Hello! We are Cari Derbitsky and Ashley Dionne. Ms. Derbitsky teaches Mondays to Wednesdays and Ms. Dionne teaches Thursdays and Fridays. We are in room 5 and teach grades 3/4.
Thank you for visiting our class blog. You are welcome to look through the pages that are already posted. We have details about class routines and our programs. The posts are full of ideas on how to support your child’s learning at home. For glimpses into your individual child and happenings in the classroom, please refer to your child’s FreshGrade account (coming soon!).
If there is anything else you would like for us to include on the blog please let us know!
A growth mindset occurs when we believe our intelligence and abilities can be improved with effort and the right strategies. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and abilities cannot be altered in a meaningful way. Here is a graphic on fixed mindset vs. growth mindset.
Carol Dweck is the pioneer of growth mindset and discovered that brain activity was off the charts whenever mistakes were being made. She scientifically proved that mistakes help our brains grow! Here is her Ted Talk on growth mindset called “The Power of Yet”. We highly recommend:
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON LANGUAGE: We are noticing more and more students coming into our classrooms with fixed mindsets. They already think that they CAN’T do something by the time they enter Grade 2! Carol Dweck says that it is important to compliment a child’s effort as opposed to the outcome. We need to repeat to our children that mistakes help our brains grow and give them the opportunity to fail. In our classroom, we will often clap when a student is brave enough to make a mistake because their brains just grew and this is something to celebrate!
The other phrase that is important to repeat with your child is that they are not able to do something YET. No one is good at things right away and they should not expect themselves to be either.
FUN WAYS TO SUPPORT AT HOME (Click on the images for links):
Class Dojo has made a fab series on growth mindset. You can watch these videos with your child and discuss them with the talking points. Kids love these videos and you can continue to reference them for years to come.
Books! There are so many books that support the concept of growth mindset. Big Life Journal has great resources for growth mindset and put together a great list of books. You can snatch them from your local library or google to see if you can find online versions. Please feel free to explore the website for their other free activities like this one >>>> here.
The Big Life Kids Podcast – This is a great podcast teaching many concepts that go with growth mindset. It has some fun activities you can do at home as well. We listen to the podcast in the car or my kids like to listen to it and colour. We highly recommend! Note: The podcast refers to a journal that you can purchase from them. You do NOT need to purchase the journal to enjoy the podcast.
Colouring Pages – Speaking of colouring, here is a link to free growth mindset printables that your child can colour while they are listening to the podcast (or anytime of course!).
Here are some extra activities if you are wanting more.
We hope that you enjoy some of these growth mindset activities at home. Please let us know if we can support in any other way.
These are important reading years for a child. They are the final years where a child is expected to learn to read before they go off to Grade 4 where they begin to read to learn. Once again, the best way to improve reading is to help your child find their joy in their reading. Talking about their identity as a reader can help them become aware of the things that bring them joy while they are reading. Ask your child questions like the following:
Who are you as a reader?
What do you enjoy reading?
What stories do you enjoy listening to because they spark your imagination?
What topics do you enjoy learning about?
If your child is not able to answer these questions yet, bring their attention to what they enjoy. When you see them intrigued by a book, you can say, “I see you are a reader who enjoys books about ____”. If you finish reading them a book they enjoyed say, “I noticed you are a reader who enjoys listening to stories about ____.”
A NOTE ON READING: Listening to stories or information is just as important a skill to develop as reading the book themselves. Our recommendations will involve your child reading books themselves, as well as listening to stories in a variety of ways.
Decoding is being able to read the words accurately. It is the skill that we see parents generally focus on the most. We see a lot of confidence in our students dependent on if they can decode or not. Ashley and I work hard to explain that this is only ONE part of reading. We work on a broad range of reading skills and it is not uncommon for a student to struggle with decoding and have stronger than average comprehension skills. It is important for a student to see reading as a range of skills which are all important.
To improve decoding, it can be helpful to read a page to your child, read it together, and then have them read it to you. Keep reading the book over and over again, until they are able to read it independently. Choose books where they can read most of the words. If it is too challenging they will become frustrated. Please speak to Ashley or I if you want us to recommend books for your child.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON DECODING
Decoding can be the death of joy. If you are only reading dry books with your child that they are not interested in, they will start to dislike reading. Who can blame them? Make sure that you only work on decoding for short amounts of time and then go back to developing your child’s joy of reading.
COMPREHENSION AND FLUENCY
Comprehension and fluency are very important skills that are often overlooked. Comprehension is being able to understand what you are reading. Fluency is being able to read smoothly and with expression.
Comprehension can be broken up into connecting, visualizing, questioning, and inferring. The best way to develop comprehension skills is to talk about what you are reading, listening to, or watching. See what your child is reminded of (connecting). Ask them to describe the pictures they make in their minds (visualizing). Ask them why you think something has happened or what they think is going to happen next (questioning). Read a book with almost no text and have the child explain what is happening. Ask them what clues gave them that information (inferring).
Fluency is best developed from listening to animated story tellers and from your child reading out loud themselves. Model paying attention to the punctuation and reading with expression in your voice. Then have your child read the same page in the same way. Listen to stories together and talk about what your favourite readers do to make the stories so interesting to listen to.
Here is a list of fun activities your child can do to develop ALL of their reading skills. Click on the images for links:
Go to the library! We go to the library every other week. The libraries have all of the books your child could ever dream of and it is a great skill to ask the librarian to help you find books that you are interested in. They are pros! The Burnaby Public library has also developed wonderful lists to support helping children find books they enjoy.
Find a series of books that you can read to your child. I still have fond memories of my father reading the Narnia books to me as I was growing up. Keep bedtime stories with your children going!
P.S.- Librarians can also help you find a series that you and your child can enjoy together.
Enjoy online books. Our class Symbaloo has various websites you can go to that read the books to your child. We love them because they light up the words as they are reading them. The reading websites are the pink tiles on the top left of the Symbaloo.
Listen to stories. Audible has free books your child can listen to without the stimulation of a screen.
Our last tip is to simply add the subtitles function onto your child’s shows. Whatever the platform is, there should be a way to click on the subtitles. This way they are looking at text as the characters are saying them on the shows. They will start reading without even knowing it!
We hope that you enjoy some of these reading activities at home. Please let us know if we can support in any other way.
Writing is something that simply improves with practice. The more you write, the better a writer you become. However, we want to be careful to not hurt the joy in your child’s writing. Here are a few tips and activities you can try at home to promote writing in a joyful way.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ON SPELLING
It is important to not interrupt the flow of your child’s thoughts. If you are correcting their spelling as they are writing, they may become discouraged and not want to put effort into their writing. We believe that it is a lot more exciting for a student to write about a “froshus dbrmn pensr” than a “bad dog”. If we overcorrect their spelling, they will be less inclined to take risks. After they are finished writing, you can bring some attention to any of their Word Work words that have been misspelled. However, beyond that, we encourage students to GUM their spelling. Give it a try, Underline it, and Move on!
TELLING A STORY
Some students are working on their abilities to tell a story. They need to learn to expand their ideas before they can practice writing the words down. Here are a few activities you can do to help them expand their ideas:
Type Up the Story – Ask your child to tell you a story and type it up as they are telling it. This is a cozy activity to do together that helps remove the pressure of your child having to write the words down and helps them focus on the plot. Ask them questions such as, Can you tell me more about this new character? Can you tell me more about the setting? Why did your character choose to behave this way? How do they feel? What does it look like? Smell like? Taste like? Sound like? Look like? Feel like?
Pass the Story – This is a fun game that can be done anywhere. Try it in the car or at the dinner table. One person starts the story with the first sentence. Then they pass the story to the next person who says the next sentence. You keep going around and around until the story is finished!
Remember to keep it fun! If your child feels like it is a chore, then this will stunt their growth. Here is a list of activities that you can do on the computer to help build your child’s writing skills.
Symbaloo – visit our class Symbaloo. There is a variety of writing activities that are marked as white tiles. Storyjumper makes fun online books. Cat Kid Comic Club makes online comics. Scholastic Story Starters gives grade level specific story starters. Storyboard That makes storyboards and Scriblitt gives a variety of writing options.
FreshGrade – visit your child’s FreshGrade and have them comment on the weekly posts. They can simply answer the questions written at the top of the posts, they can write what they liked about that they did, write what they found challenging, or write about what they would do differently next time.
Here are some simple fun ideas without the need of tech:
write a letter to a pen pal or relative
write thank you cards
make a joke book
write a list
write instructions such as how to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich
pick random words and turn them into silly sentences
retell a favourite story or movie
write different endings to a favourite book
write the same story but with their own characters and scenarios
write a story inspired by photo prompts. You can find some photo prompts >>> here
We hope that you enjoy some of these writing activities at home. Please let us know if we can support in any other way.
The best way to support math at home is through games. We love that games can include the entire family and bring joy to learning mathematical concepts. Joy is the best way to help retain skills and strategies. The games we have selected work on math skills and also flexible thinking. Math drills and worksheets only teach a very narrow way of looking at math. Games will give your child a much broader and sophisticated understanding.
AN IMPORTANTNOTE ON GAMING: We highly recommend that whenever your child is learning a new game, to show all of the cards, pieces, etc. Think your turn out loud. The best way to help your child is to slow down during your turn and describe what is happening in your head. This helps your child to see how to think. Once your child has mastered the game, then you can start hiding your hands.
Card games are an inexpensive and versatile way to bring math games into the household. The internet has a kajillion different card games that you can teach your child. Here are some of our favourites:
Ashley has already taught students the game, Garbage. Please ask your child to teach this to the family (or click on the word Garbage above for a video on how to play). This is a great game for striving mathematicians.
My favourite card games for math facts and flexibility are Casino and Cribbage. My son just started playing Cribbage this break and it has been so fun to play with him. Cribbage is how I learned the majority of my mental math skills.
Here’s a link to learn how to play Cribbage (please note that you do not need a board. You can keep score on a piece of paper):
Here’s a link to learn how to play Casino:
BOARD GAMES/SPECIALTY CARD DECKS
These games are fun for the whole family. We encourage you to try and buy games used, on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Once again there is an unlimited amount of great games. We have put together a range of games for you that help practice skills from calculation, to probability, to shape and pattern. Here are some of our favourites (you can click on the images for websites/info to purchase if interested):
Tiny Polka Dots – This is a great game for striving mathematicians and beyond. The deck has games that range from ages 3-7+. This is a fabulous game if there are little siblings in the house.
Rat-a-Tat-Cat – This is another great game for playing with little siblings. As children play Rat-a-tat Cat, they develop a sense of timing and an understanding of basic, but essential, mathematical concepts. They learn ways to remember their cards and strategies to figure out what cards other players might have. They also begin to develop an intuitive sense of probability. Rat-a-tat Cat requires skill, strategy, and awareness, challenging both young children and adults.
Shut the Box – This is a new one in our classroom and we just love it. It is fun for all ages and does a great job of teaching number flexibility and subitizing (the ability to recognize the number of objects in a small collection without having to count).
Mancala – This is a family of board games played around the world, sometimes called “sowing” games, or “count-and-capture” games, which describes the gameplay.
Blokus – is a quick to learn game that helps students learn strategy and shape. Students in our school play this game from grades 1-7.
SET Cards – SET is a board game where any table becomes the board. It is a highly addictive, original game of visual perception. The goal is to be the first to see a SET from the 12 cards laid face up on the table. A SET is three cards that are either all the same or all different in each individual feature. With no turns and no luck, SET is challenging, fast and fun!
Qwirkle – Combining well-thought strategy with quick-thinking challenges, Qwirkle is played by creating rows and columns of matching colours and shapes; since the simple play requires no reading, the whole family can connect shapes and colours, making the strategic multiple tile moves that earn maximum points
FOR THE ADVANCED LEARNER – Prime Climb -Prime Climb is a great game for those becoming comfortable with multiplication and division. It is made by the same people who make Tiny Polka Dots and is a really clever way to explore mathematical structure in multiplication, division, and prime numbers in a fast-paced, dynamic game of strategy and luck.
And of course we have the class Symbaloo. Click on the bottom left RED tiles for our favourte math games and websites:
We hope that you enjoy playing some of these games at home. Please let us know if we can support in any other way.