Friday, February 3, 2012

Adios Amigos

 I know many of you have read my email today letting you know that this is my last day in for Mr. Hunt.

I will very much miss the students and staff, but I know that with a grand daughter at Cedar Grove I will have some good excuse to come into the school at some time and join the parents and other grand parents who get into the school to volunteer and contribute to the school in that way.

I expressed in the note home how much I feel that you have a great school for your children to attend and I know a lot of that is a direct consequence of how you as families work so hard to support Cedar Grove in so many ways.

Mr. McGowan knows the school well and it won't take him much time to get to know you.

In my meeting with him today as part of the transition, I strongly pointed out that in my almost 100 days at the school, I have a scant 6 entries in my behaviour file, and none of those are duplicate student entries. Yes, I work with students weekly on behaviour issues, but they are relatively minor and I can happily say that there are so many interesting and creative things happening that occupy the majority of my attention.

I guess this will be my last blog entry and I want to thank you for reading.

Friday art comes from Ms. Andersen's class
and the great paper mache masks they are building

See you around ...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Family Literacy Day

From every bit of feedback our Family Literacy Day today was a huge success.

Staff members worked on the organization for the morning and parents provided delicious baked goods. Children brought their reading skills to the forefront and many wore PJs or costumes. I'm told the turnout was the highest number in years. Thanks for your support!

This slideshow is from some of the photos I took, but I have many more I haven't yet gone through from Mrs. Sammartino, Mrs. Webb, and Ms. Corbo.

The grade 6 and 7 boys played the "big guys" from Roberts Creek this afternoon. The game was fast! Although the Creek won the day, I could see a lot of athletic promise from our boys who are under the direction of Mr. Williams. There were lots of points scored by both teams and our team was gracious in defeat... something I know that is taught to them as being good team members. They have a good number of games remaining in the season and then the full day tourney at the end of March.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not much time

I didn't get any really extended time to be in the classes today with a lot of administration stuff going on, including the continuing administration of the FSA to the grade 4s and 7s. My original schedule is jumbled up a bit because of different events that must take priority such as Ms. Haavisto coming today to work with the classes. Today in her presentations she got to use one of our two, new document cameras that the PAC so graciously donated for the students to use. It is a great device and will get a lot of use. One is for the primary classes to share and the other is for Mr. Pond's class and that will complete the intermediate students having one available for use in each classroom.

Tomorrow morning we have our Family Literacy day and the day begins at 8 am in the gym with families invited to grab a snack and read with the children. I know some will be dressed up for the day and some will come in pyjamas and some will just come and read. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it is to come and share some of your time with us. I'll just give a hint that I will be dressed as a character with the initials CU :)

I posted the minutes for the January meeting of PAC on the website today and you can click on the link to get them from here as well.

One of the Science displays outside Mrs Andersen
and Ms. Krannenberg's room
Looking forward to tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quite a day

It was quite a day from start to finish.

My first task of the day was to administer the Foundation Skills Assessment to the grade 7s and that went along reasonably well with only a few hickups and a need for a couple of students to deal with some freezing.

After recess, it was the grade 4s turn for the first assessment and of course they are new to this type of assessment and so the directions and startup was interesting :). Then it happened... it seems that Eastlink our internet provider for the district was doing some routine maintenance in the area and the internet went down. The students were about half complete so we will pick up from where they left off on another day.

Lunchtime we had our first inside day since I have been here... a full inside day and the supervisors had their work cut out for them today with a number of students wishing for a larger place to play than the classrooms.

An assembly after lunch featured the band, Mr. Williams poetry reciting class, my "What's January been like for me" slideshow, and a video from Ms. McAllister's class thanking one of our grade 7 students for the kindness he has shown them by building hockey sticks for them.

And, after school... it was off to Gibsons Elementary for our Grade 6/7 Girls first real basketball game of the season. We played two 20 minute games and were victorious in both. We haven't begun positional play and accurate positions yet so it was kind of funny when the other team talked about taking their checks. We don't quite have that yet.

Back at it tomorrow...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back at it

We were back at it today with lots of interesting things going on at the school. One thing I like about Mondays is having the opportunity to see our "Monday" teachers at work. Ms. Krannenberg has a chance to do Science with the grade 7s and she has, of course, to be conscious of the fact that she shares only one day a week with them. They continue their work on the water cycle and other related factors. They have started a project on composting, and we talked about how this will go in class (it would be nice if we could have an out of class compost) for the next four weeks. It should be fun to watch.

If your curiosity is raised at all by this photo, you will need to drop by our assembly tomorrow afternoon to see what it is all about. Ms. McAllister's class will have something in media form to tell us about it.

As well, on the agenda is a band number being performed by our students. Ms. Leander has been working in class this past month to get them ready for tomorrow's performance. The assembly is at 1 pm in the gym.

Our senior girls basketball team has their first game of the season tomorrow afternoon after school at Gibsons Elementary School. They are pretty excited about this match since the one scheduled with Roberts Creek last week did not come to pass as the Creek was not quite ready with their team. Our senior boys played last week in Langdale and from all reports had a great visit. Our junior teams start playing next week.

I wish we could enter our Library couch in the Ugliest Couch of the Coast contest
but I would have to move it into my home for it to qualify. We are putting aside
some funds to get it replaced, though.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Another great Friday

Another great Friday watching some of the week-ending activities going on. A few weeks ago I taught some of the grade 7 students a great game from my past, Liar's Dice. I love the game for many reasons, but one that applies to student's at this level of their curriculum is that it is a fun introduction to examining probability.

It is also an easy game to play at home at almost any age, so I encourage you to do so.

Is this a great class... one of the best grade 7 classes ever?
I worked with some classes on the computer today, but not specifically Ms. McAllister's.

What a treat to hear that the students in her class were taking a look at the writing blog, reading my comments on their comments, and writing back to me.

Again... I know they are young and I don't have high expectations for their "mechanics" but it does thrill me that they have an interest in using the computers for productivity purposes. I did visit their classroom to go over things with them and to let them know that the access to that site is not only by a computer in the COW (Computers on Wheels) but is also available by going to the site from any computer connected to the internet.

Friday Artwork - Evergreen Trees in Winter

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

So much fun

I posted a note on my Twitter feed this morning asking the world out there that if any of them were substitute teachers looking for employment, move to the Sunshine Coast and apply for a job. I wasn't being facetious, as today was another day the District ran short of subs and I had the responsibility to step in for Mrs. Corbo to do her classes for the day. But, what fun it was as I got to work with most of the primary students, Mr. Pond's grade 4s and Ms. Thompson's grade 5s.

I feel a bit sorry for Ms. Corbo because as techy as I am, I could not figure out the password for our wonderful library computer, so had to take back books without signing them in and sign out books the old fashion manual way. I'll see if I can get that addressed before she returns next week.

Maybe the good thing is that I was the kind of substitute that didn't follow the day plan - and she had an excellent plan - so hopefully she won't have to prepare as much for her next class. One thing I did with some of the students was to have them work on a blog I have created called CGEWriting. I have actually worked with Ms. McAllister's class on that blog site last week and while we had some technical difficulties with their initial posts not working, some students took another go at it with me last week and got it working fine. The concept behind the blog is that I provide an image and a question and the students brainstorm some ideas and do some writing. Now, these are pretty young students so the volume of writing isn't there and though there is a lot of questioning about spelling, their entries are a bit rough... but not bad for grade 2 through 4. I plan to take this idea forward to some of the upper intermediates by having them look at the comments made by the students and find a reading buddy to reply to. We'll see how things go with that. Of course you parents might like to find a student comment to reply to as well. Just click on this link, and you are there.

Mrs. Sammartino had a visitor in her classroom between recess and lunch. Dianne Sanford brought along some salmon eggs and did a talk for the students, one which captivated their attention.

This is one of the photos she sent me and more of her photos will be a part of my January slideshow for the students at our assembly on January 31 at 1:00 pm. Of course all parents are invited to attend that event and the band will be playing as well.

Now, if this photo looks a bit staged, it was. But I must tell you it was based on reality. As I was coming in from the playground I happened to notice these grade 6 girls walking hand in hand with some younger ones. Of course they were having a fun time of lifting the children off the ground. I had my camera (of course) and asked if they might restage their coming in party.

Just another example of what a large group of delightfully kind students we have here at the school.

Tomorrow I get another chance to work with the K and K/1 class introducing them to the laptops. I made a comment last night to some folks about what a difference there is in totally finger controlled work that is done with an iPad (or other tablet) and how much more complex it is to work with a keypad one the laptops. Oh to have the funds in place to acquire some iPads for the primary students...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Camel days and goodbyes

When you think of the school year, you think of a long period with a number of days. But in every year there is a camel analogy ... hump day, and for at least one class in our school today was that day.

Can you tell why from the photo? I was in this class on Monday this week and noticed during the calendar session that the students had been in session for 69 days and had 73 days to go. The counting of these days with place-value grouping and recording told me that this Wednesday was going to be a very special day and here is the proof.

This week our school says good-bye to a teacher who has been with us since the beginning of the year. On Monday, Mr. Thorburn will join the staff of Kinnikinnick school to continue his work on the FastForword programme with students there. From my observations of the work the students have done with the programme it is of exceptional value and we were fortunate to have a significant number of students work with him. Many parents who have met with Mr. Thorburn understand the value for their children in the area of reading both from a comprehension perspective and also from an oral reading perspective.

 And although not a final good-bye by any means, those in attendance at tonight's PAC meeting were given the news that our co-chairs, Heidi Riggs and Angela Sears are stepping down. The PAC is looking for a new chairperson(s) and there will be information on the PAC board near the office. People at the meeting thanked the ladies for the time they have devoted to lead our many volunteers with great enthusiasm. The ladies did say that they were not "out of PAC" but felt this was a good time for a leadership change over as things are running along smoothly and they would be here for some time (Angela has a child in grade 6, and Heidi one in 7 and two in 4) to help mentor those who wish to step forward. From my perspective, though I will miss my interactions with them in the PAC sense, I think they are doing this a good way, rather than wait for the end of the year, leaving the new leaders to try to learn over the summer. I encourage any of you reading this and thinking you might be the one to get involved in this way to connect with Angela or Heidi. And, I add my thanks to the way they have kept things on track this year.

Off to relax a bit ... see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Numeracy and Arts

I just got home from the DPAC meeting and I'll try to give as much information from it as I can at our PAC meeting tomorrow night. There was an excellent presentation from Kirsten Deasy about the early learning programmes in our school district and some statistics that show over the years how much the programme has meant to the readiness of our children, district wide, for kindergarten.

Which leads me to today's numeracy observations in Mrs. Morris' class as I did both observations and did some teaching with a group of kindergarten children making number sentences.

Here you see some pipe cleaners and coloured beads which the children threaded onto the pipe cleaners.

And here is a short video of one minute of the time I worked with my group:

As you can see they came up with a number of different stories for 8. One student even did a number story for 8 and 0 is 8. Imagine that!

In the afternoon I visited Mrs. Leander's class and sat in on both the band classes ... grade 7 and grade 6.
Now, for the audio portion of this blog entry, a little snippet from the grade 6s. You can hear the whole band at our upcoming assembly.

See you in the am... 

Monday, January 23, 2012


There aren't too many places within 50km of us where there are schools that can say they have a lot of wildlife within the arm throw of a good second baseman.
And, no, these students did not see a cougar near by the school. We did get a report of one having been seen about 30 minutes before the recess break, so we gave a call to the conservation officer to see what, if anything, they had heard. The report was news - at the time - to them and so I went to look around the area where the cougar had been reported.  The sighting was across the street from the school at the bus stop. I could see nothing at that time, so made the decision not to have the students go out for recess.
A bit later, I went to look again and met up with an RCMP officer who had been called by the conservation officer and who came to take a look himself. We had a good conversation about the wildlife sightings in the area, including cougars further up the coast and out Port Mellon way. At lunch there had been no further reports of sightings, so I opened up the play area for the students to enjoy the fresh air along with a reminder to remain in bounds and in sight.
You should also have received an email from me with a two page document regarding being cougar aware from the conservation officer.

Today I watched Mr. Pond's class work with fractions. Most of the students were breaking printed shapes into quarters, halves, and eighths, colouring in the required fraction. One student was working with a computer based math program for which we purchased a license this year. He was doing his work with the software on the laptop. Off to the grade seven class where Ms. Krannenburg was working with the students on an introduction to circle graphs, breaking the circle into percent areas ... a clear extension of the work done years earlier as they were introduced to fractions. Nice to see the progression in learning.

I'll leave you tonight with a bit of humour... not mine, but one of the students. You can double click on the image to get it in a larger size to see what I saw this morning in the sign-in book.

Until tomorrow...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gotta love it

You know, Fridays are a special kind of day at school. Yes, the children and the staff are looking forward to the weekend. And, yes, there are academic endeavors throughout the day. We still platoon for our math, we still do reading and writing, but it seems a lot more art and lower key curriculum is covered.

Plus, I get to teach two classes of Kindergarten and Grade one children on the computers... talk about active, engaged learners.

These are a couple of photos of the grade fours doing math related games.

I know a lot of you play games with your children and they are so great for basic math skills as well as problem solving.

I love the game Yahtzee and was happy when some of the students allowed me to play with them today. I wasn't the winner of the game by any means, but it was good to teach them how to play and to strategize.

It is funny that I cooked some turkey at home and today brought my lunch to school for the first time in a while. I was setting up the computers in the library for working with the classes after lunch, when in walked one of my good buddies from the Sunshine programme who offered me some of the sushi they had made in class.

Let me say it was delicious! Thanks to Ms. Wiltse for the work she does with these students.

I don't know if you can read the caption on this photo.

Okay, I kind of goofed up.

There is a display of Snowy Owls up on a display in one of the hallways and when I was looking at this one with one of the grade 7s he said, "Look at this owl, kind of an angry bird."

Friday art - Snowy Owls by the students in Division 3

Have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing and Numbers

It was fun watching some of the kindergarten children "playing" with numbers today. They were using some modeling clay to make the digits and some were combining the digits together to make larger numbers. As I talked with them I noticed that some had the numbers written backwards, as often happens when learning the letters and numbers, so it was interesting to see them make comparisons of the shapes with their number lines. Here is a little movie I made of one of the students constructing a number for me to see:

Later, I had a chance to sit in on a lesson being taught in Mrs. Chambers class by one of our district staff members, Bev Craig. Bev is the Literacy support teacher for the district and she does sample lessons, gathers data through assessments, collects and shares and offers us the opportunity to purchase good language arts materials.

And it was off to the library where our librarian, Ms. Corbo also works with classes on the writing process which is one of our school goals this year.

Is tomorrow already Friday?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Busy Day

Mrs. Chambers sent me a copy of her January newsletter home and amongst all the good information in it was the identification of some of the topics she plans to cover with the class over the next while.

Families is one that she is working on with the grade ones and when I visited the class today, the students were working alone and in small groups - depending on the task - to collect information and write about some of the things a family needs. Students used different print resources to look for ideas and, in some cases, to cut out images they could use to go with their "written" work.

Students were actively engaged in their projects and it was a pleasure to see.

The snow was coming down today and the grade sevens wanted to follow up on a discussion I had with some of them on Tuesday about throwing snowballs. I had talked to them about my concerns about safety and also about modeling good behaviour for the younger students. They took my concerns politely on Monday and today presented some arguments to Mrs. Andersen. Using the "teachable moment", Mrs. Andersen gave them an assignment consistent one of their learning outcomes in Language Arts ... to write a persuasive argument. And they presented me with their arguments, ones which I will consider and then take into a class discussion, probably on Friday. It might be a good debate.

Later this afternoon I was in the grade seven class again and saw two different group presentations. One was a rap (which I had videoed the first draft of a couple of weeks ago) as a "public service message" on what a student can do if they are not comfortable at school and included some advice to victims of bullies.

The second group presentation I listened to was from three students who had gathered data and talked about peer pressure, both from a positive perspective and from a negative perspective. They had done a good job and were well prepared to answer some very good questions from their classmates.

Today was the kind of day that has me walking home with a smile. Good teaching and good quality work from grade one through to grade seven.

Now to think about my counter points for the upcoming snowball meeting...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In the classroom

Of course I am in the classroom(s) as much as practically possible, but this afternoon was a bit different. The school district ran short of substitute teachers and Ms. McAllister was off on a medical leave with no substitutes available to replace her for the afternoon. So... over to me. I had a pretty enjoyable afternoon with the students, but as you might imagine with a class of grade twos and threes, I didn't take the time to take photos.

I do have a little project in mind for this class that involves photos and a video, but that will be later.

In the morning I was in another class and one of the students had a small lunch baggie with some snow she had collected outside. I asked the question, what is the temperature of the snow? I didn't know the answer myself and after thinking could it be warmer or colder than the ground temperature outside we decided to find out. Actually, I thought the snow would be 0*, but I was wrong.

Using the thermometer outside Mr. Williams room it was determined that the temperature was -3*. Measuring the temperature of the snow in the baggie, it was -4*. Is the data accurate? Is a degree difference significant? Were our eyes correct in noting the temperatures? What can we find at Wikipedia about the temperature of snow? Nothing it seems. What other places could we look for the data? Is this part of the curriculum, or simply inquiry based learning? Are there similar things you could do at home after school or on the weekends to support this kind of questioning... just a few thoughts.

The news is out... well, posted in the hallway at school.

The Campbell's Promotion collected 1559 eligible labels.

Mrs Chambers class collected the most and will receive their free pizza day this

Children will be encouraged to watch for the new collection bags to arrive in the classes for our next contest which will end on May 15th.

Thank you, Susan Goddard - Label Counter Extraordinaire :)

Basketball practice kicks off the morning tomorrow. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Energy Cycle

I observed the grade 7 class today doing some science work flow charting the energy cycle. There was some good information being shared and some good questions from the students. Here the students are modeling how energy starts at the sun and flows through ecosystems.

One of the students is putting her notes together. The students had an opportunity to make their flow charts either in written form (within the chart) or as graphical icons in the chart.

And, outside? Here are some student putting their energy into use...

Back at it tomorrow!

Oh yes, I do know which class won the Campbell Soup label contest for the first part of the year, but I'm not telling right now. Watch this space for details later in the week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First years

I got to spend some good time with our two Kindergarten classes today. It is wonderful watching them develop over the 3 plus months I have been here. Today, the classes had their "Friday" teachers in the classroom, Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Reid.

Although I did see lots of literacy and play, I also enjoyed watching some math related activities - greater than/less than in one class and measurement in another.

I also have started working directly with these classes on the computers this month. The two lessons so far have focused on how to use the keypad and clicker to select options, drag and drop and today making dot drawings. We also delved into some exploring of other options within the KidPix program. We'll do this for another week or two, and then extend ourselves into something else to add new skills.

Friday art ... the beginnings of paper mache construction
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Positive day all round

I guess if I had to be away from school today, I couldn't have asked for a much nicer day to be on the ferry to Vancouver.

Checking my email while I was gone gave me the kind of information I expected. Mr. Williams had nothing of importance to tell me about issues with students. Just what I thought would be the case. I managed to get some reading done on the ferry and looked at some interesting education websites I can share in the next while.

Tomorrow, I get to teach the Ks again and follow on with our introduction to movement on the laptops. It should be fun!

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Aboriginal Education

 I watched some of the work being done today by our aboriginal education teacher with the students in Ms. McAllister's class.

She had pieces of drift wood that the students used to envision animals and to paint.

It is a very interesting project and the students enjoyed having me guess what animals they were making or to tell me a bit of a story about them.

Thanks Ms. Haavisto for the work you do with our students in this important part of their learning.

After lunch I drove to Sechelt for a meeting with the Superintendent, other members of District staff, and my fellow principals. I knew it was going to be a long meeting and so I stopped at the pier in Davis Bay to catch my breath a bit and take in some what living here on the Sunshine Coast has to offer us.

As I looked around on the dock, my mind wandered back to what I had seen earlier in the day.

Things are good...