Monday, 10 October 2016

Dear Families,

First off, I would like to say I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend with your loved ones!  In class, I look forward to hearing about your family's 'Thankful Stone' sharing experience.  Students were extremely excited to bring home their 'Thankful Bags' and share the contents inside with you!  I know many of you will cherish your child’s Thankful Letter.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as your child enjoyed writing it last week.  As I conferenced with students to offer feedback, I was deeply touched by their thoughts, words, and actions in their heartfelt letter to you! 

"My wish for my family is to have a good life."
Thankful Bag items
Sharing what we're thankful for using our class' thankful stone

Passing the thankful stone respectfully and mindfully
Next, welcome to our 2016/2017 Classroom Blog!  I'm delighted to begin this online journey with your child and YOU - providing you with updates and news of our exciting learning and upcoming events from our "Classroom Community" to your "Comfy, Cozy Home."  This blog is another avenue for US all to communicate, share, and celebrate your child's extraordinary learning in Grade 3/4!!

Please note, I will be updating my blog weekly (every Fri. evening there will be a new post).  Your child and you are encouraged to visit it over the weekend :) I will have detailed explanations (with pictures) about your child's specific learning each week.  This way, you will be informed about what is happening in our class and help reinforce learned concepts at home, too.  Together, we will work as a dedicated T.E.A.M. = 'Together Everybody Achieves More' to support your child's academic, social, and behavioural goals.

As a teacher, I strongly believe in sound parent-child-teacher communication and working closely to help my students rise to their highest potential!  I can say with confidence, the students certainly have and continue to put in their 'Level 4 Personal Best' in tasks set before them.  I am optimistic we will continue our learning journey with purpose, passion, and productivity!

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to all the parents who have already actively supported and engaged in their child's learning at home thus far - together, we can make a significant difference by working together.  I could not do this without your unconditional love and support; it is greatly valued and cherished!

In Language Arts, we will focus on building upon our reading and writing skills.  One of the very first writing pieces your child completed was about Terry Fox's courageous 'Marathon of Hope' and raising awareness about the importance of cancer research.  Ask your child to summarize / highlight the important parts of Terry Fox’s powerful journey and the writing task he/she worked on and completed in class.  There were some students who used the reading comprehension strategy ‘Making Connections’ to connect their life experiences to Terry Fox.  It was amazing to hear students' moving experiences and how Terry has impacted their thinking and life.  If you would like to see your child’s writing piece, please indicate in the agenda and we can certainly send it home for the evening!
Terry Fox our Canadian Hero lives on ...

Word Study:
Each week when your child brings home their "Word Study" homework pages, please take a moment to go over their words and the specific goals with them (located at the top of the sheet on Mon. evenings page).  Thank you for supporting your child in our "Word Study Program."  I am looking forward to their progress through their initiative and responsibility which are valuable learning skills for homework completion.  Every Fri. we will have a "Word Test."  Please initial and leave a comment in your child's "Word Test" notebook when it comes home.  I know how much they will value reading your 'notes of encouragement!'

Extra Math Practice Homework:

This week, we are also beginning an "Extra Math Practice" program which is designed to further support your child's math learning and gives you (the parent) an idea of what concepts we are covering in class.  This duo-tang will come home on Tuesdays giving students 2 evenings to work on this math.  Please return the duo-tang to school on Thursdays.  The expectation will be for your child to complete this one math sheet per week on his/her own as the concept will be covered in class prior.  However this being said, if your child requires some gentle support, please do so :) Of course, if an additional day is required that is quite alright as I understand many students are involved in extra-curricular activities after school.  Thank you in advance for taking to support this program.

At the beginning of every new math unit, I will be sending home a 'Math Note' with your child in his/her agenda bag.  You will have noticed that the first one was sent home last week.  Please take some time to sit down with them to read over the "Learning Goal" and the Strategies/Games suggested that you can do at home to support this new strand of math.  We are currently working on Number Sense and Numeration Unit.

In class, I have a designated MATH WALL where I post the following:

Learning Goal:  We will read, represent, compare, and order whole numbers to 1,000 (Gr.3) and 10,000 (Gr. 4).

Success Criteria: 
1.  I can compare, and order numbers to 1,000 (Gr. 3); to 10,000 (Gr.4). 

2.  I can read and print number words 0-100 (Gr. 3); 0-1,000 (Gr.4).

3.  I can round two-digit numbers to the nearest ten (Gr.3); round four-digit numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand (Gr.4).

4.  I can use solve problems with whole numbers to 100 (Gr.3); 10,000 (Gr.4).

On this wall, I also put up important math terminology that is pertinent to the unit of study.  My math lessons are based on a 3-Part Lesson which includes a specific Learning Goal, Minds On, Action, and Consolidation piece.  Students will become familiar with this process and benefit from it.  In math, I also ensure that I include a variety of "Math Games" to help reinforce math concepts in a FUN, engaging, and meaningful manner.  Ask your child about the game I've introduced called 'Trade it to Save it.' 

Some families have asked, so I thought it'd be a handy thing to share some of our daily schedule with you.  Of course, flexibility is part of our days as assemblies, field trips, and outdoor learning can alter this slightly.  But here is what we can so far :)

Welcome Mr. Smith as the newly hired French teacher.  He is a warm, soft spoken and kind man who is eager and excited to be joining our Nottawa family.  Hopefully next year, my Gr. 3's will get to learn from him as well as they enter the Junior Division.  

French (Gr.4):  Day 1-4 @ 9:50-10:40am with Monsieur Smith

EQAO Prep (Gr. 3):  Day 1-4 @ 9:50-10:40am with Mrs. Johnson & Mrs. O

Gym:  Day 3 @ 9:00-9:50am & Day 5 @ 12:10-1:00pm

Library (Book Exchange):  Day 3 @ 2:30-3:15pm

Music:  Day 5 @ 11:20-12:10pm with Mr. Morin

Nordic Highlands Field Trip – Rocks & Minerals Investigation, Survival Games:
Last Wednesday, my Grade 4 students along with Mr. Plater’s Grade 4’s traveled to Duntroon to participate in a Science related field trip.  Nordic Highlands runs a very purposeful program for students.  The knowledgeable staff is very warm, and welcoming.  For our very first trip so early in the year, my students demonstrated their best behaviour.  We were complimented for our Character which makes me as a teacher so very proud of each learner!  Lucy from Nordic came up to me at the end of the day and said, “Miss Gill, the way your students handle and carry themselves in our building is extraordinary.  It has been a true pleasure having them here.  We hope to see you again!”  

The first half of our day, we learned about the Life Cycle of Rocks & Minerals.  The second half of the day was spent visiting the Quarry.  Students participated in a variety of rocks and minerals workstations in the morning to learn and consolidate their thinking in this strand of science.  I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and engagement of each student while they worked at their station.  A huge thank you to ALL the gracious parent volunteers who helped facilitate and run each station.  From our class, I want to personally thank Jack's Mom for coming along and being a rock star at her station.  We could not have done it without your support.  Thank you, thank you! 

Here are a few pictures from our Rocks & Minerals Investigation:

Jack's Mom guiding and teaching our students!

Thank you Jack's Mom for ALL your help!!

BFF's Graydon, Wesley, and Tate!

The Quarry visit

Survival games begin!

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post.  This will be one of many to come!  I look forward to sharing more weekly news, updates, learning and pictures in the next post!  Please visit my blog when you see "Blog Update" written in your child's agenda.  This indicates a new post for you and your child to enjoy and celebrate their learning!  I will be posting every Friday, so you can read and see what we've been up to all week, YAY! 

Growth Mindset:
What is Growth Mindset?  "In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.  Brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment."  

Studies have been done to show the significant difference in a child's confidence and belief in themselves and their abilities when they think in growth mindset ways.  Change your words.  Change your MINDset.  In our class, I have dedicated a wall that teaches our children to train their brain to thinking, speaking, and acting in ways that promote growth as opposed to fixed mindsets.  

I linked this learning with Terry Fox who is an excellent model for Growth Mindset.  He taught us the importance of never giving up no matter what challenge or obstacle is set before us.  It's hard to believe any greater challenge to face than cancer, yet he continued to believe and his powerful messages of #courage #hope #perseverance lives on to this day!  Terry's thoughts, words, and actions will be emphasized daily :)  We can be like Terry's Mindset too, if we TRY.  

Each week, I will post a Growth Mindset quote on my blog as well as in the classroom for my students.  If we begin thinking in positive ways, we will act in it!  We not only help ourselves achieve our best, but we create a classroom community that emits growth!

"Oops I made a mistake, let's celebrate!  Making mistakes helps me learn!"

Namaste (I HONOUR YOU),
Miss Gill

PS:  Meet W.A.L.T.  He is an important member of our Classroom Community.  He helps us consolidate our thinking and learning.  WALT stands for "We All Learned Today ..."  
I encourage you to "WALT" at home and ask your child about their learning from school!

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