Superheroes Champion Syrian Refugees via CBC Podcast

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1947 This suitcase carried belongings of mother and her four young children to Canada to start a new chapter of life

It all started with a suitcase on Human Rights Day on December 10, 2015.  Tecumseh students were first asked to reflect on the Syrian Refugee crisis.  Students wrote letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing their desire for Syrian boys and girls to live in a place without war where they could go to school in safety.  They wrote heartwarming notes to Syrian refugees so they would know that Canada is a country that values human right and was welcoming to people wanting to start new chapters of their lives.

This project captured the mind and heart of Grade 5/6 teacher Marion Collins, who worked tirelessly to provide learning opportunities for teachers and students throughout the year in the spirit of the redesigned curriculum in British Columbia.  With the help of a grant from Promoting a Culture of Peace for Children Society, the suitcase became a symbol of the refugee experience and a work of art welcoming individuals to add their individual voice to the multicultural expression of Canada.  With the help of a grant from ReadingBC (the BC council of the International Reading Association), the writing component of the project grew to include stories and photos of the journey to Canada of Tecumseh students, clothing with messages to Syrian refugees to go in the suitcase, reflections of what students would grab if they needed to leave home in a hurry like refugees.

Last week, Science World hosted the Digital Fair of the Vancouver School Board.  Grade 5/6 students presented their Graphic Novels inspired by CBC podcasts.  Graphic novels featured student created Refugee Superheroes to equip Syrian refugees with the skills to cope with the experience of settling in a new Canadian home.  They use captions, time labels, sounds and speech bubble to demonstrate their innovative, creative and unique style.  Most of all, they continue on the spirit of welcoming that comes from children who understand the challenges and difficulties that accompany leaving your home to start a new chapter of life in another country.


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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.