“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 31 March 2013

What's Cooking Good Looking?

I saw this salad on Pinterest and I was really intrigued. I LOVE avocados, I love chicken and I love cilantro and lime. I also happened to have everything except the chicken in my fridge. I found the actual recipe HERE on a blog called The Salted Paleo.  Her blog contains lots of healthy, tasty recipes which I intend to go back and try out.

I don't follow any specific diet or eating plan. I eat what appeals to me and is generally healthy (I know last week's soup does not qualify as healthy BUT it was fantastic! I ate really small portions which were very satisfying). 

This has to be the BEST chicken salad I have ever eaten and it has nothing unhealthy in it!  I love the tang of the cilantro and lime juice, and the creaminess of the avocado.  This salad kept well in the fridge at work inside a sealed container. 

For lunches, I mixed it with some chopped romaine, grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumber.  No need for dressing.  YUMMY!  I had enough to share with other people on staff and still got several lunches out of it.  I will be making this again and again.

The recipe calls for you to cook the chicken breasts. I simply bought a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket.  I removed the breasts, then boned, skinned and shredded them. Worked like a charm and my hubby at the rest of the chicken for a meal.  

I think I might even try making this using some leftover turkey from Easter..if there is any leftover!

Avocado Chicken Salad: 

Cook chicken breast until done, let cool, and then shred. Mix with all other ingredients.

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Saturday, 30 March 2013

What's Your Secret Easter Bunny Name?

Not sure what has gotten into me this Easter!  I never make a big deal out of this holiday..yet as a child it was one of my favourites!  I vividly remember the year my parents gave me a stuffed animal for Easter, it was SO MUCH BETTER than getting chocolate!  I loved that little lamb!  (even after it got fruit punch all over its white, fuzzy fur!)

I must just ready for Spring to be here.  I can hear birds outside my window right now chirping away, and the weather was nice enough to go outside with just a spring jacket and running shoes on!  Now that is progress to all us Canadians!  We are done with ole man winter! 

I decorated my class for Easter this year, putting up a little Easter tree covered in little carrots and eggs.  I wore bright, sparkly pink bunny ears all day on Thursday, and I hand delivered a special Easter treat (homemade card and jelly beans) to all the members of our school staff.  I made Easter cards for my students and I attached an Easter pencil and sharpener to each card!  I bought Easter decorations to hang in my classroom, and I created the Easter graphic organizer/poster you saw on my blog on Friday!  

I guess you could say I'm cuckoo for Easter!  I know, I know, wrong bird... but still. Speaking of birds, I'm even roasting a turkey for Easter Sunday.  I bought all the fixins to do a full on Easter feast!  I got my daughter the cutest little Easter things you can imagine...including... a HUGE, stuffed Easter rabbit for her to snuggle with at night.  (Yes, she is thirteen, but like her mother, she still likes to cuddle.)  I got so carried away, that I made the graphic above, because it makes me smile.  I saw one like this for St.Patrick's day and the whole family got a laugh out of our leprechaun names.  I hope your Secret Easter Bunny name makes you smile this weekend!  

A Happy Easter to Everyone!

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Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Graphic Organizer Poster FREEBIE

If you follow my blog regularly you will know I have become obsessed with Valerie King's Graphic Organizers. She makes the cutest designs and even helped me out on PI Day (for FREE)!  I have wanted to learn how to make graphic organizers like these myself, but felt that since Valerie (and my classroom volunteer Cindy Lam) make such great ones, I would just continue to use theirs!  I could not find one for Easter, and I did not have the nerve to beg and plead with Valerie or Cindy again...so I have tried my hand at making my own.  Just click on the IMAGE above to download your own FREE copy.  I hope you enjoy using it, I learned a lot in the process of making it, and how hard Valerie and Cindy have worked to create theirs!

I just noticed that I am getting a little closer to 200 followers each week.  If you enjoy my FREEBIES, I would be very grateful if you would Pin this post, tweet about it or even share/like it on Facebook.  Reaching the 200 follower hundred mark before my BLOGIVERSARY on April 29th would be AWESOME!

I wish everyone a wonderful Easter weekend!  
Enjoy time with your friends and family.
Freebie Fridays
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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Monday, 25 March 2013

Just another Manic Monday...

Am I the only one who sings the song by the Bangles in my head every time I see this image?  

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Anyhow, I digress.  If you have been reading my blog you know that I am gearing up for EQAO (Education Quality Accountability Office) standardized testing.  Here in Ontario students are assessed in mathematics and language in grades 3 and 6 and then they have to write the OSSLT (Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test) in grade 10.  Last week I posted the first booklet of mathematics questions I compiled for Patterning and Algebra at the grade six level.  It's great to have the questions to review and use for practice ONLY if the students understand WHAT the question is asking them. 

To that end, I have taken the list of KEY WORDS that EQAO publishes and created student friendly posters.  Each poster contains a KEY WORD from the assessments (at all levels) and its corresponding meaning.  I plan to print these new posters, laminate them and put them up in sets around my room.  I might also print them out as a package with four words to a page and make the students little reference booklets.  During EQAO all math and language related teaching posters and materials MUST be removed from the walls BUT they KEY WORDS may stay up.  To me, it was worth making some nice posters in preparation to cover my bare walls this year!  

If you would like your own set of these posters (you don't have to be teaching in Ontario or be taking the assessments to use them) please click on the link below.  Please leave me feedback at my store letting me know if you used them, and if they were useful.

Some other Bangles songs I love: Walk Like An Egyptian, Eternal Flame, If She Knew What She Wants, A Hazy Shade of Winter, In Your Room, My Side of the Bed...sigh, those were the days:)

Happy Monday everyone...have an awesome week!  Good Friday is just 4 days away:)

Here's another great blog link up from one of my favourite bloggers!  Please head over to 2peasandadog and pick up some great math freebies and maybe link up one of your own!

Also linked up with

Click on the IMAGE ABOVE 

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

What's Cooking Good Looking?

Here it is, Sunday morning again and I am contemplating what to make for lunches next week.  I seem to be back on one of my soup kicks.  I love how filling and satisfying soup is, and it is portable and quick to heat up in the staff room at lunch.

I know the soup below looks way to decadent for an everyday meal, but I am going to make the base part of it (potato soup) and then add some healthier toppings.  Not that I don't love sour cream, bacon bits and shredded cheese, but I think I'll stick to a little chopped green onion on mine.  I am also believer in portion control.  I would rather have half a cup of yummy, delicious soup than a whole bowl of something devoid of flavour and texture.  I will have a little soup and a BIG salad for lunch next week and that will get me through the days!

I saw the recipe for this soup while watching television on my march break holiday.  I had a US station on and there was a lovely woman and her two sons cooking the soup in preparation  for St.Patrick's day.  When I discovered that the lovely woman was Tamara Chilver from the blog Teaching with TLC, I knew I just had to try it.  Tamara is the founder of Teaching Blog Addict and was part of the team who created the Virtual Teaching Expo.
I encourage you to read her blog page, she has lots of hints and there is an embedded link to the television show I watched while on break, just click on the link above!

I have converted the units below for my Canadian blogger buddies but left the US units as well.  

1 750 g  (30oz.) bag of frozen, shredded hash browns 
1 can of cream of chicken soup
 1 and 1/2 900 ml boxes (48 oz.) of chicken broth
Dash of pepper
1 pkg. brand name cream cheese (add last hour of cooking)
optional- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms

In a crockpot, combine everything except for the cream cheese. You can add any extra ingredients you may like in your soup (sauteed onions, mushrooms, or shredded cheddar cheese.)  I plan to add a little cheese to mine.  Tamara says her family likes it cheesy, so I'll take her word for it.

Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat until most of the shredded potatoes are dissolved.  Some people prefer some shredded potatoes for extra texture but when most of the potatoes are dissolved  it makes the soup thicker. Add cream cheese about an hour before serving and keep heated until thoroughly melted.

I got up early, and the soup is in the crock pot.  I love my crockpot.  What is your favourite thing to cook in a crockpot?  

Am I the only one who obsesses about school lunches?  I'm always looking for new ideas...I would love to feature you, your blog and your recipes on What's Cooking Good Looking so please drop me a line or leave me a comment.

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Saturday, 23 March 2013

New Store on Teacher's Notebook and Two Great Giveaways

Ever have one of those "Why the heck didn't I do this before?" moments when you are teaching?  This year, I decided to set up a system for absent students in my classroom.  I am often too busy trying to maintain the tasks of the current day to deal with students returning to class after being ill, or returning from an extended vacation.  Often the first thing they do is ask me what they missed and how they should make up the work they didn't do while they were off school.  I have a TeacherWeb website, on which I post all homework and assignments.  I also often post extra copies of work that has been handed out in class, in case someone loses it or needs an extra.  Even doing this though, does not cover all the situations which occur in the average classroom.

Years ago, I decided to have my students each choose a "homework buddy" at the beginning of the year.  These students agree to exchange phone numbers or emails and keep each other up to date.  I found this worked for awhile, but I still found that there were missing papers, and assignments, and often the "buddy" was also absent, or did not follow their duties.  

This year, I laminated some red file folders, put a sticker on the front which says Absentee Folder and put the sheet you see below in each one.  My students still have a homework buddy, but as part of my classroom leadership team (classroom jobs) I have several students whose job it is to note when a student is absent, get a red folder and sheet, put it on the students desk, and to keep it updated throughout the day.  

When the absent student returns, they are responsible to check with their homework buddy and/or the absentee assistant.  They are to complete the work and hand it to me with the sheet by the given due dates.  The red folders are returned to the storage spot and a new sheet is put inside, leaving it ready for the next time it is needed.  I have been very happy with this system.  

How do you handle absent students?  Leave me a comment, maybe there is more I can do to streamline my system.  
To thank you, be sure to download this FREEBIE from my NEW Teacher's Notebook store.  Just click on the image below and you can have it to use next week in class!

If you liked this FREEBIE click HERE or on the image below to visit the Calming the Chaos Year End Blog Hop. 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

EQAO Math Preparation

I had a teacher ask me the other day what my area of specialty is as I seem to like math a lot.  Here's the funny thing, I don't, or I should say I didn't.  As a kid, I struggled with math, in fact I HATED math. You would be surprised how many gifted kids do.  It is a myth that all students are gifted in ALL things. Math truly was a foreign language to me.  When trying to learn the multiplication tables in grade three and four, I remember thinking that a simple sentence 7 x 7 = 49 was akin to dog x pig= monkey.  I just didn't get it!  As an adult, and as a teacher I realize that I didn't have any conceptual understanding.  I didn't realize that 7x7 just meant 7 groups of 7, and that if I added them all up I would 49.  A concept which seems so simple now, baffled me then.

I am very aware that math can cause anxiety in my students.  Even the brightest students can struggle.  Some teachers assume that gifted students are ahead in math and they don't want to bore them with repetition, so they give them harder and more complex challenges and concepts to learn.  I am fortunate that in my board, we are not allowed to teach at a grade ahead.  I am teaching the grade 6 Ontario curriculum, and that is what my students are assessed and evaluated on.  

EQAO (Education Quality Accountability Office) tests students in grades three and six each year in Ontario.  The tests are administered in late May and early June.  These tests always cause a certain level of anxiety with all students, but often more with the gifted.  Some students struggle with the time allotted (even though they are allowed to take more time, all students must finish before they are allowed to leave the room~ say for recess or lunch), others struggle with figuring out how to answer "inside the box" questions, and others are just not motivated to write extended answers or show what they know, because "I just know it".

Regular readers of this blog know that I don't teach math in a traditional manner.  I can only assume that I do this because using the traditional approach did not work for me.  I try to teach math in a meaningful, fun, challenging and approachable way.  I try to link it to the world the students live in.  That being said, I cannot avoid the assessments each year.  My school is ranked #1 in Ontario by the Fraser Institute.  The report card they produce uses EQAO data to rank the schools in Ontario based on the results of the grade 3 and grade 6 students.  I have parents and other educators asking me all the time, "What do you do?" " Is it because you teach the gifted class that your students do so well?".
I am sure that is part of it, my students are the top 2 percentile, but that is not the whole picture.  As I stated earlier, not all gifted students are innately gifted in mathematics.

So what do I do?  Day to day I collect data to help assess what my students do and don't know.  I assign DAILY MATH  questions each day.  When I review the student work each day, I look for individual and group patterns in their results.  Is there a specific type of question students struggle with?  Is there a concept that they don't understand?  I work with individuals, small groups, or the whole class to address any challenges I find. I do this right away, and I make sure I follow up, to ensure that all the students have mastered the concept.  I use pre-tests before I teach a unit, or I use some other form of diagnostic assessment to find out what the students know and don't know.  I then try to tailor my teaching and their experiences to their individual needs.  I choose to use high quality, engaging materials to teach math and I use a lot of technology.  I use programs such as Geometer's Sketchpad to teach all the geometry concepts.  Students in my class are engaged in mathematics daily and I try to make it applicable to their real lives.  I teach problem solving strategies early in the year and then the students complete Problems of the Week.  We talk about math a lot, we work in groups, we find a variety of ways to solve problems and seek solutions.

BUT...I do teach students how to respond to questions on standardized assessments such as EQAO.  Some would say this is taking time away from my quality mathematics program, and those same somebodies would be correct.  The students need to be prepared though.  It is unfair to spend the whole year without showing them what the assessments they will spend almost a week of their grade six lives completing, look like.  To that end, I have created a variety of resources for students to use in my classroom.  I would like to share one with you.   The booklet below is simply a compilation of all the grade 6 Patterning and Algebra questions which EQAO has publicly released on their website in the educator's resources section.  I have taken all the questions and formatted them into a booklet for student use.  I have the students do a few pages per day, and we discuss what the answers might look like.  You can find more information about scoring of EQAO and the rubrics used at the link above.

I originally started transforming my existing student package(s) into a product to sell BUT I checked with the copyright of the released questions from EQAO (@Queens Printer Ontario) and discovered that I cannot copy or redistribute the items for commercial sale. That did not stop me!  I wanted to put together a nicer package for my students to use this year.  I also wanted to make each page one question only.  This allows the students to focus on the question on the page and I have given them a prompt asking them to show how they know their answer is correct.  Many of the questions on EQAO are multiple choice, but I want my students to show me what they know.  At this point, I can still use the data gathered to assist them with their thinking and learning.  For the questions which are NOT multiple choice, you will see the original EQAO prompt (e.g. Justify your answer) and the space for student work.  I hope you enjoy using the booklet I have created.  I am going to create one for each of the strands of EQAO in grade six.  

** Special note to my American blog reading buddies.  I checked the CC expectations for Pattern and Algebra in grade 6 and my package appears to meet many of the same standards you might be teaching if you are using Common Core.  Please let me know if you find this package useful.

If you would like to receive a copy of the booklets I am in the process of creating for the other four strands, leave me a comment below and become a follower of this blog (if you are not one already) so that you will receive notice when I am finished.

Happy Friday everyone!

Freebie Fridays

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Math Chat

Do you have a Math Chat learning community in your classroom?  

In your classroom, this means: 
• making both students and teacher responsible for asking questions; 
• providing a supportive environment whereby students can confidently express their understandings, and explain, defend, and justify their mathematical thinking to others in the class; 
• confirming that students are recognized as important sources of mathematical ideas by regarding their suggestions as valid and worthy of further exploration; 
• encouraging problem solving in a variety of ways with students collaborating in reasoning and explaining solutions; 
• requiring students to take responsibility for their own learning by asking questions in class, demonstrating their understanding of problems, and sharing their solutions with others.
( Math Talk Learning Community: Professional Learning Guide, MOE, http://bit.ly/10Wwdrf)

I do not use a traditional textbook in my classroom.  I don't find that it best meets the needs of my gifted students.  I  used one for one year, but both the students and myself were utterly frustrated and the students academic results were not what they should have been. I abandoned the text book and went with what I know best~ hands-on, minds-on instruction.  

If you have read my earlier posts you will know my students create a "Math Survival Guide" the first week of school.  They use this all year to learn the important mathematics vocabulary we are studying.  I believe that it is important to activate prior knowledge before starting a new unit, and this is one strategy that helps with that.  It gives the students and myself a chance to see what they already know, and find out what they still need to learn.  As the unit continues students revise and add information to their survival guides.  They use them frequently in daily work, and for studying and reviewing before quizzes and tests.

This year I also started using Interactive Math Notebooks.  We only started these part way through the year, but so far this approach has integrated well with how I structure math instruction in my classroom.   For example, I find using the Guides to Effective Instruction in Mathematics with my classes to be highly engaging.  The contents of these documents are organized by grade, and material related to a specific grade can be pulled out and used on its own.  The activities/investigations in these guides fit really well with the format and structure of an interactive math notebook.

I particularly like how the guides take into account the specific needs of junior learners.  The graphic below illustrates how important Math Chat is to the junior student.  Math Chat supports intellectual, physical, psychological  social, and moral and ethical development.

Structuring the Math Chat classroom, the teacher must take into account the social/emotional needs and development of the students.  One strategy that supports Math Chat is the creation of Anchor Charts.  "Anchor Charts are developed together with the class to make thinking permanent and visible. They allow the class to clarify thinking, make connections, and/or remember a specific skill, strategy, or concept. These skills will be used throughout the year while doing group work/ cooperative activities. The charts can be kept and reviewed periodically, as needed." 

Before introducing Math Chat to my class, I made sure we reviewed each social skill listed below (Encouraging Others, Taking Turns, Active Listening and Summarizing, Including All Participants and Disagreeing in an Agreeable Way).

I did not want to keep reminding students of HOW to discuss math problems and math investigations while we working in groups, so I decided to create some speech bubbles and place a Math Chat sentence stem in each one.  I have found that the students refer to them often, and when they get off track, I can redirect them and point at them posted on the wall.

You can download a FREE preview by clicking on the image below.  

I hope you love your FREEBIE!  
If you decide you would like to purchase the entire set of Math Chat speech bubbles CLICK on the image below to get the entire set of over 20 bubbles!

If you are interested in standardized test preparation be sure to come back on Friday for the 
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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What's cooking good looking?

It's Sunday...March break is over:(  I have to make lunch for the week.  I find that if I prepare my lunch for the whole week for school on Sunday, I am more likely to make good, healthy choices.  I decided that I would share with you my favourite "go to" lunch, Pesto Tuscan bean soup.  

I discovered this soup on the Foodnetwork website.   I have probably made this soup 15 times since the winter started.  It's healthy,  low calorie, high in protein and fibre and easy to modify.  You could make it with homemade or reduced sodium broth to lower the sodium content.  I have tried making it with low sodium broth, but it doesn't taste as yummy.  I try to balance out the sodium in the rest of my day when I have this soup.  It is so hearty I usually just have it on its own with some fresh veggies on the side and fruit for dessert.  It keeps me going through the entire afternoon, but does not give me that "mid-afternoon" slump that so many high carbohydrate choices do.  This recipe makes enough to get me through the whole week.  I put it in glass bottles and take them to work on Monday.  I don't have to think about "what to make for lunch" for the whole week!

1 box chicken broth or stock
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves peeled and sliced thinly
pinch of red pepper flakes (I use more than a pinch)
2 cans white cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans)
Pesto (I use store bought from a jar, but you could make your own)
Parmesan cheese
Roasted red peppers (optional) (I use the kind in the jar)
Olives (optional) ( I don't add these as they would tip the sodium into the "do not eat" zone)

Saute 5 sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil. Add 2 cans drained cannellini beans and 1 cup water; simmer until thick, 8 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons pesto and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.

Add 3 cups chicken broth and 1 cup chopped celery; cook 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each chopped olives and roasted peppers.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 353 g
Calories 154
Calories from Fat 49
Total Fat 5.4g
Saturated Fat 1.4
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 928mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.4g
Dietary Fibre 5.7g
Sugars 2.8g
Protein 11.0g

What are your favourite go to lunches?  I am always looking for new ideas and recipes.  Spring is coming and I keep thinking about salads...and quinoa...and fresh fruit:)

Last minute addition on Sunday night...I just linked up with Groovy Educator at her "Absolute Favorite Blog Post" linky party.  I had a hard time picking one...why not hop over and see what my decision was.

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Mean, Median, Mode and Madison

It's March break here in Ontario.  I have been working away on my laptop this week.  My wonderful daughter, Madison, has been helping me make my newest product.  It was meant to be a FREEBIE but she thinks I have put so much time and effort into it that I should sell it on TPT.  So I have decided that I will post a FREEBIE and the whole package on my teacher store at TPT.  

Measures of Central Tendency are math concepts that many junior level students seem to have difficulty mastering.  A measure of central tendency is a measure that tells us where the middle of a set of data lies.  The three most common measures of central tendency are the mean, the median, and the mode.  Range is usually included in the teaching of measures of central tendency. The range tells you something about how spread out the data are. Data with large ranges tend to be more spread out.

Madison helped me when I was putting together this package for student use.  Included is the super cute poem in the image at the top of this post, as well as a song to help students memorize the difference between each measure.  Each poster has one of the terms, a definition and examples.  I have also created student question sheets for extra practice and Madison helped me make the answer sheets.  She is in grade 7 and the practice was good for her. 

You can download a FREEBIE from the package when you download the PREVIEW from TPT by clicking on the image below. 

Freebie Fridays

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