March 26

What’s new?

We had an incredible visit from playwright, Emil Sher, yesterday. He came to speak to grades 5-8 about turning Hana’s Suitcase into a play. It was captivating, informative and extremely enjoyable to learn from him. In our ongoing effort to develop our media literacy skills, the grade 5 students helped me tweet out about his visit. We had a pleasant surprise this morning when we checked up on the status of the Tweet! Check out my blog post to see what we found, and what we did with the information!


Our multiplication and division skills have also been improving! We will be having a test next Tuesday, April 2. Here is a link to the test outline. Today, Mr. Kom also helped us with our study skills. He shared this planner with us, which each student has started to fill out for themselves. Depending on each student’s extra-curricular activities and schedules, their planner will look different. Students are encouraged to practice using whichever tools they feel work best for them. As always, extra practice worksheets will be provided in class, students can take the textbook home, they can practice on Prodigy, and they can explore some of the other suggestions made as well.











Here are two videos reviewing the strategies we’ve learned for both multiplication and division.




March 22

Things to Remember

Happy Friday!

It has been a fun-filled week full of costumes and activities. But that doesn’t mean the learning has stopped!



Today the students got their “Adding and Subtracting Decimals” test back. Please sign and return on Monday.

We have continued with our multiplication and division unit. Students have learned a few different strategies for this, and I will be posting a blog with a tutorial on these strategies shortly. In the meantime, you can ask your child to share what they’ve learned so far with you.

In terms of rote multiplication, next week we will be focusing on 3s and 4s. Here are some tricks to help you practice:

3 – Doubles + 1 – when multiplying by 3, multiply the number by 2 and then add one more group. Ex: 4 x 3; 4 x 2 = 8 plus one more 4 = 12. Therefore, 4 x 3 = 12

Here’s a really cool video showing how to skip count by 3s

4 – Double Double – when multiplying by 4, double the number, then double it again. Ex: 6 x 4; 6 x 2 = 12 and 12 x 2 = 24. Therefore, 6 x 4 = 24

You can use the same links from my last post to practice these new facts.


Public Speaking

We have started the process of writing our public speaking speeches! We will be breaking this process up into very manageable pieces, and working on it in class. The first step is to just brainstorm a topic. Here is the schedule, where you’ll be able to see all the due dates.

By Monday, students need to fill out the brainstorming sheet and email me with their topic choice. We will continue on from there next week. As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.


March 20

Becoming Primary Learners

There has been a lot of buzz around the school on documenting learning. As you may or may not be aware, I am part of a cohort of teachers working with Silvia Tolisano, learning and practicing various methods of documenting our own learning as teachers, and the learning of our students. Dr. Mitzmacher has blogged about our experiences, and shared his goals at the Town Hall at the beginning of the year, for all OJCS students to own their own learning (North Star!) and manage personal student blogfolios.

It has become my goal to share what I’ve been learning with my students, to help them understand what an authentic artifact of learning is, how they can capture their own learning and how they can use documentation OF, FOR and AS learning. 


I recently wrote a post on my professional blog about my journey so far. My ultimate goal is for each child in grade 5 this year, to share their learning journey with you – their family and friends. I welcome any and all feedback as we go through this process. Please visit my blog and share your thoughts with me and with your children. I hope you will get as much out of this process as I believe you will, and as I believe your children will!

January 22

WONDERful Acts of Kindness


Over the winter holidays, I read a book called, Hacking Homework by Starr Sackstein and Connie Hamilton. If you’ve read Dr. Mitzmacher’s blog, you know that homework is a topic of conversation currently going on in our school as well. One thing that resonated with me from Hacking Homework, is that we should “consider sound alternatives to traditional homework that foster a love of learning in all students and encourage them to learn outside of class, whether you tell them to or not.”


I have never been a huge homework-giver, but loved the ideas presented in the book about creating opportunities for students to learn valuable lessons, without necessarily realizing that they are learning. Hack 4 (be flexible with assignments and deadlines), Hack 6 (spark curiosity), Hack 7 (use social media for learning), Hack 8 (amplify student voice), and Hack 9 (team up with families) can all be found in our newest homework assignment: WONDERful Acts of Kindness.

As Summer, a character from our novel study, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, has taught us, what starts as a small act of kindness can ultimately have a very big impact. In the story, Summer started sitting with Auggie at lunch because she felt bad for him, however ended up finding a true friend in the end. Her act had a positive impact in her own life, and it also impacted the way Auggie felt every day when he came to school. On top of that, perhaps other students in the school were able to see Summer’s act of kindness and be influenced to do their own. We really have no idea the magic our simple actions can have on the world

…but we can try…

Today I launched our WONDERful Acts of Kindness challenge (based on an activity by Presto Plans). Each student will be challenged to perform (at least) three acts of kindness. When they have done their act, they will give that person a ‘Pay It Forward’ card, in the hopes that this individual will then perform their own act of kindness, continuing to pass on the card to influence others to do good deeds. This concept of Paying it Forward isn’t new, but here’s where we will try to get a little glimpse into how far our actions can travel. On the back of each ‘Pay It Forward’ card, there will be a link to this blog post, along with some guiding questions the students came up with today:

  1. What city do you live in?
  2. How did you get this card?
  3. What will you do to pass it on?

People who experience one of our acts, or feel the ripple effects, will be asked to share their story on our blog, so we can see just how far it goes!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. I will be handing the cards out to the students on Friday to get our WONDERful Acts on the move!

January 11

Mission: Possible

On Wednesday we had our second session with Mrs. Bertrand and Ms. Levalley to work on our social skills and cooperative engagement with our peers.

First we looked at “blame shifting” and how taking responsibility for our actions is an important step in resolving conflict quickly and maturely.

Ms. Levalley introduced us to the amazing power of “mindsight” where you can look inside your own brain to examine how you’re feeling, and also look into the brains of others to try to empathize with them. By doing this, followed by a final self-reflection, you can ensure that the ways you handle and approach conflict are done with a focus on finding a resolution.

We then put these skills to the test with Mission:Impossible –> Can you get all your teams members across the gym using only a mat and a scooter…without ever touching the floor?

I have to admit, I had NO IDEA how the students would pull this off. However, through perseverance, cooperation, productive listening and team work, all teams successfully made it to the other side!


In grade 5, nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.


December 21

“Chez Thompson”

On Wednesday, we had our very first Book Tasting (thanks to Joanne Miller for the great resource!)

Chef Thompson welcomed everyone in based on their reservation and showed them to their table. Students got to taste 5 different genres or types of books: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction/Novels, Fantasy, and Graphic Novels. As any good critic would do, they wrote down their first impressions and initial thoughts after their first bites. They then gave each book a rating on a scale from 1-10. Finally, any books worth revisiting were written down on a bookmark so they could remember their top picks.



Students realized that some books that they may not have been attracted to at first were in fact appealing. Others discovered genres they never knew they were interested in. I get asked so often for book suggestions, and so I also introduced the students to two different resources. This is a book list with some suggestions for age-appropriate books, organized by category.

Another option, with many more titles, is to use the Accelerated Reading Bookfinder site.  Using the advanced search option, you can select the interest level (I recommend Middle Grades for grade 5), the ZPD range as recommended by Star Reading (which I will email privately to each family) and any specific genre or topic, fiction or non-fiction. Here’s a quick ‘how to’ video walking you through the process.

It is recommended that students read for AT LEAST 30 minutes each day, and they should keep track of the books they read for our OJCS Reading Challenge. They can always add their book reviews to our Flipgrid or to the Library Website.

Wishing you all a restful, rejuvenating break and a Happy New Year. See you in 2019!



November 27

OJCS Reading Challenge

There is an incredible initiative that has been started by Brigitte, our creative librarian, to challenge all classes to set reading goals and work towards achieving them. In order to set realistic goals for ourselves, grade 5 has decided to set monthly goals and then reassess after each month to see if our goal was reasonable. We may need to adjust up or down as we go along. With a bit of a head start, our goal for December is to read 30 books as a class…and we’re well on our way!

These books can be in any language, on any topic. Brigitte has even created a categories list in case you need some inspiration for choosing a book.


Once you’ve read a book, there are a few things you can to do.

1. Let Mrs. Thompson know so we can add to our “data window.”

2. Fill out a review of the book on the library web page

3. Add a video review to our class flipgrid (you need to be signed in to your email)

4. Complete an Accelerated Reading Quiz.


Stay tuned for the last week of December to see how we did. You never know, there may also be some “tasty treats” up my sleeve for then…

November 20

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

One of my favourite writing activities involves the images from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. The images alone spark the imagination and lend themselves to an unlimited amount of stories that can be told.

Over the next few weeks, students will be writing their own short stories to go along with one of the pictures. We’ve started with a graphic organizer and students will be assessed using a single point rubric. I learned about this type of rubric from Jennifer Gonzales of Cult of Pedagogy. I’m excited to see what the students come up with and how this tool will work with our group.


October 28

Genius Hour

Last week the students were introduced to Genius Hour. We started by watching two short videos (1 and 2) and this week we will be moving on to narrowing down our project choice, pitching it to the class, and then getting started. I am so excited to be doing this project with the students, and I think they are too! This project is completely passion driven and gives students the opportunity to learn about something they’ve always wanted to learn.

Here are some websites to help you brainstorm project ideas. The possibilities are really endless…all you need to think about is, “What interests me?” However seeing what other people have done in the past can be helpful in getting your brain turning. Sometimes, it’s also helpful to write down as many ideas that come to mind and slowly eliminate options until you are left with the best one! (If using the linked document, make sure to make a copy so you can edit)

If you come across any other useful links, please post them in the comments! Maybe parents can share their own passions and things they wish they had the time to explore to help us as we decide on our topics.

Grade 5 Project examples

One student’s project mixing two passions (candy and website building)

Scroll to the bottom of this page for ideas