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Students have been working hard on their persuasive letters to MPP Jim Wilson, urging the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to reconsider closing Springwater Provincial Park. This day use park near Barrie is currently scheduled to close on March 31st, because of declining visitorship. Our persuasive letter project fulfills curriculum requirements in writing, plus objectives in character education and citizenship.

A curriculum Learning Goal that applies to this project is posted on our classroom wall:

Students also have a sheet of more detailed Learning Goals and Success Criteria to guide their persuasive letter writing. The same criteria can be applied to next month's persuasive letters in support of the new turtle hospital. Click on the image below to enlarge it:

Click here to see the rubric we are using to assess our persuasive letters.

These are students writing their letters in support of Springwater Provincial Park:

Here are some of the students in our class with their finished letters:

In the meantime, the group of adult volunteers working to save the park ("The Friends of Springwater Provincial Park") have now raised enough money to register for Federal non-profit status. They are hoping this designation will enable them to form a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, with the goals of keeping the park open and making it more profitable.

You just never know where a kid's idea might take you!  On Wednesday, January 23rd, The Friends of Springwater Provincial Park invited me to sit on their board, as their Education Outreach Coordinator.  I told them I would be honored to assist in this way. Thank you to my two Grade 5 students who suggested that our class do what we can to help save Springwater Provincial Park!

More to come as events unfold...

MARCH 23, 2013:  Today we received a response to our letters!  (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

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 we had fun at our school Dance-a-thon fund raiser.  Here is a gallery of photos from the event.  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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.


Students are working in pairs to plan, research and create informative flyers and brochures.  These media projects will fulfill curriculum requirements in media literacy, and also assist the Alliston & District Humane Society in creating a new educational program for young people. The ADHS intends to desktop publish the best of what our class produces and use these materials as the basis for bi-weekly classes, to be held during animal shelter open house events.

A curriculum Learning Goal for this project is posted in our classroom:

Students started the project by examining commercially-produced brochures:

The class identified effective/ineffective design features in the commercially-produced brochures:

Students were then given a sheet of Learning Goals and Success Criteria for the brochure/flyer project. This sheet included a range of topic choices provided by the Alliston & District Humane Society. Click on the image to enlarge it:

After choosing a partner and topic, the next job was to choose an appropriate format (flyer, four-panel or six-panel brochure), break the topic into sub-topics and make a list of information that needed to be researched:

Then, students started to research their topics, using the school's computers:

In Part 2 of this BLOG post, we will show you some of the students' finished brochures/flyers.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.


On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Ontario Ministry of Education revealed the next stage in Ontario education.  Next steps include sustaining improvement in literacy and numeracy, while developing greater competency in areas a policy paper calls "The 6 C's":

  • Character education— honesty, self-regulation and responsibility, perseverance, empathy for contributing to the safety and benefit of others, self-confidence, personal health and well-being, career and life skills.
  • Citizenship — global knowledge, sensitivity to and respect for other cultures, active involvement in addressing issues of human and environmental sustainability.
  • Communication — communicate effectively orally, in writing and with a variety of digital tools; listening skills.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving — think critically to design and manage projects, solve problems, make effective decisions using a variety of digital tools and resources.
  • Collaboration — work in teams, learn from and contribute to the learning of others, social networking skills, empathy in working with diverse others.
  • Creativity and imagination — economic and social entrepreneurialism, considering and pursuing novel ideas, and leadership for action.

Our class' Community Service projects align nicely with this next stage in education. Apparently, we are just slightly ahead of our time!  🙂

To read the 14-page policy paper, in its entirety, click on the image below:

To read a summary of our class' Community Service projects click on this image:

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.

On Friday, January 18th, Ian McCallum, a Itinerant Resource Teacher with the Simcoe County District School Board, came to our class to do a presentation.  He shared some of his experiences growing up as a child in a very small Aboriginal community in Southern Ontario, explained some First Nations teachings and conducted a smudging ceremony with the class.

This presentation was the perfect introduction to the Grade 6 Aboriginal Studies unit, which is scheduled from February through June.

Here is Ian's visit, in pictures:

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.


On Friday, January 18th, Pattie Dawson and her two children drove up from Alliston, to meet and thank us in person for all we did to help Princess. We enjoyed a wonderful pizza party, courtesy of Pattie. She also brought certificates for the kids and an amazing keepsake for me.

Here is the party, in pictures:

Welcome Pattie, Bradley and Alexandra!
(cake from Mariposa Market)

Pattie told the class about some of the foster pets her family has cared for.

She showed us certificates of thanks she had made for each of the students.

Then we had a sharing time.

Bradley and Alexandra practiced reading the poem they would be reading at Princess' memorial the following day.

Then four of the Grade 5 girls in our class read the reflections the class had penned. I will be reading this at the memorial, on behalf of the class:

Click on the image above to read the class' reflections

Kyle read the children's story he wrote about Princess.

Then, Little Caesars delivered eight pizzas, right on schedule.
Pattie also brought veggies and dip.

Thanks to Pattie, we had lots of drinks to go with our lunch as well.


After lunch, we had a dance break. First, the boys led us.

Then the girls led a dance.

Afterwards, we had cake, fresh fruit, and another sharing time.

Next, Pattie presented me with flowers and this amazing framed poem and cast of Princess' paw. I will treasure this forever!

Soon, it was time for Pattie and her kids to leave.
The class gave Pattie a big group hug!

Another view of the group hug!

This is a detailed view of the certificate each student received from Pattie.

The class with their certificates.

THANK YOU to Pattie for helping us see how much kids really CAN make a difference!!!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.


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

The image below shows a bulletin board in our classroom, summarizing our first four projects, all having to do with nature and animals.  We followed these projects with three more to benefit people in need, and then another project for a local wildlife rehabilitation centre.

Our projects:

  1. Helping raise funds to pay the medical expenses of an abused dog
  2. Creating educational brochures for the humane society to use at their shelter
  3. Lobbying local companies to donate construction materials to the new Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital
  4. Lobbying the Ministry of Natural Resources to keep Springwater Provincial Park operational
  5. Painting bowls to help raise funds to combat homelessness in the Orillia area
  6. Illustrating a storybook that will be sold to benefit a school for children living in poverty in Africa
  7. Helping local residents combat Spring flooding, by filling sand bags at the local public works yard
  8. Brainstorming ideas for a resource package, to engage students in supporting a local wildlife rehabilitation centre and sanctuary

Scroll down this BLOG post to read overviews of our projects and to link to other posts related them. (Click on any image in this BLOG post to enlarge it.)


"Project Princess" involved raising funds to help pay the medical expenses of an abused dog that was rescued from a roadside in the Alliston area, and providing moral support to her caregivers. Even though Princess passed away six weeks after she was rescued, helping her was beneficial to everyone involved and produced an opportunity for some additional volunteer work for the Alliston & District Humane Society.

Princess' foster Mom (Pattie Dawson) and her two children visited our class on Friday, January 18th, to thank us in person for our support.  Pattie purchased a pizza lunch for the class, and I provided a cake from Mariposa Market. Pattie's children read a poem that they will be sharing at Princess' memorial and four girls from our class read the reflections our class wrote about "Project Princess." Kyle read aloud his narrative, a fairy tale about a dog named Princess. Pattie presented "Princess Ambassador" certificates to the students, and flowers and a wonderful keepsake to me.

I was asked to speak on behalf of our class at a volunteer appreciation get-together and memorial for Princess, hosted by The Alliston & District Humane Society on Saturday, January 19th. I read the class' reflections at that event.

Click on the image below to read the reflections piece:

These are all of the BLOG posts related to "Project Princess":


The community service project that was borne out of "Project Princess" involved helping the Alliston & District Humane Society (ADHS) create an educational package about how kids can make a difference. This was a media literacy and visual arts project for our class. After I graded the students' hand-drawn brochure drafts, two volunteers with the ADHS came to class to pick up the brochures and thank students for their hard work. The brochures were taken to the ADHS Board for their consideration. The best ideas will be desktop published and distributed to groups of children (guides, scouts, etc) who come for a tour of the Alliston Animal Shelter.

Here are all the BLOG posts related to the ADHS brochure project:


On March 22nd Jeff Hathaway, owner of Scales Nature Park and sponsor of the new turtle hospital, came to our school to make presentations about local reptiles species and to provide hands-on learning opportunities for student from Grades K-8.  Our class attended these sessions and also met with Jeff to discuss what the new Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital needed most, and who might assist with donations. After that meeting, students began work on persuasive letters asking local businesses to donate supplies and equipment to help the turtle hospital get up and running.  We also worked to educate students in our school about how they can help turtles.

With seven of eight species of Ontario turtles at risk, a turtle hospital is a great way to support rare and endangered species. Many turtles that are injured on our roadways just need to have their cracked shells repaired, and to be given pain medication, antibiotics, food and shelter until they have healed. The Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital, which will open in April, will be housed on the Scales Nature Park property, at Highway 11 and 15th line in Orillia. The hospital will be maintained by Scales' staff, volunteers and local veterinarians who have agreed to donate their time. Once turtles have recovered, they will be released back into the wild in close proximity to where they were found.

The only other facility in Ontario dedicated solely to treating and releasing injured turtles is the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, a two hour drive from Orillia in Peterborough, Ontario.  Last year, KTTC treated and released over 1,000 turtles, including several hundred baby turtles that were hatched from eggs laid at the centre by injured turtles undergoing treatment. The turtles shown below were treated at KTTC.  If you click on the pictures, you will be taken to articles about KTTC and its patients.

Here is a BLOG post about the visit from Scales Nature Park and our persuasive letters on behalf of the new turtle hospital:


A community service project involving Springwater Provincial Park was suggested by Kellie and Allisa, in our class, who are sisters.  They had heard in the media about the potential closure of a beloved local park. Kellie and Allisa have fond memories of visiting this park with their family and didn't want the park to disappear. Our class wrote persuasive letters to MPP Jim Wilson, urging him to do whatever he could to help save Springwater Provincial Park.

This is the back story:  At the end of September, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) announced the closure of ten "underutilized" provincial parks.  Nine of these parks are in Northern Ontario. The tenth was Springwater Provincial Park, just outside Barrie. The park was scheduled to close on March 31st, 2013. At that time, road access was to cease, the unreleasable native wildlife compound was to be closed and animals relocated, and buildings on site, including the animal enclosures, washrooms, picnic shelters and park store were to be demolished.  Here is a BLOG post about our persuasive letters on behalf of Springwater Park:

The post above was updated on March 22nd to include scans of two letters we received from MPP Jim Wilson in response to our letters about Springwater Park. We were not able to convince the government to keep Springwater Park open, but we did receive assurances that the animals in the wildlife compound would be relocated to appropriate new homes (a concern of students), and before the school year ended, we received word that the MNR had made good on that promise.  All of the mammals that the children had grown to love through their visits to Springwater Park were relocated to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rosseau, Ontario.


"Couchiching Jubilee House is a Transitional House for women located in downtown Orillia. Founded in Jubilee Year 2000, the House offers four furnished apartments to vulnerable women and their dependent children, providing a safe, supportive and affordable environment for up to one year. The women come from varying backgrounds, ranging in age from 16 to mid 50’s; teenage Mom’s, women fleeing from abusive homes, women without the means to help themselves."

This year, Couchiching Jubilee House participated in a fund-raiser called "Bowls for Beds."  On Friday, March 4th, Mrs. Thompson's Grade 6/7 class and our Grade 5/6 class painted ceramic bowls to help with the fundraiser. After students received art marks for their efforts, volunteers with Couchiching Jubilee House took the bowls back to Orillia to be fired, so they could be used at a soup tasting event at Twin Lakes Secondary School.  Many students and their parents opted to purchase tickets for the event at Twin Lakes Secondary School. Those students picked up and used the bowls they had decorated. The rest of the student-decorated bowls were sold to the public for use at the soup tasting event.

We want to thank Couchiching Jubilee House for inviting us to learn about the problem of homelessness in Simcoe County, and to help make a difference!

Here is a BLOG post showing students creating their "Bowls for Beds":


Last year, our school's Grade 2/3 teacher, Miss Wigle, began participating in a book publishing project. Each year since 2008, students in schools around the world have collaborated to write and illustrate a stories.  The stories are then bound and sold to raise funds to help build a school in rural Kenya.  This project is sponsored by a Canadian registered charity called "World Teacher Aid":

During the first six years of the project, "Write to Give" published 125 different books, involving 5,000 student authors and illustrators. This year, Miss Wigle's class wrote the ending to a story for which the beginning and middle were written by students in other schools.  Then, she invited our class to illustrate the book.

This is a blog post depicting students in our class illustrating our "Write to Give" book:


This year, areas of Muskoka experienced record flooding, as the snowpack melted quickly amidst several days of torrential rains. The Spring flood of 2013 caused states of emergency to be declared in places like Huntsville, Bracebridge and Mindon, to the north of us.  Eventually, all that water worked its way down the Black River to Washago (where our school is located), and then down the Green River and into nearby Lake St. John, causing a state of emergency to be declared in Ramara.  The school is on high ground, but just a kilometer from the school this was the scene:

This is a farm road with a field on either side of it.

Houses and vehicles under water, along Highway 169

Our school is located two doors from the public works yard, where local residents were invited to pick up bags and sand to help barricade their homes from flooding.  Our Librarian, Mrs. Torrey, thought it would be really helpful if sand was already bagged for them.  She called Public Works and they agreed that we could be of real help during this crisis.  For two days, at as water levels peaked, classes from Grades 5-8 took turns walking to the public works yard to bag sand.

This is a blog post depicting our activities at the public works yard:

A couple of weeks later, the record-breaking flood was over and the clean-up was well underway...


Our teacher and class offered to develop school resources for the local wildlife rehabilitation centre and sanctuary where the Springwater Park animals ended up.  Mrs. Black produced a sample resource about Black Bears, based on a "Help us stay wild" info.-graphic produced by the wildlife centre.  Students in our class then brainstormed fund raising ideas and curriculum-based outreach ideas for four other animal species.

We sent the wildlife centre links to our sample resource and the blog post showing our brainstorming session.  We are now (May 31st) waiting to see if the centre would like us to further develop our ideas for their website. On July 31st, Mrs. Black went to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and met with the General Manager and the retired teacher who does school tours.  They loved the sample project sheet and the brainstorming work the class had done.  They asked Mrs. Black to develop the other four resources using the class' ideas!

This is the sample teacher resource created by Mrs. Black:


This is the blog post showing our brainstorming session:


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):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.caor to add a comment to this page.

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