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Posts Tagged ‘Cari Wilson’

TEDx

Being a part of a TEDx event feels like being invited to an exclusive party, in a room full of smart people and the kind of place I look around and feel ridiculously inadequate.  I did have the opportunity in the fall of 2010 to be part of TEDxUBC and speak about my experiences working with students during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.   This past month I had a second opportunity to speak at a TEDx event, this time TEDxWestVancouverED,  an event organized by four of my colleagues from West Vancouver, Craig Cantlie, Cari Wilson, Brooke Moore and Garth Thomson.  It was a particularly great experience to hear from some of the interesting and passionate people I work with in a format that lends itself to telling a story — stories we don’t often get to tell in our busy day-to-day routines.  When  I first spoke at a TEDx event I highlighted some of what makes these events unique and special:

- the format forces presenters to be concise

- the discussions between presentations are valued

- there is a great mix of people attending from a variety of professions

- the presentations live on through the web

- it is all about ideas

My presentation was based on a blog post I wrote last fall, Some of My Parenting Wishes for My Kids where I shared some personal stories of my own hopes for my kids’ learning.  Here is the video of my TEDx Talk:

And you can also see all the slides I used here:

Thanks again to all of the organizers and volunteers (including our West Van students who helped edit and publish the videos) and, in particular, Craig Cantlie who took the lead.  In the coming weeks other videos will be posted, and I will blog more about this event — there are several must-see presentations.  I will also share the ideas from TEDxKids@Ambleside – another great TED event that will have its videos posted shortly.

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562px-Lighthouse_Lighthouse_Park (1)

I want to check back in and share some of the work going on in West Vancouver.  I last blogged about Some West Van Stories in November.

Director of Instruction Lynne Tomlinson got a boost for her most recent post on our district arts showcase – The Lighthouse Festival – when Sir Ken Robinson shared the post with his 167,000 Twitter followers.  Lynne highlighted the diversity within the arts at our schools:

The festival is indicative of the many programs offered in our district.  The variety of the performances provides a rich schedule of entertaining events as each teacher’s program is unique and highlights different aspects of performing arts.  We have enjoyed performances including: spoken word, theatre, choir, soloist, band, pop musical, flash mob and varied dance.

And she concluded, “This is public education at its finest.” – So true! It is great to expose the larger community to the great work in our schools, and give our students the opportunity to share their work with the “real world”.

Fellow Director of Instruction, Gary Kern, recently shared some of the initial feedback around our 1:1 Action Research.  There has been the good, the challenging and also the surprising.  Included on the surprising list from teachers:

  • It surprises me that people feel that students having 1:1 access to technological devices at any time at school is anything but to be expected. Many have their own iPads, or iPods in their backpacks. At home, although they often must share devices with other family members, all of my students have access to technology almost anytime.
  • How fast it is to find information (instant) when we are discussing things in-class
  • How much having google images supports our ability to “see” what we are learning
  • How many options exist/how many things we can DO with technology to show what we know or find things out
  • For educators too, tech opens up endless teaching and learning opportunities that far-outweigh the frustration of slow Internet, missing chargers, and access denied messages!
  • I was surprised when a teacher said, how can the students take notes from my lesson if they are ‘playing’ with their devices.  I figure the students take snaps and vids when they need to. A paradigm shift needs to be made here.
  • It surprises me that children think that computers are smarter than they are. When they figure out that they are in fact in the driver’s seat of these powerful tools and that the sky is the limit, they begin to see and think over the rainbow!

Sticking with technology, Caulfeild parent Andrea Benton wrote a guest post on Principal Brad Lund’s blog sharing her thinking as to why she supports and encourages the use of technology in their school.  Her post inserts itself into the discussion of what is the right balance in elementary school.  She argues:

Some people believe that technology shouldn’t be in schools. For me, this is short-sighted.  Schools shouldn’t be teaching for today but should be educating students for the jobs of tomorrow. This includes project management, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration. Technology is here to stay and it is only getting more complicated.

Hollyburn Principal Val Brady recently used her blog to nicely outline the WHYs and the WHATs to writing in elementary school.  Her useful post looked at the purpose of writing and what has been changing:

The philosophical underpinnings of teaching writing have shifted over the years. Developing student skills in writing is still important, but engaging students in writing for real purposes leads to joy in writing and at the same time develops communication skills that will serve students a lifetime.  Whether students put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, engaging in writing for real purposes gives voice and structure and develops thinking ability.

For West Bay Vice-Principal Tara Zielinski, a lot of focus in her class has been on Exhibition – the final stage of the PYP experience for grade 7’s:

In one sense, it’s a rite of passage.  However, after having both participated in and led Exhibition for five years now, I know it is so much more.  There have been and will be moments when our students feel like I did on the zip-line platform – fearful, intimidated, and adverse to things they have not yet faced.  Writing a Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry over and over demands resiliency.  Collaboration requires reflection and metacognition. Interviewing experts takes organization and calls for effective questioning skills.  However, each year it is one of the most rewarding components of my job to observe and support our learners as they integrate the essential elements of the PYP and more than six weeks of intense erudition into a final presentation.

At Pauline Johnson, they have just been through the student-led conferences, and Principal-designate Chantal Trudeau shared her thinking around their power:

The student-led conference is a wonderful opportunity for the students themselves to take ownership of their learning and to show their parents and guests what they have learned over the course of a term. Students invariably feel pride in what they have accomplished. They feel independent, confident and important as they read their favorite stories, lead their parents in the calendar routine, show science experiments or Social Studies projects.  Research shows that student-led conferences is a method that better helps students improve their learning, improve parent engagement, and get higher learning results for our students

Ridgeview grade 7 teacher Cari Wilson shared the story of her students inspirational meeting with Molly Burke:

One of the big privileges that comes with being in Grade 7 is the ability to join your school’s “Me to We” group. Last week many students in School District 45 joined thousands and thousands of other students in Me to We’s “I am Silent” day. It is a day of silent protest and solidarity, designed to bring awareness to the plight of the millions of children worldwide who are not listened to. The children who have no voice.

This year, on the day before “I am Silent” day, 5 lucky Grade 6 and 7 Ridgeview students got a chance to meet Molly Burke, a remarkable young Canadian who although blind has found her voice and is using it to inspire young people.

And finally,  also with a large serving of inspiration, West Vancouver Secondary Principal Steve Rauh had his blog taken over by John Galvani a grade 12 student in a wheel chair:

I am John Galvani, I am 17 and I am in a wheelchair. For my Global Education class I organized for wheelchairs to come to my school. I wanted to spread awareness and education about what my life is like in a wheelchair by giving my class the experience of being in a wheelchair for the day.

I contacted BC Wheelchair Basketball Association and arranged for them to deliver 10 wheelchairs on April 10. Ten students volunteered to be in a wheelchair.  They went to their classes, recess, lunch and some even went to P.E.!

We should do this for all grades so that they can see and feel the challenges that people in wheelchairs go through everyday.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of what I do as being the amplifier of good ideas – whether that is done face-to-face or in the digital world, my job is to tell our good stories and connect and network them to others.    And, there are lots of good ideas to share!

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ted_logo

The TED conferences have recently been in the local news with their announcement about the global conference moving to Vancouver and Whistler in 2014, but TEDxMania IS coming to West Vancouver this May. Of course, since June 2006, when Sir Ken Robinson spoke at TED on creativity, the education world has been captivated with TED.  Since then, TED videos have become integral to classrooms and to our professional learning.

And since then, an off-shoot from the TED conferences — the TEDx events — has been created:

“Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, ‘ideas worth spreading,’ the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.”

I have had the opportunity to speak at a TEDx (UBC), where I shared my story of working with students during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I really loved the event format because speakers had to be concise with their presentation within an 18-minute time limit. The format also lent itself to participant discussion between presentations, with a good mix of ideas from people in a wide-range of fields and with different perspectives; it was live-streamed on the web and afterward archived on YouTube, and it was focused on ideas. Talks from that day, like the one Barry MacDonald gave on Boy Smarts, I reference to this day. I was also so impressed with those who volunteered to organize the event because it is a huge undertaking, but a wonderful service for the community.

That said, two groups in West Vancouver have caught the TEDx bug and are setting up for an exciting May:

TEDxWestVancouverED comes from the dedication of four thoughtful and passionate West Vancouver teachers – Craig Cantlie, Cari Wilson, Brooke Moore and Garth Thomson. The event, first hatched at an EdCamp in Delta last fall, is focussed on the future of education and asking some big questions, sharing ideas, and inspiration. Their event, at the Kay Meek Centre on May 11, will celebrate and also challenge – it is the very best of our profession. I am honoured that I have been asked to speak, and I am busily trying to recast a previous blog post on Some of My Parenting Wishes into a TED-worthy presentation.

The second event is TEDxKids@Ambleside, also at the Kay Meek Centre, on Friday, May 17 (for many BC schools this is a professional development day). Focused on curiosity and wonder, and led by the ever-dynamic, Grade 7 student, Qayam (also the event’s curator and founder), it is taking on real shape. The event is also supported by a team of students who would rival any organizing committee in their dedication, focus and execution. It is a thrill to be a support for these students, seeing the event gel, watching them solicit sponsors, weed through speaker candidates, promote via social media and turn a concept and idea into a solid event. Currently, the organizing committee is in the final days of accepting speakers, and has already filled more than 50% of participant seating for the day. The event is truly by the kids, for the kids and will feature some amazingly powerful young speakers.

The power of TED is the engagement that takes place on the day of the event, but it is also what Sir Ken and others have shown – the spreading of good ideas and the sharing of videos that emerge to give these ideas legs. Hopefully, many in my network will be able to attend one or both of the upcoming events, either in person or virtually “full of good ideas worth sharing.”

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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.

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The Globe & Mail recently ran a series (one example here) on teachers across Canada who are leading the charge with innovative teaching infused with technology.  As part of the story, parents, teachers, administrators and others were encouraged to submit their stories about how and in what ways teachers were doing this. I can’t be sure of just how many West Vancouver teachers were nominated, but four applications were shared with me, as well as submitted to the paper, and I want to share their stories because they are such key learning leaders in our district:

Cari Wilson, Teacher at Ridgeview Elementary School and Digital Literacy Resource Teacher for West Vancouver School District.

Cari has been leveraging technology with her students for the past decade, finding ways to make content engaging and empowering students to own their own learning through various web applications.  In her current role, Cari has spent time in every Grade 4 – 7 classroom teaching the power of “creating a learning network.” Learning networks are made possible through technology previously unimaginable; students can connect with other students, teachers, and digital content to help improve their learning understanding and opportunities. Cari’s tireless and enthusiastic approach has provided a glimpse for our whole district about what is possible when we tap into the “collective wisdom” of our learning network. It is work that is shifting our understanding of teaching and learning, and what can truly be possible with innovative practice and digital access.

Martin Andrews, Teacher at Caulfeild Elementary School

Martin has taught at Caulfeild Elementary School for the past 20 years, and currently teaches a Grade 6/7 class. Martin has always been a leader in the use of technology in the classroom, so it was natural for him to jump at the chance to become involved with a new program called iDEC (Inquiry-Based Digitally Enhanced Community). In his role as a lead teacher, Martin helped create an environment which employs Smartboards at the Kindergarten/Grade 1 level, iPads at the Grade 2/3 level and student-owned laptops at the Grade 4 – 7 level. Each classroom was fitted with a wall-mounted, short throw wireless projector and teachers were provided with technology appropriate to their level.  Martin works tirelessly to train teachers, encourage students, and assure parents that what we are doing is making a dramatic and positive difference in student engagement and achievement.  The program uses the Understanding by Design model to deliver curriculum enhanced by the latest digital tools, and also teaches the soft skills necessary for a well-rounded 21st Century Learner.  We call these skills our S.U.C.C.E.E.D. Skills (Self-regulation, Understanding, Creative and Critical thinking, Cooperation and Collaboration, Empathy, Enthusiasm and Determination). Martin helps his students use the technology as an ethical tool to communicate.  They also represent their learning with various types of technology under his tutelage. The iDEC program would still be a dream without Martin’s leadership.

Arlene Anderson, Teacher-Librarian at Rockridge Secondary School

Arlene Anderson is the teacher librarian at Rockridge Secondary School and the recent recipient of the 2010-11 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. The press release around her award describes her well, as the “techno-wiz teacher–librarian [who] inspires students and…reinvents [the] school library. If the school is an atom, the library is its nucleus where energy and enthusiasm fuel ideas.”

Arlene is always learning; she has made efforts to be familiar with and lead the use of noodle bib to help students create annotated bibliographies, wikis and voice threads. She has led staff in the development of scope and sequence for technology, and in understanding the importance of crediting the correct source, finding the original source of information, as well as understanding how to determine if the source is accurate or not.

She is also a side-by-side teacher with her colleagues, as in working with a science teacher to teach students how to create a wiki, find correct information on the Internet and check sources. In this project there were five classes: the first group of students wrote out their research on the wiki, the next group checked the sources/accuracy then added information, the third group also checked and added…etc., and when all five classes had spent time working on these wikis, they had created a powerful document on body systems. Each class had a group of students working on each topic.

Arlene models the way for teacher librarians, at the heart of our schools, embracing technology to support students and their learning.

Christine Winger, James Topp, Mike Richardson, Alex Kozak, Stew Baker and Keith Rispin, Teachers at West Vancouver Secondary School

Six teachers from West Vancouver Secondary School  have undertaken an exploration into how technology can improve both instruction and learning. Specifically, these teachers have agreed to spearhead a 1:1 iPad initiative with a cohort of 28, Grade 10 students working in the subject applications for Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Social Studies, Planning, and Science.

The teachers are exploring applications for the iPad in an attempt to find meaningful ways to collaborate, present content, reduce paper and communicate efficiently with students. Students use their iPad to explore, from a learning perspective, which elements allow for deeper and broader understanding, as well as creating a platform for personalization of learning. To date, many aspects of the initiative have been positive. As with any initiative, there have been minor stumbling blocks as all participants strive to find that balance between efficiency and expediency.

What is so impressive about this group of teachers, and students, is their ongoing willingness to take a risk, try something new, and go back to the drawing board when all else fails.

These are four wonderful examples from four different schools about how teachers are leading the way to improve student learning and engage young people with technology.  Of course, a challenge of highlighting some of these achievements is recognizing there are similar stories in all our schools. We are exceptionally fortunate to have an amazing group of teaching professionals taking the best of what they know about pedagogy and marrying it with the tools of today for tomorrow.

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