Thursday, 9 February 2017

Imagine a Week!

Imagine a Week!

Sharing the CC/OM program is not easily done, as it is absolutely unique each week and extends into the school year.  I had the pleasure of working with 2 teachers from St Pius School who had decided to combine their school year, CC/OM and Entrepreneurial Adventures while exploring the guiding question, ‘How can we give back to our communities?’  One of the trademarks of CC/OM is the custom designed week designed to meet the needs of each student as they experience personalized learning within a connected community. A picture is worth a thousand words; dive into these words to see a picture of this week! 

Welcome to the journey…
-Ita Kistorma

Classroom Blog

Today was day 1. We started off the day riding downtown on a city transit bus. Off we jumped just in time to drop our bags and coats in our classroom and hurry into the City Council, where we were introduced and got to enjoy what may have been the shortest council meeting of all time. It was all of 5 minutes! They introduced and right after they explained that they had to go "in camera" which means to a private room to discuss the preliminary details of the Green Line. After a quick bathroom and snack break we were off to explore Olympic Plaza. We spent a lot of time with the Famous Five...we even looked under their skirts!!! BUT it was to find the secret names the artist had hidden to pay tribute to her grandchildren. Afterwards, we headed over to the skating rink...yes there was ice and it was beautiful. We found some City workers who explained that in the basement they have machines that cool the ice to -8 and that is why we can go skating. So if you have time on the weekend, head down for some free family skating. We bumped into a few police officers on bicycles, as well as a bilingual officer who wasn't in uniform and who introduced us to a man named Del who was Métis. They were celebrating the beginning of Métis week.
After a hardy lunch, we finished our book on Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail (true story) and then we had an INTENSE game of Hot Dog Tag. It was a ton of fun and we got to enjoy a secret park meant for City Employees. The afternoon went by so quickly. We mainly did sketchings of all the different artifacts and art pieces that are found on the main floor of the Municipal building. We took a ride up the glass elevator to the top floor to look down at all the people working. Finally, we got to visit the Mayor's foyer where there were beautiful works of art. There were 6 glass blown sculptures of different micro-organisms that are found in our water system.
Tomorrow will be another big day, hopefully we will get to meet our Mayor, Naheed Nenshi.  Maybe take the time to think about a question or two you would like to ask our Mayor. 

Today was an adventurous day for us at City Hall! Once we got downtown we settled into our classroom with some journalling. We added labels to the sketches we had completed the day before and any other details we might have forgotten. We then headed up the glass elevator to the 8th floor to sketch from the view up there. We are really getting the hang of journalling. We headed back down to meet with Julie Black from The Calgary Foundation who explained that people who would like to improve their community in some way could apply for grants. The Calgary Foundation wants to encourage communities that are strong and where people feel a sense of belonging. This was very important information for us, as we will soon be delving into our Entrepreneurial Adventure project with our Grade 4 buddies. Our guiding question is "How can we give back to our community?". In December we will be choosing a Charity and in late December and into January we will be developing our business plan with the Grade 4s. So we are hoping that we can reconnect with Mme Black sometime soon
Once we thanked Mme Black for her time we had a quick snack and decided to brave the snow. We headed off to the East Village to see how that community was growing. On our way we noticed little Free Libraries that were in some people's front yards. What a cool way to give back to your community!! We stopped at an amazing play structure that was surrounded by a community garden. The structure was filled with neat things to do, see and play. The kids had a blast and perhaps you and your family can go explore it some time.
On our way back we got to see the C-trains going under the new Library! That will be such a neat feature of our City's core once it is completed. When we arrived back we peeled off our wet socks and hung them on the heat registers....just like good ol' days! We settled in to warm and enjoy our lunches. After lunch we got ourselves prepared for our big meeting with Mayor Nenshi! We have been learning about him for a few weeks and so the students had even prepared questions for him. We were warmly welcomed into his office were we sat and he answered many of our questions. He even told us about his childhood and the different places in Canada that he had lived. We showed Mayor Nenshi our canvas we painted last week and explained that this year we will be creating our own business to help a charity in our community and he graciously signed the back of our painting with some words of encouragement. We took a few group photos and we were off. We decided to take a little sketching stop in front of the Calgary Bay Mural on the main floor of the municipal building. The students learned how Calgary was named, but also saw the progression of how the city has grown since its beginning as Fort Calgary. We then headed back to our classroom for our meeting with Councillor Farrell who is the elected official for our school community of Capitol Hill. She was so kind in chatting to us about what we had seen thus far and had picked up on the fact that the students were really impressed by the Famous Five. She chatted to us a little bit about women in politics, namely Annie Gale who became an elected official in 1917!! After a little chat she invited us up to see her office and explained lots of the different art pieces and artifacts she had there. We quickly rushed back to our classroom to get ready for our City Transit bus ride home. We had such a great day, and I'm sure tomorrow will be full of its very own special events!

Please remember to dress in layers for the weather, we will be going outside rain, shine or snow so please wear boots, coats, mittens and hats!

Today was yet another fun day! We started off the day with a walk to Studio Bell and although we didn't get to explore all the floors we did get to spend some time in the foyer and the exhibits they have there. We learned that the tiles on the inside and outside were specially made and there are 200 000 of them! We really worked on journalling not only the things we saw, but also what we heard. After that we made our way to the Public Library for story time at Engine 23. We really enjoyed the books Firefighter Jadon and the librarian read us. We got some time to play on Engine 23 and learned that it was indeed a real Firetruck that they had to drive into the building. They even had to reinforce the floor to support the weight of it. Afterwards, we went up to the child's floor and I read a few French books and then hurried back for a much deserved lunch. We had some time where Mme Sheila the City Hall Co-ordinator lead the students in adding some detail to their work and then we enjoyed a mean game of stand up Hot Dog Tag!! After a quick washroom break we went outside to sketch the New Calgary Public Library that is being built just across the street from the municipal building. 

Yet another great day. Tomorrow, we are going to East Village and then back west to the BMo branch on the C-train line. 

Have great sleep and I hope this post has lead to some great conversations with your child. 

We were barely in our City Hall classroom! We started the day by going to the glass at the front of the municipal building and sketching the things we saw from there. These included the horse sculptures, the stone line, the Calgary tower and the art piece put up for the memorial of the officer and firefighters that have fallen. We then met with The Calgary Children's Festival and they taught us about how they advertised. They even showed us some posters from 2009 that did not really do that well. They were confusing and did not clearly invite child and families to the festival. They talked about learning from their mistakes and showed us some newer posters they have made. After a quick snack we headed to the East Village Experience Centre where we saw the 3D model that they have built of the community. We learned about the different buildings, that there are homes and businesses together. We also learned the importance of changing and adapting your business plan. When they first started planning East Village cycling wasn't as popular and they have now had to adapt their planning to include it. We walked back to City Hall and then to the Main Branch of BMO on 7th ave. We split up into three groups and explored the safety deposit box vault, where the students even got to spin combs. Students learned about the ATMs and how to take money out, as well as learning how BMO is integrating iPads into their customer experience. Finally, students got to behind the counter and see how drafts were made, how money for customers was given and even listened in on some customer requests. After we said thank you, the Branch Manager gave us some cool notebooks and pens to remember our visit. Some students were very excited to start journalling as soon as possible. We then decided to take the train the two stops back up to City Hall in order to save some time and energy! We journalled for another 10 -15 minutes and then jumped on our bus back home.

Tomorrow we will be going back to East Village and we will be spending a lot of time outside again so please do remember to dress for the weather. Also it is pizza day, but we cannot have the pizzas delivered so students will get them when we arrive back at 3:20. 
Please pack a lunch.

Wow how fast 5 days can fly by when you are having fun and learning lots! We arrived to City Hall today being old hats at City Transit and when we jumped off the bus we headed inside past the familiar sculptures. Once we got inside we started preparing for our meeting at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery in the old Simmons building along the riverfront. We talked about what kind of business it was and what they would be selling. We made a list and words and drawings in our journal and tried to think of every little thing that would be needed to run that business. After a quick snack we headed over to the East Village, and it was the third time we had visited the neighbourhood this week. Once inside the building (we walked incredibly slowly by all the DELICIOUS looking baked goods) we headed upstairs to have our meeting with Kali the general manager. She was so warm and welcoming and introduce us to everyone that walked by including Sebastian the owner of Phil & Sebastian coffee company who also has a spot in the building. Kali explained how the bakery grew from loaves of bread being baked in the owner’s own kitchen and delivered on bicycle, to moving into a space in Sunnyside and then now being in the Simmons Building. She also explained that they have a close relationship with Charbar the restaurant, who they bake bread for and with the Coffee Shop as well. We were also so lucky to have a treat from Kali, everyone got a hot chocolate and a cookie! YUM! What a great experience! After our treats we took some time to journal about the building and how the three businesses work together in one building! Afterwards, we walked up the trail to that amazing park we tried to visit on Monday and it was dry so we got to let loose and PLAY!!!!   Is that ever an amazing park! If you have a chance you should head down to play and for a hot chocolate and treat after!
We headed back for lunch and
after lunch we decided to check out how a business can provide customer service. We went upstairs in the municipal building to watch how the permit department handled customers and then we went back downstairs to compare it with the customer service given at Good Earth. We also had a conversation about donations and the importance of giving to those with less. This also lead into a nice conversation about the homeless and how we can help people in our community by donating food, money or clothes in order for them to have the luxuries that we may take for granted.
Once we headed back to class we decided to all sign the beautiful canvas we painted last week and to present Mme Sheila with some thank you cards for the people that helped us have a great week. Including her, Mayor Nenshi, the Security Guards at City Hall and the Transit Department.

What a beautiful experience! Thank you so much for reading and I hope it leads to some great conversation over the weekend and maybe it will inspire your family to go downtown and explore the many wonderful events, sculptures, parks and businesses we are so lucky to have in our city.

-Jeanette Piddington

Friday, 20 January 2017


Do you teach a secondary class (grades 7-12) in Calgary?  
Chevron Open Minds Zoo School would like to hear from you!

Click here to find out more about this opportunity!
As you know, Campus Calgary/Open Minds (CC/OM) is an innovative curriculum-based program that moves the classroom into the community for multiple days as a catalyst for learning activities that occur throughout the year.  

Seeking to engage more secondary (7-12) participation, The Calgary Zoo, Chevron Zoo School, and CC/OM are hosting a focus group for teachers and administrators on Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:00 (doors open at 4:00pm) at the Eco Lab Classroom in the Karsten Discovery Centre to consider potential secondary possibilities for Chevron Zoo School.

Please refer to our invitation for further details.  Please also forward to any other colleagues you think might be interested in this opportunity.

Interested secondary teachers and administrators are invited to RSVP at by Friday, February 3rd  or to contact us for more information at or

We are excited about the event and look forward to sharing more about our program and hearing colleagues’ innovative insight for creating Zoo School experiences across secondary grades and disciplines.
With thanks,
Zoo School and Campus Calgary / Open Minds

Thursday, 19 January 2017

How do you know if a Skink is healthy?

Sounds like the start of a joke, right? This was no joke for Copperfield Park Zoo School students when Veterinarian, Dr. Doug Whiteside, visited to show them how he carries out a health check of Tundi, a Blue-tongued Skink.

Dr. Doug explained what he was doing and why to the interested Grade 2’s. Tundi’s heart rate is monitored using ultrasound and his temperature is taken using scanning equipment, similar to infra-red cameras. Also, he is given a ‘pat-down’ to check his body for anything abnormal.

 All the animals in the Calgary Zoo receive regular health checks to ensure they are in great physical condition. They are, however, not normally undertaken with as many watchful eyes as Tundi’s experience this time. After his examination Tundi was given a clean bill of health by Dr. Doug and his assistants!

Submitted by Dawn Hardy
Dawn Hardy is Zoo School Ambassador at The Calgary Zoo. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

The community is calling! Applying to CC/OM for 17/18

Are you ready to apply for the 2017-18 school year??

To apply, and to find the most up-to-date application and proposal information please click here.  Some resources for teachers newer to applying can be found here.

Important Dates:
  • ·         Information Meeting for teachers new to Campus Calgary/Open Minds will be Tuesday, January 31 at TELUS Spark.  Doors open at 4:00 pm – program from 4:30-6:30 pm. Please RSVP using the Google form: by January 27th.
  • ·         Campus Calgary/Open Minds 101 will be at Teachers’ Convention Friday, February 17th at 9:00-10:00 am hosted in the City Hall School Classroom on the main floor of the Municipal Building.  
  • ·         Proposal Writing Workshop will be at Teachers’ Convention Friday, February 17th at 10:45-11:45 am hosted in the City Hall School Classroom on the main floor of the Municipal Building. Please see the Teachers’ Convention website for more convention session details.

For the most current updates on applications, in-services and updates please check the website: http://ccom.cbe.ab.caApplications for the 2017-18 year are due April 11, 2017.

For the most current updates on applications, in-services and updates please check the website  

Friday, 16 December 2016

Happiest of Holidays

As the holiday season begins, we celebrate with you, our connected community.  Our Campus Calgary / Open Minds expresses so much gratitude to each of you for an incredible 2016!  This year, we celebrated with Calgary 100, 000 students in vibrant community settings.  Now, in our 24th year, we continue to celebrate the passion, the partnerships, and the support that makes this all possible!

Back: Graham Thomson, Genesis Centre; Trish Savill, Community; Sanghamitra Dhar McKenty, CBE; Lorelei Piotto, Chevron; Chris Lough, Community; Leanne Courchesne, Cenovus; Bill Dixon, Community; Travis Robertson, CBE; Jenn Meredith, CBE.
Front: Frank McClernon, CCSD; Ita Kistorma, CCSD.  Missing: Donna Livingstone, Glenbow Museum; Judy Archer, Community.
Thank you to all of our partners for all that you do!

Wishing you a joyful holiday season!  Looking very forward to new adventures in 2017 as we embark on the 2017/2018 school year ahead!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

ROCKstars in creating positive change!

How do we make a positive change?  In ourselves?  In our community?

Ms. English's class has been keen to find out throughout the week, and some of their findings may surprise you.

Investigations began at Ranchlands School and continued into Healthy Living School at Vivo funded by Cenovus.

Healthy Living School coordinator Sara collaborating with the Vivo team and Ms. English for an inspiring morning!
Turns out change involves good people, and lots of them: a community that can be inspired together.  It also turns out that change can be lots of fun!

A group learning about and modelling positive change can also inspire a lasting legacy.  That's exactly what happened at Vivo one morning this week as a class left a lasting mark together, as part of the week's shared experience.
Creating a legacy together!

Be sure to check out artists' work next time you're at Vivo!

Ranchlands students, members of the Vivo team, and a curious public watched to see a lasting change unfold right in the Vivo lobby.  And before the paint could dry, the class was off to experience how together challenges could be taken on.

A daunting climbing wall awaited.  At first, were there nerves and some uncertainty?  Sure.

Here again, the class learned about being better together. With safety at the centre, a recipe for success unfolds: listening to experienced experts, looking for opportunities to explore and encourage one another, starting small, learning from experience, and seeing what becomes possible.

All of a sudden the class is hooked!

"Look, Ms. English!"  Turns out, we have a climbing expert in our group!  A class cheers to see their teacher in a whole new light.

"I'm spider man!"  "I made it to yellow!"  "I didn't think I'd want to try it!"

It feels pretty great to make healthy decisions, to try new things, and to explore possibilities.  It's only lunch and it's not just the class that's inspired.

I feel awfully privileged to have been part of the morning.  I've now lost count of the Vivo folks who have stopped by to offer big smiles and to learn alongside a vibrant, curious crew.

No surprise here.  Vivo is a space for collaboration, for play, and for seeing what's possible.  Ranchlands is learning about positive change with a team of inspired and inspiring experts.

How do we make a positive, lasting, change?

Based on today's rock star crew: together.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Remarkable Photojournalism at Calgary Zoo

This blog entry has been submitted by Dawn Hardy and Andrea Beaty at the Calgary Zoo!  Do you have a story you would like to share? Let us know at:!

Lake Bonavista School’s grade 3/4 students took their learning to a whole new level when they became National Geographic photographers at Zoo School, here at the Calgary Zoo! 

Students were taught how to capture an animal’s life and story through photographs in the hopes that it would motivate and inspire people to care, and perhaps, take conservation action. Not only are these students experiencing how to be photojournalists, but they are also artists in the making. These grade 3/4 students are creating photo cards on zoo poo paper to sell within their community. This venture will raise conservation awareness and money which can be donated towards adopting an endangered animal. These are our wildlife conservation stars of 2016!

National Geographic photographers in action! The giraffes, hippos, red pandas, meerkats, gorillas and snow leopards were all photographed so their stories can be told. Back in the classroom after Zoo School the students have worked enthusiastically to produce a rough copy selecting only their very own photos to use to tell their story.

What they have produced is remarkable…see for yourself and remember these are the rough copies!

The finished copies of the stories will be created on the class computers, where the students are deciding every last detail to make it their own, which is what they are most proud of. Isabella was excited she got to “add in my information and my own photos”. Emma, when asked how she feels to share her story said “It makes me feel good, because I want to help so they (Snow Leopards) don’t become critically endangered”.

Xavian said that when he was at the Calgary Zoo, before he came to Zoo School, he would “run around looking at the animals” and now he “gives the animals more attention and stays and watches” This connection with their animal is spoken about through the classroom; Anneka says the Snow Leopard became her favourite animal “when I got to know them”. It is because of the connection the students made with their animals that they wanted to do something to help and so using their magnificent photos, they have created photo cards on zoo poo paper to sell in school. The goal is to raise enough money to be able to adopt a giraffe, hippo, gorilla, meerkat, red panda and snow leopard through WWF. Lake Bonavista Grade 3/4’s are determined they will reach this goal and raise more money to help Canadian animals too, like the whooping crane, black footed ferret and black tailed prairie dog.

Way to go Lake Bonavista!

After selling the photo cards for an evening at Teacher conferences the students have already raised a huge $330! This is enough money to adopt all 6 of their observation animals from Zoo School. Fantastic!

Budding National Geographic Photojournalist Gallery