Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Day

 Well, I have to say it was a pretty entertaining day today at the school. We had a good number of students wearing costumes as well as parents who came as characters and staff as well.

There were a few students from Ms. Thomson's (Audrey's) who came to me last week and asked if they might put together a bit of a haunted house. Student initiated events are some of my favourite ones and this was no exception. I asked them to get a few of the parents involved throughout the week, assisting them with ideas and decorations. And that they did... much thanks to the parents.

The houses ... two of them, one dark and one light ... were ready to go at the last minute and the plan was to have the houses open for the primary students. Mr. William's class was going to be off to the swimming pool later in the day so we had them go first. In a way they were the ones chosen to let the older children work out some of the kinks.

All went well and most students were told that the "dark" house was the most scary one, so if they chose to go in only one house, that was just fine.

As we got the primary students through, it was decided to open the doors to the intermediates as well and we concluded the showing with the Grade 7s after lunch.

Hearty congratulations go out to the organizers. They did a great job, and I hope they learned from their efforts.
One cool looking dude!

Tomorrow some of the grade 6 and 7 students will be heading up to Ted Dixon Park in Sechelt to play in the annual Sugar Bowl soccer tournament run by one of my old teaching buddies, Jim Grey. It is always a wonderful way to burn off the post Hallowe'en energy.

Thanks to Ms. Anderson and parent volunteers for getting the students up there and to Ms. Kennedy for providing a program for those students who have made it their choice not to go this year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Aren't Fridays great!

I got around this morning to look at a number of planners that the students and teachers use for back and forth communication. Some are full of information for the day and some have fewer bits and pieces of writing.

One thing I notice in many of the planners, particularly for the younger children, is a note from mom or dad encouraging the child to have a great day, or an I Love You message. Nice to see.

I hope many of you take a look at what the children or teachers have written in the planner on a regular basis and see the attachments and printouts that come home in the front of them.

The planners also offer a good place for you to initiate a communication with your child's teacher. I hope you find them useful.

A big thank you to Ms. Webb who helps with the organization of the primary use of computers on Friday afternoons. A few of the primary classes take advantage of that and go to the library where the laptops stay in place for the afternoon and students work as individuals, in buddy pairs, or in small groups on what the teacher has in mind for the day.

A good amount of art work was being done in the last hour of the day as I visited with some classes. As I said in another blog article, there are some talented artists among us and I love to see this kind of work.

I hope to see a number of you with your child in costume on Monday. A number of Ms. Thomson's students with some volunteer moms and dads have been working on a special Hallowe'en treat that will be unveiled on Monday.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend and I trust you are too. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just another Thursday

I got around to a number of classes today and sat in on some for a more extended period of time to watch the learning taking place. I guess I was a bit of distraction with my tie today - but none of the little ones were scared by it and most said they thought it was a pretty cool three-dimensional tie.

Still thinking about what to wear on Monday and I do hope to see a lot of the students, staff, and parents with weaponless costumes on for at least part of the day.

A few of the grade 7 students are acting as student monitors during the lunch period, going into the primary classes to sit with the children while they eat their lunch. This is a great leadership opportunity and the two students in this class seem to enjoy talking and playing with the students as they eat. Their help takes some of the pressure off the SETAs who move about the classrooms during this time.

Practices two days a week are a lot of fun, but there is nothing like playing a bunch of games after school and we fielded a couple of grade 5 girl's teams today to take on Langdale. Both teams demonstrated what they are learning about the game beyond PE class and everyone had a great time. Big thanks to the coaches and referees from both schools who help make this happen for the children.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A day of variety

I just looked at my statistics page for this blog and note that I have had 500 views. I wonder if that includes all my reloads ;-). Thanks so much for reading, it is a nice diary for me to have of this current experience and I enjoy sharing my days with you.

Today included being principal, working in a class for Ms. Carsky so she could attend a district special education meeting, attending a meeting after school in Sechelt with the other administrators, and giving a report at the PAC meeting. Yes, lots of variety.

We had about 18 people at the PAC meeting and here is a link to my report. The minutes will be posted later on the school's website.

When I was in the math class for Ms. Carsky we did a math activity called Kakooma. You can go to the Kakooma website and take a test-drive version of the program and if you like it get yourself a copy. It is a simple math game with a Suduko type board that is mental math oriented to see if you find number pairs that add up to a third number.

We also used the website, a site which the school is evaluating for use by these math students in an attempt to more closely individualize instruction with the application recording time on task as well as individual student progress. Each of the students has their own login ID and password. When our evaluation period is up we will need to determine whether to continue using this approach to individualizing instruction.

Students volunteering to help keep our playing area clean. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some colour today

As much as I like digital products there is nothing like the analog artwork I get to see in the hallways as I move around during the day. We have a lot of talented students and teachers who teach these artists the skills. On the left is some seasonal art from some of our youngest students and on the right some Emily Carr modeling from some of our older students. When you come to visit the school, take some time to travel the hallways and take a look at some of the work. Perhaps when you come to the PAC meeting this Wednesday evening or at a future PAC meeting :)

I spent more time than usual in the Library today where Ms. Corbo was at work with students. She returned to the school following last week's Provincial Conference for librarians. She showed me the small number of new books she was able to purchase. I know I have put the link on the website for our library that you can view and search our collection online. Our library is selectable from the district library. I hope you have a chance to visit it.
Another activity going on in the library with Ms. Corbo is in support of our goal to improve our writing... not the cursive writing or printing, but rather the writing process. Today this class was thinking of ideas to write about a time when they were blamed for something they didn't do and how they felt about that, or identifying three wishes they might have and explaining them to the reader. I also chatted with a boy who was working one-to-one with a parent who was typing out the child's story and we talked about perhaps using the web to publish once the class stories had been transcribed. You may watch for that to come soon.

Our school district has some great apprentiship  programs for older students where they can begin to learn a trade and get job experience and in some cases a first year apprentishship. 

I don't think these Kindergarten students are quite ready for that program though but they certainly were having a good time pretending they were our volunteer firemen!

Over and out for now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

KhacChi Bamboo

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KhacChi Bamboo, a set on Flickr.

These photos are from today's cultural fine arts performance which was entitled "KhacChi Bamboo Music" performed for all of our students by a couple from Vancouver. The school district supports the arts with a few performances a year and this was the first. I thoroughly enjoyed their production and every student I spoke with had a great time as well.

Each "thumbnail" will take you to a photo set I created on my Flickr page.

I also did a small video to share with you and loaded it on to YouTube.

Wednesday evening at 7pm please give consideration to coming over to the school for our second PAC (Parents Advisory Council) meeting of the year. This is your opportunity to network with some of the other parents in the school, to share ideas, ask questions, and find out a little more in a face to face way what is going on at the school.

Until tomorrow...

Friday, October 21, 2011

A quiet kind of day

It's a quiet kind of day without children or a good number of staff members here because of the province-wide professional development day. This is giving me a chance to complete some paperwork for the school board office and to take another good look at scheduling of support for students. I've even had some telephone talk with some parents and other professionals today. And, I've had a chance to review some of my ideas about the reporting process. I must say that these are my ideas and do not reflect upon the ideas of those within the school or the broader school district staff and community.

Narrative Reporting

I used to enjoy narrative reporting when I was a teacher and later as a principal there were times when narrative reporting was done by most primary teachers and some intermediate teachers. Narrative reporting is different from what we see today in report cards with checklists of meeting or not meeting objectives, letter grades, or at the secondary level percentages. Narrative reporting can be written or it can be oral.

Our Superintendent, Patrick Bocking – you can see a link to his blog on the right side of this page – has written a letter to parents that has the following quotation:

The partnership between teachers and parents is crucial to best meet the needs of our students. While teachers are not completing report cards during the job action, there is no other restriction for parent/teacher contact except that there will not be a formal parent/teacher conference session.

In my brief time at the school, I am aware of teachers and parents initiating contact with one another to discuss in a more narrative way the progress of  students. If there is a concern about learning identified by the teacher, the teacher will initiate that conversation … likewise if you have a concern about the learning needs of your child, please initiate a conversation with the teacher.

Again, from my perspective, letter grades and checklists mean little without the narrative approach whether written or oral.

On November 23 and 24 there will be some time in the school day provided for discussion with parents. But please, don’t necessarily wait until then. Keep the dialogue open.

Have a great weekend and we'll see your children back at the school on Monday when today's rain will hopefully have dissipated. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writing and other things

I left this image a bit larger than the ones I usually post online.

One of the goals of the school for this year is to work on the writing process. And that work, begins at a young age. The other day I posted a photo of some sequencing work that was going on and resulting in some stories. I recorded one of the girls reading her story to share and today I'm sharing one of the stories written by one of the grade 2 boys.

When I talked with him, he was super excited to be telling me his story. We didn't get a chance for him to record him reading, but I think if you take a look at this e-story you'll get the idea why he was so excited.

As part of the budgeting process we naturally hire enough teachers to meet the needs of the students through their placement in classes. Not all of our students are at similar levels according to their ages which is the way the assignment to grades based on age works. I think a lot of you can figure that out when you think of having a birthday party for your 11 year old and noticing how much different a lot of the children are height and weight wise. Or when you go shopping a find that the majority of clothes for your 8 year old just don't fit. Not all children are in the middle of the normal range and that is to be expected. So, we hire SETAs, Special Education Teaching Assistants. Sometimes they work in the classroom, sometimes in small rooms in the school, sometimes in the hallway, and sometimes out on the play field. Lots of options, for lots of different situations.
A student loaned me his Hallowe'en glasses today and another student took my photo. I told you that time of the year was coming and many students are getting into the spirt (no pun intended) early.

Tomorrow is a non-instructional day. I have a couple of things to do early in the morning at the School Board Office, but then I'll be back to Cedar Grove to catch up on some paperwork. If you happen to be by, say hello. I won't be wearing the glasses.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Was it a nice day today or what?

Another beautiful day today at Cedar Grove. Since I have been here (not that I'm taking any credit for this :) we have had less than 10 minutes of rain in a recess or lunch break. That's not to say we shouldn't be prepared. The school does have a practice of having the children stay indoors on rainy days, unless they are properly prepared to go outdoors. That means boots, jackets, maybe rain pants, whatever seems to make sense. This is to try and ensure what they wear indoors during class time is dry.

Today was one of the days we are visited by our Aboriginal Education teacher, Ms. Haavisto and today she brought with her a talking stick. For part of her time with the students, they studied the stick and the individual elements that make up the stick ... raven, eagle, etc. While I was in the room with this class, I must say the students demonstrated some real knowledge and understanding of the stick.

In one of the afternoon classes we were joined by the District Superintendent who spent some time in one of the other classes.

Is it almost that time? It sure is and many of the primary classes have activities integrated with the language arts, the music, the fine arts that revolve around Hallowe'en themes.

The current plan is to have students come to the school dressed for the day (minus any weapon related props). I've heard that some of the teachers will also get into the act.

And then on November 1st, some of our grade 6 and 7s will head up to Ted Dixon Park for the annual Sugar Bowl, a fun soccer activity run to help burn off some energy.

I know some of you have iPads at home and a Twitter contact of mine from another school district has put together a great resource of apps. that you might like to review. Some are free and others a small cost. I can't seem to put my hand on the link right at this moment, but I will share it later.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More adults than children

Today I spent more time with adults than children. That's part of the job and as much as I like working with and observing children at play and at work, meeting with adults about many children's individual needs is a part of the job. And that is good too.

Going through classes the last little while I see students working on concepts in Math, some of which have names and definitions to know. Radius, perpendicular, obtuse, parallel, center, diameter, acute, right, etc. There are many things around us that we see every day that can be used to talk to our children to help reinforce these ideas and concepts. These shots from the adventure playground are just a few examples. When you have a chance to make observations on walks you takes with the family, don't hesitate to look for the geometry in nature and elsewhere. Reinforce the work you children are learning now, have learned in the past, and may learn in the future. They don't have to be studying these concepts right at the minute... any time is a good time.
Environments in a bottle. Even the snails agree.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Now what is this bit of scraggle (I don't think that's a word, but like some of little ones, it makes sense to me). Actually, if you click on this link it will take you to a panorama I created while on supervision at recess. I was in a great spot to see most of the children at play and the software app that created this is simply 'plug and play'. Don't you love the technology you as adults may have to use in your work. Imagine the future and the kind of technologies your children - and my grandchildren - will have when they get to our age. I certainly hope we do a good job as educators to prepare them for that future.

Experimentation was going on in many of the classes today and this class was using microscopes. I need to find the key for the science shelves, since this teacher had to go about doing this work minus the slides.

Other nature activities are underway in other classrooms and I look forward to sharing some of the images from those students work with you later.

Today was photo day and the children here and many of the staff had photos taken. My mom will be surprised to get a photo of me for Christmas!

I've been told that retakes are November 1 and that you will see proofs from today prior to making a decision for or against purchase or to have a retake.

A big thank you goes out to some students in Ms. Andersen's class, being taught today by Ms. Krannenburg, for being great volunteers balancing their classroom work with giving helpful assistance to the photographer.

Finally, I had a chance encounter today on the playground with a young boy who may be attending Cedar Grove next school year. I understand his parents were students at the school many years ago. This encounter was most touching. I found out that there is some fund raising going on the help this boy get some much needed medical attention. Ms. Webb has her class involved in a penny drive and so far has raised over $100 which will go towards his need and there is a fund raiser on October 27. I'm sure if you wish to find out more about the event, Ms. Webb will be happy to share the information with you.

Volleyball practice in the morning and I gather the girls have a couple of games ahead of them.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Firstly (as opposed to first of all) let me tell you that I ended the day by thanking the children for making my first week at Cedar Grove such a personally satisfying one. Having a chance to see them work in class and play outside in such positive ways is greatly satisfying. That's not to say there are not the little things that go on that are less than positive, but, hey, that is what growing up is all about and getting an opportunity to work on socially responsible activity is just as important as learning the ABCs.

As it happens on Tuesdays and Fridays, one of the moms came to the school to meet the girls who want to grow their skills at volleyball. I think it is great that she does that at 0730 in the morning  for the girls.

There are many parents and grand parents who volunteer their time to help make Cedar Grove a great place. Today was popcorn day ... and did you know that thanks to the parent volunteers working with that program, the children are now getting good, organic pop corn. My grand daughter shared some of her bag with me and it really tastes great.

Another volunteer happening was in Ms. Morris' K/1 class. As the children study apples (the letter A), and learn about their growth in nature, and study some math by counting and weighing, they also had a chance today to make and drink some unbelievably tasty apple juice.

This photo would be totally foreign to many students in the province. The children had eaten their lunches in the classroom and had headed out to play. Some of them ran to tell me that a tree had fallen down and some deer were having their own lunch break eating the leaves. The children were wonderful, enjoying their curiosity from a reasonable distance not only to be safe, but to all the three deer a chance to enjoy their snack at peace.

Learning to story-tell is an important skill and when students combine story telling with art it can be a neat experience. Students in Ms. McAllister's class have been working on colouring pictures leading in to writing a story following the sequencing of the artwork.

One of the girls wanted to share her story with me ... I haven't been able yet to figure out how to get the sound byte into this blog and my wife just called me away from the computer. I'll figure it out!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 15... okay, I found it. Blogger doesn't offer hosting services for audio files at this time; so I have spent a little time reviewing my old knowledge of HTML to create a way to have it here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Around the school

When was the last time you had green eggs and ham? Seriously. I had a good helping of it today and it was a production of Mrs. Sammartino's Kindergarten students. And you know, it was pretty tasty, eggs perfectly cooked and the ham had a nice smoky flavour. Of course the vegetarians in my family might not agree, but I thought it was delicious. Thanks!

Half the grade 7 class went this morning with Ms. Andersen to the Salvation Army to assist with their program. The other half of the class went into Ms. McAllister's room to be buddy learners with the grade ones. Buddying from time to time proves to be a good experience for both the older and the younger students and this kind of co-operation between teachers makes for good learning all round.

Cedar Grove School has access to laptop technology and the COWS (Computers On WheelS) get used for a number of things, including research. I had a chance to observe a number of students in Ms. Kennedy's class researching information about the Provinces which will ultimately be used in presentations on the Smartboards through their use of Notebook software.

Lots of good learning going on!

As well, we had the Gibsons Volunteer Firemen here today along with the McDonald firehouse that is located in Halfmoon Bay. The firemen kindly bring the house to the school every year for our students in grades K-4 to have a workshop on fire safety. The students in grades 5-7 wish they could be involved as well. I hope when the young students bring their notes home, you get a good chance to ask them about the 1/2 hour they spent with the firemen.

And finally, a special thanks to one of the fireman who assisted with a totally non related injury we had with a student who had fallen in the main entrance area of the school and banged up an elbow. Our volunteers deserve a huge thanks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Math and manipulatives

One of the ways we learn our math as students today is with manipulatives.

I was in the K/1 class and one of the parents who must have an awful lot of apples was in to visit and work with Mrs. Morris on some math activities involving the use of apples.

What kinds of manipulatives do you have have at home that might make learning math fun?

It really does not matter what grade your child is in, lots of things for counting at the young age and maybe baking with you to go over weights and measures as an intermediate student.

Back at Cedar Grove

Today is the first day of writing in a blog that I hope gets some daily entries... well that is the plan, anyway.

I wrote a letter to parents today to introduce myself as the replacement principal for Dave Hunt while he is away on a medical leave. In that letter, I wrote:

Because I am a bit of a techy, one of the tasks Dave has asked me to take on is repurposing the school’s website. And, the amateur photographer in me has me out on the playground at recess and lunch and in the classrooms with my digital camera and my iPhone. During the day, I often post photos to my Instagram account which is linked from my Twitter account (@gibsonsgolfer for any of you twitter users). I have also started a “principal’s blog” which I will try to keep up to date.

So, now I am committed at least on paper :)