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Text by Megan C. and photos by Jaime C.

This fall, the Grade 5 Science topic is Human Organ Systems and the Grade 5 Social Studies topic is Government.  Our teacher for Science and Social Studies is Mrs. Park.

On our first day with Mrs. Park, we played a fun language game.  Megan went up in front of the class and Jaime picked a topic.  The topic was cookies.  Megan had to talk about cookies without saying "um" or "hmm."  She went on for two minutes.

Right now, in Science, we have a sheet so we write down what time we went to bed and what we have for breakfast, lunch and supper.  In Social Studies we are learning about different kinds of governments.

Here are some pictures of us working on Science and Social Studies in Mrs. Park's room:

Click on the pictures above to enlarge them.

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

This year, the Grade 6 students at Rama Central P.S. are teaming up with the Grade 1 students in Mrs. Turnbull's class for some outdoor learning activities.  We met for the first time today, to study the Characteristics and Needs of Living Things (Grade 1) and Biodiversity (Grade 6) that exists in our schoolyard.  The Grade 6 class supplied several bins of equipment and field guides, to facilitate our outdoor survey.

Grade 6 students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be mentors and helpers to their Grade 1 partners.  Partnering with older students allowed Grade 1 students to explore the yard in a more extensive manner than they would have been able to do on their own.  During our field session, students made notes and collected specimens (which were later returned to the places where they were captured).

When we met back together as a large group, we brainstormed words that student pairs felt answered the question "What is Nature?"  We also formed a circle and passed around all the bug keepers, so everyone could see the amazing variety of worms, insects and spiders, etc., that were found on our yard.

We plan to get together with our Grade 1 Science Buddies a few more times during September and October.  We also hope to work together on an outreach project that will help support the native wildlife in our area.  Stay tuned for more info. in a few weeks...  🙂

Today's outdoor session was Lesson A in The David Suzuki Foundation's publication, "Connecting with Nature:  An educational guide for grades four to six," which is keyed to the Ontario Science Curriculum.  This document can be downloaded for free at:

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

Week One is now behind us and we are off to a great start!  We spent much of our first four days reviewing Literacy and Math concepts, getting acquainted and team-building.  We also reviewed school rules, and established classroom rules and routines that will foster comfort and productivity.


The class has created a "Community Agreement" (list of good behaviour principles) using the character traits listed on a Restorative Practices poster that the Simcoe County District School Board provided.  Students then drew from their Community Agreement to create a short list of "The Big Five" rules for classroom behaviour.  When solving conflicts or dealing with habitual or major misbehaviours, we will use the poster to identify:

  • what happened and why
  • how the behaviours of particular students affected others
  • what can be done to make amends
  • what can be learned from the incident(s)
  • which areas of character education may need further reinforcement

If you click on the Community Agreement poster, you can see an enlarged version of it.

Other tools that we use in our classroom to encourage good behaviour are explained in last year's "Open House" BLOG post:


The following is an example of one of this week's fun (and frustrating) cooperative learning activities.

Students were placed in random groups of four and given 15 minutes to build the tallest freestanding tower possible, using only uncooked spaghetti noodles and miniature marshmallows.

They soon discovered that the task was not as easy as it sounded, with spaghetti noodles snapping easily and pliable marshmallows not holding the structures in a very secure manner.

In the end, a few groups were able to build a structure that could support itself, but the greater lessons learned from this exercise were about the challenges of working collaboratively toward a common goal.  During our debrief, one student said, "I think I should have listened more to the members of my group.  I thought I had a great idea, and wouldn't listen to them until my idea didn't work."  Another said, "I knew that triangles were the strongest shape, but no one in my group would let me speak."  One group found that whenever they reached near consensus about a design idea, a lone dissenter would usually opt out and refuse to help.  These are great observations about potential pitfalls that students need to avoid when working in teams to fulfill academic goals.

Here are a few pictures of the spaghetti tower-building activity:

This is the tallest freestanding tower that was created.  It measured 42 cm in height.  Congratulations to David, Eric, Jillian and Pyper!

You can find the instructions for the spaghetti tower activity here:

If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to our BLOG updates by e-mail and check out our class' "Live Binders" page.  There are a links to both up there...

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

I want to thank all of my students for a terrific school year!

Now that Summer vacation is upon us, students will need some activities to keep their minds and bodies occupied.  Here are some fun  Summer learning ideas:

Kids Turn Central

Summer Learning Fun Links

Sylvan Summer Fun and Learning Guide

(click the button after "subscribe via" and the site will send you a fun, daily learning activity, via e-mail)

Bedtime Math
(sign up and the site will send you an engaging math activity daily, via e-mail)

Summer Science Ideas

2012 Summer Olympics Learning Activities
(the games will be held from July 27-August 12, 2012)

Ancient Egypt for Kids

Space for Kids

Nature Week for Kids

Beach Days for Kids

And, of course, you can also revisit the links in our class' Live Binders page

Thanks again, and have a safe, fun and productive holiday!

Mrs. Black

Today, the Grade 5 and 6 students at our school went on a field trip to YLCC, just outside Orillia.  The trip included Physical Education and team-building activities.  Here are some pictures of our day:

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

Music and Physical Education classes have "moved outdoors" of late, along with Science and Math (see previous BLOG post).

In Music, students are working with homemade "unpitched rhythm instruments" to create percussion accompaniments to Aboriginal legends and student-authored stories.  In gym, we've been honing our baseball skills.  Below are some pictures of these outdoor learning experiences.  (Click on any photo to see it enlarged.  Click on 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 to e-mail me: or to add a comment to this page.

In late-May, the Grade 6 students in our class started work on their final Science topic of the year:  "Biodiversity."  In case you are not familiar with this term, it is word first used by scientists in the 1980's.  They created the word by combining "biological" and "diversity." Biodiversity refers to the diversity of living things in an environment.  The more diverse an environment is, in terms of its living organisms, the more balanced, resilient to stressors and healthier it is.  The Ontario Ministry of Education added biodiversity to the Grade 6 curriculum in 1998.  In order to raise awareness of the need to protect environments and species, the United Nations declared 2010 "The Year of Biodiversity."

A large component of our biodiversity study is field work.  In our outdoor sessions, we are studying the biodiversity that exists in four different biomes within our schoolyard.  We are then researching how the organisms that live in our schoolyard and local area interact with and depend upon each other for survival.

The culminating task for this Grade 6 unit involves writing a research paper comparing two different organisms that live in the Washago area, in terms of appearance, food, housing, niches in their biome and seasonal coping strategies (i.e. what does it do in the winter?), etc.

This month, the Grade 5 students in our class are continuing their study of Human Organ Systems, with some field work observing the impacts of exertion on their heart rate, in various weather conditions.  The culminating task for their Science unit is a research paper discussing how our organ systems work together, how best to care for our bodies and what might happen if we fail to do so.


Our entire class is also involved in some math problem solving in the out-of-doors.

  • Students are estimating the percentages of sand and various types of flora in random sample areas on the schoolyard, and tracking changes over time. After surveying several areas, students calculate the mean percentage for each element they found in their samples.  They then graph the means.  Students conduct a new survey each week and add the data to their graphs. This week, every group's graph showed a decrease in live grass and an increase in dead grass over the previous week.  This illustrated, in a concrete manner, the impact that little rain for several weeks had on schoolyard vegetation.  It will be interesting to see what results next week's survey yields, after the rain on Friday and the weekend.
  • This coming week, we will go outdoors and I will ask students to think up a way to estimate, through calculations, the number of leaves on a small tree (Gr. 5) or needles on a pine tree (Gr. 6).  They will most likely solve this problem via multiplication.
  • Students will also be using a map or satellite image of the schoolyard to calculate how many bags of grass seed one would need to overseed the grassy areas of our schoolyard.  To determine this they will have to divide the schoolyard into regular polygons, calculate the area of each polygon, add the totals, and use the coverage information on a bag of grass seed to determine how many bags one would need to cover the yard.
  • I will then pose a division question:  if the students in our class were to do the overseeding, how many bags of seed, or what size of area, would each student have to cover in order to share the work evenly?

Hands-on problem solving, such as the above, really helps students to consolidate and apply the learning they acquired in math throughout the year.


All students in our class who conform to the rules about proper use of equipment and respect for living things are welcome to use our nets and bug keepers at recess.  Students are also invited to bring specimens from home or the yard into class for further study.  These "classroom guests" must be housed in secure, humane enclosures and (in most cases) be released where they were found the same day they were captured.


Here are some recent pictures related to our field work.  Click on any picture to see it full-sized and then click 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 to e-mail me: or to add a comment to this page.

The Grade 5 students in our class recently completed their models of colonies in ancient Greece, Egypt and China.  The results were outstanding, as were the Power Point and BLOG presentations that groups created to showcase the research behind the models.  Here are the models:

by Chelsea, Isaac, Kyle, Robert and Spencer


by Aidan, Brandon, Daniel B., Daniel N., David and Timothy


by Hanna, Julia, Kevin, Nicholas and Taiten

These models are currently on display in our school library.

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

This year, our class has used a variety of computer applications to enhance and share our learning.  These include:

  • Live Binders (to organize web page links for a variety of subject areas)
  • web pages (for various research projects)
  • word processor (to type final drafts of papers)
  • Power Point (to produce electronic presentations)
  • Survey Monkey online questionnaires (Gr. 5 and 6 Data Management)
  • a web quest (Gr. 6 Social Studies)
  • a wiki (to collaborate re: the direction for next year's Green Team program)
  • this BLOG (to share our learning with parents)

Our latest foray into learning through technology is via a "moodle."  Moodle is a platform that allows teachers to create online programs for their students.  I have used this program to create an online Science course about "Human Organ Systems," for the Grade 5 students in our class.  The course is broken into five parts.  The first four parts involve watching educational video clips and completing online quizzes about particular organ systems.  The fifth section outlines the requirements for a research paper.

Learning via our moodle allows students to watch the Science videos and complete the quizzes at their own pace.  It also allows students to repeat sections of each video, as necessary, in order to glean the necessary knowledge to complete the quiz.  Students may try each quiz twice. The software instantly marks the quiz and provides students with feedback as to how they did.

The use of moodle within our School Board is fairly new.  Ours is only the second elementary school class to make use of the Simcoe County District School Board moodle server.

Our moodle has been configured to allow "guest access."  If you would like to visit, click this link, and then log in as a guest.  Guests may view the course outline and videos, but cannot access the quizzes.

This is a screen shot of part of our moodle:

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

Right now, the class is in the middle of an interesting inquiry project.

Students in Grade 5 are working in groups of five, researching what it would have been like to live in ancient China, Egypt or Greece.  Based on their research, each group is building a scale model of a fictional colony belonging to one of these civilizations and creating a Power Point presentation, BLOG or GLOG (graphic blog) to introduce their civilization and explain the various elements of their model.  This is a Social Studies project, designed to complement the work on ancient civilizations our Grade 5 students are doing with Mrs. Torrey.

Students in Grade 6 are doing the same project, but their work is based on their current science unit (space).  These students are working in groups of six, researching information about either Mars or the Moon and what humans would need to travel and live there.  They are using this information to construct scale models of colonies that might exist in these two places, circa. 2030 (the year NASA hopes to take astronauts to Mars).

All group members must be involved in planning, research, construction and presentation of their project.  In order to be cost-effective and environment-friendly, students are repurposing items from the school recycling bins to construct their models.  Once the models and electronic descriptions are completed, each group will have an opportunity to present their work to the class.

Here are some photos of groups in action! (click on small photos to enlarge them).

We will post another update later, with pictures of the finished products.

This project is loosely based on the Homesteading Mars Project-based Learning project:

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

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