Are non-fiction books still important?

Early in the week, I posed the question to the class, “What is a story?” This led to some really interesting discussion and wonderings. After some whole-class talk, Dani stopped everyone when she asked, “Are non-fiction books still important since we have the Internet now?” Everyone started talking to their neighbour about their opinions, which set up a lovely inquiry for the remainder of the lesson.

Students chose a side and started completing a graphic organizer to get their arguments and reasoning in order.

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The next day, students were introduced to the persuasive essay format, complete with well-written paragraphs and transition words. Pairs then used their graphic organizer to inform their essays, and these are beautifully written pieces!

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Everyone was so engaged! Great writing, Legendary Legends!

Tuning In: Connections to the Natural World

Today we used the Zoom-In Visible Thinking routine to start thinking about our connections to the natural world. This was the image:


Here is where our discussion started with just a few parts of the picture revealed:



We had a lot of opportunities for personal reflection:

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A lot of students started with a general thought or wondering, such as “I wonder what that is?” or “I have no clue.” or “I think it’s the world.”

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A lot of students documented their questions as they went, which is exactly what I like to see! I so value the questions the students bring to our inquiry classroom.

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And here’s evidence of thinking that was changed and the questions being asked as a result:






The image brought up a lot of interesting points, prior knowledge, and questions. We ended by addressing the question “What do you know about human impact on earth?”


Such a simple provocation, but tremendous talk ensued! A great way to tune in and start thinking about this unit, as there were tons of ideas about what we will be learning:

energy tuning in

Dramatizing Storybooks for Reading Buddies

In December we had the pleasure of watching some of our grade 5 students perform storybooks. The class enjoyed their plays so much, that they decided it would be a really fun project to put together for our Reading Buddies. It’s a really great project, actually, which includes all areas of literacy: reading, writing, listening, and speaking!

We started with a trip to the CMC in our groups to find a fiction book that kindergarten students might like. Then, students had to read the book together.

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After, students used their knowledge of plot and the Story Rollercoaster to summarize the story together.

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Our next steps will be to create a scrip, complete with understanding of scene, narrator, stage directions, and cast of characters as a grade 3 reading standard related to dramas.

To be continued..!

The Language of Probability

Today was an introduction to probability.
On the board, I had typed this sentence: “We are about to start talking about probability.” We had some interesting conversation just from that statement, starting with the whole class asking “What’s probability?” and moving quickly to “I think it’s about making predictions” and “It’s talking about what the chances are that something will happen.” All of this happened after Sahng-Won noticed that probability has the same beginning as the word probably.

Without really going any further, we went through some examples and I jotted down their responses.
After a few, we stopped to define probability as a class. They were getting it!
The next step is where it got interesting. Each kid wrote down one  “What are the chances…” question in their notebooks. As they finished, they stood up, locking eyes with another person that’s also standing, becoming instant partners. (This was Great!)
Partners shared their question and wrote down the responses found, free to find a new partner afterward.
The interesting part is that although we had so many different responses as a class to the question I posed about snow in Manila, when they responded to one another, they ALL used percentages!
So we sat down as a class and some people shared two of the responses they got from their classmates. Just responses. Then I asked simply, “What did you notice about the response?” They said things like, lots of people said 100%4000% is not a real amount, etc. Then it started dawning on them that all the responses were number based..! So in partners, they were challenged to figure out the “language of probability” using a number line.
They came up with so many descriptors!
Next up, we’ll make predictions and collect data about how many times we roll each side of a six-sided die. The kids will then have an opportunity to create their own probability experiments! Let’s see what they come up with.


Making the THRASS Chart Personal

Some students feel the THRASS chart simply isn’t a helpful tool for their learning. After talking about it more, we uncovered the fact that they get it, but find it a little tedious to actually use. So, a few students came up with the brilliant idea of organizing the keywords alphabetically so they can add their own words AND be able to check phoneme choices for words they are trying to spell properly. Here’s the work in progress:

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Plot Structure

In Language we started a Visible Thinking routine called Zoom-In. We started with a picture that is mostly covered, and we slowly uncovered it on different days, piece by piece. As we did this, we thought about the things we saw, noticing new things, asking questions, and getting new ideas from one another. We wrote down all of our ideas to really make our thinking visible.

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The picture we uncovered shows a Story Rollercoaster, which is just another way to show the traditional plot structure of a story: background to important events to the climax of the story to the falling action and resolution or end. The class realized that the Story Rollercoaster and the Plot Mountain are the same because they both represent an interesting plot structure!


We used this structure to think about our class read aloud, No Talking, and we put the events into a Google Drawing.

No Talking

Later this week the class will use the blank Google Drawing template to write about the plot structure of a book they know well.


Our discussions about empathy continue!







And some pertinent advice about math facts fluency: