November 4

October Class Update

Wow, I can’t beleive we are already in to November! This year is flying by, and I am loving every minute of it.

Here are some highlights from our learning in October:

We kicked off the month with our week-long Cardboard Challenge Project, and it was a huge success! Students in grades 5-9 collaborated to create their own project criteria and rubric first thing Monday morning, then spent the rest of the week interviewing “clients” in other classrooms, creating plans for construction, building, testing, and modifying their work, and decorating their games to entice players.

Katlin & Bluesky developing their game plan

The Friday afternoon in the gym had such great energy as students proudly displyed their work and asked others, young and old, to come and play. Thank you to all the parents and community members that came to take in our learning that day!

Jesse & Morgan’s Popcorn Vending machine

 

 

 

 

This month, we switched from Science to Social Studies and learned all about economic systems. Students now have a good grasp on concepts like: Market, Command, and Mixed economies and the differences between them; Supply and Demand, and how that affects price; How governments intervene in the market, and how they match the values of that country and the type of economic system they have; Factors of Production and how to address Scarcity; and the role that Labour Unions play in economics. A friendly reminder that the unit exam will be Monday November 6th! Here’s a link to the study sheet if you left it at school:

Economics Review Questions

 

In Math, we moved from Powers and Exponent Laws to Square Roots, which was pretty easy once we understood it’s the opposite of a squared number! We have been practicing a great strategy for estimating non-perfect squares and I am very proud to say most of the class has their perfect squares memorized up to 10! As we finish up our unit on Numbers outcomes, we will be looking at what rational and irrational numbers are, sorting rational numbers from largest to smallest and vice versa, and then performing operations on them. We discovered an awesome online resource to help practice and extend our lessons in math called khanacademy.org. Students have all created an account and I can give them assignments based on what we are learning and where they are at. I love this website as it gives the kids lots of practice with our math concepts and lets those that get it move on to more complex things.

Stay tuned for an update on the Math unit exam date!

In Language Arts, we continue our novel study of Hunger Games, and are excitedly following Katniss’ journey as she fights to stay alive inside the Game Arena. As a class, we did a reaping and have four “tributes” that will participate in our own version of the Games (don’t worry, no one will be hurt!!). The tributes have been working on strategy with their Mentors and Stylists, while 4 Gamemakers have come up with challenges to test the tributes and see who will be our victor! As we continue to read the story, we will be going through training challenges, advertising campaigns for the tributes, and hopefully getting “sponsors” from the rest of the school to help our tributes during the games. Date of the games will follow, but it should be ready to roll sometime in early December.

 

We also started working with our Buddies in Grades 1 & 2 this month. This collaboration helps our Grade 9 students build leadership skills, increase their reading fluency and voice, and allows them to bring their expertise to the younger classes, especially when it comes to technology!

We spent one morning getting to know them and reading some of the books in their book boxes, and on Halloween be brought our tech skills to the class to help them write and then post Halloween Cinquains to their own school blogs.

 

 

 

 

 

Buddies will continue throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Dates:

Nov. 6th/7th – Parent Teacher Interviews. Click here to sign up
Nov. 9th – Remembrance Day Ceremony at 10am
Nov. 10th & 13th – Fall Break
Nov. 14th – PD Day
Nov. 16th – Picture Retake Day
Nov. 27th – Dec. 1 – CTF Week for Grades 6-9

September 28

September Class Update

What a busy month we have had in Grade 9!!

I am so impressed with the respect this class is showing this year. They are considerate of their classmates and their fellow students in the hallways, and they make sure to keep the room clean and tidy every day, which makes Miss McCluskey very happy!

One of the changes we are trying this year is to have them all together with me for all of their core subjects. So far, I think this is working very well as we are more organized and focused during classtime, instead of wondering what class we have and where to go, or what we will need to bring.

In the mornings, we start our day with 10 minute mini-lessons on different executive functioning skills. There are 8 different types of executive functioning skills that affect our day-to-day lives. These skills are controlled by the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is not fully developed until our mid to late 20s! Because they are so important for us to learn, we focus on small strategies everyday to help us build them up. This month, we have been learning about the different emotions we fell, giving them names, and identifying how we physically react when we feel them. We have also made a list of our “triggers” (things that make us annoyed, frustrated, angry, or even explosive) and brainstormed ways that we can avoid those triggers, and things we can to when we feel that way.

In Language Arts, we are studying the novel “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. We are almost finished reading the first section and will have a novel quiz next week. We also simulated the reaping ceremony and will be hosting our own (much safer!) Hunger Games with four tributes: Autumn, Kolby, Katlin, and Nate.

In math, we are using a teaching strategy called “Guided Math”. Students are in small groups and meet with me for 10-15 minutes, while the other groups complete different activities related to our topic. We are currently learning about exponents and I am so proud that every student in the class is able to explain to me what that word means.

Lastly, we have completed our first unit in Science: Biological Diversity. We had an amazing field trip to the Muttart to learn about adaptations in different ecosystems, and most of us have kept our Sensitive plants alive! (Except me, I keep forgetting to give them water!) We studied the fields around our school to measure the diversity index of natural and man-made green spaces, and we grew mold!!

Ask your student about broad and narrow niches, asexual and sexual reproduction, genetics and DNA, and ways that we can help prevent the loss of biodiversity. Just a reminder to students, your unit exam will be Wednesday, Oct. 4th.

 

December 22

BreakoutEDU Box: A Christmas Week Challenge in Critical Thinking and Cooperation

This week, Seba Beach Middle years students spent 3 mornings solving puzzles and riddles using the MLI BreakoutEDU boxes on loan from PSD70 division office. Each of the 3 teachers, Mr. Chiles, Mr. Schiltroth, and myself, chose different games from the BreakoutEDU website and set up our rooms to challenge the students to think critically and work together in order to solve all the puzzles and open the box. Each morning, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, a different class was in each of rooms trying to solve the games.

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Robbie waiting for lock codes

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Taylor, Claire, and Maddie checking to see if the puzzles are connected

In the spirit of the season, I chose the game “ELF”, based on the popular Christmas movie. This game has 6 different puzzles to solve, all of which are stand-alone, which meant my students could break into smaller groups to solve them. I liked the variety of puzzles this game had, as there were some that were simple and involved noticing colours or patterns, and others that involved codes or had multiple steps to solve them. I also had to improvise slightly as I needed two letter locks for this puzzle but only had one, so I added a keypad with letters to convert it to numeric values for them.

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Taylor and Maddie working on the rebus riddle

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Robbie and Jacob using the UV light to find the pressed elevator buttons

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Faith working on solving the quotes puzzle

 

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6/7 students using the UV light so find clues in “Attack of the Locks”

I noticed a few changes in the students throughout the week as they became more familiar with the games. At first, the game materials were new and intriguing to them, so there was a lot of time spent just playing with the locks and the UV flashlight, and not so much on solving the puzzles. By the 3rd day, however, they were more focused on solving the game and less so on just playing.

The second thing I noticed is that the students started engaging with the puzzles, and with each other, much more by the third day. My first group was the grade 8 homeroom, and while I had quite a few of them trying at first, most gave up when the solutions weren’t obvious and only a core group of 4 continued to solve the game. I had the chance to see this group in the different games each day and I noticed more had joined the core group by Tuesday and most were actively working together by the third.

We gave each group 120 minutes for the games so that at the end they could complete debrief questions that are included in each of the games. Students struggled with the questions at first, especially when asked how they found each other’s strengths, but they were all able to make curricular connections and see how these games help with strategy, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Because each game was a different theme, they were also able to see how these games could be used in a variety of classes and subjects like Math, Language Arts, or Social Studies.

I am happy with how this week turned out, and I even have some students working to create their own games for after the break. I am excited to create our own Seba-owned box so that we can continue with these activities throughout the year.

 

Happy Holidays from Ms. McCluskey and all the students at Seba Beach!

October 4

Tech Lesson two

Today we are learning how to insert pictures and video into our blog posts.

picture of a door knob

I found this picture at: http://publicdomainarchive.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/thestocksim-1.jpg

 

Colourful swirl

This looks cool, I found this image at: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/50000/t2/bunte-glasfacetten.jpg

Tayo the little bus theme song video found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPZEPP0xUto

 

April 8

CTF Week Wrap-Up

Today wraps up the last day of our CTF week for the year, so I thought I would share some of the things my classes have done in each of the terms.

FAVA

Term 1 has us working as movie reviewers. Students discussed different genres of movies and worked together to create criteria for a powerful movie. They also had a chance to speak with local filmmakers during our field trip to FAVA in Edmonton. They also got to look at different film sizes, cameras, and editing equipment.

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During our trip, Heather and Katrina spoke to us about a local film festival they host called “GottaMinute?”. Artists from the Edmonton area can submit their 1 minute silent film to the festival and chosen films are played on Edmonton Public Transit and Edmonton Public Libraries. The festival also has a youth category, which got me thinking…maybe this is a better way to connect our CTF learning to the real world…

Term 2: Students were presented with their task and the opportunity to submit it to the Gotta Minute Film Festival. Again we created criteria for an effective short film based on past submissions on the GottaMinute website, and students created and played a cooperative learning game called “Quiz, quiz, trade” to learn film terms. We were fortunate to have 2 experts participate in video calls through Google Hangouts. Karen Gartner has worked as actress, film editor, producer, and director in various projects over the last 30 years; John Mackenzie has worked as a producer for multiple television stations throughout BC. Both experts spoke to us about how they got in to the industry and different projects they have worked on, but what stood out the most was that they were driven by a passion to create. Students took the rest of the week to film and edit their videos using the WeVideo chrome app, and they were uploaded to YouTube to share with the world.

Term 3: I still wanted the students to create short films for the Gotta Minute Film Fest, but I wanted to also add and extra challenge: Make a stop motion film using Lego! I provided students with mini-figures and some different sets, and an iPad with the Stop Motion Studio Pro app, and left them to their creative devices. On Wednesday, we had a local film maker, Mark Hoyne, join our class and show us some of his work with his company “Tiger in a Suit”. He also taught us about some basic shots and how to storyboard our films. Students were very excited to get started on their live action films after his visit and many groups were able to create 2 or 3 other movies. Students used the We Video app to edit again and we made a playlist of our work to share on Youtube.

I am very pleased with how CTF ran this year, not only with the work the students created, but also with my own learning. At the start of the year I did not feel like I had any background knowledge to teach a course on film studies. I knew I could teach how to write a review, but to actually make a film was something different. Now, I feel confident talking to students about story elements, storyboarding, different shots, and the editing process. I also learned some new tech this year and am excited to share this with our other Seba students during Library Commons time. I am looking forward to submitting my students’ work to the film festival and spending time between now and next fall learning more about my subject and what other things I can bring into the course.

July 7

Classroom Transformation: Day 1

Today I started work on my new classroom. I am moving upstairs and am looking forward to A) Having a real classroom for the first time, and B) having a TON of space!!

I want to make the room inviting and inspiring for my students when they walk in in 7 weeks. Originally I wanted to use a lot of neutral colours, including a wonderful rich “caffeine” colour on the walls, but sadly I learned last week that paint is not going to happen. Time to rethink.

I have decided that I will use all black bulletin board paper for my walls. I also saw on Pinterest a neat way to tape to the walls without causing (more) damage. I tried it out today to cover some of the marks on the wall and increase my display areas for next year. First, you mark out your space with painters tape, then use double-sided tape to adhere the paper to the wall. I plan on adding fancy duct tape to the edges for borders.

Not a lot got done today as I both had a wonderful 2 year old “helper” with me and I ran out of double-sided tape. To be continued on Thursday. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of today’s progress:

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June 25

Critically Thinking About Poetry

This year, I decided to change how I would teach poetry and figurative language to my Jr. High students. I posed them this question:

“To what extent is poetry still relevant to your life?”

First, we had to define WHAT poetry is. We spent lessons looking at figurative language and finding it in song lyrics. We also looked at rhythm and rhyme, tone and mood, and different parts of poems such as quatrains and stanzas.

Now that we had a definition for what POETRY was, we had to decide what RELEVANT meant. We looked up the definition, then brainstormed ideas of things that we need to have in our lives. We grouped them into categories, and from there each student chose their criteria for relevance to them: things like “I can have fun”, “I need it to survive”, and “I use it to learn” were among the top criteria chosen.

From there, I let the students loose. Make something that will convince me. Videos, raps, puppet shows, posters, blog posts, a pop-up book and a board game have all been turned in. Do all my students think poetry is relevant to their lives? No. Can they all justify their opinions with evidence and examples? Yes they can. Mission accomplished.

Here’s a smash-up of some of the videos they created: