What does a can of tomatoes have to do with Geography?

 

Unit 3 of the Grade 9 Geography course focuses on natural resources.  We use a “simple” can of tomatoes to explore what natural resources are, how humans use them and how we use energy resources at every stage of production.  The class had to brainstorm the production steps required to start with a tomato seed and end up with a can of tomatoes sitting on a supermarket shelf.

Once we brainstormed the steps in production, we traced back which natural resources were used in each step. As a class, we investigated several of these in depth.  For example, if you want to put the tomatoes in the can, you first have to make the can.  What natural resource would you gather?  What impact might gathering that natural resource have on the environment?  What energy natural resource would be required to manufacture the can?  What resources are used in transporting the can?

At the end of the lesson, students started to understand that there are hundreds of steps in the production of even a simple item, and that resources and energy are used in every step.  Ultimately this led us to a larger discussion of how to reduce the amount of natural resources and energy that we use in our daily lives.

Pop Art Self Portraits

Following our Colour Theory unit, the Grade 9 Visual Arts class explored Pop Art! Pop Art is usually easily identifiable from it’s simple, bold and bright images. Some may think it’s called Pop Art because the colours “POP!”, but it also stems from the fact that artists were inspired by images from popular culture. We specifically looked at famous Pop artists:

  • Andy Warhol — known for his colourful, repetitive prints of soup cans and celebrities.
  • Roy Lichtenstein — known for his cartoon-like paintings, often created using primary colours.
  • Keith Haring — known for his paintings featuring thick-lined, simple figures and bright and bold colours.
  • Yayoi Kusama — known for her outlandish, fascinating paintings made up of beautiful colours and detailed dot work

Before we looked at Pop Art as a class, students were asked to research an artist and present on that artist. Three students researched Warhol, Haring and Kusama and were able to provide the class with a bio of each artist and their major works. So going into the unit, the class had an idea of who these artists were and what Pop Art generally looked like.

In order to put our knowledge of Pop Art to paper, students were given the task of creating a Pop Art Self-Portrait! This project is usually done in the classroom using Photoshop and a projector, where students trace their image onto a piece of paper…however, some adjustments had to be made in these circumstances!

Students printed an image of themselves off at home and outlined the key features of their face/upper body with a Sharpie. Then, they used a bright window to trace the lines onto another piece of paper and then “Pop-ified” it!! Pop-ifying varied from applying dots like Kusama or Lichtenstein to using super bright colours all over their face like all Pop artists did. Students were given the option of including a speech bubble (inspired by some of Lichtenstein’s art) expressing something they think about often during the pandemic (e.g. “What am I having for dinner?”).

Check out the results below!

 

Grade 11 Biology Unit 5 – Anatomy of Mammals

 

As we approach the end of this new online frontier, the grade 11 biology class has completed its second to last unit, The Anatomy of Mammals. We broke the unit into three parts, the first being the anatomy of various body systems. The unit began with an in-depth look at the circulatory system, exploring its various components (the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells), their structures and functions. Next, we looked at the respiratory system and finished off part one by taking a voyage through the digestive system. Once the three body systems were explored, we moved into part two of the unit and discussed how different body systems interact with one another. We finished off the unit by examining the impacts our choices have on our body systems.

Green Our Homes With Green Industries

 

When Green Industries had to make the shift to online learning, it was a bit of a bummer, as it meant we weren’t going to be able to do all of the hands-on learning and field trips that we had planned. But I like to look at the opportunities that situations like this can present us. Now that we had to learn at home, why not use this opportunity to improve our homes, indoors and out, by greening them!

Students Green Their Homes With Green IndustriesWe began by learning all about the benefits that immersing ourselves in nature can have, and how adding a few plants into our living spaces, and participating in gardening can improve our mental health in trying times. We practiced propagating plants from ones that we already had growing in our home as well as growing our own food from kitchen scraps, getting artsy while making plant labels from upcycled materials found around the house, and preparing garden beds outdoors.

 

Now that it is warm and sunny out, the students are moving their growing from the indoors to the outdoors, and we are continuing the greening process from the comfort of our own yards!

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.