Tag Archives: Genius Hour

The Blog is Back!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I’m back to blogging! I never meant to stop actually! Things got really, really busy while I was taking my first university course last term, so I’m taking a break from my classes and doing two courses this summer instead. It is always a difficult decision to stop doing something you enjoy but it’s also difficult to make space for everything we like to do! Instead I am just shifting things around so I can get to it all…in time!

Well 2019 has come in like a blizzard…literally! First we got so much snow and now we are living in a deepfreeze! I met a friend at the airport for lunch today and laughed at how the parking metres need to wear ‘winter coats’. Only in Winnipeg!

Here is what we’ve been up to since the New Year!

-We’ve finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! I really enjoyed sharing this special book with all the students. Whether they’ve read it before or this was their first time hearing this magical story, students were hooked! We will be watching the movie soon! Perhaps as soon as Wednesday, January 23! We have a volunteer baking some “sorting hat cupcakes” and some requests to dress in the Harry Potter theme. The students and I will do some more planning tomorrow (Monday) and will let you know official plans ASAP!


-We’ve been doing LOTS of writing! The students did their 3 writing assessments (narrative, informational and persuasive). This gives us a benchmark of the growth made since last time we did these three assessments and also directs our lessons moving forward. We’ve also wrapped up four “Writing Craft Workshops”. Each student has rotated though four stations (3 lessons per station) that was led by Helen, Stacy, Ms Solomon or myself. The students learned about “The First 4 Words”, “Telegram Notes”, Topic Sentences” and “Gems That Make Writing Sparkle”. Doing these workshops have helped improve our students’ writing…especially informational writing.

-Word work in the form of spelling high frequency words with 122 & 126 has come to an end for now! The students have been working hard on learning to spell the most commonly used words in reading and writing. These words are becoming our “No Excuse Words” for spelling. IF you know how to spell them then you shouldn’t be making errors and when you do make an error you should be able to find it as you edit your own work!

-Subtraction is in action! The students are doing a good job working with subtraction. They are making connections with place value and regrouping. We are also working hard to develop instant recall of our subtraction facts. Using flashcards at home for subtraction (and addition) is very helpful for those students who are not able to recall the facts in 3 seconds or less. It only takes a few minutes each day. You can even make it a game!

-Ancient Civilizations are being discovered! Our research projects are in full force! Ask your child what civilization they are learning about their guiding question(s).

-We have a new volunteer! Handa, a retired teacher, is coming to our school three afternoons a week to volunteer with the 3/4s! She is spending some time reading with us and helping with projects. What a kind thing to do! Reading aloud to others is a great skill for the students to have and they really enjoy doing it! If you haven’t listened to your child read for awhile see if you can make some time to hear how far they’ve come!

What’s Coming Up:

-Book orders were submitted last week and hopefully will arrive by Friday!

-We will be starting a new read aloud book…Crenshaw! There is a giant, talking cat…what’s not to love?!

-We will finish up our subtraction books and do an assessment to see what we still need more practice with!

-Ancient Civilization Book Clubs start this week! The students have chosen what they’d like to learn most about and we were able to assign them to their first or second choice. The 4 civilizations we will look more in depth about are: the Vikings, Japan, Maya and Egypt. We will do 4 lessons and at the end will do a Maker project  so groups can teach each other about the civilizations. *Most students are learning about a civilization different to what their research project is about.

-As we finish up our research we will be ready to write an informational piece. We can put all our Writer’s Craft Workshop lessons to work!

-I will be sending home spelling words this week. These are words that I have found in each student’s Writer’s Notebook and are individual for each student. Starting next Monday (January 28) I will assess the students on their words. The reason I am sending them home is so you can work on them at home too if you want to. We will continue to work our way through the Fry’s Word Lists (high frequency words). If you would like a copy of these words for home please let me know 🙂

-Murray will continue to work on Genius Hour projects on Tuesday while he is with the 123 students and I am doing Friluftsliv with other classes in the school. Students are at different stages of their projects which is great. Some students enjoy working on their project at home as well as at school which is great too. Any questions regarding Genius Hour can be directed to Murray 🙂

-We will take all of our ideas about “Why the Jets Should Read to us” as part of the Reading Takes Flight program and submit a group writing piece. Maybe this is the year that we are chosen!!

-By popular demand we will do another round of dance choreography! The students enjoyed creating a movement piece to a holiday song in December and have been asking for round 2! Ask and you shall receive!! What will they come up this time?!


Stay warm!

Until next time,


And Just Like That…It’s June!

Hello Everyone & Happy Saturday!

Last week seemed to go by impossibly quick! Sadly, I think that is going to be the norm for the remainder of the school year 🙁

Here is what happened lsat week at school and what will be happening this week!

Book Clubs: The end is near! We have a work period on Monday, a rehearsal for our presentations on Wednesday and then our final presentations on Friday! We will be making some final decisions about how to proceed with our Drama sessions and then let the kids know what to expect!

Math Groups: We are working on fractions and how we use fractions in our everyday lives! We are counting by 1/2s, 1/3s, 1/4s and 1/10s and also doing compatible fractions. For example: If I ate 1/2 of a pie, what fraction did I not eat? (In other words what fraction do you need to get to one whole). Or 4/10 of the kids in the class were away today, what fraction of the kids were at school? The progression of compatible numbers continues! First we needed to learn compatible numbers (number pairs) to 10, then 20, then 50, then 100 and now fractions!

Mathantics Fractions are Parts

IF you are still challenged by recalling or determining compatible numbers to the whole numbers I listed above…please practice! It is so helpful with addition and subtraction in mental math if you know those number pairs.

1+9=10        9+1=10

2+8=10       8+2=10

3+7=10      7+3=10

4+6=10     6+4=10


*Use those facts to help you with 20! 50! 100!

If you know that 2+8=10, then 12+8=20 and 22+28=50 and 32+68=100

Use the number pairs for 10 to get you to the next group of 10 (22+8=30 and then think about what you need to get from 30 to 50 which is 20 so 22+28=50).

Practice for a few minutes each day!

“Let’s do compatible numbers to 50” “I have X, you have?” and your child will determine the fact that is missing. Example: If you have “34” and you are looking for the missing added to 50. On paper this would look like 34+?=50.

We are still asking that families practice skip counting at home if your child isn’t able to skip count fluently. If they are having to stop and think by counting on, then they need more practice. Students should be able to fluently count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s and 10s. 6s, 7s, 8s and 9s may still be developing.

Once your child is able to count then they are ready for multiplication fact practice. If you have flashcards then pull those out and practice for a few minutes each day. You can split them into piles of “mastered” and “still working on” or see how many they can get in a given time and compare each day, etc. Turn it into a game!

You can do the same things with division facts. We’ve made the connection that division facts are the commutative property for multiplication facts! If you know 3×4=12 you also know that 4×3=12, 12/3=4 and 12/4=3 🙂

Uptown Funk Multiplication Song

Multiplication Rap (x2 or x3)

3 Times Table Song

4 Times Table Song

5 Times Table Song

6 Times Table Song

7 Times Table Song

8 Times Table Song

Read Aloud: We finished Wishtree! It was a lovely story about friendship and belonging. I hope the kids have talked about the story at home. It got a “slow clap” from the kids when I finished reading, so I think that means they liked it! We will be starting our final read aloud book for the year…The Wild Robot Escapes! If you already own the book  you are welcome to bring it in and follow along as I read!

Compost Presentation! Ms Mary came to school on Friday to teach us about composting and soil. She was very enthusiastic and passionate about the subject. Compost is something that I’ve been thinking about lately and she definitely provided us with great information.

I am hoping that next year we take on composting at school!

Plants: Our plants are growing! We will let them grow for another week at school and then think about sending them home! Some of the plants will need to leave their Ziploc bag home and be planted in a container that will give them more room to grow! I love it when the kids come racing in to the window to see if their plant has grown overnight! We worked with a partner and compared two plants using a Venn Diagram. This way we could see how the plants were similar and different. Our “classroom pets” are growing too! Well…some of them! We are learning about which of the growing environments we created are best suited for pumpkin seeds 🙂

We will wrap up our Observation Station with 122 & 126 this week. We’ve observed and documented the same spot outside since there was still snow on the ground! It will be super neat to pull all our pictures and notes together to see how our nature spots have changed with the change of season.

Volunteer Tea: Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers for making helping out in so many ways. It means a lot to have connections between home and school 🙂

*Due to the performers at the Volunteer Tea we will have to change Genius Hour to this week. I’ll do some planning and let the kids know on Monday when a good time will be. I’m thinking about Thursday as of now.

Family Life/Health: We have met twice and will have two more lessons this upcoming week and two more after that.

*Book order is due on June 11so we have enough time to get those final orders in!

This week will we also do more learning about provinces (hint-there will be a connection to our upcoming Drama activities!), do an art project about provincial flowers, get back to our outdoor education (I regrettably let the weather dictate a few days of not going outside) and create a giant kindness calendar for the whole school! This is part of your Ask Me question for the weekend: Through Seesaw send me an idea of what we can add to our calendar to inspire our school community to show kindness to themselves, others and the earth. This idea came from the calendar below that we found in the copy room at school. Now we want to make a kid/family friendly one instead!

Have a nice weekend 🙂

Until next time,


Welcome February!!!

February already AND I hear there are 6 more weeks of Winter?! If the next 6 weeks go as quickly as the last 6…it’ll be melted snow and green grass in no time!

Here is a recap of our shortened week!

-The letters the kids wrote to Austin were really great! I’m sure he’s going to be inspired to create even more amazing inventions. I love how the students are starting to see themselves as writers and are able express themselves through the written word

-The last of the addition Math practice was given to the students last Monday (January 29). I’ve written each student a note saying which pages they need to complete by Monday, February 5. We had some time at school to work on the remaining pages and many of the students have already handed their completed work in, while others have chosen to finish on the weekend. If your child does not have any math work with them at home, it should be in my possession, ready to be checked by me! I wanted to give the students lots of time to complete the work and for them to have the responsibility for completing the work by the due date. We have also worked through subtraction with regrouping and practiced our basic facts to help build recall. I urge you to use flashcards for a few minutes each day to develop recall. We watched a new Math Antics video. This one was about polygons! Ask your child what a polygon is!

-We finished Pax!! It was a tear jerker but also a bonding experience for us as a class. I know we are always hoping for a happy ending, but I think Pax ended as it should have. It was happy in its own way. The book also taught us about character development and maybe a little about ourselves!

-We are about half way through Shout Out To The Fitzgerald-Trouts! It’s pretty cool having this sneak peek. I think we’ve found 4 mistakes so far! Esta’s message about editing was pretty valuable. It’s like being detectives as we read these first few chapters!

-The art we’ve done so far is quite beautiful…see for yourself!

-Wednesday was #BellLetsTalk day! We had some important messages to share with each other, the school an the world!

We were very excited to hear that almost $7 million was raised this year and almost $100 million raised to date. Let’s keep talking and listening each day and let everyone know that they matter 🙂

-We got to touch a polar bear skin!!! How cool is that?!

-The Ask Me Question was posted on Seesaw and is to be answered in the Home Reading folder! It’s is all about celebrating reading and coincides perfectly with World Read Aloud day and I Love to Read month! It’s also a good opportunity for the students to practice their oral reading skills and for parents to hear the growth in accuracy, fluency and expression that their child has made. I read some of The Fitzgerald-Trouts without stopping at punctuation and then when only stopping at the end of a line, not at punctuation and then lastly without expression! Let me tell you…it was NOT a hit with my audience. Practice, practice, practice! Take turns reading to each other. It might just be the favourite part of your day too 🙂

-Animal/Habitat inquiry topics have been decided! All students who brought in their top 5 choices were given an animal that they were interested in. Students who didn’t submit any choices have been given a topic and if there are any concerns will have to make arrangements to speak with me. We tried to cover animals from a variety of animal types who live in a variety of habitats.

Upcoming plans!

-We will finish the Fitzgerald-Trouts and begin our next reading adventure…

It’s a great story about belonging…with a little bit of magic!

-Art round #2 starts on Monday! The grade 3s will work with me and the grade 4s will work with Helen! We will learn about the artists and practice their style and the following week we will create our final products!

-Anna (our student teacher) is going to be doing a lesson with us to kick off our next health unit. We’ve talked about a healthy mind for months and I think the students have learned some great strategies to help them cope with anxiety, fear and stress that we experience in our daily lives. We will continue to practice mindfulness each day at 1:00. Mindfulness is called a practice because we need to work on mindfulness just as we would work on skating or math. Some of the kids have asked about the app I use in class. Here it is as an FYI!

The plan is to link having a healthy lifestyle to the Olympics! We can compare what we need for optimal health to that of an athlete! This week we will work on creating a bulletin board to track Canada’s successes in Pyeongchang! #LetsGoCanada

-We will begin our animal inquiry project research in the lab and see where it takes us. That’s the beauty of inquiry. It’s not all planned out…the direction is influenced based on the interest of the students 🙂

-There is no Day 2 this week so therefore there will not be a Genius Hour work period until Monday, February 12th

– Words Their Way (WTW)…students are responsible for bringing home their words after their WTW leader tells them they are finished with the sort. Then they are told when the test day is. It was a coincidence that all groups had a test on the same day last week. Words are sent home as each group completes their tasks. We will try our best to also post words in Seesaw, but ultimately the students are responsible for transferring their words to the Home Reading folders to take home and practice before the test 🙂

-Book orders for February are due on Friday, February 9. It is also Winter Fun Day on Friday afternoon. As we receive more information we will let you know! Thank you for returning the Circle of Life permission slips and for returning tickets if you are not able to attend the evening performance. It’s almost show time!!!!!

Enjoy your weekend!!!l

Until next time,


All that AND a trip to the zoo!!

Happy Weekend Everyone!!!

Whew! That week zipped right by! We didn’t even have time to post on Seesaw!! Next week we better get on that!

Here is your weekly recap!

-No school on Monday meant teacher learning time! If you’ve seen our Instagram posts you may have noticed some Chatter Pix photos. We figured out how to use that app as well as a green screen app. Fun things to come!

-We have been working away on our Northern artists project. Each student has learned about two artists and their style of work. On Tuesday we will produce an art piece inspired by what we’ve learned so far!

-We have finished our research on the white-tailed deer and have decided on some categories for our own personal inquiry. These kids are excited to get started on that! Choosing their animal is part of this week’s Ask Me question. The kids were asked to name their Top 5 choices and say why they’ve chosen those animals. The Ask Me question was posted on Seesaw as a general post to all students and should be answered in the Home Reading folders.

-Zoo field trip!!!! What a great day! I know it’s lots of walking (I heard some chatter about that) BUT how lucky are we to have a gorgeous day to be outside…in January…in Winnipeg?!! I really loved doing the program. Our guide, Bran, was very knowledgeable and gave us great tips, facts and inside scoops about the Arctic animals at the zoo. I’m glad we decided to change it up and allow the kids to choose the program that was most interesting to them. It gave them voice and choice and now we have ‘experts’ from all 3 programs in each class!

What are your favourite animals to learn about?!

-Circle of Life Performance: Notes/Tickets went home on Thursday and we are asking that permission slips are returned on Monday. Please read the note thoroughly as there is a lot of information! Our rehearsals have been going well and it is going to be a spectacular event!

-We are almost done reading Pax! There is a lot to talk about and I am really proud of the connections that the kids have been making between the book and world around them.

I loved hearing the kids calling the fox from the zoo Pax! (I was doing it too!!!)

-We heard from Esta Spalding!!!!

We are starting to read our sneak peek on Monday!!!! Seriously…this is THE coolest!

Looking ahead…

-Read aloud, read a lot….because we CANNOT wait to finish Pax and our special sneak peek of the Fitzgerald-Trouts!

-Subtraction city! That is our focus for the next few weeks before we move to multiplication.! We’ve done lots of hands on practice and are ready to put those skills into practice. Don’t forget to practice those basic facts (for addition and subtraction) if you need to! Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference! I am marking the rest of the addition practice this weekend. IF your child needs more practice I will indicate that on their booklet so you know and there will be more practice pages for them to do at home.

-Tuesday afternoon is ART day! The grade 3s will be doing some painting, so please wear clothing that is “art appropriate”!

-We are writing letters to Austin (a former student who shared his passion for “making” with us). It was so motivating to have a talented, young student share his ‘inventions’ with us! I’m sure he will be excited to hear our responses!

-Wednesday is Bell Let’s Talk Day and we will be doing some extra mindfulness practices together. It also Outdoor Education day so please dress for the weather!

-On Thursday we will do Genius Hour (because there is no school on Friday, which is our regular Genius Hour time). If your child is bringing anything from home that I should hold onto for them please talk to them about it about making sure that I have that for safe keeping.

-We will try our best to get our monthly Seesaw posts in! It’s nice to have the reading and writing samples each month to set goals and see our progress throughout the year 🙂

-Mr. Stefaniuk wanted to know if we were doing Global School Play Day! The answer is Y.E.S!!! I’ve registered our class and we will make a plan sometime next week. February 7th is a Day 5 in the school cycle. The kids should start thinking about the things they’d like to so on that day (outside? Genius Hour? games? choice time? I’m open to suggestions!)

Have a great weekend!

Until next time,


Term 2 Here We Come!!!

Another week…another weekend!

I’d like to thank all the families for coming out this past week to chat about your child’s progress. It’s so nice to connect with families, set some goals for the upcoming term and really build strong relationships.

It was also very exciting to introduce See Saw to you!! I think this is a great tool for students, families and teachers! Over half the families have already signed up!! I’ll be trying out the “Announcement” feature soon to make sure it works how I think it is supposed to! Please feel free to comment on your child’s work. We will also be using See Saw in the computer lab a few times a cycle so students can read their comments and comment on the work of their classmates. We are trying to focus on proper sentence structure when typing, as we would if we were using pencil and paper. We will continue to review and discuss what makes a “good comment”.

About Last Week!

-Book orders arrived and the next one is due on December 1st

-Turkey Toonie Tuesday started and will run for the next few weeks. Thank you to those families who made a donation

-We are about half way through Frank Einstein! The book has inspired one of our students to create his own robot for Genius Hour (more info about Genius Hour further down this post!)

-We started a mini inquiry (or minquiry!) about the Fitzgerald-Trouts/Esta Spalding. As a group we think she needs to continue writing books for the series and have come up with some suggestions for her. At first it was simply  a writing exercise…but in this age of technology why wouldn’t we at least try to connect with the author (Spalding)?!! Let’s see where this takes us!

-Our final rocks and Minerals project with Murray is underway. Our time with him is up at the end of December (there are actually only about 10 more sessions with him)!! Groups have been formed based on interest and questions we still want to answer. I’m really looking forward to making connections between rocks and Minerals and the world around us. This will naturally lead into our study of habitats for January!

-Thanks to Tony and Derrick for bringing in a HUGE map for the kids! It was so cool to have such a large map of Canada in the gym. We even got to walk on it!! The kids had a blast locating places they’ve traveled. They learned about some important “map features” . It was a pretty neat experience!

-Murray did a really fun Yoga class with us last week. I had the pleasure of coming in at the end of class when the group was sharing what they had created. The task was to build something inspired by Yoga. Some kids had Lego people doing poses, some created indoor/outdoor Yoga spaces and some reflected on Yoga being Peace. Hearing how the kids described their creations and connections was truly beautiful

-Ask me…this week’s question reads “Ask me to print the alphabet using my best printing (uppercase and lowercase letters). This task is part of our ‘printing program’. We are going back to basics for a bit before starting cursive writing. If I can’t read what your child is saying it makes it difficult for them to show their thinking!

Looking Ahead!

-We are going to be transferring what we know about place value into multi digit addition and subtraction with regrouping. This is often an area where kids “get stuck”. We will work through problems in many different ways to help each child feel confident and comfortable!

-Genius Hour! I know I’ve mentioned this a bit before, but here’s a refresher if you need one! Genius Hour is when students have voice and choice to learn about something they’re interested in. So far we’ve been brainstorming ideas and watching videos to help inspire us! It’s a year long project, so we aren’t looking for a topic that will only require an hour of research! Some of the students have written me a proposal for their project and are starting to do some research.

Watch this video to learn a bit mire about the idea of Genius Hour! It’s a great video minus the use of the word “geeky” 🙁

There is a chance your child will want to work on their project at home. This is totally fine with me as long as they still have things to work on during Genius Hour at school (Day 2 from 2:30-3:30 is our scheduled working time as of now)

I can’t wait to see what they will come up with!!! Again…have any special talents we can tap into?!?!! Let us know!!!

Have a great weekend!

Until next time,