Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2012

In my previous post (here) I referenced an upcoming event at SFU, Targeting Technology for Maximum Student Benefit.  To think out loud a bit, as well as to garner some ideas, I want to take a look at a number of issues that need to be unpacked, and to create some models for comment, pushback and refinement. So, the idea is to engage in a larger conversation, but less about the case for change, and more about a tangible idea of what that change might look like.

One of the points raised in the BC Education Plan under Learning with Technology is “The Province will promote the use of technology for both students and educators.”  So, why does the BC Education Plan want to promote the use of technology?  Technology is only the device;  it is access to the benefits of a digitized world where everything is amplified that is the greater goal.  For many, this part of the education plan speaks to moving to one-to-one opportunities.  In the feedback I have seen around this, many have raised concerns over equity, and how one-to-one might further divide our students into have and have-nots, and while most believe technology can help overcome barriers of access and geography, we need to ensure there is some baseline. While it plays out as ‘technology’, what so many want for their children is the benefits of digital learning — relevant, connected, unlimited.

So, given that it seems unlikely that all students will be provided with a similar device (as was done in Maine and has been done in specific grades in BC at different times), what might a model look like that embraces personally owned devices, but would also tackle the  issue of equity for all?

Some underlying background assumptions:

1) If we believe technology is crucial for students moving forward, we need to find a way for all students to have a base level of access.

2)  Many still argue about the merits of technology; however, without question, the world is becoming increasingly digital. Accessing content, communicating, working, learning, and all facets of life are being shaped by the ‘digitization’ of the world.  For our students to thrive in this world, they need to have access AND direction.

3)  All efforts need to be learning efforts; the goal is to increase personalized learning that improves engagement, relevancy, achievement, and the technology is there to support this goal.

3)  Given that it is unlikely any grand plan will come together to support all students and staff with technology, implementation will be incremental.

4)  Simply encouraging students to bring their own devices is not enough, or an effective strategy.  The strategy must be purposeful, supported and unified for both teachers and students.  Failure to do this will leave us with pockets of innovation, and without a sustainable model.

5)  There will be teachers who continue to push the boundaries, who will do amazing and edgy stuff – teachers always have and always will.  But, while this should be encouraged, it shouldn’t be understood as a base expectation.  Not every class needs to be Skyping with students in Europe for their assignments, or producing videos to explain their work (but it’s great in classes that do).

6)  To be clear, one-to-one computing is not the solution to any challenge – it may, though, be part of the answer to going forward.  If we think by placing an Internet appliance in a student’s hands alone will create a more creative, innovative, or more intelligent student we are missing the point.  Like the paper and pen of the last generation, it is the ‘oxygen’ to breathe in a digital world.

So, what might a strategy look like:

1)  It is important to start with either one grade or one school.  While this post covers the technology, there is huge support needed for staff.  This is not a pilot project — this is the first step in a strategy.  The ‘sweet spot’  seems to be between Grades 4 -10. The elementary level is appealing as a starting point because it is one (or very few) teacher(s) interacting with each student, and easier for early success.  Grades 4-10 is also the area where learning strategies can be integrated and cross-curricular, supporting personalized learning strategies.

2)  Teachers need to have the technology in their hands early on to become comfortable with it and before students are using it on a regular basis.  There is also a lot of work to be done to support teachers in adopting pedagogy in this ‘new’ classroom environment.

3)  We need to identify what will make the digital learning ‘sticky’ for classes and schools to enable meaningful and powerful learning; it might be digital writing through a blog, student portfolios, or digital content (e-books/content). It will need to be supported for both teachers and students, and framed around an inquiry-based approach with student ownership and teachers as guides in learning.

4)  A standard about what technology works best is required.  Absolutely, bring what you have, but that strategy is far from perfect. Much can be done with a smartphone, but I am not convinced it is the best device for learning. I still think a small laptop that allows for work production is currently the best device, of course, this is changing with the growth of slates (iPads) and the potential of new devices like ultrabooks.

The really big question, how do we ensure equity?

  • Have students with their own devices bring them. There are more students who have them than we think, and if the case is made that students are benefiting from the learning, more families will invest in the mobile technology for school and home.  If parents can be assured that an investment in Grade 4 will carry their child through for four-to-six years with their learning, many will make this choice.  I am often stunned by families that buy their child a cell phone, but don’t have a computer.  I am also quite comfortable in saying that if they are investing in a cell phone and not a computer there are better options to support their child’s learning.  We need to help guide families with what technology will have the greatest impact in supporting their child’s learning.
  •  Of course, not all students will supply a computer up front, this could range from a few students to the entire class depending on the school or district.  The second option would be a lease-to-own option for students. There are a number of options available with price points around $20 per month.  This picks up on the cell phone argument, and a more affordable device with more value for student learning.  Families could be assured their child would be getting a device that would be ideal for learning for a number of years, and could be used at school and home.
  •  Finally, there are  students that, for many reasons (financial and otherwise) won’t embrace the first two options.  We need to find ways to supply these students with a comparable technology to use at school.  Many schools have class sets of laptops that could be repurposed for this project; in other cases investments will need to be made.  The challenge is that the investments will be uneven (and this is difficult to do) with some schools requiring a greater percentage of investment than others.

The uptake on the first two options will determine the speed at which the program could grow.  There is also a belief (as evidenced) that devices will continue to come down in price over the next few years and the $100 Internet device for schools is hopefully soon at hand.  We can take the approach that laptops may likely be what calculators were for me in senior math, something that I could bring, rent or borrow.

I realize that we are far from coming to terms on the question about whether the future is every student with a device, but I do think many see that as being part of schooling in the not-so-distant future.  If that is true, we need to begin test models.

If we believe this is what we want for all learners in public education, we need to find ways to make sure it is available to all learners.  If we believe that all students should have a level of access, given our economic and political realities, we need to engage and explore ways for this to happen.

Read Full Post »

My apologies up front if this comes across as part blog-post, part infomercial.

I am really looking forward to being part of the upcoming symposium: Targeting Technology for Maximum Student Benefit, to be presented by the Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy at Simon Fraser University.

While much has been bandied about around technology relating to the BC Education Plan, we’ve only just touched the surface. So far, much of the conversation and views expressed have taken quite a simplistic approach;  the conversation has fractured on the one side to notions of embracing personal devices as forward steps to a privatized or American-style public education system, and on the other of charging ahead noting that increased digitization of schooling is inevitable.

The SFU session on February 9th will (hopefully) allow for deeper discussions. Coquitlam Technology Leader, Brian Kuhn, and I have been each given an hour in the morning to respond to the following imagined scenario:

Imagine that you have a budget to support the educational use of technology in a school district that has previously constructed all the necessary technical infrastructure, but has not yet introduced a plan for the use of technology to support learning. Your budget is one-third of what you would require to do all that you feel would be effective given the rate at which staff and students can learn to effectively employ technology.

 Provide a way of thinking about the broad array of potential uses of technology in education, including a conceptual  overview of the options that you believe have been shown to be most important for improving student outcomes through ‘personalizing’ their learning in ways suggested by the BC Education Plan.

Describe how you would use the resources at your disposal over a 5-year period to initiate technology use in a way that would maximize both immediate and eventual benefit for students in a sustainable and generative fashion. Include a rationale for what you choose to do, and to defer.

It is an interesting and challenging scenario, and I am committed to pushing out some thinking, as well as to sharing some thoughts on the future (or perhaps, the lack thereof) of online learning, and a road-map embracing personally owned devices while ensuring equity, and how, using Michael’s Fullan’s words “We ensure we have the right drivers for this change”.

And, personally, as much as I think there is a list of things we could or should do, I also believe there is a list of things we need to stop doing, or not start doing, to keep our focus clear and on student learning as our goal. 

We need to commit our focus on Grades 4 – 10, to focus on a space for learning that allows for personalization, to have expectations for leadership from our administrators and librarians,  to have our learning leaders become our digital learning leaders and integrate, integrate, integrate with the arts, as well as throughout the curriculum.  

On the flip side, we need to take a critical look at the future of distributive learning, to not allow technology to solely report to the business side of our organizations, to be cautious and not go slate (iPad) crazy, and to be wary of digital ‘drill and kill’ or the ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome and, to  not get stuck in the endless loop of technology strategy planning sessions.

Following our responses and participant discussion, Kris Magnusson, SFU Dean of Education, will also have a chance to share his thinking on the above scenario, which will then lead into panel discussions.

I understand from Bruce Beairsto, who has organized the event, there are about 170 people who have signed-up including teachers, administrators, parents, trustees and other educators, leaving only space for about 10 more registrations.  You can find out more about the event from Bruce (here) or register directly (here).

Of course, you can also participate online via Twitter at #bcedsfu.

The simple idea of learning empowered by technology is not so simple.  The more opportunities we have to engage, challenge, press on, pushback, and move forward to some common thinking, the better it is for our system.

UPDATE – JANUARY 23RD – THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT!  MORE TO COME ON MY BLOG AND FOLLOW IT ON TWITTER AT #bcedsfu

Read Full Post »

I have used the above slide in a number of presentations to make the point that British Columbia is leading Canada (perhaps even the world) in the professional use of social media in K-12 education. I freely admit I don’t have the statistics to back up the claim – there are simply more teachers, administrators, parents, trustees, and others here, who are logging into their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts in the name of professional learning, than any other jurisdiction.

In the past year we have moved from several dozen blogs around K-12 education, to numbers in the hundreds, with representation in every area of the education system.  The #bced tag on Twitter is one of the most engaged with conversations about the ever-changing education profession, and there are many other social sites having these conversations as well.

The conversations around the profession itself are very interesting.  In social media, ‘role’ becomes less important; there is a flattening of society and it is ‘ideas’ that have increased value.  There are also incredible opportunities  to reflect, share, and learn without the limitations of geography. I could go on, and there have been many others who have covered the ground about the value of social media for educators, and how Twitter and blogging can be extremely powerful in professional development.  This is true for those interested in education in BC, but it is also true of other professionals around the world.

So why has BC moved so quickly and taken such leadership in this area? As mentioned, I have no statistical proof, but a series of ideas as to why BC is the leading jurisdiction using social media to engage in the profession of education.

Some Thoughts:

1) It is not as “new” here as it is in many places:  Five years ago, as a principal in the Coquitlam School District, I was seeing for my colleagues, blogs were already becoming routine including: Brian Kuhn (district), David Truss (school administrator) and James McConville (teacher), all engaging in social media.  We have a long history of models to look at and are in a much deeper place with this type of learning than other jurisdictions.  So, it is no longer a novelty here that it is in some other areas and is a much more mature and developed.

2) Networking is a core element of BC’s education scene:  Since 2000, Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser have been working with teachers, administrators and other educators through The Network of Performance Based Schools.   This network (which I blogged about here) has been a model for jurisdictions around the world.  The culture of face-to-face networking moves naturally to social media networking, and connects the interest around learning ideas.  This social media networking is an extension of the face-to-face conversations that Halbert and Kaser have long sponsored.

3)  The traditional media “plays” in social media: Most notable is Vancouver Sun Education Reporter, Janet Steffenhagen, who has the popular Report Card blog and is a regular tweeter.  She is not the only one.  From The Globe and Mail, to CKNW, to most local newspaper reporters covering education, they regularly engage in social media.  Often, we now see what will be “news” on a nightly newscast or morning newspaper make news first on Twitter or in a blog.  Social media has become fertile ground for education reporters researching their next story; it is seen as a place to break and make news.

4) Organizations and government “play” in social media: I knew Twitter was part of the establishment and no longer on the fringe when I saw the education minister join a debate online one night. Of course, that is not the only example. Almost every organization involved in education is on Twitter including the BCTFBCPVPA, CUPE, BCSTA and BCPSEA. Not only are these organizations out there in a corporate sense, but many in their leadership have their own accounts.  One can look at examples like the recent Facebook campaign by BC principals, or the revamped and expanded BCSTA social media presence on the value being placed on social media.

5)  There are some regular and thoughtful voices:  There are a number of individuals with a profile well beyond our borders.  From  Bruce Beairsto who blogs on the Canadian Education Association site, to well-known edu-bloggers including Chris Wejr from Agassiz, David Wees from Vancouver, Cale Birk from Kamloops and many more, there are some regular contributors who are seen as “go to” people for interesting reflections and ideas.

6) We are at a time when we are examining the profession:  Even before the BC Education Plan, the last several years have been full of discussions within the system about how a high-performing system should evolve.  With some high-level direction from the province, but not a lot of prescription, the time is ripe for sharing ideas and innovations within and across jurisdictions.

7) We have an amazingly dedicated profession:  Even in challenging times, it is stunning to see the number of teachers, school administrators and other educators spending time in their evenings and weekends to reflect and share through their blogs, Twitter and other venues.  The reason why we have one of the highest performing jurisdictions in the world is because it is accompanied by an equally talented and dedicated group of educators.  As social  media has grown, so has our educators’ need to harness it for professional growth.

This is far from an exhaustive list.  But, I am often asked by other jurisdictions why those who are involved in the BC education system have taken to social media at such a greater rate than anywhere else?  I believe it is our ability to see around the corner to where we need to go next that is part of our success story, and that is what we have done by engaging in social media.

Read Full Post »

While conversations are ongoing in BC and around the world focused on  innovation that are linked to larger system goals including a  greater focus on personalized learning and giving kids greater ownership of their learning, these are not new objectives. Some practices worth highlighting are not only 21st century, or 20th century learning, in fact, some date back to the 19th century, and are an excellent fit for our current educational directions. At least, this is true of Montessori.

Maria Montessori, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developed teaching methods which are often described as part of the “21st century learning” phenomena.  When I spend time in our Montessori School, Eagle Harbour Montessori (currently expanding from a K-3 to a K-5 school), I am always in awe of the self-regulation and keen focus these students have.  When I walk into the room, students continue to work and there is a sense of calm and alert focus. Students are owning their learning, the conversations with primary students are very articulate; they talk about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they need to learn next.

What I have seen at Eagle Harbour is also supported in the recent book from Shannon Helfrich, Montessori Learning in the 21st Century:  A Guide for Parents and Teachers which links Montessori teachings with the latest neuroscientific findings.

So just what does Montessori look like in our setting:

Principles Include (from the Eagle Harbour Montessori Program 2012):

  • Fosters competent, adaptive, independent and responsible citizens who are lifelong learners
  • Emphasizes respect, grace and courtesy for self, others and the environment
  • Allows students to experiment with their learning in a safe and prepared setting
  • Gives students responsibility for their own learning; allowing for freedom of choice and personal interests within a structure. Students are given the opportunity for movement in the classroom
  • Encourages teachers to observe and “guide” students in their learning
  • Allows for multi-age groupings; students teach and learn from each other
  • Encourages students toward intrinsic motivation minimizing reward and punishment
  • Emphasizes community and builds learning communities
  • Implements the three-period lesson (instruction, practice, presentation)
  • Encourages the use of self-correcting materials and practices
  • Opportunities for leadership are encouraged, as well as participation in organization of events and practical life at the school
  • Educates and connects students through an integrated approach to teaching and learning
  • Promotes order and ritual as part of the structure in the prepared environment
  • Promotes inquisitive learners in a cooperative environment
  • Practices concrete, real-world problem solving leading to abstract reasoning
  • Encourages “the inner language of silence” providing time for reflection
  • Emphasizes communication and story-telling
  • Gives students ownership of the facilities and responsibility for their care
  • Emphasizes humanities connection to the land and larger environment
  • Demonstrates an optimistic, proactive world view, and instills in students a belief in the importance of contributing to humanity

This list could easily be taken from any current document on system transformation, whether it be the BC Education Plan, or a similar document that is being produced in so many jurisdictions right now.

There is much to think about, and many options to consider in this current, evolving education system – 21st century learning, personalized learning, or call it something else — and it also includes greater recognition of education systems not necessarily new, but ones that meet the needs of increased personalization.

As I am about to publish this post, I see Val Stevenson, our vice-principal at Eagle Harbour Montessori School, has written an excellent post on a very similar theme about her school.  Her look at Montessori as an example of the new culture of learning is well worth the read (here).

Read Full Post »

I have previously written posts on Principals as Blog Leaders (here), highlighting the blogs from our district leaders and leaders in each of our schools. I have profiled the 17 BC superintendents in Superintendents as Blog Leaders (here), who blog to keep their community current. More recently, I have shared a post featuring our dashboard initiative (here) in West Vancouver, and efforts to give students their own digital learning space. There has been amazing energy around students as blog leaders, and many of our principals and vice-principals have blogged about their experiences, including Judy Duncan, Principal, West Bay Elementary (here), Chris Parslow, Vice-Principal, Gleneagles Elementary (here), Scott Slater, Vice-Principal, Bowen Island Community School (here) and Chantal Trudeau, Principal, Cedardale Elementary (here).

That energy and excitement is spreading. Last week, I spoke with a gentleman with grandchildren in two of our schools. He told me that each child had a blog to show him and were genuinely enthusiastic about what they were doing. It was also the first time they had shown him their writing, and he commented on how they were so engaged, and how he was even able to connect through the technology.

Our Director of Instruction for Technology and Innovation has already covered the student blog-a-thon (here) and a summary from our Digital Literacy Support Teacher (here) gives a comprehensive overview of some of the work taking place with our Grade 4-7 students around digital writing.

I often remind people who are looking in from outside the district with skepticism, envy (or both) at our technology use, the ultimate goal is not to have students blog, it is to have students improve their literacy skills and have the ability to be digital writers, and to do things that would not be possible without the technology.  It is about students creating content to hyperlink to the world, to embed photos and video with text.  It is about students publishing, and then to have the opportunity to receive feedback on their work, review, edit and republish. It is about students producing work not only for their teacher, but for the world. It is about students having their own space to be creative and connect in new ways.  It is, ultimately, about students having greater ownership of their learning.

Twelve months ago, I never would have imagined writing about hundreds of West Vancouver students blogging as a way to share their learning.  It is so exciting to see the new learning students are creating, the teachers that are guiding them, and the parents (and grandparents) who are engaging with them. A slide I often use in presentations simply says, “The Kids Have Tasted the Honey”. Having seen the work presented by so many students this past fall, the viral nature of the growth of digital writing, that quote is so true.  This month, the challenge for students across the district is to publish 5,000 posts (see all the monthly challenges here).

I do want to highlight and celebrate some of the students’ digital writing. As our student blogs are on an internal system, I have copied the text of a few of them when they wrote about their neighbourhood:

Grade Four

Jenna, Westcot

I live in wonderful neighbourhood in West Vancouver close to my school. I live in a cul-de-sac. My neighbourhood has some trees in the background and is open and sunny.

The view from my neighbourhood is wonderful; you can see pretty much see the whole city. I get a view of downtown, the ocean, and the rest of Vancouver. It is very pretty in the night because I can see all the lights and the city looks like it is shining.  When there are fireworks I can see them quite well, and it looks beautiful. The fireworks look like a spurt of colour bursting out of the sky. I can also see the sunset from my neighbourhood. I love seeing the pink and purple sky in the morning and evening. I love the views I get from my neighbourhood.

In my neighbourhood, we sometimes encounter wildlife. During the spring we sometimes get black bears. They would either take someone’s garbage and eat in our yard, or poop in our yard. When we had a plum-tree they would come into our yard and eat all the plums. We have a big grassy yard so I guess the bears like it. Once a black bear tore down my neighbour’s shed and they had to call the police. They did not turn on the flashing lights but, just seeing the stripes on the police car, the bear ran away. I also get a lot of crows in my neighbourhood and they usually perch themselves on the roof or on the electrical wires.

 My neighbourhood is very close to my school. This is convenient so we do not have to leave my house really early. Also, on snow days or warm days we can walk to school which is really fun.

We have wonderful neighbours and we like to go over to their house and play badminton or tag.

This is why my neighbourhood is such a wonderful place to live.

Lauren, West Bay

I have a really cool neighborhood. My street is on a beach. I really like going down to our beach in the summer because the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks is really soothing. I also like living near the beach because I can watch all the boats sail along the coast. It’s really nice sitting on the couch watching seals bob their heads up and down. Once I even saw whales! Can you believe it? Speaking of animals, we see quite a few animals on our street. For instance we have a “Block Deer”. A deer that is so comfortable he walks through the tables of our annual summer block party. Amazing right? On my street it usually smells okay but for a few days now and then it smells like skunk. My family has named the skunk Kyle. We even tell stories about him. We have quite a good time with it. A few days ago there was a baby bear on my street. He was an orphan because his mom was taken away earlier in the season. Luckily he was saved by my neighbors, who found him up their apple tree and stayed at the bottom until the rescue center came and took him. They named him Apple. My favourite animals of all on my street are the raccoons because they’re so cute when they put their paws on the living room window. Watching animals is not the only thing I do in my neighborhood. There are lots of kids. In the summer we like to ride our bikes together and on Halloween after we go trick or treating our street throws a fireworks party and we all watch. I love my neighborhood. It always makes me feel welcome.

 Grade Five

Nicole, Caulfeild

In my neighborhood, we have a glorious view of the water. We are able to see ferries and cruise ships gliding by gracefully. One time we had spotted a Disney Cruise! We could see the water slide hanging off the side of the boat. It was a very cheerful and magical boat.

The wild life around us is amazing. Every morning during the frosty winter you will hear a woodpecker pecking against some sort of metal heater that we have on the roof. The woodpecker has a cherry red mohawk, and a slim black body.

Another type  of wildlife around us are geckos. They look like they have gradient patterns on their backs which make them interesting to look at. Some of them we’ve seen are emerald green and a night black. During figure skating camp in the summer every time we came home there were two gecko’s in between the rock wall of our garden. One of them is a baby gecko and the other is the mother. Their colours were amber and grey. they were not scared of anyone who walked by or looked at them with interest.

One night during the summer we spotted a black bear strolling up the sidewalk beside our driveway. We think it was a cub because it was quite petite.

Another type of wildlife we have around are chipmunks. When me and my family are swimming in our pool,​ you will see tiny chipmunks fighting over a tiny pine cone. (probably because it has fresh seeds inside it.) Although, when the pool is completely calm you see the reflection of them on the glassy water.

In our neighborhood, there is a rocky beach just down the street called, “Stearman” At that beach when I was little I used to collect only one type of shell which is kinda like a mini conch shell. Stearman beach also has a water fall going down the center of the beach leading into the ocean. It is a gorgeous rushing waterfall. Also at the beach I can feel the gritty sand squishing between my toes. It is very ticklish! The water is very cold in the Pacific Ocean so I don’t like going in it very often.

Sherry, Chartwell

My neighbourhood is a fantastic place to live, because it small, quiet, and very peaceful. There are never car crashes, babies never scream, and our leaves don’t make any crunching sound when we step all over them. The only time there is ever any noise is when someone comes to mow our lawn.

Our neighbourhood is very lively. To the North of our house are the Lion Mountains, which have just been showered with mounds and mounds of white, fluffy snow. To the East lies a pretty little park called St. David’s park. Sometimes in the summer, I even go blackberry picking there during late August, when the berries are ripe. To the South is downtown, where I can see the Seabus going back and forth between the two towns, and where I can also see the blazing fury of red, pink, purple, orange, and yellow when I’m watching a breathtaking sunset. To the West is a kind family of Iranians that sometimes help us plant and take care of our garden. Our entire family is very grateful for their time and effort towards our flowers.

Sometimes we get interesting surprises from the wild.  Birds, raccoons, and squirrels come to our neighbourhood to seek out food. Lot’s of mornings I have even woken up to the pretty sound of robins and sparrows chirping outside of my bedroom window.

During the spring, there are often flowers that bloom and grow early, like bluebells, dandelions, roses, and cherry blossoms. When it rains, the dewdrops reflect off of the sun, causing it to look like little, miniature rainbows sparkling in the sunlight. In the summer, there are even more beautiful flowers, and this tie the flowers are all the colours of the rainbow. In the autumn, the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow. When they fall, I often stick them in my scrapbook so I won’t forget that specific fall. And finally, in the winter eventually everything gets covered in a thick blanket of white snow, and the bright red and green holly sticks out of the astonishing white landscape.

My neighbourhood is a great place to live all year round, and I wish that the whole world were as peaceful and beautiful as it is. We have such a great neighbourhood that we should all work hard to protect and cherish it.

Grade Six

Eva, Pauline Johnson

I have lived in my neighbourhood as long as I can remember. My neighbourhood is quiet and remote, but if you scratch the surface you will discover many exciting things. By reading the next couple paragraphs, you will find out lots about my neighbourhood. You’ll find out about the people and the hill and the view from my neighbourhood. You’ll find out that there are good and bad aspects to my neighbourhood. When balancing the good with the bad, my neighbourhood is a pretty nice place to live.

There are not many kids in my neighbourhood but there is an interesting collection of adults that live near me. There is one guy that carves native designs in cedar. He has carved a canoe out of a cedar log, a whale on his front door and he even made an eight meter totem pole that stands in his front yard. There is also a guy who has a red corvette that makes a lot of noise in his garage. There’s a really nice family that lives next to me. Their kids have grown up but they have a really cute dog named Millie and a playful bunny named Bruno who keep me company sometimes. I also have a war veteran as a neighbour who lives with his wife. They are really nice people. The whole group makes up a diverse set of neighbours

My neighbourhood is far from the city on top of a huge hill. There’s up sides and down sides to that. The down sides are that it’s hard to walk home and you are kind of cut off from the community below. The up side is that you get a nice view of the city and the ocean and sometimes you get so much snow that you can’t go to school.  Way up here, we can enjoy all that nature has to offer.  We get the birds chirping in the morning, we get the bear cubs in the spring and in the autumn we have trees bursting with colour. All this gives us a great advantage over living downtown.

My neighbourhood has an amazing view of the city. From up on my hill, we are so high that we are above the fog and can see the fog lying on the city below . Also we get to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the lights of the city at night, the dark rain storm clouds and we can clearly see the lighting storms. The only thing we can’t see is the fresh snow on mountain because we are actually on the mountain side.

You just read about the up sides and the down sides of my neighbourhood. I hope you think that the people are cool as I do.  I think if you saw the view and the nature you would find it magical. I hope you enjoyed reading about my neighbourhood.

Sarah, Pauline Johnson

My neighbourhood is fun and vibrant.  I will tell you all about living somewhere where you can walk to the ocean and why I’m lucky to live in my neighbourhood. I will also tell you about a wonderful park and my memories there, plus my place in Whistler.

In my neighbourhood there’s a park named Westridge Park. There’s a nice tennis court, it seems like nobody ever plays tennis there except for me and my mom. In Westridge Park there are tons of trails to walk around in, my friend and I like to collect all the BB’s while we walk. There are also creeks and streams, on a hot summer day I walk over to Westridge Park with my friend and splash each other with water. The waterfall is awesome; I love hiking up it but believe me it isn’t easy.

I think that I’m lucky to live in my neighbourhood because there are nice people and lots of activities to do. I’m lucky because I live pretty close to the ocean; it’s about a 20 minute walk. It’s a nice walk winding through the streets. When you think about it we’re lucky because there’s clean water and fresh air. Everybody has to go to school, but in some countries they don’t even have schools!

I have a cabin in Whistler as well. Our family loves to ski and we go up there every weekend in the winter and sometimes in the summer. I love Whistler because it’s pretty much always snowing. It’s nice to wake up when it’s snowing and drink hot chocolate getting all excited for the day ahead. I feel lucky to have a place at Whistler because on the drive there, there’s a Tim Horton’s, who doesn’t like a timbits on a long drive?

I told you all about Westridge Park, why I’m lucky and my cabin at Whistler. I hope you enjoyed reading about my neighbourhood, and just think about… do you feel lucky to live where you live?

Kate, Pauline Johnson

Bark! Bark! I sit up and look at my clock it’s 5:30 in the morning and I am once again woken by the sound of barking dogs. I try to go back to sleep but the noise continues. My house is right beside a dog park so in the morning I sometimes awaken to the sounds of barking, growling and once in a while it even sounds as if two dogs were fighting. You have to agree it’s not the nicest thing to be woken by. As I said my house is beside a park and in that park there is a high school. How come kids in high school are always throwing parties? What I’m saying is that in the morning I’m woken up by dogs and at night I can’t sleep because they are doing fireworks as loud as someone’s heart beat after watching a terrifying movie! Let’s say I sometimes have trouble concentrating in school the next day when I can’t stay awake! If you read on you will find out everything about my neighborhood. 

I have talked about how I see and hear lots of dogs. There’s one dog that constantly shows up in my front yard without an owner. Its name is Ellie you’re probably thinking I’m talking about a stray dog but Ellie does have an owner. Since my house is situated right beside a park I have seen a lot of animals some of which have even been inside my house. One animal that I see and hear a lot of are raccoons. One time at 8:30 at night I was reading my book when all of a sudden my cat starts to hiss and my dog is running around downstairs chasing something. I wait in bed thinking of all the possible things they could be chasing. At that very moment I knew that a raccoon was once again in our house. The sly raccoon had gotten through the cat door and had begun to eat the cat’s food. The raccoon had definitely underestimated my cat and was soon chased out by my cat Tommy. I doubt that raccoon will ever come back. Another animal that I see around my house is an adorable barred owl. I don’t see him very often but when I do it’s so fascinating because I know most people haven’t seen one in their natural habitat. When there in their natural habitat they’re so happy and they will do their birdcall and everything. Why go to the zoo when you can see one in your own backyard? The last animal I’m going to write about is bears. I have never seen the bear that lives in the dog park but he’s almost always there (unless he’s in hibernation) but about three weeks ago my mom told me that the bear had been captured. Anyway when the bear was still here he would eat all of the berries and he even went through some of the garbage cans. Of course he did this all at night and if the next day someone went to go pick some berries and they found that they were gone they immediately knew they had been eaten by are neighborhood bear. 

Imagine it as a beautiful, sunny, warm summer day what should I do? Go play soccer in the park with a bunch of my friends go swimming in the creek. Around my house there are so many things to do. I already told you how I live beside a dog park and that in that dog park is a high school. It’s not like my house has a wonderful view of the ocean but I still love where my house is. It is on a dead-end street we never see cars unless they accidentally turned on to our dead-end street. Which means it’s a fantastic place to bike, scooter, roller blade or even play a game of basketball, soccer or any other sport without having to watch out for cars. A lot of parents worry about their children going on to the street to play but no one in my neighborhood worries about their children getting run over by a car since no cars come down our street. Because I live beside a dog park whenever I want I can go and play soccer in the dog park on a grass field with real goals that are actually the right size. It isn’t very fun playing soccer with the size of nets that 5 year olds play with. In the summer blackberries, huckleberries, salmonberries and lots of other berries lots of people don’t even know what salmonberries are! Most people think they are a type of poisonous berry. I think I learn lots more than the average person about nature just by living beside a dog park.

You have all heard how homelessness is an enormous problem in Vancouver in this paragraph I’m going to tell you what I think my neighborhood could do to help the homeless. My neighborhood hasn’t done anything to help homelessness and I think these are some ways my neighborhood can help. I have noticed how in my neighborhood lots of people go on vacation more often than needed even in all of West Vancouver I would say most people have traveled outside of Canada. I think if everyone in my neighborhood went on one less vacation they could give some money to buy homeless people a warm blanket and a pair of comfortable clothes. In the summer my neighborhood had a garage sale if we did that again but this time gave all of the money to a homeless shelter. It would make a big influence in homeless people’s lives. Because pretty much in garage sales it’s giving away objects that you don’t want, why not give it to a good cause instead. Another idea would be to every year everyone in my neighborhood could each donate 20$ to the North Shore Lookout shelter.

Thank you for reading my blog I hoped you learned lots about my neighborhood and in your neighborhood you can also try to make an effort to help the raising number of homeless people in Downtown Vancouver. If you ever want to see wildlife instead of looking in the zoo try finding them in their natural habitats.

Grade Seven

Mollie, Irwin Park

My neighborhood is the perfect place to live. Our hou​se is in a great location for our family. We live in a very environmentally friendly and green location an it is also in a private and quiet place.

Among all the neighborhoods in West Vancouver, I think mine is one of the best.  We live in the Bayridge area, close to Caulfeild Village. To begin with, we are close to many schools, including Rockridge, so I can walk home from high school if I go there. If I did not want to walk home, there is a bus stop right in front of our house! Also, there is a couple of elementary schools that I could have gone to including West Bay and Caulfeild Elementary Schools. Another great thing about my neighborhood is that it is close to Horseshoe Bay, so it is very convenient to go for a nice hike by the water, go for lunch or go to Bowen Island for the day. Lastly, there are lots of little things that are good about my neighborhood like we are a ten minute walk to the beach and we are conveniently close to the highway for going to Whistler on weekends. This is why I like the location of my neighborhood.

Something else that I love about where we live is that it is a very natural environment. We always see wild animals going in and out of our backyard! These animals range from bears, deer, raccoons, skunks and many types of birds. I like seeing animals in our backyard because it shows that we are still at the boundary of an urban forest and that West Vancouver has a wild side to it. Another thing I like is that we have many creeks in our neighborhood where fish come back to spawn in the autumn. Yet another quality that my neighborhood has is that we have two magnificent parks. They are both very natural, not used by many people and fun to explore. You can find secret stashes of blackberries and salmonberries, build tire swings and tree forts. These again are some of the many reasons why my neighborhood comes out on top for me!

Last of all, my neighborhood is so great because it is private and quiet. Also, our lot is great. First of all, we have one the largest properties on our side of the street, which is the north side. Not many people in West Vancouver can have as big of a property as us. My favourite thing about my neighborhood is that it is so quiet. There are never many cars going by at night or in the day so I can have really good sleeps and go for runs safely in the day.  Lastly, because of the size of our lot we have lots of privacy when we are playing outside.

I have listed a number of reasons why my neighborhood is the best. It is quiet and private, very natural and in a great location. It is amazing to think that all these things can be found in one location.

Sarah, Ridgeview

Rain drops cool, snow falls soft, but sunshine is a welcome break. Streams trickle and rivers roar, as away the ocean tides shrink, and as my skipping stone sinks. West Van is a haven of dappled light and shade. Forests hide squirrels, as garbage cans conceal raccoons.

In my yard, there are regular visitors, ones that I feed scraps of bread or leftover food. I always have an animal waiting outside for a meal.  Sometimes the seagulls fly up from the beach to join the crows and sparrows perching in the pines. No matter what small creature comes, they leave with full bellies.

Another great thing is all the remarkable trees that stand guard over the inhabitants of this outstanding place. The wispy white clouds and the sometimes dazzling blue of the sky inspire my poetry, and my writing. Crying seagulls circle over the sandy beaches, waiting for the moment when a scrap is tossed and when they all dive down, big feathery lumps. Here the heart is always full of the sound of the tide and the blue of the sea. The mind empties then sets itself free to wander through the maze of thoughts and to delve into your imagination. Inspiration is everywhere. The very wind calls me to join it, to spread my wings and soar, to leave the world behind.

 I learned to imagine at a young age. At night I would clutch a blue marble, waiting until it settled comfortably into my hand. I would close my eyes and see myself at a cliff with the world spread before me, and then I would unfold my wings and jump. In my dreams I would glide, free of all my worries, and I would remember how it feels to fly, so when I wake up I just have to close my eyes to leave the world.

West Vancouver is a place of beauty, of comfort and safety, of nature. I know how to embrace the wild, flow with it. I hoped that maybe one day I could do something to make it even better. May all the people who pass through come with love and leave loved.

Will, Irwin Park

I think that my neighborhood is the perfect neighborhood to live in for many reasons. People move here because it has so many benefits that other places may not have. Going to school in my neighborhood makes you loads of friends, and the neighborhood is a very kid friendly area. Each person is unique, and together they form an interesting and fun place to live in.

A morning in my neighborhood starts with rays of sunlight pouring through my window. The glittering blue of the ocean reflects off my canary yellow walls, creating an emerald glow. In seconds I am aware of all the sounds around me. The faint barking of our neighbors’ dog and the zoom of cars whizzing by are the two that I can always count on. I look out my window to see the ocean, reaching out with its long arms to the laughing shore. I have always said that the air is so much more fresh and salty due to the ocean, and anyone who has visited Dundarave will notice it right away. I look into our yard, and see the play fort which has doubled as a castle, a spaceship, and a boat. The fence behind it still has a huge hole in it from our bear encounter (that bear sure was grumpy!).

My neighborhood is full of interesting people with interesting personalities. I think that it is these people who make my neighborhood so great. But there are also funny animals that live around me too. One could write a book about the animals in our neighborhood! For example, at least once a week a random cat will roam into our yard, hoping for a can of tuna. We named this cat Minerva, after the cat shape shifting teacher from the Harry Potter series. Another good example would be our neighbor’s dog. Thanks to him I never need to set my alarm clock. At 7:30 every morning it sounds as though he is attempting to drown out a lawnmower!

One thing you will notice as soon as you come to Dundarave is that everybody is friendly and seems to know each other in some way or another. My neighborhood proves that it is a small world after all. You may find out that you sister’s friend’s mom is the aunt of your buddy in Grade One! It sounds confusing, but you get used to it after a little while.

My neighborhood is like the perfect place to live. As we live near the water, we always see the ocean glitter as you take a walk down the Seawall, and the sun cheers up even the gloomiest feelings. A lot of kids live in my neighborhood, so I have a lot of friends. In the summer we find the beach a perfect hangout, as the pier serves as the world’s best diving board. The adrenaline rush that the jump gives you is like nothing else. Hitting the water stings, but will go away when you feel the cool water on your skin. I think that the beach is the best thing about living in Dundarave.

Overall I think that I live in the greatest neighbourhood. All the amazing people are so nice, and so are the surroundings. The nature that surrounds the neighbourhood is bright and vibrant. People come to Dundarave just to take pictures of the scenery! Dundarave is like a patch of Heaven that fell down to earth, and I feel that I am so lucky to live there.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 957 other followers