May 31, 2011


 I dislike caterpillars but I do it for the kids and as I say to them, "They can't hurt me." As I worked away and helped the kids, my class photographer took pictures. She did a fabulous job! Perhaps it's her future career.
Our caterpillars arrived on Thursday (they were about 1 cm long) and it's taken a couple of days to put them into their new homes. The kids had a great time. We'll keep you posted with what we notice and observe. 
Thank you Hannah M. for taking the pictures.

Setting up the materials.

 Showing them how to pack down the materials.

Working hard to pack down their nutrients.

This one just doesn't want to come out.

 We had such a good batch this year that I didn't have enough vials for ALL of the caterpillars. I had to triple up on some of the caterpillars. I've never had to do that before. We'll see how they end up doing. I'm wondering if the more dominant caterpillar will take over and eat all of their food.

May 27, 2011

Hair on My Arms

I haven't posted anything in at least a week. It's been VERY busy and VERY stressful. We got home on the long weekend to find a BUNCH of water in our basement. Not a fun thing to deal with. Still haven't heard from an insurance adjustor because they are busy with the Slave Lake fires. Rightfully so but please call us so we can get the ball rolling. Carpets and underlay have been removed, thankfully because it was starting to really stink. Enough about me. 
This week we had a fabulous lunch from our teaching assistance. I actually got to eat in the staffroom for a whole 30 minutes what a treat. I had a chance to talk with a teacher who helps me with some students who are struggling. We were discussing the progress a student had made and we were overjoyed with how well this student has done. Let's call this student Speedy Gonzales.  By no means is Speedy at grade level but the progress made has exceeded our expectations. Speedy has done his homework, mom has been so supportive of us and helping her child. Speedy has worked so hard all year. His attitude has been positive and willing to try and learn, in fact he wants to do well. I know they all do but I particularly see it in him. Plus I'm writing about him :-)
I have a special little place in my heart for him. Yes, he squiggles and makes noises, spins and doesn't always listen...oh right, they all do that, they are only 7 after all. He's polite, respectful and eager to please. Yesterday I was waiting for the kids to come in and Speedy was in the room first, hence his name. He was talking to another student and as plain as any conversation anyone might have he says, "Kim, do I have hairy arms?" It brought a smile to my face instantly in such a stressful day. 
Often we forget about the small, simple things in our lives that make us laugh or smile. Yesterday I sure needed a smile and a little giggle. Thank you Speedy for giving me that yesterday. You'll be a great big brother. 
Don't forget to smile today or laugh at something a little person says.
Ms. Brown

May 17, 2011

Covering a Box

I just have to share what we did today in math. I'm sorry trees but when you look at the pictures we went through a lot of paper. Although we did recycle what we didn't use. 
The task was to cover a box with paper. The paper couldn't overlap, no tape, staples or glue could be used. There were allowed to use scissors and pencils. There were a lot of great questions about wrapping it like a present or other ideas they were mulling around in their heads. They got to work and here are some photos of what they came up with. They eventually created nets, all on their own from conversations we had about what worked and what wasn't working. I couldn't pick a couple to show you so I'm including them all in a slideshow.

Donations for Slave Lake Needed

If you live in the Northern Peace Region of Alberta you've heard about Slave Lake and the surrounding areas having to be evacuated late Sunday night. Family had to leave instantly which means they left many of their belongs behind. As a class we've been working on Being Good Citizens. 
We have decided to accept donations in our classroom for these families. If you can donate please bring in any toiletry items for adults and kids, socks, underwear (for both), bottled water, juice boxes, books, toys, food, woman's undergarments, coloring books, school supplies, shoes, diapers, glasses, men's wear, medicine and money.
Look for anything you have that's clean. If you have anything that is extra or large supplies of, the people of Slave Lake sure could use it.
Please bring your donations to our classroom by Wednesday, May 25th. The sooner the better.
Grade 2B at HBS in Grande Prairie, AB

May 11, 2011

Second Try

Today the students got a second try at building another ruler. I had a sub do this and to be honest I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I returned to school. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The students used the feedback they got from each other based on the criteria they came up with to modify and build a better looking ruler. Here is a photo of the final rulers displayed on the bulletin board.

May 9, 2011


You might be wondering what we're doing with Band-Aids in the classroom. It's a very fun investigation into measurement and problem solving. This last week we read the poem Band-Aids by Shel Silverstein. If you've never read I highly recommend you do. It's sooo cute. The task was to figure out how many Band-Aids the boy put on his body. They could use anything to help them but most used paper and pencil. The point was to get them thinking about personal strategies. Here are a couple who really represented their thinking well. I know that some of them have added incorrectly and they've got the wrong answer. I'm more concerned that they've got a strategy than the correct answer. Let me know what you think about some of the strategies the kids are using. Do your kids use some of the same ones?

I'm not sure how to get my pictures side by side. They keep shifting on me. I'll figure it out.  I'm always trying to get teachers to work from a problem solving approach. So I want you to really notice how much work these kids have done. They are using a lot of mental math and practicing basic facts at the same time. Yes there are some number reversals but I'm not really worried about that because they are thinking. 

Today we talked about the criteria a ruler had to have. The kids decided that a ruler needed to have:
  1. Numbers and they needed to be either below the line or beside it. You couldn't have the numbers in both places on the same ruler. 
  2. The units needed to be the same throughout the ruler.
  3. The units couldn't be overlapping or far apart. They had to be close together. 
  4. It needs to have a straight edge. 
  5. The lines need to be the same distance apart. 
Here are some of the rulers they created today. Tomorrow they are going to evaluated each others rulers and give some feedback then recreate another ruler using a different size Band-Aid. (I know some of them are incorrect but don't we always say we can learn from a mistake?)
Following most of the criteria.

Had a discussion of why 0 - 10. He let me know that there were 10 cm between each of the numbers. Hmmm!

Great problem solving of how to keep the adding machine tape from curling up.

Really like his strategy of iterating.

I wonder where they are thinking zero is?

Some misunderstandings...we'll get it cleared up soon.

Band-Aids are side by side.

Actually measuring. Is the Kleenex box really 25 Band-Aids long?

I think our work with an open number line is transferring into this activity. Does it make sense that this box is 40 Band-Aids long? Again some misunderstandings. 

It's all a learning process. It's unbelievable how their thinking and learning will develop the more time they build a measuring tool/ruler.
Hope you enjoyed and learned something new.

May 4, 2011

Going Back to School

I just received the news today. I was officially accepted into the Master's Program at the University of Alberta in Elementary Mathematics. I can't believe it. I'm so excited about learning new things and expanding my knowledge further. I'm looking forward to reading and having discussions with others about how children learn math and what are best teaching practices. My mind is filled with all the possibilities. New books, new readings, new ideas, new debates, new challenges. I wonder if kids feel the same way when they begin school in the fall? What I'm not looking forward to is writing papers and deadlines. Perhaps our students in our rooms feel the same thing. Something to think about. I'll keep you posted about what this new journey is going to be like. It's so exciting.