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In March and April, we had the pleasure of hosting Lakehead University Faculty of Education teacher-candidate Amanda Medeiros in our class. "Miss M." observed Mrs. Black during her first week with us, and then started taught the class in weeks 2-5, starting with Math and DPA and adding one or two subjects each week.

Here are some pictures of Miss M. in action!

MATH

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DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & GYM (Volleyball)

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DRAMA

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HEALTH

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SOCIAL STUDIES

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LITERACY

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MISS M'S "GRADUATION PARTY"!

As of today (Tuesday, April 26th), Miss M. has fulfilled all of the requirements for her B.A. and B.Ed. degrees!  We threw her a party, to celebrate!!

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IMG_3695IMG_3684We loved having Miss M. in our class, and wish her all the best in her future as an educator!  :-)

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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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In an effort to make learning more fun and to help students focus, the centre of our classroom has been transformed into an alternative seating area. We rolled out our new "study lounge" this morning, and the response was very positive!

Groups of students were given an opportunity to choose alternative seating, this morning, to give them a break from sitting at their desks.

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At the end of the morning, students were asked to write down what they liked about the new, alternative seating, how it helped them, plus suggestions about how the set up could be improved.

Aspects of the study lounge that students "liked" varied. Some enjoyed being able to choose where to sit, others appreciated being able to change seating locations a couple of times during our 100-minute literacy block, some students mentioned favourite new seating areas, and several said the alternative seating was very comfortable.

Almost every student said the new seating area helped him/her relax, focus, work, or be more productive.

Suggestions from students included more study lounge time, more or bigger cushions and turning the classroom lights off to foster calming.

When we need to use the centre of our room for building projects or drama, etc., the entire study lounge packs away neatly onto one of the Muskoka chairs.

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We also have four "portable podiums," for students who would rather stand at their desks, while working.

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Students have already come up with other ways to use the "podiums":

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In the future, Mrs. Black is planning to add balance balls at some of the student desks.

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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.

Last week, during Literacy and Social Studies periods, our class participated in an ice storm survivor simulation. The exercise was designed to consolidate learning in Social Studies and Science, while stretching students’ ability to work collaboratively in assigned groups, and providing them with an opportunity to engage in role play.

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Students were placed in "cabin groups" of four to six. They were asked to imagine what they would do if we were on an overnight school ski trip and, in the morning, they woke up to find themselves isolated, with their cabin power out and a freezing rain storm raging outside. Each cabin group was provided with a list of items they could use to help themselves keep warm, hydrated and fed for several days, and asked to create a plan that included a decision-making structure, rules, and strategies to ensure their survival while creating as little damage to the cabin and property as possible.

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These were their imaginary cabins:

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During the game, a few curves were thrown at each group. They were asked to choose from a deck of "calamity cards" that listed injuries and illnesses, accidental loss of tools or loss of food for which they needed to compensate with their plans. Then, "life imitated art" when Mother Nature dropped a major ice storm on Central Ontario... an ice storm that caused power outages, the cancellation of school buses, and delayed the completion of our ice storm survivor game!  :-)

These are pictures Mrs. Black took near her home, during the "real" ice storm:

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This map depicts extensive power outages, south of Barrie, the day after the ice storm:

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Once we were able to return to school, we shared our real-life ice storm experiences, and then continued with planning and problem-solving related to our fictional ice storm game:

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These are the maps that groups drew of their cabins and surroundings:

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After student groups were "rescued," they were invited to share their survival plans and experiences at "press conferences":
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"Life imitated art" a second time when this student, who was assessed as having a fictional hand injury during the game, later sustained a real-life hand injury (she's going to be fine!):

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Students in our class served as members of the press gallery, when they were not busy presenting. Members of the press gallery posed questions in the role of reporters, and evaluated group presentations and chances of survival.

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Students critiqued their collegues' chances of surviving more than a week on their own, based on the plans they presented:

  • Jesse:  52% chance of survival
  • Girl's Weekend Cabin and Ice Warriors:  54% chance of survival
  • Kiki-waka: 56% chance of survival
  • Ice Gladers: 64% chance of survival
  • Ice Crew: 70% chance of survival

Congratulations to The Ice Crew, winner of this year's Ice Storm Survival Competition!

IMG_3329"Ice Storm Survivor" was a fun, interactive team-building activity that helped students learn to cooperate, collaborate and seek consensus, while role playing themselves in a survival situation. Through our sharing of real and imagined ice storm strategies and experiences, students also took away some practical power outage preparedness ideas to share with their families, making "ice storm survivor" a valuable experience on several levels!

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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Today, Grade 5-8 students from Rama Central P.S. helped local residents protect their homes from spring flooding, by walking to the public works yard to fill sand bags. Our Grade 5 class worked alongside the Grade 8 class and filled over 150 sand bags in 100 minutes. In total, students from our school filled over 500 bags throughout the day.

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CTV Barrie dropped by to interview people at the public works yard, while covering the story of local flooding.

Students in our class:

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Mrs. Torrey, who organized our first sand-bagging day, four years ago:

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Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke:

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Our class, after completing their 100-minute sand-bagging shift:

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These pictures depict high water about a kilometre south of the school. The blue "lakes" are actually flooded farmer's fields:

Hwy169-near school1 Hwy169-nearschool2 Hwy169-nearschool3 Hwy169-nearschool4Spring flooding was the lead story in tonight's Barrie newscast:

carol-newshttp://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=839589&binId=1.1274844&playlistPageNum=1

Our school's efforts to help were also featured in the Orillia newspaper:

rama-sandbagging-2016http://www.orilliapacket.com/2016/04/05/rama-central-students-prepare-sandbags-for-residents-in-anticipation-of-flooding

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.

On Friday, April 1st, the Grade 5 and 6 classes at our school took a trip to the Ontario Science Centre, in Toronto. Our class attended an IMAX film about the human body and a laboratory demonstration about changes in matter. Both are topics within the Grade 5 science curriculum. We spent the remainder of the day exploring the science centre's myriad of interactive exhibits.

Human Body Hall:

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The Science Arcade:

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Electricity Show in the Science Arcade:

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Weston Innovation Centre:

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Changes in Matter laboratory demonstration:

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The Science Centre is such a great place to immerse oneself in hands-on science!

Thank you to these moms for accompanying us on the trip:

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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.

This afternoon we celebrated Earth Hour and the beginning of the March Break with (flameless) candles, games, treats, and three special guests.

Our student teacher, Miss M., came by to meet the class. She will be starting a five week placement with us when we return from the holiday.

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Also in attendance was Laura Gallagher, from Speaking of Wildlife, and one of her non-releasable educational ambassadors. Laura was so impressed with our "Shelters for Orphaned Wildlife" project that she offered to bring Pip Squeak the squirrel to meet the class.

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Pip Squeak was one of last year's spring babies. He was found and kept as a pet, and then eventually taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. By that time, Pip Squeak was completely used to humans and intolerant of other squirrels. Therefore, he could not be released back into the wild.

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We gave Pip Squeak one of the squirrel boxes that students in our class assembled. It was lovingly decorated by several of the girls in our class.

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After Pip Squeak's appearance, we broke out our Earth Hour crafts...

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... board games, card games, and Twister.

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Finally, it was time to dig into a huge buffet of snacks that students brought for the party!

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Now that's an afternoon snack for a growing boy!  :-)

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Happy Earth Hour and March Break!

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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.

IMG_2685-cropped This project is a follow-up to Rama Central's "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife," which received second prize and a $2,000. grant in the 2015 Our Canada Project Award competition. This is an earlier blog post that describes the wildlife food drive and award:

In consultation with local wildlife rehabilitators, we decided to invest our $2,000. award in materials to construct wooden sleeping boxes for orphaned squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and opossums, being raised for release back into the wild. We had Orillia Home Hardware supply us with the pre-cut plywood, hardware and glue to construct 96 squirrel boxes and 5 opossum boxes. IMG_2485 The Grade 7 and Grade 8 classes took the lead on this project. They helped organized the materials, learned how to construct boxes, and shared their knowledge and skill with students in Grades 3-6. IMG_2504IMG_2508 Tools, hardware, gloves, and a "practice box" under construction: IMG_2510 Grade 7 and 8 students learning how to make boxes, on gym workshop Day 1: IMG_2532 IMG_2546 IMG_2533 IMG_2545 IMG_2548Our class building boxes with the Grade 8's, on gym workshop Day 2: IMG_2634 IMG_2637IMG_2640 IMG_2642 IMG_2643 After they learned how to construct boxes from the Grade 8's, students in our Grade 5 class constructed some boxes on their own, back in the classroom: IMG_2664 IMG_2665
IMG_2667IMG_2669 IMG_2671 Students were invited to autograph the bottoms of boxes they had constructed: IMG_2563 IMG_2561 This photo depicts about 70 finished squirrel boxes, being stored temporarily in one of the change rooms attached to the gym:IMG_2686 Mrs. Black offered to deliver twelve sleeping boxes (the most the would fit in her car) to each of four local wildlife rehabilitation centres, over four weekends. The wildlife sanctuaries have been asked to send someone to the school to pick up the balance of their boxes. logos IMG_2623 Box Shipment #1 went to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, near Pefferlaw: IMG_2629 Our boxes will be used to protect orphaned squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and opossums from the elements, until they are old enough to be released back into the wild. This is one of our squirrel boxes, mounted in a "pre-release enclosure" at Shades of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary: IMG_2632 Box Shipment #2 went to Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, near Minden: IMG_0307 This little Flying Squirrel, who is overwintering at Woodlands, gave our boxes her seal of approval! flyer-box IMG_0317 flyer

Box Shipment #3 went to Procyon Wildlife, near Beeton:

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Box Shipment #4 was delivered to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, near Rosseau:

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This is a video of the Shelters project that our class made, for Learning for a Sustainable Future:

This is coverage of our Shelters project on CTV Barrie news:

ctv-barrie-screencaphttp://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=819830&binId=1.1272429&playlistPageNum=1

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We want to thank Learning for a Sustainable Future and the RBC Foundation, for making this project possible. We also want to give a HUGE shout-out to Wayne and Tom (pictured), and Bill, at Orillia Home Hardware. They did an absolutely stellar job pulling all the materials together for us. That included pre-cutting, packing and delivering the wood for 96 squirrel boxes and 5 opossum boxes! IMG_2661

The Orillia Home Hardware team also offered to host a display that Mrs. Black made in the store foyer, over the March Break:
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Last but not least, we couldn't have assembled 96 squirrel boxes so quickly and painlessly without the assistance of our amazing Grade 7 and 8 teachers, Mr. Westcott and Mrs. Ross, and their students!  Thank you all!!! IMG_2658 (T-shirts courtesy of 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):  mblack@scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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The Yukon Quest is a 1,000 mile sled dog race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, in the Yukon. This year, 23 mushers and their 14-dog teams braved the elements for nine to twelve days, traveling scantily marked trails, over mountain ranges, along frozen rivers and through forests, stopping to resupply at just ten checkpoints along the route. Our class was particularly interested in following Hank Debruin and his team of Siberian Huskies, from Haliburton, Ontario. They have completed both the 1,000 mile Iditarod, and the Yukon Quest twice before.

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Prior to the February 6th start of the Yukon Quest, students watched videos and read articles that provided background about Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, the equipment and food that mushers use on the trail, and the challenges they were likely to face in the northern wilderness.

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Next, students wrote mini-biographies about all of the musher's in this year's race, by summarizing information posted on the Yukon Quest website. Students were particularly impressed to learn that one of this year's rookie mushers was a nineteen year old girl from Minnesota. Other mushers hailed from across North America and Europe. One musher was a Japanese woman, now living and training in Whitehorse.

IMG_2387Another aspect of our Yukon Quest unit was a reading challenge. The goal was to read for 1,000 minutes faster than Hank Debruin and his dogs could run 1,000 miles on the trail. We tracked everyone's progress on a door-sized graph.

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All of the mushers carry SPOT Trackers on their sleds, so each morning we went online to see how far the teams had progressed on the trail. We plotted Hank's progress on a trail map.

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We also graphed and compared the temperature in Washago with the temperature in Alaska/Yukon, throughout the race. At one point, we were surprised to see that it was colder in Central Ontario than in the far north!

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Our temperature is in red. Hank's is in blue!

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We also practiced estimating and calculating elapsed time, by trying to predict when Hank's team would reach one of the checkpoints based on his position and the speed he was moving. Groups of students then shared the methods they used to calculate an answer, and their time estimates.

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Hank beat our Eagle checkpoint estimate by 10 minutes. All of the dogs he was running, at that point in the race, were veterans of the 2014 Quest, so they knew the trail. We are guessing the team sped up on their final approach to Eagle, knowing that they would soon be receiving a warm meal and a nice, long rest!

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Mushers start with 14 dogs, and can drop off dogs that are not feeling up to continuing, at any checkpoint. However, once a dog is dropped it cannot be replaced or resume the race. Dropped dogs are cared for by the musher's support team until the race is over.

Unfortunately, this year Hank had many road blocks thrown in his path from the very beginning. In the first three days after leaving the start line in Fairbanks, Hank and some of his dogs experienced ill health, and an important trail sign disappeared, causing Hank and several other mushers to take a lengthy, incorrect detour in the mountains, and then backtrack to the main trail. One of Hank's dogs, "Charlie," who had not been exhibiting any signs of illness and had just been cleared by race vets (dogs receive mandatory vet exams at most checkpoints), collapsed on the trail without warning, and had to be rushed back to the previous checkpoint, at Central, for medical care. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.

Illness, detours and caring for Charlie added many more miles to the early days of Hank's Quest. On the evening of Day 3, Hank left the Circle checkpoint in last place by ten hours, with just nine dogs on his team. Despite this, he continued down the frozen Yukon River, to Eagle, Alaska.

These are photos Hank's wife, Tanya, took of the team leaving for Eagle:

Circle2 Circle3 Circle4After leaving the Eagle checkpoint, Hank's team ascended a peak called American Summit. When he was almost at the top, he turned around and headed back down the mountain to Eagle. We found out later that he had encountered blizzard conditions, and elected to return to the safety of the previous checkpoint overnight, for the sake of the dogs. When dawn rose the following day, the trail had been obliterated by one to two feet of drifting snow, and Hank didn't have the heart to ask his small team to re-climb the mountain and then break trail on their own for over 100 miles, just to reach the mid-point of the race in Dawson City. For the first time in his racing career, Hank decided to end his race early.

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Although sad to see Hank's race end early, students in our class understood that Hank had put the welfare of his dogs ahead of his aspirations to complete the race. Hank became a hero to our class, in a way that he likely cannot even imagine. Students sent Hank heartfelt messages of support, and elected to finish the race on his behalf by continuing their reading challenge until the last musher in the race crossed the finish line.

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This year's totals, in the Hank Debruin Reading Challenge," are impressive! Students in our class read for a combined total of 40,055 minutes, over three weeks. We want to sincerely thank Hank Debruin, his wife Tanya, and their amazing dogs for inspiring so much great learning, via their Quest!! We are hoping Hank will come to class, to present the reading challenge certificates, and share some of his amazing Iditarod and Yukon Quest experiences, once the racing season is over.

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In related news... Earlier in the school year, Mrs. Black won a copy of a novel about dog sledding, written by an author living in Whitefish Falls, Ontario. Throughout the month of February, we enjoyed the book as our class read-aloud. The author, Terry Lynn Johnson, will be Skyping with us about the book, and her experiences as a dog sledder, author and conservation officer in early March!

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Other curriculum-based ideas and resources for tracking the Yukon Quest with students are located on Mrs. Black's website: http://blackdeer.ca/YukonQuest11/index.html

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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This morning, a number of special guests, and representatives from CTV Barrie, The Orillia Packet and Times and Orillia Today, descended on Rama Central P.S. to help us celebrate our second place finish in the LSF/RBC Our Canada Project competition.

Our award assembly was hosted by two Grade 8 students and our principal, Mrs. Lefuel.

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After our hosts provided some background information about the Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife and greeted our guests, a pair of Grade 8 students presented a slide show depicting students engaged in wildlife food drive-related activities. 

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Next, Mr. Stan Kozak of Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) presented an award certificate to two students from Mrs. Black's Grade 5 class.

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Then Ms. Sandra Chevrier, representing the RBC Foundation, presented a $2,000. cheque to two Grade 5 students.

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School Superintendent, Mr. Paul Sloan, brought greetings and congratulations on behalf of himself, Trustee Ms. Jodi Lloyd and the Simcoe County District School Board.

IMG_0138Our final guest speaker was Ms. Monika Melichar, from Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden. She thanked our school for the help we have provided to local wildlife rehabilitation centres, through our wildlife food drive.

IMG_0144At the close of our assembly, four Grade 5 students presented Mr. Kozak and Ms. Chevrier with thank you banners, signed by staff and students throughout the school.

IMG_0148We want to thank LSF for selecting our project for this award, The RBC Foundation for providing funding, and all of our special guests for attending today's assembly.

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These are links to media coverage of today's award presentation:

packet-screengrabhttp://www.orilliapacket.com/2016/01/14/students-answer-the-call-of-the-wild

ctv-screengrab http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=788559

Orillia-Todayhttp://www.simcoe.com/news-story/6243804-ramara-students-honoured-for-helping-animal-sanctuaries/

More information about the wildlife food drive, this award, and the project that today's prize money will fund, is located here:

lsf_rbc_ourcanadaproject_awardlogo_2015_EN-231x300 (1)

Wildlife Food Drive Receives Second National Award!

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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.

Within their Science program, Grade 5 students study "forces acting on structures." This Science unit includes reading and video viewing, hands-on building, the writing of lab. reports explaining the model building process, and a unit test.

This blog post showcases groups of students building model bridges, towers, roller coasters or strength bridges, with agreed upon materials and (in the case of strength bridges) agreed upon bridge spans.

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Here are the finished projects, which were presented to the class by each group:

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The strength bridge competition yielded some impressive results!

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This bridge was strong enough to hold a Grade 5 boy!

IMG_2333Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.