Friday, December 20, 2013

Writing for a purpose

Since I am in the classroom half-time now (the other half is my beloved Teacher Librarian IBL position), I don't teach ELA directly to my class anymore. I really miss this because it can be so many things! My teaching partner, Candace, recently did what I think is an awesome activity with our kids.
It stemmed from a typical and never-ending classroom problem. PENCILS. Pencils can be one of the biggest headaches in a classroom. They are always missing, dull, broken or something else other than useful. But there is no way around needing them. I have tried cheap pencils, expensive pencils, mechanical pencils, tying pencils to desks and putting flags on the ends. NOTHING WORKS. This year we have had even more trouble because the pencils we bought for our class seem to be particularly frustrating. We could take a new pencil out of the box and sharpen the entire thing without using it. We sharpen it, the led falls out because it is broken inside. We sharpen it again, it breaks again. THE ENTIRE PENCIL. No joke.
Mrs. Henry and our class decided they had had enough. So they did some letter writing. I love this because it was a real-life problem that they wanted to let the company know about. They also need to learn about the writing process and more specifically the letter writing process. Win-win!
As you will see in the photos, this was a multi-step process that ended in them actually mailing the letter to the company. They brainstormed about the message that needed to be sent, putting their ideas into sentences, letter format and addressing an envelope. I can't wait to hear if they reply!


The final letter:

To Whom it May Concern,
We are grade 2 students at Birds Hill School. We are writing to let you know that we do not like the pencils we bought from your company. They do not work well. They always keep breaking, so we can’t do our work. Sometimes we have to throw away the pencils before we even get to use them because we have sharpened it so many times. The lead keeps falling out or they sharpen unevenly. Our pencil sharpener will jam. All of these problems mean that we can’t do our work. Thank you for your time.

Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Dent’s Grade 2 Class

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gifts of Grace

Our friends down the street in Ms. Clarke's Class posted about this video and project on Friday. I thought it was a beautiful idea so I shared it with the kids in our class today! Thanks Ms. Clarke! Here is the video:

I love projects like this that encourage us to think about other people, especially around Christmas, and take the focus of the material side of the holiday. We talked about how we could participate in this project and decided it was important to write a letter to our families to explain it all. The kids brainstormed the details about what the project is, why we want to help and what we can do.

Everyone has the option of bringing in gently used or new mittens, hats or warm socks and leftover Halloween candy. I will take care of picking up any extra candy we need to fill the packages. Once we have gathered our donations (by Wednesday, December 16), we will stuff the warm items with the sweet treats and make cards shaped like mittens to go with them. Pick-up or delivery of the packages will be arranged for Friday, December 20 in time for their Christmas Eve delivery to Siloam Mission!

If you have warm items or candy you would like to donate too, please email me at and I can add them to our delivery.

Thank You!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

So Much to Talk About!

We have been so busy lately, we haven't kept up with our blog! Here is a bit about what has been going on and what is on our minds:

Snow forts
I made a snow fort with my friends by the side by the music room. We were getting a lot of big blocks by digging them out. We builded our fort really tall but people kept breaking it so we had to start over again. -Carter

I tried to build a snow fort with Sarah but people kept stealing blocks from us so we couldn't build a snow fort. -Rhyann

Me and Mikaela built a little snow fort and we played in it and we found blocks and out of blocks we made an iPod and a computer and iPhones and iPads. And we played a game we were being mean to each other but it was fake and it was fun. I really like playing with Mikaela, we have lots of fun. -Jace

Today I made a snow fort with my friends. It was fun. Me and my friends were playing puppets. I was a white husky named Snowflake. My friend Adrianna was a German Shepard named Cop. -Kami

We worked hard on our portfolios. We put our work in plastic sleeves and then in a binder. We put some stuff in term 1 and some stuff in the growth section. -Anthony

In our portfolios we read to our parents and they left us a comment. -James

Portfolio conferences
On Thursday and Friday there was portfolio conferences and our parents came to look at our portfolio and our teachers talked to our parents about how we are behaving in class. -Rhyann

Portfolio conferences our parents came to see what we have done in our portfolios. We typed blogs on the netbooks and we showed them inside the portfolios. After the portfolios we went to the book fair to get books. -Lucas

At portfolio conferences I saw Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Dent Scarcello and I showed my mom my portfolio and I showed my mom where I sit. -Madison

It was my birthday on November 18th! I turned 7 years old. At school my class sang Happy Birthday to me. -Rhyann

On October 5th it was my birthday and it was fun. On September 29th was my birthday party and I had it at Deer Meadow Farm. After my birthday party me and my dad and my cousin got to go and look at the rest of the animals and we got to go in the horse cage and the sheep too. One of the sheep was black and it was my favorite and it's name was Pepper. There was another sheep, it was all white and it's name was Salt. I got to go through a maze made of wood and we had to look for animals. Then, we went through the corn maze. -Adrianna

It was my birthday on October 30th. I turned 7 years old. I had a big party at Canadinns. It was really fun because we went down the big water slide. -Madelynne

Remembrance Day assembly
We had a Remembrance Day assembly and we had a guest speaking about what poppies are a sign of. -Sarah

Today I played in the snow with my friends and we played puppies in the snow. It was fun. The game was huskies and I was a husky with all black, Adrianna was a brown husky and it was fun playing. -Jace

It snowed a lot. It's not sunny and there is snow on the ground. -Anthony

Today we started a tree art. Tomorrow we are going to paint the background. Today we put on the glue and tissue paper. We are going to cut it out into trees and glue it on the paper that we paint tomorrow. We are going to use cool colours for the background and for the trees we are using hot colours. -Adrianna

Monday, November 25, 2013

Library Guest Readers!!

In library we have started having our classmates volunteer to read to our class! It is so fantastic to see them so eager to read in front on an audience. This also tells me that the children feel safe in front of our class which is always a goal of mine. We have a fabulous group of readers this year and the books they choose are great! 
When reading in front of an audience we try to remember to read loudly and clearly, show the pictures to the audience and use animation in our voices. 
Our first guest was Jace and this week Madelynne read to us. Hey did a great job!! Up next is Sarah!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Rock Star of Outer Space

Last night Chris Hadfield was at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg! I was really disappointed to miss it but my lovely mother went and stood in line (for a verrrrrry long time). What a champ! Morgan from our class was also able to go. She posted to her Kidblog about it!! Morgan's mom told me: 
Morgan told Chris that she liked his videos, particularly the 'sleeping in space' one. She said she wasn't fond of the 'brushing teeth' video because he had to swallow toothpaste. His response? "We gotta do what we gotta do up there!"

Here they are!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Polar Bears in Churchill!

Thanks to Ms. Wasney for the heads up, the polar bear video stream in Churchill, Manitoba is live! The best viewing is from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm but they have clips from the day posted in the evening as well. Click this link to see them live for yourself!
This is a snapshot taken from the live stream!! What a neat experience THAT would have been! The polar bear is standing up on his hind legs trying to get a closer look at the people in the tundra buggy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween! At our school we all get together in the gym and each class has a chance to parade around and show off their costumes. There were some fabulous homemade costumes this year!

We got to dress up in costumes and parade around the gym. My favorite costume was the fortune teller. -Sarah

I liked the two Monster High costumes. -Rhyan

My favorite costume was the two boys dressed as girls! -Adrianna

My favorite costume that I saw was an iPod! -Carson

We got to have a party with treats and chocolate juice in our classroom. -Carter

People go trick or treating and they get candy. -Rhyann

Trick or treating is going to be fun. -Lucas

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quality Commenting on Kidblog

Since we seem to be getting the hang of posting to our student blogs, I thought it was a good time to venture into the world of commenting. A number of my smarty-pants 7 year olds very quickly figured this out on their own but we hadn't set criteria for leaving comments.
I referred back to my tweep, @pernilleripp for a great way to explain the type of comments we want to write. We discussed and compared the difference between "highway comments" and "dead end comments". It always feels great to get a comment and know that there are people out there reading your posts, but we are hoping to generate discussion with our comments.
Dead end comments are kind and usually involve a compliment. For example, "Great job on your post, Leslie!" A highway comment is kind and complimentary but it also opens the door for discussion to begin. For example, "I really enjoyed reading your post, Leslie. I am reading it in Vancouver, Canada. Can you find that on a map? In Vancouver it is warm and sunny right now. What is the weather like in Winnipeg?" One of our main goals in commenting on blog posts is to start a conversation. When a commenter asks a question, the blogger can reply to their comment with the answer and perhaps another question.

Our criteria for quality commenting on blog posts is:
  • Be kind and appropriate.
  • Give a compliment.
  • Ask a question.
  • Make a connection.
  • Re-read your comment for spelling, punctuation and upper case letters.
  • Sign your first name only.
We would love to hear from you too! You can comment to us on our class blog, here, or on our Kidblogs as well.

Halloween Howl at the Henderson Public Library

Henderson Public Library is hosting an exciting Halloween event that you may be interested in. I double checked with the library and it does not matter if you have a library card or if you are not residents of the City of Winnipeg, you are still welcome to attend. As it mentions on the poster, please call to register. Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Finally Online! Adventures in Kidblogging :)

We are so excited that our blogging adventure has finally landed us online! While the children may have thought it was a drawn out process and that I talked too much (who, me?!), I am very happy with my new "road to student blogging" plan. I used many ideas from one of my tweeps, @pernilleripp This was the perfect opportunity to go through all the important things about being online like digital citizenship, global audiences, quality posting and (still to come) quality commenting. While I did this in the past, I don't think it meant as much to the kids because I did it in a mini-lesson style while they were in the computer lab or in conversation when it came up. Covering these things in a more formal way was more meaningful to them and I can see they are taking it seriously.
It also made the moment today when they actually got to use their real, live personal blog a big deal. They are taking the responsibility of having a personal online space seriously and they did a great job. There are so many little things to learn along the way.

It's not just "start your sentence with an upper case letter" but rather, "how do you make an upper case letter on a computer?"

"Where is the period?"

"How do I make an exclamation mark or a question mark?!"

"What's my password again?"


Saving a favorite so they can get back to their kidblogs next time, the importance of a catchy title to entice your readers, adding detail, re-reading your post to make sure it makes sense. It is really amazing how brilliant these little 7 year olds are. The number of little details we ask them to learn,  understand and remember for next time is really unbelievable. The even more amazing part is when they actually do!

When I talk to other teachers about blogging with young students, the topic of editing student posts always comes up. "You're going to publish it with all those mistakes???" Here is my theory. This is their space. I will guide them and teach them and many, many little lessons on spelling, punctuation, meaning, and purpose will come from their blogging. I look at their posts before I publish them and if they have met expectations as we have set them as a class (see the last photo), they get published. I want their posts to be a reflection of who they are as writers and learners right now. As the year goes, their blogs will show amazing growth in their writing just like their paper/pencil work in the classroom will. If I expect perfect spelling before each and every post is published, a single post would take many, many days for some kids. This will discourage them from writing and that is exactly opposite of what I am trying to do.

Please check out our first posts and leave us a comment. Comments from our global audience and families are a major driving force in our purpose to blog.

-Mrs. Dent Scarcello :)

It was exciting to start our own kidblog. -Rhyann

I had fun starting our own kidblog. I like to type my post. -Anthony

It's hard to find which letter you need to type the words on your kidblog. -Carter

I thought it was hard to type all those letters. You get exhausted after you are done your kidblog. Our criteria was to use punctuation and upper case letters for name and the start of a sentence. -Carson

I like my new kidblog because you get to do lots of stuff. -Georgia

Everything has to make sense for your own kidblog post. You have to go back and check for mistakes before you press submit for review button. -Carter

You had to re-read your post  before you save it. -Madison

When you write a blog post, it has to be appropriate. -Matthew

To make an uppercase letter, you press shift and the letter you want. If you press CAPS LOCK all the letters go upper case. -Anthony

Put spaces between your words or ifyoudon'titwillbehardtoread. -Carter

If you put something inappropriate, Mrs. Dent Scarcello won't approve it to publish. -Carson

Check out these typing skills! Carson will be able to type without looking like his teacher one day soon!

We have posts!

Our criteria or checklist for blogging

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paper Blogs! {IBL}

We made our paper blog posts. We wrote something about us like what we like to do. -Carter

We tried our own blog posts on our blog paper. -Corbin

We always start our sentences with upper case letters. We end our sentences with punctuation. -Anthony

We have criteria for blog posts. We have to sound it out if we don't know or ask a friend. And no personal information. Include all the important information and it has to make sense. -Carson

Don't use your address and be kind when blogging. -Georgia

We use a catchy title for our blog posts so people will keep on reading. -Adrianna

If you don't know how to spell a word, sound it out or ask a friend or look around. -Mikaela

When we are done we gave it to our teacher. -Lucas

It was fun making our paper blog posts because soon we are going to have our own blogs. -Isabella

I loved writing the sentences because we will have our own blogs someday. -Rhyann

Monday, September 30, 2013

Question of the Day :: Daily Routine

Today we learned our third activity in Daily Routine. These are math activities that we rotate through each day. Right now, while we are learning them, we all do the same one. Later, when we know the drill we will have three groups doing different things at the same time and we won't do the same thing each day. The one we learned today is Question of the Day, it's the noisiest but we like it the  best.

It was hard keeping track of all the names. To know who we asked already we write down the initials when we ask them. -Rhyann

It was easy to ask people the questions because you just have to go to them. If someone is busy we don't interrupt them, we wait. -Anthony

It was fun doing this because it was fun finding out about people that like our stuff. -Carter

We wrote down a question to ask our whole class. We thought about what question we want to ask the class. -Adrianna

When we are done asking everybody we count the initials and write the number at the bottom. -Rylee

Lots of people asked the question "what do you like better this or that?" It is kind of boring when everyone gets the same thing that they like. - Carter

Lots of people asked about pizza. Lots of people used Mrs. Dent Scarcello's example as their question. Next time we could choose different questions because it gets boring. -Carson

The other kind of question we could ask is a yes or no. Like "have you ever went to the states?" -Jace

"Have you ever gone to the Bomber game?" -Rylee

When we are done with the front, there are questions on the back that we answer to analyze the data we collected. Once the kids get beyond asking about hot dogs, pizza and ice cream, they find out some really interesting things about each other!

Friday, September 27, 2013

This is our Kidblogs

We did something REALLY awesome this week!!! - Matthew

We went to IBL and went to the computer lab. We found out we were going to start our own kidblogs. We are the only kids in the school that will have our own kidblogs. - Adrianna, Mikaela

We are SO excited because no one else has a blog. - Morgun

When we use our blogs we might be able to talk to other people. People who read our blog post might leave us a comment. - Anthony

The world can see our blog which is a good thing but we have to be careful not to share personal information. - Adrianna

We made paper blogs to understand what a blog is. We had to leave the big box blank because we still need to learn about writing a blog post. - Anthony

It will be awesome when we finally get on our real blogs! - Rylee

We are interested in learning about blogs because it is a new thing. -Rhyann

It's going to be awesome when we finish our real blogs. -Lucas

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Seasonal Changes with Grade 1 {IBL}

In IBL (Inquiry Based Learning) I am working with grade 1. I taught a grade 1-2 multiage class a few years ago but my memories of September grade 1 children have faded a little. I absolutely love working with grade 1, they are SO excited to see me and are gung-ho to do just about anything I announce!! In Science they are learning about Daily and Seasonal Changes so we are focusing in on the changes animals go through in the different seasons. We talked about the seasons (no, Christmas and April are not seasons...) and some of the things they know about the seasons and then they got to use sticky notes and smelly markers (best writing lures ever) to post their ideas in each season. I reminded them that if they didn't know how to spell an idea they had, they could just write the sounds they hear, stretch out the word, etc. This was followed by some awesome ideas that the children wrote independently! There were also a few of these:

child: "I did one!"
me: "Awesome! Can you read it to me?"
child: "Umm, I don't remember what I wrote."
me: "That's ok, I think it says               "
child: "Mhmm, I think so too."
I love it.

I posted this photo to instagram the other day - such a great reminder of where these new little writers are at. :) It says "the snow is melting so we can play outside at the beach!"

International Dot Day!!

This Sunday, September 15 is International Dot Day! It is the anniversary of publication of a great book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds (great author). We started celebrating today by reading The Dot and talking about being ourselves when we work on art at school. Each piece we create is our own and should look the way we want it to look. Art is what we want it to be! We started Kandinsky Circle art, one of my favorite pieces to do at school. It always looks so amazing when they are all done and we post them all together. I love circles (and polka dots) and I love colours. On Monday we have some other activities planned and don't forget to WEAR DOTS!