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

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