March 9 – 13 Learning update

Before I start our learning update, I just wanted to pass along compliments from Ms. Sontag, our substitute teacher on Monday. She said that LC 5A showed a huge amount of respect for her as a teacher in our room. They were kind to each other, supportive and willing to work hard. I am so impressed! I know we have an awesome community in our class but it is great to hear other people.

Language Arts:

Writing –  We have been working on our introductions to our original stories. I have some students who are only writing 1 paragraph, a couple writing 2-3 and one who has written me an introductory chapter. It is awesome to see students push themselves in their learning. We will wrap up our introductions this week and start our rising action. The kids are very excited about their stories and putting in a lot of work. We are taking it one step at a time to make sure we are adding good details that will help our grade 3 buddies are engaged in our writing. We are currently using Click Clack Moo as our group writing piece to model expectations and create criteria for our own writing. Here is what we have written for our introduction. You can follow along with our writing here.


Reading – We are working on our read aloud of Sideways Stories at Wayside School. As we read, we will be getting into collaborative writing groups to write our own Sideways Story. We so far have talked about them being short, related to each other and only about 1 thing. Students are very excited to share with the other classes doing this.  Here is our shared doc if you would like to find out more about the project.  We will be getting into our book club groups next week and picking our books. Any suggestions for books would be appreciated! Here is our brainstorm doc.


Mathematics:  The kids have been working with Mr. L on area and perimeter. They are doing really well with this and I saw great work from both classes on Friday when we had Math together. The students spent some time this week looking at how we measure area and perimeter and also how area and perimeter are related. The students had some time to use unit cubes to build various rectangles with a given perimeter, various rectangles with a given area and various rectangles with a given perimeter and area. On Monday they will be moving on to volume.  One of the coolest things I heard this week was one of our students teaching another student what area and perimeter were. When I asked how it went, she told me “By teaching someone who didn’t know what we were doing and having to come up with a way that would make sense to them, I realized was teaching myself and making sure that I understood. I think I taught myself as well!”  As a class, we have become so awesome at helping each other and sharing, it is awesome to see all levels of learning come together and work to make sure we are all participating and understanding to the best of our abilities!




Students will be asked to record the high and low and a brief description of the weather outside until the end of Spring Break.  I will provide a sheet for this. It will be really awesome to see them temperature in different places on vacations as well!

We are also going to start Cloud Art to learn about the different types of clouds. A few of the students came up with the idea to use cotton balls to create the clouds and then use things like rain drops, sun beams, ect. to write about the clouds as a mini student-led activity. I thought this was awesome so we are going to give it a try. I will be getting cotton balls on Tuesday after school. If you would like to do this please email me and I will pick up some for you as well.

Josh Classen was in to talk to us about weather and being a meteorologist. He was fantastic at talking about the concepts we will be learning and explaining them in a way that made sense to everyone. Now that we have this background knowledge, we will have a better understanding as we discuss in class!


Social Studies:

Students just wrapped up compiling their group’s information into a nifty handout for their jigsaw. We are going to create our listening activity on Monday, Jigsaw on tuesday and rank the regions on Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll talk about Socratic Circles on Friday and we’ll do a practice one. On Monday and Tuesday next week we’ll prepare to do ours on the Wednesday blocks 3+4! If anyone would like to come and observe them, Please let me know and I can let you know times and details of when your child will be doing their persuasive discussion. I would love a volunteer to film them for me.



The students and I have been talking about healthy choices such as not having a slurpee for breakfast and that Ms. Albrecht shouldn’t wait until nutrition break to eat her breakfast. We are going to be starting an inquiry into the food we eat. Ms. Ariss is working on a letter to send home to parents explaining our inquiry and how to support your child’s learning.



Art Fridays are becoming quite popular in our class. Every Friday afternoon, we are going to be doing art to finish off our week. This week, we were lucky enough to have a special guest. The kids loved working with Mrs. Morris (Ms A’s mom!!) on our Falling Backwards art. Most are getting started on painting, a few are finishing drawing and a couple have completed their art. I will be getting a ladder to put them up on the moveable wall this week.

This week will wrap up the Falling Backwards piece. Those who have completed it will be working on “Eye see” art.


Trickster Theatre – Artist in Residency:

We have a very passionate class. They really poured their hearts into our theme development. After a lot of discussion, and going back and forth on Women’s Rights and Child Labour, our class realized that we really just wanted to make sure that everyone has equal rights.

Our Sub -Theme : Everybody Has Rights

Our Guiding Questions:

  • Why do some people think that they are more important than others?
  • Why do we let people take advantage of other people?
  • Isn’t this like an extreme case of bullying and we are all bystanders if we don’t create awareness?

Possible sub-topics to explore:

  • Women’s Rights
  • Children’s Rights
  • Minority Rights


What does it mean to be a citizen?

Last week, I made a comment to the students that they were all citizens in our classroom. I forget what the reference was about but the students accepted this and continued on. As I was writing something down, someone called out “What does it mean to be a citizen?” The dictionary definition of “a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized.” wasn’t entirely all that helpful to us. As their teacher, I wasn’t even sure how to explain that definition. so I wrote the question on the board and asked the students to think about it over the weekend.

I had the fortune of being at a fundraising event with a number of politicians, so I decided to ask them what their ideas were so I could bring back thoughts and quotes from them. We also reached out to Cst. Lucas to see what his ideas were on the subject of citizenship. I posted the question on social media, and here are some of the answers we received:

Be a participant, be involved, educate yourself on the rules, the game is bigger than you and know what you are doing. The ultimate is not win or lose but to be a part of it. In voting, vote no matter who you vote for.
– Richard Feehan, candidate for Alberta NDP, Social Worker

Belonging, community, people who are born here and the people who choose to come here. As we braid together the two stories that is how we build our new country and our Canada of tomorrow. Responsibility to be a citizen and be an active citizen. Voting and knowing what you are voting for. Keeping up on current affairs, let your elected representatives know how you think. Relationship and have to tell because they don’t read minds.
-Laurie Blakeman, Liberal MLA

Have a responsibility to each other and you can get done more together rather than alone.
– Ben Henderson, Edmonton City Council

Contributing to the community you live in, interested in the voting process and voting when you have the chance
– Michael Phair, former Edmonton councilman

To me a citizen is a member of society.  Citizenship is being recognized as that member. To me we should all strive to be “Contributing members of society”.  You can still make an impact on a larger scale even though you have never left Spruce Grove.  You need to think about what you want the world to look like.  I always think of the golden rule.  “Treat other the way you want to be treated”

If I was to use the example of cleaning up the environment.  Your impact at home, in school and in your community will effect the rest of the world.  It may be on a small scale but it will impact the other citizens around you.  We cannot control what others do, but we can control the example we portray to others through our actions.

We are all citizens and role models for each other whether we choose to be or not.  The only question is “Are we a good role model or a Bad role model?”

– Cst. Lucas, Community Liaison Officer, EPS

Actively involved, taking responsibility and providing input into anything that would affect their daily life. Maybe not all the definition, but an important piece I think.

– Danna Hawkes, Broxton Park Teacher

With all of these answers, we then pulled out some key ideas. (Shown in purple in the picture below) We broke into groups, discussed and added our own ideas of what citizenship meant to us as Grade 5 students (shown in blue in the picture below).

Citizenship Brainstorm

Mr. Petchel also joined us to talk to us about the importance of voting. We talked about how not voting means that you don’t have the right to complain and that not voting means that you could allow 1/3 of the population to pick someone to represent you that 2/3 of the class disagreed with.

Here is how we represented this:

We have 23 students in our class with 2 students who were away today. Those 2 students represented the people who were not eligible to vtoe.

We had everyone wearing blue jeans sit down. These represented the people who were “Unable to make it to the polls” – too busy, mobility issues, out of the country, ect. We then asked the students who did not have their shoes on to sit down. These represented the people who “don’t care” or “didn’t want to vote”.  This left 13 people. 1 student chose to spoil their ballot because they didn’t like either candidate (represented by the only person wearing a hat).  7 people decided to vote for Mr. Pechtel and his promise of Ukulele music (represented by the people on the right side of the room) and 3 people decided to vote for Ms. Albrecht who promised to try to make sure we have Art every Friday (represented by the people standing on the left side of the room).

12 people voted for a candidate, 1 person expressed their thoughts – that makes 13 people in our class who voted and 9 who did not. For voter turn out, 62% (13/21) of the eligible voters is higher than recent voter turnout in Alberta.  We also found out that 7/23 people in our class made the decision for us. That was less than 1/3 of our class who chose someone to represent us even though he had the majority or the votes that were cast.

Mr. Pechtel then made a decision to take is promise of Ukulele music further and said everyone had to sing a song and play all the information in every class. A lot of students complained. If they were sitting down, they had to stop talking. This left the 3 who voted for Ms A, the 1 who spoiled their ballot and 3 Mr P voters complaining. 7 people who had a right to complain wasn’t very much and now we were stuck with no Art at all, we had to hypothetically all learn to play ukulele and listen to Mr P sing about regions of Canada. That wasn’t a good thing but we let a minority pick someone to represent the majority who disagreed with this rule.  The students suddenly realized that this was not good and why we need to take advantage of our right to vote and  perform our civic duty to do so.

We decided that if there is an election called this spring, even if we can’t vote, as citizens, we need to be informed about what is happening and help inform people who can vote such as our parents.  As their teacher, I am excited to see an election plays out in a room of grade 5 students but as a voter and citizen, I am excited to see a room full of engaged and active citizens who know more about voting and being citizens than some adults do.

This all lead up to what was going on in the world and the start of our inquiry into global issues and global citizenship but this lesson that started with the frustration of a terrible dictionary definition was one of the best conversations we have had as a class – and we have a lot of powerful conversations in our room.

Goal Setting Conferences

Thank you parents for coming out to our goal setting conferences.

As a class, we worked hard to set our goals. We even came up with criteria for setting out goals. We were all proud to share these goals with our parents the last couple of nights. These goals will help direct our Best Year Ever here at Greystone.


We feel that goals should be

  • Reasonable
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Challenging
  • Appropriate
  • Personal


A big thank you for those who added to our board of questions from the statement “A World Without Canada”. There are some amazing questions on there.

A world without Canada

Today we were challenged by the statement “A world without Canada”. It left the students with a number of questions. Here is our brainstorm:


We would love to hear about what questions come up for you or what might change for you in a world without out Canada. Please leave a comment or use the hashtag #WithoutCanada and on twitter.

Our September

We had a very busy September in LC 5A. We are still waiting to hear about the portables – but we are starting to get excited. More details to come.

In Science, we are working on our classroom chemistry unit. We’ve made slime rocks and are about to make ice cream in the next week. We know the difference between reversible and irreversible changes and we know where we can find them.

In Math we are working on Estimation and Benchmarking in our Whole Numbers unit. We played a card game for estimating sums and looking at the 3 estimation strategies.

In Language Arts, we have learned the proper format for writing a letter. We also looked at self evaluation and working with feedback in Google Docs.  We wrote a letter to our teacher telling us about what makes us the person we are. We also have worked on how to pick a good book to read, when to abandon a book, and how to buzz about the books we are reading.

In French we have worked on Months, Days, Time, Numbers, and Classroom vocabulary. We are currently designing our dream classroom.

In Social Studies we are worked on creating our own resource in Google Maps. We are going to be starting our inquiry project in the coming week. We started looking at what makes a powerful question and we have worked on our research skills. We are also working on interviewing people as we have found out that everyone has their own story of how they got to where they are.

We are continuing finding out what good digital citizenship is and how we can be good digital citizens. Our conversation with Cst. Lucas really helped!

Below is our Storify with out tweets and pictures.