Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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

2nd Annual Wildlife Food Drive!

Welcome to our class BLOG for 2014-15!  This year, our Grade 4/5 class will engage in a variety of projects that fulfill curriculum expectations, while providing outreach that benefits the community and beyond.

Our first outreach project is a “food drive” to assist three local wildlife rehabilitation centres, by providing natural food for orphaned wildlife that will be overwintering with them before being released back into the wild.  Orphaned animals need to be provided with the food they will eat in the wild, so they know what to look for after they are released. Our food contributions will go a long way toward educating and sustaining baby animals throughout the winter months.

Our class is taking the lead in advertising and organizing Rama Central’s 2nd annual food drive for wildlife. Students from Kindergarten through Grade 8, as well as school staff, are encouraged to collect and contribute items such as acorns, pine cones, maple keys, apples, sumac, black walnuts and corn to the cause.

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On October 6th, the deadline for bringing in food, our class will begin a multi-faceted math project that will involve estimating how many of each item we collected, based on weight and/or volume, and calculating how long our food will last if fed to particular types of animals.

When the math project is complete, Mrs. Black will drive our food contributions to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau, Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw, and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden.

Here are some images of students counting flyers and preparing announcements, posters and our hallway display, to advertise our food drive. (Click any photo to enlarge it.)

Here are some of the beautiful posters students created, to decorate the school. (Click any photo to enlarge it.)

Day 1 of our food drive, and the contributions are already coming in!  Today we received a bucket of acorns and several dozen pine cones.  (Click any photo to enlarge it.)

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

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Sharing our Social Studies Models with Younger Students

This year, sharing group assignments with younger students has been a great source of pride for many of the students in our class.  Yesterday, we invited three classes to come and see the models our class had constructed for Social Studies, and learn about the cultures and buildings that inspired these projects.

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These are other Grade 4 students visiting our class (click on any photo to enlarge it):

This is the Grade 3 class at our Social Studies Fair:

And, these are Grade 2 students learning about our models:

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

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Social Studies Models: The Finished Products!

An earlier BLOG post explains our Social Studies model-building project.

Student have worked collaboratively on their models every day for the past two weeks. The results are really impressive!

Here are some close-ups of students putting finishing touches on their work:

These are the finished products! (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Medieval Caste, by Grade 4 students Garett, Grace and Mae:

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Medieval Village, by Grade 4 students Ella, Elora and Rosa:

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Viking Ship, by Grade 4 students Aiden, Cohen and Colby:

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Viking Settement and Ship, by Grade 5 students Derek, Eden, Ethan G. and Kait:

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Jacques Cartier’s Ship, by Ethan W., Kristal and Liam F.:

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Blackfoot First Nation Settlement, by Grade 5 students Emily, Kai and Tinja:

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Inuit Igloos and Dog Sled, by Grade 5 students Brendan, Liam B. and Maddy:

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Parliament Hill, by Grade 5 students Bella, Connor, Paige and Vaughn:

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Next step:  Groups will present information about the topics they portrayed in models to our class and then hold a Social Studies Fair for y0unger students.

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

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Drama: Building a Community

Over the past two months, our class engaged in a team-building and drama activity that was developed by the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators. The unit plan can be found here:  http://www.code.on.ca/resource/building-community

The class was divided into two random groups, by drawing coloured cubes from a bag.  Each student was asked to develop a role for him/herself, within his/her community. Then each group was given several tasks to complete, including making up a name for their town, identifying a mayor and town council, designing a map and flag, and developing a town philosophy and list of special features.  Mrs. Black displayed the community profiles on foam boards (click on any photo to enlarge it):

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After community profiles were complete, students were told that the Ontario Government had identified the area between the two towns as a potential new landfill site for refuse from Toronto. They were told that the forest area between their towns would be clear cut, a highway would be built south of the two towns, and an interchange and access road would provide dump trucks with access to the landfill site.  Students were told that the towns would be financially compensated for any inconvenience the project might cause, and that the highway would likely bring them more tourists.

Residents of both towns were then invited to dress in role and attend a large group discussion about the landfill and highway project. A lively debate ensued. Students saw few long term benefits, but identified many negative possibilities associated with the project:

  • loss of important wildlife habitat due to clear cutting of the forest between the two towns
  • noise from the highway and dump trucks
  • potential for accidents and spills involving dump trucks
  • pollution of the land, air and water by materials in the landfill
  • loss of revenue, because the forest to be clear-cut supports Maple Ridge’s syrup industry
  • unsightliness that would drive away tourists
  • potential for crime in their small town, because of easier access from the city
  • loss of revenue due to the need for greater police presence, to deal with increased crime

In the end, the class reached consensus; every student felt that no amount of short term financial gain could adequately compensate them for the hardship the project would entail. When the government representative came to the meeting to address any concerns, she (Mrs. Black, in role) was peppered with hard questions and comments about the landfill and highway project. On behalf of the government, Mrs. Black reluctantly agreed that the towns’ environmental concerns may have some merit and agreed to order an environmental assessment.

Students were congratulated on their role-playing and debating skills, and told that they did a fine job identifying potential issues with the proposed project!

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

 

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Social Studies Models, Part 1

Students are currently working in groups to produce models and presentations about various aspects of this year’s Social Studies program.

Here are the success criteria students created together, as a class:

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The eight models being constructed are as follows:

Grade 4

  1. Medieval castle
  2. Medieval settlement
  3. Viking ship

Grade 5

  1. Leif Erikkson, settlement and ship
  2. Jacques Cartier’s ship
  3. Blackfoot First Nation settlement
  4. Inuit settlement
  5. Parliament Hill

Here are the models, under construction (click on any photo to enlarge it):

In a future BLOG post we will showcase the finished products.

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

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The Great Spring Reading Challenge!

In mid-March, students in our class were challenged to complete 1,000 minutes of home reading by June 1st.

This reading was intended to provide material for five reading response projects, which were to be completed in the same time frame. (The reading response projects were showcased yesterday, at a literacy fair.)

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Students tracked their reading on weekly time sheets and their progress was recorded on a classroom graph. Three Grade 5 students took turns tabulating the information on the time sheets and updating the graph (HUGE THANKS to Vaughn, Bella and Connor for their help!!)

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Students were given a choice of rewards as they reached particular milestones. The class developed this reward scheme for the challenge:

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The entire class participated in our home reading challenge. Fifteen of twenty-six students read for at least 1,000 minutes. Five students completed over 2,000 minutes of reading. The class total was an impressive 26,774 minutes of home reading!

Today, we invited our librarian, Mrs. Torrey, to help one of our students present a certificate of achievement to each student in the class:

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Here are the students that met or exceeded the challenge, pictured with Mrs. Torrey and one of our students. Each student’s minutes of home reading are shown in red:

What a great bunch of readers!!

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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):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Literacy Fair for Younger Students!

This afternoon, students in our class shared the reading response projects they completed over the past two months with the students in Miss Wigle’s/Mr. Launchbury’s Grade 3 class.

These photos were taken while the Grade 3′s were visiting our class. The Grade 3′s particularly enjoyed trying out some of the original board games that students in our class created, based on books they had read. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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Here is a close-up look at some student projects:

Here are some pictures of our student work displays:

We would like to the thank the Grade 3 class for joining us today.  It was really fun sharing our projects with them!

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

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Schoolyard Safari!

Yesterday, a teacher representing the Couchiching Conservancy came to the school and ran three 100-minute workshops, with three different classes. Our “schoolyard safari” met Grade 4 Science expectations re: habitats and communities, and Grade 5 Science expectations re: conservation of energy and resources.

The session began in the classroom, with an introduction to local habitats and the organisms that inhabit them. Steve brought with him some really interesting artifacts that the students were allowed to handle. (Click any photo in this post to enlarge it.)

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Afterwards, we headed out on a guided hike of the schoolyard, during which students looked for signs of human and animal habitation, and noted various plant species that they found.

Then, students played a tag game that illustrated the way in which the balance between predators and prey regulates itself, in nature.

The final activity was a debriefing in the classroom, during which students designed pamphlets illustrating some of the living things they found in the schoolyard.

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We’d like to thank Steve and Couchiching Conservancy for a wonderful workshop. Quote of the day: “Wow, we are seeing things we never knew about on our schoolyard!”

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

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Science/Social Studies Fair for Younger Students

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After students in our class shared their Science and Social Studies projects with each other, we invited the Grade 2 class to a second Science/Social Studies Fair, to learn about the topics we have been studying. Grade 4 students shared their knowledge of Ancient Civilizations and Grade 5′s explained how inventors have used what they know about the properties of matter to create amazing products that we use in our everyday life.

Here are some photos from the fair we put on for younger students (click on any photo to enlarge it):

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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):  [email protected] or to add a comment to this page.

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Mnjikaning Students Visit Our Grade 5′s

As a follow-up to Monday’s Youth Teaching Youth Event at Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin Elementary School, Elder Two Bears, Mrs. Letiec’s Grade 6 class and three staff members from Mnjikaning came to Rama Central today to share more of their culture and heritage with our Grade 5′s.

Two Bears introduced and closed our session, and small groups of students from Mnjikaning taught small groups of Grade 5 students from our school about Turtle Island, The Medicine Wheel, Wampum Belts and Treaties, and First Nations self-sufficiency on the land.

Here are some pictures from today’s visit (click on any picture to enlarge it):

Learning about First Nations culture and heritage (Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum) through face-to-face interaction with members of a local First Nations community is so much more meaningful, authentic and engaging than attempting to acquire similar knowledge via books or the internet. We want to thank the elders, staff and students at Mnjikaning, once again, for their kindness and hospitality!

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

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