Week of Oct. 3rd


Our fifth week of school was…….warm! I recommend students plan for a very warm classroom this week by dressing in layers — a long sleeve shirt (and jacket as appropriate) over a short sleeved t-shirt would be wise. More importantly, though, we had a great week!


In Literacy, we worked on Canada and it’s links to the world. Where possible, our Literacy lessons will be linked to the science or social studies using the Nelson Literacy text, and our current focus is social studies. We created a tally of the countries where our t-shirts were made…..and students were interested to see that so much of our clothing is made in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and China as well as countries in South America such as Chile and El Salvador. This leads into interesting critical and analytical discussions of the nature of trade and labour and ideas about buying Canadian goods, despite the increased cost of goods. In the computer lab, students “Google searched” ‘Canada and it’s links to the world’ to build up their background knowledge and also activate their current background knowledge before delving into reading about trade. Students listened to a Read Aloud about one of Canada’s unique trading products —  maple syrup! — and also read independently about other products and the countries with which we trade regularly (imports AND exports).

We also participated in the Read Aloud of a book called, “The Sweetest Fig” (by Chris van Allsberg) — one of my very favourite books to read. The illustrations are fantastic (more of these to come in the next year..). “The Sweetest Fig” has a surprise ending, and instead of reading all the way to the end, I stopped……..and students wrote their own ending!! This literacy activity was a great way for students to use their inferring skills (a reading expectation) as well as writing skills. Perhaps some of the student written endings will end up here in this space….


In math this week, we practised Mental Math strategies. The challenge for students is to explain all the steps of their solution. This explaining is essential….practising explaining develops critical thinking skills and on a practical note, if the answer is wrong and the steps aren’t shared, I have no way of knowing where the student ‘went wrong’. Seeing a student’s thinking is so important, especially in the formative stage of assessment. We took turns answering questions on the SMARTboard (e.g. taking up independent work). Writing on the SMARTboard is challenging in terms of neatness, but this drawback is outweighed by the fact that using the SMARTboard is very engaging for everyone. I have added colour-coded text to explain different strategies employed in mental math (e.g. compatible numbers; decomposing numbers with and without open arrays; using estimation)

taking up mental math homework

We also began learning about Order of Operations. Do you remember the acronym “BEDMAS” from your youth? It still applies, except that in Grade 6 we no longer learn about Exponents…and we ignore the “E” step. In short, “BE DM AS” reminds us of the order in which we should perform adding, subtracting, multiplication and division: any operation in brackets first, followed by Division and Multiplication (in the order that they appear), followed by Addition and Subtraction (in the order that they appear). The challenge for many students was that they thought that BEDMAS told them the order to WRITE the operations, not just the order to PERFORM the operations. It is essential that the parts of the number sentences are kept in the original order. Here is an example:


   18 – 9 ÷ 3

= 18 – 3                                  

= 15


18 – 9 ÷ 3

= 3 – 18

Here the student correctly identified 9 ÷ 3 as the first operation to perform, but mistakenly wrote the answer to that operation first,  instead of keeping the parts of the number sense in the original order.


18 – 9 ÷ 3

= 3                   Here the student wrote only the answer to 9 ÷ 3 on the next line, and forgot to include  “18 –   “

= 18 – 3

The week ahead….

In Writing, we will read to the end of “The Sweetest Fig” and students will have the opportunity to reflect on the ending they wrote and how it was (or perhaps wasn’t) an appropriate extension to the story. We will take a look at effective organization of ideas in writing and revise our ending to make sure we include: longer sentences that include interesting details, paragraphs with a topic sentence, body and concluding sentence and paragraphs that are linked to create an organized overall “whole”. In Reading, we will also use the book to answer a reading comprehension question as a whole class, and make an Anchor Chart to show how to write an effective answer to open response reading comprehension questions (note: In reading comprehension there are two types of questions: “open response” questions — open-ended and written in paragraph form and the familiar “multiple choice” questions — where several possible answers are provided and students choose one correct answer). We will read a text independently  and practise answering open response questions. Our current big focus or “Big Idea” (for our Teaching Learning Critical Pathway or TLCP) is currently ORGANIZATION and in reading that means organizing the following: evidence from the text, our own reflections on that evidence and how it answers the question, and the background knowledge (connections) we have that help to answers the question. This reading response skill will be practised all year long. In Social Studies, we will continue to learn about products that Canada Imports and Exports. In Numeracy, we will practise Order of Operations until everyone increases their level of success, and we will continue to explore multiplication both in groups and independently.

On a personal note, Happy Thanksgiving! We’ve had the most amazing weather in Southern Ontario this weekend…what a beautiful combination of fall colours AND summer temperatures. Just one more thing to be thankful for! In closing, here are a few things that inspired me this past weekend here on the farm. Have a great week!

Ella taking a rest after running in the corn

the Grand River in early fall, with a little corn in the foreground

hike along the train tracks with Ella and Sapporo

beautiful maple tree


About Ms Fawcett

I am a Mom, wife & musician, and a public school teacher with twenty years experience. I am excited to share my ideas on this new blog, after being an educational blog-stalker for several years. What a great way to communicate!

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