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Grade 4 Folk Song Unit: Making Alberta’s History Sing (Part 1: Tuning In)

by Heather Fawcett and Jessica Kelly

The Grade 4 Humanities teachers at Connect Charter School are currently designing an exciting unit of inquiry that provides students with an opportunity to create folk songs that communicate a story from Alberta’s rich history.

The design of this unit incorporates a number of Social Studies and English Language Arts curricular elements while also challenging students to express their knowledge and understanding through creative channels. Technology will play an integral role in the process and students will work directly with expert singer/songwriters to create folk song lyrics from their independent research findings. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but the potential for deep and profound learning is obvious.

The Inquiry Cycle 

Helping learners understand the various stages of the inquiry process, and what success means at each of those stages, is important in helping them reach their full potential as inquirers. If students have a firm grasp of what skills and behaviors befit strong inquirers, they know what it takes to be successful. To this end, the Grade 4 Humanities teachers have been working with the model pictured above. This framework also plays an integral role in the construction of inquiry units.

Innovate West Update

We are officially a month away from the first annual Innovate West Conference at Connect Charter School. The event unofficially begins at a Tweet-Up, the evening of Thursday, May 22 at Wild Rose Brewery and will officially start on Friday, May 23 with a school tour on a regular instructional day.
This was a highlight for those who attended ConnectED Canada in previous years and we will continue with this unique opportunity to see engaged learning in action and to hear the student voice.

On Friday May 23 we are also hosting an evening reception at Telus Spark to welcome delegates and invited guests. We have assembled an inspiring group of keynote speakers to share through the evening punctuated with time to connect and network with innovative educators.  Please note that we have additional tickets to the reception for sale ($25/each) on the website for spouses, friends etc. 

Saturday and Sunday will consist of 4 discussion blocks (3 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday).  A list of these discussions can be found on the website.  A daily schedule of discussions will be announced soon.

For a complete daily schedule, including times and locations, click here.

Connecting with the Performing Arts

“I on the Sky”
Brittany Babott ~ Grade 4-9 Fine Arts Pre-service teacher
Werklund School of Education

A reoccurring theme in my drama classes the past term has been the exploration of what a ‘punctum’ is and how it relates to theatre.

The word punctum is a Latin word:
noun: punctum; plural noun: puncta
a small, distinct point.

I had first been introduced to this seemingly strange word a few years back when I attended a Ghost River Theatre workshop on devising theatre. Co-Artistic director David Van Belle had asked us to participate in an exercise where we would listen to a story and record 10 ‘punctums’, any part of the story that resonated with us or ‘pierced’ us. I have been fascinated with this term and its applicability to drama ever since.

Outcomes Based Assessment and Feedback Loops

Cynthia Nilsson~ Grade 9 Math/Science Pre-service teacher
Werklund School of Education

As a graduating student from the Werklund School of Education, experiencing my final practicum
experience at Connect Charter, one of my professional goals was to focus on assessment for learning in a real and meaningful way, rather than only assessment of learning. With the support and mentorship of Louis Cheng, I was able to gain experience in implementing assessment for learning in a Grade 9 Math/Science class, by combining feedback loops with outcomes based assessment.

Grade 7 Recycling Centre Geometry

How to build a recycling centre?

Our grade 7 students were tasked with designing a recycling centre for each of the 4 homerooms in Geometer's Sketchpad. The result was a net that they printed onto a regular sheet of paper. Students then recreated the boxes from the printout to become scaled versions of the original.
their hallway. To begin the process they deconstructed a box and plotted the lengths, angles and shapes into

Magic Spots and Earth Walks

Here is a blog post that highlights some simple activities you can do with your students to get outside in the beautiful spring weather and have them investigating the natural world.  These activities can be done in your school yard or in a nearby natural area.

Since our early days the Calgary Science School has provided outdoor and environmental education experiences at Camp Sweet which is near Olds, Alberta. The camp, developed by former Calgary Science School principal Ron Sweet, has been used for the past 10 years to provide highly successful learning experiences for all CSS students in grades 4 to 9.

Each grade has two overnight camps per year where at least one of them is held at Camp Sweet. Our grade 7 students attended the 3-day and 2-night camp on their second week of school this year!

Science Communication Opportunity

Our Science Communication Club are looking for opportunities to share their knowledge and demonstrations this spring. We would like to support their hard work in helping to find schools, centres, malls or other venues where they can safely demonstrate some of what they have been working on this year. 
If you are interested in hosting our club or have questions about the project, please email

Student Learning Plans: Choosing a Platform

The Quest for the “Perfect” Platform at Connect

Through formal and informal conversations with colleagues, students, parents, and administrators over the past two years we have determined the characteristics necessary in a platform for our student learning plans (SLP's). Although recognizing some classes at Connect house their SLP’s in binders and duotangs (as a paper format), we realized early on in our process that a digital platform was critical in ensuring information is easily transferable between and amongst all stakeholders. Asking questions such as: What are the different platforms available? And, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? were important in our process to find a platform that would meet the majority of student, parent, and teacher needs. The specific characteristics we felt were most important to our school were the following:

  • Security
  • Access - ipad/laptop & home/parents/teachers
  • User friendliness
  • Transferability between grades & years
  • Clear visual/clean...easy to view
  • Good “fit” with our Exemplary Learning Framework (ELF) … re: its set-up (Please see our previous blog post discussing our ELF and SLP’s)
  • Individuality/Personalization
  • Cost
  • Options
  • Multimedia options
  • Living/easy to edit or change
  • Age appropriate features