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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


Media Literacy Foldable

11 Dec

The craziness of the winter season is upon us at school! We’re doing all we can to keep our kids and academics on track while they are already focussed on the break. Add in preparing for a Christmas concert (yes, ours is still a Christmas concert) and all the holiday related interruptions and the day can seem excessively long and tiring.  As well, the other day there seemed to be a lot of supply teachers in so either everyone was taking a fun day and we didn’t get the memo or there is a nasty bug going around. Again. Good times. Good, good times.

When we think about it, there is rarely a time when there isn’t some stressor or a three-ring circus kind of day. There is always something. We can’t remember the last time we heard a colleague say they felt caught up and well rested. Maybe because they see the rest of us and know they would be universally despised or because we, as a general group, tend to feel we should always be doing more and focus on what needs to be done.

As always, our goal is to help you lessen your stress and help out where we can. We’ve noticed media literacy is a popular category in our stats so we decided to post our recently created media literacy foldable. We looked at the 5 key concepts of media literacy so we used the media triangle to create our foldable.

We also hope you take some time over the holidays to reflect not on what you need to do but what you have done well. It’s not as easy but would be good for the teaching soul. Happy Holidays!

You can download the file here:

Media Literacy INB brownlee and belanger

(T)Each Day is a New Adventure

25 Nov

Interactive Notebooks in Math (Patterning and Number Sense)

20 Oct

Inquiry Process – Thick and Thin Questions

8 Aug

This year we are excited to partner up with another class to strengthen our inquiry skills. Inquiry is integral in our curriculum yet it seems like our students struggle with key components. We always worry that maybe we take away the scaffolding a little too quickly – such as the time we realized our students didn’t really get that Google was search engine instead of a website. That’s a whole other discussion! Anyway, we ended up reading the book IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning – based on a Facebook recommendation, of course

Image result for IQ inquiry book

Yea FB friends, as it is an excellent source of ideas and we are looking forward to trying many of the activities!!

While we recognize the inquiry process isn’t really a linear procedure we decided to segment it into smaller steps as our class will be responsible for supporting the younger students. Our hope is that breaking it down into “steps” will make them more mindful of their own part in the process. (Can you tell we’ve been talking about metacognition too?).

We want to start with a look at our focus and then move into a discussion on thin and thick questions (this will also tie in nicely with Language Arts). To help out we want them to keep the definition and examples of thick and thin questions in their notebooks. We have seen sandwiches, burgers and mustaches all used as a visual for thick and thin but we ended up using the mustache example. Would have been perfect for last year’s mustache theme – too bad we’re using superheroes this year Going to admit we’re still trying to think of a way to make a superhero visual on this one!



We tend to have ones already completed for students who may have some fine motor concerns

We think we will also discuss how to use a Q-Chart at the same time. We have found thin questions are popular because they are quick and easy. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will have them more comfortable with creating thick questions and recognizing not every question has a “right” answer.

For anyone looking for a thick and thin questions template, you can use the one here. A small Q-chart is also in the document.

Reading and Inquiry INB Thick and Thin Questions BLM Brownlee and Belanger