Finally took the boys to see the Toronto letters, on our way home from the YPT yesterday – – we made our way through throngs of selfie stick-wielding tourists, and took some tourist-worthy photos of our own in our hometown! :-)
We finally got around to finishing our unpacking yesterday… As several of the students suspected, our mystery boxes contained both an iPad and a (refurbished) laptop.
The students wanted to name our new devices, and "Pinky" (after her pink case) quickly emerged as the front runner for the iPad, though "bubblegum" and "Rosa parks," were both in the running as well. The laptop became "Stanford", named to commemorate our week of inspirational math, and the videos we've been watching from Stanford University by mathematics education professor Jo Boaler.
Then the students wrote thank you letters to our anonymous donor…
I was impressed with how articulately and in what lengthy detail many of the students expressed their gratitude; clearly motivation is a positive force for improving writing!
What fun it has been to start this adventure… I know these two new devices will be welcome additions to our classroom, and the thank-you letters will put a smile on our donor's face when I deliver them this weekend.
It's funny how things go sometimes... the hunt for a speaker which I had taken to a workshop I was presenting last night and forgotten to return to school today soon turned into an exploration of music that would interest Sneakers (Nexus's Xylophonia and Amazing Space both peaked her curiosity).
What attracts the dog also attracts 11-year-old boys, it seems, and Simon was soon on the scene, which resulted in a collaborative musical meander through my various playlists and favourites of his on Youtube (Rayman soundtracks).
His video game soundtracks reminded me of Joe Satriani's "The Extremist", and from there it was on to Neal Morse and Porcupine Tree. Soon, we were dancing to Return to Forever and Romantic Warrior -- what could be more exciting than Stanley Clark and Chick Corea??!!
I was reminded of some oldies but goodies, though we didn't go as far back as Bach or even Beethoven and not even close to Hildegard von Bingen... and we didn't move into the now with Malosetti (though I just found out Satriani has a new album!!!)
Nevertheless, I am inspired to gift the boys some music along with a set of decent headphones ("the puffy kind, Mommy!") for Christmas...
Anyone who knows me a little bit knows how desperate I am to get digital technology into the hands of kids who need it. The one school-provided student computer in my classroom is not nearly enough to meet the needs of a classroom population that largely does not own its own devices, so BYOD is a bit of a moot point.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to write a successful grant proposal for a research project that included the acquisition of a laptop and an iPad mini, and this year, I bought one more small tablet on sale early in the school year, so that the number of student devices is now 4. But a 4:25 ratio is not really enough for many pursuits to be undertaken with any efficacy, even when supplemented by the 3 or 4 additional students who have devices they bring from home.
Recently, I convinced a good family friend with a general interest in education and a particular weakness for my school passions to purchase two additional devices for our classroom. Always keen for a great writing or speaking lesson, I asked him to have the donations delivered straight to my classroom, so that we could predict what might be in the box, and who could have sent it.
Said boxes arrived today.
"School supplies?!" was an early obvious guess, though many students suspected something more exciting was afoot.
After making an initial prediction, selected groups of students were invited up to more closely examine the shipping labels and weights of the boxes. They took this information back to their seats and shared with students nearby, who then modified their original predictions, based on this new information.
It was hard to contain the excitement, as Ms. Teschow began opening the mystery boxes...
"Thelma's sister!!!" came an excited shriek, as I began unpacking the smaller of the two boxes, and pulled out a pink Otterbox case. I then pulled some bubble wrap from the box, confirming the suspicions of those who had predicted something fragile.
Students then wrote in their notebooks about how and why their original predictions about the contents of the boxes evolved with each additional observable clue. They will have to wait until tomorrow, when we finish unpacking and I share with them a little information about our generous donor, before they see with their own eyes what is inside the mystery box!
We've just started using Jo Boaler's "Week of Inspirational Math" materials from Stanford in my Grade 6 class.
After completing an anticipation guide I created, we watched a short video with Jo and her gang explaining to students the science behind ability of all to learn and do well in Math. Then we spent some time brainstorming what students like others to say and do when working in a group on Math, and made a list of success criteria, following which students were given their task: Make all the numbers 1-20, using any operation you want and ONLY four 4s.
Students really rose to the challenge, and worked hard at adding equations to our list... I've left the charts up for students to add to in the days/weeks ahead, and am looking forward to tomorrow's Inspirational Math Challenge!
In an effort to differentiate my annual "Thanksgiving Recount" writing activity this week, and have students begin using technology beyond the usual "look something up on the internet", I am going to give my Grade 6s the choice of writing their recounts, creating a Flipagram set to music, narrating an auditory recount such as a Tellagami, or designing a Piccollage or similar visual recount on their devices (or on one of our classroom devices).
My hope is that by using a text form they should be well familiar with by students may find experimenting with new forms of media more of an enticing challenge than an insurmountable hurdle!
Ms. Teschow's Written Recount
A Busy and Thanksgiving Weekend
This weekend was filled with friends, family and feasting. On Saturday, we went out for breakfast in the morning, and had scones and tea in the afternoon. Then, on Sunday, Ms. K. and I went kayaking and geocaching on the Humber River. It was warm and sunny. Finally, on Monday, Alex and Simon came over, and we had lots of fun: After spending the day at the Corktown Commons Playground, we we went to the Old Mill with some friends for a tasty Thanksgiving dinner buffet. What a busy and exciting weekend we had!
Whatever students choose, they will begin by mapping out their ideas on a graphic organizer. (After brainstorming ideas on a Padlet, we'll actually begin by deconstructing my written recount onto a graphic organizer, which will provide an opportunity to review paragraph structure and teach recount signal words.)
Our first artistic foray as a class today was into the world of Vincent Van Gogh -- after reading Waldman's the Starry Night to my Grade 6s, I invited them to experiment with oil pastels to recreate the book's namesake, or try something of their own, using a similar "short brush stroke" technique.
As students finished their work, we discussed what made a piece "good". We co-created criteria, and students posted their art, or went back to do a little more work on it.
Some of the finished products were quite amazing, but I was too involved in conferencing with individual students to remember to take photos before many of them took their artworks home!
Simon and Alex love the chicken Tikka at our local Thai restaurant. The tikka comes in orders of 4 "kebabs" on a plate.
"Mom!", the boys said the other night when we were out for dinner, "We're starving!! Please, get us more than one order each. So I told them we'd start with three orders to share between the two of them, and see if they were still hungry afterwards.
When the three orders of Chicken Tikka arrived, I gave each boy one order, and divided the other order fairly between them.
Ms. K -- who also likes Chicken Tikka -- took one kebab off Simon's plate for herself.
Simon turned to his brother, and said, "Alex, it's not fair now, you have more! You have to give one of your kebabs to Tats (Ms. K) too.
Alex suggested that since he was hungry, instead of giving one of his kebabs to Ms. K, he could just give half a kebab to Simon. But Simon said that wasn't fair, and that Alex would have to give him a whole kebab, since he (Simon) had given up a whole one for Tats.
Who is right? Should Alex give Simon half a kebab or a whole one, to make it fair? (So that each boy has the same amount of kebabs.) Explain your thinking.
Some More Chicken Tikka Problems:
Another time, Ms. K and the boys went to the restaurant alone (without Ms. Teschow), and ordered four orders of Chicken Tikka.
"Let's make sure to split up the orders fairly!" said Ms. K.
How many kebabs does each person get?
In the end, Ms. K decides that she is actually not that hungry, and only eats half her share, giving the rest to Alex and Simon. They were still hungry, and quickly gobbled them up.
How many kebabs did each person end up eating?
The boys' Uncle Rick took Simon and Alex to the restaurant one evening when Ms. Teschow and Ms. K were both working late.
"We're REALLY hungry tonight, Rick!", said Simon. "Can we order enough Chicken Tikka, so that we each can have 10 kebabs?"
Rick, who was also hungry, and who also likes Chicken Tikka, said they could. How many Chicken Tikka orders would they have to get so that all three of them get 10 kebabs each?
17 degrees Celsius.
That's how cold it is in our apartment in Toronto, where the cooling and oft-sought-after-in-summer "lake effect" is in full force in October.
17 degrees is not how cold it feels (after over 24 hours of this, it feels about - 10, even with three sweaters on!!!!), but how cold it actually IS, based on three readings taken by our building superintendent this morning. Yup.
You see, the way it works is that the building person has to take the reading, then he fills out a little form for head office to request them to turn on the heat.
Never mind that section Regulation 516/06 of the Residential Tenancies Act, Section 4, stipulates that "the heating season is from September 1, to June 15 of any given year." and that between those two dates, a landlord is legally obligated to provide a tenant with heat, more specifically, "room temperature of 20 degrees Celsius at 1.5 metres above floor level and one metre from exterior walls in all habitable space and in any area intended for normal use by tenants, including recreation rooms and laundry rooms but excluding locker rooms and garages" -- the reality is that until the paperwork gets filled in by our building manager and sent to Homestead's illustrious head office, and they elect to actually follow the law, we are all left FREEZING!!!!
My partner, who grew up behind the iron curtain, is reminded of her childhood in Russia, where the family would often huddle around the stove when the heat went out. Unfortunately, these memory jogs are more frustrating than endearing for her, and, since (unlike in Russia) we actually have laws here protecting tenants from having to huddle around an open flame, she encouraged me to take action with the landlord.
Interestingly, the Landlord's representative (they are a bunch of lawyers, who own a number of buildings, and hire peons to do the dirty work for them) seems very eager to enforce rules and regulations: He called me a few months ago to tell me I had to take a colourful wreath off my door because although they allowed wreaths at Christmas time as an exception (no cultural proficiency for these landlords!!!), in general, door décor was not permitted, as the door exterior was the property of the landlord and not the tenant. Since it was now summer time, he said, the thing had to go. I complied, and removed the festive adornment from our apartment door.
Then, a few weeks ago, my friend at head office called back, this time about a misinterpretation he had of the Elections Canada act... he mistakenly thought he could tell the building managers to tell us to remove the sign supporting our local candidate which we had proudly installed on our balcony to encourage our neighbours to vote for someone with a brain and a heart on October 19th.
(Don't worry, I corrected him and pointed him to Section 322 (1) of the Act, which states that "no landlord can prohibit tenants from displaying election advertising on the premises covered by their lease".)
Alas, when I called my friend from Homestead last night to advise him that his employer was not fulfilling his duty under the law with regards to providing heat for me, his tenant, he was not so eager to chat.
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.