A Feature in Hamilton Newsletter

Before moving on to a new position at a new school, I’d like to share the following email which I received yesterday. Be sure to check out the included link:).  

Hi Rhonda,
We haven’t completed our video yet.  BUT, we did launch our very first Our Future Hamilton e-newsletter the other day and we have a short clip from the May 3rd Chase the Future Event.  The clip features one of your students at the water bottle display. 
Thanks again for allowing us the opportunity to engage with your students on this exciting initiative!
Cheers, Cindy
Here’s the link:
Cindy Mutch
Senior Project Manager, Community Special Projects
Neighbourhood and Community Initiatives Division
Community and Emergency Services Department


Our Final Days

In our final days of Grade 3, we were busy…

designing cards for our pen pals

talking about our Canada fashion


selecting Canada related activities

enjoying Play Day with Gr. 7’s in the role of impressive leaders

and singing a song at Mr. Clemen’s Farewell assembly

In our final community circle, we shared favourite moments from our Gr. 3 year. Some of our most popular memories:

Our monarch caterpillar in September, the cooking activities, the mayor’s visit, our rant, our trips (especially Crawford Lake), our water bottle display, and “the whole year was special!”

We have had many special moments this year, and it has been an honour sharing them with your lovely children. I wish you all a healthy, happy summer!!

PS- In the fall, this blog will be geared to a new class at a new school. To avoid receiving posts, just unsubscribe. (If that doesn’t work, you can email me and I can take you off the list). Thanks for reading!!

Bowling Fun

We had a great trip to the bowling alley today!

We enjoyed cheering on our friends,

coaxing the ball to hit those pins,

and, watching all the unique techniques! (I couldn’t safely get near the ‘shot putters’!!)


A Postponed Promise/Coming Up …

With the many unexpected twist and turns of switching portables (and emptying our display!!), our plan to make bread and butter had many postponements. But, after using much patience and flexibility, students got their promised opportunity on Friday.

After selecting an egg free recipe, we noted it would take 3 hours and 40 minutes to make. The previous day, students had to calculate the best starting time, taking into account a number of factors: Phys. Ed. first period, the necessity of being present in the room to remove the bread, and, cooling time. Students also selected a comparison tool (chart/Venn diagram) to compare the source of our ingredients in 2017 to those of 1800’s.

While the room filled with the aroma of baking bread, we took turns using some muscular force to make butter. After sampling the results, students felt it was worth the wait!


We also spent some time last week looking at the phrasing used on boxes to persuade people to play the games inside. Do the games live up to their ‘hype’? 


And though there was no box, we also decided to try out a game called SNAKE that helps us practice our multiplication skills. All you need is paper, pencil, and dice. See if your child can explain the game to you!


Monday Bowling Trip    Tuesday: Canada 150 Day**  Wednesday: Play Day (wear assigned team colour) Thursday: Last Day (Can you believe it?!)

** Canada 150 Day is within our own class – students have decided they should wear Canadiana clothing/colours etc., have a picnic lunch if weather permits, and generated ideas for different Canadian type activities

Sorry Pinterest-No Carbon Copy Gift Giving For Us

Every year the question is asked, “Are we going to make something for Mother’s/Father’s Day?” My response? “Sure, What do you plan to make?”

This question usually takes the students aback. “Aren’t you going to tell us what to make?” So, we discuss that gift giving should be personalized and requires thought. Since they clearly know their parents much better than I do, they should be the ones to decide. So, students are asked to generate their own plan, and to make a list of supplies they will need. I do not check out Pinterest for the latest and greatest ideas. In some ways this is easier, and in other ways more difficult. And yes, sometimes the students’ instinct is to ‘google’ an idea, but, they are reminded to use the work of others as inspiration, not duplication. (This became a non-issue this week, as our internet connection was cut off -another side effect from our unexpected deconstruction this week).

I love seeing the unique results and listening to the reasoning behind each student’s idea. Our gifts are one of a kind creations that may not be featured in a photo shoot, but, are reflective of students’ thoughts, feelings, creativity, and problem solving. And when I asked students for feedback, it was unanimous. They much prefer to individualize their gift giving rather than having the teacher pick the idea and everyone make the same.

I was asked (told) not to post these examples before Father’s Day, so hopefully I’m safe now! (Since we didn’t post Mother’s Day, we’re including samples of those as well).

Our heart felt gifts included: hand painted boxes, jewellery,  framed pictures that involved designing and building, scavenger hunts for seeds, cut out families, personalized diaries, a clay beaker for the scientist dad, flower shaped messages, gifts incorporating photos (students took the initiative to bring in), ‘apps for dad’ card, acrostic poems, rock messages, and of course, for the dad who has to wear a suit every day, you can’t go wrong with a personalized designer tie!



“Can We Buy the Portable?”

Faced with the reality of dismantling our water bottle display, students have been expressing their displeasure.

It was during one of these conversations when one student asked, “Can we use our $250 Eco Challenge money to buy the portable? Then we could keep the display.” Seems logical, but sadly, the price tag is a little steeper than $250. However, the comment did put into motion another idea. How could we use the $ to ‘keep’ our display visible and be used to teach more people?

A few conversations and emails later, and we are now collaborating with Edge Imaging and HWDSB’s Corporate Communications to create a pop up banner, and in a sense, immortalizing our work and message. Of course to add extra drama, the power was cut off in the EcoDisplay portable the day before the photographer came by, but she was gracious and flexible and we managed to pull off the ‘photo shoot’. Not sure how long this whole process will take, but we’ll keep you posted.


One thing we’ve learned this year: From ‘little’ comments can come big ideas!

“Was that Change Because of Us?”

The students broke into cheers when they heard the news:

Fees for Bottlers of Water Jumps from $3.71 to $503.71 

They also wondered, “Is the change because of us (and all our work this year)?“. We decided we probably can’t take all the credit, but the change is a good example of what can happen when enough people voice their concerns.

Of course, this news called for a mathematical teaching moment! How many more red leaves need to be added to the ‘money tree’ in our display?

Each green leaf represents $10 that an Ontario resident would have to pay if purchasing 1 million litres of Ontario water. The wee red leaf (actually part of a leaf) represents the $3.71 a water bottle company, Nestle in particular, has to pay for the same amount of water.

Since companies will now have to pay $503.71 for that million litres, we strategized and calculated to determine we would need to add 50 more red leaves. Students noted there is still quite a difference, between residents and companies, but they did feel it was a bit more fair.

“You Rock, Class 3A”- TVO’s Water Brothers

A few weeks ago, we sent an email to TVO’s Water Brothers to thank them for their informative episode titled, ‘Bottlegate’. The show verified many facts we had gathered this year about water bottles. We also told them they were featured on the wall of quotes, in our display . 

We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we received the following email:

Hi Class 3A!

Thanks so much for writing to us and for your amazing work reducing
plastic waste! It means so much to us to know that our episode has
inspired you to take action, and efforts like yours are why we remain
committed to making environmental documentaries. If you want a new project
to take on after bottles, think about ways to eliminate straws and other
disposable plastics form your cafeteria if you haven¹t already. Straws
cannot be recycled and billions of them are used every day for only a few
minutes, but they last for centuries and end up in our lakes, rivers and
oceans just like bags and bottles. Keep up the amazing work, you rock!

All the best,

Alex Mifflin
The Water Brothers ­ SK FILMS


Let’s Get Caught Up!!

So, it’s been a another busy week with some unexpected twists and turns. A new student arrived Monday morning, Early Settler Day on Tuesday, the unexpected arrival of workers to disconnect our portable (Yikes!!), finishing up swimming, a photo session for our Eco-Display, right after the evacuation drill, and right before the paramedic visit, and, we managed to get our Father’s Day activities completed. All the while, I’ve been trying to finish up report cards! So, for my sanity sake, I had to break from blogging. But, now I’ll try to catch up in more detail.

Some of our Early Settlers got right into the spirit with their authentic lunches, and  inspired us to all compare our lunch ingredients to that of a student 200 years ago.

We tried our hand at weaving, musical chairs with some fiddle music,  and had some outside races (e.g. egg and spoon, sack). Of course, we also had some clean up chores in the ‘school house’.

On Thursday, Spencer’s mom generously volunteered her time by demonstrating some her important skills as a paramedic and allowing us to explore the ambulance and some of the equipment. Role playing is alive and well in Grade 3!  

We received our pen pal letters this week, and it seems they were seeking a bit of ‘revenge’ for our last jigsaw puzzle letters! After the moaning and groaning of assembling their pictures, we were also very excited to learn they liked the video tour of our Water Bottle Display, and, they decided to take action too, by also writing a letter to Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park.

Evacuation Drill: This was just like a fire drill except this time, we brought our belongings with us. In a fire, the objective is get out as fast as we can- no stopping to collect our belongings. In an evacuation, we do not  want responders having to spend precious time looking through every single back pack.

Portable Status: We knew we would have to change portables at the end of the year, BUT, we were supposed to be notified of the date after a meeting of decision makers. So imagine my surprise, when I arrived to find a team full of workers ready to disconnect us! After some calls and emails, we now have a few days reprieve, but we will be moving to another portable in the front row some time next week. 

Swimming: We finished our 3 day Swim to Survive program sessions this week. We would not have been able to go without a volunteer, so we would like to thank Chloe’s mom for volunteering her time. We had fun!

Fashion Meets Geometry and Purposeful Scientists

A classmate’s t-shirt inspired a quick geometry review today: What geometric shapes were used to form this maple leaf emblem?

We also spent some time further developing our skills in conducting experiments. The challenge has been to design an experiment with a specific question in mind, conduct the experiment fairly, and communicate their findings in an effective way. Always eager to ‘jump in’, taking the time to figure out how they would record their observations BEFORE starting, required some self control, but we were purposeful and collaborated well.

“How does increasing wind power affect the distance a pom pom travels?” “How does increasing muscular force affect the sound of a whistling tube?” “Which material provides the most friction?”


“If we increase magnetic force, can we pick up more paper clips?” “Does increasing the tension of a bow make the arrow travel further?”

And as a fun bonus, we took the whistling tubes outside to see how far the sound would travel. All ready for the Gr. 4 study of sound!

Reminder: P.A. Day tomorrow

Needed: A volunteer with a police check for next Wednesday’s swimming.

Have a great weekend!