March 27, 2013 – Math, Reading Open Response


Today we started out in the computer lab. We’re continuing our self-assessment journey for reading open response questions. Building on our previous TLCP work (Point of View/Open Response), we reflected critically on how we did on our previous work (Success Criteria: I can use evidence from the text to answer a reading comprehension question; I can use my own ideas (reflections, inferences, text-text or -world or -self connections). We specifically compared our answers to the ingredients of our Anchor Chart:

Reading Open Response ANCHOR CHART

Reading Open Response ANCHOR CHART

For future Open Response Reading Questions, this same self-assessment can happen using a blackline: students will be able to self-assess more quickly using this Check-bric (basically, a checklist with all the ingredients from the Anchor Chart):

Reading Open Response CHECK-BRICI have uploaded the Reading Open Response Check-bric to my Google Docs in a folder called, “Blackline Masters” — and shared the folder and documents with students. This way, students can access the Check-bric, fill it out, take a screen-shot and upload the image to their blog/portfolio. Please ask your child to share the link to their blog so that you can see their progress. It is still important that students not work on most/many assignments at home — independent work need to be formatively assessed (checked for  student’s progress) and summatively assessed (evaluated for report cards) based on work that students have completed independently at school. If a particular assignment on Google docs or on the blog can be worked on at home, it will appear in the student agenda as a homework item.

The most exciting part, is that students are beginning to start their Self-Assessment related to our TLCP on their OWN STUDENT BLOGS! We will spend more time tomorrow working on this self-assessment and will reveal the student blogs tomorrow 🙂


Back in the classroom, we looked at our current Reading Strategy, Questioning. I modeled Questioning during a read aloud of our class novel, Alexandria of Africa by Eric Walters . In the text, Alexandria is reaching a turning point where She recognizes her relative privilege as a North American, and her relative privilege as a North American from an affluent family as she and Renee discuss the difficulties less affluent students have in attending Ivy League universities and discuss the difficulties that the children in Africa have (particularly girls, who are not favoured like boys) in attending elementary school and high school (which is not free). Students were able to extend the questions to the strategy Inferring, where they predicted or “knew” the answer to some of the questions I modeled. FANTASTIC! 🙂 We also talked about cultural diversity: differences between some African cultures and North American culture, e.g. the fact that the children and adults in Africa in the book sometimes hold hands in friendship. Several students in the class were able to use the strategy Connecting, and shared similar cultural traditions in their ancestral countries (e.g. Greece, Iran) where men may embrace, kiss or hold hands in friendship the same as women do so easily in many cultures. We could spend our entire day learning from read alouds alone!



Grade 5: Grade 5 students built on yesterday’s division lesson with a Long Division lesson. This long division method called “Partial Quotients” is different from the Standard Algorithm that many (most?) parents grew up learning (myself included!). In Partial Quotients, the dividing question is broken up into more manageable parts. Here is a video I made explaining the standard algorithm and Partial Quotients using an iPad app called Screen Chomp (and uploaded to Youtube) (much better than the explanation I tried to share with a parent at the end of the day on my tiny iPhone screen with the app Skitch!)

One goal will be for students in both grades to use Screen Chomp on the class iPads in order to show their understanding of math procedures or any other skills and knowledge in any other subject. Look forward to more “screen casts” like this one, but created and published by students.

Grade 6: Grade 6 students first worked with me on taking up yesterday’s work on Percent.March27 2013 Gr6 Math_1



For this question (representing percent on a hundreds chart), we worked on showing one way (for a level 3) and showing an additional way (for a level 4) — 2nd way not picture, but similar to way #1, with the rows shifted around. The 3rd way is more creative and challenging. On the spot, we came up with a strategy of numbering the unshaded squares and even numbering them in green so that we left exactly 16  unshaded.

March27 2013 Gr6 Math_2







We then extended our understanding of fractions as they relate to percent by working with fractions that do NOT have a denominator of 100:

March27 2013 Gr6 Math_5

In third block, students went to French, attended the monthly Awards Assembly and ended the day with DPA outside.

Whew! What a great day!!!

Tomorrow, we will participate in a whole school spirit day, wearing athletic attire and donating loose change to benefit fundraising for the Ancaster community “Village Green Spray Pad”. More information can be found here on a website devoted to the spray pad fundraiser. Donations can also be made online. Tomorrow is also the Rousseau Scholastic Book Fair, so students may bring money to purchase books, while also fundraising for school books.

Book Fair on March28


Tuesday, March 26, 2013 – Fractions, Percent, Division, First Class

Today was a GREAT day. We started with Art in Mr. Obermeyer’s room. In art we are doodling! In a certain way. We make a bunch of squiggles and color them in.

Then we went to the computer lab and turned on our First Class accounts. And trust me. It took longer than you would think.[EDITOR: We have all our accounts enabled after changing settings. Students also emptied their mailboxes from last year — they have 25MB all together and need to be diligent about deleting messages they no longer need. Students also spent time appropriately messaging through First Class. We will use First Class email as a tool to share files with one another.]

After break we did math. Grade 6 is working on subtracting fractions and today learned to about percentage. We can now write a fraction as a percent and a decimal. Grade 5’s are working on relating fractions to division.

March26 2013 Gr5 fractions, dividing_1

March26 2013 Gr5 fractions, dividing_3March26 2013 Gr5 fractions, dividing_2March26 2013 Gr5 fractions, dividing_4

March26 2013 Gr5 fractions, dividing_5




Then we had french and both grades worked their skits. After second break we continued with math until the end of the day.

Over all a GREAT day.






March 25, 2013 – Gr5 Brochures (Literacy); Gr6 Flight (Science); Fractions

Editor’s Post: Here is today, told in tweets (a picture certainly is worth a thousand words!)


Grade 5 students are continuing to develop their understanding of the text genre of brochures….by writing brochures about how to make a brochure, using Nelson Literacy. Grade 6 students worked on using text features (colour) to develop a deeper understanding of Bernouilli’s Principle in Science (unit: Properties of Air, and Flight). We followed up with a vocabulary activity for the words: lift, gravity, thrust, drag, air resistance, aerodynamics, aerofoil wing and key vocabulary for Bernouilli’s Priniple (high/low pressure).


Grade 5 students had a check-in regarding Friday’s work and continued with practice relating fractions and decimals to the benchmarks

  • 0
  • 1/4  or 0.25
  • 1/2 or 0.5
  • 3/4 or 0.75
  • 1

Grade 6 students showed their thinking about subtracting fractions. The Storify story of tweets (below) has a link to Holly’s video explanation — but Shane’s video explanation link is not working, and I’ve embedded Shane’s work (and my feedback) below:

MUSIC – After Gym, we learned that Rousseau will be participating in “Music Monday”!! We are learning a great song, I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing), co-written by Canadian singer Ed Robertson (from the music group Bare Naked Ladies) and Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut currently ending his recent time aboard the International Space Station). Check out this link to hear a performance that took place on Feb. 8th by skype — with Cmdr. Hadfield aboard the space station, and Ed Robertson (and a high school choir in Toronto) in the studios at CBC Radio. Rousseau’s performance of “Is Somebody Singing” will take place on Monday, May 6th in the gym at 9:20 a.m.. All classes at Rousseau are learning the song and we will invite special guests and musicians to join us, in support of Music Education! More information to follow!


March 22, 2013 – Part 1 by Sarah and Ella

By; Ella and Sarah

This morning we had math first off! In math the Gr.5’s learned about benchmarks in fractions (decimals). Benchmarks are fractions and decimals that we already know and can show on a number line, a fraction strip or a circle graph. (0. 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1……otherwise known as 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1).  Now we understand benchmarks thanks to Ms.Fawcett! We were able to do some independent work in our math notebook and textbook. While the gr.5’s did that the gr.6’s learned about subtracting fractions. Now that they understand that, they were able to do some work! (Remember both grades homework over the weekend! Gr.5’s: pg.276 # 1,2,3,5,6. Gr.6’s pg. 305 # 2,3.)

Then we had French. Both grades worked on their skits! We learned some new words related to our skits.

We had a blast at break, even though it was cold.

After break we went down to the computer lab and started our own blog on the commons, like we are on right now 🙂 We were all super excited to start our own blog! In the computer lab we learned how to start a new blog post and we all wrote our thoughts and feelings about how we will use our blogs and how that affects our learning.

Next up Ms Fawcett will publish a “story” of our day using our tweets!


Math: Both Grades 5 and 6 are working on fractions. Grade 6 students are learning to compare and estimate the size of decimals and fractions using benchmarks (above) and grade 6 students are extending their understanding of adding fractions (needing a common denominator, etc.) to subtraction of fractions. We explored the use of fraction circles and we discovered (not surprisingly) that some students like the manipulatives, while others prefer the pencil-to-paper calculation of equivalent fractions. To each their own!

Reading/Point of View/TLCP: We spent time getting skills in place for self-assessment, a high yield strategy to improve student learning. Self-assessment (Indicator 1.3) is this year’s focus relative to Rousseau’s school-wide “School Effectiveness Framework” (last year’s focus parents may recall was giving effective feedback to students).

  • We referred to our previous work, where students wrote an answer to a reading comprehension question
  • I explained that the routine of underlining evidence from the text in black and underlining our own ideas in read is a self-assessment strategy (similar to checking math work, e.g. 5 – 3 = 2…I check by adding 3 + 2 = 5)
  • We created an anchor chart (below in Storify story) to summarize the self-assessment steps

Next, it got interesting 🙂 🙂 🙂  I created a fictitious student answer to the question, “Why did Ashooging give Bjarni a gift? Use evidence from the text and your own ideas to answer” and challenged students to Level the answer: 1, 2, 3, or 4. Interestingly, all students leveled the work as a 3+ or 4.

What level do you think it is?



Mon., March 18, 2013 – Part 1


Welcome back 5/6F families! I enjoyed hearing about March Break from students and was delighted to spend the day with them today! Students were busy bees today (as well as the week leading up to the March Break). Students will return to blogging soon, but have been spending their time experimenting in Science, Writing interview scripts & acting for Drama and Social Studies, filming experiments and interviews with iPads. Not a lot of time for summarizing our busy days  or reflecting through the blog  🙂

Before break, students were busy designing and filming Science experiments (Gr. 5: Can you alter one variable and increase the strength of a paper bridge?  Gr. 6: Can you design and execute an experiment to demonstrate that air takes up space or that air exerts pressure?) Both grades worked before the break on reviewing what makes a “Fair Test” in science and also both grades learned the steps involved in conducting an experiment using the Scientific Method (setting a Purpose, making a Hypothesis, planning for necessary Materials, determining constants and variables, outlining a Procedure, making Observations and making a Conclusion related to the hypothesis — and publishing all of this in a Report). Students made a lot of great inferences and conclusions and understand that a Fair Test involves only manipulating one variable.

Everyone had an opportunity to film their interview for Drama/Social Studies (Gr5 Ancient Civilizations: interviewed as either a Spartan or Trojan, related to the Nelson Literacy text “When We Built the Trojan Horse“; Gr6 First Nation Peoples and European Explorers: interviewed as either a Viking boy or Beothuk boy, related to the Canada Revisited historical fiction story, “Ashooging and Bjarni“). All related to our current Point of View (TLCP cycle), students demonstrated in another way that they can identify opposing points of view. Next up: missing points of view (critical literacy).

We continue to work on Open Response reading comprehension questions related to the Point of View TLCP cycle, refining our ability to find evidence from a text to support a point of view and also our ability to add  our own thoughts & reflections related to that evidence and point of view (text-to-self, -text, -world connections). We will share our Self-Assessment strategy for making sure that our Open Responses included both evidence from the text and our own ideas.

In Math, both grades should have a solid understanding of Equivalent Fractions (less complex for grade 5: using a hundreds grid…e.g. 30/100 is equivalent to 3/10 depending on whether you are counting individual squares or rows of squares; more complex for grade 6: multiplying or dividing the numerator and denominator by the same number).

  • Grade 5 students are working on relating fractions to decimals…e.g. 30/100 is 30 hundredths, and using the Place Value chart from Term 1 = 0.30. Next up for Grade 5: Fraction and Decimal Benchmarks
  • Grade 6 students are working on adding fractions, which can be tricky if the fractions a) have unlike denominators and b) one is an improper fraction and the other one is a mixed number. Next up for Grade 6: subtracting fractions.

In Gym, students are learning a Gymnastics unit with Mr. Greenway, taught by our own Madeline, and also 6G’s Kate and Shawna. In Art, students finished their tessellations before break and will start a new project tomorrow with Mr. Obermeyer.

Finally, I always enjoy signing up my class to writing for the “Our Pulse” page in The Hamilton Spectator. As a result of being signed up to submit student work next week (approximately 5 submissions will be printed! More information to follow!), we receive 10 copies of The Hamilton Spectator into our classroom every Tuesday, from September to June. These newspapers reside in our classroom library and are one of several text forms available in our non-fiction section. In order to reflect our school culture and our classroom learning this year, students were given the option of writing about Rousseau’s Pay It Forward theme, the wonders and excitement of Technology, Rousseau’s “Simple Six”, Creating a Culture of Peace (in the school…in the world?), the Eric Walters visit/book review of our class read aloud “Alexandria of Africa”, a poem (any topic) or a drawing (students chosen by me). All submissions will be published on our blog (or possibly on students’ own blogs if they are up and running in time), and a handful will appear in The Hamilton Spectator.

I’ll close this entry with the work of an inspired writer who brainstormed and published her poem for the Pulse submission today. Well done, Holly! I have included a jpeg below to demonstrate what a document looks like when it is shared between a student and me on Google Docs. You will notice that after a student shares their document with me, I am able to highlight parts of the document and write corresponding notes on the sidebar. These particular comments are summative (the formative comments were informal/verbal during the revising part of the student’s writing process). March18 Holly poem - in the basement