Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Saturday 31 May 2014

What Stuck with you this Week?

What Stuck With You sign for your classroom. Students use post-it notes to show what they learned and then stick it right on the poster.

I love post-it notes and use them a lot for various lessons, workshops, activities... I love this board... what a great idea!

Thursday 29 May 2014

Beachy Flip-Flop Art

Absolutely love this one!  Art and the Ocean/Flip Flops with Anchor/elementary art(art teacher: v. giannetto) bye bye flip flops, hello backpacks?  display

Almost summer... so many awesome sunny art projects on pinterest right now!

Bring on the summer...From exhibit "My Toes at the Beach"  by Emily9304

You could easily tie this in to a writing assignment also... ah... summer days soon....

Wednesday 28 May 2014

But, I hate math....

I hear it all the time... students who don't like math.. the correlation between what they like and what they do well in doesn't require extensive research, it is clear... so what impacts students' attitudes towards Math? I found a great article on that...

Factors Influencing Students' Attitudes Towards Math.... This is some great research and an excellent read. My daughter struggles with math in part because she doesn't enjoy it. I am seeking ways to help change that, but this research really helps put the attitudes of "math haters" in perspective.

You need not look far to sense that our current education system is in a state of upheaval. Proponents of Common Core Standards, Alberta’s Curriculum Redesign and the new BC Ed Plan have all placed mathematics in the limelight of educational reform. Addressing the development of negatives attitudes and confidence in mathematics is likely one of the biggest concerns in education today and there is certainly good reason for such concern. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed a decrease in the percentage of students who indicated they like math from 1992 to 2000. Likewise, a survey by Olson (1998) revealed that one-third of students reported that they did not enjoy mathematics. With a rising resentment towards the subject, economists fear the work force will be impacted after research revealed that negative attitudes can decrease the tendency of individuals to consider careers in mathematics-related fields (Haladyna, Shaughnessy, & Shaughnessy, 1983; Maple & Stage, 1991; Trusty, 2002). In fact, further studies have shown that students’ attitudes toward mathematics were the strongest predictor of their participation in advanced mathematics courses (Ercikan, Mccreith, & Lapointe, 2005). In the field of mathematics education, this is nothing new. Educators as early as the 1960’s have held the belief that attitude plays a fundamental role in learning and achievement in mathematics (Neal, 1969) and while recent programs in BC and Alberta have identified the steps needed to generate a shift in attitude there is limited literature that summarizes the research about the causes of negative attitudes.

Read more at original source

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Letter: Here’s one teacher who earned every dime

There has been a lot of recent talk about our teachers, government and job action. I'd like to take a moment and talk about Jane Powell. 

She was my drama teacher from eighth grade until I graduated (with a brief respite while I was in 11th grade) and she passed away on Oct. 1. 

Like most people, I had a difficult time in school. With hormones controlling my every move, bullies in the hallways, less than stellar home life and an intense need to be lippy, poor Ms. Powell had to deal with the results of that equation.

All I wanted to do was play around and when I found out how easy it was to make people laugh, I felt that I had found my calling, but Ms. Powell had different ideas.

Very early in my drama studies she was quick to tamp down my eagerness to be a jackass.
I have never been a person to blindly accept authority and Ms. Powell, like all of my other teachers, had to deal with it on a daily basis. She, like the others, never gave up on me. 

I don't know what she or any other of my teachers were paid to deal with the rag-tag group that we were in school, but given the crass behaviour she was exposed to daily, it probably wasn't enough.

This was before teachers had to deal with students text messaging in class etc. (our text messages were hand- written notes passed around the room!).

When the B.C. Liberals gave themselves a pay raise a few years back, there was talk that “we need to attract the best and brightest.”

The best and brightest people in the world are not grown in petri dishes. They are challenged and taught by a specific group of professionals who dedicate their lives to their work.

"They get weekends, stats and summers off” is a common argument I've heard.

According to the Parliament of Canada website, last year our MLAs had 46 sitting days in parliament? (I am not going to give them credit for work they do outside of Victoria until we give credit to the work teachers do outside of the school.)

“It shouldn't be about money, if they really love their jobs,” is another common argument I've heard.

The same could be said about people choosing to run for public office.




Blog Staffroom Confidential: BC Teachers: Liability & the Lockout

Here is part of a blog post, I encourage you to go read in its entirety. Regarding WCB coverage, I find the debate interesting as there are several cases pre-job action or lock-out, in which teachers were NOT covered by WCB for extra curricular activities.

Here is the start of Staffroom Confidential's blog post:

The war of words between the BCTF and the BC Government, heated up this week as the government denied that their lockout prevented teachers from organizing and participating in extra-curricular events and blamed the BCTF for warning its members of potential liability.

The Victoria Times Colonist reported this morning:

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said he was against any disruption of extracurricular and volunteer opportunities.
“I think that’s a shame,” he said. “As I said at the beginning, I am concerned because this is now affecting students and their parents and the communities. Teachers have a choice to participate in extracurricular activities as they have previously.”
While the union said teachers should wait until there is confirmation from WorkSafe B.C. that they are on solid ground with extracurricular activity during the partial lockout, Fassbender said WorkSafe B.C. coverage for teachers will not be compromised.
“Any teacher that is at any activity that is sanctioned by a school district is absolutely covered by WorkSafe. There is no question of that."
( - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/union-tells-teachers-to-stop-volunteering-cites-liability-concerns-1.1076148#sthash.BWAx6nAh.dpuf)

What are the facts we know?

The first claim, that teachers are covered by WCB (WorksafeBC), is almost certainly false. WCB has been issuing orders denying WCB coverage to teachers involved in extra-curricular activities for some time now. See, for example, this WCAT (the appeal body of the WCB) decision.

In it, the adjudicator determines that coverage is not provided because the activity was not "work" ....

Read More here

Outdoor Bounce - Parts of Story

As weather improves, this may be a fun way to get fresh air (or escape an over heated classroom?) and do something different....


Monday 26 May 2014

Today's debate at the legislative assembly - Oral Question on #BCED

You can also watch the QP here: Question Period



MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014
Afternoon Sitting

Oral Questions

J. Horgan: Well, we've had 12 years of B.C. Liberal meddling in negotiations with teachers, with trustees, with support workers. We've had 12 years of confusion. You could call it a generational confusion, because the kids that were in grade 1 in 2002, when the then minister or the current Premier capriciously ripped out class size and class competition language from a collective bargaining agreement and then was told by the courts to renegotiate that position…. A whole generation of kids has gone from grade 1 to graduation this coming month with uncertainty and unease as a result of the actions of this government — not one Supreme Court ruling, but two.

My question is to the Minister of Education. He has said: "The class-size issue is an oxymoron as far as I'm concerned" — we can debate the grammar of that — "because all the research in the world says class size does not determine outcomes."

I would disagree with that and so would thousands of other scholars. But instead of trying to explain when he had time to read all the research in the world, my question is: did he have time to read the convoluted explanation as to why we're locking people out this week when we should be at the bargaining table negotiating a fair collective agreement?

Hon. P. Fassbender: I appreciate the question from the Leader of the Opposition. I will say this. I think if his facts weren't on an Etch a Sketch, when he flips it over and it disappears, then maybe he could stay on track. I'm going to try and help the Leader of the Opposition and the members opposite. I'm going to try and help you understand the reality of what we have done and what we are doing.

This government is committed to negotiated settlements. If you look at our track record, we have been working very hard with the public sector to find negotiated settlements — to work together with trade unions — that respect their rights and also respect the rights of taxpayers in an economic climate that requires some tough decisions.

But it is not this government that initiated this current round of dispute. It is the BCTF that started limited strike action. It is the BCTF that ramped it up this week to rotating walkouts throughout the province. This government, since June, since we were elected, was prepared to sit at the negotiating table every single day to find a negotiated settlement. We are still committed to doing that. We are prepared to meet around the clock, through the summer, to find a negotiated settlement that respects the rights of teachers, of students, of parents, of other labour unions in this province. That is our commitment. That is our goal, because long-term stability is what is important in our education system.

Madame Speaker: Recognizing the Leader of the Opposition on a supplemental.

J. Horgan: As tempting as it is to talk about mechanical bulls and by-products, I think I'll just try and focus in on the minister's comment about the track record of the B.C. Liberals — not one but two examples that went to the Supreme Court and found that the government had contravened the chartered rights of a group of citizens in British Columbia. Not once; twice.

What did they learn from that? They learned more provocation, more disruption, more confusion. Let's be clear. I love to do that. This is what we hear from the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council: "Everybody is confused." That strikes me as not a transparent approach. It's a confusing approach.
Will there be graduation ceremonies? Will we be marking exams? It took five pages in a letter from the chief negotiator, and I'm still not clear. I wasn't reading all of the information in the world, but maybe I could ask the minister…. This is a comment from the Vancouver District PAC association. This is all the PACs in Vancouver.


J. Horgan: Oh, I know that the minister is really concerned about this, so keep your mechanical bull to yourself for a moment, and we'll focus on this: "Parents are more willing to adapt to a one-day schedule change than they are to accept the long-term damage the provincial government is inflicting on the public education system in this province." Long-term damage.

My question is, to the minister: could he try and interpret for the people of British Columbia just what Peter Cameron is doing with the people of this province, and most importantly, the kids that are not in classrooms because of your provocation?

Hon. P. Fassbender: I am more than prepared to ride the wave of misinformation that is coming from the members opposite about what our intent was and what it has been. It is very clear. Mr. Cameron last week clarified exactly why we had to take the steps we did in response to the decisions that were made by the teachers union moving forward. But I would ask the members opposite: where was your concern over a year ago when we had almost a year of limited strike action while we were trying to negotiate a settlement? Where was your concern then when that happened?

Where were the members across the way? Where was their concern a week ago when the BCTF was initiating strike action? Where was the concern then? All I can say, and I say this with all sincerity…. There are none of us that want to see disruption in students' lives, in the lives of their parents and their communities, in the lives of the teachers. We are clearly still at the table, willing to negotiate, asking for a response that is measured and appropriate for everyone in this province.

First and foremost, stability has been our goal. It'll continue to be our goal, and we'll continue to negotiate that.

J. Horgan: A 12-year record of destabilizing public education. A child who started in grade 1 in 2002 has had 12 years of confusion as the result of this government's policies.


Madame Speaker: Members. The Chair needs to hear the answer and the question.

J. Horgan: Thank you very much, hon. Chair.

My question is to the "Let's be clear" Minister of Education. You've been provoking disruptions in the education system for 12 years. The court has found twice — not once; twice — that you deliberately provoked action so that you could take more pieces of a collective agreement off the table.
What steps will the minister take to ensure that this last month of public education for those kids who were disrupted in 2002 by the then minister, the current Premier…? What steps are you going to do to make those next 30 days an enjoyable experience rather than a chaotic one that rests right at your feet?

Hon. P. Fassbender: I think the Leader of the Opposition, as I said, has selective memory when it comes to the facts.

The facts are Madame Speaker…. We've had a decade of unprecedented labour peace in this province. Another fact for the Leader of the Opposition: just last week or the week before last, we signed another tentative agreement with the HEU that was within the framework. That was a five-year agreement.
I do not believe that even the members of the opposition, who have children and grandchildren, don't want what we want on this side of the House. That is stability, a focus on learning outcomes, a focus on moving forward in transforming our education system to meet the future of this country and this province.
We have learning outcomes. We have learning outcomes that lead the world, that show that we are delivering results. Yes, Madame Speaker, it's absolutely through the hard work of the teachers, who also deserve a fair and negotiated settlement, not labour disruption initiated by their own union.


R. Fleming: It's déjà vu all over again, Madame Speaker, with these guys. This government has a unique ability to insult the province's teachers.

Last week the Premier said she would resolve bargaining by locking everyone in a room until they'd get a deal. Good. But then she look to the airwaves mere hours later and said teachers are only motivated by greed. She told a radio station that for teachers: "It's all about money. It's never about the quality of education."

Wow. I thought it was this government that wouldn't let bargaining talk about class size and composition issues on the table in this dispute. Can the Education Minister describe how the Premier insulting teachers and then locking kids out from their lunchtime activities and extracurricular activities can in any way help create…?


Madame Speaker: Members.

R. Fleming: Can the minister describe how the Premier's sum total of her statements on teachers last week in any way helps this week in getting us closer to a settlement to achieve trust and respect at the bargaining table so that our schools in British Columbia are stable and secure?

Hon. P. Fassbender: I appreciate that the critic for the opposition is again taking facts and twisting them to their purpose.

Letter of the Week: ‘I’m OK, Jack’ attitude to teachers is bad for our entire society

A long time ago I saw a large banner with the headline, “What we want for ourselves, we want for others.”
Those words froze me in a paralyzing cognitive dissonance.
No doubt, I wanted a lot for myself, but did I want the same for others? Categorically “no” was the answer that had me so tied up in my uncomfortable thoughts of greed and selfishness. Am I really a person that doesn’t want good things for others?
For me, this was a “coming to Jesus moment.” I soon realized that all my past griping about what others deserve or don’t deserve was carefully cloaked in my “screw you, I’m OK Jack” mentality. That attitude is built on fallacies like, “my dollar will go further if everyone else is broke.”
Studies show that we compare our incomes to our neighbours and not the millionaires who live in a gated community far from the struggling family of Joe and Jane Lunchbucket.
I’ve since matured and found good reasons to want my neighbours to do well but I didn’t have to change my selfish thinking! I realized that it serves my interests when my neighbours do well. When they are able to achieve the good life, I can expect less crime, more education (therefore I get better service where those kids are employed), that house values stay high due to my neighbours maintaining their property, more consumers with disposal income means a better economy so my children can be employed.
That said, when a millionaire hockey player does well, my benefits are few. I don’t live beside male millionaires who knock a rubber disc around with a piece of curved wood. However, a teacher is one of my neighbours. In addition to the reasons above, I benefit when teachers do well.
In reviewing what the teachers are asking for, I find that not only is it fair, but their interests are virtually identical to my interests as a parent — smaller class sizes, etc. It seems to me that this fight between our teacher-neighbours and Premier Christy Clark’s government is much bigger than my inconvenience in finding childcare during a strike. It is about our precious children getting a quality education, our neighbours having an opportunity for the good life and fairness for people who work hard.
I want the best, most talented people chasing education careers and so should you. If that means that millionaires have to pay slightly higher taxes, I’m OK with it.
Greg Engh, Mission


Social Media Guidelines for Educators

I recently read a blog post about what education leaders should tweet about which had ten guidelines. I really enjoy sharing these types of posts because, as an avid social media person, it is nice to refresh and reflect on my own use, but also to share and help other educators get involved.

In a social media workshop for educators that I facilitate I challenge participants to try 'one' new thing that week... these guidelines may help those who have started to use social media take that step further.

What you should tweet about:
  1. Sharing innovative strategies and news from your schools. As an educational leader, we are a needed voice and advocate for our own practices.  Twitter only allows for 140 characters, so often you will have a link to an article or accompanying blog post within that space.  This is a great way to be your own “press” while also contributing to the greater good of education.  Sharing is a must!
  2. Educational articles that influence your thinking. I read so much online and you probably do to.  If you believe that the article written by an organization or another educator is beneficial to your learning and/or the learning of others, tweet it out.
  3. Thoughts and quotes. As leaders we need to be thinkers.  Sometimes it is nice to have a space where we can share these thoughts.  Also, these short quotes may be just the fuel someone else needs to push through
  4. Questions that will help you or your organization. Last year, I wondered what would be the best portfolio platform to serve our student needs.  Instead of starting from scratch, I decided to ask this exact question to my Personal Learning Network on twitter.  Not only was the research already done by others, someone actually helped me create the platform! (Warning:  Do not get frustrated if you ask a question and do not get a response early.  You have to build a network of others first!)
  5. Support others educators. You are a leader and the best leaders empower others.  Twitter is a platform you can do this with your staff, or educators all over the world. Retweeting other work is a way of saying that you enjoyed what they shared.
  6. Some personal information. This is where some educators may disagree with me.  Here is my philosophy.  As an educator, I am a person first.  When I share who I am with my students, we build a stronger connection. Sharing with people (every once in awhile) helps to build relationships as they realize you are person who goes to the gym, eats food, and likes music.  My belief; share what you would be willing to share with students (Twitter is public), but this should not be the majority of your tweets.
What you SHOULD NOT tweet about:
  1. Do not use any profanity. You wouldn’t do it in front of kids.  When you are on Twitter, you are in front of kids.  Don’t do it.
  2. Do not get into “fights” with others. Same as above.
  3. Do not share links to sites that are inappropriate. Same as above.
  4. Lose the negativity. Yes sometimes educational issues drive me nuts and I am bothered by some of the things I hear.  The occasional tweet about this shows that you are a person.  Doing it ALL THE TIME though is not what makes a leader.  People want to surround themselves, and be surrounded with positivity.  This needs to be emulated in your tweets.  Stay positive and if you can’t, stay off Twitter until you get there.


Okay Monday, let's do this! | monday quotes | motivation

Letter from Colleague: I finally know for certain...

Great letter from a colleague of mine....

I finally know for certain what is most important to BCPSEA and this government when it comes to the education of students.

I am the first one to support extra curricular. I believe in these activities. I have participated in many both as a student and as a teacher.  They have been a source of joy and personal growth. However, I am saddened to hear that our government places more importance on them than on the education of students. According to the 2nd letter from BCPSEA, I can choose to run an extra curricular activity on school property when I am locked out but I can't do homework, mark, contact parents, plan lessons, work on IEPs or participate in Professional Development Activities on or off of school property.
I now see in black and white that it is more important for this government that teachers participate in activities which the public can view than to put in the five hours a night after school that many teachers do in order to prepare for the next day which is done in classrooms after school or at home between preparing meals, taking care of children,  tending to elderly parents, taking courses, volunteering in my community, trying to have some "me" time, staying physically and emotionally fit so that I can do my job etc...  let alone being a union activist.
I hope that parents and the public truly realize what this second lockout letter is saying about their child's education.  I put in long hours before and after the bell because I am dedicated to my students and the profession that I have loved for the past 34 years.
I realize that the government is using this as a tactic to divide teachers.  My suggestion... colleagues, join your hands tighter together and march on.  We deserve better and so do the students of British Columbia.

Charlene Hodgson

Sunday 25 May 2014

Letter from BC Teacher to Christy Clark

Ok, Christy Clark, I’m going to need some help understanding this one.

Starting Monday, you will not let me help my students at recess and lunch? It is rare that a day goes by that I don’t have students in during that time who desperately need help. With all the cutbacks with student support and with no regard to my class composition and the needs of the students in my class, how will they learn if I can’t go over concepts with them during my break?

And if I do help them, I will be disciplined?

In fact, starting Monday, you insist that we all leave the school property at recess and lunch? Do you have any idea what happens in a school when that bell goes? You want the building to be free of teachers while hundreds of children are transitioning in the hallway? Have you considered the safety factor in that one? So I’m not allowed to use the washroom on my breaks? If I can’t leave my students during class, and I’m not allowed to be in the building during my breaks, are you suggesting that I must go the entire day without using the washroom?
Starting Monday, you’re also telling me that I am only allowed to work 45 minutes prior to the bell and 45 minutes after. I can’t take my work home, I can’t mark at home, I can’t do my report cards at home and I can’t prepare my lessons at home yet you still insist that I do all of these things? Does that mean you will be giving us money finally to buy resources so I don’t have to build all my units from scratch? For every hour in my class, I’m putting in an hour outside of it developing lessons, making resources, planning units and writing report cards. I have no idea how I am supposed to do all of that in 90 minutes a day outside of direct teaching time.

Perhaps you want me to do that while the students are in my class? I just can’t, Christy. I want them to learn.

Starting Monday, you will not let me help organize students into classes for next year? So if I know that a child is intimidated by another in my class, or does not work well with someone, I am not able to do anything about that? Have you been in a classroom? There’s a very fine art to separating children who simply are unable to get along, and yet another art to finding children to put together to build new friendships and find a sense of belonging. At my school alone, our teachers invested at least 15 hours last year fine tuning the classrooms, making sure we could make the best of our situation of kids with learning disabilities, with behaviour problems, with IEPs, with social difficulties. I know our school administrators are capable individuals, but they simply do not know how best to place my students, and are not aware of the specifics of the 11 students I have this year who have higher needs.

And, Christy, I’m absolutely crushed that you won’t let me go to my daughter’s grade 7 leaving ceremony at her school. I don’t even work at her school, but you refuse to let me on public school property. Funny thing is, the teacher that is spending countless hours organizing that ‘grad’ also has a child in that class, and she won’t be able to attend it either. I expect we will both be standing outside of school grounds trying to maintain composure. Right now, not that you care, I’m not maintaining composure. I didn’t very well in class today when I told my own grade 7s that I wasn’t allowed to attend their grade 7 leaving. They saw the tears in my eyes.

I know that you will tell me BC teachers started this strike business. We could argue about the logistics of that for quite some time. Do you realize that we chose rotating strikes so we could still volunteer our time on the other days of the week? We were still going on field trips, organizing grad ceremonies, doing extra-curricular, and giving whatever we could to the students in our schools. And now you won’t let us? I look forward to my year end activities with my students. I am not looking forward to telling them that you won’t let me take them.
Do I need a raise? Yes, I truly do. I believe I deserve the 18% you gave your administration, but I’d be happy with keeping up with the cost of living. 4 straight years of 0% is catching up with me. 2 more years of 0% just might break me. Everything is going up, and my paycheque is actually getting smaller. That just doesn’t seem right to me. I just don't understand why I don't deserve the cost of living.

Oh and as long as I’m trying to understand all of this, why is privatization so important to you?
You are starving education and healthcare. It seems your plan is to continue to do this so you can say to the public, “Look. The school system is not working! We need to do something different!” At that point, I expect you’ll push your two-tiered education system a little harder, and your next course of business will be a two-tiered health care system. That might work well for you and your well-paid staff, but not for the majority of us. What will most of us do in a two-tiered health care system? Do you just not care because it just does not affect you?

By the way, we DO need to do something different; we need you to start funding education again. I was thinking that in my children’s neighbourhood high school, if you funded just to the national average, they would have $1 000 000 more each year. My own children and I had fun mentally spending that for their school. It was kind of like going through the Sears Wishbook when we were kids, but, like the Wishbook, when someone else is holding the chequebook, it’s all just a dream.

By the way, why is your chequebook out for the private school system? I’m a little confused why you were able to increase funding for those schools but not public schools. Is that because your son attends a private school?

On your Facebook page, you recently said that you are “acknowledging historical wrongs,” but do you realize you’re creating one right now? And you’re right, we can’t undo the past. Take some time to do some research in what investing in our children now will do for our future. And look into what happens if we don’t. It will cost us all a great deal more in the generations to come. I also know you are aware that BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and yet you still have no plan for those children either. All of this is so incomprehensible to me.

You broke the law. Twice. You’ve been told that your tactics with BC Teachers are unconstitutional. To me, that’s not much different than your predecessor who thought it okay to drink and drive and that saying sorry made it all better.

I have so many more questions, Christy, but I expect you’ve long stopped reading. Just on another note, I have to tell you that my 16 year old said to me today that he thought maybe people had to be hurt in some way to be able to really empathize with others. How profound. On that wisdom, I assume you’ve had a brilliant life, as you have no empathy for those you perceive to be below you. I wish all of our citizens of BC could have the same opportunity.

I have never been afraid of a politician before, Christy, but I am afraid of you. I love my province. I’m proud of my province. But I’m afraid there won’t be much left of it when you’re done.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Letter+from+teacher+Christy+Clark+goes+viral/9876692/story.html#ixzz32rVzoVUS

Blog Post: Dear Parent of the Average Child - One Teacher's Confession

This is a great blog post:
Dear Parent of the Average Child,
I'm sorry. Your child is wonderful. She is always at school on time, does her homework almost every day, works well on her own, and is patient with those around her. I really wanted to go tell your daughter how proud I was of her, of the work she was doing today.
I was about to, but you see, I had a young girl over in the corner crying because she hadn't had breakfast. Another was tromping around the classroom in winter boots. It's May. When I asked her to change, she told me she didn't have any other shoes.
I needed to send them and my CEA (certified education assistant) down to the office to see if we had some food, and any extra shoes in the lost and found.
Oh and over in the other corner, there was a boy screaming at the top of his lungs because, well no one is sure why. He is on a list to see a specialist; they hope to have a plan in place for him soon. Of course it has been three months, but the specialist teacher is overworked and only at our school a few days a week, so we have to be patient.
More children trickled in. One girl told me that her backpack is at Mom's but she was at Dad's last night. He forgot to send a lunch. She also wanted to tell me about her dad's new girlfriend but she told me I wasn't to tell mom because it's a secret.
A young man tells me his cat died last night. Another lost a tooth! Exciting -- until he sees the blood, then the fear sets in.
A child came in a little late, looking afraid and tentative. She watched carefully what was going on, but was too afraid to join in. Everyone agrees that the child's fears aren't normal and that she needs some counselling, but there are only so many hours in a day. They might be able to see her for one or two sessions next month. I started to go over to help her.
Your daughter, wonderful child that she is, helps her put away her things and leads her to her desk.
I was about to head over and say thank you, but I notice three boys in the corner playing rough. I ran over to stop them and have a conversation about expected behaviour at school. I also tried to throw in a lesson on non-violence while I was at it.
I turned back to look for your daughter. I haven't forgotten that I wanted to check in with her, but I look up and realize I should probably begin teaching the lesson of the day. I told myself I would check in with her later.
This was all before 9 a.m. Many other things happened during the day that made it very difficult for me to check in with your wonderful daughter. Students with learning disabilities, diagnosed and not diagnosed. Students with special needs and with behaviour problems. Students who are needier or put up their hand more often. Students who yell louder.
I realized after a day of running from child to child and crisis to crisis, I never did get a chance to check in with her today. I don't mean to leave your daughter alone, but she seems to be doing just fine without me. I hope it is true.
I'm sorry. I feel terrible. Would you mind telling her how proud I am of her? Let her know I appreciate her? I will check in with her tomorrow.
From Your Child's Teacher
Author's Note:
I have 23 little treasures in my room. I care about them all. I want to teach them all and see them all succeed. I've had more days like this one than I would like to admit.
When I think about a classroom without class limits or I think about a school system with even fewer specialist teachers and fewer services for our students, I worry. I wonder how many average kids go unseen everyday. I honestly don't think I can do this job under those conditions. Somedays I wonder how I do it now. I know for a fact I won't be able to do it well.
Please, please please understand how important this issue is. I didn't become a teacher for the paycheque or the glory. I became a teacher because I wanted to help kids do amazing things with their lives.
I want that for all my students. I want to do my job well. That means that I need the tools to do that. This includes a reasonable class size and help from specialist teachers. That is why I'm willing to take a 10 per cent pay cut and walk out in spite of the threats. For me, it isn't about the money. It's about the kids.

Window Flower Box Craft

Window Boxes- cute idea for the kids- mother's day card for grandma?

What a fun way to decorate a wall or area lacking windows... would make a great art project for Spring or parents day.


A Surrey Teacher's poem - I will always be a teacher

Michelle Mirabueno, a Grade 1 teacher at Woodland Park Elementary in Surrey, wrote this poem in response to the news of ‪#‎ChristyClarksLockout‬
I will always be a teacher
You may try and cut our wages
Threaten, bully and scare
Without stepping in our classrooms
To see why we fight and care
I will still teach all my students
I love the job I do
I teach my children to stand up for themselves
When they cross paths with bullies like you
We will not back down in defeat
We will not let this go
You make a mockery of what we do
Turning it into a media show
My classroom is not for sale
I will not sell out the children's needs
For every child is worth the fight
Despite the trouble this may lead
I wish you had the teachers
Who would have fought for your needs too
Because somewhere down the line
A teacher helped you become you
I will always be a teacher
I will always fight the fight
To ensure the children of our world
Can learn what's wrong from right
So when they grow and make a choice
Of what they'd like to do
Surely one of them will have more integrity
To do the job in place of you

Saturday 24 May 2014

Excellent Letter from a 'very very annoyed parent'

The Honorable Peter Fassbender, Min Ed
The Honorable Christy Clark, Premier
Mr Douglas Horne, MLA Coquitlam-Burke Mountain
Dear Sirs and Madam,
I write today to convey my extreme disgust with the manner in which the education system is being treated by your government. The conduct you have displayed with regards to the future of our children’s education is reprehensible. You claim to put “Families First” and to hold the needs of the children above all else, and yet there are children in our system who have challenges and special needs who are being lost because you won’t fund the help that they so desperately need. Your condescension toward teachers is easily traceable back to 2002 when, as Education Minister, Premier Clark removed the teacher’s right to bargain about learning and working conditions by enacting Bills 27 and 28 - action which has since been deemed by the Supreme Court of BC to have been a violation of Charter rights. Undaunted by the illegality of your position, your government enacted Bill 22, once again removing class composition, amongst other things, as an issue about which teachers have any say. Your government is clearly hoping that we are stupid enough to have forgotten that only 3 months ago Madam Justice Susan Griffin ruled that Bill 22 was also unconstitutional, found you guilty of bargaining in bad faith, and accused you of attempting to provoke a strike for political gain. Clearly the children are merely pawns in your political game of chess, and I am nauseated by the cynicism and Machiavellian ideals permeating your caucus.
When a government requires a School District to submit a balanced budget, but makes no budgetary allowance for increases in fuel costs, electricity costs, or tax increases, that government knows that the only way the District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our children’s education services.
When a government announces new schools, but does not actually provide capital funding or build them, resulting in the school district having to use millions of dollars from their operating budget to purchase, maintain, and service portable classrooms, that government knows that the only way the District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our children’s education services.
When a government knows that enrolment is declining, funds schools on a “per student” basis, and it costs virtually the same amount in fuel, electricity, and staffing to have 480 kids in a school vs 500 kids in a school, that government knows that the only way the District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our children’s education services.
When a government abruptly changes policy for funding of school seismic upgrading and announces that School Districts will have to pay for up to half the costs of putting our children in safe structures, that government knows that the only way the District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our children’s education services.
Your government would have us believe that teachers are demanding too high of a wage increase, and yet in the past dozen years teachers saw a 7.5% increase from their 2002 contract, a 0% increase from their 2005 contract, and a 16% increase from their 2006 contract. In those same dozen years, the benchmark price of real estate has increased 100-200% (depending on the region), BCHydro rates have increased by 40% (from an average of $70/mo to an average of $98/mo, after correction for inflation), gasoline prices have increased by 80-100% (from fluctuating around $0.70-0.80/L to fluctuating around $1.35-1.50/L), and the cost of feeding a family of 4 in BC has gone up 38.7% (from $626 to $868 per month). Clearly the increases in a teacher’s pay are not keeping up with the increases in the cost of living.
The BCPSEA and BCTF have failed to reach an agreement (which is hardly a surprise considering that Carole Taylor’s 2006 deal has been the only freely negotiated contract that the two sides have reached in the 27 years since Mr VanderZalm’s SoCreds gave teachers the right to strike) and so the teachers have escalated their action to a rotating strike. The lockout notice that the government has countered with is shocking and its logical underpinnings are convoluted, to say the least. While maintaining that children should not be put in the middle, the government has done exactly that by ensuring that teachers can not provide before- or after-school preparation or assistance to children. This does nothing BUT penalize the children, and once again lays bare the viciousness of this government’s intention to provoke action by the teachers for it’s own political gain - leaving our children as collateral damage along the way.
Your government claims that LNG industry development will “build a prosperous economic future for British Columbia”. I disagree. What will build a prosperous economic future for British Columbia is adequate funding for the education of our future generation. Provide us with education for all children, instead of having so many kids in a class that the teacher can’t properly assess and supervise everyone. Provide specialist teachers and education assistants for kids with special needs, so that they can learn and progress with their peers, rather than disengaging and becoming lost. Provide School Districts with budget increases to cover utility rate increases, so that our children won’t suffer because the District has to pay BC Hydro and Fortis an extra $625,000. Currently, between not negotiating in good faith, and not providing the School Districts with an adequate annual budget, you are failing us; you are failing our children.
A few weeks ago when the Coquitlam Board of Education was having its last few public meetings before finalizing what cuts to make, my children became aware that their library was in jeopardy. My seven-year-old summed it up with “Mum, you said that you pay taxes so that the government gives us hospitals and schools to help us learn, but how can we learn without books and a LIBRARY? The government doesn’t care about us; the government is an asshole” And while I chastised him for using an inappropriate word, I cannot disagree with his opinion or fail to marvel at how astutely a child can assess a complicated situation and distill it down to its core.
Kristina Lee, Coquitlam
Post Script:
I am not a teacher. I am not married to a teacher. My parents were not teachers. I have no direct financial interest in this dispute other than being a very, very annoyed parent.
Vancouver Sun
The Province
British Columbia’s Liquified Natural Gas Strategy One year update , gov.ca.ca

Benefits of Art Integration in Education

One of our middle schools will be a school of fine arts in the Fall  and I am very interested in the concept. In a time where arts is often first on the chopping block, the focus on fine arts, rather than the cutting of it, is a welcomed idea.

I came across this article on research-based approaches to art integration in middle school through a program called 'artful thinking'

I wanted to share some of the article here as it shows some clear evidence on the benefits of art integration in education in some obvious and less obvious areas of learning and development.

Arts integration has been shown by several rigorous studies to increase student engagement and achievement among youth from both low and high socioeconomic backgrounds (Catterall, Dumais, & Hampden-Thompson, 2012; Upitis & Smithrim, 2003, cited in Upitis 2011; Walker, McFadden, Tabone, & Finkelstein, 2011). Arts integration was introduced at Wiley H. Bates Middle School, in Annapolis, Maryland, as part of their school improvement plan in 2008 after the district applied for and was awarded a four-year grant under the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) Grant Program.
Since arts integration was first implemented at Bates, the percentage of students achieving or surpassing standards for reading has grown from 73 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012, and from 62 percent to 77 percent for math during the same period, while disciplinary problems decreased 23 percent from 2009 to 2011.

Artful Thinking

Artful Thinking is a program developed by Harvard's Project Zero in collaboration with the Traverse City Area Public Schools in Michigan. It is an approach to teaching creative thinking that uses six routines to explore artistic works and subjects across the curriculum. These routines contain strategies to deepen art experiences.
  1. Reasoning: Asking, "What makes you say that?" to prompt students to cite evidence to support claims
  2. Perspective-taking: Asking, "What does the character (or author) perceive, know, or care about?" to understand diverse perspectives and ways of approaching problems
  3. Questioning and investigating: Brainstorming questions and using prompts to spark observations and inquiry (e.g., How? What? When? Why? What if? and "I see," "I think," "I wonder")
  4. Observing and describing: Describing and elaborating upon what you see and/or hear (e.g., imagining the artwork as the beginning, middle, or ending of a story, and/or describing formal qualities of a work of art)
  5. Comparing and connecting new ideas to prior knowledge: Asking questions to prompt core ideas and connecting, extending, and/or challenging core ideas
  6. Finding complexity: In order to uncover multiple dimensions and layers, asking questions such as, "How is it complicated?" "What are the different layers and pieces?" "What are its parts and purposes?" "What insights do you have about the topic?"
These routines are fundamental to critical thinking. In a meta-analysis of studies investigating methods of teaching critical thinking, Abrami et al. (2008) cite a broad definition of critical thinking as "purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based." The meta-analysis found that the most effective way to teach critical thinking was by teaching a separate thread of general critical-thinking principles, and then involving students in subject-specific application of these critical-thinking principles. In accordance with this research(Abrami et al., 2008), Artful Thinking explicitly defines several habits of thought that are fundamental to critical thinking and then engages students in applying those habits within specific subject areas.

Friday 23 May 2014

Cloud Jars - Art & Science Experiment for Primary

Cloud Jars by Teach Preschool

we read about cumulus clouds and rainbows in simple terms during our morning circle time. During our discussion we discovered how the cloud fills up with moisture and the moisture then turns into rain and falls to the ground…

The process
We started by covering the entire table with two layers of good quality paper towels. Then each child (threes through – Prek) was given their own mason jar filled 2/3′s with water. In addition, each child shared four cups of colored water (we added food color) with a partner. Every child was also given a dropper to work with…
Once we had all the water and colored water in place, Mrs. Stewart added a “cumulus cloud” (shave cream) on top of the water in each child’s jar…
And then Mrs. Stewart demonstrated how to add drops of color on top of the shave cream then to watch carefully as the color made its way through the “cloud” and then dropped into our clear water down below…
Read more about how they turned this neat science experiment into art as well...