November 17, 2015

Good Afternoon,

Things are great in room 203. So much going on, so much learning to be had.

Mobile Devices

Thanks to everyone for working with me to help our students learn how to best use mobile devices as tools.  It seems as though the friendly reminder from me with support from home has done a world of difference in the class this past week. Tools not toys, right?

Potato Project

Let’s let this picture speak for itself.  This is the same plant that I took a picture of and sent you a couple weeks ago.  Amazing.

Students have been taking great care of their plants(along with doing a weekly science report on the plant’s growth progress).  We are all excited to see what’s under the earth.  Remember, students are trying to produce enough potatoes to supply the daily caloric intake for the group for one day.  I figure, just before Christmas we will harvest and have an “Iron Chef” type competition…a potato feast!

Closing Chapters

We finished reading The Martian.  I’m really proud of this group.  This book is not a typical grade 7/8 novel. It’s a more mature reading level and yet through classroom discussion, I figure this group got more out of this text than most reading clubs would.  We often found ourselves exploring beyond the pages and learning about Mars exploration via NASA website or news articles.  Very cool.


With the end comes a few assignments…

Due Monday, November 23 (Language)

“What is the setting of the story?” – 5 paragraph essay

Due Monday, November 23 (Geography/Language)

“What is the best possible location on Mars for human Settlement?”

See: Terrain tab of

Due Monday, November 30 (Language)

Elements of a Story Storyboard

The following pictures show an example storyboard done for the novel “The Princess Bride”.  Students will be using a storyboard to report on “The Martian”




Mr. Bowlby

How Much Money IS That?

Today the class was challenge with the following math problem...

How much money IS that?


In groups, students had to look at several pictures of the accumulated cash.  From there they used logic and made some assumptions to come up with their mathematically proven theory of (about) how much is there.

How much do you think is there? (Prove it)

Here is the full problem laid out by creator Robert Kaplinsky.

Introduction to The Martian

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only few supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to survive and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

This is the story of "The Martian".  This novel will be the centrepiece of our studies for the next couple of months.  

We will be looking at the Elements of a Story (protagonist, antagonist, conflict, climax and resolution).  We also will be discussing the concept of "Suspension of Disbelief" and how Andy Weir's, the author, research is so thorough we are completely captivated and convinced that this story could really happen. We will then take our learnings and inspirations and add them to our own creative writing.

We will be following in the footsteps of The Martian's protagonist and trying to have the students grow potatoes. As a groups, students will determine that caloric intake their team will need to survive for one day.  They will then have to grow and harvest enough potatoes to meet that amount of calories. This project also coincides with our study of plant/animal cells, particle theory and fluids.

Students will be studying landforms and migration patterns. This sets up nicely to have students analyze the potential for a settlement on Mars. 

Kick Off
Throughout our Martian study we will be interacting with Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Molotov. We are unsure if he is still alive but his research will live on with us.

Mars Sim Part 1

Mars Sim Part 2

The Brain Cramp 2015-2016

a blog site dedicated to the teachings and learnings of Mr. Bowlby's grade 7/8 class @ Gananoque Intermediate School (in association with GISS)
Ever forget your work at school? Did you ever wish you had access to your teacher's mind while stuck on a problem at home? The Brain Cramp has been developed to help with such issues. We plan to post our learning (readings, videos, links and other resources) to help you beyond the classroom hours.

This website's intent is to keep both student and parent well informed of what was happening in the classroom on a daily basis. It's a place to check "the work", announcements, calendar events, watch videos and/or contact us via email. Also, join us on Twitter(at for instant messages from Mr.Bowlby. The website opens the lines of communication.

Technically, this website is a blog. The advantage to the blog is that you can comment on our postings. Just click on 'comments', found just below the posting you wish to reflect on. You do not need a username and password. Just type your message, click 'Anonymous' and then 'Login and Publish'. Please, however, type your name in your comment so that we know who is adding to the discussion. Again, this will open up even more lines for us to discuss the classroom.

The blog will also archive the postings each month. So if you wish to look back on what has transpired throughout the year, by all means enjoy.

The reason that most people will visit this site is to find out what we are doing in Mr. Bowlby's classroom these days. We post videos, links, site and other resources that give you a glance into the daily classroom life of a GISS intermediate classroom. The site is constantly being updated, so visit often.

We will be looking over comments regularly as well, so ask questions, send feedback but just make sure your comments are appropriate. This blog is intended for classroom discussion only and any comments deemed inappropriate will be deleted immediately. In other words, this is a great tool for everyone, please respect it.


Mr. Bowlby

The Brain Trust

Intermediate Teacher at Gananoque Intermediate & Secondary School (GISS)