Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goals and aims

Since the end of March to early June I ran SOLE in my class everyday. This took up from 2 - 3 periods to research, organize and present their findings. The following is the plan I came up with and the results of it.


Give students control of their learning

Increase learning engagement

Enhance collaboration among students and teacher

Provide students with modern learning technologies

Allow access to learning tools from almost anywhere

Improve accountability

Reduce paper use

Give critical feedback everyday


Implement Google Apps for Education

Use SOLE everyday

Teach skills for developing appropriate questions

Teach research techniques (advanced features of Google, evaluating websites for content)


Boosted student enthusiasm about learning

Sparked student and teacher ingenuity and creativity

Enabled students to work from almost anywhere and not always in the same room

Improved access to industry-leading collaboration tools allowed them to perform stronger SOLE research

Students collaboration on projects improved

Helped teacher more easily track homework and assignments

Reading levels of all students in Grade 4 are at Grade 5 – 7 levels

Parents are happier with the wider range of knowledge their children are demonstrating

Parental interaction with student learning has increased

Student engagement in topics and learning is higher for all students

Student social skills improved while major behavioural challenges decreased

Student presentation skills, speaking, body language, answering questions on the spot, taking criticism, improved dramatically

Overall confidence in their abilities increased
I will add to this plan in September so that a whole year of SOLE will be able to demonstrate stronger results.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The last day

One of the great things about teaching is being able to touch the lives of the children you teach.

Thank you to all my students who said many positive, heart warming words today. They were appreciated because they were so heart felt. Four in particular touched me pretty much, well other than Lee embracing me in a walking bear hug at the end of the day.

Abu said: " I have had a great year with you!!! I thought Sole was AMAZINGLY FUN!!!! I hope I get another awesome year next year!!!!! I can't wait till September!!! You are an Amazing teacher and you taught me lots!!!!! Thanks for not giving up on me!!!! It means a lot!!!!!

Skye said, "I was very happy to be in your class this year. I tried my hardest and am confident with my report cards, especially in math. You have helped me boost my confidence all the way through. Thank you for taking the next step in education or this wouldn't have felt half as important or fun."

Kaiya said, "You are so nice and kind to me especially when I am sad. You always care when something has happened to someone. You are the best. I will miss you."

And lastly a student who I taught last year dropped by to say good bye as she is moving.
Sama said," You are the best teacher I ever had. You are the only one who cared about me and listened to me, really listened. This is what makes you so special."

Awe thanks guys (girls). I am only a good teacher because I work with amazingly good people everyday. You make it fun and interesting. You show respect.
What happens during a heart attack?
In a heart attack your heart loses  oxygen, and eventually causes necrosis of the best cardiac tissues. This tissue death can result in heart failure and deadly arrhythmia. When the plaque in your heart hardens it explodes and platelets come and prevent further release of the plaque that has exploded. However this clotting can block the artery completely and stop the blood flow to a part of the heart. When the blood stops, flow stops, and so does the oxygen to that part of the heart. Because of  the lack of oxygen to keep the muscle going, muscle cells die in the heart.
By: Cameron, Aiden, Skye,, and Owen.   

Clocks come in all shapes and sizes. Clocks can be any colour and can be made of almost anything. All clocks are made with the same components like tools, wood, and more.
By: Caden and Andrew.W

Why do we close our eyes when we sleep?
It turns out that  most humans need their eyes closed to get a good nights sleep. Closing your eyes blocks out visual stimulation. When your eyes are closed, you aren’t distracted by visual input. Closing your eyes protects them from getting bugs and other foreign objects that could be damaging. If you try falling asleep with the light on, you would fall asleep a lot quicker because the light makes your eyes tired so your body’s natural instinct would be to close them.
By: Kaiya, Andrew.C, Dora, and Alisha

Macaws can live up to 65 years old. They are long tailed birds. Macaws are just a different type of parrot.  There  are 17 species of Macaws. Their habitat is the rainforest but some species prefer woodland or Savannah like places. Macaws are the biggest parrots in the world. The body of the scarlet Macaw from beak to tail is 33 inches. Macaws strong beaks are used to crack hard nuts in their habitat. Macaws like to feast on a variety of foods to keep their energy up like fruits, nuts, leaves, stems, and flowers. Snakes, Monkeys, and the Toco Toucans are the Macaws most common predators.  The 17 species of Macaws are:
Glaucous Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw
Lear's Macaw
Spix's Macaw
Great Green Macaw
Blue and Yellow Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Blue Throated Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Military Macaw  
Red Fronted Macaw
Chestnut Fronted Macaw
Red Bellied Macaw
Blue Headed Macaw
Blue Winged Macaw
Golden Collared Macaw
Red Shouldered Macaw
There would be 19 species of Macaws but the Cuban Red Macaw and the Saint Croix Macaw are extinct.
By: Abigail, Madison, Breanna, and Katelynne.

A volcano is an opening or rupture in a planet's surface or crust. A volcano allows hot magma ,  volcanic ashes, and steam to escape of the magma chamber. Below the surface they are found in a subduction. The most common perception of a volcano is a conical.
By: Adrian.D, Nick, Lee,and Sophia  


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Abi and Denyce

The serval is a wild African cat it's name means "wolf deer" . A Serval is best known for it's long legs which aids in catching birds in flight up to almost 15 feet straight up. DNA studies have shown that the Serval is closely related to the African Golden Cat and the Caracal. The Serval is native to Africa where it is widely distributed to the south of the Sahara. Most Servals live in wet land areas and grassy Savannah's of sub-Saharan of Africa. They are very adaptable. The Serval's primary diet is small animals such as rodents, birds, and frogs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Question?


What's the biggest barrier to kids getting access to education worldwide?

Abigail and Skye
Over 140 million children are not in school. Every day in dozens of countries around the world there are kids going to work instead of school, especially girls. Poverty, lack of resources and terrorism are also some reasons kids are not in school. Those aren’t just the reasons. Another reason is the cost and abuse and so is neglect. Some of the countries are very poor and they don’t have the money to pay for their kids to go to school or if they don’t have a school then they won’t have enough money to build a school either.
Some reasons why kids can't have a education is because either they can’t afford an education or that their parents think that they can teach their child everything they know, because some parents think that they know everything. Another reason is because they kids gets homesick and refuses not to. And also because some countries girls still can’t get a education. Also the lack of the resources so they can't have a education or some parents are just mean and they don't think that there child deserves an education. Some parents think that chores are more important than an education. or some kids in Africa don't have a home or parents and there is no school around them or that kids might be in a foster home and the owner is mean and won't pay for a proper education or even in general a education period.

Lee and Breanna!!
Some of the biggest issues are that there is not enough money to supply the supplies needed for a proper education. In a lot of the poor areas adults don't have their own schooling to provide a proper teachers education and the parents don't care.
Lee’s opinion. I think because of the government that is in the area they don't provide the resources they need to get the proper education in their school.

Ian (Kaydn’s friend)
I think that some kids can’t get the proper education because they don’t have enough money and they don’t have good schools
Andrew C., Adrian M. and Cameron                                                                     

We think some kids don’t get as much education as we do because some countries don’t have electronics and/or schools because they can’t afford it. In some countries their parent’s won’t let them go to school. Some of their parents might think the kids at the school will make fun of the child so they won’t let the kid go to school. Some people don’t have jobs so their kids won’t be able to go to school. Parent’s sometimes don’t have enough money to send the kid to school.

Chelsey and Denyce and Katelynne
70 million kids are not getting education. Some countries don't have schools. The kids in North Africa are least likely to go to school. They can't afford to go to school. Some kids have to work instead. Some kids parents have AIDS so the kids have to stay home. Some kids parents don't think school is important. Girls are far less likely to go to school than boys in the poorest countries. This happens.the parents are scared their kids will get bullied. Parents think girls should be a housewife. The rich countries promise to the poor that they would keep their education system going. Some people in the world don’t have education because they don’t have enough money to build a school because was no school back then. Their parents don’t have any money to let them go to school.

Around 1001 million first grade aged children lacked access to schools. A foundation is testing whether poor children, who are given computers and learning software, can teach themselves. People are seeing if illiterate children, with no previous exposure to written words, can learn how to read by themselves by experimenting with tablets.  The tablets are preloaded with alphabet training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.  "Early observations are encouraging.", said Nicholas Negertine, OLPC's founder, at MIT technology review Emtech conference.

Dora and Alisha

The rich gets higher marks on average and tests because of their money. A rich kid could be really smart but usually, they get more education than a poor-medium family. In lots of countries, kids can’t even go to school. It’s either a poor family, poor country, or a country under attack. Something always to block the country’s way of providing education. Also, in some countries, the country puts a lack of effort to give girls an education and will forbid them, because the leaders in those countries, think that all girls can do just cleaning , make food, and be a maid. Some big barriers for girls is the... drama! All girls have to go through this. The fights, and mean comments are not helping.
In the small town of Dukem in Ethiopia, many girls are removed from school much earlier than their brothers. This is because, they also think there that girls have no reason for an education or their parents are worried about rape, harassment and are worried about the teachers and students.  Most girls there are also married at earlier than age 18. In different countries, you also have to pay to go to school.
In  Afghanistan, an 8 year old girl named Farida was forcibly engaged to hang out with a 21 year old man. She was also forced to leave school at age 12 because the man said he would kill her if she didn’t. Eventually Farida convinced her parents to allow her to attend a human rights course with HAWCA. One of their lawyers visited the man’s family to explain that the engagement could be legally broken because she was underage. “My lawyer and the centre helped me return to school and I have been advising other girls Farida meet to defend their rights.
What is HAWCA?
HAWCA stands for:
Humanitarian Assistance (for) Women (and) children (of)  Afghanistan.
This has been around since 1999.
This helps the women and children of   Afghanistan with Assistance, Care, and Humanitarian.
What does Humanitarian mean?
Humanitarianism is an kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended into the human bodies.
Lot’s of the girls got bossed around by the boys. While the boys were at work, the girls would stay home and have to do all the cleaning. Then when the man and the boys got back then they would be like get me this and this and the girls would have to do what they say.

What can you tell us about Google Hangouts? Be specific when you explain it.
By: Bill Ferguson

Answered by Dora and Alisha

Google Hangouts.
Well, Google Hangouts...
Is an AMAZING program!!
I love this so much! <3
*You can 9 people
*You can access other documents and still talk with other people while in a Google Hangout
I just love this so much!!!

If you compare Skype and Google Hangouts. Let’s just look at the difference!

Google Hangouts
Add up to 9 people (Pro)
1 person (Con)
Status Update (Pro)
Status Update (Pro)
Add contacts/friends in a circle (Pro)
Add contacts/friends (Pro)
Talking with friends during a hangout (Pro)
can’t talk to friends during Skype (Con)
Accessing other things during a hangout (Pro)
Not accessing things (like docs) during a Skype (Con)
Very easy and accessible (Pro)
Very easy and accessible  (Pro)

Look at how much of a difference there is! On all of “Google Hangouts”  they are all “Pro!”
And on “Skype” there is 3 “Pro” and 3 “Con.”
With that little chart, you can say the outline on how much better “Google Hangouts” is!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Kindergarten is doing SOLE

The Kindergarten teacher in my school started doing SOLE with her class! She asked the kids what were some of the things they would like to know about. She wrote them down. The next time the Grade 3/4 class goes down to their room they will research the answers together. And presumably present them after rehearsing it! Brilliant! What a great application of SOLE!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Education is a funny thing. It is both held in the highest regard and thrown to the gutter by a vocal minority. It is pilloried as being the weakest link in the intellectual evolutionary scale and the bastion of bad memories. There is no winning these arguments. What I would argue is that when you are in school you need to realize your own beliefs and not be a follower . The thoughts of your parents, friends, even those you do not know but listen should not be an influence.  Your influence has to come from what you put into the system. Work with it and have enjoyable experiences. Work against and live a life of miserable complaint. It is all in what you decide.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A searching we will go!

How Are Medicines Made?
Breanna, Emily, Lee, Kaydn

In the past all medicines were made from plants or animals. The knowledge of such plants was passed down through the generations as none of it was written down. Knowledgeable people knew which plants helped cure most things their patients faced.

Today all important medicines must be approved and tested before they are put out into stores. Each medicine is given a chemical name. Most medicines today are made by machines that measure the dosage to make sure it is right.

How Do Candles Work?
Adrian M. Denyce, Cody, Katelynne

A candle is a block of wax with a wick in it to make the fire. Candles can be made with beeswax or paraffin wax. They were made from animal fat.

The candle works by  lighting the wick. The wax keeps the string from burning too quickly. When the candle is made the wick is surrounded by liquid wax, which soaks into the wick. This also helps slow the flame down.

King Arthur
Sophia, Kaiya, Dora, Maddie

King Arthur was a British leader. He was born between the 5th and 6th centuries.  In the early 6th century King Arthur lead many knights in defending England in a large war. According to legends King Arthur formed a round table of his best knights. The round table is where the knights sat to talk about things of interest to them. King Arthur became King when he pulled Excalibur from a stone, according to a legend. Some people who were part of his circle were Lancelot, Merlin and his wife Guinevere.

Abi, Andrew C., Cameron

The sun sucks up the water and it rises to form clouds. Warm moist layers  build up to at l;east  a 1000 foot minimum and a 5000 foot maximum. The rising air currents organize into thermals. The water vapour in the air condenses and joins together to form clouds. Eventually they  are broken apart by other thermals and move about freely as clouds. As they join together they form clouds with more water than water vapour and the water falls as rain or snow.

Stewart, Alisha, Nicky and Owen

Thyroid disease occur when the Thyroid gland doesn't supply the proper amount of hormones needed by the body. If the thyroid is overactive it releases too many hormones into the blood stream resulting in hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes the body to use energy more quickly than it should and chemical activity in the cells steps up.
People who not get enough iodine in their diets also can get an enlarged thyroid but this is rare in the United States and Canada because the foods there usually supply enough iodine.
Sometimes it is a lump in your neck called a goiter.

Caden, Andrew W. Adrian M.

A Die is a single dice. Dice can refer to both plural and single dicc. A dice is a small object that has multiple sides. It is thrown to determine which side will come up. It is used in board games and in gambling.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Today's SOLE!

How is an Asian Elephant different from an African Elephant?
Abi, Skye, Andrew W.

                                                African Elephants                               Asian Elephant

Weight                                      4000 - 7000 kg                                  3000 - 6000 kg

Shoulder Height                        3 - 4 metres                                       2 - 3.5 metres

Skin                                          more wrinkled                                    smoother

# of ribs                                   up to 21 pairs                                     up to 20 pairs

Highest Point                           on the shoulder                                    on the back

Size of Ears                              bigger, reach over neck                       smaller, doesn't reach over the neck

Shape of their back                   concave                                               convex or straight

Shape of the head               no humped structures and no dents       humped structures and dent in forehead

Teeth                                        diamond shaped                                    strongly compressed

Food                                         mainly leaves                                         almost all grass

Trunk                                         more rings, less hard                            less rings , harder

Why do we have nightmares?
Emily, Caden, Owen and Kaiya

Nightmares can be caused by watching disturbing movies or reading scary books. Sometimes  something you do may make it happen. When you think about something you have seen you tend to dream about it the next night. Let's say you had a dream about really big snakes, it is probably because you are under a lot of stress.

Why was the Great Wall of China Made?
Chelsey, Dora, Alisha

Some purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls. This allowed the rulers to collect duties on goods crossing the border. The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lap Lahe in the west. Experts say the wall was built between 476 BC to 221 BC. The ruling powers  built the wall to to keep out the northern nomadic tribe and other potential enemies.

How do you make Brownies?
Adrian M., Adrian D, Denyce

You need:

200 g of dark chocolate
170 g of salted butter
200 g of soft brown sugar
110 g of plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Melt the contents in a heat proof bowl.
Mix well
Put into oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Mmm mmm good!

Monday, June 10, 2013

One of the greatest things about SOLE, in my humble opinion, is the way the students have pulled together as a team. Before we started SOLE they were two separate Grades, Grade 4 and Grade 5. They rarely if ever worked together on their work. Since we started SOLE they keep commenting on how they have learned so much from each other by working together. They compliment each other and work very hard. The Grade 4's want to prove they can work with the Grade 5's and the 5' s want to stay ahead on the scale. It has become more of a natural fit. Now if we could only mix up the groups with an equal amount of boys and girls.

One of the largest things is the fact that the behaviour issues have dropped dramatically. It doesn't mean they are not still there. They are but because the students are addressing the group issues in a positive way the behaviour problems have become very manageable. I keep hearing people say, "We need to get this done. You need to do your part to help. Do you think Mr. Ferguson doesn't notice you aren't working? It will show up clearly when we present and answer questions."  Some are becoming very adept at keeping their group members focused.

We are working to put Videos together of groups working on SOLE, both in the class and at home using Hangouts. We will post them here when they are done.

Our website,, had over 500 hits yesterday. Those hits came from over 50 countries from around the world. Some countries , like India, had a huge amount of hits on the site yesterday. We are all amazed and pleased that so many people are looking at what we are doing!
The question of the day has to be, if Malaysia and the Phillipines can give every kid in every school in the entire country a laptop, why do we have one computer in every classroom? Are we not one of the richest nations? Don't we have one of the best school systems anywhere in the world? Why do we not provide the technology for our kids?

As a side note someone high in the Brazilian government was asking about SOLE today! Kinda makes my day!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

These are the countries where people have viewed our blog. We are impressed by the growing list!

United States
Costa Rica
United Kingdom           
New Zealand
South Africa

Here you can see a reference to my last post about What Is SOLE?
This one explains how things were and how we are moving towards having the students learn for themselves under my direction.
Again, another chart that further demonstrates the stages the students and teachers go through in having the students move towards self directed learning.

A little cartoon that further illustrates the point.
What is SOLE?
A question that comes up all the time is “What is SOLE?” SOLE is a way of learning developed by Dr. Sugata Mitra from his experiments with Hole In The Wall in 1999. In his research he discovered that with the following elements in place that students can learn.

  • Student-centered.
    • The desire to learn about a topic must come from within the students themselves. This places the responsibility for learning about it directly in their hands.

  • Education through inquiry
    • Students will develop the question they want to follow. Any question will do but with skilled guidance the students will develop a stronger understanding about asking the right questions to get answers. Students will them work in groups of 4 , or alone, to find the answers to the questions.
  • Engaged.
    • Because the students have bought into the research because of the questions they are asking they feel a strong responsibility for the question. They want the best answer possible. This creates a stronger focus on finding the answer. They know the other groups are coming up with answers that will foster discussion.

  • Social and collaborative.
    • Because of the nature of working in groups students learn to trust each others ideas and become supportive as they search for their answers. Discussions abound around the topic creating more inquiry and stronger answers. The students learn how to work in groups, sometimes with people who they would rather not work with. Students are encouraged to solve the problems themselves in a positive manner.
  • Supported and encouraged.
    • The teacher or parent becomes a cheerleader who says all the right things, gives those pats on the back about the work the students are doing and gently pushes students in directions to find the answers.