Skip to content

On Friday, March 28th, our class hosted a "Wacky Dress Up Day" fund raiser, in support of two local animal welfare organizations: the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

dress-up-day-blog

Students in our class took a lead role in promoting and running the event. They wrote and read advertisements on the morning announcements, posted fliers around the building, counted out reminder notices for students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 to take home, and went from class-to-class collecting donations on the day of the event.

Here are some of the students in our class, dressed "wacky":

wacky-blog-class

Students weren't the only ones that enjoyed dressing wacky for a day. Staff also joined in the fun:

wacky-blog-staff

Wacky Dress Up Day raised $204.28!!

wacky-blog-money

The money will be split evenly between the Orillia SPCA and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Our class decided to use Aspen Valley's money to sponsor some of the sanctuary's permanent residents. We reviewed the list of available animals and their sponsorship costs:

wacky-blog-animals1

wacky-blog-animals2

We decided to adopt both of the sanctuary's deer, for $25.00 each:

wacky-blog-andy

wacky-blog-annie

We still had $50.00, and three of the animals cost that amount to sponsor, so we reviewed their information and then voted.  Brooke the beaver only got two votes. Monty the bobcat edged out Mikey the fisher by three votes, to become the third animal we sponsored:

wacky-blog-animals3

wacky-blog-monty

The school will receive adoption certificates to thank us for sponsoring Andy, Annie and Monty. Students in Grades 4-6 will also get a chance to meet all of the permanent residents, including our adoptees, when we visit the sanctuary in May.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

Over the past five weeks, Olivia Manovich, a teacher-candidate from Lakehead University's Faculty of Education, completed a teaching practicum in our classroom.  During her first week with us, Miss M. observed Mrs. Black's teaching. From weeks two through five, Miss M. began to create her own unit and lesson plans and teach the class herself, with Mrs. Black providing feedback.  Each subsequent week, Miss M. assumed a larger proportion of the teaching responsibilities, until last week (week 5) when she was teaching full time.

Miss M.'s enthusiasm was contagious and her thoroughness was second to none. She brought as many new ideas to the table as she took away! We want to thank Miss M. for all her hard work and dedication.  It just won't be the same when we return in January, and Miss M. isn't there.  🙁

Here are a few images of Marvelous Miss M. at work with our class (click any photo to enlarge it).

Introduction to The Elements of Dance:

Daily Physical Activity:

Math:

Writing:

Gym (Volleyball):

Science:

Playing with the school band and teacher-band:

We wish Miss M. all the best in her future as a teacher.  Any school would be lucky to have her!!

------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

As a culminating task in our Pulleys and Gears (Grade 4) and Forces Acting on Structures (Grade 5) science units, students worked together in teams to build bridges out of popsicle sticks, straws, paper clips, toothpicks, string, elastics, paper and tape.

The class worked with Mrs. Black to define the requirements and Success Criteria for these projects.  The goal for Grade 4 students was to build a 30 cm lift bridge and swing bridge, using at least two pulleys. The goal for Grade 5 was to build a 50 cm bridge that could hold at least two math textbooks.  Students made two or three attempts, building on the success of their previous attempts to improve their designs.  They kept detailed lab notes explaining their thought and building processes. Their lab reports became their explanatory writing pieces for literacy.

The following photo collage depicts the fun students had with this project.  Grade 5 students far exceeded the expectation that their bridges support two textbooks. All of their bridges held 5 or more books.  One bridge held 22 books before it listed to the side and dumped its load!  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

With this project, students had a great time learning some principles of design, through trial and error, and by building upon the knowledge they gained in each trial.  They also learned how to write up detailed explanations using a standard lab report format.

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.

This project fulfills curriculum expectations in reading and science, while helping a local wildlife sanctuary!

This week, students brainstormed reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics that touch on the "big ideas" in a series of educational articles, authored by staff and volunteers at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

We started the project by reading an article, that was projected on the Smart Board, about a Raven that was successfully rehabilitated and released, through a cooperative effort between Aspen Valley (Rosseau) and Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary (Minden).  Then we worked together to brainstorm questions to accompany the article.

Ray-Raven-screenshothttp://www.cottagecountrynow.ca/opinion-story/4163625-ray-the-raven-s-full-recovery/

A student writes a reading comprehension question on chart paper:

2013-11-04 002

Another student jots down a question about the article:

2013-11-04 001

Here are the questions the class developed about "Ray the Raven's full recovery":

2013-11-04 007

After our shared reading comprehension activity, it was time for students to break into small groups and work with other articles:

2013-11-04 006

2013-11-04 005

2013-11-04 004

IMG_1048

IMG_1051

IMG_1053

IMG_1052

Students have discovered that it takes as much skill and effort to formulate good questions as it does to answer them.  Even so, they are enjoying the opportunity to take on the role of educators.  A retired school teacher who conducts school tours at the sanctuary and I will be compiling the class' ideas.  Then, finished study guides for twelve newspaper articles will be uploaded to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website, as free resources for teachers to use with their students.

These are the results of our brainstorming sessions.  The first picture shows the class' reading comprehension questions and discussion/debate topics about articles having to do with wildlife rehabilitation.  The second picture shows their notes re: articles about permanent residents.

IMG_1054

IMG_1056

The finished products are now available for free download on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary website!

reading-comp-screengrabhttp://aspenvalley.ca/aspen/resources/teachers-corner/

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

banner-cropped

In teaching, it is very important to be open to teachable moments and unexpected adventures in learning.  Several weeks ago, students were studying large numbers.  An exercise in the Grade 4 Nelson Math workbook asked students to compare the weights of several large animals.  The class discovered that elephants weigh almost twice as much as hippos and baby whales.  As an aside, I said, "So you can see what a challenge it would be to move elephants from Toronto to California."

Unexpectedly, a couple of students who understood the context of my comment blurted out their approval.  I polled the class to see how many students had heard about the impeding move of the Toronto Zoo elephants to a sanctuary in California, and asked those familiar with the story to share it with the rest of the class.  On that day, about half of the class had heard about the move and about eight students strongly approved.  Most of the rest had no opinion.

Nelson-math

After the approximate date of the move was announced, I offered students who were interested an opportunity to make "Bon Voyage" and "Thank You" cards to send to the people in Canada responsible for overseeing the elephant transfer.  About half of the class chose to make cards and I mailed them to the Zoocheck Canada office in Toronto.  Zoocheck staff were quite touched by our gesture and said they would take the cards to California, so they were on display when the elephants arrived. We monitored the elephant transfer, as it unfolded, via Social Media.

PAWS-screenshot

Facebook page for the sanctuary in California.
https://www.facebook.com/pawsweb.org

toka-PAWS

Toka, just after emerging from her crate at the sanctuary in California
Photo by Julie Woodyer, Zoocheck Canada

Although some my students will miss seeing elephants at the Toronto Zoo, the pictures and videos of Toka, Iringa and Thika  in their spacious new home in sunny California convinced most students that the move was in the elephants' best interest.

A few days after the successful completion of the elephant transfer, the class reached a milestone; they earned enough "good behaviour points" to have their first party of the year.  Several students suggested a "beach-themed" party, and this idea evolved into a California beach-themed retirement party for the Toronto Zoo elephants.  Several students stayed in during two recesses to create an elephant-sized party decoration.  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Here are some images of our retirement party for the Toronto Zoo elephants. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

At the end of the party, we bundled our banner into a mailing tube and sent it to Zoocheck Canada, to thank Rob Laidlaw and Julie Woodyer for working incredibly hard to see that the elephants have a better life.

My students have some questions about the elephants, and the logistics of their move to California, so I am hoping to arrange a Skype session between our class and Rob Laidlaw, who accompanied the elephants on their cross-country trek.  We will create a blog post about that, if we are able to make it happen!

—————————————————————————

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 is a follow-up to our earlier post about collecting natural food items for two local wildlife sanctuaries.  They will be using what we collected to teach overwintering baby animals what to eat, and to keep them well fed throughout the winter.

In this BLOG post, we will be showing the math associated with this project and some pictures of animals at the sanctuaries enjoying food we collected for them.

After we finished our two week "food drive," we began to tally up the food we collected.  We decided that the number of acorns could be estimated by weight, because there wasn't too much variation in the size and weight of acorns.  We used a bathroom scale to weigh our boxes of acorns and a kitchen scale to determine how many acorns weighed 100 grams.  Then, we did the calculations needed to estimate how many acorns we had altogether:

  2013-09-23 003

Weighing one of two big boxes of acorns

2013-09-23 001

Counting out 100 grams of acorns

2013-09-23 005

We brainstormed how to estimate the number of acorns as a class.

2013-09-27 014

Vaughn did a great job adding the extra acorns we collected later.

Our pine cones came in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Most were dry and light weight, but some were green and heavy.  Therefore, we decided to estimate the number of pine cones by volume, instead of weight.  First, we counted out how many assorted pine cones it took to just fill a dish pan.  We did that four times and then calculated the mean (average) number of pine cones in a dish pan.  Next, we figured out how many dish pans worth of pine cones we had.  Last, we multiplied the number of acorns in a dishpan times the number of dishpans of acorns we collected, to figure out approximately how many pine cones we had altogether:

 2013-09-27 003

2013-09-27 004

2013-09-27 013

2013-09-27 015

Our calculations.

Like the acorns, all of the maple keys were of similar in size and weight.  We decided to estimate how many we collected based on weight.

2013-09-27 024

2013-09-27 022

Here are our totals:

Acorns = approximately 9,800 (35 kgs.)
Pine cones = approximately 2,300 (39 kgs.)
Maple keys = approximately 28,500 (2.25 kgs.)

Based on food consumption data that Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary provided, we estimated that our food would last the 20 squirrels at Woodlands Sanctuary and the 20 squirrels at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary about 5 weeks, if they only ate pine seeds, acorns and maple seeds. However, the wildlife sanctuaries will be supplementing the squirrels' diets with other foods, so our contribution will likely last about three months, or most of the winter.

2013-10-01 003

In addition to pine cones, acorns and maple keys, we also collected apples, cedar seeds, corn, black walnuts and sumac for the animals. These were not part of our math project.

This is what all of the food collected by students and staff at Rama Central looked like, when it was assembled in one place!

2013-09-27 036

This is Jan, the wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, with the six boxes of food we dropped off at the sanctuary in Rosseau:

2013-09-28 043 Y

One of "the locals" thought the acorns were for him!

2013-09-28 048 Y

Jan sent us pictures of a couple of squirrels that are in rehabilitation at the sanctuary, and Furley the Black Bear (former resident of Springwater Provincial Park's wildlife compound), enjoying some of the food we delivered to the sanctuary:

acorn1

acorn3

acorn5

Students were quite impressed by this picture of
a very large bear
eating the tiny acorns they collected.

Staff and Students at Steele Street P.S. and Shanty Bay P.S. were inspired by our project. They also contributed items for Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. We delivered their items with ours.  This is what we took to Woodlands:

2013-10-06 041

Our Grade 5/6 teacher, Mr. Fitzgerald, contributed the bird houses.

This is Monika, the wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, and my daughter Emily with some of the food we dropped off at the sanctuary in Minden:

2013-10-06 D crop

Monika sent us some pictures of animals in rehabilitation enjoying our food drive items.  The fawns are eating windfall apples that some of the students collected:

woodlands1

This little guy can't believe his luck!

woodlands3

woodlands2

Monika also e-mailed us a really neat thank you graphic.  We posted a colour copy of it in our classroom:

Woodlands-thank-you-2013

We think our food drive for local wildlife sanctuaries was "wildly" successful!  It also showed us how math can be used to answer some real life questions.  We plan to do this again next year!!

—————————————————————————

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 is an update on a couple of  Media Literacy/outreach projects.

The "Help Me Stay Wild" teacher resources that my 2012-13 Grade 5/6 class helped to create for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary are now online.  There are five of them.  You will find them on this page:

teacher-corner-bloghttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-teacher-corner/

This year's Grade 4/5 class provided feedback on an early draft of an Aspen Valley resource page for kids.  That page is also online now:

kids-zone-screencaphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-kid-zone/

The work of last year's class and this year's class for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary are being recognized on this page:

honour-roll-screencaphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AV-honour-roll/

(We have collected enough acorns, pine cones and maple keys to supply both Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary with food for their overwintering animals!)

—————————————————————————

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

6

Our special math project, which is also an outreach project in support of Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary is now underway.  (Sept. 23rd NOTE:  We have collected so many items that we will now be sharing with Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, as well!)

We have sent home notes to parents, explaining what we are doing (click on any picture to enlarge it):

2013-09-10 001

Everyone in our class received a paper bag, for collecting items,
with a note attached to it.

2013-09-10 002

We have started a Community Service bulletin board in our classroom:

2013-09-13 024

2013-09-13 025

The entire school has been invited to help us collect acorns, pine cones and maple keys, to feed to baby squirrels, porcupines and fawns that will  overwintering at local wildlife sanctuaries:

2013-09-12 007

Students in our class counting out invitations for other classes

Teams of students from our class have started touring the school, making presentations explaining what wildlife rehabilitation centres do and why it is important to feed orphaned animals the types of food they will see after they are released back into the wild:

2013-09-13 019

Students rehearsing for classroom presentations

2013-09-13 022

2013-09-13 021

The collection of natural foods for orphaned baby animals has begun:

2013-09-13 011

2013-09-13 014

2013-09-13 018

2013-09-12 008

And, in a truly remarkable twist of fate... The week we began collecting food for orphaned baby animals, the family of one of my students rescued a four-week old squirrel they found on their driveway, alone, cold and dehydrated. They did a great job with emergency care, and then I drove the little guy to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, where I happened to be going for a meeting. "Squirrelly" will be one of those babies who needs to overwinter at a wildlife sanctuary, eating the kinds of foods we are collecting!  Next Spring, he will be released back into the wild close to where he was found.

2013-09-13 026

squirrelly-feeding

"Squirrelly" receiving a feeding of Pedialyte (2 ml), via eye-dropper

squirrelly3

Full tummy = sleepy baby

Next step:  During the first week of October, we will be spending two or three math classes sorting, counting, calculating fractions and equivalent fractions, estimating percentages, graphing and estimating how long our food stash will last, when fed to baby squirrels.

Then I will drive all the great, natural food we collected to Woodlands Sanctuary and Aspen Valley Sanctuary, where it will teach baby animals, like Squirrelly, what foods to eat and provide them with sustenance all winter long!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

1

Mrs. Black has offered to help a local wildlife rehabilitation center and sanctuary, by developing some school resources for them. The activities in the school resource packages would fulfill curriculum expectations and character education objectives, while engaging students in supporting the work of the centre through fund-raising, collection of goods, animal sponsorship, writing, media literacy, math and the arts.

Mrs. Black created a two-page resource, based on a "Help me stay wild" info-graphic about Black Bears produced by the rehabilitation centre. Click on the image or link below to see her sample resource:

teacher-resource-sample-screen-caphttp://www.blackdeer.ca/AVWS-TeacherResourceSample.pdf

Last week, Mrs. Black showed the class the sample resource. Students really liked the idea and asked if they could help with the development of resources for other species, as a media literacy project. They also asked if they could try out the narrative writing prompt in the sample resource about Black Bears.

The Grade 5 students completed the narrative writing task this week, while their Grade 6 counterparts were writing the EQAO test. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning about the habits and food preferences of Black Bears, and then writing a story about a visit to a dump, from a bear's perspective. In the process, they learned about what their families and neighbours might be doing to inadvertently attract bears to their neighbourhood.

Friday morning, we had a media literacy session in which students:

  • watched a video about the work of the rehabilitation centre:  http://environmentfilms.org/EF/ASPEN_VALLEY.html
  • reviewed the sample resource
  • listened to three of the "bear narratives" written by the Grade 5 students, and identified the lesson or moral in each story
  • discussed what other forms of writing can be used as a teaching tool
  • broke into small groups and rotated through six stations, brainstorming fund raising ideas and curriculum-based project ideas, for five other animal species for which the rehab. centre has produced "Help me stay wild" info-graphics

Here is how today's media literacy session looked:

NOTE:  We have sent the wildlife centre links to the sample resource and this blog post. We are now (May 31st) waiting to see if the centre would like us to further develop our ideas for their website.  July 31st:  Mrs. Black went to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for a meeting with the General Manager and the retired teacher who conducts school visits at the sanctuary.  They loved the work the class did and asked Mrs. Black to go ahead and develop four more project sheets, using the ideas the class provided.  🙂   September 14th:  The Board of Directors at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary viewed and approved first drafts of five educational resources. Next step: They will go through final edits and field testing, and then be uploaded to the Aspen Valley website.

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

2

Today, two staff members from Scales Nature Park, in Orillia, brought a variety of live turtles and snakes to Rama Central. Their all-day visit to the school was funded by Environment Canada; the goal was to help students to better appreciate the variety of amazing reptiles that live in our area.

Scales Nature Park owner Jeff Hathaway and his assistant started off the day with a presentation in the gym. Then, throughout the day, each class had its own scheduled time to return to the gym so students could ask questions and handle live snakes. Students seemed to really enjoy and appreciate today's hands-on learning opportunity.

To facilitate follow-up, Jeff has loaned our school a wonderful resource kit containing lessons for all grades, fact sheets about snakes and turtles, a reptile identification card game, a turtle shell, some snake skins and some turtle eggs.

A few months ago, our class offered to write persuasive letters in support of the Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital, which will soon be opening on the Scales Nature Park property.  This morning, our class met with Jeff Hathaway, who is sponsoring the hospital, to find out what the he needs most and what companies might be most likely to donate goods.  In between the morning assembly and our opportunity to return to the gym to handle snakes, students began work on their letters. This is our very interesting and productive day, in pictures (click on any image to enlarge it; use 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 e-mail me (Margaret Black):  mblack@mail1.scdsb.on.ca or to add a comment to this page.

Skip to toolbar