Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

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


November 2012

Brain Research Anchor Chart the P.W.I.M we spend a lot of time reinforcing the why of every phase of the model. Children need to understand why they are doing what they are doing. It is important to share ideas about how the brain works. A simple way to do that with younger children, is by building this anchor chart with them. (I found the pictures on clip art if you are artistic draw them!) I start with just the title and as we work through talking about things our brain likes and needs-patterns, puzzles, and exercise …We sort objects, classify words,look at attributes of many things as we work through the chart. I attach the pictures and the words as we work through it. We talk a lot about dendrites and why we need to keep “growing” more and to get smarter. I need the students to make connections to what we are talking about. I make it as technical as I think my students can handle. As the year moves on we become more technical. I then refer to this anchor chart all year long.It also works well in all the other content areas! I keep the anchor chart up up all year, but I never make it at home ahead of time.



   This simple anchor chart was built with children over a series of lessons. I started with just the photograph of the buffalo in the center. As the children read and discovered more about the buffalo we added links on the anchor chart. In the Saskatchewan grade one Treaty Essential Learnings , students learn about First Nation Peoples and the buffalo.

This anchor chart allows students to connect back to each lesson and remember what was discussed in class. Add one section a day as you read aloud and share in discussions. A further step would be to illustrate each section by drawing, gluing a photograph or asking students to draw their understanding on a sticky note and attach it to the chart.

This lesson also addresses areas of the grade one  Saskatchewan Curriculum such as

Outcome: RW1.1  Describe the influence of physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs and wants on personal well-being.    Indicator a) Review the difference between needs and wants.

Two books you can use to supplement your teaching and to build your anchor chart are :

1. Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky

Grandfather Buffalo is the oldest bull in the herd. Whenever the herd moves on, he is always a little behind.A new calf  learns quickly that there’s no better place to be than right by Grandfather Buffalo’s side.

2. Buffalo Dreams by Kim Doner  

The Bearpaw children learn of a white buffalo calf that is born on a ranch far from their home. The family leaves on a spontaneous pilgrimage in their camper to take gifts to the newborn.  A contemporary story  based on an oral story passed down in the Bearpaw family.

Anchoring Our Thinking in Phonics

Thanks so much to K. O. for sharing this anchor chart . I spotted it when I was visiting her classroom. What a great way to help students remember when c is soft and when it is hard.

It is vital when teaching the P.W.I.M. to teach phonics and phonemic awareness. The P.W.I.M.photograph itself should become an interactive anchor chart connecting the students to the sounds of each letter and how those letters work together.






Shi-shi-etko A Residential School Story

Shi-Shi-etko by Nicola I Campbell

Comprehension Strategy Lesson  by Lezlie Goudie-Cloutier


I have included several reading comprehension strategies that could be taught with the book Shi-shi-etko. If the students already know the strategies, then reading the book and keeping track of the metacognitive thinking that is happening while reading would be a great lesson. Ultimately my focus would be on questioning. Leading students to ask the important questions and do some inquiry into Residential Schools.

Anchor Chart  ( I would do this on a chart paper)

Strategy   Used: Check   mark for each time used
I   had a question  


Second anchor chart:

Before   Reading: During   Reading: After   Reading:
What I think know about residential   schools New Learning Misconceptions I had about residential   Schools
Questions   I still have:     


Shi-Shi-etko by Nicola I Campbell

Shi-Shi-Etko is an excellent model text. All of the super 7 strategies can be used when reading this picture book but at the same time we incorporate First Nation Content to set a purpose for powerful reading rather than just  going through the motions of learning the strategies. .  Shi-Shi-Etko is the story of a young Salish girl preparing herself to be sent away to residential school. I have used this book in grades 3-8.

The ultimate goal in comprehension instruction is for students to be able to read a text and decide while reading, which strategy they need to use, in order to fully comprehend the text. It is also possible to go back and forth between strategies,

Questioning (before , during and after reading to clarify meaning, focus on the text, monitor their understanding-was my question answered? Does it matter if it wasn’t answered or do I still have more questions?)

The first time I looked at the cover of this book  I thought the story was about a Japanese girl. I was unfamiliar with the name, and the art made me connect to my prior knowledge about Japan. I asked myself questions like-who is the little girl?, what is she doing? , is she looking for something?, what does Shi-shi-etko mean?.

As the story unfolded I realized I was wrong and had to quickly change my connections.

Have students stop periodically as they are reading and note questions on a chart paper.

Why does she bury her special things? Why are they taken away in a cattle car?? Who takes them away???

Go back and see if their questions have been answered and if the answers changed their thinking, At the end of the book the teacher should lead students to ask many more questions and begin an inquiry

Why did this happen? Who allowed this to happen?  Does this still happen? What happened to the families when the children were taken from them? Does anybody have the right to take children away? All of these questions lead to further investigation.

Making Connections (also known as using background knowledge or schema)

Good readers access their background knowledge before, during and after reading. They use their knowledge about their own world to make text-to-self,, text-to-text and text- to- world connections. Good readers decide if the connections help them to understand the text better or if the connection really does not apply to the text at all.

In Shi-shi-etko there are many connections that children make. A connection as simple as a connection to their own relationship with their mother,  to observing nature,  to family gatherings as well as counting down the days to an event. Some children make the deep personal connection to stories their own families have told about being sent away to a residential school.  When discussing the possible connections they have to their own lives, it is important to ask students how the connection helps them as a reader.

“Mom, wake up. It’s time for us to bathe down by the creek.” Many children say that reminds them of trying to wake their mum (or dad) up to do something exciting, that connection helps them understand how the little girl is feeling-excited-worried-frustrated…


Visualizing  (Making a movie in your mind. Asking yourself what would I: see, taste, feel, smell, hear)

Good readers use their connections to help them visualize. If they are reading about fishing and they have gone fishing, it is much easier to visualize what fishing is like. Visualizing helps readers interpret the author’s message and also to remember what they read after they have finished, Visualizing is on-going somewhat like a movie the Images in the reader’s mind change as more information is read.

Nicola Campbell uses such descriptive language in her book that it is easy to picture the story as it is told. Phrase such as “…watched the sunlight dance butterfly steps across her mother’s face…” Even very young children are able to think about those words and how the sunlight is moving…

Tall grass swaying is easy to act out-younger students love to stand and sway and imagine they are grass thus visualizing that phrase.

Senior students usually notice “determined mosquitoes” and make connections to being annoyed by a mosquito that won’t go away, visualizing how Shi-shi-etko must be feeling.

Other powerful phrases include:

“rhythmic sound of Yayah’s cane” “..footsteps pitter pattered “ for sound

Sky changing navy to brilliant blue” for sight

“water exhausted sleep”that squirmed between her toes” for feeling …”

“the path was dark and smelled alive with rain” “…wood smoke and scents of bar B qing sock eyed salmon” for smell

It is essential for students to visualize this story in order to properly understand the loss this little girl is about to experience. All the sights and sounds and comforts of nature and her culture are woven through this story.


Inferring (to create personal meaning from the text,we use what the author tells us ,combine with what we already know to infer how the people are feeling in the story. We use details to infer the time of year and location)This story requires a great deal of inferring in the place of that character

Doing a Step Into the Book activity is a great way to get students to infer. Have a backdrop of nature prepared. Ask students to stand in front of the backdrop and take on the role of one of the characters-tell the class how they are feeling. Have two students simulate a conversation between Shi-shi-etko and another person from the story. Discuss the reasoning they used to portray the characters in the way they did.

“I am Shi-shi-etko-I know I have to go but….”

How did Shi-shi-etko feel?-readers have to use their  prior knowledge to imagine how they  might feel.

How did her mother feel ?  Her Father?  Her Yaya?


Determining Importance  (Looking for the Big idea-what did the author want you to know about this little girl. How did you decide what was most important? Children need to be able to say why they think that was the most important part)

Ask students to draw one picture to explain the big idea of the story. Older students can do a fast write-everything I know about Shi-shi-etko and then choose-what is the most important thing of all the things I listed?

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