Museum of Anthropology - Free Admission
Come and explore the Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks. This new gallery is dedicated to Indigenous art from the Northwest Coast thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Doggone Foundation and the Government of Canada.
The anonymous donor collected more than 200 pieces of important Indigenous art starting in the 1970s. This is thought to be the largest collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art to return to BC in many decades.
The pieces will be displayed with commentary from contemporary Indigenous artists speaking to the importance of the works shown. This opening welcomes children and will feature musical and visual performances. You can even participate in creating a digital graffiti wall!
For more information go to - moa.ubc.ca/portfolio_page/different-light/
I have just returned from the Remembrance Day ceremony at Cates Park in North Vancouver. My feelings are somewhat tumultuous this year, with everything that has been going on. It has been a hard week.
Today, I will mourn all those lost to war and conflict. Tomorrow, we will go out and we will all continue to work towards making sure it is "Never Again" in the only way I believe can work; by kindness and inclusion and acceptance, by tolerance and thoughtfulness and love, by protecting our home - terra - and promoting empathy and responsibility at a community and global level in all the children we work with.
Teachers carry the torch. We say "never again" on a daily basis. Thank you for all you do to help keep back the darkness and move us towards peace.
Jennie Slack - MyPITA Vice President
It’s that dreaded time of year for Grade 4 and Grade 7 teachers… FSAs.
FSA survival is an art-form, and each school and district approaches it differently. As a professional forced to endure them, I have had to come up with a way to not gnaw out my liver in frustration during FSA week. Even more so as I teach a split class, so half my students are doing the test, while the other half are not.
So much wasted time!
My approach has been to try and minimize the waste. Instead of letting the FSA writing sample simply disappear into the aether, I decided to use it as a writing sample for assessment purposes. After all, second term report cards are coming up fast. I also have my non-FSA-year splits write the short and long writing piece as well, providing them with the same prompt and frame. I keep a photocopy of the short and long write from the FSA booklets, and use them to provide information for writing report card comments and to help me recognize what skills we need to work on as a whole class.
It helps to have a use for the FSAs that supports my work as a teacher in the classroom. I have been able to let go of some of the bile and frustration these weeks engender (especially as the whole school loses all our computers for 2 weeks while we cycle our students through doing the online portions). It’s also kind of nice to see if how I mark them matches the marks that return from the windowless rooms where various contracted teachers churn through hundreds of submissions in ridiculously short amounts of time. I have serious concerns about the way the FSAs are marked; at the same time, it is always nice to see if your benchmark grading is consistent with that of your colleagues.
Now, if they’d just stop giving the Fraser Institute access to the information…
Last week, as I was cleaning up at the end of the day, something caught my eye in one of my student's desk. Bending down, I peeked in and saw that, stashed between her duotangs and her pencil box, there were two plastic baggies filled with nugget potatoes.
Teaching is full of absurdities, and this was certainly one of them. In bemusement, and to share the sheer entertainment value inherent in such moments, I polled my neighbouring teachers to see if any of them could think of a reason why my student would have bags of nugget potatoes in her desk. Plenty of double takes and requests to repeat myself, but no theories presented themselves. Friends to whom I told the story suggested a variety of implausible solutions such as "ammunition for a potato gun" and "snacks, for earthquake preparedness" and shared their concern that nugget potatoes were a gateway to russets... and that we all know where THAT leads...
Giggling, I filed it away as something to ask her about, and promptly forgot about it. Until yesterday morning, when as the students were leaving for recess I heard one of them say "get the potatoes!"
Oh right, the potatoes. So I asked what they were up to, and the answer made my heart swell.
They were up to science.
Clearly, the conversations we've been having about creating experiments have born fruit (or tubers, as the case may be). This group of girls had decided to test to see if proximity to running water affected how quickly potatoes sprouted. When they came back, they proudly told me about how they had dug holes at specific distances from the stream running by the school and buried the potatoes there. Not only that, they had sorted the potatoes by size, and had made sure to bury a larger and a smaller one at each distance to see if size made a difference too. They were controlling for variables.
Sometimes, it feels like what we have to say goes in one ear and out the other. And then our students go and show us otherwise.
We do so much to help develop and support the students we teach. “Our kids” we frequently call them; we glory in their accomplishments, and we feel their pain.
Last night, I witnessed a very public example of what our members do every day in our classes. I witnessed it sitting in the audience as a parent, not a teacher for a change, and I witnessed an outpouring of public support for our task that made me cry almost as much as the actions of the teacher and children on the stage.
My son’s school held their Winter concert last night. It was adorable, as most Christmas Concerts are, and all the students were very well prepared and well rehearsed. But what stood out the most was when the Grade 7s went to sing their songs.
Almost every Grade 7 sang a solo line, and sang them well. However, there was one boy who, when he went up, forgot his line in nerves. The music teacher had them there, and they were given to him immediately, but then he went to sing and had a frog in his throat that choked off his voice. The background music was recorded, and he couldn’t recover, and went back to his place, mortified. He stood the rest of the song on the riser with his head hung down, unable to look up.
My heart was wrung for the poor kid. To have failed at something so publicly, and so spectacularly, must have been agonizing.
At the end of the song, Mr. Sled, the music teacher, having talked to the kid quietly for a moment, turned to the audience and said, “I think they can sing that again.” It was a statement that invited response, and the audience erupted in applause. I watched a hand from one of the kids in the riser behind reach out to ruffle the hair on the bowed head, the guy beside him give him a nudge of support, and then the music started again, and the first two soloists stepped forward to sing their lines.
When the line came to the student, he made it up, and he sang his lines beautifully, and he walked back to his spot on the riser to thunderous applause.
I was so proud of him. So proud of his overcoming that paralyzing sense of embarrassment. So proud of the success he achieved. So proud of him for having gotten up, and tried again.
I think I fully realized last night why I am so passionate about Public Education, and the breadth of experience we fight so hard to keep. My kids aren’t just the ones in my classroom, though those are the most known to me. “My kids” are every single student in our school system, and the teachers and support staff are part of that extended school family.
So, to my “brother” Mr. Sled, congratulations on an excellent Winter Concert. It was beautifully organized in general, and that particular issue was handled as well as it was possible to be. Thank you for making visible to an audience our daily triumphs and miracles, and the dance we do to support each student and help them achieve their best.
Forget Christmas, June is the busiest time of year for all teachers! There are year end field trips, report cards, class placement meetings, class parties, band concerts, sports day and so much more. In the midst of all this, we are trying to impart our final bits of knowledge on students, while struggling with the year end intermediate behaviours that inevitably appear on those beautiful sunny days. July 1 will soon come and the bustle of this teacher season will be over. I rarely make New Year's resolutions, but I frequently make July 1 teacher resolutions. Next year I will . . ., No matter the class I will try . . . One of my resolutions this year will be to help truely get this blog up and running. I love that over a year ago I was convinced to join PITA and work with the amazing team! I hope to get into the habit of frequently posting with great, fresh ideas to start implementing in September!
As this year winds down, I also often get stuck on what to give my class at the end of the year. About three months I found this pin on Pinterest via "Drama Mama's Little Corner" blog. She teachers grade two, but I thought this was a 'Kool' idea for intermediate students! I'd probably give them out frozen, that way they can have it right away!
Enjoy the final weeks!
Word clouds are a fun way to display student learning. A few weeks ago, I created a word cloud using Wordle that summed up my students learning in Ancient Egypt.
There are two popular words cloud generators - Wordle and Tagxedo. Wordle creates word clouds in no defined shape. Tagxedo allows you to shape the word clouds into one of the shapes they have available, including an apple, airplane, or heart.
Here are some samples and ideas of how you can use them in your classroom.
All about Me Word Cloud
This is a fun activity at the beginning of the year or anytime!
1) First have students type their name at least 15 times (so it will be the largest)
2) Then have them type in things that describe them. Favourite colour, favourite foods, hobbies, interests etc. Again those things most important to them should be typed more than once and then they will be bigger.
3) Print them off and display them. They look cool in black and white too!
4) If you blog with your class have them embed it in their blog!
One 'book-keeping' note. It may be easier for them to type into a Word docucument first. Then, have them cut and paste their work into Wordle or Tagxedo. That way they can spell-check and ensure they have included everything they thought of.
Other Classroom uses for Word Cloud Generators:
Here is a Tagxedo of my last blog post about the website If It Were My Home. This Tagxedo is embedded as a weblink,; therefore it is interactive. The only downside of Tagxedo is that if you do not have Microsoft Silverlight, you will not be able to view the interactive embedded version. However, you can save images and then use them. See my next example below.
Below is a Tagxedo of my next newsletter contribution. This image is saved and can be used in a variety of ways.
Finally, here is an embedded wordle. You can click on it and it will take your to the wordle website. Wordles become publically accessible if you do not choose to make them private. Therefore, if students make them about themselves, ensure that they are private! This Wordle is of the hand-out from my blogging workshop.
Happy Word Cloud Generating!
N. Keyworth, Grade 7 Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
I love teaching Social Studies and Language Arts, and I love finding new and creative ways to engage students in learning about history and the world.
Recently, I read about a site called If It Were My Home, and I went directly there. I was so excited by the content on this site. It is a Social Studies teacher’s dream comparison site.
If It Were My Home is a unique site that allows students to read about and consider what their life would have been like if they had been born in another country. There are over 100 countries to choose from. This country comparison site allows students to then compare living conditions in their country to other countries around the world. Once you click on a country, the site instantly provides a lot of great mini facts that statistically compare the two countries, including birth and death rates, electricity and oil consumption, health care, class divide, employment opportunities.
If you compare Canada to China the screen would then read –
If China were your home instead of Canada you would . . .
“Consume 91.o2 % less oil”
“die 6.78 years sooner”
When students click on the mini-fact provided, they get a more detailed description of the comparison fact as well as the original source. Not only can you compare Canada to other countries in the world, you can also choose to compare two other countries, for example compare Rwanda to Afghanistan. How are their lives different after comparing Canada to each?
In addition to providing great comparative information, the site also offers, for most countries, an additional reading list with suggested books about the country. I spent an hour exploring the site the first time I went to it. The educational uses were swirling. Here are a few ways I thought it could be implemented into my classroom.
Students can use this site to help find information on a country study. They can use it to compare and explore different government structures around the world. Health care availability can be directly compared.
Create a chart of life around the world and pick 6 different countries and have students compare different facts. They can then use this information to write a report or to do statistical comparisons.
Language Arts (with Social Studies integrated in)
Add a creative writing element and have students write a short story “If I lived in …” or
Have them pretend they are moving to another country and compare and contrast their current life with their new life.
- Use the statistics provided and graph them, analyze them and so on . . .
Energy consumption comparisons
Usage of renewable and non-renewable resources around the world
The Disaster section – see details below
Finally, I teach Grade 7, but every once and awhile I get the dreaded 6/7 split. Any split is difficult to teach, so finding a resource that makes it easier is oh so nice!
Last year, I created and began presenting my workshop “From Dynasties to Communism.” One of the sole purposes of this workshop was to address the Grade 6/7 split in 3 core subject areas – Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. One of the Socials activities I included was a simple comparison of life in Canada to life in modern China. This site will now be added as a recommended destination, and the assignment will be more comprehensive!
This website is an amazing source of easy to use information. In addition to the county comparison tool, check out the Disaster section. Here students can see how man-made and natural disasters have affective the lives of millions of people around the world. Information is provided to help students understand the scope of a disaster in relation to their own country. This can help students better visualize how disaster affect the lives of others in other parts of the world.
N. Keyworth, Grade 7 Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
It was almost a year ago when I was first asked to join the PITA executive, and I am thankful that I said yes. I have enjoyed my first year, and look forward to helping them continue to develop amazing professional development opportunities for intermediate and middle school teachers.
At our last executive meeting, we talked about creating a blog where we share with our members a wide variety of teaching ideas for the intermediate and middle school classroom.
Today, I get 'the blog rolling' with my first post, and the first post for MYPITA!
Oral Novel Presentations
I thought for my first post, I'd share a recent assignment in my classroom that has turned into an amazing success! Before Christmas, I did a 30-minute book talk on over 45 different novels that I thought my Grade Sevens should read and would most likely enjoy. I included current ‘trendy’ books as well as some award winners and classical favourites. The assignment was simple: in each of the Grade Seven classes each student would choose a different novel and prepare an oral presentation on the book. In addition, they would create a bookmark to summarize key parts of the book. My goal was to expose the students to a wide variety of books and have them promote books to their classmates. They were given 2 months to read their book. We set up a schedule the very next day, with one to two students presenting a day from mid-January to mid-February.
So far the presentations have been AMAZING and on this past Tuesday, the students handed in their fabulous bookmarks. The presentations have achieved exactly what I had hoped. Students are now reading the books their classmates read. In addition, many students ended up reading a book they loved and are now reading other books from that author or from a similar genre.
Finally, here are some pictures of a few of the amazing bookmarks the Grade 7’s produced!
The beauty of this assignment is that it can be done at any grade level. I have done oral novel presentations with Grade 4's, 5's, 6's, and 7's. The marking load is minimal, and it addresses so many learning outcomes. The students love having a choice, although be prepared for several students to want the same book. As I did my big book talk, I had them write down all the books that interested them. After talking about every book, I then went back to the beginning and asked who wanted each book. If there was a 'hot' book, I left them until the end. Then we did draws etc. This took sometime, but in the end, I would say everyone left happy! I did have to go and find about 5 books other than the ones in my original talk. I took these students to the library and we spent time narrowing down the right book for them!
N. Keyworth - Grade Seven Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
Looking for community outings for your class or yourself? We will post information of interest to intermediate and middle years teachers.