Thursday, April 25, 2013

Technology Use, Special Visitors and Grade Six Projects

Hello Families,

Has your sixth-grader been more tired than usual lately?

In the last two weeks grade six has had a number of interesting projects and activities, ones I hope they have already spoken to you about. They have been participating with enthusiasm and working very hard.

Last week we had the opportunity, through the Discovery Education Network, to participate in a live webcast from Proudfoot Elementary school in Saskatchewan. This Cree school shared why it is important to them to include aspects of their Native identity as part of their daily activities in school, including the role of tribal elders in teaching Cree language and culture. We had the chance to see two Pow-wow dances and hear a drum circle, and the students and teachers spoke about how their school is similar and different to schools off reserves. This webcast was very timely, as our unit on Native Culture continues into next month.

As part of our Language Arts program, the students have been working on book reviews. Students had a chance to hear from experienced book reviewer (and my father) Jim Napier, who in his retirement has begun to review mystery and crime fiction for two newspapers and several on-line websites. Students were amazed to learn that he receives between 400 and 600 books a year from publishers, though he reviews only a fraction of them. He joined the class via Skype for a one hour lecture and discussion of what makes a review effective. You can see some of his work on his website, Deadly Diversions.

In that same week, we had a visit from naturalist Kat Usher of the Earthvalues Institute in Montreal. Kat has been visiting our school once a year for the last twelve years, sharing her knowledge of science and connecting what students know about the natural world to bigger issues of conservation and sustainability. Students love Kat for her sense of humour and her warm personality, her carefully prepared presentations and  the thoughtful way with which she answers questions. Many thanks to the St Francis Valley Naturalist Club, who underwrite this visit. It was, as always, a very interesting and informative presentation!

Student have also been preparing biographical presentations about famous artists as part of the lead up to our visit to the Musee des Beaux Arts next week. With everything going on lately, these won't be finished before Tuesday, but the students have been working hard and have shown great enthusiasm for the subject.

This week's big project deserves it's own post. Hope to write you soon about our Writer's Workshop two-day event and the wonderful ebooks that were produced.

Warm regards,
Kathy Napier

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