Geography: The Great Human Odyssey

 

Students in the Middle School Geography Course have taken on the job of considering early human history through the lens of Human Geography. By building on previous lessons about the spheres of the earth, Students had the opportunity to view episodes of CBC’s The Nature of Things documentary, “The Great Human Odyssey.”

Episode One taught the Middle School Students about the “evolution of adaptability” in homo sapiens. The climate throughout history has been volatile, resulting in the extinction of countless species. Climate has also affected where and when our ancestors were able to settle the earth.

This episode also features two case studies. Students explored how the San People (often called the Bushmen) in South Africa survive in the extreme climate of the Kalahari desert. They also learned about the expert breath-hold divers of Badjoa peoples of Tawi Tawi.

Students discussed the origins of humans in the continent of Africa, how early people survived drastic climate change, and how symbolic thought and art-making gives us an understanding of ancient quality of life.

By using new online tools, from video-conferencing, to Jamboard, students are building on their ability to navigate online course delivery, while exploring exciting ideas about the past, and our relationship with the world we inhabit.

Grade 11 Law – Sharing and Presenting Online

 

Sharing and Presenting Learning Online: A Website from the Canadian Law Class

As we settle further into emergency remote learning, one of the many things we miss is students sharing their learning with peers — and with the school community as a whole. Posters on the walls, class presentations (and sometimes presentations to other classes), and project fairs not only give students a chance to show what they have learned, but also allow for the sharing of knowledge and ideas with peers, teachers, and even parents. In our new environment, however, we have to find alternatives. And so, the Grade 11 Canadian Law class has created a website to put their knowledge and thinking on display, and hopefully to pass on some of what they have learned.

For a few weeks, students learned about how their rights and freedoms are protected in Canada and about how the law tries to balance competing needs and concerns. We focused in particular on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, learning about some notable cases and examples, and looking at whether, in real life, everyone seems to benefit equitably from these protections. The class also studied when and how different rights might be justifiably limited, a topic that found particular relevance in our present circumstances as we take unprecedented measures to keep people healthy and save lives.

For a summative assignment, each student demonstrated their learning by creating a web page for one section of the Charter, or alternatively, by identifying a section that does not exist but perhaps should. You can view the site that the class has created together (but apart) here!

Grade 11 Travel & Tourism – Dream Destinations

 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world that we know has changed dramatically. This includes schools which have been closed since the beginning of March Break. Luckily, we live in a time and society that allows us to quickly improvise and adapt. Since the closure of schools, YMCA Academy has been hard at work to transition to a long-distance learning program. It has been a quick turnaround received well by students, parents, and staff alike.

In Travel and Tourism, we are not allowing the pandemic to slow us down. Although we are currently undergoing isolation and social distancing, our class is making travel plans to our dream destinations. Students are working on a long-term project that tasks them with developing a comprehensive travel itinerary to a place of their choice. Over the course of the project, they will have designed and planned the following:

  • Country and city profile poster
  • Top tourist attractions presentation
  • Travel details including length of trip, type of trip, and budget
  • Booking flight tickets, accommodation, car rental, etc.
  • Detailed day-to-day itinerary

As students work through the project, they will have to take into account a variety of factors. For example, they will have to consider the price for everything they do to ensure they stay within their budget. Additionally, they will have to map out their every move and plan realistic journeys. Students will also examine each of the attractions they visit and understand the importance of conservation and sustainability. At the end of the project, students will share their masterpieces so that everyone has access to different travel itineraries. Sooner or later, my hope is that each student will be able to put their planning into practice and have an opportunity to visit their dream destination.

Academy Hosts Workshop About Healthy Eating

students in classroom participating in presentation

Last Friday, the Academy’s Grade 11/12 Workplace English class and Food and Nutrition class took part in a workshop about healthy eating, and about how millions and millions of animals are being killed for the food that we eat. Tracey Timmins from the Educated Choices Program explained what we consider food and what we do not consider food, and the health risks of food.

Tracy talked about how animals were slowly being led into slaughterhouses to be killed for food. She also talked about how killing animals can have major impacts on the environment. “It’s important to learn where food comes from,” says Russell, an English student. “It made me feel more motivated to make changes in my daily life to save the environment.”

It is really important to learn these things so you know where your food is coming from. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat meat. You can have a balance with meat and things that are not meat. If you feel like you don’t want to eat meat, that is your choice, but this is something that you should know about. “I feel like we organized this, because students everywhere need to learn about animals, and why we need food every day to survive,” says Lucas, another English student. This presentation is helpful, because it teaches everyone how to live a better life and feel happier.

The presentation happened so that we could learn how to eat healthy and save the environment. It’s important because the presenter talked about how we should eat less meat and more healthy foods. “I think this topic is very important because we are killing animals for our food and it is also having an impact on our diet and health,” says Russell.

“I felt sad and angry at the same time,” says Lucas. “I felt like I had to take action by following Tracy’s presentation facts and details of making the world a better place.”

A student named Cole concluded, “The presentation impacted me, because even though animals do get killed for food, it’s wrong to just take a bunch of animals into a horrible place and just murder them. I also think that we should take a stand. Animals are nature. Without nature, there won’t be anymore animals to take care of. I realized when I was watching this presentation that I can choose to eat less meat and more plant-based things.”

– By the Grade 11/12 Workplace English class

Feast of Thanks Celebration

On Tuesday, October 15th, our whole school attended the YMCA Academy’s annual Feast of Thanks in the school cafeteria. The feast was an opportunity to hear presentations from students and guests as well as to eat a lot of delicious food, generously donated by students and families!

Our class, a Grade 11 English class focused on Indigenous voices, led the organization and created posters, artwork, and presentations, while Brandon’s drama class set up the space, and Rein’s food and nutrition class took charge of heating up and setting out the food. In our presentations, people learned about some of the background to Thanksgiving and about Indigenous traditions related to gratitude and the harvest. Students and staff also heard about Indigenous storytelling, and listened to a story that a student had written about being thankful.

We were also joined by two staff from the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, who talked a bit about what the centre does, and then opened the feast with a smudge and a prayer of thanks. While the smudging shell, filled with fragrant, smoking sage, made its way up and down the long tables of students, a few volunteers, led by our guests, put together a “spirit plate” with food and an offering of tobacco for the ancestors. Eventually, the hungry students were also able to fill their plates with savoury food, which was soon followed by dessert.

Students said that they really enjoyed the food, especially all the pie! Of course, there was plenty of cleaning up to do afterwards, and we are thankful for Todd’s civics class taking on most of the clean up duties. In the end, we hope that everyone who attended the Feast of Thanks has a better understanding of the historical aspects of Thanksgiving, Indigenous perspectives on Thanksgiving, and how we can show our gratitude every day.

– From Katie Freeland’s Grade 11 English class

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!