Category Archives: grade 5

My Top Picks: Activities & Approaches that Rocked Our First Term!

My Top Picks:
Activities & Approaches that Rocked Our First Term!

Always Give Away the Ending
I start every unit in Social Studies & Science by “giving away the ending”. For example, when introducing our unit on Ancient Egypt we read a short article (or watch a video, read a picture book) all about life during that time: the roles of men, women & children, the foods they ate, where they lived, their kings & queens, religion, gods and goddesses, rituals, etc. We then discuss interesting facts (i.e. the fact that only boys were allowed to go to school) and “play with” the topic for a day or so. This introduction peaks their interest and serves as a foundation to build upon.

Choice is Choice
This year I have provided more “choice” than ever …. my students loved it … & I loved it. This approach allowed students the opportunity to build on their strengths while learning about and addressing their needs. With this apporach there is a true sense of ownership, interest, engagement and enthusiasm.
For example, upon finishing both class novels this term (The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick & The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights is a 1968 novel written by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes) students were provided with a “menu” of final assignments to choose from. Some excellent examples of project menus are as follows: 1. Book Projects 2. Final Novel Projects 3. 91 Ways to Respond to Literature  4. Novel: Tic Tac Toe

Project & Inquiry Based Learning
Love it(!) and I am excited to do more, more, more!
To learn more check out:

The Teach & Tell
A “Teach and Tell” requires that students teach their classmates about something that is of interest to them.  Much like “Show and Tell” this activity provides students with an opportunity to share individual areas of expertise/interest. It encourages students to make organized, engaging oral presentations, while developing effective speaking and listening skills. The Teach and Tell is also a great way to increase class interconnectedness as students learn important things about one another’s interests and skills.

Blogging Rocks!
This was the first year that I had my students blogging … & we all loved it! I used There’s nothing jazzy or fancy about this site … but it is easy to navigate and it is super secure: and that’s all that really matters to me.
The Benefits of Student Blogging include:
-Authenticity – authentic writing for authentic audiences;
-Affordability – is for example is free;
-Builds confidence as students shine, share & respond;
-Carries across the curriculum;
-Collaborative discussions as students respond to & learn from one another;
-Communication skills – writing for an audience necessitates & builds effective communication skills;
-Connections between students & classes, between home & school;
-Develops higher order thinking skills (as students write, read, reflect & respond).

Hot Penning Please
Three times a week I set our timer for 5 minutes. When I say “Go!” my students write and write and write. They write about whatever comes into their heads. They might write a story, a memory, a poem or a stream of consciousness. The “deal is” that they can’t lift their pencil from the paper! My students just love this opportunity “free write”. They tell me that “it’s fun!” and that “it feels like a game!” On occasion we go back to highlight favourite passages, sentences or ideas to use as a springboard for longer, more formal pieces.
Check out:

Strategy Driven
It’s so important for my students to learn about and play with different strategies. I want them to build on their strengths (e.g. know what works for them) and addresses their needs. I want them to understand how to listen and read for meaning,  how to answer comprehension questions, how to study smart, how to write a test, how to problem solve, etc.
For some tools of the trade check out:
Test Taking Tips:
Active Listening Skills:
Writing Strategies:
Math Problem Solving: ;

Picture Books in the Grade 5 Classroom
I love reading, exploring and sharing picture books with my Grade 5 students. I use them in all(!) subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. They are quite simply a fantastic resource.

Class Meetings Building a Classroom Community
Class Meetings are just that: A time for students to sit and discuss issues that speak to them. They are student directed and teacher facilitated. The agenda is set by the group and depends on the group’s various interests, needs and concerns at any one time.

Learning Logs
Learning Logs develop metacognitive skills, guide my teaching practice, and provide yet another authentic assessment tool. Learning Logs are classroom journals. Students use them in order to keep honest and reflective records of their understanding of subject areas in the classroom (e.g. Math, Science, Social Studies, Writing Workshop, Reading, etc.).
Read more here:

Home Journals: Authentic Writing & Communication Between Home & School
Every Friday students write letters home to their parents about their week. Home Journals help to answer the age-old “dinner table question”, “What did you do at school this week?”. These journals also provide parents, students and teachers with weekly examples/snapshots of individual writing skills development.

Well, although I am sure that there are more …. these are my top picks for our First Term/2011 in Grade 5!
What are some of your “hot picks” in your classroom? I would love to know!


Math & Science Resources – Vidoes, Games, Challenges

Grade 5 Resources – Math & Science

I was asked by a new teacher to share just a few of my “well used” Math & Science resources

for Grade 5 ….

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see me “logging onto” these sites quite often!

Hope you find them useful as well.


PS I would LOVE to read about some of your favourite sites as well of course!

 (I) MATH: Teaching Sites / Challenges / Videos! (Great for Smart Board Teaching)  (Real World Math Challenges) (Hands-on Math) (Open Your Eyes to the World of Money) (Problem Solving Printable Cards/Decks)

Examples of Free On-line Math Games for Kids!

Practice Your Times Tables:
Hidden Picture Multiplication
Multiplication Concentration
Multiplication Concentration
(II) Grade 5 Science –
Sites With a Focus on Our Ontario Curriculum Strands (& Then Some)

Amazing one stop shopping for resources:

These 2 sites are also good for hands on learning & Smart Board use in Grade 5:

>Olympic Sites for Parents & Teachers

>Olympic Sites

With the Olympics right around the corner I thought I’d post a few sites for teachers & parents.
It’s such an exciting event! Let’s follow closely & promote national pride!

This is also a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children & students about effort & achievement, following dreams, goal setting, teamwork, tolerance, good sportsmanship & so much more!

All the best,

Sites for Olympic Lessons Plans/Ideas for the Classroom:

Olympic Printables & Colouring Pages:

>Great Sites for Social Studies & Science

>Great Sites for Social Studies & Science (Second Term)

As a Grade 5 teacher I am always looking for exceptional sites for use on our Smartboard.

Not all children learn in the same way. For visual learners in particular, using interactive sites/games on the Smartboard and viewing videos are a two means of enhancing learning; of exploring concepts and sharing information.

I hope that you find the sites below useful!


(A) Using videos in the classroom: Sites addressing the issue:

1) Teaching Tips: Using Video in Your Classroom

2) Tips for Using Video in the Classroom

3) Sparks Fly: Effective Use of Video in the Classroom


50 Great Sites for Studying Ancient Egypt Online

Ancient Egypt Fun

BBC Mummy Maker

Shambles: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt, by Mandi Barrow

Ancient Egypt Lesson Plans for Teachers

Ancient Egypt Civilization‚(video):

Educational Videos and Lessons for K-12; Ancient Egypt


Kids Health: How the Body Works

FAQ Kids: The Human Body

Science Newt Links

Human Body On Line Games

Science & Nature: Human Body & Mind: Interactive Body

Human Body Games

>Learning Logs: Develop Metacognitive Skills, Guide Teaching, Provide Authentic Assessment

>Why I Love Learning Logs

Looking for another way to improve students’ metacognitive skills/abilities? (e.g.
Looking for another way to connect with students? For another way to reflect on/guide your teaching in the classroom? For another means of authentic assessment?

Try using Learning Logs in the classroom!

(A) What they are:
1. Learning Logs are classroom journals.
2. They are diaries of a sort. 
3. They are used by students to keep and honest and reflective record of their understanding of subject areas (e.g. Math, Science, Social Studies, Writing Workshop, Reading, etc.).
4. They are notebooks in which to record their thoughts, observations, questions and concerns.
5. They are flexible: to be used in all subject areas.
6. They are “kid friendly”: children can “write” what they know; “draw” what they know; “list” what they know; “web” what they know; “diagram” what they know; etc. Often students choose the format for their response (e.g. paragraphs, webs, lists, graphs, charts,pictures, diagrams, etc.) (When they choose the format that is most comfortable for them I get a better sense of what they do and do not understand.)

(B) The goals:
1. The goal is for students to become increasingly responsible for their own learning …. to become constructive, reflective thinkers/learners.
2. The goal is for me, as the teacher, to be “in the loop” with regard to what my students strengths and needs are, and to adjust my program accordingly!

(C) Be a fly on my classroom wall: The Latest Learning Log Entries in My Classroom
1. Explain the process of long division (… most students created diagrams … lots of numbers, words & arrows!)
2. Compare your life to the lives of children in Ancient Egypt ( … most students created a Venn Diagram …)
3. Explain the digestive system (… most students created diagrams.)
4. What test taking strategies have worked best for you so far this year? Explain your answer. (… formats varied.)

(D) Why I love them:
I love Learning Logs for all sorts of reasons.
The three main reasons I use them are as follows:
1. They encourage students to reflect upon, to think about what they know and why/how they know what they know. Heightens their metacognitive skills (see
2. They help guide my teaching. Student entries get me thinking about my practice: What is working in the classroom? What am doing right? What do I need to change about my lessons/program? What do my students understand? What concepts are they having difficulty with? Who has well developed metacognitive skills?)
3. They are another means of authentic assessment


(E) Interested in learning more?

>Test Taking Skills & Strategies

>My 5 favourite sites for test taking skills and strategies! 
 (Sites to share with bith students & parents)

Grade 5 Books Recommendations for Boys by Boys

Books That My Grade 5 Boys LOVE(!) Right Now!

Reading is a gift … and doing one’s best to instill a love of reading is a huge responsibility, a privilege and often times quite challenging!
In thinking about this (and so as to better meet the needs of my students) this year I have decided to keep a record (a running record of sorts) of the novels that my students are reading “in the moment” and ENJOY!
To date, my Grade 5 boys have recommended the following books.
(Note: They also love all graphic novels & all Guinness World Records books. What fun!)
Grade Five 1st Term Book Recommendations:

The Magic Thief
by Sarah Prineas

Travels of Thelonious (The Fog Mound Series #1)
by Susan Schade

by Megan McDonald

Arctic Adventure (a graphic novel)
by Glen Donney

Freedom Train (a graphic novel)
by Robert Cutting

by Michael Buckley

The Lightening Thief
by Rick Riorda

The Iron Man: A children’s Story in Five Nights
by Ted Hughes

Dear Canada: A Ribbon of Shining Steel: The Railway Diary of Kate Cameron
by Julie Lawson

Diary of  Wimpy Kid
by by Jeff Kinney

The Bone Series
by Jeff Smith

by Louis Sachar

By Jerry Spinelli

Stormbreaker (a graphic novel)
by Anthony Horowitz

Graphic Novels 
e.g. The Cartoon History of the Universe II (Gonick, 1994) 

The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse: A Chat Geko Mystery
by Bruce Hale

Farewell My lunch bag: A Chet Geko
by Bruce Hale

The 39 Clues Book One: The Maze of the Bones
by Rick Riordan