Learning Update - March 2022

Early Literacy

The goal of this Early Literacy activity is to generate rhymes, supporting literacy development. We start with a phrase like, "This ship is loaded with....cheese,” then toss a beanbag to a student and they have to think of a word that rhymes with “cheese.” Then the game becomes one of remembering the whole phrase (targeting working memory as well as rhyming) as we keep tossing the beanbag until it's too difficult to generate any more rhyming words.

Our question for you is, do you want to travel on this ship filled with cheese, bees, fleas, and keys?

Thanks to our SD8 Speech Language Pathologist Steve Pierson and Speech Language Pathologist Assistant Christine Bourgeois for a fun literacy activity!

Here Be Dragons – A Minecraft Readathon

Teacher Librarian Tracy Walker at Adam Robertson Elementary created a Minecraft Readathon for students. All 315 students participated, kindergarten to grade seven. The students were given eight reading challenges that consisted of a set number of reading minutes to achieve. These minutes were then translated to points to provide Minecraft character Alex with the ‘health’ to survive the many obstacles and challenges needed to defeat the Ender Dragon.

At the beginning of the month, each student was given a Reading Minute Calendar to record their reading minutes at home and school. Although the goal was for each student to read for at least 20 minutes per day, students far surpassed this because of their motivation to help Alex. Each class was assigned a grade seven helper to tally minutes. Both staff and students were recruited to be the character voices in the video challenges. In addition to the virtual updates and videos, weekly activities were provided so that classes could work together with their buddies on some in-class tasks.

The readathon points rewards earned, in Minecraft meant Alex could take the students to the different biomes of the Minecraft world where she collected her materials and battled mobs. This started with helping Alex survive the ice lands in search of the forest biome. Once she found the forest, she gathered the materials needed to build a home base. The student’s reading minutes then helped Alex to collect the materials she needed to make potions and enter the aquatic biome to find a treasure of diamonds. She was now equipped with diamond armor and potions, ready to take on mobs and create a portal that took her to the Nether biome. Here, she used her health and defeated the Ender Dragon.

In lieu of prizes, readers were rewarded by Alex’s victory, and recognized during the morning announcements. In total, the students of ARES read a total of 245,243 minutes - nearly 4100 hours or over 170 days - during the month of February!

You can watch our readathon videos too! 

Watch Readathon Video One

Watch Readathon Video Two

Science and Mathematics as Verbs

Crawford Bay continues to do science this quarter. All middle school students took part in our annual science fair and presented some very impressive research projects.  A sampling of topics explored were:

  • The impact of energy drinks on video game performance.
  • Comparing the efficiency of different forms of propulsion on a balsa car (baking soda and vinegar vs compressed air).
  • Comparing bacterial and fungal growth in petri dishes from swabs of phone screens vs. facemasks.
  • The impact of biochar and mycelium on plant growth. 

The winning project was inspired by Dr. Suzanne Simard’s book, Finding the Mother Tree. For her project, Asha Cristofoli-Couling successfully *stratified apple and black locust seeds. Next, she took these seedlings and compared the growth of those grown in a “networked condition,” having been inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and those grown independently. Thus far, there is quite a bit of genetic variety in the seedlings, but the ones growing alongside the black locust seem to be responding with the most vigorous growth. It looks like their ability to make nitrogen bioavailable to their neighbours may already be having an impact on the apples via the burgeoning mycorrhizal network. More definitive results will be available as the trees grow.

Students also worked along with their math teacher, Mr. Winger, to properly operationalize their variables and complete rudimentary statistical analyses. Asha is grateful for receiving a Discovery Foundation STEM Project Grant that helped her access the necessary resources, and for her Outdoor Education teacher (again, Mr. Winger – he teaches a variety of subjects) for taking the group on a hike to old growth portions of Lockhart Creek and having them gather and propagate mushroom spores from collected samples.

In math class, the Precalculus 10 group has also been doing math. For a project that bridges their trigonometry unit and as an introduction to quadratic equations, they have been building and launching their own model rockets. Initially, they watched Hidden Figures for Black History Month; then, following student interest, Mr. Winger developed a project whereby students could work on similar mathematical problems as the protagonists in the movie. Students already knew how to measure a rocket’s altitude using trigonometry, so after a brief introduction to conics and quadratics, they were given the challenge of modeling the parabolic flight paths of their rockets and figuring how to represent it using an equation.  Give or take ten metres, the winning rocket reached an altitude of 300 metres before being successfully recovered.

*Stratification is a process of pre-treating seeds to simulate natural conditions that seeds would experience in the soil over-winter. Pre-treating seeds helps initiate the germination process.

School Learning Updates

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