Space and the Secret Life of Trees

It is impossible to learn about and grapple with the vastness of space without also calling to question who we are as humans living on this pale blue dot. We used some of Carl Sagan’s wisdom to investigate these themes more deeply looking at the quotation:

All that you see, all that we can see, exploded out of a star billions of years ago, and the particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us… The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff. 

For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. 

More to come as documentation from that conversation later. For now we followed our curiosity into a closer look at who Carl Sagan was and what he devoted his life to working on. This lead us to Voyager 1 and 2 where we exploded in questions about how far they were, how are they still sending data to earth, how are they still being powered this many years later… Some of our questions were answered in a class inquiry with the help of google but many were not. We are learning to be ok not knowing all the answers, it can be hard sometimes. We also stumbled across this live NASA tracker of both Voyagers and were stunned by the speed and by the distance ticking up in real time. Feel free to check it out as a family, perhaps see what questions come up for you as well or how math could be woven into your conversation.

Growing our understanding of our pale blue dot, it’s history and the millions of years that came before us we have also been trying to gain a better understanding of the land we share our lives with today. Inspired by the Skwxwú7mesh cultural teachings shared by Leigh Joseph in a virtual presentation recently I am looking for ways to bring us into relation with our environment instead of continuing the settler mindset of seeing nature as resource. In order to do that we need to get to know our flora and fauna relatives! We have taken our first steps towards that with an exploration both scientific and artistic of local leaves and the start of our local field guide.

Our learning continued with the help of David Suzuki and the CBC program The Nature of Things. Here is a link to the episode we have slowly been working through about trees.

Turns out not only are trees highly evolved communicators and planners, they also have secret defence mechanisms and a lot to teach us about the power of community and generosity. We hope to keep you posted about our learning to come and are looking forward to being able to introduce ourselves to more of our tree type relations very soon.

Ms. G


Today we had a student bring an interesting video to our attention and it may have inspired our actions moving forward. We watched this video by former NASA engineer Mark Rober, and not only learned about how trees create mass and are like giant vacuum bags… but also about an important initiative to help bring more trees into our world. Team Trees succeeded in their goal of planting more than 20 million new trees and are still woking to raise awareness about climate change as well as combat it.

We also investigated the Nasa Global Climate Change tracker and it gave us a lot to think about in terms of the state of our planet and its future.

We are still not sure how we want to engage with this issue as a class but I encourage you to get your thinking caps on this weekend and come back to school Monday with as many ideas as you can for what we might want to do.  Possible planting of our own trees, raising money to support environmental initiatives, steps to make our school more aware and conscious of the environment? The possibilities are endless.

Happy Friday!

Ms. G.


Math Questions

Before we dive into the murky pool of math I think it is worth addressing the diversity of feelings about it. There is a lot of joy, fear, hatred, passion all living in our room when we step into the world of math. Today we opened our discussion up with this article and interview from CBC with Mathematician Eugenia Cheng,  Mathematician comes to defence of TikTok teen blasted for saying math isn’t real

We talked about the value of big unanswerable questions related to math and how easy it is to get stuck in the basics of computation and forget about the importance of practical application. We also touched on gender inequality within different fields like math and where that comes from as well as why it is important to confront our unconscious biases. This was a big discussion and pushed many students to consider our world from new perspectives. Some mentioned that they would like to continue these discussions at home and so I share these links with our community.

I hope our class can be a place that celebrates the big unanswerable questions and where every person in our community feels comfortable being their genuine selves and not knowing all the answers. We are here to ignite each other’s curiosity and fan the flames of exploration.

Excited to see where our journey takes us.

Ms. G

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Welcome class of 2020/2021

Hello my relations,

I had the honour of meeting our new community today and I could not be more excited to start this learning adventure with you. I recognize that the world we are currently inhabiting is filled with many unknowns, sometimes it feels like more than usual, but I am ready for us to embrace them together.

This blog will hopefully become our space to communicate about the learning we are doing inside our class but also to spark conversations and learning within your home environment as well. I can’t promise I will add to it weekly but I will try.

Richard Wagamese, an Ojibway elder and author, shares these words in his book Embers, that feel important in this moment.

I’ve been considering the phrase “all my relations” for some time now. It is hugely important. It is our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other.  The most important word is “all.” Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me. ALL my relations. That means every person, just as it means every rock, mineral, blade of grass and creature.  We live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change in consciousness would heal each of us – and heal the planet. 

If you have time this weekend, read the quote as a family or on your own and think about what it means to you, why could this message be especially important right now? Can you think of more than one reason? As you will come to know, our goal in this space is not to find the right answer but to challenge us to take our thinking deeper and embrace the diversity of perspectives that are to come.

Another challenge for the weekend emerged organically in class today, why is a questions mark shaped the way it is? RESIST THE URGE TO GOOGLE IT! Challenge your brain, write a story about the creation of this symbol, think about how shape can communicate intention, what other shape could work? When you have done some brain exercise then maybe explore online for some answers, or maybe you are satisfied with your own ideas.

We will be continuing these conversations in class Monday, excited to see you then!


Ms. G.

Week 11, June 16-19

Week 11… This will be our last full week of school for the 2019-2020 school year (I guess it isn’t really even full since we had a pro-D!) Congratulations, you have made it through your fist ever year of partial online school and you did so with patience and grace. We learned a lot about technology and Microsoft teams together and I am thankful for the kind and generous humans that I have the pleasure of working with.

ONLINE CLASS MEETINGS : We will continue with the 2 regular class meetings this week:

  • Wednesday 10:00am Class zoom (Present poetry challenge – corona discussion)
  • Friday 10:00am Class zoom (Cities and trees – creativity challenge)


Live on teams, we will be continuing the book Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. All past chapters that we have read are on Teams if you want to re-listen or join in late.


Weekly Activities:

  • QOTD
  • Communication Core Competency Reflection (Must email it to me by Friday) It has been emailed to your parents and is available as a downloadable file in Teams. It needs to be completed online and sent back to me by email ( It will be photocopied and attached to your report card with one copy going into your school file and another going home to you.
  • Read (Finish or re-read novel study book or start a new one)
  • Novel Study Activities -Student choice, your goal is 2 this week, finished and posted by Friday. Some students have posted all necessary activities already, others haven’t posted anything yet… try and finish up what you can this week and post it to your book club team
  • Poetry Challenge – Your Covid Experience

    Your challenge is to write your own free verse poem about your experience with life during the Covid 19 pandemic. You can write it in completely your own style of follow the following instructions:

    I am (insert adjective, feeling or statement about yourself)

    followed by 2 or more lines with other words that add detail to your first statement.

    Eg.       I am warm

    Cuddled on the couch

    Heated puppy pillow

    Taking his daily nap

    Continue to build your poem with different ‘I am’ statements, aim for at least 3 separate sections (stanzas)Presenting them on Wednesday’s zoom meeting

  • Virus Study – Here is a video to watch on the possible evolution of the corona virus, please note that it was made several months ago and there may be more accurate information available now! We will be talking about it more on Wednesday Zoom meeting.
  • Art Challenge – Create a model of a corona virus to destroy with us next week! We made paper mache around a balloon in class but you could use paper and tape, it could be 2D or 3D… whatever you want!

    Here are some resources to see what it looks like:

  • IXL – choice activities

    IXL – student choice in area of interest at a level that challenges current skill. Show me what interests you and that you are able to find activities that challenge you!

  • How Trees Affect Cities

    Watch this video Dig into some of the dig deeper activities to find out more about trees or check out

    if you are interested in Singapore’s super trees! Activity to follow in Friday Zoom meeting


Have a fantastic week my lovelies, also let me know if you think of more activities for our last days together!

Ms. G

Week 10, June 8-12

Week 10… I honestly didn’t think we would still be online but here we are. We will continue with the list form of activities, the first thing you (my lovely students) should do is make yourself a weekly plan! You have seen how I have broken activities down for many weeks, now it is your turn, one paper, 5 columns, set yourself goals for each day. Even if you don’t get through it all at least you will have a better idea of where you are at and what you have to do.


ONLINE CLASS MEETINGS : We will be adding an optional in class zoom meeting on Tuesday by popular demand – this is completely optional for students to attend (unless you are in class then you can’t really leave)

  • Tuesday 9:30am OPTIONAL Class zoom (Atlantic Slave Trade/ meditation)
  • Wednesday 10:00am Class zoom (Questions/ Poetry share)
  • Friday 10:00am Class zoom (Langston Hughes – writing activity)



Live on teams, we will be starting the book Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. This is a autobiographical book about his life growing up in South Africa during apartheid. It will be a very interesting and relevant read for us to gain context about the history of race relations in our world.

Recommended Activities for this week:

  • QOTD
  • Read
  • Novel Study Activities -Student choice, your goal is 2 this week, finished and posted by Friday. If you didn’t post any last week perhaps aim for 3 this week)
  • Poetry Challenge – We will be exploring free verse poems this week, that means poems that don’t need to follow any rules! The lines can be any length, you can use rhyme or not, think about how you would read it and change lines for impact or to indicate when the reader might take a breath.

    Follow these steps:

    • Set a timer for 5 minutes
    • Write for the whole 5 minutes about JOY, something that brings you joy, a time you felt joyful, what it feels like when you are full of joy… keep the pencil moving for all 5 minutes.
    • Go back through your writing and underline or highlight words and pieces of sentences that feel powerful for you.
    • You now have the base for your poem, try out different combinations of the words and phrases you found to create your own original poem about joy! Also feel free to add other ideas or words wherever you think is necessary.
    • Feeling brave? Try the same exercise but with the feeling of sadness anger or fear.

    Post your poem under completed Assignments if you feel brave or share it on Wednesdays Zoom (or email it to me)

    Some poetry for you to explore if you are interested:

    Solli 12 year old Slam poetry winner

    Slam poem to bacon

    League of Canadian Poets – Young Poets Award winners (gr. 7-12)

  • Video The Atlantic Slave Trade: we will watch this together during Tuesday Zoom and discuss it.  If you are watching it on your own follow these steps:
    • list what you already know about the Atlantic Slave trade (it is ok to say nothing)
    • watch the video from the link above
    • think about what long term impacts this part of history has had on our world
    • Sit with your emotions after this video, it is ok to feel sad/ angry/ confused. I know it is hard to learn about parts of history we are not proud of, you are learning about our world in order to better understand it and make sure we change it for the better.
    • Write down your questions to ask/ share in Wednesday’s Zoom meeting.


  • Art Challenge – Drawings from nature

    Many scientists also incorporate art into their studies in order to document their findings. Check out this online exhibit from The Natural History Museum in London to see the work of some important women in the scientific world who studied plants, insects and animals.

    Challenge: Pick a plant/ animal from your environment (inside or outside your house) and create an illustration of that living thing that could be used to scientifically identify it. You are focusing on detail, shape, scale and texture. Post it to art challenges if you are feeling brave.

    Here is the work of Heeyoung Kim for ideas and inspiration

    Here is a youtube video with plant sketching tips

  • MATH – Order of operations

    You guessed it…  a song to help us learn! Watch this video But there is one part that is missing from this song… if you know what it is share during our Wednesday zoom and Ms. G will make up a song on the spot for you.

    Complete as many of these questions as you can using your knowledge  about order of operations.  Remember to keep asking yourself, what do I have to do first. Write your work down and check your answers after. Don’t stress if there are some you don’t know how to solve, look at the answers and see if you can figure out how they did it!

  • IXL – 3 recommended activities: Multi step word problems, word problems with extra or missing info, Finding order problems.  Continue with IXL – student choice in area of interest at a level that challenges current skill.


  • Termites inspiring Architecture? Watch this video then choose a journal entry:

    Journal #1: Think of some part of nature that you really love. It could be the ocean. Or a forest. Sunshine or a storm. A bird. A flower. A tree. What fascinates you about this piece of nature? Can you describe its design? What might people learn by studying it? How might we use that knowledge in the human world?


    Imagine you are a superhero, with a superpower based on some form of biomimicry. What living thing would you mimic, and what would your superpower be?


Do what you can, please remember this list is flexible and don’t forget to get outside and enjoy this beautiful part of the world we live in.

Ms. G


Week 9, June 1-5

This week our schedule will be changing significantly as we are moving to a hybrid model with some students in class for a portion of the week and others at home. Because of this the weekly tasks will not be broken down by day and instead will be presented as a list (recommended amount of time for each can be found in parent email).

ONLINE CLASS MEETINGS (this will be a trial for this week and is subject to changes as other school-based requirements can come up unexpectedly. Please check announcement channel daily.)

  • Wednesday 10:00am Class zoom
  • Friday 10:00am Class zoom

 OPTIONAL DAILY READING moved to 1pm (this seemed to be quite popular and I will continue to try and make this accessible for all students. Monday and Tuesday I will be reading from school and I will try to stream it live to students on Teams. However if the connection doesn’t work or if students online are not acting appropriately in the chat area I will record it and have the recording available instead.)



  • QOTD
  • Read (Finish or re-read novel study book or start a new one)
  • Novel Study Activities -Student choice, your goal is 2 this week, finished and posted by Friday. If you didn’t post any last week perhaps aim for 3 this week)
  • Crossword – download and print one from your bookclub channel or Elizabeth’s in completed assignments. OR Try one from here
  • Photography Challenge – from last week, Ali posted a great example of how to create a mystery word with your letters, can you do the same? (in art challenges)
  • MATH – Mean, Median, Mode, Range I know how much you love songs… Watch this video once without stopping, then again and stopping at each problem to see if you can solve them.  Still confused? Try this one
  • IXL – 3 recommended activities Calculate mean, median, mode. Find the missing number in the set. Interpret charts to find mean, median, mode
  • IXL – student choice in area of interest at a level that challenges current skill.
  • Digital Passport­ – Complete 1-3 of the games on this site to practice and learn how to keep you private information safe and secure online.
  • Ted Ed Earth school – Watch this video Then check out some of the dig deeper activities what is a passive house? make your own Geodesic dome? Explore animal homes, what can they teach us?
  • Journal #1 Answer this question or describe your learning and continued questions from the dig deeper Ted Ed activities. Throughout human history our idea of ‘home’ has changed from caves and shelters to suburban houses and city apartments and everything in between. But ‘home’, where we are spending all of our time right now, is also the center of our family life. What have you enjoyed most about spending extra time at home?”


    I know this is a long list and it is possible you feel a bit overwhelmed. The first thing I recommend doing is sitting down and creating your own daily plan so that you can fit in all the activities listed above. Also please remember that we cannot learn when our brains are in fight and flight mode, take breaks, breathe deep and do what you can. Everything is flexible.

    Ms. G

Week 8, May 25 – 29

Our two month mark for online learning and the last week that we will all be working online. Thank you all for being so accommodating, patient and engaged in your learning through this transition, I am confident we will continue to thrive as a class even with the next transition beck into school that is coming for some of us.

This week also marks the end of our human body research project, students are more than welcome to continue their work if it is an area of passion. We will be moving on to a more language arts based focus with an independent novel study. The guidelines have been emailed out to parents and are available through the files section on teams.

Here are the activities for the week, this will be that last time they are broken down by day as next week many will be coming into the actual building and timelines will shift considerably.


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • 10:00am Presentation – Louis, Airaa, Jayden L, Elizabeth, Jayden Z
  • -11am class zoom –poem, Quest #2 life cycle of a t-shirt Poem  Quest #2
  • 1:00pm Presentation – Noah, Leo, Kobe, Claire
  • 2:00pm Presentation – Helen S, Cibelle, Ali, Helen Y
  • -Read though independent novel study, choose activities and book


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • – 20 min Math IXL(1- find a value using two variable equations, 2-table with two variable relationships,
  • – Start reading novel study book and decide on activities for this week
  • Journal #1 re-watch the life cycle of a t-shirt video and check out some of the dig deeper activities. life cycle of a t-shirt  What emotions do you feel when watching it and why? What can you do to be part of a solution?


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • 11:00 optional math Zoom practice using variables 
  • – Food based word problems (in the math section of online notebook)
  • – 30+ min Read novel study book and start at least one activity
  • – Music activity:



  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • – 30+ min Read novel study book and work on activities
  • – 30+ minutes on IXL furthering your learning in an area of interest

Optional activities:

  • 9am reading with Ms. G (Continue Fish in a Tree)
  • Quest extension activities
  • 25 challenging riddles
  • Book Bonanza Challenge: Create a structure that will support a textbook (or large coffee table book) 20 cm off the floor. Create a diagram of your plan with all ofthe materials labelled. Build your structure and test it out. How long will your structure hold your book? What is the strongest part of your structure? What are the weak points of your structure? How can you improve your structure so it can hold more books? How can you improve your structure so it can hold the book 30cm or 40 cm off the ground? How many books will your structure hold?
  • Math problem of the week
  • Music and dance performances
  • Videos for curiosity


Have a fantastic week my lovelies!

Ms. G

Week 7, May 19 to 22

As we close in on the 2 month mark of working online I really have to take a moment to appreciate the incredible dedication and care our students are investing in their learning. I am consistently impressed by the ideas and detail that our students bring to our conversations and learning online and I feel so fortunate to be able to work with them.

This will be our final week investigating the human body systems and we will have our final presentations possibly as early as Friday if people are ready or we will move to Monday and Tuesday next week.  Students now have a solid grounding in their body system and have stated branching off into other areas connected to their original idea. This week they can continue deeper down the path they are on or begin to investigate diseases and illnesses that affect their system.

Research Report: This week students are asked to show their learning in a more formal written document. There is an example page in the project section of their Notebooks and it is also available in the Files sections on teams.

We are also starting a new quest system: Quest #1The food we eat (Ted Ed) This is a choose your own adventure quest where student’s can take their learning as deep as they want. I understand that many are feeling the pressure of completing at home activities as well as ones for school. I want those who are curious and have the time to be able to push their learning to the next level and those who need a break can moderate their engagement as needed.

Together: during our zoom meeting we will have a general discussion before diving in, watch the opening video, take a comprehension quiz together and have a follow up conversation.

On their own: All students are responsible for doing ONE dig deeper activity and summarizing their learning from it in a journal entry.  Find the activities here.

Options for dig deeper activities found at the link above are:

  • Watch one of the extension videos
  • Play national geographic planet food game
  • Dissect a flower
  • Build a crazy plant
  • Invent a plan to help your family reduce food waste
  • And many many more!

Journal #1

Summarize the activity you undertook and what the key learning points were that you took out of it. This is your chance to showcase your skills in summary and paragraphing. End by asking 3 deeper thinking questions that relate to your chosen activity.

Here is the possible breakdown for your week, please remember they are only guidelines and you can finish activities in any order.

Monday: Victoria Day holiday


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • -11am class zoom meeting Should we eat bugs?STAY FOR MATH CHECK Jayden Z, Airaa, Helen Y, Cibelle, Alex
  • – 30+ min Final week project research
  • – 20 min Math IXL (1- write variable expressions- word problems, 2- evaluate variable expressions, 3- solve for variable in equations)
  • – Read while laying in a pile of pillows




  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • -11am class zoom meeting Poem from a Prime Minister
  • – 30+ min Project research and report writing
  • – 30 minutes Math IXL continue recommended activities or find area of interest to explore


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • -10am Human Body presentation group 1 (zoom)Evan, Koen, Aiden, Marcus
  • -11am Human body presentations group 2 (zoom) Genevieve, Ashley, Hanno, Alex
  •  -1pm Human body presentations group 3 (zoom) Gloria, Rory, Nika, Airaa
  • -math – Printable one variable triangle challenge activity (available in files or in parent email)
  • -Read with your favorite stuffy



Optional Activities:

Week 6, May 11 to 15th

I am so incredibly astounded by the project work that students presented last week. I hope students have had a chance to chat with their parents to see what sort of creations and knowledge was shared at their small group presentations last week. I also had the privilege of waving at many students and parents from a safe distance while people picked up their school belongings. I can’t even begin to explain how full my heart was for getting to see some familiar faces in person. I really miss our weekly adventures together in class!

This week we will be moving forward with our Human Body project and many classmates shared questions and ideas about each other’s projects that may have inspired the continued journey this week. You have 2 choices for your research direction this week:

  • Dig in deeper to your body system to find out exactly what is happening in a specific part and why/how it happens? Follow questions that have come up for you during your exploration and investigate the link between your body systems and others.


  • Explore the same body system but in a specific animal! Find out how we are the same and different and most importantly WHY!

There are already many possible activities under the make it and write it sections of the project outline and  are responsible for finishing at least one of each. You will present it to me in your 1-1 (even if it is not completely finished) and then it can be part of your final presentation in small groups again in week 3 as well.

Here is a proposed schedule for your week.


  • -QOTD
  • SEL calendar
  • 11am class zoom STAY AFTER MEETING: Jayden Z, Helen y, Gloria, Alex, Airaa, Louis to ensure math comprehension
  • 30+ min Project Week 2 research
  • – Play 2 different coordinated grid games
  • – Read to a family member


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • – 30 min project research (Post 2 new things you learned with a picture related to it in your project channel)
  • – 30+ min Project activity creation
  • – 20 min Math IXL (1- coordinate plane graphing, 2- coordinate plane as maps, 3- reflection, rotation, translation)
  • – Read to someone over the phone or on zoom


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • – 30 min project research (Respond to at least one other person’s posts from this week in project channel)
  • – 30+ min Project activity creation
  • -Math question of the week (not a question but a game! Links below)
  • – Music activity:
  • – Read in the fresh air


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • -11am class zoom meeting
  • – 30+ min Project activity creation
  • – 30 minutes Math IXL continue recommended activities or find area of interest to explore
  • – Journal #1 You wake up and you realize you have somehow switched bodies with the Prime Minister of Canada… What do you do on day one in your new body (about Corona or not)


  • -QOTD
  • -SEL calendar
  • – Finishing touches on your Project activities for the week and submit any missing assignments to Ms. G.
  • -math – play printable battleships game with a family member –sent in email to parents and in files on Teams (or any math related game you own.)
  • -Read while drinking a delicious beverage

NOTE: All students are expected to sign up for at least one 1-1 meeting with me this week. Email was sent to parents with a link and instructions.


Monday: Coordinate grid games

Go to this site and try at least 2 different games to practice and improve your understanding of coordinate grids.

NOTE: If you are already familiar with coordinate grids and are ready for a challenge, make sure you are choosing games that use a 4 quadrant plane and negative and positive numbers.

Wednesday: Reflection, Rotation and Transformation games

Try at least 1 (games require adobe flash)

1) See how many suitcases you can pack with robots: 

2) Challenge Ms G. in golf (I scored 25, can you get lower?)

Want to explore more of get worksheets?


Optional Activities:

Answers to last week’s riddles: Seven, Short, Silence, Four. The four fathers could be grandfathers and are definitely sons already.

New Riddles:

1) What question can you never answer yes to?
2)  What is always in front of you but can’t be seen?
3) A man calls his dog from the opposite side of the river. The dog crosses the river without getting wet, and without using a bridge or boat. How?

  • Building challenge: A New Hat. Invent a hat that no one has seen before. Using materials you have at home, make a model of your hat. Present the journey you are going to go on wearing the hat to a family member. • Give your hat a name • Where would someone go wearing your hat (examples: into your stomach, space, underwater, to Grandma’s house)? • Does the hat give you special powers? • What interesting details or any other interesting information about it.
  • A place to ask questions and explore
  • Nightly Opera if you want to listen to some free performances
  • Watercolor mark making tutorial
  • Awesome Videos/ Podcasts about math and science
  • Can you cook something that looks like an animal? Share it in our general chat!