Wed., Jan. 16th & Thurs. Jan. 17th

Thurs., Jan. 17th


ART – Today, we started our day in Art with Mr. Obermeyer, while I taught music to 4/5O.

LITERACY – Next we read another chapter from “Alexandria of Africa” by Eric Walters.

Alexandria of Africa coverIn today’s chapter we learned a little about the Maasai culture of Africa, through the character Nabala, who is a Maasai warrior (as well as the protector of the Child Save volunteers while they are helping to build a school). 5/6 F students were very engaged — it is always fun to see them laugh when author Eric Walters weaves humour into the text …and it is also so rewarding as a teacher to watch their faces during all the “ah-a” moments, when inferences come together into a sweet realization, or they make a keep connection to sophisticated ideas in the text. We are able at this point to connect this read aloud to our current Social Studies unit (grade 5 students are learning about Ancient Civilizations and grade 6 students are learning about Canada’s Aboriginal Cultures — First Nations, Inuit and Metis). All cultures can be looked at in through the same lens: in terms of the needs of the people — physical needs, social or group needs and psychological needs — and how these needs are shaped and met through a close relationship with the environment. For example, we learned today about the belief systems of the Maasai with respect to males and their “coming of age” (part of a their culture’s psychological needs). [We connected this to our current Growth and Development unit in Health.] We also learned about the way that members of the Maasai culture settled disputes (Social or Group Needs) and students made connections to Western culture. Questions arose in the text about the clashing of traditional cultures and “modern” (Western) culture. In current times (the setting of “Alexandria of Africa”), the Maasai find that their culture is clashing with more “modern” (Western) cultures in Africa — Should the Maasai be subjected to the beliefs and laws of modern society? Is the “modern” culture better and should the Maasai adapt their traditional beliefs to this new culture? This connects particularly well to grade 6 students’ study of First Nations culture — were some Europeans who arrived on Canada’s shores correct in believing that their “modern” Western culture was superior to the supposedly “primitive” First Nations cultures? This can lead grade 6 students to some interesting thoughts about where we find ourselves currently in Canada.

As for the character Alexandria, in today’s chapter we witnessed one of her first positive interactions — where her intelligence and “spark” showed up! We won’t give away the story, but suffice to say that the warrior Nebala may have a positive impact on Alexandria and help facilitate her personal growth.

“Alexandria of Africa” is a very rich text — it is difficult for us to get through it without wonderful discussions — and the students of 5/6F can hardly let a paragraph go by without some deep insight and sharing of connections to their own lives and texts and experiences they have enjoyed.

Thanks to 5/6F student Holly, we have a non-fiction book in our classroom about the Maasai — an autobiography entitled, “The Last Maasai Warriors” by Wilson Meikuaya, Jackson Ntirkana Our class is borrowing the book from Holly and any student is welcome to read it 🙂


MATH – Students completed yesterday’s diagnostic assessment. Later in the day, Grade 5 learned about finding Mean and Mode in a set of data, and Grade 6 learned more about finding the Median in a set of data. We had some practise, and will practise again tomorrow while I am at an inservice analyzing their diagnostics for February’s Fractions unit.

SOCIAL STUDIES – We had lab time today to collect information about civilizations (Ancient Civilizations for Grade 5; Canadian Aboriginal Peoples in Grade 6). Each student will choose two cultures and create a power point or SMARTboard presentation. We will use the lens of Psychological/Group/Physical Needs + the Environment in our learning.
Wed., Jan. 16th

by Thomas and Spencer

In social studies today we went to the computer lab and picked two topics on ancient Civilizations. we are getting ready for speaches and our teacher gave us a lesson on how to deliver a speach and that we should use hand gestures and eye contact walk around a little bit. Here is the beginning of an Anchor Chart (we started with non-verbal communication and will also develop the verbal communication list).

In Gym with Mr. Greenway, some groups presented their Dances today! This dance is awesome and fun! Thank you to the 5/6F and 6G student leaders who taught this dance unit! [note: duplicate links follow — the Blogsy app inserts duplicate links that we can’t manage to delete]



Jan. 14, 2013


We began today with a chapter of reading aloud from Alexandria of Africa. Lots of inferences happening today! Students are really loving the book and already have predictions about Alexandria’s possible transformation as the story unfolds. We then worked on Speeches. Our next step will be to have lessons on oral presentations. Students who have not finished their speeches will be able to stay in during break time with me.

Today in Math, Grade 6 students are working on interpreting graphs. We are working on reading graphs and reading between the lines, making inferences (including predictions). We learned that Line Graphs are the best graphs for choosing when data shows changes over time.

Grade 5 students re-wrote a problem solving question involving perimeter and area. Some students re-wrote a couple of other questions from our recent test. I look forward to marking and communicating improvements to everyone. Next, they also worked on interpreting data. We learned about the difference between an Observation (reading and stating what the graph shows) and an Inference (reading between the lines; answering the question “Why is that true?” or making predictions). We used an example from the textbook —

Jan14 2013 Gr5 Data management_1

….and students were able to make some pretty high level inferences about the data….e.g. that people in a survey might prefer bicycling as an activity because they can travel far and fast and also rest when not pedaling; that they might prefer roller blading next because they can “coast” like on a bicycle — but it might not be as popular as bicycle riding because younger children may have trouble balancing on roller blades compared to bicycles. Some students inferred that running was less popular because it involved sustained physical exertion, compared to coasting on a bike or roller blades. We noticed that inferring can require lots of thought and creative “out of the box” thinking.

Jan14 2013 Gr5 Data management_2

We had Gym after break while 6G came to Music….


…..then we ended the day in the lab with Miss Rankin (our Day 2 computer lab Literacy period with Miss Rankin) — but we also started with our French Dictee. After the Dictee, we worked on “front loading” information about ancient civilizations for Social Studies. We will each choose 2 civilizations to explore and create a lapbook for our culminating task.

Grade 5 choices: Ancient Greek, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Central America (Mayans), Ancient Mexico (Aztecs), Ancient Mesopotamia (an area currently including parts of Syria, Turkey, Iran & Iraq), Ancient Indus Valley (an area currently including Pakistan and part of India)

Grade 6 choices (Canadian Aboriginals): Wendat (a.k.a. Huron), Anishinabe (a.k.a. Ojibway), Woodland Cree, Siksika (“plains Indians”), Haida (or other Northwest Coast First Nations), Inuit

For homework, to activate our background knowledge about Culture, we discussed that there are three parts of Culture: Physical Needs (physical needs we need to survive), Social Needs (needs of a group of people in order to be safe and get along) and Psychological Needs (needs of an individual in order to be happy and mentally healthy). We will use these parts of Culture, along with information about the environment of each civilization, as a framework for our learning and culminating task.

Jan14 2013 Gr5 Data management_3


Fri., Jan 11, 2013

We'll start with a couple photos of 5/6F students building with snow earlier in the week — an Inuksuk and a fort!

by Ella and Sarah

This morning we were all very surprised to come to school!When we arrived we went in the gym with 4R, 4/5O and 6G. In the gym we played snow fort dodge ball and 6G won! We also played octopus and ultimate dodge ball along with honey buns tag.When we came back to the classroom we read some more of ‘Alexandria Of Africa’ .We also shared some cool stories related to the text. Alexandria did not believe Renee and Nebala about wild and poisonous animals. [EDITOR: Renee is the Child Save volunteer who has been assigned to mentor and monitor Alexandria, and Nebala is the Massai warrior/local person hired to protect all Child Save volunteers from potential dangers in Africa and also to be their guided.] We then started talking about wild stories of cool wild animals. [EDITOR: text to text and text to world connections 🙂 ] Then Alexandria did not believe that people came to help in Africa and were not forced to be there like her. Katelynn shared a fabulous story about her sister 2 years ago…. her sister volunteered to go to the Dominican Republic to build houses and she got to meet the adorable kids.

We are all very excited to welcome Eric Walters to our school next Friday. [EDITOR: This is a rescheduled visit and we can't wait! Hopefully, we will be closer to being finished reading “Alexandria of Africa” in time for his visit!]

Then Madeline suggested that we should do the cups for music. We did the cups to Rolling In The Deep, Celebration, Jai Ho and our favourite song……….GANGNAM STYLE!!!! [EDITOR: Students are doing very well in keeping the beat and coordinating their efforts to synchronize the rhythm – well done! We will follow up by having students create and perform their own rhythms/songs!…..Here is a short video to show the rhythm, followed by the whole class — starting with 3 grade 5 groups and ending with the large grade 6 group:


In math the grade 5′s studied a bit more for our upcoming test on Monday for perimeter and area (reminder!!!)

EDITOR: We created and practised a similar problem to #7 on the previous test, in order to practice our skills — students practised using our formulas for Area and Perimeter

Area: A = â„“ x w)

Perimeter (P = (â„“ + w) x 2

Grade 6 students worked on problems related to interpreting graphs (data management).

We ended the day toboganning!


Tuesday January 8th

by Victoria

This Morning we had Language. In Language we Connected with Eric Walters on Twitter!!! [EDITOR: below is our tweet to Eric Walters, and then his response to us — exciting!!!]

tweet to Eric Walters #1 plus response

In our class, we talked with each other about how to communicate & engage people outside our classroom walls (like Eric Walters) – we talked about how to make specific feedback to share with him, and to involve him in a conversation with us so that we can  learn from him. We reviewed how to “mention people” on Twitter (using “@theirname”) so they can find our tweets and connect with us more easily. If we don’t mention people on twitter it is almost as if you are tweeting to no one, that is why we learned how to mention people. We also learned out how to find information on a topic by using hashtags [EDITOR: sort of like a search engine]. We studied the cover of “Alexandria of Africa” more closely and started to make inferences about the design. We tweeted out to Eric Walters and asked him about the cover. [EDITOR: Maybe he will respond? Maybe his publisher creates or chooses the cover? We hope to find out how that works!]

tweet to EricWalters #2


[EDITOR: Here is my worn but much read and well loved personal copy of “Alexandria of Africa”, which I keep in our class library.]

Alexandria of Africa cover

After we tweeted out to Eric Walters, we read from the book – it is a great book. It is about a girl named Alexandria who got into trouble and had the choice to ether go to Juvenile Detention or to go to a camp in Africa to help people. Its a very good book! Our class is really enjoying it! We also can’t wait to meet Eric Walters when he comes to our school on Friday.

[EDITOR: We also tweeted out yesterday’s blog entry, and since we mentioned Mrs. Bosher and @ArtsHWDSB (our HWDSB Arts Consultant, Ms Wilkins), we received responses from both of them, interested in our work with rhythm. Video to follow soon when we are more precise in our singing and percussion!  (And yes, We will in fact be creating our own rhythms/cup routines as a task for assessment.) Mrs. Bosher is available to visit us a lot of the time — sometimes we send her a text message when we have a song ready and would like immediate feedback from an “audience” – we are connected!!]

tweet first 2013 blogpost & responses

Then we had French and watched a funny French Flash Mob Video. We also did an activity where we make up sentences with our test words. We will be having a test on it on Friday.

Then we had Break!

After Break we went to the computer lab we worked on reading comprehension. We read an article from the newspaper called, “Perform an Act of Kindness – it could be good for your heath” and had to high-light parts of the text that helped us answer a question.

[Editor: This was a great text to read, as students were able to make lots of connections to our work in class and Rousseau’s “Pay It Forward” theme. We read the question, went through the article and wrote an answer to the question in a Google doc using evidence from the text and also our own ideas……..

Back in class we worked on writing our speeches — at this point students on target have finished their rough draft and are finishing the revising checklist and the editing checklist. A large number of students are writing their good copies. Our goal is to finish writing speeches by the end of this week and start to work on our delivery. Once students have finished their good copy and I have a photocopy of it, they may take speeches home to write out on cue cards and practice. Any speech brought home cannot be changed in any way………


Please take a look at our Speech Writing Revising Checklist and Editing Checklist here


We ended the day with some DPA – we learned 5 activities – squats, lunges, tricep dips, planking, pushups – and a five minute routine that we can use regularly through each day that employs each of these activities. Finally, students went outside with Mr. O for 20 min of DPA in the snow while his class sang in music class with Ms Fawcett.  GREAT DAY!]


HAPPY NEW YEAR 5/6F Families! – Jan. 7, 2013

by Katelynn and Skyler

We were all very exited to come back to school for the first time this year!

We started the school day with an activity that tells us about our highest highlight of the holiday (that is a tongue twister.) Students would individually write down their highlight on a sticky note so no one can see it.Then everyone would put their note in the basket after they folded it. After we put it in, we sat in a circle on the carpet and the first person would pick one sticky note from the basket. When they read the note out loud they would have to use expression in their voice (getting ready for speeches) and they would have to know a lot about everybody in the class to make it easy for them to know who wrote the note. [Editor: We used the Literacy skills of inferring and oral language, while also  building community!]

Next subject of the day: Music. Here is a link to show you what we started off with for inspiration.  Click the link to see 3 young girls singing in 3 part harmony with a cool cup rhythm!

As you can see they used containers to make different sounds on the table and hands. We used cups and it looks really hard but if you work on it for 5 minutes it is as easy as counting to one. But it still does take a lot of focusing and work. [Editor: We were developing our sense of rhythm, while also participating in a very kinestetic activity — we also sang, and are working on this: it is hard to sing and do the rhythms. I learned to do this myself first so that I could share it with the class – and who taught me? My kids….]

We went out early to enjoy sliding on the snow hill [Editor’s note: students were reminded in an announcement today that they can slide down the Junior field hill under direct supervision of their teacher…but students will not slide/toboggan during breaks because the teacher on duty has a larger number of students to supervise]. Did you know that on Friday January 11th, Canadian author Eric Walters is coming to our school? We are REALLY excited. After break, we read from “Alexandria of Africa” by Eric Walters.  Today we found out that in the book, Alexandria went on a plane to Africa to make up for her previous crimes. Alexandria isn’t really enjoying her stay in Africa so far.  [Editor: The judge ruling on Alexandria’s vandalism and assault charges offered the work program for troubled youth as an alternative to Alexandria spending time in juvenile detention for her crimes. This has some similarity to our HWDSB’s Restorative Justice program because the purpose of this fictional program in the book is not to punish the person who makes a mistake, but rather is to help youth see the error of their ways by teaching them empathy and helping them to understand the impact of their actions]. 

Then our class had to go to gym for dance with Rosie,Tara, Pari, and Victoria. We reviewed our dance combinations. And that was our fantastic and fun start to the new year of school! 🙂