Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Not all students do their work entirely within the walls of the classroom. Sometimes you will see students at desks in the hallway working and it isn't necessarily because they have been sent out of class but rather because they find that a better place to work!

Sometimes the students are working in small groups or as teams. And sometimes tables or desks are not the most critical things necessary to get the job done. Work goes on in lots of different places in our school and it is often interesting for me to see and listen to the conversations that go on around the learning that is taking place.

Mr. Bocking reviews a Surrey schools walking plan
I wish I could find online one of the graphics used in a presentation I saw at a meeting I had to attend at the School Board Office this afternoon. The caption was:
Boy: Why can't I walk to school?
Mom: Because there is too much traffic.
We have a lot of traffic in our school community and I was asked to attend the meeting to consider our school and Halfmoon Bay Elementary participating in a pilot project through HASTE BC to develop along with the Regional District a School Travel Plan which would result in more students walking or bike riding to schools. I commented about the lack of safe walking routes for our neighborhood and part of the preliminary work if we become involved in the project will be surveys about how our children come to school now, potential routes and their safety... much in the way of community input. The principal of Halfmoon Bay and I expressed some degree of interest, both of us indicating there would have to be sufficient infrastructure work done to make this idea a reality.  This was an exploratory meeting and more will come in the new year.

Our grade 7 girls were great today. On Friday the junior volleyball team representing our school will be at Elphinstone for the day in the final tournament of the year.

The grade 7s offered to have a "playing practice" with the younger girls and it worked out extremely well. It was good to see the older girls make a good effort to keep the ball in play, not serving too hard or trying to spike the ball.

Nicely done... and good luck to our younger girls on Friday.

Tomorrow I'm up at Kinnickinnik school for a safety training and Mr. Williams will be the Teacher in Charge. I'll be back at school on Friday and plan to have an assembly on Friday morning at 0930. If you happen to be around, please join us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Theory into practice

Sometimes you attend an NIDay and see something you think would be a good thing to try in your class but when you get the children for the next day, your notes may not make as much sense as they seemed to at the time or something else comes up.

Today, Mrs. Chambers decided to have her class use the software she learned about yesterday morning and so I was pleased to help get things going and then monitor her work with the students. It was a success... one that will be repeated many times over the coming year.

One thing I try to stress with teachers, specially when dealing with technology, is to allow the students to explore at first. And, don't try and answer all the questions yourself, specially when the software is new to you, too. And so today, after Mrs. Chambers I spent a bit of time getting the children started, the students explored the tools. When they asked a question about a tool, they were encouraged to try it out and see what happened.

Very soon the students were helping their neighbours with things and showing what they were doing. The students today were engaged and the initial questions soon disappeared as students worked to figure things out and share ideas.

Kidspiration is a very good piece of software for literacy, numeracy, social studies, science and art. It is recommended for Kindergarten to Grade 5 and could be used by older students with learning needs. I did post the link to the website which talks about the software yesterday and it is available for Mac or Windows. You can click on the Kidspiration image to download a trial version for Mac or Windows. ---->

I spent some time with Ms. Andersen and the Grade 7's this afternoon talking about some of my ideas and brainstorming some of their ideas for what might be leadership opportunities in the school.

Ms. Andersen and I have talked about this before and we agree that this is definitely one class of students who could accept the challenge and the discussion with them was full of good ideas.

Charmaine took notes and the board had many more ideas when we were finished for the day. One of the key tasks now is for the students to consider all the opportunities, think about their likes and dislikes and put that together with the skills they believe they have to develop a resume for Ms. Andersen to review. Some of the things we will start this week and others will be in the new year.

Good stuff!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A day with professionals

It has been quite a while since I have been at a school based Non-Instructional Day as a member of the staff. I was honoured to have  been asked by some of the staff to share some ideas about the use of a software program called Kidspiration which the school has a license for but which has not been used much at the school. It is a really good program for many different things and I did a review of the tools available in the program and looked at the many ways it could be used by students, in groups or with other adult assistance.

Prior to looking at this software program, I showed them how to use a network / shared space on our school server which is available for them to use as a "Primary" place for the classes to sign into on the days they have access to the COW. As I wrote before, Friday has the laptops set up in the Library for them to leave on and rotate their classes through. The session today was to share some new ways to use that and the staff has some great ideas.

And, prior that that ... we watched the first 30 minutes of the video I have embedded above that gives the presenters point of view about the value of play, imagination, and creativity in the lives of learners. I offered this video as it is pretty close to my thoughts about what real learning is all about.

For the afternoon, the staff worked on their own planning as individuals or in small groups and I enjoyed greatly seeing them as the professionals they are.

I look forward to greeting the students again tomorrow...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Movember Friday

Earlier this week I visited the intermediate classes (Gr 4 to 7) and talked with them about Movember and what it was all about. One of the teachers had the idea that the kids in her class might like to have a mustache day and that blossomed into the other classes wanting to take part as well. I had a fun time taking photos... some staff participated and one of our PAC co-chairs showed her mustache off as well. Over 90% of the children took part in this event today.

Movember is coming to an end and if you would like to see my 'stache, you can visit my Movember page.

As a learning thing for me tonight, I took a good selection of the photos I took and made a slide show from them using a piece of software I use for stills, but not for movies. Click the start button to see how it turned out.

I want to show you some Friday artwork which is an update from what I posted yesterday from Ms. Kennedy's class. If you didn't see the drawing yesterday, you may wish to look back.

Today the students began the project with their own pieces of the puzzle. They had their square, and a coloured piece of the original piece of art that was their part. Some of the students you can see from this collage, got together with their small pieces to get an idea of what the bigger part might look like for them. As individuals the students worked on their part and then Ms. Kennedy posted back on the wall their progress to date. There is more work to be done and I will look forward to watching the students progress with this interesting project.

Please note that Monday is a non-instructional day and while your children will not be at school, I will be there as will a number of the teachers. Drop by if you like.

Otherwise... see you later next week.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Second Entry for today

I am doing a separate, second blog posting tonight because I chose this photo for another project of mine, my 201165 project which is up on Flickr.

Here is what I wrote to describe that photo.

I took the first shot today of what is going to be an art project in one of our classes.
The teacher has sketched a drawing with chalk on a set of pieces of black construction paper and each student in the class will get one piece to use mixed pastels (I'm probably not explaining it well). The final project will be a reassembled drawing. 
The characters in the background have nothing to do with the project… they just come from what is behind the drawing. But, you probably already get that.

I'm certainly looking forward to what comes next in Ms. Kennedy's room. She credits Ms. Anderson for the idea.

Primary is pretty basic

I spent some time this morning in our Kindergarten and grade one classes observing the way the day gets going and watching the children working in small groups and as individuals on beginning skills. It is fascinating to see the little ones learn.

Calendar activities start the day in many classes. The weather and important days in the month are talked about. Students share stories that are important to them and as you can see from the photo where Mrs. Morris is working with the monthly calendar the days here are shown with the dates following along a pattern. Double click on the photo to see the number patterns being followed by the graphical numbers for the dates. Then following some talk about letters, the children moved to the tables to work on making the letters on sheets of paper where they could visualize models. At this age, a good number of students learn how to hold a pencil or other writing device.

Having stories read to you, picking out the important words and finding how some of them fit - then, in this case, drawing a picture of what the story means to them. This student saying that he likes it when his friends come for a sleep over and he draws the bed, the mattress, the sheets, the bed cover and is happy to tell me what it is all about.


We had early dismissal the last two days and the school had a good number of parents visit, meet with some of the intermediate teachers in the gym and see some of the students work posted in the hallways and at many of their desks in the classrooms.

I have written before how important it is to get a good narrative report on your child's progress and visiting the school and your child's teacher goes a long way to accomplishing that objective.

Thanks so much to the parents who were able to take the opportunity to visit this week.

Quite a find today... blow up the photo and you will see why.
Remember... Tomorrow is Movember Friday. We'll see you at the school tomorrow with your real or fake Movember mustache!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Today was a day full of variety. I didn't get as much time in classes today as I would have liked, but the day was a busy one with more time sensitive administrivia accomplished.

The photo on the left is one I took after school before I went into an Administrator's meeting in Sechelt. I just had to stop and spend a few moments thinking about how fortunate I am to be doing the things I get to do and how the minor disappointments earlier in the day were just that - minor.

It really was enjoyable watching the primaries at lunch time today explore the book fair and ask their questions about how good a book was they wanted to buy, how much would it cost, would the money they had in hand be enough... all to show us their love for books and reading. The library will benefit from this fund raiser and we have the PAC to thank along with Ms. Corbo and Mrs. Randall for organizing things. And, I was reminded again today how some of our grade seven students contribute their time to help get things moving along so well.

Tonight our PAC came out about a fifteen or so parents strong to talk about our earthquake preparedness and how to support our school in ways of providing some of the learning resources our school budget can't support at this time. You need to consider how you can be involved ... as Mrs. Riggs said, there are many parents who work behind the scenes on numerous activities and that the PAC needs some new parents willing to step in as leaders.

Watch the website and the PAC wall outside the office for the minutes of this meeting to be posted.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Movember 22

I was in Ms. Kennedy's class today, more about that lesson later, when I overheard her talking to the children about Movember and having a Movember Friday. It was a great idea that they had about putting on the 'stache on Friday, boys and girls, to show their understanding of what Movember is all about. Of course I asked if I could borrow the idea and run it past the other intermediate students and they wholeheartedly agreed. After visiting the other classes from Grade 4 to 7 and explaining and answering questions about the rationale behind Movember, we are now having a Movember Friday ... yes, this Friday. Students will be looking for make-up, costume accessories ... anything to put on a fake mustache to get in the mood. This is NOT a fund raiser; no money collected, just a bit of fun.

Thanks to this blog, I learned something today and sat in on a lesson to confirm what I learned. You may recall the other day when I wrote about being in Ms. McAllister's class with Mr. Bocking and the students were telling him about their field trip up Grouse Mountain. In the blog, I referred to the students having done a mind map about their trip.

Ms. Kennedy read the blog and since she is teaching the mind map concept to her class right now, she brought to my attention that what I saw the other day was webbing and that if I wanted to sit in on a lesson this morning I could discover the difference.

The primary differences are that webbing is primarily text and connecting lines that web from a central idea. The mind map uses text and lines, but also colour and icon graphics. The text in the mind map also gets smaller the further it gets from the main idea. Subtle differences, I know, but a different degree of complexity. Mind maps are a stage above webbing, but both are graphical organizers. At least I think that is what I learned.

Attention shoppers! Today was the first day of the book fair in the Library and it was a great success for the children as much as the adult customers. I had to laugh with these students about their exploration of the Adult Bestsellers - Christmas presents?

Thanks so much to our PAC who had a good number of volunteers there for the lunch and after school sessions. The doors will be open again tomorrow for the primary students at lunch and throughout and after parent conferences. Thanks, too, to the grade 7 helpers at the cash counter.

Please do remember we dismiss an hour early tomorrow.

A good deal of cash changed hands. If you do send your children with money please talk with them about the need to care for it and not leave it unattended.

As well today there were some students wanting to "borrow money". This something I do not want to encourage by any means.

Finally ... I hope to see you at the PAC meeting Wednesday night, 7 pm. I don't expect the meeting will be in the library, and baby sitting is provided.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, Monday...

Now, does this title date me or what...

Mondays are often good days after the children have had their weekend experiences, ones which many want to tell me when they get to school. And yes, I was there today. Some of you may recall that I am at Cedar Grove to Christmas or the return of Mr. Hunt. He had hoped to be back today, and I got an email from him yesterday saying he is just not ready for a return just yet. It does look right now as though I will be here for another month, so start watching for the December/Christmas ties.

Last Monday I let you know about a Science Unit Mr. Kerr was starting with the students called Science in a Bag with their experiments coming from the site under the link above. It is an interesting site that comes to the class from New Zealand. The photo here is of the criteria sheet for marking the projects which are due beginning the week of December 5 since school is closed on November 28th so that is the next day Mr. Kerr is here. Parents of students in this class may want to get involved with the projects.

As you can see the marking will be a collaborative effort on the part of students and Mr. Kerr, with the criteria laid out well in advance. The experiment itself is marked out of 10 (clicking the image will blow it up) and the write up (written or typed) out of 20. I was in the class when the students went over the criteria so I know the meaning of COPS ... you may have to ask you child what that means - think good writing - and they should know, or ask someone to explain it to them again.

It is exactly what it looks like. I was out walking and talking with the students when my eye caught a number of children out in front of the school gathered into a tight group. Thinking gang-fight (NOT ;-) I headed over to see what was up and found the children doing the limbo. Pretty creative thinking going on to make the set-up work with a couple of stumps and a stick.

I'll leave you with something to think about tonight and would be interested in you thoughts as comments to this post.

Don't be shy.

Mondays are for many classes the day of the Spelling Pre-test with practise throughout the week and a final test Friday (and, yes, I did use the British spelling for the verb).

Here is a blog article I read on the weekend as the source for my enquiry about your thoughts on having spelling tests.

Volleyball practice (back to some people's norms) tomorrow morning and I will hear how the play date after school went.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Found it

I went to school this morning and found my camera. I also found two of your teachers actively involved in lesson preparation for next week. It was nice to chat with them for a few moments and then head off to lower Gibsons for a bit of a walk.

I mentioned a bit yesterday about the use of technology tools and had these three shots from yesterday to share. As you have gathered I believe the use of technology tools is important for the growth of today's student, however, I fully believe that the teacher remains the most important person in the "9-3" educational life of the child. Introducing literacy and numeracy topics to these young grade 1 and 2 students and giving them a good feeling about learning is so important.

I guess that fits in with my good feeling about seeing some of our primary teachers at work this Saturday morning.

I've been thinking a bit about where to get some beachfront relaxation this winter and these ducks and gulls seem to have made a late Fall decision to choose Gibsons.

See you Monday...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday part 1

Yes, part 1. It seems I may have left my camera at school today. If not, I may be looking for a while ...

I did want to share a couple of things tonight and I will write again tomorrow... The first thing is that I hope you take an opportunity to vote tomorrow. I has always been a concern of mine that School Board elections don't seem to get much press leading into the event when it is a fact that the School Board members manage a budget of 35 million dollars and our school district is one of the largest employers on the Sunshine Coast with over 400 employees and over 3,000 children in public school. While they may not have much of a say about bargaining - the results of which take up about 85% of that budget, the do have a lot to say about programming and directions the district will go. And that is big thinking. So please, most of you are area 2 voters and you have some significant choices to make.

The Coast News does have a brief summary of the all candidates meeting earlier this week and I urge you to look at their report.

One of the things they spoke about was technology and you can probably guess that this is one of my issues as well.

I enjoyed watching a couple of presentations by the grade 7 students today about things they have learned and researched in Social Studies.

The students did an oral presentation and used images which they had from books or which they had hand drawn and showed using the class projector and the document cameras. These tools simply support the work that they have done. Good stuff, and a big thank you to the PAC for having these technology tools as part of last year's fund raising goal.

I had to get a bit of a kick out of something I saw when working a bit with the primary students in the library this morning using the COW laptops. Sometimes geometry comes into play with the students who like to build as much as work on digital things!

So, until tomorrow when I hopefully find my camera!

Once again... please vote on Saturday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I had a visitor this morning. I'm sure it was something on Mr. Hunt's calendar, but it came as a pleasant surprise to me. Mr. Patrick Bocking came to spend a bit of time with me this morning and a bit of time with me in the classrooms. Before our tour of the school we talked about a number of things, including observations I had to share about my brief time here at the school, programmes, utilization of space and most importantly, achievement of students. It was a nice visit and I can't believe that in our walk through the classes I did not have my camera with me to show some of his interactions with students. If you check out his blog, you will get a good sense of the man. I like him and I think that over time, he will be good for the District as a whole.

When we were in Ms. McAllister's class they were having quite a discussion about their recent field trip to Grouse mountain and quite a mind map was on the wall to flesh out the goals and activities. During the Q/A, Mr. Bocking shared with the students that when he was in Grade 2 and 3, he attended a school in North Vancouver where the gondola was within direct eyesight. It was a great connection.

Later when I spent some time in the classroom the students were working on a task which is aligned with our main goal for this year, working on the writing process. In this activity they were identifying questions to ask before reading, during reading, and after reading the story, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.

Perhaps you might to try this activity yourself with this story.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interesting day

I didn't really mention it the other day, but Monday was like a lot of days following a long weekend. The children were full of energy and had quite a "busyness" about them. And yesterday was pretty much the opposite with a good balance of activity and concentration in the classes. Today... well today was a rainy, cool almost cold day. I went out with about 50 students for the lunch break and when I got back inside had a number of quite small fires to put out ... I think the majority of children love that fresh air for their breaks, but do stay in on optional in-days. Confined spaces like classrooms with wandering supervisors sometimes make things a bit more difficult. Of course you that have large play days might have an idea what I am talking about. All part of life and learning and getting to the point where we understand expectations takes some children longer than others. An old friend and retired teacher was in subbing today for the morning and he chose to stick around at lunch with the grade 4s and 5s in the gym.

There was some talk about the use of technology in schools at the all-candidates meeting for those interested in getting elected to the Board of Education for our district. I think some of them would have liked to see me working with some of our children today using Photo Booth. The teacher needed some tech help from me to make the bottom menus show up on the screen so after showing how that is accomplished, I introduced them to so far unknown features ... one of which is to make videos. I took this as a still photo, but the video was of me and the student having a conversation. It was a good experience for both of us - and yes, I do need a haircut, but that can wait until after Movember.

I thoroughly enjoyed observing one of the classes led by our Aboriginal Education teacher, Ms. Haavisto. Today she introduced the lesson with some drumming and dancing. Ms. Kennedy commented on the energy it took to complete the exercise and the students loved it.

Afterwards, they sat in a circle and I really liked the way she used an Umbrella analogy to bring the native cultures in Canada into focus for the students.

She also introduced them to a different kind of talking stick and as the student chosen implement was passed around the room, students made a brief comment, if they chose to, on what they valued in life... a nice thinking activity.

Grade 7 artwork with a real 3-D look and feel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Definitely an outside day

The day started for a lot us with below freezing weather and I was reminded by the weather guy to watch for black ice on the way to work. While talking to some of the parents before school, I was joking with a dad who was wearing a great Callaway golf hat that I might have to take the Callaway winter gloves out of my trunk for recess and lunch. 

Well, nothing could have been further from the morning reality as the day wore on and I told the grades 5,6 and 7 students I would supervise them on the all weather field. A good number of them chose to play soccer out there and I was impressed with their casual team play and good sportsmanship. It was great to watch.

That's not to say all the students chose to play soccer as some simply thought it a great day to be with buddies and enjoy the sun.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good start to the week

The sky was blue and the weather was dry. A bit windy today, but a nice day all round inside and outside the building.

A principal digital friend in Portland has been sharing some of his photos at school online too and it was quite a rainy day down south with his students having an out day in the rain. Hopefully it was not coming down too hard.

Our schools have a lot in common with an committed Parent Group, students actively involved in learning, and teachers doing interesting things with the students.

I had to get a kick out of this... we do have a sign-in and out book at the office and try hard to get the children and or their parents to make a note of when they are leaving the school for any reason.

Though the book is not used to 100% success, some do take the request seriously.

As you can see here, one of our students was off on a "secret mission". I hope they were successful!

Ms. Kennedy's class had Mr. Kerr today for their Monday work with him and I had a chance to observe them exploring a Science Experiment site.

The student are going to choose one of the simple experiments from this site to complete at a later date. There is going to be work done to explore the scientific method and you (even those without a child in this class) might like to take a look at the site and see if a project interests you to do at home with your children.

Cedar Grove student artwork on display at the School Board Office

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good goings on

I guess that title might not be the best gramatically, but it does describe much of today. I had to be away this after for a meeting with other administrators in the district, so I got as much out of the morning as possible with the students and teachers.

One of the things that happens on an occasional basis, and I have noted it before, is the buddy programmes where older students work with younger students.

After recess the intermediate students "platoon" for math. That means the math instruction is not necessarily taught by their regular classroom teacher, instead they will move to be in a more homogeneous group for instruction.
Every so often the older students will take their skills into a primary class to work with the teacher there. Today, it happened with Ms. Webb's class and her little ones. The older students have a chance to model and today's work was with cuisenaire rods and other counting/grouping manipulatives. Although it was very "busy" in the class at the time I was visiting, I could sense that the older children were really enjoying working with the younger ones.

It was an outside day today despite the bit of drizzle and these students wanted me to take a photo of their solution for keeping the dampness off their heads. Sometimes our students can be so creative.

I sent home an email invitation to you today to attend, if you wish, our Remembrance Day assembly tomorrow at 11:00. We will begin with Oh! Canada from our Grade 7 band and hear a poetry recitation from Mr. Williams class. One of our Grade 7 boys will play Taps as well. I hope our guests from the Legion feel the respect we have for them and their contributions to get us as a Nation to the place we are today.

Finally, please remember there is no school on Friday and when we come back on Monday, the photo company will be here to take retakes for those wishing them.

Until tomorrow...