This fall, our Grade 5 class took the lead in advertising and organizing our school's "food drive for orphaned wildlife." We used media literacy skills to encourage students from Kindergarten through Grade 8, as well as school staff, to collect and contribute items such as acorns, pine cones, maple keys, apples, sumac and black walnuts.

Orphaned baby animals that are overwintering at wildlife rehabilitation centres need to be provided with food from the natural environment, so they will know what to look for after they are released back into the wild. Our school's food contributions will go a long way toward sustaining and educating the babies at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (Rosseau), Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge (Pefferlaw) and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary (Minden) throughout the winter months.

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Each Friday, the class weighed, measured and estimated the number of food items we were shipping out to a particular sanctuary.

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Then students packed the food and helped Mrs. Black load it into her car.

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Here are three of four carloads of food we shipped to local wildlife sanctuaries this fall:

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img_5595Staff and volunteers at the wildlife rehabilitation centres, such as these people at Aspen Valley Wildlife Centre, in Rosseau, were most grateful for our assistance!

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...as were the many orphaned animals who will benefit from the fruits of our labour all winter long!

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(Orphaned fawns enjoying our food at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, in Minden.)

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After all of our deliveries were complete, we collected an additional box of food for the non-releasable squirrels that reside at Speaking of Wildlife (formerly the outreach arm of Muskoka Wildlife Centre).  Our friend Krystal, who now owns that company, brought one of her "ambassador squirrels" to class, when she picked up the food.  Squirt is a youngster who had been someone's illegal pet, briefly, and is too habituated to humans to live in the wild. The class loved meeting Squirt and learning about these clever and industrious little animals.

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

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In order to provide students with breaks from sitting at their desks and assist with focus, the centre of our classroom includes several types of high and low alternate seating, plus "portable podiums" that can be used as stand-up desks.

Here is our study lounge in action:

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When we need to use the centre of our room for building projects or drama, etc., the entire study lounge packs away neatly onto one of the Muskoka chairs.

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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 week we enjoyed several special events.

On Monday, Mrs. Black's friends Hank Debruin and his wife Tanya visited our class. Hank is a Haliburton-based sled dog racer who has completed the 1,000 mile Iditarod and the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest, with his team of Siberian Huskies. Hank and Tanya thanked students for their support during the 2016 Yukon Quest, showed us a video of their northern dogsledding adventures, answered questions, signed autographs, and let the kids see one of their racing sleds!

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Over the past few weeks, students had asked for another visual arts project so, as her farewell gift to the class, Mrs. Black purchased an an acrylic painting board for each student, and other paint supplies.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Black's high school aged daughter, Emily, volunteered in our class. She brought some of her acrylic art samples and assisted students with their work. It was a beautiful day, so we painted in the front yard of the school.

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On Wednesday, Kindergarten through Grade 7 lined the halls and applauded the Grade 8 graduates, attended the school's year-end assembly, went outside for a second acrylic painting session, and had a class party.

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Here are a few of the students' masterpieces!

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At the end of the day, everyone on staff went outside to farewell the students. It is a Rama Central tradition for the buses to circle around past the line of staff four or five times, before heading out.  When viewing these images, picture students waving and yelling loudly, bus drivers honking their horns repeatedly, and the staff waving and calling out to students to have a great summer!

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Thank you for a great year students and parents/guardians!  Have a safe and restful summer...

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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.caor to add a comment to this page.

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You never know where an idea might lead...

This year, Brogan, in our Grade 5 class, decided to write an informative speech about white tigers. In the course of his research, he learned some disturbing facts about the decline of tiger populations in general, over the past century, due to habitat destruction and poaching. He responded by writing a speech about the desperate plight of the tiger, and how people in Canada and elsewhere can help.

Our class was moved by Brogan's appeal, and nominated his speech to represent our class in the school's Junior speech competition, along with Ben's speech about racism and Lily's speech about ten ways to make the world a better place. A panel of judges selected Brogan's and Lily's speeches to represent our school at the area competition, in Brechin. Brogan and Lily proved to be excellent choices. Lily's speech received honourable mention, and Brogan's speech won second place in the Grade 4-6 category!

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Our class was so inspired by Brogan's achievement that I adopted a tiger, through World Wildlife Fund Canada, in Brogan's honour. Then, Brogan's classmates voted, unanimously, to make our final fund raiser of the year in support of tiger conservation.

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We wrote to World Wildlife Fund Canada, and told them the story of Brogan's speech and how it had inspired further action. They sent him a hand-written thank you post card and some beautiful tiger posters to display around the school. Then, Brogan wrote a piece for the school newsletter, explaining our fund raiser to parents, and the class created announcements and posters, and distributed flyers reminding students of the date.

IMG_4253 IMG_4260 IMG_4259 IMG_4257 IMG_4256Emily, in our class, also desktop published some posters at home and posted them around the school!

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Today is the big day!  Staff and students brought toonies and their favourite hats to school.  Brogan and Aiden went from class to class, collecting donations, and then they counted all the contributions.

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We were pretty excited with the results!

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Here, Ben and Brogan are writing an announcement, to share the results of "Toonies for Tigers" with the school:

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Thank you, Brogan, for inspiring everyone at Rama Central P.S. with your passion for helping the tigers!  Kids can make a difference!!!

These students in our class participated.  Do you like our hats?

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For more information: http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/species/tigers/

NOTE:  For those outside Canada, "toonie" is a common nickname for Canada's two dollar coin!  🙂

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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.caor to add a comment to this page.

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This year, we had the privilege of hosting a teacher-candidate from Lakehead University in a May-June placement.  Miss Brew was a fun and engaging student teacher. She will be fondly remembered for her creative approach, which included a hands-on, centres-based science unit, a video introduction to persuasive letter writing, a poetry cafe, and the "get it together" classroom management system she developed to motivate students to stay on task.

Here are some pictures of Miss Brew in action, over the past five weeks:

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MATH

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SCIENCE

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION

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DANCE

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MISS BREW'S "GET IT TOGETHER" BOARD

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MISS BREW'S GRADUATION PARTY!

Miss Brew completed her placement and her Bachelor of Education degree today! She also completed a Bachelor of Arts degree this year. We threw a graduation party for her:

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Mrs. Black's gift to Miss Brew:  "Me to WE" merchandise that provides assistance to children in developing nations:

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Congratulations, Miss Brew!  We can't wait to follow your future adventures as an educator!

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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.caor to add a comment to this page.

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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!

MATH

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DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & GYM (Volleyball)

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DRAMA

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HEALTH

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SOCIAL STUDIES

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LITERACY

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MISS M'S "GRADUATION PARTY"!

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!  🙂

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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 an effort to make learning more fun and to help students focus, the centre of our classroom has been transformed into an alternative seating area. We rolled out our new "study lounge" this morning, and the response was very positive!

Groups of students were given an opportunity to choose alternative seating, this morning, to give them a break from sitting at their desks.

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At the end of the morning, students were asked to write down what they liked about the new, alternative seating, how it helped them, plus suggestions about how the set up could be improved.

Aspects of the study lounge that students "liked" varied. Some enjoyed being able to choose where to sit, others appreciated being able to change seating locations a couple of times during our 100-minute literacy block, some students mentioned favourite new seating areas, and several said the alternative seating was very comfortable.

Almost every student said the new seating area helped him/her relax, focus, work, or be more productive.

Suggestions from students included more study lounge time, more or bigger cushions and turning the classroom lights off to foster calming.

When we need to use the centre of our room for building projects or drama, etc., the entire study lounge packs away neatly onto one of the Muskoka chairs.

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We also have four "portable podiums," for students who would rather stand at their desks, while working.

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Students have already come up with other ways to use the "podiums":

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In the future, Mrs. Black is planning to add balance balls at some of the student desks.

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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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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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!):

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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):  mblack@scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

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Today, Grade 5-8 students from Rama Central P.S. helped local residents protect their homes from spring flooding, by walking to the public works yard to fill sand bags. Our Grade 5 class worked alongside the Grade 8 class and filled over 150 sand bags in 100 minutes. In total, students from our school filled over 500 bags throughout the day.

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CTV Barrie dropped by to interview people at the public works yard, while covering the story of local flooding.

Students in our class:

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Mrs. Torrey, who organized our first sand-bagging day, four years ago:

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Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke:

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Our class, after completing their 100-minute sand-bagging shift:

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These pictures depict high water about a kilometre south of the school. The blue "lakes" are actually flooded farmer's fields:

Hwy169-near school1 Hwy169-nearschool2 Hwy169-nearschool3 Hwy169-nearschool4Spring flooding was the lead story in tonight's Barrie newscast:

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Our school's efforts to help were also featured in the Orillia newspaper:

rama-sandbagging-2016http://www.orilliapacket.com/2016/04/05/rama-central-students-prepare-sandbags-for-residents-in-anticipation-of-flooding

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.

On Friday, April 1st, the Grade 5 and 6 classes at our school took a trip to the Ontario Science Centre, in Toronto. Our class attended an IMAX film about the human body and a laboratory demonstration about changes in matter. Both are topics within the Grade 5 science curriculum. We spent the remainder of the day exploring the science centre's myriad of interactive exhibits.

Human Body Hall:

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The Science Arcade:

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Electricity Show in the Science Arcade:

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Weston Innovation Centre:

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Changes in Matter laboratory demonstration:

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The Science Centre is such a great place to immerse oneself in hands-on science!

Thank you to these moms for accompanying us on the trip:

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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.