Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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

Hometown Heroes Project!

hometown-heroes-logo“Hometown Heroes” was a multi-step curriculum-based project that met expectations in three curriculum areas and included a character education/outreach component. Art and written work generated by this project will be included in our new student portfolios.

Click on any photo in this BLOG post to enlarge it.

STEP ONE:  Brainstorm your strengths, abilities and interests.

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STEP TWO:  Draw a caricature of yourself and label it with some of the ideas from Step 1 (Visual Arts).

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Here are some of the finished products:

STEP 3:  Think of an outreach project you have the strengths/skills to complete, and create a job description for the task (media literacy). This project should benefit family, neighbours or the community.

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Students chose a wide range of outreach initiatives. Some projects of benefit to family included:  babysitting, teaching crafts to younger siblings, helping with grocery shopping, cooking breakfast, washing dishes, doing laundry, raking leaves, shoveling snow and helping prepare the home/yard for winter. Projects of assistance to others outside the home included: assisting a neighbour that was recovering from surgery, making cards for children in hospital and volunteering at a veterinarian’s office.

STEP 4:  Write a manual for your outreach project (procedural writing).

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STEP 5:  Go home and do the task you identified (character education/outreach)!  :-)

STEP 6:  Reflect upon how it felt to be a “hometown hero.”

STEP 7:  Participate in a sharing time/celebration of your accomplishments with the class!

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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Book Character Day for Polar Bear Conservation

This fall, as our annual fund raiser for charity, my class invited students and staff at our school to donate a two-dollar coin (the one with the Polar Bears on it) in support of Polar Bear conservation, and come to school dressed as a favourite book character.

We used our media literacy skills to promote our fund-raiser, via the school newsletter, flyers, announcements and mini-posters:

Mrs. Black provided our class with an extra incentive to participate. She pledged to donate a dollar for each student in our class that brought in a donation. Twenty-three of us took up her challenge!

We estimate that about 30% of the school population participated in our event. We collected $164.25 in donations. Our money will help World Wildlife Fund Canada protect habitat and conduct research to ensure a future for Polar Bears in Canada.

These pictures show members of our class dressed up as favourite book characters, plus “Adopt a Polar Bear” items from World Wildlife Fund Canada. The bear is our new class mascot. We named him “Snowball!”

On behalf of the bears, we want to thank everyone who participated in our event!

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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Student Math Projects Inform School Decision-Making!

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The Data Management and Probability strand of the Ontario Math Curriculum asks students to fulfill curriculum expectations related to the collection, display and analysis of data. As part of our data management unit, the class collected primary data for real purposes, i.e. to help adults make informed decisions about several school initiatives.

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The class began by working in five groups to design questions around particular topics, administer surveys and compile responses into charts. Afterwards, each student produced his/her own display and analysis of the data his/her group collected.

Here are students engaged in various stages of the project:

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Students collected yes/no data and then constructed double bar graphs to display their survey results by grade.

Group 1 posed a question to help Mrs. Black determine levels of student participation in our school’s recent wildlife food drive:

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We learned that 20% of students at our school brought in food for our local wildlife sanctuaries, and students from Kindergarten through Grade 7 participated.

Group 2 collected baseline data for our School Council, to help determine whether it would be advantageous to implement a breakfast program at our school:

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We discovered that 25% of students at our school do not eat breakfast regularly, before coming to school.  The most likely to eat breakfast are younger students. The least likely to eat breakfast are students in the intermediate grades. This information was presented at a School Council meeting and included in the School Improvement Plan.

Based on our survey results, School Council did implement a breakfast program at our school.  Several trays of food, like this one, are available to students each morning, as they enter the school:

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Group 3 sought to provide The Green Team and custodian with baseline data about how many students bring waste-free lunches to school. This information will help The Green Team develop a campaign to promote litterless lunches:

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We discovered that just under half of the students at our school bring their lunches to school in disposable containers. Kindergarten and Grade 4 students were the least likely to bring waste free lunches to school, and older students the most likely to bring their food in reusable containers.

Grade 5

Students sought to determine what sports equipment children would prefer, should School Council have funding to purchase new baskets of DPA/recess equipment for our classrooms.

One group of Grade 5 students surveyed children from Kindergarten through Grade 3:

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We discovered that younger students overwhelmingly prefer equipment such as trucks and large, soft bouncy balls, while older primary students like such items as skipping ropes, soccer balls, tennis balls and mini-sticks.

A second group of Grade 5 students asked children from Grades 4 through 8 about sports equipment preferences:

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We learned that students in Grades 4-6 would love to have a wide variety of sports equipment, including soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls, large bouncy balls, and baseball and volleyball equipment. Students in Grades 7 and 8 were most interested in acquiring volleyball equipment.

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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Writing in Support of Habitat for Humanity!

Habitat-for-Hunanity-Canada-300x211This year, we participated in a national writing contest in support of Habitat for Humanity. Students in Grades 4-6 were invited to pen 50-300 word explanatory writing pieces, explaining what “home” means to them.

The contest involved the usual incentives and prizes for students, but the best part was that builder Genworth Canada pledged to donate $5.00 to Habitat for Humanity Canada for every contest entry that was received.

Students our class planned and drafted their writing on either side of Thanksgiving weekend… a perfect time to reflect upon thoughts and feelings about home.

Then, on October 24th, a representative from Habitat for Humanity’s Gravenhurst office came to the school to share the organization’s vision and procedures with students in Grades 4-6 (click any photo to enlarge it):

Students were required to get parental permission in writing, in order to enter the contest. We set a class goal of having 20 out of 25 permission slips returned, and we exceeded our goal. At the time this BLOG post was written, we had received 22 permission forms back, meaning our class’ writing efforts generated $110.00 in donations for Habitat for Humanity!

moh_sitelogo_enHere are some of the reflections that our class entered into the contest:

A.M. (Grade 4):  Home means everything to me, because I have a roof over my head and a family that takes care of me. I have clean water to drink and lots of food to eat, and I am thankful for having a warm fire to keep my Mom and Dad, my brother and me warm. That is what I’m thankful for.

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C.B. (Grade 4):  When you come home, it is to a warm place. Home is where you are safe. Home is where you are loved. Home is where when you are sad you will get a hug. I feel sorry for the people without homes.

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Z.M. (Grade 4):  Home is a place to be loved and a place with my family, my Mom and Dad, my fish and my bed. Home is a place where Mom and Dad make you food, so you aren’t hungry when you go to sleep. Home is a place where you have holidays all day and night, Christmas, Easter and everything else. Home is a place to be hugged when you cry. Home is a place for me to stay and lay. Home is the perfect place for me.

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J.M. (Grade 4):  A home to me is a place to feel safe where family loves you. Home can be for anyone, like a web for a spider or cave for a bat. You don’t need to be rich as long as you have a roof over your head and family to love. Home for humans can be a cabin, or condo, a mansion or an apartment.  A home can be small or big.  It can be any size or any shape. If I won the lottery I would give it to charity so someone could have a home. Home is a place where I can cry.  I know how it feels to have nowhere to go.  You feel trapped and insecure.  At least I have hope when I come home to family.

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S.R. (Grade 4):  Home is a nice warm place. There’s no need to think you’re not safe. Home’s a place to spend time with your family. This is where your memories be. If there’s work you don’t want to do, at least your family is there for you. It’s not just you, there’s also your family, a soul, it’s not like an old cereal bowl. A home is filled with love and joy. There’s the same amount of love in a gifted toy. That’ what home means to me.

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E. M. (Grade 5):  Home is a place I can be with family. It is a place of laughter, love and warmth. It gives me a safe place to be. If a strong storm comes, we know where to go. My home is the place to be. We cuddle up and watch TV together. It gives us a place to eat our dinner. Everyone should have a home. It is a safe place. It is YOUR home.

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R.C. (Grade 5):  Home is a place where we all belong. It makes us want to sing a happy song. After a cold winter day we gather ’round the fireplace. Home is a place where you can be sad, but also be glad. Home is like a castle, which hatred cannot penetrate it’s walls. Home is not like a house. A house does not share love, but a home does. Everybody needs a home, either trailer or mansion, a home is made of LOVE!

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I.A. (Grade 5):  Hopefully today will inspire you to make a very nice story of love and no hate. Build a good home for you and me, open for someone to eat and sleep. Home is a place for companionship and joy, always comfy. Home is a place which some people desire. Home is a place for fluffy and soft. Home is a place to be yourself, where family knows what to say when you’re down. Where you should not be lost to hope and be free to be a dope with no question. Where you can chatter when it matters, with sisters, dads, brothers, moms, as long as they love you. You can call it a home, with cats, dogs, turtles and snacks. Whatever you want. Where no one calls you dumb, small or tall, weird, because you’re different, not my friend, or where they take advantage of you because it’s funny. My home is one of my greatest loves, wearing my Mom’s sweatshirt, with all of her love. It would kill me thinking of me and my family on the street, hoping and wondering where to sleep and what to eat.

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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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Bridge-Building and Explanatory Writing 2014 Project

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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 eight math textbooks.  Students made two attempts, building on the success of their previous attempt 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. 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 their first 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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Curriculum-based Community Service 2014-2015

For the third year in a row, my class is engaging in a number of outreach projects that meet Ontario curriculum expectations while benefiting others in the school, community and beyond.

Throughout the school year, we will be adding outreach projects to this overview, with links to blog posts about particular projects. Check back from time-to-time, to see what’s new.

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Here is a list of our projects to date:

  1. Food drive for orphaned wildlife
  2. Writing project in support of Habitat for Humanity
  3. Math project to inform school decision-making
  4. “Book Character Dress Up Day” in support of polar bear conservation
  5. “Hometown Heroes” art, literacy and outreach project
  6. Food drive for The Sharing Place food bank

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Project Details:

1. SECOND ANNUAL FOOD DRIVE FOR ORPHANED WILDLIFE

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Orphaned baby animals being raised for release at wildlife rehabilitation centres need to be fed natural foods from the environment to ensure that they receive appropriate nutrition and also so they know what foods to look for after they are released.

Building on last year’s “wildly” successful two week food drive in support of two local wildlife sanctuaries, this year we expanded our campaign to three weeks, and provided food for overwintering orphaned animals at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau, Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw, and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden.

Our class organized and promoted the food drive, inviting students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to contribute acorns, pine cones, maple keys, black walnuts, apples and sumac. In terms of curriculum, the project met expectations in math, science, literacy and character education.

We collected 217 kgs. (almost 500 lbs.) of acorns, eight big boxes of pine cones and numerous boxes of the other food items on the list above.

These are links to BLOG posts about the food drive:

 

2.  EXPLANATORY WRITING IN SUPPORT OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Habitat-for-Hunanity-Canada-300x211During the month of October, students in our class are authoring short explanatory writing pieces as a school project, and then entering them in a national writing contest.

The topic for this writing project is “What Home Means to Me.”  For every entry received, builder Genworth Canada will donate $5.00 to Habitat for Humanity. Our class is hoping to raise over $100. with our writing.

This is the contest website:  http://meaningofhome.ca/

On October 24th, we had a representative from Habitat for Humanity, Gravenhurst, at the school to share the organization’s vision and work with Grade 4-6 students.

Here is a link to the BLOG post about this project:

 

3.  MATH PROJECT TO INFORM SCHOOL DECISION-MAKING

2014-10-30 017This year, as part of their Data Management math unit, our class is conducting surveys for real purposes. The baseline data they collect, graph and analyze will be forwarded to the appropriate adults within the school community, to help inform decision making about the possible initiation of a breakfast program, the promotion of waste-free lunches, and the purchase of sports equipment for use at recess and during Daily Physical Activity breaks.

Here is a link to the BLOG post detailing our findings:

 

4.  ”BOOK CHARACTER DRESS UP DAY” IN SUPPORT OF POLAR BEAR CONSERVATION

polar-bear-wwfAs our class’ charity fund raiser for this school year, we invited students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to come to school dressed as their favourite book character, on November 13th.  Students who wished to participate were asked to donate a “toonie” (the coin with polar bears pictured on it), in support of polar bear conservation.

We raised $164.25 through Book Character Dress Up Day. Proceeds were donated to World Wildlife Fund Canada, earmarked for polar bear conservation.

This link will take you to our BLOG post about the event:

 

5.  ”HOMETOWN HEROES” OUTREACH PROJECT

hometown-heroes-logoThis was a multi-step project that met curriculum requirements in visual arts, media literacy and writing, and also included character education and outreach components. Students reflected upon their character strengths, talents and abilities and produced a caricature, labeled with these traits. Then they dreamed up a project they could do to help someone, and created an advertisement for a volunteer with their strengths to complete the project. The next step was to produce a procedural writing piece describing the steps involved in the outreach project in greater detail. The highlight of this school assignment was the opportunity to become a “Hometown Hero” by completing the outreach project!

This is a link to our BLOG post showcasing student work on this project:

 

6. FOOD DRIVE IN SUPPORT OF THE SHARING PLACE FOOD BANK

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This year, our class will be organizing and promoting our school’s annual food drive for the local food bank.  

As an added incentive to help, for every 100 lbs. of food donated, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Ross and Miss Wigle will each volunteer for an hour at the food bank, or Lighthouse soup kitchen, to a maximum of eight hours.

More to follow…

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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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Wildlife Food Drive a Huge Success!

Rama Central’s “Second Annual Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife” brought in an astounding number of natural food donations. Over a span of three weeks, we collected boxes and boxes of acorns and pine cones, and also received donations of maple keys, wind fall apples, black walnuts, chestnuts and sumac seeds. Our class would like to thank the entire Rama Central P.S. community for participating.

Four carloads of food have been delivered to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau, Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw, and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden. (Click on any photo in this BLOG post to enlarge it.)

Mrs. Black’s car is now loaded for a second delivery to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge:

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This morning, we engaged in some math problem-solving involving the food drive. We calculated how many kilograms of acorns and boxes of pine cones we collected, in total.

IMG_5245We collected 217 kilograms (478 lbs.) of acorns and eight cartons of pine cones.

Then, using information we obtained earlier about how many acorns are in a kilogram and how many pine cones fit into a standard-sized box, we estimated how many acorns and pine cones we collected.

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Here are the totals!

IMG_5249We collected approximately 58,590 acorns!

IMG_5254We collected approximately 7, 200 pine cones!

Afterwards, some students tackled a “challenge question” using consumption estimates provided by Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. Woodlands estimated that, if a young squirrel ate only acorns, it would eat about 30 in a day. Based on this information, students calculated how long our acorns would last one squirrel.

IMG_5255If a squirrel ate only acorns, the acorns we collected
would last that squirrel approximately 5.4 years!

This math problem led to a discussion about healthy eating (our current topic in health). Students learned that, like us, squirrels actually eat a varied diet, consisting primarily of nuts and seeds, and that a varied diet is what provides squirrels with balanced nutrition and ensures good health.

At the end of the food drive, students in our class polled the school to determine how many students participated in the food drive. We were excited to learn that 20 percent of students and 25 percent of staff brought food to school for the animals!  We distributed Certificates of Appreciation and I Saved a Life wrist bands (courtesy of Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge) to everyone that participated.

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food-drive-certificates1 Students in our class with their certificates and wrist bands

 This project has provided students with some wonderful hands-on learning experiences in math, literacy, science and character education, but the best part of the food drive is seeing orphaned animals at local wildlife sanctuaries enjoying the fruits of our labours!

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A flying squirrel kit eating one of our acorns,
at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Above and below: raccoon kits at Aspen Valley
Wildlife Sanctuary, enjoying our acorns.

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SOH-squirrelA baby squirrel at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge
enjoying our acorns and pine cones.

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Link to video of baby squirrels eating our acorns,
at Shades of Hope 

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An injured adult porcupine dining on our acorns and pine cones,
at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge.

woodlands-deerWhite-tailed deer fawns enjoying our sumac, acorns and maple keys,
at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary.

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OCTOBER 7TH UPDATE:

One day, when we were a week into our food drive, the supervisor and students that attend the school’s before-school daycare came to Mrs. Black’s class to tell her they had found a flightless bird on the schoolyard.  Mrs. Black and Ben, a Grade 4 student in our class, contained the bird and brought him into the school. Mrs. Black e-mailed Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge and they recommended that she bring the bird to them for treatment.

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The bird, a male finch, spent two weeks living in one of the aviaries at Shades of Hope, recovering from a wing injury. When Mrs. Black took Shades of Hope their second food drive delivery, she picked the finch up and brought him back to the school, for release. This morning, Ben released the bird, while the other daycare kids cheered the bird on. Here is the video of the finch’s release.

Link to high definition version of release video:
http://www.blackdeer.ca/wildlife-rehab/RamaCentralFinchRelease.mp4

To thank the children for rescuing the finch, students involved in rescuing the finch received I Saved a Life wrist bands (courtesy of Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge). The kids of Rama Central’s before-school daycare program are wildlife heros!

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OCTOBER 18TH UPDATE:

After the food drive officially ended the food just kept on coming, creating the need for a third food delivery to the closest sanctuary, Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge!!!

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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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Wildlife Food Drive Update #1

This year’s “Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife” is shaping up to be an overwhelming success!  Over the past two and a half weeks, students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 have been contributing a steady stream of acorns, pine cones, maple keys, apples and black walnuts, to feed animals overwintering at three wildlife rehabilitation centres.

(Click on any photo in this blog post to enlarge it.)

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On Monday, students in our class solved a math problem associated with the food drive. They determined how many kilograms of acorns fit in a standard-sized box. They weighed a student holding a box of acorns, weighed the student again without the acorns, and then worked with a partner to devise a strategy for calculating how many kilograms a box of acorns weighs. 

The day we completed this math problem, Mrs. Black delivered four boxes of acorns to Aspen Valley, adding to the 29 kg they had already received. Students were asked to calculate how many total kilograms we shipped to Aspen Valley.

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Altogether, Mrs. Black delivered 92 kg (203 lbs.) of acorns, a large box of pine cones, a small container of black walnuts, a box of sumac flowers, six pumpkins and two bags of peanuts in the shell to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau.

This was delivery #1 (29 kgs. of acorns):

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These are students helping load Mrs. Black’s car for delivery #2 (63 kgs. of acorns):

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Delivery #2 ready to leave for Aspen Valley:

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We have also shipped 57 kg (125 lbs.) of acorns and two medium boxes of pine cones to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw:

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This week, we are collecting for Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden. On the weekend, Mrs. Black expects to take them approximately 57 kg (125 lbs.) of acorns. Woodlands will also be receiving two medium boxes of pine cones, two boxes of sumac flowers, a box of black walnuts, some pumpkins, farm-feed corn and peanuts in the shell.

Food that students collect on the last weekend of the food drive will be delivered to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge next week.

Aspen Valley staff asked Mrs. Black if she would write an article for the Parry Sound newspaper, explaining how students in three schools have conducted food drives this fall, to help Aspen feed orphaned and injured wildlife over the winter. As a media literacy/writing project, students in our class worked in groups to write their own articles about the food drive.

Students even got to pose for pictures to illustrate their articles:

Here are a couple of the articles we wrote about the food drive:

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Mrs. Black used our articles as sources for her Parry Sound North Star column, and let our class help edit her article before she e-mailed it to the newspaper.

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Friday, October 3rd Update

This is a link to the article Mrs. Black and our class authored, on the Parry Sound North Star website:

food-drive-article-2014http://www.parrysound.com/news-story/4895585-students-hold-food-drives-for-animals-at-aspen/

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Next week, we will share three more math activities that are based on our food drive, and tell our blog readers how much food we collected during our three-week campaign.

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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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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