Understanding World War II and Anne Frank

As a class we have only read up to page 81 and for those of you that are unfamiliar with the story, Anne and her family have moved to the Annex and have been joined by some other individuals. Anne has been stuck indoors and has become more active in writing in her Diary. In the world more is occurring as the Nazi’s have mobilized and war has been declared. IMG_1638
This is however not the interesting or the exciting part. Without my push or suggestion, some of my students have taken the information within the text and have started seeking more information.

Outside of my classroom I have created this board size timeline, one in respect to the fact that I had asked my students to do this personally, but secondly to reveal to others what we are learning and to provide something for the students to compare to and add to.

For those that have read the Diary you will notice that the timeline seems to be flowing at a none ordered pace. This has occurred because students have sought out extra information in relation to the story and have brought these “Did you knows” to me. As we discussed them and mentioned them in class we added them to our timeline. It will be interesting to witness how fast the students move toward the end of the story now that more pieces are being added but that they are being added in different orders. ondergedoken

Using this visual has help my students to see the sequential nature of occurrences, however it has also allowed my students to see the connections between events and to realize that although the relationship between events may not be completely clear, that there is always an element of influence.

I am excited to, go beyond the text in the story and walk through students with the lives and influences of their parents and families so that they may gain insight and understanding that decisions made are not done without the influence of things that may not be evident or clear.

One resource to initiate engagement in multiple areas.

ondergedokenAs Christmas break ended and we returned to school, our class finished reading and working with the novel “Raven Quest”. Although this novel looked at over coming adversity, thinking over others and understanding aspects of writing such as setting and sequencing, there was only engagement from all of my students when I was reading the text (Story Time). I wanted a text that would engage my grade six students in multiple areas and in multiple ways – simply put I wanted do do something that was as inclusive as possible.

After some lengthy conversations with my colleagues that I would consider literacy Guru’s, i decided to choose “The Diary of Anne Frank”. There are variety of ideas, concepts and activities you could do in relation to the story. For the students in 6C we will be beginning with the following and hope to hear of some other great ideas which we may try.

To incorporate numeracy we will be looking at the two time lines that exist within the span of the story. The time line of Anne Frank and the time line of World War II. We are then going to examine how the two relate to each other and therefore determine how one timeline effected and influenced the other. This will then be combined with students looking, with their parents help at their parents time line and overlapping that with the events that occurred both nationally and internationally, which may have effected their lives.

In respect to citizenship and community, the students are going to examine the issues between Nazi Germany and the Jewish community and how the role of Nazi Germany effected surrounding communities and countries. This will also relate to Social Studies, looking through the lens of government, national identity and relationships. nazi_flag_581 - Copy

Although we are only in the first forty pages of the story, I am really looking forward to working through this story with my students. We have already had some great conversations about equality, integrity, social justice and right & responsibilities, but I am sure that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

If you have some ideas or have previously tried, please share I would love to make this an expereince my 6’s will never forget. Also please stayed tuned as we progress through the story and display our learning and our adventures.

Data, what does one do with all that Data?

To say that the world of education has data, is to put it mildly. I would not say that education is data driven, but I would say that it, combined with 20140516_144322reflections, Data is highly important. Data can be used to determine best practice, it tells people what is working and what is not working.

Nancy Love writes:

“Without a systemic process for using the data effectively and collaboratively, many school, particularly those” serving low economic “student will languish in chronic low performance in mathematics, science and other content areas – no matter what the pressures for accountability”. (Using Data to Improve Learning for All)

I am sure we can all agree that data has many positives, these positives can guide practice, facilitate change and all one has to do is openly and honestly read the data. During my short time as administrator of a school, I noticed that there was a significant issue in the area of literacy for my school. The question is how do I improve literacy, not what is wrong, or who is not doing what they are supposed, or even why can’t the students learn.

After significant conversation and communication with other administrators and colleagues that I knew that had a back ground in literacy. I decided to create some change in how Literacy was rolled out, delivered and practiced with the students at Seba Beach school.

As we looked at constantly using the data and ensuring that everyone had access to the data to drive educational decisions, a need for a tracking and intervention model became apparent. We needed a system or method that would not only allow for the data to be used, we needed a system that would represent all of the data. A special thanks needs to be given to George Couros. George, in his work came across an idea that he thought I should look into as it would fit my need. George presented me with “Putting Data to Faces“. After having read the book, I made a connection that combining “Response to Intervention” and the data wall from “Putting Data to Faces” would be the most successful and beneficial to my students.

The results were more positive than were expected. The data collected after only five months of the program being implemented showed growth in students in the majority of areas. Going through and comparing other data that was collected throughout the year , it was decided that the program should be implemented in the next school year and that it should be integrated as part of the daily routine of the students and that it would be implemented for all grade levels. After some detailed and tough conversations with teachers and educational staff it was determined that a similar concept but related to Numeracy would also be very beneficial to our students.

images (2)Staff and I worked through combining the two systems and came up with a great system

co1180that uses student data tchanging quarterly with the interventions that are needed whether they are universal or targeted. I am glad to say to ensure the best programming for each individual student it was amazing. I look forward to consistently using the system and watching it evolve and change for each individual student. .

If you would like some information in terms of the process and the implementation, please feel free to contact me or if you have ideas that could be used to modify and improve the concept.

Numeracy – washing away with “I can’t do math”

Numeracy is defined as the ability to reason and to apply simple numerical concepts. Basic numeracy skills consist of comprehending fundamental mathematics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For example, if one can understand simple mathematical equations such as, 2 + 2 = 4, then one would be considered possessing at least basic numeric knowledge.

Numbers are everywhere in the world and on a given any given day we do math without even thinking about it.  A numerically literate person can manage and respond to the mathematical demands of life. However, this is a skill that many take fo granted, there are a lot of individuals that struggle with Numeracy.

At Seba Beach School, we have collected data, that reveals that many of our students would benefit from a Numeracy program, somewhat similar to the literacy programthat we have in place. Similar to the Literacy program, the Numeracy programs philosophy is that students learn best when they are taught at their level, with students at their level, in small groups and that the basics need to be learned and understood before moving to a new concept.

To ensure that the students are working at the appropriate levels and that they are also being challenged, at the beginning of the year the literacy level of each student was assessed. After the students were assessed they were placed into groups with students that are at the same level and to this group was assigned an educational staff.1057072

In October the majority of students have been working on improving and fine tuning their skills and tools related to mental math. An example of this would the skills and tools that students can use to solve. Everyone chooses a specific method to complete a question, but the idea is not to have every student complete the question in the same way, but for students to be familiar with all of the techniques and choose the one that appeals the best to them. Below are three examples of this.

Rounding                                                    Breaking Down                                                           Counting On

74-38=                                                        74-38 =                                                                          74-38=

round up by 2 to get 40                       74- (30 & 8)                                                                  38 to 40 is up by 2

74-40 = 34                                                74-30 = 44                                                                   40 to 70 is up by 30

34 up by 2 is 36                                       44-8 = 36                                                                      70 to 74 is up by 4

Ans = 36                                                     Ans = 36                                                                       2+30+4 = Ans 36

Students are shown these as well as the traditional format and others and practice using them, then students are free to choose their method of preference.

Not only are the Numeracy groups great for interventions to assist children in Math, but the groups also allow for more individualized focus for where students need the help and alternative practice in an environment where competition is not present, because students are grouped based on abilities.

Personally, I know that the students that I am working with are having fun, and they are still being challenged to do better and make improvements in their skills. As well, since the groupings and the information being covered is directly tied and coordinated with the new JUMP math that is being used in all of our math classes, our students are seeing the continuity. If you have any questions or would like some information, please feel free to contact the school and ask for Mr. Ram or Mrs. Wong.

Staff are excited about the design and implementation of our Numeracy program and all of its possibilities. . We are looking forward to the successes of our students, to seeing the results of students being more independent and confident. Overall, the staff at Seba Beach are looking forward to making our belief and mindset that “ALL STUDENTS CAN LEARN” a reality.  Come, join us.

Literacy – what it looks like in my back yard

DSCF0093The ability to communicate your thoughts is among one of the most important aspects that will determine your success in relationships, ability to make money, as well as your life. Without a proper supply of vocabulary, literary capacity, and determination to do better, you will have a very difficult time being independent. Language learning is perhaps one of the most difficult things to master, and so, mastering any language requires a great deal of practice, determination, and continual usage. With all of this in mind and understanding the needs of our students Seba Beach School has created and implemented a school wide literacy program. The basis behind the program is that students learn best when they are taught at their level, with students at their level, in small groups and that the basics need to be learned and understood before moving to a new concept. To ensure that the students are working at the appropriate levels and that they are also being challenged, at the beginning of the year the literacy level of each student was assessed.

After the students were assessed they were placed into groups with students that are at the same level and to this group was assigned an educational staff. For example for one month students will look at all of the skills and tools that one can use to sequence stories. The students will practice this using readings, story boards, and other methods that are relevant for group levels. Bi-weekly at the longest educational staff will meet as a group to discuss techniques, strategies that are successful, strategies that need to be changed, and how students are progressing and whether or not they are ready to move to the next skill. To measure the growth and improvement of each student they will be assessed once every reporting period this will provide us with the best possible information to plan for each student. To help and communicate with parents the school will post updates to the school website to share the skills and tools that the school is using. This will provide parents with ideas that can be used to continue the work that is happening at the school.


Please fell free to access our information and share it if it is beneficial. If you are interested in the program please feel free to contact the school and ask for Mr. Ram, Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Melmoth.

Staff are excited about the Literacy program and all of its possibilities. . We are looking forward to the successes of our students, to seeing the results of students being more independent and confident. Overall, the staff at Seba Beach are looking forward to making our belief and mindset that “ALL STUDENTS CAN LEARN” a reality.  Come, join us.

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth.


Have you ever stood at the front of the class or in front of a group of colleagues diligently explaining a concept then feeling excited only later to find out that your message was not received.

Often when we reflect on what happened, our first presumption is that “they did not understand”. This is often followed by questioning ones clarity or that you did not explain it completely. We then proceed to thinking about the message and the language that we used and even the explanation and examples that were used.

We are often so engrossed in trying to think about how to get everyone to understand, that we miss what is actually causing the miscommunication.


The simple definition of perception is “the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information.” Great, so what does this mean, this means that the information we hear, the materials we read and the visualizations we observe are influenced by our life experiences and our understandings.

If this is confusing, think about these two points. As educators we are given a curriculum that we use to guide and determine our teaching of a subject and a grade. As teachers we go through the curriculum and then determine how we are going to plan our year and what manner we are going to teach. This plan is based on a personal, individual understanding and interpretation of the curriculum, even though we all have the same curriculum.

Second, this is more of an experiment. Using blocks or tooth picks or other shaped blocks, give individuals directions, only verbally about how to create a shape. They can not ask you any questions, only follow yours. They also can not look at each others creations. Once this is complete, ask everyone to reveal their representation of your instructions. You will be fascinated at the differing understandings and interpretations.

We are guided and influenced by our perceptions of the sensory information that we experience. Therefore we need to be conscious that when we present information, ideas and concepts to those we are teaching, that their perceptions will effect their understanding. Now the question is how do we present what we want and ensure that although everyone has different perceptions, that everyone understands?

Tried, Test and True – a lost idea found

One of the privileges that I have as an administrator, and is also one of my duties is to supervise the teachers that I work with. The other day I happened to stop by my grade 2/3 split class and was fortunate to observe one of my teachers Mrs. Smith reviewing addition facts when using doubles.

Mrs. Smith was using the Smart Board in her class and was allowing the students to answer questions using the board tools that they were most comfortable using. Some of the students chose to use the tools on the board, some chose to use a piece of paper, and some chose to use manipulative’s. Others used a method I had never seen in my years of teaching and am positive I didn’t see when I was learning addition.

The concept involved connecting the answers to double questions with easy to remember physical actions It was amazing to see. If one of the students struggled to arrive at the answer, all Mrs. Smith had to do was either say the connection or display the movement and the student easily remembered the answer.

Here is the lesson sheet for the Fact Families using Doubles.

1 + 1 = 2 (Goal Post Doubles) – put fingers up like goal posts.

2 + 2 = 4 (Rabbit Ears) – put fingers up like one would in a picture behind ones head.

3 + 3 = 6 (Dentist Smile) – put fingers in front of mouth representing teeth.

4 + 4 = 8 (Octopus Eight) – putting hands together but still allowing for fingers to wiggle, excluding thumbs.

5 + 5 = 10 (Ten Tickly Fingers) – move fingers as if your are trying to tickle someone.

6 + 6 = 12 (Farmers Double) – flap arms like a chicken – eggs come in a dozen

7 + 7 = 14 (Valentines Double) – make a heart shape with your hands and hold it at your chest.

8 + 8 = 16 (Sweet Sixteen) – holding hands beside face, emphasising that 16 is a very special birthday.

9 + 9 = 18 (Adult Doubles) – stand up tall and act like an adult, because at 18 your an adult.

10 + 10 = 20 (Toes and Fingers) – hold hands up and feet out trying to wiggle all of them.

Before leaving the class I asked Mrs. Smith where she had picked up the ideas/technique and she mentioned that it was given to her by Mrs. Peck, another teacher at Seba Beach who has been teaching for well over 30 years. Mrs. Peck in turn pointed out that she inherited the concept from a Mrs. Hunley who has long since retired. I was just amazed and excited, not only because I had never seen or experienced the idea, but because in an age bombarded with technology here was an interactive, differentiated and engaging method that had nothing to do with technology, It is a technique that simply reaffirms that it is not just new ideas/innovations, but also tried and true methods that have been perfected over years of teaching that are effective. We must take the time to find and share them.