Strathcona thinks Pink!

This is a bit of a delayed post as we were having technical difficulties.  On February 29th, across Canada, students take time to stand together against bullying and discrimination.  At Strathcona, we came together at an assembly to share our thoughts.  The students in division 5, Mr. McInnes’s class, had been working to raise awareness throughout the month of February.  They shared powerful messages, they sold the Anti-bullying Pink t-shirts and pink accessories to staff and students.  They did an an amazing job decorating our auditorium with pink and messages about the impact of bullying.  They are amazing student leaders!  I planned to share some messages that day at the assembly, but the work of these students and then the amazing message put together by the students in Ms. Daly’s class left me speechless.  I knew that there was nothing I could share at that moment that could possibly deliver a more powerful message than those already expressed by these students.  I know I can’t possibly capture the essence of that assembly, but I do what to share the video created by Ms.Daly’s students and share some images from that day.  This is the video link for you to enjoy:  PINK DAY





And here’s our Charter of Respect redone in Pink!  Strathcona Charter Pink Day.B

Why bathed in books?

While strolling the halls this morning, I dropped into Ms Ng’s class to welcome them back and was invited to hear what they were talking about.  (I love visiting the Jr. building of Strathcona as the halls are always alive with displays of their learning and the children are more than thrilled to talk about what they have portrayed in their work.   – I digress – Ms Ng’s students were talking about their Spring Break experiences but wanted to share their ‘Book Heads’ with me.  What is a book head you ask?  (which of course I did too)  The children ignited!!  “Ms J, we become book heads when we read – we become part of the book!  That’s what happens when we read!!”  Peter, whose book head is displayed, put it quite simply:  “Ms Jorgensen, when you read, you become smarter.”  It’s as simple as that!

This leads me to address this blog’s title:  Bathed in Books.  When asked by anyone; a parent, a colleague, a friend, “What is it we can do to help children learn, succeed…?” My answer is invariably that children need to be bathed in books, great books, wonderful books, those ‘just right’ books a variety of books.  They need to read to each other.  They need to be read to.  They need to talk about books.  They need to explore.  They need to enter into those grand conversations that only those who read can enter!  They need to be BATHED in books from the day they enter the world and their classrooms and schools most certainly need to provide the opportunity to enter the water!

What do I love about getting good books into the hands of children?  You might as well ask me:  “What do you love about eating or breathing?” Answer: “I consider these things essential. What more needs to be said?”

OK, perhaps there’s a bit more to be said. I think that once they have basic food and shelter, good books are THE most important thing that we can give to children. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Good books can be teachers, conveying knowledge across the curriculum.
  • Good books can be vehicles, opening doors into other worlds.
  • Good books can be time machines, transporting kids to other time periods, past and future – real and imaginary.
  • Good books can be kaleidoscopes, helping kids to see things from other perspectives.
  • Good books can be mirrors, helping kids to see themselves.

And, of course, access to good books plays a huge part in motivating kids to spend time reading. When they spend time reading, they become better at reading. Their vocabularies improve, along with their understanding and self-confidence.  They have positive outcomes in the short-term, and continue to reap the rewards of reading across a lifetime.

So, I’d have to say that what I love most about getting good books into the hands of children is the potential to change their lives for the better. I mean, really. What a tremendous gift, to know that by helping kids to gain access to wonderful books, we can help improve their lives forever.   Don’t forget Peter’s wise words:  When we read, we become smarter!

Messages during these challenging times for all

I feel it important to share with parents some information  that might not be known regarding these days of job action.  Over the past months, during Phase 1 of teacher job action, teachers have continued to provide rich learning experiences for the children in their classrooms.  During this first phase of job action, teachers have not been  meeting with management, supervising exams or playgrounds, fundraising, or doing formal report cards.  Parents are sometimes concerned about whether or not they can meet with their child’s classroom teacher about his/her progress and learning.  The answer is absolutely yes!  Teachers are not formally reporting, however, they continue to value the home school partnership.  Times can be set up to support these conversations throughout the week.  As a parent myself, I have learned a great deal about my son as a learner through these conversations and communication with his classroom teacher.  In fact, the information about who he is as a learner, has been far greater and far more productive from these conversations than information I could have gained from a report card. 

As we move forward, know that we ALL are doing so with the same intentions:  to provide the best learning experiences for EVERY child and to continue our belief that we can only do so as a community where relationships are valued and all are respected.  These values epitomize what Strathcona is all about and I am proud to be part of it.

Technology and Blogging teachers

I’m not the only one blogging – Just in case you haven’t checked out our school site thoroughly, located at the bottom of the page is a link to classroom blogs.  Currently, we have 2 blogging classrooms, Ms. Quon’s and Ms. Meza’s sites.  Check them out!  They are a great lens into what’s going on in the classroom!

We also have many staff working with our new bank of iPads.  Student Support Workers are using these tools to support learning for students who have specific learning goals in their Individual Education Plans.  Classroom teachers are exploring the iPad’s use in enhancing student engagement.  Lots of learning and collaboration going on!!

Amazing parent community!

An amazing group who must be acknowledged is our Strathcona PAC.  Support of events, school projects and raised funds have greatly enriched the learning of our students.  Tennis, technology, performances, field trips, arts and crafts supplies, learning resources….and the list goes on are among the resources provided through PAC efforts.   We greatly appreciate the support you provide for our students.  The other day, a classroom teacher commented on how great it was to have a working set of microscopes for the students.  The children could actually see the nucleus of an onion cell!!  Thank you all for your support in time, conversation, in the classrooms and beyond.

Court of Law in the Classroom

One Strathcona senior class recently set up as an experiential learning a court of law.  Students explored an issue which surfaced concerning one student and the school code of conduct. Included in these learning exercises were a full court of judges, jury, crown council, defense team, defendant, bailiff, court reporter and other reporters, and involved various other students and adults subpoenaed. Students  gathered the necessary documents and questioned and cross examined various witnesses. After concluding arguments, the jury were given the task of sorting through the testimony and weighing the validity and relevance of each witness account. Jurors had to suspend their personal opinion or bias and look only at the evidence presented at the trial sorting through questions counter arguments and witness testaments. After many hours over two days the jury were able to present a unanimous conclusion of not guilty to the court, and also make a statement that the accused may not be innocent but that he was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty. Throughout this process students were engaged and learned new skills and an appreciation for the court process.  They will be visiting our Provincial Law Courts in the Spring to further their learning.  This was such an engaging learning experience for all involved!!

Soup Day!

Did you know that every Wednesday, the students in Ms. Persoon’s class serve home made soup to all of the students and staff.  Their work in our gardens, and in partnership with local produce companies and generous donors make this learning possible.  The ties into the curriculum are numerous!  (Healthy living, nutrition, culinary arts, science, math….)  These dedicated students and staff also commit to being stewards of our planet – by

composting, recylcling and being one of the many caretakers of our gardens.