Monday, April 8, 2013

Visual Journals etc.

I have a list, quite a long list, mainly things I don't seem to want to do but know I must...And of course one item on this list is catching up on the blog.  I seem to being less diligent about doing this than I used to be!  For one thing, there are so many things to report on when you teach!

I don't remember too much about the week prior to the two week Spring Break.  Somewhere in there was a field trip to the MacMillan Space Centre to enhance our Earth Science unit; we went bowling.  There was also a great deal of report card writing on my part.

The report cards didn't go home until after the Spring Break, this Friday.  The public probably has no idea how much time and effort go into report cards.  A bit different than my fourth grade report card that other than marks just said, "Good Work"!

And then after handing out report cards, I made the mistake of reading my students' Foundation Skills
Assessment results; some of which made absolutely no sense.  According to the FSA results, a top math student is not yet meeting expectations in math while a mediocre student is.  There are two math sections, one done on computer so I can't see his answers to that assessment.  The other test was composed of two questions that we haven't yet covered in class (the assessment was in February).  I use a government recommended text and I am on track in my math teaching schedule.  All I can say is what a waste of time and money!  And the harm that has been done by the Fraser Institute using these results to rate school and the local papers publishing these!
Well, I try to be a positive person, so I am not going to dwell on this, in this column.

Earlier, I had written about the beginnings of our visual journal project.  And my class is into it.  Only one or two small journals have temporarily disappeared because of course although you say not to take them home, they do.

The theme has been Journeys-different types, imagined and real.  Needless to say there are a few Planetarium sketches.  There has been a bit of time pressure as the sketchbooks were back ordered and arrived late and the exhibit is happening in a couple of weeks, so I found myself quite often last week saying, "Work on your visual journals if you are finished your other work).  The kids happily do so, even though at times I see puzzled looks as they are thinking about what to do next.  This project is happening in four other classrooms and we will be meeting to share the journals and the work will be displayed at the School Board Education building.  This week we have been trying to figure out the logistics of having 130 elementary students there, in the building that is dedicated to their education but doesn't really have space to accomodate children!  I have to say it's going to be fascinating to see them all there!  I don't think anything like this has ever happened in this building.  Occasionally choirs come and once we had two classes read in the boardroom as part of the Charlotte's Web Read Aloud.  But this is the most elementary students ever to descend into this building!

Needless to say, my kids are also writing about the experience, their drawings.  I think the small size of the pages have made it less intimidating for my less confident artists, but they all seem happy participating.  I have done visual journals in the past but I think this is working better!

For me the other bonus is getting to do this project with four other teachers that I have happily worked with in the past.  Four of us all taught sixth grade together at Moberly but we are now all at different schools.  The fifth teacher  had the class I spent the most time in experimenting when I was at the school board, and she now teaches third grade at a school with one of the other participants.  Children from kindergarten to grade seven are involved.   The project is really driven by Phyllis, who worked with my class last year as an Artist in Residence, and aided and abetted by Peggy, the Arts coordinator based at the school board.  Anyway, it is kind of exciting!

Yes all over the province exciting learning is taking place that can't really be captured by "tests".  The big day at the Vancouver School Board is the morning of April 23rd and the exhibit will be on starting from mid April for three weeks in the lobby on the main floor.

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