Through the experience of Nature School, students in grade 5 and 6 realized that the 2013 flood caused major devastation to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. They inquired into the impact natural disasters and humans have on the environment. Students shared their knowledge at the O.S. Geiger School’s Eco-Conference, where participants took part in sessions involving student created models, interactive displays, debates, storytelling and TED Talk videos focusing on relevant and current environmental issues such as impacts of the oil industry, and effects of the 2013 southern Alberta flood.
Over the span of a few months students in grade 5/6 were introduced to different mathematical problems. They spent 2–5 days on each problem, recording their process, strategies, hints and reflections in their Math Journals. Emphasis was placed on explaining their steps when solving the problem and looking for connections between the problem, mathematical concepts and real life. After working on numerous problems, students were introduced to the concept of a Math Fair and The Math Fair Rubric. Each student chose their favorite problem and were grouped based on that problem. With support from Judy Martin and mathematician Dr. Krista Francis-Poscente, students learned their problem; it’s story, rules and solutions. Once they became the expert, students worked on creating easier levels and extensions for their problem to accommodate different learners. They presented their problem at our Math Fair - an evening open to the entire school community.
The World of Insects
The story of learning began with the arrival of the Painted Lady Butterfly larva in the fall. Through observation and research, the grade 1's & 2's discovered the needs and life cycle of the butterflies. They were now on their way to becoming insect experts! The students then selected their own insect to study in-depth. Through various methods of research, using videos, pictures, books, and on-line websites these students began learning about their insect's life cycle. They were becoming scientists in action. They sketched to better understand the physical appearance of the insects. This led them to explore various art mediums and techniques. Creating 3-D insects and habitats were part of the process. Through their studies the students discovered how important insects are and the way they connect to our world.
How Do We Create Change?
This question has guided the grade 5/6 classes in a yearly inquiry exploring the process of change. We have learned that to create change in our community and world we need to first become aware of and build our knowledge around issues. Once we have a good understanding of these issues we can share our knowledge with others and finally take on an action to help create change. During our inquiry we have learned about how citizens can create change within their environment, community, government, as well as globally. Students from the different classes have participated in We Day, We Create Change, We Are Silent, fundraising for the Calgary Women’s Shelter and the Interfaith Food Bank. We also looked at events and people throughout history that have created positive change that continues to affect us today.
Family Math Night
Our Family Math Night introduced O.S. Geiger families to a variety of hands-on math games and activities appropriate for all age levels. Parents and children worked together to play and participate in math games and activities that involved counters, playing cards, building materials and technology. Parents gained valuable strategies to help their children learn and practice math skills at home using everyday materials. Families left with a package of math manipulatives and a list of math websites and apps they could use at home.
Family Literacy Night
At our Family Literacy Night, families were given the opportunity to discover and explore answers to questions that demonstrate a variety of literacy skills, techniques and strategies. Together, students and their families visited 8 different literacy centres throughout the school. At each of the centres they were involved in a variety of activities and then answered various questions; the end result being that together they discovered that literacy is more than reading and writing.
What Changes in Our World?
Kindergarten Classes explored the question “What Changes in Our World?” To help them understand this concept, they decided to choose a tree outside and watch it throughout the year. They noticed the tree changes with the seasons. The students transferred what they saw outside by creating a tree in their classrooms. They also learned how to draw realistic trees, recording observations on whiteboards and on paper.
Why Do We Care?
Students in grades 3 & 4 asked the question, “Why should we care about the regions of Alberta?” Through the development of question asking techniques, the classes were able to identify some questions for inquiry. “What is the climate like in the different regions of Alberta?” “What are the plants and animals that live in each region?” “How are these things linked together?” As they explored the region of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, students viewed the world through the eyes of the American Pika. What can the pika teach us about our world? Students soon discovered the pika’s existence is being threatened. What was causing this threat? How can we help? Now experts as writers, researchers, artists, scientists and computer technologists, students tackled these big questions. They wrote questions to pika researchers by email and used factual information in our narrative fictional stories.
Let's Give a Hoot!
As Scientists, grade 3 & 4 students debated, discussed and researched why we should give a hoot about the owls of Alberta. Students researched and explored if they were endangered and why. They theorized about why we are losing some owls that are the top of the food chain, and, if that tells a story about the status of Alberta’s biodiversity. The students met with experts to learn more about how and where owls live can determine their survival. They dissected owl pellets to get a better understanding that all objects in nature are artifacts and that they too tell a story about the habitat that they were discovered in. As Scientists we studied different owls that live in one of the 6 natural regions of Alberta. They researched who else is a stakeholder in that region and how these humans can lessen the impact on these birds.
As, Historians, grade 3 & 4 students learned that all artifacts tell an important aspect of our identity, culture and religion. Through writing their own autobiographies they learned that we all have a story to tell that makes us the same or different to others. We learned the importance of conserving stories and that retelling a story is key to preserving our history. We created power points to explain how the diverse region of Alberta has its own story to tell. As Historians we used our new learned skills all together when we took a trip to the Glenbow Museum to visit the Mavericks exhibition. While there we examined artifacts, historic photographs, documents and displays that helped us understand how the Mavericks of the past each had a unique characteristic that put Alberta into a new direction for the future.
The grade 3 & 4 students looked at the inquiry question: Who Cares? Through this large question, smaller questions have been a focus: Does caring change? Does everyone have a treasure or something that they care about? Why? Should we care for all living and non-living things? What happens when you don’t care? How do you promote caring? In the beginning of the school year, our students showed a dedication and interest in our Ethiopia Run for Water project, which created a strong sense of community caring.
The Story Of...
The grade 5 & 6's first looked at stories by examining artifacts. They looked deeply at different artifacts to discover their story: What is it made of? Where did it come from? Who used it? While doing this the students also learned different sketching techniques to sketch their artifacts. This skill of looking deeply at artifacts was refined at Open Minds Museum School. The students learned about people, cultures and history through artifacts and stories. The students then brought their knowledge of museums back to school to create our own museum exhibit: The Story of Canada. Students chose a specific topic relating to Canadian History or Government to research and represent through an artifact. They then became curators by organizing and putting together a museum exhibit.
What is Music?
Students at O.S. Geiger have been participating in a unique inquiry based music study. We began our story with an intensive study of rhythm and beat, using a variety of instruments. Students created their own rhythm compositions, using different instruments and sounds. They moved on to study melody, and how it can it written in both the Koldaly method and on the staff. Naturally, working with instruments followed, and we explored both rhythm and melody together. Kindergarten to grade 2, worked with Orff instruments while grade 3-6 worked with Handbells. Following this, as one of our largest projects, we did a composition unit. Students worked for several weeks with Mac laptops composing their own ringtones, using Garage Band software.
How Do We Tell A Story?
Kindergarten developed an inquiry focus on the question “How do we tell a story?” As the school year progressed, multiple forms of storytelling were uncovered; oral traditions, written word, pictures, music, drama, and dance all played an important role in our storytelling adventure. Through the use of these diverse mediums, Kindergarten students discovered the intrinsic value of storytelling. Our understanding of what makes a story interesting, how to retell a story, and the basic components of a story unfolded as we moved forward in our inquiry.
You Know You're In Canada When...
This year, our Grade 1/2 classes have been exploring Canada and making connections between three diverse communities. We have been examining the regions with a focus on symbols, landforms, weather, animals, culture, and food. The students are learning to think critically about the regions and how all these aspects result in their similarities and differences. They will be able to answer in depth “You know you’re in the west coast, north, and east coast when…”.
How Does the Past Influence the Present and Shape the Future?
Our grade 3/4 students have been using their “passports” to travel and experience the culture, history, quality of life and traditions of countries around the world. Students have been using a variety of methods such as examining authentic artifacts, listening to guest experts, or using multi-media research to gather information. They have been showcasing their understandings in multiple ways including written word, artistic creations, technology and verbal discussions. Using history as a springboard, students are seeing how the past is still a large part of a country’s present day culture, traditions and way of life. Students will be reflecting on “if” and “why” this is important to their future and how they can make an impact.
What is the Cultural Significance of Artifacts?
Students in grade 3/4 are becoming cultural and artifact specialists. They have been learning about the culture of a variety of countries, such as Peru, India, Ukraine, Tunisia, First Nations of Alberta and their own culture. Through their research, they have learned that culture is a way of life of a group of people, which includes traditions, language, beliefs, food, music, clothing and art. Most importantly, they have been learning about culture by looking closely at artifacts. Through an artifact, students can connect with a moment in time and understand that cultures not only have many similarities but also differences that we can embrace, respect and learn from.