Presenting Noteworthy

Please find our collection of feature articles below. Bravo, 7F1 and 7F2!

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Snapshot: The End

Dear Knights,

What a year it has been! This is the final snapshot post of the 2017/2018 school year. I hope you have enjoyed these (usually) weekly glimpses into what’s going on in room 207. Furthermore, I hope the snapshots have provided material for talking about school at home, as middle-school kids are well known for providing one-word answers about their learning!

To finish the year, we presented 15-word book speeches in English Language Arts with 7F1 and 7F2 in order to share our favourite books of the year. The second post with more of students’ recommendations will come next week. We also began to write some fun micro-fiction to end the year. These stories are very short and end on cliffhangers.

En français with 7F1, we presented our opinion texts – there were many great topics, including whether dogs or cats are the better animals and whether schools should require dress codes. We also watched Le Petit Nicolas en vacances to get into the summer spirit!

In Mathématiques with 7F2, we reviewed some principles of probability and reviewed concepts studied throughout the year. We also had our class party, based on the calculations and estimations done during our trip to Safeway a few weeks ago. Students who have had difficulty with math concepts over the school year are encouraged to continue their learning this summer. Please email me for recommendations – the JUMP series of workbooks available at McNally Robinson (although not great on their own) are good for concept rehearsal.

This coming week will see us engage in a variety of learning activities, as our time together is precious right till the end. For instance, both classes completed a mystery activity to practice our inference and deduction skills. This week, we will also play a quiz game that reviews a number of concepts from across the subject areas. We will also have our annual transition day, where students spend time in the Grade 8 homerooms.

Many students are aware that I will be teaching Grade 8 English and Mathématiques next year (my favourite subjects!). I realized this week that I have been gifted the rare and fortunate opportunity to have taught almost all of the Grade 7 students at Ness, and I look forward to continuing the learning with a number of this year’s students and families. For those moving on from our classroom, I wish you the best and remind you that I’m always around to help and talk – especially about books! I always love getting emails from families asking for book recommendations. One came the other day from a former student now in Grade 9 at Sturgeon Heights. What a great moment!

Look here later this week for Noteworthy and the remaining student book recommendations.


M. J. Sorokowski

Best Books of 2017/2018 – Part 1

Students in 7F1 and 7F2 wrote and presented 15-work speeches to share their Favourite Book of the Year! Check out the selections below from 7F1. These titles are perfect to look for during a trip to the Winnipeg Public Library. As always, how suitable each book is depends on the kid. They’re usually great judges themselves as to whether a book is a good fit or not. Happy Reading!


(This project was inspired by fellow Grade 7 teacher Pernille Ripp.)



Snapshot: The Recent Weeks

Dear Knights,

It’s been quite some time since the last learning snapshot, and for that I apologize. Looking back, we have accomplished quite a bit during these past few weeks. We are finishing the 2017/2018 school year strong! 

To begin with, we finished reading Underground to Canada in English with 7F1 & 7F2. Students created a “one pager” to demonstrate their understanding of the novel. They had to choose quotes, words, and symbols or images that fit with the themes of the book. They also had to write a critical response to the text. These are now on display in our classroom. Bravo!

We also launched NOTEWORTHY, our anthology of feature texts. Requests have already come in from various teachers around the building for a copy to add to their classroom libraries. We will also put copies in the Ness Library and in the foyer. Feedback has been very positive, with Mr. McKeil, one of our division’s curriculum coordinators, said he was impressed with students’ tackling of sensitive subject matter and the great hooks. A copy will be available on this blog shortly.

In Français with 7F1, students completed their graphic novel study and identified story elements. We also watched two versions of La guerre des tuques and compared them. Believe it or not, we also tackled a final writing project for the year. Students studied and then wrote their own texte d’opinion to convince their classmates of their point of view. They will present them toward the end of the year. Finally, we were treated to our final CFOO presentations – many students chose to be a chef once more. Lots of great treats!

Last, in Mathématiques with 7F2, we continued our study of fractions. We learned how to add and subtract fractions, including how to do so with mixed numbers. Students also were given the challenge to convert their answers into decimal numbers in order to demonstrate their understanding of the many connections found in our number system. We also completed a learning expedition to Safeway in order to plan our year-end party. Students, in teams, were responsible for finding and calculating prices (decimal operations). We then decided how much money every student will need to bring in order to have our dream party. (The answer ended up being $4 after much debate!) In addition to all our calculations, we also worked on the coordinate plane. In Grade 6, students worked exclusively in the first quadrant, and this year they worked in all four. They drew images and then created their own drawings to practice coordinates. This study will take us to the end of the year, and we will also continue to complete some final mental math evaluations, using the strategies we have practiced throughout the year.

Don’t forget: Lots of photos of our goings-on on Instagram

Have a great weekend!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: May 7-11, 2018

Dear Knights,

A lot of work has happened on our feature articles in English. Most students have finished publishing, and their articles will be ready for the world to see very soon. We spent lots of time in the computer lab, and students also were introduced to a website called NoRedInk, which diagnoses any grammatical troubles students may have and then gives them exercises and lessons to help fix them. It was quite popular, I’ll admit (and I was a bit surprised!). Not only did we work on writing, we also read the introduction and the first two chapters of Underground to Canada. Having done so much pre-reading helped students understand the context in which the novel is set. (Also – scandal! We haven’t yet voted on our final poem. That will happen TOMORROW! Stay tuned…)

We continued to read graphic novels in Français this week, identifying and defining unfamiliar vocabulary words and then reading aloud to practice fluency, expression, and presentation. We completed the reading of one graphic novel and submitted work, which I will return with feedback. The next graphic novel will involve similar work, but this time it will count for a mark. Lots of great reading going on!

Finally, in Mathématiques, we took an expedition to the gym to ask mathematical questions. Later that week, we returned to the gym to complete the measurements and observations needed to answer the questions asked. This week, we will work to solve them. There are a few very creative questions, and others involve the concepts we have been studying over the past month (including decimal operations and measurement of circles and shapes). We have also continued to learn about fraction addition. So far, we’ve learned about how to add fractions with the same denominators. We will then review equivalent fractions before looking at how to add ones with different denominators. Then…subtraction! Students learn about multiplication and division of fractions in Grade 8.

Have a great day! And of course, happy reading. 

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: April 30-May 4, 2018

Dear Knights,

We are almost to the end of our English poetry competition! The semi-finals have arrived. Which poem will make it through to the end? 7F1 has voted on their favourites, and 7F2 will do so early next week. In addition to poetry, we have continued our learning about slavery to prepare for our novel study of Underground to Canada. We completed an image analysis by examining a picture and writing what we saw and what inference we could make from it, and we also began a reading about the slave trade and the origins of slavery in America. Later this week, we will begin reading the novel. Finally, we moved closer to publishing our feature articles. Expect to see those published copies very soon!

In Français with 7F1, we began reading a series of graphic novels in groups to work on reading comprehension strategies and fluent oral reading. We have also looked at our last text form of the year: persuasive texts. Students will write short persuasive texts about subjects important to them. We began by reading a complex persuasive text to learn about the general structure, which we’ve been practicing already throughout the year during oral discussions.

Finally, in Mathématiques with 7F2, we continued to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimal numbers. It was a good review to see how the standard algorithm works for each operation. Students should continue to practice these regularly to maintain their proficiency. We also worked in estimation, so students can estimate what the answer should be before calculating it. This way, they know if they made an error. We applied what we knew about decimal multiplication to calculate percentages, including taxes, tips, and sales. Finally, we began to look at addition and subtraction of fractions with our super awesome guest Mme Page, who comes to co-teach our math class on occasion.

I hope you enjoy the weather today. Happy reading (on the deck)!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: April 16-27, 2018

Dear Knights,

Excitement is in the air as Spring (finally) approaches!

We’ve tackled a lot of poetry in English with 7F1 and 7F2. We finished all eight rounds of poetry competition and have begun the semi-finals. During voting today, some students mentioned they weren’t at all surprised the more “popular” poems were winning, so I shared the vote count, which, in all cases, were extremely close. Some students even wrote on their ballots: “This isn’t my favourite one, but I know it will win.” It made for a great teachable moment about the power of a vote! Check out the leaders:

If voting on poetry wasn’t enough, students also wrote, revised, and published their own poems this week! The process began with submitting two poems for feedback, where students received tips on how to increase figurative language, symbolism, or creative vocabulary. Using this feedback, students published their poem and chose colours, images, or symbols to best represent. Check the Instagram feedback next week for the final products.

I was sick and had to be away for a few days these past two weeks, which has resulted in a bit of a pause with our feature articles. Students will get those back next week with content- and structure-related feedback, and we will move toward revision, editing, and publishing.

Finally, we began our Underground to Canada novel study by “discussing” slavery in a silent conversation on big paper to see what we already know about the topic.

In Français with 7F1, students presented the French stories they wrote to accompany photos taken by students in tech class. We also continued our study of imparfait, another past tense used in French. Our verb study has directly impacted our ability to write accurate stories – it’s great to see these concepts applied in context! For instance, groups wrote an ending to a story we read together today and many used both passé composé and imparfait. Bravo!

Last but not least, Mathématiques with 7F2: we completed our study of measurement and began to learn about operations with decimals. With some decimal calculations, we can use calculators, but we need to also know how to do the work by hand when calculating with smaller numbers. We learn and practice the standard algorithm, which is what most family members would have learned at school. Please ask your child to demonstrate a few addition, subtraction, and multiplication questions and help if needed. Division is next! In addition (no pun intended) to decimal operations, we also learned how to read and interpret circular diagrams, which helped with a school-wide Grade 7 activity this afternoon!

I apologize for the delay in publishing last week’s learning snapshot. I hope these posts continue to be helpful and keep you informed about what’s going on in Room 207!

Happy reading!
M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: April 9-13, 2018


Dear Knights,

We accomplished a fair bit this week on major projects. Both classes in English worked toward the first check-in for their non-fiction feature articles. The check-in will occur Monday, and students are expected to have a completed article to hand in. They will then receive feedback to improve their article’s structure and content. While we worked on our articles, we also learned about poetry. We are up to Round 4 in our poetry tournament. Which poem will win?

In French, students published their stories this week. We will give them a read next week and celebrate their accomplishments. Our next study will involve graphic novels and comics. Many students wrote mini-comics last year, so our focus this year will be to learn how to read them effectively and how authors/illustrators communicate information through words and images.

Finally, in Mathématiques, we approached the end of our unit on measurement. Students have learned how to calculate the area and the circumference of a circle. And on Friday during the late afternoon, students tackled a tricky question called “La chèvre au ventre creux”. They had to use their knowledge of rectangles and circles to calculate various areas and radii. We will have a quiz at the end next week, and students will receive review materials on Monday.

I’d also like to thank all students who participated in the various commemorative days this week – whether it be Jerseys for Humboldt, Pink Shirt Day, or the Winnipeg Jets Whiteout. Lots of school spirit and solidarity was evident in Ness’s halls.

Happy reading,

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: April 2-6, 2018

Dear Knights,

After a brief hiatus, I am happy to continue my weekly learning snapshot newsletters. I hope you continue to find these informative. We have begun our last stretch of time together in Grade 7, and we are making every moment count!

In English with 7F1 and 7F2, we continued to work on our feature articles. Students had multiple periods to draft. We also discussed how to conduct interviews, and students are now encouraged to make contact with their interview sources. We will negotiate this week the deadline for the first check-in, by which time students should have their article finished. Each student has tracked his or her progress on a bright yellow Accountability Sheet in order to avoid falling behind.


We have also begun in English to explore poetry as part of National Poetry Month. Over the next few weeks, we will listen and read various poems and vote for our favourites, all while analyzing and evaluating the poetry we read. Check out our bracket.

In Français with 7F1, we have finished our drafts of our stories and will be publishing them in the computer lab later this week. Many students wrote inventive stories to accompany the photos taken by students in tech class. It was not an easy process, so I commend students’ creativity! We also continued to review passé composé verbs.

In Mathématiques with 7F2, we continued to learn about measurement. We learned vocabulary to use when talking about circles and built on our knowledge of perimeter to calculate the circumference of a circle. We learned how π represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter and its circumference and how to use it to calculate. Soon, we will calculate the area of circles. We will then move to…fraction operations!

A reminder to students and parents alike that PowerSchool will be updated regularly when assignments are handed in, which will allow you to see what is still missing. Please check regularly – and students, if your name is on the missing-work area of the whiteboard, please make plans to hand everything in.

Happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: March 12-15, 2018

Dear Knights,

Thanks to everyone who was able to come by for our Student-Led Conferences last Wednesday. If you weren’t able to attend, you are always welcome to get in touch by email if you have any questions.

In Mathématiques with 7F2 this week, we wrote our quiz on equations and continued our study of parallelograms. We used the formula for calculating the area of a rectangle to deduce how to calculate the area of a parallelogram. Before spring break, we will learn about how to calculate the area of a triangle and will begin to look at the properties of the circle. We have also continued to review mental math strategies involving decimal numbers.

In English with 7F1 and 7F2, we conducted some initial research about our self-chosen topics for the non-fiction feature article. We began by creating a graphic organizer to show the structure of our article (thank you, text structures!) We also generated lists of what we already know about our topics, what we will need to find out, and which sources we might be able to use. Then we looked at criteria we should use when evaluating a source (authority, currency, integrity, relevance, validity). Students will have more time to research this week, and we will begin writing our articles after Spring Break.

In Français with 7F1, we continued to work on our stories by picking the images we want to use and outlining the structure (situation initiale, élément déclencheur, péripéties, dénouement, situation finale). We will draft our stories this week and publish them after Spring Break.

Time flies! We will attempt to accomplish a lot this coming week. Students are encouraged to stay on top of their assignments and homework so as to not fall behind.

Happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski