for some of the students.

When I posted some photos of students from last week, I was missing a number of them.  I will post the images now and, eventually, send these photos off to have them developed so I can mount them somewhere in the classroom.  Here are the photos:

Homework:  Parents or Guardians to fill in the IEP input form; complete Fraction sheet if it was not done in class; outstanding Hepatitis B forms; pay for Agenda; return office verification forms.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

This morning we continued in our usual pattern of reading quietly.  I will start having the students fill in a reading response form, from time to time, after we complete our reading.  This will serve to add to their understanding of the material they are reading.

The students began to work on their Coat of Arms exercise.  It is an artistic opportunity for them to express themselves and some of the things that are important to them.  Here are two photos of students working on them.

They will be on display on Curriculum Night (Thursday, September 22).

The students then had Music with Mr. Chung and then returned to work on completing their Art activity.

The afternoon usually begins with me reading, but I am alternating this with having the class listen to an audiobook on The Giver.   So far we have been keeping track of key points from the novel.  I have alternated having the students write journal responses or answers to the listening they are doing, but I am moving more in the direction of engaging the students in discussing some of the themes emerging in the novel.  Here is a list of the chart we have created in class:

The last portion of the day was used to complete work on the "Island" activity from last Friday.  The groups did some final touches on their island (artistic as well as the ideas about how the island's society functions) before they presented it to their peers.  Here are some photos of students from our class working:

The last image is that of a leftover plate of fruit (peaches and strawberries) which were shared with the class.  It was intended as a reward for those students who had at least 4/5 days of signatures in the agenda for the week.  This indicated that they were taking the agendas home and sharing information about their day with their parents or guardians.
I hope you enjoyed your weekend:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All of the students have returned their Media Release forms and it is okay to start uploading images of the students at work and at play in Room 52.

As the year continues to evolve, we are returning to some of the routines that I have followed in previous years which have proven successful.  Every morning we start of with quiet reading.  I am going to add in a journal response, from time to time, to see how well the students are comprehending the material they are reading.

The class had Gym today.  They have Gym on Day 1, 2, and 3 and have Health class from time to time.
In Math, I am undertaking the exciting challenge of introducing the class to Fractions.  As part of this unit, we are reviewing the multiplication table for the numbers 2, 3, and 5.  We had a quiz today where 88% of the class scored 100% and the lowest mark was 70%.  Tomorrow, I plan to make the quiz a little more challenging before we move on to working with shapes and looking at different types of fractions.

In less than two weeks time, we will be having a Scientist in the School visit our class to do a unit on fractions; it should be very exciting. 

The majority of the class completed their rough and final copies of "letters to Mr. Proudfoot".  I have the students write to me and this provides me with information about the level of support they may need in writing. This piece of work is not graded.  I respond to all of the letters and the students really enjoy this process.

From Monday to Thursday, the students do cursive after they return from lunch.  I find this calms the students and, from what I have read, it supports neural (brain) development. One thing I do like about this exercise is that it encourages the students to slow down and pay attention to the task at hand.

I am experimenting with the reading of Lois Lowry's The Giver.  I am not committed to using this book as a novel for the class.  It is a complex book, but contains many complex ideas that I will elaborate on if we continue to read it.  A brief description of the book may be found at this Chapters Indigo website:

It is quite unfortunate that we have no rotary in the afternoon and the students are with me for an extended period of time.  In order for us not to go entirely "mad", I have instituted an afternoon break.  It provides an opportunity for the kids to release some energy and they often return to class, for the last hour, more focused and ready to work.  I have taken some photos over the past couple of days and will continue to add to the blog and, eventually, post them up in the classroom.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

While we have not got down to the heavy work of "academics", the students of Room 52 have been busy building a sense of community in the room and with the other students in the school. 
Today they took part in a group exercise where they have to create an island ("An Island of Your Very Own") and come to a consensus about how it should operate.  Here is a photo of the instruction sheet:

The photo is a little small.  You may have to enlarge it to see the instruction better.

A final list of class expectations was generated.  I am going to review the proposed consequences, both good and bad, for the list we developed in class.  I did not want too many items on the list, but we managed to include the multiple ideas from the members of the class who participated.

A final item that we worked on to further enhance a sense of trust and familiarity with one another was through playing the "Truth and Lies" game.  Each member of the class had to come up with a list of 3 statements, 2 had to be lies and 1 had to be the truth.  We then went around, in a Community Circle fashion to share our statements.  I modelled it first with an example:

The Island activity occupied most of the day. The students did have Music class today.  I am hoping to have a draft of a schedule to the students by next week.  They will be able to post this on their desk, in their locker, and be able to bring one home.  I also plan to have a copy of the class expectations to send home with each student.

Important dates:  TTC Student Photo Day is on September 27 & Curriculum Night is on September 22 (more details to follow)

Homework:  Complete T chart jot note brainstorm on Summer Fun and Hopes for the upcoming school year.  This was to be done in the Language notebook.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday , September 7, 2011

This is the second day of the new school year.  Until I receive all of the media release forms, I will not be posting any photos of the students yet. 

We are in the process of getting to know one another and despite our size -- 17 students I am pleased with the way the students have been relating to one another.  Over the past couple of days, we have been working on establishing routines and getting to know one another through interactive activities.
Information on upcoming events at AMG will be sent home in a memo from Room 52 or a newsletter from the office.

As you can see from the board in our class, I have a list of Learning Skills in a chart.  I really want to place a lot of emphasis this year on developing these skills.  I consider them to be life skills which will outlast many of the "facts" they will learn in Room 52 in Grade 7 or 8.