Few things can challenge the beauty of the morning after a fresh snowfall.  Are you wondering what the photo on the left is all about?  Okay let me tell you what is going on.  The kids decided to act like snowflakes.  Yes, they are "pretending" to be snowflakes.  In the world of social media, everybody seems to be after the next big pose.  First came the "My Space Pose", then came the 'Prune Pose".  Let me introduce to you the "Snowflake Pose".  

Between enjoying some of the winter weather with my wife and son, and committing to some heavy duty video projects for the school, it has dwindled any time I may have had to update this site.....but I am back!  Despite all the good, I will need to take some much needed time off from video making for at least a few weeks.   Oh, but so much has happened!  Allow me to share a couple major highlights.  


Highlights and Updates!

3C was very honored to have Aya and Iman in the school wide "Spelling Bee" tournament a few weeks ago.  Both had trained very hard and showed a high level of compete.  In the end, Iman was crowned the champion.  She couldn't have been any happier and we are all very proud of her! 

Mrs. Ghani's 1C class has been teaming up with us as part of our reading buddy program.  We have been taking advantage of that opportunity to showcase some excellent reading as well as having my kiddos review short and long vowel sounds with the grade 1's.   

How About The Core Subjects?

As far as the core academics go, we are finishing off our rocks and minerals unit and preparing for a unit exam sometime near the end of the week.  We will review up until then.    Please click here to access the study guide outline that I have prepared for the kids.

In math, we have started investigating patterns involved in skip counting.  We have completed skip counting by 2's.  From here we will be investigating skip counting by 5's, 10's, 25's and 100's.  Heavy focus will be placed on number patterns that result when these they are mapped onto a hundreds chart.  

In Language Arts, we will be divulging into the topics of nouns, adjectives and verbs and incorporating them into our writing.  For the past few weeks, my little Einsteins have been learning to proof read the work of others and mark down corrections.  This will continue to be an area of focus.  

In Social Studies, we have been studying the art of debate and using these skills to compare the lifestyles in the four countries that we have been studying. 

Have a great week everybody!

After being inspired by an idea that 3D's Miss Zahra came up with, I decided to take advantage of the pumpkin and candy sale going on at Superstore.  The idea was to kick off our next unit, skip counting and estimation, by having our little scholars perform a variety of challenges all of which included counting the pumpkin seeds.  The chance to investigate the properties of the pumpkins using our 5 senses generated some interesting ideas.

As for the candy, my kiddos were presented with the challenge of using the ingredients that I had provided them to create a soil profile consisting of the humus, top soil, subsoil and bedrock.  Objective reasoning as to why each ingredient was selected for each corresponding layer had to be provided.  I'm telling ya....some of these kids gave me Einstein level reasoning just to eat the candy at the end.  

The following class, my superstar geologists were sent on a virtual field trip to an excavation site.  The mission was to use a toothpick to uncover the hidden treasures that lay within the land of chocolate chip cookies.  They applied proper excavation techniques to the cookie land so as not to damage any of the precious chocolate rubies that lay within it.  

We were very fortunate to have a few of our local firefighters drop into the school for an entire day to teach the kids a lesson about fire safety.  Students had a great time listening to the interesting stories that were shared by our firemen.  Student volunteers even got to try on some of the fire gear!  At the end of it all, each student received a fireman's hat along with a tour of the fire truck!   

Remember to click the star at the bottom right hand corner of the youtube video and adjust to 1080P resolution for maximum HD clarity.  
Last Wednesday, we brought in the expert, Mrs. McConnell, to our classroom.  Mrs. McConnell organized 5 learning centers in the classroom where my little scholars were able to investigate artifacts that were tens of millions of years old.  One particular item included a prehistoric mosquito that was fossilized in some tree resin.  How long ago did this mosquito live you may ask?  Well, let us just say that it probably managed to take some bites out of a few dinosaurs!  That is how cool it was!   Fossils, Soil, Gemstones, detective work, and Moh's hardness scale, were all part of our geological journey that day.  The expression on my kiddos' faces said it all......they enjoyed every minute of it.  

 A special thanks to Mrs. Mouallem, Mrs. Sheikhdon, Mrs. Kaddoura, Mrs. Yassine and Mrs. Mariam, all of whom volunteered their valuable time to help facilitate the different centers.  You ladies are awesome!

Later on that week, we celebrated the autumn season by collecting leaves to make "Fall Butterflies".  Check out all of the action below!

A prehistoric mosquito is fossilized in some tree resin.
Although it may look like real food and smell like real food....it 'aint real food!  Earlier last week, my super cool teaching assistant Mrs. Mariam cooked me up a large batch of cinnamon scented play-doh, which we had the kids use to create all sorts of deceivingly tantalizing treats. My team of chefs whipped up burgers, hot-dogs  chicken pasta, muffins, cupcakes and even hot pastries.  Then purpose of the activity was to have the kiddos become "Foodies" by using their 5 senses to describe their creations.  It is all part of the secret plan to turn these kids into superstar writers....and....perhaps even chefs.  

Later on that week, we visited the nearby pond to help us gain a more wholesome awareness of our senses.  Everything from the wind brushing against our faces, to the grass crunching beneath our feet and the sunlight glistening off the pond water were shared by my little scholars.  

Our Pastry Chefs
In Science class, we marched back into the lab to analyze the properties of soil.  My little Geologists even had the chance to get a super close look at the soil using a microscope.  
In math class, we concluded our study of number representations by looking into the topic of "Expanded Form".  The kids played a game involving a die and some high level mental skill to help reinforce the concept of "expanded form" as well as sorting numbers.  
The Grade 3 Newsletter!

Last week's vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the original newsletter format.  Inshallah, I will bring it back for next week.  In the meantime, here is an overview of what we will be covering in the coming week

Math:  Chapter review (representing numbers)...start skip counting by 5.
Science:  Soil properties cont... In school science field trip (don't forget your admission fee)...Sedimentary rocks
L.A:  Editing sample work for grammar and punctuation.  Describing objects and setting using the 5 senses. 
Social:  Quality of life in the 4 countries.  
Art:  Fall Butterflies
Gym:  Soccer

Yes, Yes, I get it...the word epic is so 2011...but who's to say that I am not allowed to use it during one of the most epic weeks in the history of the EIA! 

Okay, so what could possibly have made this week so epic, you may ask?  Well for one thing, the school's brand new $400,000 track and field facility was unveiled this past Friday during an epic opening ceremony that nobody will ever forget.  I mean that literally!  I preserved it on YouTube.  It is there for you to remember again and again and.....again.  You can catch up on the action by clicking the video below.  

 But there was something even more epic than that.  Okay, so what could possibly be more epic than an opening ceremony that celebrates the completion of a half million dollar facility?  What could be more epic than showcasing something that officially marks a new era in the EIA's athletic history?  I'll tell you what!  My kiddos....that's what!  As of right now, they are "THAT" much closer to becoming superstar level geologists as they continued exploring various properties of rocks and minerals. Pretty crazy...I know!  They learned a ton of new stuff too!  They rotated through different learning centers, they analyzed charts and then simulated the effects of weathering and erosion using the rocks that they cooked up in the foods lab.....in what feels like "Eons" ago.  Epic, hey?!  I won't say that I told you so.  

 Check out all of the action in the video below.  Just make sure the resolution is in HD (small tab at the bottom right of the YouTube screen). Thanks to the manufacturers at Samsung Galaxy Headquarters, you can watch it in up to 1080P!   Epic!  I told you so!

I Need Your Help!!!

    I have attached the Grade 3 Newsletter here.  However, as you are all aware, this newsletter format has been replaced with a version made on Google Documents.  All of the newsletters from K-12 will now be collected as a single document and emailed by the school's administrators each Monday morning.  Some of you have come to tell me that you prefer the original format which is why I need your help in deciding if enough of you feel the same way.  I would be more than happy to put in the extra effort if enough of you request it.  Please fill out the survey below and tell me what you prefer. 

After concluding our investigative study of sky colors and various methods of applying them using oil pastels, we ventured into the topic of color temperatures.  We began by analyzing paintings made by world renowned artist, Jim Dine, which generated many "ooh's" and "ahhh's".  There was little doubt just how much, Jim Dine's, work inspired the kiddos as can be seen in these photos as well as the video below. To model after Jim Dine's work, students were asked to draw a heart and then use either warm color blends or cool color blends to design the inside of the heart.  The area outside of the heart had to contain blends of an opposite color temperature. 
 Just in case anybody was wondering, there were no templates or cutouts involved.  Everything that you see is original work generated from scratch.....the way art class was meant to be.  :)

In science class, we concluded our investigation of the properties of rocks and minerals by divulging into the topic of carbonates.  Students learned about where carbonates come from and how to test for them. Students tested rocks in the chemistry lab by dropping small amounts of vinegar on them.  If fizzy bubbles formed, it was an indication that carbonates were indeed present.  

Place value continues to be our focus of study in math class.  Students warmed up with a place value game involving Dixie Cups which allowed us to progress into the concept of regrouping unit blocks.  Check out all of the action in the video below!

Thursday Is A Big Day!
The wait is over!  Our track and field is complete and it will all be official during our opening ceremonies this coming Thursday.  To celebrate its completion, we will be holding house league events all day on Thursday.  Every student from k-12 has been split up into 4 house teams and they will all be competing in various track and field events on that day.  

Raz-Kids Is Back!  

A note stating all of your child's "Raz-Kids" login information was sent home last week.  Please ensure that your child is reading at least 2 books a day off the website if they are at level P or higher and 3 to 4 books a day if they are below level P.  Grade 3 is a crucial year in terms of a child's reading level.  Studies continue to show that students who attain grade level reading by the time they finish third grade are much more successful in the following years.  That would mean having each student finishing the year at a minimum of a level T.  Utilizing Raz-kids on a daily basis will go a long way in helping us get there.  

No Newsletter This Week...  :(

Instead I have provided you with a general outline of what we will be covering.

Math:  Regrouping rods as well as combinations of units and rods. (Expect a quiz)
Science:  Review of all of the properties.  Hardness chart data analysis.  (Expect a quiz)
L.A:  Writing sentences involving the sense of sight.  Reviewing sentence structure of all 5 senses.  Venturing into applying these sentences to real world objects.  
Social Studies:  Quality of Life in Peru. 
Phys-Ed:  Track and Field
Art:  Contrasting color techniques with fall leaves.
Health:  Healthy Relationships.

Is it possible to "make" rocks?  Absolutely! And the grade 3's got a first hand glimpse of what it takes to do so.  Water, sediments, pressure and evaporation is the rock recipe.  In nature, it takes millions of years to accomplish this.  In Mr. Melhem's "Science Kitchen", it only takes 1 hour!  Brilliant, you say? Yes, I agree....and so do the kiddos.  In fact, my little scholars did such a tantalizing job that they attracted some of the high school kids to come in.  Without notice, some of them began eating our muffin stones only to realize that the pound of sand in each batch didn't make them too edible. 

Sometime next week, we will study the effects that weathering and erosion have on our man made creations.   Wait a minute!  Erosion??? Does that mean we will transform the fruits of these children's labor back into sediment. Do I really have the heart to turn all of the work that they put into this project will turn back into dust?!  Yes, but don't worry, the kids had made more than enough rocks to keep one for themselves as a souvenir.  Definitely, however, I think the most impressive part of the entire experience was watching these little scientists clean up after themselves.  You have to see it to believe it!  All the action can be seen in this week's video highlight reel. 

Later on in the week, we divulged a little more in depth with the "Hardness Test" by having students perform more specific rock testing and then document their results onto a chart.  Chart analysis was, therefore, a primary area of focus and we will continue elaborating on this early into next week.  We will keep on "Rocking"!
Good Manners Also Rock!

Our well respected vice principal, Mrs. Tayyaba, had her annual meeting with the grade 3's last week to discuss the importance of proper social etiquette.  Everything from proper bathroom practice to appropriate ways to walk in the hallways  were mentioned.  Mrs. Tayyaba also went into discussing strategies for maintaining and building friendships and then gathered valuable input from her audience.  These kiddos were very engaged as you can see below. 
Vice Principal Mrs. Tayyaba discusses ethics and etiquette with the grade 3 students.
Wait!!!! Don't Forget About This Week's Newsletter.  Click here to get instant access!
If the level of excitement this week was any indication, then we are likely looking at our future Archeologists.  After investigating the various properties of rocks from the ones found in our school playground, many of these kiddos took it upon themselves to start their own personal rock collection and share them with me at school.  They have become so addicted to rocks!   The fact is, before this past week, most of these kids looked at a rock as "just a rock".  Now if you ask them, a rock is so much more than that.  Each rock has a story and my little geologist scholars are discovering just how fascinating these stories can be.  Next week is even better!  We will be recreating some of these stories in the foods lab as we start to bake our own rocks, investigate it's properties and then cause them to weather and erode away.  Please remember to have your child bring the necessary ingredients as mentioned in the forms sent home last week.... (1.5 cups of flour, 1 cup of sand, half cup of salt and a medium sized jar).

Counting to 1000!

We spent the first week learning how to count to 1000 by investigating patterns found in the hundreds chart.  The kids rotated in different learning centers, including a cup stacking station.  The Dixie cups had numbers ranging from 100 to 1000 written underneath and the students were required to stack them in sequence as quickly as possible. 

The Weekly Newsletter is Back!!!

Each week, the grade 3 team, Mrs. Ayesha, Miss Bishop, Miss Zahra and Myself, will be putting together a weekly newsletter.  This will be another way for you to keep track of all the exciting stuff happening in grade 3.  The newsletter will include upcoming topics of study for each subject, tests, quizzes and reminders.  Click here to see this week's newsletter or click on the following link. 
Newsletter for Sept 16-20

After a well deserved summer, these kiddos came back to school in swarms.  In fact, there were so many of them that we had to open a 4th third grade class.  It was refreshing and delightful seeing them marching in with their fresh haircuts, pressed clothing and pearly white smiles.  "Mr. Melhem, when are we doing gym?" asked one student, moments after walking in on the first day.  "We're doing gym alllll day", was my response, which prompted a vibrant cheer from those in attendance.   

The first week, like most first weeks, was dedicated towards mastering the classroom routines.  Many of the routines were practiced in the context of phys-ed and art.  I must have worked them pretty well though as they were more than ready for the weekend after our 3 day work week. 

As noted in my introduction letter, which i sent home after the first day, we will be implementing the flipped classroom model this year.  This involves the students learning most of the school material at home and then coming to school to do the more involved work.  I have recorded a few math videos which are ready to be viewed.  More videos will be posted in the coming days.  You can access all of this by clicking on the tab called "Lessons (Flipped Classroom)", which can be found at the very top of this page.  All of the lessons are accompanied by a video worksheet which I will provide the students with in class.  You may also download and print these worksheets using the links that I have provided if needed. 

I am so happy to have this group of kiddos.  It has also been a great pleasure to have met so many of you parents. I am very excited to meet you all again during our "meet the teacher night" this coming Wednesday.   It is shaping up to be a great year, inshallah.  I can't wait to get started!

 I have decided to use this picture once again for my cover shot.  Out of the thousands of pictures that I have taken this year.... this one takes the prize!  I have selected it as picture of the year because it captures a fortitude of meaning along with plenty of razzle dazzle.  How befitting to include it in a blog that I have put together celebrating the success that the kids were able to attain this year and with that statement, I am not referring simply to the academics.

Indeed, it is a fact that this year's grade 3 class achieved at arguably the highest level ever seen among a grade 3 class at the Edmonton Islamic Academy and, based on the provincial exam scores, could quite easily place in the top 10% to 20% (if not higher) in the entire provinceBut, of course, I am not here to talk about that right now because I believe that there are other things that are more important for the future success of these kids.  

What could possibly be more important and more relevant than provincial exam scores?  Before I answer that question, I will start by asking you to reflect upon a couple of questionsThis is to the parents, of course.  Question #1.......How much of your grade 3 class can you genuinely claim to remember?  I really mean it.  Are you honestly able to reflect upon a specific lesson and say, WOW! back in grade 3, that was a great (fill in the subject here) class? If you are in the majority, it is more likely that you remember other things such as the games that you played, the field trips that you took and the friendships that you made much more vividly than any specific lesson or exam score. 

Here is the second question that I'd like you to consider.  When was the last time an employer asked you for your grade 3 provincial exam scores in a job application?  The answer is never!  "Grade 3 teachers" are Not even asked for their grade 3 provincial exam scores.  If they were, I would likely be out of a job, because I highly doubt I came anywhere near passing them(Yes, I was a late bloomer.... but many would say I have "Yet" to bloom  :) )

Alright, back to my original case in point --> what exactly is so much more important than your child's gradesSimply put.....It is the journey that they pursued to get there, the obstacles that they had to overcome, the work habits that they developed, the friendships that they formed, and the memories that they made.  That is because when all of these elements are combined, we develop a reformation of character.  It is their character that will allow them to thrive and prosper into the next phase of life, and in many cases, allow them to attain those grades we all aim for.   

So, what exactly is character?  We may as well ponder this question seeing how it is a message I have been preaching to the kids all year.  Character is one's work ethic and determination to do well in all areas of their lives.  People with character are able to treat others with respect, not some of the time, but all of the time.  People with character are self motivated to doing their best because it is important to them...not because they are being told to do so.  Each year, the goal is to build on that character and only when one maximizes their character will their potential in life be reached.  Yes, grades are important, but grades without character is a recipe for failure. 

These kids can not build character alone.  They need to surround themselves with people who have equal or more character than themAlhumdulillah, my grade 3 students are a lucky bunch because every single one of their parents has outstanding character and have indeed been modelling it to them regularly..... and it shows!  It is up to you now to ensure these children are constantly surrounded by people who have outstanding character.  At any point in life, a person is the product of the 5 closest people in their lives.  Ensure that those 5 people are quality people who strongly believe in your child's goals and dreams.  Only then will they have a realistic chance of becoming successful.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the grade 3A parents.  The amount of hard work that you have put forth towards raising these children can not be underestimated.  The year would not have been as successful without your support at home and without the many parent volunteers who dedicated numerous hours of their time towards field trips, special events and classroom activities.  That is the type of character that the kiddos notice and will ultimately strive to become. 

This concludes my blog for the 2012/2013 school year.  Thank you very much for providing me with the opportunity to teach your children.  It was an experience that I enjoyed immensely and will never forget.  Enjoy the year end video below.  It is the product of over 22 hours worth of work and it was worth every minute.  Watch it, share it and enjoy it because it will allow them to relive some valuable memories for many decades to come.  Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions, the video can only be seen on a laptop or a desktop.  You will not be able to view it on a mobile device.  With that, I wish you all much prosperity and success.  Have a great summer!


Mr. Melhem