Light Sensitive Paper

Back in April, my two student teachers were planning and teaching our unit on Lights and Shadows. They introduced me to the fascinating world of light sensitive paper.

Waiting for what seemed like endlessly for a sunny day, the students selected three items and ventured outside with their light sensitive paper in hand. They placed their chosen objects on the paper, waited for two minutes, and then immediately placed the paper into a bin of water for one minute. The paper was left to dry, and over time became imprinted with their objects.

Not only were they excited to see their finished artwork, but as was I. In all of these years of teaching this unit, I had never even heard of this paper prior. It was such a fun and engaging activity, and something that I know my students will remember for years to come.

In the past few weeks, they each created a reflection on the experiment, describing how it worked, the steps they followed, and what they created on their paper.

In their reflections, their learning was evident and the concepts were clear. Plus, it was a great way for me to model that even as teachers, we can always learn something new!

First Nations Learning at Glenbow

Yesterday, my class ventured downtown to the Glenbow Museum for the day. During the afternoon, we participated in the program called Nitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life, which was lead by a Blackfoot man, who we called Skip. He began the program by providing us with some background information about the Blackfoot People and some events that happened in the past. We then gathered around the giant teepee, as he share his own stories. The students were asking questions to learn more, making connections between their own culture and his, and were fascinated by the Blackfoot culture.

As the students learned about the importance of the bison to the Blackfoot people, they were given a variety of artefacts to examine. They needed to decide what part of the bison the artefact was created from, as well as what it was used for. They developed a rich understanding and appreciation for the fact that the Blackfoot people used every part of the bison, and did not let anything go to waste. It was quite the contrast from our society today.

As the new Alberta curriculum begins to unfolds, it is our responsibility to ensure that both teachers and students develop foundational knowledge about First Nations in Alberta. Glenbow supports one way in which we can educate our students, learn from the past, and develop better understandings to make for a better future!

Here are some of the students reflections, and the learning that stood out for them:

A Micro:bit Classroom

Prior to spring break, I registered my class for a free micro:bit workshop offered by Kids Code Jeunesse . Without really knowing what to expect, our facilitator Zoe, led my students through an interactive demonstration of coding and connecting the codes to microbits. Instantly excited, engaged, and eager to try out these new pieces of technology, my students partnered up and began their exploration.

microbit

The more the students experimented, the more complex their microbits became.

 They created names, figures, step counters, and complex movements.

It was inspiring for me to watch my students go from knowing nothing about microbits to being able to program a variety of different codes. Yes, at times they did get frustrated, but they kept on persevering. We could all learn something from them!

As the program came to an end, Zoe left our class with 10 of our own microbits. We continue to play, explore, and learn about them and challenge our thinking in different and innovative ways.

Meatloaf for Days

I’ve never really been a fan of meatloaf, but I saw one of those tantalizing Facebook videos and figured I’d modify it to create something easy and worth while. So here we go.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions chopped

1 tbsp of Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to your liking

5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup water

1 can of tomato paste

2-2.5lbs ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 large eggs (beaten)

Your fav bbq sauce

Instructions:

Preheat oven 325F.

Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add in the onions, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or so.

Add in Worcestershire, water, and tomato paste. Stir and then cool.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs. Mix everything together, but don’t over stir.

On a pan, place a piece of parchment paper. Dump the mixture and mold together into a loaf. Cover with a small layer of your favourite bbq sauce.

Bake for around 75 minutes.

Serve (with mashed potatoes and veg) or whatever you desire! Enjoy.

Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

I’ve been waiting for Costco to bring in their squashes because there’s no one in the city who can beat their pricing. For 3 large butternut squash, it was a mere $6! Now what to do with it… well make stew of course.

Ingredients:

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp of dried Italian herbs

1 tbsp of dried rosemary

1 large roast cut into cubes (around 1.5-2 pounds)

1/4 cup of flour

2 cups of red wine

2 large butternut squash (peeled and cut into cubes)

1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes

4 cups of broth (I only had chicken but I’m sure beef would be great)

Salt and pepper to season

Steps:

1) In a large pot, combine the onion, garlic, and herbs with oil olive. Cook for around 5 minutes or until the onions begin to brown.

2) Toss the beef cubes into a bowl and coat with the flower and salt and pepper. Then add into the pot. Cook for around 5 minutes.

3) Add in the 2 cups of wine, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot. It should start to slightly thicken. Cook for around 5 minutes.

4) Finally, add in the butternut squash, sun dried tomatoes, broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for around an hour.

Voila!

I think next time, I would also add in mushrooms close to the end. The stew is nice and thick with tons of flavor. You could top with some cheese or a scoop full of sour cream.

Cauliflower Bacon Soup

We’ve had a pretty damp and cold September in Calgary, which has forced me to start my winter cooking earlier than I wanted to. I love soups, but never really make them, so it’s been my goal this winter to change that.

This morning, I google a bunch of recipes to use up the Costco sized bag of cauliflower still lingering in our fridge. I couldn’t really find what I was looking for on google, so I decided to make my own.

The ingredients are simple and the soup itself is very easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 package of bacon

1 large onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 largish potatoes

1 container of chicken broth

Equivalent of 1 head of cauliflower

1/4 cup of cream

Directions:

1) In a pot, cook the bacon to a crispy level. Once it’s finished, remove from the pot but keep the grease inside.

2) Add in the diced onions and chopped garlic. Stir until cooked (about 5 mins).

3) Add in the two peeled and chopped potatoes, and the cauliflower. Also, pour in all of the chicken broth.

4) Simmer for 30 minutes.

5) Once finished, add almost all of the bacon you previously cooked, and blend the soup until it’s puréed. Add it back into the pot and stir in 1/4 cup of cream (I only had coffee cream to use). Don’t let the soup boil, but make sure it’s warm.

6) Serve into bowls and garnish with the leftover bacon and parmesan cheese.

This soup is hearty, yummy, and full of flavor. Enjoy!

Back to School

After summer break, comes the start of meetings and reconnecting with my school team. Besides the regular stuff, my favourite part of back to school is our family induction. It’s a chance for us to sit down individually with each family in our class and spend a short amount of time getting to know them. It’s a great way to establish rapport with your students and parents right from the start. I truly believe it takes away the angst of starting school and starts to build that classroom community that we all strive to have.

To begin this year, we made a short video to introduce our families to some changes to grade 4. Next, we complete a little questionnaire with each student to get to know them a bit better. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to see writing skills and family dynamics. After a bit of paperwork and questions/comments, and showing the students around the classroom, I always take a family photo. I conclude with giving each child a little snack to welcome them to my classroom.

To start this year, the grade 4 teachers have received new portables. They unfortunately aren’t finished yet and I’m the lucky one who gets to have my classroom in the gym! I can’t wait to explore what this will be like. Stay tuned for updates…