Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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

Archive for the ‘Community Service’

Wildlife Sanctuary/Math Project, Pt. 1

Our special math project, which is also an outreach project in support of Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary is now underway.  (Sept. 23rd NOTE:  We have collected so many items that we will now be sharing with Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, as well!)

We have sent home notes to parents, explaining what we are doing (click on any picture to enlarge it):

2013-09-10 001

Everyone in our class received a paper bag, for collecting items,
with a note attached to it.

2013-09-10 002

We have started a Community Service bulletin board in our classroom:

2013-09-13 024

2013-09-13 025

The entire school has been invited to help us collect acorns, pine cones and maple keys, to feed to baby squirrels, porcupines and fawns that will  overwintering at local wildlife sanctuaries:

2013-09-12 007

Students in our class counting out invitations for other classes

Teams of students from our class have started touring the school, making presentations explaining what wildlife rehabilitation centres do and why it is important to feed orphaned animals the types of food they will see after they are released back into the wild:

2013-09-13 019

Students rehearsing for classroom presentations

2013-09-13 022

2013-09-13 021

The collection of natural foods for orphaned baby animals has begun:

2013-09-13 011

2013-09-13 014

2013-09-13 018

2013-09-12 008

And, in a truly remarkable twist of fate… The week we began collecting food for orphaned baby animals, the family of one of my students rescued a four-week old squirrel they found on their driveway, alone, cold and dehydrated. They did a great job with emergency care, and then I drove the little guy to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, where I happened to be going for a meeting. “Squirrelly” will be one of those babies who needs to overwinter at a wildlife sanctuary, eating the kinds of foods we are collecting!  Next Spring, he will be released back into the wild close to where he was found.

2013-09-13 026


“Squirrelly” receiving a feeding of Pedialyte (2 ml), via eye-dropper


Full tummy = sleepy baby

Next step:  During the first week of October, we will be spending two or three math classes sorting, counting, calculating fractions and equivalent fractions, estimating percentages, graphing and estimating how long our food stash will last, when fed to baby squirrels.

Then I will drive all the great, natural food we collected to Woodlands Sanctuary and Aspen Valley Sanctuary, where it will teach baby animals, like Squirrelly, what foods to eat and provide them with sustenance all winter long!


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.

Print Friendly

Wildlife Centre: School Resource Brainstorm

Mrs. Black has offered to help a local wildlife rehabilitation center and sanctuary, by developing some school resources for them. The activities in the school resource packages would fulfill curriculum expectations and character education objectives, while engaging students in supporting the work of the centre through fund-raising, collection of goods, animal sponsorship, writing, media literacy, math and the arts.

Mrs. Black created a two-page resource, based on a “Help me stay wild” info-graphic about Black Bears produced by the rehabilitation centre. Click on the image or link below to see her sample resource:


Last week, Mrs. Black showed the class the sample resource. Students really liked the idea and asked if they could help with the development of resources for other species, as a media literacy project. They also asked if they could try out the narrative writing prompt in the sample resource about Black Bears.

The Grade 5 students completed the narrative writing task this week, while their Grade 6 counterparts were writing the EQAO test. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning about the habits and food preferences of Black Bears, and then writing a story about a visit to a dump, from a bear’s perspective. In the process, they learned about what their families and neighbours might be doing to inadvertently attract bears to their neighbourhood.

Friday morning, we had a media literacy session in which students:

  • watched a video about the work of the rehabilitation centre:
  • reviewed the sample resource
  • listened to three of the “bear narratives” written by the Grade 5 students, and identified the lesson or moral in each story
  • discussed what other forms of writing can be used as a teaching tool
  • broke into small groups and rotated through six stations, brainstorming fund raising ideas and curriculum-based project ideas, for five other animal species for which the rehab. centre has produced “Help me stay wild” info-graphics

Here is how today’s media literacy session looked:

NOTE:  We have sent the wildlife centre links to the sample resource and this blog post. We are now (May 31st) waiting to see if the centre would like us to further develop our ideas for their website.  July 31st:  Mrs. Black went to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for a meeting with the General Manager and the retired teacher who conducts school visits at the sanctuary.  They loved the work the class did and asked Mrs. Black to go ahead and develop four more project sheets, using the ideas the class provided.  :-)   September 14th:  The Board of Directors at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary viewed and approved first drafts of five educational resources. Next step: They will go through final edits and field testing, and then be uploaded to the Aspen Valley website.

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.

Print Friendly

Helping Local Residents Combat Flooding

The school’s close proximity to the local public works yard allowed Rama Central students to make a unique contribution to the community during the Black River flood of 2013.  Our Librarian, Mrs. Torrey, made arrangements for classes from Grades 5-8 to take turns walking to public works to help bag sand for local homeowners whose properties were threatened by high water.  We filled sand bags as a gym/DPA activity.  Here are some pictures of our class in action (click to enlarge):

Our school’s efforts to help prevent flooding were recognized in a Ramara Township media release (click to enlarge):

Ramara News Release

Rama Central students and Mrs. Torrey were interviewed at the public works yard by CTV News (click to view).  The story about Rama Central’s efforts begins at 6:20 into the broadcast:

Some of our Intermediate students were also pictured on the front page of the Orillia Packet and Times newspaper:

We are very proud of the way our students embraced the opportunity to assist others in the community who were coping with a very difficult situation.

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.

Print Friendly

A Visit from a Pair of Special Needs Dogs

Earlier in the school year, two volunteers from the Alliston & District Humane Society visited our class to pick up some educational brochures that students in our class created as media literacy projects. These projects will be used as the basis for some desktop published pamphlets and flyers that will be distributed to children who visit the shelter to learn about animal welfare. During their visit, the Humane Society’s Audrey McClure said that it was a shame our class never got to meet Princess the rescue dog, since we had raised over $700.00 to help with her medical bills. Princess passed away six weeks after being rescued. Audrey asked if our class might appreciate a visit from a couple of other rescue dogs with a story to tell. The class and I were delighted with this offer.

On Friday, April 26th we were thrilled to welcome some very special guests to our classroom. Audrey McClure and Jim Preyde, of the Alliston & District Humane Society, Pattie Dawson (Princess’ foster Mom) and Pattie’s two children returned to our class. They were accompanied by special needs rescue dogs Hule and Hanson, from Mexico, Ola Zalewski (who provided rehabilitation to both dogs, and is currently fostering Hansen), Kristen Sowerby (Hule’s Canadian owner), Apollo (one of Ola’s other dogs) and Oliver (Kristen’s other dog). In addition to visiting with and learning about the dogs, students received certificates from the Alliston & District Humane Society, thanking them for their efforts with the pamphlet project. We had an incredibly fun, inspiring and educational afternoon!

Here are images from our amazing “dog party” (click to enlarge any image):

Hule was a victim of a machete attack, in Mexico.  She lost an eye and sustained neurological damage that rendered her unable to walk. After several surgeries and a couple months in rehabilitation, she regained most of her motor function.  Here is the amazing video that chronicles Hule’s journey back to full health (click on image):

It is presumed that Hansen was struck by a vehicle while living as a stray on the streets of Cancun.  He has almost no use of his back legs, but is able to move around very effectively with and without the use of a wheel cart.  The wheel cart is particularly helpful in carpeted areas and outdoors, where dragging his back end would cause abrasion.  In this video, which was filmed in our classroom, Ola demonstrates how to put Hansen into his wheel cart. Note the reaction of the class, when Hansen begins to move about the classroom!  :-)


As a follow-up to this event, we will be engaging in a classroom discussion about how the class fully accepted Hule and Hansen, despite their disabilities.  Would students be so accepting of a student in a wheelchair or with a facial disfigurement?  One would hope that after meeting these two special needs dogs students would think twice before shying away from a person with special needs…

To learn more about the organization that rescued Hule and Hansen, got to:

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.

Print Friendly

Grade 5 “Write to Give” Outreach Project!

Rama Central’s Grade 2/3 teacher, Miss Wigle, invited students in our class to illustrate a story that her class wrote in collaboration with classes in two other schools. We decided to make this a Grade 5 outreach opportunity.

The publishing project Write to Give is an initiative of World Teacher Aid, a Canadian charitable organization. The story we illustrated will be published in book form, and sold to help bring education to students living in rural Kenya.

Below, you will see our book illustrations. There is also a picture of a tortoise adoption certificate. Miss Wigle was kind enough to adopt a Galapagos Tortoise from World Wildlife Fund, to thank our class for helping with the book. That means this outreach project benefits both children in Africa AND Tortoises in South America! (Click on any picture to enlarge it.)

For more information please visit these websites:

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.

Print Friendly

Learning About and Helping Local Reptiles

Today, two staff members from Scales Nature Park, in Orillia, brought a variety of live turtles and snakes to Rama Central. Their all-day visit to the school was funded by Environment Canada; the goal was to help students to better appreciate the variety of amazing reptiles that live in our area.

Scales Nature Park owner Jeff Hathaway and his assistant started off the day with a presentation in the gym. Then, throughout the day, each class had its own scheduled time to return to the gym so students could ask questions and handle live snakes. Students seemed to really enjoy and appreciate today’s hands-on learning opportunity.

To facilitate follow-up, Jeff has loaned our school a wonderful resource kit containing lessons for all grades, fact sheets about snakes and turtles, a reptile identification card game, a turtle shell, some snake skins and some turtle eggs.

A few months ago, our class offered to write persuasive letters in support of the Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital, which will soon be opening on the Scales Nature Park property.  This morning, our class met with Jeff Hathaway, who is sponsoring the hospital, to find out what the he needs most and what companies might be most likely to donate goods.  In between the morning assembly and our opportunity to return to the gym to handle snakes, students began work on their letters. This is our very interesting and productive day, in pictures (click on any image to enlarge it; use the back button on your browser to return to this page):

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.

Print Friendly

Alliston & District Humane Society Visit!

This morning, two volunteers from the Alliston & District Humane Society (ADHS) made a two-hour round trip drive to Rama Central, to pick up the brochures our class designed to help ADHS educate children about animal welfare.  The brochures, which were completed as a Media Literacy project, were featured in two previous BLOG posts:
Using Media Skills to Educate Others, Part 2
Using Media Skills to Educate Others, Part 1

During today’s visit, students engaged in a lively discussion about shelter animals, rescued pets and animal care with Audrey and Jim.  Our visitors thanked us for all our help with “Princess the dog” and with their educational project.  Audrey and Jim also brought the class donuts, for which students were very grateful.

We want to thank Audrey and Jim for visiting our class, and the Alliston & District Humane Society for providing us with an opportunity to complete a school assignment with a real world purpose!

Here are some pictures of pamphlet/flyer authors with Jim and Audrey:

Pamphlet topic:  How You Can Help the Humane Society

Pamphlet topic:  How Kids Helped Princess

Pamphlet topic:  Proper Animal Care

Pamphlet topic:  Pet Over-population

Pamphlet topic:   Kids and Aggressive Dogs

Flyer topic:  Fun Animal Facts!

Next step:  Audrey and Jim will show our brochures to members of the ADHS Board of Directors.  Then, the best of what we created will be desktop published and used to help educate children who visit the shelter.

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.

Print Friendly

Using Media Skills to Educate Others, Part 2

Over the past month, students worked in pairs to plan, research and create informative flyers and brochures.  These brochures fulfilled curriculum requirements in media literacy, and fulfilled a real purpose. The Alliston & District Humane Society will be desktop publishing the best of what our class produced and using these materials to educate young people about animal welfare.

A previous BLOG post shows students researching and planning their brochures:  Using Media Skills to Educate Others, Part 1.

Here are the finished products.  Click on any photo to enlarge it:

Students found “working for a client” to be highly motivating.  The quality of most of their work is exemplary.  At the end of the process, the finished brochures were circulated around the class and students had an opportunity to contribute ideas about each brochure’s strengths and deficits.  These ideas were written on post-it notes and affixed to the brochures.  Two representatives from the Alliston & District Humane Society will be coming to our class on Wednesday, March 8, 2013 to pick up the brochures and thank students for their hard work.

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.

Print Friendly

Painting “Bowls for Beds”

On Friday, March 1st, Mrs. Thompson’s Grade 6/7 class and our Grade 5/6 class decorated ceramic bowls to help combat homelessness in Simcoe County.  These bowls will be used by participants in a fund-raising event to benefit Couchiching Jubilee House, in Orillia. Students received a visual arts mark for their work on this project.

Here are pictures of some of the students in our class painting their bowls. Click on any photo to enlarge it:

More information about Couchiching Jubilee House and the “Bowls for Beds” fund-raiser is provided in our Community Service Projects BLOG post.  Couchiching Jubilee House is the fifth project listed in that post.

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.

Print Friendly

Using Writing Skills to Help Save a Park

Students have been working hard on their persuasive letters to MPP Jim Wilson, urging the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to reconsider closing Springwater Provincial Park. This day use park near Barrie is currently scheduled to close on March 31st, because of declining visitorship. Our persuasive letter project fulfills curriculum requirements in writing, plus objectives in character education and citizenship.

A curriculum Learning Goal that applies to this project is posted on our classroom wall:

Students also have a sheet of more detailed Learning Goals and Success Criteria to guide their persuasive letter writing. The same criteria can be applied to next month’s persuasive letters in support of the new turtle hospital. Click on the image below to enlarge it:

Click here to see the rubric we are using to assess our persuasive letters.

These are students writing their letters in support of Springwater Provincial Park:

Here are some of the students in our class with their finished letters:

In the meantime, the group of adult volunteers working to save the park (“The Friends of Springwater Provincial Park”) have now raised enough money to register for Federal non-profit status. They are hoping this designation will enable them to form a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, with the goals of keeping the park open and making it more profitable.

You just never know where a kid’s idea might take you!  On Wednesday, January 23rd, The Friends of Springwater Provincial Park invited me to sit on their board, as their Education Outreach Coordinator.  I told them I would be honored to assist in this way. Thank you to my two Grade 5 students who suggested that our class do what we can to help save Springwater Provincial Park!

More to come as events unfold…

MARCH 23, 2013:  Today we received a response to our letters!  (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

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.

Print Friendly