Math Task Cards Patterning (EQAO Grade 6)

27 Oct

Less sunlight. Sudden switch from warm weather to wearing a winter coat. Rain has begun. It’s report card writing season. PA Day today with a math and tech focus. If only the reason for an increase in tiredness and general snappiness was obvious …

Since one of us is teaching in an EQAO focus year, we often have items related specifically towards test prep. This would be one of those items. We have created some math tasks cards for patterning using previous EQAO assessment questions. We did not create the questions; just the cards. EQAO created the questions; we just compiled them. We have divided the questions into three different task card sets. The first set looks at numeric patterning. The second set uses the questions that provide visuals with the patterns.  The third set is based on open response questions.  By consolidating the questions, we hope to save you a bit of time and energy.

That’s all that we’ve got in us today.

We have added in examples from the 2016-2017 assessment; however, if you notice any errors or omissions then let us know and we will update the file.

You can get the files here:

EQAO Patterning Task Cards Brownlee and Belanger

EQAO Patterning Task Cards Open Response Brownlee and Belanger

EQAO Patterning Task Cards Second Set Brownlee and Belanger


Interactive Notebooks in Math (Patterning and Number Sense)

20 Oct

Card and Board Games for English Language Learners

7 Oct

Shameful Secret

Let me just say before I begin my confession, that I have been a teacher for over twenty years.  I have taught multiple grades, self-contained special education classes, and many English Language Learners over the years.  I have even taught teachers which is a unique experience all on its own.  For the most part, I have been pretty successful.  I’ve had commendations from former students, parents and administrators.  I’ve never been fired from a teaching job and I am not afraid to take on a challenge.

Yet, there is one sentence that makes me forget every positive experience that I have ever had in this field.  I hear that sentence and the sweat breaks out all over my body.  My stomach starts to churn.  My eyes begin to dart wildly around hoping to find some form of escape even knowing that there is nowhere to hide.

What is this sentence? (I shudder even writing it.)  It goes something like this…

“Mom, can I get some help with my homework?”

You might not think that the sentence itself is stomach-churning but you have to look at it through my lens.  This sentence is followed by a painfully long time of my repeatedly (and lovingly) attempting to explain how to complete the homework.  Throughout the explanation, there will be eye-rolling, sighing, and the constant statement of “My teacher doesn’t do it like that.”  In all likelihood, tears will finish the episode- either hers’, mine, or both.  (Criers gotta cry.)

There was a forewarning even before homework came along.  My child might have been about three years old.  We were playing together and she said, “Mom, pretend you are a teacher.”  I innocently responded with, “I actually am a teacher.”  She stopped what she was doing and looked me up and down doubtfully.  She must have seen the look of fear on my face because she gently said, “Pretend you are a real teacher.”

I do try to console myself.  There is a long held belief that the shoemaker’s kids go without shoes, and so on for other professions….but seriously, a teacher’s kid who can’t get help with her homework??  Shameful.  Luckily, she has another parent.  Maybe, next time, he can pretend to be a real teacher.

Sometimes, it is better to stick with kids who don’t know you outside of school.  Even better, my students are often new to the country.  They don’t have long-held expectations for me.  They are generally just happy to see me when I show up.  Part of that happiness might stem from the fact that I play games with them to develop both conversational and early literacy skills.

Open Response and Math

23 Sep

Over the summer, one of us read way too many math focussed books and not enough fiction.  Then, not content with just reading the books, she often decided that she had to make some organizers to go with the math text.  As Dr. Marian Small is a math guru, she decided to start with her work. Turns out Dr. Small has way more books than anticipated! Anyway, long and boring story cut short, Dr. Marian Small’s Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction was a (relatively) more interesting read and offered some great ideas for math instruction. These included:

  • Turning around a question
  • Asking for similarities and differences
  • Asking for a number sentence
  • Replacing a number with a blank
  • Changing the question

Turning around a question, has the teacher give the answer while the students create the problem or number sentence. Asking for similarities and differences, allows students to discuss how items or concepts are alike or different (pretty self-explanatory concept really!). In asking for a number sentence, students are asked to create sentences that include certain words and numbers.

Now that we are back to school, the studious one of us is regretting her poor judgement in frittering away her time on thoughtful tasks. Her sister very nicely sorted out a stack of mysteries for her to read but did she complete that pile? Noooo. Well, her loss is your gain. If you are interested, below are organizers that will help you use these concepts in your classroom.

Now, go! Find a good mystery to read before it’s too late.


Download the file here: Open Math Questions Student Response BLM Brownlee and Belanger

Back to School/Getting to Know You Pages

30 Aug

Okay, so it’s back to school time and we are thinking about those first days back and the oh-so-important getting to know you activities. It seems that everyone has some cutesy idea and crafty bulletin board ideas posted. You know those ones, the kind that make the rest of us feel like we couldn’t come up with that kind of display even if we were graded on it! Despite our ineptitude in this area, we still always try.

So we have a superhero theme going on but we kind of wanted a social media take on the getting to know you activity. This is where our mildly, somewhat, okay scary compulsive side comes into play. We have an idea in our heads and then we look around. There are some amazing resources available but they are not quite exactly what we want. For some reason we don’t want a full page but we don’t want a half page either.  It’s weird. The normal thing to do would be to use the premade pages and say “This will work for me very well, thank you”.  It is not to obsess about how it’s still not what you want.  Instead, you set about making your own. You even sign up for Instagram because you want to see the images and the layout. You create an Instagram theme getting to know you page. For a while you’re happy…

Then, you start thinking about selfies. That could be cool and there’s even some clipart with superheroes taking selfies. Again, you follow similar steps as before. At least this time there isn’t anything you have to register for and a cellphone template is surprisingly quick and easy to make.  Again, you’re happy.

At least for a while…

Anyway, for anyone who is still looking for variations, here are a couple more ideas. You can say “This will work for me very well, thank you” or set about  on your own compulsive ways.  Good luck!

… maybe we should be checking out superhero themes …

You can download the files here:

All About My Selfie Brownlee and Belanger

Getting to Know You Instagram Page Brownlee and Belanger

Genius Project Inquiry

23 Aug

The topic of inquiry is still very much on our minds. Maybe it’s because it’s so pervasive in our curriculum. Maybe it’s because we are looking at our back to school long range planning. Maybe it’s because we are in line to read the follow up to IQ called THINQ for grades 4 to 6. Most likely it’s the last one as we hate waiting!!

We often utilize Genius Projects in our classroom to help students explore areas of personal interest. We are also thinking of adding a Makerspace this year for some STEAM activities as a further source of personal inquiry. Wait – back to the original inquiry topic!  We also need that THINQ book because one of us, in particular, has a short attention span. Anyway, as Genius Projects are personal inquiry projects we decided it would be beneficial to add in a more formal inquiry organizer. This is also for us, as when we reflected on the process, we realized we didn’t really have our students adequately make connections and reflect on their own learning. To this end, we utilized the format in OPHEA’s inquiry process to help shape our organizer. (Check out their full resource here: We have seen these same questions/format in other documents but wanted it in our genius project docs. Since no one else would make that for us we ended up making our own.

As per usual, we decided that we might as well share.

To download the file:

Genius Project Organizer Brownlee and Belanger

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