Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This little lady turns one this week! Amazing. 

We've been having great light dinners lately: fruit, cheese, bread, olives, chorizo, and wine. Followed up with one of these bars and it's perfect!

Also, lots of breakfast for dinner. Jeff has been making these cornmeal pancakes with added flaxseed and they're so so good. I top mine with butter and some fresh mango - no syrup needed. I made a version of these bacon cups one night, too, and he was impressed with those! I don't know how I feel about arugula, though.

These spicy garlic noodles (with pork or, next time, tofu!) will definitely be making it into dinner rotations more regularly. SO SO SO good.

I would also like to try to make this homemade ketchup, but we don't tend to eat enough of it...

At the market we've been getting a little pot of this ice cream. Chocolate flame is our go-to: dark chocolate and jalapeno chili. It really is seriously good.

Okay. Enough about food.

I got new glasses. Getting new glasses is not easy. When you can't see well, trying to decide on what looks nice on your face is like putting on makeup in the dark. (I couldn't think of a gender-neutral comparison.) Even if there are photos of each new frame, they never do justice to the real thing - the super reflective lenses are never realistic.

I am surprisingly into this show. I keep imagining it as comic frames, which helps remind me it's about superheroes and villains, not real people.

By far my favourite baby books author: Sandra Boynton. I love singing these books to that little almost one-year-old up there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

tuning in: communication systems

To continue our initial launch of the final unit, each of our seven grade three teachers hosted a Tuning In learning experience last Friday morning. Classes spent fifteen minutes in each room, noticing and wondering about different aspects of our Communication Systems unit. 

The kids came back buzzing about their ideas and questions, and I hope we'll host more of these next year!

Browsing folktales, fables, myths, and legends

Visualizing the message of a song

Finding the message in silent films

Finding the meaning of colour

Figuring out signs and symbols


Intro to sign language

Friday, April 24, 2015

our beautiful mess

We're starting our final unit of inquiry for the year: Communication Systems.

Before our April break, we were lucky enough to attend our PTA Cultural Show, which showcased a dozen countries with countless talented performers. To begin tuning in to the unit, we made a quick mind map based on what the noticed during the show:

I took a quick snap of the map and printed it out for the kids to categorize the ideas. We didn't even brainstorm the categories, but the kids did a phenomenal job of classifying terms using their own ideas and understandings:

We haven't done a lot, really, but set the stage for understanding when it's all done. The kids made sense of the commonality by choosing a sentence and putting it in their own words - and not just by replacing words with synonyms, but by finding the essence of the text and truly understanding. They've determined that our unit will be about the messages we share and the ways we communicate these messages.

From here, we pulled out some key vocabulary and ideas so that we could search our library for books related to Communication Systems. We checked them all out and spent some time browsing the many different books they found: everything from fables/folktales, the history of music, colours, and culture to symbols, signs, languages, and hieroglyphics. They came up with categories of personal interest and we taped sign-up sheets to the board so kids could decide what they're most interested in learning about. This was great because it gives me, as the teacher, a jumping off point with immediate engagement and sets us up for later independent inquiry. I'm sure these lists will be ever-changing!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ubud, Bali

We stayed at a great place outside the city center, so it was pretty quiet: Sri Rathi. Ubud was surprisingly touristy for an April break.
We enjoyed some great meals at a place not far away, Sari Organik.
It's not easy travelling with a baby, but people are so gracious - staff at Sari occupied Mara so Jeff and I could eat a meal together, and people on every airplane did their best to distract and entertain Mara!
I think I'd like to go back someday...

Friday, April 3, 2015

visible thinking

My professional goal this year has been to make Visible Thinking (as a form of documentation and through the use of routines) an organic part of the classroom. This has meant introducing and using pre-selected routines throughout the year: I emphasized five in the first semester and have introduced two new routines (so far) in this second semester. The reason for this is so the kids learn some ways to organize and develop their thoughts with guidance, the intention being that the routines are used independently when students are ready in a way that supports deeper thinking.

The great thing is: it's working! Some students use the See Think Wonder routine as a graphic organizer for pre-writing; some used the Think Puzzle Explore routine on a walking field trip we took to see how solar energy is transformed for use in our school; some used the Colour Symbol Image to respond to a short movie we watched in class. They use them! I could think of more instances when the kids have used these routines independently, without prompting, and that's the beauty of it. So now that they're more comfortable with a few routines and I see their thinking really starting to change - from surface level to so much deeper - offering more choice is only natural.

This semester we've been focusing on Chalk Talk, which is like a silent conversation on paper. This routine makes for a great interactive bulletin board for students outside your classroom, too! The Micro Lab Protocol is another, which promotes valuing ideas and reflecting on the thoughts of others. Focusing on collaboration and communication have become really important in our classroom culture, so it's a natural fit. More to come on how we've used this routine!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


This is the plant I'm having the most luck with - it keeps bloomin' and bloomin' and bloomin'.

It is getting hot in Manila. We also have a typhoon on the radar - beginning of April... It has been downgraded from its initial Category 5 and is expected to really slow down once it makes landfall. Crossing my fingers that the rains and winds don't interfere with our flight plans on Sunday morning!

This blog is giving me so much to think about for next year.

A friend sent me this. (In an effort to sabotage my low sugar-ness, I'm sure.) Except that my little Japanese grocer beside our condo closed, so I need to scope out a new matcha supplier in the city. I scrolled through the post thinking I'll just call out a few things I'd like to make, like the mousse. But so quickly the list became almost everything.

My latest sandwich obsession.

Does anyone else Mark Unread a jillion emails? Currently in my personal account, 15 unread. Work, 23. And those are majorly whittled down since we started holidays on Wednesday. I'd like to think of it as a bad habit, but I'd probably never remember a thing if it weren't for that option.

#FreeNeilandFerdi. It's time, Canada.