“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

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Keeping it Class*y!

Picture of The 6 Essential Questions for Back to School from http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

What are the essential questions you ask?  Good question!  Want to read more and grab this awesome freebie for back to school? Well question no more...click on the image below to see what I am sharing today over at A Class*y Collaboration.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

What works in upper elementary? APEC

Picture of Loved that Lesson Linky @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

I am linking up again this month with Meg from The Teacher Studio.  I am not sure if my post relates to a lesson or to a group of lesson that I teach across the year, but I thought this would be a good time to update my thinking about APEC.  What is APEC you say?  It is a "structure" I use to teach my students how to respond to open ended questions in math and language.

I am also linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Made it Monday because it has been a LONG time since I have made something new that I wanted to share with my readers.

In Ontario, students write the EQAO assessments of mathematics and language in grades three and six.  I have been a grade six teacher for the majority of my career and have been through many, many years of student testing.  One thing I noticed over the years was that students did not come to me in sixth grade knowing how to answer open ended, extended response questions.  Students find questions like this on the CASI reading assessments as well.  

I started looking for ways to help increase student understanding of how to structure a good response.  A "mentor" for responding to open ended, extended response questions.  Students will find these types of questions in both language and mathematics.  For example, from the 2013 EQAO reading test "Explain why the narrator states that “The only ice cube I want to see again is the one in my glass of juice.” Use specific details from the text to support your answer." and from the mathematics test "A store has 11.2 kg of potatoes. Maria buys 572 g of potatoes from the store and Colin buys 1.42 kg of potatoes from the store. 
After these two purchases, how many grams of potatoes does the store have left? Show your work."

After I did a little in service a few years ago, many of the teachers in my school have started teaching APEC.  Even though most of the students coming to me are familiar with this structure, I still spend time each year modelling how to use APEC as an effective method for responding to open ended, extended response questions (including problem solving in mathematics).

Picture of APEC Answer Proof Explain Connect @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of APEC Answer Proof Explain Connect @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of APEC Answer Proof Explain Connect @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of APEC Answer Proof Explain Connect @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Recently someone on Facebook commented that they were marking EQAO and that the coordinators of the marking told them that the "connection" part some students were including was "irrelevant" and that student should NOT be taught to respond by making connections.  I went on record stating that I did not agree with this stance.  If you look at the reading curriculum in Ontario, you will see "making connections" is a HUGE part of the reading expectation 1.6 "extending understanding".  I agree that students need to master how to "make inferences about text using stated and implied ideas from the text" but they also need to EXTEND their thinking, and this is what expectation 1.6 asks them to do. (click on the image below to see it in its entirety).  

I model how to write effective responses all year long.  Whether it is as descriptive feedback after students write CASI in the fall, or during literature response groups, I make sure that we look at how to "show what we know" by constructing strong responses.

I have written about how I use APEC in mathematics before.  If you would like to read more about it you can view it at this post.

When I was reading the Facebook posts about using APE (or ACE, or APEC) I started looking for my APEC freebie I had posted a few years ago.  I could NOT find it anywhere, so I decided to make some new cute posters for my classroom.  If you have read my profile, you will know I am the proud owner of two beautiful Boston Terriers, so I included the adorable Boston Terrier clip art created by Scrappin Doodles on my new posters.

If you would like a copy of this FOREVER FREEBIE just click on the image below.

Picture of APEC Answer Proof Explain Connect @teachingisagift.blogspot.ca 

How do you teach students to improve their responses in math and language?  I am always looking for fresh, new and effective ideas.

Freebie Fridays

Teaching Science With Lynda

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, 28 June 2014

It's a Canada Day Blog Hop Eh?

Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

Summer vacation officially started for me at 3:30 yesterday!  I was so relieved to finally be done for the year.  A bunch of great canadian bloggers and Teachers Pay Teachers store owners are linking up to kick off the Canada Day long weekend with a FREEBIE fest!  

There are lots of great blogs to check out and freebies to download...to help get you ready for that time of year that shall not be talked about on the first day of summer vacation (BTS).

Here is my FREEBIE.  Just click on the image below to download it from my TpT store.  There are TONS of other great freebies you might want to grab while you are there.

To continue your hop just follow along below.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day Ideas...you can save them for next year!

I wasn't going to write a post about what we did for Father's day this year...I thought there were probably a LOT of great ideas already going around...and we didn't get it finished until the end of the day on Friday!  BUT...they turned out so well I can't help but show them to you.

A few months ago I was walking around (read: picking up tons of stuff I have no idea what I will do with but I MUST HAVE) at Dollar Tree when I saw some plain wooden frames.  I snatched up a class set of them, knowing I would come up with something to use them for.

Fast forward a few weeks...I keep seeing really cute pictures on Facebook of students with their names on them in fonts.  You have probably seen these pictures too...the kids are standing against a brick wall and they have information superimposed on top of the picture.  I thought to myself "that would be an awesome father's day gift!"  I knew I could have the kids paint the frames and then I would put in a their picture as a gift for their dad.

Well as time and nature would have it...I did not have enough time to realize that plan.  I had a report card deadline looming, and not enough time, patience or skill to take the pictures, upload them to Picasa, edit them, print them, etc.  I was left with a conundrum...til I remembered Tagxedo.  We used it earlier in the year to create "character trait" collages when we were reading the novel Wonder.

I was fortunate in that most of students remembered how to use Tagxedo, a few even kept the handouts I had given them earlier in the year.  If you would like a copy of these HOW TO pdfs click HERE and HERE.  This made the process much faster.  

I had the students enter in all the words they could think of to describe their father into Tagxedo.  They then chose an image from the list of premade images (a few even remembered how I had uploaded custom images for Wonder) and created their word picture.  After saving them and resizing them using the free online photo editor Picasa we printed them sized to fit the 5 x 7 frames I had purchased.

Later in the week, I had the students use craft store acrylic paint to create a custom colour for their frame and we painted them using sponge brushes.  Acrylic paint is great in that it dries really quickly and the students were able to do more than one coat and have it dry in less than an hour.

We added the custom made Tagxedo word clouds to the custom painted frames and VOILA!

I hadn't intended to wrap the gifts for the students but they did such an amazing job that I went back to another local store (Dollarama) and purchased plain butcher paper gift bags and some red and blue tissue paper.  

I also printed out some super cute father's day gift tags.  Along with the card we made this made a super present that I think any father would cherish for many years to come.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Surviving The Chaos

June is here and keeping the kids focused and on task become almost Herculian!  My grade six students are finished with EQAO (standardized testing in math and language) and they are ready to move on to junior high school BUT I still have to get them through 20 more days of school!  Yes, we are teaching until June 27th here in Ontario!  

This time of year I like to have my students create a yearbook/poetry anthology which I have published for them. They each choose a poem from their poetry anthology which they then illustrate.  I add a poem of my choice to the anthology as well.  I am not in the least artistic so I chose to use a cute frame from KB Connected on TpT.  If you click on the link to their store you can grab this great freebie too!

Once the yearbook/anthology is compiled, each student writes an author profile which is published on the back of their personalized copy.  Bookorama, the company who does the publishing for me also includes the graduation photo of each student.    The cover artwork and inside artwork is also created by the students.  My students love their anthologies!  

If you are interested in publishing your own students books be sure to check out 

Thanks for joining our end of the school year blog hop today. We had a great turn out of hoppers. The prize pack part of the hop is now closed. Stay tuned for blog excitement in mid July. 

Please keep hoping along to read our tried, tested and true survival tips.

Happy Hopping!