Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back from Chicago

I think I have been neglecting this blog again.  Life gets busy and the blog doesn't get written!  The week after the musical included hosting a very successful  LOMCIRA event with Adrienne Gear in our nicely decorated gym and a walk up to our local high school with four classes to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, which the kids really enjoyed.  The hardest part of course of going away when you are a classroom teacher is trying to plan for four days and leave your classroom in shape for another teacher to take over.
The purpose of going to Chicago was to attend the International Reading Association annual convention plus I have become rather fond of Chicago.  I think it's a fantastic city.  The conference kept me rather busy but I did manage to see Billy Elliot at the fabulous Oriental Theatre and an amazing show, Hephaestus, at the Goodman Theatre, as well as having some time at the Chicago Art Institute  and a few nice walks.  Our hotel was amazing, the Hotel Burnham, the converted Landmark Building.

What about the conference?  One highlight has to be the opening keynote with Queen Rania from Jordan.  She was inspiring, informative, and charming.  To learn a bit more about her address at IRA here is a link.  She gave us some really shocking statistics about how if the money spent in a year in the United States on weight loss programs was spent on education we could send all the world's children to school. 

Another highlight has to be another general session with Al Gore, and I actually got to meet him and he took the opportunity to tell me he loved Vancouver.  He has a great book for young readers, Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisisthat he was autographing for those who had purchased the book early like me!  I think sessions like this emphasize the importance of teachers to help educate the world to make the right decisions.

Much more to tell but I need to go to work.  I have been operating on Chicago time this morning but still time to get moving.  More to come!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Now I can't stop singing

For the past few days we have been immersed in putting together a musical entitled Up the Watershed.  It is quite exciting as the kids at our school have never been in a musical before.  For me it's rather nice because of all the musicals I have been involved with this has been the least amount of work!  Now I haven't done math in three days and the bets are off for tomorrow, but my class is having a wonderful time as are all the kids in the school.  So many thanks to my principal, Jim Lattimer, who has taught the songs to all the students as he takes all our students once a week for music, to my talented fellow teacher and wonderful artist, Alison Diesvelt, for coming up with an amazing set and to her class and everyone who contributed to that, and most of all to Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright for writing the songs and working with our kids.  I think singing songs celebrating the Earth and reminding us of our responsibility to it is making a real impact on the children.  Anyway so much fun, and the music keeps bouncing in my head.  I will upload a picture later!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

After Easter

It's beautiful out there although there is a lot of snow on those mountains-a little late for the Olympics but yes, we do have snow but not in the city of course!  School is definitely spinning towards the end.  Big excitement this week is our musical with Holly Arntzen.  Having been through a few musicals before this is definitely an easier way to do it.  Our principal taught the kids the songs in music class and Holly will come in this week and work with the students.  We had lots of fun with musicals of the past but lots of work as well.  And ladies and gentlemen, in the four years I wasn't classroom teaching the work hasn't lessoned! 
In my own reading of late I have been on a bit on a mystery kick.  Many years ago I began reading Sue Grafton.  I had been having a stressful time dealing with ill parents, having to pack up my family home etc. and I would retreat to my ex-husband's cottage and swim and read the mysteries that my father-in-law had lying around, renewing an acquaintance with Agatha Christie.  Eventually I became aware that there were contemporary mysteries with grown up versions of my favourite childhood girl detectives, Trixie Beldon and Donna Parker.  I think the first I discovered was Kinsey Milhone.  The first book was A is for Alibi (published in 1983).  I just finished the latest, U is for Undertow.  Kinsey was born a year before me in 1950 but unlike me she is now only 38! The latest was great!  There is just something so satisfying about a good mystery with engaging characters in  an interesting setting. 
Another interesting mystery I picked up on the library shelf, was The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault.  This mystery is set at the head office of a dictionary company and two young lexigraphers (don't you love that word) find some strange citations that go together to tell a true story set in the past with people who worked in their office.  Now as someone who has been trying to increase my students' vocabularies this year, I found myself drawn to this mystery.  I have to tell you I have never even thought about what goes into making dictionaries so that alone was interesting.  I went to university with a Peter Funk (not that I really knew him) of  the Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary family.

Apparently mystery readers aren't really morbid but just people who like tidy endings.  And there are times that mysteries are just what I like to read.  Many of my students are mystery fans and the 39 Clues series is one they are enjoying. 

Speaking of needs to escape.  More cutbacks at our school due to an 18 million dollar shortfall.  Literacy may be the major goal at the VSB but the literacy team will only have a skeleton staff left.  I visited my old workplace on the 4th floor on Wednesday and the atmosphere was rather depressing.  Those of us who have been in the school system for a long time become almost used to the slashes that seem to come every few years.  Many of us keep wondering why we don't close some of our very small schools but that doesn't seem a popular solution.  One, of course, always has to wonder what our provincial government's agenda is and why they can't see how important a good public school system is.  I also personally find it depressing to see more and more private but partially government funded schools.  I also find it depressing that parents will do anything to send their kids to high schools rated highly by the Fraser Institute.  Hmm-back to reading mysteries...