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"Connect through books": Inquiry Book Study

We're starting a new program - and a way for you to get involved!

The Calgary Science School "Connect Through Books" is an online book discussion series - focusing on books that discuss inquiry-based approaches to learning and teaching.

The book study will be conducted through this Calgary Science School Connect! Blog. Starting on February 8th, every two weeks there will be an introductory blog post written - and then the community will have the opportunity to comment on the initial post.

The first blog post will be written by Neil Stephenson (PD and Outreach Coordinator here at CSS). After that, there are six opportunities for other participants to write the intro blog. Click here to sign up to be a guest blogger.

The schedule for blog postings will be:

February 8th: Introduction and Chapter 1 (written by Neil Stephenson)
February 15: Free webinar by David Perkins

The first book will be "Making Learning Whole" by David Perkins. The description of the book from Amazon reads:

"David Perkins, a noted authority on teaching and learning and co-director of Harvard's Project Zero, introduces a practical and research-based framework for teaching. He describes how teaching any subject at any level can be made more effective if students are introduced to the "whole game," rather than isolated pieces of a discipline. Perkins explains how learning academic subjects should be approached like learning baseball or any game, and he demonstrates this with seven principles for making learning whole: from making the game worth playing (emphasizing the importance of motivation to sustained learning), to working on the hard parts (the importance of thoughtful practice), to learning how to learn (developing self-managed learners).

UPDATE: David Perkins is offering a free webinar on "Making Learning Whole" on February 15th at 8pm EST! This will allow us to hear directly from the author after we have started in on book. More info can be found here. We'll post the webinar link as the event gets closer.

If you are interested in joining this book study fill out this form. Also, if you'll consider being one of our six guest bloggers - fill out this form.

A big thanks as well to museum designer and thoughtful blogger Nina Simon for the online book discussion format.

Reader image taken from: Garry Knight

Boreal Math: Final Thoughts

Our grade 6 students have recently finished wrestling with the math problem: "Are there enough trees in Canada's Boreal Forest to be the lungs of the earth?"

The question came from research that one of the Grade 6 teachers, Erin Couillard, found which stated that the northern boreal forest now produces more oxygen than any other forest in the world.

During the planning stage for this problem, our 2 grade 6 math/science teachers, Erin and Emily Brown, decided to structure it in a different way than they had previously.

CSS helping Pakistan

How CSS helped Pakistan
During the week of September 9th to 17th, 6.1 held a bottle drive to help the people in Pakistan. Students from the school brought some bottles, can and milk jugs each day and 6.1 picked them up from the each room and counted how many bottle each class collected. 4.3 brought in the most bottles so now they receive an ice cream party! They brought in over 1700 bottles!
Here are some facts about the flood in Pakistan:
· More than 3.5 million children are at risk contracting a deadly water borne disease.
· 20% of Pakistan has been flooded
· More than 1500 people have died in the flooding
· Millions of people have been displaced
We raised $1400.00 and are donating that money to the Canadian Red Cross. The Government is matching the funds that are being donated. A total of $2800.00 is going to Pakistan.
We would like to thank all of the people who brought in cash donations and bottles for Pakistan. Way to go CSS!
By Inaara K.

Google Sketch-Up Expertise Needed!

We are looking for someone who can help us with the design of a grade 8 project using Google Sketch-Up!

The Task:
Our grade 8 students have just begun their Renaissance unit. Similar to last year students will be working through an examination of: (1) the conditions that allowed the Italian Renaissance to flourish, and (2) whether Calgary has those same conditions. While the project is starting in a similar manner to last year, this year the teachers are taking it a step further.

After completing the Renaissance unit last year, the grade 8 teachers created a survey asking the students for feedback on the project. Students reported they gathered a deep understanding of both the Italian Renaissance and new insights into their hometown. However, students also reported that they did not have an opportunity to act on or live out the understanding they had gained. They wanted an opportunity to apply the Renaissance conditions in some way.

With that in mind, the teachers this year are introducing a new component of the project.

Calgary has a small Island Park just outside of downtown (St. Patrick’s Island) that is currently being redesigned. The city has asked for design ideas and public input into how this space might be developed. Each of our four grade 8 classes are going to submit a design for this island, and their designs will attempt to embody the principles of the Renaissance into the development of the island.

The Need:
We are planning on using Google Sketch-Up for students to create a model of their redesigned island. We are hoping to find a way that each of our four grade 8 classes can create one collaborative Google Sketch-Up model. One possible solution is to have students create their building designs as individual components which would then be compiled digitally at the end of the project.

We are wondering whether there is a way to structure a collaborative Google Sketch-Up document or even how to build a collaborative Google Earth file adding building designs from a variety of students.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Gingerbread House Building Contest

Gingerbread House Building Contest - Grade 8/9 Leadership
In December, the Grade 8 and 9 Leadership class held a Gingerbread House building contest for charity. After the contest was finished, we donated the houses to various organizations including the Mustard Seed, Avenue 15 - a homeless shelter for youth, the YWCA Sheriff King Home, and Woods Homes. Teachers were asked to work with their classes to choose 5 participants to represent each class. The houses were judged based upon their aesthetic appearance and overall build quality. The design and appearance varied, some were simple and minimalistic while other were very ornate with many decorations brought in from the participants. In the end, there were many good entries, so we decided to choose a winner from each grade. Each of the participants was awarded 5 House/Colour points while the winning teams from each grade were awarded an additional 5 points. The contest turned out very well in the end and the Gingerbread Houses were very much appreciated by all of the recipients.
The Grade 8/9 Leadership students who organized this event would like to give a big THANK YOU to Ken Wlad of Sobeys who donated all of the Gingerbread kits. Without him, all of this would not be possible.
Winners by grade (10 House/Colour Points each):
4.3 - Colin T., Sofia D., Erica R., Ethan G., Anna V.
5.4 - Kate L., Amanda C., Stephanie C., Jon B., Justin B.
6.3 - Jada B., Kristin M. Maggie C., Will S., Cole D.
7.3 - Harley D., Sarah P., Colby L., Connor S., Noah V.
8.3 - Jada A., Shaina F., Tyler W., Nick B., Jaime C.
9.3 - Jags B., Kelly H., Kayla R., Sabrina V., Calder K.
Written by Khoi N., Edward K., Cam B. (Gr. 8)

Exploring Immigration: A Student Perspective

Over the last number of years, our grade 9 students have participated in a project called Canada: Your Story is My Story.

This project involves students interviewing recent immigrants to Canada with the purpose of better understanding the immigration experience. After meeting and interviewing new Canadians, the students create multi-media narratives of the immigration stories - creating a documentary of each immigrant's journey to this country.

Here's a perspective from two of our grade 9 students who recently finished the project:

"Over the past three weeks, Grade 9 students had the pleasure of meeting immigrant students from the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. Of all ages and backgrounds, the CCIS students sat down with our Grade 9s to discuss their journey that has led them to Canada. The purpose of the assignment was to understand the immigrant journey and the struggle and sacrifices they encountered to come to Canada. Through three different sessions, we questioned and listened to the stories the CCIS students shared, intrigued about the sacrifices they had to make to come live in a new country.

A strong bond began to form between the immigrants and us because we found that most of our interests (e.g. soccer, listening to music) were also values to our new found friends. My group and I were privileged to meet Mr. Moon from South Korea. He came to Canada to reunite with his family since they had decided that Canada was the place they wanted to live. His youngest son was the first to request to come to Canada in order to seek a better education. Among many other things Mr. Moom spoke a lot about Kimchi, which was a traditional meal in South Korea.

We decided to create an analogy of Mr. Moon's immigration through the Kimchi which symbolized his cultural roots. The lettuce is the outer-shell of the kimchi which shelters all the other ingredients in a safe bubble. The lettuce would be like Mr. Moon's outer image that he prepared before coming to Canada. This worked similar to the lettuce because it kept all his emotions of traveling and leaving his home country enclosed and not shown to the public. The salt gives the kimchi stronger taste and bitterness. The salt relates to Mr. Moon's small, but existing bitterness of leaving his home country. The red pepper flakes are spicy which increases the flavor. The red pepper flakes in Mr Moon's immigration journey would be the excitement of going to a new country, the uncertainty of how “spicy” the trip will be. The green onions and ginger bring the happiness and feeling of success when your life in the new county begins to turn. Everything begins to go your way and the minced garlic is the awkward taste that leaves you healthier than before. Its the sacrifice that is really a blessing in disguise.

We all learned a tremendous amount from the stories the students shared with us and are thankful for having met such brave and determined people."

You can read more about the project, including examples of student work, by clicking here.