Sunday, December 26, 2010

Message in a bottle

Talk about a slow postal system.

More than two years ago, Cally Rumbolt's father put a note in a bottle and set it adrift off the shores of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

This year, Sofi-Ona Hamer fished it out of the North Atlantic Ocean near Scotland.

Cally's dad is a fisherman, and in 2007 and 2008 he sent dozens of notes in bottles overboard in the hopes that someone would find them, and send a note to Cally. Cally lives in Pickering, Ont.

She didn't even know that he was doing it - until she received a couple of replies. Her latest is from Sofi-Ona, who noticed a bottle washed up on the shore as she was walking along a rocky beach in Scotland one rainy day recently.

She thought it was garbage and was going to put it in the recycling, when she realized there was a plastic bag inside it - and a note.

The note was faded and most of it was unreadable. She tried rubbing charcoal over the letters to see if she could get the note to become more readable. Finally, she was able to make out the words, "Pickering, Ontario, Canada" and the street, "Poprad Avenue" at the top of the page. She got in touch with The Toronto Star newspaper, and they helped her track down Cally's address.

Sofi-Ona couldn't read the note, but thanks to The Star, we know that this is what Cally's dad wrote in those letters he tossed over the side of the boat:
"My dad works on a supply vessel off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland... He is sending this note in a bottle in the hopes that someone will return a letter to me."

In addition to connecting with Sofi-Ona (who plans to write Cally now that she has her address), Cally received a letter from a 16-year-old girl in Ireland, who found a bottle while walking her dogs.

Writing/Discussion Prompt
If you wrote a message in a bottle what would it say? What types of things would you want to be certain to mention?

Curriculum Prompt
What types of things did you think about after you read the title of the article? As you read the article, did you need to change your understanding of what the article was about? After reading the article, would you say your first guess about the story was right or not so much? How can making guesses about what we read make us better readers?

Primary
Identify, initially with some support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Junior
Identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Grammar Feature: Italics
At times, journalists will change the formatting of their text in an article. For example, in today’s story, our journalist switched her font to italics when she reported the message found on the notes. The reason journalists do this is to distinguish certain words from others.

FYI, italics is used in the same way as underlining. For that reason, a piece of work may contain italics or underlining, but not both).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Muggle version of Platform 9-3/4

PLATFORM 9-3/4 REALLY EXISTS

Here’s a magical picture from the muggle world.

This picture was taken at the real-life King’s Cross station in London, England.


Harry Potter fans will recognize Platform 9-3/4 as the magical spot in the wall Hogwarts students must pass through to reach the Hogwarts Express train that takes them to school.

A cast-iron 9-3/4 sign has been put up on the wall between platforms 9 and 10. And a luggage trolley seems to be halfway in and halfway out of the wall, just as if someone were about to make the jump to the magical world from the muggle one.

There’s often a traffic jam at this spot in King’s Cross station, as tourists and Harry Potter fans stop to take pictures of this wonderful tribute to the series.

The latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I is playing in movie theatres now. Part II will be released this June.

Click here for the official movie website, including the trailer for Part I.

Image: Wikipedia, By SoxFan.

Writing/Discussion Prompt
If you were going to make a monument or a statue celebrating a book, which book would you choose? Which character would you have made into a statue? Is there a certain moment in the story you would want to have on display?
Curriculum Prompt
Does knowing about the Harry Potter series help a reader understand today’s article? How does thinking about what we know already help us when we read something new?
Primary
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (e.g., activate prior knowledge through brainstorming and/or developing mind maps; ask questions to focus reading and clarify understanding; use visualization to clarify details about such things as homes and clothing of early settlers; use pictures to confirm understanding of printed text) (OME, Reading: 1.3)
Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (e.g., activate prior knowledge through asking questions about or discussing a topic; develop mind maps to explore ideas; ask questions to focus reading; use visualization to clarify details of a character, scene, or concept in a text; make predictions about a text based on reasoning and related reading; reread to confirm or clarify meaning) (OME, Reading: 1.3)
Grammar Feature: Hyphen
In today’s article, hyphens are used in two sentences. In both of these sentences the hyphen is used in the forming of compund words. When used this way, the hyphen tells the reader that there is a relationship between the words that make up the compound.
“This picture was taken at the real-life King’s Cross station in London, England.”
“A cast-iron 9-3/4 sign has been put up on the wall between platforms 9 and 10.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oxford's Save the Words project

SAVING WORDS FROM "EXTINCTION"

What would you do if someone called you a “snollygoster”? Would you feel flattered or insulted?

“Snollygoster” isn’t a word you hear every day. In fact, almost no one uses it anymore. And that's the problem, according to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary.

They’ve rounded up hundreds of words that are nearly extinct, and they’re asking people to “adopt” them. When you “adopt” a word you promise to try to get it back into popular usage. You pledge that you'll use it as often as possible when you’re talking to people, write it in letters and schoolwork and tell people what your adopted word means.

For instance, if you were to adopt snollygoster, you’d have to let people know that it means, “a smart, but dishonest person.” And one way to use it might be to describe a corrupt politician. You might say, "Boy, that Richard Nixon sure was one wicked snollygoster!"

At Oxford’s Save the Words website, you can see what looks like a quilt of words. As you move your mouse over the words, they call out to you: “Pick me! Pick me!” encouraging you to adopt them. When you find a word that’s interesting to you, you can click on it to get its definition. And if you like it, you can adopt it, pledging to use the word as often as possible.

Save the Words is a fun project, designed by Oxford to get more people talking about language and, presumably, buying more Oxford English Dictionaries. It’s meant to be a fun, and not very serious, website that we can all learn from. And there's no doubt--it will certainly gumfiate* your vocabulary!

*cause to swell.

Writing/Discussion Prompt: Words
Sometimes the meanings of words change. For example “cool” can mean chilly or trendy, and “wicked” can mean evil or fantastic. Can you think of any other words that have two meanings?

Curriculum Prompt
Primary
Using a dictionary is a very important skill. We need dictionaries to help us spell and to explain the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Identify any unfamiliar or challenging words in this article (for instance: corrupt, pledge, presumably) and look up their meaning in a dictionary.

Confirm spellings and word meanings or word choice using several different types of resources (OME, Writing: 3.3).

Junior
When we write we work to figure out which words best explain our ideas. When we get stuck thinking of a suitable word, we can use a thesaurus. A thesaurus helps us to find alternative word choices.

Underline five adjectives in the article and then use a thesaurus to find other words which would also be appropriate.

Confirm spellings and word meanings or word choice using a variety of resources appropriate for the purpose (OME, Writing: 3.3).

Grammar Feature: Contractions
There are contractions throughout the article. Contractions are two words that are put together with an apostrophe. Identify all of the contractions in the article and explain which two words were put together to make the contractions.

Although the word “Oxford’s” has an apostrophe in it, it is not a contraction. What is it?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ireland facing bankruptcy

A PROUD NATION FORCED TO ASK FOR MONEY

Ireland is a proud, independent nation. Historically, it suffered a long and painful struggle for independence from Britain.

This week, however, Ireland’s government had to admit that it’s going broke. Its banks are close to bankruptcy, nearly 200,000 homeowners may lose their homes and more than 13 per cent of its population is unemployed.

The country will have to borrow money—from Britain and other lenders—to stay afloat.

A team of 12 officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Dublin, Ireland last week. They went over the country’s finances to figure out how to get it out of debt.

They decided that many of the countries in Europe would lend Ireland money, to the tune of $110-billion. Ireland will use that money to boost its businesses and kick-start its economy again.

In the meantime, however, having to go cap-in-hand to other countries is something many Irish people will consider shameful. The Irish Prime Minister denies that there is anything to be embarrassed about, but the proud Irish people, who would prefer to stand on their own two feet, feel differently.

In an editorial last week, the newspaper The Irish Times said that after having obtained independence from Britain, “we have now surrendered our sovereignty” to European lenders and the IMF.

This crisis may spell the end for the Irish Prime Minister, who faces an election on Nov. 25.

Source: Based on an article by Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail.

Writing/Discussion Prompt: Metaphors
This article has tons of them: “stay afloat,” “kick-start its economy,” “cap-in-hand, “ “to the tune of $110-billion,” “stand on their own two feet,” “spell the end,” etc. Why are metaphors used by writers? What impact does a metaphor have on its reader?

Curriculum Prompt
Retelling, or summarizing, is a really difficult skill. Here’s an effective way to summarize a news article. Using a highlighter, highlight the five most important facts in the article (make sure that your facts are chosen from the beginning, middle, and end). Next, rewrite the facts you’ve highlighted in your own words.

Junior
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4)

Grammar Feature: “However”
Sentences with the word “however” in the middle must be preceeded and followed by a comma.

“This week, however, Ireland’s government had to admit that it’s going broke.”

“In the meantime, however, having to go cap-in-hand to other countries is something many Irish people will consider shameful.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Royal Wedding

QUEEN'S GRANDSON ENGAGED

He’s second in line to the British throne. She works for a children’s party-supplies store. They recently got engaged, and it’s likely that one day he will be King of England and she will be his Queen.

Prince William proposed to “commoner” Catherine Middleton last month when the two were on holiday in Africa. All of Britain is riveted by the attractive, likeable couple.

She’s particularly popular because she isn’t descended from royalty. Her parents are a former flight attendant and a dispatcher, and they now run a mail-order party-supplies business called Party Pieces. She has two younger siblings, Pippa and James.

Diana and Charles pull away from the
cathedral in a horse-drawn carriage
on their wedding day, nearly 30 years ago.
William, of course, has a younger brother, Harry—third in line for the throne. And a famous father, Charles, who is first in line to be King of England should Queen Elizabeth step down.

The couple plans to get married next Spring or Summer. And it won’t be a small affair. The British public will demand a lavish wedding in a huge cathedral with thousands of invited guests and—if past royal weddings are anything to go by—horse-drawn carriages. People in Britain are also hoping the day will be declared a holiday so everyone can have the day off work (or school).

King William and Queen Catherine. It has a nice ring to it. And speaking of rings, Catherine Middleton is now wearing one of the most famous rings in the world—the 18-carat sapphire-and-diamond ring that belonged to William’s late mother, Princess Diana.

Update: They've set a date! William and Catherine will marry on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey.

Writing/Discussion Prompt
People have been following William's and Catherine’s relationship for many years. They are regularly on the cover of magazines and newspapers and on TV. Do you think it is fair that William’s and Catherine’s lives are available for everyone to see?

People are very interested in not only William’s and Catherine’s lives; they are also fascinated by all celebrities. Why do think we're so interested in celebrities?

Curriculum Prompt
Excellent writing has a strong "voice." Voice is the way someone expresses their personality in their writing. The voice may change if someone is using very simple words or very long, complicated words. A writer can also add expression and voice to their writing through the use of exclamation marks or question marks.

Take a highlighter and highlight the parts of the article where you can “hear” the author’s voice. Are there parts of the article where we can find out what the author is thinking?

Primary
identify some elements of style, including voice, word choice, and different types of sentences, and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.4)

Junior
analyze texts and explain how various elements in them contribute to meaning (OME, Reading: 1.7)

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
Adjectives are words that describe a noun (person, place or thing). Identify all the adjectives in the article. As a whole class or in small groups, discuss why adjectives are an important part of writing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Run someone's life through Control TV

A new Internet TV show lets viewers run someone’s life.

Cameras are pointed at 25-year-old Tristan Couvares, following his every move. Viewers can watch what he does, for 18 hours a day, on the Internet.

The twist is, they can also be able to vote on what he should do next.

The Web show is called “Control TV” and it’s a lot like a movie called The Truman Show, which starred actor Jim Carrey. There are also some “reality TV” shows, like Big Brother, that follow real people through their days. However, this show will be different because it lets viewers make decisions for the person.

The producers say the show is designed to help Couvares make some decisions in his life. The producers make sure the suggestions from viewers are helpful, and not hurtful, to Couvares.

The decisions could be as simple as getting Couvares to eat oatmeal rather than an English muffin for breakfast, or to wear funny clothes when he goes for a job interview.

Viewers can follow the show at Control TV and sign up for cellphone alerts, which lets them decide things for Couvares about 10 to 15 times a day. Voting is for multiple options: A, B or C.

Writing/Discussion Prompt

Reality TV has always been very popular. Game shows, which date back to 1938, were the first examples of reality TV. Today, televisions have lots of reality shows, including like Survivor and Big Brother. Why do you think people like watching reality TV so much? Would you ever go on a reality TV show? Why or why not?

Curriculum Prompt
As you read this article, did you have “flow” in your reading? Were you able to raise and lower your voice as you read in order to highlight and emphasize interesting portions?

Primary
Read appropriate texts at a sufficient rate and with sufficient expression to convey the sense of the text readily to the reader and an audience (OME, Reading: 3.3).

Junior
Read appropriate texts with expression and confidence, adjusting reading strategies and reading rate to match the form and purpose (OME, Reading: 3.3).

Grammar Feature: One sentence paragraph.
Today’s article includes 2 one-sentence paragraphs. When is it okay to use one sentence paragraphs and what is their purpose? The following excerpt from Article Base explains:

“Unlike paragraphs with multiple sentences, a one-sentence paragraph places heavy emphasis on the idea. It is a high-impact tool for telling the reader, "This is very important." Very few ideas require this level of emphasis. Used sparingly, one-sentence paragraphs can be very effective for pointing out critical ideas or keeping the reader mentally focused on the content.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New discovery about asthma

Everyone knows that you taste with your mouth.

Recently, scientists found out something really surprising. We can also taste bitter tastes with our lungs and airways.

These muscles relax when we taste something bitter.

That’s the opposite of what scientists thought would happen. They thought the muscles would tense up, to “warn us” that the bitter taste was poisonous.

However, when they fed some non-toxic bitter foods to mice and some humans, their airways relaxed and opened wide. Wider, in fact, than any medicine can make them open up.

This is an important discovery for people with asthma. People with asthma have trouble breathing because their airways become tight and narrow. Asthma medicine makes those airways relax and open up.

It won’t be enough for people with asthma to simply drink or eat something bitter, however. In order to get a large enough dose, those compounds would need to be inhaled.

So researchers have a lot more work to do on this discovery, to turn it into medicine for people with asthma. However, it’s a good start towards a stronger, more effective medicine.

Curriculum Connection
Do you know anyone who has asthma? Do you know of any non-medicinal remedies that work?

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar
However. However is a word that is almost either preceeded or followed by a comma. This is because “however” is a word that interupts a sentence. Today's article has two examples of this:

“It won’t be enough for people with asthma to simply drink or eat something bitter, however.”

“However, it’s a good start towards a stronger, more effective medicine.”

Extensions
When eating bitter foods, our airways widen. This is different from what scientists expected. Pretend you are a scientist. Can you think of any reason why someone’s airways would widen when eating these types of foods? If bitter foods don’t make our airways shrink, which types of foods do you think would?

Intelligent billboards

You’re standing in front of a billboard. Suddenly, it changes and the screen displays an advertisement for fruit roll-ups, then one for the new Harry Potter movie, and then one for Monopoly.

It’s almost as if the billboard knows what you like.

In Tokyo, Japan, there is a new kind of billboard, called an “intelligent digital billboard.” It scans your face and clothing, as well as the environment around you, to decide what kind of person you are.

In this case, it has recognized that you’re a young boy or girl with a bit of money to spend on movies and games.

If you were a middle-aged man walking in a rainstorm, you might see an ad for raincoats. If you were a stylish 20-year-old woman, you might see an ad for make-up or dresses.

The billboards were invented by a company called NEC.

A small camera above the screen transforms the image of the person into data, which is then analyzed against the unit’s profiles of about 10,000 real people. Based on your clothing, gender and age, height and whether the person is accompanied by children, it figures out what kind of products you might like.

People can also scan the billboards with their mobile phone to receive restaurant menus or other information from the ads.

The billboards are being tested in Japan now, but will soon be coming to North America.

Curriculum Connection
The camera above the billboard screen analyses your face, your clothes, who is standing with you, and your surroundings. In your opinion, is this enough information to know who you are and what you like? Why or why not?

Primary
express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Junior
make judgments and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar
Have your students circle or highlight all of the commas in the article. Discuss how commas are used for the following purposes:

1. in lists - “Suddenly, it changes and the screen displays an advertisement for fruit roll-ups, then one for the new Harry Potter movie, and then one for Monopoly.”

2. for thought interruption – “In Tokyo, Japan, there is a new kind of billboard, called an “intelligent digital billboard.”

3. in numbers – “A small camera above the screen transforms the image of the person into data, which is then analyzed against the unit’s profiles of about 10,000 real people.”

4. to separate a city from a country – “In Tokyo, Japan, there is a new kind of billboard, called an ‘intelligent digital billboard.’”

5. to separate two ideas that are in the same sentence – “The billboards are being tested in Japan now, but will soon be coming to North America.”

Extensions
We are surrounded by advertisements on a daily basis. Record all of the places where you might see advertisements during a regular day.

Advertisements come in different forms: in magazines, on television, in newspapers, on t-shirts and on subways. What types of advertisements are the most effective? What makes them more effective?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Police in Manchester use Twitter

The police in Manchester, UK, work really hard.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Terry.
UK POLICE FORCE TWITTERS FOR ATTENTION

The police force in Manchester, UK works really hard. In fact, they get hundreds of emergency calls every hour.

Even so, the city councillors wanted to cut the police budget. As many as one in four police workers would be eliminated.

The police realized that the politicians didn't understand how hard the Manchester police force was working. So, for 24 hours, they posted every one of the calls that came through on their emergency line to Twitter. (Twitter is a program on the Internet that lets people know, in 140 words or less, what's happening.)

The police figured that if the public and the politicians could see just how many calls they get, and how hard they work, they would be less likely to cut the police budget.

Some of the calls they get are reports of children running away, abandoned animals or suspicious people. However, some of them are quite humorous. In any case, the police have to take every call seriously and check each one out.

Here are some of the emergency calls they posted on Twitter:
  • Call 384: Report of man holding baby over bridge. Police immediately attended and it was man carrying dog that doesn't like bridges.
  • Call 466: Complaint that builders have turned up to complete work two months late in Bolton.
  • Call 749: Call from a member of the public about their car insurance.
  • Call 686: Man shouts "you're gorgeous!" to woman.
  • Call 1079: Woman reports her horse refuses to come back over bridge.
  • Call 1634: Suspicious men carrying a snake, Bolton.
  • Call 281: Someone in Salford complains about being woken up.
Curriculum Connection

Websites like Twitter and Facebook are used to send information to a lot of people at once. The police force in Manchester used Twitter to inform the public and the city councilors as to how busy they are. Do you think Twitter was the best way for them to do this? Are there other forms of media that would allow them to send out their message to a large audience in a more effective way?

Primary
describe how different audiences might respond to specific media texts (OME, Media Literacy: 1.4)

Junior
explain why different audiences might respond differently to the same media text (OME, Media Literacy: 1.4)

Grammar Feature
A colon (:) is a punctuation mark that is used before a list or an explanation. Highlight the use of colons in the article and discuss how it helps readers to understand text.

Extension
Do you think police should have to check out every call that comes in? Why or why not? Use information from the article and your own ideas to support your answer.
Look at the list of emergency calls that the police posted on Twitter. Rank the calls in order from most important to least important. In your opinion, which call do you think was the most serious and why?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Check out this guy!

Dr. Anthony Hutchison is a
former gang member who
traded guns for a guitar.
ON NOV. 3, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO CHECK THIS GUY OUT. LITERALLY.

His name is Dr. Anthony Hutchison, and he’s part of the Toronto Public Library’s “human library event.”

Hutchison is one of 60 “human books” you can check out, just like you would a book from the library. The “books” will be signed out for a 30-minute conversation in a quiet area of the library.

All of the human “books” have very striking life experiences, and thus very interesting stories to tell.

The idea behind the human library is to expand our understanding of people, by getting to meet and talk with them about their lives—lives which may be very different from our own. The concept begin in Copenhagen in the early 1990s to combat prejudice. Countries all over the world now hold human libraries and some even have permanent collections.

Dr. Hutchison, for instance, is a former gang member, illiterate and unhappy. Today, he is a doctor who works with at-risk youth.

“At the age of 15, in 1983, I put down my two guns and my gang colours for a guitar,” he says. “The resources to help me put my life back on track mainly came from a local community public library.”

How did he manage that life transformation? You have an opportunity to check him out for 30 minutes on Nov. 3 and find out.

Other human "books" include:

Rosa, a gay teen; journalist Barbara Turnbull and her service dog Bella; anti-poverty activist Michael Creek, who was homeless; Tibetan Buddhist Monk Tenzin Kalsang; and "Raging Granny" Phyllis Creighton.

Five libraries in Toronto will participate in the one-day pilot project:
Toronto Reference Library (Yonge and Bloor)
North York Central Library (North of Yonge and Sheppard)
Bloor Gladstone Branch (Bloor and Dufferin)
Lillian H. Smith Branch (College and Spadina)
Malvern Branch (Sheppard and Neilson)

Curriculum Connection
“Does anything in this story remind you of anything you’ve seen or heard of?”

“What do you think about this library program?”

“What conclusions can you draw from the events or information presented in the text?”

Primary
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (e.g., identify traits they admire in the characters; comment on actions taken by characters (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Junior
Make judgements and draw conclusions about ideas in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar Feature
Bullet point. Bullet points are a text feature designed to help readers gain information quickly and efficiently. With your students, highlight the bullet points and discuss why an author would use bullet points. As well, use metacognitive strategies to illustrate the effectiveness of bullet points.
Extensions
The idea behind the “human book” program is to “expand our understanding of people, by getting to meet and talk with them about their lives—lives which may be very different from our own.” Why do you think it is important to meet and talk with different people? Is there a danger or problem that arises when people stop meeting new people?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Toronto gets new subway trains

Toronto's new trains will be in service
starting this December or January.
Image: www.ttc.ca.
NEW SUBWAY TRAINS IN TORONTO

Toronto is getting some new subway trains.

Not only do they look a lot snazzier, but the new trains will be quite a bit roomier than the old ones. They also have many new features such as light-up subway maps that will display the current stop.

There will be 70 new trains, with six cars each. They will cost about $1-billion. The governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto are all chipping in money to buy the new trains.

Another neat thing about the new trains is that, although there are six cars in each one, they will all be connected inside. So whichever car you get on, you’ll be able to see (or walk) all the way from the front to the back of the entire six-car train. Between the cars is a flexible strip of floor that you can walk on, which connects the cars but still lets them turn independently.

Toronto's old subway trains will continue
to run on the Bloor line.
Image: spacingtoronto.ca
And, there won’t be poles in the middle of the cars any more. That will also give passengers more room to move around. There will still be lots of poles along the sides to hold onto.

The new trains will begin running, on the Yonge (north-south) line, in December or January, although riders may see them being tested in the tunnels before then. The old cars will be moved to the Bloor (east-west) line or retired.

Curriculum Connection
The new subway trains will cost 1 billion dollars. That is a lot of money! Do you think this is money well-spent? Explain your answer using evidence from the text and your own ideas.

Primary
express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Junior
make judgments and draw conclusions about ideas in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar Feature
A noun is a part of speech. It can be a person, place or thing. Some nouns that are in the article are: subway (thing), Toronto (place), floor (thing).

Ask your students to circle all of the nouns in the article.

Toronto's subway line - this map shows
the Yonge line and the Bloor line.
As a class, discuss which nouns are proper and which are common. Explain that proper nouns must always start with a capital letter.

Extensions
Why do you think it is important for a city to have a public transit system?
If you were on the planning committee for the new subway, are there any other features that you would add to improve the new subway cars?
How much is 1 billion? Use drawings, numbers or manipulatives to show this amount.

Toronto gets new subway trains

Note to teachers:
This version of the article, “New Subway Trains in Toronto,” is a shorter version of the same article, and it contains simpler words. Similarly, the curriculum connection, grammar and extension activities are simplified.

This version of the article could be used by ESL students, early readers or students on modified reading programs.
We created a second article so that you can more easily differentiate in your class. With this article, students can access the same article content but at a level that is appropriate for early readers.

NEW SUBWAY TRAINS IN TORONTO

Toronto is getting some new subway trains.

The new subway trains will look a lot nicer.
Image: www.ttc.ca.
The new ones look nicer. They will also have more room inside. And they will have new, light-up signs that tell you what stop you’re at.

There will be 70 new trains, with six cars each. They will cost about $1-billion.

In every train, all six cars will be open inside. So you will be able to see (or walk) all the way from the front of the train, to the back. The cars will be joined by a flexible strip of floor that you can walk on.

The old trains used to have poles in the middle of each car. The new cars do not. That will give riders more room to move around. There will still be lots of poles on the sides to hold onto.

Many of the old subway trains will still
run on the Bloor subway line.
Image: spacingtoronto.ca.
The new trains will begin running on the Yonge line in December of January. Riders may see some trains being tested in the tunnels before then. The old cars will be moved to the Bloor line.

Curriculum Connection
When we read, we often make pictures in our minds in order to understand. This is called visualization.

After reading the article, draw a picture of what you think the new subway car will look like. Label your picture to show all of the new parts of the subway car.

Primary:
identify a few reading comprehension strategies and use them before, during, and after reading to understand texts, initially with support and direction (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar Feature
A noun is a part of speech. It can be a person, place or thing. Some nouns that are in the article are: subway (thing), Toronto (place), floor (thing).
Toronto's subway map, showing the
Yonge and Bloor lines.
Ask your students to circle all of the nouns in the article.

Extensions
Why do you think it is important for a city to have a public transit system?
If you were in charge, is there anything else you would add to make the new subway cars better?
How much is 1 billion? Use drawings, numbers or manipulatives to show this amount.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New health guidelines: five and 15

FIVE AND 15

Canada’s Health Minister wants everyone to remember two simple numbers: “five” and “15.”

You’ll hear a lot about five and 15 in the coming months. They’ll be in ads, on websites, on posters in the grocery store and on foods themselves.

What does five and 15 mean? It has to do with how nutritious food is. Five means “a little” and 15 means “a lot.”

When you look at the list of “Nutrition Facts” printed on food items in the grocery store, you’ll see that each nutrient is given a percentage. It tells you how much of that nutrient is in a product, compared to how much you should have of that nutrient for the entire day.

For instance, if it says a product contains 4% Fat, it means it contains four per cent of the fat you should have in a whole day.

According to the new five and 15 rules, if a nutrient is five per cent or under, the food contains “a little.” If it’s 15 per cent or more, the food contains “a lot.”

So if you want more fibre in your diet, look for foods containing more than 15 per cent of the daily allowance of fibre.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to cut down on sodium, look for foods that have less than five per cent of the daily allowance of sodium.

The new guidelines will help consumers better understand how the foods they buy can affect their health. A new ad campaign about “five and 15” will begin in December.

Curriculum Connection
“What questions do you ask yourself to make sure you understand what you are reading?”

“How do you know if you are on the right track?” “When you come to a word or phrase you don’t understand, how do you solve it?” “How do you figure out what information is important to remember?” “What do you do when you get confused during reading?”

Primary
Identify, initially with some support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Junior
Identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers, or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Grammar Feature
Number words. When writing, how do you know when to write the word for a number or the digits? The rule that most writers follow is: numbers less than 10 are written as words and numbers 10 or over are written as digits.

“What does five and 15 mean?”

“… four per cent of the fat you should have in a whole day.”

Extensions
Do you think the new ad campaign will be effective and help people eat better? Why do you think so? Where should these advertisements be shown in order to be as effective as possible?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brave Canadians honoured

The Medal of Bravery.

(Image: Wikimedia
Commons, Dreamafter.)
AWARDS FOR BRAVERY

Last week, 52 Canadians received awards for bravery. They were given the medals by our new Governor-General, David Johnston, at a special ceremony in Ottawa.

Here are some of the people who were given awards:

* Thomas Manuel won the Medal of Bravery for protecting his wife and three grandchildren from an intruder. He made a rope out of bedsheets and shirts and got everyone out of the house safely. Once outside, Manuel was shot several times by the burglar, who was later caught and arrested. Manuel is from Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories.

* Sergeant Bryant Wood of the Port Hope police force received the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery for saving people in two separate house fires. Last year, Sgt. Wood was sent to an apartment building, where he found the first and second floors in flames. He and another officer opened a window and through the thick, black smoke they pulled a man and two women to safety. Another woman refused to leave because she was searching for her cat. Wood climbed inside and carried the woman to safety. The smoke was so thick he couldn’t see, but his partner called to him from the window and he followed his partner’s voice until he got outside.

* Deborah Chiborak of Winnipeg rescued an elderly woman trapped under her motorized scooter in the path of a train.

* Casey Pierce of Calgary won a Star of Courage for rescuing a couple whose canoe tipped on a lake in the Rockies.

The Governor-General offered the medal winners, “the thanks of a grateful nation. We are fortunate to have such heroes in our midst.”

Related links:
Article on the CBC website about the medals ceremony.
Canada Gets a new Governor-General.

Curriculum Connection
The people who received the medals of bravery were described as “heroes.”

As a class, write a list of characteristics/adjectives that describe a hero.

Identify heroes that you know from books, magazines, movies and the media. Describe these heroes and explain whether you think they are heroes based on the list created by the class.

Primary
extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6)

Junior
extend understanding of texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6)

Grammar Feature
Bullet points are used throughout the article. Bullet points are generally found in non-fiction, rather than fiction writing. They help to make writing clear, easy-to-read and organized.

Help your students identify bullet points in the article, and discuss why they are used.

Encourage students to find non-fiction resources in your class that contain bullet points.

Extensions for Primary and Junior
When Johnston gave the heroes their medals, he explained that they are special because not everyone would have done what they did.
Do you think this is true? Use examples from your own life to explain your answer.
Why do you think people don’t always help other people in need?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stonehenge an ancient tourist destination


"WEALTHY TEENAGER" HELPS SCIENTISTS LEARN ABOUT STONEHENGE

Scientists have figured out that the bones of an ancient teenager, buried near Britain’s mysterious Stonehenge monument, came from hundreds of kilometers away.

The wealthy teen was buried with a string of amber beads around his neck. He is known to researchers as “the boy with the amber necklace.”

He originally came from The Mediterranean, and was likely a tourist, visiting Stonehenge much as people do today—as a tourist destination.

The exact purpose of Stonehenge—an ancient ring of giant stones—is unknown and still puzzles scientists and entices tourists today.


Scientists still don't know exactly why, or how,
Stonehenge was created.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Daveahern.
 The discovery of “the boy with the amber necklace” reinforces the idea that visitors travelled long distances to visit Stonehenge.

Scientists knew that he had travelled far, because amber is not normally found near Britain. They used “isotope analysis” to measure certain elements in the boy’s teeth, which helped them conclude that he was from the Mediterranean.

His necklace suggests that the boy came from a rich family.

His skeleton is one of several “foreign” sets of remains. The “Amesbury Archer” is thought to have come from the foothills of central Europe, and others are thought to have come from Wales or Brittany.

Curriculum Connection
Today’s article includes a lot of words that young readers will not be familiar with. Ask your children to use semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic clues to read and understand these words.

Primary and Junior
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including:

• semantic (meaning) cues (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, base words, phrases, sentences, and visuals that activate existing knowledge of oral and written language);

• syntactic (language structure) cues (e.g., word order, language patterns, punctuation);

• graphophonic (phonological and graphic) cues (e.g., onset and rime; syllables; similarities between words with common spelling patterns and unknown words; words within words)

(OME, Reading: 3.2)

Grammar Feature
The long dash: A long dash can be used around parenthetical expressions. If the parenthetical information is in the middle, both sides of the clause have long dashes.

“The exact purpose of Stonehenge—an ancient ring of giant stones—is unknown and still puzzles scientists and entices tourists today.”

If the parenthetical information is at the end of the sentence, the long dash precedes the clause and is followed by a period.

“He originally came from The Mediterranean, and was likely a tourist, visiting Stonehenge much as people do today—as a tourist destination.”

Extensions
“The boy with the amber necklace” travelled very far to see Stonehenge—especially since he lived about 3,500 years ago. Why do you think people make such an effort to travel? Why is travelling important (or not so important) to you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A "silver lining" to the mining disaster

DISASTER PUTS COPIAPO ON THE MAP

When a copper mine collapses trapping 33 miners, it’s a terrible tragedy.

However, in the case of the recent Chilean mine collapse, there is a silver lining. In fact, the mayor of Copiapo, Chile, calls the incident “a blessing from heaven” for his town.

Before Aug. 5, not very many people from outside of Chile knew about Copiapo. Then the tragedy struck. The miners were trapped underground for two months while millions of people around the world watched and waited, and thousands of reporters descended on Copiapo.

Now the small town is very well known. And that has improved its economy. All of the reporters and mining experts who spent months in Copiapo spent a lot of money there, on things like hotels, rental cars and food. The city’s mayor estimates that more than $20-million has been spent there since the mine collapse.

Now, tourists are visiting the city that the miners made famous. The city’s tourism board is talking about building a museum about local miners, with a focus on “los 33,” which would feature the rescue capsule.

“Copiapo is not the same place it was on Aug. 5,” the mayor said.

Curriculum Connection
The tourism board and the mayor of Copiapo are very excited about the attention and money the town has received in the months surrounding the mining tragedy. Do you think residents of the town and the miners who were trapped feel the same way? If so, why do you think they would have a similar point of view? If you think they may feel differently, support your answer using evidence from the article and your own ideas.

Primary:
identify the point of view presented in a text and suggest some possible alternative perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9)

Junior:
identify the point of view presented in texts; determine whether they can agree with the view, in whole or in part; and suggest some other possible perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Grammar Feature
An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood when someone just looks at the words that make it up. For example, if someone has a chip on their shoulder, it means that they are upset; and if something is a piece of cake, it means that it is easy.
There are three idioms in this article (“on the map”; “is not the same place it was on Aug. 5.”; “silver lining”). Help your students to identify these idioms and infer what they mean.

Extensions for Primary and Junior
If you were in charge of designing the museum in Copiapo, what would you include in it to make it appealing for children to visit?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Customers prefer "old" Gap logo

The Gap won't be changing
its logo any time soon.

Image: Dorsetdude, Wikimedia Commons
The Gap is a popular clothing store. It sells clothes for babies, kids and adults.

Have you ever seen The Gap’s logo? Millions of people have and they obviously like it, because when the retailer decided to change its logo, its customers revolted.

The Gap posted its proposed new logo on its website. It said the new logo was more modern than its old logo.

But before it could replace the old logo with its new one, customers started complaining. They complained on Facebook and Twitter and they sent e-mails to the company.

Within a few days, they knew they had made a huge mistake. Customers liked the old logo and didn’t want it to change. So they changed their mind, and withdrew the new logo.

On their website they posted a note to customers: “OK. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.” The “blue box” refers to the fact that the old logo is the word GAP inside a blue box.

Some people are wondering if the “new logo introduction” was just a way to sell more clothing. Even though it looks like The Gap made a huge error, in fact they received a lot of attention from millions of people—and it didn’t cost them a cent.

And it turns out, they needed the publicity. Sales at Gap stores in North America have been falling this year.

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that The Gap won’t be changing its logo any time soon. Its customers have spoken.

Related Links
The Gap's statement about the logo change.

Curriculum Connection

“What questions do you ask yourself to make sure you are understanding what you are reading?” “How do you know if you are on the right track?” “When you come to a word or phrase you don’t understand, how do you solve it?” “How do you figure out what information is important to remember?” “What do you do when you get confused during reading?”

Primary
Identify, initially with some support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Junior
Identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers, or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Grammar Feature
Today’s article uses quotation marks in an “interesting” way. Twice, words are in quotation marks but no one is speaking. This is because quotation marks can also be used to show sarcasm or irony.
“blue box” - The Gap logo is not actually a blue box.
“new logo introduction” - The new logo introduction may have been a trick to get people talking about the Gap.
Extensions
Why is a logo such a powerful image? Why do you think customers were upset about the logo of the Gap changing? Is there a logo or a business that you feel strongly attached to?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little boy ties up 911 line

Image: Sug, Wikimedia
Commons.
TODDLER MAKES HUNDREDS OF CALLS TO 911

Did you know that old cell phones, even if they’re no longer connected to a network, can often still dial 911? Alex’s parents know it… now.

That’s because Alex used his “play” cell phone to dial 911. Four hundred times.

People can dial 911 in an emergency, when they need the police or an ambulance or the fire department.

So when four-year-old Alex called 911, the operator thought there was an emergency. At least, the first few times.

Alex’s parents had given him an old cell phone to play with, and he was probably very excited to find out that there was a number he could dial to actually get a real person on the other end of the line.

So he kept calling. Again and again and again.

He tied up the 911 line for hours. He ignored the operator’s repeated requests to stop calling 911 or to put his parents on the phone.

The operator shouted into the phone, hoping that Alex’s parents would hear him and take the phone away from the child.

During one call, the operator heard an adult asking Alex if he wanted some pie.

The police think the calls were coming from the area of Highway 21, five kilometers south of Port Elgin, Ont.

Curriculum Connection

In order to understand new information, we use schema. Schema is a person’s background knowledge.

Before your students read the article, have them use their schema to brainstorm everything they know about 911.

Have your students read the article. Ask them to identify how their schema/background knowledge of 911 helped them to better understand the article.

Primary:
identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3)

Junior:
identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3)

Grammar Feature
Capital letters are used throughout the article for the following purposes:

1. At the beginning of a sentence

2. Proper nouns – ex. Port Elgin, Alex, Highway 21

Discuss the different uses of capital letters.

Extensions
Alex made serious mistakes by calling 911 so many times. Do you think he was old enough to know better? Do you think Alex should be punished? If so, how do you think he should be punished?

Do you think Alex’s parents were at fault? Do you think his parents should face consequences? If so, what punishment should Alex’s parents face?
Many children now have cell phones. Some children have them for safety reasons, while others use them to call their friends and socialize. At what age do you think a child is responsible enough to have a cell phone?

Monday, October 18, 2010

All 33 miners rescued

Mario Gomez, 59, was the oldest of the
33 miners trapped in the Chilean mine.

Image: Hugo Infante/Government of
Chile via Wikimedia Commons.
CHILEAN MINERS SAFE

All of the 33 Chilean miners are safely back home now. The miners, had been trapped 600 metres underground for two months when a tunnel in their mine collapsed.

Millions of people around the world were glued to their television sets last week, watching each of the miners surface as they were pulled, one by one, from the mine.

While the miners were underground for two months, teams of people on the surface helped ensure they stayed healthy. Good nutrition was particularly important and trickier than you might think.

When the mine first collapsed on Aug. 5, two weeks went by before anyone on the surface could get food to them. The men lived on two mouthfuls of tuna and a sip of milk a day, and a few bites of cracker every other day. Remember, these are large, strong men used to eating a lot of food!

Each miner lost about 20 pounds during that time, and became very dehydrated, meaning their bodies didn’t have enough water. Seventeen days later, the first food arrived down in the mine: a type of medical milkshake called “Supportan.” They were also given water and vitamins.

For five days, Supportan was the only thing they were allowed to consume. That’s because eating too much, too soon, after you’ve been literally starving could bring on a seizure or a heart attack.

After that, the miners’ diets were carefully crafted so they got all the nutrients they needed, but didn’t get too fat which might prevent them from fitting in the rescue capsule. They were given 2,300 calories a day and told to exercise an hour each day.

Here’s a sample daily menu for the miners.
Breakfast: liquid yogurt, toast and jam.
Morning snack: four protein cookies.
Lunch: baked salmon with mashed potatoes, pineapple, Gatorade.
Afternoon snack: bread with dulce-de-leche (a caramel-milk treat).
Dinner: baked pork with corn, tangerine.

When the miners got out, they all looked forward to eating their favourite foods again. Most of them said they wanted to have a big barbeque with their families.

One man, Pablo Villacorta, wanted his mother-in-law to make him spaghetti with sauce because, according to his wife, “he thinks she is a better cook than me.”

Related Links
Miners to be out tomorrow

Curriculum Connections
“What is the purpose of a list in this article? How could you use it to help you understand the text?” Why did the writer of this article include a list?

Primary and Junior
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (e.g., table of contents, charts and chart titles, headings, an index, a glossary, graphs, illustrations, pictures, diagrams, hyperlinks, a menu) (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Grammar Feature
Colon: The list in this article uses colons after each heading. Point out to your students that colons are used to separate headings from the sentence or sentences that are linked to them.

Breakfast: liquid yogurt, toast and jam.
Morning snack: four protein cookies.
Lunch: baked salmon with mashed potatoes, pineapple, Gatorade.
Afternoon snack: bread with dulce-de-leche (a caramel-milk treat).
Dinner: baked pork with corn, tangerine.

Extensions
If you were trapped with the miners in the mine, how would you have kept your spirits up? What types of things would you have said to the miners who were trapped with you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Actor Johnny Depp helps avert a mutiny

JACK SPARROW SHOWS UP AT PRIMARY SCHOOL

A group of schoolchildren in Britain got the surprise of their lives recently, when actor Johnny Depp showed up at the school, dressed as the character Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Actor Johnny Depp surprised
students at Meridian
Primary School in London.
Image: Edward Scissorhands,
Wikimedia Commons
Grade-four student Beatrice Delap had written Depp a letter, telling him that she wanted to mutiny against the teachers at Meridian Primary School in Greenwich, and that she needed his help.

She got the letter into Depp’s hands by giving it to a security guard where Depp was filming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at a location nearby.

She never dreamed he would actually show up at her school!

Not only did he show up, but he brought with him a cast of four pirates in full costume. They performed pirate songs and dances at a quickly arranged assembly.

Depp called Delap out of the audience and gave her a hug, joking that, “maybe we shouldn’t mutiny ‘cause there are police outside monitoring me.” Instead, he suggested that they eat candy every day and not brush their teeth until they turn green and fall out.

He pulled out Beatrice’s letter, which read:

“We are a bunch of budding young pirates. Normally we’re a right handful, but we’re having trouble mutinying against the teachers. We’d love it if you could come and help.”

He said he plans to frame the letter.

Related Links
Someone (presumably a teacher) took a video of the visit. View the two-minute YouTube video here.

Curriculum Connection
Questioning:
Before students begin reading, encourage them to formulate questions about the article after reading the title: “Jack Sparrow Shows up at Primary School.” Then have students pose questions while they read and after they are finished reading the article. 

Discuss these questions as a class and encourage students to use inference and prediction to answer the questions. 

As a class, indentify why questioning is useful as a reading comprehension strategy (for people to focus their reading and to clarify their understanding of a text). 

Primary
identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3)

Junior
identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3). 

Grammar Feature
Quotation marks are used twice in the article for the following purposes: to indicate speech and to quote the student’s letter to Johnny Depp. 

Discuss when and how quotation marks are used in writing. 

Extensions for Primary and Junior 
Johnny Depp’s unexpected visit would have been a wonderful surprise for the students at Meridian Primary School. If you could choose any famous person to come and visit your school, who would you pick and why?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peace Prize winner in Chinese jail

Liu Xiao Bo is the winner of the
2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO LIU XIAO BO

Each year, the person who has done the most to help world peace is given what is perhaps the globe's highest honour: The Nobel Peace Prize. Last year's winner was U.S. President Barack Obama.

The winner receives not only the respect and admiration of people around the world, but also a cash prize of over $1-million.

Last week, the winner for 2010 was announced. His name is Liu Xiao Bo and he was chosen because of his long history of non-violent protests for peace.

Unfortunately, Liu Xiao Bo may not even know he has won one of the world's most important awards. That's because he is in a prison in China.

Liu is serving an 11-year prison sentence for speaking out against the Chinese government. As the prize was being read out, Liu was likely sitting in the prison cell he shares with five other prisoners, reading a book.

The Chinese government blocked the news of the award on the Internet from the country's 1.3 billion citizens. In China, anyone who searched for "nobel peace prize," for instance, would get an error message saying the page could not be found. Any television station that mentioned his name or the prize was blacked out in China.

What did Liu do to deserve such treatment? He wrote documents saying that China should become a democracy and respect human rights. In some countries, such as China, speaking out against the government in this way can force you to be imprisoned or even tortured.

Shortly after the announcement, Liu's wife visited him in prison. She said she was going to tell him that he'd won the prize, but that has not been confirmed: right after her visit she was put under "house arrest" -- meaning she cannot leave her home -- and her telephone has been cut off.

Here are some official facts about the Nobel Peace Prize.

Curriculum Connection
How does hearing a similar article read aloud help you when you read a new article independently?
How does knowing specific words or phrases from speaking or listening help you as a reader?
How do discussions with the teachers or classmates in conferences help you as a reader?
What do you know about writing that helps you as a reader?

Primary
Explain, initially with some support and direction, how their skills in listening, speaking, writing, viewing, and representing help them make sense of what they read (OME, Reading: 4.2).

Junior
Explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers or in a reader’s notebook, how their skills in listening, speaking, writing, viewing, and representing help them make sense of what they read (e.g., using a particular form when writing enhances understanding when reading texts of a similar form) (OME, Reading: 4.2).

Grammar Feature
Use a comma to show introductory material. In this article several sentences begin with introductory material that is separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Read each sentence to your students, first with the introductory material and then without. Highlight the sentences that still make sense without the introductory material but now have less detail.

“Each year, the person who has done the most to help world peace is given what is perhaps the globe's highest honour: The Nobel Peace Prize.”

“Last week, the winner for 2010 was announced.”

“Shortly after the announcement, Liu's wife visited him in prison.”

Extension
Liu Xiao Bo has peacefully fought to spread democracy throughout China for a long time. Democracy is the belief that each person should be able to vote, and that there should be fair courts of law and basic human rights. What is a right? What rights do you think people should have? What should someone do if they are not being given those rights?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Does Ronald McDonald really smell bad?

FUN WAYS TO GET KIDS TO EAT BETTER

Everyone knows that it’s healthier to eat fruits and veggies than it is to eat fast foods and junk food.

But how do you get kids to eat the healthy stuff and avoid the foods that are bad for them?

It’s especially difficult today when fast food firms like McDonald’s offer toys with their hamburgers, when fast food is packaged to attract kids, and when ads make junk food seem healthy and fun.

Parents, chefs and farmers are fighting back in some pretty unusual ways.

For instance, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain tells his three-year-old daughter that Ronald McDonald kidnaps children, has cooties and that he smells like pooh.

He says he young children don’t care about calories and nutrition. But cooties, they understand, he says.
Bolthouse Farms, which sells carrots and other healthy foods, has created new packaging that makes their baby carrots look like bags of chips. And their website has a commercial that’s a lot like a Cheetos ad.
Are these chips? Nope - they're baby carrots, dressed up like
junk food to make them more appealing to kids.
Parents also need to help in the battle to get kids eating healthy food, say nutritionists. Simple things like making breakfasts more nutritious or cutting back on juice can really go a long way towards helping kids eat more healthy.

It’s also good to get kids in the kitchen, cooking their own meals. They’re more likely to eat healthy food if they cook it themselves. Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre offers a cooking program for kids aged 8 to 12. Kids are 20 times more likely to eat vegetables they’ve prepared themselves than ones that are just served to them, says The Stop’s co-ordinator.

This article was adapted from an article in the Globe and Mail by Wency Leung.

Curriculum Connection

This article contains many high frequency words and words that are relevent to kids’ lives. Ensure that these words are read fluently and that they do not interfere with comprehension.

Primary
Automatically read and understand most high-frequency words, many regularly used words, and words of personal interest or significance, in a variety of reading contexts (OME, Reading: 3.1).

Junior
Automatically read and understand most words in a range of reading contexts (OME, Reading: 3.1).

Grammar Feature
Never say never! Children often start sentences with the words, “but” or “and.” This is generally a problem. However, in today’s article, the author starts three different sentences with these words. Explore and investigate why it works and why it shouldn’t be done all the time.

“But how do you get kids to eat the healthy stuff and avoid the foods that are bad for them?”

“But cooties, they understand, he says.”

“And their website has a commercial that’s a lot like a Cheetos ad.”

Extensions
Eating healthy foods is a huge problem in our city and country. What would you do to help people make healthy choices? What problems do you think you would have?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Miners to be out tomorrow

Chile, in South America, is where 33
miners have been trapped for
two months. Image: Wikimedia.
CHILEAN MINER RESCUE

Tomorrow, 33 miners in San Jose, Chile are expected to see their families for the first time in two months.

That’s because they have been trapped, 600 metres below ground, in a mine shaft. They became stuck underground when some tunnels in the gold and copper mine they were working in collapsed.

After the accident, the Chilean government quickly drilled two small tunnels down to the miners to give them fresh air, water and food. However, they knew that it would take much longer to drill tunnels big enough to lift them out of the hard rock ground.

In the meantime, their families along with government officials and more than 1,200 reporters from around the world, built a camp aboveground to give the miners daily supplies and to communicate with them.

The miners had to co-operate to live in the small underground space. They set up daily routines for exercise, work (taking away rock debris from the tunnels) and recreation such as playing chess and cards.

It was originally thought that the miners wouldn’t be out in time for Christmas. However, the drilling has been quicker than expected. The first miners will be lifted out of the mine today.

The miners will have “new lives” when they come out. The whole world is interested in hearing the story of how they survived underground for so long. The Chilean government, and some newspapers and TV stations, will pay them a lot of money to tell their story. They will have to deal with reporters taking their pictures and asking them a lot of questions.

Their story is almost certain to be made into a movie. In fact, the miners have already started writing a book about what they have been going through. It began as a journal, in which they logged their meals and activities. It will have some interesting characters, including "the athlete," Edison, who jogs several kms a day in the tunnels, and "the electrician," Alex, who found a way to hook the miners' lamps to truck batteries to keep them charged.

The miners have also been watching videos on how to deal with reporters and avoid questions they don't want to answer. Most of the miners have already been offered plane tickets around the world to tell their story on TV shows.

The miners are expected to reach the surface around noon tomorrow.

Curriculum Connection
When we read, we are constantly working to understand what is written. One of the strategies that we use when we are reading is to determine what information is important. Use a highlighter or a pencil crayon to identify the most important pieces of information in the article.

How do you know that this information is the most important?

How do you think this strategy helps us as readers?

Primary
identify, initially with some support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1)

Junior
identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers, or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Grammar Feature
Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. An example of a homophone is: miner and minor. A miner is a person who works in a mine. A minor is someone who is (in Canada) less than 18 or 19 years old, depending on the province.

As a class, think of some examples of homophones and discuss their different spellings and meanings.

Extensions
In order to survive, humans need food, water, air and shelter. But, is this enough? The miners who were trapped had all of their basic needs met, but they also required exercise, daily work, communication with the outside world and recreation in order to keep their minds and bodies healthy. What do you think you need in order to survive and to be happy in your own life?

Before the mine collapsed on the 33 men, they were ordinary people who were working hard to make a living. When they come out of the mine, they will be emerging as celebrities. If you were one of the miners who was trapped, how would you react to this drastic change in your life?