A Visit From Shannon

March 19th, 2015

On Monday, we used our online, private chat room, https://todaysmeet.com/,  to share ideas of what it means to be disabled. Here is what some of our students said:

When you lose the ability to do something — Medhir

When you cannot do something that other people can — Luis

When you have brain problems — Mikayla

A disability is when a person is missing one of their body parts — Rimsha

When you are not able to do something (Paralyzed, Blind, Deaf, Mute, Cant Walk, etc.) — Emma

When you can not do something that most people can do — Atiya

You need a lot of help from people. — Erin

Something like you’re in a wheel chair — Lauren

You have to stay in bed — Mekaal

When asked what you cannot do when you have a disability, many of the obvious activities were mentioned. When asked what you can do, some of the most beautiful ideas came from a few of the kids:

Be amazing — Medhir

Be really happy — Mohit

You can do anything even though you are disabled but you are still a human — Rimsha

Sometimes have a miracle — Liam

Then, in partners, the kids read books about disabled adults or children, identifying what disabled people can and cannot do. It was very interesting for them to discover that the items on their “Can Do” list far outweighed the ones on their “Cannot Do” list.

On Wednesday, they did learn that when you are disabled, you “sometimes have a miracle.” That miracle, for our class, came in the form of Kathy Bromley and her daughter, Shannon.


Kathy is a very good friend of mine.  Shannon was born with Angelman Syndrome. After sharing with the class only this information. They came up with a multitude of questions to ask Shannon and her mom. Here is the final list we ended up sending to Kathy prior to our Skype conversation:

What is Angelman Syndrome?

How did you get Angelman syndrome?

How did you know you had the disability?

How old were you when you found out you had the Angelman Syndrome?

With Angelman syndrome what can you not do?

Will the syndrome affect Shannon’s lifespan ? (last her whole life?)

What part of her body can’t Shannon move?

What was your reaction when you found out she had a disability?

Does it hurt? (Does the syndrome cause you pain?)

Can Shannon talk?

How does Shannon  get around and up steps?

Shannon, do you eat as much as most people ?

Do you need a lot of medicine and help to get out of bed?

Do you like to read?

Do you read Harry Potter books?

Does Shannon go to school?

Does this disability affect your education?

How do you FEEL when your at school?

What do you do in your daily life?

What do you like to do most?

Do you still do any sports?

How do you play sports?

Can you do something special that other people can’t do?

What do you do every day?

How do people react to your disability?

Do people ever disclude you from games because you have a disability?

Kathy, how does this disability affect your life?

What medical services do you receive?

Are there any child rights that are violated for you?

How many of your rights are upheld?

During the 70 minutes we spent with Shannon and Kathy, our class was highly engaged, intrigued, sensitive, caring and supportive. The unexpected bonus was their opportunity to see Kathy speak while signing, as she is also a teacher of the hearing impaired.


Please make sure to ask your child what we learned about Shannon, her family, her friends, her disabilities and, more importantly, her abilities. Here are a few more links that you and your child might find interesting:

Shannon’s Prom

Shannon and the dolphins

Shannon playing softball:


Here’s what learning is looking like in our classroom!

March 13th, 2015
This week in Mrs. Hamaguchi’s class, we:
  • continued with some current writing tasks.
  • had an engaging lesson on the use of punctuation of dialogue in written narratives.
  • worked on the adjusting the ingredients for our “Adjusting a Recipe” project. Those who have not completed all of the adjustments will have to complete the rest at home. Reminder: it is highly important that each child included explanations and drawings of how they made the conversions (doubling and halving the recipe). I have attached the rubric and description of the task, although each child should already have a hard copy of this. Students may choose the format of their presentation (tri-fold, Google Presentation, etc.) I am looking for clarity and depth of descriptions, explanations and use of numbers and drawings to explain their thinking. If you have any questions about this project, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. The due date for the presentation is Monday, March 30, however they should bring their food on the morning of Tuesday, March 31, International Day.
  • wrote a fractions assessment to evaluate where they are in their learning of the fractions concepts we’ve been practicing in class.
  • Examined a fact sheet from each child’s country of birth, origin or citizenship. It contained difficult vocabulary and statistics with decimals and percentage. This was a bit of an introduction to these math concepts and prompted kids to reflect on whether or not they truly understand what decimals and percentages mean, and how they can help us understand the world. Work on these fact sheets will continue next week. Some of the information was obtained from this website:  http://www.humanium.org/en/
  • “What does 5.2 mean?” – students had to be self-directed and use online and classroom resources to help build their understanding of decimals. Students worked with teachers or independently, depending on their level of competence with this new concept.
  •  wrote a persuasive piece regarding student opinions about whether or not we should have class plants. This was a hot topic of discussion during our class meeting last Friday.
  • did some research on Iqbal Masih, the main real-life character of the book I just finished reading to the class this week. They were heartbroken to find out that he was murdered, although they are uncovering varying reports of the “real truth” on the internet. 
  • started a new teacher-read-aloud book, Amina. Make sure to ask your child about this book.
  • started a discussion about healthy relationships by using a new tool, todaysmeet.com .  The teacher posed the following questions, one at a time, and students rapidly shared their thoughts in this online, private “chat room” sort of resource. We took time to look back through the various comments and thing about how they compared to each individual’s thinking
  1. What does a healthy relationship look like?                                                    
  2.  If you have a healthy relationship with someone, how do you feel about them?                                        
  3. What makes you feel safe?
  4. What makes you feel unsafe?
  5. Who are some of the people you feel safe with?
  • the concept of healthy relationships was continued at Grade One Buddy time, during which my kids worked with their buddy to identify 3-5 people with whom they feel safe and why.

Sports Day–What a Blast!

February 13th, 2015

Sports Day 2015 photos!