How We Express Ourselves Unit of Inquiry

Good morning from Grade 1,

Well I truly do not know where the time is going. I still cannot believe that it is 2018 and already the beginning of February. Last Friday, we finished our wonderful unit How We Organize Ourselves. I LOVE science so this was a great unit to plan learning experiences for the students. We did many experiments relating to air and sound in order for the students to gain an understanding of their properties.

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Our new unit begins this Monday. This unit will enable the students to tap into their imagination and learn to express themselves through story telling. Below are the highlights of our 4th Unit of Inquiry.

Unit of Inquiry

How We Express Ourselves

Central Idea: Stories inform, provoke and make us reflect on the world around us

Lines of Inquiry: 

  • What a story is
  • The purpose behind stories
  • Different ways stories are created and shared

Teacher Questions:

  • What is a story?
  • How can you share a story?
  • Why do we have stories?
  • How can we tell that a story has achieved its purpose?

PYP Attitudes: 

Creativity and Confidence as a reader, writer and story teller.

Learner Profiles: 

  • Students will be open-minded when listening to stories, realizing that they need to be tolerant of the viewpoint of others and appreciating the differences in writing styles and content.
  • Students will be risk-takers as they brainstorm ideas and write their own narratives.
  • They will confidently share their stories with others

Transdisciplinary Skills:

  • Students will use their thinking skills when they interpret an author’s intention behind the writing and explore the techniques that author uses to create a great story (words, images). Students will attempt to apply this new knowledge in writing, images or verbally to their own personal narratives.
  • Students will use their communication skills when they listen to read-aloud stories. They will share their ideas as to what made the story interesting/great/funny or the things they did not like about the story
  • Reading Skills: When making inferences and drawing conclusions about stories
  • Writing Skills: When recording information and observations about stories and creating their own stories.

Some images from our tuning in activities. Students are exploring the different ways that people express themselves – through music, art….today students watched a video of performance artist Heather Hansen and after created their own charcoal/pencil drawing listening to a peace mantra. 

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Writing to Entertain

When younger students are learning about narratives, they need to be provided with many opportunities to listen to narratives being read, as well as to watch visual narratives in the form of cartoons or videos. These varied experiences enable discussions, retellings, sequencing and modeling of narratives, structures and features to take place. This is all part of the initial stage in the writing process called ‘Building the field’, where students develop their knowledge of and vocabulary about narratives.

In our Writing to Entertain unit, students will learn the purpose, text structure and language features of narrative writing.

Purpose: to entertain and/or instruct readers by telling a series of events with a problem and a solution. We will be exploring fables, tall tales and fairy tales from around the world.

Text Structure: Students will learn that narratives follow a structure beginning with the Orientation. Here the main character is introduced in a setting of time and place. This is followed by a Complication in which the character encounters a problem. The last structure is called Resolution whereby the problem is solved.

Language Features: Students will explore the language features found in narratives. We will be looking at nouns, past tense verbs and time and sequence words.


This week, we will be finishing up our Shape and Space unit. Students have been exploring maps, reading and creating map keys, using positional and directional words associated with reading maps as well as locating features on a grid using coordinates.

Justin and Khalif finding their way out of a maze. This activity was followed by students directing their partner out of a maze. Janne is directing Rafael out of a maze using cardinal directions – North, South, East and West. 

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Students had fun exploring different types of maps

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In our stand alone math unit we will continue with our number strand. 

Strand Title:  Number

Conceptual understanding (Phase 2)

  • Number operations can be modelled in a variety of ways

Learning outcomes

  • recognise notes according to their value
  • solve simple addition and subtraction problems using a range of efficient mental and written strategies.
  • count and order notes according to their value
  • describe and order coins and notes according to their value
  • count and order small collections of coins and notes according to their value in real-life situations

In our Unit of Inquiry math, students will learn the strategies that will help them solve word problems and number stories.


December 1, 2017

Good morning parents,

As grade one begins a new unit, I would like to reflect on last week’s Fabulous Friday. As a teacher, I could not have been more proud of the students. The How We Organize Ourselves unit introduced new skills that we will continue to grow throughout the year.  One being their research skills. Fabulous Friday was a wonderful way for the students to demonstrate all the effort they put into their projects. Many comments from other teachers and students were about the confidence and writing abilities of the children. Their performance when introducing the unit was amazing and they really enjoyed being ‘on stage’. So well done grade one!!!


On Monday we began our third unit How The World Works. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite units as I LOVE science. My goal is to inspire the children to tap into their curiosity about the world and find ways to explore through experiments. With just 4 days in, I am amazed at how much we have already done! To hear the students talking at snack (when they think I cannot hear them:) that they can’t wait to come back to class is a wonderful feeling as a teacher.

I will be sending home a document that gives a brief explanation of the new unit. In this blog I will cover in detail what we will be doing for the next 5 weeks.

I was inspired at the workshop I attended a few weeks ago at BIS regarding technology in the classroom. So I will be using videos and other sources to document the learning of the students. I will be sending videos home more often as well as other links to give you a more detailed experience of your child’s learning. 

Also, please feel free to come and visit during any of the lessons. We would love to have you join our class. 

How The World Works

Central Idea:  Using the scientific method helps us analyze natural phenomenon

Lines of Inquiry:  

  1. The principles of science (scientific method)
  2. Natural Phenomena around us
  3. Properties of air, sound and light
  4. Global Responsibility

Teacher Questions covered: 

  1. How do scientists do experiments?
  2. How can we benefit from the natural phenomena around us?
  3. How does understanding the properties of air, sound and light help us do this?
  4. What is our global responsibility towards our use of natural phenomena?


Unit Math

Measurement: length, mass, temperature, volume)

The following will be covered during this math unit: 

  • Standard units allow us to have a common language to identify, compare, order and sequence objects and events
  • We use tools to measure the attributes of objects and events
  • Estimation allows us to measure with different levels of accuracy
  • Understand the use of standard units to measure length, mass, temperature and volume
  • Compare and order several objects based on length, volume and capacity using appropriate uniform informal units
  • Compare masses of objects using balance scales
  • Select appropriate tools and units of measurement

Stand alone math

Shape and Space

  • Specific vocabulary can be used to describe an object’s position in space
  • Understand that directions for locations can be represented by coordinates on a grid
  • Locate features on a grid using coordinates
  • Interpret simple maps of familiar locations and identify the relative positions of key features


Writing to Instruct

Writing features: instructions/experiments/recipes

Purpose: to describe (or instruct) how something is done through a series of sequences/steps

Students will be exploring the importance of instructions in games/experiments/recipes

Activities: students will be writing their own instructions for games/experiments/recipes

Reading/Word Study

In reading, we will continue with our guided reading groups/reading centers and quiet reading

During word study, students will continue to work through different learning centers covering letter sounds, sentence structures, sight words, writing stories and other activities relating to the development of their writing and reading skills



Week of November 2nd

Unit of Inquiry

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The students have really been enjoying our “How We Organize Ourselves unit”. After our first week of tuning in which involved collaborative and teamwork games, we began exploring our community beginning with family.  We looked at the roles and responsibilities of each family member. This lead to exploring our classroom community and the jobs and responsibilities of everyone in grade 1. Students gained an understanding of the importance of each member of the class being responsible for their role within the classroom. Expanding even further, we explored the school community. The tasks of each student was to observe and record what people were doing. Did they see people working? If so, what were they doing? What resources were people using to do their jobs? Our second tour of the school involved students taking on the role of different people such as cleaners, cooks, guards and sharing what responsibilities they think each of these people were responsible for. This gave the students a new appreciation of how hard everyone works towards the common goal of making the school a great place to be. 

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This week, the student began their research projects on a job/workplace that interests them. They will present their projects during grade one’s Fabulous Friday which will be held on November 24. Invitations will be sent out next week. 

Unit Writing

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Our writing this unit is “Writing to Explain”.  The main purpose of writing to explain is to tell how something works or why something happens. The language features involve using present tense action verbs, time sequence such as first, second, next and finally. We begin by exploring how different objects work. Students were given an item and their job was to explain how it works. We used markers, books, pencil sharpeners and a potato peeler. It was great to see the students being so explicit in their instructions. The next stage involved exploring the different features in a text about making a hand puppet. The students made their own paper bag puppet and wrote their first explanation on how they made it. The next few weeks involved writing to explain the life cycle of a butterfly, how a seed becomes a flower, the life cycle of a frog and the water cycle. This week we will spend a few days discussing the why of things such as why are there pictures in children’s books? Why do houses have windows? Why do we wear shoes? 



In math, students have been learning to recognize and model numbers to 100 using the base 10 place value system and developing strategies for memorizing addition and subtraction number facts.  We explored the connection between addition and subtraction, looking at number bonds and fact families. Students learned to decompose numbers up to 20, using 5 and 10 as an anchor to help them add more quickly. We have looked at simple addition and subtraction problems using a range of mental and written strategies. We will finish this unit looking at shape and space. Students will learn the different vocabulary to describe an object’s position in space. They will understand that directions for locations can be represented by coordinates on a grid and will interpret simple maps of familiar locations and identify the relative positions of key features. 

Literacy – Word study


For our word study component of literacy, we began study word families. This is in preparation for learning about rhymes. Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. For example, at, cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the “at” sound and letter combination in common. We continue to study sight words and long and short vowels. 

Literacy – Reading


In reading, students have been exploring non-fiction texts, continued with building their reading stamina, explored unit books and began guided reading groups. This is a special time for the students as they learn to appreciate the wonderful world of reading. 


Last Friday, we had a wonderful Skype call with Leon who is back in France. The students were so happy to connect with Leon and were very confused when Leon said he had just gotten up as it was after lunch time for us. 

Week of October 2

Under the transdisciplinary theme of How We Organize Ourselves…

We will be exploring the central idea: In a workplace people share responsibility towards a common goal. 

An inquiry into:

  • Purpose of a workplace

  • Interconnectedness of people in a workplace

  • Importance of a shared vision or common goal. 

Key Concepts:

  • Function: Purpose of a workplace
  • Connections: Interconnectedness of people in a workplace
  • Responsibility: Importance of a shared vision or common goal.

Over the course of this UOI students will be exposed to real life workplace situations with each student meeting and interviewing various staff members of BIS and reporting back to the class what they found out. We will review children’s books and literature about teamwork play games involving teamwork and collaboration as well as exploring books about various types of workplaces and professions. 

For our final project for this unit, students will work together to create their own workplaces and present their projects during Grade One’s Fabulous Friday which will be held Friday, November 10. 

Tuning into our new Unit of Inquiry

In our first week of this unit, students tuned-in to the concept of teamwork by watching and discussion wonderful short videos about teamwork – both good and bad. This was followed by discussions about what good and bad teamwork looks like, sounds like and feels like. Having shared these basic ideas, the children then participated in a number of collaborative games in which they had to work together towards a common goal. 

Collaboration & Teamwork Games


In Pass the Squeeze, all the students in Grade 1 sat in a circle and worked together to see how quickly they could send a squeeze all the way wound the circle. The common goal was to end up with the same number of squeezes that we started with. The skills we applied were concentration and teamwork. 


In 1, 2, 3 Buzz, students sat in a circle. We began by counting 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 around the circle for practice. The next step was to replace 3 with the word buzz. The common goal was to go around the circle without making a mistake. The skills we applied were concentration and teamwork.


In Sit, Lie, Stand, students got into groups of 3. At any given time, one of them had to be sitting, lying or standing. When they heard Change, they had to change positions based on what their teammate was doing. The common goal was to make sure only one student was sitting, lying or standing. The skills we applied were concentration and teamwork. 


In Traffic Lights, students had to walk around the room and perform an action based on what the teacher called out. The common goal was to make sure everyone did the actions together.  Red = Freeze, Yellow = sit on the floor, Green = begin walking. The skills we applied were listening

Week of August 28th

Our Week in Grade One

It has been a very busy 2 weeks as students settled into the class routines and lessons.

Unit of Inquiry: This week students continued to work on their Who I Am booklet, sharing their goals, favourite subjects and activities and drawing images of their family members. They listened and responded to stories on being principled, one of our learner profiles for this unit. 

We began exploring emotions. Students listened to stories and drew pictures of times they felt different emotions.


Literacy:  We continued to explore letter/letter sounds as well as introducing new sight words daily. Students are learning about cvc words – consonant vowel consonant words such as dog, cat, sit etc. Each day, students are given the opportunity to spell cvc words during our ‘grab a picture’ game. It is wonderful to see their confidence growing as they successfully spell different words. Students are now able to write short sentences using the new daily sight words.

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Writing: In writing this week, students completed their first writing to recount relating to something they did on the weekend. We also made play dough pizza and students wrote a recount of the steps they took to make the pizza. An activity enjoyed by all. 

MathStudents were introduced to another math tool: the 5/10 frame. They played various games and completed activities in their math journals.

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Reading: In reading, students continue to build their stamina and can now read for 7 minutes. They have been successful in following the Read to Self routine which involves. During our reading lesson, students were introduced to a few ways to help them read a book – Having an eagle eye which involves using the pictures to help you read a work and Lips the Fish which is getting their lips ready to read the first letter of a word. Students practiced during our reading time.


Our Week in Grade One

Unit of Inquiry: This week we began our unit by looking at the physical aspects of Who We Are. Students worked with a partner to trace an outline of their body which they coloured. They were able to name various body parts which we labeled on one of our tracings. Another activitity was to fill in a similar and different chart using their classmates as a comparison. 


LiteracyThis week we began our exploration of letter/letter sounds in order to be able to begin reading cvc (consonant/verb/consonant) words such as bag, man, cat. Students were also introduced to a sight word of the day. Students  began writing sentences using each sight word. The focus was: Counting out the number of words in their sentence, beginning with a capital letter, leaving a space between each word and finishing with a punctuation.  The letter/letter sounds covered this week were: s, a, t, i, p, n, c/k. The sight words covered this week were: a, I, in, the, and, it. 


Writing: In writing this week, students were introduced to the differences between a letter, a word and a sentence. They practiced the proper way of sitting at their desk and holding a pencil  in preparation for the writing process. We also began our Writing to Recount. Students were introduced to the writing features and we shared recounts verbally. On Friday, students planned their first written recount. 


MathThis week was all about reviewing numbers 1-10, practicing the proper way to write numbers, mental math activities and reading our classroom calendar. 


Reading: In reading, students were introduced to the three ways to read a book: look at the pictures, read the words and retell the story. Students were given their book boxes and chose 6 books to read for the week. Students began with Reading to Self which involves 5 steps: Get started right away, read the whole time, stay in one spot, read quietly and work on stamina. Students were able to successfully apply all the above steps for 3 minutes. This resulted in adding a minute to their reading time. The goal is to reach 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading.  It was wonderful to see the students embrace this challenge.

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First Week of School

Dear Parents,

Welcome to Grade One. We know this will be a wonderful year. Ms. Lydia and I are very excited to be spending this time with your child.

We will be sending home a unit overview which will explain what we will be covering for the next 5 weeks in math, literacy, writing and our unit of inquiry.

This week was a very full week for the students. This year, there are 11 students in grade one, 7 of which are new to BIS.

This week we focused on classroom routines, classroom jobs, essential classroom agreements and exploring inside and outside the classroom and getting to know each other. The students are all very excited to learn how to read and write and have been very engaged in all the lessons this week.

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Our classroom blog will be updated throughout each month and will include updates and photos of student learning.

Stay tuned!


Week of May 5th

Unit of Inquiry

Sharing The Planet

Central Idea:

In an ecosystem living things interact with each other and the nonliving things in their environment.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Living and nonliving things in different environments

  • Features of ecosystems

  • Reasons for interaction and dependence in ecosystems

Teacher Questions:

  • What is a living thing?

  • What is a nonliving thing?

  • What is a habitat?

  • What is an ecosystem?

  • What is the human part in keeping the balance of life on earth?

  1. PYP Attitudes

  • Appreciation, Cooperation, Empathy

Learner Profile:

  • Knowledgeable: We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance

  • Communicator: Understand and express ideas and information confidently. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others

Transdisciplinary Skills:

  • Thinking , Research and Communication Skills

Unit for this week

This week students were introduced to our new unit this week. We began with a tuning in activity. Students were separated into two groups and were given various math manipulative to sort. They had to work together to come up with different ways of sorting and this information was recorded. After these activities, students were given images of living and nonliving things and without any guidance, they were asked to sort these pictures into 2 groups. Students were able to eventually come up with a living and nonliving group. These pictures were glues onto a poster. Following this activity, we had a whole class discussion as to why they sorted the pictures like they did. Their feedback was recorded one of the posters. The next tuning in activity involved students looking at a plant, a branch and a stuffed animal. We had a discussion as to which one was alive and which ones were not. This led to things that were alive but were no longer. Students generated a list of what made something alive. Which one use to be alive? Which one was never alive? The next activity involved students pairing up with a partner. Each group had 2 bags labelled: Was once alive, Was never alive. Students walked around the school collecting objects and sorting them into the separate bags. Class discussion followed. 

Math for this week

This week, we continued with our exploration of arrays and the connection between addition and multiplication. Students practiced creating their own arrays and writing the number sentence for both addition and multiplication. They were also introduced to some simple multiplication picture word problems. 

Writing for this week

This week we began our final writing unit: Writing to Describe. We began by reviewing the important elements of descriptive writing: nouns, adjectives and present tense verbs. Students were introduced to many vocabulary words for each and they had to find the matching pictures that were scattered throughout the classroom. As a class we will work through a 5 senses activity in order to help students gain an understanding that we use our senses to help us describe things. Students will work on a Monster Writing Activity using adjectives to describe their monster. 

Language Arts for this week

This week students were introduced to new literacy centres. The focus this week is to independent writing, persuasive writing, finishing up an activity book and being introduced to a new reading comprehension booklet. In reading, we continued with our guided reading groups. 

Pictures: Students review sorting using math manipulatives. After they felt comfortable with this activity, they were given picture cards of various things and told to sort them into 2 groups. After about 10 minutes, each group sorted all the pictures into living and nonliving. 

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Week of April 21

Unit of Inquiry

Where We Are in Place and Time

Central Idea:

Culture and location influence people’s daily lives both past and present

Lines of Inquiry:

  • The unique features of various locations

  • How culture influences society

  • How societies change over time

Teacher Questions:

  1. How does location influence daily lives?

  2. In what way does culture influence society?

  3. What are the different ways societies change over time?

PYP Attitudes

  • Curiosity, Creativity and Appreciation

Learner Profile:

  • Inquirers, Knowledgeable

Transdisciplinary Skills:

  • Thinking and Research Skills

This week we had a wonderful time on our field trip to Amazing Art World. Lots of fun was had by everyone.

Unit for this week

This week students continued collecting research for their paper on the Aboriginal culture. They were shown some videos on the types of food eaten not only in the past but in the present. We also had a discussion comparing the Inuit culture with the Aboriginal Culture and the hardships the Aboriginals had to face both past and present compared to the Inuit culture. Students were introduced to Aboriginal art and we looked at the meanings of various symbols used in their art. Afterwards, students were given a boomerang as the template for their own aboriginal art using symbols. Afterwards, each student dictated the story they had created. 

Math for this week

This week students were introduced to the quarter hour – quarter two and quarter after. After various activities using clocks in the classroom, students worked independently on worksheets.  

Writing for this week

This week the focus of persuasive writing was on what they did not want. Students chose their own topic, planned their draft and wrote letters to the person/s of their choice. 

Language Arts for this week

Students continued to work through various learning centres that focused on sentences, phonics, reading comprehension and free writing. In order to help students that are helping some difficulties with sight words, students were paired up with a ‘student’ teacher and were given sight words to work on. In reading, students continued to work in reading groups, both independently and with a teacher. 

Amazing Art World

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Week of April 14

Unit of Inquiry

Where We Are in Place and Time

Central Idea:

Culture and location influence people’s daily lives both past and present

Lines of Inquiry:

  • The unique features of various locations

  • How culture influences society

  • How societies change over time

Teacher Questions:

  1. How does location influence daily lives?

  2. In what way does culture influence society?

  3. What are the different ways societies change over time?

PYP Attitudes

  • Curiosity, Creativity and Appreciation

Learner Profile:

  • Inquirers, Knowledgeable

Transdisciplinary Skills:

  • Thinking and Research Skills

It was a wonderful week for the students as they were able to show their learning during the student led conferences. We spend a few days getting ready and students were able to chose certain activities they wanted to show their parents. It was wonderful to hear their confidence as they showed different areas of their learning. 

Unit for this week

Students were given their research paper for the new culture – Aboriginals and with a partner, researched information using books and the computer. They began to collect information as to how the Aboriginals lived in the past. 

Math for this week

This week in math, students finished up the centres from last week. They also were introduced to the concept of seconds, minutes and hours and how long certain activities take and am/pm. Students learned how to read schedule. They were introduced to the new math centres this week. 

Writing for this week

Students continued with persuasive writing. After our field trip this week, students were given the task of writing a recount of what they did on the trip. Prior to this, we reviewed and practiced the features of writing to recount so that they would be confident to write a recount of the trip independently.  

Language Arts for this week

In literacy, students worked through various learning centres that focused on sentences, phonics and reading comprehension. In order to help students that are helping some difficulties with sight words, students were paired up with a ‘student’ teacher and were given sight words to work on. In reading, students continued to work in reading groups, both independently and with a teacher.