January 31

Dear Parents, 

Next week will be Dance week.  All specialist (Music, French, PE) classes will be cancelled.  Students will be attending 30 minutes dance classes taught by a dancing instructor from Monday to Friday.  Library will be changed to Wednesday instead! 

During our literacy centres this week, we talked about how we can learn from good writers and examined ways that you can wrap up a story by rereading some of the books that we have read as a class this year.  Students noticed that some books end when there is a solution to the problem (e.g Swimmy by Leo Lionni), the main character learns a lesson (e.g. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes), or a surprise (e.g. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch).  I also took some time to touch base and conference with the students on their writing over the last few weeks.  We talked about things that they are doing well and things that they can improve on. We continued to examine the reading strategy that we introduced last week, Ask question and Skippy frog.  We talked about how asking questions before, during and after we read is a way to help us understand our text better.  

For the next few weeks, our featured author will be Kathryn Otoshi.  Some of her books that we will be reading aloud in class are ZeroOne and Two.  We watched a video interview of her telling us how she remembered spending lots of time in the library when she was young, how she usually gets ideas for her books from real life experiences, and how she usually writes first and draws after to let the picture also tell part of the story in her books.  

In Math, we continued to discuss ways that you can subtract numbers.  We discussed and practiced a new subtraction strategy, Back Over Ten (e.g. 13-4 can be thought of as 13-3 to get to 10 first, then take away one more to get to 9).  For students to use this efficient strategy to subtract, however, students must master (being able to recall without prompting) a good number of addition facts before hand.  Something that you could do while driving with your child is to ask him/her the sum of any given two addends.  When presented as a game, young children often find solving simple addition question engaging.     

In Bible, we looked at the story of another judge, Deborah, from the Book of Judges.  We learned how she was sent by God to deliver the Israelites from King Jabin and the Canaanites. Some students began to comment on how the Israelites keep forgetting about God.    

As we continued to discuss ways to be safe in Health with the students, we examined the topic of bullying by reading One by Kathryn Otoshi. We defined a bully as someone who says or does hurtful things repeatedly to another person.  When being bullied, we should not feel embarrassed and tell an adult immediately.  We can also tell the bully how you feel calmly or stay with friends who can help us.  When seeing someone being bullied, we should help by telling an adult about what happened.   

In our Inquiry unit of Patterns in the Sky, we explored how autumn affects us in what we need to wear, as well as what we can see and do.  We also created a Wonder Wall on our outside display to illustrate what are some questions that students may still have about this unit.  It is our hope that the students continue to be curious about their world around them and take the initiative to find their own answers. 

This week, two families came in to share with us what makes their family unique.  Elias’ mom and dad told us about their connection with different countries such as Korea (where their family is from), US (where they met), Australia (where some of their family members live), and Canada.  As a family, they enjoy traveling, making arts and crafts, biking, playing squash, learning magic tricks and math.  They are thankful to God for His love, providing for their family, and bringing them to Canada, RCS, and their church community.  Meanwhile, Asher and his dad showed us pictures of Asher’s sisters, Naomi and Nevia, his grandparents, and great grandma.  We found out that Asher’s dad is studying at Regent College and his mom is a high school science teacher.  Asher loves playing with Lego, UNO and Rush Hour, going to the aquarium, making pizza at home, and reading books by Peter Reynolds.  One of their favourite verse from the Bible is 1 Peter 2:9: 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

Have a great weekend!


Jan 25

Dear Parents,

We went skating this week and here are some photos taken by Ms. Neibel:

During our literacy centres this week, the students reread some of the books that we have read this year and tried to find interesting first sentences that made them want to read on.  They wrote down some good first sentences that they like into their writing book.  We also introduced two reading strategies, Ask questions and Skippy frog, to the students.  We talked about how asking questions can help us understand the text better and that there are two types of questions, quick and deep-thinking questions.  Quick questions are quick to ask, quick to answer, and is right there in the book.  While the answers to deep-thinking questions are not directly in the book and are more inferential, help us think beyond the story, and the answer can differ from one person to the next.  As for Skippy frog, I have included a short video to illustrate this decoding strategy: 

A reminder that since there is no school next Friday (Feb 1), we will be giving the students their Words Their Way quiz on Thursday instead.  For those who usually bring their home reading books back on Friday, please also help your child to bring them in next Thursday instead.   

In Math, we discussed where we can use our subtraction skills (e.g. helps us when we are shopping) and introduced some math vocabularies to help us describe a subtraction number sentence such as minuend, subtrahend and minus.  Most students have suggested that you can use manipulatives (e.g. fingers, counters) or count back on a number line to subtract numbers.  We worked on a few questions using these methods and asked the students to apply them to their math worksheets.  It is our goal to move students from the counting stage to the reasoning stage (students can explain with reasons how they got the answer) and eventually to the mastery stage (instant recall of answer) over the next year or two.  

In Bible, as we continued to look at the Book of Judges, we examined the story of Ehud and how he led the Israelites to defeat their oppressors, the Moabites.  We played Freeze Frame to reinforce the story.   

In our Inquiry unit of Patterns in the sky, we examined how spring and summer affects the clothes that we wear, as well as the things that we can do and see.  The students thought that we need to wear light jackets, pants, and long sleeve T-shirts during spring; while we need to wear shorts, short sleeve T-shirts, and sandals in the summer.  They also noticed that we can see flowers and plants bloom during spring and lots of sunshine in the summer.

Have a nice weekend!


Jan 18

Dear Parents,  

It was another week of settling into our new Literacy centers routines and expectations.  It is quite amazing to see how quickly the students were able to work independently on different literacy tasks each day ranging from word study/work (Words Their Way), writing, handwriting, listening to stories (iPads), and reading to self at the class library.  During this time, I conference with individual students on their story or journal writing and review some of the writing strategies that we have covered so far.  We continued to learn more about Kevin Henkes and some students notice that a lot of his stories tend to teach us a moral lesson (e.g. Waiting teaches us to not be impatient and being a flexible friend).  

In Math, we reviewed the different addition strategies that can be used to help us add numbers. The students shared their ideas as to which strategy may be more efficient for a given set of addends (e.g. using double facts may be more efficient for 7+6).  As their number sense continued to develop, it is important for young children to discern addition strategies that are most efficient to use to solve a given problem.  When possible, continue to ask your child to solve authentic math problems involving addition (e.g. we had 3 oranges at home, now we have 9 in total, how many did we buy?) over the weekend.  Over the next few weeks, we will switch gears to learning about different subtraction strategies.   

In Bible, we continued to look at the recurring cycle in the Book of Judges.  This week, we learned about Othniel, the first judge that God had sent to deliver the Israelites from the king of Aram.  Students drew a picture in their Bible workbook to illustrate this cycle of disobedience.   

In our Inquiry unit of Patterns in the Sky, we examined how winter affects the clothes that we wear, as well as the things that we can do and see.  The students thought that we need to wear clothing to keep us warm, such as thick jackets, pants, boots, mittens, scarves and hats.  They also noticed that we can go skiing, play in the snow, and see birds migrating during this season. 

Kirsten’s mom and dad came in this week to share with us what they do as a family.  We found out that they celebrate birthdays and half-birthdays.  They enjoy many different outdoor activities such as skating, playing in the snow, in their backyard, in the park, and biking.  They also like to read, cook, travel, and do daily bedtime devotions with Kirsten’s favourite book, Daily Bread for Kids.  Kirsten has many church friends and is involved with the children’s choir, and Vacation Bible School.  

A reminder that we will be going ice skating again next Wednesday, January 23.  We will be leaving school at 10:15 (student will have a quick snack before we go on the school bus) and begin skating at 10:45. The skating session will end at 11:45 and we should be boarding the school bus at 12:00 so that we can come back for lunch.  Please either email me or make a note in your child’s Back and Forth book if you can come and help.  You are welcomed to come and skate with us for free at the Minoru Ice Rink.  

Have a fruitful weekend!


Jan 11

Dear Parents,  

It was nice to see the students come back from the holiday refreshed and readied to begin the second term.  The students reconnected with their friends and exchanged stories of what they did over their Christmas break.  Here are some pictures that we took for today’s Pajama Day: 

Now that the students are more independent, have a good understanding of class expectations, and have learned to solve problems on their own, our Language Arts lessons will take on a rotating centre format.  Students will go through four literacy centres each day while spending about 20 minutes at each station.  The centres are chosen to expose the children to various literacy activities such as word work (Words Their Way), listening to stories (iPad), handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears), read to self, and writing (creative stories or journal writing).  While the students are working at their centres, I will be teaching and conferencing with small groups of students on their word sorts, handwriting, reading and writing strategies.  A reading strategy that we introduced this week is “Chunky Monkey”.  When a student sees a longer unknown word, he/she is encouraged to look for a chunk of word that is embedded within that unfamiliar word.  The following video illustrates that strategy: 

The author that we will be looking at for the next few weeks is Kevin Henkes.  He is an award-winning author and illustrator of more than 30 children’s books and novels.  This week, we watched a short video interview with Kevin Henkes discussing his writing process with books like Chester’s Way, Kitten’s First Moon, and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  Some students noted that he likes to use mice as his main characters and uses lots of sentences to describe his characters at the beginning of most of his stories.  

In Math, we reviewed some of the addition strategies that we have covered before the break such as “Count on”, “Make ten”, and “Double facts”.  I also introduced the “Up and Down” strategy (e.g. the traditional way of adding the numbers up and down) for addition but I cautioned the students that this is only one of the many ways to add numbers.  In order to develop our number sense, we need to be flexible and be able to use many different strategies to add numbers.  The vertical algorithm or “Up and Down” strategy tends to be more mechanical and may not enhance young children’s number sense.   

Over the next two months, the students will be looking at the lives of five judges: Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon and Samson.  They will be learning about the recurring cycle in the Book of Judges where the Israelites forget their covenant with God, oppress by their neighbours, and plead to God for a deliverer.  This week, the students were introduced to the role of a judge, the cycle of disobedience, and our new memory verse, 2 Corinthians 6:16.  Just for your information, 1C will be presenting Chapel on February 22.   

In Inquiry, we introduced the big idea that patterns and cycles help us understand the natural world.  This week, we began to explore the idea that seasons affect all living things.  We will be looking at why we have seasons, and how they affect our daily lives.  Students were asked to brainstorm some questions that they would like to find out more about.  The students wondered why the days are longer in the summer, why does the earth spin, and why does the sky change?  We also found out that we have seasons because of how the earth tilts towards the sun.   

In Health, we will be looking at ways to stay safe while we are at home, school or out and about. This week, we explored how we can prepare for a fire, and what are our emergency plans at home and school.  

A reminder that Club begins next week.  The following students are involved this term (Jan 14-Mar 1):  

Wednesday Clapping Club (lunch): Ella 

Friday Hockey Club (lunch): Boaz, Gabriel 

Friday Lego Challenge Club (after school in Mrs. Sanders’ room): Bernice 

Have a great weekend!