Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Welcome to Grade 6

Dear Parents,

Welcome to Grade 6. It's always a busy start to the year, but I have been especially busy preparing for Mono Cliffs next week. Please get your permission and medical forms back asap or let me know formally if you're not going (i.e. return the form with a "NO").

I also sent home homework for the first time last night, which will be due on Friday. I do think regular practice is important and our math time is much too short to get that all in--I plan to start a more regular homework program once we return from Mono Cliffs, but also felt like students needed to get back in practice more immediately as well. The sheets are from Jump Math and relate to patterning. I hope that you will "help" by asking open ended questions (Sample questions: What do you think goes there? Can you read the question again to be sure?) and providing space and time to support completion of work. I will always try to give ample lead time with homework, but will be tracking who does and does not complete their work. If completion becomes onerous or takes hours, that's helpful information for me to have as well.

As always, you can be in touch via my address (lisa.goegan), if there are any issues or needs.

Ms. Goegan

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dear Parents,

For the last day of school, students have requested a Teddy Bear Picnic. We'll spend some time outside with our stuffies and snacks. Students are welcome to bring a favourite activity to play at school.

Thanks for a great year,

Ms. Goegan

Friday, June 7, 2019

End of year activism

Dear Parents,

Things are piling up a bit as the end of the year rolls closer, so this post will be long and photo packed. We delivered the backpacks, waterbottles and lunch bags to the local homeless shelter that we had collected them for.  Ms. Khokhar and I are posing with some of the workers at the Redwood, a sign they made for the class and the student letters that I delivered to them.
Me and Ms. Khokhar at the Shelter

From their social media post, it looks like they've posted our letters there. 

I loved the letters that students wrote explaining why they'd decided to help in this campaign.  They  all demonstrated solid kid logic, but the bigger picture also showed that they had a lot of empathy for kids who might be in difficult circumstances. 

I am reluctant to post all the letters here, but each kid wrote one and all of them are different.
"This project was important because we want them to survive and go to school."

"I did this because I didn't want you to be hungry and thirsty. I did this because I didn't want you to be homeless."

"This project made me happy because I like helping people."

"I want to help you because the class is depending on you to help them"

"I did this because I want you to be hydrated and healthy. And I want you not to be sad and left alone."

"This project made me feel happy because now you can go to school like us. You can go to school with lunch bags, backpacks and water bottles."

"This project made me happy because now they can be hydrated. And I think they will be surprised."

"We did this because we want to help you go to school, so we gave you what you need. You're welcome."

"This project was important because everybody deserves to go to school"

"This project made me feel very happy. I feel happy because I did this for you."

I've probably posted more than I should, but they really pull on my heartstrings. I do have photos of all of their letters, if you don't see your child's there and want a copy. The drop off happened last Friday and the poster is posted in our main office for the entire school community. Thank you for your support!

Then, on Tuesday this week, we had our end of year trip to Legoland. As I've said elsewhere, I had a lovely time. We had a great bus driver who cranked the tunes and a dance party on the way up, then a busy day exploring Legoland up in Vaughn, and a sleepy bus ride home. Many thanks to the parents who came for their time and energy! One parent also sent me these photos from our building workshop. 

Finally, we also learned that Eddie was having lunch with our local MPP this Thursday. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we wrote some more letters. There wasn't as much time to pre-teach the concepts on this letter, but we already had the toolkit from our last letter. I wanted to show you the anchor chart I made to support students, and then some of what they produced. 

We started from our base understanding. Activists are people, of any age, who see something unfair and work to change it. Then I explained that the government helps make laws and asked why activists might be excited about talking to people who make laws. They made that connection very quickly.

So then we started with practical considerations of a letter form, like the date and the greeting, then I gave a couple of sentence starters for their introduction. 

Next, we brainstormed some topics that students really cared about and these two were the overwhelming majority. I also had two students very passionate about animal rights, who I sent off to brainstorm independently. 

We tried to think of things we wanted the government to -do- to help the problem and they came up with this list. When they went to write, they needed to explain why that idea would help. This was hard for some, who thought it was too obvious...except maybe sometimes it's not as obvious as it seems to them.  
Anchor Chart
This time, some students wrote using the same letter form as before and others decided to write longer letters. More opted for this than I had thought! Again, I've included more than I should have, to give you a sense. I've transcribed some of the shorter/messier ones for ease. If you don't see your child's here, I have also taken a picture of it and would be happy to send it to you. These ideas are theirs, not mine, but it was interesting to see how many referenced things we'd done in our homeless project and how many mentioned fish, from the Great Lakes presentation.

"We have to help the fish that are endangered out of extinction. We have to get the garbage out of the water, because we want our water to be clean" 

Lila's letter 

"I have some ideas about homelessness. Give them food and water so they can live" 

"I think we should plant more trees because we will have more air. We need air to survive"

"We should keep pollution out of the lakes and waters. We need to protect the wild"

"I'm sick/I'm good"--Adriano's illustration

"We should put in more flowers and trees at the park because it will give us better air"
"You should keep wilderness space for animals and not let people there. Why? Because they are nice to you, so you should be nice to them"

"I have some ideas about homelessness, so they don't have to sleep outside because it is not fair because we have a cute bed. So they don't have back problems"

"I am writing because I care about homeless. We need to have money to get for food so they are healthy"

Leah's letter

"We need to stop garbage in the water. It hurts the fish"

Miles' letter

Lukas' letter

"We cannot litter on water or land"

The more I reflect on these letters, the happier I feel to have had the chance to work with these kids all year. Best wishes for a happy summer, if this is the last post for this year!

Ms. Goegan

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Dear Parents, 

STEM usually stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math, and STEAM is also becoming a popular buzzword in education. The extra A is for Art, but I'd also like to have Language in there too, because you get such great authentic writing when you give students a purpose to write about. 

It's been a fun week in the classroom. Yesterday, I challenged students to create a shoe out of paper. They got to work in teams and were allowed to use any of our scrap paper plus glue, tape or staples to fasten it together. The shoes had to fit on one student's foot and protect it from the environment. They were very focused for the entire work period and some stayed in for recess, on purpose, to finish decorating their shoes (I see I missed taking photos of these later creations, but will add them in when I show the writing). 

Putting final touches on it

Cutting out a sole

Using different pieces to create a shape

Measuring your foot

Shaping it with tape

Cutting out parts of the template

One group's final masterpiece
Today students worked in partners in math. First, we practiced sorting shapes by different properties (Number of corners, Number of sides, Lines of symmetry). Students have these math concepts, but often revert to more basic concepts when asked to sort (e.g.: Big vs. Little or by colour)
The shapes on the left all have 4 corners
Afterwards, students used the shapes to make some fun pictures.

For both activities, part of the goal is to get kids engaged in directed play. They're learning when they are experimenting and testing and taking risks. But these are also language activities, because they ask students to use specialized vocabulary for specific purposes: to label their pictures and to explain their thinking. 

Today was the due date for our birdhouse project. This process writing was practice for some of the writing we'll be doing about that. I hope to hang our birdhouses in the parenting centre yard tomorrow in advance of the long weekend and spend some time exploring out there as well.

Ms Goegan