Friday, December 16, 2011


Oops!!!! I forgot to send home the report cards from the office!!! I will give these out in January. All that they say is that because of our job action the report card is incomplete and they show absences/lates for the first term. My apologies.

BUT....I did remember to send home a copy of our class book The Gingerbread Student with each child. We worked on this story for a number of weeks and I hope that you all enjoy reading it!

Thank you so much for all of the lovely cards, drawings and gifts. I am looking forward to using my gift card over the holidays to treat myself and also treat my new house to some new items (we move tomorrow!!!!)

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays and I will see you in the New Year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Today we did our Christmas craft stations. I am sending out a HUGE thank you to the parents that came and helped out from 9 am until lunch. I could not have done it without you! Here is a sample of the ornaments we made.

The students decorated bags yesterday and the ornaments all went home in them today. I hope that they find a home on your Christmas trees for years to come. I know that I so enjoy pulling out the ornaments my daughter made and remembering when she made them.

Oh, and I should let you know that space is at a premium this year on our carolling days. If you want to pop in for a couple of minutes that would be fine but staying for the whole time won't work. There is not enough space in our small gym for all the K-3 students and their families! Sorry about that. Apparently, I was sick when they had the meeting about caroling and said no families this year! If you would really like to be able to carol at school with your child why don't you come to the Carol and Craft Night next Tuesday (December 13th)? There will be a number of vendors followed by an evening of song. 

Thanks again for all the help today. This class has some awesome parents!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Come Sing With Us!!!

We will be singing Christmas carols in the gym on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. The singing starts right away after the morning announcements so feel free to stay and sing with us. On Wednesday we will probably be there for about 30 minutes but our session on Thursday will be longer.

Also, Family Friday next week is cancelled. We will be doing holiday activities with Divisions 13 and 14 in the morning so will not be able to read with our grown ups. Mark January 6th on your calendars for the first Family Friday of 2012!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Little of This, A Little of That

Things are chugging along in Turtlepond these days! It is hard to believe that we are only 9 school days away from our Winter holidays. How did that happen? Over the last few days I have taken a bunch of pictures that are completely unrelated to each other so I thought I would just share them anyways! So, here goes....

We got mail! Today we got two postcards from Beijing, China! Last week we got a postcard from Texas. If you get the chance to check out the blackboard above our book boxes you will see the map of the world I have hung there with strings going from the places to the mail we have received. We sent off 23 letters to various schools participating in our holiday mail exchange and are hopeful that we will also get more mail from relatives of the students in our class. We can hardly wait to see what comes next!

We have discovered that you can draw a picture with our felt pens and then use water and a paint brush to turn it into a watercolour! This moment of serendipity happened on a day when I just didn't have time to get out the paints during choosing and suggested a student try doing this instead. Tons of fun (and art) ensued!

Four of the boys built this very complex structure during choosing. It is an entire village surrounded by a wall with a blacksmith, horses and everything all made out of Lego. They had me take a gazillion photos from various angles which would take up about 4 pages if I tried to post them all. Cool, huh?

And we have been reading a variety of versions of the Gingerbread Boy story. So far we have read the following versions...

We have been comparing each of the versions to the ones we have read before and discovering many similarities and differences. Reading the Hawaiian version (The Musubi Man) was particularly fun as it ends in an entirely new way from the original. And today we started working on our own class version of the Gingerbread Man story that we hope to finish before the holidays and have our very own "Conan The Librarian" put it in the library for all to read!

In Math Stations we have been working on gingerbread boy patterns, number printing, addition and subtraction games and completing math assessments with me. I am discovering that quite a few of the grade 2's need to work on quick recall of their math facts to 20. We still have a lot of kids counting using strategies like their fingers, objects etc. which is fine as a strategy but really slows down their ability to do math facts quickly and accurately. We are going to be working on place value in the new year and begin doing more column addition with and without regrouping. Knowing their math facts is kind of like knowing sight words. It allows them to spend their time thinking about the question and how to do it rather than having to stop and count on their fingers each time they have to add another two numbers together. A set of math fact flash cards in each stocking this Christmas would be a very good idea!

This Thursday we are looking forward to making Christmas ornaments with our parent volunteers. Before the holidays, we will be doing a scrapbook page about the holidays for our scrapbooks. And next week we are going to be singing Christmas carols in the gym on a couple of mornings. I will let you know which days we are going. Hope that you can join us!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Guidelines on Reading Levels

As you are aware, teachers are currently involved in job action. This means that we are not doing any administrative duties including the writing of report cards. I know that as the Winter holiday approaches many of you have questions about how your child is doing in school.

I thought that today I would give you some general guidelines of what meeting looks like in the area of reading for this time of year. It is important to remember that all students learn to read at their own rate. It is entirely possible to be reading below the average at this time of year and end the year reading at grade level. I have seen it happen many times!

That said, I have assigned students to their RAZ kids levels based on the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessments) I did in early November. The students are expected to work their way through each level. Those students who are very proficient readers were all started on Level P because I want them to really focus on comprehension. I find that some of those reading chapter books read very quickly and do not retain much of what they have read!

At school, students use RAZ Kids during Language Arts and Computers times. I will be using RAZ Kids as part of our Home Reading Program this year. Due to my being ill for so much of November and with the holiday only two weeks away, I have decided to start the official Home Reading Program in January but all students would benefit from making time to read RAZ Kids at home on a daily basis from now on. I do check their progess on a regular basis to see who is reading and how they are doing on the multiple choice quizzes that test comprehension.

Generally speaking, by this time in grade 1 to be reading at "grade level" students would be reading from the RAZ Kids level D or E. This is the equivalent of a Level 6-8 in the DRA. The end of grade 1 goal for reading at grade level is Level 16-18 in the DRA (RAZ Kids I-J).

In grade 2 the "grade level" for this time of year is around a RAZ Kids level K-L.  This is the equivalent of a DRA 18-20. The end of year goal for grade 2 is to be reading at DRA level 28 (RAZ Kids P).

I hope that this will help to let you know where your child is in his/her reading. I will do my best to send home some samples of work with rubrics or grades on them so that you can get the general idea of how your child is faring in school and I will be posting on the blog some general guidelines for meeting expectations at this time in the school year.

Please do keep in mind that, with job action, as far as reporting goes "no news is good news." I have been assessing and monitoring each student's progress all term and will be in touch with you if I feel that your child is struggling or requires extra support in any subject area. I am able to do brief "check in" meetings (15 minutes or less) after school but longer meetings will need to be during school hours and it is difficult to get coverage for my class so that I can meet with you. I appreciate your patience as we find times to chat about student progress in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today we worked with our grade 4 buddies to make a Santa Countdown to Christmas craft. I got the idea from pinterest (my new favourite thing to do!) but changed it a bit to make it work with the supplies I had on hand. This was the idea I saw on pinterest.

Beard count down to Christmas - awesome for fine motor/ cutting skills!
via this site

The class had great fun making these. They took them home today and will start on December 1st cutting off a row at a time until they only have the Santa face they made left. And then it will be Christmas!!!! I didn't have my camera at school or I would show you what ours looked like. I will take a pic tomorrow and post it.

In Science, the grade 1's have been learning about force & motion. We have studied pushes, pulls, gravity and friction. Today we worked on magnetism and then built ramps to try to see how much friction different items had as they slid down the ramp. Great fun!

The grade 2's have been working with Mr. Langille and Miss O on Solids, Liquids & Gases. They made a goop today that is both a solid and a liquid. How cool is that? They get to bring their goop home tomorrow.

I know that there is tons more going on but right now I am too tired to think! More tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Well, after being away from school for close to two weeks, I am back teaching again. I hope and pray that I never, ever get bronchitis ever again! I am still a little under the weather and definitely feel more fatigued than usual but I am glad to be back at work.

Yesterday I taught the grade 1's Science. We are working on force and motion right now. I did an experiment about friction. We were all surprised to discover that an ice cube did not move very quickly down a laminated surface and stopped completely on construction paper! I was so happy to hear that one of the grade 1's went back to his class and gave a very clear and correct description of friction. Mission accomplished!

Today we had a professional day. We went to visit at a school that was built a couple of years ago. It is not quite the same floor plan idea of our new school (that is currently being built) but the teachers there do a lot of team teaching and collaboration. It was really informative and gave me some really good ideas about what we can do in the coming months to prepare us for our new building next year.

We got to take a tour of the school and, of course, I found some neat ideas and just had to take pictures! I would like to do some of these things in our classroom!

I enjoy teaching everything (except gym!) but some days, when I look at all the cool ideas I have for art projects, I wish that all I taught was art. Being creative is such a HUGE part of me and I want to find more ways to bring that passion into our classroom. Recently, I have been re-reading a book I bought a year ago called The Power of Pictures - Creating Pathways to Literacy Through Art and I am finding it really inspiring. Don't be surprised if you see some photos on here with student writing inspired by their art!

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's official...

I have bronchitis. Sigh.... After 6 days of sleeping, coughing, sleeping, coughing, sleeping (you get the idea!) I got into the doctor today. I spent a goodly part of the afternoon sitting (exhausted) in a clinic waiting for an x-ray so that my doctor can confirm that it is only bronchitis and not pneumonia. I am crossing my fingers that his initial diagnosis is the right one! I am starting antibiotics today and (knock wood) they will start to kick in within a day or two. If my breathing does not improve by Thursday I will have to go back to my doctor and take stronger meds.

I can't remember ever feeling so weak. I don't even have the energy to take the dog around the block without needing a nap after!!!!! Being so exhausted is soooo boring. I am not the kind of person who takes well to doing nothing. Even reading or working at the computer can only be done in short stints since I tire so easily.

I really miss the energy and action of the classroom. I miss the kids, seeing my colleagues, all of it. Sigh... I will be home for at least this week and I am hopeful that the antibiotics will kick in and I will be well enough to come back to work (with energy) by next Monday. Crossing my fingers and toes!!!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Exercises in Frustration

This past week was a long one. Too many long hours at work, not enough sleep and a migraine sandwiched in the middle. It was one of those weeks when the activities that usually run smoothly felt like they were covered in speed bumps. Everything seemed to take longer, the kids seemed to talk more, nothing seemed to get done quite the way I intended or envisioned.

This was especially true with two of the lessons we did. One was an art lesson on illusion that all of the students in Divisions 13, 14 and 15 did. The task was to draw 7 pumpkins so that they look like they are sitting in a v shape. Sounds easy enough, right?

We had the lesson together as one big group and then went off to our individual rooms to do the actual art. It quickly became apparent that this lesson would have turned out better (for my sanity!) if I had done it as a teacher directed step by step activity. The class had a lot of trouble remembering all of the instructions and, while the samples did not look difficult, the actual creating of the illusion was tricky for a lot of them. I felt very frazzled by the end of the activity. Lesson learned. Even with all the frustration I was pleased with the finished results; the class should be proud of them, too. It was not an easy activity! Here are some examples:

The second activity that felt like it was not going AT ALL as I had anticipated was a math activity that involved following step by step instructions. The whole group was having some major issues with talking on the day that we did this. It was the morning after I had been away due to my migraine (note to self: never, ever, ever try to do a teacher directed lesson the day after having an EOC teaching my class). The lesson I thought would take about 25 minutes took nearly an hour. Can you say frustration?!?! However, the final result are some pretty cute shape monsters. Check them out...

And some close ups...

 I am hoping for a calmer week next week - although I am really not sure that calm and Halloween are possible!!!! Regardless of how the week rolls out, I know that I will be more rested with all the sleeping I am getting in this weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scholastic Book Fair & Halloween Activities

The PAC is running a Scholastic Book Fair for this entire week. If you have the opportunity, take a moment to visit before school, at lunch or at hometime. There are some wonderful reads to be had at very reasonable prices. As we are not yet doing Scholastic Book Clubs this year, due to job action, this may be your only chance to check out the great deals Scholastic offers! Happy Reading!!!!

Halloween is Coming!!!

On Monday, October 31st, we will be doing Halloween stations from 10:45 - 12:00 and again from 1:00 - 2:00. We need parent volunteers! If you are able to help out please sign up on the Parent Board in our classroom.

We also need food items for our Halloween party in the afternoon. There is a sign up list for this on the Parent Board as well.

Thanks ahead of time for your help in making Halloween a fun event at school!

Friday, October 21, 2011

It is funny how 4 day teaching weeks seem significantly longer than the regular 5 day week. Maybe it is because we are trying to jam even more stuff in? Or maybe it is just indicative of my needing to sleep more!!!!!

We made a Halloween project with our grade 4 buddies last Monday. I have seen these before and they always look so difficult to do. Imagine my surprise when I learned how easy they are to make!

We have also been very busy learning more Word Work activities in Daily 5. We are now doing the following:
 - word sorts
This is the simple version where the students cut and paste (or copy) the given words into the correct columns. We were doing a vowel sort this week.

This is an example of a student working beyond the basic activity. She has looked all around the room and in books to find as many words as she can for the vowel sort.

- word tally
Students choose a book and then read it, making a tally mark every time they find one of the words on the list. Eventually, I will have them create their own word choices but, right now, I am giving them basic sight words to find.

I have also introduced building new words using the letters from another word but forgot to take pics. Next week we will start clipboard cruising and probably stamping words.

In math, we did a glyph this week. It is a scarecrow glyph. I like to do it in the fall. It makes such a great wall display! And gives me such a good indication of which students have good listening skills and which ones need work!

Well, that is it for now. Have a great weekend!
Ms. Hughes

Monday, October 17, 2011

Photo Proofs sent home today...

Students were sent home with their photo proofs today. If you are planning to order, please fill in the forms and RETURN THEM TO THE OFFICE before Monday, October, 24.

If your child needs to have a retake done (if their eyes are closed or hair in their face etc) then they can have a new photo taken on November 3.

Friday, October 14, 2011

As promised, a few pictures of the totems that the grade 1's in Division 13, 14 & 15 created in Social Studies. I love all the colours and individuality that came out in their work!

This afternoon my class did hand print Autumn trees. I wanted to do a really simple art project because so many of the kids had work they still need to finish before they could go to choosing time. (Don't know if it was a full moon this week or what but there was not a single kid in the class that got all their work done in the assigned time. And I know that they had plenty of time to finish if they spent the time working and not chatting!!)

I just think that there is just something about art made with a child's hands, you know? When I look at the things my daughter made at this age it is hard to believe that she now has hands as big as mine! These will definitely go into the students' scrapbooks!

Ms. Hughes