Thursday, October 23, 2014

October already ....Oct 23rd, 2014

I haven't really come up for air yet this school year but I stumbled across my Blog that I was so meticulous about keeping up on a daily basis for the last few years and felt I should provide an update. I hope everyone had a great summer and the sunny extension of it which lasted longer than usual - batten down the hatches now though becuase it sure has got ugly very suddenly!

I am teaching a grade three/four split class at Squamish Elementary which is a strange hybird of primary and intemediate students. Grade fours will receive report cards with grades for the first time ever and will have to face the infamous FSA assessments in January 2015 and the grade threes are sweet but the range of skills is incredible. It is a new teaching venture for me and I must give a shout out to my colleagues who are both encouraging and generous with advice and resources but also having a bit of a laugh at my expense!
In my opinion, these 'combined' classes are not in the best learning interests of our children but that being said the ability to be able to separate and focus on a few heavy duty learning needs in each class instead of having them all together is a bonus.
I will neded to update the information on the Blog and address a whole new teaching experience in the near future.

The teacher's strike in BC lasted from mid June to mid September, 2014. We returned to school and our classrooms on September 22nd. I am grateful to be back to work and while there were certain small things that we could be said to have 'gained' in the standoff with this anti-education government, the deal was not a good one and being back to work now for the last six weeks things are worse than they have been the past few years for funding and adequate resources and personnel for our growing school. It is very sad and a battle to provide the students what they need to be as successful as they can be in this system.

I am headed to the BC Math teacher's conference tomorrow and truthfully I am not looking forward to driving out to Surrey but I know once I get there it will be fine. I do hope the weather is a bit better for travelling.

I also hope all my grade six and seven students from the last school year are enjoying the experience of being at Middle School. I am thinking of them and wishing them well but I do not regret the decison to stay at elementary school.

Look for a new Blog as this one can no longer be called Johnstonsevens any more. I will ask my current students what they might like to call it before I start again in earnest. Not even really sure if it is something that will be helpful to parents- maybe that is another poll I have to consider.
Lots of changes - be patient and I will get back in the Blog zone one way or another!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday June 2nd already

Apologies to my loyal readers - last week was one crazy week. I'll keep it short and sweet as it is nearly 10pm - another busy evening but the good news is that I do not have strep throat as I thought just laryngitis. How exactly does a teacher "rest his/her voice"?

Monday May 26th we were out on a picket line on day one of rotating strikes around the province of BC.

Tuesday May 27th back to school for one day before camp trip which we were lucky enough to salvage before the escalating job action. We did some reading for ancient Greece for social studies, reviewed the transformations unit for Math 7 and had some time to get started on the creative brochures for our Greek destinations of ancient importance.

Wednesday May 28th - Friday May 30th we were at Evans lake camp and had full days of outdoor activities including : archery, hiking, outdoor survival, tree identification, shelter building, fire making, canoeing, swimming, climbing, field games, mass group games in the forest, campfire, paddle boarding and excellent meals. The students participated in daily chores around camp before and after meals and did themselves proud.
Would like to send a great big hug and thank you to the parent volunteers who made it all possible.
Thanks to Leanne Embree and her never empty bag of first aid and TLC items for every ailment; she was invaluable at the canoe dock fitting those pesky PFD (or is it PDF's), to Sandra Friestadt (who enthusiastically participated in everything we throw at her including sharing blankets and cabin duties and her husband Darrell who ran the archery range like a "boss" on Friday, to Fred Himchliffe who hauled every student up the bluffs of the climbing wall with Matt Parker Wed-Friday. To Doug White who hammed it up at campfire, Pam who had to take care of an unexpected drama on the first night
And handled it like a pro and of course the Evans
 Lake staff Leo, Jess, Alana, Georgia and Davie (mad, crazy Davie who told a story that won't soon be forgotten about Floppy the cook).
We arrived back to school Friday at 2pm.
Another end of year camp over - tired, needing a good sleep and a long shower but happy that everything went as planned. Thanks everyone- it takes a cast of characters to make a venture like this a success.

And so to today, Monday June 2nd

It was strange trying to get into the swing of being back in class again but we were quite mellow today.

Phys Ed.
We did some rotation activities in practice for the upcoming sports day

Language arts
we completed a journal entry about camp and our favourite activities
Then we found our vocabulary activities to continue with learning the etymology of our English language ( I am impresses with how some student are powering through these language activities)

Math 7
today we completed the review from last Tuesday for the unit on Transformations and those complete did a bonus activity in the text book the Chapter 1 review

Read to self time was also used for some students to get incomplete activities completed
Happy Birthday to Dylan :)

Social studies - a follow up the the Ancient Greek government structure and how it is related to many democratic countries to this day. We also looked at the difference in the social structure in the ancient city states of  Athens and Sparta.

Personal planning
From conception to birth - an amazing 10 minute Ted talks showing MRI images to follow the development and birth of a baby.

Class game (DPA) to finish the day
We will be having a sports day on Thursday
Our next day for rotational strike is this Friday

Have a good week.
Mrs. J.

Friday, May 23, 2014

this week Wednesday through Friday May 21-23rd

Apologies on the lack of a daily post this week - it has been an incredibly busy few days with the camp prep, the June-like "nearly-done"-with-elementary-school mentality of the students and all the projects we have on the go.

I think the students are getting a little excited for camp next week. Wed- Fri at Evans lake camp and I know for sure there are many miixed emotions about the end of the elementary years.

We have completed the dietary lists, the cabin groups and the activity groups and all that's left is the packing details.

Students must bring their camp agreements on Tuesday- there are 6 to recieve from Robert, Scott, Hunter, Erik, Kayleigh and Georgina (all grade 7's !!)

Our Day Wednesday May 21st

Socials: Ancient Greece
Grecian Odessey virtual trip
Delphi today

Vocabulary activites

math 7 transformnations: rotations or turns
read to self

Phy Ed gymnastics appartatus rotation

Class meeting with Mrs. Paxton- needed to discuss general end of year daily behaviour and camp expectations

our day Thursday May 22nd

socials virtual tour: Olympia and Epiduarus

Band class

Math 7 complete rotations and split into smaller groups for work on the Spend a Million project

read to self

Languages around the world activity 5 languages- French, Japanese, Chinese, German and Spanish

start the National Geographic documentary about Atlantis

pack up and spend last five minutes on the Spider Web - DPA

May 23rd

Grecian Odessey: Mycenae and Corinth

Complete activity and documatary for Atlantis

Math 7 Jeopardy game quiz review of topics
congratulations to winners Max and Scott and runners up Robert, Austin and Dylan

read to self

lab time: 2048 just try it "Candy Crush for math geeks"

cooperative games for last half hour: Scrabble, checkers, chess, Pictionary, googleplex, dominoes and cards

reminder no school Monday
pack for camp this weekend maybe (trial run?)

have a good weekend
see everyone on Tuesday
Mrs. J.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

back to school after the long weekend May 20th

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend.

I realize that I did not update on Thursday last week! Most of our afternoon was spent at HSSS. It was called The Spice of Life installation.
We had our multi cultural celebration in the HSSS outdoor courtyard and the weather held for us to be able to share our feast outside too. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the pot luck. We had enough with our goodies and the HSSS cafeteria to feed nealy 130 people!!
We had a variety of international cuisine and it was fabulous.
The tablecloths looked amazing too blowing in the wind as they were displayed on the walls of the school around the courtyard. Thanks to Cynthia who did our Native blessing and thankfully the speeches were not too long or tedious. I was proud of the overall representation from our school.

Today, May 20th

Fortunately- unfortunately
Unfortunately it was announced today that, if there is no change at the bargaining table, teachers around the province will begin rotating job action as a last ditch effort to apply some pressure.
Fortunately the day we are on that job action (Monday May 26th) will not affect the Evans Lake camp which is one thing that we were concerened about.
Fortunately we are still at the bargaining table on Thursday of this week and maybe things can be sorted out before any rotating job action begins.
Unfortunately I personally won't be holding my breath that this will be a reality but it is nice to dream a little!


a camp agreement form was sent home this evening and needs to be signed by parents before it is returned hopefully later this week.

Our day

band class

language arts- mastering vocabulary and etymology activties
Units 2-4 studetns are working through the packets in sequiential order -some are further ahead than others! However, if I keep accurate check on who has done whjat and who needs to complete certain units then it is all good.

math 7 quiz for translations (slides)
Worked today on mirror image or refelctions - used the hand held mirrors for them to check the tranformations.
the general class managed to hold it together for 40 minmutes today before becoming a little squirrely - need to keep this in mind for planning over the next few weeks.

read to self- and some used the time to complete activites that were incomplete

computer lab time
Ancient Greece game on the BBC website called The Hero Game in which students set out on a quest to travel to three city states and gather hero points along the way, not unlike a very basic Pokemon.

Back in class we covered the Camp Guidelines for safety. Students are asked to go over them with their parents and get their agreement by signature. We also read out the cabin lists - a little bit of wiggle room is still available but we have 4 boys' cabins and four girl's cabins pretty much full. There are a few that are smaller but away from the main cabin area and in with the camp instructor cabins.

We packed up and headed out to the spider web for the last five minutes in the sunshine. For the most part, our Tuesday was prodcutive and calm.
have a nice evening,
Mrs. J.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday May 14th

I have great news - a student returned the missing battery today - thank-you, my faith in my students is restored :)  and I have learned an important lesson about being more mindful of where I set things down!
Who may have put it into his backpack is not important - the important thing to me is that it has been returned.

Tomorrow is our biennale celebration at HSSS please see the notice that went home tonight - I realize perhaps a bit too late for some but even a box of Timbits would be a nice addition to our pot luck - it is meant mostly to be symbolic of all different types of   'Cultural' food
For example (even though it is a bit out of season) I will be contributing some Scottish shortbread - not the haggis that I had originally planned!! Lol
Cynthia, our native support worker has agreed to bring her drum and do a Native blessing for us as well as bake us some bannock tonight
A letter went home tonight regarding the possibility of one day of camp being affected by escalating job action - when we know more, we will be much more specific.
We all had class year end photographs taken today and the annual panorama - it was organized chaos!!
No school Friday or Monday - Victoria day long weekend already (where does a the time go?)

Our day
Grecian Odessey day # 4 today we 'visited' the temples and scared site called Delphi in the middle of nowhere in Greece - this is the place that they Greeks deemed to be the centre of the earth at the time of the Ancient Greek civilization
It was also the place many years ago that some of my students complained that they were getting tired of seeing 'rubble' ! Sheesh!
Guess that is a teenage take on ancient ruins.

We then continued to work on the activity that asked students to identify various food items with their countries and continents - it was fun watching the students map out where certain capital cities were (their clue for the food). We have a huge worldmap at the front of the class and they swarmed around it and helped each other discover places that they had 'never heard of' !

Math 6 and 7 were a bit interrupted by the photo sessions outside in the sun but we still managed to review and correct the translations sheet from yesterday - we managed to recap 5 main ideas that we learned about translations (slides)
Then we worked on our projects until time for the whole school panorama photo just before lunch

Read to self time allowed me to catch up with my students who have just returned from a couple of weeks away.

For Phys Ed. We opened the back door and had three different sessions (thanks, Cynthia) one was floor hockey, badminton and outside with the frisbees and basketball

Back in class we watched 15 minutes of a BBC programme that showcased the city of Athens and discussed the birth of theatre on the back of democracy. I enjoyed hearing the students identify the places in the video from the recent slide show -that was the point. Yay, some thigs are getting through to the hormonal brain :)

All in all a productive day. 
Have a wonderful evening
Mrs. J.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13th beautiful Tuesday

FYI the letter regarding Evans lake will go home tomorrow- had it ready but didn't get to the photocopier on time
Please send some thing for us to share for our Potluck at HSSS on Thursday this week- we will be heading there in the afternoon for the unveiling of our art and language project
No school Friday and long weekend (Victoria Day) Monday

APB for a missing lithium battery that was taken from the classroom sound system - the battery is not an ordinary AA but a special order lithium rechargeable specifically for the sound field. It is disappointing to know that one of the students has purposefully removed it from the microphone but there is always the chance for it to appear no questions asked on my desk or somewhere in class!

Our day

Band class first block

Then we discussed the plans for ensuring a camp experience will be taking place as one of the students had 'heard' it had been cancelled and this created some concerns.
This is how rumors get started!! It is not cancelled.
I had to be careful not to get into the politics of the issue and to keep it focused on the students. You would have been proud of the questions they were asking about education. Felt it better to skirt some answers to keep our discussion about us - our camp and our efforts to ensure it goes ahead :)

I moved quickly into our Grecian Odessey tour of Greece
Day 3 today

Slides were shared and some details explained about he day 3 guided tour and ferry trip from Pireus to the Saroinc Gulf islands of Aegina, Poros and Hydra.
They saw the donkey taxi cabs! Hydra has no vehicles.
The squid drying in the rigging of a fishing boat, fresh from the sea. The market in the harbour in Aegina (no big grocery chains to shop in). The produce is shipped in each day by boat. They observed the very different architecture of Poros which is a Naval base (fortress).

Math 7 transformations today
The slide - not the line dance!!
A slide is also referred to as a Translation- translating the (x,y) coordinates of a point
The vocabulary of translation is written. In square brackets like so
[3,5] this translates to a point move of 3 units right and 5 up
[ -3, -5] translates to a point move of 3 units to the left and 5 down

Students translate the point move and then move the points to create the same shape in a different spot - thus sliding it from one point to the other. When points are joined (connect the dots) a 3-D prism is the result.

We flipped the afternoon
We used a half hour in the gym for a floor hockey game and / or badminton or basketball - we managed this extra gym time as another class was on a fieldtrip.

We went from there to the computer lab
First I asked them to check the EF educational tours website where they discovered that the Grecian Odessey is still one of the options and that it now costs $2600 for a 12 day experience!
There are many different options for trips - it is an interesting website to visit.
Says me!

Before any free time (although some needed to be reminded) the grade sevens looked at the work
done so far as they had a chance to print for their Spend a Million project.
Last 10 minutes free time. Elijah showed me the animations that he created at. Cyber camp over spring break and another showed me how to navigate the Dan Ball virtual chemistry experiments! I learn a little everyday.
I also find that there are some things that I do not understand everyday!!

Back in class the students settled for their read to self time - that's when I discovered the missing battery - it wasn't an accident!

Anyway - I try not to take these things personally because on the stage of world disaster they do not register but it takes energy to deal with and I do not like to end the school day feeling disappointed.

After a cold drink with added vitamins, I managed to put it into perspective! Many thanks, cold drink ninja!

Have a lovely evening
Mrs. J.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12th Monday

Happy Birthday Maria Jelica and many thanks from your classmates who celebrated with a very generous selection of donuts - nice treat for a Monday- thanks mom:)

Camp payment ?
Hot lunch orders for May due today
Have placed everyone who has not returned the dietary form yet on the list for camp as 'regular' diet
Thursday is our Pot Luck at HSSS for to he project "installation" - please consider sending something for us to share
We are preparing a letter to parents regarding the possibility of escalating job action and the contingency plans for camp - look for that tomorrow
Friday is a professional development day
Monday is Victoria Day - long weekend coming up

Our day
Thanks for the help setting up the gym this morning boys - much appreciated
Also thank you to Austin and Robert, Sukhreet and Simrin who spent time organizing and tidying up the equipment room while the rest of us either played badminton or floor hockey.

It was a treat to get some practice using the new sound system in the gym although I need to work at not making the wireless microphone scream at us!!

Everyone seemd to enjoy the selection of tunes and worked cooperatively together while getting some Monday morning exercise- lots of tried bodies today though!

Back in class we set about the mastering vocabulary units that for many were yet to be complete- a handful worked on Unit 3 (three) while the rest completed the Unit 2 work from last week. Greek and Latin etymology helps us understand many new words and gives us another tool for making sense of parts of words and then inferring meaning from prefix, suffix and roots.
The students seem to enjoy it. And, with each unit we do, they are becoming more adept at recognizing these word parts.
It was amusing to find them making up some of their own crazy words and asking things like...
"Mrs. J. Are you an autochronophobic? You know, fearful of timing yourself?"
Yes, I am. I do not want to time myself on how long these Blog posts take! Thanks for asking!

Math 7
today we reviewed the skill of identifying Cartesian graph coordinates (x,y) before we begin looking at transformations (translations, reflections and rotations).
According to results a review was very necessary because without the skill of coordinate plotting the
unit  will be more challenging than it should be.

For some reason (spring, hormones, tiredness, lack of interest) a handful of students had a real challenge focussing on the math activity and instead heckled one another - they are kind of like puppies right now! It only takes one snarky comment from a classmate (or one weird noise) to set them all off.  It would be funny if it wasn't so silly!
We did manage to complete two activities and will start the Chapter 1 work in the text tomorrow, God willing! Wish me luck.

Read to self or use for activity completion
 It took me the majority of this reading time to remember how to set up the slide carousel - it is a really old one! (Excuses, excuses)

Socials today

Introduction to Greece : we started a virtual tour of Greece today based on the trip that I took with high school students many years ago from then Brackendale Secondary with EF educational tours.
I asked them kindly not to laugh too hard at the once 'state-of -the -art- technology' that was a carousel of slides of pictures developed from a good old fashioned Kodak camera (remember those?).
The students looked at me funny- only a handful said they knew what I was talking about!

They were motivated to look at the photograph albums to find ancient pictures of Mrs. J before she was Mrs. J. (Bad hair and poor sense of style! It was the early 90's folks. One part kind of funny and two parts embarrassing!) those students who were on that trip are now in their 30's - that is so hard to believe! I am officially older than I think I am.
Sorry, I digress....senior moment

Today we completed days 1 and 2 of the seven day tour.

So far we have travelled to Greece (nearly a day 5 hours to Toronto - 4 hour layover and the red-eye to Athens). Then day 1 and 2 in the city of Athens and at the Acropolis. Students seemed interested, observed the detail in the slides (honestly not that they were that great) and asked questions.
They noticed narrow roads, lots of vehicles parked along those narrow roads, mopeds, smog in the city atmosphere, lots of ancient archaeological sites, dense buildings and lack of open areas in the city, architecture and many sites of interest for tourists.
I haven't told them yet about the tons of homeless ferile cats in the parks! Although I did mention the cockroach in the bathroom of the hotel and the difference in the toilets and shower set up - things that you kind of have to experience for yourself.

The intention is to complete the 'tour' and use the notes from it to chose one of the spots on the tour (Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, Epidaurus, the Saronic gulf islands) to research and develop into a creative brochure to encourage other people to visit that particular spot. I need to ensure they understand why they are taking notes tomorrow as some had difficulty today with the actual writing of notes from the slide presentation.  As it became later in the afternoon, the ability to focus took a dive too!

After leaving Athens, we worked on an activity that had them identify various food items from around the world and try to identify the country and the continent from the capital city clue
Example: If I am eating moussaka in Athens, I am in Greece, Europe
This was a bit of a cheesy connection as a reminder of our pot luck on Thursday!!

Monday's got to love them!
Have a great evening
Hope Mother's Day was everything you expected (or maybe didn't expect if was a nice surprise!)
Mrs. J.