February 24

Reminder – Innovation Day is March 5th

As I mentioned in my post about Innovation Day, students have been hard at work on their various projects. Some have chosen to work as a group, others individually, but no matter the pairing, the projects are all amazing. Don’t believe me? Come see for yourself!

On Thursday March 5th, from 8:45 – 9:30 you are invited to come into our class and see the amazing projects the students have been working on. They have all been following the Scientific Method in some manner, specifically by conducting research before beginning their work. Whether they are learning about a topic of interest, developing a new innovative product, or testing a hypothesis, they will all have something interesting to share.

As scientists, our work is never fully complete, and we are always asking questions and taking our learning through a cycle of processes. You may see projects in different phases of learning, and we would love to get your thoughts and feedback to help guide future studies!

We will be sure to document our learning, take lots of pictures, and blog about it both on our class blog and on individual student blogs. Therefore, if you are not able to join us on Thursday, don’t worry! We will still have plenty to virtually share with you.

January 28

Grade 5 Book Club

We have officially launched Book Clubs (or literature circles) in our class. Last week, I book-talked 5 different books to the students:

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Trapped in Ice by Eric Walters (eliminated as an option)


After hearing a short description of each book, students then wrote down their top three choices that they wanted to read. Based on their choices, I divided them into 4 groups, all of them getting either their first or second choice of book to read.

Here’s how it will work:

Students will have 4 weeks to read their book. With their groups, they’ve already decided on weekly reading goals. Each week, in addition to reading, they will also have a “job” to prepare for their group discussion. These will be based on the section they read that week. This is all to be done AT HOME.

Here is a digital copy of the package they will be bringing home today in an orange Duotang. It includes all the job descriptions, the pages they need to read each week, what they are responsible for each week, and pages to fill out.

If anyone would like to use an audio recording of the book, here are links to YouTube where people have recorded each chapter of each book.


Number the Stars

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (you’ll need to search for each chapter on You Tube. Here’s Chapter 1.)

Maniac Magee

Book Club will take place every Tuesday morning, so it is important that students bring their books and orange duotang, with all their work completed, for Tuesday’s class for the next 4 weeks.

Happy Reading 🙂


January 24

Math Test – January 29

We will be having a Math test on Wednesday, January 29 on Metric Conversion (converting between km, m, cm, mm)  and Elapsed Time.

Students can practice and study through the attached worksheets;

through Prodigy;

on Knowledgehook (class code: ray6563);

or with the textbook (Page 148 #4, Page 149 # 9, 10, 11, Page 150 #1, 2, Page 151 #11, Page 152 #1, Page 153 #11)

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January 23

Heartwarming Story

I shared this Twitter thread with the Grade 5 students today. They all loved it so much and asked me to post it here so they could share it with their parents (keep scrolling, it’s about 20 tweets long).

From this heartwarming story we were able to make some important connections to our class as well.

Whether you are a new student from another country, a new student from another school, or even a student who has been at the school for many years, fitting in and being accepted by your peers is important. Just like the students in this story, our class is filled with students who like many different things, sports being a common one. But we all come with varying skill levels. It can be intimidating, or even unenjoyable, to play a sport or activity where you don’t feel as skilled or accepted in the game as others.

Just like the students in Newfoundland, it is our job as a school family to notice those who are choosing not to play with us, find out why, change our game around to either help them improve, or just make everyone feel included. Even more so than that, find out what they enjoy doing and are good at, and play that instead! At OJCS, our North Stars and Jewish values show us every day that Each person is responsible for the other and We learn better together!

Can you think of any other areas of school life, or outside of school where this lesson can apply?

January 21

Innovation Day

As you may have seen on the calendar, or remember from previous years, we always have a day where we welcome parents in to see what students have been working on in Science. In the past it was called Science Fair, then became STEAM Fair, and this year we are calling it Innovation Day, and it will be taking place on March 5 (more info about this to come).

Before I give you any more information, I just want to say that this is a project where students will have ample time to work on it IN SCHOOL. There is no obligation for students to work on this at home. Even more than this, I have told the students that they are not allowed, under any circumstance, to have their parents help them with their project.

Whether this makes you go Bitmoji Imageor          Bitmoji Image

here’s our thinking behind this. The point of Innovation Day is for students to learn about something they are interested in, think about solutions to real world problems on their own, be creative, and have fun! They are not being graded on how fancy their model is, how perfectly cut their papers are, or how creative their presentation board is. They ARE being graded on the information THEY collect. The way THEY can explain what they have learned. And how THEY document their learning throughout the process. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions or give suggestions. We’d really like this to be a student led project though, where they can feel ownership and pride over their work.

Here are some useful documents for students, and for you as well, if you’d like to see how we will be working through this project.

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I am encouraging students to make their models from mostly recycled materials. We also have some new materials in our Marker Space that we will have access to. Hopefully, we will be able to provide everything your child will need for this project at school, including their presentation boards.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Category: Science | LEAVE A COMMENT
January 17

To Memorize, or Not to Memorize?

When it comes to multiplication facts, I’ve often heard…you just need to memorize them.

Over the years, I’ve had students who knew their facts backwards and forwards, and others who just couldn’t remember them. It has always been my goal to find ways to help my students learn their facts. Should I be giving time to just practice and memorize in class? Should I teach them different tricks for each set of numbers? Is there another way I don’t know about?

In May 2019 I attended the OAME (Ontario Association for Mathematics Education) Conference here in Ottawa, and focused my sessions around building better fluency. One session I attended, led by Melissa Peddie, Chrissy Chabot, and Laurie Clayton, said that true fluency happens when three things are present: Efficiency, Accuracy, and Flexibility.

Repeated addition, or skip counting, is a great strategy to use when we are first learning multiplication, but these presenters believed that come grade 4, students should no longer be using skip counting as a strategy. We really want students to think about what they are doing, and how numbers relate to each other. “Add a zero” when multiplying by ten is a common trick students are taught. Let’s look at an example and put it through the fluency test.

12.2 x 10

If students were thinking of the trick they had been taught, they would simply add a zero to the end for a solution of 12.20

Hopefully, all my grade 5 students can tell you that 1) 12.2 and 12.20 are equivalent decimals and 2) this is not how you multiply a decimal by 10. Therefore, was the strategy efficient? Yes, I got an answer pretty quickly. Was it accurate? No, I did not get the correct answer. And was it flexible? It wasn’t, because the strategy only works for whole numbers.

Pam Harris, from mathisfigureoutable.com shares the opinion that multiplication facts should be thought about, rather than memorized. I recently attended one of her Facebook Live webinars (I highly recommend watching this recorded version, it’s about an hour long), and she reiterated the importance of having students come up with strategies of their own, breaking problems into more manageable pieces, in order to come to a solution. She offers some great ways you can start helping your child learn their facts at home, by talking about doubles and halves.

In class, students will be spending 10 minutes, three times per week, working on their math facts through Strategy Kits, inspired by the session I attended at the OAME Conference. In these kits, students will make strategy cards for each of the facts they’re working on, play games, and practice with one another until they master their facts.









Some of you may still be on the fence with this and want some good ol’ strategies to help your child learn their facts.

Here are some strategies from a book I got at the Scholastic Book Fair last year, Math Hacks by Vanessa Vakharia (if you follow the link, there are some suggestions for online sites and games for practice)




























I also wrote a post about strategies here and here, with links to some online practice sites.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Keep talking math at home 🙂


December 20

How We Do at OJCS

Let me set the scene for you.

The forecast predicted -17 degrees. We woke up to -20, even colder with the windchill.
The news reported that just 20 minutes outside could cause frostbite to exposed skin.

So we did what every Canadian would do…

We loaded 30 students onto a bus and made our way to MacSkimming for a full day outdoors….and we had a great time!

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah, a happy and healthy New Year and a relaxing, rejuvenating break! Can’t wait to see you in 2020!

December 18

Senator Marc Gold

Today we welcomed Senator Marc Gold into our Grade 5 classroom, where he delivered a bilingual presentation sharing his experience in the Senate of Canada and answering our questions.

The students were so engaged, and their interest was seen through the thoughtful and insightful questions they asked. There were so many incredible lessons that Senator Gold shared with us that I hope we will all remember for a long time.

What stood out for me, is how much Senator Gold relies on his Jewish values in the decisions he makes, the path he has followed in his life, and the way he considers his responsibilities within the Senate. Growing up in a Jewish home, he remembers his mother giving food to strangers who would knock at the door. From that upbringing, he always felt a strong responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable, and do his small, but important role, of making the world a better place. Tikkun Olam is what guides him on a daily basis, and says that even his non-Jewish colleagues believe in this important Jewish value.

Working as a senator is an important job, one that Senator Gold does not take lightly. He has had to make difficult decisions, as his commitment to his province, his belief in the constitution, and his own personal opinions can sometimes conflict with each other. Again, he makes connections to Judaism when facing these challenges. Our tradition teaches us to confront challenges (own our own learning), to look at multiple points of view, expose ourselves to as many points of view as we can (we learn better together), and rely on others to teach you (each person is responsible for the other), as this is how we learn the best. He even referenced the Talmud, where multiple commentary are included, not just the commentary of the “winner”. These opinions are important to document and share, as their thoughts may be important at some point in history. Therefore, even if his opinions are not the most popular, Senator Gold sees it as his responsibility to share and document them, as their value may not yet be seen.

Finally, he showed us that diversity is important. Before becoming a lawyer and a senator, he always loved music, and continues to play in a band, even today. He loves to walk, spend time with his family, read, and my favourite, daydream.

In our class we know that, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

At OJCS, we embrace our differences, encourage hard work, and help to guide each other on our own unique Jewish journeys. Today was an incredible example of how these values will continue to serve us, even after we leave the welcoming walls of OJCS.