Inspired by Roy Henry Vickers

Hello, division 4 families!

This blog post is to share and celebrate the lovely artwork and deep reflection that has come from our class exploring the work of acclaimed artist, Roy Henry Vickers.

Connecting to our learning about the Salish sea, we enjoyed reading Mr. Vickers’ new book, “Ben the Sea Lion”. We learned more about the award-winning author-illustrator’s background and contributions as an artist from the Tsimshian Nation.

We sought permission from Mr. Vickers through his representatives at his gallery in Tofino to use his artwork as the inspiration for our own artworks for educational purposes—our goals being to (a.) appreciate the cultural meanings and connections of this artwork created by a celebrated Indigenous artist, (b.) study the beauty of the shapes, lines and colour in Vickers’ work, and (c.) explore techniques using paint and pen.

We discussed many philosophical questions in art and ethics, including this: “What is the difference between unfair cultural appropriation and taking inspiration from another artist’s work?”

Thank you for inspiring us, Roy Henry Vickers!

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Hello, division 4 families!

In Career Education we have been exploring goal-setting and skills for successful interpersonal relationships. In Physical & Health Education students have learning been to research and define “healthy living” for themselves.

Today we combined these two areas and considered these questions: What does it mean to have healthy boundaries in relationships? What does it look like/sound like/feel like to have healthy boundaries in relationships? What can we say and do to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in a variety of types of relationships?

We read and discussed the message of the classic book “The Giving Tree”, by Shel Silverstein.

Then we compared the story with this retelling of the book by Topher Payne, called “The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries”. The students had rich discussion in small groups to analyze the related (but different) messages of the two books.

The students brainstormed their own examples of situations where healthy boundaries might need to be re-enforced. For each situation, they were challenged to think of various possible responses that might reinstate a healthy boundary. We discussed how it is important to consider the history and context of the relationship. We discussed examples of how sometimes humour may be used to effectively diffuse tension when re-asserting a healthy boundary. We also discussed how sometimes you may need to seek help from a trusted adult or friend when your boundaries have been crossed. The goal of this learning activity was to encourage students to think more clearly about how to define and maintain appropriate boundaries for themselves and others.

HOMEWORK: Perhaps ask your child, “What does it means to set heathy boundaries in a friendship? Can you give an example of something a friend might to that would cross a healthy boundary for you? What could you do to re-establish a healthy boundary with that friend to feel better in the friendship?” *It could be fun and meaningful to watch the above story videos together and discuss!

Engineering, Art, Dancing & “Wave”!

Hello, division 4 families!

This has been an exciting wrap up to another creative week! On Wednesday, we shared our biome diorama progress with five other classes in the library—students got lots of new ideas and celebrated the learning by sharing their Salish Sea poems. That afternoon, students enjoyed learning more about the design process with some engineering challenges set up by Ms. Mueller in the library.

Division 4 students have had a lot going on in Arts Education this week, including writing and practicing the plays they wrote to perform next Monday.

More close-up photos coming next week!

As well, we enjoyed creating art inspired by the book “Ben the Sea Lion”, by Roy Henry Vickers—more to come on that next week. (I will post individual artwork photos when everyone’s is complete.)

We wrapped up this fun Friday afternoon with a 1-hour bonus “Choice Block” that the students earned for their hard work polishing their work on the Salish Sea poetry unit. They unanimously voted to spend this time on a game of “Wave” outside. When it got too rainy for the last ten minutes, we came in and kept moving with a silly dance party! It was a fun Friday!

A sneak peek at progress on the biome dioramas…

Powerful, New Salish Sea Poetry!

Hello, division 4 families!

We are all so proud to present to you this Salish Sea COLLABORATIVE POEM, created by all of the students in our class.

Our Collaborative Poem

Our process was this: (1.) We reflected on photos taken during our Salish Sea field trip, each student writing a line of poetry for each photo, (2.) we gathered up all lines of poetry and silently “voted up” lines that stood out as especially powerful, (3.) Ms. Poirier did some final rearranging behind the scenes to ensure every child had a poetry line included, and then (4.) we audio-recorded a performance of the poem and set it to a slide show.

After writing this collaborative poem, each student still had a pile of beautiful, unused lines of poetry left over! So each student then combined their leftover lines and did some final finessing to create their own individual final “best Salish Sea poem” of the term. Please enjoy these wonderful poetic works…

Perimeter, Word Collecting & Playwriting

Hello, division 4 families!

Today we began a new Math unit using perimeter. Here are two videos that introduces the concept.

In Language Arts, we enjoyed reading aloud the book, “The Boy Who Loved Words”, by Roni Schotter and Giselle Potter. Then students went on a hunt for their own delicious words to use in their own creative writing. Then students sorted the words according to their own categories. Today’s challenge was to work as a small group and incorporate the new vocabulary work into a script for a play to perform for the class.


Happy Friday, division 4 families!

We had another big week of learning and creating! Students have been working hard in math to learn long division—and we have our final division unit quiz next Thursday, March 2nd. There were new light bulbs going on for so many students today—practice is making a difference! Thank you for your support, parents/guardians!

Seeing the students so excited to research their chosen biomes is a joy—and the cross pollination of diorama-making ideas and strategies is magic! Today we brought out plasticine, paints, cardboard, nature bits, and other found objects to experiment with.

Tiny little beautiful little worlds are popping up everywhere in class now…along with a few fun bonus side sculptural projects.

More Long Division & Bus Stuff!

Hello, division 4 families!

We continued with long division today, and I want to offer acknowledgement and congratulations because I could see a good number of students who made a huge transformation in their understanding—a lot of that success is due to the extra practice they did at home last night! I’m so proud of you!

Here are two more videos that may be helpful in practice—it’s useful to hear different educators ways of explaining a concept!

Today we also enjoyed a special presentation by BC Transit to learn about bus riding etiquette and safety. Children ages 12 and under ride the bus system FREE! Ask your children what else they learned today!

Black History & Black Futures

Hello, division 4!

What do you know about Black History Month and what connections can you make? In today’s blog post you can see some of the videos and resources we have been exploring…

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of Canada’s black community. This is also a time to think about contemporary black experiences and also focus on supporting black futures. Please see this link for a STATSCAN article and also watch the video below…

There are so many inspiring stories of black Canadians who demonstrated courage and excellence and made important contributions that shaped our country and world.

Click here for an interactive map of 23 black Canadians who made major contributions to Canada’s culture and legacy:

Keep researching and being inspired!

THINK & SHARE: What information would you like to see added to this blog post’s list of videos and resources for Black History Month?

Today we watched Martin Luther King Jr.’s entire “ I have a dream speech”, pausing along the way to discuss and explain some historical references and rhetorical devices he used to communicate his moving message. Students were invited to reflect together afterwards.

Long Division

Hello, division 4 families!

Today in Math class we reviewed the concept of division, including the method we have been using called “Easy Multiples of the Divisor”. Then, I introduced the traditional “long division” method and we practiced using it to solve questions together. Long division will be our focus for the next two weeks.

HOMEWORK: Please ask your children how they are feeling about the traditional long division method. For students who are not feeling confident with it yet, I recommend they watch this Long Division Tutorial at home this evening if possible.

Is math homework necessary? Shouldn’t my child be able to learn this stuff at school? Ample time is provided for students to learn and practice each new math concept. However, there can be many factors pulling children’s focus and preventing them from learning more complex concepts in a classroom setting in a timely manner. And every child has a different level of ability to self-regulate at school. Thank you for understanding that your child may not be feeling able to focus at school, and so review and re-teaching at home may be necessary if they are to learn the concepts. Making these math tutorials is my way to help send the teaching home because I know parents’/guardians’ time may be limited and getting outside tutoring is not an option for all families. Certainly, students who practice their math at home regularly are the students who see the most growth and success in math. When I was a child, I remember I did not grasp long division as it was taught at school, and it all finally made sense to me when my mom helped me through it. Thank you so much for encouraging your child to practice division skills at home.

Project: Biome Dioramas & Presentations

Hello, division 4 families!

This week, our students began their in-depth research on biomes. What is a biome? Please watch the video below…

Biomes are regions of the world with similar climate (weather, temperature) animals and plants. There are terrestrial biomes (land) and aquatic biomes, both freshwater and marine. Watch the video to learn more specifics…

As a class, we have been learning about the plants, animal life, geographical features, and climate of the Salish Sea region. This instruction modelled for students skills and resources they can use for their own investigations into other regions.

Over the next 8 weeks, students will be supported in class to do the following:

(1.) Choose a biome of interest to research independently or in partners or small groups. (Students should choose partnerships with balanced skill sets. For example, a student who loves to research but isn’t keen on writing, should pair up with someone who is fine to be the recorder, and together they can decide how best to fairly divide up the workload.)

(2.) Synthesize learning in a Biome Booklet. These booklets contain headings and prompts to outline the categories of information that students should learn to empower themselves to be “biome experts” able to teach others and also make their own theories and draw their own scientific conclusions.

(3.) Design and build a small Biome Diorama (3D display) to use when teaching others about their region. Scroll lower in this post to see diorama examples. (Note that the scientific understanding communicated through the diorama is assessed separately from the aesthetic elements. In other words, an exceptionally beautiful display of polar bears in a hot dry desert biome could earn high marks in art, but it would not meet the criteria for scientific accuracy because polar bears don’t live in the desert.)

(4.) Use the Biome Booklet information to write a Biome Presentation Script in preparation to share learning with others. (See the template below. Each student will be given a fill-in-the-blank template like this to help ensure they cover all the required content; but, of course, students are welcome to adapt this template using their own creativity.)

What could a biome diorama look like?

What is the assignment criteria?

Below you can see photos of the project sheets I handed out to students. These sheets are in students’ Science duo-tangs. Students should continually refer to the assignment sheets throughout the project to ensure they are on track with their work. As you can see in the rubrics below, students will be earning credit in different subject areas for the different components of their project work (Science, Language Arts, and Art).

Biome Project Q. & A.

Q. Do parents/guardians need to buy anything for this project?

A. No. Dioramas can be made with recyclables and materials found outside and craft supplies at school. Animal and plant figures could be illustrations mounted on cardboard or formed from plasticine. Certainly some students will be motivated to acquire specialty items like animal figurines to realize their visions and they are welcome to do so. However, we are emphasizing the use of ingenuity and a “reduce/reuse/recycle” ethos as a part of the fun.

Q. Do parents/guardians need to do any research (or any work at all) for this project?

A. No. Life is busy! I get it! The goal is that the students are practicing their independence as researchers and creators. That said, the interest/questioning/support from a family member can act like rocket fuel to empower a child’s further learning. If your child is learning about, for example, the Arctic Tundra, and you were to join in to watch and discuss a documentary video about the region, then certainly that could be a special way to keep research continuing outside of school. Thank you for being partners in our learning. Another way family members could help is by reviewing a child’s quality of writing, especially with regards to spelling, grammar, clarity, etc. You don’t HAVE to do this—but it may be interesting to see your child’s progress in writing. I will make effort to proofread students’ projects with them eventually, but I may to get to them as quickly as they’d like and they will appreciate learning with their family members too. This project is a big and time-consuming one to support and assess for 23 students. And it does help me and your child to have your eyes on the work as well! Thank you!)

Q. When is this project due?

A. Many students will have met the project requirements and be ready to present their dioramas and biome booklets in the week of March 13-17. However, for students who need more time, it is fine for them to complete their work over spring break, aiming to present finished work April 3-6. The primary goal of this project is for students to enjoy a rich learning process—not to rush to a finish line feeling stress.

Q. If my child is nervous about some aspect of this project, is there flexibility in how learning is demonstrated?

A. Yes! Always! Please communicate with me specific concerns or questions, and we will make appropriate adaptations for students’ specific needs—while still keeping them in a comfortable zone of “just right challenge”. For example, some students who are shy about presenting in front of the class “live” may choose to create a video to play instead. Or perhaps they would like to present to just me and their trusted friends instead. Communicating learning is a key part of this process, so we will find a way for all students to share their voices.

Do you still have questions about this project?

First of all, thank you for reading all this and for engaging with your child’s learning. You are a wonderful support system for caring this much! Please check over the above assignment sheets to see if they answer your questions. If not, I invite you to post your questions below this blog post. If you’re wondering something, someone else might also benefit from hearing my response. Thank you for being a part of our journey!