Tuesday, April 22, 2014

100 Minutes and The Daily 5...Joining Together!

Thinking of Teaching

In my first post about the upcoming 100 Minutes Book Study I mentioned my desire to read this book because in the past I haven't been able to work The Daily 5 structure effectively into my own language program. 

Wow...did I get a lot of comments from other bloggers/teachers that feel the same way!

There is definitely a LOVE for The Daily 5 out there but like all things, it's not a one size fits all and it seems like there is a group of us that just can't get it to work with our teaching style. 

Does that mean we just just throw it all away? 

Give it up?

Start from scratch?

No way!

Lisa Donohue, the author of 100 Minutes, has a great blog post on her blog that address this exact concern. 

If you are on the fence about whether this book is for you, or whether you want to join in on the book study I highly recommend checking out Lisa's post

Lisa talks about connecting the strong independent activities and routines that are built using the Daily 5 structure with whole class and larger group activities, like Guided Reading or Writer's Workshop. She has come up with an acronym for this- AWARD time (Applying Writing and Reading Daily) and there is an entire section in her book about it.

Another great feature of Lisa's blog post is the diagrams that illustrate the reading and writing cycle that can take place in a literacy block. There is also a chart that shows how the 100 minutes of your literacy block can be divided and where The Daily 5 fits. 

100 Minutes and The Daily 5...a perfect match!

I'm planning to conduct an interview with Lisa Donohue to start the book study so if you have any questions you'd like me to ask please let me know. 
Leave a comment below or email me at 


I'm still looking for co-hosts for the duration of the book study. Being a co-host is simple....you sign up to host a chapter, post your thoughts, provide a linky so others can link up with their thoughts, and if you want to have a giveaway or a freebie that coincides with your chapter. 
(A freebie or a giveaway is not necessary!)

If you are interested in being a co-host 
for the 100 Minutes Book Study
 please click here to fill out the form. 


The book study starts on May 23rd...
so you've got lots of time to grab a copy and get reading. 

Don't forget that we are celebrating this great book study with Pembroke Publishers and a giveaway! 
They have provided a copy of 100 Minutes by Lisa Donohue and Word Nerds by Brenda Overturf as a prize. 

 I'm also offering a choice of any product from my TPT store as a prize as well. 

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a copy of 100 Minutes, Word Nerds, or a product from my store. 
The giveaway ends May 2nd. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 17, 2014

100 Minutes....How do you balance your literacy block? ~ Book Study and Giveaway

Thinking of Teaching

For the past few summers I have been hosting and co-hosting a variety of book studies here at Thinking of Teaching and have found that it is a super rewarding experience. I love hearing the thoughts of other teacher bloggers about the reading and the response that come in about my own reflections.

For this summer I have picked 100 Minutes: Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block by Lisa Donohue

Here are some options to purchase the book:

Why did I pick this book?

Well, I've read The Daily 5, The Cafe, checked out the sister's website, heard them speak live and visited countless blogs and pins about The Daily 5...yet I just can't get it to work in my class. It doesn't seem to fit my teaching style.

That isn't to say that I'm throwing it all away! There is a lot of about The Daily 5 that I love...the mini-lessons, building stamina, the CAFE board, etc but...I want to mesh it with something else. 

In Part One of her book, Lisa Donahue talks about all the things she has tried and done in the past during her literacy block and I swear it's like reading my own teaching story. How do we fit everything? What do the other students do when it's guided reading time? Where does modelled reading fit? How often do they have to work through the entire writing process?

The introduction to Part One alone has gotten me hooked!

I can't wait to dive in, start reading and even better....start talking to you all about it. 

But first, who's in?

I'm looking for co-hosts for the duration of the book study. Being a co-host is simple....you sign up to host a chapter (or 2), post your thoughts, provide a linky so others can link up with their thoughts, and if you want to have a giveaway or a freebie that coincides with your chapter. 
(A freebie or a giveaway is not necessary!)

If you are interested in being a co-host 
for the 100 Minutes Book Study
 please click here to fill out the form. 


But wait....maybe you aren't sure you want to co-host but you definitely want to read the book and join in on the discussion. Well, that's great too!

The book study will start on May 23rd...so you've got lots of time to grab a copy and get reading. We will discuss one chapter every 4-5 days. I will be posting on most of the chapters along with the co-hosts and we will provide a linky so that you can join in on the discussion as well. 

To help celebrate this great book study, the amazing people at Pembroke Publishers have provided me with a copy to giveaway! They also gave me a copy of Word Nerds by Brenda Overturf as a prize....whoooo hoo! 
(I missed out on the Word Nerds Book Study last summer
...but I hear there's another one in the works for this summer.) 
Finally, for fun I'm going to throw in your choice of any product from my TPT store as a prize as well. 

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a copy of 100 Minutes, Word Nerds, or a product from my store. 
The giveaway ends May 2nd. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day of Pink- Let's Unite Against Bullying

April 9th is International Day of Pink. As educators we deal with bullying everyday. We see it. We discuss it. We know it's happening. And yet, it's not stopping.

What is the Day of Pink?

April 9th marks the International Day of Pink. It is a day where communities across the country, and across the world, can unite in celebrating diversity and raising awareness to stop homophobic, transphobic & all forms of bullying. 
The International Day of Pink was started in Nova Scotia when 2 straight high school students saw a gay student wearing a pink shirt being bullied. The 2 students intervened, but wanted to do more to prevent homophobic & transphobic bulling. They decided to purchase pink shirts, and a few days later got everyone at school to arrive  wearing pink, standing in solidarity. The result was that an entire school stopped homophobic & transphobic bullying. 
The message was clear: anyone can bully, any can be victimized by bullying, but together we can stop it.
Each year on the second Wednesday of April, millions of people wear pink to remember that positive actions make a difference. And that the change starts with each one of us
This April 9th my school board will be participating in the Day of Pink as a day to promote awareness of bullying and to raise awareness against homophobic and transphobic bullying specifically. We have participated in the past years but again this year we are specifically talking about homophobic and transphobic bullying. 
I am so proud.
Regardless of your beliefs and faith, I hope that you too believe that no child deserves to be bullied for who they are. The Day of Pink is a way we can all come together to keep our children safe. 
Take some time on April 9th to talk to your students, your children, your co-workers, everyone you know about bullying and how it hurts. Let's keep our children safe. Talk about this!! It's scary and unfamiliar, yes....but losing even one child to bullying is scarier.
My school has pledged to wear PINK on April 9th.  Anything to show that you care for the children who deal with bullying everyday.
Last year I talked about this with my class and we had an open and serious discussion about how bullying hurts, specifically homophobic and transphobic   Together we are going to pledge to stop bullying and accept everyone for who they are.
If you would like to take a pledge along with us then click on the image below to pick up the pledge/reflection form I created for my class.
The font used is Mr. and Mrs. Popsicle from Kevin and Amanda fonts. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Growth and Changes in Plants- Learning Goal Cards and Assessment Strategies

I have a great new product for you all in my TPT store. It's the biggest product I've made yet and I'm pretty excited about it.

Here in Ontario we study Growth and Changes in Plants as part of the Grade 3 curriculum. I know a lot of my American teacher/blogger friends teach about plants as well because I've seen so many great posts, pinned wonderful ideas on Pinterest and purchased your products on TPT! 

So really this product is for everyone!

If you click on the image below you will see an outline of what this resource contains...and I've included a picture of each item in this post so keep reading!

First up, we have the Big Ideas about Growth and Changes in Plants. These can all be displayed at the beginning of a unit or as you move through the Big Ideas. 

I also think it would make a great review task at the end of your unit to have your students sort the Specific Expectation under the Big Idea headings where they fit the best. 

I designed this poster to go on the bulletin board where the learning goals will be displayed. 

There are many different ways to use the learning goal cards. They can be used to display the goal of the current lesson or as an accumulation of the goals you have covered already. 

Below is an example of the learning goal cards. Each one as been paraphrased from the Ontario Curriculum so it is more student-friendly. I have also included the number that correlates with the specific expectation as they are found in the Ontario curriculum.

**NON-ONTARIO TEACHERS:  If you are interested in these learning goal cards but do not want the number that correlates with the Ontario Curriculum, please contact me. I can make a set without the numbers if there is any interest in that!**

Also included in this pack are individual copies of each of the learning goals. These can glued into your student's notebooks to identify the learning goal of a note or activity. They can be used as prompts for a Science Journal or with the assessment tasks that are also in the pack! (Yes, there is more!!)

I have included three of my favourite self-assessment tasks in this pack. The best past is that they can be used with any Science curriculum...so you will get a tonne of use out of these, year after year.

Click on each of the images below to see the assessment task up close. 

Well, I hope you are as excited as I am about this Growth and Changes in Plants "I can..." Big Ideas and Learning Statements Pack. 

Please click on the image below to head over to my TPT store to buy your copy!

I am already working on a similar package for the other 3 Science Units in the Grade 3 curriculum as well as the other subject areas. If you like what you see and would like a specific curriculum set of learning goals to be created please contact me!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Where is Education Going....?

Right now, as this post is going live, I am at an interview for a new school that is opening in my board. In preparation for this interview the principal asked me to read 2 articles and watch a TED talk video. I've embedded the video below because it's just amazing....

If this is the philosophy of this new school and the principal....I want in!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Making Predictions (Freebie)

I really enjoy teaching students about making predictions. I have seen how excited that students get when they are making predictions and thinking about a book they are about to read. I also know that making predictions is an important first step  for students to use their schema on a more regular basis and to infer about stories and characters.

In the past I have used a strategy that involves making predictions using vocabulary words and narrative text structure. 

The way it works is simple. As you read through the text you will need to pull out important words (about 10-15 words) from three different categories: characters, setting, and plot. It's important to make sure that it isn't super obvious which category words belong in because the discussion that happens between the students is very valuable. 

Here's a few pictures of my students from last year at work.

Here's a freebie so you can try it in your own class.


And for my non-Canadian friends, here are some facts about my great country! Happy Friday!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thinking About Gardening, Plants and Bringing On Spring!

In the Grade 3 curriculum here in Ontario we study plants and soil, and I love it. I had so much fun study plants, planting seeds, and digging in the soil with my students last year.

This year however...I am home on maternity leave with no students to teach! Well, except my three-year old daughter. So, we've decided to build and plant a garden this spring. We eat a crazy amount of vegetables and it just makes sense to try and grow our own. I also figured this could be a good opportunity to try out some new activities I might want to use with my students next year AND I can totally justify buying a whole bunch of new picture books!

We have decided to try out square-foot gardening because it makes the most sense for our yard and many of the sites I've visited say that it's great for kids because they can easily reach the plants. 

Here's a couple sites if you are interested yourself:
Square Foot Gardening

Canadian Gardening

Yesterday, we made a trip to the bookstore to pick up a few books as well. The first on our list was Square Foot Gardening with Kids by Mel Bartholomew. He also has a number of adult versions that provide a great deal of information about this type of gardening. What I liked best about this book was that it had a bunch of science explanations, diagrams and activities that could be used to integrate home and school gardening.

Since I will be doing this at home with a three-year old I don't want to stress out the on the science aspect too much but just make it fun, so while we were at the store we sat down and looked through a bunch of fun picture books. Here are the ones we brought home with us:

And Then It's Spring

This book is written in verse and the illustrations are super cute. I love that it totally matches everyone's feelings right now of waiting, waiting, waiting for all the brown and yucky to finally turn to green!

This book is sooooo cute! It details the journey of a seed through the seasons until it finally lands on the ground and is able to grow. In true Eric Carle fashion the illustrations are amazing and my daughter has fallen in love with this book. We've already read it three times since yesterday!

I am in love with this book! Tom plants a seed. Then he waits, and imagines, and waits and imagines....but the tree takes so long to grow that Tom grows up first!
The ending though...so sweet and touching. A must read.

The illustrations in this book are incredible. Beautiful! The story that goes along with it is inspiring and could be used for many activities in the classroom not just plants and science.
I highly recommend this one!

I still have a few more books on my wish list....but I didn't want to overwhelm my husband by spending so much all in one day!

I'm also looking into buying some butterfly larvae that we can watch grow, build a chrysalis, and emerge as a butterfly! This spring is going to be fun.

I'd love to hear about any experiences people have had growing food and gardening with kids or raising butterflies. The more tips the better!

Do you have a great plants, seeds or butterfly product I just have to see? Leave me a comment and I'll be sure to check it out. 

All photos are taken from the Chapters.Indigo website. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Great Giveaway!

One of my fellow Class*y Collaboration authors is celebrating a BIG milestone with an even bigger giveaway!!

You definitely need to get over to Learning with Mrs. Leeby to check it out. I can't even believe the amount of great prizes she's got and you'll be even more impressed by her great blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Math Workshop Series- Written Communication

As I've been working on this series of posts I've also been taking an  Additional Qualifications course on teaching math to primary and junior students (I think I mentioned it before). For this current unit I have been researching using writing in the math class and I am LOVING what I am learning. Not to mention that I am getting all sorts of ideas for products and freebies I plan to create!

These are a few of the resources I've been looking at:
Making Math Meaningful to Canadian Students, K-8 by Marian Small

And here's what I've learned:
Written Communication 
There are 6 types of written communication in math:

  • personal writing
  • descriptive writing
  • process writing
  • creation of word problems
  • creative writing
  • explanatory writing

When can you use writing in math?

  • before studying a concept to see what students already know 
  • during the unit to add to their previous writing
  • at the end of a unit to revisit what they learned
  • use writing when a student is confused as the task of writing can often clarify thinking
  • in journals or logs
  • ask students to write about a classmate’s solution or a discussion that took place in class
  • to explain their thinking after solving a math problem
  • after solving an open-ended math question, ask students why there could be so many possible answers and why it is important to look at things from a variety of perspectives
  • to explain a mathematical concept
  • to write about their learning process (metacognition)

Criteria for Written Communication

  • should be co-created with the students and hung where students can access it
  • create a checklist of criteria

Strategies to Help Incorporate Writing in the Math Classroom

  • discuss the purpose for the writing
  • discuss who the audience for their writing may be
  • model how to use details and how to explain their thinking
  • give students time to discuss their ideas before starting to write
  • have a math word wall of useful vocabulary
  • give students a prompt to help them get started
  • scaffold and support as needed
  • share in small groups or pairs
  • keep writing in a portfolio to assess growth over time

Do you use writing in your math workshop or math class? I'd love to know more about it and how you incorporate this important skill into your planning. 

Leave a comment below!

The series continues...

What topics are you most interested in reading about?

- Planning for Guided Math Lessons
- Problem Solving
- Math Games and Independent Activities
- Math Journals/Notebooks
- Math Vocabulary
- Math Calendar
- Interactive Math Notebook Ideas
- Using Manipulatives
- Anchor Charts

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Math Workshop Series....continues with a FREEBIE!

I don't know about you all but I am really enjoying this series on Math Workshop! 

I do hope you are enjoying it....not bored yet? 
I have started to look into my Reader's and Writer's Workshops and plan to do a series on each of those as well. So if math isn't your cup of tea, stay tuned!
Throughout this whole process I have been taking an online class through one of the Teacher's Colleges here in Ontario on Teaching Math to Primary and Junior students. As part of the course I have been conducting an independent research project on differentiated learning in math, open-ended questions and parallel task, writing in the math class and connecting math to real life....so I still have so many ideas for posts in this series! 

I have also been putting together a series of lessons using the three-part lesson plan. I have used the three-part lesson quite often in my math class and thoroughly enjoy the process with my students.

I wanted to put together a simple template that can be adapted to any state or provincial curriculum so that all of you can try the three-part lesson in your own classes. There are many templates out there on the web but most are very cumbersome, cluttered and not what every day teachers with little time on their hands would use. 

At least, not me!

I hope that this template will inspire some of you to try the three-part lesson in your own class, or for those of you that are already using this teaching strategy the template will be a useful tool in your planning. 

Click on any of the images below to grab this freebie.

While you're over visiting my TPT shop (so fun to say!) I'd love for you to check out my Number Sense and Numeration Pack. This is a set of 24 cards that can be used as exit slips, task cards, math journal prompts or math stretches.

They are completely customizable to your students...meaning that the basic math question is there but I have left the numbers out so that you can decide which numbers will work best for your students. Differentiation made easy!

Thanks for visiting today! 

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