High school student ambassadors from Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) recently visited Rama Central P.S. and ran a workshop geared at helping our class identify its next outreach project.

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The workshop began by inviting students to share their thoughts and feelings about images depicting cultural, economic, environmental and social issues.

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Next, students were each given a photograph and asked to identify which category or categories of need the picture addressed.

IMG_1002 IMG_1003 IMG_1005Once students had been exposed to some outreach categories and ideas, they worked in small groups to brainstorm project ideas for our class.

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IMG_1013Then, each group chose its favourite idea and had a repesentative of the group present it to the class.

IMG_1020 IMG_1021The class was then given an opportunity to vote, to narrow down the choices. After two rounds of voting, we had a two-way tie. We decided that helping the turtles could be the focus of our persuasive letter writing unit, so the rest of the workshop was focused on developing the idea "helping the homeless."

IMG_1022The LSF team helped the class more clearly define their project, which will include knitting, a winter clothing drive, and a food drive for Sharing Place food bank.

Once the scope of the project had been determined, the LSF ambassadors entered the project into the "Our Canada Project" database, where others can view it. We will add photographs and more details to our online project listing, as they become available.

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knittingdrive-screencaphttp://ourcanadaproject.ca/place/the-epic-knitty-bitty-clothing-drive-2/

We want to thank the student ambassadors for coming to our class. We had a great time, and learned a lot about outreach projects and how to organize them!

In a future blog post, we will show our class working toward making their new outreach project a reality.

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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.

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Habitat-for-Hunanity-Canada-300x211For the second year in a row, the Grade 4-6 students at our school participated in a national writing contest in support of Habitat for Humanity. Students authored 50-300 word essays explaining what "home" means to them.

The contest involved the usual incentives and prizes for students, but the best part was that builder Genworth Canada pledged to donate $5.00 to Habitat for Humanity Canada for every contest entry that was received.

Students in our class completed their writing just prior to Thanksgiving weekend... a perfect time to reflect upon thoughts and feelings about home.

Students were required to get parental permission in order to enter the contest. We set a class goal of having 80% of permission slips returned, and we met our goal. At the time this BLOG post was written, we had received 20 permission forms back, meaning our class' writing efforts generated $100.00 in donations for Habitat for Humanity!  

moh_sitelogo_enThese are samples of some of the reflections that our class entered into the contest:

A.M.:
Home is a place to be thankful. Home is a place to feel safe and loved. Home is where you are happy and you are always welcome. Home is special to me because it is where all my memories are made. Home is where my brother and I can play. Home is my favourite place to be. Home is where I can be family. Home is where I can go swimming with my Dad, Mom and my brother. Home is where I am sad and happy. Home is where I can go for bike rides and boat rides. Home is a place that I love because I have a warm place to sleep and I have a roof over my head. I am very lucky to have a family, a house and warmth. That is what home means to me!

A.P.:
Home is a place where you feel good. Home is a place where you are safe. Home is a place where you spend weekends together. Home is a place to make happy thoughts. It is a place to have fun, a place to be thankful, so don't complain because you might not always have one.

Z.M.:
Home is where the heart is. Home is where my family is, not just a house. It is where I can rest and sometimes study for a test. My home is the best. I can eat. It is where there is heat... not just heat from the heater, but heat from my family's hearts. Home is like the colour chrome, so grand. Home is where I am so thankful for a roof over my head, and food on the table, and some cable for the TV, with maple trees and pine trees in the Canadian Shield. Home is where the heart says, "Yes, this is where I belong."

W.C.:
Home is not just a roof over my head and some walls. It's where love fills the air, not hate. It's where people won't hurt me. I don't have to worry. I feel safe because when I fall someone is there to pick me up. When I am sick Mom, Dad and Grandma will take care of me. Memories are made with joy. It is where I learned to walk It's where I said my first word. It is where I am always happy, never sad. Home is where I learned to farm . It was where I got my first dog. That's what home means to me.

B.L.:
Home is a place where you keep warm and stay safe. It keeps you dry when it's raining. When you get home your family is there. Home is a place to cry and be happy. A home can be a condo, apartment, shed or a hole, a burrow or anything, as long as you have your family spirit it is your home.

B.T.:
Home is a place where you can play safely without any worries of anything happening. You can stay under a roof, eat food and sleep in a bed. Home is where you can have fun with your friends and home is always warm and cozy... The feeling of home is so nice, the smell, the taste, is just amazing. Not all people in the world have a home. They make shelter in the cracks between buildings, having little food or water each day. I think anything and everything should have a home. A home could be a hole for a fox, a hive for a bee, a rug for a bug, but in the end they're all still homes. That's what home means to me.

M.M.:
A home is not a house, a house is just a building. A home is where you feel safe, loved and happy. Some people live in a shack, house, apartment, mansion or duplex. You could live in a city, country or in the maintains. It doesn't matter where you live, but it's good to have a roof over your head. Home is where I feel safe. Home is where I can cry Home is a place where I can be loved. If I have a bad bad day it feels good to come home. When I go to bed it will be a new day tomorrow. When it's storming, it's good to have a family and a roof over your head. When it's stormy I like to get a blanket and watch a movie with my family. I am doing this to raise money for the homeless I don't care about pizza parties and that other stuff! I just care about helping the homeless. To me, home is the best place in the world. I'm thankful for having a family and a roof over my head.

C.B.:
Home is a place where I feel safe and warm. Home is a place where I an come home from school and be happy. Home is a place where you can cry when you're sad. Home is a place where you can laugh and play. We are lucky that we have a home, because some people don't have a home or a house.

J.S.:
I love that my parents are at home. I sleep, play and watch TV there. I feel safe at home. It doesn't matter where you live... in a cave, a bat, apartment or hotel. If I won a lottery I would give it to people that don't have a home.

R.P.:
A home is where your mom and dad make you happy. If you are sad, they are always there for a hug. They are always there for you, no matter what happens at your home. A home isn't just a building, it's a place to be loved and cared for. A home is where you can stay safe and warm. That is what home means to me!

K.P.:
The meaning of home is where you stay, where you sleep and where your journey never ends! Also, it's where your love is. Home is where you do your happy things in life. A home could be an apartment, a condo, it could be anything. Home is a place where you have fun memories. Holidays with your grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, dogs and cats. Home is a place where you stay warm, where you have fun, playful memories, where you have your first steps, and your first time stepping out into the world. That is the meaning of home, to me.

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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.

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On Friday, October 16th, students in our class celebrated their hard work organizing and participating in this year's "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife" with a class party.

Our friend and Rama Central P.S. neighbour, Laura Gallagher, offered to help us celebrate by bringing several of the non-releasable rescue animals from her company, Speaking of Willdlife, for a classroom visit!  Laura and her associate Krystal Hewitt taught us about five different species of Ontario wildlife, including two that eat the kinds of food we collected during the food drive.

Here are some images from a most remarkable afternoon:

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This cutie is a baby Norway Rat, named Ratagen. She was found in front of someone's garage at a very young age and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Unfortunately she became too habituated to humans and could not be released.

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Meet "Luna," the Saw Whet Owl that appeared in Telus advertisements a few years ago. She was found in someone's backyard, with a wing injury, and taken to a wildlife rehabilation centre for treatment. Unfortunately, Luna's injury left her with a permanent disability that prevented her from flying well enough to survive in the wild.

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This is Hawthorne, a six month old porcupine. He was born in captivity so, in accordance with Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) regulations, he could not be released into the wild.

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This is a Bobwhite Quail named Virginia. She was found in a snowbank in Quebec and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Bobwhites are not native to Quebec, and no one knew where Virginia came from, so she was sent to live at Speaking of Wildlife. Bobwhites are critically endangered in Ontario, with only about 100 individuals still living in the wild. Experts believe the ice storms in 1997 decimated the Ontario Bobwhite population and they have been unable to make a comeback.

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Last, but not least, meet "Petunia" the skunk. Petunia was dropped off at a wildlife rehabilitation centre at night. There was very little information left with her. The rehabilitation centre couldn't determine Petunia's point of origin and her friendliness made it apparent that she had been living in someone's house. These two factors made Petunia non-releasable.

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Students contributed an amazing array of snacks for our party:

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... and Mrs. Black had Mariposa Market create this awesome cake for us:

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We want to sincerely thank Laura, Krystal and their wildlife ambassadors for coming to class today!  Their visit MADE our party, and will be fondly remembered by all of us for years to come!!  :-)

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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 year's food drive for orphaned wildlife enabled students at our school to help four local wildlife rehabilitation centres stock up on natural foods for their overwintering patients. This year, the sanctuaries received additional food contributions from students in four other schools, who were inspired by our food drive.

During Week 1, we collected for Procyon Wildife, in Beeton. Prior to their food delivery, our class enjoyed a wonderful opportunity to Skype with the centre's director. She spent 45 minutes giving us a virtual tour of the the nursery and a couple of outdoor enclosures, via Skype on her phone, and answered a myriad of questions from students.

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The day our delivery to Beeton was to take place, we used math to estimate the number of items we had collected for them. This is Beeton's "food order":

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We started by using a kitchen scale and counting to determine the number of acorns in a half kilogram (165). Then we doubled number to estimate how many acorns were in a kilogram (330).

IMG_0561IMG_0562Then we used a bathroom scale to determine how much each box of acorns weighed. This involved weighing a student, with and without a box in his arms, and then subtracting his weight. We also had to convert the weight from pounds to kilograms, and subtract one kilogram to account for the weight of the box itself.

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Here are our calculations for acorns:

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We had four boxes of pine cones that were the same size. To estimate how many pine cones we were shipping altogether, we counted the number of pine cones in one box, and then multiplied by four.

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For apples, we counted how many we could see in the top layer of the box, estimated how many "rows" of apples the box held, and then multiplied to estimate how many apples were in the box.

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The number of maple keys was estimated using the kitchen scale. We determined how many keys were in 50 grams, created similar sized piles, and then used multiplication to glean a number estimate.

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IMG_0581 IMG_0578Here are our estimated totals for Procyon Wildlife's food delivery:

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Students in our class transported the food to Mrs. Black's car and loaded it for her.

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The volunteers that run the wildlife rehabilitation centre in Beeton were thrilled to receive the food we had collected for their overwintering animals.

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After we dropped our food off in Beeton, a school in Alliston topped up Procyon Wildlife with additional food for the winter.  :-)

During Week 2 of the food drive, students collected, tallied and loaded food for Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge. Mrs. Black picked up a big sack of acorns from a school in Orillia, which brought our estimated totals for this delivery to: 9,000 acorns, 1,000 pine cones and 400 apples.

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She then delivered everything to the sanctuary, which is in Pefferlaw.

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During Week 3 of our food drive, we collected for Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary in Minden. Their delivery included approximately 2,300 acorns, 2,000 pine cones and 700 apples, plus a small box of ash keys, a small box of chestnuts and a box of sumac.

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During the fourth week of our food drive, we accepted donations for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau. We received help from a family and two schools in Barrie. They sent us the following food items, for Aspen Valley:

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We merged the food from Barrie with the food we collected. In total, Aspen Valley received approximately 3,500 acorns, 4,000 pine cones and 1,000 apples.

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Aspen-DeliveryThe sanctuaries sent us a few pictures of animals in their care enjoying the fruits of our labour:

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The wildlife food drive continues to grow in size and popularity. We started out with one school (ours) contributing food to two wildlife sanctuaries. In year three, we had students in five schools supporting the work of four wildlife sanctuaries! A sincere thank you goes out to everyone who helped with this year's food drive. We'll see you again next year!

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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Nelson Educational Publishing is in the process of creating new Social Studies resources for teachers and students. These resources align with the 2013 revised Ontario Social Studies Curriculum and, when complete, will include teacher's guides, student books, activity cards and online resources.

Nelson-headerhttp://www.nelson.com/nelsonsocialstudies/

In their sample student pages, this is how Nelson Publishing explains the purpose of Grade 3 Social Studies:

nelson-whySSThe student book also includes a section on environmental stewardship:

NelsonSS-sampleissueAfter viewing our school's "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife," on the Our Canada Project website, Nelson Publishing contacted Mrs. Black to ask for permission to use the food drive as the basis for one of their Grade 3 Social Studies activity cards!

This is the card layout:

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We want to thank Nelson Publishing for catching a vision for our Wildlife Food Drive! We are thrilled that other teachers and students will be learning about the meaningful contribution children can make, by collecting natural foods to support orphaned and injured animals at local wildlife rehabilitation centres!!

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.

Our school's "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife" has been selected as one of eight projects from across Canada to be recognized with the Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability. We couldn't be prouder of our students!
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The decision was made in June. Results were made public in early October.

Here is the page, on the Learning for a Sustainable Future site, announcing award winners:

LSF-announcementpageThis is the description of our project on the "Our Canada" website, which showcases projects that were considered for the Jack Layton award:

our-canadaAnd this is the PowerPoint presentation we entered, describing our project and its curriculum connections:

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November 30th, 2015:  Exciting news!  Our "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife" has received a second award. Click here to read about our LFS-RBC Our Canada Project Award!

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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 Opens in a new window or to add a comment to this page.

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Each year, our class engages in a variety of projects that fulfill curriculum expectations, while providing outreach that benefits the school, community and beyond.

Our first community service project is a campaign to assist four local wildlife rehabilitation centres with food gathering for orphaned wildlife that will be overwintering with them.

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Orphaned animals need to be provided with the food they will eat in the wild, to ensure proper nutrition and so they know what to look for after they are released.

The goals of our project are:

  • to encourage students from Kindergarten through Grade 8, plus school staff, to collect acorns, pine cones, maple keys, apples, sumac, chestnuts and black walnuts for the animals
  • to inventory the food we collected
  • to prepare food for shipment to local wildlife rehabilitation centres

Our food contributions will go a long way toward sustaining and educating baby animals throughout the winter months. These are pictures that were sent to us last year, showing orphaned animals enjoying the fruits of our labours:

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AV-raccoons-acornsSOH-squirrelWoodlands-buffet-for-fawnsThis week, students in our class created a mural, posters and announcements, advertising  Rama Central's third annual food drive for orphaned wildlife (media literacy, art, writing).

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Students distributed our posters throughout the school:

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They counted, bundled and delivered flyers, for students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to share with their parents (addition):

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We worked together as a class to write the script for an oral presentation about the food drive (shared writing), and then a group of seven students toured the school and delivered our presentation to all classes, from Kindergarten through Grade 8 (oral language, public speaking). Throughout the food drive, students from our class will also deliver messages and reminders via the morning announcements (oral language, public speaking).

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Each morning over the next three weeks, students from our class will collect food donations from children as they exit their school buses (volunteer service).

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This year, we are thanking students who donate food by inviting them to enter their names in a lucky draw.

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Each week we will be giving away a set of these fabulous prizes. We want to thank the wildlife sanctuaries for donating items for our lucky draw!

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At the end of each week, our class will sort, weigh, and count or estimate the number of items we have collected (measurement, addition, subtraction, multiplication, estimation), package the food for shipment, and load cartons of food into Mrs. Black's car (volunteer service). She will then drive the food to its destination.

Last fall, Mrs. Black delivered four car loads of food to various wildlife sanctuaries. This is what a typical shipment of food looked like:

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This year's tentative delivery schedule is as follows:

  • Procyon Wildlife, in Beeton:  weekend of Sept. 26-27
  • Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw:  weekend of October 3-4
  • Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden:  weekend of October 10-12
  • Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau:  weekend of October 17-18

This PowerPoint presentation, which showcases our 2014 campaign, provides more detail about the curriculum connections and activities associated with the food drive (click on the image below and the PowerPoint will download to your computer):

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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.

My students know me not only as a teacher, but also as a wildlife rescuer and volunteer with three local wildlife rehabilitation centres. By word and example, I have taught my students to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to help others. Consequently, it was no surprise when two of my Grade 4 girls came into class, last Thursday, with a ladybug they found in the school and wanted to rescue. I sent the girls to see the caretaker (another animal lover) and he found them a small box in which they could house the ladybug. The girls painstakingly cared for "Lady" all day Thursday and all day Friday.

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When it was time to leave for March Break, the girls asked me foster this tiny life they cared so much about. I accepted the responsibility and decided to document everything for them.

When I arrived home last Friday night, I researched how best to care for Lady.  I learned that she would benefit from a humid environment with soil and some greenery or bark to hide under. Lady would drink via a water-soaked cotton ball, and could be fed a re-hydrated raisin with a drop of honey on it (in lieu of aphids). Here is Lady in her new and improved habitat. I drilled tiny ventilation holes into the container's lid. 

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I checked on Lady daily, and changed her food and cotton ball every other day.

Saturday - Day 3:

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 Sunday - Day 4:

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 Monday - Day 5:

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 Tuesday - Day 6:

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 Wednesday - Day 7, morning, eating a raisin:

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Yesterday (Wednesday), I had a meeting at the wildlife rehabilitation centre in Pefferlaw. All creatures, great and small, are welcome at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, so took Lady with me.

Lady, her raisins, honey and a donation, ready to travel to Pefferlaw:

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 Wednesday - Day 7, afternoon, at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge:

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Refuge owner Gail was expecting Lady, and had a terrarium ready for her arrival:

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Lady is by far the tiniest creature undergoing rehabilitation at Shades of Hope. She is sharing a building with an injured mouse, two turtles, twenty sleeping bats, a blue jay, a rabbit, an owl, a porcupine and a swan.

Lady (left), with her neighbours the turtles and the mouse:

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Thursday - Day 8,
update and photo from Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge,
"Lady is getting adventurous!"

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Friday - Day 9,
Shades of Hope shared Lady's story on their Facebook page
and she received 91 likes in 24 hours!

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In the spring, Lady will be released on the refuge property, to continue her life as a wild creature in the company of her own kind.

The adults who assisted Lady want to commend the students who rescued her for demonstrating such kindness toward another living being!  :-)  I would further like to thank Gail Lenters, at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, in Pefferlaw, for agreeing to care for Lady until it is warm enough for a release.

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UPDATE: April 11, 2015 (one month after rescue)... Lady is still alive and well, in the barn at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge! Thank you to Gail Lenters for sending us this photo:

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UPDATE: April 15, 2015. Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge posted this video on their Facebook page:

THIS IS FOR YOU RAMA KIDS!!

Remember "Lady" from our post on March 19th? She was rescued by the Grade 4/5 kids at Rama Central Public School and brought lovingly to SOH for care. Lady is now FREE!! She lived in the Rehab for several weeks but as the Spring sun began to warm everything up ... lady bug friends started to appear and it was time for her to go! She was very hesitant at first ... as you can see!!

She is a Happy Lady!
Thank you RAMA KIDS!!
(Sorry for the poor video quality ... such tiny releases are not easy to capture!)

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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.

 

A week and a half ago, I attended a two-day workshop in Toronto, entitled, "Making Authentic Inquiry Work!" This was my fourth workshop, hosted by Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF).

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The workshop cleared up some misconceptions about inquiry-based learning, provided a flexible model around which teachers can plan inquiry projects and gave us time to share ideas.

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At the end of the second day, I was invited to make a presentation to the group; to share the outreach-based learning projects in which our class has engaged this school year.  I used this blog as the basis for my presentation.

After the workshop, I received a follow-up e-mail from the organizers, inviting me to author a brief paper or Power Point presentation explaining in detail the theory and practice behind one of our wildlife centre outreach projects. The organizers would like to share this information with other workshop participants.  I will work on this presentation over March Break.

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to make a return trip to Lakehead University Teacher's College, Orillia campus, to make similar presentations to three classes of teacher candidates.  Today was the day!

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Following one of my presentations, teacher candidates were given time to work in groups, brainstorming and sharing curriculum-based outreach project ideas.

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Here are the great project and project-partner ideas generated by "Cohort A" (click on any photo to enlarge it):

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I have been absolutely sold on the idea of outreach-based learning since my class and I first began to explore this concept, three years ago. I'm very excited to see other teachers now taking an interest in connecting classroom learning to outreach. Such projects teach curriculum and build learning skills, are highly engaging and empowering for students, and help others in the school community and beyond. Learning doesn't get much better than that!  :-)

Margaret Black
Grade 4/5 Teacher
Rama Central P.S.

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RESOURCE LINKS

My class' previous wildlife and Yukon Quest tracking project resources, etc. can be accessed here: http://www.blackdeer.ca/index.html#Teaching

This page contains a number of links to Project-based Learning resources: https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/free-project-based-learning-resources-that-will-place-students-at-the-center-of-learning/

There is an free, online Project-based Learning course available at this link:  http://www.intel.com/education/video/pbl/content.htm

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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 this project, Science meets Media Literacy and Community Service!

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In December, Mrs. Black was approached by Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary about assisting with the creation of some educational presentations they could use in schools and summer camps. Over the holidays, she went to Woodlands and met with the founder and a board member. Mrs. Black, Ms. Melichar and Mr. Smith reviewed the Ontario Science curriculum expectations for Grades 1-8 and created a framework for presentations. They decided that it would be fun to include some sort of food web type game in presentations for Grade 4-6 students, and Mrs. Black thought of a way to involve our class in game development.

Grade 1 and 2 students need to learn about animals as part of their Science program, and so do Grade 4 students. Mrs. Black met with the Grade 1/2 Science teachers at our school, to find out when their animal units were scheduled, and to ask if they would be interested in having our Grade 4 and 5 students develop games for younger children, to teach them about animals. Everyone thought this was a fun idea.

Educational game creation fulfills Grade 4 expectations in Science (habitats and communities) and Grade 4 and 5 expectations in Media Literacy (create media texts for a specific purpose and audience).  We developed the following success criteria for our project:

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Here are student groups completing animal research, working on rough drafts of games and receiving peer feedback, in writing, to ensure that they covered the success criteria:

These photographs show students testing each others' finished games:

NEXT STEPS:

  • Mrs. Black will take our research notes and the games we created to her next meeting at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. The adults will use our work to help them develop a game for Grade 4-6 students, to use as part of a school or camp presentation. 
  • When the Grade 1/2 students at our school study animals (in May) we will teach them how to play our games, to help them learn what they need to know about animals. We will also be their mentors during some outdoor "field work" sessions on the schoolyard.

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.