Monday, 30 January 2017

Having Kailyn here in the classroom has already been a wonderful experience!  I love the mindfulness activities she has been doing with the kids, and love how she has the energy to implement and follow through with so many of the great ideas I have seen and have been wanting to try myself!

One thing that we have done together is to create a new classroom management plan!  We really want our students to be accountable for their behaviour, celebrate their successes, and focus on helping them with their school work, instead of trying to micro-manage silly little behaviour issues.

When we presented this plan to the class, they were very excited about it, and gave us some valuable feedback.  What you see below is a result of our collaboration with each other and with the students!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Happy Friday!

I think I have realized that I am terrible at keeping this thing updated.  I always push this to the bottom of the ever growing "TO DO" list, and try to communicate as much as I can in other ways.

That being said, it is time for an update!

I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Deeble!!  I am so happy to have her working in our classroom as an intern teacher from the U of L.  Mrs. Deeble is in her very last semester, and will be teaching half-time.  She will also be getting involved in the school in various ways such as coaching the basket-ball team. Below she has included a brief introduction:


My name is Kailyn Deeble and I am very excited to be joining Mrs. Thomsen’s grade 3/4 class for the next few months! This is my final semester at the University of Lethbridge and my final teaching internship. I will be teaching approximately half time. We split up this time by subject, so I will be teaching Math, Language Arts and Physical Education.

I wanted to share a little bit about myself so you know who will be spending time with your kids. I am passionate about sports and athletics. I currently play on a Lethbridge ladies league volleyball team. I also compete in road hockey tournaments in Edmonton and Calgary every year. In addition to these I like to play slow pitch, badminton, go skiing, go hiking and swimming.

In my spare time I enjoy gardening. I developed a small vegetable garden in my backyard and love eating fresh vegetables throughout the summer! I also enjoy playing the piano; although I am still a beginner player. Whenever I get the chance, I spend the weekend out camping in the mountains and visit my hometown of Golden, British Columbia.

I would love to meet you and introduce myself in person! Please feel free to drop in to say hello if you are at the school dropping off or picking up your child! I would also like to keep up regular communication so that we are all on the same page. If there is a way that works best for you please let me know – whether that be by email, phone or text.

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact either myself or Kailyn!
You can also check out the link for a 'Parent Brochure' the U of L created! 

I will be posting on here again next week for some updates regarding field trips, and some activities we are doing in the classroom!

Friday, 28 October 2016

It feels like it has been much too long since I have posted an update, so get ready for an onslaught of information!

First, we kicked off a few new things in Math these past couple of weeks. One, is our "MPAT".  It stands for Math Profile Assessment Tool.  This is a tool that I have been using in my classroom for a number of years, and it has proven to be incredibly effective at both helping kids create goals to focus their work time, and providing valuable information, so that I can better plan Math instruction according to the needs of the students.

Every two weeks, the students will be given this assessment, and will then graph their results.  Both their graph and assessments are housed in their data binders.  There is nothing the kids need to study. 

Here is a brief synopsis from Tanya Braybrook's website on the graphing component:

If a student had the question correct, they color in the corresponding box.  If they had the question wrong, they leave it blank, put an X or ? in it.  If they had half a mark, they color in half the box.

When looking DOWN individual columns, you get an ACHIEVEMENT profile–how the student did on one particular test.  

When looking ACROSS the rows, you get a DIAGNOSTIC profile–after a few tests, strengths and weaknesses will begin to emerge.
If a student consistently has the squares colored in across a particular row, you can infer that it is an area of strength.  On the other hand, if a student consistently has blank squares (or X’s) across a row, you can infer that it is an area of weakness and may require remediation.

This past week we also kicked off Rocket Math.  Many of you saw the first "test" come home.  Kids can practice using this paper!
Here is some information on the Rocket Math program:
Rocket Math only takes a few minutes each day.  Students will keep working until they have mastered all of the facts in each addition, subtraction, and multiplication.  A fact is mastered when it can be answered instantly, without any pause.  Rocket Math is unique because it teach only 2 facts and their reverses on each page.  For example, 6x6, 3x6, 4x5, and 5x4.  The program allows each child to go at his or her own pace, taking as many days to master those two facts as needed.  Students are given an opportunity daily to show they have learned a set of facts by passing a test.  Once students "pass" a set  of facts, they colour in the letter for that set on their "Rocket Chart".  
You can help your child progress and learn faster by practicing at home.  Any day your child does not pass a set of facts, he'she will have that day's practice sheet to bring home as homework. It t will help a great deal if you will practice with your child for five minutes with that sheet.
What is recommended:
  • Your child sits with the practice sheet in from of him/her.  The problems for practice of in a circle around the outside of the page and should not have the answers written in.  You will work on these outside facts.
  • Your child reads each fact aloud and says the answer (from memory)
  • If you hear the slightest hesitation or an error on one of the facts, give your child some extra practice on that fact by immediately giving your child the answer and asking him/her to repeat the problem and begins again.
  • Your child then backs up three problems and begins again.
  • If there is no hesitation or mistake when the problem is reached this time, be sure to praise them and let your child continue. 
  • GO once around the outside of the page. This should only take about five minutes.  
  • If you would like to do a second session of practice, wait at least 15 minutes.
When working on memorizing facts, short sessions with time in between, is much more helpful than one very long session.

Second, we also kicked off "Words their Way", to help students improve their phonics, spelling and vocabulary skills through daily word study.
 This program will provide skill instruction that will cover spelling patterns and focus on examining and manipulating words, not memorizing them.  Students will be thinking more critically about words and work on transferring their skills to reading and writing.  Words Their Way will focus on teaching students how to spell, decode new words, and to improve word recognition speed in general.  To accomplish this goal, I will teach the students how to examine words to learn the regularities that exist in the spelling system.  I will also teach them some irregularities of spelling (we call “oddball words”).  The simple process of sorting words into categories is the heart of our word study program.  When students sort words, they are engaged in the active process of searching, comparing, contrasting, and analyzing.  Word sorts help students organize what they know about words and to form generalizations that they can then apply to new words they encounter in their reading.

Our word study program will be differentiated in order to best meet the students’ needs. Students have been assessed and placed into appropriate, flexible groups that will focus on the skills that your child is ready to learn. Words Their Way sorts will be distributed every Wednesday. Each day, we will practice our sorts in the classroom in a variety of ways.

Each night your child should practice at least 5 words determining how they would sort them
Some of the following activities have proven to be helpful and fun for students to practice:
  • Category Sort – Sort the words into the categories they have been sorting at school. 
  • Blind Sort – Parent will have sort mat and word cards. Call out a word and have your child tell you or point to which column it belongs on the sort mat. Have your child explain why it belongs in that column. Place the word upside down where they say the word belongs. When you have finished all the words, have them turn cards over to check to see if they are correct. 
  • Open Sort - Have your child sort the words by other similar attributes (number of letters, nouns, verbs, patterns, familiar and unfamiliar words, etc.) 
  • Speed Sort - Mix up the cards and time your child as they sort the cards. Do this 2 times and see if they can beat their first time on the second attempt.
  • SAW – Sort your words, alphabetize your words, and then, write your words on a piece of paper or dry erase board. 
  • Word Hunt - Read aloud newspapers, magazines, or books. Have your child point to or write down words that are examples of the word pattern(s) of the week. 
  • Operations – Add or subtract letters to create new words. (Examples: corn corner, past paste, pitch itch) 
  • Rhyming Pairs - Name a word that rhymes with one or two of the word sort words. Ask your child to think of other rhyming word pairs for the remainder of the words. 
  • Spelling Sort - On a blank sheet of paper, have your child write each word as you say them. You can either have your child write the headings at the top of the blank page, or for an added challenge, have them write the words without headings and see if they can group them correctly. This is a great way to prepare for the test at the end of the week!! 
  • Create your own - Come up with your own activity! You can share with the class the new activity or game you came up with!

WOW!  If that wasn't enough information....

Thank you for being patient.  I know this may be lots to digest, but things are really rolling in the classroom now, and the kids are handling it all very well! SO much to learn this year!

As always, if you have any questions, please just pop-in or give me a shout!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

I just wanted to say a big "Thank You!" to all of you!  The support that you have shown your children so far this year, has been amazing!

I appreciate the many texts -- through the Remind app-- with questions about what is happening in the classroom, and how your children are doing in class.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Thought Circles; some even gave me goosebumps and brought a few tears to my eyes.  Your kids are all incredible!  I am so fortunate to spend my days with them!

As we begin our second month (how did that happen already?!), we are really starting to dive into some serious curriculum now that our routines and programming have been established.  Although I already have a good idea where the class stands with regards to their background knowledge, skills, and abilities, this month will really be able to give me some good information about their progress with their current grade level.

If, at any point, you would like more information about how your child is doing, please don't hesitate to ask to book a quick, 10-15 minute, appointment with me so I can show you some of their work, and chat with you about how I plan to further support your child in the classroom, and how you can further support them at home.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

As we get ready to start off our 3rd week of school, I just wanted to provide a quick update to make sure you are informed about some of the happenings so far!

The last nine days have been a whirlwind! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the energetic and eager faces, and look forward to working with all the kids on a deeper level as we start to get further into our year.

Thank you to everyone who was able to make the Welcome Back Open House this past week.  It was great to chat with you all!  If you were not able to attend, I would like to reiterate that I am always available to talk with you, or answer and questions that you may have.  If we have not yet met, please feel free to come introduce yourself whenever is convenient for you!  I enjoy getting to know the families of my students!

If you visit the "Parents" page on this blog, you will be able to find a digital copy of the "Classroom A-Z" booklet that I provided at the Open House.  I have also put a link for the instructions for the "Remind" text messaging service that I would like to try this year.  My goal is to keep parents as informed as possible.  This means that if you sign up (no smart phone required), I will be able to send mass-text messages for important reminders, while maintaining your privacy.  I will also be able to text back and forth with individual parents.  I love contacting parents with good news and celebrations regarding their child, and this might be a nice way to make sure that we touch base whenever we have a free minute!

I would also like to encourage you to return the "Thought Circles" regarding your children.  I LOVE reading these, as they provide a totally new perspective on those precious beings that I spend the majority of my day with.

This week we will be kicking off our first Science unit of the year.  We will be investigating many aspects of building and materials used for building.  If you could please start sending some old newspapers, toilet paper tubes, shoeboxes or cereal boxes, so that we can gather enough supplies for some of our experiments and projects, that would be great!

I'm looking forward to seeing all the kids tomorrow!  

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! What a terrific year this will be!

Image result for Welcome back to school

I am very excited to be returning to Fleetwood-Bawden after taking this last year to learn how to be a mom to 2 boys! They are now one and five, and keep me very busy! I fear that I will blink, and all too soon they will be in a grade 3/4 classroom like my own! Kids grow much too quickly, and those 'back-to-school' milestones come sneaking up on us parents. 

As a teacher, I just love the start of a new school year.  Even though the days are already getting shorter and the mornings much cooler, everything seems fresh and new, and somehow there is a sense of rejuvenation in the air. I love seeing school buses on the road, dressing in my new fall sweaters, and opening up packages of brand new pencils. September always brings GREAT new beginnings here in the classroom!

This year, I have planned wonderful and engaging activities for the class, and I am hoping that each and every student will find meaningful and exciting opportunities for learning and growing as our year progresses.

I would like you to know that I am committed to supporting your child and providing him/her with as many opportunities for success as possible.  I believe in "deep thinking", problem solving, academic rigour and real-world learning.  I think that my teaching beliefs are a great fit with the multi-aged classroom and the Montessori curriculum.  The educational skills and knowledge that your child will learn this year will build a strong foundation, and will help to ensure your child is prepared for their last years in elementary school.

In the past, I have prided myself on the great relationships I have built with the parents of my students.  I greatly appreciate being able to work as a team with you, to help your child grow and develop. I would like to invite you to come talk with me anytime.  NO question or concern is ever too small or too big when it comes to your child.  I believe frequent and open communication between the home and the school is paramount in student success. 

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come the the Welcome Back BBQ on Tuesday, September 13th (5:30-7:30).  I will be hosting an Open-House-style evening in which your child can show you around our classroom, we can meet, and we can quickly discuss what you hope your child will accomplish this school year.  I will also be providing information to you about our classroom, our routines, and procedures.

In the upcoming weeks I will be sending home further communications about items such as home-reading, field trips, etc.  As these items come-up please support your child and the efforts that we make here at school.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me right away.

Looking forward to a great 2016-2017 school year!

Mrs. Jennifer Thomsen

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


I am very excited to finally have a new platform through which I can share all the amazing things that our students are doing in the classroom!

Here I will post the latest happenings, news, information items, and any activities that might supplement student learning at home!  Of course, feel free to contact me should you have any questions, concerns, or compliments!