Thursday, 21 June 2018

MHPS 3rd Annual Family Math Night

On Thursday May 24th, 2018 Moraine Hills Public School hosted our 3rd Annual Family Math Night. This is the second year in a row that I have had the honour of being the Chairperson for this event! It takes wonderful and supportive Administrators like Principal Deborah Snow and Vice Principal Jonathan Weisinger and dedicated staff members and volunteers to help make this event so successful. This post will highlight the new additions we made to this year's event, as well as some Tips for Educators who wish to implement a Family Math Night at their school next year. Click here AND here for more information about Family Math Night at Moraine Hills P.S. in past years).

New Additions

  • Passports
This year we decided to create passports so that the students and their families had the opportunity to participate in all of the Mathematics Learning opportunities that we had to offer. At each station they visited, they were given a stamp on that corresponding page in their passport. At the end of the evening, the families drop their passports in the drop-off bin on their way out. Completed passports were drawn for the grand prize which was a 1-2 Hour Coding Session for the student and their entire class from Hatch Canada. To learn more about Hatch Canada or their programs for your children, click here.

  • Community Partners & More Prizes
I like to keep some prizes the same, oldies but goodies; but also wanted to add a bunch more options to the mix to keep things interesting and exciting. Prizes are usually for the top 3 winners of each Estimation question. This year, the top prize at the Estimation Station was a Learning Resources STEM Robot Mouse Coding Activity Set valued at $59.99. This prize also connected to one of the Math stations we had available called, "Bee Bot Challenge" where the students had the opportunity to practice basic coding skills. To obtain this Coding Set click here. Other amazing prizes included: SimonAir, Blokus, Q-Bitz, Wooden Tetris, and Math Storybooks such as "The Action of Subtraction."

  • Outdoor Learning Opportunities
As a school and school board, we encourage learning in the outdoors as we believe the outdoors to have many benefits to our well-being (Click here to learn more about Outdoor Education). This year, we started small and offered two really great learning opportunities outdoors and that was: Outdoor Math Story Walk and Transformational Geometry. The Math Story Walk allowed students and their families to take a walk outside, breathe in the fresh air, read a story together, and participate in some hands on learning experiences about addition and subtraction. The Transformational Geometry station allowed students and their families to physically experience the concepts of Translations, Reflections, and Rotations.

  • ELL & Math Booth
Our English Language Learner Teachers put together a variety of assessment samples that show how modifications or accommodations can be made to that piece of assessment which meets the needs and abilities of English Language Learner Students. This gave families a better understanding of what it might "look like" in practice.

  • Be Kind to Yourself & Town Hall Booth
Moraine Hills has done a lot of work around promoting and raising awareness for Kindness. Kindness to Yourself, Kindness to Others, and Kindness to the Environment. We have also conducted and analyzed research for our Town Hall initiatives around Grades and Student self-worth and well-being. This station facilitated the creation of a Wellness Toolkit so that students and their families were provided with some information and coping strategies to use at home. The information and strategies that were presented at this station were very well received by students and their families.

  • Coding Activities
To support Modern Learning and technology use, we also had some educators facilitating a coding station called, "Bee Bot Challenge". This station allowed students and their families to gain exposure to the basics of coding and learn more about the curriculum connections.

  • Math Night Banner
This year we decided to purchase a professionally made banner from VistaPrint. Since Family Math Night has become an annual event at Moraine Hills, we decided to create a reusable banner for efficiency and aesthetic.

Math Night Tips

  • Stay Organized: Have a plan and organize achievable steps to attain your plan. If your event is on the beginning of May, start planning the beginning of April. Some web-based APPs/Programs that helped me stay organized this year were: Google Keep and Google Drive.

  • Meetings: Try your best to arrange for meetings that meet the needs of your volunteers and try not to schedule meetings too often because all Educators are busy. Also, have an agenda prepared to help guide your meeting and stay on track.

  • Accept Input: It is important to listen and accept input from other Educators/volunteers. You may not agree with everything, but everyone should feel welcomed, supported, and that their ideas are valued.

  • Offer Help: Offer extra periods of time that you will be available to support staff who would like assistance with ideas for a station, gathering or creating materials, etc.

  • Make Yourself Available: If you are the person running the event, it is important to make yourself available for the "just incase" circumstances. Try not to station yourself at one activity. I like to be responsible for the Estimation Station. This activity is self-run which allows for me to go where I am needed. For example, one year someone had to leave early so I was able to cover their station. This year we had more families than anticipated and we ran out of passports, so I (among others) were able to run and create more passports (a good problem to have).

  • Document the Learning: Keep a Math Night Binder which includes all activities and resources for each of your events so that you have a repertoire to choose from/refer to when needed. It also makes for a nice portfolio ;)

  • Share Resources with Staff: Many of our staff have volunteered for the Math Night event so they know all the activities and resources but I have also encouraged that everyone upload everything to our school shared team drive. This will allow all staff at our school community to access and implement these activities in their classrooms. *Resources and activities have been shared with families at Math Night

  • Have Fun! : The most important tip is to have fun and enjoy the event because a lot of planning goes into it and it goes by very quickly.

I have said it once and I will say it again...

Thank you to everyone who dedicated their time and resources to the event! It is really valued and appreciated, not only by myself but by our Administrators and our school community!


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Fostering Inclusive, Mentally Healthy Learning Environments

On Wednesday April 18th, 2018 I attended an NTIP Series workshop called “Fostering Inclusive, Mentally Healthy Learning Environments”. I place such high importance and value in all professional development opportunities as they allow you to learn and grow in your professional practice as an Educator. In this ever changing world, we need to keep up with current practices. Today’s session aligns with the York Region District School Board’s (YRDSB) Foci Mental Health and Modern Learning (Mathematics is part of the foci but not this can be applied to the learning environment as a whole, including all subject areas). This session also aligns with Moraine Hills Public School’s “Be Kind” Team initiatives of “Kindness to Self and Kindness to Others”.  


With every workshop I attend, I take plenty of notes and I like to make to-do lists containing at least one thing I can put into practice ASAP because research shows that when you apply your newfound knowledge within 24 hours, you are more likely to store it and use it. With this session, I found 8 practical takeaway ideas that I personally resonated with and felt would create a positive impact in my current Grade 6 classroom and would like to share them with you below:

  1.      Sunshine Calls

This can be a call, e-mail, or face-to-face communication at pick up where the Educator shares one good thing that the student has done, said, or accomplished that day. It is often found that parents immediately associate school calls with a negative emotion because they fear something happened to their child or that their child is in trouble. If Educators can add in a couple of Sunshine Calls per student per year, it not only makes the parents happy and proud, but also the student. I find that personally I have not been doing enough of this and will try to do this more often. I found a really great TPT FREE resource called “Freebie check-off sheet for positive parent communication” created by Teacher to the Core. It will allow you to keep track of your wonderful calls or e-mails so that you can spread the sunshine evenly among your students! Click here to visit the resource.

Flexible Seating27_Bored Teachers   Flexible Seating1_Bored Teachers
                 (@TheUniqueClassroom)                                   (@SettingUpForSecond)       

2.   Flexible Seating

In the beginning of this Grade 6 LTO, it was a rolling LTO which meant that we were not sure when the Teacher would be back so it kept getting extended. Seeing as I was never really sure when my last day was, I didn’t want to change TOO much in the classroom because it wasn’t really my class-just yet. At this point I am fairly certain that I will be here until the end of the year and even if I am not, I am willing to try to incorporate some flexible seating into my classroom. This can look differently for each class you go to. The students are sitting in their seats for nearly the whole day, after a while that can get pretty boring and uncomfortable. I currently have a ZEN Zone area where my students can sit/lay down with some pillows or in a comfy couch chair (from Mr. Weisinger our VP) and read their book or do some work there too. This means that I have spaces in my classroom for independent work/pairs (at desks), and independent/ pairs at ZEN Zone. In my next class, I would really like to include: a carpet, bean bags, lounge chairs, bouncy ball chair. For some inspiration, you can visit here.

3. Coping With Stress

It is evident that some students and adults for that matter, have a hard time coping with stress. In order for someone to be able to cope with stress, they will need to have some strategies in place to choose from. Many students are not equipped with coping strategies, so when they come to class and had a rough night before, or at recess and they don’t know what to do, you will see behavior. It may be visible in that you see students exhibit verbal or physical aggression towards others; but it can also be invisible in that a student shuts down and won’t speak to you or participate. If we as a collective of Educators and Caregivers can provide our students and children with coping strategies, it allows them to overcome their challenges and become resilient individuals. There are many ways to do this, and it all depends on the learners in your classroom. For our class, we have community circle and open communication about anything we wish to discuss. I have also implemented a “ZEN Zone” area, which was created by The Superhero Teacher. Click here to access the link for purchase. It was well worth the buy as it provides many wellness and mindfulness opportunities for your students (and yourself) to participate in. We also keep a wellness journal to reflect on different things each day. The students have access to this during each morning recess and it will be open to all classes once my students have mastered the challenges so that they can lead it out themselves. 

Image result for antecedent behavior consequence chart template

4. ABC Chart

An ABC Chart is a great way to track behaviours. A=Antecedents, B=Behaviours, C= Consequences. To read more about this and obtain a sample tracking sheet, visit one of my earlier blog posts titled “Creating Equitable Special Education Programs in Ontario Classrooms” by clicking here:
I have previously used this regularly when I was working in a Full-Day Kindergarten Classroom but for some reason when I came to Grade 6 I had forgotten all about it! There is so much to learn and so much to do as a new Teacher, which is why I really like to reflect on my experiences through my blog so that I can remember the things that worked well and change the things that did not. The ABC Chart worked well, and I will be re-implementing it in my Grade 6 class to help me try to identify the triggers. When you can identify the triggers, you can gain a better understanding of how to support or prevent.

Image result for class norms
5. Re-Visiting Class Norms

Throughout the year, students change and grow and the classroom norms that were once very effective, may no longer be effective as now there are differing needs. We will be re-visiting class norms/agreements and making any necessary modifications so that our classroom can continue to run smoothly and inclusively as possible. It is key to have students involved in this process so that there is “buy in”. They are more likely to do something or follow an agreement if they have a personal vested interest because they feel their ideas are valued.

Image result for google form

6. Learning Partner Survey

This is something new I have not yet tried. It was suggested in the workshop to create a Google Form that contains 3 partner options. It is an anonymous way for students to select people they feel most comfortable with. In the end, it is up to the Educators decision if that partner will be a good fit or if you want to let them have a chance to prove you wrong. I will definitely be giving this a try, even in group work scenarios because then you can just copy and paste the grouping results.

7. Storyline Online

(Include the video from the about page with this section instead of a pic
This is an online website where celebrities are doing read-alouds of well known books. Click here to visit the website. I feel that my students will really like this, especially in Grade 6 where celebrities are part of their interests and some even role models. Even a simple read-aloud to spark an inquiry, drama, or art provocation would be engaging for any learners 

8. Self-Advocacy Cards

I have heard about PECS or Visual Aids for learning, but have never heard about Self-Advocacy cards until the NTIP session I attended. Advocacy cards are needed for some but good for all! They allow students to communicate without the social pressures of raising their hand or verbally speaking if they physically are unable or don’t feel comfortable in doing so. The students can simply show you the card and then you will know how to respond.
  •     Students will be able to communicate their needs or ideas
  •    Students will feel less social pressure or anxiety in doing so
  •    Students will become empowered with the ability to advocate for themselves

I created Self Advocacy cards that I feel meets the needs of the students in my class. I also created a blank template for students to create their own, if there was anything I was missing that personally applied to them. If this is something you would like to implement in your classroom you can purchase them from my TPT site, click here.


I wish that I had the opportunity to take this workshop earlier on in the school year so that I could have all these great ideas in place. At least I have curated a wonderful repertoire for next year! If you are a new Teacher and have the opportunity to participate in the NTIP Program with your school board, then I highly recommend it!


I would like to end off with this quote that was presented to me at the NTIP learning session:

“When schools attend systematically to students’ social and emotional skills, the academic achievement of children increases, the incidence of problem behaviour decreases, and the quality of the relationships surrounding each child improves”.           
(Maurice J. Elias et al Promoting Social and Emotional Learning Guidelines for Educators, 1997)



Tuesday, 6 March 2018

YRDSB Leadership Strategy

This month, I was invited my VP Jonathan Weisinger to participate in #yrdsbtalk which is an online collaborative platform that occurs on the first Tuesday of each month at 8pm. Tonights conversation is revolved around the YRDSB Leadership Strategy.

  • What is the YRDSB Leadership Strategy? “York Region District School Board recognizes leadership as a foundational practice essential to inspiring staff learning to improve student achievement and well-being. Leadership Is crucial to supporting innovation as it sparks creativity in problem solving, new approaches to learning together, and continuous improvement. Leadership must strengthen our commitment to equity through relentless work toward the eradication of systemic barriers to academic success and well-being for all learners to ensure the condition of fair, inclusive and respectful treatment of all people” (YRDSB).
  • Vision: "York Region District School Board’s vision “to be a leader in public education by empowering all students to become engaged and caring citizens of the world” will require leaders who exemplify the character, competencies and commitment of ethical leadership as they:
  • Champion excellence through equity
  • Promote a culture of collaborative professionalism
  • Inspire current and future leaders
  • Find a variety of ways to engage staff in ongoing dialogue about professional learning and collaboration within the context of school and workplace 

How Do I meet these Competencies?

As a new Teacher I am continuously learning and building my professional knowledge and leadership. Below you will find ways that I am currently demonstrating the competencies:

1. Champion Excellence Through Equity
"Create opportunities for staff learning about Indigenous ways of knowing,anti-oppression, social justice and culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy" 
(I facilitated a carousel session at our staff meeting about Incorporating Treaty Education into your Program. I am also a member of our school’s “Be Kind to Others” team, formally known as Equity Team)


"Commit to learning about anti oppression and understand how privilege, power and oppression result in inequitable outcomes for marginalized students, staff and communities"  
(I participated in an NTIP session about Culturally Responsive Pedagogy)

2. Promoting a Culture of Collaborative Professionalism
"Develop collective responsibility for continuous improvement focused on co-learning through a cycle of inquiry, collective action and reflective practice"
(Lots of co-learning and reflective practice through participating in NTIP with my Teaching Mentor Vicky Angastiniotis. Tomorrow we will begin reflection and co-learning around intentional and purposeful assessment)

"Foster an environment which allows for the opportunity to ask questions, engage in dialogue and discourse, and co-construct shared understandings. Recognize and respond to the multiple entry points and understandings of equity, content and pedagogy/professional learning. Activate participation in ongoing professional learning by valuing diverse perspectives, world views and experiences, sincere dialogue and community engagement" 
(I am always sharing my professional learning with other teachers either on breaks, after school, or through my educational social media platforms. I engage staff through professional learning and collaboration when I am facilitating PD sessions @ Moraine Hills such as: ASL in your Classroom, Treaty Education and Family Math Night)- just to name a few

3. Inspire Current and Future Leaders

"Be intentional in inspiring future leaders. Exemplify and build shared practices that embed theYRDSBMission, Vision and Values in daily work" 
(Part of my educational brand “Educate.Invest.Inspire” is to inspire others, whether that be my peer staff, students, parents, etc. I feel that through my educational social media accounts I am able to exemplify and build shared practices that embed the YRDSB Mission, Vision and Values within my daily work. This reaches many people globally who have access to technology and those social media accounts)

"Develop others’ leadership capacity to address the system’s changing needs. Support and nurture the leadership growth in new and aspiring leaders seeking learning opportunities" 
(There are a few Teacher Candidates and recent B.Ed graduates that have expressed their willingness to participate in extracurricular involvement in the school. I help support them in whatever they choose to participate in by helping them get in touch with staff that lead out what they wish to participate in. They have also said they noticed my educational social media accounts and would love to come sit in and volunteer in my classroom once their practicum is finished. I support these TC’s because not only is it great for their professional learning, I will learn from them also and I will expand my leadership capacity)

"Model risk taking and openness to learning from mistakes or failure as an approach to leading and learning"
(I model this for my students, if I should make a mistake in class I own up to it and model my problem solving strategies and show my students that everyone makes mistakes -even teachers- and that mistakes allow learning to happen)



"Seek input, be open to feedback, actively reflect and take action for continuous improvement and growth Participate in regular and timely growth- oriented appraisal processes"
(This was my first year as an official LTO Teacher so I had the opportunity of participating in the Teacher Appraisal process which allowed me to understand my strengths and areas to continue my professional learning. I am always working with my Mentor, other teachers, administration and accepting feedback for professional growth)

#inspireexcellence #yrdsbtalk #yrdsbteacher #leadership #educateinvestinspire

Thank you for reading!
~Ms. Rose Marcelli, OCT, RECE