Day 38 – Mon., Oct. 29, 2012 – Hamilton Rountable for Poverty Reduction CLASS VISIT! :)

a combined blogpost written by Naomi Barasch, Shawn Arsenault, Steven Palmer, Madeline

with input from Class 5/6F

 Today Tom Cooper (Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction) and HWDSB Trustee Alex Johnstone are here to talk to us about poverty and how we can help. I’m so exited to learn more about poverty, how it works, how you end up in poverty, and how we can make a difference to stop poverty. We were joined for most of the presentation by our principal, Mrs. Bosher, who joined us in tweeting out our new learning! Our starting off point has been to think and write about the importance of donating to the annual Rousseau Winter Clothing Drive (“Coat Drive”) — and now we are taking it to the next level!

Tom Cooper presenting a video where Hamiltonians living on social assistance share reflections on what is needed to escape poverty.

HWDSB Trustee Alex Johnstone talking to Class 5/6F about the importance of children’s voices and social change.

What does it mean when someone lives in poverty?
  • when people who don’t have money to pay for everything
  • not being able to pay for food rent clothes etc.


  • poverty grows every day
  • minimum wage in Hamilton is $10/hr x 40 hours a week (full time work) = 400 dollars…which isn’t enough to pay for food and a house (even renting)
  • a minimum wage (the lowest amount of $ employers are legally required to pay workers) is less than a living wage (having what you need to live)
  • more people have a minimum wage than a living wage
  • Hamilton has one of the highest poverty rates in the province (EDITOR: 3rd highest, behind Windsor and then Toronto)
  • Canada was a welfare state after WWII; many social assistance programs have been cut since then
  • government needs to help raise the amount of money needed for social assistance (welfare)

Tom told us that there are many things that you have to pay for like food clothing, rent, food, transportation, utilities (heat, hydro), telephone and even childcare.

You have to pay a lot of money to pay for these things. If you were in poverty you might be barely hanging in there, and that’s if you have a job. Even then, at minimum wage, after paying for what you need, you would not have any money left. $1057.45 is about how much you would have to pay to just survive. Minimum wage is about $10 an hour (x 40 hours/week = $400), so even if you had a job you would have to work all the time, 24/7 to pay for what you need!

We did an activity with Tom where we tried to guess all the different things needed for one person to live in a month and he had a piece of a bar graph to represent each thing. Tom made a bar out of all the items (bar on left side of picture)

  • shelter (about $536 or a bachelor apartment)
  • clothing & shoes (about $87)
  • food (about $250)
  • items for hygiene (about $81)
  • telephone ($24)
  • transportation ($87 for a bus pass)

TOTAL $ NEEDED: about $1057.45 per  month

Then Tom had a bar (on the right side) to show how much money a person on social assistance receives: $599 per month. We were able to compare the two bars: obvious, social assistance barely covers half of what a person needs.

Cost for one person to live in a month ($1057.45 – bar on left) vs. the amount of money a person receives on social assistance ($599 – bar on right).

Here is part of the activity where we inferred what people need to live, and how much it would cost….followed by the real costs.
OUR BRAINSTORMING: What can individual people to do reduce poverty?
  • spread the word!! Educate other students and even adults about how poverty can be solved!
  • you could donate money to food banks, clothing to clothing drives, toys to toy drives — these address very important immediate needs!
  • you could be a volunteer: food banks, drive seniors living in poverty, soup kitchens
  • senior citizens make up a large portion of people living in poverty: you could help a senior in your neighbourhood, shovel snow in winter
  • single moms and their children make up a large portion of families living in poverty: you could provide babysitting for free for someone you know that can’t a babysitter
  • ask people if they have extra food or clothing to donate to a food bank or winter clothing drive; you c ould raise money, give some money to someone raising money for people in need
  • grow a community garden – grow fresh vegetables for people in need (fresh produce can be expensive; Trustee Johnstone said that many people living on social assistance eat a lot of pasta and other noodles because it is cheaper and pasta and noodles don’t go bad without refrigeration….so the people will miss out on fresh fruit and vegetables)
  • donate sporting equipment to children who need it (two of our hockey playing students said that their teams participate in this)
  • (“Right to Play” — hires kids in the community to work at their organization to provide kids with an opportunity to do sports)
  • GENERAL HELPFULNESS: being a good friend: If someone is being singled out, ask them to join the group, practice helping people who are marginalized (“left out”)
  • buy school supplies for children living in poverty
  • every school with students living in poverty should have a breakfast program

How old do you have to be to volunteer?Read about Craig Kielburger 🙂 He was 12 when he started helping children escape child slavery in India.YWCA: high school age volunteersSoup kitchens -any age

You need the consent of your parent and supervision of an adult to be a volunteer.…but you are not too young to help.

Students tweeted out throughout the presentation on the class ipod, 8 school ipods and Ms Fawcett’s iPhone and iPod. We blogged on Ms Fawcett’s personal iPad.

Class 5/6F at Rousseau listening to Tom Cooper from the Hamiton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

Trustee Alex Johnstone and Ms Fawcett at our

Mrs. Galvin (5/6F parent) also joined us and had this to say, “Thank you for educating our children on poverty in our community.  The media emphasis is World poverty and we tend to forget about local friends and families in need. It is a very concerning issue that needs to be advocated by all…young and old. Thank you again…helping one by one until there are none.  If only….. ”  Thank you, Mrs. Galvin!

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the teacher of this class, it felt so good to hear students to connect to everything that was spoken about. Students were engaged with the presenters, their classmates, the issues and the world by tweeting out their reflections. More than that, hearing students express empathy and sharing all the ways that they are already helping (or their families are helping, or the organizations they belong to are helping) was overwhelming and gives an overall feeling of hope as this potentially sad topic was discussed.


Grade 5 continued with multiplication, practising multiplying by 10 and multiples of 10. Grade 6 continued to work on Order of Operations, and we are challenging ourselves to use order of operations to solve word problems for homework and tomorrow! Students were able to model solutions:

Order of Operations

Conventions of writing an answer(We make sure to keep the number sentence in order, and to include all parts of the question in every line IN ORDER even if the parts haven’t been solved yet)


Students modeling Order of Operations



Twitter is “breaking down” our classroom walls

EDITOR (Ms Fawcett):

We have enjoyed some new Twitter activity this weekend, related to our visit tomorrow with Mr. Tom Cooper from the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. Mr. Cooper was the person who tweeted the idea to us to send one letter to our MP or MPP for every article of clothing received during our Winter Clothing Drive.

The purpose of our activity on Twitter is to make connections outside our classroom walls like we have done with Mr. Cooper. For example, here are some of the things we are engaged in, related to learning about poverty in Hamilton:

  • learning about the lives of other Hamilton-Wentworth citizens
  • making connections with experts in the community
  • spreading information related to what we are learning
  • developing the sense that other people matter, we matter and we are empowered to make a difference

Here is how Twitter facilitates those connections: When we “mention” another person or an organization on Twitter through a “tweet”, they see our message (our “tweet”). If they reply in their own tweet, we are automatically mentioned….and everyone who follows them sees their twitter activity…and then “sees” us (“@FawcettsClass”). Each time a person responds or gives a “shout out” by mentioning “@FawcettsClass”, they are added to the conversation and the “…and-she-told-two-friends” conversation grows. It is exciting when someone sees us in a tweet and then decides to “follow” us too. It is super exciting when a person answers our question and contributes to our learning! Here is some of our recent activity:

On October 23rd, we tweeted out our daily blogpost — which mentioned the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction — and got this response from them:

The Poverty Roundtable tweeted a new message about us this weekend. You can  see that their tweet was “re-tweeted” (shared) by more people on Twitter (me, on my professional Twitter account – see the peace sign?; one of the Assistant Directors of the Good Shepherd Centres; Miss Stanfield, who teaches in HWDSB, Mr. Tedesco, a Hamilton social worker and Mr. Campbell, a teacher in Brantford). Mr. Tedesco even tweeted a response!

We replied to Mr. Tedesco, and in so doing also mentioned Mrs. Bosher, who inspires Rousseau’s “Pay It Forward” theme, and we also included a short-link to our daily blog:

By including #PayItForward, anyone on Twitter who searches the term “#PayItForward” will see this tweet. Maybe they are another class of students somewhere in the world working on paying it forward? Maybe they are a community group with more information to share with us? The possibilities are endless!

We also received some fun and  positive feedback from Mr. Campbell, a 4/5 teacher from Brantford:


Because of our interaction with the Poverty Roundtable, our Twitter activity was seen by Katherine Kalinowski, who is the Assistant Executive Director of Programs at Hamilton’s Good Shepherd Centres and she now follows our activity. Maybe Ms Kalinowski will jump into the conversation and we will learn even more? (We have so much to learn.) We will definitely read what we can on the Good Shepherd website. They serve an average of 1,000 citizens of Hamilton every day!

No doubt, students will have some excellent questions for Mr. Cooper tomorrow. We have solidified our understanding of some facts about poverty by creating our posters and announcements for the Rousseau Winter Clothing Drive. 5/6F parent, Mrs. Buchko, says that the school has already collected 20 coats and we may be extending our winter clothing drive — so our posters and announcements will be shared and we may collect even more! We will use teacher feedback and self-assessment of our posters and announcements to improve our writing skills. This is a good thing, as it sounds like we will be busy writing MANY letters to our MP/MPPs — one letter for every article of winter clothing received — outlining what we learn tomorrow from Mr. Cooper about reducing poverty in our Hamilton communities.

Maybe the MP/MPPs will learn something from us?

Day 37 – Fri., Oct. 26, 2012 – Summary; Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction


by Brendan and Luke

Summary of our read aloud today:

Juge roberts is being sarcastic and has a glazed look in his eyes. He has suffered whiplash and is making Alexandria say if she has driven a car or not. Mr. Roberts was making Alexandria admit she was a shoplifter and why did she do it when she had four hundred dollars.

Alexandria has been sentenced to 120 days in the juvenile detention centre.

She then assaulted the guard witch will make her have to stay in juvenile detention longer.


Class Visitor on Monday!

by Skyler

Tom Cooper – Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction is coming to our school on Monday to talk to us about poverty and how we can help.

About them

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction started in 2005 and they wanted to help people in poverty. Who are the Roundtable and where are they from? Well the people in the Roundtable are people in Hamilton like leaders from business, non-profit sectors from government and education (including our HWDSB Director John Malloy) and faith communities.

There Goal and Why We Invited Tom Cooper

What they want to achive is something that is so huge it’s unbalivable. Stop poverty in Hamilton.

They want to bring 95 650 people out of poverty and we think that is awsome so we invited him into our school to talk to him on how it can be done. Rousseau school is also helping some students who might be living in poverty warm by sharing clothing in the Winter Clothing Drive (“Coat Drive”). Make sure you participate!!! Thank you for readig my blog post can’t wait to fill you in again!!!!!!

We know that providing warm clothes (and toys and food for other drives throughout the year) does not solve issues related to poverty. Students are learning that although clothing, toy and food drives help fill an important immediate need, poverty will persist unless other changes and supports are put into place. We tweeted out a question on Twitter from @FawcettsClass to ask for ideas and Tom Cooper shared this one, which I retweeted:


Day 36 – Thurs., Oct. 25, 2012 – Posters (voice, organization); Multiplication; Awards assembly

by Adam and Adrian


today in math period we were doing different ways of multipulcation on the smart board such as: decomposition, decomposition with array,partial sums, partial differences and we checked our awnsers with

standard algorithim. We are having a math test (multipulcation test) tomorrow so when we go home we should be working hard to practice for the upcoming test.

Multiplication with an Array (using decomposition and partial products) – Grade 6 question

Multiplication using Decomposition and Partial Products (grade 6 question)

Multiplication using an Array (with Decomposition and Partial Products).




In lnguage period a few people continued working on their winter clothing drive posters. We were putting lots of information on our posters about the people in hamilton who are going throught hard times in poverty such as: “many women in poverty are single moms who are in minimum wage” and “about 26% of hamiltons population are are working poor and “forty one percent of those living in poverty are either too young or to old to work.

The rest of the class did a self-assessment on their finished posters. They used a rubric to assess their own work and then made a summary after that: “What I did well” and “What I can do different next time”. Ms Fawcett explained that the clothing drive poster was a formative assessment and that we will have a chance to use the rubric its criteria to creat our next poster, for another social justice themed event.

We went to the monthly awards assembly. Congratulations to Steven, Shaun, Olivia and Katelynn for their character awards. Holly and Madeleine worked with Ms Fawcett on making the monthly slideshow.


Today in music period we were singing “Flanders fields” it is a very emotinal song. It is about the soldiers who fought and died in war. It is the poem by Canadian Soldier and doctor John McCrae, but set to music. Some students thought the melody didn’t sound too sad when we learned it but then when Ms Fawcett added the piano part and the harmonies were all added it sounded much sadder.

Day 35 – Wed., Oct. 24, 2012


We continued working on multiplicaton today in both grades — grade 6 students went on to applying their strategy skills to problems solving and grade 5 students modeled for each other on the SMART board. Students are getting really good at demonstrating multiple strategies. Currently, in our practise work, we are showing our thinking in two ways and then checking our work with the standard algorithm, for a total of 3 strategies.

Mulitplication strategies for 2-digit x 2-digit
(Grade 5)


Taylor Swift Webcast!

In the afternoon, we signed into to participate in a webcast with Taylor Swift! Taylor was on a stage in a school with a student audience and a person from Scholastic was the host. Taylor made connections between how she wrote poetry and stories as a child, and now tells stories with songs. She answered lots of questions, but unfortunately we didn’t get the “shout out” we asked for when we tweeted her. Anyway, students in our class tweeted out individual thoughts and reflections throughout the webcast and Mrs. Bosher joined us and tweeted her thoughts too!



by Olivia

Taylor was talking about reading. We watched her to learn about how books and songs are related. They are related by they are both forms of writing and reading. They are both written then read.

She is talking about:

  • Her favourite books in her childhood
  • Articles she wrote
  • Her favourite books now
  • School as a child
  • Song writing
  • Hunger Games and songs she wrote for it
  • How many books she’s read
  • How her life has changed over years
  • Remembered moments
  • Songs
  • Her singing
  • Scholastic (books) and reading every day

Watching the webcast featuring Taylor Swift

Watching the live webcast featuring Taylor Swift