Mrs. Black's Class Blog

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Archive for the ‘Community Service’


Persuasive Writing, Part Two

Overall expectation #1 in Writing, in the Ontario Curriculum, asks students to “generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience.” This project provided students with an opportunity to write for two purposes and three different audiences.

We asked the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) to help us turn our persuasive writing unit into something with a real purpose. Staff at the centre told us they would love it if we would write some letters aimed at persuading potential donors (companies and those offering grants) to support KTTC. They said they would also appreciate some kids’ thank you letters that they could give to donors.

As you can see from the following pictures, working for a real-world client inspired students to do exemplary work. These are their persuasive letters (click on any photo to enlarge it):

These are samples of their thank you letters to donors:

We also wrote thank you letters to the staff and volunteers at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre for the amazing work they do!  Here are samples of those letters:

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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Persuasive Writing for a Real Purpose

This year, our persuasive writing unit fulfills Grade 4 and 5 curriculum expectations in Writing, Grade 4 expectations in the Science strand “Habitats and Communities,” and Grade 5 expectations in the Social Studies strand “First Nations Heritage and Identity” (turtle symbolism)… plus, as a bonus, our writing may save the lives of some turtles! In consultation with staff from the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, we are writing letters intended to persuade companies to support the centre.

kttc-logohttp://www.kawarthaturtle.org

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, in Peterborough, is a twelve year old Canadian registered charity that rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild over 1,000 turtles per year. The centre also engages in wild and released turtle population research, conservation initiatives such as establishing “eco-passages” that allow turtles to cross under busy roadways, and education outreach.

After students’ persuasive letters are graded, and writer strengths and “next steps” identified, the letters will be forwarded to the to the turtle hospital. Staff there will include student-authored letters with applications for support from companies.

We began the project by educating ourselves about Ontario turtles, and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. Seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are at risk!

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These videos and websites provide a good overview:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Based on what we learned, we brainstormed information about the role of turtles, why Ontario turtles are at risk, the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre and how people can help. This is what we came up with:

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Next, we discussed the elements that make a good persuasive letter and agreed upon the following success criteria (click on the photo to enlarge it):

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Then, we began planning our letters and authoring first drafts (click on any photo to enlarge it):

After drafts were edited by another person, students began to write good copies of their letters and draw pictures of Ontario turtles on them (click on any photo to enlarge it):

Students are taking great care with this project.  In a future BLOG post, we will share the final products!

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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Celebrating Earth Day 2014!

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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.)

kttc-logohttp://www.kawarthaturtle.org

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

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Helping Local Residents Combat Flooding

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

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Decorating “Bowls for Beds”

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

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Wacky Dress Up Day a Big Success!

On Friday, March 28th, our class hosted a “Wacky Dress Up Day” fund raiser, in support of two local animal welfare organizations: the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Students in our class took a lead role in promoting and running the event. They wrote and read advertisements on the morning announcements, posted fliers around the building, counted out reminder notices for students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to take home, and went from class-to-class collecting donations on the day of the event.

Here are some of the students in our class, dressed “wacky”:

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Students weren’t the only ones that enjoyed dressing wacky for a day. Staff also joined in the fun:

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Wacky Dress Up Day raised $204.28!!

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The money will be split evenly between the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Our class decided to use Aspen Valley’s money to sponsor some of the sanctuary’s permanent residents. We reviewed the list of available animals and their sponsorship costs:

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We decided to adopt both of the sanctuary’s deer, for $25.00 each:

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We still had $50.00, and three of the animals cost that amount to sponsor, so we reviewed their information and then voted.  Brooke the beaver only got two votes. Monty the bobcat edged out Mikey the fisher by three votes, to become the third animal we sponsored:

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The school will receive adoption certificates to thank us for sponsoring Andy, Annie and Monty. Students in Grades 4-6 will also get a chance to meet all of the permanent residents, including our adoptees, when we visit the sanctuary in May.

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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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Supporting an Ill Student at a Neighbouring School

A teacher-friend of Mrs. Black’s, who is the librarian at Victoria Harbour P.S., has a gravely ill student at her school. Eight year old Rebeccah’s mother asked that people support her daughter by sending Christmas ornaments to decorate a tree in her bedroom.  When students in our class were told about Rebeccah’s predicament, they jumped at the chance to support her.

This morning, we made ornaments using plastic bottle bottoms, glitter glue and shiny elastic.  Students put a great deal of care into their work and it shows… the results are truly lovely.  Click on any picture to enlarge it.

This is our class posing for Rebeccah with their creations:

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Mrs. Black had a cousin who lost a battle with leukemia at age 10, so she wanted to do something more.  She adopted Andy, the White-tailed Deer at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, for Rebeccah.  Andy isn’t one of Santa’s reindeer, but he’s pretty darned close!

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When she was at Aspen Valley for a meeting, Mrs. Black and the sanctuary manager, Mr. Smith, made Rebeccah a short video of Andy.  Click on this link to view the video in wmv-format:  http://www.blackdeer.ca/For-Rebecca-w.wmv

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Mrs. Black will be delivering the class’ ornaments to Rebeccah at a community fund-raiser for her family, in Victoria Harbour, on Saturday, December 7th. The sanctuary will be sending Rebeccah a certificate of adoption and a picture of Andy in the mail.  We hope our small gifts to Rebeccah will put a smile on her face and help her to see how much others care.

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UPDATE:  Sunday, June 29, 2014

Becky, her family and the librarian from Victoria Harbour P.S. came to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary today, so Mrs. Black could give them a private tour. One of the highlights for Becky was finally getting to meet Andy the deer!

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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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Reading Comprehension as Community Service!

This project fulfills curriculum expectations in reading and science, while helping a local wildlife sanctuary!

This week, students brainstormed reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics that touch on the “big ideas” in a series of educational articles, authored by staff and volunteers at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

We started the project by reading an article, that was projected on the Smart Board, about a Raven that was successfully rehabilitated and released, through a cooperative effort between Aspen Valley (Rosseau) and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary (Minden).  Then we worked together to brainstorm questions to accompany the article.

Ray-Raven-screenshothttp://www.cottagecountrynow.ca/opinion-story/4163625-ray-the-raven-s-full-recovery/

A student writes a reading comprehension question on chart paper:

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Another student jots down a question about the article:

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Here are the questions the class developed about “Ray the Raven’s full recovery”:

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After our shared reading comprehension activity, it was time for students to break into small groups and work with other articles:

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Students have discovered that it takes as much skill and effort to formulate good questions as it does to answer them.  Even so, they are enjoying the opportunity to take on the role of educators.  A retired school teacher who conducts school tours at the sanctuary and I will be compiling the class’ ideas.  Then, finished study guides for twelve newspaper articles will be uploaded to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website, as free resources for teachers to use with their students.

These are the results of our brainstorming sessions.  The first picture shows the class’ reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics about articles having to do with wildlife rehabilitation.  The second picture shows their notes re: articles about permanent residents.

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The finished products are now available for free download on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website!

reading-comp-screengrabhttp://aspenvalley.ca/aspen/resources/teachers-corner/

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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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Curriculum-based Community Service 2013-2014

This school year, our class is fulfilling some of the Ontario curriculum requirements via community service initiatives.  This BLOG post provides an overview of these projects:

  1. Collecting over 200 lbs. of acorns, pine cones and maple keys, to help feed overwintering baby animals at two local wildlife rehabilitation centres.
  2. Providing moral support to a charity working to improve the living conditions of captive animals.
  3. Developing study guides for newspaper articles educating the public about wild animals.
  4. Providing moral support to an eight year old girl at another school, who is gravely ill.
  5. Raising funds in support of two local animal welfare organizations.
  6. Painting bowls to assist a local charity in supporting homeless people.
  7. Assisting local residents experiencing spring flooding, by filling sand bags at the public works yard.
  8. Writing persuasive letters encouraging companies to support the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre.

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1.  FOOD DRIVE FOR ORPHANED BABY ANIMALS

Natural foods from the environment provide appropriate nutrition for baby animals. Orphaned baby animals overwintering at wildlife rehabilitation centres also need to be fed what they will eat in the wild, so they know what to look for after they are released.

This was a math, media literacy and oral language project in which students promoted a natural foods drive, for local wildlife rehabilitation centres, via flyers, announcements and public speaking engagements in classrooms throughout the school.  Students also engaged in the collection and sorting of food items.  The entire school caught a vision for this project, as did several other schools that heard about what we were doing.  In the end, we collected over 200 lbs. of natural foods for two local wildlife rehabilitation centres, including not only the acorns, pine cones and maple keys we originally requested, but also cedar seeds, sumac seeds, windfall apples, black walnuts, cracked corn and even some bird houses.  This is the shipment was delivered to the wildlife sanctuary in Minden:

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At the end of the food drive, the class estimated the number of acorns, pine cones and maple keys they had  collected, by applying math concepts, including weight and volume calcuations, multiplication, rounding and estimation.  They also graphed the number and weight of items collected.  Using food consumption data provided by a wildlife rehabilitator, students calculated how long their food drive items would last, if fed to the 40 baby squirrels overwintering at two local wildlife rehabilitation centres.

Here are the BLOG posts about this project:

2.  SUPPORT FOR CAPTIVE ANIMALS AND THEIR ADVOCATES

This project grew out of a math lesson in which Grade 4 students were asked to compare the weights of a number of large animals. A discussion of the Nelson Math worksheet accompanying the lesson grew into a discussion of the impending transfer of the Toronto Zoo elephants to a sanctuary in California.  From there, the project became a written language project, with students creating cards and letters demonstrating their support for the elephants and for the people organizing move, and an art project in which students worked collaboratively to create an “elephant-sized” mural for the classroom.

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After the successful elephant transfer, students chose to apply an elephant retirement party theme to a class party they had earned via good behaviour.  After the party, their beautiful elephant retirement mural was mailed to the Canadian charity that advocated for and organized the elephant move.  As further follow-up, we are hoping to Skype with a representative of this organization, so students can ask the questions they have about the elephants and the logistics of their cross-country transfer.

Here is the BLOG post about this project:

3.  CREATING STUDY GUIDES FOR MEDIA ARTICLES

Students engaged in a reading comprehension/science project, brainstorming follow-up questions and discussion and debate topics to accompany short, educational newspaper articles, written by staff and volunteers at a local wildlife sanctuary.  The class’ ideas will be compiled and edited by two teachers and then uploaded to the sanctuary’s website, as part of their free educational offerings for teachers.

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Here is the first BLOG post about this project:

4.  SUPPORTING AN ILL STUDENT AT VICTORIA HARBOUR P.S.

Our class responded to an appeal to send Christmas ornaments to an eight year old student at Victoria Harbour P.S. who has an inoperable brain tumour.  We made beautiful snowflake ornaments for Rebeccah using pop bottle bottoms, glitter glue and shiny elastic.  We hope our ornaments will brighten Rebeccah’s day and show her how much others care.

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Here is the BLOG post about this project:

5.  WACKY DRESS UP DAY, FOR LOCAL ANIMAL WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS

On Friday, March 28th our class hosted a “Wacky Dress Up Day” in support of The Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.  For a small donation, students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 were allowed to come to school for a day with wacky clothing and hair.

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For more information about how much we raised and how our donations were allocated, see this BLOG post:

6.  DECORATING “BOWLS FOR BEDS,” TO SUPPORT THE HOMELESS

On Tuesday, April 1st, the Grade 5 students in our class and the Grade 5/6 students in Mr. Fitzgerald’s class painted soup bowls to be used at Couchiching Jubilee House’s upcoming soup-tasting fund raiser, in support of their transition house for homeless women and children.

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This BLOG post showcases the students and their work:

7.  BAGGING SAND TO HELP LOCAL RESIDENTS COMBAT FLOODING

Toward the end of April, Grade 5-8 students at our school walked to the public works yard, two doors from the school, and filled about 1,500 sand bag that local residents used to protect their homes from unusually bad spring flooding.

2014-04-17 003Our school is high and dry, but this home is just a kilometer south of the school

The BLOG post shows the students in our class at work:

8.  PERSUASIVE LETTER WRITING TO SUPPORT A LOCAL TURTLE HOSPITAL

This year we are writing persuasive letters to companies, encouraging them to support the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. The center, which is located in Peterborough, is currently the only rehabilitation center for turtles in Ontario. Each year, they treat over 1,000 injured turtles.

kttc-logohttp://www.kawarthaturtle.org

These BLOG posts describe our letter writing process and show the finished products:

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Watch this BLOG for further updates on our exciting new community service projects in the 2013-14 school year!

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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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.

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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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