Snapshot: March 5-9, 2018

 Dear Knights,

I am looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming Student-Led Conferences on Wednesday, March 14, from 4:45-7 PM. Parents: Stop in Room 207 to see what your kids have been learning. They will walk you through some of their learning from the past term. 

This week in English with 7F1 and 7F2, we learned about one last text structure – problem and solution. Students also selected one of four articles to read and to show how they can identify the main idea of a text. We also role-played a meeting between a journalist and an editor in order to clarify ideas for our non-fiction feature article. Next week, we will finish these interviews, dive into writing, and explore possible sources. As part of this project, students will be invited to contact and interview subject-area experts in the community, like true journalists.

In Mathématiques with 7F2, we reviewed for our upcoming quiz on equations, which will take place on Monday, March 12. As promised to students, below are the review answers. Click each image to enlarge it. In other news, we also began our study of shape and space by reviewing what we know about rectangles. We explored the properties of a parallelogram and will learn how to calculate its area next week. Finally, we began something called “Carrousel mathématique,” where students solve mental math problems and share their strategies with their table group. We have begun to see that the same mental math strategies appear over and over…and that calculations with decimal numbers aren’t as scary as some initially thought!

Last, in Français with 7F1, we extended our learning about le passé composé by seeing which verbs conjugated with the verbe auxiliaire être as opposed to avoir. If any parents took French before, you probably remember our friends Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp! We will use what we are learning to write our own stories this coming week, using photographs taken by M. Bodnar’s technology classes as inspiration.

A quick note to end: Congratulations to Ebony and Ryan who delivered wonderful speeches at the divisional Concours d’art oratoire. We are all proud of you! 

Have a great weekend – and happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski


Snapshot: February 26-March 2, 2018

Dear Knights,

The highlights of the past week included wrapping up our study of equations in Mathématiques with 7F2 and writing a full short story, from beginning to end, in Français with 7F1! A lot of hard work was accomplished in all the academic subjects.

In English, with both classes, we practiced identifying the main idea of a non-fiction text by looking at the similarities between the facts listed in the article and those listed in the article’s text features (captions, photos, graphics, headings, etc.). We also identified the cause and effect relationship in a few short texts in order to better understand that structure. We have one last structure to learn about, and it is the one students are most likely to use in their own non-fiction articles: the problem/solution structure. We will likely begin to brainstorm ideas for our non-fiction articles by the end of the week.

The end of Term 2 is quickly approaching. Students with missing assignments will soon receive a printout – and an email home – with their missing work. Monday, March 12 will be the deadline to hand in any missing work from Term 2. Thank you to all Knights who continually strive for Excellence and maintain personal and academic Responsibility.

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: February 20-22, 2018

Dear Knights,

Here is a short snapshot of our very short week together. Much of this week involved special activities. On Tuesday, all Grade 7 students participated in Festival du Voyageur-themed activities. In the gym, they participated in Voyageur games. Elsewhere, they completed a Voyageur trivia hunt, made crepes, and crafted. Here’s a peek at one of the games in the gym:

The Voyageur relay race is always exciting to watch:

This week, we were also treated to two speeches for the Canadian Parents for French activity “Concours d’art oratoire.” Bravo to Ryan and Ebony for presenting their French speeches in front of all the Grade 7 students.

In French with 7F1, we continued to learn about le passé composé. In English with 7F1 and 7F2, we wrote, in groups, a paragraph called “Ice Storm” to practice using a graphic organizer to write a cause-and-effect paragraph. Being able to use the cause and effect structure will be helpful when students begin to write their non-fiction feature articles very shortly. Finally, in Mathématiques with 7F2, we began some problem-solving tasks and continued to learn the steps to solve an equation.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: February 5-16, 2018

Dear Knights,

My apologies for not publishing a learning snapshot last week. Here’s a summary of our last two weeks. 

We have begun a new unit on equations in Mathématiques with 7F2. We began by learning how to represent an equation using math manipulative materials. Using concrete materials helps students see what happens when we isolate x on one size of an equation, for example. Once we have mastered that, we move on to drawing images and using symbols (i.e. numbers) – but building the conceptual understanding needs to come first.

We have also been finishing the collection of evidence for the Grade 7 Provincial Assessment of Key Competencies in Mathematics. Results will be shared in the Term 2 report card. Of course, finishing the provincial assessment does not mean that we never review those competencies again. If students are approaching or not-yet-meeting mid-Grade 7 standards, they will continue to receive extra help.

NEW! All Grade 7 Math students are invited to the extra help sessions scheduled on Wednesdays from 12:10-12:45 in Room 207, with M. Sorokowski and Mme Chagnon. Students can work on assignments or get help with specific concepts.

In other news, we’ve accomplished a fair bit in English (7F1 & 7F2). Students chose to publish either their enumerative or sequential paragraphs on the iPad and will present their published work on Tuesday, February 19. Students also finished their compare/contrast paragraphs and began to study the cause-and-effect structure. In a week or so, we will begin writing our final non-fiction feature article, which will incorporate each of the skills we have been practicing during this unit.

We also saw the return of What’s Going on in this Picture and our short film studies. We watched “The Invention of Love,” which you can see below. Both activities work on inferring, communicating, and critical thinking skills.

Invention of Love (2010) – Animated Short Film from Mot & Co on Vimeo.

Finally, in Français with 7F1, we began to learn about le passé composé and l’imparfait, the most commonly used past-tense verb forms. We saw once again that verbs follow patterns, and finding these patterns is the best way to remember them…as opposed to cramming them into your memory!

We also completed the Les prisonniers du zoo novel study. Over the next week, we will complete a few other activities to go along with this group, including a critical thinking exercise to do with animal testing and whether it is ethical. We will also return to look at the narrative structure of Les prisonniers du zoo, as our next writing task involves creating a well structured short story. Students also each chose a novel out of our French classroom library and have been reading it during reading time. As I always say, you can’t get better at reading in French unless you read more in French!

Have a great weekend – check out Festival du Voyageur perhaps? – and happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: January 29-February 1, 2018

Dear Knights,

Can you believe it is already February? That means it is time for I Love to Read month. The school’s student leadership team has prepared a great month of activities, which you can see in the calendar below.


This week in class, we worked on compare and contrast structures this week in English (7F1 & 7F2) as part of our text structures and feature article unit. In French (7F1), CFOO-A presented and read some more of Les prisonniers du zoo. We are almost done the book, which means we are getting ready to write stories of our own. 7F1 has the opportunity to collaborate with some of M. Bodnar’s technology classes. We will write stories that accompany the tech classes’ photos. This will also give us an authentic way to learn about le passé composé and l’imparfait, two verb tenses. Finally, in Mathématiques (7F2), we continued to learn about integers. This time, we practiced subtracting integers using math manipulatives and number lines. We will generalize about the patterns we have begun to notice this coming week.

We were also treated this week to a field trip to the divisional musical theatre’s production of Seussical, Jr. So many Knights were part of Cast 2, which we saw on Wednesday! I also attended a performance on Sunday to see Cast 1. What talent! Bravo!

Stay warm and happy reading,

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: January 22-26, 2018

Dear Knights,

Our school was treated to much talent this week, with the Art Exhibition and Band and Choir Concerts taking place on Wednesday. I was pleased to attend both and marvel at what our Knights can achieve!

We powered forward in English (7F1 & 7F2) this week, finishing our enumerative paragraphs (which are now due). We also read an article about caffeine and energy drinks to learn about text features, which include headings, sub-headings, photos, graphics, captions, and more. We learned how we can use text features to make predictions and check our understanding while we read non-fiction texts. This week, we will study how the caffeine and energy drink article uses sequential and enumerative structures to organize its information.

In Mathématiques (7F2), students wrote a quiz about adding integers. I also had the opportunity to work with a group of students who needed a bit more fraction practice. It is so important to have a good understanding of…

  • What fractions are and how to write them
  • How to create equivalent fractions
  • How to reduce fractions to their simplest terms
  • How to compare fractions
  • How to order fractions

We will continue to review these concepts in small groups and one-on-one until every student has mastered them. Meanwhile, some other students pushed their brains to the max by working on some challenging questions. This week, we will learn how to subtract integers.

Finally, in Français (7F1), we read the next section of Les prisonniers du zoo and checked our understanding by finding a variety of details in the text. We also completed a review of la féminisation, or how to write the feminine version of common nouns. To practice our listening comprehension beyond our novel study, we listened to another episode of 1 jour 1 question and watched an episode of Raphaël, citoyen du monde. This week, we will have another set of presentations by CFOO Group A, which I am sure will be entertaining as always.

Happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: January 15-19, 2018

Dear Knights,

First, I’d like to thank all students who submitted their sequential paragraphs in English (7F1 & 7F2). They were very well written and showed an excellent understanding of the structure. This week, we started to learn about enumerative structures, which is another one of the structures students are already quite familiar with. Creating a graphic organizer proved challenging for some, as it was a bit difficult to decide the main idea and to remove superfluous details from our point-form graphic organizer. We’ll continue working on this skill this week.

Being able to create a graphic organizer from texts is very helpful, especially as students begin to take more tests and exams. Graphic organizers allow students to organize information visually, which usually will help them recall that information more easily.

This week in Français with 7F1, we continued to read Les prisonniers du zoo. We also reviewed verbs and began “Le grand prix de verbes.” CFOO Group B delivered great presentations – we were treated to some snacks and some magic! I’d like to thank all the students who created excellent visual supports for their presentations.

Finally, in Mathématiques with 7F2, we began integer addition using math manipulatives (two-coloured counters) and pictures. This week, we will transfer our learning to a more symbolic form and will practice using a number line to find the sum of two or more integers. We also continue to review and demonstrate our understanding of the competencies for the Grade 7 Mathematics provincial assessment, which we have been working on since the beginning of the year.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and productive week.

Happy reading

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: January 8-12, 2018

Dear Knights,

Happy New Year! We had a great first week back together, having jumped right back into our routines.

In English with 7F1 & 7F2, we began our new unit: Feature Articles and Non-Fiction Texts. First, we will learn about text structures. Being able to recognize text structures will help students better comprehend the non-fiction texts they read. We have introduced an image and graphic organizer for each structure to help students visualize how the content is organized. Once students are familiar with how each structure appears in writing, they will be able to apply these structures to their own writing. We started easy, working with one structure students know well – the sequential structure. Almost all the students have written or followed how-to or instructional texts in the past (like recipes), so it was helpful to start with something students are already good at recognizing.

In other English news, we began a new read-aloud: Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings. We will continue to have discussions with our partners and groups as we enjoy this mystery. We also introduced some modifications to our reading workshop, and students have more time in class every cycle to read their self-selected books – which opens some more time for me to work one-on-one and in small groups with every student! The New Year will also see us begin a weekly language study, focusing on word morphology and roots. Knowing and using a variety of Greek and Latin roots will help students decode more complicated words they encounter in their fiction and non-fiction reading.

In Français with 7F1, we began our first novel study, Les prisonniers du zoo. We also presented our information texts about animals, which we finished researching and writing in December. Group A presented their CFOO presentations, and we look forward to Group B’s coming up next!

Finally, in Mathématiques with 7F2, we did a bit of review and wrapped up our unit on decimal numbers, fractions, and percentages. Though we are moving on, we will continue to see each of these concepts, as we will practice calculating percentages (e.g. 25% of 400) and performing all four operations on decimal numbers. There is a quiz on Monday about fractions (comparing and ordering). Our next unit involves looking at integers, building on what students learned in Grade 6.

It is somewhat remarkable sometimes all that we are able to accomplish in a week! Kudos always goes to the excellent students in 7F1 and 7F2 for pursuing excellence.

Happy reading,

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: December 18-22, 2017

Dear Knights,

2017 has been a great year at Ness Middle School. Congratulations to all my students so far on their achievement and for pushing themselves towards excellence in all areas of their lives. We had some good times this week, performing readers’ theatre versions of The Gift of the Magi and The Christmas Carol. We played some holiday-themed math games and tested our holiday trivia by playing “Quizmas”. Finally, we capped off the week on Friday with an activity afternoon. Students rotated among five stations, each facilitated by members of the teaching staff.

In the New Year, students will see our anthology of published English narratives for the first time, and a copy will be shared with everyone at home. We also largely finished our French texts about an animal, which will lead us into our novel study of Les prisonniers du zoo in early January. In Mathematics, we will continue our study of mental math strategies (but this time with decimal numbers!). We will also extend our understanding of positive and negative numbers, building on what students learned in Grade 6. And then…on to the fascinating world of circles! 

Although the December break always feels like the halfway point of the year, we’re not quite that far along yet. Together, we Knights have lots of time to continue working towards our goals in English, French, and Mathematics. January is always an exciting month, as we all return energized and refreshed.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season with friends and family. My plans include reading, reading, and probably some more reading. Enjoy your break!

Most sincerely,

M. J. Sorokowski

Snapshot: December 11-15, 2017

Dear Knights,

A big BRAVO! to 7F1 for helping to lead the first student-led assembly of the year. Together with one of the Grade 6 homerooms, students showed what they have been learning with the rest of the school. 7F1 shared some of their Humans of Ness pieces and then led the school through the practice of some tricky French tongue-twisters. Three outstanding Knights from 7F1 were also recognized. Congratulations to Sydnee, Liam, and Kiera.

This week in Mathématiques with 7F2, students wrote a quiz about repeating decimal numbers. These were returned on Friday and marks are on PowerSchool. As always, students are welcome to rewrite if they would like to improve their mark, an offer extended to students who did not receive a 4. The rewrite will occur later this coming week for students who return their quiz with the signed rewrite form. Otherwise, in math, we continued to learn about fractions. This week we will compare and order them. Our focus for the week will also include mental math for addition, which caps off our review of strategies for all four operations. In the New Year, we’ll begin mental math with decimal numbers. Finally, we have been playing some fun holiday math games! More to come this week.

In English and Français, students have spent most of the week finishing their major projects. In English (7F1 and 7F2), students are putting the finishing touches on their narratives, and in French (7F1), students are polishing their texte informatif. These are now due, and some students will need to finish them at lunch this week. Published hard copies will be shared in the New Year of these excellent pieces of writing!

Finally, a reminder to all Knights that this coming week is Spirit Week! Details can be found on the school Instagram.

Have a great week, and happy reading!

M. J. Sorokowski