Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

Independent Consultant sharing my learning with others. Please scroll way down to follow me!!


April 2012

Arctic Children PWIM Cycle, Grade One

I worked with my grade one teacher on this PWIM cycle. We were trying this photo out to see how it went. The kids really liked the photo and it blended well with our curricular goals. Thanks Mr. S for sharing your beautiful kids ūüôā


After studying the picture for several days, doing multiple read alouds¬†, asking questions,¬†and co-creating an anchor chart of who /what/ where/when,¬†we had each child give us a word which we added to the word chart. The anchor chart requires a great deal of conversation and looking in books. For example the word Inuit came from a read aloud.¬†Once each child has their own word we added some verbs in red. Each child has their name written in pencil under their word. Older children don’t like having their name on the photo but younger children are proud to say “That’s my word.” We created an anchor chart with the students for any questions they had¬† about the picture.

We worked really hard on our phonics and high frequency words. I used the sticky notes to show how changing the initial consonant makes a new word that rhymes. face –race-lace, ¬†house -louse-mouse, kid, hid,lid,did…Your photograph should be a living document-not wall paper.

We analyzed the words on the following chart so that we could decide which word properties to work on.

Word Study









sled     pelt


 kid   Inuit   sitting


 son boat    rope      snow  dogs


 fur    hunting

words to support   letters students struggling with in abc

  d    (daughter/blood, dogs,standing) variety of student names  (days)w   (snow ,wood) white winter


blends blood
digraphs(sh,ch,   wh, th)
y   as vowel
r   vowels
word ¬† families ¬†face –race-lace,house -louse-mouse,¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† kid, hid,lid,did…
plurals dogs     houses    huskies
silent   letters  rope
hard   soft c
hard,   soft g
ou,   ow house    houses
other vowel patterns(oo, ui, all,aw,ew, au) boot, blood, wood

We worked hard at studying words-through the photograph as well as see say spell and word games. Below is a word-picture match. It is important for the children to see the words in a slightly different context. The word baby means a baby no matter where you read it. We also worked on word to word matching. Finally we gave the students sticky notes and asked them to notice any of their PWIM words or word families in their reading.

We created an anchor chart called What we notice where the students talked about what they noticed in words. They were still noticing mostly number of letters and initial consonants so we tried to model other ideas for them. One example was son and dog. Both are have 3 letters. Both are one syllable. Both have a vowel in the middle. Both have the letter o.

We created a dictionary where the students practiced their printing and illustrated each word.

We worked on building sentences¬†with sentence blocks by rolling the blocks and composing sentences. Sometimes they made sense -sometimes¬†they didn’t . The laughter and self-correcting led to better comprehension.¬†Students then wrote their favourite sentences into their notebooks. This activity also improves fluency and comprehension. Students then illustrated their sentences. Stronger students worked on paragraph writing¬†by rolling¬†multiple sentences and illustrating the sentences.


After  most of the students knew most of the words we moved  on to sentences.  We read a lot of books to see how real authors started sentences so that not all of our sentence would start with THE.

We worked a lot  on titles. Titles are a good lead into main idea and determining importance. We studied different titles of published books. I brought in stacks of books and students had to compare and figure out inductively what kind of title the stack represented. We looked at one word titles, question titles.titles that start with the, repeating titles and titles with alliteration. We used the sentences to help us write class and individual paragraphs.

We learned that the huskies must stay close to the town or be attacked by the caribou. We learned how the Inuit people survived  by hunting the caribou and compared it to how the Plains People survived by hunting the buffalo. We worked hard to incorporate all aspects of the curriculum.

   Subject     Outcomes
Science curriculum connections
Needs and Characteristics of living Things
LT1.1 Differentiate between living things according to observable characteristics, including appearance and behaviour. [CP, SI]
 Health  curriculum connections The Seven Teachings Buffalo-respect

A minimum of one inquiry and/or interdisciplinary unit per year is recommended. Any multi-genre thematic or author/genre study unit can become an inquiry unit.

Treaty Kit The Buffalo-compare and contrast with Northern People Page 30 treaty kit
Social Studies curriculum connections Comparing Cultures Families past to present  

We used a variety of books about arctic animals ,the buffalo, families around the world and the needs of living things to help us with the cycle. Our teacher librarian was really helpful at ordering books for us to use both at the children’s level and at higher levels for us to use for read alouds. We also used the internet and magazines to learn about Inuit clothing, and food.


Sentence Tips Phase 4 PWIM/MIMI

Sentence Tips

  • ¬†Talk about the picture for several days before shaking out words.
  • Do many¬†read alouds to add interest and information.
  • Model sentences with alternate sentences starters and punctuation(read aloud from mentor text and model your own)
  • Build an anchor chart before you shake out sentences-brainstorm what they see-get as many ideas as you can

Our Photo Study



  • What is in the photo
  • details
  • ¬†¬†Verbs in the photo
  • When is this happening

 Shake out

  • Print each sentence on chart paper as the students are watching.
  • ¬† Print big enough so that everyone can see.
  • Number each sentence.
  • ¬†Write the student name at the end of each sentence in a smaller font.

1. The little boy is wearing a plaid shirt. ¬† ¬† ¬† Brian( I can’t make it smaller!)

  • Alternate the colour of each sentence with different coloured markers.
  • ¬†Dig a little deeper for meatier sentences by asking¬† questions such as ¬†where, how,‚Ķ I.e. I see a man. Where is the man? What is he doing? What is he wearing? ¬†Use the anchor chart you built together to help you.
  • Don‚Äôt accept grammatical errors-be kind ‚Äúsometimes we say that but when we write we say‚Ķ‚ÄĚ
  • ¬†Type up the sentences with names and numbers. Make sure the names are not the same size as the sentence. Each student should get a copy.
  • Identify each student set by having the student print their name or initials or number or colour on the back.
  • ¬†Store the sentences in a location that is easy to access.
  • ¬†Use your sorting mat when classifying
  • After several days of classifying brainstorm possible categories for paragraph writing

LGC 2012

Cris Tovani

Cover of "Do I Really Have to Teach Readi...
Cover of Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?

I felt so privileged to hear Cris speak at the reading conference this spring. Unlike a lot of presenters she is still teaching and in touch with kids. Her vast amount of knowledge and experience gives her credibility. Even though it was the end of the day on a Friday afternoon she had a captivated audience.She reminded me that we must believe all children can read and they need to know we believe it. Thank you Cris!!!

I read Do I really Have to Teach Reading? when I was working with my grade 6-8 struggling readers. I realized then how many assumptions I (and their teachers) had been making about these  readers.  All three of her books are well worth the read. Teachers of younger students will find her books informative , but they are really geared to grade 6 and up.

What a great staff book club suggestion!!!

So What Do They Really Know?

So What Do They Really Know?

Only One You by Linda Kranz

Only One You by Linda Kranz

rising moon books 2006

This is the story of a colourful rockfish swimming through life. It is very simple story about parents sharing their wisdom with their children. I really enjoyed it. Children could ask their parents for a piece of wisdom, write about it and illustrate with their own rockfish. My teacher librarian suggested making a Pixie creation with it. Something I will have to get her  to teach me!!! A great book for health literacy .

From Reading to Math by Maggie Siena

From Reading to Math How Best Practices Can Make You A Better Math Teacher (k-5)

by Maggie Siena 2009

A MUST read book!!! Every teacher should be given a copy of this book.It would make a great book club study.


I really, really liked this book. It was written in a practical, teacher friendly way. The ideas from setting up a classroom to math assessment just seem so logical. The way the author relates good math teaching to good literacy teaching make sense and are do-able-tomorrow!I wish I had taken a math class from her in university.

She answers the following thoughts in her book summarizes it by saying;

  • There is no best way to teach math except to help individuals learn it.
  • Confidence is paramount-feeling frustrated and stupid makes student stop trying.
  • Professional development is important for teaching all students.
  • Everyone has the potential to understand math.

I hope to hear more from Maggie Siena -well done!!

Big Writing Classroom

Another way to use the pyramids. They are always handy and take no desk space.

Descriptive Writing -Talk Aloud for Writing

This is a talk aloud for writing that I taught in a grade 4 classroom. After studying student writing, their teacher and I noticed that  the writing abilities ranged from three word sentences to multiple paragraphs. There was very little evidence of  the knowledge of writing structures either, so we  decided to slowly move into descriptive writing. We started by having the students describe animals using the word like.

I started by reading passages from the book UGLY ANIMALS by Berger. The students were intrigued by the book title and cover and I took the opportunity to remind them how important choosing the right title can be.

I chose four passages from the book, that were written in the same style, and read them aloud to the students.I made sure to show them the matching photographs!

After reading the 4 passages I showed the students on (a chart paper) which attributes of the writing I had really liked. This could easily be done on a Smart board or digital projector. We looked at the passages again to see if what I liked about the author’s writing was actually there.

My next step was to tell them that I wanted to try writing in the same style as the Bergrers had. I read them my writing about a porcupine. I had it prepared on chart paper and I asked the students to correct my work together with me   to see if I had included all the attributes  of the published authors that I had liked. After we had corrected my writing together, we went on to write a class paragraph together.

As a class ,we decided to write about another strange animal-the  Kiwi bird. We checked the attribute chart together to make sure our writing had all the chosen attributes .

Finally each student had to write their own paragraph. I chose a photograph of a Katydid  and read them some facts about Katydids. Checking their own attribute list, allowed them a clear target as to when they would be done.

As Anne Davies says “Students can hit any target set for them, as long as it doesn’t move.” It is so important not to add to the attribute list or stray from it. Once the student writing has been evaluated additions or deletions may be made to a new attribute list for the next paragraph.

Student Samples:

At this point it is best for students to write a few paragraphs in the same way. Stronger students can put the paragraphs together into a multiple paragraph about “ugly animals”, while weaker students work hard at putting together a strong single paragraph. Planning a talk aloud for writing is one of the most effective ways I know of to improve student writing. It requires preparation and planning but all students are able to feel success. Practice allows them to improve at their own rate. One well thought out talk aloud leads to multiple writing projects,hits a variety of objectives and can be integrated into science, health and social studies as well as the arts.

The questions a student asks after reading a text are a better assessment than the questions that a student can answer about that text.

P. David Pearson

International Reading Association World Congress

Auckland New Zealand 2010

July 14, 2010

As shared by C. Tovani  


‚ÄúReading is not interactive with a set of rules or¬† options , as video games are: reading is actual collaboration with the writer‚Äôs mind. No wonder not everyone is up to it.‚ÄĚ

Ursula K. LeGuin

Staying Awake, Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading 2008


Shared by C. Tovani

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: