Welcome back learning update

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break. From reading the blog posts and listening to the stories, it sounds like everyone was quite busy. Here is what we did this week and where we are headed.

Language Arts – We started out reading groups. Students are reading either Dork on the Run or Doghouse Blues  and will be responsible for a specific role within their group each time they meet. Students will then have a chance to blog about their reading. I will be rotating through the groups and reading with one or two groups each time. Two groups will be recording their reading on the iPads to monitor their fluency. The rest will either read individually or aloud as a group. The students worked well within their groups for their first times. I was quite impressed.

We will begin our Organization writing trait this coming week. Students will end up with 2 major pieces of writing at the end. We will alternate Reading and Writing days.

Math – Mr. Letendre is currently teaching math while I teach 5F Science.  The decision was made to allow consistency between classes for Math and Science and take advantage of the teacher’s areas of expertise. The movement between classes has been good for the students as well. A chance to stretch and move.  Students are continuing to work through our Multiplying and Dividing Whole Numbers unit, and are currently working on developing strategies to multiply 2-digit numbers. The students have been practicing strategies such as lattice method and using base ten blocks to multiply and will continue to do so the beginning of next week. We will then be moving on to division.  Here is what the lattice method looks like  for the question 35 x 52 = 1820.  If your child is using the lattice method, ask them to explain it to you. The best demonstration of understanding is the ability to teach someone else.


Social Studies -We have all had the chance to present our family history presentations. The students were broken into groups of three and presented to each other. They recoded their presentations on iPads that I watched afterwards. This gave the students a chance to practice, redo or perfect their presentations in a low risk environment. I am beyond impressed with the work that has gone into these presentations and how well the students worked together. I love small group work and feel it has been extremely beneficial to the students. The iPads provided accountability and a unique perspective to myself as a teacher. Students will finish up their peer feedback and personal reflections as I put in my feedback. Each student has a google doc with the criteria in it that the feedback and reflections are entered into. I will be printing these off and sending them home with the students by the end of the month.


We are moving into our study of the geographical regions of Canada. I have created a passport that is broken into each of the regions. The first region, I will model highlight key information from the textbook, creating jot notes and sketch notes in response to the guiding questions for the region. In groups, students will be assigned a region that they will become the experts in. Once they have completed their regions, we will Jigsaw with the other groups to learn about the other regions. Once we have each of the regions filled out, we will rank them as to livability based on selected criteria and collaborate with the other classes to host socratic circles as we discuss and debate which of the regions is the best to live in.

Science – The students are well into their study of Electricity and Magnetism. So far, the students have begun to explore different types of circuits. This coming week, the students will look at simple circuits, bulbs in series, bulbs in parallel as well as batteries in series and parallel. The key is for students to learn from exploring, trial and error. We will look at switches by the end of the week or early next week, which will lead to a review and a short check-up next week.

Other news and updates:

  • With the extreme windchill and cold this past week, we have had a lot of indoor breaks. The students have been awesome about this. We will continue to monitor the weather. Students are given a choice of where to be during the cold weather but it is expected that they do go outside if the weather is appropriate. Please ensure that students are sent with warm clothes for outside each day.
  • Field Trip – We have been invited to go to the Spruce Grove library to be one of the first sets of students through their new innovation space. We will be going Wednesday, February 4, 2015 in the afternoon.  If you would like to come on this field trip, please let me know. I would appreciate 1-2 volunteers, however it is not needed.  The cost to cover transportation is $2. Please return the form and payment by Wednesday, January 14, 2015. Thank you! The form went home yesterday. If you need another copy, I will be scanning and posting one this week.
  • We are fortunate to welcome Haley into our classroom. She is an EA practicum student from Grant MacEwan University. She will be working with us a few hours on Wednesdays and Fridays until April. Mr. Letendre is her supervising teacher, however, she will be working with us in Science to help with our exploration of Electricity. She is a former Greystone student herself and is excited to be back and start working with the students.
  • If you are going on vacation. There is a form that you do need to fill out and it needs to be submitted to the office prior to your vacation. I have copies of the form or they can be picked up at the office. Also, if you can send me an email as an FYI, that would be appreciated. I rarely send any work with students for their vacations besides a journal or a photo scavenger hunt but it allows me to plan for how we will catch up for their return.  I will be scanning and posting the form this week as well.
  • Innovation Week 5 made international headlines…sort of.  Emma L. and Cailynne W.’s research for the latest instalment of Innovation Week lead them to the company called Tile based out of San Mateo, California.  Their company liked the girls so much, they were featured on Tile’s blog.   Pretty Cool to see an innovative company such as Tile see the value of what we do in Innovation Week .

Innovation Week at GCMS

There have been many questions regarding innovation week. One of our LC 5 teachers, Ms. Ariss wrote an excellent explanation on her blog had allowed us to repost it. You can find the original post here.

Innovation Week at GCMS kicks off tomorrow morning for all students interested in inquiry, project-based, problem-solving and the innovative creation process. We have a unique opportunity at GCMS to implement this incredible week-long program that challenges students to question, investigate, process, create and share in teams on areas of deep interest.

Here is a video from previous Innovation Weeks held at GCMS:

The theme for Innovation Week 5 is “How Do I Learn?” and students will be reflecting on this theme daily via their blogs.  This allows for the students to take away a greater understanding of themselves as learners and how sharing their learning while being open to receiving and providing feedback will allow for growth.

Tomorrow morning all interested students will be brought together to submit a proposal based on the following criteria:

  • What is your guiding question?
  • What is your plan for the project?
  • What will you do to prepare for your project? What research or preparation will you need to do? What resources will you access?
  • Will you connect with an outside expert? If yes, who will your expert be? How will your expert assist you? How and when will you connect with your expert?
  • What will you need to move from the preparation to the action phase for your project? How will you move from research to actually creating your project?
  • Materials you will provide
  • What will you create as a final product?
  • Who is your audience and how will you present your learning?

Following the completion of their proposal, students will be guided by teachers through the Ideation and Prototyping stages. They will use their guiding question that they developed and come up with 100 ideas to help answer that guiding question in a constrained set of time. Students will also need to produce a drawing of their prototype.

Students will have to submit their group proposal based on the above criteria however their projects can centre around any topic, idea or passion they have and would like to explore. Innovation week ties directly with Alberta’s Cross Curricular Competencies. Innovation Week provides our students with opportunities to experience one or more of the following competencies:

  • Know how to learn
  • Think critically
  • Identify and solve complex problems
  • Manage information
  • Innovate
  • Create opportunities
  • Demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with others

Innovation week officially begins the last week before our holiday break from Dec. 15-19th. All participating students will spend that entire week working in teams with teacher and expert guides on their projects. On Friday Dec. 19th, we will host an open Gallery Walk to showcase their projects from 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. We hope to see you there!

Students who will not be participating will continue with alternate learning activities.

If you’d like more information or want to see previous student projects and learning from Innovation Week, please visit Mr. Mclean’s Blog: http://jessepmclean.com/tag/innovation-week/