Category Archives: Asking Questions

Asking Questions about Child Activists

Both classes are learning about the reading strategy Asking Questions.  As we are about to start writing reports, it is a good introduction to doing research.  Without questions we have nothing to find out!


We talked about thin & thick questions.  The students hypothesized that thin questions were simple and had straightforward answers, the meaning of a word would be a thin question, or the location of an event.  Thin questions are often answered in the text or with simple, quick research.


Thick questions have more complicated answers and sometimes can’t be answered at all.  Thick questions require inferring and complex research and analysis.


We started with a read aloud from the book Our Rights:  How Kids are Changing the World by Janet Wilson.

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The grade fours learned about Shannen Koostachin, a First Nations girl from Attiwapiskat who took a stand about her town’s lack of a proper school.   Shannen had to leave her family to go to high school right here at TDSS.  Tragically, she was killed in a car accident.

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Here are some of the questions the grade fours had after listening to Shannen’s story.    We will research some answers to their questions next week.


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The grade fives read about a girl in India named Anita Khuswaha.  Anita was born to a lower caste family so her future was marrying young and shepherding goats and having lots of children.  Anita stood up to her parents and her culture and decided to become a bee keeper.

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The grade fives have already researched their questions and will present their findings to the class next week.  I will post their findings here.


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FaceTime Chat with Matt Henderson about Colonialism & Idle No More

Today our class had a Facetime chat with Matt Henderson, a friend of mine who is a teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I met Matt this past summer at Unplug’d 2012, an amazing PD experience you can read all about here.

The students and I have been watching films, reading articles and discussing colonialism and Idle No More for the past few weeks.  We are learning about how the government of Canada treated the indigenous peoples of Canada and how that has affected their culture, families and individuals.   Matt helped our class by explaining what he knows about colonial history in Canada, particularly Manitoba, but also the Maritmes, Ontario & Quebedc and the west.   Matt also explained that the Idle No More movement is about people taking a stand to effect change.  Taking a stand to right the wrongs of the past and to work together as Canadians to change the present.  Deciding that it’s not OK to subjugate others and reaching out to support our fellow human beings. 


One of our goals with this exploration is to understand perspective and prejudice and to try our very best to form opinions about issues and people only after we have valid information about them.    This is taking a critical stance, examining an issue, synthesizing all the information, and developing an informed opinion.

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We watched this CBC Doczone episode to help us understand modern First Nation people’s lives.


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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. day in the US.  We watched a short biography of him and then part of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  We will be applying our reading strategy asking questions to a print version of his speech on Thurday. 

Many students remembered when we talked about Rosa Parks.

Today in math we had our Data Management test.


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Taking Notes, Asking Questions – Mean & Data Analysis

Today we will be learning about the reading comprehension strategy “Asking Questions” or Questioning.  Good readers ask questions as they read.  When reading for information, good reader’s also take notes to help them clarify questions and remember the content.  Our class is learning the reading strategy asking questions at the same time as the writing skill, note taking.  Deciding what is important is an important skill and it depends on the reader/writer’s purpose.  Why am I reading this book or article?  If it’s for information for a project then I need to know what my topic is.   Our main purpose in this instance was to write a summary, so we need to focus on the main idea.  Our questions will be answered later when we are reading for different purposes.

Asking Questions

The students are reading an article from Time Magazine for Kids.  The article is about child labour and it starts with a story about a boy in Ecuador who works on a banana plantation.  Some of the students highlighted personal information about him.  We need to have the discussion, is that information the main idea of this article?  Since we are writing a summary we need to focus on main ideas. 

Here is a sample of a students’ annotations:



Next up, answering our questions and questioning the source of information for validity and bias.

Mme. Walton, Mme. Moar and I were having a debate about mean (average) the other day.  We were trying to figure out a real life situation, other than grades, where mean is useful (and we thought that it might not be that useful for grades, or genuine assessment).  We each came up with an idea and then decided, no, that’s not really useful.  Mme. Walton thought of the shoe store owner and inventory.  So my class and I put all our shoe sizes up on the board and found the mean which was 5.5.  I asked if we should order more sixe 5.5 shoes than any other size and we quickly decided no, we shouldn’t.  The useful average for ordering would be mode.  Hmmm.  What about grades.  If Mr. Date (our principal) came and asked me the mean for the last test we did, would it help him understand how my class is doing on the measurement strand?  Hmmm.  Not really.  So tonight the students are supposed to ask their parents for a situation in which they think the mean would be truly useful.  Mme.  Walton, Mme.  Moar and I decided it’s probably only useful for marketing, to mislead the public into buying a product or an idea.  What do you think?

In the meantime, the students are solving a crime using Data Analysis:

math task


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