Watercolour Painting, Writers Workshop, & Handball

We had a fun and busy Monday! We started our day with Language Arts, analyzing and evaluating four samples of writing using our new Proficiency Scale rubric. We had lots of great debate about what makes a quality piece of writing, and we checked our understanding against the rubic. We also practiced how to give one another constructive feedback and editing advice in ways that are honest, helpful and kind. (More on this in the future!)

Then, in Art, we experimented with creating gradations of colour and we created a colour scales using watercolour paint.

After a game of Handball in the gym, we returned to our Art lesson to try applying a “wet on wet” watercolour painting technique to create realistic looking apples. This is a continuation of an interdisciplinary unit exploring the uses, biology, history, and cultural significance of apples. Last week we researched apples using a variety of online sources, and we also began to build vocabulary in preparation to write “5 senses poems” about apples.

My Foundational Beliefs: Math Education

It’s October 15th, and we have already covered a lot of ground in the grades 4 and 5 math curriculum. I give a lot of credit for that achievement to the curiosity and commitment of the young mathematicians in our class!

Perhaps you have heard your child sharing with you our studies exploring place value, numbers concepts to 100 000 (grade 4) or 1 000 000 (grade 5), patterns in charts and tables, mental math strategies, comparing numbers (<, >, =), perimeter, telling time, reviewing math facts to 100, and more. We also have lots of open-ended math enrichment challenges from our “Math Enrichment Binder” for students to explore independently or with others to challenge their thinking. (Feel free to ask your child to bring home their Math Duo-tangs any time so you can see what we are learning.)

I wanted to share with you now the foundational beliefs I have as a math educator. Some of my views have formed over the years in my teaching practice and in academic study; some beliefs have formed in conversation with my husband, a mathematician by profession; and some of my beliefs about math education come from my experience as a mom.


  1. The universe is inherently mathematical.
  2. Humans understand and achieve many great things with math.
  3. Math is an open-ended discipline with many solved and unsolved puzzles.
  4. All children can grow as mathematical thinkers.
  5. A quality math education awakens learners’ curiosity, empowers them to make mathematical connections and meanings, and develops their practical “real world” skills in a hands-on way.
  6. Math is a language learned over time and through quality immersive experiences.
  7. A focus on seeing the beauty, relevance and mystery of math makes learning math more engaging and fun.
  8. By modeling a “mathematician’s mindset”, educators create a culture of inquiry while fostering greater independence and self-confidence.


Tiffany Poirier, teacher of division 2

Terry Fox Run, Chess & Math

Hello Division 2,

Today we started our day outside in the sun. We reflected on the legacy of Terry Fox while stretching in preparation for our 20-minute symbolic Terry Fox Run around the perimeter of the field, joined by divisions 1 and 3.

Today we had an extended math block, wrapping up our learning in a unit on patterns and diving more deeply into learning “mental math strategies”. And we continue our work exploring place value and working with numbers to 10 000 (grade 4 math) and 1 000 000 (for grade 5 students).

Our approach to learning math is structured and sequential, yet individually paced to meet the needs of students—to keep them feeling challenged while having regular success. Any given math session involves whole-class instruction, small group instruction, and one-to-one support. Our class benefits from having support from Ms. S. and occasionally Ms. Holman who are able to spend targeted time with students. We explore math problems in a hands-on way using a variety of math manipulatives to grow our understanding. We also have “Math Leaders” in our class who volunteer to help coach others in areas they have demonstrated mastery. I will be posting more about our math program in a future post—this is an area or teaching about which I am especially passionate and I enjoy sharing that love of math with students.

After lunch, our class enjoyed our first of six 1-hour lessons with Mr. Churchill, our Chess teacher. I was blown away observing the high level of student engagement as Mr. Churchill led what I felt to be a high-level strategic session—I’m a good enough chess player myself, but I can see that compared to the many Margaret Jenkins students who have been studying with Mr. Churchill for years, I have a lot to learn. In fact, I am even amazed and proud to admit that one student did beat me at a game today in class after quite a battle! I cannot overstate this: our students are so lucky to learn this beautiful and complex game from a true master. What a gift!

*Reminder that tomorrow is a day to wear an orange shirt as we continue exploring the meaning behind “Orange Shirt Day”, “Truth and Reconciliation” and the history of residential schools in Canada. Our learning in this area emerges from both students’ own questions and also curriculum guides and books recommended for the grade 4/5 level by the BCTF and SD61. We endeavour to approach content in sensitive ways and to honour Indigenous perspectives which are the central focus of our learning journey. Please accept this invitation to share with me your thoughts, questions, concerns at anytime with me through phone or email.

Robot Workshop

Dear Parents/Guardians of Division 2,

Our class is excited to announce that we have started a cross-curricular unit on the theme of “Robots”. Inspired by the novel “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown, which I will read aloud in class, our students will explore creative writing, arts activities, critical thinking puzzles, group dialogue, debate, and hands-on engineering and design challenges connected to the theme.

Our class is excited to announce that we have started a cross-curricular unit on the theme of “Robots”. Inspired by the novel “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown, which I will read aloud in class, our students will explore creative writing, arts activities, critical thinking puzzles, group dialogue, debate, and hands-on engineering and design challenges connected to the theme.

The credit for the wonderful idea for this unit goes all to our division 2 students–and it brings me joy to see how much fun they have already been having in our open-ended “Robots Workshop”. Please ask you child about what he/she has been working on.

Following the design process outlined in the grade 4/5 curriculum for ADST (Applied Design, Skills, Technologies), students have already been applying their creativity, problem solving, communication and collaboration skills as they build model robots and tools with scavenged materials I have brought into class from my home. However, our supply is already running low.

REQUEST FOR DONATIONS OF SCRAP ITEMS: Here is our request for any families who may have things to donate to our “Robot Workshop Supply Shop”:

  • small electronic items that can be taken apart for parts
  • nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
  • yarn
  • string
  • wire
  • bottle caps
  • cotton balls
  • fabric scraps
  • leather scraps
  • small wood blocks
  • sandpaper
  • aluminum foil
  • beads
  • erasers
  • popsicle sticks
  • things from your “junk drawer”
  • clean SMALL recyclable containers like plastic yogurt containers, egg cartons, plastic salad containers, or cans (with lids removed and no sharp edges

We cannot accept traditional Styrofoam due to the small particulate mess that happens during its cutting–but other kinds of easy-to-cut packing materials are great. Other tools/supplies that are helpful (even if supplied for just your own child to use) include:

  • glue guns and glue sticks
  • pliers
  • small screw drivers
  • jewelry making tools such as needle-nose pliers
  • small sewing kits (needle and thread)

Regardless of what families can contribute, I will ensure every student has equitable access to fun materials for building from my own collection and from other donations I can secure. We thank you for your time, effort and kindness in donating.


Tiffany Poirier, teacher of division 2 and VP

Safety Note: Our students are supervised closely in all hands-on creative work. Students must demonstrate they understand and can follow all safety guidelines at all times. I review all items brought into class before their use. Use of glue guns is optional and only under direct adult supervision. Use of tools such as pliers in conjunction with wire requires use of eye protection (safety glasses). Students are instructed that there is to be no building of dangerous items or weapons. Building of items such as a “marshmallow launcher” or working model of a trebuchet in specific protocol in our class (including that only soft items may be launched in our designated “launch zone” during supervised times). When it comes to safety, I’m a vigilant “Momma Bear” who seeks to ensure the safety of every student as if he/she were my own child. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or preferences to share.

A Song for Margaret Jenkins…

Dear Students and Families of Division 2,

The staff and students of Margaret Jenkins are happy to share with you the little music video we created to provide a glimpse into life at our school.

We hope you enjoy viewing this video, and feel free to share it! You might ask your child to help you identify staff, the various locations, and other meaningful aspects of the video. (Our class took the leadership in helping practice the song and suggested to me what aspects of the school to film.)


Tiffany Poirier, teacher of Div. 2 and VP

Placed-based Science with Ms. Cook on Wednesdays.

Division 2 is so lucky to have the wonderful Ms. Cook teach thought-provoking, place-based science lessons and other curricular connections on Wednesday mornings.

For example, here are our students yesterday deep in thought and revelling in nature journaling in the school garden amid sunflowers, pumpkins, marigolds and happy pollinators.

Last week, Ms. Cook kicked off the year with a highly motivating engineering challenge involving building bridges with jujube candies and popsicle sticks.

It’s a pleasure to share our class with another kindred spirit who loves teaching and learning as much as I do.

And we’ve only just begun!

Exploring Canadian Government, the Election & Leadership

Our class has been exploring the role, responsibilities and structure of government in Canada (at the municipal, provincial and federal levels).

With the Federal Election happening this last week, we had natural opportunity to learn about the process and the candidates’ priorities. Students completed a reference chart based on their own interpretation of the candidates platforms Two notable resources we used included and

The students found it valuable to see video of the candidates discussing their priorities, values and commitments towards making their own informed judgments.

We discussed the question, “What are you looking for in the next leader of Canada?” Students were also invited to choose how to share their learning: either orally for the group or 1-to-1 with the teacher, or in written form,

On Monday, Mme Small’s class hosted the “Student Vote” in order to give students the experience of voting. Check out the photos below to see the results of our school election.

We will continue to explore the theme of Leadership throughout the year—especially as it relates to and can be expressed in students’ own lives.

Sorting Sentences

Today in Div. 2, we continued our inquiry into this question: “What are the ingredients of a well-formed sentence?”

The Process
(1.) We worked together in groups to brainstorm fun sentences (intentionally writing a range of very simple to complex sentences).
(2.) We shuffled and redistributed the piles of sample sentences.
(4.) Teams analyzed and discussed the merits of each sentence and evaluated them using a “Proficiency scale” rubric.
(5.) Students explained their choices and reflected on learning.

NOTE ABOUT THE PROFICIENCY SCALE: Please ask your child to explain the “apple tree metaphor” (seed, seedling, tree, fruiting apple tree). It important for us to honour our efforts in every stage of the learning continuum.

I’m excited about next week when the students will be invited to mark samples of MY OWN GRADE 4 WRITING that my mom saved for me for the last three decades. (The more practice students get thinking critically and assessing “like a teacher”, the more they learn to coach themselves.) 🌈