Our school's 2014 "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife" has been selected as one of eight projects from across Canada to be recognized with the Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability. We couldn't be prouder of our students!

The decision was made in June, but results were just made public last week.

Here is the page, on the Learning for a Sustainable Future site, announcing award winners:

LSF-announcementpageThis is the description of our project on the "Our Canada" website, which showcases projects that were considered for the Jack Layton award:

our-canadaAnd this is the PowerPoint presentation we entered, describing our project and its curriculum connections:


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 Opens in a new window or to add a comment to this page.



Print Friendly


2015-09-17 007

Each year, our class engages in a variety of projects that fulfill curriculum expectations, while providing outreach that benefits the school, community and beyond.

Our first community service project is a campaign to assist four local wildlife rehabilitation centres with food gathering for orphaned wildlife that will be overwintering with them.


Orphaned animals need to be provided with the food they will eat in the wild, to ensure proper nutrition and so they know what to look for after they are released.

The goals of our project are:

  • to encourage students from Kindergarten through Grade 8, plus school staff, to collect acorns, pine cones, maple keys, apples, sumac, chestnuts and black walnuts for the animals
  • to inventory the food we collected
  • to prepare food for shipment to local wildlife rehabilitation centres

Our food contributions will go a long way toward sustaining and educating baby animals throughout the winter months. These are pictures that were sent to us last year, showing orphaned animals enjoying the fruits of our labours:


AV-raccoons-acornsSOH-squirrelWoodlands-buffet-for-fawnsThis week, students in our class created a mural, posters and announcements, advertising  Rama Central's third annual food drive for orphaned wildlife (media literacy, art, writing).

2015-09-16 006 2015-09-16 007 2015-09-16 008 2015-09-16 009

Students distributed our posters throughout the school:

2015-09-17 008 2015-09-17 010

They counted, bundled and delivered flyers, for students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to share with their parents (addition):

2015-09-17 006 2015-09-17 009

We worked together as a class to write the script for an oral presentation about the food drive (shared writing), and then a group of seven students toured the school and delivered our presentation to all classes, from Kindergarten through Grade 8 (oral language, public speaking). Throughout the food drive, students from our class will also deliver messages and reminders via the morning announcements (oral language, public speaking).

2015-09-17 012

Each morning over the next three weeks, students from our class will collect food donations from children as they exit their school buses (volunteer service).

2015-09-18 001 2015-09-18 005 2015-09-18 006

This year, we are thanking students who donate food by inviting them to enter their names in a lucky draw.

2015-09-18 004

Each week we will be giving away a set of these fabulous prizes. We want to thank the wildlife sanctuaries for donating items for our lucky draw!


At the end of each week, our class will sort, weigh, and count or estimate the number of items we have collected (measurement, addition, subtraction, multiplication, estimation), package the food for shipment, and load cartons of food into Mrs. Black's car (volunteer service). She will then drive the food to its destination.

Last fall, Mrs. Black delivered four car loads of food to various wildlife sanctuaries. This is what a typical shipment of food looked like:

2014-10-04 005

This year's tentative delivery schedule is as follows:

  • Procyon Wildlife, in Beeton:  weekend of Sept. 26-27
  • Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw:  weekend of October 3-4
  • Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden:  weekend of October 10-12
  • Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau:  weekend of October 17-18

This PowerPoint presentation, which showcases our 2014 campaign, provides more detail about the curriculum connections and activities associated with the food drive (click on the image below and the PowerPoint will download to your computer):


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.

Print Friendly

2015-08-31 005

We have enjoyed a very productive and fun first two weeks of school. In preparation to learn the Grade 5 curriculum, we have engaged in some team-building activities, established classroom rules and routines, completed a learning style inventory, completed PRIME math and CASI reading comprehension baseline tests, and reviewed concepts from Grade 4.

This is our class' "Community Agreement" (the guidelines for behaviour upon which we all agreed):


These are some images of students working on paragraph writing in our school's new outdoor classroom:

This is what math looked like this afternoon, in our "indoor classroom":

We are also studying media literacy and math within the context of the school's "Fall Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife." That project is explained in a separate BLOG post.

We will be alternating between Social Studies and Science, throughout the school year. We are starting with the Social Studies unit about Canada's government, because it ties in so nicely with the Federal election. Today, students watched part of last evening's leadership debate. They made some keen observations about the types of responses and demeanor of each candidate. Closer to the election, we will hold our own mock poll, to see how students in our class would vote.


Our first gym unit is baseball, and our first health unit will be about healthy living (nutrition and exercise):

We started off our visual arts program with "Name Graffiti" posters:

2015-09-18 036

2015-09-18 035

2015-09-18 034

2015-09-18 033

Within the arts curriculum, Mrs. Black will also be teaching drama. Mr. Volgmann, will teach our class music and dance.

We are looking forward to having you along on this year's adventure in learning. You can sign up to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new BLOG post is published. That way, you won't miss out on any of the action!

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.

Print Friendly

Today we bid a fond farewell to the student teacher who took up residence in our classroom for the past five weeks. Emily MacLennan was a delight, and it was fun watching her grow throughout her placement. The kids will never forget her Zap Game, Team Math Challenge and Paper Mache Pig Club!  I'm not sure how I will top, or even match those activities!!  :-)

This is a video Emily compiled, using pictures she and I took during her time in our class (NOTE: The video may not play on all mobile devices):


For the past five years, Emily has been a student at Lakehead University. Today was the last day of her studies. We wanted to recognize the significance of the day, so this afternoon we threw a "graduation party" for her. (Click on any image to enlarge it.)

We will miss Emily's smiling face in our class, and wish her all the best in her teaching career!

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.

Print Friendly

2015-04-02 010

Over the past six weeks, each student in our class has read a minimum of three chapter books, and created several reading response projects based on what we read. On Thursday, we had an opportunity to share our projects with younger students. Miss Wigle's Grade 2/3 class and Mrs. Mihills' Grade 1/2 class came for a visit. They had an opportunity to view our plasticine figures, dioramas, posters, mobiles and PowerPoints, read some of our writings and try out the word searches and board games we made, based on the books we had read.

Here is what our Literacy Fair looked like:

2015-04-02 024

2015-04-02 031

Click on any of the photos below to enlarge it:

We'd like to thank the Grade 1-3 students in Miss Wigle's and Mrs. Mihills' classes for coming to see our projects!

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.

Print Friendly

In March, we learned to draw and paint pictures that show distance the way our eyes perceive it... that is, in "perspective."

2015-03-25 003

These are the Success Criteria for this project:


We took our time and added a lot of detail. One of the challenges was creating paint colours that were not available on our paint palette (e.g. brown).

Here are some of us hard at work:

These are some of the finished products!

We think you'll agree that they turned out pretty well!

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.

Print Friendly

My students know me not only as a teacher, but also as a wildlife rescuer and volunteer with three local wildlife rehabilitation centres. By word and example, I have taught my students to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to help others. Consequently, it was no surprise when two of my Grade 4 girls came into class, last Thursday, with a ladybug they found in the school and wanted to rescue. I sent the girls to see the caretaker (another animal lover) and he found them a small box in which they could house the ladybug. The girls painstakingly cared for "Lady" all day Thursday and all day Friday.


When it was time to leave for March Break, the girls asked me foster this tiny life they cared so much about. I accepted the responsibility and decided to document everything for them.

When I arrived home last Friday night, I researched how best to care for Lady.  I learned that she would benefit from a humid environment with soil and some greenery or bark to hide under. Lady would drink via a water-soaked cotton ball, and could be fed a re-hydrated raisin with a drop of honey on it (in lieu of aphids). Here is Lady in her new and improved habitat. I drilled tiny ventilation holes into the container's lid. 

2015-03-13 026


I checked on Lady daily, and changed her food and cotton ball every other day.

Saturday - Day 3:


 Sunday - Day 4:


 Monday - Day 5:


 Tuesday - Day 6:


 Wednesday - Day 7, morning, eating a raisin:


Yesterday (Wednesday), I had a meeting at the wildlife rehabilitation centre in Pefferlaw. All creatures, great and small, are welcome at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, so took Lady with me.

Lady, her raisins, honey and a donation, ready to travel to Pefferlaw:


 Wednesday - Day 7, afternoon, at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge:


Refuge owner Gail was expecting Lady, and had a terrarium ready for her arrival:



Lady is by far the tiniest creature undergoing rehabilitation at Shades of Hope. She is sharing a building with an injured mouse, two turtles, twenty sleeping bats, a blue jay, a rabbit, an owl, a porcupine and a swan.

Lady (left), with her neighbours the turtles and the mouse:


Thursday - Day 8,
update and photo from Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge,
"Lady is getting adventurous!"

Lady - Day 8 SOH

Friday - Day 9,
Shades of Hope shared Lady's story on their Facebook page
and she received 91 likes in 24 hours!


In the spring, Lady will be released on the refuge property, to continue her life as a wild creature in the company of her own kind.

The adults who assisted Lady want to commend the students who rescued her for demonstrating such kindness toward another living being!  :-)  I would further like to thank Gail Lenters, at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw, for agreeing to care for Lady until it is warm enough for a release.


UPDATE: April 11, 2015 (one month after rescue)... Lady is still alive and well, in the barn at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge! Thank you to Gail Lenters for sending us this photo:



UPDATE: April 15, 2015. Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge posted this video on their Facebook page:


Remember "Lady" from our post on March 19th? She was rescued by the Grade 4/5 kids at Rama Central Public School and brought lovingly to SOH for care. Lady is now FREE!! She lived in the Rehab for several weeks but as the Spring sun began to warm everything up ... lady bug friends started to appear and it was time for her to go! She was very hesitant at first ... as you can see!!

She is a Happy Lady!
Thank you RAMA KIDS!!
(Sorry for the poor video quality ... such tiny releases are not easy to capture!)


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.


Print Friendly

A week and a half ago, I attended a two-day workshop in Toronto, entitled, "Making Authentic Inquiry Work!" This was my fourth workshop, hosted by Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF).


The workshop cleared up some misconceptions about inquiry-based learning, provided a flexible model around which teachers can plan inquiry projects and gave us time to share ideas.

2015-02-27 001

2015-02-27 003

2015-02-27 004

At the end of the second day, I was invited to make a presentation to the group; to share the outreach-based learning projects in which our class has engaged this school year.  I used this blog as the basis for my presentation.

After the workshop, I received a follow-up e-mail from the organizers, inviting me to author a brief paper or Power Point presentation explaining in detail the theory and practice behind one of our wildlife centre outreach projects. The organizers would like to share this information with other workshop participants.  I will work on this presentation over March Break.


A few weeks ago, I was invited to make a return trip to Lakehead University Teacher's College, Orillia campus, to make similar presentations to three classes of teacher candidates.  Today was the day!

2015-03-09 001
Following one of my presentations, teacher candidates were given time to work in groups, brainstorming and sharing curriculum-based outreach project ideas.

2015-03-09 002

Here are the great project and project-partner ideas generated by "Cohort A" (click on any photo to enlarge it):

2015-03-09 012

2015-03-09 013

2015-03-09 015

2015-03-09 011

2015-03-09 014

2015-03-09 010

I have been absolutely sold on the idea of outreach-based learning since my class and I first began to explore this concept, three years ago. I'm very excited to see other teachers now taking an interest in connecting classroom learning to outreach. Such projects teach curriculum and build learning skills, are highly engaging and empowering for students, and help others in the school community and beyond. Learning doesn't get much better than that!  :-)

Margaret Black
Grade 4/5 Teacher
Rama Central P.S.



My class' previous wildlife and Yukon Quest tracking project resources, etc. can be accessed here: http://www.blackdeer.ca/index.html#Teaching

This page contains a number of links to Project-based Learning resources: https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/free-project-based-learning-resources-that-will-place-students-at-the-center-of-learning/

There is an free, online Project-based Learning course available at this link:  http://www.intel.com/education/video/pbl/content.htm


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.

Print Friendly


In this project, Science meets Media Literacy and Community Service!


In December, Mrs. Black was approached by Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary about assisting with the creation of some educational presentations they could use in schools and summer camps. Over the holidays, she went to Woodlands and met with the founder and a board member. Mrs. Black, Ms. Melichar and Mr. Smith reviewed the Ontario Science curriculum expectations for Grades 1-8 and created a framework for presentations. They decided that it would be fun to include some sort of food web type game in presentations for Grade 4-6 students, and Mrs. Black thought of a way to involve our class in game development.

Grade 1 and 2 students need to learn about animals as part of their Science program, and so do Grade 4 students. Mrs. Black met with the Grade 1/2 Science teachers at our school, to find out when their animal units were scheduled, and to ask if they would be interested in having our Grade 4 and 5 students develop games for younger children, to teach them about animals. Everyone thought this was a fun idea.

Educational game creation fulfills Grade 4 expectations in Science (habitats and communities) and Grade 4 and 5 expectations in Media Literacy (create media texts for a specific purpose and audience).  We developed the following success criteria for our project:



Here are student groups completing animal research, working on rough drafts of games and receiving peer feedback, in writing, to ensure that they covered the success criteria:

These photographs show students testing each others' finished games:


  • Mrs. Black will take our research notes and the games we created to her next meeting at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. The adults will use our work to help them develop a game for Grade 4-6 students, to use as part of a school or camp presentation. 
  • When the Grade 1/2 students at our school study animals (in May) we will teach them how to play our games, to help them learn what they need to know about animals. We will also be their mentors during some outdoor "field work" sessions on the schoolyard.

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.

Print Friendly

gbthThis year, our persuasive writing unit fulfills Grade 4 and 5 curriculum expectations in Writing, Grade 4 expectations in the Science strand “Habitats and Communities,” and Grade 5 expectations in the Social Studies strand “First Nations Heritage and Identity” (turtle symbolism). The intention of our letters is to help establish a new turtle hospital, just south of Orillia.

We consulted with Jeff Hathaway, owner/operator of Scales Nature Park, and sponsor of the new Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital about how we could be of assistance. He sent us a list of items that are needed to help customize an existing building on the Scales property, for use as a turtle hospital. Students set about the task of learning about Ontario turtles, their status (seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are now considered "at risk"), and how a turtle hospital can help. We then penned letters to local hardware stores, explaining the issues and how these businesses can help a new the turtle hospital become a reality.

Here are some of the background resources we consulted:









We then created success criteria for the letter writing project:


Here are students, writing their letters and checking them to make sure they fulfill our success criteria:

These are some of the finished products:

We hope our letters will persuade local business owners to help the Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital!

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.

Print Friendly