July 16

Teaching Eucharist Ideas

In a Grade 2 classroom, as a connection between their preparation for receiving the sacrament of the First Holy Communion and their study in Science on the life cycle of an animal, the Eucharist could be taught in comparison to that of a butterfly. First, students could either draw a picture of butterfly, or they could draw out the life cycle of a butterfly, from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Then, each student could share their butterfly pictures. The teacher would then ask them these questions:

  • Where do butterflies come from?
  • Can anyone explain how they are transformed?
  • Did you know that there is a transformation at Mass, too? What is it?
  • How is a butterfly’s transformation similar to the transformation at Mass? How is it different?
12,007 Butterfly Transformation Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free  Images - iStock

This provides an opportunity to explain transubstantiation and how this will relate to their receiving the Eucharist for the first time. This conversation will allow students to see that the Holy Eucharist is more than just a piece of bread; it is the body of Christ that helps to nourish our body and spirit.

The word Eucharist comes from a Greek word, eucharistein, which means “thanksgiving.” Not only does receiving the Eucharist remind us of Jesus and the sacrifices that he made for us, but it allows our body and soul to be nourished through the presence of God within us. Celebrating the Eucharist challenges our way of being in the world in that it reorients our life to be more in tune with the presence of God. This removes the worldly distractions around us and allows us to focus on being the best disciple of Christ that we possibly can.

Lesson activity/question prompts: https://www.thereligionteacher.com/liturgy-of-the-eucharist-lesson-plan/

July 15

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a great way to provide support to students within the framework of the same learning task. In my teaching experience, I have only had students on IEPs that are modified at grade level. Therefore, the assistive technology that I use helps these students to “perform and complete” the same, or very similar, tasks as the rest of the class “with efficiency and independence” (Assistive Technology Tools, pg. 1). As I look at my class list for next year, I know that I have students on alternative programs and modifications at various grade levels, so the study of assistive technology is one that will greatly benefit my teaching practice for many years to come.

Assistive Technology in Special Education - ViewSonic Library

In my primary classroom, students incorporate the use of technology to share their understanding or learning of a topic in a variety of ways. I am big on using Google Applications on a regular basis with my students. This proved to be very beneficial as we transitioned into distance learning this past school year. Students in my class were proficient in using Google Docs to type out their thinking, Google Slides to present their information in creative ways, and Google Forms to answer comprehension questions. Each of these platforms provides internal supports for students, such as voice typing capabilities (Tools > Voice Typing), as well as spell check. We also were able to utilize Google Read & Write, which allows students to use voice-to-text or text-to-voice to help them with their reading and writing. When creating products of learning with these Google Apps, students were also able to freely share their assignments with others for real-time collaboration and feedback. By providing immediate feedback, especially with Google Form’s self-marking abilities, students are able to adjust their thinking and make corrections.

Read&write For Google Chrome - Google Read And Write Logo Clipart - Large  Size Png Image - PikPng

Students also used various digital libraries and online literacy activities to assist them with research and/or their daily reading tasks. Programs such as GetEpic, Raz-Kids, and Lexia, contained many assistive tools, such as “read-to-me” capabilities, highlighting text when reading, and immediate definitions of unknown words. These programs definitely helped my struggling readers to be able to learn and perform grade-level tasks independently. 

I also found that when my students used technology in new and innovative ways, their typical performance levels changed. For example, when using Scratch coding to create 2 sprites and have them teach each other about something we’ve recently learning in our Social Studies unit, the students who would normally struggle with brainstorming ideas and communicating their thinking in words were able to enter the task at various points and use images to drive their communication and thinking. It was very interesting to see how the “playing field” leveled when we tried something out of the ordinary. 

LibraryMakers - Create a conversation with Scratch

Assistive technology can enhance the learning and ultimate sharing of your students’ thoughts by providing supports for students that would otherwise be hindered from success. By using voice-to-text or text-to-voice, students are able to focus on the content, rather than the spelling of words, typing on the keyboard, etc. Assistive technology helps students to be more independent in their learning, in situations when they would normally be sitting and waiting for teacher support. Not only that, but the integration of technology creates a learning environment in which the learning isn’t so “assign-and-complete” oriented. Technology can provide opportunities for deeper learning. When time is given for students to work on meaningful tasks that cover multiple curriculum expectations, it allows students to truly demonstrate their passion for the subject and a willingness to share their learning with others.

Student voice and choice is of utmost importance in our classrooms, whether you teach the younger primary students or the oldest senior students. Student voice is valued in classrooms where the student and teacher roles are flipped, in that students are becoming the experts on a topic and teaching their peers what they have earned. With technology, teachers no longer have to be the “keeper of wisdom” and teach their students in lecture-based lessons; students have the world available to them online and are able to research, discover, and share their learning with others. Student voice can also be fostered through a partnership between the educator and students by co-constructing success criteria. This can, in turn, go one step further and lead to student choice by having the students have some control over the assignment itself (e.g., How would you like to demonstrate your learning on this topic?). This allows students to choose their medium for communicating their learning in a way that satisfies the co-constructed success criteria. These are all ways that we can continue to foster student voice and choice in authentic ways in our classrooms.

July 10

Teaching About Sin/Salvation

I came across this activity idea by Wright Ideas With Susan that is both interactive and rich in it’s learning outcomes. I think it could be used in a grade 2 classroom, as the students prepare for their first reconciliation, or in grades 3-5 leading up to a confession. 

The activity starts with students using feathers to hit the bullseye on a target. This proves to be very challenging, but is used to support the learning goal later in the lesson. Following the target activity, the class will read a bible story that contains the theme of sin (e.g., Adam and Eve). This will allow students to discuss the theme of sin, talking about “What did they do in the story that God did not appreciate?”. Then, the teacher can relate the conversation back to the target activity by bringing up the fact that no one got a perfect score and that we all fell short of the target. The bullseye represents the correct action that God was looking for. This will then open a discussion for students to discuss sins, or things that we do wrong. 

The subject of salvation comes when the discussion outlines the sins that we commit, and recognizes our need to be forgiven by God for our actions. Jesus died on the cross so that all of our sins, all of the times that we missed the target, were paid for. By believing in God, we receive the Holy Spirit, which helps to guide us to make good choices and actions. Not only that, but we can receive the sacrament of reconciliation, which allows us to repent our sins and be forgiven for the times that we missed the target – to seek salvation.

May 19

Differentiating Instruction: Grade 3 Probability Task

This is a Grade 3 Probability lesson taken from the Math Makes Sense textbook. This lesson explores themes of conducting probability experiments, which include the use of tally charts, number cubes, coloured counters, marbles, and spinners. The lesson is divided into 4 parts: Explore, Connect, Practice, and Reflect. Some suggested activity differentiation is outlined next to the lesson instructions.

In conclusion, there are multiple ways for each part of the lesson to be differentiated for different students, given their specific academic and behavioural needs. Many parts of this lesson require hands-on manipulatives, which provide students with concrete tools to help with their learning. Visual examples and cues would be beneficial in communicating and retaining the vocabulary necessity for understanding and completing each activity. Many of the lesson activities could be differentiated by reducing the number and complexity of expectations to assist students with their operational sense, time management and ability to attain to a task. Small groupings or pairings are a beneficial way to assist students in completing each task, using the unit terminology in their vocabulary, and sharing strategies with each other. Check-ins and rephrasing of expectations are useful strategies for whole or small group comprehension.

July 29

Manipulative Enhancing Math Concepts

Select one manipulative and describe how it could enhance the understanding of a mathematical concept or big idea. Align the tool to a grade and suggest a hands-on task. 

Tangram is a puzzle made from 7 differently-sized shapes that, when placed in a specific order, create an image. Tangrams are a great way to reinforce themes within geometry, such as shapes, sides, angles, and vertices. Additionally, through the continued use of tangrams, students are encouraged to recognize shapes and mathematical themes in their everyday life. The different sizes, shapes, and colours add to the sensory stimulation that engages students and keeps them attended to the activity at hand.

I have seen great success in using tangrams in grades as early as kindergarten. Students can be prompted to create an object using tangrams, contributing to their spatial awareness, creativity, and problem solving. Students can also be provided with silhouettes in which they must make their tangram pieces fit. This type of activity has now be enhanced through the use of the Osmo tangram application. The Osmo uses an iPad, tangram shapes, and a mirrored lens over the iPad’s camera to create a digital game that has students align their shapes on the table into the shape displayed on the iPad. The application then takes them through levels and different tangram puzzles using the same shapes. Here’s some more information about this engaging task:

July 24

Strategies to Support an Inviting Math Environment

Post 3 of the most important strategies or things a teacher is doing in the math classroom to support and/or create an inviting math environment. Describe and reflect on these high yield strategies.

Educators across the system are working towards creating positive, safe, and supportive learning environments in every subject matter. The Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics discusses the importance of developing a mathematical community, in which students can learn to support each other in their learning and build off of each other’s thinking. This is made possible when using strategies like Bansho or Number Talks. These strategies allow student to share their thought processes, while also learning from the strategies being shared by their peers. Intentionally teaching students how to be positive and respectful members of a learning community helps to add to the overall learning experience.


The using classroom resources is especially important with our new wave of teaching mathematics. Even a short 10 years ago, I was being taught mathematics in a learning environment that only used resources such as a textbook and worksheets. Nowadays, we provide experiential learning opportunities for our students in which they can touch, feel, and move throughout their learning. This involves using resources like manipulatives and technology (laptop, tablets, tools, etc.) to keep the learning engaging, while also teaching the students important 21st Century learning skills.


Structure in the form of the three-part math lesson is an important strategy when creating an inviting math environment. The area in this type of lesson that is the first to be disregarded is the consolidation, typically because the class runs out of time. By being more structured with the timing of specific types and sections of lessons, educators can ensure that the consolidation is carried out for all lessons. This allows students to share their learning, use appropriate vocabulary, discuss strategies, and learn from their peers.

July 21

Gradeless Feedback

Feedback is often secondary to the grade or level received because it has been ingrained in the world for so long that the final grade is what counts. Educational research generally says that feedback without a mark is the most powerful for affecting change. 

How does this research impact your assessment practices? How do you use feedback to move student thinking forward? 

Even as a new teacher entering into the field of education, I have met a number of teachers who are going gradeless in their classrooms. This aligns with the educational research and their own experiences which tell them that students respond best to written or verbal feedback, rather than a letter or percentage grade. Too often, students look at the final grade and take it as the ‘be all and end all’, skipping over the descriptive feedback provided about their current performance and ways to improve. This cycle also leads students to “only want a C” or to achieve the letter grade that meets their parent’s expectations. This, however, actually takes away from the learning process in that final grades are the smallest form of feedback for students; it labels their current ability without providing ways or suggestions for improving.

The Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement portion of the Ontario mathematics curriculum states: “As part of assessment, teachers provide students with descriptive feedback that guides their efforts towards improvement” (Ontario Mathematics Curriculum, 2005). Education involves learning, trying, receiving feedback, and trying again. Written and/or oral feedback provides students with a personalized description of how to improve. This is why more and more teachers are moving away from overall grades and focusing on detailed feedback. However, I also acknowledge that much of our education system past the elementary grades revolves around percentages and final outcomes, especially because that determines the future of a student’s education (i.e., next course, university acceptance, etc.). I believe that it is our duty as Primary/Junior teachers to provide students with the understanding that feedback is important and that there is still something to learn when receiving feedback (learning about our process, as well as during the process).

July 17

Generalizing vs. Particularizing in Math

Share your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree with Marion Small’s view of success criteria and “generalizing vs particularizing” in math. 

Marion Small makes a very interesting point when she discusses generalizing vs. particularizing in her video about success criteria. Marion spoke about how some educators identify the success of their students when they use the mathematic terminology that the researchers and textbooks provide. In these cases, there is a higher emphasis on ‘particularizing’, in that the students must learn to remember the name of a strategy rather than being able to explain how a strategy was used. ‘Generalizing’ involves having the students explain what method they used and how it was effective, without hyper-focusing on terminology.

I agree with Marion Small’s view of generalizing and particularizing in math, especially as it relates to success criteria. In my own practicum placements, I facilitated math number talks and explored many strategies to solve the same equation. Personally, I found it difficult to remember the various names given to each of the strategies used (i.e., double plus one, decomposing numbers, friendly numbers, etc.). I came to the realization that if it was difficult for me to remember the terminology, it was probably difficult for my students. Additionally, I had to consider what my true success criteria were for my students during the number talks: Was it to use the proper name of the strategy used, or to utilize multiple strategies and be able to explain what they did? For my group of students, the function was more important than the lingo, and I believe my students learned more from sharing strategies with their peers than from putting names to strategies. This does not dismiss the importance of the language used in math classes, but it shifts the focus from particularizing to generalizing.