Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Part 2: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today we spent some more time discussing the passing of a classmate's Mother.  The student was at school today and helping out around the school.  We spent some time reading and talking about Cancer.  An excellent Picturebook, Where's Mom's Hair? was a good starting point.  The story is Canadian and in chronicles the journey of a family who has to cope with a Mother who has Cancer and undergoes chemotherapy.  The photos are wonderful and the story is written from the perspective of the young children.  
The class had a double period of Library today to make up for the period they lost last week.  They are continuing on their Book Talk assignments with Ms. Wills.  Ms. Wills passed on a book that I am going to read to the class.  It is called The Last Lecture.  I will provide some more details on it tomorrow.

After doing their cursive writing, we reviewed the answers to the questions to the Occupy article.  I had students volunteer their answers, to get multiple answers, and then I showed them the "correct" answer on the overhead projector.

After a frigid, but necessary afternoon break, we began to work on the actual quiz.  There were a total of 9 questions, all similar to the questions they reviewed earlier, and I had them select 5 to answer.  I put in guides/hints to direct their reading to the particular paragraphs where the information is to help them solve the questions.  Some students are finished and others will require some more time to wrap it up.

Our thoughts are also with:
Who is making a wonderful recovery from surgery.  The class is thinking of you!!

HOMEWORK:  Have the new Lunch-forms signed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, November 29 and Wednesday, November 30

Today I was away in the afternoon attending a Union (ETT:  Elementary Teachers of Toronto) workshop on issues connected to poverty.  I want to be able to use some of this information from the workshop to share with the staff and use some lessons with our class.  We have a tentative field trip to the Daily Bread Food Bank in January to help out and learn some more about poverty in Toronto.

Today in class we had a discussion about dealing with the issue of death.  It is unfortunate but one of the students in our class recently lost his Mother.  She was fighting Cancer.  We read a story together, I Miss You. 
This can be found at
I am not endorsing the sale of this book because I borrowed it from our school Library but it did offer a gentle explanation for introducing the concept of the death of a loved one.  We had several opportunities for the class to offer ideas and share their experiences with death.  I am sure we will continue this discussion in the days to come.  As of today, the student has been absent and I am not sure when he will return.

The class began to work on the rough versions of, what I am calling, their Community Circle Thankful art.  They have been told to select at least 3 Elements or Principles of Design.  We have looked at some examples.  I managed to find an example with photographs.
We will continue with this on Wednesday.

During my absence on Friday, the Supply Teacher did not pick up on some Math that he was assigned to do with the class.  I have managed to find some JUMP Math units on Time. I also had the privilege of being able to listen and talk with Dr. John Mighton, the creator of the JUMP Math Program.   It was very exciting for me.  

One thing he mentioned is that students, to be successful in Math, even in high school, must have a solid foundation in their basic numeracy skills.  Even before success can be found with problem solving, it is very important that students learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  I think it is very unfortunate that a lot of students are not able to do this.  Even students who are in "regular" classroom programs are often missing these skills before they leave for high school.  So, it will be part of my mission to weave these foundational  skills into the Math program.  Here is a photo from last night's talk at Bill Crothers Secondary School in Unionville.

HOMEWORK:  Review of article on Occupy movement to prepare for in-class quiz tomorrow.  Practice questions will be reviewed before the quiz.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, November 29, 2011

Mrs. Machado attended our last Strength Based Resilience program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus location.  While we will not be implementing the program until Spring of 2012, I thought I would attach a photo of one of the exercises we did as a group.
This slide was meant to teach us positive forms of communication during an interview/discussion setting.  I have enjoyed the training a lot but can see how a lot of the material will have to be abridged (shortened and re-explained) for our class.  Not to disrespect to the class members, but many of the ideas will be new and complex.  It will be interesting and, I trust, a worthy investment to their education this school year.

During my absence on Friday, some of the material was not covered.  One of the items was the Occupy comprehension questions given for homework on Thursday.  I wanted the students to read the article and take a shot at answering the questions.  The students would then be shown the answers on the overhead projector and they would have to self-correct.  I do not think this happened and will have to review.  Here are some of the images from last week when the Jigsaw groups presented their expertise to the class.

I will have to add the photos another time.  It seems as though is not permitting me to upload at  the moment.  There was only one group who was able to score a Level 3 (B) in their delivery.  This group discussed what they wrote and what they would say when it came time to present.  The other groups, unfortunately, were not cohesive in working together and using their time wisely before presenting.  Process is just as important as the end product.  

In addition to the French Culture and Health class today, we worked on a Community Circle which was inspired by some things I have been picking up from the SBR workshops.  Today, we placed an emphasis on what we are thankful for.  We followed the usual format for our circle, but this time we placed an emphasis on thinking of something positive and generative.  
I found it interesting that there was one student who was resistant to doing this exercise.  I asked him to name something that he hates.  Immediately, he was able to come up with a response to this but was hesitant in saying what he was thankful for.  I think this is an example of how negative energy often dominates how we feel and perceive our space.  Clearly this is an area we will need to work on in the Spring!

An Art assignment, in process, will be added to this Community Circle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The class did not attend Library today but will make up their period another time.  Ms. Wills, our Teacher Librarian, was out at Indigo doing some shopping for the school.

The students shared, during Community Circle, some thoughts on the trip to Central Tech and the activities which took place when the Grade 7s helped out in the Grade 1 classroom.

We returned to our Measurement Unit on Time.  I think I mentioned that it mostly a concept taught between Grades 1 and 5, but an important life skill.  I realize that students can look at a digital clock to see the time, but there is value in being able to figure our information from an analog clock (understanding the concepts of a half, a quarter or the idea of elapsed time).  I found an interesting site to play some Math games online and we will do this, hopefully tomorrow. 

The students began to work on the Jigsaw exercise I mentioned either on Monday or Tuesday.  All of the groups looked at small section of the article and wrote brief notes on their part.  The experts will then present this to the class tomorrow.  The original article is the second image from the bottom of the selection of images.  Here are some photos of them at work.

HOMEWORK:  Double sided Math sheet

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today there will be an afternoon trip for the Grade 8s to attend a tour of Central Tech.  Even if they are not attending that school, the exposure will be a positive one.  They will be introduced to the size and general routines of a high school in the TDSB.  The Grade 7 students will be assisting in the Grade One classroom.

The students had a double period of Music this morning and this did not allow for a lot of time for instruction.  We did return to the article on the Occupy movements and began to watch a short, animated film.  The link for it may be seen here:

As we review the article, I am encouraging and guiding the students to use some reading strategies (questioning, looking at headlines and images) to help them comprehend the material.  So far, I think the class has an overall understanding of what the phrase "we are the 99%" refers to.  We will continue our discussion and activities tomorrow.

Here are a few images from the trip to Central Tech.  I did not go on the walking tour with the students because Senior students from the host school did that.  Ask your son or daughter how they enjoyed the tour and what they learned.  The teachers from AMG spent some time talking with the Guidance Counselor about the importance of the students developing strong Learning Skills.  I found it interesting that a great deal of maturity can take place between Grade 9 and 12 and the attitude and effort of learners can really shift for the better!

There is no homework tonight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

While I remained with the Grade 7s, the Grade 8s had a short presentation with some Science students from the University of Toronto. 
Once the group returned, we continued our discussion about the Occupy movement.  Today there was late breaking news about the protesters having to leave  the site of their occupation.  This news can be seen at the following link:

After reading through the Reading Responses completed by the students, I decided that we will do a jigsaw activity with the article we read last week.  A small group of students will become experts on a small portion of the article and then explain it to the class.  I will model this tomorrow in class.  We will then continue to do some work around the article, follow up with some other activities and then work our way towards evaluating (grading) the students' comprehension of the article.

We resumed Math after a break from doing it.  We will focus on a life-skills section on time (for the strand of Measurement)  and then move into some more problem solving/higher thinking type questions.  Time, in the Measurement strand of Math, only goes up to Grade 5, but the skills needed to solve some of the more problem solving types questions will get them thinking.

Towards the end of the day, we continued to listen to the novel, The Giver.  I had the students write a journal response today on their thoughts on the novel.  I will check them tonight, but I reminded them that I want them to write in complete sentences.

Homework:  Complete Journal (if it was not done in class); Grade 8s need to bring bus fare for a trip to Central Tech tomorrow afternoon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 In preparation for the upcoming Parent Conferences, the students are continuing to work through their self-assessments of the Learning Skills.  These should be ready and available for you to see during your interview time on Thursday or Friday.  Most of the class, as I have probably mentioned, are understanding what it means to develop an action plan to make there goal come true.  The challenge will be in remembering what to do on a day to day basis.  To assist them, I think I will type out their goal and action plan for each Learning Skill and have them place it on their desk so they can see it.  I will not get around to doing this until after the interviews on Friday, November 18.

A useful link to a file from the York Region District School Board may shed some light on the importance of these Learning Skills.  I believe these skills are just as important as any academic skill I will teach to your son or daughter in their two years with me.

Small groups were formed to begin a more intensive and collaborative effort at Reading Comprehension.  A number of students feel intimidated by getting information from an article so I decided to try a group approach to dealing with the anxiety.  Using the current events news publication that I have mentioned before, What in the World, the group returned to the article an Moammar Gadhafi.  The students were in small groups and assigned the same set of questions.  Here are some of the group answers on chart paper.  Because I am trying to get everyone in the habit of writing in full, complete sentences, that was something I was looking for in all of the answers.
As you can see, some of the groups wrote answers in sentences and some did not.  We reviewed the answers from the section of the publication as well as some answers I wrote.  This was an example of modelling both for Reading and Writing in terms of comprehending the passage as well as communicating effectively with complete thoughts and ideas.

The class now has another reading passage that they will work on on their own concerning the Occupy movements which have been taking place around the world.  There are some abstract and new ideas in the article and I will take it step by step in order to break it down.  The article was read in class and a Reading Response was assigned for last night (November  16).  I will assess these and then break the class into groups where they will become experts on a small section of the article.  In addition to this, they will view some news clips to supplement their understanding of the material.  All of this will be done prior to any form of evaluation.

By the end of the day, all of the Drama groups should be complete in having a rehearsal time in front of the class.  Each group was provided with detailed feedback about how they could improve their performances.  The feedback involved reminders to the group about the Historical Concepts we have been discussing.  These concepts are being extended to discussions we are having about the late Moammar  Gadhafi and the upcoming discussions around the Occupy movements.  I managed to film three of the groups rehearsing and  I will attempt to upload the videos.  If they are not present on the blog, it means that I ran into some technical challenges.  I will look into these challenges and see if I can solve them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today was Remembrance Day at AMG. After Gym class, we headed down for the Gym for a cross-grade presentation of music and poetry.  Since I was the MC, I was not able to take that many photos of the event, but here are two.

I am hoping to link some of the topics discussed  today to the History Drama rehearsals on Monday.  The groups worked on the presentations on Thursday and I have a few images of them at work.  The group also came up with a Success Criteria chart to determine what the important things are for this project.  This "anchor chart" will remain at the front of the room until this is completed so the students can make reference to it as they practice.

I had some video footage of the group doing a warm-up exercise for Drama, but I am having some difficulty uploading it. 

We spent a good part of the afternoon doing the second portion of a Guidance activity the class started with Mr. Rodriguez.  It involved them looking at the remaining Learning Skills we did not discuss:  Collaboration, Self Regulation, Independent Work, and Initiative.  In groups they worked out what were the important points or characteristics for each of the skills.  Most of the groups only ended up missing a couple of items from the list of options.  So, it is great that they can recognize the skills needed to "master" a particular learning skills, but it will require hard work to put it into action.  This is why I believe that having these skills at the foundation of my program is crucial.  Here are some of the photos of the groups after the work.

After this, the students began a self assessment exercise on the Learning Skills on the report card.  There are six of the skills, but I will only do 1 or 2 per day.  They are required to think of a goal -- based on the skill -- and then to set a course of action to make it happen.  I did an example on the board based on one of my own areas in need of improvement.
The plans will be available to check out during the conferences next week that we will have.

Friday ended off with watching a film on Santa Claus.  It is not intended to foster any particular religious affiliation but it was an examination of the cult figure status of Santa.  Here is the link to more info on the film: 

Here are a few images from our session of Reading Buddies that I took.  The students are really enjoying themselves. Some of the students in Room 52 are needing some direction because they are not taking the leadership role as serious as they should be.  Overall, I think the program is quite a success.  You can judge this by looking at some of the expressions on the faces of the students.

Homework:  All jot notes and reading of the Book Talk books must be completed for Tuesday; Census information sheets need to be returned on Monday; $.50 donation for Poppies for the Ontario Legion

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, October 8, 2011

The groups got to work on their History/Drama projects today.  Each group started to develop ideas for presenting the historical concepts we have been talking about.  I did not take photos of them working and developing their ideas, but I will do this tomorrow once I provide each group with some detailed feedback about their ideas.  After they have reviewed my constructive feedback, they will make changes before they begin to rehearse in front of the class.

Each group has several option on the forum in which they can perform.  It can be in the form of a chant, a tableaux (or still image), a role play, in a storytelling format, or as an interview.  We did a fun drama warm-up exercise involving a cloth.  Each student had to explain how it might be used and then dramatize the use of it.  Here are a few photos from the exercise.

The class continued to develop their Book Talks/Chat assignments with Ms. Wills in the Library using the Photostory program.  The jot notes will continue to be done for homework.  When the students return to the Library next Tuesday, they will begin to fill in the details of the book they are reading in the program under the supervision of Ms. Wills.

I have my eye on using a fun movie maker program to showcase the writing and directing skills of the students.  It will involve using a program called Xtranormal.  Check out the website for more information.  More details to come.  We will be reviewing the skills of writing simple and compound sentences.  Here are a few of the sentences we created, as a group, today. 
 HOMEWORK:  Complete jot notes for Chapter 6 and 7 in Language notebook; return Interview confirmation forms for next week's interviews.