Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

A late evening post.

This was a photo I showed to the Grade 7s as I was trying to explain the concept of negative numbers. In the next unit, the students will be encountering this in Geometry as they learn about the Cartesian Coordinates.

image taken from

Here is the website I want the 7s to start looking at:

This is a must read!  Before playing any games, this lesson is crucial to review.

To begin with, we will look and play this game:

There are scores of  games for you to play.  Another version of the Billy Bug game may be found here:

As for the Grade 8s, they will be picking up on something the Grade 7s have been doing:  Algebra.  I am guessing they may be able to take the concepts a little further, given their skill level. 

Rather that cutting and pasting all of the valuable posts again, I suggest the 8s look at the following date, on this blog, for guidance:

The initial links of games will be most beneficial to your introduction to this topic.  I strongly encourage looking at the site on Equations.  This will be most helpful for you.

One other exercise we did today involved the filling out of a blank Learning Skills page for the upcoming Report Card.  This provides the students with the opportunity to be reflective on their learning and think about "next steps" that they can work towards to improve in certain areas.  I filled one in, to provide the students with some prompting.

 I sensed that there was something else I wanted to post.  It is a photo of the Homework Board.  Remember, the students see this everyday and this is a means for them to track the work that is happening in class.  For a number of students, this chart is having little impact on how they keep track of their work.  Please ask your son or  daughter about this chart and how they are managing their homework.  An agenda is a wise investment! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

A link for reviewing Integer operations.  For the Grade 8s:

A link I posted from Wednesday or Tuesday's blog for reviewing Algebraic equations:
Please fill in this form afterward to demonstrate what you learned from viewing this site:

The following is an example about what Tamar is learning.  He is writing out one of the questions from the website, solving it, and then recording his learning (solving the question) on the piece of paper.
 This information was modeled and shared with the group.

 Here is a sample of what the question could look like:

Although Tamar did not answer this question, I would expect him, and the others, to do this:

1.  Change the order of the equation to have the variable on the left side of the equal sign.

x-13 = 21

2.  Understand the question:  A number subtract 13 equals 21.

3.  Use the "balance" method to solve the question:

x-13+13 = 21+13
x = 34

4.  I suggest checking the answer by "plugging" in the correct answer to the original question:

[34] - 13 = 21

Here is a sample of Eric's homework.  I have wanted the students to follow this method when solving the equations.  This is the method the TDSB high schools expect us to follow.  While there are other approached, learning and understanding this method is most helpful.

When I posted the links on the blog for games for the 7s, I thought the site that had negative numbers in it might be too difficult.  Tamar insisted that he wanted to come to the front of the class and answer this question on this particular website.  I am going to use this site with the Grade 8s.  Here is an image of Tamar's completed equation:


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Before reviewing the "paragraph puzzle" type exercise with the class, I noticed something when I was looking at the finished products.  Most of the students thought that the mixed up sentence strips were part of one big paragraph.  In fact, they are from two separate paragraphs.

After seeing my error, the groups when back to work to come up with the new format.

Old format of 1 paragraph versus correct 2 paragraph format.
I came up with another small group exercise relating to paragraphing.  We'll see if we get to it today.  If not, we'll do it tomorrow.

Each of the groups in Grade 7 had an opportunity to look at the different leveled responses for the Playground Design assignment we did.  Each group was provided with detailed feedback on what they did correctly and where they need to improve the next time around.  In order the give the feedback, I had to make sure that I could do the work.  So, I modeled one page for the class:

Theses two photos are from the Grade 8s taking up their Integer homework.  Where the answers are incorrect, we make the corrections.  I forgot to correct Trine's work and now see that her answer is incorrect.  I will use this as a point of review for tomorrow's class.  There was a double-sided sheet with problem solving questions relating to the adding and subtracting of Integers.

I am a bit disappointed that many of the Grade 7s have not been attempting to do their homework or put in a sincere effort relating to our unit on Algebra.  This is a challenging unit and new for a lot of students.  But difficulty and challenge are a part of life and need to be faced.  I am proud of the small group number of students who have made the leap to stretch themselves, review their work and learn something new.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trying to find Math games to explain the balancing concept of Algebra is a little challenging.  Games exist, but at the entry point, for students who may not grasp Integers, it is proving to be a little challenging.

Here is one link with a detailed explanation, which I will use in my lesson today:

Here is another explanation, with a hands on feel to it.  The explanation is not as long as the link above:

While this is not about solving the equations you have been working on for the past couple of days, it will give you some insight into the importance of balancing.  It requires some thinking on your part.

This one could work for the future unit on Algebra for Grade 8s.  Since they have worked through a unit on Integers, this should work for them, but the Grade 7s are welcome to try it.

Before moving to the games, I thought it was best that we work through some more examples.  Here is one we worked on this morning.  Each step of the equation has a detailed explanation:

Here is another late entry of another example from the homework:

In returning to our discussion on Narrative Paragraphs (please forgive me, I am capitalizing it), we looked at example we worked on together in class.  Some of the class members thought we should remove a sentence and revise the concluding paragraph.  Here is now how it looks:

We also changed added a detail to the second topic sentence about visiting a park.  We could have added going to work, but we didn't.  This addition allowed the concluding sentence to make more sense:  we mention "fun" and I would like to think that going to a park on a bike would be fun.

In making reference to the Book Talk assignment, I am going to share a strategy Junior has been using:

So he wouldn't forget details, he wrote jot notes on the chapters.  This will be important for the Retell section of the assignment.
In preparing for explaining how the subtractions of Integers work, I am going to show this video as one of the supplements for the lesson:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday, May 5, 2014

The Grade 8s had the special treat of visiting the Cadbury factory on Gladstone Avenue, just north of Dundas.  The trip was a fun closing activity for their unit on Automation for Science.  I was not allowed to take many photos -- because of the Cadbury secret-- but here are a few:

In terms of the paragraph scramble exercise we did this week.  There are a few finishing shots of the activity, the assembled paragraphs, and the correct order of sentences.

The next stage of this writing will have the students use topics they selected to write a narrative paragraph.  Here are the selected topics the students wanted to write about:

The idea will be to pair the topic with an image to tell a story.  For example:

Trine and Tracey want to write a paragraph around the topic of baking.  I will provide them with this image, they will do some brainstorming around it, and then work towards writing a narrative paragraph.  This exercise/assignment will unfold over the first few days of the new week.

As far as Math goes, the Grade 7s are learning about Algebra.  For a lot of them, this appears to be an intimidating topic.  I am going to search the Internet to see if I can find some videos and games to support some of the concepts we looked at on Friday.  I was prepared to assign homework, but I could see that they were struggling with some of the work and concepts, so I held back.  I really believe that students should have homework they understand, not to have homework just to have something.

We left our lesson on Friday with this image on the Promethean Board:

We will return to this on Tuesday morning.

As far as the Grade 8 Math goes, we are exploring the Addition, and eventually Subtraction, of Integers.  So far, I have taught them two methods:  with counters, and using a number line.  The question is (-7)+(+5).

The red are the negatives and the yellow are positives.  The pairs are the numbers which cancel one another out and leave 2 reds or negative 2 (-2)
I find it difficult to use the counters to explain subtraction, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help with that.

A few weeks ago, before I taught any formal lesson on adding or subtracting, I posted a few questions on the board to see how the students would do.  Here is a sample of Kevin's answer:


The only homework was for the Grade 8s in Math out of the textbook.  At the moment, I do not have the pages, but I do remember all students writing the assigned questions in their Math notebook.

Continue to enjoy the long weekend.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pizza Lunch is coming.   Here is a note about the dates:

Forms are going home today.

In an attempt to break down the concept of Algebra for the Grade 7 class, we are going step-by-step and reviewing some past work.  A work in progress and to be continued.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jonathan's Birthday!

image from:

Another thing to celebrate:  The Junior Girls Soccer Team moving on to the next round of playoffs!!

Way to go AMG!

The Grade 8s had an excellent presentation from the Ambassador Program.  Funded, in part, by the City of Toronto, this program is described on the City of Toronto website as

"... high school students in a school re-entry program for high-risk youth provided in partnership with several community agencies, including Toronto Public Health.
These students relate their life experiences with substance use, violence, abuse, family difficulties, etc., to youth in a peer setting. Their message encourages youth who are having difficulties to seek help rather than turning to drugs or dropping out of school."

This group of young people are models of resilience.  They have faced countless struggles and hardships and, with support and friendship, have re-directed their lives in a manner that is more true to their spirit and what they want out of life.

Here is a lovely picture of the group, with their mentor, Geoffrey, and our school Guidance Counselor, Ricardo.

Reasons to Smile:  Inspiring Souls

An attentive and engaged audience
   On the level of thinking about other possibilities and making changes, Kailey, our Special Needs Assistance -- and resident thinker and cool person --shared this acronym with me:

Sometimes we may shout out things or say things to one another that can be hurtful.  Keeping this word,  THINK,  in our minds before we speak or act is important.

On a more academic tip, and just as important as the social and emotional nature of what I wrote above, the groups of students are rearranging a series of sentences into a coherent paragraph.  This relates to the narrative paragraph we are working on:

 The Grade 7s got back their Area of a Triangle test and reviewed it.  Now, the students are able to do Rewrites, in an attempt to improve their grade.  I reviewed what is supposed to be on a Rewrite form using an example of an error I commonly saw on the test:

By demonstrating an understanding on your mistake, and earning back one mark, your mark can increase by 8.3%!

HOMEWORK:  Rewrites for Grade 7 are due on Thursday, by the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We are currently starting some work on narrative paragraphs.  Here is a sample one we began in class, based on the work that was given out yesterday.  The Grade 8s did not get this.

There have been a couple of days where I was away, in a coaching  and officiating capacity, at a couple of Track and Field meets, and have been pointing out to some students the work that needs to be done.  Here is a recent image of the Homework chart:

The Red Xs on the chart really should not be there.  If students are making use of the agenda and Homework board, they should be recording what work they need to stay on top of.

A few photos of Jackson and Jessica, from Room 52, at yesterday's Track meet.  Sorry, Eric, I missed your action shots: