Thursday, 4 April 2019

Developing Writing Skills at Sagonaska

A student with a Learning Disability may face a variety of obstacles depending upon their own individual strengths and needs.  Many students find that they have incredibly creative and elaborate ideas for their writing but struggle to organize their thoughts on paper.  Some students struggle with spelling.  Students may have brilliant ideas that are forgotten by the time they are ready to put them down on paper.  Some students have creative thoughts and ideas but lack the vocabulary to describe them.  All students develop their writing abilities at their own pace and require specific supports to meet their unique needs.  

Recently at Sagonaska, grade 7/8 teachers used a number of specific supports and accommodations to teach their students how to write newspaper articles. Here are some teaching supports and accommodations provided over the course of this unit:

·         Mentor Texts – Students read a mentor text and assess it using a success criteria checklist to gain an understanding of all the components necessary for an effective newspaper article.

    ·      Comprehension words- new vocabulary lists (5-6 words) introduced gradually every lesson and can be continuously reviewed by students on classroom walls.

     ·       Collaboration- brainstorming with peers with a similar opinion on a topic. Groups would use a graphic organizer to create an outline of an article, then create a shared writing piece.

     ·        Graphic organizers- 

·       Structured templates – Chunking each part of the news article into manageable tasks to complete one lesson at a time. 

Other structured templates to support 'Getting quotes' and 'Finding synonyms' were created and used for individual lessons.

·         Teacher feedback - Teachers would assess drafts of students newspaper articles using the success criteria checklist.

·       Assistive TechnologySpeech-to-text accessibility features are embedded in each lesson as students transfer their ideas to writing in Google Docs in an efficient, accurate manner. Students could also use text-to-speech accessibility features when editing their work. 

Follow-up during the next writing units using similar supports and accommodation can help students with an LD to grow independently in their writing skills.

Here is an example of a grade 7 students insightful news article to culminate this writing unit.  

Animals and Communication

By: Reese Myre-Gorham

Buck is telling me he is sad that he did not get his daily treat.
Sudbury Ontario. Photo taken by Reece Myre Gorham.

I’ve heard so many people say animals do not have emotions, want to know what I say to them. Just because an animal does not show its feelings or emotions the way humans do doesn’t mean they don’t have emotions or feelings at all. Me and my mom are two examples of hundreds of people I know that know that animals feel something.

Animals show emotions in many ways. One way is their tail another way is their ears, their eyes, their facial expressions and how they act. If you treat a animal in an abusive way or don’t give them the love that they want and deserve or do something they do not like,their ears might go down, there eyes might be shaky, they might put their tail between their legs and their body low to the ground and whimper. I have seen it firsthand before walking down the sidewalk or hang out with my cousin she has two dogs and does not treat them properly but I almost always say something if I see animals in pain I feel horrible and I don’t like feeling that way and I know neither do they.

Animals can also show their distress in other ways like physical ways. If an animal is in distress they might stop eating therefore they might become unhealthy and they will start acting a lot different they might start acting aggressive,unplayfall, inactive, skittish and always have their heads down. They might change their ways of life. And I have seen all of it first hand and it’s horribly sad and depressing.

Heather Myre said “If you pay attention to an animal in a loving way then you can understand what they are feeling by the way they show it. And they DO have emotions but you need to learn to see them and how they show it. I feel empathy for animals, when i see that they’re not being treated properly i can see that they’re distressed and unhappy.”

But not just pets, all living animals feel these feelings but show it in different way it’s all about perspective, I feel a lot of empathy for animals but not so much for humans but that’s just my perspective you can have your ways of thinking but that doesn’t mean you can treat animals badly. Just because you can hurt an animal doesn’t mean you have to. But animals don’t just show their feelings if they are sad and depressed. They can show feelings about being happy, scared, excited, confused, weird it out, and many other ways.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Dave Bentley Art Awards

Thank you to Dave Bentley for inspiring art at Sagonaska. Mr. Bentley has been a dedicated staff member of Sagonaska for many years, and continues to embody the spirit of Sagonaska with the establishment of his recent art contest. Over the last month, several students have worked hard at recess and during their free time to create pieces of art for the Dave Bentley Art Contest.

Dave handed out cash prize awards today in morning circle to the talented artists.

Here are the results:

1st Place: Logan Snider
2nd Place: Cordy King-Browes
3rd Place: Shey Howlett-MacEachern

Honourable Mentions: Khenan Hall, Quinten Campbell, Noah Gallant

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Using Alternative Spaces to Engage Learning

Whether it is a comfortable couch for reading, a circular desk for collaborative work inside or outside the classroom, or students own unique quiet area in the classroom with just their chair, students at Sagonaska find alternative spaces to learn.

For students with learning disabilities, using alternative learning spaces is essential to limit distractions, but also to put students in situations where they need to focus independently on their learning goal. The sense of choice students have in their learning environment gives them flexibility when using many types of resources (i.e. assistive tech., manipulatives for math) with greater ease.

Here's what some of our alternative learning spaces look like at Sag:

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Ball Hockey


On Tuesday February 26 the combined Sagonaska Jr. and Sr. ball hockey teams played an exhibition game against the Belleville Police Service (Joel and Jessie also played). The game was a hotly contested affair with both sides providing some exciting plays. We did not officially keep score, however it is believed that the BPS were the winners. A fun and tiring time was had by all. The police team looked pretty winded after the game. The students tired them out by making them run and fight for every inch of the gym floor. The game lasted about 90 minutes.  


Mark Whalen
Sagonaska Grade 7 Boys

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

2019 Sagonaska Spring Transition Conference

We hope that parents and families of students will all be able to attend on May 16th as it will be a valuable opportunity to connect as a community and learn more about ‘life after Sagonaska’.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Snow Day!!!

February 12/19

The first snow day for Sagonaska that I can remember in 16 years. No teachers came into school so residence staff looked after the students all day. In the morning everyone just relaxed and played video games. We had chili and garlic bread for lunch in residence. The grade 7 and 8 boys had lunch together in the grade 7 residence.

After lunch we all headed over to the Sir James Whitney gym for a campus wide game of dodge ball. All students and most staff that were here from both schools participated in a huge game of dodge ball that lasted about 2 hours. Students from both schools had an extremely good time.


After dodge ball everyone went back to their residences to relax. We again ate dinner in residence. Pizza and chicken fingers were on the menu and Grade 8 Boys hosted us.

After dinner the Grade 7 and 8 Boys joined the Jr. and Sr. Boys in a mini ball hockey tournament to end our day.

Snow Day 2019 turned out to be a busy one for staff and students. Everyone had and extremely good day and all were very tired and ready for a good nights sleep (staff included).

Spring Workshop Offerings

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