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I'm beginning to worry that I'm a bit of a pessimist.

Or, possibly, I saw too much of myself in the article I just read, but at the same time am having trouble releasing the power involved in wanting to fix situations.

Or maybe I'm just a little disillusioned with the idea of finding people willing to volunteer their time in any organized way.

Except, I know people do. But I also know how often it is a struggle to get people to step up, and how people end up burned out because they end up taking on so much to compensate, because of how much they believe in what they do.

Block's certainly correct on that part... engagement in real change is a self-inflicted wound. You have to buy in, and you have to commit, and there's a cost. There's always a cost.

Block's book was talking about how, to foster real change, building a sense of community is important, and that in order to do so, we need to stop looking for solutions. That we need to worry more about the questions being asked, and not on answers. That we need to build community, because from that community comes those committed to change.

And through the chapters I read, I found myself wondering how it applies to me. How that affects my classroom community and my ability to accomplish the very precise task appointed to me (and also in my role as president of myPITA, with the requirements that myPITA complete certain complex tasks within a finite timeframe, how this viewpoint works in my current world.)

Because it comes down to time. I understand why people don't volunteer to step up and take things on. Hell, I have stepped back from volunteer opportunities, as I just didn't have the time to accomplish them and still maintain anything remotely resembling a work-life balance. I get teachers who are feeling too frazzled to do more than collapse when they get home in the evening. As Block says, we have to trust that there are good reasons why people aren't stepping forward to accept invitations to volunteer.

It still leaves too few people doing too much in the volunteer field.

One thing that I did like about the article was the commentary on how to frame questions. Say "what do you plan to get from this session" rather than "what do you hope you will get" and "what do you think you will get". The first requires active engagement from the participant; they are required to acknowledge that they have a part to play in what is to come. The other two questions are regarding wanting or predicting, both of which allow for the participant to sit back and see what happens.

I like that; I'll probably end up trying to use it in my classroom.
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One of the challenges we face in forming community is how we deal with community members who have a dissenting voice, who disagree with or challenge the underlying tenets or the surface details of the community. This is how communities evolve, and our reaction to that dissent is an important part of community.

And this is where I find things significantly challenging as a teacher. We are teaching inclusion. We are teaching diversity. We are teaching freedom of personal expressions of self and soul to help build cared for, confident children who, hopefully, have fewer issues later on from having to depress and repress fundamental aspects of their identity. We are teaching personal and societal responsibility.

I am passionately committed to those beliefs.

Many of the parents in my school community are much less so.

This leads to tension between school and home, because I am actively teaching that it is normal and okay to be gay, lesbian, queer, questioning, transgendered, bisexual. That Canada celebrates this diversity and legally protects their right to be so. The message they may be getting from their homes and their churches may be in direct conflict to this.

With the kids, I can handle it easily enough. I tell them that some religions have laws or beliefs in place that believe that it is sinful to be these things, and that people are free to believe that if that is what they wish to believe, but that in Canada, by law, people have the right to be themselves in safety and respect. (Yes, I know that's a topic on which people would debate how well that really applies in practice.) It's easy enough to explain to kids; you don't have to understand it, or want it for yourself, but you need to let other people be it without being mean.

The challenge comes with the parents, and their concerns are valid. We are, in fact, on opposing sides. They know the power that a teacher has to shape the opinions of students (just as we know how influential a parent is on the opinions of their child). To them, we are deliberately telling their child something dangerous to their soul is okay. That level of dissent is highly problematic; a child's safety is involved (and both sides think so!) and it is a direct conflict of ideologies.

How do we build community over such a fundamental division of belief? I guess that, in absence of agreement in that area, we have to focus on those areas in which we do believe. The vast majority of parents want what is best for their child. They want their child happy, successful, and thriving. They want them to have friends and do well at school. They want parenting to be easier and family relationships to be smooth. That is what their teacher wants as well, so it's a pretty large area where we will agree.

At the meet the teacher interviews in the fall, I always start out by addressing some of the common areas of concern among my parent population; the math curriculum in a split class and the fact that I don't give very much homework. (25 minutes of reading and 5-10 minutes of french practice a night, but otherwise I try and give time to get work done in-class if kids use their time well.) This is always a bit of a shock for some of our parents, who often come from Asia where hours of homework a night is very common. I explain my reasoning behind minimal homework, and from the response given I can often gauge the reason parents want homework for their child. If it is to promote good work habits and responsibility, I go over how my class structure encourages that, as does my policy of students using their planner as a checklist to indicate having completed their tasks. If it is because they want their child to do well in school, we take a quick look at their initial assessment score numbers and see if extra practice in any area is justified.

The power dynamic between teacher and parent is an interesting one. Some parents are comfortable talking to the teacher about areas of concern. For other parents, there are a number of barriers in the way of having those conversations. Some are the standard gamut of human anxiety responses: fear of being judged, fear of confrontation, concern regarding the 'right' way to address things, uncertainty of ones own position. Some are more personal to the person's lived experience: their previous experience at school, their socio-economic status, their personal history with various forms of abuse, their physical and mental health. Finally, there's also the cultural factor. Depending on how and where you were raised, teachers are seen as anywhere from unquestioned oracles to perpetrators of oppression and disinformation.

How do we overcome those barriers?

I'm inclined to believe the answer is to be open to communication and to invite it wherever you can. To listen carefully to the person talking and to think about what the underlying needs or concerns they are expressing are, rather than just the surface of the question.

A simple answer, in many respects... and yet one that takes massive investments of time and energy. At what point does building community with our parents outweigh the need to actually teach the kids? The problem, sometimes, is that teaching has so many priorities. Everything is a priority.

How do we do it without totally burning ourselves out?
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In the readings we've done in the past few weeks, we've been exploring the idea of community, how it is developed, and how we can promote it. Last week, my table mates and I came up with a one sentence definition of community that did a reasonable job of encapsulating our understanding of community.

"Community is the dynamic interplay of relationships that accrete around a common foundation."

The consensus in our readings is that community evolves around something that is shared; a shared vision, a perceived similarity, a shared space, a common goal, a shared religion or history, a shared activity. This cohesion building around shared experience means that we are members of many communities in our lives, which have varying degrees of impact on us. Communities also grow and alter based on external and internal stimuli and how the individuals in the community react to it.

So how do we, in our attempts to create community, do so in our classrooms and our cities where people come from a variety of cultures, speak different languages, have different backgrounds, bring different values and priorities, have a variety of histories and lived experience, and who value/exhibit a variety of social norms?

Is it any surprise that, faced with such blatant differences, some people choose to try and find community by focusing on the promised community of exclusion? Because community comes with a light side and a dark side. Gangs offer that sense of community. So do the various isolationist movements around the world and many of the evangelical ones as well. When the sense of difference comes with a sense of superiority, community runs the risk of becoming a negative force.

As it relates to our schools, however, every school I have been a part of has been working hard at fostering community. All of them have worked to try and foster that sense of community in the same way. Community is fostered when multiple people work together with a common vision, a shared set of values, and perceived similarities. We work, then, to develop that shared vision, those common values, and increase the perception of similarity.

In short, we try to develop community through an ethos of kindness, inclusion, and the celebration of diversity. We work to help students perceive their similarities with each other by focusing on the underlying similarities of the human condition. And we work on encouraging the development of the social covenants that provide the school with an ethical framework in which to develop that community.
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Going to try and get back into the habit of journaling here. So much interaction takes place on FB nowadays, but for the post-bac diploma course I'm doing, they are highly recommending daily journaling about our practice.

So... going to rev this thing up again.

Had my first session on Thursday. It was largely a "getting to know you" type of session, but it also started to delve into the idea of reflection as a deeply important part of improving our practice.

One thing that I'd noticed a while ago, but hadn't really pushed to reality, was that I used to do a lot of my reflecting and reviewing of my day on my way too and from work. Those half hours where I was driving home were used to sort through and replay scenarios and try and make sense of them, tweak them, or plan for further action.

More recently, I've been listening to books on tape too and from work. It's been the only way I get new novels in, in recent years. But, it is a way to escape from thinking any more on my class/day. And, with last year being quite so draining, by the end of the day I needed to turn my brain off. However, I think my story-time will have to be curtailed for the next couple of years. I have a fair bit of thinking I have to do.

Never enough time in the day.
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It has taken me more years than I care to think on to finish, but I have now officially completed my Edwardian Lady.

Go me, or something!

Next up: washing, blocking, and pressing it, then waiting for Michaels to have a custom framing sale. :-)

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I love when my husband gets locked on to a coding problem and then pokes at the code until it works properly. When he becomes a diagnostician, searching out the faulty code and seeing what others have missed to make it work.

And there is something incredibly satisfying when he's emailed someone about their online ordering not working, they come back with "fixed, please try again!", it still doesn't work, and then he pops the hood and starts rummaging around in their source code, finds the error, copies the chunk of code, highlights the problem, and sends it to them with a recommended fix. Done with diplomacy and an aura of helpfulness in the emails.

It took him less than 5 minutes to parse the code and find the problem.

Competence and helpfulness are damned sexy.
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So, my son has been researching, world building, and writing original Fan Fiction for Star Wars. And, for a 9 yr old, he is damn good. I added (only a little) punctuation, and taught him about how to add paragraph breaks for dialogue, but otherwise, this is all him.

STAR WARS

The clone wars


Clone Perspective



CHAPTER 1



XN-22242 (nicknamed “Twos”) hid behind cover while red blaster bolts flew above him. Meanwhile XN-27811 (nicknamed ”Hectic” for his hectic personality) ducked out of cover shot a couple of shots at the approaching battle droids then went back behind cover. Across from them, were XN-87881 (nicknamed “Bouncer” for his his tendency to bounce a little when not in combat) and XN-19057 (nicknamed “Hit” for his tendency to hit targets with good aim). All of these clone cadets were merely in a training program designed to train them to fight Count Dooku and his droid armies.

“This is our last training test we have to do good on this one!” Hit yelled over the incoming blaster fire. All the cadets nodded in agreement.

“New orders incoming,” Bouncer yelled.

“Move up to flag position in X formation,” a robotic voice said.

All the cadets followed the orders in absolute union, Twos in top left, Hectic in bottom left, Hit in top right, Bouncer in bottom right, each of them covering each others backs. As they moved up, they hid behind cover then moved up again in the same formation. Suddenly, two platforms rose from the ground on either side of them. On those platforms, there were two Super Battle Droids. Bouncer raised his blaster and shot at them just before the Super Battle Droids could raise their arm blasters and shoot at the clones.

“I see the flag, it’s on that hill!” Hit yelled, pointing.

They moved toward the flag together, dodging blaster fire as they ran. Once he was close enough, Hectic leaped at the flag. His hands clasped it as he hit the metal ground with a thud.

“YES!” Twos hooted. They walked back to the lift that brought them to the barracks.

“WoW” Hit said practically speechless

“Don't celebrate just yet guys we still have the test to do” Bouncer said

“You really think we won't succeed the test” Hectic asked

“Well you don't know till you try Hectic” Bouncer said

“Whoa whoa don't argue guys” Twos said trying to stop the argument.


Chapter 2



THE NEXT DAY…



“Its time for the test guys” Hectic said hyped.

“Oh my gosh I'm hyped” Bouncer said. They walked into hanger bay 7 and in the middle of the hanger stood a dark blue striped clone ARC trooper (advanced recon commandos).

“Ah your early” the ARC trooper said

“Well we were a little hyped, well by a little I mean really hyped” Bouncer said smiling.

“My name is CT-22798 otherwise known as…” All the clones heard a sliding sound as 3 other squads entered the large hanger bay. “Hello clone squads, my identification number is CT-22798, but I'm referred to as Echo. Me and my friend Fives are both 3rd in command in the 501st legion. I'm gonna be supervising your final test to see if you become clone troopers or maintenance clones,” Echo said. “Alright FORM UP BOYS” Echo shouts making all clones jump and scrabble into formation.

“SIR YES SIR!” all the clone troopers said while jumping to a salute. Echo smiled,

“Alright your group” he points at Twos’ group. Hectic jumped with excitement

“Lets go guys!” Hectic said hyped. The clones were on the starting zone of the test Twos had a medic pack on his back. They were completely silent then in unison they loaded their blasters

“3…2…1 RELEASED!!!!!” a robotic voice said. The clones pushed forward and hid behind cover, shot the droids at another cover position and then moved up.

“Blast em!” Bouncer yelled. The clones sprinted up towards cover. Then out of nowhere a commando droid tackled and shot Hectic. Twos shot the droid.

“Nooooo Hectic!” Twos screamed “Form a cover shield!” Twos yelled over the blaster fire the clones ran and formed a cover shield while Twos pulled the medic pack off his back. Hectic groaned in pain while Twos patched him up. Once Hectic got patched up, the clones this time back to back ran up towards the main tower where the flag was. Hit, once at the base of the tower, took his grapple hook from his utility belt and shot it to the top of the tower. All the other clones did the same. After that all the clones took cover at the top of the tower. Then, from in front of the flag, a platform rose about a foot above the ground. On it was a droidika which activated its shield and started blasting the clones. Hit grabbed a droid popper (aka EMP grenade). The droid popper rolled into the droideka’s shield and deactivated the droidika. Bouncer then ran and lifted the flag above his head and cheered. All the droids in the training facility shut down and the tower started to retract into the ground.

Echo smiled when Twos squad entered the observation deck “Congratulations cadets you are officially clone troopers. You are being assigned to the planet Del Tharar and aiding the 212th battalion.” Echo said.




Chapter 3


3 days later…


Hectic stood on board the cargo hold of a Acclamator class assault ship. “Hey Kipper!” Hectic yelled to the other clone in the hanger

“Yeah, what?” Kipper replied

“I need some help taking this pack of shells to the main cannons” Hectic said

“Okay,” he replied whilst aiding Hectic lift the crate. While walking to the gun deck they past Twos

“Hey Hectic” Twos said as he passed by.

“Hey Twos” Hectic grunted as he passed. Putting the ammo on the gun deck they walked to the cargo hold once again. “All clones in the 7th platoon go down to hanger bay 7 please,” the admiral announced through speakers.

“Lets go then,” Kipper said excited.

“Wait, you’re in the 7th platoon Kipper?”

“Yeah,” he replied

“Oh, cool,” Hectic said surprised. Twos, Bouncer, Hectic and Hit met together in the hanger bay where they partnered up with Kipper’s squad. The members of Kipper’s squad were Tex, Carc, Blax, Tech and, of course, Kipper.

Commander Cody stood in front of the 6 squads. “12 squads, actually, Bouncer thought, but every 2 squads were formed together into one. Wonder what you would call that. Maybe double squad? Yeah,” he thought, “I’ll go with that.”

“Alright boys this platoon is going to the surface, now I want each double squad to find a gunship and get in it !” Cody shouts the clones scramble to find a gunship.

“Yep, I was right,” Bouncer thought smugly, “Double squads.”

Once all the gunships were loaded with clones, Cody stepped into Hectic’s squad ship. After all it only had 9 clones while the rest had 10. The gunships then flew out of the hanger bay, entering space. When the ships entered the planet’s atmosphere, the side doors opened just enough to see out. The ship landed on the ground in a temporary Republic camp. The doors opened fully and the clones stepped out. Waiting for them was general Obi-Wan.

“Good to see you again Cody” Obi-Wan said smiling

“Good to see you as well, general,” Cody replied. The clones started to look at the planet. It was dark on the planet due to the fact that it was night. Around the camp there were lots of thick, flowery trees. The double squad saw red and blue blaster fire in the distance, about a kilometre away.

“Platoon, get some rest. It’s a big day tomorrow!” Obi-Wan shouted to them. The clones went to the sleeping quarters, but Twos, Hit, Bouncer and Hectic couldn't sleep. Hit decided that since he couldn't sleep he would practice his marksmanship skills in the shooting range. Once he got there he saw Commander Cody shooting targets.

“Hello Commander” Hit said as he walked into the shooting range.

“Hello…” Cody said, trying to remember his nickname.

“Hit, sir” Hit says.

“Yes, Hit. There we go. By the way, what are you doing up so late?” Cody asked.

“I couldn't sleep, so I thought I would keep my marksman skills top notch” Hit replied. Cody nodded and turned back to shoot targets Hit walked up to the wall, grabbed a DC-15A blaster rifle, walked up to the line on the ground and started shooting.
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Because once again today the internet is showing the world to be a despicable place, I am going to institute a social media moratorium. I feel a little bad about that, as I have the privilege of being able to turn off my exposure to the ick... but as I have said before, there's little I can do but to keep on doing as I have done. Educate the young in empathy, diversity, and tolerance. Apply kindness and consideration to all I pass, which includes making a special effort to smile at those who are of different skin tones or whose clothes denote a different culture, and to call out racist language, assumptions, and media tropes when I see them, as well as try and identify those illiberal feelings and responses in myself.

So, in response to a feeling of despair, I am going to put productivity on my list today. I haven't done a to do: tah dah! list in a while, so hopefully this will be cathartic.

To Do:

- clean bedroom
- deal with backlogged paperwork

Tah Dah:

- make a cup of tea x 2
- drink a cup of tea x 2 (yes, these must be separate bullets)
- empty dishwasher
- take storage stuff down to car to take to storage locker
- take Rhys to swimming
- wrote a work email
- take down container recycling
- bring Rhys and friend back from swimming
- refill hummingbird feeders
- make bread
- wash laundry x 2
- dry laundry x 3
- cull clothing from closet
- make lunch
- clean up from lunch
- put laundry away x 3
- do science experiments with Rhys and friend
- write strata fee cheques for year
- put away groceries
- run Roomba
- cleaned cat box
- take out greenwaste
- take out garbage
- wash pots and pans
- make dinner
- clean off diningroom table
- make lemon-blueberry loaf
- clean up from dinner
- finish cleaning livingroom
- cross-stitch
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Super proud of my sproglet... he has to find an article to share at calendar time each day this week, and he chose an article on climate change. Both article and his putting it in his own words were in french. He did a very good job for both understanding the article and for putting it in his own words.

Orignal article:

Les conséquences du réchauffement climatique

Tu as sans doute déjà entendu parler des changements qui affectent le climat de la Terre.

Depuis plusieurs décennies, on observe une augmentation de la température des océans et de l’atmosphère. Les scientifiques attribuent notamment ce phénomène à la forte quantité de gaz à effet de serre créée par les activités humaines. Le protocole de Kyoto a été mis en place pour inciter les pays à réduire leur émission de ce type de gaz.

Le réchauffement climatique est très néfaste pour la faune et la flore. Les habitats naturels des animaux sont affectés, particulièrement ceux des animaux vivant en Arctique, où la banquise fond rapidement. Plus largement, c’est tout notre écosystème qui est touché.

Rhys' putting it into his own words (he dictated, I typed, so spelling mistakes are mine... though he did correct me once or twice):

Cette article est apropros de le consequance de rechauffement climactique (global warming en anglais). Tu as probablement deja entendu de la rechauffement climactique. Il affect presque tout les habitats pour les animaux et les plantes, mais c’est le plus mauvais dans le pole nord et le pole sud parce que les animaux qui sont la dois utilizer la glace pour vivre, mais la glace fond tres vite la. Les activities humaines ont beaucoup a fair apropos de la rechauffement climactique parce que ils cree les gazes à effet de serre (greenhouse gases en anglais). Les gazes a effet de serre rechauffe notre planet. Le raison que les gazes ne vont pas dans l’espace est que l’atmosphere attrape les gazes et puis ils attrape plus de la chaleure de la soleil. Le protocole de Kyoto est une entente (agreement en anglais) de essayer de arreter utiliser beaucoup de gazes. A ce moment, les dirigents (leaders en anglais) de beaucoup de payes, incluent Justin Trudeau, sont en Paris ou ils essayer de organizer une autre entente qui peut aider avec la rechaufement climactique.

(I let him know about the current Paris climate talks.)

Then he had to write down a joke to share with the class.

He was very excited when he found this one, because it linked to the article he chose.

My son was excited because of cross-assignment topic connections!!!

Q: How do you get dressed at the North Pole?
A: Quickly!
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We do so much to help develop and support the students we teach. “Our kids” we frequently call them; we glory in their accomplishments, and we feel their pain.

Last night, I witnessed a very public example of what our members do every day in our classes. I witnessed it sitting in the audience as a parent, not a teacher for a change, and I witnessed an outpouring of public support for our task that made me cry almost as much as the actions of the teacher and children on the stage.

My son’s school held their Winter concert last night. It was adorable, as most Christmas Concerts are, and all the students were very well prepared and well rehearsed. But what stood out the most was when the Grade 7s went to sing their songs.

Almost every Grade 7 sang a solo line, and sang them well. However, there was one boy who, when he went up, forgot his line in nerves. The music teacher had them there, and they were given to him immediately, but then he went to sing and had a frog in his throat that choked off his voice. The background music was recorded, and he couldn’t recover, and went back to his place, mortified. He stood the rest of the song on the riser with his head hung down, unable to look up.

My heart was wrung for the poor kid. To have failed at something so publicly, and so spectacularly, must have been agonizing.

At the end of the song, Mr. Sled, the music teacher, turned to the audience and said, “I think they can sing that again.” It was a statement that invited response, and the audience erupted in applause. I watched a hand from one of the kids in the riser behind reach out to ruffle the hair on the bowed head, the guy beside him give him a nudge of support, and then the music started again, and the first two soloists stepped forward to sing their lines.

When the line came to the student, he made it up, and he sang his lines beautifully, and he walked back to his spot on the riser to thunderous applause.

I was so proud of him. So proud of his overcoming that paralyzing sense of embarrassment. So proud of the success he achieved.

I think I fully realized last night why I am so passionate about Public Education, and the breadth of experience we fight so hard to keep. My kids aren’t just the ones in my classroom, though those are the most known to me. “My kids” are every single student in our school system, and the teachers and support staff are part of that extended school family.

So, to my “brother” Mr. Sled, congratulations on an excellent Winter Concert. It was beautifully organized in general, and that particular issue was handled as well as it was possible to be. Thank you for making visible to an audience our daily triumphs and miracles, and the dance we do to support each student and help them achieve their best.
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In our Pro-D today, we were talking about doing a school-wide project around the origins of our students, and ourselves. And we were looking at using a poem called "I Am From" by George Ella Lyon to use as a starting point, for poems "in the style of".


Poem under Cut )

And as a staff, and as individuals, we brainstormed our own responses. It was a pretty raw experience for me, as exhausted as I was from Parent Teacher Interviews last night. They were hoping that each teacher could submit one or two stanzas from their poems so that the team who was leading the initiative could put together a "We are From" poem from Chaffey-Burke teachers for the community connection night around the initiative.

And, after carefully NOT going further down the rabbit hole than I could deal with in a public place, I wrote the following lines that they can choose from.

I am from mountains and oceans, fir-lined slopes and foaming waves.
I am from the pebble beaches of Pevensy and the French fields on long summer days.
I am from foxes - the ones my Nana fed in her long, narrow garden and the one my little brother worked hard to earn for me as a child.
I am from the safe, warm, quiet of a bed, disappearing into a less lonely world by the dim light of a street-lamp.
I am the Phoenix, buoyed up by the teachers and friends who saw strength, not weakness, by the mother who bends and does not break.
I am from acceptance, and pragmatism, and deep-rooted love.
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Finished the pillow for my step-grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary this morning before heading to work. Thought I'd show you all, before I head off. I have a few new friends... haven't accepted the friend-invites yet, but will do so after work today.

 photo Pillow_zpsvwoopzet.jpg
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If you are interested/willing, a friend of mine is doing his Masters in International Business, and he is looking at how people use loyalty cards, with the aim of improving those programs to make them more interesting to consumers and more useful to businesses, as there is a substantial monetary investment that comes from trying to implement a loyalty card program.

If you have a few minutes, and are interested in letting your opinion on loyalty cards be known, he needs to get more responses as soon as possible. It had to pass a University Ethics panel, so though you need to give your email address, you don't have to worry about your information being used for anything inappropriate.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/?sm=Tdn5LL5isGg21KwQfKcoAQ%3d%3d

He thanks you very much for your time.
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None of these are my "best" printing or handwriting, since all were being used to stream of consciousness. Was interesting to actually look at my writing, though, and realize why I write the way I do.

 photo Handwriting_zpsflbk2hjv.jpg
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My Term 3 overview, to be sent home with the final report cards:

Wow. This last term has just sprinted by. Third term, despite being shorter than usual due to the rocky start to the year, was packed full of learning, activities, and fun. This has been a truly awesome class, filled with laughter, growth, and really sweet kids. I will miss those moving on to other teachers next year a lot.

In Language Arts, we covered a huge range of topics this term. We finished up our Fairy Tale unit and presented our plays to both our own class and Mrs. Campbell’s Grade 6/7s, as well as watching the Fractured Fairytale Plays that they produced. We studied quotation marks, the rules for capitalization, and word choice. We developed our descriptive writing and our paragraph writing, studied categorization, and explored idioms and other metaphoric language. We finished editing our NaNoWriMo stories and practiced our keyboarding skills. We worked on intensive Journalling to improve our writing fluency. We studied text features and using them to access information in non-fiction texts, and worked on our reading comprehension strategies. Finally, we worked on a Poetry Unit this term, culminating in our Poetry Café where students presented a poem that they really appreciated.

In Socials, our main topics were the Western Explorers and Mapping. We examined the lives of these explorers and their routes. We also talked about the impact Western Explorers had on the First Nations people, and what the lives of the European explorers were like. The idea of a world without electricity, satellites, or the combustion engine was challenging for them to picture! We took a trip to Fort Langley to see first-hand what life was like in that era, and back at school we made Bannock and also made soup using hot stones to heat the water, as was done by the First Nations people of Canada, and many other civilizations the world over. One of our focuses this term was on note-taking, especially on discovering the main ideas of various paragraphs in our text.

In Science, we focused heavily on the Scientific Method. We worked through the process of the Scientific Method, identifying vocabulary terms, strategies, and the importance of thinking this way in order to increase our knowledge of the world. We talked about how to control for variables in experiments, about independent and dependent variables, and about recording and reporting our data and drawing accurate conclusions. We also talked about the topic of Sound; how it is made and transmitted, and how it can be changed by various factors in our environment. We also, on our excursion to Boundary Bay, touched on habitats and an appreciation of our natural world.

In Math, we finished up our unit on fractions. We read and modeled basic fractions, improper fractions, and mixed numbers, as well as adding and subtracting fractions with a common denominator. We examined decimal numbers and 1/10ths and their relationship. We also looked at perimeter and area, and the relationship between them in squares and rectangles. We examined graphing - specifically tally charts, pictographs and bar graphs - and how to accurately read them and how to draw a graph to convey information. Stress was laid especially on choosing an accurate scale and correct labeling of the graph with titles and axis labels. We worked on the basic concept of division, as well as strategies for long division and why they work, and finished up our term looking at how to logically figure out all possible answers to a question with multiple answers.

In Physical Education, we continued with our wide games, especially the class favourite “Everybody’s It Tag”, as well as looking at jump rope. We had the gymnastics equipment available and we explored our individual skills, working on increasing control over our bodies and our confidence levels. We had a tennis instructor come in and were taught the basics on how to handle a racket and control a tennis ball. Towards the end of the year, we had our yearly field trip to the outdoor pool in Central Park where we went swimming. We also learned and practiced the basic rules for California Kickball.

In Health and Career Education, we continued with our Second Step program, moving from our first two units on Empathy and Emotional Self-Regulation to Problem Solving. We also talked a little about the Zones of Regulation, the idea that we have an ideal level of energy to be at in order to be successful in our tasks, and the strategies we can use to keep us at that level, not too slow/tired and not too energized/upset. We also worked on self-assessment of our work using criteria and addressed diversity in our school and our world with presentations around Pink Day, including our presentation to the school of vignettes to illustrate the text of the poem “Truth” by Barry Wade.

In Art, we looked at complimentary colours and the use of Ovoids in Aboriginal Art. We used plasticine to make textured art-work, looking at those textures as a way to portray the three dimensional reality of our world in a two dimensional art space. In both cases, artist’s statements were created to explain the thinking of our artists in how they used colours, materials, and space. We also worked on how to present our work, creating decorated good copy of various poems they had written.

In Music, Division 10 continued in their development of musical skills and good musicianship through singing, listening, movement, literacy, instruments, and performance. They showed active participation and respect for the contributions of others during activities, discussions, and performances. They learned the history of the ukulele and how to read TAB (TAB is a way of writing notes used for fretted stringed instruments like ukulele, guitar, banjo, etc.). They learned how to play a major scale, short songs, and how to strum chords on the ukulele. They also learned how to play the folk dance “Caimarusa”. During the final part of term, they experimented with percussion instruments.

It has been an incredibly busy and enjoyable year. I don’t think my desk ever managed to be clean enough for me to see it, as I was spending far too much time having fun with Division 10 to manage time to tidy. This class, with its constant curiosity and unwillingness to accept basic answers, its relentless pursuit of full understanding of a concept, and its incessant sparking of tangential thoughts, has been a wonderful challenge and a constant source of joy. Have an excellent summer, and we’ll see you September 8th.
stresskitten: (Default)
Ooof… I'm going to feel it tomorrow.

When I got home, I saw that Frazer had texted me (I forgot my phone at home). He said he was planning on cutting out of work a little early, and would I like to go kayaking before raid tonight.

Thought that was an awesome idea, so didn't jump on the elliptical like I had been intending, but changed into track pants, ready to go. Frazer got home, changed out of his suit (for some reason he thought a wool suit a poor choice of kayaking gear) and we went out.

What a lovely evening for a paddle. It was about 18 degrees, and a thoroughly enjoyable time to go paddle about. We weren't going to be out long: we got in our kayaks at about 5:15 and we had raid at 6:30, so the plan was to be putting back to shore at 6:00. We weren't far off, either… we put back in at around 6:10. Would have been earlier, but after we'd been out for 15 minutes, and were thinking of turning back in a further 5, I suggested to Frazer that we swing around Lone Rock and then head back. That took us another 3 or 4 minutes further, which doesn't seem much until you're heading back and a pretty strong head-wind has kicked up.

It was a stiff paddle back, and a hard paddle, as we were racing wind, incoming tide, and time. Get back we did, though, and though Frazer was very tired at the end of it, as was I, it was an excellent outting and showed me that a quick evening paddle after work is very doable.

I am going to feel it tomorrow, though. Whoooeeee. I'm already starting to feel sore and stiff through my back.

***************************************

Rhys was out at the Whitecaps game with Mum and Doug this evening. I'm sure he had a great time; he apparently got to go out on the field after the game and take a post-game kick. I look forwards to the inevitable photographs. :-) He'll be very colourful in the photo… he's wearing a rainbow tie-dyed t-shirt and royal blue track pants.

****************************************

They were checking out who was returning as Scouting leaders in emails. I've offered to do the training and be available as backup leader if they're down too many people due to illness to have the correct number of scout-to-leader ratio, but have begged off active leader status. It was too much this year… I felt like it was a heavy obligation, and I began to dread it.

Look! Look! I divested myself of a responsibility! Um… kinda.

****************************************

Today was the International Day of Pink, a celebration of diversity and a stand against homophobic bullying. Our school had an excellent assembly today, and, for the first time in the 3 years I've worked there, my class actually presented something. They did a series of vignettes showing bullying situations as a backdrop to two students who read Barry Wade's poem "Truth". They did a GREAT job… I was so proud of them. I got many compliments on how well-rehearsed they were. It's a good poem for the day, too… a reminder that words can hurt as much, and sometimes more-so, than physical violence.

Truth - Barry Wade

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can also hurt me.
Stones and sticks hurt only skin,
while words are ghosts that haunt me.

Slant and curved, the word-swords fall
to pierce and stick in side me.
Bats and brick may ache through bones,
but words can mortify me.

Pain from words has left its scar
on mind and heart that's tender.
Cuts and bruises now have healed,
it's words that I remember.
stresskitten: (Default)
Huh.

So, I was commenting on facebook about how an unexpected side-effect of a new (and actually accurate) oven is that I have to relearn how long it takes to cook things, now that they actually ARE in the oven at 350 degrees, not the 450 degrees that the old oven defaulted to. And an American friend noted that it would appear that my oven runs in American.

And that made me think about how I measure temperature, mass, distance, and speed.

I cook using Imperial measurements. Pounds, ounces, cups, pints, quarts (though there I'm more likely to go to liter), teaspoons, tablespoons, and Fahrenheit (which I can't spell - thank you, spell check). It does make it tricky sometimes when cans and boxes are labelled for the Canadian market only, and so in metric and I have to convert then. I also measure short distances (anything less than 10ft) in feet and inches for the most part, though I'll use centimeters for some stuff less than 30cm long, and most weights in pounds. Dual effects of being too near the last bastion of imperial measurements and a British ex-pat upbringing.

Logically, metric makes FAR more sense. However, in a practical, every-day sense, imperial is what I've had most experience with. (Gas, however, comes in liters and long distances are measured in kilometers, as is speed. Signage becomes very confusing when we cross the boarder and Seattle goes from showing up as 177 away to 110 away in the space of one minute (since the signage doesn't mention units of measurement). Not to mention trying to keep to the official speed limit when your speedometer only shows km/h) I also measure the weather in Celcius, but body temperature in Fahrenheit. Also, bodily fluids and medicines tend to be measured in metric; I'll talk about "cc"s and ml of medicine or blood, also mg of a medication. That's more understandable, though, as even the US has shifted on that front.

So, the long and the short of it is, I guess my methods of measurement are dangerously close to random.
stresskitten: (Default)
Just felt the NyQuil hit my system. Interesting how you can so easily delineate when something starts to affect you, sometimes. Ativan, not so much. That's much more subtle for me. Alcohol and NyQuil, however, have the subtlety of a 3ft polished granite battle axe upside the head.

Was just looking at my statistics for this journal. I've been journaling here for over 10 years! 2000+ entries. That is quite the time-span. Was tempted to go back and start reading through them. May do that one day soon.

Frazer has started reading Terry Pratchett's works. This has me beyond thrilled. He has resisted reading them to this point because he got too much joy over tormenting me with the fact that he refused to read them and mocking my obsession. However, the day I found out about pTerry's death, he said he would. Because the joke wasn't funny any more.

<3

He has now read Guards Guards! and loved it. He was a little worried at one point that Pratchett's love of poking at tropes was going to interfere with Carrot's role as the good, hidden King trope due to the irreverence with which Pratchett treats how things are "supposed to" go… however, when he mentioned that being his concern, I stopped worrying about if he would enjoy it or not. Pratchett may have enjoyed sending tropes up and poking at them with a sharp stick, but he respected them as well.

He has started on Men at Arms, and I will see about how far to send him down the Watch series before branching him out into other arcs. I think he'd really enjoy Small Gods.

Here's hoping that the NyQuil allows me to sleep through the stuffy nose. Hate trying to sleep when I can't breath properly.
stresskitten: (Default)
I am posting this here because I'm not interested in the type of facebook debate that this would cause... however, I needed to write it out because gah.

This was to be in response to the wife of a local friend who posted a cartoon of three children sitting in front of the principal's office. One says "I said the S-H word," one says "I said the F word," and the last, a clean-cut little bespeckled boy says "I said Christmas".

My response, cut before being posted, was as follows:

Yes, because we never say Christmas in BC public schools... *rolls eyes*

We try to be inclusive. This means NOT ONLY looking at the Christian holidays, but also all the other winter festivals that happen at this time of year in our multicultural society. Christmas is not under attack... it is THE dominant holiday in North America, especially as even those who aren't Christian frequently celebrate it as a cultural holiday, even if not a religious one... but not everyone celebrates it and as our public schools are supposed to cater to ALL students of all nationalities and all backgrounds, we're either inclusive in our celebrations or we don't celebrate at all. In the end, how each school chooses to handle that is up to the individual school community, and the comfort level of the individual teacher in terms of addressing inclusive discussions of religion in their classroom... but Christians are FAR missing the mark with feeling persecuted because they're being asked to share a small part of the holiday season with those of other faiths.
stresskitten: (Default)
I do this to myself why?

I'm trying to figure out how I ended up working on organizing the largest teacher's conference in BC, especially how I ended up being the contact for all the presenters.

How I ended up being the Vice-President of the largest teacher's Professional Specialist Association in the province.

How I ended up working on a conference that is smaller than usual this year at over 650 delegates.

How this is all happening on a year when the start of the year is ridiculously chaotic and in the next two weeks, as we gear up for this conference, I have 4 IEP meetings, two nights of meet-the-creature interviews for my 23 students, Apple Days for Scouts, Thanksgiving, a Rugby Jamboree, a friend's birthday party, and my niece's birthday party as well, culminating in a 2-day conference and people over that final night for gaming.

How am I going to do this? Gah!

(The answer, of course, is one-foot-in-front-of-the-other...)

After the AGM, we will see where we are. I may or may not still be vice-president... it hasn't been particularly onerous to this point; Elaine just isn't allowed to get injured or sick.

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