Humans and Nature

In the photos below, you will see human-made things and nature. There are examples all around us. Think about what you see outside your window or on your way home from school.

How can humans affect nature?

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photo from Barcelona Zoo

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photo from India Tours and Travels

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photo from Wikipedia

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photo from the Telegraph

Can Wolves and Deer Change Rivers?

The Grade 2s have been inquiring into how human activities can challenge plant and animal survival. In particular, we are thinking about the concept of causation and the interconnectedness of living and nonliving things. The students were given the question: Do you think wolves or deer can change the geography of the land?

After much discussion about the meaning of the word geography and landscape, the students shared their answers:

  • Yes, wolves can change the geography and landscape by eating the plants. Animals will not have food and the wolves will drink a lot of water.
  • I think wolves can change the earth, but I am not sure how they do it.
  • They do eat other animals, but they cannot change rivers.
  • They might eat animals who normally eat trees, so there will be more trees.

Next, we watched the video below, How Wolves Change Rivers.

We stopped the video frequently to summarize and sequence the events described there. The student’s level of comprehension was incredible considering how quickly the video moves along. They were clearly captivated by the subject matter and very keen to understand.

We wanted the students to reflect on their thinking about our original question: Can wolves or deer change the geography of the land?  It was interesting to see how that thinking changed.

Now we think….

  • Yes, they can.  When the wolves killed the deer, the deer moved out of the area where they used to eat. Plants grew bigger and other animals came back. Beavers came back and built dams. The dams changed which way the water flows.
  • And the forest grew back five times bigger because the deer were chased away (they used to eat the leaves on the trees).
  • The plants hold up the soil so the mountains and hills do not fall into the river.  That is also changing geography.


See the albums before for other photo highlights from our week…

Research Using Nonfiction Texts

using nonfiction text to research

Rehearsing for our Performance at the Senior’s Center

2M rehearsing for visit to the Senior's Center




Draw, Name, Connect, Explain

This week, the Grade 2s visited Oi Bird Park. We are learning to observe and understand the connections between living things in their environment as well as how humans, both challenge and help species to survive.

In preparation for the field trip we asked the children the following questions to get them thinking about our purpose there and how we can achieve that purpose. Here are some of their ideas.

What is our purpose?  

(Why are we going to the Oi Bird Park?)

What skills will we need in order to be successful? How will we act to help us in our learning?
To learn more about animals.

To learn about our unit of inquiry and what people are doing that we should never do.

To learn about how we share the planet.  

We will need our listening skills to listen the teacher and to listen to the animals .

And we have to think about what we see and how we can help the animals so we will use our thinking skills.

We will stay with the teacher so that we are safe.

We will be respectful and not too loud to scare the birds.

We will not litter because this is where the birds live.


While at the park, we used the Draw, Name, Connect, Explain thinking routine as a tool to investigate the park’s living things in their natural environment.

To do this they:

First, they draw the living things and nonliving things that they see at that location. Then, they name the things they drew. Next, they draw a line to show connections between all of the living and non-livings things in that environment.  Next, they explained how these things are connected.

G2 bird park

Next, we will ask the students to Think ( I think I know that…), Puzzle (I wonder if…), Explore (To find out more, I would like to try to….) about their learning at the bird park.  We look forward to hearing more about their thinking!

Thinking about How We Communicate Messages Without Speaking

The students visited with a communications expert, Marie Asaoka, to inquire into non-verbal communication as well as culture and communication. Our communication expert works with customer service for Japan Airlines. She coaches employees on how to use their non-verbal communication to show respect and welcome others.  


The students made connections to their interactions with others and reflected on how they can use eye contact to show others that they are listening and care about what they are saying.

We also made the connection that we can use what we learned about bowing and eye contact when we meet with the seniors during our Service Learning visits to the retirement home. Even though communicating by speaking is often difficult, we can show respect and show that we care by bowing appropriately and by making eye contact( speaking with our eyes).

We have also been practicing using our eye contact in the mornings when we greet each other.  Our morning meetings are even more lovely, now!

The children were also asked to use their non-verbal communication skills to organize themselves by their birthdates. Some children automatically took the lead by using hand signals and facial gestures to communicate the the month and day of their birthday. The others followed. During the experience, the children modeled good eye contact, cooperation, respect and perseverance. In the end, the children realized how important it is to understand a variety of non-verbal skills.

We asked students to reflect on their learning and how they might use this to help them communicate with others. We asked them “Think about how you use non-verbal communication.” Here are some of their ideas:

I used to think…. Now I think…..
I didn’t know a lot about Japanese. I know how to bow and how to say some words.
That eye contact is not so important. Eye contact is very helpful. We can send a message with our eyes and we can make people feel good when we look at their eyes if we say “hello” or “I’m sorry”.
In Japan not everyone says “good morning”. Now I know you say” good morning” to show respect and you say lots of other things too.  You say “Let’s eat together”, and “Thank you for the food” and “I’m home from school!”
If I don’t speak Japanese then I cannot speak to the Seniors. I can speak with my eyes!


Please see the photo albums below for other highlights from our week:

Working with Number

2M working with numbers

Learning How to Use Google Slides

2M learning how to use google slide

Visiting the Grade 5 Exhibition



Comics as a Means of Communication

This week, Miss Srishti visited the Grade 2s to help us inquire into Comics. Miss Srishti told us that she has always loved comic strips. We talked about comics that we were familiar with or had read before and later looked at many different samples of comic strips. Next, we made a list of all the things that we noticed about them. The most important thing we noticed and realized was that comics send messages. Their main purpose is to entertain, and many of them teach us lessons about life. To help us learn about how to get ideas for comic strips, we watched a video.

From the video, we learned that comic strip writers get a lot of their ideas from things and events around them…problems we have at school, friendship, pranks, and more.

Finally, we got a chance to create our own comics!

On Thursday afternoon, our Grade 9 Buddies (Kenryo, Elena, Grace, Chloe, Kelly, James, Hana, Max, Pheobe, An, Jan, and Toma) visited us. We shared the comics that we made the other day with them. Then we had the chance to make another comic strip. Some of the groups worked together to make one comic and some worked individually. The Grade 9s helped us to think of ideas and gave us advice about how to draw. It was a lot of fun to share this time with them!

G2 HS BuddiesBelow are some of the reflections from our Grade 2 and HS buddies:

Something that worked well was:

  • We had fun sharing our comics!
  • Together, we made great stories.
  • We worked well together.  We listened to each other’s ideas and laughed together.
  • We worked together to improve our drawings.
  • We learned how to make bigger comics that are easier to see.
  • We learned that it is harder to make a comic on our own.  It is easier with friends.

Something we would like to try next time is:

  • We could add even more details to our drawings.
  • Maybe we could finish all the illustrations.
  • We know each other better now, so next time it will be easier to share our ideas together.

Please click on the albums below to see other highlights from our week:

International Flag Signals and Ancient Languages Workshops

G2 Workshop #3

Sharing our Writing

Sharing our Writing in 2M

Community Reading

Community Reading 2M


Looking for Messages in Art

The children have been building their communication and thinking skills. During one of our workshops the children were asked to share what they SEE, THINK, or WONDER about a selection of paintings. They were asked to choose from a variety of pictures and write their comments. When we write down our observations, thoughts and wonderings, others can see them as well, and as a class, we build a deeper understanding.

2M see, think, wonder

When the students reflected on their learning here, these were some of their ideas:

What we did… This was important for our learning because…. What we learned was… My next steps are…
  • Looked closely at the details in the paintings
  • Thought about the artists’ message
  • Shared our thinking
  • Listened to other people’s ideas
  • Enjoyed the art
  • We are learning when we share our ideas with other people and listen to other people
  • Sometimes you have a different idea about the message
  • Painting can share a message
  • Art can share feelings
  • I can send a message with art
  • We can tell a story with art
  • I wonder if all paintings have a message?
  • I can try to communicate by making a painting
  • I can ask other people what they think about art

Please click on the albums below to see other photo highlights from our week!

Our Visit to the Yokohama Communications Library

2M Yokohama Communication Library

Creating Criteria for our Book Reviews

Creating criteria for our book reivews

Working With Number

Working with Number

Building our Understanding of our Unit of Inquiry Vocabulary

Building our understanding of the UOI Vocabualry

Student- Led Conferences

For the past few weeks of school, the Grade 2s have been preparing for their Student-Led Conferences. As a class, the children brainstormed a variety of learning experiences that they wanted to share with their parents during their conference time. They came up with a big list of ideas for Unit of Inquiry, Mathematics, and Language and then narrowed it down to the ones they would teach their parents about during our Student-Led Conferences.

Student-Led Conferences 2017

During the conferences the children taught their parents what they learned and let the parents have a go. They explained their current understandings, answered questions and led them through the conference, even completing a reflection and Seesaw post for their Learning Journals.  They spoke in English as well as their mother tongue to explain to the best of their ability. The children did a wonderful job leading their parents through their conference with confidence and independence.


We are Communicators

This week, the students began a new Unit of Inquiry, How We Organize Ourselves.  

Our central idea is:

Communication connects communities and individuals.

It is an inquiry into:

Forms of communication

Tools used for communication  

How individuals access information and connect to each other

How current technology changes the way people communicate


The Grade 2s began with a provocation to help them understand how important it is to communicate respectfully as well as how difficult it can be to communicate when you can’t speak or don’t know the language. The children played a card game in four small groups – without speaking or using written words. The leaders of the group were responsible for reading the rules of the game ahead of time and then teaching the game to their group – but this all had to be done without speaking!

G2 Jarnga

After playing 3-4 more rounds, we stopped and talked about our experiences, problems and how we felt while playing the game.

– I felt like I was going to explode.  I just wanted to speak but no one understood me. I felt sorry because sometimes we didn’t take time to communicate, we just started playing and some people were confused.

– I felt like I was going to burst out with words.

– It felt very funny because whenever people started to speak it looked like they were very frustrated.

– I was trying to move my mouth so they can read my lips and know what I was going to say. It was really easy when I drew a pictures, then people knew exactly what I meant.

– It felt weird because I couldn’t speak and I thought I wouldn’t be able to speak anymore.

– It felt weird because when there is no talking I didn’t know what people meant. It was harder in a bigger group.

– It was funny because I wanted to know why did we not talk and it was strange.

– It was hard to explain what I was going to say.

– It was peaceful.

– My mouth felt weird when I wasn’t supposed to talk.

Later in the week, the children attended special communication workshops to learn about and try out different forms of communication that people use everyday for different purposes. Miss Czubak shared her knowledge about secret codes and ciphers as well as symbols. Ms. McCreath prepared workshops on sign language and reading maps, and Mr. Laing taught the children about Braille. During these workshops, the Grade 2s learned about a variety of tools that are used to communicate, how different kinds of communication are organized, how current technology changes they way we communicate, and how to use different types of communication. Please click on the album below to see photos of the students in action.

G2 Workshop

Here is some of what the students said they would like to do next:

– Try and do all these things and show our moms and dads and friends. We can try and talk to our friends using this type of communication.

– Maybe now I can communicate with people who are deaf and write a letter to someone who is blind.

– I wonder if we can communicate with shapes.

– Now I want to make my own communication and teach it to friends so I can talk in different ways. I want to know more about how people communicated a long time ago.

– Now I know tools that I did not know before.