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Our balanced literacy program was described in detail in a previous BLOG post.  One of the key elements of our reading program is a structure called "Dailly Five."  Daily Five involves four twenty-minute reading-related learning activities within a morning literacy block.  Students are provided with choice regarding the order in which they complete various tasks.

Daily Five usually includes "work on writing."  This year, we are substituting "respond to text" for that activity and devoting entire literacy blocks to Writer's Workshop, every other day.


For Daily Five, each student has a twin-pocket folder containing his/her
word work, in-class reading logs, reading response workbook
and various other organizational aids and tip sheets.

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NoteThe pictures that follow were taken on the day of the Terry Fox Run at our school.  Staff and students were invited to wear hats to school that day, to celebrate a fund-raising milestone.

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This is how Daily Five looks in our classroom...

Read to Self:  The best way for a student to become a better reader is to practice each day, with books the student chooses at his/her
just-right reading level.  Students log their independent home and school reading.

Read to Someone:  Reading to someone provides more time to practice strategies, helping students work on fluency and expression, check for understanding, hear their own voice, and share in the learning community.

Spelling – Word Work:   Correct spelling allows for more fluent writing, thus speeding up the ability to write and get thinking down on paper.  This is an essential foundation for writers.  This year, students are breaking down the “nifty thrifty fifty” compound words into prefixes, root words and suffixes and working with commonly misspelled words.

Respond to Text:  Reading is thinking.  Responding to text means understanding the text form and the author’s intended purpose and audience, interpreting the text based on one’s own knowledge and point of view, making connections to the text and comprehending bias in relation to the text.  Students are provided with reading response choices to use with their independent reading and reading that is assigned by the teacher.

Listen to Reading:  When students hear examples of good literature and fluent reading, they learn more words, thus expanding their vocabulary and becoming better readers.  In our classroom, ”listen to reading” involves the teacher or a student reading a section of a chapter book aloud to the class.  This fall, we are reading “The Hobbit” aloud, in class.

Guided Reading:  While individuals and partners are involved with independent Daily Five work, groups of students engage in Guided Reading with the teacher.

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

(The kids insisted that I post a picture of me wearing my parrot hat!)

This week, the Grade 6 students met with their Grade 1 Science Buddies twice, to conduct field observations.

SESSION 2

On Tuesday, we we began an experiment to find out what types of waste items break down into soil fastest and slowest, in a garbage dump.  We donned germ-proof gloves and picked up trash from the lower field and "bush" area of the schoolyard.

Next we met as a group to inventory the trash we had collected.  We chose a variety of items and buried them in soil around the edge of a plastic container.  We labelled each buried item with a popsicle stick.

Then we disposed of the trash we collected in the schoolyard and took our "classroom landfill project" indoors.  Over the coming months, we will revisit our project from time-to-time to see what items are disintegrating and what items are not.

 

SESSION 3

On Wednesday, we met on the front lawn of the school to discuss the role of pollinators in our environment.  The Grade 6 students did a great job role-playing various types of pollinators and the Grade 1's had fun guessing who they were.

Afterwards, we went on a "pollinator safari" in the school's Pollination Garden.  We saw moths, bees, wasps, beetles and a grasshopper.

The bumble bees were actively moving from flower to flower, drinking nectar and spreading pollen!

This week’s outdoor sessions were Lessons E and F in The David Suzuki Foundation’s publication, “Connecting with Nature:  An educational guide for grades four to six,” which is keyed to the Ontario Science Curriculum.  This document can be downloaded for free at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/connecting-with-nature-education-guide/

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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The class spent the first three weeks of September reviewing literacy concepts and skills, practicing paragraph writing and completing CASI reading assessments. In Week 3, we also began Guided Reading.  In the coming weeks and months, students will start working more independently on literacy skills.

Our balanced literacy program includes reading, writing, oral communication and media studies.

These are some of the elements of our reading and writing programs:

  • Minds-on Literacy
  • Daily Five
  • Guided Reading
  • Shared and Independent Reading
  • Writer's Workshop
  • One-on-one conferences with the teacher about goals and "next steps"


Minds-on Literacy Exercises from "Daily Language Review" and other sources,
provide grammar, punctuation, word usage and sentence editing practice.

Daily Five literacy rotations help students develop the habits of working independently, reading, reflecting on reading and expanding vocabulary.  Students engage in three twenty-minute learning activity sessions within a morning literacy block, and are provided with choice regarding the order in which they complete various tasks.  This year, we changed "work on writing" to "respond to text."  We devote two literacy blocks per week to Daily Five.

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These are the cornerstones of our 2012-13 Daily Five program:

Read to Self:  The best way for a student to become a better reader is to practice each day, with books the student chooses at his/her
just-right reading level.  Students log their independent home and school reading.

Read to Someone:  Reading to someone provides more time to practice strategies, helping students work on fluency and expression, check for understanding, hear their own voice, and share in the learning community.

Spelling – Word Work:   Correct spelling allows for more fluent writing, thus speeding up the ability to write and get thinking down on paper.  This is an essential foundation for writers.  This year, students are breaking down the "nifty thrifty fifty" compound words into prefixes, root words and suffixes and working with commonly misspelled words.

Respond to Text:  Reading is thinking.  Responding to text means understanding the text form and the author’s intended purpose and audience, interpreting the text based on one’s own knowledge and point of view, making text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections and comprehending bias in relation to the text.  Students are provided with reading response choices to use with their independent reading and reading that is assigned by the teacher.

Listen to Reading:  When students hear examples of good literature and fluent reading, they learn more words, thus expanding their vocabulary and becoming better readers.  In our classroom, ”listen to reading” involves the teacher or a student reading a section of a chapter book aloud to the class.  This fall, we are reading "The Hobbit" aloud, in class.


For Daily Five, each student has a twin-pocket folder containing his/her
word work, in-class reading logs, reading response workbook
and various other organizational aids and tip sheets.

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 Each student in our class receives regular Guided Reading instruction, in a small group setting.  Our Guided Reading resource is the Nelson Literacy Kit, which includes reading folders that connect to Science, Social Studies, Health and Character Education.  Pictured above are samples of Grade 5 (top) and Grade 6 (bottom) Guided Reading folders.  Guided Reading usually occurs during Daily Five.


We also utilize Nelson Literacy student books, which contain Shared and Independent Reading selections and reading reflection prompts.  We use these books to enrich our studies of various subjects.  The Grade 5 books are shown on the top row and the Grade 6 books on the bottom.


Writer’s Workshop
includes the study and practice of various forms of writing.  These include:  narratives, recounts, procedures, discussions, explanations, reports, and persuasive letters.  Proofreading and editing of a student’s own work, providing feedback on classmates’ writing and goal setting toward becoming better writers are focal points within our writing program.  Students in our class are creating writing portfolios in binders provided by the school board for this purpose.  We devote two literacy blocks per week to "Writer's Workshop."


Students participate in regular One-On-One Conferences with the teacher about their goals and "next steps" in relation to reading and writing.  This ensures that each student receives customized instruction and is held accountable for working toward his/her goals for improvement.  These student-teacher conferences are usually held during Writer's Workshop.

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Oral and Media Literacy comprise the the other two strands in our balanced literacy programIn future BLOG posts, student-reporters will provide updates about our learning in these, and other, subject areas.

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

This year, in accordance with Simcoe County District School Board policy, students in our class will be assigned homework that falls under four categories:

  • Completion: any work assigned during the school day not completed in class;
  • Practice: any work that reinforces skills and concepts taught in class;
  • Preparation: any work that prepares students for upcoming lessons or classes;
  • Extension: any work that explores and refines learning in new contexts or integrates and expands on classroom learning.

Under the category of "practice," students are expected to read at home for at least 20 minutes per day.  Students are asked to complete a log sheet for four nights of reading each week, and have a parent initial the sheet to verify that at least 20 minutes of reading took place.

Also under the category of "practice," students are expected to complete 3-4 sheets of math review homework every other week.  This work is part of our class' small group "Guided Math" program.  The resource for Guided Math is Dr. Marion Small's Leaps and Bounds: Toward Math Understanding for Grades 5/6.  At the beginning of each topic in our regular Grade 5 and 6 math program, students will be asked to complete a diagnostic test assessing how well they remember the math concepts they learned in prior grades.  Guided Math groups, geared at reviewing earlier math concepts, will be created based on the results of each diagnostic test.  Guided Math groups meet with the teacher once a week, during an extra math period.  Students who don't understand how to complete the math homework may bring it back to class and receive additional tutoring during nutrition breaks or recess.  Review, through small group Guided Math and Guided Math homework, will make it easier for each student to build upon his/her knowledge during our regular Grade 5 and 6 math program. 

In addition to the above, at times students will be expected to study at home prior to taking tests.  Unfinished work and occasional home projects may also be assigned as homework throughout the school year.

This is a homework resource for parents, provided by the Simcoe County District School Board:
Bringing School Home:  How can I help my children with their homework?

Click on the link below if your child needs to print an extra copy of the Weekly Reading Log sheet:
SummaryReadingLogHomework

For information about the other elements of our math program, see the math program overview published to this BLOG last school year.

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

On Wednesday, the Grade 6's enjoyed their second day of Biodiversity field work (this time without their Grade 1 Science Buddies).  Their task was to find natural objects or creatures for a game.  The goal of the game was to try and identify how all of the rocks, sticks, leaves, pine needles, worms, spiders and insects they brought to the circle are related to each other, in nature.

The Grade 5 students are welcome to use our classroom nets and bug keepers during recess, and to examine our classroom visitors and field guides when they are finished their assignments.  These are some of the interesting "finds" Grade 5 students brought into class on Thursday. (NOTE:  At the end of the day, all of our wild "visitors" are safely returned to the areas where they were captured.)


Click to enlarge photos

This week’s outdoor session was Lesson B in The David Suzuki Foundation’s publication, “Connecting with Nature:  An educational guide for grades four to six,” which is keyed to the Ontario Science Curriculum.  This document can be downloaded for free at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/connecting-with-nature-education-guide/

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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Text by Megan C. and photos by Jaime C.

This fall, the Grade 5 Science topic is Human Organ Systems and the Grade 5 Social Studies topic is Government.  Our teacher for Science and Social Studies is Mrs. Park.

On our first day with Mrs. Park, we played a fun language game.  Megan went up in front of the class and Jaime picked a topic.  The topic was cookies.  Megan had to talk about cookies without saying "um" or "hmm."  She went on for two minutes.

Right now, in Science, we have a sheet so we write down what time we went to bed and what we have for breakfast, lunch and supper.  In Social Studies we are learning about different kinds of governments.

Here are some pictures of us working on Science and Social Studies in Mrs. Park's room:

Click on the pictures above to enlarge them.

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

This year, the Grade 6 students at Rama Central P.S. are teaming up with the Grade 1 students in Mrs. Turnbull's class for some outdoor learning activities.  We met for the first time today, to study the Characteristics and Needs of Living Things (Grade 1) and Biodiversity (Grade 6) that exists in our schoolyard.  The Grade 6 class supplied several bins of equipment and field guides, to facilitate our outdoor survey.

Grade 6 students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be mentors and helpers to their Grade 1 partners.  Partnering with older students allowed Grade 1 students to explore the yard in a more extensive manner than they would have been able to do on their own.  During our field session, students made notes and collected specimens (which were later returned to the places where they were captured).

When we met back together as a large group, we brainstormed words that student pairs felt answered the question "What is Nature?"  We also formed a circle and passed around all the bug keepers, so everyone could see the amazing variety of worms, insects and spiders, etc., that were found on our yard.

We plan to get together with our Grade 1 Science Buddies a few more times during September and October.  We also hope to work together on an outreach project that will help support the native wildlife in our area.  Stay tuned for more info. in a few weeks...  🙂

Today's outdoor session was Lesson A in The David Suzuki Foundation's publication, "Connecting with Nature:  An educational guide for grades four to six," which is keyed to the Ontario Science Curriculum.  This document can be downloaded for free at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/connecting-with-nature-education-guide/

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

Week One is now behind us and we are off to a great start!  We spent much of our first four days reviewing Literacy and Math concepts, getting acquainted and team-building.  We also reviewed school rules, and established classroom rules and routines that will foster comfort and productivity.

COMMUNITY AGREEMENT

The class has created a "Community Agreement" (list of good behaviour principles) using the character traits listed on a Restorative Practices poster that the Simcoe County District School Board provided.  Students then drew from their Community Agreement to create a short list of "The Big Five" rules for classroom behaviour.  When solving conflicts or dealing with habitual or major misbehaviours, we will use the poster to identify:

  • what happened and why
  • how the behaviours of particular students affected others
  • what can be done to make amends
  • what can be learned from the incident(s)
  • which areas of character education may need further reinforcement

If you click on the Community Agreement poster, you can see an enlarged version of it.

Other tools that we use in our classroom to encourage good behaviour are explained in last year's "Open House" BLOG post:
http://blackdeer.edublogs.org/2011/09/23/

COOPERATIVE LEARNING

The following is an example of one of this week's fun (and frustrating) cooperative learning activities.

Students were placed in random groups of four and given 15 minutes to build the tallest freestanding tower possible, using only uncooked spaghetti noodles and miniature marshmallows.

They soon discovered that the task was not as easy as it sounded, with spaghetti noodles snapping easily and pliable marshmallows not holding the structures in a very secure manner.

In the end, a few groups were able to build a structure that could support itself, but the greater lessons learned from this exercise were about the challenges of working collaboratively toward a common goal.  During our debrief, one student said, "I think I should have listened more to the members of my group.  I thought I had a great idea, and wouldn't listen to them until my idea didn't work."  Another said, "I knew that triangles were the strongest shape, but no one in my group would let me speak."  One group found that whenever they reached near consensus about a design idea, a lone dissenter would usually opt out and refuse to help.  These are great observations about potential pitfalls that students need to avoid when working in teams to fulfill academic goals.

Here are a few pictures of the spaghetti tower-building activity:

This is the tallest freestanding tower that was created.  It measured 42 cm in height.  Congratulations to David, Eric, Jillian and Pyper!

You can find the instructions for the spaghetti tower activity here:  http://www.schcounselor.com/2009/10/spaghetti-marshmallows-and-cooperation.html

If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to our BLOG updates by e-mail and check out our class' "Live Binders" page.  There are a links to both up there...

Thank you for visiting the class, via our BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.