We are critical thinkers. – Ms. Chan's Class Blog

Category: We are critical thinkers.

Dear families,

These weeks are going by so quickly! There is so much to savour in our last few weeks. It has been such a sweet year together with your sweet children.

We can reflect.

One of our core competencies is reflective thinking. One of my favourite quotes is by John Dewey “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”

There is so much to learn about ourselves, our self identity, and how to continue to grow. One of the best ways to do this is through reflection. Last week, your child had an opportunity to reflect on their learning this term, share what they are proud of, and to set a couple of goals for next year. Please feel free to ask your child what they wrote. What are you curious about in terms of their reflections on learning? Ask them!

This week, they will share what they think will help me be a better teacher and what they think have been the biggest life lessons I taught them. I love asking this question! It tells me a lot about whether my core values come through in my teaching. I am constantly in pursuit of betterment. I love learning and reflecting on my learning. Even after 25 years, I am still curious about being a better teacher and leader in the school so I read a lot, listen to a lot of podcasts, and follow people who inspire me to be better every day. If you have any feedback for me, please share with me too. I would be open to learning about what you see as my strengths and areas to improve. Thank you for your time.

Invitation: Ask your child what are the top three life lessons you taught them. I asked my young adult children this a couple of years ago and it was very interesting to hear their answer. Their life lessons learned were different from me and my husband. I wonder what they would say to you about what they learned from you so far in their young life.

We are mathematicians.

We are learning about money. I know many people don’t carry or use money as much as we used to but it is helpful for your children to understand financial literacy.

We sang the song “Canada in my Pocket” by Michael Mitchell and watched “How Money Is Made“. Feel free to watch together at home and have some conversations about money.

We are scientists.

Don’t blink or you may miss this!

The new ladybug phase where they are white and clear happens so fast!
One morning, the ladybugs emerged and you can see its white clear state. Then after only an hour or two it started developing. It has black dots (picture 3).


We recorded our observations in our ladybug journal.

We are artists.

From Ms. Kapusta: It’s been a busy last few weeks, and I can’t believe that May is already finished and we’re onto June! In the last few weeks students have worked on a variety of art projects, including:
  • Their beautiful and brightly coloured copper thunderbird paintings inspired by the Canadian Indigenous artist Norval Morisseau
  • Hand drawn mandalas, which were an excellent practice in symmetry, adding fine detail, and staying patient through the process
  • Paper sea collages, which were inspired by their recent trip to the aquarium and involved using their fine motor skills and lots of by imagination! Students created starfish, axolotl, sea otters and more, and as always, they went above and beyond with what they created.

Field Trip

  • Fri. June 21 – Revs Bowling and Burnaby Lake picnic (All families are welcome!) We need more parent volunteer drivers, please. If you can drive for a part of the day, please let me know. Perhaps we can share the load. Please email me if you can drive us to the bowling alley OR from the bowling alley to the park OR from the park back to the school. Thank you to the parents who already volunteered. We appreciate you!

My heart is full of gratitude for your support at home.

Gratefully, Ms. Chan

Dear families,

This time of year always has me feeling like I don’t want the school year to end. The relationships and connection I feel with your children are deep. I guess it just can’t be helped when you love and care for them and think about them at night and on the weekends. As I’ve been telling you all year, they bring me such joy and I know they bring each other joy too!

Last week continued to include experiences that brought us joy.

We are communicators and writers. 

We are improving in learning how to write paragraphs. We have a few goals:

  • To write complete sentences that begin with a capital and end with proper punctuation
  • To write sentences that have details that include thoughts and feelings, reasons, explanations, or examples to help paint a picture of what happened.

To support this, we used a single-point rubric to remind us of what we are working towards showing proficiency. This was given to them as a self-reflection so they were encouraged to read their writing to look for proficiency and to make changes to get closer to proficiency. Using rubrics like these make the criteria clear and something they can strive to work towards. Feel free to have your child refer to this if they do any writing at home. It can be simply used like a checklist. For some of your children, you can add something about printing legibly with appropriate sizing and formation of letters, and writing on the lines for neatness. Please let me know if you’d like a PDF copy and I’ll send it to you.

Then they had an opportunity to be paired up with a classmate chosen randomly. When we look at someone else’s writing to assess, there are different skills they learn like many of our core competencies: communication, critical thinking, reflection, personal and social awareness and responsibility. If case you missed it, I shared more about core competencies in last week’s post.

They were encouraged to share strengths (where their writing glowed) and an area to work on (where their writing can grow). I love listening in to their encouraging conversations. I wish you were there to listen too. They were kind and supportive.

We are communicators and listeners.

We played cooperative game where we were split into four teams. Each team was given the same Lego pieces. This is how the game works:

  • Each team sends one person as the communicator.
  • When the game starts, they come to me to look at the secret structure to memorize.
  • They go back to their team with their hands behind their backs to explain how to re-create the structure. They can come back as many times as they wish.
  • The rest of the team works together to make sense of the instructions by the communicator and then they have an opportunity to communicate with each other to collaboratively build the structure. They need to work together to all agree on what they are collectively building.
  • It really challenges them to work on their core competencies: communication skills, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility!

We played a few rounds and I was proud of how each group was able to successfully re-create each structure!

We are scientists.

We saw our ladybugs go from the first stage as larvae into the next stage as a pupa where they stop eating to prepare to become an adult. We have been making observations and recording them in our booklets.

We have also continued to work on our animal research with our partner. Some are creating a poster and others have decided to present using PowerPoint. They are working so well as partners. I am so proud of them!

We are athletes.

As you know from our Student Led Conferences, we regularly do exercises that challenge us. One of the ones they seem to really enjoy is plank so I wanted to show you a picture of us! This really helps build their core muscles. May I encourage you to try some of the exercises we do at home? Feel free to ask them what some that are often chosen. We take turns choosing three exercises each day.





Volunteer Tea

We have been so blessed to have many parents support our learning this year. If you helped on a field trip, for an in-class activity, or volunteered to help at a school event like Pancake breakfast or attended a PAC meeting, please CLICK HERE to fill out the RSVP to let us know you will  join us. To learn more, click here.

Date: Wednesday, June 5
Time: 1:30 to 3:00 PM
Place: Gym

I apologize ahead of time but I will be at a meeting all day. If you are there near the end, I will see you then. We are so grateful for your time and dedication to our learning this year!

Gilmore’s Spring Fair – Community Event

You may know that my last school was Gilmore. It is located at 50 Gilmore Avenue.

You can pre-buy a punch card to save 25% off games (Wed, June 5 is the deadline to pre-buy but you can purchase at the fair). You can also enter a raffle to win $1000, $2500, or $5000.

To learn more, CLICK HERE to go to Gilmore’s website. It is a fun and well attended community event open to everyone! Feel free to invite your friends from other places to join you!

Dates to Note

  • Wed. June 5 – Volunteer Tea
  • Fri. June 7 – Pro-D day; students do not attend
  • Fri. June 7 – Gilmore’s Spring Fair from 5 to 9 PM
  • Fri. June 21 – Revs Bowling and Burnaby Lake picnic (All families are welcome!)

We really appreciate your continued support at home. Grateful for you!

Gratefully, Ms. Chan

Dear families,

I hope you had a lovely weekend! Last Thursday and Friday, I gratefully attended a two-day professional development opportunity called The Empowerment Ecosystem Summit with three leaders in assessment who travel around the world presenting for Solution Tree. With their broad reach, they can clearly see that BC is one of the leaders worldwide in standards based grading with an added focus on core competencies and curricular competencies. We are blessed in Burnaby because we have been a lead district in BC.

We measure student’s understanding of the learning standards based on the proficiency scale (emerging, developing, proficient, and extending), which is what you see on their Learning Updates (also called Report Cards) in the subject areas.

Another very important part of learning is focused on core competencies like communication (communicating and collaboration), thinking (creative, critical, and reflective), and personal and social (awareness and responsibility, positive personal and cultural identity). Here we do not assess their competency using a proficiency scale, but your child will do a self-reflection instead. In our class, I often use the vocabulary of core competencies to make this part of their learning more visible. These are the important 21 century skills that some call “soft skills”. I endorse Simon Sinek‘s take on calling these “human skills” because they need these skills to relate to one another. These skills will directly help them be better social beings which will lead to improved relationships in their lifetime.

How to support at home: Use the same language to point out this learning in themselves. Notice – Name – Nurture: Notice prosocial behaviours. Then name it to nurture it. For example, ask them to use their “critical thinking” brain to come up with solutions to problems or thank them for taking “personal responsibility” for making sure their planner is in the backpack.

Assessment is an area of passion for me. I read and listen to a lot of material on assessment and can talk shop all day with colleagues. There are many aspects to how we support our learners equitably, to accurately measure proficiency, and determine next steps to teach so that all students can increase achievement. My core beliefs in assessment are centered around children feeling empowered to take an active part in ownership over their learning through goal setting, reflection, and self-assessment while offering some choice. This directly increases their investment and engagement.

If you are curious about any of this and would like to unpack it some more, please reach out. I am happy to have a conversation with you to help you better understand.

We are mathematicians.

We continued to solidify our understanding of perimeter and area.

How to support at home: Please ask your child to teach you how to measure perimeter and area. In case they don’t remember, it is important to include the unit of measure (e.g., mm, cm, m, km for perimeter and mm2, cm2, m2, km2 for area).

We are scientists.

We are learning about the ladybugs life cycle! We did our first observation record last week. Tomorrow, I am excited to see how much they have grown since we saw them on Wednesday!

Before we went out for our Wondering Wednesday walk, we used our observation and critical thinking skills. We had a great discussion about maple seeds and how they may have adapted to increase their chance of survival.

How to support at home: Ask your child what they wonder about ladybugs. Feel free to come up with questions together to research. This is a great way to model questioning and researching skills.

Dates to Note

  • Fri. May 31 – Click here to order Pizza for lunch (order by May 28)
  • Fri. May 31 – 2 PM Early dismissal
  • Fri. May 31 – Click here to learn more about our PAC’s Freezie sale
  • Sat. June 1 from 9:30 AM to 4 PM – Hats Off Day. Click here to learn more about this great annual event that happens along Hastings street.
  • Fri. June 7 – Pro-D day; students do not attend
  • Fri. June 21 – Revs Bowling and Burnaby Lake picnic (All families are welcome!)

Thank you for your continued support at home! We appreciate you!

Gratefully, Ms. Chan

Dear families,

Today is Earth Day and our Jump Rope for Heart event. To learn more, click here to visit our school website.

On Wednesday, classes all over Burnaby were invited to attend an Indigenous lesson. It was a Virtual Drum Circle and online teachings with honoured Guest Xwaluputhut, Patrick Aleck. As I was away this day, please ask your child about what they experienced and learned.

The Secret Pocket

Here is a summary from Amazon:

Mary was four years old when she was first taken away to the Lejac Indian Residential School. It was far away from her home and family. Always hungry and cold, there was little comfort for young Mary. Speaking Dakelh was forbidden and the nuns and priest were always watching, ready to punish. Mary and the other girls had a genius idea: drawing on the knowledge from their mothers, aunts and grandmothers who were all master sewers, the girls would sew hidden pockets in their clothes to hide food. They secretly gathered materials and sewed at nighttime, then used their pockets to hide apples, carrots and pieces of bread to share with the younger girls.

Based on the author’s mother’s experience at residential school, The Secret Pocket is a story of survival and resilience in the face of genocide and cruelty. But it’s also a celebration of quiet resistance to the injustice of residential schools and how the sewing skills passed down through generations of Indigenous women gave these girls a future, stitch by stitch.

After listening to this story, children may have more questions. Please feel free to have a conversation with your child about their thoughts and feelings about  the many hardships that children experienced in Residential Schools. Conversations at home and school are an important part of truth and reconciliation.

We are poets!


Students were introduced to the Haiku as a Japanese structure. The traditional haikus had three lines. The first and last line has five syllables while the middle line has seven. This was great review and practice for how to count syllables.

We read Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons. This was a book that offers 26 haikus about the four seasons. The author moves away from the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure because english words typically have more than one syllable per word.

I loved the way the poet painted pictures for our minds to see. We are almost all finished our good copies which will go on display in our classroom soon!

I hope you enjoyed writing a poem WITH your child during our student led conferences!

We are mathematicians.


I am always so impressed with how quickly children learn. We were introduced to division concepts on Monday and by Friday, almost all were experts!

Students really love learning together to explore concepts. So many core competencies are practiced when they learn together: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility. It truly is heartwarming to see them work so well as partners.

How to support at home: Give a division question that will not result in having a remainder. For example: 20 ÷ 4 = 5 or 12 ÷ 3 = 4

What this represents is: The total number (20) ÷ the number of groups (4) = equals the number in each group (5)

Your child then would draw four circles to represent the number of groups and then divide the total number (20) equally into the groups to discover there would be 5 in each group.

We also learned there are three other ways to write the equation. Take a look at the images for how and ask your child to show you what they learned so far.

We are artists!

This week, students finished off their springtime animal art and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s work! We started off with the Read Aloud: “Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox” by Danielle Daniel, a story which gives an introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals. We spoke about the meaning of the bear and rabbit in our art. In the story, the bear is described as brave and confident, and the rabbit as creative and adventurous. Students then finished off painting their flowers, adding “texture” to their animals, and glueing their finished art onto coloured background paper. In this project, students “developed processes and technical skills in a variety of art forms to refine artistic abilities” (BC Curriculum Arts Education 2/3.) 

We also worked on finishing up our Spring Break paragraphs (where we focused on the skills of sequencing events and revising our work)  and “selfie” drawings. I’m hoping to have these done soon and to share them here with you. Although my time is limited with your kids, I always look forward to making new art with them every week! They bring such enthusiasm, creativity, and care into everything they create and it always shows in the final product.
We are athletes.
Students enjoyed their lacrosse lessons last week. Please ask them all about it!
Vancouver Aquarium Field Trip on Friday, May 10
The notice went home on Friday. Click here to download a PDF version. Thank you to the fundraising efforts of our PAC, the cost of the field trip was subsidized.
Unfortunately, the bus cannot accommodate parent volunteers due to space since we have three classes going. We will need one or two parents to help drive other parent supervisors. We will pay for your parking, thank you! We appreciate you!
If your child orders from the hot lunch program, a bagged lunch will be prepared for them on this day.
Whenever I think of you, my heart is always so full of gratitude. Thank you for your continued support at home as our partners! It really is so hard to believe that we are in our last term together. I tell your children every morning that I am glad to see them, I love them, and I appreciate how they bring me such joy. Just typing this instantly warmed my heart and brought an instant smile to my face! 🙂
Looking forward to having yet another fantastic and funtastic week with your children! Have a great start to your week too!
In appreciation, Ms. Chan
Dates to Note
  • Monday, April 29 – Pro-D Day; students do not attend
  • Friday, May 17 – Sports Day & early dismissal
  • Friday, May 31 – 2 PM Early dismissal

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