Fractions: Numerators and Denominators

Fractions: Numerators and Denominators
When students are first learning fractions, it can be tricky for them to remember the difference between the numerator and the denominator. I start by explaining that a fraction is a part of a whole- like a piece of a pie. Each fraction has two parts: the top number and the bottom number. The bottom number represents how many pieces the pie was cut in to, and the top number represents how many of those pieces of pie are left. I like to have my student write a fraction, and then draw that fraction as a piece or pieces of pie to incorporate multi-sensory learning.
Once they understand this concept, I use a pneumonic device and a drawing to help them remember that the top number is called the numerator, and the bottom number is called the denominator. I tell them, “the numerator is number one, and the denominator is downstairs!”




Learning how to count syllables and break down words can be a helpful tool for students who have a basic understanding of how to read sight words and shorter, more simple vocabulary, but who are ready to make the jump into reading and writing more complex words. Breaking down longer words like “extravagant” can be useful when taught in bunches. Ex-tra-va-gant can be taught in sync with words with the same suffix, like “brill-i-ant”, “im-por-tant”, and “dis-tant”. Setting these up on a page so that a student can join the first part of the word with its suffix helps to solidify the practice of breaking up words into more manageable parts.



Valentine’s Day Origins

Valentine’s Day Origins

Saint Valentine.jpg

Millions of people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, but few know the origins of its significance. Valentine’s Day, in our part of the world, is largely celebrated as a romantic holiday shared with a significant other or a partner, as a time to commemorate love for each other, although there are many exceptions to this generality. Many know of Valentine Day’s relations to Pagan, Roman, and Christian traditions, but the origins of the holiday itself has a rather muddled story, even among 3rd century historians.

As there are many hypothesises as to where Valentine’s Day originated from, the most well-known among the general public is centred around Saint Valentine, who saw injustice in a law that prohibited soldiers from marrying their partners. Valentine thought that this law was unjust and spoke out against it, resulting in the projection of his actions as a romantic gesture of passion.

This is merely one of the stories that is known and rarely told, but many others are not verbalized—I suggest you to examine and question the origins of other holidays that you celebrate, and to think analytically about why it is that you celebrate them—perhaps as an additional homework assignment to stretch your investigative brain muscles!


References Staff. (2009). History of Valentine’s Day. A + E Networks.


Siepel, A. (2011). The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day. NPR.


Brunner, B. (2004). Valentine’s Day History. InfoPlease.

Homophones < Tic Tac Toe

Homophones < Tic Tac Toe


When my younger students have a hard time staying motivated with their Language Arts learning, I play Tic Tac Toe with them. When learning feels like playing games, students are more likely to stay engaged. For example, we recently read a book that taught us about homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different origins and meanings, such as root and route, tail and tale, and see and sea. I line a piece of paper with a tic tac toe board, fill in the squares with different homophone words, and ask the student to read each word, explain its meaning, and name its homophone and its respective meaning. We use different colours and alternate crossing out words, until one of us wins by creating a row or column. In addition, I slip this sheet into a plastic folder so I can re-use it again—repetition from the book reading, tic tac toe, and review help with comprehension!



Basic Persuasion Paragraph


Basic Persuasion Paragraph
Persuasive writing is an important skill for students to develop. It teaches them to form an opinion about a topic and come up with reasons to support their position. The goal of this type of writing is to convince someone to believe something or take action.
To begin, ask your student to brainstorm a list of topics/issues they care about. A few ideas to start with are: a favourite sport, recycling, or why you should travel. Once they have selected a topic, ask them to take a position. What do they want to argue in this paragraph? An argument can be as simple as “people should recycle more”, or you can work with your student to develop more complex arguments.
Then ask them to think about the audience they are writing for. What reasons are most likely to convince their readers? What examples will persuade them?
Creating a paragraph outline is a good way for your student to organize their ideas before writing. An example of a persuasion paragraph outline is included below. Work with your students to develop strong arguments, reasons and examples. With practice, they will become confident writers!