Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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

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

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Thank you and all the best, Miss Carson!

Over the past five weeks, our class has been host to a teacher-candidate from Lakehead University’s Faculty of Education.  Miss Carson had an opportunity to practice-teach several subjects and assist with beginner band.

Here are some images of Miss Carson’s teaching in action.  Click on any image to enlarge it:

MATH

LANGUAGE

SCIENCE

ART

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

HOLIDAY CONCERT

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Miss Carson did a terrific job, and will be greatly missed by both Mrs. Black and the students in our class. We want to thank her for her hard work and wish her all the best in the future.

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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“Virtual” Guest Speaking Engagement!

A couple weeks ago, Mrs. Black was contacted by a teacher in an elementary school that is located a three hour drive from our school.  The teacher had found Mrs. Black’s listing on the “Digital Human Library” website, and wondered if Mrs Black could speak to her kindergarten class about wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation, via Skype.

The Digital Human Library is a free Ontario-based educational resource (website) that enables teachers and experts in a variety of fields to connect with each other for “virtual” speaking engagements and field trips, via computer.

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http://digitalhumanlibrary.com/

Today, Mrs. Black and two of the students in our class made a “virtual visit” to the other school, during our lunch hour. They answered questions that kindergarten students had prepared in advance of the Skype session, showed them pictures of animals in rehabilitation at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and told them about our wildlife food drive. This is how the session looked:

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After our visit, the kindergarten teacher e-mailed us this note:

Thank you again for a wonderful beginning to our digital learning this year.  The timing was great, the photos were wonderful and the information we gathered was amazing.  The kids couldn’t stop talking about everything they learned after we hung up. They were the most interested in the flying squirrels, so that gives us a new direction to explore.  I’ve attached some of their follow-up writing from today for you to see.

Tell [your students] thank you too–it was fun to see their enthusiasm….my kids are already talking about collecting seeds next year.  (:

Mrs. Black and students had a terrific time sharing their knowledge with the kindergarten class. We plan to invite some experts to visit our class, via Skype, in the near future.

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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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 $168.25 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. “Virtual Speaking Engagement” in another school
  7. 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 $168.25 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. “VIRTUAL” SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT 

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On December 8th, Mrs. Black and two of her students “traveled” to a kindergarten class, a three hour drive from Rama Central P.S., via Skype.  They were guest speakers in the other class, sharing information and answering questions about wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation.

This “virtual” speaking engagement was made possible by the Digital Human Library website, which enables teachers to connect their students with experts in a variety of fields, via computer.

Click on this link to read more about our virtual speaking engagement:

 

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

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This year, our class promoted and organized our school’s annual food drive for the local food bank.  

As an added incentive to help, three teachers at our school pledged that they would volunteer for an hour at the food bank or Lighthouse soup kitchen, for every 100 lbs. of food donated, to a maximum of eight hours.

We collected 517 items, weighing 511 lbs. As a result, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Ross and Miss Wigle signed up to do five hours of volunteer work each at the Lighthouse soup kitchen.  :-)

This is a link to our food drive BLOG post:

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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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