Thinking Small About Big Things
Our first major project of the year could have been called "Miniature Town," as that is what we essentially made, but it the context of a whole country. We took macro concepts and made them micro, and took micro concepts and made them macro! There were many activities and smaller assignments/projects that were completed based on this theme, but our culminating work was a giant, 3D map of Canada. Big for 4/5 kids, but small in relation to the actual size of Canada! Students represented the geographic regions of Canada including natural resources, major cities and political boundaries, bodies of water, islands, and much more. We will return to this map several times throughout our school year to add further layers of meaning, including traditional Indigenous territories, railways, settlements, and more.
While I don't have a photo of our magnificent map (teacher fail!), I do have some photos of another mini-project the students worked on during this learning contract. After visiting the Glenbow Museum to see the exhibit of Alex Janvier's work, students made their own circular art with colour, pattern, and symbols.
This was one of our most ambitious and exciting projects ever! We worked so hard over several months, but eventually pulled off a really cool project that we got to share with families at the Plaza Theatre in Kensington, Calgary, on the evening of June 19th, 2019. Inspired by "The Office," we created a full-length mockumentary-style movie detailing what life in "the pod" is like. We moved into our new building in October of this school year, and life in our new classroom (or pod) was definitely an adjustment. We were happy to share all the trials and tribulations we went through this year (with a healthy dose of fiction and imagination) in our film. To watch the full film, visit: https://vimeo.com/280264027/712ad11b4c
Pattern Rule .gifs
Inspired by the Salons of Paris in the early 20th century, our 4/5s hosted a real life open-house salon that was filled from floor to ceiling with modernist paintings, sculptures, musical performances, and theatre. We studied different methods of abstraction, including the manipulation of colour, shape/form, texture/pattern, and simplification. Some of the French artists we studied were Manet, Seurat, Braques, and Duchamp. We also studied several non-French artists who worked in Paris around the same time, such as Van Gogh, Miro, and Picasso.
We practiced writing persuasive paragraphs through our artist statements, and wrote autobiographical narrative stories inspired by the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls books.
The salon was a great opportunity to introduce the students to the topic of feminism, which we linked to Alberta's history through a sculptural project inspired by the Famous Five.
During each week of the Settlers of CAA project, we have been doing a group design challenge. This gives us opportunities to think creatively and critically, while building Belonging and Community within our mentor groups. Below are a few examples from our Cardboard Fort and Snow Sculpture days. We also had homemade vehicle races, anthem creating challenges, and student-created dance challenges.
Settlers of CAA
We just wrapped up another major project in the year 4/5 pod - this one was themed after the board game Settlers of Catan. We recreated the game board on a poster that matches the map of Canada, and coloured the hexagon blocks based on the geographic region that they fall into. The kids spent six weeks completing challenges, earning resources, and working through their workshop classes in order to develop their civilizations by building roads, settlements, and cities.
Some of the major curricular points that we met through this project include:
- procedural writing through a "Settler Survival Guide" infographic project
- multi-digit multiplication and regrouping with addition and subtraction through performative scenes and comics
- area, perimeter, and mapping through the creation of homestead blueprints
- stories of non-European immigrants through creation of paper freedom quilts and pastel drawings
- waste and our world topics, as well as how plants grow and change through the creation of mini-greenhouses
- instrument families through the creation of homemade instruments, plus we practiced singing in a round by learning the song "Sons and Daughters" by the Decemberists
We had a very snowy Thursday which kept many of our students at home. So instead of our usual planned activities, we decided to spend the afternoon painting together. In small groups, we looked at the work of Maud Lewis and designed our own folk-art inspired landscapes on the theme of Community. It was the perfect way to spend a snowy afternoon!
My 4/5 class participated in the CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge again this year, and while we didn't win, we had a lot of fun creating this awesome video! This year we decided to enter as a whole school, so got some help from the 6-9 music students as well. It was extra special because it was filmed during our last week at our old campus, so it truly was an "end of an era!"
This year's Winter Celebration at the Jubilee was another huge success - and I am especially proud of the Year 4/5 piece that I was involved in creating. Using music from Gord Downie's Secret Path album, we told the story of Chanie Wenjack, a First Nations boy from Ogoki Post who died while running away from his residential school in Kenora, Ontario.
Below are the lanterns that I helped a small group of Year 4/5 students to make which became props in our movement piece. Creating these lanterns allowed us to cover curriculum from math (3D forms,) social studies (Stories and Ways of Life in Canada,) and science (ecological systems) while working hands-on.
We're Finally Here!
Our new building is finished ahead of schedule, so we will be moving after the break! I feel so lucky to be able to work in this beautiful, historic building.