Sunday, November 25, 2012

Persuasive Writing

We've been working on persuasive writing projects for two weeks, and things are going so well! We started by listening to "I Wanna Iguana" by Karen Orloff - it is a perfect book for this unit. Bonus: it also introduces letter format! Two birds, one stone. Afterward, we talked about the book: we sorted reasons why Alex should have an iguana, we discussed the difficult time he had getting his mom to do what he wants, and we made connections to our own lives by talking about times we had to ask our parents for something.
Their first persuasive writing task was to convince me to give them a night off from homework. {Have I mentioned before that many parents here prefer homework every night? It's a lot.} So they set off, writing letters to me in their journals after some quick brainstorming. Of course, they got the night off!

The next day, we reviewed what persuasive writing is using these {FREE!} posters from Jodi Southard. Then we wrote a letter together to our principal. My students don't know it yet, but we have a field trip planned to go to the Scientific Center/Aquarium at the end of the month, so they wrote letters trying to persuade him to let us go. {Ha!} After, we made a bulletin board together showing the different parts of a letter using our shared writing piece. I will be choosing a few students to head out and read their letters to our principal so they can feel they were, in fact, very persuasive in their writing. {Or maybe, I can convince him to write a letter back to us saying no for whatever reason - you know, in the style of "I Wanna Iguana" - and we'll have to try even harder. Hmmm!} For homework on this night they had to tell their parents what specific meal they wanted for dinner and give three reasons why.

For our last project, we read Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose.
This book is great because it's very open-ended - no decision is made in the end - and will allow the students to make the ultimate choice: to squish the ant or let it live. It's perfect for hitting on character education and works pretty well with our word of the month: integrity. After we talk about the reasons given through the story, students will write their own conclusion with reasons to support their decision using this graphic organizer and friendly letter writing page. Find it free here on TpT or here on TN.

Afterward, I'll be assessing their writing using this rubric:
Find it free here on TpT or here on TN.
Hope you got some ideas to teach persuasive writing in your class!
- Amanda

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo Friday

Since Fall is a season I haven't experienced in some time... 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yesterday was Picture Day. Which isn't so much "Picture Day" for me, but more "Fuzzy Hair Day." 

We've moved on to double digit subtraction with regrouping in grade two. Most-difficult-concept-to-teach. Ever. Seriously, it has to be right up there with things like listening, being kind to one another, and why it's important to finish all of your work. {Or was that just in my class this week?!}
I made these subtraction mats to help students visualize the regrouping.

They were to show each question using tens and ones and regroup where necessary, showing the steps in the question by crossing off the numbers where regrouping happened. 

No, it didn't work for everyone, even after we practiced together on the SmartBoard with this file...

...but, it did help some! Feel free to grab copies of both (click the pictures) if you have some kinesthetic learners that might benefit.

I'm also joining in on the TpT Cyber Monday Sale if you'd like to take a little look at some deals.
Happy weekend!
- Amanda

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Took the early bus home

Seriously, I never ever do this. School ends at 2:00 with last duty ending at 2:15 and a bus that brings us back to our apartment at 2:40. I can Never be ready to leave at 2:40. Never. Things come up and people come by and some days I'm not even ready to take the later bus at 3:45. But today, it was necessary. Last week was only a two-day week (long weekend!) and I felt even less prepared for school because of it. When my class started getting crazy after lunch, I realized, "Ah, right - we've all missed our usual afternoon nap!"

Somehow, we were able to get through an introduction to two-digit addition, which my kids actually rocked. Making life much happier for me! We used this little file together on the Smart Board to talk about how to start and practice some questions, then they completed a similar worksheet.

Next we will study two-digit addition with regrouping. For that, I made this simple little Prezi,
and this same-as-the-last whole-group practice page and worksheet {included in the set, which you can find here in my TpT, free for all those that leave loving comments and follow my tiny blog!}

Happy adding!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


They're over - long day! I really do like meeting with parents about progress in the first quarter, though. And I've learned to tell it like it is in the short ten minutes we have: "_______ can't focus long enough to complete any class work." Boom. Point blank. 
I compiled my thoughts over the whole first quarter for each student {strengths, weaknesses, behaviour}into this little form to keep me organized. It was sort of like my anecdotal records!
I also used this little "happy notes" form to send home with each parent. I got this idea from Cindy at Granny Goes to School and I think it was really appreciated it! I teach a lot of ESL, and seeing that "Progressing with Difficulty" in English Language Arts can't be a good feeling, so I really try hard to keep it positive.
Now time for a looooong weekend! Hope all of your conferences went well. 
- Amanda

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back to the grind with number lines

But not so sure I'm ready. First up, I wore my shirt inside out all day - haha! Oops. Also, no AC in our class all day. While the weather here is getting much cooler in the evenings and early mornings, the afternoon sun is still a killer - but somehow we made it out alive! Just gotta love my class. Then I got a new student. I'm telling you, he is the slowest kid! S-l-o-oooo-w. Hopefully that was just his nerves. And we're off to the zoo tomorrow - field trip on a day's notice! Here's hoping I get all permission forms in first thing...

Anyway, the real reason I'm here: number lines. I printed and laminated some large-size number lines last year and they are a great tool for partners. Since this is the first addition strategy we're working on, I made a quick little worksheet for students to practice. I differentiated the sheets because I have a few not-so-mathematical thinkers who need a little extra and some super-mathematical thinkers who...need a little extra. Also because I'm working really hard to differentiate because it's one of the most important things I can do to reach all my little friends. Of course I double sided based on the kid to offer a challenge.
Feel free to download from my TpT or Teachers Notebook.

Wish me luck at the zoo!
- Amanda

Friday, November 2, 2012


Back from the land of wind mills and cheese! At least, that's what it seemed Holland was all about growing up - my Dad is Dutch so we had a few small intros, but having just been, there's so much I didn't know about part of my own heritage! Beyond the blue and white Delftware pottery, spekulaas (almond and cinnamon cookies), french fries with mayonnaise and wooden shoes, there's much more.

Even at first stay or based on what we've all heard about Amsterdam - decriminalized marijuana and legalized prostitution among gardens of tulips - there's a lot of history here. Like how sex workers here are required to pay the same taxes on their income as all other legal EU citizens. Or how there are not a lot of old growth trees in the cities because during the Occupation residents were forced to cut them all down to build fires to keep warm - and worse, had to raid the homes of their missing Jewish neighbours for furniture to burn. Or how they boiled tulip bulbs for nutrients when there wasn't nearly enough food to go around. 
This is the slimmest house in all of Amsterdam. Along the canals, all of the houses are very very slender and tall. That's because when they were being built, homeowners were taxed by the width of the structure, since canal-front property was highly valuable. This made for some incredibly steep and somewhat dangerous stairwells! Most of these homes are also built leaning a bit further out toward the street at the top, because they moved trading goods, furniture and such by creating a pulley system that attached to a hook at the front part of the roof. This way, as they moved things in and out (impossible to do up the stairways!), they didn't ruin the facade of the house.
Despite how cold it was, I couldn't believe how many flowers were still alive and kicking! Jeff and I really did have a great time roaming around the rainy and cold city - a big difference from the weather we're used to here. The canals are absolutely beautiful in Amsterdam. And at nighttime, to see the Red Light District all lit up among the beautiful architecture and old style street lamps was really amazing. A bit contradictory, maybe, but really, really beautiful. 

Walking around the old cobbled streets you have to be careful not to get in the way of any bicyclists - like we heard while we were there, the Dutch are these really nice and kind people, but they seem to transform when they get on a bike. 
I have to admit, it's nice to be back wearing flip flops all the time again. My feet were not happy to be stuck in boots all week! Once I finish up with reports, I get to keep going with a book I started on the break: 
But for now, to finish up some work left behind...
PS - I love book recommendations if anyone wants to share! Alligator is the first book I've picked up since the summer, but I'm happy to be back in the reading swing and hope to keep it up.
- Amanda