Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have a wonderful holiday

Division 7 had a nice wind-up to 2011 on Friday, with a whole holiday-themed day, including a really heartwarming movie called Snow Men, a Christmas story and some Christmas-themed dialogue story writing, some Christmas Mad Libs and Clock-o-rama, the game show where students have to tell time in a timely manner!

I got a few pictures of the students reading their collaborated short stories aloud.

Thanks for the gifts and cards, and for all the support you've given your child and us so far this year, and I wish you a wonderful holiday break and a happy new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Starbucks field trip

Thank-you so much, Division 7 families, for your generosity! Our Secret Santa swap donations had the manager of Starbucks fighting back tears today. I know the Caring Place will be grateful for all the wonderful items we brought in.

Thanks also to the parents who were able to come on our field trip.

Parents and guardians, you would have been proud at how appropriately the students behaved while at Starbucks.

Here are a couple of pics I grabbed en route. I meant to take more, sorry!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thursday and Friday this week

Hi Parents/Guardians,

Just a note to remind everyone that this Thursday is our Secret Santa Charity Gift Swap. Please make sure your wrapped charity item is addressed to the student your child drew by Thursday morning.

We will be leaving the school after our gift exchange, which should be at about 9 am, and I'm hoping to be back at the school by 11 am. We'll see how fast the children walk, though, and how much time we spend sipping hot chocolate at Starbucks. Please remember to send a toonie to school with your child that day so he/she can order a bevvie of choice (steamed milk, cocoa, etc.)

Friday will be our class party. The students wanted to watch a festive film, so that will be our afternoon, and you may send a non-sharing snack (a small bag of popcorn, pretzels, chips, etc.) for your child for this time. This will be one time when a non-water beverage is also acceptable during class time, which I will provide (punch).

Email me ( if you have questions or concerns.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drumroll... We're done!

Dear Parents/Guardians of Nanowrimo authors,

After a month of slogging and sweating and creating and correcting, it is time to WIN.

In Computers tomorrow, students will be asked to verify their word count for their novels by cutting and pasting the text into the Nanowrimo Word Count Validator.

See here for more information:

Once the word count has been verified, your author will be proclaimed a winner of the challenge, and will be eligible for the prize!

Your involvement is necessary for the prize, however. Please see this for more details:


The students have worked hard. We will be Youblishing the stories, too, but I want to give them a little time off of the stories before making final revisions/editing. I think they'll be in a better space to edit once they've had a short break from the stories.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Home stretch!

Nanowrimo was not assigned for homework, although some students chose to continue working on their novel at home. However, we are now in the final week of writing. To be on track for completion on time, your writer should be at 75%.

So, the homework this week is going to be for everyone to be at 90% by the end of the week, and 100% by next Wednesday (November 30).

Remember, the writing itself takes place on Google Docs, but the nanowrimo site needs to be updated after writing is done. Students were given my email address in case of technology issues (such as password issues, etc.)

Thanks for continuing to support your budding novelist!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Check in on your budding novelist!

I am so impressed; Division 7 was floundering a bit this week when it came to our Nanowrimo goals. On Wednesday we were 14% of the way to completion with about a third of the month gone by. By Thursday we were at 18%, but many ambitious writers had increased their personal goals, finding that the Young Writers Program guidelines were too conservative for their abilities! Way to reach for the stars, Div. 7 writers!!

However, today I am thrilled to see that our class is at 42%, which is where we should be! Yay!!

Please ask your budding novelist to show you his or her story (on Google Docs). At this point we have learned about the structure of a story, good beginnings, and we've talked about character, so hopefully you see some of those lessons reflected in the writing. Next week we will talk about setting and good endings.

Also, remind your writer to make sure he or she has updated the YWP Nanowrimo site with the latest word count!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog survey

Please take a minute and give me some feedback on how you're finding the use of both this blog for giving parents information and the kidblog for writing homework.

I appreciate any input you can give me!

You will have to cut and paste this--I am not sure why, but when I hyperlink it, I get an error message when trying to access the page. My apologies!

Lots of education news!

My head is spinning with all the BC education news this past week... Of course we're all stressed about the continued protracted labour dispute, and looking for some good news there.

But today's government announcement has me feeling a little more hopeful than I have recently:

I have to say that I agree with Susan Lambert that teachers are the ones pushing schools into the 21st century as we take on the challenges of using technology in the classroom. In our classroom, Mrs. Kollen and I continue to try to get comfortable with the SMARTboard, and by introducing students to Google's tools and blogging, I am hoping that we are giving our students some of the background they will continue to need throughout their public schooling.

I am currently doing a post-bac diploma at SFU, and one video we were shown in a semester on technology really opened my eyes to the way the world has changed, even in the past five or ten years. I thought I'd share it with you too (some of you have probably already seen it):

These are interesting times for our children...

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I really wish they'd come up with a better name for this event!

I wanted to clarify what our writing program will be for the month of November.

We will not be blogging this month. We will resume weekly blogging in December.

Instead, our sole writing focus will be on writing a novel. Having said that, each student is setting his/her own writing goal for this novel. The NaNoWriMo website has laid out the following guidelines for length:

I've encouraged each student to both challenge herself and to be realistic in setting her goal. Prolific writers can exceed the upper end of the range for their grade, while struggling writers will want to stick with the lower end of the range.

One fun thing is that a fellow teacher at Alexander Robinson Elementary is doing the NaNoWriMo challenge with her class, so we will be having some friendly competition. It will be fun to check in with them and see how they're coming along with their writing goals!

Our class has three computer blocks per week. Lately we seem to be spending a lot of that time just logging in and troubleshooting. However, once the students get used to logging in, they should have about two hours in the lab per week to devote on the writing. I do not anticipate they will need to do any writing at home this month at all. However, about mid-month, I will have a look at where each student is and I may recommend some students spend some time at home working on their stories, too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Hi Parents,

We have been working on our portraits for several weeks now, and students are almost finished. The final step before mounting the portraits on construction paper is to finish collaging, and for some, this has been challenging.

My hope is that the students can finish the collaging at home. They are to match (as best they can) the colours from their coloured copy with magazine (or catalogue or flyer) paper cut into small shapes (about an inch square). There should be no white showing behind the collaged paper.

I have allowed students to bring magazines home with them, and there are more still here, so if finding paper is an issue, please just have them bring more home tomorrow.

The art is due Friday, November 4th.

Which brings me to a plea... some students do not have scissors at school. Could you please make sure that your child has the following at school?: scissors, glue sticks, fine liner, pencil crayons, ruler (in centimetres), pencils, pencil sharpener (with container to collect shavings).

Inevitably things break or go missing (or get used up), so I may post this type of plea from time to time through the year if I'm noticing children are asking to borrow my supplies often.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

A bit of reading homework (and maybe a few activities?)

Thanks Parents/Guardians for getting those NaNoWriMo permission forms back in to me so quickly! (And a gentle reminder to those who haven't, please return them by Wednesday). November is going to be a whirlwind of writing with a firm deadline.

One of the great things that the NaNoWriMo (that is hard to type every time!) site offers is a great workbook for writing a novel. It's in pdf form, but it's over 120 pages long (!) so photocopying it for each student isn't feasible. However, you may print it out for your own child if you'd like, and otherwise we'll be using it as a guide during class (I'll project it onto the SMART board).

What I'm asking the students to do in advance of Thursday is to read the pdf (posted on the Kollen-Rupert class blog) up to page 10 and preferably to do the activities (they're meant to be fun and relatively easy) so that we can have a good chat about it on Thursday.

Hopefully the students will all read my post on Kidblog, but perhaps you could remind them to check (and again, if possible, print it out so they have a paper copy... I do realize it's an awful lot of paper, so no worries if you can't do this.)

Thanks so much!

Nancy Rupert

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We are ready to rock the Google Doc...

Thanks for all your cooperation in helping me get the students access to Google Docs--it is truly appreciated.

As of now, most students have a gmail account. If your child was at school today and doesn't have one, please check your child's planner for a note, as I need to get permission before I can go ahead with that.

Tomorrow we will be working with Google Docs as a step toward publishing our first piece of writing--we're calling it October Writing. This is the piece of writing your child has selected to take and revise and eventually publish. I can't wait until we get the "books" all uploaded onto the student blogs.

Today the class decided to take on an exciting challenge. Tomorrow I will send home a letter asking for yet one more login at a website. This time we're creating a virtual classroom at and the students are attempting to write a novel in one month. I can either help them sign up for this, or you can work with your child to create a login. Please fill out the permission form tomorrow and return it to me as soon as you can.

Thanks for all you do!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quicker updates!

A parent emailed me to let me know that subscribing to my blog via Google Reader sends updates much faster!

To use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs, you need a Google account, and then once signed in, at the top you can find the Reader under "more". Then all you need to do is "add a subscription" and enter my blog address (cut and paste the url above).

Just one more option that may or may not appeal.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gmail Issue

It would seem that Google, which has always restricted its email accounts to US citizens to those over 13 years of age, is now extending that restriction to Canadian users, too. The reason that corporations like Google and Facebook have such restrictions is that they store personal data on their users, and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) forbids corporations to collect data on children under age 13.

Now, there would be two ways of solving this problem. One would be to create an account and enter a fake birthdate. Most people do this when signing up for things online anyway, often due to privacy concerns. The other would be to create an account which you as parent owns, giving your birthdate, and simply permit your child to use this account.

I was going to have Ms. Ramsay set the students up with a gmail account on Wednesday, but given this age restriction, I think it would be better for you as a family to decide how you want to handle this issue. If you could please email me ( and let me know what you've decided, what your child's email address is, and preferably their password as well so that Ms. Ramsay or I can help them should the need arise, I would appreciate it. I would like to have every child on Gmail by next Wednesday so that we don't lose another week learning how to use Google Docs!

If you don't find either solution appropriate, then your child will just use a word processor when publishing his or her writing. It will make it more challenging to peer edit, but not impossible. However, in order to bring work home your child will need a usb flash drive at school to save documents onto.

As always, email me if you have any questions or concerns.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Email delay

Blog Email Updates

I hope you are finding the blog helpful, but unfortunately the email updates do not get sent immediately--there appears to be about a 12 hour lag between the time I post on here and when you get the email in your inbox.

However, when it comes to assigning homework, rest assured that I will always use the planner as the primary means of communication and this space is just for elaborating, explaining or repeating the information.

I would also encourage you to bookmark my blog and try to check it for updates if you think of it. The emails are certainly more convenient, but apparently not always the most timely method of communication!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homework Today

We had a beautiful day for the Terry Fox Run today, and the class did wonderfully acting as big buddies for Mrs. Loutet's K/1 students.

The class is excited to begin their daily blogging, which I'm thrilled about. They had some time yesterday during computers to practice blogging (writing about what they'd do if they were the principal of Alouette for a day). They decided they were ready to begin their daily blog today. They can write about anything (school appropriate, of course), and they can also attach a picture/video/etc. if it's relevant to their writing. The focus should be on the writing, though, not the attachment.

It is beneficial for parents to read the posts, and help with mechanics (spelling, grammar, etc.)

The daily blog will be graded based on participation, and this grade will be part of students' Language Arts mark. If they consistently do their blog and achieve at least the minimum amount of writing they will earn a B on the blog. To earn an A, they must consistently exceed the minimum.

The other homework for today is that the newspaper page is due tomorrow. Please encourage your child to fineline and colour for maximum presentation marks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Explaining the Daily Blogging Activity

My goal with the daily writing activity is to get the students into the habit of writing regularly and to see writing as a rewarding personal exercise much as we hope our students view reading. I am hopeful that by introducing the blog, students will not view this daily writing as homework as much as a place for self-expression and creativity.

Having said that, each student comes to writing with different perspectives. For some, it is a difficult mechanical task (the fine motor skills aren't fully developed). My experience has shown that for many of these students, using a keyboard instead of a pencil takes a lot of the pressure off.

For other students, the challenge is getting the ideas organized in a way that they can be written. Some children can tell wonderful stories aloud, but getting their thoughts down on the page can be time-consuming and frustrating. Again, the keyboard may be helpful in this regard.

Yet others are stuck at the idea-gathering point--"what do I write about?" is a common question in our Writer's Workshop. Part of what I am teaching students this year is how to brainstorm for ideas that will keep them inspired in their writing.

Teaching writing is a passion of mine, and this fall I am completing my final field study at SFU by looking at how the use of technology can improve my Writer's Workshop. I hope that using the blog benefits all the students. Please let me know if you have any questions or are having issues with this home assignment, as it is the first time I am trying it and my goal is to learn how it can improve student writing. I will learn as much from the students and all of you this year as the students will learn from me, and that is one of the joys of teaching!

Daily Writing

I want to thank all the parents/guardians in Division 7 for being so quick to fill out the "Getting to Know You" and blog email forms and returning them. I have entered all the email addresses into my subscription box on my blog page, so you should have received a confirmation email (which you then would have had to respond to).

Hopefully it all worked well and you're reading this via an email update! :-)

I have had a couple of parents ask me about whether the daily writing activity I describe on the link to the right has started yet, and the answer is no. I am working with our prep teacher, Ms. Ramsay, to get the children acquainted with and to get them really comfortable with logging on, posting, commenting, deleting posts, etc. before sending them off to do it at home. I am hoping that we can begin our daily writing within the next week or two, and I will update the blog to announce this (and the children will write in in their planners, too).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy September!

I’m very pleased to be joining the excellent staff at Alouette and teaming up with Mrs. Kollen this year.  I am coming to you from Yennadon, where I taught grade 6/7 last year.

I have taught in School District 42 for five years, first as a Teacher-on-Call and then teaching grades 5-7.  I came to teaching after my youngest child entered kindergarten, so I have experienced the education system from both sides.  I love my jobs, both as a parent and a teacher!  I feel fortunate to be able to work part-time this year so that I can balance both well.

I am also fortunate to be teaching subjects I have a great deal of passion for this year; I will be teaching the writing component of the Language Arts program, Fine Arts (focusing on visual art and dance), Social Studies, and Health and Career Education.  For more information on my writing program, please check out the link on my page about Writer's Workshop.

Nairn Falls near Pemberton

Kayaking off Mayne Island

I hope you all had a restful summer.  July wasn't great, but August made up for it!!  And now here's to a terrific 2011-2012 school year!