Monthly Archives: March 2013

This is the Way We Start Each Day (&#3: A Surprising “Assessment Tool”)

… & so, if you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that this is the way we start our day in Grade 5A:

1st: Our Brain Breakfast:
First thing every day I show a “cool video” on the Smartboard.
These videos are not necessarily “curriculum related”, but they are all educational in their own way, are entertaining and most often help us to start off on the right foot!
For example, these videos may be science related
(currently, my fav. site is:, or they may be pictures of cool graffiti (,
or even articles about and clips of baby zoo animals (

2nd: What’s In Store for Us this Day:
Now that I have everyone’s attention (e.g. see Brain Breakfasts), I outline the day clearly and carefully – taking care to answer any questions and allow for processing time.
Just like their teacher, my students are better able to navigate their way through the day when “there are no surprises”.
(I even go so far as to tell them what they will be writing about in the afternoon, for example, giving them time to their process ideas (whether they realize that they are doing just that or not ;-).)

3rd Riddles & Brain Teasers :
I post a riddle and leave it up until someone is able to answer it.
(I never leave a riddle up for more than a week.)
Some good sites for this include:

Last week, for example, the riddle was:

Q: “What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?”
A: “The letter M.”

I originally began to post riddles in order to introduce yet an another activity that encourages “flexible thinking”.
(The truth of the matter being that riddles and brain teasers are simply good fun as well!)
What has surprised me the most however, is that this “activity” has proven to be a surprisingly informative additional assessment tool!
“Sam” for example, is usually one of he first to answer our riddles. In doing so, not only is she “shining” and having fun, but she is showing us that she is a creative, clever, flexible, playful thinker. I know beyond a doubt, that she possesses excellent reasoning abilities and is a a true risk taker.
In playing with riddles we come toegther as a class to model and practice all of the above skills as well. We always take a moment to share with others our problem solving methods and thinking processes.
We just love it!Student_clipart
How do you start your day?


The Qualities of a Good Team Leader

In Schools:
The Qualities of a Good Team Leader
Personally Speaking – Alphabetically Speaking

Allows for a teacher’s personal style in the classroom
Believes in his/her staff – & tells them so
Boundaries are clear
Clear boundaries / parameters within which to operate
Communication skills – both speaking & listening
Creates opportunities
Delegates – ability to
Demands excellence
Fearless – at least in “public”
Follow through
Life long learner
Mediation skills
Motivational skills
Personal worries are private
Protects his/her staff
Respect – for students, families & staff
Sense of humour
Stands up for – behind his/her staff
Strategic planning
Strict but fair
Supports his/her staff
Takes responsibility
Understands that mistakes happen – & offers “solutions”
Values their staff
Values PD

*Makes me feel like a capable, competent, successful teacher – and if “I’m not” offers support & opportunities for learning.


Science: The Human Body – Grade 5 – Final Assessments

Science: The Human Body
Grade 5 Final Assessments

 1. A Quiz
a) I teach & model study strategies/skills; Students demonstrate understanding of strategies/skills.
b) I teach & model test-taking strategies/skills; Students demonstrate understanding of strategies.
c) Students take the quiz and demonstrate an understanding of concepts.

 2. Art
a) Create a life sized human body that “shows” organs.
b) Include information about organs and systems on cue cards.
c) Use found materials to represent organs.

Here are 2 pictures of bodies that are about ¾ complete:
IMG_7802 IMG_7783


Examples of the ways in which my students used found materials to “show” human organs and systems:

– nyons (small intestine)
– yarn (large intestine)
– sponges (brains)
– straws (trachea)
– q-tips (ribs)
– pom poms – salivary glands
– hearts (heart)
– zip-lock bags (stomach filled with tissue paper)
– cotton balls (liver)
– tissue paper yellow (pancreas)
– balloons (lungs)

3. Persuasive Essay; Personification
My students were required to write an essay about the human body. They pretended to be a human body system (personification), and did their best to convince the reader of their undeniable importance. Their first paragraph introduced and defined the system, as well as the purpose of the essay (e.g. to persuade). In the second paragraph they further identified and described system (physically). In the third paragraph they described its function(s). In the fourth paragraph they had to convince the reader (the world!) of its (their) importance! Finally, they were required to wrap up their essay by writing a fabulous conclusion.

Putting it out there:
How do you assess students’ learning at the end of a unit?