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About Margaret Black

Grade 4/5 teacher at Rama Central P.S. in Central Ontario. Website:

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.

by David D.

"The Great Spring Reading Challenge" is a program Mrs. Black made up.  Students are asked to read at home, time how long they read in minutes and record their minutes on a tracking sheet each day.  There is a graph in our classroom to track the amount of minutes students have read.  We update the graph each week.

The class chose some rewards to help us keep going.  When a student passes 100, 250, 500, 750 and 1,000 minutes of home reading, that student can choose a reward.  We have four choices for each reward level.  Examples include a piece of candy, or a privilege such as sitting in Mrs. Black's twirly chair for 50 minutes, having a friend in for lunch, sitting at a desk of your choice for 100 minutes or wearing a hat in class for a day.

Our goal is to have each student do 1,000 minutes of home reading between Easter weekend and May 31st.  If a student reads more than 1,000 minutes, that student gets a star behind his or her picture, goes back to zero, and starts up the chart again.  If the whole class does a lot of reading, we will get a class reward such as a party (for 1,000 minutes) or a movie (750 minutes).

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.

by Julia B. and Spencer B-C.

During the month of March, the Grade 5's and the Grade 6's participated in a language activity called "100 Points."  In the "100 Points" assignment students had to read a novel and then do writing and art projects depicting events that happened in the story.  We loved all the fun choices this assignment gave us!  Each project had a specific number of points (e.g. a bookmark with a picture from the book and five words that reminded us of the book was worth 10 points; an author biography was worth 40 points).  If we did the assignments correctly we would earn full points, and if we reached 100 points we earned an A+.  Here are some examples of the work students in our class did for this assignment (click on individual photos to enlarge them):

This activity was created by a teacher in Bataviia, Illinois:

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.


Our Grade 6 study of Canada's Links to the World examined several different aspects of the topic.  The Learning Goals are shown below:


During this unit, Grade 6 students:

-- engaged in a "webquest" (guided search for information on the internet) about Canada's Trading Partners

-- read relevant sections of our Nelson Literacy text

-- watched and discussed a thought-provoking video entitled "The Story of Stuff"

-- analyzed posters about the life cycles of three products

-- researched and mapped the location of the raw materials needed to make these products (see map below)

-- brainstormed a list of global issues that might impact us in Canada, and researched what impacts these issues might have on our lives

Since it also tied in with the Grade 5 Science unit "Conservation of Energy and Resources," the Grade 5's also watched and discussed "The Story of Stuff" and examined the map that the Grade 6's created (shown below).

During this unit, we learned that trade between nations is much more complex than, for example, Canada buying oranges from Florida and Canada selling maple syrup to Japan. Many of the manufactured products in our homes, such as cell phones, CD/DVDs and soccer balls are made from raw materials that are harvested all over the world and shipped to factories, which are typically in China. Then the finished products are shipped halfway around the world to stores near where we live.

Through "The Story of Stuff" we also learned that many manufactured products that we purchase are thrown away within a year. So when we buy disposable products, or products with a short lifespan, we are in essence channelling energy and resources from all over the world into our local dump. This has HUGE implications, in terms of trade links, our economy, energy usage and the environment.

Here are some images of our large wall map, which illustrates the flow of materials required to bring a cell phone, CD/DVD or soccer ball into your home:

These are the products we examined.
Each was assigned its own colour of wool for our map.

Raw materials from all over the world are shipped
to factories, typically in China.

Our base map, showing the flow of materials required to make and ship to North America each of the products we examined.
At the bottom are the stages in a product's life cycle.

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.

Apologies for the lengthy period between BLOG posts.  On behalf of the students and myself, I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Taylor for filling in during my medical leave.  I am now back teaching full time.


I want to commend all the students in our class on the wonderful job they did with their speeches.  Special congratulations go out to Aidan D and Spencer C, who presented their speeches in the gym.  Spencer, a Grade 5 student in our class, won our school's Junior Speech Competition with her informative piece about the Halifax Harbour Explosion of 1917!  Spencer will now have the opportunity to share her speech in competition outside the school.  (If you would like to learn more about the Halifax explosion, go to )


Last year, we introduced Learning Goals and Success Criteria to our students. Learning Goals are curriculum objectives stated in language that students can understand.  Success Criteria define what students need to do in order to demonstrate that they have met particular Learning Goals.

Success Criteria:

  • are co-authored by teachers and their students
  • ensure that students have input into their learning process
  • ensure that students understand exactly what they need to do to be successful
  • encourage students to move toward becoming independent, self-monitoring learners

We are now using Learning Goals and Success Criteria across all subject areas.  Students and teachers seem to appreciate the way in which Success Criteria take the guesswork out of learning!

Click on the thumbnail above to read the Learning Goals and Success Criteria for our Persuasive Writing project...


Here are some of the learning experiences in which we will be engaged over the coming weeks:

Grade 5

  • Literacy:  weekly guided reading comprehension and writing strategies sessions
  • Literacy:  Reading reflections (choice of "100 points" activities)
  • Literacy:  Persuasive writing
  • Math:  Number Sense and Numeration (solving problems involving the multiplication and division of multi-digit whole numbers, and involving the addition and subtraction of decimal numbers to hundredths)
  • Science:  Energy Conservation
  • Social Studies:  Early Civilizations
  • Phys. Ed:  Floor Hockey
  • The Arts:  Drama and Visual Arts

Grade 6

  • Literacy:  weekly EQAO reading comprehension and writing strategies sessions
  • Literacy:  Reading reflections (choice of "100 points" activities)
  • Literacy:  Persuasive writing
  • Math: weekly EQAO math strategies sessions
  • Math:  Number Sense and Numeration (solving problems involving the multiplication and division of whole numbers and addition and subtraction of decimal numbers to thousandths)
  • Social Studies:  Canada's Trading Partners
  • Phys. Ed.:  Floor Hockey
  • The Arts:  Drama and Visual Arts


Persuasive Writing:  A written work in which a writer presents a case for or against a particular position.

If you have questions or comments about any aspect of our program, feel free to e-mail me: or to add a comment to this page.


Live Binders is an organizational tool for the web that allows people to create tabbed lists of links to a variety of resources.  Click on the link below to access some great Grade 5/6 curriculum-related web pages and games. Our BLOG posts are also integrated into our new Live Binders class page, so you can get all the news and info. there, instead of having to visit both sites!

Once you get to our Live Binders page, use the tabs across the top to navigate between curriculum areas, and the sub-tabs below them to access resource pages.

Here's the link (don't forget to bookmark it!):
Mrs. Black's Grade 5/6 class Live Binders page

To promote classroom and home reading, and enhance our study of particular subjects, several areas in our classroom feature book displays.

We have a Classroom Reference Library, with a display of books that rotates according to what topics we are studying.  These books are for classroom use only, and cannot be taken home.


 This is our main Classroom Reference Library

Along the chalkboard ledge, we have funny fiction
illustrating parts of speech and punctuation usage.

On the left side of the table, we have examples of narratives.
In writing, students are authoring their our own narratives.

On the right side of the table are First Nations texts,
relating to our Grade 6 First Nations unit.
(Grade 5's are welcome to read these books, too!)

We have some new math-related fiction and non-fiction reference texts,
available on our classroom math resource table.

Under our world map, we have a few science reference texts.
Later, we will rotate our table display to include more science resources.

We also have a Classroom Lending Library.  Most of the books in this library are Grade 5/6 novels.  Students are welcome to read them in the classroom or sign them out to read at home.


This is our Classroom Lending Library

Each week a student volunteer is given the job of class librarian.  That person is responsible for keeping our book collections neat and tracking books from the lending library that have been signed out and returned.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me: or to add a comment to this page.


by Alise

Right now, the Grade 6's in our class are studying First Nations people.  We are doing an inquiry project.  We are researching things like what different Aboriginal people ate and made, where they lived, how they travelled, and how their society was set up before the Europeans arrived.  We are going to learn so much! 

This is the project outline that the students and Mrs. Black created together:

If you click on the picture above, you can read about our project.

Mrs. Black set up a display of her books and books from the library, to help with our project.

We are also using computers to do our research.

The Grade 5's are continuing their Government unit, with Mrs. Torrey.

We will write again later to tell you about some of the things we learned...


Text and photos by Brandon S., Julia B. and Spencer B.  (Grade 5)


Over the past three weeks, the Grade 5's have been going down to the library to learn about the upcoming election, with Mrs. Torrey.

We learned about the different parties and how many seats are in the Ontario Legislative building.  We also learned about the different electoral districts and different types of governments: autocratic, democratic, oligarcic, etc.

On October 5th, we voted in the Provincial Election through the "Student Vote" organization.  "Student Vote" is a non-profit, non-partisan group working with educators to engage young Canadians in the democratic process.  Their website is located at:

These are pictures of the Student Vote Polling Station Mrs. Torrey set up in our school library:

Here are the results of our school vote:
Click on "voting info."

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