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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Summer Wish for my Emily Stowe Family

Filed under: Community,Learning,Outdoor Education,Parent Engagement,Personal Thoughts — lisamunro at 2:15 pm on Monday, June 23, 2014

family_summer_holidaysEarlier this year I shared with you the three expectations that students at Emily Stowe Public School are expected to follow throughout the year:

  • Be safe
  • Demonstrate respect (and all positive character traits)
  • We are here to learn.

My hopes for all of you and your families over the summer holidays, do not stray far from our school expectations:

  • I hope you and your family keep safe whether you are travelling or staying close to home.
  • May respect befall you; in the way you are treated and the way you treat others.  Whether you are trying exercise patience navigating busy summer destinations, finding innovative ways to beat mosquitos,  the summer heat or encouraging cooperation amongst siblings and finding humor when things don’t go as planned.
  • Finally I wish that learning finds you no matter where you go or whatever you do.  Summer learning can be some of the most exciting learning of all.  It might be exploring a new destination, revisiting a local favourite destination, learning a new campfire song, inventing a new summer recipe, or reading some literary treasures.

I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you on September 2, 2014 for another exciting year together. And if you have the time and the inclination, come back here to my blog and tell me about some of your summer adventures. I’d love to hear about them.

Have a fun fill, safe and happy summer!

Here are some fun links you might enjoy looking at:

1. Trails in Southwestern Ontario for hiking, walking and exploring.
2. Galleries and Museums in Ontario
3. Ontario’s Waterways - click on the map of Ontario and explore
4. Norwich Public Library - list of summer activities on their front page
5. Summer Skating Schedule
6. YMCA Summer Schedule - Woodstock
7. And no summer is complete without a trip or two to Ritchies Ice Cream

 

 

 

Citizens CAN change the World!

Filed under: Community,Parent Engagement,Personal Thoughts — lisamunro at 12:33 am on Monday, June 16, 2014

I love keeping track of “firsts” and this week we hosted our first annual Volunteer Tea.  Many volunteers were able to attend so we could recognize their contributions to our school community, but since not everyone was there, I want to extend a sincere THANK YOU to all of the volunteers who have been able to support the ESPS community in any capacity throughout the year. All contributions are valuable, whether you were able to attend a class trip, support the hot lunch program, participate in Parent Council, prepare food for the healthy snack program, or support students with learning in the classroom.   During the tea I shared the following quote about my belief in the impact of volunteers:

 Margaret Mead quote

 

Thank you for all of your support throughout the year.  The “citizens of our community” have certainly changed the world at Emily Stowe. We value all you have done and look forward to a continued partnership in the new school year.

Here is a quick link to a pictorial slide show of our community fund raiser which went towards our play-yard equipment. We raised over $40,000 on this night! Truly world changing for all the students at ESPS!

FundraiserSlideShow

 || click image to see the slide show ||

More Than Just a Field Trip!

Filed under: Outdoor Education,Parent Engagement — lisamunro at 8:28 am on Monday, June 9, 2014

There are many field trips planned during the month of June, a tradition I recall from my past days as a student in elementary school.  These excursions, whether they are as close as a Harold Bishop Park or as far away as Quebec City, have the potential for providing lifelong memories and valuable learning opportunities that can be enriched both at school and at home.

field_trip copyAt school, well thought out year-end field trips (or any field trips throughout the year) can provide rich applications to the Ontario curriculum.  They can be opportunities to ignite curiosity, build connections to current learning or reinforce past learning in the classroom.  Beyond the academic component, field trips may also provide a chance for team building and provide a final farewell celebration with a ‘classroom family’ that has emerged over the last 10 months.

At home, field trips present a perfect forum for parental engagement in school life. They provide a wealth of conversational ideas to enhance oral language skills in both listening and speaking.  Conversations that involve making predictions about what the trip will be like, asking questions, recalling the events of the day and making connections between the field trip experiences and other parts of life are exceptional ways to enhance comprehension skills, while deepening the connections between school and home.

This week my youngest son is heading off on an overnight trip.  For the past week we have been planning together, making lists of necessary items, talking about what to expect while he is away; what he is most excited about (kayaking) and least excited about (bugs). When he returns, I am already excited to share in his adventures.  To me there is no doubt that a learning task embedded in a real world application is one of the most engaging learning experiences a student can have! What learning adventures have you and your family had? Would love to hear about them!

If you are looking for some ideas for good family field trips, Attractions Ontario has a very useful Ontario’s Field Trip Planner for Educators 2013/2014 On page 8 of this document you’ll find the Attraction Index where the attractions are all listed with related subject and grade level suggestions!  A very useful and practical guide.

What Is Your Job?

Filed under: Learning,Literacy,Parent Engagement,Student Achievement — lisamunro at 12:39 am on Monday, May 26, 2014

steveJobsquoteI recently read a blog entitled “What’s Your Job.” The blog made me to reflect on my job as an educator.  Steve Jobs said it well, ““The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Teaching is the career that I have chosen because I love what I do. I genuinely want to make a difference in the lives of the students that I work with.  I want Emily Stowe to be a place that everyone wants to be on a daily basis.

It seems like the obvious answer to the question “What’s Your Job” for an educator is to teach children and prepare them for the work world.  For me the job goes far beyond that. At the end of the day my job is to ignite a passion for learning, instill confidence, emphasize good character and provide the skills and rigor necessary for our students to be contributing citizens of the world.

This question also left me thinking about what my job is in supporting families in their child’s education.  Are there ways that we, as a school community, can better support families with the learning that happens at home?  I am certain there are always ways we can grow so I would love to hear from you.  If there are topics you would like to hear more about in weekly blogs or topics that can be explored at the school level, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected].  Your ideas may provide wonderful inspiration for next steps.

I leave you with one final request.  As parents and community members I encourage you to reflect on what your job is in your child’s education.  What parts of your role are most proud of and where would you like to go next?


20 Ways You Can Help Your Children Succeed in School

44 Proven Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Their Children Do Better in School

Ways to Cooperate with Teachers for the Benefit of Your Child


 

Motherhood – Greatest Gift

Filed under: Personal Thoughts — lisamunro at 6:12 pm on Sunday, May 11, 2014

mommyOn Friday one of our FDK classes hosted a Mother’s Day Tea. It was wonderful to watch the students swell with pride as they shared tea and scones with moms and grandmas. It was touching hearing the children share what they love most about their moms- a kiss good night, a clean blankie, playing outside – showing that even the littlest acts of motherhood can have a lasting impact on children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! The role of motherhood changes from day to day and year to year. Being the mom of a kindergartener is different than being the mom of a teenager, with unique rewards and challenges at each stage. Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes. For me, motherhood is the biggest responsibility I have been charged with and yet the greatest gift I have ever received. I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

The Fourth R – Resilency!

Filed under: Learning,Student Achievement — lisamunro at 10:01 pm on Monday, May 5, 2014

resilienceYou have probably heard of the 3 Rs, in education. What about the fourth R – Resiliency? Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failure, be motivated by challenges and believe in your own abilities to deal with the stress and difficulties in life. Resiliency skills are as important as the other 3 Rs because every child’s life will be touched by setbacks as well as achievement, pain as well as joy, loss as well as triumph. In order for children to reach their fullest potential they need to know how to approach life with resilience. What you might not know is that, just like reading, writing and arithmetic, resiliency can be learned. Children learn from their parents, teachers and coaches – how to develop the skills of resilience. Resilience enables your child to thrive no matter what life puts in his or her path.

How You Can Help Children Build Resiliency:

  • Start with a nurturing and caring relationship
  • Add lots of listening and respect for the young person’s voice
  • Teach skills for self-control and self-discipline
  • Believe in their ideas, dreams and abilities
  • Model optimistic thinking
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills and ways to handle disappointment)

Taken from the Bounce Back Resource, pg. 17

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in Thames Valley. The resource attached below provides strategies that support efforts to help young people understand the importance of resiliency in their lives. Personally, I love this valuable resource and refer to the strategies to support students in working through some of their challenges around resiliency.
toonieTuesday

Toonie Tuesday
The Thames Valley Education Foundation’s (TVEF) system wide fundraiser ‘Toonie Tuesday’ is officially scheduled for Tuesday, May 6, 2014 during Education Week. Every toonie collected will go into the Foundation’s Caring Fund to assist students in need within our own school system. TVEF, through its Caring Fund, is working to ensure that help is always close at hand for students with urgent and pressing needs. Thames Valley school communities have been challenged to raise the equivalent of $2 (a toonie) for each person who works or learns in Thames Valley. – Just imagine how many students and families we will be able to help! The message is simple: a little coin, a lot of change. Thank you for helping to make ‘Toonie Tuesday’ a big success in your school and across the Thames Valley. Thank you for caring enough to give.

Mathematics Theme Goes Online!

Filed under: Digital Literacy,Mathematics — lisamunro at 7:35 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Numeracy_IconIn keeping with last week’s mathematics theme I would like to share two of my favourite mathematics websites:

1.       The first site is found on the Emily Stowe homepage. The “Numeracy Focus” link is on the left hand side of the page. The first group of links found on the “Numeracy Focus” page is about the importance of numeracy and why these skills are important to our students in today’s world. We live in a vast global community which is why we’ve linked to sites in many parts of the world. Children in every country are working on these same life skills. There are also links to documents on basic numeracy / math skills from our own Ontario Ministry of Education.

In the second section are online interactive math games and activities students will be using at school, but they may also come to this site and use these same activities to re-enforce their math skills at home. We hope you find this page informative and helpful. If, in your own Internet searches you find other good educational links we might include here, please send me those links. I’d be happy to include them.

http://www.tvdsb.ca/EmilyStowePS.cfm?subpage=245891

2.       The second site, Mathies.ca hosted by Ontario Association for Mathematics Education (OAME), is designed for Ontario K – 12 students and parents. This website includes games, learning tools, activities, and additional supports for students to explore, build and enhance their mathematical thinking.

http://oame.on.ca/mathies/games.php

It Might Be All About the Questions!

Filed under: Learning,Student Achievement — lisamunro at 6:59 pm on Monday, April 21, 2014

questioning_imageThere was a time when I believed good teaching meant knowing all of the answers. Now I would argue that good teaching is asking the right questions. This shift in thinking has influenced my responses to parents when I am posed with questions about how parents can support their children in learning mathematics at home.

The way mathematics is taught has changed since many parents have finished school. Sometimes the different approaches used in today’s classrooms can make parents feel reluctant to support mathematics learning at home. I believe that taking a questioning stance towards the learning of mathematics helps to eliminate some of the challenges. Questioning is important because it helps children make their own connections between ideas.

Open Questions - Open questions are questions that encourage a variety of responses. Open questions build self-confidence and allow children to respond at their level of development. Consider “What is 4 + 6” (closed question) versus “Is there another way to make 10?” (open question).

Wait Time - Waiting a few extra seconds allows children to formulate their thoughts into words. Wait time can be especially beneficial for less confident learners.

Pose Questions that Actually Need to be Answered – Rhetorical questions like “Doesn’t a triangle have three sides?” provides students with an answer without allowing them to engage in their own reasoning. 

(Ideas taken from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_AskingEffectiveQuestions.pdf)

Here are some tips for mathematical learning at home:

Tips for math K to gr. 3:

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/abc123/eng/tips/mathkto3.html

Tips for math Gr. 4-6

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/abc123/eng/tips/math4to6.html

Tips for math Gr. 7-12

http://oame.on.ca/mathies/files/Partnering%20with%20your%20teen.pdf

Outdoors – Another Teacher in Our Students’ Lives

Filed under: Learning,Outdoor Education — lisamunro at 11:17 pm on Thursday, April 10, 2014

outdoorEdThis week I was thinking about some of my favourite outdoor memories as a child.  Two of my most lasting memories are of collecting clay at the beach to make sculptures and meeting at the neighbourhood “hide and seek” tree for endless hours of play until my parents called me and my sister inside for supper.  Both of these memories involved interacting with the nature.  I suspect many of your memories also involve natural elements such as trees, sand, mud, or water.

This week our Full Day Kindergarten teaching team has been investigating the best ways to structure the outdoor environment to maximize learning. The outdoors is an ideal place for children to be themselves.  It provides a natural world for exploration and experimentation.  Wonderings blossom as inspiration and creativity are cultivated. Counting seeds and writing about the animal tracks observed in the snow help literacy and numeracy take on authentic meaning. Building a mud pie can involve designing, experimenting, creating, comparing and measuring.  Last week I tweeted out a picture of several students hovering over a toy frozen into the mud.  You literally could see the problem solving in action. These are higher order thinking skills that we strive for students to attain.

              Then there is the social value of outdoor play: games created by students-both older and younger-on the school yard often require skills in teamwork, leadership, negotiation, cooperation and persuasion.

            Although what we learn in the classroom environment is very important, let’s also remember the value of the outdoors as a teacher of children.  With the recent change in weather I am inspired to put on my hiking shoes and go for a long walk with my children in the hopes of learning something that cannot be found on the screen of a computer. 

|| click image to enlarge ||

outdoor_educationTRee

Model comes from Dr. Simon Priest’s article “Redefining Outdoor Education: A Matter or Many Relationships”

Models of Outdoor Education - a blog recapping some research on this topic. A bit academic but still has some good points!

 

Digital Citizenship – More Than Just Being Polite!

Filed under: Digital Literacy,Learning — lisamunro at 9:30 pm on Thursday, April 10, 2014

THINK-Digital-Citizenship I was at a Media Literacy event months back and the speaker shared the following rule for posting on social media.  It is often one that I now share with students: “If you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandmother, then don’t say it in a text message.”  This is an important message when learning to be a responsible user of technology, but, as I have recently learned, there is so much more to being a digital citizen than writing polite text messages.

                Digital citizenship refers to the quality of an individual’s character and the choices they make online. Being a digital citizen encompasses a student’s basic rights and responsibilities in a digital environment and strives to deepen their understanding and acceptance of the appropriate and responsible use of technology (This quote was taken from resources on the TVDSB website! Click on the blue DVD’s to go to Aretta Blue’s website and more information. digitalCitizenshipCDs


The Elements of Digital Literacy are:

RESPECT & PROTECT YOURSELF: Security, Rights & Responsibilities, Health & Wellness

RESPECT & PROTECT OTHERS: Communications, Etiquette, Access

RESPECT & PROTECT INTELLECTUAL AND OTHER PROPERTY: Law, Literacy, Commerce

Ribble, M. (2011) Digital Citizenship in Schools 2nd Edition; International Society for Technology in Education)

 Check out the following brief video link on Digital Citizenship:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdEXijFXfD8

                There is no denying that technology is everywhere and that social media has become a big part of most students’ digital identities. Learning to become a digital citizen will help students learn to safely and respectfully navigate through a digital world.

 

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