Connections Project Update!

The Grade 7/8’s have completed their water cube project!!

! Copy of IMG_2841 Copy of IMG_2844 Copy of IMG_2845 Copy of IMG_2846 Copy of IMG_2860 Copy of IMG_2862 Copy of IMG_2863 IMG_2864 (3) IMG_2868 (1) IMG_2869 (1)

They took it outside for the Primary students to test out…

It was a hit!!

IMG_2870 (1) IMG_2875 (1) IMG_2874 (1) IMG_2873 (1)

The kids had a ton of fun exploring water movement, and getting wet! The design made set up and take down of the cube super easy for staff and the thoroughness of the design allowed students to play safely from all sides. Some Grade 7/8 friends stayed out to play with our Primary students to help them and show them some of the features. They were also looking for some feedback about the functionality of the water cube.

Well done Intermediates!! What a great hands-on experience to apply and experiment with math knowledge, use tools (sometimes for the first time), and to collaborate with each other and the students in our school.

The most powerful student quote we are taking away from this experience as educators is,

“I have never used a protractor on anything other than paper before!”

This helped us see the importance of offering students opportunities to create, explore and apply those mathematical concepts we are teaching in class to situations that are practical and linked closely to real world experiences. It helped students connect with the ‘why‘ behind the theory and lessons investigated in class.

A great legacy to leave behind, Intermediates ūüôā


The Connection Project

We have been working hard at bringing outdoor learning opportunities to the students at Lady Mack. At the beginning of the year, we were successfully granted some funds to rejuvenate the space and to begin to think about what we would like to offer our students in order for them to connect with curriculum outside the school walls.

Our first task was to think about where we would like to store materials that we purchase to ensure longevity and security. We looked at re-purposing an attached area of the building that had access to the outside yard. It was a great space but needed some TLC and a plan…

IMG_0148 IMG_0149 IMG_0150 IMG_0151

We submitted drawings and plans and had the work done to create a functional storage area… et voila!

storage 1 storage 2

We enlisted the help of some classes to figure out how much space we had on our yard to work with. Mrs. Aube’s Grade 5/6 students took their learning about area and perimeter outside. In small groups, armed with topographical maps, string, measuring tapes, clipboards, pencils, calculators (you name it,, they had it!). Each group devised a plan to solve our wondering and measure the yard.

iPhone Image 88DDE7 iPhone Image 88DDF0 iPhone Image 88DDF7 iPhone Image 88DE1E iPhone Image 88DE2B iPhone Image 88DE4E iPhone Image 88DE5B iPhone Image 88DE24 iPhone Image 88DE32 iPhone Image 88DE55


Our Intermediate students decided to get in on the action and use their learning about volume and capacity to help design and build some of the features of our project such as the water wall and the sound wall. They asked the primary classes about the vision for the features:

Intermediates compiled the following email…

“The ideas of constructing the outdoor play walls have really engaged our 7/8 students.
We are using the opportunity to investigate the process of inventing. Either we make something new, or improve on an existing model.
My students have several questions to ask you and your students to understand exactly what our customers are looking for.

Some of the questions they had were:

1) What would the ideal size of the walls (music and water) be?
2) Location?
3) Portable?
4) Free standing or fixed?
5) Can we combine walls? Would that be preferred?
6) Can we combine a water wall with a garden?
7) Is there anything else that you would like to be a part of a wall?
8) Can we expand our thinking regarding the outdoor wall? (e.g. a reflective surface wall?)
and finally….

7) What is the exact purpose of the wall?

The set for Showcase has been dismantled and we can use the lumber towards the project.
Design stage begins tomorrow!”

The Primary students responded with their ideas and vision for the features:


IMG_4496 IMG_4497 IMG_4498 IMG_4499 IMG_4500 IMG_4502

With this feedback in mind, our Intermediate students set out in teams to design different models for the water and sound walls for review.

IMG_4503 IMG_4504 IMG_4505 IMG_4506 IMG_4507 IMG_4508 IMG_4509 IMG_4510 IMG_4511

The cube design was chosen as the one to build and so the teams worked together to created a list of the volume of material needed as well as a detailed cost analysis. So much rich math happening during this stage of the game! Fractions, conversions, problem solving, area, volume, proportional reasoning, and more!

IMG_4512 IMG_4514 IMG_4515 IMG_4516 IMG_4517 IMG_4518

Stay tuned for the next stage… BUILD DAY!

Let’s Find the Math: How Coding ties into the Math Curriculum

Meet Dash and Dot! They are two little robots who made their appearance at Lady Mackenzie at the end of March, for a week and a couple of days.

dash and dot

Dash and Dot helped us ask questions and learn about how creating code can help us learn patterning, algebra, measurement and number sense (more specifically repeated addition and multiplication) and work on our problem solving skills.

The students were able to explore their learning through using Blockly, an app that was preloaded on the iPad mini that came with the robots and connected to Dash and Dot to control them. Dash has movement functionality with his wheels as well as being able to move his head, make noises and have the lights on its body change colour. Dot is able to make noises and change his light colours. He also like a sidekick to Dash is able to be towed around by Dot.blockly

Students in Grade 1, to Grade 5 initially experimented with Dash and Dot to string together a series of code that allows the students to see what these two can do. Once that was done, students were given the following challenge:

Can you get Dash to move from Point A to Point B then turn left/right?

The distance and direction depended on the learning environment (classroom carpet, on classroom floor in a small designated space, across the front of a classroom, etc.) and whether it went right or left. Initially students brainstormed a variety of pieces of code that would be needed for Dash and Dot to function. We would give it a try and see if what they put together would work. After this initial attempt, a lot of questions started to come up.

What if the length wasn’t long enough for Dash to get there?

What if we changed how many times our pattern repeats?

Can we change the number of “Dash steps” Dash takes?

What if we added more pieces to their code?

Will Dash’s path be the same when it repeats?

A lot of ideas also popped up.

Maybe him going forwards 50 steps and then backwards 50 steps is not helping.

Maybe if we include code for him to turn at 90 degrees instead of 180 degrees that might help. 

If we got rid of or moved this part of code (turn left ) to the end of code this might stop him from going towards the desks. 

If we put the turn left after the part that repeats, it might help him get to the end. 

There are many more ideas and questions that popped up while they were coding. They even used a lot of their math language (length, measure, distance, pattern, repetition, multiply, etc.) as they were discussing, and inquiring into what can help them get to complete the challenge. We would discuss what we could change, apply it to our code and then take Dash and Dot back to the run through it and see if our inquiring and problem solving skills helped complete the challenge. It took quite a few tries, but the students persevered and were able to apply what they were inquiring about for them to accomplish the challenge.



After the challenge was completed I asked them what math they found they were using when we did it.

This is what they came up with:

We used measurement as we had to measure how many steps it would take.

We used patterning as we had to create a pattern for Dash to move and Dot to make sounds.

Estimation. We had to guess how long our space was.

There was probability as we had to guess how many times it would require for the pattern to be repeated and if it would continue to same path as before. 

Addition because we would add 50 steps and 30 steps to make 80 steps total for his distance. 

Multiplication because it repeats 3 times and each time he takes 50 steps. 

I believe that they were also independently using their problem solving skills as they were able to take what didn’t work and apply it to their next steps…without prompting.

Now you might be wondering where exactly does this fit into the Ontario Math curriculum?

So I combed through the Math curriculum and pulled out some of the pieces that highlighted it. The initial place that I found was the achievement chart under the Thinking category .


When you get to the Mathematical Process Expectations it is also there right away in Grade One and in most of the expectations.


When digging further into the curriculum its relevance is prevalent in Patterning and Algebra in Grade 5 under Variables, Expressions and Equations.

demonstrate, through investigation, an understanding of variables as changing quantities, given equations with letters or other symbols that describe relationships involving simple rates (e.g., the equations C = 3 x n and 3 x n = C both represent the relationship between the total cost (C ), in dollars, and the number of sandwiches purchased (n), when each sandwich costs $3)

Now how does coding have to do with variables you ask? When coding occurs it requires a variable to determine what happens. So when the students were learning with Dash and Dot and putting their patterns together, they were really putting together the set of variables and then establishing the number of times that variable repeated.

It can also be found in the Grade 5 Geometry and Spatial sense strand under Location and Movement.

locate an object using the cardinal directions (i.e., north, south, east, west) and a coordinate system (e.g.,‚ÄúIf I walk 5 steps north and 3 steps east, I will arrive at the apple tree.‚ÄĚ)

compare grid systems commonly used on maps (i.e., the use of numbers and letters to identify an area; the use of a coordinate system based on the cardinal directions to describe a specific location)

Or if you look at the Grade 4 Number Sense strand and the section of Proportional Reasoning states:

demonstrate an understanding of simple multiplicative relationships involving unit rates, through investigation using concrete materials and drawings (e.g., scale drawings in which 1 cm represents 2 m) (Sample problem: If 1 book costs $4, how do you determine the cost of 2 books? … 3 books? … 4 books?)

How does Proportional Reasoning and this expectation fit into coding? Well unit rate applies as that you are stating that you would like your string of code to have Dot sound like a firetruck 3 times in one loop. So if you repeated that for 3 loops how many times would he have repeated those sounds?

So basically coding ties into the Ontario Math curriculum in varies grades, strands and throughout expectations.

As Dash and Dot have gone back to the Resource Centre, other methods for continuing the inquiry and making the math connections can be utilized. There are a few websites like,,, Scratch, Lightbot, and Khan Academy have tools (which look more like games) that the students can use to build their skills. Khan Academy and Code Academy have for the more advanced users walk through steps with the actual scripts that are required to build something tangible and real in coding language. There are also a variety of apps available through the App Store or Google Play that leads students through the coding process similar to the websites listed above. Code Academy, Tynker,Hopscotch, Lightbot, Code School, devLearn, Scratch Kids Lite, and Hakitzu are just a few. Annually there is also the Hour of Code around December where educators are encouraged to for one hour on one day let their students explore coding. provides a variety of online resources for those to be done, as well as tools for students to use to explore.

Rachael Fiddler

Special Education Resource Teacher

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Currently my students are looking at “point of view” using a variety of traditional and fractured fairytales. ¬†Before we even opened a text we looked at several images such as the old lady/young woman picture to demonstrate there is no right or wrong answer when sharing your point of view.What Do You See?  Old, Young or Both2012722_f260Positive / Negative Space

Some of the images lead to a discussion about positive and negative space.  We applied our knowledge of the concept to artwork.


We read several versions of the Three Little Pigs.  Students shared their point of view in an opinion piece about who they believed was telling the truth: The Wolf or the 3 Pigs.


In science our focus was on Materials, Objects and Everyday Structures.  The story of the 3 Little Pigs was an excellent text to demonstrate why some materials were a better choice than others when building a home.  My students got to work building and testing their own structures against the powerful Big Bad Wolf Blow Dryer.

pic 1pic 4pic 2pic 3pic 5pic 6

The building of these structures is a precursor to the final culminating task: Catching a Leprechaun using a Leprechaun Trap.  We will complete the culminating task just before/after March Break.  Wish us luck!

This is Not a Box…

In anticipation of the BIG DAY when we would receive a GIANT empty box, I had the students listen to the song “Think Outside the Box” by Marc Rossio followed by a thinking outside the box exercise to get our creative juices flowing.

The students were then asked to come up with a new idea for the image on their page.  The transformations they came up with showed their creative side and proved they were ready to move on to bigger and better things.

think outside the box

I can’t believe how much excitement an empty box has created in our classroom! ¬†The students watched in anticipation from the hallway, as our box was delivered. ¬†They could not contain their excitement at the possibilities of interacting with this GIANT box!


We watched a version of “This is Not a Box” as I could not get my hands on a hard copy of the book. (Thank you youtube) We brainstormed some ideas around what we could turn our box into. ¬†Boy were there a lot of really great ideas!


To give everyone a voice, we created a graph with their suggestions.  The winning vote was a cave.

On the day of construction, my students surprised me by changing their minds. ¬†They wanted to be able to transform the box into multiple things. ¬†Monthly changes to be exact! ¬†If they created a cave, which consisted of dipping newspaper into watered down white glue to form a hard rough surface and then painting it…they would be limited in their future remodels. ¬†This month would be a boat and dock. ¬†We started off using the bottom of the box as a dock and the other sections of the box were turned into a boat. ¬†Now all we need is for the snow to disappear and the sun to warm up…In the meantime you can find me sitting on the dock of the bay!


Students¬†worked between their own mini version of “a box” and painting the “boat”. ¬†These mini boxes are part of our narrative writing focus…and will be used to describe settings in their stories.


The morning was so much fun…not a single spilled paint tray or conflict…

Donna Shaw Grade One

Welcome to Our Gathering Place!

Welcome to our gathering place where we have been exploring play based learning and inquiry in our grade one classroom. The switch from a more traditional classroom to the one I am attempting to create presently has not been a big stretch.  As a child I spent the entire day outside, only coming in for the evening when the street lights came on.  My day was filled with exploring and investigating our local forest, creeks and neighbourhood. Research proves that spending time in nature makes children more creative, better problem solvers, and physically healthier.

While I recognize the value of play based learning, my journey has been in finding a balance between the two-“covering” curriculum and free exploration. ¬†Open ended math stations is a way I am finding balance. ¬†Students engage and explore open ended prompts within a variety of stations. ¬†I am able to track their learning and understanding of a concept through their final product and their explanation of what they have created. Exploring many possible solutions to a prompt builds critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The first station explores money concepts.  Students are given 18 cents to spend on decorating their snowmen.  Kool-aid scented playdoh is still a big hit in grade one.


The 2nd station explores number sense.  Students were asked to find a combination of pond animals that had a total of sixteen legs. Six, four and two legged pond animals were offered.  As a challenged to students that were finished quickly they were asked to present a second solution.


The 3rd station reviews patterning language and concepts

IMG_0975img_0957 (1)

Another station explores area.¬† Students were given a variety of items to build a snow fort with an area of 10 units.¬† Most opted for the large or small marshmallows or sugar cubes.¬† If only the snow was packing snow outside…we could take this lesson outdoors using snow brick makers.¬† If you don’t have those just use your recycle bin or any other bin.


Our fifth station explores shapes…students are asked to create a winter picture using a variety of shapes.


I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and feedback.  Together we can make great things happen for our students!

Donna Shaw Grade One

Let’s Talk Numbers!

How would you mentally solve

19 + 8?

Mrs. Aube’s grade 5/6 class is learning how to think differently about numbers and their relationships in order to solve mental computations more effectively and with more flexibility.

iPhone Image EDCDA8

Number Talks is a resource she is using to help her students expand their computation strategies and explore options other than the traditional algorithms…


+ 8


Number talks book

What she is discovering, along with her students is that the students are able to verbalize many possibilities and by sharing and explaining how they are approaching questions, they are teaching each other new ways of thinking about number relationships. Students can use and share strategies they are comfortable with, but also try a strategy that a peer has introduced.

iPhone Image EDCDC3 iPhone Image EDCDB6

For example, for the question above… ¬† 19 + 8

Here are just some of the strategies they came up with:

20 + 8 = 28

28 -1 = 27


8 -1 = 7

19 + 1 = 20

20 + 7 = 27


20 + 10 = 30

30 – 3 = 27


8 + 2 = 10

19 – 2 = 17

10 + 17 = 27

Mrs. Aube is working with her students in Number Talks to help them understand and name different strategies that are helpful to have in their mental math toolbox. Being able to name a strategy that students have used, helps other students select it to test it out – often students will say, “I tried ____’s way of solving it.”

iPhone Image EDCDCA

Today we gathered a varied sample of¬†student voice about the impact Number Talks was having on their understanding and attitude toward math… here’s what they said!

“Number Talks shows different ways of thinking about numbers and all are easier.”

“I think about math different now. Last year I wasn’t really into math, but this year I’m really good at it! I use my strategy but when I see another one, I try to use it.”

“Number Talks make my mind start! Other people think about things differently than me so I try their strategies. I figure out questions differently now.”

“Number Talks let me see what other people are brainstorming about. It also let’s me say what I am thinking about. I am able to use other people’s strategies too. I would do a math question now differently than I would have before.”

“It helps me add numbers quicker. Sometimes I say a strategy that other people never thought of. It makes me feel proud! I think about numbers differently now.”

“I need help to answer still. Math is hard. Maybe working with easier numbers first would help.”

“There are different answers for everything and I like to see different answers. I like to see different ways. It’s pretty fun actually! I would definitely recommend other classes do them too! Younger classes should do them too with smaller numbers like 10.”

“It makes things quicker and easier. Sometimes I see strategies I haven’t thought of. I can sometimes try them. I find Number Talks helpful, I think about questions differently.”

Hearing this straight from the students is pretty exciting and is already targeting part of our school math goal for many kiddos: To build students’ confidence in math.

Here is what Mrs. Aube is noticing and wondering about her students as they participate in Number Talks:

  • Students who are not as confident in math are making new connections and having success
  • Students who typically succeed in math are trying different ways to solve problems from others who usually have a harder time – it evens the playing field in a way
  • Students who typically do well in math are also looking at numbers in a new way – they are expanding their thinking from the traditional algorithms and using numbers more flexibly
  • There is excitement about math!

Some things Mrs. Aube is thinking about as her class moves forward with their learning through Number Talks:

  • Explore smaller groups to be more targeted in order to address the vast entry points (some students need more challenging computations while others still find value in less complicated but more visually represented solutions)
  • Look for students who need certain strategies to go beyond where they are – who needs more specific tools for their toolbox?
  • How do we balance open Number Talks (that call for a variety of different solutions) and targeted Number Talks (that focus on illustrating a specific strategy)?

An awesome start on your Mental Math journey Mrs. Aube and class!! Thank you for sharing your experience, we look forward to seeing where it takes you ūüôā