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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.

This afternoon we celebrated Earth Hour and the beginning of the March Break with (flameless) candles, games, treats, and three special guests.

Our student teacher, Miss M., came by to meet the class. She will be starting a five week placement with us when we return from the holiday.

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Also in attendance was Laura Gallagher, from Speaking of Wildlife, and one of her non-releasable educational ambassadors. Laura was so impressed with our "Shelters for Orphaned Wildlife" project that she offered to bring Pip Squeak the squirrel to meet the class.

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Pip Squeak was one of last year's spring babies. He was found and kept as a pet, and then eventually taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. By that time, Pip Squeak was completely used to humans and intolerant of other squirrels. Therefore, he could not be released back into the wild.

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We gave Pip Squeak one of the squirrel boxes that students in our class assembled. It was lovingly decorated by several of the girls in our class.

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After Pip Squeak's appearance, we broke out our Earth Hour crafts...

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... board games, card games, and Twister.

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Finally, it was time to dig into a huge buffet of snacks that students brought for the party!

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Now that's an afternoon snack for a growing boy!  🙂

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Happy Earth Hour and March Break!

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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.

IMG_2685-cropped This project is a follow-up to Rama Central's "Food Drive for Orphaned Wildlife," which received second prize and a $2,000. grant in the 2015 Our Canada Project Award competition. This is an earlier blog post that describes the wildlife food drive and award:

In consultation with local wildlife rehabilitators, we decided to invest our $2,000. award in materials to construct wooden sleeping boxes for orphaned squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and opossums, being raised for release back into the wild. We had Orillia Home Hardware supply us with the pre-cut plywood, hardware and glue to construct 96 squirrel boxes and 5 opossum boxes. IMG_2485 The Grade 7 and Grade 8 classes took the lead on this project. They helped organized the materials, learned how to construct boxes, and shared their knowledge and skill with students in Grades 3-6. IMG_2504IMG_2508 Tools, hardware, gloves, and a "practice box" under construction: IMG_2510 Grade 7 and 8 students learning how to make boxes, on gym workshop Day 1: IMG_2532 IMG_2546 IMG_2533 IMG_2545 IMG_2548Our class building boxes with the Grade 8's, on gym workshop Day 2: IMG_2634 IMG_2637IMG_2640 IMG_2642 IMG_2643 After they learned how to construct boxes from the Grade 8's, students in our Grade 5 class constructed some boxes on their own, back in the classroom: IMG_2664 IMG_2665
IMG_2667IMG_2669 IMG_2671 Students were invited to autograph the bottoms of boxes they had constructed: IMG_2563 IMG_2561 This photo depicts about 70 finished squirrel boxes, being stored temporarily in one of the change rooms attached to the gym:IMG_2686 Mrs. Black offered to deliver twelve sleeping boxes (the most the would fit in her car) to each of four local wildlife rehabilitation centres, over four weekends. The wildlife sanctuaries have been asked to send someone to the school to pick up the balance of their boxes. logos IMG_2623 Box Shipment #1 went to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, near Pefferlaw: IMG_2629 Our boxes will be used to protect orphaned squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and opossums from the elements, until they are old enough to be released back into the wild. This is one of our squirrel boxes, mounted in a "pre-release enclosure" at Shades of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary: IMG_2632 Box Shipment #2 went to Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, near Minden: IMG_0307 This little Flying Squirrel, who is overwintering at Woodlands, gave our boxes her seal of approval! flyer-box IMG_0317 flyer

Box Shipment #3 went to Procyon Wildlife, near Beeton:

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Box Shipment #4 was delivered to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, near Rosseau:

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This is a video of the Shelters project that our class made, for Learning for a Sustainable Future:

This is coverage of our Shelters project on CTV Barrie news:

ctv-barrie-screencaphttp://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=819830&binId=1.1272429&playlistPageNum=1

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We want to thank Learning for a Sustainable Future and the RBC Foundation, for making this project possible. We also want to give a HUGE shout-out to Wayne and Tom (pictured), and Bill, at Orillia Home Hardware. They did an absolutely stellar job pulling all the materials together for us. That included pre-cutting, packing and delivering the wood for 96 squirrel boxes and 5 opossum boxes! IMG_2661

The Orillia Home Hardware team also offered to host a display that Mrs. Black made in the store foyer, over the March Break:
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Last but not least, we couldn't have assembled 96 squirrel boxes so quickly and painlessly without the assistance of our amazing Grade 7 and 8 teachers, Mr. Westcott and Mrs. Ross, and their students!  Thank you all!!! IMG_2658 (T-shirts courtesy of Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge)

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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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The Yukon Quest is a 1,000 mile sled dog race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, in the Yukon. This year, 23 mushers and their 14-dog teams braved the elements for nine to twelve days, traveling scantily marked trails, over mountain ranges, along frozen rivers and through forests, stopping to resupply at just ten checkpoints along the route. Our class was particularly interested in following Hank Debruin and his team of Siberian Huskies, from Haliburton, Ontario. They have completed both the 1,000 mile Iditarod, and the Yukon Quest twice before.

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Prior to the February 6th start of the Yukon Quest, students watched videos and read articles that provided background about Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, the equipment and food that mushers use on the trail, and the challenges they were likely to face in the northern wilderness.

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Next, students wrote mini-biographies about all of the musher's in this year's race, by summarizing information posted on the Yukon Quest website. Students were particularly impressed to learn that one of this year's rookie mushers was a nineteen year old girl from Minnesota. Other mushers hailed from across North America and Europe. One musher was a Japanese woman, now living and training in Whitehorse.

IMG_2387Another aspect of our Yukon Quest unit was a reading challenge. The goal was to read for 1,000 minutes faster than Hank Debruin and his dogs could run 1,000 miles on the trail. We tracked everyone's progress on a door-sized graph.

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All of the mushers carry SPOT Trackers on their sleds, so each morning we went online to see how far the teams had progressed on the trail. We plotted Hank's progress on a trail map.

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We also graphed and compared the temperature in Washago with the temperature in Alaska/Yukon, throughout the race. At one point, we were surprised to see that it was colder in Central Ontario than in the far north!

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Our temperature is in red. Hank's is in blue!

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We also practiced estimating and calculating elapsed time, by trying to predict when Hank's team would reach one of the checkpoints based on his position and the speed he was moving. Groups of students then shared the methods they used to calculate an answer, and their time estimates.

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Hank beat our Eagle checkpoint estimate by 10 minutes. All of the dogs he was running, at that point in the race, were veterans of the 2014 Quest, so they knew the trail. We are guessing the team sped up on their final approach to Eagle, knowing that they would soon be receiving a warm meal and a nice, long rest!

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Mushers start with 14 dogs, and can drop off dogs that are not feeling up to continuing, at any checkpoint. However, once a dog is dropped it cannot be replaced or resume the race. Dropped dogs are cared for by the musher's support team until the race is over.

Unfortunately, this year Hank had many road blocks thrown in his path from the very beginning. In the first three days after leaving the start line in Fairbanks, Hank and some of his dogs experienced ill health, and an important trail sign disappeared, causing Hank and several other mushers to take a lengthy, incorrect detour in the mountains, and then backtrack to the main trail. One of Hank's dogs, "Charlie," who had not been exhibiting any signs of illness and had just been cleared by race vets (dogs receive mandatory vet exams at most checkpoints), collapsed on the trail without warning, and had to be rushed back to the previous checkpoint, at Central, for medical care. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.

Illness, detours and caring for Charlie added many more miles to the early days of Hank's Quest. On the evening of Day 3, Hank left the Circle checkpoint in last place by ten hours, with just nine dogs on his team. Despite this, he continued down the frozen Yukon River, to Eagle, Alaska.

These are photos Hank's wife, Tanya, took of the team leaving for Eagle:

Circle2 Circle3 Circle4After leaving the Eagle checkpoint, Hank's team ascended a peak called American Summit. When he was almost at the top, he turned around and headed back down the mountain to Eagle. We found out later that he had encountered blizzard conditions, and elected to return to the safety of the previous checkpoint overnight, for the sake of the dogs. When dawn rose the following day, the trail had been obliterated by one to two feet of drifting snow, and Hank didn't have the heart to ask his small team to re-climb the mountain and then break trail on their own for over 100 miles, just to reach the mid-point of the race in Dawson City. For the first time in his racing career, Hank decided to end his race early.

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Although sad to see Hank's race end early, students in our class understood that Hank had put the welfare of his dogs ahead of his aspirations to complete the race. Hank became a hero to our class, in a way that he likely cannot even imagine. Students sent Hank heartfelt messages of support, and elected to finish the race on his behalf by continuing their reading challenge until the last musher in the race crossed the finish line.

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This year's totals, in the Hank Debruin Reading Challenge," are impressive! Students in our class read for a combined total of 40,055 minutes, over three weeks. We want to sincerely thank Hank Debruin, his wife Tanya, and their amazing dogs for inspiring so much great learning, via their Quest!! We are hoping Hank will come to class, to present the reading challenge certificates, and share some of his amazing Iditarod and Yukon Quest experiences, once the racing season is over.

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In related news... Earlier in the school year, Mrs. Black won a copy of a novel about dog sledding, written by an author living in Whitefish Falls, Ontario. Throughout the month of February, we enjoyed the book as our class read-aloud. The author, Terry Lynn Johnson, will be Skyping with us about the book, and her experiences as a dog sledder, author and conservation officer in early March!

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Other curriculum-based ideas and resources for tracking the Yukon Quest with students are located on Mrs. Black's website: http://blackdeer.ca/YukonQuest11/index.html

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

Within their Science program, Grade 5 students study "forces acting on structures." This Science unit includes reading and video viewing, hands-on building, the writing of lab. reports explaining the model building process, and a unit test.

This blog post showcases groups of students building model bridges, towers, roller coasters or strength bridges, with agreed upon materials and (in the case of strength bridges) agreed upon bridge spans.

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Here are the finished projects, which were presented to the class by each group:

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The strength bridge competition yielded some impressive results!

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This bridge was strong enough to hold a Grade 5 boy!

IMG_2333Thank 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.

 

Last week, our class participated in "The Hour of Code," an initiative aimed at providing school children, world-wide, with experience writing computer code. Students watched the following video and then worked through various tutorials on the code.org/learn website, or for tablets at studio.code.org

Students LOVED the opportunity to learn about how computer programs are written, and to change the way characters and components of games behave. Here are some pictures from our class' Hour of Code experience:

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This is what some of the students in our class had to say about Hour of Code:

Z.M.
I like Hour of Code, because it is fun and it makes you feel like a computer wiz. It is fun to rig games to get lots of points. Hour of Code is awesome!

J.S.
Hour of Code is the best, because you get to program games!

B.L.
I think that the Hour of Code was so cool, because you can make the game funny or weird. It is also awesome, because it is fun learning about how computer games really work.

S.T.
Hour of Code was cool, especially because you can "code" your own game!  🙂

J.M.
Hour of Code is a great way for children around the world to learn computer programming. It is fun for all ages. I enjoyed creating and personalizing games.

B.W.
I think the Hour of Code is wicked awesome because I got to create my own game!

A.M.
I like Hour of Code because you can design your own game. Then you can play it and change it. 

L.B.
I think Hour of Code is fun because you can program the game, and so it is a lot like creating your own game. 

B.T.
I like Hour of Code because it can express your computer-science-y imagination. You can control the character of YOUR game, and do whatever YOUR heart desires!

R.K.
I think it is a good experience to code your own game. I love it! It makes me feel like a real programming guy.

M.M.
Hour of Code is a game to learn computer codes. It is an awesome learning game. When I got home, I ran straight to my computer and played again. BEST GAME EVER!

This morning, students in our class used their experience with Hour of Code to mentor the children in Mrs. Wilson's Kindergarten class. The Grade 5's taught  four and five year olds how they could write computer code. Students, big and small, really enjoyed this experience!

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

 

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This year, our class wanted to focus their persuasive writing unit and annual class fund raiser on helping turtles. A project of this sort would meet Grade 5 curriculum expectations in Language (researching, writing and media literacy), Science (Conservation of Energy and Resources), Math (counting money) and Social Studies (First Nations turtle symbolism). We consulted with staff from the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), in Peterborough, and they gave us some ideas for our letters.

kttc-logohttp://www.kawarthaturtle.org

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre is a fourteen year old Canadian registered charity that rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild over 1,000 turtles per year. The centre also engages in wild and released turtle population research, conservation initiatives such as establishing "eco-passages" that allow turtles to cross under busy roadways, and education outreach.

We reviewed this poster, showing the species of turtles that live in Ontario. Did you know that seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are at risk?!

turtle-species-posterhttp://saveconcordwest.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/ontario_turtles.jpg

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These videos and websites provided us with more information about turtles in Ontario:

After studying these resources, the class decided we should write to our local MPP (Conservative leader Patrick Brown), and ask him to urge the government to ban the hunting of Snapping Turtles for food. People are allowed to take up to two turtles per day, between mid-July and mid-September in Southern and Central Ontario, and at any time of the year in Northern Ontario, even though Snapping Turtles are listed as "Special Concern" by both the Federal and Ontario governments.

The education coordinator at KTTC offered to give us a tour of the turtle hospital, via Skype, and to answer any questions students had about turtles, prior to writing our letters. We had so much fun talking to Lauren, and meeting the turtles at the centre!

IMG_1477 IMG_1484 IMG_1487 IMG_1502 IMG_1512 IMG_1516Next, it was time to write letters! Students started off by listing their arguments against allowing a turtle hunt:

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They turned their pre-writing plans into rough drafts:

IMG_1519 IMG_1520 IMG_1521 IMG_1524They obtained peer feedback, to help them improve their drafts, and then created "good copies" to send to Mr. Brown.

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These are samples of student letters:

IMG_1628IMG_1629IMG_1630IMG_1631IMG_1632We are looking forward to receiving a response from Mr. Brown. We hope he will take what we wrote to heart and help the Snapping Turtles!

Our next blog post will feature our class fundraiser:  Market Day 4 Turtles!

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

For our Grade 5 Science unit, Conservation of Energy and Resources, we read background information, watched educational videos, completed home energy surveys, and engaged in some fun hands-on learning.

The following pictures depict the class using wattage meters to determine how much energy a variety of small household appliances consume. Students found some of the results quite surprising. Many tended to overestimate the consumption of electronic devices, such as radios, pencil sharpeners and computers, while underestimating the consumption of heat-producing devices such as space heaters, toasters, blow dryers and kettles. Students were also surprised to find that the incandescent bulb that drew 60 watts of energy gave off the same amount of light as the compact fluorescent bulb that drew just 12 watts.

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We learned that "wattage" is not the whole story.  A device that consumes a great deal of energy but is only used for a few minutes at a time, such as a blow dryer, can actually use less energy per month than a lower-wattage television that is used for many hours each day. The same principal applies to large household appliances, which we explored using Hydro One's Appliance Calculator:
http://www.hydroone.com/MyHome/SaveEnergy/Tools/calc_main.htm

Our next hands-on energy project involved an outdoor demonstration of two renewable energy devices:

  • a small photoelectric solar panel that converts light from the sun into electricity to charge batteries;
  • a "biofuel" camp stove that converts heat from fire into electricity, to run an internal fan and to charge electronic devices.

This is a Goal Zero solar panel converting sunlight into electricity, to charge Mrs. Black's phone:

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This is a Biolite camp stove, converting heat from burning twigs and pine cones into electricity to run its internal fan and to power an LED light. The stove can also charge USB devices, such as e-readers and smart phones.

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The Biolite cooked us some delicious popcorn, too!:

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Our final hands-on energy project involved building a variety of solar heaters and ovens.

IMG_1251 IMG_1252 IMG_1253 IMG_1254 IMG_1255 IMG_1259When the were finished, we tested our solar ovens and apple cookers in the schoolyard. We set our devices up just after 10 am. It was approximately 18C at the time. The high for the day was 20C. We checked our devices at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

At noon, the hottest oven ("The Mad Cooker") was 45C and the coolest oven (a larger, taller box) was 32C.  Students guessed that the taller box was not quite as hot because its sides were casting shadows into the box, and because the foil reflecting heat from above was crumpled. The foil on "The Mad Cooker" was smooth, reflecting more escaping heat back down into the box. At 2 p.m., the temperatures in the solar ovens were about two degrees lower than they were at noon. Students guessed that the peak temperature was at noon because the sun was highest in sky then.

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Melted chocolate chips, in The Mad Cooker:

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There were three apple cookers. Two were almost identical. The other one was lacking some black paper around the inner cup and had hole through bottom of the inner cup. At noon, the two identical cookers were 32C. The third cooker was 22C. As with the solar ovens, at 2 p.m. the apple cookers were all about two degrees lower than they were at noon.

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At the end of our experiment, the apples were not cooked through but they were softer and warm:

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At 12:00 p.m., the sun started shining on our west-facing classroom windows, so we mounted two window heaters that students had made, and started monitoring them. The temperature on the window sill, in the sun, was 24C. Both window heaters quickly obtained temperatures in excess of 40C. At 2:30 p.m., the deeper of the two boxes peaked at 67C; the shallower box at 54C. After 2:30 p.m., the temperature in both window heaters started to decline.

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Students enjoyed the opportunity to learn about energy use and alternative energy technology through hands-on projects. Their next step will be to consider how our class can encourage greater conservation of energy and resources, at home and school.

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 this project, Science meets Media Literacy and Community Service!

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In December, Mrs. Black was approached by Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary about assisting with the creation of some educational presentations they could use in schools and summer camps. Over the holidays, she went to Woodlands and met with the founder and a board member. Mrs. Black, Ms. Melichar and Mr. Smith reviewed the Ontario Science curriculum expectations for Grades 1-8 and created a framework for presentations. They decided that it would be fun to include some sort of food web type game in presentations for Grade 4-6 students, and Mrs. Black thought of a way to involve our class in game development.

Grade 1 and 2 students need to learn about animals as part of their Science program, and so do Grade 4 students. Mrs. Black met with the Grade 1/2 Science teachers at our school, to find out when their animal units were scheduled, and to ask if they would be interested in having our Grade 4 and 5 students develop games for younger children, to teach them about animals. Everyone thought this was a fun idea.

Educational game creation fulfills Grade 4 expectations in Science (habitats and communities) and Grade 4 and 5 expectations in Media Literacy (create media texts for a specific purpose and audience).  We developed the following success criteria for our project:

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Here are student groups completing animal research, working on rough drafts of games and receiving peer feedback, in writing, to ensure that they covered the success criteria:

These photographs show students testing each others' finished games:

NEXT STEPS:

  • Mrs. Black will take our research notes and the games we created to her next meeting at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. The adults will use our work to help them develop a game for Grade 4-6 students, to use as part of a school or camp presentation. 
  • When the Grade 1/2 students at our school study animals (in May) we will teach them how to play our games, to help them learn what they need to know about animals. We will also be their mentors during some outdoor "field work" sessions on the schoolyard.

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.

gbthThis year, our persuasive writing unit fulfills Grade 4 and 5 curriculum expectations in Writing, Grade 4 expectations in the Science strand “Habitats and Communities,” and Grade 5 expectations in the Social Studies strand “First Nations Heritage and Identity” (turtle symbolism). The intention of our letters is to help establish a new turtle hospital, just south of Orillia.

We consulted with Jeff Hathaway, owner/operator of Scales Nature Park, and sponsor of the new Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital about how we could be of assistance. He sent us a list of items that are needed to help customize an existing building on the Scales property, for use as a turtle hospital. Students set about the task of learning about Ontario turtles, their status (seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are now considered "at risk"), and how a turtle hospital can help. We then penned letters to local hardware stores, explaining the issues and how these businesses can help a new the turtle hospital become a reality.

Here are some of the background resources we consulted:

turtle-species-posterhttp://saveconcordwest.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/ontario_turtles.jpg

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We then created success criteria for the letter writing project:

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Here are students, writing their letters and checking them to make sure they fulfill our success criteria:

These are some of the finished products:

We hope our letters will persuade local business owners to help the Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital!

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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