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This morning, Simcoe County educator and First Nations elder Roseanne Irving visited Rama Central and conducted a circle with students in the Junior Division. She conducted a smudging ceremony, provided an opportunity for sharing and taught us about some First Nations medicines.

Here are some images from this morning's circle:

We want to thank Mr. Fitzgerald for arranging this visit, and Ms. Irving for coming to the school to help us celebrate Aboriginal Day!


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

Rama Central's Grade 5 students recently had the privilege of attending a "Youth Teaching Youth" First Nations event on the Rama Reserve.  Grade 5 and 7 students, plus teachers from Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin Elementary School and community elders, shared their cultural and environmental teachings with us.

The day began with an opening circle, which included a smudging ceremony:

Following our opening circle, students attended an Ojibwa class:

... and a craft class:

Next, our hosts treated us to a traditional First Nations lunch, consisting of a delicious stew, fried biscuits, cedar tea, and strawberry shortcake.

After lunch, we attended a gym class, featuring traditional First Nations games:

Our day closed with a visit from a jingle dancer, from the community. She shared stories and danced, and then several boys from Mnjikaning-Kendaaswin school sang and drummed for us:

These are notes of thanks written by students in our class, after we returned from the Youth Teaching Youth event:

Thank you for this amazing day. It was so cool. I loved the food and really everyone was nice.  EH

Thanks for arranging this day. It was so fun. The one thing that surprised me was the arrow catapult. It was hard but really fun, and lunch was delicious. My class and I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about First Nations. Thanks again.  JH

I had a lot of fun and met a new friend named Emmet!  KL

I had lots of fun today. The students and staff at the First Nations school were very kind and awesome. My favourite parts were the probability game with Mr. Snache and the jingle dance. Thank you for inviting us. SM

Thank you for letting us come to your school. My favourite part was everything, because it was all fun!  PL

Thank you for arranging the trip for my class. I had lots of fun, especially the arrow thing. Thank you. AT

Thank you so much for teaching me all of the cool stuff.  MB

My favourite part of the day was meeting a new friend named Lily. She was funny!  SW

Our day was very fun. I liked the circle (outside) and all of the inside activities.  PD

What a super-fun day!  Thank you.  AK

Today I had lots of fun because of all the art and dancing.  EG

I learned a lot about the three sisters and water. Thank you for a wonderful day!  AR

Thank you for arranging this day. My favourite part was painting rocks and hanging out with my friends. I really want to go to your school, not because my friends are there, just because your school is AWESOME!  EC


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


From February through April, our class had the privilege of hosting a teacher-candidate from Lakehead University's Faculty of Education.

Miss Whipp, who is in the first year of the two-year teacher's college program, spent five Wednesdays observing in our classroom, and then five full weeks observing, co-planning and co-teaching. Miss Whipp started off her five week block teaching one subject. By Week 5 she was teaching almost full-time, in consultation with Mrs. Black.

Here are some pictures of Miss Whipp's time with us:














This afternoon we threw a farewell party for Miss Whipp.  A good time was had by all!

We want to thank Miss Whipp for inspiring us to learn, with her creative and fun lessons.  We loved having her in our class and we are going to miss her!!


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


Today, our class enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Springwater Provincial Park, learning how to locate water, build an emergency shelter and start a fire, using traditional First Nations methods.

Our instructor was park manager and Beausoleil First Nations elder Jeff Monague, who infused his teachings with the principles of taking only what is needed from the land, demonstrating respect for living beings and showing gratitude for nature's provisions. Mr. Monague also gave us advice about animal encounters and taught us several Ojibwa words

We want to thank Mr. Monague for his thoroughly engaging and very practical workshop. We are confident that if students in our class were ever lost in the woods they would be able to find water and build emergency shelters. (Fire-building might take a bit more practice!)


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

During recent Social Studies and Literacy periods, our class participated in an island survivor simulation. The exercise was designed to introduce the concept of government, stretch students’ ability to work collaboratively in assigned groups and provide opportunities for students to engage in role play and oral discussions.

This is the basic outline of the project (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)



within their small groups, students began brainstorming a list of all the things they might be able to do with the items that were salvaged from the plane.



Groups began work on survival plans and land use maps of their islands. Then they were told they had been rescued and needed to prepare a presentation for the press.



Groups presented their survival plans at a press conference. When students were not part of a particular presentation, they became members of the press gallery. Ten members of the press rated each group's chance of survival, based on the plans they shared. Mrs. Black assessed the drama aspect of the project, based on how well each student acted his/her roles and listened during other groups' presentations.

This gentleman took his role very seriously, making his hair appear as if he'd been out in the wilderness for months!  🙂



These are the scores the press gallery gave each group's overall survival plan, based on their performance at the press conference:

  • Nunavut:  65%
  • British Columbia:  56%
  • Ontario:  53%
  • Newfoundland:  36%

The press gallery was also asked to rate the odds of each group surviving a winter in the wilderness, based on the survival plans they presented. These are the class' estimates:

  • Nunavut:  64% chance of survival
  • Ontario:  55% chance of survival
  • British Columbia:  48% chance of survival
  • Newfoundland:  26% chance of survival

Congratulations to the survivors who crash landed near Graham Island, Norwegian Bay, Nunavut! You are the winners of Island Survivor 2017!!

Island Survivor was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for most students in the class; a frustrating one for a few. While groups were meeting to brainstorm ideas and achieve consensus about their survival plans, Mrs. Black circulated. She stepped in and facilitated whenever personality clashes or inexperience with consensus-building created an impasse. She hopes the one-on-one and small group coaching that transpired during this activity will provide students with some new tools and strategies they can employ next time they are collaborating with others on a project.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


In March and April, we had the pleasure of hosting Lakehead University Faculty of Education teacher-candidate Amanda Medeiros in our class. "Miss M." observed Mrs. Black during her first week with us, and then started taught the class in weeks 2-5, starting with Math and DPA and adding one or two subjects each week.

Here are some pictures of Miss M. in action!


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As of today (Tuesday, April 26th), Miss M. has fulfilled all of the requirements for her B.A. and B.Ed. degrees!  We threw her a party, to celebrate!!


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IMG_3695IMG_3684We loved having Miss M. in our class, and wish her all the best in her future as an educator!  🙂


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


Last week, during Literacy and Social Studies periods, our class participated in an ice storm survivor simulation. The exercise was designed to consolidate learning in Social Studies and Science, while stretching students’ ability to work collaboratively in assigned groups, and providing them with an opportunity to engage in role play.


Students were placed in "cabin groups" of four to six. They were asked to imagine what they would do if we were on an overnight school ski trip and, in the morning, they woke up to find themselves isolated, with their cabin power out and a freezing rain storm raging outside. Each cabin group was provided with a list of items they could use to help themselves keep warm, hydrated and fed for several days, and asked to create a plan that included a decision-making structure, rules, and strategies to ensure their survival while creating as little damage to the cabin and property as possible.


These were their imaginary cabins:

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During the game, a few curves were thrown at each group. They were asked to choose from a deck of "calamity cards" that listed injuries and illnesses, accidental loss of tools or loss of food for which they needed to compensate with their plans. Then, "life imitated art" when Mother Nature dropped a major ice storm on Central Ontario... an ice storm that caused power outages, the cancellation of school buses, and delayed the completion of our ice storm survivor game!  🙂

These are pictures Mrs. Black took near her home, during the "real" ice storm:



This map depicts extensive power outages, south of Barrie, the day after the ice storm:


Once we were able to return to school, we shared our real-life ice storm experiences, and then continued with planning and problem-solving related to our fictional ice storm game:

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These are the maps that groups drew of their cabins and surroundings:

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After student groups were "rescued," they were invited to share their survival plans and experiences at "press conferences":
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"Life imitated art" a second time when this student, who was assessed as having a fictional hand injury during the game, later sustained a real-life hand injury (she's going to be fine!):



Students in our class served as members of the press gallery, when they were not busy presenting. Members of the press gallery posed questions in the role of reporters, and evaluated group presentations and chances of survival.


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Students critiqued their collegues' chances of surviving more than a week on their own, based on the plans they presented:

  • Jesse:  52% chance of survival
  • Girl's Weekend Cabin and Ice Warriors:  54% chance of survival
  • Kiki-waka: 56% chance of survival
  • Ice Gladers: 64% chance of survival
  • Ice Crew: 70% chance of survival

Congratulations to The Ice Crew, winner of this year's Ice Storm Survival Competition!

IMG_3329"Ice Storm Survivor" was a fun, interactive team-building activity that helped students learn to cooperate, collaborate and seek consensus, while role playing themselves in a survival situation. Through our sharing of real and imagined ice storm strategies and experiences, students also took away some practical power outage preparedness ideas to share with their families, making "ice storm survivor" a valuable experience on several levels!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.



Norval Morriseau was a First Nations artist from Ontario, who passed away in 2007. Nicknamed "The Picasso of the North," he created works that depicted the legends and stories of his people. Mr. Norval's work is characterized by black outlines, bright colours, and pictures within pictures. Students in our class studied a number of Norval Morriseau's paintings, and then created original pieces of art that emulated his style.



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IMG_1536IMG_1534 IMG_1533 IMG_1532 IMG_1531The finished products are beautiful!



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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): or to add a comment to this page.

This week, we had the privilege of visiting Springwater Provincial Park and the Simcoe County Museum, in Midhurst, to participate in two different learning experiences related to the Grade 5 Social Studies unit "First Nations & Europeans in New France and Early Canada."


Springwater Park is now being managed by the Beausoleoil First Nation, under a contract agreement with Ontario Parks. Park manager and educator, Jeff Monague, took us on a "medicine walk" in the park. He showed us a variety of tree species, and told us about their medicinal value in First Nations culture.

For example:

If you are lost in the woods and in desperate need of water, you will find it about a foot under the soil beneath a cedar tree. Cedar is very high in vitamin C and a good source of stress relief. You can use it to make tea. If you put a piece of cedar in your shoe, it will bring good luck.


The little wisps of bark curling away from the trunk of a paper birch tree can be used to start a fire. The sap of this tree can be turned into cough medicine or a fine glue. Birch can also be used to make canoes.


The beech tree provides nutritious nuts that are edible by humans and other animals, such as bears and chipmunks. They are a good source of calcium. If you crush the leaves from a beech tree, you can use the powder as a disinfectant.


The sap of the White Pine is flammable and can be used in torches. It can also be used as a glue. The tree in the photo is about 50 years old.


The stem from the leaf of the poplar (or willow) tree has the same ingredients as in aspirin. If you put a piece of stem under your tongue, it will cure a headache.


Sugar Maple trees produce sap that can be cooked into maple syrup and sugar. Hardwood trees like the maple burn for a very long time.


After our medicine walk, we enjoyed a visit to "the climbing tree" at Springwater Park, and then ate lunch in the pavilion.


Next, the school bus took us to the Simcoe County Museum for an afternoon program about The Wendat and early explorers.

The museum features a miniature replica of a Wendat longhouse...


... and a full sized cedar strip canoe.

IMG_0036The presenter shared some information about Wendat culture, as it was several hundred years ago. She told us about early explorers and fur traders, and their interaction with the Wendat people. She explained that the Europeans called the Wendat "Hurons," and she told us a Wendat story about why the bear lost his tail.

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Next, the presenter took us to the classroom, where students made Okie's out of clay, learned how to grind corn with rocks and played some Wendat games.


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The last part of our day at the museum was spent outside, learning how to throw and catch balls with Lacrosse sticks. Lacrosse was invented by the Wendat. It is Canada's national sport!IMG_0078 IMG_0079 IMG_0080 IMG_0081 IMG_0084

We had a great day learning about First Nations culture at Springwater Park and the Simcoe County Museum!

We'd like to thank the Moms who accompanied us on the trip for their assistance!


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

IMG_0902We studied our Grade 5 Social Studies unit about government in September and the first half of October, during the run up to the federal election. As part of the unit, students learned about the campaign platforms of the four main federal parties, and decided what party's ideals most closely aligned with their own.

On October 14th, Grade 5-7 students at our school were given an opportunity to participate in a nation-wide student vote. Our polling station was run by Mr. Volgmann and several Grade 8 students. The ballots we used closely resembled the ones parents would be given, and listed all of our local candidates and their party affilations.

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IMG_0889 IMG_0890After our student poll had closed, Mr. Volgmann and the Grade 8 students counted the votes for each local candidate:

IMG_0896We then submitted our school results, so they could be tallied along with over 900,000 other student votes from across the country.

These are our school results (Grades 5-7 voting):


Bruce Stanton — Conservative Party of Canada = 21  (30%)
Liz Riley — Liberal Party of Canada = 18  (25%)
Peter Stubbins — Green Party of Canada = 17  (24%)
Richard Banigan — New Democratic Party = 13  (18%)
Other = 2  (3%)

And these are the adult voting results for our riding:

Bruce Stanton — Conservative Party of Canada = 24,810  (44%)
Liz Riley — Liberal Party of Canada = 22,714  (40%)
Richard Banigan — New Democratic Party = 6,030  (11%)
Peter Stubbins — Green Party of Canada = 2,537  (4%)

Other =  944  (1%)

Click on the photo below to see Peter Mansbridge's comparison of nationwide results from Student Vote 2015 and the 2015 General Election:


We want to thank our librarian, Mr. Volgmann, and the Grade 8 students for running our school's polling station. Student Vote added a fun and exciting element to our study of government.


November 4, 2015:  Today we invited the Grade 4 class to join us, as we watched a live stream of the our new Prime MInister's swearing in ceremony.



Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

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