Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I hope your weekend has been relaxing.

There are only 5 students who need to complete the CAT.  For some, they are taking advantage of the Assistive Technology in the class to help them have the story and questions read to them.  I am going to be looking into ensuring that some of the text-to-speech software is up and running to ensure that the students who have difficulty with writing can have this option for getting ideas on paper.

We are preparing to present our Drama presentation on Learning Skills and Work Habits.  We had a dress rehearsal on Friday and the class were able to ask questions and use some constructive criticism to give more direction to the groups.  Of the three groups, only one was able to really focus on how developing and understanding Learning Skills might be beneficial to one's success in school.

As in other days, we played a few Drama Games to warm up our creative juices.  Here are some shots of an improvisational game from last week:
Kenny trying to convince a shy Kadeem to attend a party.

Sandro trying to convince Matthew that he saw a UFO.

Kiara/Tia providing reasons why she should be able to have a stray dog as a pet.

I mentioned on an earlier blog entry -- although I can't seem to find it now -- that I misplaced the journals belonging to the class.  I found them an enjoyed reading them and will be giving them back tomorrow. 

HOMEWORK:  Complete Math sheet.  This will lead naturally into a hands on exercise on Monday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

HOMEWORK:  Double sided Math sheet on Base 10 blocks and Place Value for homework + a signed Math test from a parent or Guardian.

I had a 2 hour training on the Promethean Board in the classroom and went right to work on it!  The interactive element of it will make the learning more inviting and engaging for the students (not that it wasn't engaging before!)  I am hoping to make some links between the work we are doing on Place Value and some of the work the students in Grade 8 are doing.  I believe the use of the IWB (Interactive White Board) will assist in making this possible... we'll see.

The Math test -- returned yesterday -- was taken up in detail and I proposed the idea of Rewrites for the class:

An opportunity is provided for the student to reflect on his or her mistakes, explain what they did wrong, and correct the answer.  The answer is given half the value of the original mark, if it is done correctly.
A sample Rewrite from a former student in 2005

I had the students complete a Journal question based on something that worries them.  I have not read them yet but look forward to it.  As I usually try to do, I model how the answer might possibly sound or look.

 At the entrance to the class I have a couple of interesting notes and pictures.  One small, but noticeable poster reminds the students of what to bring to class.  For some of the students, they are off to high school next year and must learn the skills of being more independent.  For others, they are just getting used to the new paces of being an Intermediate students.  Either way, this visual reminder is good one.  I usually remind students about the chart before they come in!

 Have a great evening.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


There is no homework tonight.  The Math quiz was done today and will be marked this evening and returned tomorrow.

The "CAT" continued for some students today and I had some of the students using the Assistive Technology to scan and have the passages read to them by the computer.  The CAT work is at grade level and a real challenge for many in the class but with a lot of support, the class is managing well and feel positive.

The Snack program costs $7/month or is $21 for 3 months.  A permission form went home with the expectation that it will return with a YES or NO response and the money, if participating.  CASH ONLY, please.

 Have a good evening.


Monday, September 24, 2012


My apologies for not posting on the weekend.

Here are some of the things I wanted to mention.

On Friday, the majority of the class completed what is known as CASI.  It is a form of reading comprehension that stands for:  Comprehension, Attitude, Strategies, Interests.  More can be read about CASI at

The students will do the assessment in the Fall and in the Spring.  Based on the end of year data from last year, 15/17 of my students increased their scores, 1 remained the same, and 1 student had his score drop.  IT WILL NOT BE USED FOR EVALUATING THE STUDENTS IN THE FALL but will be in the Spring in the Reading strand of the Language program.

In Drama, I have decided to come up with an exercise that  have small groups of students interpret and dramatically present some of the skills from the Learning Skills section from the report card (p.1).  In case you forgot, here is a link from the York Region Board of Education explaining the skills:

Before getting into the exercise, we did some brainstorming about what the skills are and why they are important.  Even though the class did not know them 100% by name, they came up with this list.  The quotation about why these skills are important came from Mathew.

As part of the exercise, we have been doing a few Drama games to warm up our creative selves.  There are two photos of the students "playing" and a couple of the groups planning and working on their ideas for the performance.

About two weeks ago, the school sent home some literature about AMG becoming a model school.  Our school was identified as a place where "inner city students grow up with all the positive choices and opportunities they need to thrive in today's complex world."  I DID NOT WRITE THAT.  Those words came from the brochure published by the TDSB.  More information can be read at:

As members of the Model School project, the students are required to write multiple choice tests in the area of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.  The tests will be marked by a computer and should be ready for discussion at the Parent Teacher conference in November.  The test is known as the CAT or Canadian Achievement Tests and is being done by both the Grade 7s and 8s.  

Details on the CAT may be found at:

Mrs. Machado and I are available to assist the students with reading the questions of sections of the passages the students may find confusing.  The testing will continue for the duration of the week.  Due to the challenging nature of the work, extended time limits and the use of Assistive Technology (using the scanner to have the text read to you) is welcome and encouraged for those who might benefit from it.  The students are in the process of completing the Reading section of the test.  I should make it clear that this work, while being referred to as a "test" will not be used to evaluate the students or provide a grade for the First Term report.

If possible, it would be great if all parents or guardians could check the agenda.  It is used on a daily basis to keep track of assignments and upcoming tests.  I strongly encourage the habit of using the agenda as they prepare to transition to high school and must become much more independent and responsible for the work that is expected of them.

Several students have not been handing their work in on a regular basis and should be a cause of concern.  If I have assigned no homework, I will have the students record that in the agenda and you can check this.  I will be sending home a letter of outstanding homework assignments for the students I am most concerned about.

The first Math quiz of the year will be tomorrow.  In spite of providing an example of how to create a study sheet for tomorrow's quiz, only 5 students put in the effort to complete one.  For those who did, I provided them with some feedback about what they could possible improve on as they prepare for the quiz.

We have been spending some time on writing sentences and looked at the steps of developing ones that are complete thoughts.  I will post a few images with a brief caption explaining how they fit into the learning process:

A simple definition

Playing with Subjects and Predicates
Class generated sentences from the Subject and Predicate list above + some original ideas

Friday, September 21, 2012


I will add some more photos and details later on this weekend.

HOMEWORK:  Study sheet for Tuesday's Math test based on pp. 27-28 of Math sheets from earlier in the week.  A sample "study sheet" was completed by me in the class.  Here is what I came up with for p. 27:

The other item of homework had the students continue to complete 5 more sentences.  This time, the sentences should be on the same topic.

In a post from a few days ago, I mentioned I was going to add the images of the other Coat of Arms for students in the class.  It seem that 2 students need to complete them.  I will add them once they are done.  In the meantime, here are the other samples from the class:


More information about writing CASI, our work in Drama and Guidance, and sentence structure will be added over the course of the weekend.  Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good morning.

 I have settled on a read-a-loud book.  It is the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I started reading it last May but I did not get through it.  It is quite an engaging read and the students -- many of whom have seen the film -- seem to be enjoying it.  Once we finish this book, we may be able to view the film in class.

The group completed a personal Coat of Arms.  This is an exercise I have been doing for over ten years.  It is a way for the students to add a personal touch to the class.  They typically stay posted up over the course of the year.  I will make a point of taking photos of them today.  Here is a shot of samples from former students.
A collection of excellent samples of work from some of my former students.
All of the writing diagnostic work has been completed. It will NOT be graded but used as a sample of writing that will be leveled.  By this, I mean it will be compared to other samples of writing work generated by students in Grade 1 - 8 in Ontario and assigned an approximate level.  This will give me a sense of how to program for the students based on their needs.

We have started the first Math Unit. It is on Place Value.

I am mindful of how much writing the students have to do and try to limit my definitions (of Math terms) to avoid overwhelming them with too much information.  This photos is a typical sample of what they might write in the notebook.

Before the unit began, I had an exercise where the students had to do some brainstorming about large and small numbers.  Some students DID NOT complete this work and need to hand it in.  I provided an example of how they could possibly begin the work:

My modeling the work, it can provide a hook for the students to get an understanding of what is expected of them.  I am going to use a strategy I used to use in the past in Math:  I will provide the students time in class to do work so they can work with another student and ask for help.  So, when they go home with homework, it will be easier for them to do it (being familiar with the work, feeling more confident).


Old School overhead.  Until the fancy Promethean board is mastered, I may use this to work with the class!

Please check and sign the agenda on a daily basis.  If there is no homework, the students will write this in.

Have a good day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Sunday

From some of the reading I was doing, I came across a set of success attributes from a school in California that specializes in supporting students with Learning Disabilities.  I took a screen shot of the page and hope to use it during some discussions in class:

click on the image to make it larger
To be continued.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

While doing some reading, I came across some links I thought might be interesting.

A teenager shares some of his feelings about coping with his multiple Learning Disabilities.

This article has to do with the importance of setting goals.  As I prepare to begins writing my IEPs, I will be talking with the class about the importance of goal setting.

The next article talks about the importance of praising children when they have done something positive which should be recognized:

When you find yourself in constant conflict with your son or  daughter, this author of the short article suggests this:

This article discusses the importance of students attending school on a regular basis.  Skipping school or avoiding school will not make any problems or challenges go away.  In fact, it may make the problems of returning to school even more challenging:

This article is probably the last I will post this evening.  It is rather late but has to do with the importance of goal setting and students taking direction and a sense of responsibility for their learning.  As I may have mentioned in an earlier blog, a goal setting exercise is on the horizon.


Dyslexic governor brings learning disability to limelight

Dyslexic governor brings learning disability to limelight

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I am going to move a few things around on the blog, but I am posting this picture to help some of the students in the class.

Mr. P's sample sales pitch for Writing diagnostic
This short piece of descriptive writing uses some of the words from a list of Persuasive words and a sheet on food adjectives I found on the Internet.  Currently, the class is working on preparing short presentations on a food product they are creating/imagining.  Here is the list of words that I had posted on the IWD (Interactive White Board:  AKA The Promethean Board)

The purpose of this exercise is to warm them up to do the writing task tomorrow morning.  THIS WILL NOT BE GRADED but the Media and Art portion of the assignment will be.  Once we get through the writing exercise, more details will follow about the Art and Media project.

Tomorrow we will be beginning our first unit in Math.  It will be an integrated unit involving Number Sense and Measurement.  We will be looking at the concept of Place Value and Measurement as it relates to units of measure.  To intrigue the class, or so I think, I will have them watch this video to launch a conversation into numbers:

This exploration will continue tomorrow.  I am hoping we will be able to use our extra period in the Library (where the Computer Lab) to use the Internet to supplement my instruction in the class. There will be some homework tonight to have the students do some initial brainstorming on large and small numbers.

HOMEWORK:  Brainstorm in Math duotang on large and small numbers; IEP input forms were sent home today but dated from yesterday.  They need to be returned by Monday, September 17, 2012.  I forgot to send the forms with the students who take the bus.  I apologize for this.

Have a good evening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Here is my first upload from my Promethean Board.  For those who attend Curriculum Night, you will be introduced to it.

This information comes from a document I posted last week that had to do with having an attitude of success in life.  We have gone through the first 4 points and I wanted the students to reflect a little on what they thought of the notes.  As I usually do, I wrote a model journal response so they would have a sense of what I was looking for.

For some students, the issue of making a connection to an issue of topic can be challenging.  I strongly believe that true knowledge comes when you make are able to make a personal connection to something.  You may either agree or disagree with it.  Over the course of the year I hope to direct the students towards some deeper thinking and reflection about issues we come across in class across the curriculum and write or talk about these matters.

I finished up introducing the class to the idea of doing a Community Circle.  It is a weekly exercise where the students take about two minutes to talk about something from their weekend.  Emphasis is placed on explaining the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY.  If they can comment on how they feel, then that is a plus.  I have found that this really helps the students add more detail to their written work and developing a comfort when talking in front of a group.

Sandro concluding his Community Circle entry
This morning was a heavy morning full of rotary:  French Culture, Gym, and Music.  In addition to the Community Circle exercise, we began to work on the Writing diagnostic assignment.  While the writing portion of the exercise will not be graded, I will be looking at the Grade level the students are working at. What I will be grading is the Art and Media Literacy component of the assignment.  As more details about this emerge, I will share them with you.

The assignment, by the way, has to do with creating a new food item and marketing it to a particular audience.  To assist in this work, the students will work, initially, as a small group before developing their own ideas for the unique products they come up with.  We will be continuing on this assignment tomorrow in class.

Mr. Marles, who teaches the class Gym, also teachers Room 52 a Technology class.  They had the first one yesterday and were introduced to a site called Edmodo.  According to the website:

"Edmodo provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications. Our goal is to help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner."

I need to open an account and will ask Mr. Marles about this.  The web address is:

HOMEWORK:  Jot notes on food product in Literacy folder, any outstanding forms or payments for a locker

John and Brian during DPA