Wild About Vancouver

HumpDayHighlight:  This featured blog post is intended to explore classroom practices and possibilities, including books and units of study.

Hump Day Highlight #3:  Wild About Vancouver

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As I reported in an earlier blog post on Outdoor Learning (Dec. 2015), Dr. Hart Banack, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC, has been heading up  Wild About Vancouver in an effort to encourage teachers and students to take advantage of the opportunities to participate in the outdoor classroom.  UBC students prepared a document for our school detailing green spaces in the community and several possible outdoor learning activities and connections with the redesigned curriculum.

Our Tecumseh team  is growing in numbers and enthusiasm.   To date it includes John Mullan, David Thompson- Community (CST) team coordinator, Tara Perkins -CST Programmer, Aman Akilari – UBC volunteer, CST volunteers from David Thompson, Division 11 students, Division 1 students, Mrs. Jang- Grade 3 teacher, Ms. Pearce – Grade 7 teacher and myself.  Wild About Vancouver is scheduled for April 16-22, 2016 and will provide dozens of free, outdoor-focused activities around Earth Day 2016.  Our team is working together to provide two, or possibly three events during Earth Week.  The idea is to share our learning with others.  Hopefully this will result in the recipients creating their own idea to share with others within their school community and perhaps even during Wild About Vancouver 2017.  The diffusion model works best when learners are engaged in their learning so we are working hard to create learning activities that will be fun as well as educational.

imageJohn Mullan has a well developed collection of outdoor learning books.  Sharing Nature: Nature Awareness Activities for All Ages by Joseph Cornell has been particularly helpful in designing activities using the flow learning sequence: Stage 1 – Awaken enthusiasm; Stage 2 – Focus Attention;  Offer Direct Experience;  Stage 4 – Share inspiration.  The Vancouver Kidsbooks team also have a plethora of good books that can be purchased. International Literacy Association Members on staff also secured a grant to integrate literacy activities in the outdoor classroom through ReadingBC (BC chapter of the International Literacy Association).  This money allowed us to purchase some resources, compasses, tarps, buggy cords, rope and waterproof notebooks from Mountainimage Equipment Coop.  Great things to do Outside 365 Awesome Outdoor Activities has lots of ideas to pursue in the classroom, during after school programs and during home time.  Ideas are percolating and we are excited about the possibilities for our Wild About Vancouver sessions.  Students and adults are busy brainstorming.

If you are interested in the outdoor classroom, check out the link to Wild About Vancouver and design your own activity to share or attend.  We live in Vancouver – filled with sand, sea, mountains, lakes and plenty of liquid sunshine to guarantee green spaces!  It’s guaranteed to be wild!

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Fear Not! Lessons from Astronaut Chris Hadfield

  • Artwork by Lyon – Gr. 3
  • Reason2Ponder:  This featured weekly blog post is intended to consider some of the big questions and possibilities that exist in education and learning in the 21st Century

Reason2Ponder #1 – Fear Not!  Lessons from Chris Hadfield

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I remember as a very little girl, seeing the television screen filled with the pictures of the first moon walk.  Seemingly endless footage of not a lot happening.  Yet, for many years, Neil Armstrong was THE astronaut.  In later years, I was somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t have reference his giant step for everyone (not just man), but still he was a key player doing something that mattered.  His place was not questioned until Commander Chris Hadfield brought space into the classroom.  Here was a man that could validate the dreams of a 9 year old can come true.  He was also able to recognize the significance of engaging adults and children alike while he was in space via twitter, video, and music to communicate and inspire.

It is no wonder that educators flocked to hear him speak in Vancouver, B.C. in February at the FISA BC Conference 2016.  Although I was only able to participate via Twitter @CarrieFroese @Cmdr-Hadfield, one of the TedTalks 2014 links was particularly inspiring:  Chris Hadfield – What I learned about fear when I went blind in space.  He explores the notion of looking at the difference between perceived fear and actual danger.  One of the things that he emphasized in his talk was the amount of time spent on practicing for the possibilities that could unfold in space.  He discusses our ability to change our primal fear and come out with a set of experiences and a level of inspiration not otherwise possible. This is what allowed him to proceed calmly even when he lost sight in both eyes when he was outside of the spacecraft.  As an educator in the midst of some major changes in the way we do school, it is not difficult to identify much of the fear and trepidation moving forward with the redesigned curriculum.  However the take-away from Chris is that we have a huge amount of experience as learners and working with children and curriculum.  There is often fear in the midst of change.  However our background knowledge, broad range of experience, extensive research and our collaborative skills put us in good stead to forge the path so our students are well equipped with the ability to navigate successfully through the demands and realities of life in the 21st century.

Chris Hadfield finishes using the music and lyrics of David Bowie to inspire us to take our own self perception to a new level.  Fear not, my fellow educators.  We are ready to navigate successfully on our present course.

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed

Hump Day Highlight:  This featured blog post showcases amazing classroom practices and possibilities, including books and units of study.

Hump Day Highlight #2 – Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed

I picked up Twelve Kinds of Ice written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Barbara McClintock at Mabel’s Fables Children’s Bookstore in Toronto.    Although Toronto was uncharacteristically warm for February, the book is in keeping with my usual experience in Central Canada.   Twenty vignettes as well as pen and ink drawings describe the various types of ice, beginning with the fragile ice on the sheep pails in the barn.  The book reflects the powerful observational skills of the author and her ability to paint a picture in our minds.

Coming from Vancouver, British Columbia, my students and our teachers do not have the same occasion to ponder ice to the extent of the author.  The book does invite the reader to consider the importance of making careful observations so that they are able to create descriptions that come alive.  A good starting point for young Vancouverites would be to start with the many types of rain that we experience living in the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest.  I’m looking forward to trying this out soon.  I can think of at least six kinds of rain off the top of my head, four of which I experienced today.  The sun popped out as the pouring rain morphed into showers after school and a five-year old looked up and smiled with excited eyes and said, “I think this might be rainbow rain”!


 

Kids’Lit Quiz Canada

HumpDayHighlight:  This featured blog post is intended to explore classroom practices and possibilities, including books and units of study.

Hump Day Highlight #1:  Kid’s Lit Quiz Canada

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From the walls of Mabel’s Fables Bookstore in Toronto – Kit Pearson

The Kids’LitQuiz is the brainchild of  in New Zealand’s quizmaster, Wayne Mills.  It started back in 1991 and has since grown to include national competitions in Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the USA, with a culminating world championship.  It is not just an annual literature quiz for students 10-13 years old, but a general celebration books and how they enrich our lives.

I arrived in Toronto, Ontario for the Canadian National finals with the winners of the B.C. heat and their parents yesterday.  One set of proud grandparents welcomed the kids as rock stars as as we arrived at the hotel.  Grade 6 and 7 students, Aiza, Eric, Grey and Judy find themselves here because they have already internalized a love of reading.  All of them attend the Multi-aged Cluster Class (MACC) at Tecumseh Elementary School, a specialized program in the Vancouver School Board to meet the social-emotional and academic needs of highly gifted elementary students.  Their teacher, Amanda Cantelon, works hard to provide the intellectual stimulation to develop the critical and creative thinking of her students, as well as their work ethic.  Many of the MACC students gravitate towards projects and competitions that interest them.  Competitions in various subject areas are often individually focused endeavours.  We know that students will also need to work collaboratively as they move through school and into jobs.  This is sometimes a tough sell with students who have very specific notions of what they find interesting and how to go about accomplishing a task.

At one time or another, all of us have experienced the frustration of working in a group with people who do not have the same investment or vision that we might hold for the project.  The beauty of the KidsLitQuiz is that the team is stronger if participants are coming from a variety of specialized interests.  Teams of four children are asked to answer 100 questions on children’s literature that are divided into ten categories. Teams that do the best, have four children with different reading interests and background knowledge.  The Kid’s Lit Quiz provides the opportunity to set goals and experience working collaboratively for a mutually beneficial purpose.  Students also develop empathy and learn how to support each other for the benefit of the team.

I have worn many different hats, as parent and educator with children over the years.  This has included many road trips to soccer, basketball and volleyball games, fieldtrips, track meets, cheer competitions, swim meets, camping trips, guiding & scouting activities.  They were not much different from the exuberance of my readers on the drive from the Pearson International Airport to our hotel.  The limo driver, obviously more familiar with the business class, took in the boisterous laughter, word play and use of accents and said “Wow, I’m glad this trip isn’t too long.”  This was even before the excitement generated by the trip to Mabel’s Fables Bookstore!  Kids engaged in their learning and feeling empowered.  Life is good.