Diving Deeper into Division

Hello, division 2 families! Today we dove deeper into our division unit, which we have been exploring and ramping up with various skill building activities and word problems since November. Here was our process for today. We reviewed some introductory division questions like 12 divided by 4 using word problems, and I drew these questions with symbolic images on the white board. For example, we asked, if there are 12 cookies and 4 friends, how many cookies would each friend get if we divide the cookies up equally?

We also looked different ways of expressing a division question and looked how the parts of a division question (dividend, divisor, and quotient) are located in these different expressions.

An emphasis of our learning is to try to keep in mind how our symbolic math relates to real life. So students were again invited to think of and share their own word problems—a practice we have been doing for a while, especially in our recent Math Stories challenges.

We also returned to looking at how division works using base ten blocks. For example, if there is $550 of prize money that needs to be divided equally among five prize winners, how many dollars would each winner get? $110, as shown below.

We discussed the importance of knowing multiplication facts to aid in the division process—and I reminded students they should consult their multiplication charts when in doubt to ensure accuracy. (Keep up that regular math facts practice at home!)

Then we reviewed the process for long division. After talking through and modelling the process with various questions from the homework sheet, students then viewed several long division instructional videos on YouTube. I asked them to evaluate and decide which videos were most helpful.

We discussed how students can increase their independence as math learners by paying attention in class, asking for help at school and at home from family, and also by exploring quality math instructional videos online.

Here are three of the videos students watched and decided were helpful:

HOMEWORK: Every student is at a different level of understanding in long division. Since we aim to wrap this unit up in three weeks time, I let students know that it would be helpful for students to spend at least 15-20 minutes each night practicing division. We will have daily practice in class with both teacher and peer support. When students do not finish assignments during our class time, I ask them to complete this work at home. ***Even if students finish all class work, they can keep practicing division by making up their own questions, reviewing division instructional videos, and getting support from family members. As well, I am available every day after school for students who need a few minutes of extra support in addition to the one-on-one support already provided during math class and our catch up blocks.

Parents/Guardians: Thank you for the extra help you can offer your child to learn division. We are working hard in class, but your time at home could make all the difference in helping your child make that leap in understanding.

JUST FYIALTERNATE METHODS COMING SOON: This week, in addition to the traditional long division algorithm, I will be presenting two alternate methods of doing division and students will be asked to try both in class. One method is the “box method” (video explanation here: and the other involves “using easy multiples of the divisor”, which is described in this helpful video by Margaret Jenkins’ own Mr. Pite here:

I don’t expect students to master all three methods—but I asked them to work towards mastering their favourite division method. For our final division unit quiz in three weeks (Feb. 22), students are permitted to choose any method that works best for them, as long as they show their work.

***There is also a “Box Method” for multiplication, so be sure to remember which operation you are doing and use the correct method.

Friendship, Marble Run & Writing

What does it mean to be a good friend? This was the big question we pondered in division 2 today.

After some initial thinking time to capture first thoughts, I read aloud, “Little Beaver and the Echo”—a story about a lonely beaver who calls out in sadness that he has no friends. When he hears a voice across the lake also call back the same lament, he goes in search of that other lonely soul. The voice turns out to be his own echo—but along his journey to discover his own voice, he meets a duck, turtle and otter who agree to be his friends. The students discussed the story’s message as being about the need to go out with courage and make your own friends. We also reflected on the value of befriending yourself (your own little echo) because self-kindness matters, but also because this practice may make you more ready to show kindness to others.

Then students engaged in a philosophical discussion about our central question, which we audio-recorded. This documentation process (1.) helps us focus on quietly listening to whomever the speaker was, (2.) captures the rapid flow of big ideas for deeper analysis later in the day as a pre-writing prompt, (3.) showcases our learning process for our families, and (4.) boosts students’ confidence by proving that their ideas have value and impact.

The students worked together to do their own mind map of their big ideas, and I modelled making a mind map as a summary of their dialogue points. I do this to honour their contributions in a visual form to make them easier to work with later and to show them the vast wisdom that can accrue from even just a short discussion.

After some students went to Strings class and others collaboratively built a marble run, did art, or played chess, there was Music class, then lunch and a return to Language Arts learning. We had a lesson in editing paragraphs with Ms. Holman, and then students began planning a new well structured paragraph to capture their reflections on friendship.

*Fun fact: The fact that today our story’s protagonist was a beaver is significant because we are now in our Social Studies unit on the fur trade—and it’s nice to consider this great animal in new contexts!

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! Today in division 2 we wrapped up our unit on multi-digit multiplication. Students have brought home their quizzes today with a note, and I’ve requested that they do their corrections as homework and return the quizzes with corrections to me on Friday. (They can rewrite the questions on a separate piece of paper or write on the same quiz sheet.) I’ve also asked that students analyze their work and get clarity on where they may be making errors. For example, are they simply forgetting their items tables? Do they forget the steps in multi-digit addition? Is it just a matter of needed to print and line up numbers more neatly so they can read their own writing? Students are able to rewrite this quiz in two weeks if they would like, and I ask that that they practice at home in preparation if that is their choice to rewrite.

In social studies today, we defined “continent” and watched this video, and they added continent and colony to their personal Social Studies Glossary pages.

Then, students had a sneak peak at our upcoming unit on the fur trade. I shared a big picture overview of the story of European’s contact with Indigenous peoples of North America in the 1500s. Students also reviewed the Nelson textbook

We also did a lesson and a group game to make sure we are clear on the difference between the following homophones: there, their, they’re

Students also completed their animal art to pair with their paragraphs from last week.

Writer’s Workshop: Animal Paragraphs

Happy Friday, division 2 families! Today students really put their heads down to practice some important paragraph writing skills. The big question of our writing prompt today was…

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

We began by considering the virtues of five sample paragraphs about what it would like to be a seagull, an eagle, a bear, a dog and an orca. Each paragraph had a hook, a topic sentence, at least three big ideas, transition words and a conclusion. We drew attention to some issues we keep returning to including the importance of capitalizing the first words of sentences, varying our sentences structure, swapping out overused words for fresh ones, and writing in complete sentences. We also discussed how to use the (optional) structured paragraph templates I provided—as well as the importance of applying creativity to ensure a writing piece is authentic.

Then students used the Chromebooks to research animals, make notes using a graphic organizer for making paragraphs. Then they created paragraph drafts, self and peer edited them, and finally conferences with me for some last minute teacher advice before writing their good copies.

Every single student showed exciting growth in their writing skills today! Seeing this growth is pure joy for a teacher! Here are a few of the wonderful pieces written today that I had a chance to photograph before they went home to be shared with families.

Storymaking & Leadership Essays Continued…

Yesterday in division two we took some time to really focus on the structure of a well-written story. We analyzed “A Team Like No Other” and mapped out its key elements on a “story map” template. Together we identified the setting, the characters, the main events in sequence, the problem, the solution and the ending. Students had a chance to practice retelling the story in their own words both at school and at home later as homework in order to continue building confidence as skills as storytellers.

Later that day, students used their creativity in teams to create and present new mathematical versions of the story from the morning during our Math Stories block. The challenge was to find ways to embed at least 3 math questions (using a variety of operations) into a story retelling in a way that was natural and faithful to the plot.

In the afternoon we focused on editing our “Leadership Essays” with peer support. Students practiced using editing marks and offering constructive feedback. The wonderful Ms. Holman joined us for this lesson to provide support and new helpful ideas to grow our writing practices. Students were challenged to decide upon at least one new big ideas to add and develop into a full paragraph for our next editing session. We will continue to edit and build upon these essays until they are polished examples of our best work—then we will read them aloud in class for public speaking practice. Some students, with parent permission, may choose to go on to create a video version of their essays in the style of a “TED Talk”.

Leadership Essays & Athletics

Happy Friday, everyone! Today in division 2 the students enjoyed listening to and reflecting upon their recording of yesterday’s leadership dialogue. Then they made their own notes of points they felt stood out, and then organized their ideas into thoughtful instructive essays on the topic “How to Be a Leader”. Next week the students will edit and develop their essays further by adding more examples and stories. Eventually students will share their advice for leaders as speeches, which they may present live or on video depending on preference and permissions.

During PE today students had a fun mix of hockey, invented fantasy games, basketball trick practices, skipping and gymnastics presentations.

Leadership, Divisibility & More Math Stories

Highlights of the wonderful thoughts shared by our young leaders in div. 2! (Privacy Note: No names, no faces, and no identifying comments or sensitive content are ever shared to protect anonymity.)

Today in division 2, the students had a powerful dialogue in response to this question: What is a leader? I was so moved and impressed by the maturity of everyone’s reflections. We are beginning to think more about leadership as it connects to our Career Education curriculum, especially as we look for ways to practice leadership skills though our Personal Interest Projects. As well, students made connections to past Social Studies learning by naming notable historical leaders.

Moving towards sharpening our storytelling and speaking skills, we also considered some leadership story frameworks. For example, we played with a “mentoring” story framework called “When I was Yoda” that is one of the classic plot archetypes discussed by storyteller and business writer David Hutchins in his book, “Circle of the 9 Muses: A Storytelling Field Guide for Innovators and Meaning Makers”.

In math, we learned about divisibility rules and some students chose to explore an enrichment lesson introducing exponents. Then in the afternoon we continued on with making and sharing math stories. There were also a few fun chess games played today!

Making Math Stories…

We joyfully advanced our storytelling unit today: making math stories!

To start, I shared some ways my sons use their collection of storytelling bits and bobs at our house. Our collection includes animal and people figurines, rocks, shells, fabric and felt, string, crystals, various counters, dice, and more.

Then we discussed ways to source and create new story props, using free and recycled materials.

Next, we discussed and modelled how even the simplest things can be transformed into magical objects of wonder when presented in the right narrative by an engaging speaker.

We reviewed story structure and conventions, and then spoke about the pros and cons of creating stories within constraints.

Then I asked students to create mathematical stories with a clear beginning, middle and end and at least 3 math questions, preferably using different operations. Our story making constraints were for students to select from a limited supplies list, which included just chess pieces, paper, base ten blocks, and counters. The purpose of such constraint was to force more creativity within the limits to prove to students that stories depend more on imagination than fancy materials. (Another constraint we used was that stories must be “school appropriate”.)

How did it all go? Amazing! There was so much meaningful discussion, thoughtful planning and a demonstration of whimsy and humour. This may have been my favourite math session of all time.

Next Thursday, we continue math story making, taking it to new levels with increasing demands on the quality and complexity of math questions they work into their stories. Students are invited to bring in an small props of their choosing, so long as their props can all fit into their new wooden math stories boxes I will provide for storage.

In addition to learning about storytelling traditions across cultures, our goals this term are for students to develop their story-making lexicon, increasingly apply literary devices, create their own “Story Banks” drawing upon of a variety of narratives types (such as a hero’s journey), and to practice storytelling frequently in order to increase their skills and build their confidence as speakers.

Hummingbird Lessons

Welcome back, division 2! It’s wonderful to see you again. Today we began with discussing important reminders about how we can keep one another healthy through social distancing in class, wearing our masks consistently and washing our hands frequently.

Parents and guardians, we thank you for helping students to do their daily health checks and to remember to bring to their masks (and keep 1-2 back-up masks in backpacks at all times).

Please stay home if you have signs of illness. I will provide catch up work for students if desired. Please check in with this blog on days you are absent to see what we explored in class. I will not post every day but I will try to post more often now to keep students who are at home feeling connected.

Today we read aloud the story “Flight of the Hummingbird” that features illustrations by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Then we watched this video illustrating the book:

Students also read some interesting science facts about these small, mighty birds and completed some connected language arts activities. Then, they painted their own beautiful hummingbirds.

We also introduced cursive writing today. Students were challenged to write their own first and last names in cursive in a clear and legible way. We discussed how there is literacy value in being able to read scripted text and how a unique cursive signature may develop over time.

TODAY’S HOMEWORK: I asked students to retell “Flight of the Hummingbird” to a family member at home this evening and to share what they believe the message of the story is. We will be focussing more on oral language skills in term two (public speaking and storytelling), and so it’s helpful for students to begin practicing these skills at home.