New Blogs/ Electronic Portfolios/ Virtual Bulletin Boards

This online journal has come to an end.  However ..... several new sites for Alex Ferguson School were created.

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Tuesday June 24, 2008

"To be continued ..."

The summer holidays are here.  When I first started the blog last September, I never knew what would come of it.  Its use as a display of student work  …"globally"… has expanded to include technologies that continue to develop.  I will continue with it next year, always trying new ideas (eg. guest book?).  The student’s thoughts, feelings, and impact(s) of our blog are recorded below.  It was a great experience for all of us…thanks for coming by and watching us this year.  See you in September.

Podcasts by: Zoe, Alyse, Amber, Anna, Britt, Elaura, Grace, Kayla, Mariah, Phenix, and Shawna

tuesday june 24, 2008

Bottle Rocket Results

We launched our rockets today.  This was the seventh year in a row I have done this and the "rocketeers" continue to surprise me with ingenious designs.  June 2008 Results from Alexander Ferguson Elementary School are provide below.  Thanks to the volunteers and staff that made this another successful year.


Table of results and pictures here

Tuesday June 17, 2008

Black Holes and Time Travel

The class utilized a narrated reading strategy to guide themselves through an article titled, “Black Holes and Time Tunnels”.  It was an article by David Darling that provided information about Cygnus X-1, a black hole thought to be in our galaxy.  We read aloud parts of our reading and at specified stopping-points, discussed the selection, and found a purpose for reading the next section.  This process was followed with students using wax crayons and oil pastels to illustrate a black hole.  They labeled eight facts about their black holes.  In addition, we watched parts of a video titled, “Super massive Black holes” that is available at Google video.

Black hole pictures A, B, C, D.

Monday June 16, 2008

"3D" Geometric Shapes

The grade 5 math students folded and glued nets into geometric shapes (3D shapes picture).   Unused shapes were used to construct a min-city (City picture).  Later, they podcasted the number of faces, vertices, and edges that their 3D shape contained.  You can view and listen to the results below.

Geometric Shape Podcast of Faces, Vertices, and Edges


  cube/ hexahedron



Friday June 13, 2008

"Soak it in, suck it up"

The class wrote lyrics with musician Chris Wenzel.   The song provided information to the listener about food webs and photosynthesis.  It was later professionally recorded and placed on a CD along with the other class songs.  This CD will be available for purchase from our school.


Listen to “Soak it in, suck it up


Background Information:

Food Webs -   All plants and animals need food, which provides the energy they need to live.  Green plants make their own food by using the energy from the sun.  Some of this food is used, and some is stored in the roots, stems, and leaves.  Plants are called producers (they make/produce their own food by photosynthesis.  Animals cannot make their own food, therefore, they get their energy and biomass by consuming (eating) other organisms.  All animals are consumers ( they consume/eat)

Photosynthesis - is the way a plant makes food for itself.  Chlorophyll in the "green" part of the leaves captures energy from the sun and this powers the building of food from very simple ingredients - carbon dioxide and water.  Oxygen is released as a by-product of photosynthesis.



Wednesday June 11, 2008

E.T. Visitors

Student journal topic:

"On June 11, 1982 the movie “E.T.” premiered.  Create a character from outer space.  What would your character look like?  What characteristics would he or she posses?  Describe its likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings.  After describing your character include a drawing."

Podcasts and pictures by:  Alyse audio and picture, Amber audio and picture, Bailey audio and picture, Brennan audio and picture, Catie audio and picture, Erik audio and picture, Kayla audio and picture, Logan audio and picture, Maeghen audio and picture, Phenix audio and picture, Ryan F audio and picture, Shanna audio and picture, Shawna audio and picture, Zoe audio and picture.

Wednesday may 28, 2008

Bottle Rockets

In anticipation of our June 24 (morning) rocket date, we launched a water bottle rocket today...with a camera attached to a parachute.  Happily, it worked...and the camera survived.  All grade five and six students at A.F.E. are challenged to create bottle rockets for our June launch.  Good luck!


Water Bottle Rocket Launch video


The two challenges are:

a) Highest altitude

b) Longest time in the air


Bottle Rocket information at:

Monday may 26, 2008

Banner Maker

I came across interesting software that is available online…and best of all, it seems to be free.  I created a “possible” new banner for our class blog.  What do you think?


Example below:

Friday may 23, 2008

"Pine Tree in the Wind"

In music class the students selected a subject, then a topic…finally, selecting pine beetles.  They wrote (ie. piggybacked) song lyrics to the tune of, “Candle in the Wind.”  The students popcorned ideas and placed them within the song.  They enjoyed this creative song writing process and the school performance was fantastic.  Other piggyback song examples are at,


Class Podcast of song titled, “Pine tree in the Wind


Mountain pine beetle -background information from Wikipedia

“The mountain pine beetle, is a species of bark beetle native to the forests of western North America from Mexico to central British Columbia. It has a hard black shell and measures about 5 millimeters.  Mountain pine beetles inhabit pines, particularly the Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Scots Pine and Limber Pine.  The beetles kill the trees by boring through the bark into the phloem layer on which they feed and in which eggs are laid.  The trees respond to attack by increasing their resin output in order to discourage or kill the beetles, but the beetles carry blue stain fungi, which, if established, will block the tree resin response. Over time (usually within 2 weeks of attack), the trees are overwhelmed as the phloem layer is damaged enough to cut off the flow of water and nutrients. In the end, the trees starve to death, and the damage can be easily seen even from the air in the form of reddened needles.“


Thursday may 22, 2008


Student journal topic:

"Today is “Buy-a-Musical Instrument Day.”  Do you play an instrument  How long have you been playing?  Why did you decide to play this instrument?  If you don’t play an instrument, what instrument  would you like to learn how to play?"

Podcasts by: Alyse, Amber, Bailey, Elaura, Emine, Hojo, Logan, Phenix, Ryan G., Shawna, Zoe.

Thursday may 8 ,2008

Styles of Poetry - a choral presentation

All students at Alexander Ferguson School presented  poems today as part of "Alexander Ferguson School's Open House of our Raingarden Naturalization Project".  Our class poems are provided at the link below.  A great experience with a huge audience.


Our class Choral Poems

Thursday may 8 ,2008

Why we play sports?

I recently discovered a video from ESPN titled “All Your Bases Belong To Us”.  It is a tribute to why we play sports.  The class was required to use our "Musings" to reflect on the video and relate it to our circle of courage.


  • I discovered…

  • I noticed that…

  • I am surprised…

  • I know that…

  • I liked…

  • I was excited to learn…

  • I am good at…

  • I decided…

  • I wish…

  • I am happy that…

  • I learned that…

  • I wonder…

  • I tried…

  • I don’t think…

  • I still don’t understand…

  • I want to know more about…

Podcasts by: Andrew, Bailey, Alyse, Amber


Wednesday may 7, 2008

"Preparing for Tomatosphere"

Project by Anna, grade 6 student:

"The germination of the tomato plants increased significantly as the days grew on and reached a high of approximately 65 germinated plants.  First, I started growing tomatoes at school and everyday I recorded the germination results, hydrometric percentage, barometric pressure, and temperature (in Fahrenheit). On the following pages you will find graphs of these results.


Germination Results of Project


The temperature seemed to go up and down probably because of the weather change over the course of approximately 20 days. 


The barometric pressure goes up and down but then stabilizes, I’m not exactly sure why though.


The hydrometric percentage stayed around 35% and 40% most of the time though it dipped down near the end in the 20s.


The Tomatosphere project was designed to teach students about plants and supporting life on space missions but also so that astronauts could figure out which type of tomato plants to grow to provide food on the almost 3 year trip to Mars planned for sometime before 2020. Our class, and many others were given two packages of tomato seeds, one labeled “Plant A” and the other labeled “Plant B”. One of the packages of seeds has been put in a space similar to the what the conditions will be like on the Mars trip. The other package is just full of normal tomato seeds."


"Preparing for Tomatosphere" a PowerPoint

note.  above PowerPoint is ONLY viewable with IBM compatible computer


Tuesday may 6, 2008

"Storyline Online"

The class read, listened, and watched an online story tale from a web site titled, Storyline Online.  The story was titled “Guji Guji” and read by Robert Guillaume.  It is a story of a duckling that does not look like his brothers.  However, one day he meets three nasty creatures and …..?”

The class responded to this story by providing the Somebody, Wanted, But, So, and Then of the story.  This was followed by personal reflections.  The class nominated peers to podcast their responses.

Podcasts by: Brennan, Amber, Mariah, Shanna, Logon

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Headline - Future News Anchors ?

The class had Doug Dirks, the CBC news anchor share his expertise regarding the world of news reporting with us today.  All grades six’s next month are responsible for writing a news article for the Alberta Achievement exams.  Mr. Dirks provided valuable insights into what techniques encouraged the creation of an exciting news worthy broadcast.  He explained that reporters (ie. Newspapers and TV) try to use “hooks” to gain the audience attention.    Hooks are pieces of information given at the beginning of a news report that will encourage readers/ watchers to stay for the rest of the report.  The rest of the report will contain the 5 W’s.  However, Mr. Dirks did note that newspapers could provide more detail regarding the 5 W’s than news broadcasters - due to space and time constraints of TV.  But, a news broadcast had the ability of providing live TV updates to current events, while newspapers can only provide information once/ day. 

The class was later challenged to create opening leads to the topic: "Alexander Ferguson School's Open House of our Raingarden Naturalization Project" on May 8. 

Watch them below…what channel would you watch?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Create New Words

Student journal topic:

"On April 14, 1828, the Webster’s Dictionary was first published.  Each year, a number of new words are added to the dictionary. What do you think of the new words added this year?"

a) mouse potato - noun

Etymology:-after couch potato

slang : a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer

b) spyware - noun

software that is installed in a computer without the user's knowledge and transmits information about the user's computer activities over the Internet

c) supersize - transitive -verb

Inflected Form(s):-su·per·sized; su·per·siz·ing

: to increase considerably the size, amount, or extent of

d) aquascape - noun

1 : a scenic view of a body of water

2 : an area having a natural or constructed aquatic feature (as a pond or fountain)

e) ollie - noun

Etymology:-Ollie, nickname of Alan Gelfand b1963 United States skateboarder

1 : a maneuver in skateboarding in which the skater kicks the tail of the board down while jumping in order to make the board pop into the air

2 : a maneuver in snowboarding in which the rider transfers weight from the front to the back foot to snap the board up off the ground


Podcasts by:  Alyse, Anna, Muhammed, Grace, Kayla, and Phenix

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ukulele Rocks

We had a professional ukulele artist named James Hill visit our school this morning.  He provided the class with a one hour lesson (listen below) and a stageshow for the entire school.

How did you get started on the `ukulele?

I grew up in Langley, British Columbia where I attended Belmont Elementary School from kindergarten to grade 7. In grade 4, I started `ukulele along with everyone else; the inimitable Jamie Thomas, a pupil of Mr. Doane's, was our teacher. Mr. Thomas still teaches `ukulele at Belmont school. (from James web site)


Student reflection on our Ukulele session:

Ukulele was a blast!  It was fun because hardly anyone has a ukulele.  So you don’t get to play it often.  I would love to go do it again…any day.  We sang and played to “row, row, your boat”, frera shaka, and lots more.  It was so much fun!  I can’t wait for the next lesson.  Really I can’t.  Oh ya, one more thing -did you know that Ukulele means jumping fleas? 

By Britt

Class Songs: A, B(with solo), C(Latin Time).

Pictures of session: A, B, C.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sense of Time Poetry

Class Created Poem: (listen to Podcast)

Theme- Sky Science

Sense of Time – 2945 A.D.

1 (Row 1) Periwinkle is an original color

2 (Row 2) The color of a new planet

3 (Row 3) Global warming has taken us over

4 (Row 1,2) The clang of metal against metal

5 (Row 1,2,3) Polluted air filled with oil

6 (boys) It tastes bitter 

7 (girls) Soon it will all be over


LINE 1-Assign a color to that time period

LINE 2-Describe the color with an example.   The color of . . .

LINE 3-What does this time period feel like?

LINE 4-What does this time period sound like?

LINE 5-What does this time period smell like?

LINE 6-What does this time period taste like?

LINE 7-Sum up your feeling about the time period in a sentence.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good Byes

Student journal topic:

“Next week is the last week our student teacher Miss. Tran will be working with our class.  She has been with us since the fall.  Share some of the personal experiences you have had with her”

Podcasts by: Alyse, Amber, Andrew, Anna, Bailey, Brennan, Britt, Catie, Elaura, Emine, Erik, Fatma, Grace, Hojo, Kayla, Logan, Maeghen, Mariah, Mitchell, Muhammed, Phenix, Ryan F., Ryan G., Shaira, Shawna, Tom, Zoe.

Our Student Teacher

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Moon Phases with L.T.T.A. artist

With L.T.T.A. Artist: Jeoffrey Kemplis

Student reflection on L.T.T.A. artist session #1

“This morning we had an artist named Jeff in our classroom.  He taught us how to use crayon type (ie. conte) pastels to draw moon phases.  Such as full moon and new moon.  I found it interesting how realistically you can draw the moon on just plain black paper.  It was pretty cool as well to see the planets different moons.  Like some are made of just ice.  My experience was good because I learned a lot about how to draw moon phases.  The medium that we worked with was hard at first but we got the hang of it.  So overall it was a pretty good class!” 

by Grace


Student reflection on L.T.T.A. artist session #4

“Last Wednesday was our classes final session with a visual artist.  He had guided us through our drawings of moon phases and nine planets.  I for one think it was a great experience because we could actually understand the characteristics of planets through our drawings.  We had also used cardinal directions to pinpoint the greatest light source.  In other words, the area the sun was reflecting the most light off of.  I really enjoyed having this artisit with us and hope he comes again”

by Elaura


Session #1Pictures: A, B, C, D, E, F

Session #2 Pictures: A, B, C, D

Session #3 Pictures A, B, C, D

Session #4 Pictures A, B, C, D



Color Wheel

Planet colors

Planet palette

Planet comparison



Planet 10 -


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pajama Day

Student journal topic:

"Today is Pajama Day at Alexander Ferguson School.  We all wore our P.J.’s today and our teacher wore pirate slippers (see slipper picture).  Describe what those slippers would see, feel, and do today.”

Podcasts by: Brennan, Grace, Phenix, Ryan G, Alyse

Monday, march 31, 2008

Pencil Patent

Student journal topic:

"On March 30 in 1858, the patent for a pencil with an attached eraser was issued.  Taking your pencil’s point of view, what do you think a typical day in your classroom would be like?"

Podcasts by: Mrs. Stoker, Britt, Hojo, Zoe, Elaura

Tuesday, march 18, 2008

First Space Walk

Student journal topic:

"Today marks the first walk in space.  Would you liked to have been the first person to walk in space?  Why or why not".

Podcasts by: Amber, Andrew, Elaura, Maeghen, Phenix, Shanna

Tuesday, march 11, 2008

Life on Other Planets?

Students utilized the reading strategy “read and reflect” after reading a short one-act play by Marion Lane titled “Is There Life on Other Planets?”.  In this play, the characters presented an interesting twist to the questions of life on other planets.  The students reflected on the play via a poetry format. 

Podcasts by: Alyse, Andrew, Bailey, Catie, Emine, Fatma, Kayla, Logan, Maeghen, Mariah, Mitchell, Muhammed, Shaira

Friday, march 7, 2008

Who named our continent?

Student journal topic:

"On March 9, in 1454, explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born.  The continent we live on is named after Vespucci.  What part of the world would you like to sail to and explore?  Why did you choose this destination?"

Podcasts by: Anna, Britt, Grace, Kayla, Muhammed, Phenix.

Thursday, march 6, 2008


P.W.I.M. - The picture word inductive model is designed to teach reading, writing, and the language system. It was developed to help students develop as independent learners, independent readers, and to foster confidence based on knowledge.

  • P.W.I.M. Picture of moon base

  • P.W.I.M. Picture of “Pop-corning”results shown here

Class results of P.W.I.M.'d picture:

Facts: stars, man is hurt, crater, moon, space, astronauts, bumpy, earth in distance, dark, space tools

Hypothesis: exploding planet, going to ship, world ending, discovery, out of oxygen, can’t return to ship

Emotions: sad, lonely, frightened, scared, anxiety, serious, alarmed

Pictures of student art work: Picture A, B, C,

P.W.I.M. Procedure:

Step 1: Draw and Paint picture scene based on random picture prompts.

Step 2: “Popcorn” ideas based on picture

Blue = emotions

Yellow = hypothesis

Purple = facts

Step 3: “S.W.B.S.T”. story structure

            Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then.

Step 4: Story starter selection (6 types -listen to Monday December 17, 2007 blog entry)

Step 5: B.S.S. Outline of 5 to 6 paragraph story

Step 6: Writing Process Steps (first draft, peer and personal conference checklists, second, and final draft)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Galaxy Montage

The class created a colorful work of galactic art using coffee filters, watercolors, and construction paper. It reminded us of the beauty of the night sky and the great variety of shapes that galaxies take.

see "Powers of 10" video

Curriculum objectives:

Students will:

-Observe patterns and movements of objects in the sky.

-Understand that Sun and stars emit light while other objects are seen by reflected light.

-Identify devices/ technologies that enable us to understand other planets.

-Understand that our Solar System is only a small part of the universe.

What to do:

Using the watercolor paints, students drew colorful designs on the filters.  Stars, planets, moons, and comets can be drawn.  All these objects make up galaxies!

Using the straw or eyedropper to dribble a few drops of water on the filters. The water will make the colors run together in unique ways. Let the filters dry.

When the filters were dry, they were cut into galaxy shapes. Galaxy patterns were provided to the students. Scientists have discovered the spiral arms often extend much farther than anyone thought. Galaxies were cut into different sizes to provide the illusion of distances.

Galaxy Information

Star nurseries exist! These are places where new stars are forming inside galaxies. Galaxies are clusters of gas, dust, stars, planets, moons, and various strange objects such as black holes. Our own Milky Way galaxy contains over 200 billion stars. The entire universe probably contains over 100 billion galaxies.  GALEX (satellite) can see these hot, baby stars quite well, because they shine brightly in ultraviolet, or UV, light. UV light is invisible to us.  GALEX can detect stars and galaxies that are more than a million times fainter than ones we can see with our eyes from even the darkest skies here on Earth.


This galaxy is known as the “whirlpool galaxy”.  It is 27 million light years away.  Picture of M51 Spiral Galaxy

Diagram of Relative sizes of different galaxies

Student work: Picture A, B, C, D, E, F

Monday, February 25, 2008

Turning a bad story into a good story

In the Morning - We all came to school today ready for another great week.  However, our morning was “soured” by the realization that vandal(s) broke a window in our classroom.  Luckily, the classroom was undamaged (other than the window).  However, this turned into a learning opportunity regarding our school "Circle of Courage" philosophy.  The class discussed how the elements of the Circle of Courage applied to this unfortunate situation (listen to podcasts below).  In addition, the cost of vandalism to the city of Calgary was elaborated.  It was determined, that victims of this crime included the actual culprits.  This is due to the idea that their families have to pay an increased municipal tax to help offset the costs of vandalism within the city of Calgary.  However, it was noticed that “mischief” crime statistics within the city of Calgary have decreased from 829 in 2005 to 569 in 2007.  City of Calgary community crime statistics are available at:


Student podcasts:  Amber, Anna, Brennan, Zoe, and Elaura.


Some other CBE schools with Circle of Courage information:


In the Afternoon - This also happened to be the day that the class completed our Forensic science unit and wrote a test.  After the test, the class was extremely interested in investigating the primary crime scene and discovering any potential secondary locations.  They realized that testimonial, trace, fingerprint, and perhaps other evidence would be available for investigating.  Materials were gathered (fingerprinting powder, zip lock bags, toothpicks to delicately move trace evidence, and magnifying glasses).  The area was secured with police tape and the forensics scientists (aka “detectives” … aka2 “students”) entered and gathered evidence.  The trajectory of the object that broke the window was hypothesized...with no clear conclusions.  Foot prints in the grass were found, but it could not be determined if these were from a suspect or innocent bystander.  No suspects were identified or asked to provide alibis.  The case is not closed.

Pictures from primary location: Picture A, B, C, D, E, and F

Forensic science information:


Wednesday, February 21, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

Tonight, for the first time this year, the moon will become completely immersed in the Earth's shadow - creating a total lunar eclipse.  During a lunar eclipse, the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, blocking the Sun’s light. We will view the Earth’s shadow creep across the surface of the Moon (see Mariah's picture below).  Lunar eclipses are not as impressive as Solar eclipses (when day turns to night) - however, they last for a longer amount of time and can be seen from almost anywhere on Earth.


Lunar Eclipse Pictures: Mariah (time lapse), Elaura, Kayla, Maeghen, and Mr.R.

How to take pictures at night:

-if you have a digital camera: set your ISO setting to a higher than normal value

-use a tripod


Tuesday, February 19, 2007

"Random Acts of Kindness"

Student journal topic:

"Yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Make a list of 5-10 acts of kindness that you can perform over the next week or month.    Remember, you can help anyone...young,  old, family, friend, stranger.  Your random act can be as simple as picking up and  returning an item someone dropped."

Podcasts by: Anna, Catie, Mariah, Ryan F., and Ryan G.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Math Translations = Melodic Transformations

With L.T.T.A. Artist: Tim Janz

Math is all about patterns and relationships.  Music is full of patterns and relationships of sounds in time.  How does music show patterns and relationships?

Answer = repetition, transposition, and time manipulations (tempo)

The class listened to the opening of Beethoven’s 5th.   The “fate motive” was discussed and how music can be manipulated (slides and reflections).

Students were given Orff instruments.  Ranges were compared between instruments and sound quality (xylophones and metalophones).  Students identified notes and rhythms on their instruments.

The last step of the this L.T.T.A. project involved the students creating a short melody that combined their motives with some of it’s transformations.  It was copied onto graph paper and labeled according to its transformation stage.

Questions discussed were:

-Compare with Garageband score notations and identify how they are the same and how they differ.

-How is the information being presented?

-Could you play your melody on an Orff xylophone?

Melodic motives in Garageband were utilized.  The students created a four-note motive that created a musical ‘quadrilateral.’  Horizontal reflections (retrograde) and vertical (inversion) were demonstrated.

See picture A (view of Garageband notes)

Working on their computers, students created and explored three note and four note motives. They were transformed with slides and reflections.

Below is a sample of the class work.  Can you here the transformations?

Amber, Alyse, Andrew, Catie1, Catie (with kit), Erik, Gracie, Hojo, Maeghen, Mariah, Mitchell,, Shanna (with kit), Shawna, Tom, Zoe.

(with kit): refers to a Grageband music kit that was added to the mix


Math Curricular Outcomes:

-Translations: slides and reflections (vertical and horizontal)

-Graphing and interpreting graphic notation

-Quadrilaterals and Triangles

Fine Arts Curriculum Outcomes:

-Melodic motive construction and manipulation

-Prograde, retrograde, inversion, retrograde-inversion

-Orff instrument performance

Friday, January 25, 2008

Keep in Touch

Student journal topic:

"Three of our classmates have left today to travel on a cruise ship through the Caribbean ocean.  Create a journal entry that our traveling classmates can listen to during their adventure.  We hope that they respond to these podcasts via email...and send some pictures!"

Podcasts by:  Amber, Logan, Emine - Caitlin, and all of Room #8.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Irrelevant Details

Students understood that descriptive words applied randomly to their writing do not enrich its quality.  In today's assignment, they identified critical story elements (ie.  characters, setting, and objects) that could be enhanced with the use of relevant details.  The following story elements all were podcasted by groups of students.  The first podcast had an example of irrelevant and relevant elaborative detail added to a critical story element.  Lesson idea courtesy of Barbara Mariconda.


Critical story elements following a "spooky" theme:

a)  A critical setting - "mountain view":  Podcast A (irrelevant example) and Podcast B (relevant example)

b) A critical setting - "spooky cave": Podcast C and Podcast D  (decide which one is relevant)

c)  A critical character -"skeleton": Podcast E and Podcast F  (decide which one is relevant)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Popcorn Day

Student journal topic:

"Today is Popcorn Day.  If you could invent your own flavor of popcorn, what would it be and why?"

Podcasts by: Caitlin , Hojo , Phenix, , Ryan G , Fatma, and Shanna.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Geometry - a Web of Lines

The class reviewed several geometric terms.  A student held on to the beginning strand of a yarn ball and passed it around the class.  The teacher made sure that there was at least one example of each of the new math geometry terms (see below for list of terms) before passing the yarn.  Once a sufficient number of examples were in the yarn web, the teacher stopped the activity and had the students write the math terms in their journals.  The teacher also showed the students, on the whiteboard, how to write out these formations (AB _|_ CD, EF || GH, and MN x OP).   The lesson was concluded by having a class-wide discussion using the following questions: 1) What did you learn about the new terms? 2) How do rays, lines, and line segments differ? 3) How do you know that two lines are parallel? 4) What is the difference between perpendicular and intersection rays? 5) Where else (besides in the web or on paper) can you find some of these geometric formations?


-The students will be able to use specific geometry terminology (e.g. rays, lines, angles, segments, etc.) when describing the different parts of a large yarn web.

-The students will be able to use their math journals to communicate mathematical understanding using terminology, pictures, numbers, and symbols.

-The students will be able to work cooperatively with their classmates to create and maintain a large yarn web.



-The students' ability to use the correct terminology when verbally describing the geometric formations within the yarn web.

-The students' ability to look at their partner's recordings and determine whether or not they correctly use the new geometry terminology. 



Ray - A line starting at a single point and going on forever in one direction.

Line - A straight line going on forever in both directions.

Segment - A line with two endpoints.

Point - A fixed spot on a line, line segment, or ray.

Parallel - Two lines, line segments, or rays that are constantly equidistant apart from one another so that they never intersect.

Perpendicular - A line, line segment, or ray that touches or intersect another line, line segment, or ray at a 90 degree angle.

Intersecting - Two lines, line segments, or rays that touch or pass through one another at any angle.

Picture A, Picture B, Picture C.



Monday, December 17, 2007

6 + 1 = Story Starters

With the help of our school AISI leader, the class wrote potential narrative story starters (see podcast links below) on one of the following topics:  a snow day (ie. school closed), a new pet, or a Christmas morning. 

The types of story starters used were:

1)      Catchy/ question?

2)      Dialogue

3)      Setting

4)      Action

5)      Character description

6)      Surprise statement

+ 1    Sound

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Aboriginal Legends

The class read four personal essays that tell of everyday heroes as seen through the eyes of Aboriginal children across Canada.  The heroes were an artist, singer, actor, and lawyer.  They were a source of pride from their respective communities.

The students recalled how the artists told their stories through carvings, music, and drama.  A legend called, “the Luring of the Salmon at Gitanmaax" was shared with the class.  Some Aboriginal stories tell of events that scientists claim may have occurred 25 million years ago.

The class researched aboriginal art drawings and selected images that interested them.  They reflected on their art piece (likes, dislikes, what caught their attention, title connection with painting, etc…).  The students then created their own aboriginal themed art piece on a simulated buffalo hide.  They wrote a legend that explained how “something factual came to be”.

Legend Podcasts: Anna, Grace,, Shanna, Amber, Brennan, Eric, Hojo, Kayla, Mariah, Mitchell, Phenix, and Zoe.

Class Buffalo Skins: Picture A and Picture B


-Oil pastels (3)

-Brown construction paper (wrinkled)

-Black felt tipped marker

Other sample Aboriginal Legend Stories:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Room With a View

Room #8 utilized acrylic paints to draw a scene from our class window.  The students focused on a single window and represented what they saw with acrylic paints.   They noticed the different branching, and leaf patterns on deciduous vs. coniferous trees.  This is an important skill to develop as tree and leaf branching patterns are used to identify tree types. 


-Acrylic paint

-MDF trim

-Brush #’s flat, #12 round, #6 round

Picture A, Picture B, Picture C


Tree identification web links:


Background Information:

a) What are acrylic paints?

Acrylics are similar to oil paints in many ways, and also very different.  The major advantage of acrylics is that they dry really fast. The major disadvantage of acrylics is that they dry really fast! Acrylic paints are water based, do not smell as much as oil paints, and are easy to clean.  Until they are dry, then not so easy! 

b) Technique - Fan brush TIP:

One way of doing foliage is with a fan brush. Use a little bit of paint on the end and gently tap the canvas to create leaves, using lighter colors (with a fairly thick consistency) for highlighting.

c) Layering

The class had to imagine layering color on color over a whole painting, and what the overall effect would be -- many different hues and subtle shades that are each affected by what colors went below. A covered ground could have an under painting of soft blue and dark browns to give it a warm and soft color.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Phonograph Invented

Student journal topic:

"On this day in 1877, the phonograph was invented.  This machine allowed people to listen to phonograph records.  How do you think listening to these records was different than listening to today’s CDs?  What may be the advantages and disadvantages of each type of machine?"

Anna Podcast

Hojo Podcast

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parts of a Tree

The class utilized water colors to draw a forest.  A tree was singled out so that it could be labeled with the following terminology; outerbark, innerbark, cambium, sapwood, and heartwood. 


-water color paper and paint

-permanent felt pens

Picture A, Picture B

Background:  Watercolor artists have a great many choices about how to use this versatile medium. One of the decisions that they can make is how to treat their subject matter. Sometimes a subject simply demands a wet-into-wet approach with soft, feathery edges that suggest rather than precisely define objects. Other times, hard precise edges are chosen. Frequently, the most interesting watercolor paintings use both kinds of edges to give depth and focus to their subject matter.

Technique: The wet-into-wet technique uses values of color. Beginning with the lightest color, then, the middle value is added while the first color is still damp, and finally, the darkest value is added. This gives a "softer" form, and might be used in background objects where a sharper focus is not wanted.

Thursday November 22, 2007

Turkey Escape

Student journal topic:

"Today is American Thanksgiving day.  Write a two or three paragraph fantasy in response to - Pretend you are a turkey.  How will you escape being served for Thanksgiving dinner?"

Muhammed Podcast

Ryan F Podcast

Britt Podcast

Monday, November 5, 2007

Forest Ecosystem Levels

The different levels of the forest and the animals that live at the different levels were visually displayed and explained in note form on the back of sketchbook drawings.

The students started the project by ripping the pages into quarters.  The uneven rip’s represented the slightly uneven levels of the forest.  Sketches of each forest level were made and outlined in permanent marker.  Utilizing chalk pastels, they shaded each level a color that represented the sun light found at that particular level.

Pictures of forest ecosystem levels:

Picture A, Picture B, Picture C, Picture D, Picture E

Materials used:

-Chalk pastels

-Sketch books

-Permanent markers

Web resources

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Apple People

Apples were peeled (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious etc), cutting away any bruises. Carved faces were made to be as life-like a face as possible (not cutting too deeply to avoid rotting). Those little things that make a face so human - the little lines running from nose to mouth, the hollows of the eyes, the depressions caused by cheekbones, etc. were incorporated.  Depending on the "skin" tone desired, the carved apples were soaked for about 45 minutes in a mixture of lemon juice, salt, and water (the longer you soak, the lighter the "skin" tone will be). The apples were set out to dry. They will have shrunk by about two-thirds their original size.

Pictures of Apple People:

Picture A, Picture B


·       Apples

·       Limejuice

·       Salt

·       Knives (plastic)

The second step of this project will involve the class writing descriptive paragraphs based on their apple carvings.  These descriptive paragraphs will then be matched to the correct apple

Friday October 26, 2007

Debatable Social Issues

After several intense LTTA sessions with our drama artist Ellen, the class hosted a school assembly to showcase their efforts. Each person took on the role/ character of either a citizen, politician, or lobbyist. The groups selected a controversial theme to role-play in character.

THURSDAY, October 25, 2007

Picasso's Birthday

Student journal topic:

"Pablo Picasso, the famous artist, was born in Spain on this day in 1881. Describe a picture of your favorite place.  This may be a place that you  have visited, or just a place you visit in your  mind.  After you have described your place, write a paragraph describing why it is special to you."

Alyse Podcast

Caitlin Podcast

Shanna Podcast

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hip Hop Finals

At the end of a school-wide dance week, our class Hip Hop group performed for the entire school. The program was a good work-out and it helped students develop skills in rhythm and movement. 

Even the staff performed a rap...but watch that video at you own risk!

Room 8 Hip-Hopping’ video and picture

Staff Rapp’ video

The Professionals dance video

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hip Hop Dance

Professional dancers from "SoundKreations" (Jordan Zack and Dustin Lee) visited our school for an entire week sharing their skills with the entire student body.  Unfortunately, the Room #8 teacher had two left feet and could not compete with his class.

Class Dancing Practice A

Class Dancing Practice B

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Right Now"

objective: students reflect on weekend via writing

Musings on a weekend theme.  Students responded to a theme in  their writing journals utilizing musings/ and or sentence starters.  Teacher responded to students in writing journals by asking questions regarding student thoughts and opinions.

Andrew Podcast

Grace Podcast

Amber Podcast

Friday, October 12, 2007

Monster Exchange

Monster Exchange is designed to encourage the development of reading and writing skills.  Based on a student drawn picture the students had to write a report.  The paragraphing for this report was themed based on appendages, head, and body of their individual monsters.  The students were then challenged to use reading comprehension skills to read the descriptions and translate them into a monster picture. The true challenge involved creating a redrawn picture as close to the original picture as possible without looking at the original and using only the written description of the monster.  This was a great Halloween writing activity.

Example A and Example B

Sample monster stories

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Census at School

The students were provided with a class ID and password to enter numerical data information at "Census at School" web site.  Data was entered based on measurements made of themselves at school.  Recordings of their conversations are provided below.

Mariah Census Podcast

Shanna and Tom Census Podcast

Andrew and Britt Census Podcast

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Student journal topic:

"On this day in 1876, the first two-way telephone conversation took place.  If you could call anyone, who would it be and why?"

Recording of:

Bailey Podcast

Logan Podcast

Kayla Podcast

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Student journal topic:

"On this day in 1957, Sputnik I, the first space vehicle was launched. Would you like to travel into space? If yes, explain what you would like to explore. If no, explain why  you would want to keep yourself on earth."

Recording of:

Andrew Podcast

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Poems By You About You

This was an activity for the first week of school that allowed students to express themselves poetically and to get to know each other.

Steps followed:

a) Students selected six to eight symbols that represented themselves.  These were drawn on paper and divided into a grid pattern.  The drawings were colored in an alternating pattern.

b) The class then utilized a 3-stanza poem to describe himself or herself.   The format of this poem is provided below.

Pictures of students work:

Picture A, Picture B, Picture C



I am (two special characteristics you have)

I wonder (something you are actually curious about)

I hear (an imaginary sound)

I see (an imaginary sight)

I want (an actual desire)

I am (the first line of the poem repeated)


I pretend (something you actually pretend to do)

I feel (a feeling about something imaginary)

I touch (an imaginary touch)

I worry (something that really bothers you)

I cry (something that makes you very sad)

I am (the first line of the poem repeated)


I understand (something you know is true)

I say (something you believe in)

I dream (something you actually dream about)

I try (something you really make an effort about)

I hope (something you actually hope for)

I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

to be continued