Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Our Library

Mrs. Mahussier was sick for a bit and I took the kids to the library a couple of times while she was absent. She's back and feeling better so we had library with her today. You know that moment when you see something that you have seen a hundred times, but see it for the 'first time' in a new way? I was standing there while she was introducing some of the new books and an easier way of checking them out when I was struck by how she is a wonderful librarian...

In that moment I had a new appreciation for our book collection, the delightful space that has been created so kids can enjoy reading, and most of all how Mrs. Mahussier is so inviting - she welcomes the children into the world of books. I felt like I could spend hours lost in the enjoyment of the amazing selection of stories in that room. Stories of adventures and heroes, of baking delicious cookies and of a cat who loves lasagna, of saints and mice, of the discovery of ancient cities and the invention of the airplane - that's what the room is filled with and I am grateful that our kids have the chance to read about them all.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Students are Bloggers!

The students wrote their first posts on Kidblog this past Friday. Check them out here.

A maxim we often mention in class is that 'learning takes time and patience': definitely enjoy their writing now but also know that the students are beginning the journey of learning how to express themselves in this medium. As their 'digital writing coach' I realize that it takes practice in the various aspects that make up effective writing, meaning, form, style and conventions, before writing becomes clear, focused and developed with a sense of the uniqueness of the individual.

You will notice that I have not edited their work. This is just where they are right now as writers - it will be rewarding for them to see their progress from today to June as they learn about punctuation, capitalization, organization and sequence, connecting words, etc. Stay tuned: the students will be blogging most Fridays this year!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Computer Science?

Yes, computer science - it's not just about technology and it is all about preparing students for the world we live in: creativity, problem-solving, programming, algorithms.  No matter what God is calling them to be and do, our children will need to know something about how these ubiquitous computers work. We set aside about an hour a week for coding (and blogging) using 

It's game-based learning that's clearly focused on achieving a set of goals. They have a very well thought-through statement of their goals for the program here if you're interesting in finding out more: 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

In Wonder and Awe of Our Common Home

Golden Ears Provincial Park at the end of the summer is a beautiful place: the weather is still sunny and warm, the leaves are just beginning to change color, and the water is cool enough to cause a quick intake of breath when someone has a misstep and ends up standing in the creek. Actually, we all had plenty of fun playing in the creek, and why not - it was crystal clear and the many rocks were inviting. There is something about water, rocks and kids that is so natural...

All in all, our hike on the Lower Falls Trail was a great way to start off our year (imagine, a field trip in the first week of school!). Thanks again to all of the parents who came, drove, supervised, and were with us to experience God's wonderful creation in nature.

I can't wait for our next adventure...

Monday, 12 September 2016


Putting aside for the moment discussions of spelling in a technology enhanced learning environment... we are starting the year with 'old school' weekly spelling lists and tests. 
  • Each student is in one of five spelling groups (his/her 'just-right' level).
  • Each group has its own list of 10 words. 

What is a student to do with these 10 words?

Study them. Write them out. Memorize them. Look them up. Mull over the words. Figure them out with the following questions:
  1. Is it a word made up of more than one syllable? 
  2. If so, what are syllable 'pieces'?
  3. If there is an 'e' on the end, why is it there?
  4. What is the meaning of the word?
  5. How is it used in a sentence?
Usually, the words for the week will be copied down on Monday and the test will be on Friday. What will that test look like? Students will:
  1. Spell the word correctly breaking it into its syllable parts if need be
  2. Mark it with a number (the reason) if it has a silent final 'e'
  3. Write a sentence using the one word I choose from the list to finish the test
Looking forward to the students using these new-found words in their writing and conversations! :)

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!

Friday was our first S.T.E.A.M. session of the year. What exactly is S.T.E.A.M.?

"STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!" -

It felt great to present the materials to the students for each of the five centers; their energy and enthusiasm was palpable! Needless to say, we got started right away...

SCIENCE with LittleBits - electronic building blocks

TECHNOLOGY with Moss Robotics - modular robotics

ENGINEERING with KEVA planks - wooden building blocks

ARTS with Destination Imagination - thinking, taking risks, working together

MATHEMATICS with manipulatives - hands-on math concepts and skills

For this 'rotation' each team has the opportunity to work with a set of materials for two weeks before going on to the next center. It is a great introduction to innovative thinking and design... meaningful and fulfilling work :)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Care for Our Common Home

"Laudato si' mi' Signore" - "Praise to You, my Lord". 

With those words Pope Francis opened his encyclical 'On Care for Our Common Home'. That's our school theme for this year and one that Grade 4 has enthusiastically embraced. In fact, we were able to get started on the very first day of school....

A number of parents were raking up the recently mowed field so I asked if we could help them. Thankfully they said 'yes', and we happily spent some time giving them a hand. It was a great way of living out our theme in the moment right here in our own 'backyard'.