Category Archives: Information

“Rainbow Fish” Author Visits ZIS

Marcus Pfister spent the morning with our 5th graders last week. I forgot to post about it at the time, which is understandable…it’s not like “Rainbow Fish” is one of the most popular children’s books of all time.


Incredible, right? We did have an advantage over the countless other schools who attempt to bring Mr. Pfister to their school. One of our 5th graders is actually related to him!

Student/Parent/Teacher Conferences

Hello Parents!

You may be aware of the opportunity to discuss your child’s learning on October 9th. If not, check Viki Stiebert’s blog post here. Signing up for these conferences is always tricky, particularly if you have multiple children at the Lower School. All I can say is…good luck! And, as always, if you can’t find a suitable time, let me know and we can make alternative arrangements.

Alright…let’s see how it goes. Sign up here please.

We’re Back!

Those who don’t follow the Grade 5 blog may wonder where we were last week. Torgon! And it was amazing. If you want to share in the fun, click here for a variety of photos and videos from the week.

Oh…and Pete Bowers is here today. Woo hoo! More on that SOON!

Ben Knows what ‘Oculus’ Means

…and he will now most certainly learn what the plural of ‘oculus’ is.

We write every morning…something…anything…just to get pen to paper, reflect on our lives, and share what we want to share. Usually the offerings are quite brief, simple recounts of a morning routine, a weekend sleepover, or what the person next to us just said. I offer one or two prompts so kids have something to fall back on if they are stuck or uninspired. Last week, Edward’s iPad went missing, so one of the prompts was, “What happened to Edward’s iPad?”

Ben knew what happened. Oh…he knew.

I was so impressed with what Ben wrote (over a couple of days), that I decided to type it up and share with our audience below. There were only a few spelling errors (I included them), which was all the more impressive considering the rich vocabulary Ben used. Sentence structure and punctuation were a little less clear, so I did some editing that hopefully makes it easier to follow. So, if you want to know the fate of the missing device, read on.

Here’s a story of a truly noble iPad who died for a great cause…

There once was an iPad named Mini who lay on a shelf in ZIS’s lower school. He was being used daily. He liked it there…but he wanted more action.

So one day he set off on a mighty quest grabbing a capture card for a shield and a splinter for a sword. He set off using his fully body protection (A.K.A. a case” and he hobbled along. For days and days he wandered over hills, meadows, and jumping from rooftops. One day he had his dose of paranormal activity.

As he was starting a fire in his shelter, he saw a shadow moving in the corner. He made a fire with a chip and a stone. He went over to investigate. The iPad found a gold medallion with a picture of a little girl on it. He tried to touch it, but a paranormal wind pushed his hand away.

“How strange,” Edward’s iPad thought.

Something didn’t want him touching it. Suddenly the fire went out. The iPad was scared out of his wits because that naturally doesne’t happen. The iPad’s circuit was racing at 511 beats per minute. Just then the girl’s eyes turned red and the picture turned into a gravestone. A helpless booming wail emmited from the medallion and it exclaimed, “Help me get free from my curse! Slay the dragon!”

At that moment it changed back to normal and the fire was lit again. The iPad was cowering in a corner for he was scarred (“scarred” not scared (Ben actually wrote that in parentheses on his paper)) by that experience. He was well shaken but in his circuits there was determination. He would defeat this mighty dragon!

There was a gaping hole in the wall and he decided to investigate. The iPad walked in and instantly rocks filled the way out. He was absolutely terrified. With no way out he had to venture farther in. His legs were sore, he didn’t know how long it would take because he didn’t know how deep the hole was because he was shrouded in mist. He couldn’t see the ceiling. For all he knew, it could be 16 kilometers long!

He finally saw a glimpse of light. It was a single gold coin. Then in the distance he saw another and followed them. Eventually he came across a vast structure. It was devil red and surrounded by a molten gold moat. A draw bridge came down and inside was the most beautiful view he’d ever seen. There were mounds of coins, gold, and precious gems. But one mound was rumbling and the gold coins erupted like a volcano as a scaly beast stood up. He knew this. He had read about it. With his sword and shield he was ready…ready to fight the dragon. 

The dragon sensed him and went after the iPad. They made contact as the iPad’s sword pierced through a chink in the dragon’s scales. The dragon roared in outrage as the iPad took the sword out of the dragon. The dragon slowly blinked his golden flecked eyes. And its oculuses focused on the iPad. The dragon spurted fire at the iPad. He dodged the fire but could feel the flames melting his armour. He charged at the mighty creature and jumped on its scaly back. The dragon tried to turn its head round and that’s what the iPad planned. The iPad saw as the dragon snapped its own neck, and he quickly jumped off the dragon as it fell to the ground. As it fell he heard a cheerful girl say, “Thank you!” and he fell on the ground panting. He walked back to the classroom and had a lie down behind Emilia’s poster and he dozed off. 

The end of Eddie’s iPad journey. 


Crazy Teacher, Room Parent, iTime, and Class Photos

Thanks to all the parents who endured my tangential rantings and ravings at yesterday’s Meet the Teacher evening. I know I was incoherent at best, talking way too quickly, but I wanted to share as much as possible, and I know that getting all the parents in one place at one time is rare, and there’s so much to say, and…and…maybe we should have just done Speed Dating like Mr. Kirkwood’s class!

I do hope that you, the parents, are able to make connections and get to know each other better. To help make that happen, we need a…trumpet, trumpet…Room Parent! Someone who can organize occasional get-togethers for parents, and help with a couple of school events. And as we said last night, the Room Parent gig in Grade 5 is super easy. Typically the only requirement is helping with Book and Bake Sale and Grade 5 Celebration at the end of the school year. If you are interested…even just a little bit, please email me. Thanks!

After last night’s “clear-as-mud” explanation of iTime, I’m sure you’re all still wondering what to expect. So let met try to clarify things. I will be meeting with each of the students in the coming two weeks to discuss interests and formulate a plan for their initial project, which, at least for this first one, will not be done in groups or with a partner (unless that ‘group’ or ‘partner’ is family). The first part of this meeting is simply brainstorming – what do I want to do? what will it look like? We will record our thoughts from the session, and then, eventually, come up with a central idea, key concepts, an action plan – specific investigations and actions that will be completed along the way – and an eventual “presentation” date. As stated last evening, this presentation can take many forms – some are of the traditional, PowerPoint variety, while others require audience participation. It was amazing to watch students’ presentation skills improve over the course of last school year, our first with this type of home learning approach. Almost all of the work/learning/organization will be done at home, but we will devote some class time, Friday afternoons (starting next week), to iTime research, planning, creating, refining, etc. You should expect evidence of this process on your child’s blog (regular blog reflections, updates, etc. are required for all projects).

And finally, class photos! These will happen for us next Wednesday, September 3rd, at 9:40 in the morning.

All for now!

Week One Done!

And I am happy to report that this group of students has impressed me already – eager to learn, energetic, and friendly. I look forward to Monday evening’s Meet the Teacher Night when I will meet the people responsible for bringing these wonderful children into the world.

Many of you are aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was only a matter of time before I got called out. Good opportunity for the students to learn about a devastating disease…and to dump cold water on their teacher.

Day One is History!

Hello parents!
As the school year commences, you may have noticed a lack of email alerts from ZIS signaling new blog posts from the teacher, Mrs. Stiebert, etc. That’s because you are no longer automatically signed up; you need to do that yourself if you enjoy the incessant barrage of information overload…errr…if you like to be informed. And I hope you do…sign up that is, particularly for our class blog. It provides an opportunity, especially for those who actually read the posts and leave comments, to grow with us, celebrate with us, question us, and, more than anything else, get a genuine sense of what our classroom is all about. Those who don’t want to commit to regular blog readings may want to get that sense as well, so I’ll attempt to provide a glimpse below.

What is the blog about? What is our classroom ethos? What do we do all day?!
Anyone who has explored our blog would probably say “spelling” or “word study.” And yes, a majority of our posts are indeed related to how we analyze word structure. In fact, most of our regular readers and most prolific comment providers are not affiliated with ZIS. They are a merry band of orthography enthusiasts from all over the world, a group of scholars who, together, celebrate and analyze the incredibly tidy nature of English orthography. (For more on that claim, and what ‘orthography’ even is, read the blog!) Yes, I am passionate about words and spelling, and yes, one of my hopes for students is that they gain a better understanding of English orthography. But that’s not all, and it’s certainly not the primary motivation. So what is?

That’s right. All of our language activities, and definitely all of our math activities, evolve with the scientist in mind. My job is to pique student curiosity about words, sentences, electricity, numbers, sustainability, shapes, stories, etc., and hone each child’s natural inclination to explore. Then, together, we wonder, we investigate, we look for patterns, we make conjectures, we build evidence banks, we test, we debate, we interrogate sources, we adjust hypotheses, and we share (to name a few!)…all in an attempt to understand. I am much more concerned with your child’s ability to think scientifically – to wonder, to analyze, to test – than I am with his/her ability to spell words correctly or memorize meanings of Latin roots. Less emphasis on compliance, more on individual scholarly pursuits.

Embrace challenges and celebrate mistakes.
‘Memorization’ and ‘speed’ and ‘correctness’ are not priorities in our class. What are? Learning how to form reasoned questions, engage in scientific inquiry, and pursue understanding. Fortunately, mathematics, science, and English orthography, each replete with beauty and order, are ideally suited to these endeavors. I’m not knocking ‘memorization’; it will happen and it is a useful skill. But it is not my goal, and neither is ‘speed’. We will often discuss efficiency, but we will place more value on thoughtfulness and, you guessed it, understanding, regardless of the time required to pursue it. And finally, your child will soon become well aware of my disinterest in ‘correctness’. I’m far more interested in mistakes. That’s how we learn! If we want our children to embrace challenges, to be flexible, to always question, to be creative, then they need that freedom, that ‘green light’ to take risks, try new things, offer new opinions or ideas, and make mistakes.

It’s what I do. Lots of videos. Sometimes just because we’re feeling silly, but usually to share our learning journeys. The first of the school year is below!

The question is more important than the answer! Looking forward to an exciting year learning together!

Students who have instruments…don’t forget to bring them tomorrow AND Thursday.