Sunday, November 25, 2012

Launching HIgh Wire

Friday we had a book launch thanks to Melanie Jackson and Orca Publishing.  One of the best parts of being a teacher has been the excitement of having authors visit our school.  Living in Vancouver we are fortunately to have many authors who do live here and many who come to visit the city.  As an adult I have always been thrilled to get to see an author reading their own words or in the case of an illustrator, talking about their illustrations.

I first got to know Melanie as a result of her volunteering her services to help us with the formatting of a cookbook of BC authors and illustrators that our British Columbia chapter of the International Reading Association put together.  It turned out that she worked at the time for the British Columbia School Trustees Association  right across the hall from me at the school board.    After that she did a couple of workshops for me and became involved in the British Columbia Literacy Council.

She is always generous with her time and books!  When I went back to teaching, she became a favorite of my students with The Big Dip and Fast Slide, local mysteries, written for the the Orca Currents series.  The Big Dip is based on the favorite wooden roller coaster at our local amusement park, Playland.  Fast Slide takes place in a water park resembling our local one, Splashdown, and both these settings are familiar to our students.  Melanie has visited our school before but this class of students was hearing her for the first time on Friday. 

Her new book, again a Orca Current book (a high interest series for reluctant readers) is about a boy who is performing in a summer circus for young people.  His dream is to be a wire walker like Phillipe  Petit, who walked between the Twin Towers in New York City.  Things become problematic due to a roommate that hates him, a dog his aunt dumps on him, and the disappearance of a valuable necklace.

 Prior to Melanie's visit, I briefly introduced the book to students in our three other upper intermediate classes and in my own class, I read the first chapter and students wrote and drew responses about it that we presented  to her.    I had also given them a bit of background about high wire performers.

It was a fun afternoon with Melanie doing two sessions, each with two of our upper intermediate classes.  Students were also buy an autographed copy of the book, just like a real book launch, with a generous portion of the cost being donated back to our school.

I think I have mentioned before how the Orca Current series has been wonderful in my class in the past, enabling students with English as a Second Language or with reading problems to find books they could enjoy and read successfully.  Even my best readers enjoy a good simpler read at times.

This year, I am sure that I have students who will one day be professional writers and illustrators, and these author sessions really are an inspiration to them.  And there is much talk about boys being reluctant readers but writers like Melanie are able to bridge this gap.  I honestly don't have reluctant readers in my class. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remembrance Day Projects

I am back.    I had a cold that seemed to last from Thanksgiving Day until Halloween.   Life became hectic with Halloween and Remembrance Day and things just didn't seemed to be going quite right with my class.  I felt really ready to retire.
Last week I decided what was needed was a project.  Last year my class did a project I have done a few times before, War and Peace Newspapers.  They did an excellent job.
Now since I had half my class last year, I didn't want to repeat this project but I have to admit I kind of threw this year's project together.  I discovered an excellent website and basically told them to be creative, that they could make prezis, glogsters, newspapers, do top ten booklets etc.
 I basically gave them a week to do the project and only a couple of periods of class time.  It was the long weekend as well.  They could do the project on their own or with a partner.  I made the projects due on Wednesday but did give them an extra day.

 I really wasn't sure what they would be like.  And then I have to admit I was kind of amazed.  I arranged for them to present to each other in the classroom.  Half the class presented and the other half looked at their projects.  And they switched.  They were given post its and they had to write a positive comment and then they could write suggestions.  I gave them about five minutes at each station and then they moved to the next.  I have found this an easy way to do this and having a wireless classroom and ipads makes this quite easy.  On this page you can see some of their great work.
Since the projects were so good-we moved to the library and computer lab Friday afternoon and they presented the projects to seven other classes, generally two classes at a time.  I am not sure how much the first graders understood, but they love to see the older students' work and have their attention.  Those who had prezis presented in the lab and those who didn't were spread out in the library.
The kids were quite tired by the end but feeling proud of their work.  The adults were touched by the power of their words and the art.
Once again I felt the power of projects! And the joy of teaching!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

End Poverty Day and the power of seventh graders

I am afraid once again I have been neglecting this blog.  On Thanksgiving Day I got the flu that turned into just a cold that persisted and kind of wore me out a bit.  Also I was busy recreating my Moodle site for the class etc. 

Last week due to my cold I was kind of dragging.  I was also getting bogged down with forgotten homework etc.  The kids seemed to be dragging as well.  The weather turned ugly at the end of the week after months of sunshine.  And once again I had signed my class up for something and I realized I had better get moving.  Friday afternoon stretched out endlessly. 

Wednesday, October 17th, was End Poverty Day and in the summer I was told about this event by Janey Lee, an amazing and dedicated teacher at Thunderbird School (one of our inner city schools).  I registered our school as an official site and only vaguely thought about it since then. 

In Social Studies we had been studying the age old problem of not enough food so it all seemed to fit.  I had fallen in love with a book, Almost Home, by Joan Bauer, about a girl who becomes homeless, and was reading it to my class.  We also started lit circles this week about children who have faced poverty.  Our fundraising for Terry Fox had been disappointing so I decided that it was time to light a bit of a firecracker. 

I told each class group (they sit in table groups of four) that they had to come up with projects to make the school aware of End Poverty Day the following Wednesday.  I gave them the website to go to for information and told them that each group had to report with some kind of plan in about 20 minutes.  Good thing we have those ipads in the classroom. 

Well as you have heard me say before nothing this age level likes better than a project.  They came up with ideas galore (my least favorite was the car wash one) and I pushed them for details and definite plans. 

I was working in my classroom after school, the first day that week I had lasted very long, when a couple of the kids came in with money.  They had been hitting up teachers after school for money and succeeding!  I at least convinced them to let me keep the money and showed them how to set up a deposit form.  My idea had not been to do this and I probably would have told them not to harass my colleagues but they were in motion and I figured this wasn't the time to stop them.  I think we had 80 dollars before I knew it.

Monday they made more plans.   Some groups were getting together and holding bake sales Wednesday (we had a field trip Tuesday).  Signs went up and announcements began to be made.  More money kept coming in as they told friends and family about the project.  Tuesday we discussed a goal and decided the money would probably go to the Food Bank.  We may look at some other causes as well.  I suggested 500 dollars, they thought that they couldn't raise that much so they decided 300 dollars and  on Wednesday a couple of people made a thermometer to show this. 

Food poured in on Wednesday, two tables were set up and the rush was on.  By Wednesday afternoon between the bake sale profits and donations they had received the class had made $302 dollars.  The bake sales continue today although about seven students are at We Day.  There are other plans afoot.  They have to make another thermometer.

I can honestly say other than giving a website link, some critical advice, counting money (to make it official) and supplying a few supplies and doing a little supervising,  I have done nothing.  This is all coming from 27 twelve year olds. And they are feeling the power of being able to do good and being in control. 

I am behind in Science, haven't finished the first unit, but hopefully they are learning  important lessons and skills, that they will take forward in life. 

The information that I learned from the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition is quite shocking.  Our government has no plan to reduce poverty in our province for instance, even with the highest child poverty rate in the country.   I ask you to read more and sign their petition available online and share  this information with your friends. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ah... Good-bye September

Hmm... It's early Sunday morning and it seems as if it's blog writing time.  And next I have to think about what I would like to write about.  I can't believe September has ended and it's October.  I feel good that I have actually now begun teaching all required subjects.  We had a Professional Day on Monday and I never have time to do all I want to do but I planned out my first unit in French and studying Spanish for the first time has really made me sympathize and think what is important in French for my students to learn.  I was also working on planning field trips, this can be time consuming with phone calls often going back and forth. 

Tuesday the kids were back and we began the day with a fun morning learning a tame version of Australian "footie".  In the afternoon we went to a film festival at Moberly Arts Centre.  I think what my class liked best was the 16 mm film projector, something in this digital age, they don't normally see.  I remember how the film would get stuck and I would have to untangle it-can't say I miss those projectors at all!  We were reunited with the herb garden but our onion crop wasn 't a big success but the garden looked lovely.  Tuesday we had Homework Club with several of my students catching up with lost or undone homework.  And despite a Professional Day I was at school until after 5:30 at least planning etc. 

Wednesday the kids breathed a sigh of relief when I had to rush out for a meeting across town planning a Literacy Day for the January Professional Day so that there wasn't a Homework Club.  Thursday I had a meeting at our school to plan a visual journal project with my former Artist in Residence and a couple of my friends who teach at other schools.  Every day we had meetings all through lunch by the way, Struggling Students, Professional Development, VESTA (our union) and Friday it was time for the Me to We club. 

Teaching highlights this week (I am sure footie was the kids' highlight and Barry sure loved those Australian expressions he learned)... We began the book, Almost Home.  Some of the kids were totally confused but I tell them that good books often are a bit confusing at the beginning.  It's a fun book to read out loud and the chapters are just the right length. 

French was fun as well.  I always like to begin with basic beginning conversations and then somehow that leads to French cartoons.  And I admit it, once and awhile we threw in a bit of Spanish as well-I have to practice regularly with Mayra anyway. 

I even managed some Health and Career Education as we had our class Students' Council elections.  Results were interesting to say the least.

I think I will do another post on The Day I Was Born projects in Social Studies that I finished marking this week.  In Science they have to do a field study-a close study of a square metre of the school grounds or they can use a piece of their yard at home.  Thursday we looked at the assignment, and then Friday I sent them off with magnifying glasses and ipads.  I discovered a neat app called Leafsnap-too fun, with your location you can take a photo of a leaf and identify it. 

That afternoon we did our Terry Fox Run and wouldn't you know it, for the first time in ages, it poured for the beginning of the run but true Vancouverites never let a little rain stop us. 

Yes, there was math... and I had a wonderful writing time on Friday morning.  Choosing an idea from Writing Bingo from Lori Jamieson's and Paul Kropp's The Write Genre, they were off and writing.  Barry couldn't believe how much he wrote.  Ellie's piece with sketches about her imaginary games with her best friend when she lived in Tofino, brought tears to my eyes.  Watch out literary world!

I ended the school day after school, with a little soccer practice with the girls, and couldn't help but think what a good and crazy week it was. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Almost Home

I love new books!  Well I actually told my class that I loved new school supplies, and that may have been one reason I became a teacher.  Anyway this time I am talking about new children's books.  I think I have noted before how much I have loved going to International Reading Association or National Council of Teachers of English' conferences and getting advance copies of new books free!

I have been seeking a good read aloud.  Due to my visiting the Titanic Museum this summer I was thinking of doing a unit on the Titanic and using a novel with the class and even had one picked out, but somehow just wasn't feeling right yet.  Last weekend I went off to Kidsbooks and spent a bit of time with the very knowledgeable Lesley (not sure if correct spelling) and tried to limit myself to a few good new books for my classroom.  I am a total believer in the school library but I think it is important to have a good classroom library as well.  No one in my class can ever claim that he or she doesn't have a good book to read.  

I really love Joan Bauer's books and was privileged to hear her speak at a conference a few years ago and she was great.  I think Kidsbooks needs many more of her books!  Anyway, I picked up her latest, Almost Home, and read it immediately.  I absolutely loved it.  It's about Sugar who lives with her mom in a home purchased by her now deceased grandfather for them.  Her dad, Mr. Leeland, an unreliable gambler comes and mainly goes.  She has just entered sixth grade with a very innovative teacher, Mr. B.  Due to her mom's employment difficulties and her father's gambling, they lose their home and end up in a homeless shelter.  Eventually her mom leaves Missouri to move to Chicago where things do not initially improve.  Sounds depressing but with this amazing heroine and a cast of interesting characters and one adorable small dog it actually is not!  

I am very much looking forward to reading this book to my class!  We are planning to be involved with  End Poverty Day and this book seems perfect fit for this issue.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What did I do the second day of school with the students...

I have had lots of ideas for this blog but haven't had time to really write them.  One always forgets how truly crazy September is for a school teacher.  You go from unstructured time to being in constant motion and dealing with zillions of things and in my particular case, 27 students.

It's exhausting and exhilarating and confusing and sometimes amusing and definitely exhausting.

The first day of school I only had my 15 grade sixes from last year for an hour and that seemed to be forever even though we were happy to see each other.  The next day with the addition of two new students to the school,  I had one of my sometimes brilliant ideas and put them to work on some end of the year math and a project on Tenochtitlan and Mexico City.  At noon one of the girls put her head down she was so tired!

One of the frustrations of all teachers is the difficulty to get through all the curriculum-usually in science out of three units I may make it through two, and I have never made it through all the Grade Six text book in Social Studies.  Now I tell myself that it is all about process and hopefully, we do a thorough job of what we do study and often we do go way beyond the text.

I did do a project last year with the sixth graders on cities and urban versus rural environment but the story of the Mayan city, Tenochtitlan, and the modern Mexico City is fascinating and a good introduction to the Ancient Civilizations that they study in seventh grade so this became the project in one day.

Step one, I let them loose in the computer lab to find out what they could about Tenochtitlan.  Then we went through the information in the text book, finding out why the city was built where it was, in a marsh in the middle of the lake surrounded by mountains, and then finding out how the Spanish conquered the Mayans and built Mexico City eventually.  They then wrote ten important or interesting facts they learned.

They learned about Diego Riviera and then explored his art on this website and then each chose a painting or mural that he or she liked, using the ipads  in the classroom.  Then they copied the chosen pieces of art.  I think we all had a fun day and actually felt that we had accomplished something!  I will photograph some of the finished artwork and post later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back in Vancouver and thinking about school again...

Well I have been back for a month and returning to this blog.   If you missed reading about my adventures in Spain and Ireland just hit this link.  Today I am using this blog post as a warm up because I am scheduled to write a blog post for the International Reading Association Teacher tips blog, and I need to think about what I want to write about. 

Having left right after school and going to Spain and Ireland for four weeks I have been quite removed from teaching, but I am aware that in less than two weeks  I will be back in my classroom teaching!  The last couple of weeks I have been busily trying to get my house sorted out and doing all those things that you don't get done (or more accurately I don't get done when I am teaching).  Needless to say I have been enjoying life in beautiful Vancouver as well.

I waited for a so so weather day to start to tackle sorting out my classroom as well but on the whole, the weather was a bit too warm and sunny to want to be here.  I say this is going to be my last year of teaching (not that anyone really seems to believe me) so that I think I should get an early start on the sorting. I came in for a few hours Monday and I am back again today.

When you go away right away for a month, it puts a great deal of space between you and the school year.   What tips could I give teacher?  Having taught so long one would think I would have a few but one thing about teaching you never stop learning but let's see...

1. You don't have to be a technology expert to get your students to use technology.  This is something I kept learning over and over again.  It helps I have an interest in technology but my students are often more technologically savvy than I am. This year we added ten ipads to the classroom mix and they often had to help me figure things out!
2.  Invite people into your classroom.  It was a crazy year with various forms of work to rule so that field trips were not easy but my class were involved in several projects with "experts' in other fields and that was great. They learned to tell stories, make storyboards, work with clay, and how to  think more deeply and speak more honestly.
3.  You need to give kids time to read and you want them to be swept away by reading.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Kane Trilogy but I didn't seem to be enjoying the last one as much and then I realized it was because I wasn't really giving myself enough time to read.  I allowed myself time for the last section and I became absorbed again.
4.  Pressure makes you learn things quickly.  I wanted to do a blog for my trip but only wanted to bring my ipad.  By googling for the best way to do a blog on an ipad application I found and without too much difficulty I blogged away without a real keyboard.    I also wanted to keep copies of travel documents and found out how handy Evernote could be.  I learned that you don't need a scanner when you have an ipad with a handy camera!  I didn't bring books but read on ibooks.  When my battery died on my camera, I just used my ipad to take pictures.  And I could even send ecards with my Martha Stewart app. 
5.  Passion is everything in teaching and learning and it's all about making connections.  When I went to Newfoundland, my students learned about Newfoundland.  When I introduced my students to The Group of Seven in summer school, I had an urge to go visit the McMichael Museum when I went to Toronto that summer.  And my enjoyment of the Giant's Causeway was enhanced by having studied geology again in Grade Seven science.  And that trip to the Titantic Museum will probably evolve into some kind of unit.  Trips to Australia and Hawaii had me collecting artifacts later used in unit stations.  A trip to NASA helped me get more involved in the Grade Six extreme environment unit this year.  I know that a few of my students were reading about my trip through Spain and Ireland on my blog.
6.  Do the research!  It's the most fun when it involves real travel, but there are so many good web resources now!  I make sure I find good sites to lead my students to for their project work.
7.  And now projects!  Students love a project!  In fact, sometimes they don't even realize they are working when they are engaged in a project.  To make the project fun, you need to give them choices about what to research and how to present the research, but they need guidelines and opportunities to learn from their mistakes. 

Those are a few lessons I have learned along the way particularly in the last few years I have been back in the classroom with the sixth and seventh graders.   Now back to classroom sorting and writing that teaching tip blog. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spain and Ireland

Since I was struggling with writing a blog on my ipad, I decided to use a new blog for my trip so you will find me here for the next month!  Here's a preview of San Sebastian where I will be based for one week after ten days on the El Camino French Way! 
Later we will be moving on to Dublin and a week in Bushmills near the Giant Causeway so that we can explore Northern Island and hopefully, Donegal...

And June is over....

Yes, we made it to a successful end of the year.  Monday we had a great field trip with the Grade Sevens downtown, taking the bus and Canada Line to Waterfront Station and then walking to Coal Harbour exploring Canada Place, the Convention Centre and the Olympic Torch and then having a celebratory lunch at the Spaghetti Factory and having a little free time in Gastown before heading back to school.  Our kids don't go downtown much so this was fun.  The grade sixes had a wonderful day helping in other classrooms and they all received rave reviews!

Tuesday I just tried to get most of the projects finished up-autobiographies, cards to favorite people leaving the school etc.  Wednesday after an early morning dental appointment when the principal took my class for their last music session and our last silent reading and response period I was going to attempt to have a last math lesson with the grade sevens as the grade sixes cleaned up their desks but  I kind of gave it up with the grade sevens and let them clean out their desks too before they went off the last period to prepare for the graduation assembly.  The grade sixes happily did their final chapter review after they left!
It's really nice at our school in that we have a special graduation assembly and the whole school attends.  Last year's was a little too long (more graduates, and kids that really wanted to perform) but everyone said this year's was perfect.  Two girls did an amazing slide show for one thing.  The four valedictorian speeches were perfect and to the point.  All my grade sevens had written speeches and Wednesday the class (we let the sixes vote too after some discussion) picked their two favorites-and I am glad they had to choose not me because most of them were wonderful to me.  Plus all that story telling practice has made the class at ease with public speaking.

It was an emotional afternoon with lots of proud parents snapping pictures!   I got a beautiful note that really summed up what is the best part about teaching.

And finally we got to Thursday, the last day with students.  We had another whole school assembly.  We only give awards to seventh graders so this assembly honours library monitors, peer helpers, Me to We club members, and Students Council.  Please note that due to job action we haven't had any extra-curricular sports or even club meetings since March break...  I had put together a slide show of the school year and that played as the kids came in and went out (works very nicely).  We also honoured our staff members who were leaving.

 The rest of my morning was spent reading one of my favorite stories and having the kids write nice things about everyone in the class.  I will put these lists together for them after I get back from holiday and e-mail them or they will pick them up.  I have put the story on a page for you on this blog.
I also let the grade sevens visit favorite places in the school and the grade sixes finally had a picture of them taken (they were feeling a bit neglected I think) and we put together autograph pages etc.

In the afternoon they got my fun award certificates for each person and we went to the nearby park with our grade one buddies-a perfect way to end a year... This has become Angela's and my annual tradition always serving watermelon!  

On our return they got their report cards and felt relieved I think and then it was like a rocket ready to burst but there were many many hugs for everyone.  It was a great ending to what was a great year despite job action and teachers' frustration with the government. As has been noted I really enjoyed this class and look forward to working with my sixth graders for another year with new students added in. 

Yesterday was our last official day but without students.  And I am kind of exhausted!  And now I am into trying to get ready for my big trip-leaving Monday morning.  I am going to switch blogs while I am gone.  You will find me here!  I am on another type of journey...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tying the bow on the package...

When my kids are writing reports, I often seem to be reminding them about writing a conclusion, typing the bow on the package... And with this class, this year, we are at that point of typing the bow on the package, wrapping up the year. 

It wasn't hard to know what my kids were going to say the highlight of the week was this week when they did their spelling tests.  Thursday we were off to Playland, Vancouver's amusement park.  I can't say it is my favorite place but I can assure you it is a favorite place of my students.  I have questioned why we should take them to a place they actually probably will go to on their own or with their family, but they have reminded me that they don't get to go with all their friends.  I have to say it is nice to be able to let these city kids have a day with a bit of freedom as well.  We were lucky and the weather was perfect and they all had a wonderful time.  My colleague and I actually got a chance to basically do nothing, a rare occurrence in our teaching lives. 

It was the last of the presentations this week.  The grade sevens did projects on Ancient India and the grade six students did individual city projects.  I had the grade sevens deliver them to the whole class as they were group projects so that we only had five projects to evaluate.  It was nice to see how my two students who came from the Philippines at the beginning of April were now very much a part of this. 

Because we were going to have 15 grade six projects presented I decided to let them use a station approach so that half presented while the other half "evaluated" and then we switched.  Each student has about five minutes or so to present and then we move to another station.  Thanks to the ipads we can actually do this in our own classroom.  Many of the kids had become very knowledgeable about "their" city and most of the class are now very confident doing prezis. 

The 13 grade sevens had lots to do (last weeks survival give them lots to do and you don't have to mark too carefully at this point) so I let them out of viewing the city presentations.  Since the computer lab was booked I let them work in the classroom next door that our Special Education Assistants use.  I was so busy trying to watch 15 projects that I didn't even check on them.  They assured me that they got lots done but I imagine there was  a fair amount of conversation. 

On their return one student told me that this was a really great last Friday afternoon and when I asked was it because they didn't have to put up with me, she was dismayed.  "No, it was just a really nice way to spend our last Friday afternoon at Trudeau..." I should mention that at lunch time there was also a pizza luncheon for all the kids as a thank you for being peer helpers and hall monitors so that may have added to the enjoyment.

Last year when I had a full grade seven I really realized how "emotional" a time this is for kids who have formed a tight bond in their small elementary school and are now leaving for large high schools and will no longer be all day with their friends and teachers in a place most of them have been since kindergarten.  I am also very happy to see how our  new students have now very much become part of the class and the school after only a couple of months in a new country.

I think I keep saying how important our schools are, something I don't think our government really understands.  For my students, in a multicultural school, almost all the children of immigrants, this is very much their real community centre. 

One project the students were doing Friday was making cards for our teacher-librarian and supervision aide who are retiring.  I am always touched by the memories the kids have and what is important to them. 

So next week we are going to finish tying the bow on the package as the roller coaster ride  finally ends.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June Madness

Yes, another week has ended and less than two to go.  I managed to witness the performance by my class of their story of Bear and Scorpion at the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, write all my report cards, have balloon rockets take off, help with a retirement celebration, live through a Sports Day Carnival,  see the completion of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, go with a few students to the Human Eyes celebration on our Professional Day etc.  etc.

I may just be beyond words at this point.  I still have a zillion things to do before I cart my suitcase on to a plane heading to Spain on July 2nd.

This is a class I will never forget.  And honestly I do remember them all my classes,  but some more clearly than others!  Last year my class astounded me at times with their sheer brilliance and creativity.  But they weren't always easy.  This class isn't always easy either but they just have so much sheer joy in life and  such enthusiasm.  I was so proud of them when they told their story at the festival.  19 out of 28 showed up on a Saturday afternoon and filled in the gaps beautifully for those who were not present...

 I have definitely decided that I am retiring next year.  I better check what I wrote at this time last year!  I said I wasn't ready, I just checked, but this year I think I actually am or will be.  As I think I have noted before, I really regard these years back in the classroom after four years at the school board as a total bonus.  It's not like every minute is great and I still don't like writing report cards but I honestly have had a great learning experience here at Trudeau.  Next year my grade sixes will turn into seventh graders, and it is really nice to be able to keep going with them.

This time of the year you realize you aren't going to do everything you wanted to do, and you kind of yearn for the fresh notebooks of September.  But I look forward to giving these Grade Sevens in particular great memories to take with them.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

And It's June...

As noted before, the years just seem to go faster and faster.  It's hard to believe in less than a month I will be walking along the El Camino in Spain but in the meantime I have 28 report cards to write, a day at Playland to endure, witness my class telling a story as part of  the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, a graduation ceremony to behold etc.  Sorry about that none too grammatically correct sentence!   I love to read stories and there are a zillion stories every day in my classroom.

Last week ended a bit more peacefully than the week before.  It was actually a very fun week.  Last Monday we trekked out to UBC to the Michael Smith Laboratories by public transportation.  Many thanks to my great friends, Val and Sandy, intrepid retired teachers who came along!  The class learned more about mimicry, got to extract their own DNA, and in groups wrote choose your own adventure stories with their own invented creatures, learning how real science comes into science fiction.  This week the kids are busily typing them up and turn them into real books!  This is a good exercise in working as groups!  What a great trip with these wonderful scientists,  and I look forward to being able to do another workshop there next year!

On Friday morning there was another Human Eye workshop.  The kids had a great time creating lanterns  and poster paper images of each other.  On to these this week they put some of the wishes and If you knew me students that the class had created.

That afternoon we had a great time doing Hoops for Heart and Jump Rope for Heart stations with our grade one reading buddies. 

This week that has just ended, we were back at Moberly Arts Centre on Monday for our final session working on our story for the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival.  I think we are all going to miss these sessions. It has been such a special experience.  The big day is today so that I hope that all goes really well.  We had a few classroom practices and the kids did a great job filling in if someone was missing (the common cold seems to have appeared...).  I also have to say what a special place Moberly Arts Centre is, and the herb garden is truly lovely. 

The grade sixes had a great deal of fun doing the unit on paper airplanes as part of their science curriculum.  The grade sevens are learning about plate tectonics.  The grade sevens are continuing on their Ancient India projects and have begun a unit in the library on future problem solving.  The grade sixes are back with me and have just begun the Cities of the World project, each picking a city to research and present to the class.

And of course, there is always Math-the grade sixes will actually finish the whole book and most of the class demonstrate a very good understanding.  We have come along way with Grade Seven math but I think I may have to do math every moment that I can and I don't think we will finish probability nor make it to circle graphs.  

Yesterday we had our final session of Human Eye.  The kids finished off their beautiful lanterns and life size models, as well as having an opportunity to reflect on what they had gained from the project as well as enjoy a couple of their favorite games.   I have to say a couple of times in the first session I had a bit of a panic that the material might be a little too much for my class, but it really turned out to be a great experience for us all.  Special thanks to Neelam!  And as noted before, this class is always up for anything and give everything 100 per cent enthusiasm. 

It's been a hard year with first basically no field trips because we couldn't collect money due to job action, and then field trips but  no extra-curricular activities, but the story telling project, Human Eye, and the Artist in Residence program  have been such a bonus for the class and me. 

The hardest thing in June is knowing there is so much to do and never quite enough time plus it's hard to keep the kids focused on school when the end is in sight.  And I really don't enjoy writing report cards but in three weeks I will be trekking through Spain with other challenges and lots of good memories of this school year.