Think Pink: National Pink Shirt Day

27 February 2013
February 27th is National Pink Shirt Day.  Today, our school was a sea of pink as we did our part to stand up against bullying.

National Pink Shirt Day was started in 2008 as a response to two boys in Nova Scotia who took a stand against bullying by supporting a boy who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.  These two boys saw the incident and went out and purchased 50 pink shirts to distribute to other boys at the school to wear.  You can read more about pink shirt day here at

We kept the theme going in our classroom today.  I had slips of paper in my "name jar" with the words the bully, the bullied, and the bystander.  Each student had to choose a slip of paper to examine the issue of bullying from one of those three points of view.  The students then got into three groups to "talk it out".  They discussed what their feelings would be, reasons for the behaviour, actions, etc.  By taking the "role" of either the bully, the bullied, or the bystander, students felt more free to discuss the feelings as they felt they weren't being too personal, or sharing too much.

They then had to write a poem from the point of view they had chosen.  We used a simple "I Am" template for the poem.  The end results were SO powerful!  Students typed them out and I photocopied them onto the T-shirt template on bright pink paper.  We are going to read some of our poems at our end of the month assembly tomorrow.

As students finished their poems, I gave them another T-shirt template, this time photocopied onto a light pink piece of paper.  They designed their own T-shirts with an anti-bullying message.  LOVE them!  We cut the T-shirts out and made a wonderful bulletin board display with a powerful anti-bullying message to share with the school.

I have uploaded a copy of the template we used for the poems and the T-shirt to google docs.  You can click HERE or on the picture to the right to grab a copy for yourself.  I have read that April 10th, 2013 is International Pink Shirt Day - does your school celebrate pink shirt day?

Happy Wednesday!!!  We're half-way there!



Math Journal Sundays - Factors and Multiples

24 February 2013
Factors, Multiples, prime and composite numbers, multiplication and division strategies ... this is my FAVOURITE math unit to teach!  I absolutely love it!  We've been VERY hard at work getting fluent with our multiplication facts for the past few months, so all students can experience success with this unit.

Factors and Multiples notebook entry
This week in our Interactive Math Journals, we made an entry that gave the definition for multiples, LCM, factors, GCF, and prime and composite numbers.  Under each flap, we gave the definition and a few examples.  Students will be able to refer back to this entry when doing work in this unit to keep the terms straight.

Factors and Multiples notebook entry

Factors and Multiples notebook entry

Math Journal Reflections
For the proof, I gave them a number (36).  I asked them to give three multiples, list the factors, and determine whether the number was prime or composite.  For the reflection, I used another question from my Math Reflection Fans.  I put the question under the document camera for the students to answer.  Next week I think I'm going to let a student pick and display the question for all to answer.

We also made math posters this week for LCM - I chose a few of the students' individual posters and put them together to make a larger poster.  I want to do this for all the concepts in this unit and post them around the room.
I also sent them home with some multiple and LCM cootie catchers so they can practice with a family member over the weekend.

For some other ideas for factors, multiples, and prime and composite numbers, you can check out some of my posts from last year:

Graffiti Walls in Math Class - Great for review or test prep

Hope you're having a wonderful and relaxing Sunday!



The End of the Book ... Sigh ...

22 February 2013
This week we finished our novel study on The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau ... well almost ... we still have a few things to tie up early next week.  We loved the book so much, we're going to read the sequel next:  The People of Sparks.  There are 4 books in the series, and I've purchased them all for the class.

To celebrate, we watched the movie today.  Since there are so many differences between the book and the movie, I knew we had to do a compare and contrast activity.

I gave the students Venn diagrams to jot down their ideas while they were watching the movie this afternoon.  When we finished the movie, the students got into groups to discuss the information they had written down.  They did a GREAT job of noting all the similarities and differences.  

I gave each group cardstock strips of paper to write down their findings so each group could create a large, interactive Venn diagram (we used hula hoops to make the Venn diagrams).  LOVED the conversations that were going on.  :)  This was one happy teacher.  When they were finished they had to present their Venn Diagrams to the class.  Just look at all this thinking!!!  (Oh ... I forgot to mention my FAVOURITE part of the day ... when the students ALL decided that the book was so much better than the movie!!!!).

One of the activities I'm super excited to finish up next week is our 3D setting mural / bulletin board for the novel - we've been working hard on it, and we're almost done.  I can't wait to share it with you when we finish, but here's a sneak peek at what we've done so far ...



Reading Reflections with Bloom's Taxonomy

17 February 2013
Shortly after I posted my Math Reflection Fans, I had a few people contact me to ask me to create a set for Reading based on Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.  So, I got on it.  I know including those higher-order thinking questions (HOT questions) into our lesson plans and class discussions is a HOT topic right now.  ;)

I just posted this set of Reading Reflection Fans for fiction (I'm going to create a set for nonfiction, next).  The questions are aligned to the six levels in Bloom's Revised Taxonomy:  Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create.  They will also fit the CCSS Reading Standards for Literature.   There are between 15 and 23 questions for each level (with over 100 questions in total).  I have also included a checklist sheet for each level so you can keep track of questions asked in class.  The 23 different questions for CREATE can be used as formative or summative assessment activities.

Questions can be used in class discussions, as prompts for written reader responses, in guided reading groups, after independent reading or paired reading activities, after read alouds, etc.  I use mine for so many different purposes in the classroom.  Sometimes I choose the question, and sometimes I ask a student to choose a question and display it under the document camera for all to see.  You can see more about how I use and store my question fans HERE.

Fans can be assembled into separate levels, using a brass fastener to keep them together.

Or, you can clip all the levels together and keep them on a binder clip (this is how I store them in the classroom).

Well, that's about it ... I hope you're all enjoying your weekend ... and maybe, just maybe, you get one extra day tomorrow!  We're planning on taking our girls downhill skiing for the first time tomorrow (with ALL this snow we have, we've got to take advantage of it).



Friday Art Feature - It's All Greek To Me

15 February 2013
Our new social studies unit is Early Civilizations - right now we're focusing on Ancient Greece.  This is the first time I've taught the grade 5 social studies curriculum ... and I was SO excited to teach this unit.  I've always had a fascination with Ancient Greece, and on my honeymoon (to Greece, of course), I dragged my newlywed husband to every single museum and ruin in Greece (so much for lying on the beaches - good thing he loves me).

As part of our study of Greek culture, we've been examining Greek pottery.  Next week we're going to break out the clay to create our own Greek pottery (super excited about that), so this week we planned our pieces.  Students could only use orange construction paper and black sharpies to create their pieces to represent the orange clay and blank ink the Ancient Greeks would use.  They had to research the different shapes and uses of the pottery and write the Greek name of the type of pottery they chose.

The pictures look great on display.  I also added some of the summaries the students wrote on an article about food in Ancient Greece.  Next week we'll be adding our actual pottery as well as the brochures about Ancient Greece we've been working on.


Math Journal Sundays - Circumference and Time

10 February 2013
We were busy in our interactive math journals this week, so I have two fun entries to share with you today:  circumference and time (elapsed time and the 24 hour clock).

Late last week we started to look at circumference.  I started the lesson by reading the story, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi.  If you haven't read any books in the Sir Cumference series, you HAVE to!  They are perfect for upper elementary and middle school students, and such a great way to integrate reading into math.  My students love these books.  (I've included a link to Amazon below so you can check it out).  

We then started our journal entry.  To make the circles, I gave the students two different strips of paper.  They taped the strips together to make circles, then dipped the circles in paint to make two different circle stamps on their paper.  After the paint had dried, they taped the strips to their journals.

We measured the diameter of the circles, then measured the length of the strips (which we discussed would be the circumference of the circle).  On their own, the students figured out that circumference is about 3x the diameter of a circle (in our curriculum, "pi" isn't discussed until grade 7).  We added this information, our "big idea" under a sticky note on our journal page. 

In our "proof", I asked the students to draw a different circle, and find the diameter and circumference of the circle.  For our reflection, I used the Math Reflection Fans and chose the question, "What other math can you connect this to".  This entry was so much fun - and the students couldn't believe we were actually using paint in math class!

Now, on to time ... I wanted to combine two of our expectations, elapsed time and the 24-hour clock, so the students would have something to refer to for our upcoming lessons.

We made a clock for our math journals for this entry.  We used small paper plates for our clocks, but if you don't have any paper plates, you could easily use paper circles instead.  We divided our circle into twelfths (snuck a little bit of fractions in there), and labelled our clocks (hours and minutes).  We then cut a small strip at the edge of each section so we could fold over the flaps.  On the back of the flaps, we wrote the 24-hour times.  We made hour and minute hands, and attached them to the clock with a brass fastener.  
With our clocks, we practiced telling the time with the 24-hour clock, and then I gave them some elapsed time questions (I have more lessons on both planned for this week).  For the proof, I asked them to create and solve a problem related to elapsed time, and I challenged them to answer in both analog time and 24 hour time (most only answered one way, though).  I used my reflection fans again to choose a reflection question - I made it easy on them today and asked them, "When could you use this math outside of school?  Explain."  

Well, that's it for today ... I've got to get back to my report cards.  Wish me luck!!!