Today we began to survey the diversity of living and non-living things in the field areas of our schoolyard. This project fulfills expectations for the Grade 4 science strand "habitats and communities" and also teaches and consolidates some important mathematical concepts for both grades. These concepts include estimation, fractions, percent, calculating mean and graphing change over time.

On each of five field observation days, spread ten days apart, students go outside in small groups. They throw a hula hoop, to identify a random sample area, and make a list of the the non-living items (such as sand, pebbles and sticks) and flora (such as grass and small plants) that they find inside their hoop.  Then they estimate how much of each item is present in their sample area, as a fraction and a percentage.

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On a second observation sheet, students make notes or sketches of the fauna (insects, worms, etc.) and unfamiliar flora they notice inside the hoop, so they can look the items up in field guides once they are back in the classroom.

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Afterwards, they repeat the process two more times. After all three of their field observations are complete, groups go inside and calculate the mean percentage for each item observed that day (brown grass, green grass, sand, etc.) and enter these percentages on a line graph.

By the time this project is complete, students will be able to track changes in vegetation that occur over six weeks, during the spring growing season.

Here are some pictures of today's field work and graphing sessions:

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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On Tuesday, April 22nd, our class participated in three curriculum-based learning activities in celebration of Earth Day.

In the morning, we engaged in an activity about decision making, and discussed how our decisions can impact lives and influence the decisions of others. Mrs. Black modeled these concepts, by "saving a turtle" on Earth Day (making a donation to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, in Peterborough), and inviting her friends to follow suit, via Social Media. She then invited students to focus their next writing project (persuasive letters) on encouraging local businesses to donate supplies to the turtle centre. The class was very excited about the prospect of engaging in persuasive writing that is "for something," instead of just an academic exercise. Kids can and want to make a difference! (More about this project to follow, in a future BLOG post.)

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loraxNext, we read "The Lorax," a book that was published in 1971 and is even more relevant today. We discussed some of the problems that occurred in the story, as a result of one character's decisions, and engaged in a lively class debate. During our debate, half of the class assumed the perspective of the industrialist (The Once-ler) and the other half assumed the perspective of the environmentalist (The Lorax). Students soon discovered that there were no easy answers, and that it was hard enough to get others to consider a different perspective, let alone change their minds.

In the afternoon, students in our class served as role models by assisting Mrs. Turnbull's Grade 1 class with a school yard nature hunt. Students found living and non-living things on the yard that were common and uncommon, interesting and surprising. They also learned the terms "flora" and "fauna." Here are the students in action (click on any photo to enlarge it):

2014-04-22 001Heading out on our Earth Day nature scavenger hunt!

Later in the week, when the yard was dry, we went out to do a big yard clean-up with the other two Junior classes:

It's amazing how much litter accumulates on our schoolyard over the winter!

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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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For the second year in a row, Grade 5-8 students from Rama Central P.S. are helping local residents protect their homes from spring flooding, caused by a combination of greater than average snowfall, a sudden melt and rainfall. A public works employee told me that water levels in our area are expected to start peaking on the weekend.

This afternoon older students, including the Grade 5 students in our class, walked to the public works yard and filled sand bags. Our work will spare local residents the effort of of having to fill the bags they need themselves.

Thank you to our librarian, Mrs. Torrey, for arranging this community service opportunity for students in our school!

Here are some images of Grade 5 students in our class at work this afternoon (click on any photo to enlarge it):

Sandbagging, Day 2: Students from our school filled over 1,000 bags today!

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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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On Tuesday, April 1st, Mr. Fitzgerald’s Grade 5/6 class and the Grade 5's in our class assisted with a fund-raiser to benefit homeless women and children in Orillia.

Volunteers from Georgian College and Couchiching Jubilee House came to the school, gave a presentation about homelessness, and provided students with ceramic bowls, paint, brushes, and instructions.

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Students then created beautifully painted ceramic bowls that will be fired and used at a soup-tasting fund raiser for Couchiching Jubilee House, a transitional housing facility. The soup-tasting event will be held at Twin Lakes Secondary School, on April 27th, and will feature the best soups from restaurants across Orillia and area. Several students and their parents opted to purchase the bowls they decorated, which will serve as their tickets to the event. The rest of the student-decorated bowls will be sold to the public for use at the event.

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Here are pictures of students in action, painting their soup bowls. Click on any picture to enlarge it:

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.