Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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

Archive for the ‘Community Service’


Elephant-sized Learning!

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In teaching, it is very important to be open to teachable moments and unexpected adventures in learning.  Several weeks ago, students were studying large numbers.  An exercise in the Grade 4 Nelson Math workbook asked students to compare the weights of several large animals.  The class discovered that elephants weigh almost twice as much as hippos and baby whales.  As an aside, I said, “So you can see what a challenge it would be to move elephants from Toronto to California.”

Unexpectedly, a couple of students who understood the context of my comment blurted out their approval.  I polled the class to see how many students had heard about the impeding move of the Toronto Zoo elephants to a sanctuary in California, and asked those familiar with the story to share it with the rest of the class.  On that day, about half of the class had heard about the move and about eight students strongly approved.  Most of the rest had no opinion.

Nelson-math

After the approximate date of the move was announced, I offered students who were interested an opportunity to make “Bon Voyage” and “Thank You” cards to send to the people in Canada responsible for overseeing the elephant transfer.  About half of the class chose to make cards and I mailed them to the Zoocheck Canada office in Toronto.  Zoocheck staff were quite touched by our gesture and said they would take the cards to California, so they were on display when the elephants arrived. We monitored the elephant transfer, as it unfolded, via Social Media.

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Facebook page for the sanctuary in California.
https://www.facebook.com/pawsweb.org

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Toka, just after emerging from her crate at the sanctuary in California
Photo by Julie Woodyer, Zoocheck Canada

Although some my students will miss seeing elephants at the Toronto Zoo, the pictures and videos of Toka, Iringa and Thika  in their spacious new home in sunny California convinced most students that the move was in the elephants’ best interest.

A few days after the successful completion of the elephant transfer, the class reached a milestone; they earned enough “good behaviour points” to have their first party of the year.  Several students suggested a “beach-themed” party, and this idea evolved into a California beach-themed retirement party for the Toronto Zoo elephants.  Several students stayed in during two recesses to create an elephant-sized party decoration.  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Here are some images of our retirement party for the Toronto Zoo elephants. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

At the end of the party, we bundled our banner into a mailing tube and sent it to Zoocheck Canada, to thank Rob Laidlaw and Julie Woodyer for working incredibly hard to see that the elephants have a better life.

My students have some questions about the elephants, and the logistics of their move to California, so I am hoping to arrange a Skype session between our class and Rob Laidlaw, who accompanied the elephants on their cross-country trek.  We will create a blog post about that, if we are able to make it happen!

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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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Wildlife Sanctuary/Math Project, Pt. 2

This is a follow-up to our earlier post about collecting natural food items for two local wildlife sanctuaries.  They will be using what we collected to teach overwintering baby animals what to eat, and to keep them well fed throughout the winter.

In this BLOG post, we will be showing the math associated with this project and some pictures of animals at the sanctuaries enjoying food we collected for them.

After we finished our two week “food drive,” we began to tally up the food we collected.  We decided that the number of acorns could be estimated by weight, because there wasn’t too much variation in the size and weight of acorns.  We used a bathroom scale to weigh our boxes of acorns and a kitchen scale to determine how many acorns weighed 100 grams.  Then, we did the calculations needed to estimate how many acorns we had altogether:

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Weighing one of two big boxes of acorns

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Counting out 100 grams of acorns

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We brainstormed how to estimate the number of acorns as a class.

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Vaughn did a great job adding the extra acorns we collected later.

Our pine cones came in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Most were dry and light weight, but some were green and heavy.  Therefore, we decided to estimate the number of pine cones by volume, instead of weight.  First, we counted out how many assorted pine cones it took to just fill a dish pan.  We did that four times and then calculated the mean (average) number of pine cones in a dish pan.  Next, we figured out how many dish pans worth of pine cones we had.  Last, we multiplied the number of acorns in a dishpan times the number of dishpans of acorns we collected, to figure out approximately how many pine cones we had altogether:

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Our calculations.

Like the acorns, all of the maple keys were of similar in size and weight.  We decided to estimate how many we collected based on weight.

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Here are our totals:

Acorns = approximately 9,800 (35 kgs.)
Pine cones = approximately 2,300 (39 kgs.)
Maple keys = approximately 28,500 (2.25 kgs.)

Based on food consumption data that Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary provided, we estimated that our food would last the 20 squirrels at Woodlands Sanctuary and the 20 squirrels at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary about 5 weeks, if they only ate pine seeds, acorns and maple seeds. However, the wildlife sanctuaries will be supplementing the squirrels’ diets with other foods, so our contribution will likely last about three months, or most of the winter.

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In addition to pine cones, acorns and maple keys, we also collected apples, cedar seeds, corn, black walnuts and sumac for the animals. These were not part of our math project.

This is what all of the food collected by students and staff at Rama Central looked like, when it was assembled in one place!

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This is Jan, the wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, with the six boxes of food we dropped off at the sanctuary in Rosseau:

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One of “the locals” thought the acorns were for him!

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Jan sent us pictures of a couple of squirrels that are in rehabilitation at the sanctuary, and Furley the Black Bear (former resident of Springwater Provincial Park’s wildlife compound), enjoying some of the food we delivered to the sanctuary:

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Students were quite impressed by this picture of
a very large bear
eating the tiny acorns they collected.

Staff and Students at Steele Street P.S. and Shanty Bay P.S. were inspired by our project. They also contributed items for Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. We delivered their items with ours.  This is what we took to Woodlands:

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Our Grade 5/6 teacher, Mr. Fitzgerald, contributed the bird houses.

This is Monika, the wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, and my daughter Emily with some of the food we dropped off at the sanctuary in Minden:

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Monika sent us some pictures of animals in rehabilitation enjoying our food drive items.  The fawns are eating windfall apples that some of the students collected:

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This little guy can’t believe his luck!

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Monika also e-mailed us a really neat thank you graphic.  We posted a colour copy of it in our classroom:

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We think our food drive for local wildlife sanctuaries was “wildly” successful!  It also showed us how math can be used to answer some real life questions.  We plan to do this again next year!!

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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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Wildlife Sanctuary: Media Literacy/Outreach Work Now Online

This is an update on a couple of  Media Literacy/outreach projects.

The “Help Me Stay Wild” teacher resources that my 2012-13 Grade 5/6 class helped to create for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary are now online.  There are five of them.  You will find them on this page:

teacher-corner-bloghttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-teacher-corner/

This year’s Grade 4/5 class provided feedback on an early draft of an Aspen Valley resource page for kids.  That page is also online now:

kids-zone-screencaphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-kid-zone/

The work of last year’s class and this year’s class for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary are being recognized on this page:

honour-roll-screencaphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-honour-roll/

(We have collected enough acorns, pine cones and maple keys to supply both Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary with food for their overwintering animals!)

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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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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):

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

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

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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:

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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:

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Students rehearsing for classroom presentations

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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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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:

teacher-resource-sample-screen-caphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AVWS-TeacherResourceSample.pdf

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:  http://environmentfilms.org/EF/ASPEN_VALLEY.html
  • 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.

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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:

http://www.ctvbarrie.ca/2013/04/wednesday-april-24-2013-ctv-news-at-6-webcast/

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.

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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):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DthX8n3bX9M

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!  :-)

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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:  http://www.candiinternational.org/

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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