Last Week, This Week

Hello folks at home,

Well, last week got a bit weird!   The whole mess at other schools on Wednesday and then for us on Thursday…there was both an emotional and a practical toll.

For the kids, the emotional toll was hard (for me) to measure.  For the most part I saw what we’d all hope for:  reasonable questions, moderate worry, but generally expressions of trust in the adults around them that our precautions would keep them safe.  It’s a tricky path–isn’t it, parents?–giving our children enough information that they are comforted and reassured, but shielding them from too much information that will make them anxious, unsettled.   Even before we got the call on Thursday, our class was engaged in a conversation about the rumours flying around regarding Wednesday.  Social media and social reality make it hard to shield our kids from the world.  The challenge I was trying to tackle was helping them believe in the rarity of the terrible things which are so present in the media.  Please let me know if you think your child has ongoing worries from all this.

At a practical level it meant we had kids away Thursday and Friday, and the plan kept changing every ten minutes on Thursday!  Gym, then no Gym.  Recess, then no recess.  And, we’d all prepped for a Substitute for the afternoon, as I had to take my mom to an appointment, then I couldn’t leave, then I could, then it was a different sub, etc., etc.   Frankly, was rattled!

But I have to say that throughout the week and throughout Thursday, all the students were highly engaged with their “Province” projects (as well as other stuff we did).   I was so proud of the kids for their focus and thankful for their trust and flexibility.  (I brought donuts on Friday to say thanks, and then forgot about them until ten minutes before dismissal!)

So, this week:

Library Books!  

The books we signed out at the Calvin Park Library are due this week.  I said that I would take back books for anyone that wanted me to on this first round.  Books in by Tuesday will get a free ride in my old car.

Province (and Territory) Projects!

The projects were meant to be a first real “research” experience:  how to take notes; how to organize sub-topics; as well as a chance for us to focus on the fine art of paragraph building.  We’ll have more this year, more open in their structure.  The point was to learn about Canada, and learn about learning, hopefully have some creative fun.  I think that’s happened.   I’ve learned lots!

Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll check in and see where everybody is at and give people as much time as they need .  My plan is still to have a class project sharing time on WednesdayThursdayyou are all invited to school!  (Hopefully you knew this).  Sing-along in the gym at 9:15, then a little visit in our class until 10:15 or 10:30.  We’ll have our projects up (this was the reason for the due date) and hopefully play some ukulele for anyone who can come!  (There may be some extra ukes if you’d like to join in).

Hope to see you this week!





Exploring Canada

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Hello Folks at Home!  We have been studying Canada‘s Physical Regions for the past while.  You can hopefully see from this little slideshow that the students became “experts” on one region, and then became “teachers” of the students from other regions.  As a process, I think there was good learning around working together.  In terms of content, I think they each got a flavour of at least most of the regions.   Last week, we “flew” across the country via a film called Over Canada, just so we could have a look at this big, beautiful, diverse land of ours.  (Here’s the link if you’re interested of if your child was away).  We then explored a cool mapping website that looks at the traditional Indigenous territories and languages across the land.  We were all amazed at how many there were.

Launched today, each child is going to do an “independent” project on one province or territory.  It’s a pretty short timeline, partly because it would be great to have them up for December 13 when families are going to be invited in for a pre-holiday visit.  (More information on that should be coming home today).

We will devote lots of class time to this!  But I have said students may work on the projects at home if they choose.  This does not mean you, parents, have to spend the next two weekends cutting and pasting and colouring.  But your kids can.  I’ll be assessing them based on the knowledge they can convey in our sharing sessions, as well as the writing they do at school.  All the fun artsy bits they can work away at wherever.  I will make bristol board available to kids when they have enough bits ready, but I will encourage them not to attach anything until late in the game.

Here’s the outline/checklist, which they have a copy of at school.

Province Project

Over the next three weeks, you will produce a short project on a Canadian Province.  Your project will be displayed in poster form, and is meant to teach others about the province.  Here is your checklist:

Illustrations *(at least two of these)

  • Map showing some of the major towns, cities, waterways.
  • Animal from that province.
  • A scenic picture that shows some of the natural features of the province (you may do more than one).

*At least one of these illustrations must be done by hand (pencil crayons are recommended) as opposed to printed off the Internet

Facts (you can arrange these in boxes or lists, or however you like)  

  • A few quick facts, arranged as you like:  population, area (size), name of Premier, average temperature, famous people or events, any other interesting facts you think are worth sharing.
  • Some of the Indigenous groups that are represented in this Province.  (You may want to visit the “Native Land” website we looked at before)
  • Environment:  How does the environment affect how people live? (What do they do for work and fun?).  What environmental problems does the province have?

Short persuasive letter

  • Imagine you’ve been hired by the provincial government to promote the advantages of living in this province.  Try to convince someone of the opportunities and advantages their life would have should they move to your province.  This should include details and facts that might describe:
  • Industry:  what kind of work might someone find here?
  • What languages are spoken?
  • Climate:  What’s the weather like?
  • Festivals or other special events unique to this province
  • Recreation:  what do people do for fun?

Have fun!  Be original and creative!    

Due:  December 12th

Claymation workshop at the Library

Hello folks!  I see that it is a full month since I did a blog post!  I am sorry about that.  I’ll confess that my available time has been hugely crunched in November for family reasons.  And there is so much I want to share about all that’s been going on!   I need to find a way to create shorter or faster posts.  The key, I know, is to get the kids doing it, so I’ll work on making that happen over the next week or two.

I will share that our trip to Calvin Park Library yesterday was lovely.  The kids were delighted to get library cards and borrow books on their own, and I was delighted to see that!  (We’ll likely go to the library again, maybe the downtown branch when it opens in the new year).   Sarah, the librarian who presented to us, sent me an email commenting upon how great the kids were.  Also, because Eric asked, she also added information about a workshop that is beginning soon.  It’ll be fun, and it’s free!  Three Tuesdays in December–registration this weekend!


Tuesday, December 4 – December 18, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

kfpl.labs (make – learn – discover) • Children

Calvin Park Branch, CP Community Room

Registration starts on November 24 at 9:00 am

Make animated Claymation movies! Over three weeks, design and create clay figures and sets, and film stop-motion animated movies. Filming will be done in small groups of 2 or 3, with one iPad per group. Bring your story ideas and we will provide the rest! Register for one or both sessions. For kids ages 8 to 13.


That’s it for now.  I’ll do a longer post with pictures soon.

Voters in action!

Quote of the day:

“When I went to mark the little circle on the ballot, my legs were shaking from excitement!”

No point in me saying much more than that.  I am so proud of how maturely and seriously the students approached this whole process this week and today.   A Municipal election is so much more relevant for the kids in some ways, but is also so complicated!   Good for them!

And not only were we voting, we were running the vote for all the classes participating.  So: checking voter lists (“Name please?”) scrutinizing ballots, counting and tallying votes.   Official name tags!

The Student Vote results are published following the release of the official election results.  So we’ll have a look at all of it next week.

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Votes, fractions, pickles and other stuff

O.K., tomorrow is the vote!  I’ve been so impressed with the conversations we’ve had this week, and the maturity and seriousness the students have brought to investigating the various candidates.  Today, in addition to scoping out the candidates for Trustee, we discussed whether kids even should be thinking about this “grown-up” stuff, and why it might or might not be a good idea to participate.

And we did some cool exploring and reasoning and explaining about our representing in mathematics.  The task:  create (at least) six models that showed “half”.   Very interesting for me to see what they see as half and what they are not intuitively seeing as half.  Gives us some places to go (including one quarter and five-eighths), which is good!

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Also, we ate pickles.

I’ll leave it to your children to explain why we ate pickles.  Suffice it to say, it had everything to do with this lovely book, which we are almost finished.   It will be available for borrowing for students who wish to read it on their own or bring it home for family reading.


Student Vote this Friday, October 19th

Every election in Canada, and currently for the municipal elections in Ontario, there is a parallel student vote.  This was begun by people who recognized that voter participation was low, and especially so among young people.  The reasoning is that by engaging kids even earlier than they can officially vote we may create more participation for life!  If you are interested in knowing more, here is a link.

But figuring out who to vote for is complicated! 

So today we began to look at the websites and media interviews for various mayoral candidates.   (Tomorrow we’ll look at councilors and the next day try to make sense of the trustees–it’s a lot!)

Our general questions in forming our own views are:

  • What would you keep the same? 
  • What would you change?
  • What could be improved?
  • What needs to be fixed or built?

We were also on the lookout for the candidates’ opinions about jobs, taxes, housing, roads, environment and development.  Obviously these are pretty grown-up ideas, but hey, we’re growing up!

To give you more chance to discuss this at home–and especially for those who were out of class today for the Fort Henry race or any other reason–here are the links we looked at today.   The very first one may be the easiest, as it has films of each candidate being interviewed.

Mayoral Candidates

All Candidates:

Bryan Paterson:

Vicki Schmolka:




Some artifacts from our week

Rather than me explaining everything, here are some pictures of things that have been a part of the last day or two.  (If you click on them, they should get big).  With your child, have a look at the pictures and see what they can (hopefully) tell you about what the picture represents, what the activity is that connects to the picture, and maybe what understanding or question remains.

As always, your comments are welcome!












What maps are good for…

Cheryl Fischer, a teacher I know who’s on leave, invited me to bring the class to her community garden plot.  Since we are currently discussing “community” and learning about maps, this seemed a good opportunity to combine the two themes and put the kids to work!  After some practice orienting a map, we discussed which routes were possible/preferable to get to our mysterious destination.  I offered up no other information other than the tantalizing clue on the map.

After a short walk, we got to the garden, where I discovered that some (no doubt well-meaning, helpful) person had wiped out the tomato plants that I had checked on only that morning!  Not to worry (much)–there were many, many carrots.  (And yes, also beets, for those that care about those).

As you’ll see below, it was a pretty carrotty afternoon.

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This from Brayden:

Explorations, September 13th

Click on picture to see bigger! All these ideas came from our students!

Hi!  You’re here!  Did you get an email that there was a new post?  I’m curious to know how that works!  Feel free to comment below!

A few pictures of todays explorations in words and in numbers.

Words:  we are establishing ourselves as “Word Scientists” and as such we will be studying Orthography (instead of “spelling”).  All the things on the list at right are things we will do with words.  We will work from the point of view that English spelling is highly ordered and explainable.  You may not believe this is so–indeed you may have been taught the exact opposite, as I was!  If so, challenge us and yourself and me with questions about words.  Together with your child, or on your own:  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  What doesn’t make sense? (More on this later…much more).

Numbers:  Today we had Courtney Bush, wonderful travelling math teacher, visit to lead an activity.  Students were asked to try and represent their thinking about “how many” using tiles.  We are heading toward a deeper understanding of arrays, skip-counting and multiplication.  (As well as quadrilaterals!)

Also, we went to the woods today and had a lovely time exploring special spots.  I was so impressed with the focus and self-discipline as each child stayed in their spot–looking, listening and recording as they considered What lives in this habitat?  I forgot to bring a camera.

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