Written Ruminations (& Digging Deeper)

1 Dec

Okay, so in the last post we said we would see you in late August. It’s now early December. Let’s just say it’s been busy personally and professionally.

We are undecided about how we are going to continue handling our blog. While we like sharing resources it’s becoming more of a chore than fun to write the blog.

Currently, it is feeling like it’s one more thing that we need to do as teachers. Pinterest ready classroom. Lesson for 10 different student ability levels. Connect with all students in a way that transforms them for the better. Sell your perfect teacher creations online. Create individualized report card comments for every student. There are so many different stresses on teachers. Many things are beyond our control, something Type A teachers don’t like! A minor few of them are self-inflicted – looking at you in particular Pinterest, with your crafty themed classrooms with specially created décor!

Speaking individually, my personal self-inflicted stress is comparison. You may have guessed that from the classroom comment. I cannot understand how everyone else seems to have everything perfectly ordered and organized and still have a life. If you dig deep enough you often find it’s smoke and mirrors. I need to figure out how to do that without people looking behind the curtain;-)

As a result of recent personal events, we realize that we want to spend the free time we have on our personal writing instead of teaching related writing. So much of our time is invested in our work as teachers that it can be all consuming. Our goal, however, has always been about our works of fiction. Our true love of collaborating is in our personal works. Our Legacy series. Our Just for Boys stories. We really want to revisit that and give these endeavours the time and attention they need.

We will continue to share activities and freebies. We firmly believe that if we can help others by sharing items then it is a good thing. We may change our format that you need to sign up for e-mails to access a resource library or we may just post freebies.

Thank you to everyone who has ever stopped by to read our meandering thoughts and check out our work. When we decide what our next step is then we will arrange our site accordingly. Thanks again and best wishes.


Figurative Language Alliteration IWJ BLM revised

Digging Deeper INB 2018

The first document goes into our Writer’s Craft notebook as part of our ongoing look at figurative language. We start with alliteration. We tend to do a Seuss’s ABC inspired animal alphabet alliteration using PicCollage. We then move on to a Bleezer’s Ice Cream activity – we made our own template but you can easily find freebies for the activity on TPT and other blogs.

The second document is also for our Writer’s Craft notebooks. We discuss the idea of digging deeper. In the first box they visualize an image for a vague sentence that can have multiple images. The second is for a more specific sentence, helping students see the importance of a detailed sentence. We then use the “holes” to show how to change a sentence from simple to more detailed. If you go Google “digging deeper writing” you will find examples of anchor charts that you can use that will save you some time.


Ch-Ch-Changes (Classifying Triangles)

10 Jul

Changes are a part of life and, let’s face it, some changes are better than others. We’re hoping this new upcoming change will be one of the better ones. June marked the end of teaching Grade 6 and September will usher in partner teaching on Grade 4/5 and Grade 4 classes. Due to numerous years in Resource teaching roles we have never taught a split grade before. So, there’s a bit of nervousness about the move. Doesn’t help matters that the teacher who has left the position is considered a guru and mentor by many. Maybe it’s more than a little worried. Have never taught grade 4 before either. Okay, flat out panicked!

Guess it should be brought up that the change was requested. It wasn’t forced. It truly seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, so did all of those mock turtleneck short sleeve shirts we once owned. We are going to focus on the potential to learn and try something new. Did we mention that we also owned a pair of MC Hammer style of pants? We may not be the best judges of what constitutes a good idea. Now, the panic is for other reasons – does anyone have a picture of us in those pants? Fingers crossed for a “no” on the pants and fingers crossed that this career move is actually a good idea.

If you are following us for math ideas, never fear, we have a lot of math activities that we still plan on sharing with you. In fact, it will be a math freebie today. Below you will find our Interactive Notebook for classifying triangles. No particular reason why we selected triangles.

Enjoy the freebie and, most importantly, enjoy your summer. We fully intend to — which means see you in late August:-)

triangles inb

Download here: Math INB Classifying Triangles Brownlee and Belanger


Chances Are (Probability)

21 May

While we are wrapping up our probability unit, we are still going full steam ahead in our math units. EQAO is around the corner and we are on a push to get in the last concepts before the assessment. That is a whole other blog post in itself. Probably one that will never be written for the sake of positivity:-)

This year, we are working with a really amazing group of students who really give it their best effort in math. Right now, we will give the disclaimer that past years have been equally awesome in personality but this group has the edge in the number that are willing to persevere in working to grasp the math concepts. So, we decided to do the games approach for probability. Normally, we have played structured games but haven’t done the ‘create your own’ because we weren’t certain how much they would get of the probability piece. Creative games and a lot of fun? Yes. A greater understanding of probability? Not as certain.

To help structure the games and make certain we always had our expectations in mind we created this organizer. The general concept and start is not ours. We saw numerous examples online and decided to work with those. Where we started to focus on Ontario expectations can be found in the 2nd and 3rd part of our organizer. We also thought this might help when we have those years where the group doesn’t make the connections as readily. An organizer that will help to prompt and guide their thinking.

The class had a lot of fun creating and sharing their games. They created some really wonderful activities and rose to the occasion of hosting other groups during our probability carnival. Hopefully, your class will enjoy the activity as well. Enjoy.

probability game

Looking for a rubric to use? Page 111 of the Guide to Effective Mathematical Instruction for Data Management and Probability has a ready to use rubric that fits this particular activity. Find this document here: http://www.eworkshop.on.ca/edu/resources/guides/Guide_Data_Management_Probability_456.pdf 

We started with the probability carnival online. You can find the games here: http://mrnussbaum.com/probfair/

After they had started to create items, we also watched Caine’s Arcade for more inspiration. As well, we are going to make additional cardboard games and items with our Grade 3 inquiry partners. Find Caine’s Arcade here: http://cainesarcade.com/

You can download the file here: Probability Game of Chance brownlee and belanger

I See You:)

29 Mar

Recently, I was fortunate enough to see/hear a guest speaker discussing the importance of stories in education.  Since this is a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of these sisters, she had me at the title.  As part of the talk, she included a piece about “I see you” and explained that in some cultures this phrase is used instead of “I love you.”  Interestingly, a quick Google search brought up many versions of this idea.  I guess that “I see you” is even the title of a song in the movie Avatar.  Since I am not the Sci. Fi. loving sister, I was unaware of this connection since I didn’t see the movie.  (My sister is probably horrified reading this confession.) 

The idea of someone looking at you and really seeing you should appeal to anyone.  In our current society with rampant technological communication, this is something that people are really missing.  Human beings are social creatures.  Decidedly some of us are more social than others but personal connections are still important to all.  Think of the expressions such as “looking deeply into your eyes” or the “eyes are the window of your soul”.  That type of theme is common in many cultures.  It is easy to assume that this is solely about romantic love especially given the myriad of media images around this topic.

Possibly even more important than being seen is the idea that the “looker” likes what they see.  

If you think about this idea in terms of a school setting, it really becomes all important.  Imagine how important this idea is for a child.  I know that the teachers that my child has connected with the most have been the ones who could share personal stories about her.  They knew some of her interests; they remembered ideas that she had shared with them; they saw her for herself.  She might not have articulated that she was being “seen” but it was evident in how she talked about them and how much she appreciated them.  She also worked harder for those teachers and gave them a little more respect.

I remember hearing an educator once say that what mattered most to parents was knowing that teachers knew their child and hoping that they liked them.  I think this is true of students as well.

It is easy with a class of thirty children; a very full curriculum; and organizational/behavioural concerns…to run out of time in the school day for any truly personal connections.  It could be argued that those personal connections, even if it just means a few minutes here and there, could improve those working conditions for everyone.  It certainly isn’t going to hurt the situation.

Never underestimate the power of being seen. 

Since our freebie is totally unrelated to the blog topic, we will connect it with a simple “We see you.”  Hopefully, this will help you free up some time to make those personal connections.

Please let us know if you notice any errors or omissions. You can download the file here:

EQAO Algebra Task Cards Brownlee and Belanger

Symmetry Interactive Notebook

13 Mar

January and February felt like the same as always. Very long and very stressful. Then, March arrived and it seemed like Spring was truly on the way. Whammo! One last hurrah at winter. Another day with barely half a class and the sad knowledge that you will get to teach the same lesson twice. Sigh. At least, the incredibly fast meltdown brings a bit of happiness … as well as mud and blacktop recess. Feeling like we’re back to the “fortunately/unfortunately…” post:-)

Guess what we are saying is that we are just doing our best to hang on until March Break! This year, we plan to vacation with our families together in a warmer climate. Our children are very excited about the prospect of being together for a week – which they could have done at home as well but, at least they’ll have better weather! Whatever you have planned for your break, take some time for yourself and relax. To help you further decompress, we have you covered with another freebie. Enjoy.


The following freebie is an interactive notebook entry on symmetry. Our expectation is that students are able to sort polygons by lines of symmetry as well as rotational symmetry.

You can find this file on our downloads page or you can download a copy here:

Symmetry INB Brownlee and Belangerr

Geometry & Space: Constellation Angles

11 Feb

Report cards have been submitted and we are ready for a break! Oh, what’s that? The Olympics are on, Valentine’s is coming up, Chinese New Year is on the way, Carnaval is ready to roll, and, for those in primary, Hundreds Day is looming as well? Oh. Yeah. Don’t forget the work you have to catch up on due to those ‘buses are cancelled’ days.

And, poof, just like that, the potential break was gone!

Times like these make you want to hide in your classroom and hope that nobody catches a glimpse of your shadow – a possible sighting could mean another six weeks of unrelenting “fun” activities for you to participate in.

We’d like to write more but we just got prompted for this term’s IEP expectations…

We suggest you find a good spot to lie low until March Break. Good luck!

Unrelated –

Even though it’s really never been used for much, we do have a Facebook site as well. Lately, we’ve been wondering what the heck to do with it. Ignoring it hasn’t really done anything for us. We decided we will use it as a place to post quick ideas or maybe examples of student work. A place where you can get some ideas. If you want to check it out, you can find it here:


We don’t have anything up yet but will soon.


To help you out, we have this geometry and space activity.  Our space unit happens to coincide with our geometry unit. So, we decided to have students label and measure the angles they could see in a given constellation. The page also requires a research component. For us, it just  means looking at their notes for the most part. They do have to locate information on their given constellation. We do it as a partner or small group project. It has 9 constellations – an example is located below:

constellation angle

You can download it here:

Constellation Angle Projects Brownlee and Belanger


EQAO Measurement Math Task Cards

21 Jan

If you’ve read anything we have ever posted then this confession will not shock you. We get bored. Frequently. Probably more often than we should. The thought of doing the same thing year after year is well, it’s enough to make us want to take naps. Long naps. At school. The first couple of years of an assignment you need to repeat just about everything. You make minor revisions based on your experiences the first time. Nothing crazy. Just enough to make it run more smoothly. You don’t do much else because you’re too busy treading water just trying to keep up with learning new curriculum and wading through oceans of marking.

Once you finally get a sense of some routine, boredom sets in. You lose enthusiasm for the topic which is critical in selling it to your students. Yet, you’re tired, there’s still oceans of marking and you don’t want to spend crazy amounts of time thinking of new things to do. Sometimes it’s also difficult as you know it’s something your students in the past really enjoyed doing. The sometimes odd struggles of being a teacher:)

Below is something to help you keep moving along your boredom line. Could be something new to you or similar to something you’ve done but with enough changes to make you somewhat more enthusiastic.


This week, we are sharing the first task cards for measurement. These cards focus more on converting units of measure, selecting the most appropriate unit of measure, etc.  Again, these are from the Ministry and not our creation – we have just compiled them to help us out as we work through EQAO related tasks. 









You can download the file here:

EQAO Measurement Task Cards Brownlee and Belanger