Sunday, September 28, 2014


Tomorrow the Grade 7s will be off to Albion Hills for close to two days of outdoor education.
Albion Hills is an outdoor education centre that was once affiliated with the former Etobicoke Board of Education.  Here is the website for this exciting and engaging place:

I traveled with the Grade 7s and 8s here during the Fall of 2013 and had a lot of fun.  Here is an older shot of the centre, at a distance.

A shot of a dorm, where the students will be sleeping.

One thing I have done in Math, especially when the students are playing games, is to introduce some level of accountability to the play.  This means that they can play and explore an educational website and, at the same time, want them to demonstrate what they learn.

** UPDATE:  Here is the Weather Network link for Bolton, ON.  I believe it is the closest town to the education centre.

Here is an older example from last year:

  I modeled this for the students on Friday and did a screen shot of the Promethean Board:
The yellow scribbles was my attempt to model math calculations.  The Promethean Board was not working and I was improvising.

In Language, we continued on the Community Circle exercise for the letter writing activity.  A lot of the Core periods in Room 52 were taken up with completing the CAT 4.  I am glad it is done, for the majority of the students.

I have noticed that the students, at least the ones who have talked and shared with their peers, have used some of my feedback to add more detail to their sharing.  Once again, the sharing had to do with Summer vacation fun and some goals for the 14-15 school year.  Here is a shot of a student sharing:

Due to my absence on Monday-Wednesday, the Grade 8s will remain with their other homeroom teacher.  I have made homework completion an option for either Monday or Wednesday.

1.  Internet game learning sheet on Math games played last week.  The link for the games may be found on the September 26 entry.  I believe the original posting of the two games was from September 17.

2. Letter to Mr. Proudfoot.  The Community Circle exercise will continue when I am back in the room.

3.  The Agree/Disagree exercise will also continue upon my return to the class.

Have a good Sunday evening and start to your week. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


As a model school in the Toronto District School Board (, AMG participates in the CAT  4 assessment.  It is a benchmark assessment used at all Model Schools in the Toronto District School Board.  According to the CAT webpage, it "... assesses the essential learning outcomes of the following basic skill areas: reading, language, spelling, and mathematics."  More information (sorry about the font change), can be found on the CAT site:

The assessment is rather long, but is informative, once the results are in.  The results will be shared with you when that happens.

The completion date for the entire assessment is by Friday.  The decrease in homework is due to the instructional time being used to complete the CAT 4.

Yesterday afternoon was our school Terry Fox run.  I captured  a few shots of the some of the students from Room 52:

Monday, September 22, 2014


There was a dance workshop for the Senior students this afternoon.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of it.

This will be a brief entry.  On Day 5 of the cycle (today), the students are on Rotary a fair bit.  Since I am not always aware of what other homework they have, it is possible that they work beyond what I have assigned in Room 52.  Ask your son or daughter about them.

There was a short writing activity today in the Journal.  Here is the writing prompt, along with my guided sample for them to take a look at:


Good copy of I AM poem
Community Circle on Summer Fun and Goals for 14-15 School year
Picture Day:  September 24
Terry Fox Run:  September 23
** Parent Input/Contributions to IEP**

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Looking Ahead

It is never too early to start filing this in some portion of the brain:

An interesting read on the rise on the diagnosis of ADHD at alarming rates.  I do know that a number of my students, over the years, sometimes do not sleep enough.  While you think that the students might want to sleep in class, they were often full of distracted energy and had tremendous difficulty following through on work.

Here is the NYT relating to this observation:

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Most of the people who read this, I assume, and that could be dangerous to do, have ensured that your Son or Daughter, Grandson or Granddaughter, Niece of Nephew, have completed the homework.  I appreciate that.  Support is always available, from myself, the EA, or another student.

I am going to post the answers to the recent set of Math sheets we have been working on.  There will be one final approach, at this stage, of looking at adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators.  I am hesitant to move forward with that lesson until the group is confident and competent with the work we are currently doing.

Here are the answers, courtesy some of the students in our class.

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10
Here is the link to yesterday's blog posting with the link for the Math games relating to fractions.  It might be a good opportunity to reinforce some of the concepts we have been learning in class:

As for the NYT exercise, here is the original image, along with some of the responses I looked at.


School Photos on September 24
I AM poem (rough copy)
Check your Math homework (corrections on blog) up to page 10
Outstanding IEP forms 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


As I was listening to Metro Morning on CBC today, I caught a piece of news from Matt Galoway's interview with former Deputy Education Minister, Charles Pascal.  It relates to the upcoming Municipal Election and the need for voters to be mindful of the School Trustees they are electing. Find out who your trustee is and do some research!

Here are the ward profiles for the City of Toronto:

Here is the link for the two New York Times exercises we did in the class.
I will take a look at the responses and share some of the highlights with the group.

I am pleased with the Oral Communication skills the students, who have volunteered so far, have demonstrated in our Agree/Disagree activity in relation to The Giver.  

During the Curriculum Night presentation, I mentioned that the students should be aware of what they are expected to do.  In most cases, those expectations are in the form of Success Criteria.  I informally jotted a few points on the board for the students to reference during the activity.

This is a walk through explanation of the "new" Math involving different denominators.

Before doing a short quiz, to assess the understanding so far with this new concept, the students will play a few online games for fun and review.

Some new vocabulary will need to be introduced to the students to move beyond the instruction we are currently at.

Here are the list of games or tutorials:

This is a brief video walking through the process we have been learning.

Math Man or like Old School Pac Man:

A Multiple Choice game that looks like Monopoly:

Have a good evening.  Thanks for coming to Curriculum Night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Curriculum Night is this Thursday at AMG for The Grove Community School and Alexander Muir Gladstone Ave. PS.  Please join us at the school at 6:30 in the Gym before going to visit the classrooms.

Last year, there was an exercise that was fun and developed the students' inferencing skills.  It is based on an exercise the New York Times puts out every week.  Here is the link to it:

Here is the image from yesterday's post (they do it, usually, every Monday).  I will model a response for the students to see.

UPDATE:  Here is what we came up with for today's entry.  I started to type in some of my observations, and the students contributed some ideas:

The students performed extremely well on the Math test last Friday.  
Here is a list -- which may grow -- of students who scored above a Level 3:

The next phase of this fraction unit will begin to look at questions which involve adding with different denominators.  I posed this question yesterday to see how the students would do:

The students had a go of investigating and trying to figure out how to solve it.  I was curious to see if there would be any students who would do it without multiplying the denominators (to come in a later lesson) to make them the same.  Here are some images of them working:

This group, ultimately, came up with the correct solution.

I was pleased to see the efforts.  They are posted up in the classroom and will be looked at, to see where the logic was close or not so close.

The group which came up with the correct solution used multiplication.

One thing I try to do in the class is provide a lot of constructive feedback and information for the students.  I managed to piece together the various responses of the problem I posed and added some comments.  I will use those comments to help with explaining some of the ideas more.  This way, the ideas of the students are validated.  Here are a couple of snapshots:

Prior to today's lesson, I was trying to explain how to solve the question without using multiplication.  I modeled this solution, with the help of the students.  The accompanying video was done after the students had left the room and summarizes our discussion.

This video was a created after school and summarizes the approach I took in class when explaining this question.

We began to work on the 4 Corners exercise, based on key themes and concepts from Lois Lowry's The Giver.  It took a bit of time to organize the group, but we managed to have the students go to the corners for the first statement, and I paraphrase here,:  A society without unemployment, jealousy, and competition would be an ideal society to live in.

As a reminder, the students had to go through the list of 11 statements and select how they felt about  them, but they only had to record reasons for 3 of the statements.  Each student is responsible for speaking at least once during the discussion.  Here is a panoramic shot of the class.  I think Brendan is missing.


Double sided Math sheet
Curriculum Information sheet (I believe the start time is 6 and not 6:30.  Sorry about that.)
Outstanding work (old stuff):  The students can always check the Homework Chart to see what work they have not completed.  Here is a shot of it:

When a student says they have no homework, I remind them to check this to see if they all smiley faces or a number of Xs.  Unless an assignment is time sensitive, work can always be completed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Albion Hills (Etobicoke Outdoor Education Centre) cover sheet.

I think I forgot to post this image of the Homework chart I use to help the students keep track of the assignments they have.  The agenda should be used -- it is a really good habit! -- to develop self-management skills as the workload increases before high school.

An X indicates an incomplete or assignment not submitted.  A smiley face indicates something handed in.
I plan to edit this post, but I wanted to get the homework out for today:

1.  Completion of Agree/Disagree statements.

I plan on reading The Giver to the class.  I think it was the beginning of the Adolescent Dystopia genre and explores a lot of complex ideas.  Written in 1993, it is a classic in Teen Lit.
For homework, the students were given 11 statements, based on themes in the book.  The students have to select 3 statements and decide if they agree, strongly disagree, disagree, or strongly agree.  We will use this information to start some conversations in class.  Here is an example I did for the class:

The full list of 11 statements are here:

The students must provide details and reasons for the choices they make.

2.  A short Math test will assess how well they have understood the initial discussions and homework around Fractions. 

I wanted to have the Grade 7s add to the KWL chart we began a few days ago and to also provide them with a model of how addition and subtraction works when the denominators are the same.

3.  The Gravity story will be due, in class, tomorrow.  A final Success Criteria list was generated based: 

4  The Multiple Intelligences "Part 2" survey was handed out on Monday and is due tomorrow.

Have a good evening.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


To build on the initial brainstorm of thoughts on the piece of writing I assigned a few days ago, I had the students sit and share their ideas.  I considered going through each item of homework from the graphic organizer (pictured below), but thought of another strategy to encourage the students.

Instead, I had the students work in small groups (mostly those they sit beside) to share their ideas and build on some of the feedback they received.

The next step was to take a look at a couple of Level 3 (70-80%...what the Ministry of Education considers as a benchmark for success) stories and generate some ideas about what makes that story a success.

Using items collected from the notes, I will create a chart -- often known Success Criteria -- of what makes this story a success. 

Completed chart in rough form.

This does not mean the story will be entirely assessed from the things the students think are important.  They will be considered alongside the following guide that was initially linked to this assignment:

With some sense of direction, the students began writing.  I captured some shots of them at work.  I encouraged them to use their graphic organizers to help them plan out their work. 

On Thursday, we will make a point of synthesizing this chart in yellow with the one the students helped generate.  This list of success items should assist them in preparing their final copies.

As for Mathematics, I am beginning, with both groups, an introductory unit on Fractions.  The idea behind this is to develop a level of confidence and initial competence with adding and subtracting fractions.  There are some multiplication skills behind this unit and the students should be practicing, or reviewing, their multiplication tables at home.

When I begin a unit, I typically have a KWL (Know, What, Learned) chart to assess and monitor the understanding on a particular topic.  Here are the two, so far.  One for the 7s and one for the 8s:

Since most students were a touch shy to speak, I was pleased to see Savannah initiate the discussion.  She came to the board and drew a circle with a fraction beside it.

Savannah gets things started.

Expanding on the initial circle.
Savannah's initial effort of writing 6/3 was noted and not erased.  As we moved through the discussion, another student brought up the idea of how a fraction represents division.  That was Heather, I believe.
So, with this new understanding, the 6/3 became a division question with the answer of 2, but could also be read as "six thirds."

Another student, Mickayla, knew about Mixed Numbers.  Seeing that this concept related to the initial fraction that Savannah drew, I explored it a touch more.

I did not intend to get so deep into the concepts of division, fractions, and decimals, but the ideas the students brought up helped propel the lesson.  Rather than lecture, I try to balance out my expertise and sense of where I want to go with the directions the students sometimes come up with.  With the beauty of the blog, and having an Interactive White Board (IWB), I can come back to these concepts and repeat and review them.

In preparing for tonight's HW, the Grade 7s and I worked on a short review on the IWB:

To support this concept of subtracting fractions, Heather became the star of a short video that I will attempt to post:

As the Grade 8s return, I will use this post as an opportunity to review some of the concepts with them.

The Grade 8s, once they returned to class, began to ask a series of questions after seeing the work the Grade 7s did.  Going back to the original KWL chart, Tamar asked about what 6/2 (six-halves) looks like.
 We began by figuring out that "6 over 2" also means 6 divided by 2, which equals 3.  In terms of drawing this, it looked like this:

Recognizing this was too crammed on the page, I gave another example of the "halves" question by proposing the order of Portuguese BBQ chicken from my local restaurant.


Complete the front and back of the Math sheet
Complete rough draft of Story on gravity failing