Mrs. Black's Class Blog

where learning, creativity and fun go hand-in-hand!

Helping Local Residents Combat Flooding

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For the second year in a row, Grade 5-8 students from Rama Central P.S. are helping local residents protect their homes from spring flooding, caused by a combination of greater than average snowfall, a sudden melt and rainfall. A public works employee told me that water levels in our area are expected to start peaking on the weekend.

This afternoon older students, including the Grade 5 students in our class, walked to the public works yard and filled sand bags. Our work will spare local residents the effort of of having to fill the bags they need themselves.

Thank you to our librarian, Mrs. Torrey, for arranging this community service opportunity for students in our school!

Here are some images of Grade 5 students in our class at work this afternoon (click on any photo to enlarge it):

Sandbagging, Day 2: Students from our school filled over 1,000 bags today!

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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Decorating “Bowls for Beds”

On Tuesday, April 1st, Mr. Fitzgerald’s Grade 5/6 class and the Grade 5′s in our class assisted with a fund-raiser to benefit homeless women and children in Orillia.

Volunteers from Georgian College and Couchiching Jubilee House came to the school, gave a presentation about homelessness, and provided students with ceramic bowls, paint, brushes, and instructions.

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Students then created beautifully painted ceramic bowls that will be fired and used at a soup-tasting fund raiser for Couchiching Jubilee House, a transitional housing facility. The soup-tasting event will be held at Twin Lakes Secondary School, on April 27th, and will feature the best soups from restaurants across Orillia and area. Several students and their parents opted to purchase the bowls they decorated, which will serve as their tickets to the event. The rest of the student-decorated bowls will be sold to the public for use at the event.

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Here are pictures of students in action, painting their soup bowls. Click on any picture to enlarge it:

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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Wacky Dress Up Day a Big Success!

On Friday, March 28th, our class hosted a “Wacky Dress Up Day” fund raiser, in support of two local animal welfare organizations: the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Students in our class took a lead role in promoting and running the event. They wrote and read advertisements on the morning announcements, posted fliers around the building, counted out reminder notices for students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to take home, and went from class-to-class collecting donations on the day of the event.

Here are some of the students in our class, dressed “wacky”:

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Students weren’t the only ones that enjoyed dressing wacky for a day. Staff also joined in the fun:

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Wacky Dress Up Day raised $204.28!!

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The money will be split evenly between the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Our class decided to use Aspen Valley’s money to sponsor some of the sanctuary’s permanent residents. We reviewed the list of available animals and their sponsorship costs:

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We decided to adopt both of the sanctuary’s deer, for $25.00 each:

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We still had $50.00, and three of the animals cost that amount to sponsor, so we reviewed their information and then voted.  Brooke the beaver only got two votes. Monty the bobcat edged out Mikey the fisher by three votes, to become the third animal we sponsored:

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The school will receive adoption certificates to thank us for sponsoring Andy, Annie and Monty. Students in Grades 4-6 will also get a chance to meet all of the permanent residents, including our adoptees, when we visit the sanctuary in May.

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Class Holiday Party!

Today we celebrated the holidays and said farewell to our student-teacher, Miss M.

This is our class’ amazing door decoration.  We are going to remove the Christmas ornaments and present in January, and leave our winter scene up until March Break.

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Here are a few images from today’s party:

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We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!  See you in the New Year.

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Marvelous Miss M.!

Over the past five weeks, Olivia Manovich, a teacher-candidate from Lakehead University’s Faculty of Education, completed a teaching practicum in our classroom.  During her first week with us, Miss M. observed Mrs. Black’s teaching. From weeks two through five, Miss M. began to create her own unit and lesson plans and teach the class herself, with Mrs. Black providing feedback.  Each subsequent week, Miss M. assumed a larger proportion of the teaching responsibilities, until last week (week 5) when she was teaching full time.

Miss M.’s enthusiasm was contagious and her thoroughness was second to none. She brought as many new ideas to the table as she took away! We want to thank Miss M. for all her hard work and dedication.  It just won’t be the same when we return in January, and Miss M. isn’t there.  :-(

Here are a few images of Marvelous Miss M. at work with our class (click any photo to enlarge it).

Introduction to The Elements of Dance:

Daily Physical Activity:

Math:

Writing:

Gym (Volleyball):

Science:

Playing with the school band and teacher-band:

We wish Miss M. all the best in her future as a teacher.  Any school would be lucky to have her!!

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Island Survivor: Social Studies, Cooperation & Drama!

Last week, during Literacy and Social Studies periods, our class participated in an island survivor exercise.  This exercise was designed to consolidate learning in Social Studies, while stretching students’ ability to work cooperatively in assigned groups and providing them with an opportunity to participate in role play.

Prior to undertaking this project, students in Grade 4 worked in pairs, or individually, to research one of Canada’s physical regions. Students in Grade 5 completed an inquiry project exploring the tasks various levels of government might undertake in addressing an emergency such as a major regional ice storm. Students’ learning in Social Studies was assessed based on these projects.

Each student then created a character he/she wished to play during our island survivor project and was assigned to a group destined to “crash land” in one of four Canadian regions. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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These are our Learning Goals, co-created Success Criteria, and scenario. The Learning Goals focus upon applying student learning from Social Studies to solve a problem, cooperation and drama.

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For the purpose of the island survivor exercise, Grade 4 students were assigned to crash land in the region of Canada that they studied. After the class was divided into their survivor groups and they listened to a story about the crash scenario, the Grade 4 students in each group taught their Grade 5 island-mates about the region of Canada where they found themselves stranded:

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In our scenario, the plane went down in water and sunk. Survivors were able to paddle to a nearby island, in a lifeboat, with the following supplies:

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Their first task, as a group, was to brainstorm a list of uses for each of their supplies:

Then they worked on the tasks of developing survival plans, a form of government, laws, an environmental protection plan for their island, a flag, and a map of their island (depicting landforms, vegetation, water sources, their settlements and paths to their hunting and fishing areas, etc.)  To assist them with the mapping task, each group was provided with a laminated satellite image of an actual island in the physical region where they were stranded in the scenario.

The Newfoundland (Appalachia) and Nunavut (Arctic Lowlands) groups were both stranded on islands surrounded by sea water, but had fresh water available on their islands. The Nunavut group was in the high arctic, above the tree line. The Ontario (Canadian Shield) and British Columbia (Cordillera) groups were stranded on islands surrounded by fresh water. The British Columbia group was in an area of Northern B.C. with high mountains on either side of their lake.

Students were initially told that their chance of ever being rescued was slim to none; that they needed to prepare to spend the winter or longer on their island.  Once groups had completed their plans, flags and maps, they were told that, miraculously, they HAD been rescued, and that they would soon be invited to participate in a press conference. At the press conference, they would explain their experiences and survival plans (in role) to a gallery of print, television and internet journalists. Groups then set about preparing for their press conferences.

While each group presented, the rest of the students in the class played the role of journalists, asking questions and completing forms rating presenters on their plans, and their perceived chance of surviving the winter had they not been rescued. Everyone took the drama seriously and ensured that all questions about each group’s plans were fully explained.

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Our student teacher (Miss M) and I used checklists and anecdotal notes to rate how well students cooperated within their groups throughout the island survivor exercise, and used a rubric to assess each student’s performance in drama:

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Island Survivor was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for most students in the class; a frustrating one for a few. While groups were meeting to brainstorm ideas and achieve consensus about their survival plans, Miss M. and I circulated. We stepped in and facilitated whenever personality clashes or inexperience with consensus-building created an impasse. We hope the one-on-one and small group coaching that transpired during this activity will provide students with some new tools and strategies they can employ next time they are working within a group setting.

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Supporting an Ill Student at a Neighbouring School

A teacher-friend of Mrs. Black’s, who is the librarian at Victoria Harbour P.S., has a gravely ill student at her school. Eight year old Rebeccah’s mother asked that people support her daughter by sending Christmas ornaments to decorate a tree in her bedroom.  When students in our class were told about Rebeccah’s predicament, they jumped at the chance to support her.

This morning, we made ornaments using plastic bottle bottoms, glitter glue and shiny elastic.  Students put a great deal of care into their work and it shows… the results are truly lovely.  Click on any picture to enlarge it.

This is our class posing for Rebeccah with their creations:

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Mrs. Black had a cousin who lost a battle with leukemia at age 10, so she wanted to do something more.  She adopted Andy, the White-tailed Deer at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, for Rebeccah.  Andy isn’t one of Santa’s reindeer, but he’s pretty darned close!

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When she was at Aspen Valley for a meeting, Mrs. Black and the sanctuary manager, Mr. Smith, made Rebeccah a short video of Andy.  Click on this link to view the video in wmv-format:  http://www.blackdeer.ca/For-Rebecca-w.wmv

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Mrs. Black will be delivering the class’ ornaments to Rebeccah at a community fund-raiser for her family, in Victoria Harbour, on Saturday, December 7th. The sanctuary will be sending Rebeccah a certificate of adoption and a picture of Andy in the mail.  We hope our small gifts to Rebeccah will put a smile on her face and help her to see how much others care.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Science & Explanatory Writing: The Bridge Building Project

As a culminating task in our Pulleys and Gears (Grade 4) and Forces Acting on Structures (Grade 5) science units, students worked together in teams to build bridges out of popsicle sticks, straws, paper clips, toothpicks, string, elastics, paper and tape.

The class worked with Mrs. Black to define the requirements and Success Criteria for these projects.  The goal for Grade 4 students was to build a 30 cm lift bridge and swing bridge, using at least two pulleys. The goal for Grade 5 was to build a 50 cm bridge that could hold at least two math textbooks.  Students made two or three attempts, building on the success of their previous attempts to improve their designs.  They kept detailed lab notes explaining their thought and building processes. Their lab reports became their explanatory writing pieces for literacy.

The following photo collage depicts the fun students had with this project.  Grade 5 students far exceeded the expectation that their bridges support two textbooks. All of their bridges held 5 or more books.  One bridge held 22 books before it listed to the side and dumped its load!  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

With this project, students had a great time learning some principles of design, through trial and error, and by building upon the knowledge they gained in each trial.  They also learned how to write up detailed explanations using a standard lab report format.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Reading Comprehension as Community Service!

This project fulfills curriculum expectations in reading and science, while helping a local wildlife sanctuary!

This week, students brainstormed reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics that touch on the “big ideas” in a series of educational articles, authored by staff and volunteers at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

We started the project by reading an article, that was projected on the Smart Board, about a Raven that was successfully rehabilitated and released, through a cooperative effort between Aspen Valley (Rosseau) and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary (Minden).  Then we worked together to brainstorm questions to accompany the article.

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A student writes a reading comprehension question on chart paper:

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Another student jots down a question about the article:

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Here are the questions the class developed about “Ray the Raven’s full recovery”:

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After our shared reading comprehension activity, it was time for students to break into small groups and work with other articles:

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Students have discovered that it takes as much skill and effort to formulate good questions as it does to answer them.  Even so, they are enjoying the opportunity to take on the role of educators.  A retired school teacher who conducts school tours at the sanctuary and I will be compiling the class’ ideas.  Then, finished study guides for twelve newspaper articles will be uploaded to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website, as free resources for teachers to use with their students.

These are the results of our brainstorming sessions.  The first picture shows the class’ reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics about articles having to do with wildlife rehabilitation.  The second picture shows their notes re: articles about permanent residents.

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The finished products are now available for free download on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website!

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Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Curriculum-based Community Service 2013-2014

This school year, our class is fulfilling some of the Ontario curriculum requirements via community service initiatives.  This BLOG post provides an overview of these projects:

  1. Collecting over 200 lbs. of acorns, pine cones and maple keys, to help feed overwintering baby animals at two local wildlife rehabilitation centres.
  2. Providing moral support to a charity working to improve the living conditions of captive animals.
  3. Developing study guides for newspaper articles educating the public about wild animals.
  4. Providing moral support to an eight year old girl at another school, who is gravely ill.
  5. Raising funds in support of two local animal welfare organizations.
  6. Painting bowls to assist a local charity in supporting homeless people.
  7. Assisting local residents experiencing spring flooding, by filling sand bags at the public works yard.

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1.  FOOD DRIVE FOR ORPHANED BABY ANIMALS

Natural foods from the environment provide appropriate nutrition for baby animals. Orphaned baby animals overwintering at wildlife rehabilitation centres also need to be fed what they will eat in the wild, so they know what to look for after they are released.

This was a math, media literacy and oral language project in which students promoted a natural foods drive, for local wildlife rehabilitation centres, via flyers, announcements and public speaking engagements in classrooms throughout the school.  Students also engaged in the collection and sorting of food items.  The entire school caught a vision for this project, as did several other schools that heard about what we were doing.  In the end, we collected over 200 lbs. of natural foods for two local wildlife rehabilitation centres, including not only the acorns, pine cones and maple keys we originally requested, but also cedar seeds, sumac seeds, windfall apples, black walnuts, cracked corn and even some bird houses.  This is the shipment was delivered to the wildlife sanctuary in Minden:

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At the end of the food drive, the class estimated the number of acorns, pine cones and maple keys they had  collected, by applying math concepts, including weight and volume calcuations, multiplication, rounding and estimation.  They also graphed the number and weight of items collected.  Using food consumption data provided by a wildlife rehabilitator, students calculated how long their food drive items would last, if fed to the 40 baby squirrels overwintering at two local wildlife rehabilitation centres.

Here are the BLOG posts about this project:

2.  SUPPORT FOR CAPTIVE ANIMALS AND THEIR ADVOCATES

This project grew out of a math lesson in which Grade 4 students were asked to compare the weights of a number of large animals. A discussion of the Nelson Math worksheet accompanying the lesson grew into a discussion of the impending transfer of the Toronto Zoo elephants to a sanctuary in California.  From there, the project became a written language project, with students creating cards and letters demonstrating their support for the elephants and for the people organizing move, and an art project in which students worked collaboratively to create an “elephant-sized” mural for the classroom.

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After the successful elephant transfer, students chose to apply an elephant retirement party theme to a class party they had earned via good behaviour.  After the party, their beautiful elephant retirement mural was mailed to the Canadian charity that advocated for and organized the elephant move.  As further follow-up, we are hoping to Skype with a representative of this organization, so students can ask the questions they have about the elephants and the logistics of their cross-country transfer.

Here is the BLOG post about this project:

3.  CREATING STUDY GUIDES FOR MEDIA ARTICLES

Students engaged in a reading comprehension/science project, brainstorming follow-up questions and discussion and debate topics to accompany short, educational newspaper articles, written by staff and volunteers at a local wildlife sanctuary.  The class’ ideas will be compiled and edited by two teachers and then uploaded to the sanctuary’s website, as part of their free educational offerings for teachers.

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Here is the first BLOG post about this project:

4.  SUPPORTING AN ILL STUDENT AT VICTORIA HARBOUR P.S.

Our class responded to an appeal to send Christmas ornaments to an eight year old student at Victoria Harbour P.S. who has an inoperable brain tumour.  We made beautiful snowflake ornaments for Rebeccah using pop bottle bottoms, glitter glue and shiny elastic.  We hope our ornaments will brighten Rebeccah’s day and show her how much others care.

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Here is the BLOG post about this project:

5.  WACKY DRESS UP DAY, FOR LOCAL ANIMAL WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS

On Friday, March 28th our class hosted a “Wacky Dress Up Day” in support of The Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.  For a small donation, students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 were allowed to come to school for a day with wacky clothing and hair.

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For more information about how much we raised and how our donations were allocated, see this BLOG post:

6.  DECORATING “BOWLS FOR BEDS,” TO SUPPORT THE HOMELESS

On Tuesday, April 1st, the Grade 5 students in our class and the Grade 5/6 students in Mr. Fitzgerald’s class painted soup bowls to be used at Couchiching Jubilee House’s upcoming soup-tasting fund raiser, in support of their transition house for homeless women and children.

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This BLOG post showcases the students and their work:

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Watch this BLOG for further updates on our exciting new community service projects in the 2013-14 school year!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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