Thank you, Miss MacLennan!

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):

youtube-emilyvid-screenshothttps://youtu.be/1G6FuARZJYo

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.

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Literacy Fair for Younger Students

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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:

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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.

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One-Point Perspective Art

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

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These are the Success Criteria for this project:

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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.

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“Lady,” and the Kindness of Strangers

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.

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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. 

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

Saturday – Day 3:

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 Sunday – Day 4:

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 Monday – Day 5:

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 Tuesday – Day 6:

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 Wednesday – Day 7, morning, eating a raisin:

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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:

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

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

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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:

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Thursday – Day 8,
update and photo from Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge,
“Lady is getting adventurous!”

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

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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.

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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:

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

THIS IS FOR YOU RAMA KIDS!!

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!)

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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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Workshop & Teacher’s College Speaking Engagements

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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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.

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RESOURCE LINKS

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

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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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Media Literacy: Creating Animal Games

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

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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:

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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:

NEXT STEPS:

  • 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.

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Persuasive Letter Writing in Support of Turtles!

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:

turtle-species-posterhttp://saveconcordwest.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/ontario_turtles.jpg

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We then created success criteria for the letter writing project:

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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.

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Island Survivor 2014: Social Studies, Collaboration & Drama!

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This week, during Literacy and Social Studies periods, our class participated in an island survivor simulation. The exercise was designed to consolidate learning in Social Studies, while stretching students’ ability to work collaboratively in assigned groups and providing them with an opportunity to engage 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 roles of various levels of government in addressing social and environmental issues. Students used this prior knowledge to inform their “island survival plans.” Each student also created a character he/she wished to play during our island survivor simulation.

This is the basic outline of the project (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

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Day 1

On Monday, we discussed the terms “collaboration,” “compromise” and “consensus,” as a class. Students were told that the goal was to reach consensus within their small group, when developing their survival plans.

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Students were then assigned to groups and given name tags, information packages and survival plan templates.

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For the purpose of the island survivor exercise, Grade 4 students “crash landed” in the region of Canada that they studied. After the class was divided into their survivor groups, the Grade 4 students taught their Grade 5 island-mates about the region in which they found themselves stranded.

Then, within their small groups, students introduced their characters to each other and began brainstorming a list of all the things they might be able to do with the items that were salvaged from the plane. Two students that participated in this exercise last year were given the task of researching search and rescue methodologies. They also took on a role as small group facilitators.

Day 2

On Tuesday, groups continued their work exploring potential uses for the items salvaged from the plane and began to develop their survival plans.

Day 3

On Wednesday, one or two members of each group began work on a land use map of their island, while other group members refined their survival plans. Students responsible for search and rescue plotted search grids on regional maps that included the locations of our islands.

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Day 4:  Search and Rescue/Ontario Survivor Press Conferences

On Thursday morning, groups were told that, against all odds, they had been found!  They were told they would be invited to participate in a press conference explaining how they had survived their island ordeal. The students that had researched search and rescue methodologies prepared to role play a presentation about how the survivors had been found.

On Thursday afternoon, Search and Rescue and the group that had been stranded on an island in Ontario attended their press conferences and made presentations. The rest of the class acted as members of the press gallery, listening to information, posing questions and completing presentation feedback forms.

During presentations, our student teacher, Miss Carson, and Mrs. Black also completed presentation feedback forms, and filled out rubrics assessing each student’s performance as a role play actor.

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Day 5: Nunavut, Newfoundland and British Columbia Survivor Press Conferences

On Friday, we held press conferences for the survivors that crash landed in Newfoundland:

Nunavut:

and British Columbia:

At the end of the process,  students completed peer evaluation forms reflecting upon their group work skills and the skills employed by the other members of their small group.

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THE RESULTS ARE IN!

These are the scores the class gave each group’s overall survival plan, based on their performance at the press conference:

  • Ontario:  64%
  • British Columbia:  59%
  • Newfoundland:  58%
  • Nunavut:  51%

The class was also asked to rate the odds of each group surviving a winter in the wilderness, based on the survival plans they presented. These are the class’ estimates:

  • Ontario:  65% chance of survival
  • Newfoundland:  65% chance of survival
  • British Columbia:  57% chance of survival
  • Nunavut:  47% chance of survival

Congratulations to the survivors who crash landed near Shakespeare Island, Lake Nipigon, northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario! You are the winners of Island Survivor 2014!!

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 Carson and Mrs. Black circulated. They stepped in and facilitated whenever personality clashes or inexperience with consensus-building created an impasse. They 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 collaborating with others on a project.

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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):  mblack@scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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Sharing Place Food Drive

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In October, my class organized and ran a highly successful food drive for orphaned and injured wildlife residing at local wildlife rehabilitation centres. Then, in November-December, we assumed responsibility for the school’s annual food drive for the food bank in Orillia.

Each morning for three weeks, several of my students made the rounds, collecting contributions from students in classrooms from Kindergarten through Grade 8 and placing them in the front hallway of the school. Whenever the bins started to overflow, a pair of students and I would spend a recess counting, weighing, boxing and labeling some of the food.

Today, a number of students in my class spent second recess moving all of the food donations to my car:

After school, I drove our boxes to The Sharing Place Food Bank. By our count, we collected 517 items. The official weight of our school’s donation was 511 lbs., which is 27 lbs. more than we collected last year.  My students are very pleased with this result!

PAYING IT FORWARD!
As an incentive to bring in donations, Miss Wigle (Grade 2/3 teacher), Mrs. Ross (Grade 7/8 teacher) and I (Grade 4/5 teacher) pledged that we would each volunteer for an hour at the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen or Sharing Place Food Bank, for every 100 lbs. of food that was collected by our school.  My daughter Emily, age 14, said she would volunteer too. Miss Wigle and Mrs. Ross will be working a five hour shift at the soup kitchen on Monday, December 22nd. Emily and I will be doing the same on Tuesday, December 23rd.

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

 

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The Hour of Code!

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This afternoon, our class participated in “The Hour of Code,” an initiative aimed at providing school children, world-wide, with experience writing computer code. Students worked through various tutorials on the code.org/learn website.

Everyone LOVED the opportunity to learn about how computer programs are written, and to change the way characters and components of games behave. Here are some pictures from our Hour of Code experience (click on any photo to enlarge it):

DECEMBER 17 UPDATE:

Here are some comments students made about their Hour of Code experience:

Sam:  “Hour of Code was really exciting because it made you feel like a computer scientist. It was just like building a game online.”

Shenice:  It was so fun when I created a Flappy Bird game with Elizabeth! We both took turns and we had so much fun when we were coding!”

Liam:  “I have always wanted to code, and most of the games were so cool! It’s like making your own games, so my thanks to the CEO of Hour of Code!”

Elizabeth:  “The coding was very fun! It was really cool to make your own design for the rules. It was also fun to do it on a game you know how to play.”

Christine:  “The Hour of Code was awesome because you can make your own Flappy Bird game, and I found the Frozen game like doing math.  I love Hour of Code!”

Ryder:  “Coding is awesome because I learned a lot of the code. It was so fun it blew my mind!”

Clayton:  “I felt very happy! It was so amazing and fun because you will not die on Flappy Bird Level 8. You just change the code!”

Zack B.:  “I loved how you can do what you want to do and you can’t die. I love how there was multiple games and you can make the game different. You could type what moves you wanted on this one game.”

Madison:  “The best part of Hour of Code was making your own game. My favourite game was the tablet and also the Flappy Bird game. I like the tablet because you can choose Stampy as a car. I like Flappy Bird because when you play it you can get 1,000 points each time you click!”

Rein:  “I felt like I was a real video game maker. It was really fun because I could program a game, so I could get a point every time I clicked. I could also use it to prank other people. Finally, sure it’s fun to just play a video game, but programming a game is way better!”

Ben:  “I really liked the Hour of Code because you actually could program everything the way YOU wanted it to go!”

Lily:  “What I loved about the code is that you can play games that you don’t always get to play. I felt so happy!  I loved that you also get to program how you get points and play the game. It was like you just made up a new game! I also loved the part where it helps students learn technology.”

Aiden:  “I really liked Hour of Code because it challenged me and you had to think about it. It never ends, and it has great games, and it was awesome because you design the game.”

Kailem:  “It was fun. The Flappy Birds game was awesome. I really wanted to play even more. It was fun making the game even better!”

Joslyn:  “I thought Hour of Code was awesome because when I went on the Flappy Bird game, it was cool how I could personalize it and earn points. It was fun changing a game someone already made to the way you want it to be.”

Kristen:  “I liked the coding because there are really cool things, and because you learned how to make and awesome game. You can also let loose and have some fun!”

 

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

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