Monthly Archives: April 2012

Grade 5 Earth Week Challenge

Earth Week Challenge

This week I was inspired by a group of children from Australia who created a video to showcase how they worked together to  “change the world in just five minutes every day.”

The video is fantastic!

& so, if you were a fly on my classroom wall tomorrow you would see my students watching the video on the Smart Board and challenging themselves to do the same!

I have cut and pasted our activity below. (You may also want to visit out website and follow our progress:


Earth Week Challenge!

Dear Grade 5 Classes,

“Can a bunch of school kids really change the world in five minutes a day? This class of primary school kids demonstrate over the course of a week that it only takes five minutes a day to make a positive impact—from recycling to planting fruit and veg and telling jokes.” (
Watch the video:

Now you take the challenge:
Be the change!

1. Break into groups.
2. Brainstorm a list of “5-minute-a-day-activities” that can really change the world. “Think globally – act locally!”
3. As a class agree on one activity for each day of the week.
4. Prepare a flyer to go home explaining the daily challenges to your parents. Used the recycled materials (e.g. cereal boxes, toilet rolls, materials from our Blue Bins etc.) to make your flyers.
5. Take the challenge!

We are “being the change” every day:
– You have 5 minutes to walk around the school. Turn off any lights and pick up any garbage that you see in the school. On your mark! Get set! Go Green!



How Girls Learn

How Girls Learn

Today I decided to explore how girls learn.

I surfed the net this afternoon & found the following to be quite interesting.

(Note: Since I really just wanted to share my findings I have simply chosen to cut and paste some interesting excerpts below. I have of course included the links as well.) All this to say that what follows is not of my own creation … and is quite simply “food for thought”.


How Girls Learn:

1. “Girls tend to look on the teacher as an ally. Given a little encouragement, they will welcome the teacher’s help. A girl-friendly classroom is a safe, comfortable, welcoming place. Forget hard plastic chairs: put in a sofa and some comfortable bean bags. Let the girls address their teacher by her (or his) first name.” (

2. “Girls use the cerebral cortex in their brains when they learn math and science. This is the part of the brain that processes language. This means that teachers should connect these subjects to the real world by using story problems and practical applications. Teachers should present science and math lessons couched in language.
However, coding math and science in language actually makes these subjects harder for boys to understand. They enjoy pure number theory and pure science. Teachers can build lessons around charts, graphs, and matrices.”
“Studies of single-sex schools show that girls get a boost in their math and science test scores after being taught in a language-rich, girl-friendly way.” (

3. Teaching Literature: Girls enjoy analyzing the relationships between characters in stories and novels. They like role-playing activities such as performing skits or writing in the voice of another person.”

4. “ “Gender intensification” means that when girls and boys are together, they are very mindful of what the prevailing culture says is appropriate for girls, and what’s appropriate for boys. As a result, the coed format often has the unintended consequence of intensifying gender roles, despite the most enlightened leadership and teaching. Our culture is a sexist culture (and the culture of children and adolescents is even more sexist than the adult culture). The prevailing culture sends all sorts of gendered messages pushing girls and boys into pink and blue cubbyholes. Flutes are for girls, children tell one another, and trumpets are for boys (or so the children say). Physics is for guys, and art history is for girls — or so the teenagers will tell you. You, the adult, can try to tell them otherwise, but in the coed format the forces driving “gender intensification” may be too strong for mere words to counteract. The single-sex format, with the right kind of leadership, offers a great opportunity to break down those gender stereotypes. In a girls’ school, it’s cool to play the trumpet.”(

5. “Girls thrive and excel in collaborative teams … Girls tend to be less competitive but more demanding of themselves; they are more co-operative and prefer to discuss and tease out ideas. They prefer to work in groups and gain strength from each other…Teachers can match their teaching to the way girls develop and tailor courses, activities and materials to suit.”

6. An all girls school can “Support a ‘can-do’ philosophy. Girls hold all the senior positions in the school: all the scientists are girls, all the mathematicians are girls. There is no subject area or activity of the school in which girls do not excel. This leads undoubtedly to a ‘can-do’ philosophy in the school … Provide leadership opportunities and models. Girls’ schools are institutions where all the leadership positions in the school are held by girls and where girls can find strong role models amongst the staff, ethos and philosophy of the school.” (

6. Gender, competition, and stress:
Some studies indicate that “Exposure to stress seems to have opposite effects on males and females. … In females, stress inhibits learning, yet it actually facilitates learning in males.” (

7. Girls’ hearing is four times more sensitive than boys’. This fact has implications for gender-specific teaching. For example, soft-spoken female teachers will put the boys in the back of a classroom asleep. On the other hand, girls sitting near a teacher with a loud voice will experience him or her as “yelling.” Boys will pay more attention in class if the interactions are louder and livelier. Their teachers should not remain seated behind a desk when they lecture but rather keep moving around the room.” (

Reality Based Math – Making it Relevant

Reality Based Math – Making it Relevant

Everything makes more sense …. well, when it makes sense!
& so having said that, it is important to make math lessons and activities relevant to the learner. When students see connections and real world applications they are better able to understand concepts. They can apply concepts to novel situations, make connections, and extend activities when the understand the “whens, wheres, whys and the hows” of what we teach. They engage in activities with greater confidence. They play more and take greater risks.

Here are some ways that we try to math relevant to the learner:

1. When introducing a new concepts have students go on a scavenger hunt. They must find examples of the “concept” (e.g. where do they see it, hear about it, where is it applied, etc.) in their world.

2. Read, share, read, share and read some more: There are some great picture books out there to share with students at all grade levels
(e.g. )

3. Students write stories based on current classroom Math concepts.

4. Seamlessly intertwine math in others areas of the curriculum.
(e.g. & Math Mash-up

5. Use sports statistics in math class! Visit this site out for some great resources:

6. Use free grocery store flyers in math class. Issue a challenge: Give students a set amount of money and have them shop for a family meal, a birthday party, etc. Calculate the total & the change. We conduct similar activities with take-out menus, restaurant menus, car sales magazines, toy store flyers, etc.

7. Students write their own math word problems to share with the class. Trade them, play with them.

. Teachers use students’ names and real life classroom situations, etc. in word problems.

Of course this is just a starting point.
Please share your making-math-relevant-ideas!