Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Addition and Subtraction Strategies Math Huddle (Bansho) Lesson

We have been doing a WHOLE lot of adding and subtracting in my class these days! Whew. Here is a look at some of the things we have been doing. (This post is very picture heavy.)

Addition and Subtraction Anchor charts.

Addition and Subtraction Math Huddles

We started with these 2 questions, the first was designed to get the students thinking about regrouping and the second was a typical addition word problem. 

My math huddles are set up so that the students have a minds on (Getting Started) type question that we discuss together. Then we share the lesson problem and often discuss possible strategies together. 

Then I send them out to work on it...usually in pairs or groups. 

I post up most of my student's own work and use that as the teaching point for discussions. 

If there are any gaps then I fill in with what I want the students to learn. 

I often recopy my student's examples so it is a little easier for everyone to read and on the day after the "Working on It" we revisit the learning and annotate the learning. **This can also happen right on the day of working provided that students are able to reach the solutions to the problems within the class time. **

Once we started to feel good with the addition strategies we moved on to subtraction, and the lesson cycle repeats again. 

Getting Started

Lesson Problem

Working On It- this was added underneath the addition examples from our earlier lessons

Finally, anchor charts of big ideas are created or shared. I actually used the annotations on each strategy as the big ideas for this math huddle and then posted these anchor charts that I found online at the Jordan School District. 

And now we practice!! Even though the majority of my Grade 3 students are proficient using the traditional regrouping algorithm for 3-digit addition and subtraction I have insisted that they practice all 5 strategies we studied. It's amazing how many of them have memorized the steps but are unable to communicate their knowledge of place value by using a variety of strategies. The work continues!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Using a T-chart to Solve Patterns- Math Huddle

I'm loving Math Huddles these days...things have gotten a little too busy for Math Workshop, and I am sad about that. I hope to get back to it soon. But in the meantime, Math Stretches and Math Huddle marches on!

My class has been working on patterning- creating, extending, describing etc. Since it is a testing year in Grade 3, we are also working on using a T-chart to solve patterns since one of these questions seems to always end up on the test. Plus, it's a great strategy for the kids to have in their toolbox. 

Here's the kids' work samples...I love the t-chart and the picture on this one.

This group extended their t-chart waaaaaaay past what was asked in the question, which was okay because it lead to a discussion of reasonable answers. 

This group started by drawing flowers, and when I asked them why they had no we re-visited the question and that's when they realized the question was about a fence not flowers! Hmmm?

Happy Mathing!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Just making it through- behaviour management

I'm going back into the archive for this one...but it's a good one!
Every year in May and June it gets HOT in Ontario....soooooo hot.
The kids are hot, the teachers are hot...everything is hot.
(Most years…this year? Who knows!!)

What to do??
So how do I plan to make it through without losing my sanity!?


As a general rule I am not sure how I feel about Freedom Fridays as a behaviour incentive for the duration of the school year, but for the last few weeks of the school year it works wonders to keep everyone (me) happy!

This is what the Freedom Friday board looks like in my room. 
I just used those markers that can write on the board and only come off with water. 

Fancy, right?

Then I have my students work in groups to brainstorm all the ways they could earn a letter towards getting Freedom Friday (a free period for games etc) and what they might do to lose a previously earned letter. 
There are always some great conversations going on in my room during this activity! 
I hear things like, "Mrs. Lyons is always reminding us to do ______ so it must be important!" 
(That one made me giggle a little.) 
We also have a quick review on how to brainstorm- take down every idea that is given and talk about it after you have run out of ideas.

I am always impressed by how focused my students are on the task...nothing like the allure of a little free time to get students motivated! 

Try it and let me know how it goes in your room. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

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've had so much fun study plants, planting seeds, and digging in the soil with my students.

Here's a couple sites if you are interested in square foot gardening at home or with your students:
Square Foot Gardening

Canadian Gardening

Last year, we made a trip to the bookstore to pick up a few books to help with our learning. 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.

I love using picture books to help reinforce the ideas we are learning about in Science, here are some good ones.

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 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. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Summer Book Study

I'm looking for some suggestions for this summer's book study!

I know I have been very MIA round here this year but I am hoping that with summer coming I can turn that around. It's been tricky going back to work with two kids, finding time to workout and get everything else I want to get done…done.

Something had to give and unfortunately it was blogging.

But the summer is just a short 5 weeks away (praise the lord!!) and I am thinking about some summer reading.

So lay it on me!

What book (or books) would you like to do for a book study?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Getting Healthy- My Other Passion

In the past year it seems like teachers every where are getting healthy, getting fit, eating right, working out and supporting each other.

It's amazing!

For those of you that follow my Instagram (thank you!) you've already seen lost of pictures of my personal fitness and health journey and until now I haven't posted about it in detail here on my blog. But that's going to change… I want to share about journey.

Over the past few years I have been working hard to transition my whole family to clean eating by researching different products, slowly introducing new foods and new meals into our rotation, trying out freezer cooking, and educating my country-boy husband on the benefits of things like vegetables, quinoa, green smoothies! 
To be totally honest, and fair it's been a smooth and easy job.

Last summer I was nearing the end of my second maternity leave and I wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather to really up my fitness routine. I had signed up to do the Mud Hero with my husband and a friend ( a 6km run with 16 obstacles) and was determined to be prepared for it. One of my best teaching buddies, Erin from A Piece of the Apple posted about an accountability group she was running in the summer and I jumped on board.

So here we are about 7 months later…what's come of all this fitness and healthy eating?
Well, I'm glad you asked. 
(Or I asked? Either way I'm going to tell you!)

All through the summer I trained for the 6km run, I went on long walks with my dog and the baby in the stroller. 
I started drinking Shakeology and tried Piyo (LOVED THEM). 
I did Three Weeks No Cheats (Thanks For Blogness' Sake).

I loved it all.
I felt strong.
I felt powerful. 
I felt healthy and I felt confident.

And you may not believe me, but I never weighed myself once.
I took measurements.
I took pictures.

But I didn't step on the scale.

Because to be completely honest I've been around the same weight off and on (off during pregnancy!) for about 5+ years.
What's changed is how I felt about myself.
How my clothes fit.
My confidence level.
The amount of energy I had.
How my body looked to me.
How I felt about how it looked.

When I eat right, workout and take care of myself I am happy with my body. No matter what number is on the scale.

Now I know a lot of people live by the scale. 
They weigh themselves frequently and they may be cursing me right now.
And I understand that.
But just try it. 

Put your scale away for one month. 

Find a meal plan that you like.
Do a workout that you enjoy and that challenges you.
Write down nice things about yourself and your life.
Join an accountability group.

In one month see how you feel.
I'm willing to bet you won't care what the scale says.

You are all teachers (I think…) would you ever let one test score define a child in your class?
No, you wouldn't.
So why would you let one scale number define who you are either?

So where am I going from here?

Well, I am just finishing up running my very first accountability group on Facebook as a health/fitness coach. 

I'm going to be starting the Whole 30 next week. 

I have plans to run Mudderella this summer (10km and 25 obstacles).

I am continuing with my love for PiYo and have added in T25 using a hybrid schedule and hope to try a new workout program in March.

It's become a part of my life.
I love it.

I want it to be part of your life too.

So I am embarking on a new blogging journey and will be posting all about my passion for clean eating, health and fitness over at 

Clean Eats, Moves Feet!

I would love for you to join me over there and check out my new blog. 
I'll be sharing recipes, meal plans, fitness ideas and anything else I can think of related to this journey I'm on!

If you have any questions and want to talk to me about my journey please feel free to email me (thinkingofteach (at) gmail (dot) com or contact me via Instagram.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Re-Visiting Guiding Readers- How It's Helped In my Class

I first read Guiding Readers by Lori Jamison Rog a few years ago when I hosted a book study for it here on my blog. I saw Lori speak at Reading for the Love of It in Toronto and when she was done I immediately went to the publisher's display to purchase her book!

Her workshop was that amazing. 

At the time I had recently switched from being an intermediate teacher to a primary teacher and didn't really know anything about guided reading. Lori's book really helped me to understand what a guided reading program 

The first big take away for me was the idea of how to structure a guided reading lesson over the course of a few days. 

This is a format that I try to follow for all of my guided reading lessons. 

The second big take away for me was the chapters that outlined how to guide readers at each stage of their development along with lesson and activity ideas.

Very helpful!

3. Guiding Emergent Readers
4. Guiding Early Readers
5. Guiding Developing Readers
6. Guiding Fluent Readers

This has come in handy, especially this year, has the reading levels in my class range from D to U! 

Lastly, there is an entire chapter about connecting non-fiction and guiding reading which was great to see. I love teaching non-fiction and introducing the features to my students. Doing so in a small group setting is especially fun I find.
Nothing better than a features of non-fiction scavenger hunt!

If you are looking to develop your understanding of guiding reading and working with a wide variety of reading levels I would highly recommend Guiding Readers by Lori Jamison Rog. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

National Sweater Day

My class has taken on the challenge of organizing the Spirit Days at my school this year. 
We are using it as a year long data management project and obviously as a way to promote school spirit and to have a little fun.

Last week when the teacher who is in charge of the Green Club at my school asked if we could add in an extra spirit day to help our the Green Club of course my answer was YES! 
And what a fun, educational spirit day it's going to be.

If you haven't yet visited the World Wildlife Fund's page- 
then I suggest you head over there now! 

When you click on the About chick let this is what you will find-
WWF-Canada's Schools for a Living Planet program empowers educators and students of all ages with the tools and resources they need to lead us into a sustainable future. Schools for a Living Planet is grounded in the principles that make WWF a global success — including strong science and a focus on solutions.
WWF has developed free, curriculum-linked lesson plans for elementary teachers to download and integrate into their classrooms. These lesson plans connect directly to conservation priorities in Canada's forests, lakes and Arctic. Educators can take their students' learning beyond the classroom by participating in WWF events, like Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.    
Secondary and post-secondary students can use Schools for a Living Planet toolkits to make an impact through WWF events like National Sweater Day, Earth Hour and Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Students can get involved as individuals or engage their school's WWF Club / environmental club to take part. 
Join the Schools for a Living Planet community and learn how you can inspire your classrooms and classmates to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature!

Pretty good, right?

The event that my class is going to be organizing is
After I introduced it to my class we spent some time brainstorming all the reasons why this would be a good event to be involved it and went through the necessary information that we would like to share with the school. I was very happy to see how excited my class was about this.
Then they broke off into pairs and started to gather ideas for a promotional poster 
(Notice the tie-in to media literacy! Go integrated teaching!)

I am excited to see where this idea takes us as I would like to move forward with it as a collaborative inquiry project. It'll be interesting to see what my Grade 3's come up with for sure.

Some ideas I had that I'm hoping we can work in:
- used sweater/sweatshirt drive
- PSA campaign about the dangers of greenhouse gases
- Bumper sticker creation (visual art integration)

If you are planning to participate in National Sweater Day or a similar event to raise awareness about energy conservation in your school/community I'd love to hear more about it.
And, I promise I'll be back soon with an update on our progress.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Looking back on the year that has just passed is always an interesting activity. Quite a lot has changed in my life during 2014.

First of all, I had a second daughter at the end of 2013 and so our entire year was filled with baby things, milestones and learning to be a family of 4.

I participated in two great book studies this year that have really helped me redefine the type of classroom I want. Leading the book study for 100 Minutes and posting about Guided Math for the second time have made me into a workshop teacher and centred my instruction around the needs of my students. 

One of the most amazing, and unexpected things that came out of the 100 Minutes book study was that I "met" Erin from A Piece of the Apple and we became instant BFF's. After the book study ended Erin invited me to be a part of a FB Challenge Group for health and fitness. I've been eating clean(er) for a few years now and and working towards getting fit but a few things like getting pregnant and being on mat leave with a demanding baby seemed to be getting in the way! I lost all of the baby weight (and more) after I gave birth to my first daughter so I knew I could do it again. Erin's challenge group was just going to be an extra little push. 

Here we are 6 months later and the ladies in that challenge group are some of my closest friends…even though we have never met!

Getting into fitness and clean eating has changed my life, so much so that I became a Beachbody Coach in the summer. One of my resolutions for 2015 is to re-dedicate myself to my own fitness and nutrition as well as work hard to help others reach their goals too.

I am excited about this coming year. Very excited.

Here are the goals I have set for myself.

 Hoping you have a wonderful New Years!
See you in 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Writing Prompts- FREEBIE

Have you seen the ridiculously cute Christmas clipart that Krista Wallden from Creative Clips is offering for FREE in her store?

It's amazing, gorgeous and so cuuuuute!!

Just looking at it inspired me to create this quick freebie for you all to enjoy.

I'm also working on a fun new product for symmetry and the properties of 2D shapes…I'm hoping it'll be up in the next few days.

One week left till the holidays friends….we can do this!!

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