*Please note that all Show and Shares are scheduled for the week of December 11-15. If your child is unable to present during their scheduled time, please let me know and we'll find an earlier or later date. Thanks!
My Family’s Favourite Celebration & Our Traditions:
Over the past few months, we’ve been learning about some celebrations from a variety of communities and cultures as part of our Social Studies program. So far we’ve read books about and discussed:
During the coming weeks in our Language program, we’ll be learning about how to support our main ideas with interesting and supporting details. For example, birthdays may be a favourite family celebration, but HOW do you celebrate them, what are your traditions? Clarity and Coherence will be our focus, using the five W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) to organize our thoughts.
Please help your child select a family CELEBRATION and draw conclusions about your TRADITIONS. Practice recounting it orally with the use of a simple visual aid, a photograph or a drawing.
As an extension, students can speak to family members to gather information and then connect their present-day celebration to celebrations from the past. Think about ways in which our heritage and traditions are passed on (e.g., stories, music, crafts, dance, food, recreation, clothing). For example, how have birthdays been celebrated over multiple generations in your family? Try to identify some of the main reasons for changes in these traditions.
Some ideas to spark discussion from the Social Studies Curriculum:
“How might technology affect the ways in which we celebrate some holidays?”
“What did you find out about the differences between traditions related to the Christmas now and in the past? What is still the same? Do you think the changes are good?”
“How did moving to a new country change the way your family celebrated some of its traditions?”
“When we visit my grandparents, they have a real Christmas tree. My grandma says that her parents put candles on their tree because they didn’t have electricity. At home we have an artificial tree with built-in lights. They are safer than candles.”
“Christmas has changed in some ways. Our tree and decorations are different in a lot of ways. But we still put up stockings and give presents. We eat the special dinner that my grandma makes. It’s the same as what her mother made. So a lot is the same too. It’s good that those things are the same. They make Christmas special.”
“My dad is from India. My mom is from Quebec. My dad buys special sweets for Diwali because he remembers eating them in India. My mom’s family didn’t do that.”
Our presenters and audience members will be focusing on:
As always, we are flexible about the date so if your child is away that day or needs more time to prepare they can present when they are ready.
Thank you to everyone who was able to make it out to Parent Teacher Interviews!
Here are a few of the common items that many of us discussed:
Library & Levelled Books
Today in Library, Claire (Krissy’s Long Term Occasional replacement teacher) reminded the students about the ‘5 finger check’ or the ‘Goldilocks Rule’ of reading (*we’ve been discussing it in class during Daily 5s Read to Self as well). When we first started going to the library this year we wanted students to practice a love of reading and to choose any book that interested them, which might include some longer chapter books or graphic novels that were above their reading levels. Now that we’ve been back at school for a while, we’ve been learning what makes good readers and which reading strategies to use (see blog post), we’d like students to choose at least 1 book at their level before they choose a ‘family read aloud’ book from the library.
*If you’d like to know your son’s or daughter’s current reading level, please reach out to me!
*Remember to visit the Literacy Link tab on the Homepage (under homework) to see a visual and further explanation of the Developmental Reading Assessment.
By November in Grade 1, students are:
"at level" if they're between levels 6-10,
"approaching" between 3-4, and
"at risk" if they are at or fall below a 2.
By November in Grade 2, students are:
"at level" if they're between levels 14-18,
"approaching" between 10-12, and
"at risk" if they are at or fall below a 8.
Snacks & Lunches
Many families expressed concern about the amount of food that comes home in their child’s lunch bag some days; I agree, many of our students get so excited about recess that they neglect to eat their snacks!
We’ve had many discussions as a class about the reason for eating, how these foods help to fuel our bodies for a long day at school and work. Each morning as we get ready for the a.m. recess, I remind students to choose their healthiest of snacks first, to help set them up for a good day. As I drop them off in the lunchroom, most days I remind them to ‘eat your healthy foods first - your sandwiches, your soups, your pastas, your meats & cheeses - before you eat your treats & desserts”. If time allows, we sometimes get our lunch bags and finish our leftovers during story time at the very end of the day - but students know that this is not a guarantee and that they really should be eating most of their foods during recesses and lunch.
The HPAS Snack Program that takes place once a week is also a great reminder of why we should try to eat as many healthy foods as we can (I encourage each student to at least try the snack, even if they think they might not like it). Tanya, our ‘Snack Lady’, even puts up YouTube videos that include interesting facts about the fruits and veggies we’re eating. The students love to watch them, so be sure to check them out at home too!
Recess Play & Social Skills
The school yard is a big place with lots of little (and big!) bodies running around outside. Our students are learning how to navigate the social aspect of recess and to think of the impact that their choices and behaviours can have on other people. As part of our Social Studies Curriculum, we’ve been talking a lot about Relationships, Rules and Responsibilities, describing how our responsibilities might be different as a friend, as a sibling, as a member of the Room 108 Classroom Community or our larger HPAS Community. The biggest message is that we want our students to be able to speak up and advocate for themselves; to listen to their peers with open and caring hearts; to try to understand each other’s point of view.
To help reinforce this at home, you can use our School’s Problem Solving Questions:
Also, remind your children to:
Thanks again for all your support from home, and as always, please feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions, comments or concerns.
When choosing levelled books for your child, there are LOTS of different types of levelling systems. This chart may help you when looking for new books. *The Scholastic Flyers do list some DRA levels on certain books. Be sure to check them out each month!
In November, we will be learning about how to retell stories as part of our language program. Students are also learning how to use sequencing words (first, next, then, finally) when writing a recount of a personal event. Please help your child select a PICTURE book and practice retelling it orally. Each student’s show and share date is listed on the Class Google Calendar. As always, we are flexible about the date so if your child is away that day or needs more time to prepare they can present when they are ready.
Here are a few guidelines and ideas to help you prepare:
*On the day of your show and share please bring the book to school with you!
As presenters and audience members we are learning how to:
If your child is a reader and feels comfortable bringing in notes to help them, they may. Some students do better just talking naturally about the topic.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
When students come to read with me during Guided Reading Groups, or when they Read to Self or Read to Someone, they've been practising these Reading Strategies.
Ask your child:
☑️ which strategy they use most often.☑️which strategy they are trying to practice using. ☑️which strategy they find most difficult to use. (and why?)
We found a fun video online that helps us with the tricky "Flippy Dolphin" strategy:
Old MacDonald Had Some Vowels. It goes through the short and long sounds of each vowel - so remember that if you try one vowel sound and it doesn't seem quite right, flip it and try the other vowel sound!
**The 'Long Vowel Sound' is the same as they name of the vowel.
Last week, each student took home their very own bookmark with the strategies listed. Please use it at home as you read together and talk about the different strategies that you're using! *Resources courtesy of Deanna Jump @ Teachers Pay Teachers
The V.I.P. - Very Important Person
During the first month of school, each student had the opportunity to be the V.I.P. for a day; they sat in our V.I.P. chair on the carpet, they led the line and they did any special, little jobs that I might have needed help with throughout the day. As a class, we also got the chance the get to know our V.I.P. a little bit better through an interview. As students asked questions and listened for the answers, we focused on the Oral Language Curriculum. When someone asked, “What’s your favourite sport?” a more detailed response than “baseball” would be “My favourite sport is baseball.” and an even more detailed response might include “and I like the Toronto Blue Jays”. Students learned to use part of the question, in their answers (which will hopefully translate into their writing!)
1.2 appropriate listening behaviour - listen without interrupting and wait their turn to speak; show that they are paying attention and are interested by looking at the speaker
2.2 appropriate speaking behaviour - stay on topic and speak to the point
2.3 communicate clearly - use a logical framework with a beginning, middle and end
This beginning of the year activity will now translate into our ‘Show and Share’ program. As part of our Oral Language expectations, students will be learning how to speak clearly and communicate their ideas in an organized way when sharing with the class. Throughout the year, we will focus on different aspects that make a presentation interesting and engaging to the audience. We will learn about techniques, such as, using a loud voice, making eye contact, speaking clearly, and using visuals. Audience members will be learning how to ask questions and give descriptive feedback to the presenters (using ‘stars’ and ‘wishes’).
Each month our class will have a new theme for our Show and Shares and all presentation dates will be posted on the class calendar. If you child is away on their day, we are very flexible and they will just present when they are ready. Students may be as creative as they like when preparing for their show and share day. It is not meant to be a big production, only a 1-3 minute talk about the topic. If your child is a reader and feels comfortable bringing in notes to help them, they may. Some students do better just talking naturally about the topic! Please help them practice at home.
October Show and Share - * Our Family Stories *
This October, we will be learning about what makes a family. We will focus on different kinds of families and how we can be accepting of others. Please help your child to think of some things they would like to share about your family. Students do not need to speak about all the ideas listed below, they are just ideas to help guide your discussions.
Ideas to Spark Discussions:
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. Thanks for your ongoing support from home!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the BBQ and Curriculum Night this past week! I met a lot of family members and we chatted about a lot. If you haven’t been getting any email blasts from me - please reach out and I’ll add you to our mailing list.
Here are some highlights about our #backtoschool routines in grade 1 and 2.
First thing before entering the school, I come out to meet the students all lined up and ready to come in at 8:45 am. Then before we enter the class, students check their backpacks for their Yellow Home Notes Folder (to be returned to school on a regular basis) and for water bottles to be kept in the room throughout the day.
Next week, students will start their assigned ‘SuperKid Jobs’ - table top checkers, chair stackers, green team (emptying the recycling, green bin and watering our plants), pencil sharpeners and more! Some of these jobs can be done first thing when entering the classroom, while others such as lunch bin holders & caboose happen throughout the day.
Before the morning announcements at 8:55, we always go through and discuss our schedule; it’s posted in a blue pocket chart for the students to refer to throughout the day. We listen to the announcements carefully in case there are any especially for us (e.g., Fun ‘n Run Club, Ball Hockey Court Schedule, HPAS birthdays etc.) and then we get started with our day!
Writing* a separate blog post coming soon!
We’ve been working on:
"This is me ..." booklets, writing and drawing
“V.I.P.” booklets, for a new Very Important Person each day!
“Writing Journals”; our first entry was on International Day of Peace - What does peace, look, sound, smell, taste and/or feel like to you?
Math* a separate blog post coming soon!
We’ve been working on:
“Number Books” are worked on each day, as we learn about #s 1-20
“Red Math Folders” are independent practice workbooks
"Dot Plates” are a great way to recognize numbers quickly, without having to count by 1s (called subitizing)
A read aloud that many of us were familiar with is Have You Filled Someone's Bucket Today? Throughout the past few weeks, individual students are caught filling other people's buckets (making the right choices, following the routines, going out of their way to be kind to others). For example:
- Theo was kind and unstacked an entire set of chairs all by himself in the morning without being asked
- Clara found a word list and worked on her writing independently, finding words she needed in the room
- Leah reminded me that she had been absent and that she needed to finish math work from the previous day, before she could start with her new work
- Averie helped me find something that I'd misplaced in the room and that I was looking for
- Ella was helpful with a grade 1 student and showed her words on the word list
... there are lots of ways that students can 'fill their bucket' and at times, I might see them and ask them to write their name on a paper droplet and put it into our classroom bucket. Students know that I don't always get the chance to see them making their good choices, so they won’t always get a droplet, but I hope that they’ll continue to make good choices because when they do, they not only make someone else happy (and fill their bucket) they too can feel a sense of pride and happiness for making a good choice. At the end of the week I pull a few droplets out of the bucket and those students are recognized - they might get to choose our class read aloud, a game that we'll play together, or they might even go home with a trinket like a sticker or a pencil for home.
Gems are also a positive reinforcement strategy that we use throughout the year as a whole class; we have two small bins, one full of purple gems and the other is empty. If students work together, cooperate, follow the expectations as a whole community, then a gem is moved from the full bin to the other. Ms. Tahirovic caught us in the hallway as she was passing by and paid us a compliment, because we were being respectful by lining up quietly and not disturbing the other classes during our transition. We can earn gems for positive feedback and compliments from others too! Once all the gems are earned ... we celebrate their teamwork with a gem party! (more info when we get to that point).
End of Day Routines
As soon as students hear our tidy up song (we find it much easier to tidy if there's fun music playing in the background), we stop what we’re doing and work as a team to pack up our room. Quite often they earn a gem for cooperating and working together to pack up our room so quickly!
Then, we gather on the carpet for story-time and we read from our chapter book. First, we read Junie B Jones Toothless Wonder and now, we’re reading Junie B Jones First Grader At Last! Sometimes as students listen, they can get our classroom stuffies and pillows and get comfy on the carpet. Other times, we bring our lunch bags out and eat all our leftovers (which sometimes is a lot!), because it’s important that we fuel our bodies during the busy days we’re having (and because we don’t want to be wasteful with our food). *I do remind students though that most of their food should be eaten during lunch - to take their time in the lunchroom and not to rush outside for recess!
Right now, the best thing to focus on is reading for 15 minutes a day - and there are MANY ways to read:
- parent reads a chapter book; stop to discuss what might happen next, ask "if you could be a character, which one would you be and why?
- parent reads a picture book, from start to finish, as child listens
- parent reads a picture book, child tracks the writing and points to each word as they're read aloud
- child "reads" a picture book; they can use the pictures to retell favourite parts (ignoring the words, but focusing on comprehension and story patterns)
- use a picture book and play "Eye Spy" - the word the, where do you see it on the page? Use our word list!
- recognize the letters and words on a cereal box at breakfast in the morning!
Once students have mastered Sight Words and can recognize them without having to sound out each time, reading will become more fluent. Play these Sight Word Games at home!
*While these are games that students can play independently, please sit with your son or daughter the first few times they play.
If you’d like to practice printing and proper letter formation at home, you can visit this website to use as a reference and/or to print practice pages.
Don't forget to click on all the homework links on my homepage - just scroll to the bottom for TONS of online resources you can use at home, with your son or daughter.
If you find it tricky to get your son or daughter to answer “what did you do at school today?”, ask them about:
- Washroom routines
- Lunch bins
- To finish the sentence “1, 2, 3, eyes on me …”
For additional tips check out : 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids 'So How Was School Today?' Without Asking Them 'So How Was School Today?'
Please feel free to comment below and let me know if your little ones have any feedback once they get home!
Looking forward to a great year,
And off we go! Are you ready for back to school!? Here are a few great websites & articles & images that I've been bookmarking over the past few weeks. Some great advice to help with the transition of your little ones! ** If you've got any useful tips, please share in the comments section below ⬇️
Thank you to everyone who was ale to attend! It was a wonderful evening.
Our High Park Spring Showcase was another celebration of the Arts. During the Winter Showcase we celebrated Drama and Dance, so this time around we celebrated Visual Arts as well as Language Arts.
Our video celebrates Reading, Writing, and Oral Language (speaking & listening) - the discussions that we've had during our unit of Science & Social Studies exploration about drinking water access issues in Ontario's First Nations communities.
See bit.ly/wateraccessinquiry for previous blog posts.
Understanding Earth and Space Systems: Air and Water in the Environment
*Social Studies Curriculum*
People and Environments: The Local Community / Global Communities
Our watercolour habitat painting on oil pastel resist, with pencil crayon animal illustrations, celebrates the eco-systems that we've been learning about.
Understanding Life Systems: Needs and Characteristics of Living Things / Growth and Changes in Animals.
Our pencil crayon Google Doodle Design celebrates #Canada150 and our visions for our country's future.
Understanding Earth and Space Systems: Daily and SeasonalChanges
*Social Studies Curriculum*
Heritage and Identity: Our Changing Roles and Responsibilities / Changing Family and Community Traditions
People and Environments: Global Communities
Together, all of the 'Arts' that you will saw at the Showcase represent a message shared by Justice Murray Sinclair:
We will watch. We will listen. We will show respect.
Did you see the Earth Day Google Doodle?! I couldn't wait to share it with the students.
It begins with a little Fox that's dreaming about the state of our planet.
He wakes up with a jolt because he realizes that our planet is in trouble; the fish are swimming in polluted waters, the icecaps are melting ...
BUT - he's decided that there are actions that he can take to help. He sets out to plant some seedlings ...
... and he meets some friends along the way.
We clicked through the images together as a class and talked about what we saw:
- what was happening in the pictures?
- what were the animals thinking and feeling?
- what message was the illustrator trying to share?
Wordless Books are great for inferring and creating deeper understanding. Check out this Reading Rockets article for more info on why and how to use them. Also, check out the list of Reading Rocket's Favourite Wordless Picture Books.
Some of my favourites are:
The Girl and the Bicycle
The Boy and the Airplane
The Lion and the Mouse
Feel free to make a copy of the Earth Day Google Doodle Doc I created and use it to tell your own stories!
Our first week of Term 2 Homework whizzed by - thank you for supporting your children with this new routine and responsibility!
Please remember that the focus of this homework is:
Our homework program is meant to help students better their skills and confidence in different areas of learning. Feel free to practice the areas that you wish to improve on, but please also try to take risks and encourage a balance of all the activities you may choose from.
✔️ I will try to do 10 – 30 minutes of “homework” each night to practice independence.
✔️ I will try the tougher activities more than once to practice GRIT (perseverance + motivation).
✔️ I will work in an organized space that helps me maintain focus.
✔️ I will pack my duotang in my own backpack when I am finished to practice responsibility.
Questions & Concerns:
"The instructions say to focus on one goal but the letter home outlines to do at least four of the activities weekly. Should the focus be in one area but mix up the activity?"
While the students are encouraged to take part in many different learning & 'homework' opportunities throughout the week, it's best if they put extra focus and attention on one specific goal (it makes it more achievable). For example, if the goal is to learn 3 new words from the 100 Most Frequently Used Words list a student can still ride their bike as 'physical' homework and help cook dinner as 'other' homework, but they might spend 2 or 3 times practicing the new words.
TIP - check off all the words on the 100 Most Frequently Used Words List that you already know!
"We have a busy schedule and homework every night is hard to do."
This homework program celebrates all the wonderful learning opportunities that you're already taking part in! If you 1) play on a sports team on Mondays, 2) practice an instrument on Wednesdays, 3) have a play date scheduled on Thursday - then don't worry about sitting down to complete the log on those days. Use your 'off days' to sit down, spend some time together to reflect on what you've done and complete the log (the more traditional type of 'homework').
TIP - if your child submits their duotang on Tuesdays, then the next day spend a moment checking my feedback and to quickly set your new goal for the next week.
Thanks for your ongoing support at home. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns!
TDSB's Homework Tips and Resources
Parents/guardians are a key part of finding homework success. Some tips on what you can do to support your child include:
Click to learn more about the TDSB Homework Policy
In our Room 108 Classroom Community, we foster an engaging, respectful and caring environment. I aim to balance a consistent program with flexible responsiveness to students' individual needs.