Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thursday, October 27 and Friday, October 28

I was away for a half a day on Thursday and the entire day on Friday.
I expect to provide a more extensive account of the day when I return to class on Monday.  The class has been working on completing their posters and beginning to work on a joint exercise of Drama and History.

As we completed -- I imagine -- the film Animal Farm, I asked the students to think of these questions:
I look forward to reading the responses when I return.

The History work will be in form of Drama.  The students came up with some definitions for key concepts often explored in history.  We reviewed some of these ideas as we talked about the recent events in Libya.  Here is the list we came up with:
The students, in small groups, will come up with skits which integrate all of these ideas.  More details to follow.
The Tracking Chart has been filling up with assignments.  I am regularly reminding students to check to see if they have been up to date with completing their work.  In addition to using the agenda to record their work, the chart is intended to be a visual reminder of items that I am often evaluating.  Keeping track of their work provides the students with some measure of responsibility.  You will see this chart when you come in for your conference with myself and Mrs. Machado in November.  Here is a recent photo of the chart:

HOMEWORK:  There was no homework assigned this weekend, but the Journal response (to Animal Farm) was to be completed if it wasn't in class.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

After snack and quiet reading, the students went off to Health class with Mr. Moye.  For 2 periods, I was very excited to see Mr. Rodriguez come in to do a presentation and conduct a workshop on the Learning Skills section of the Progress and Report card.  Here are the categories, that I am sure you are familiar with.

The students were placed into 4 groups and had to use the heading of each of the Learning Skills to organize a set of favourable habits into the correct categories.  The game relied on working collaboratively (one of the Learning Skills).  Eventually they had to work together to explain to the class what skills they used to come up with the correct pairings for each Learning Skill.  There are still 4 more skills to review:  Self Regulation, Independent Work, Initiative, and Collaboration. This will be done on another day.

The Math test was reviewed in detail and the students we shown how to correctly answer the questions.  The students will have to re-do the questions they did incorrectly, showing the correct steps, to receive partial marks.  The students are allowed to use to their study sheets to help them do the questions over again.  This will be due tomorrow.

Homework:  Complete Rewrites for Math test; return email forms for office; read for 20 minutes 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Room 52 had a great trip to Chapters/ Indigo yesterday and selected some more books for our school Library along with some of the students making purchases of their own.  Here are some of the images from our trip yesterday.

For Community Circle today, the class had the opportunity to talk about the trip or something they did over the weekend that was fun.  I am noticing that the students are getting better at providing details when they talk about their experiences.  If you want, you could use the same model I have in class to have a discussion with your son or daughter about an event you have done together.  Here is the image that I put up whenever we do the circle.  I believe I have posted this before, but there is no harm in a repost!
Over the weekend, the students had to complete a reading response on the late Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.  A number of students did not know where Libyan was or what continent it was in.  I have encouraged the students to take a look at the news every night or every few nights so they can get a sense of what is going on in the world or the city of Toronto.  I am biased, but I would recommend the CBC.

We listened to the article -- taken from a school Library subscription at -- using something called PDF Aloud.  Basically, it takes a pdf type file and reads it.  I recognize that some of the students have challenges in reading, so this was meant to be an accommodation that would benefit the entire class.  We will be returning to the article at a future date to begin some comprehension type questions.

The poster the students the students are designing is coming together.  The homework from last night had the class write out jot notes explaining the reasons why their community would be an ideal place to live in.  I have been really emphasizing that the students be aware of what parts of the project are important.  Here is something written on the board:
Beside the items listed is a rough example created by me.  This was projected on the screen in an attempt to highlight what things are crucial in making this project a success.

By the time Band was done (for those participating), along with our outdoor break, the day was almost over.  I contemplated reviewing the Math test from last week but decided against it.  There are times when I can see that the minds of the students are not ready for certain types of information at particular times of day.  A review like this would be better for the morning.  For the students who had difficulty on the test, there will be a detailed review and a chance to do the questions over for partial marks.

Have a good night.

HOMEWORK:  Signed page 5s from the IEP, email information form for Ms. Sitarek, Read for 20 minutes, Scholastic orders are due tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

more to come...

There are a total of six students from Room 52 who are taking Band class, twice a week.  I am very happy to see that they took the initiative, and risk, to audition for the program.  Congratulations go out to Jennifer, Stavroula, George, Mathew, Steven and Nick.

This morning the students watched the speeches from the candidates running for Student Council.  Here are some photos:

For Vice President

For the position of Yearbook editors

For the Presidency position!

All students who were present in class voted today.  The results will be announced on Monday.

The class has been preparing for today's Math test.  Most members of the class prepared a Study Sheet which, I hope, they studied from.  I graded all the Study Sheets and provided detail feedback of where they went wrong.   They were -- as an accommodation -- allowed to use it during the test to make reference to it.
 If students had difficulty on the test, they will have an opportunity to make corrections to their tests to receive partial marks.  I have referred to this process as a Rewrite.    

Here is an image of one of the students working on a group study sheet.  They worked in groups to assist one another in consolidating what they know about the three methods we have learned so far this term.

We had Learning/Reading Buddies yesterday.  It is interesting to watch the two groups work together.  We assisted them with mapping out the life cycle of a pumpkin:

Some groups had a lot of fun:

I am very pleased with the ideas the class is generating for their Ideal Society/Community project.  I am taking it very slow and explaining what "Success Criteria" I am looking for in the assignment.  Each student was given a list of what they should have in his or her project.  I have had each student hand in a rough copy and provided them with feedback of what they should do next.  I planned to share an example I created, but I decided to hold off on that for this week; that would have amounted to too much information.

We started to watch the 1954 version of Animal Farm as an example of a utopia gone horribly wrong.  We talked a little bit about dis as a prefix and how it shows up in words like:  disintegrate, dislocate, and discontinue.  Here is the link to the film on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB)
Homework:  Reading Response on Libya (written before Gadhafi was killed); page 5 of IEP signed and returned, Scholastic order due on Wednesday, Library Assistant application forms.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The final Math test for this portion of the fraction unit will be on Friday.  Members of the class created individual Study Sheets, which they will receive feedback on, so they can review it on Thursday night.  Additionally, they will do a small group review on large paper tomorrow.

The IEPs will be sent home today.  They should have went home yesterday.  I was able to send a few home, but I missed the students who take the bus.  I am sorry about this.

After much thought, I decided to alter the Ideal Community/Society project to a poster.  The students will work on a rough copy tonight.  We talked about some of the qualities of what will make this a successful project.  Here is an image of the "Success Chart" we created:
We looked at a few examples of posters from the Internet.  Here are some of the examples of posters we looked at.  All images originated from  the following site:,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=1a5e65ab8e6295c5&biw=1245&bih=621

The observations of the charts were recorded on the chalkboard.  They are the the left of my "rough" draft of my poster.  3 of the students in the class have completed their drafts and the rest of the class will complete this for homework.

I am curious to see how many students are able to apply the thinking we did today and translate it to their homework. Since this is the rough stage of the process, there is room for feedback from me and alterations by the students.  This homework should be done in the Language notebook.

The Grade 7s have to return their forms to indicate if they are going to participate in the upcoming trip to Albion Hills.  Ms. Sitarek wants this form for tomorrow.

Due to the recent fundraising by the school, we will be returning to Indigo to buy some books!!  This trip will be happening on the 24th of October, in the morning.  Permission forms went home yesterday and must be brought back as soon as possible.  Each student will be able to buy 2 books, to be housed in the school Library. This is an awesome opportunity!!  The students will have to supply their own TTC fare.  $.75 x 2 for the Grade 7s and $1.50 x 2 for the Grade 8s.

Have an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Countless hours were spent preparing the IEPs.  They were scheduled to be sent home today and I had them prepared, in the envelopes, on my filing cabinet. Unfortunately, I missed catching the buses, which is the major form of transportation home for the members of the class.  I apologize for this and will send them home tomorrow.

The students in the Senior division had the opportunity to take part in the Grade 7 and 8 student council.  One student was interested in running for a leadership position, but will be away on the day of the speeches.  Instead, we decided to have an election of the class representatives.  Here are some photos of the three candidates.  Originally there were 7 candidates, but only 3 ended up giving statements about why they would be the best representative for the role of representative for the Student Council.

 The winner was George.  He is the student at the top of the photo selection.

We spent a fair bit of time walking through the last portion of review for our unit on Fractions.  There is much more that we can do, but it is now necessary to move forward into another strand of the Math program.  I will do my best to keep the ideas connected so the students can understand the connections among the strands.

I have been working on reviewing the routines and expectations of the class.  Even though we are moving close to entering the 3rd month of the school year (wow!), some students are still forgetting to the daily items they need for the room.  Here is a poster that we have up on the front door of the classroom:
I have also been utilizing the Track Chart as a way of having the students keep track of what they need to hand in.  The photo of this is old, and has very little writing on it, but it is slowly filling up as the work levels increase.

Judging from the Art work from last week (the collage which I posted) and from some homework which was completed by 16/17 students, the class members are capable of writing complete thoughts in Simple Sentences.  I am going to do some reflecting to see how to extend this skill in a creative and challenging way for the class.

HOMEWORK:  Complete a Study Sheet for Math based on the chart Mr. Proudfoot made in Math.  It should have 2 examples of each type of fraction question we have worked on in class.  Complete p. 16 # 8+9 for a review in Math.  This will be taken up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is the link for the Alexander Muir Parent Council.

I have been immersed in the writing of the new IEPs for the class.  At 17 students, the task has been enormous.  I hope to get back into the regular routine of blogging for next week and apologize for the lack of updates.

The students recently completed a dual Art/Writing exercise which we did last year.  It involved creating a collage of words from the newspaper into simple sentences.  For some students who are artistically inclined, it is a good exercise in creativity and provides the opportunity to "write" without having to be concerned about penmanship.  While this is important, being creative is also of value.  The following images are of the two sets of collages and a single example (minus a CAPITAL letter at the start of the sentence... the student was reminded about this).

While we are learning about how to write sentences, they will become more complicated.  Like the Math, we will be moving into compound and then complex sentences.  One step at a time!

The class is progressing well in learning how to add fractions with unlike denominators.  Key to learning this, and the more challenging Math coming up, is mastering the multiplication table.  Using cues from the JUMP program, the class is learning how to multiply.  I have seen a lot of growth, in terms of confidence and ability, with the students in Grade 8.  The incoming Grade 7s have, for the most part, a strong sense of their multiplication tables.  Regular review and practice is a must.

Homework:  Complete 5 Simple Sentences in Language notebook; have multiplication quiz signed by a parent

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

I did not think that the day would begin with an extensive conversation on the election or on the late Apple computer founder, Steve Jobs.  I will add to this blog, but here is a wonderful link to a speech given by him at Stanford University in 2005.

I am not planning to show the whole speech to the class, but will highlight a few parts about finding something in life that you love and doing it.  It is about 8 minutes into the Youtube video.  The purpose of showing a part of this video was to listen to the positive message Mr. Jobs gave about seeking out something you love in life and doing that thing.  In light of our participation in the Resiliency project, I think this is a positive message and I hope something that the students will learn over the coming months:  How to identify the things in life which bring happiness to you so they can balance out the negativity which is so abundant.  

Our class participated in the Student Vote project (won, Provincially, by the NDP) and I wanted to continue that discussion about the election.  A number of students did not know very much about the election and I was encouraging them to talk with you about it.  I sketched some information on the board about the issue of Majority and Minority governments.  Talking about being active, as a citizen, is a positive life skill that I would like to stick with them.
The afternoon was spent reviewing some Math that we took up earlier in the day.  The fractions unit is becoming increasingly more challenging, but we will be doing a comprehensive review before any upcoming test.  The majority of students returned the Math test we had last week, signed by you.  Thanks for doing this.

In the afternoon, we had a presentation by the Inner Truth Taiko Dojo.  I managed to take one photo of them before they started playing and a voice recording I will attempt to upload.  The class was mesmerized by the performance and so was I!

This video is a little short.  I should have taken it when they were really hitting the drums with a lot of force and passion!

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  The only homework involves reviewing the multiplication tables, the Math we took up in the afternoon and reading for 20 minutes/day for the long weekend.