Thank your teachers

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Discovery-based math not making the grade

If you don't know how to figure out the area of a triangle,
parallelogram and rectangle, how do you figure out the area
of this shape?
I've been complaining about this since I began my teaching career (1989) working with learning disabled students. Kids cannot struggle trying to figure out what 7 x 7 equals, while in the middle of discovering abstract problem-solving.

This is simple pedagogy. They only have so much working memory, patience and perseverance. When 7 x 7 frustrates them, they give up. I have said this for many, many years. Finally, CD Howe has come to the conclusion that this is so. I could see this in the behaviour of my students, in their grasp of new concepts. If you cannot fathom times tables, you cannot work on complex problems.

They need the so-called skill and drill (AKA kill and drill)  practice, so eschewed by many. Practice DOES make perfect, or at least put it into their long-term memories. It inspires quick-thinking. They need teachers and peers to tutor them, if they are stumped.

There are pre-requisite skills to solving algebra.
There are pre-requisites to determining the mass or area of complex shapes. None of these will be solved if the child has not prepared their brain for using abstract reasoning skills. Snarky adults complain that they never use this math, but we know that we use the same neural pathways for figuring out problems as the pathways we have used before. If we haven't the foundations mastered and the thinking done prior to new problems, we are bogged down in the process.

Above, they need to know how to multiply decimals, fractions, as well as the rules for order of operations.

Discovery-based methods just not making the grade
5 hours ago - Discovery-based methods just not making the grade. CONTEXT. MOIRA MACDONALD. Canadian students' math skills have been on a ..

Math made not-so-simple - Vancouver Sun

Jan 21, 2014 - Opinion: Discovery based mathematics is ineffective and not doing our ... The problem is that it's failing the grade and our kids are suffering 

Discovery-based methods just not making the grade
5 hours ago - Discovery-based methods just not making the grade. CONTEXT. MOIRA MACDONALD. Canadian students' math skills have been on a 

  1. Parents turning to private tutors to help with math deficit ... › Life › Parenting

    Sep 19, 2013 - Parents who can't make sense of homework assignments and see their ... “I'm not opposed to discovery-based learning as sort of the icing on the cake. ... with his Grade 7 daughter's math homework despite his profession.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tools to fight homophobia and stereotypes: acceptance and understanding

Created by the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity
I retired in 2006, yet I recall many times contradicting students who would use 'gay' as a derogatory term. I would counter with, "I know people who are gay. What's the big deal?"

I would stop all activities, and deal with the statement in question. Apparently, this morphed into using 'gay' as a comment meant to indicate that something was pretty. How many other words could one use?

Sometimes it would be one of MY peers, a male phys. ed. teacher or a coach who revealed their own biases.  'He throws like a girl', and all the other remarks meant to hurt and demonstrate a bully's superiority. My daughter, age 35, heard this in her physical education class in high school. I was furious. I talked to her teacher. Truthfully, if no one teaches us better we will not improve our attitudes or our skills. For all these things we can blame a teacher.
If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

We've learned so much more about gender and sexual diversity. We've learned about accepting differences in race, religion, families, culture, traditions and values. Each one of us in important. Early in my career, I had to deal with those who were biased against we single-parent families. That became much more common.
Next, we had to manage children with special needs, and create an inclusive classroom. My students would always step up.
Then, we had to deal with step-families, kids in foster care, kids who felt they were unique and different and unacceptable. I never stopped having to teach my classroom community to be inclusive.
Kids who live in same-sex parental units have been the next issue. Finally, kids whose gender identity has upset peers, and teachers, have been speaking out and demanding they be treated with dignity. I am happy to see that society is beginning to understand and accept. Beginning to, but we aren't there yet.

Click here to donate, download educational kits, and learn more...
Click here


Activities and Online Lesson Plans

 The Heterosexual Questionnaire

A Lesson Plan from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit by Advocates For Youth  Gender Neutral Day by Teaching Tolerance (A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center)

 Family, Life, and Sexual Health by the Seattle and King County Public Health Department

 Where Iʼm From: Family, Community & Poetry by Welcoming Schools (PDF)

 Think Outside the Box (Gender Stereotypes grades 3 - 5)

 What Happens If (Gender Roleplays grades 3-5)

Gender Neutral Day

 Gender Expression 

 Online Lesson Plan on Art & LGBT Rights by Teaching Tolerance (A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center)

 More Online Resources for Educators by the Pride Education Network

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Planning your career, buying a house, Budgeting 101

One of my favourite activities involved info from the Canadian Banker's Association. Once a year, employees from, for example, Nortel, would be given paid volunteer time to work with gr. 8's on a budgeting project. This led me to this post.


Welcome to your new assignment! Your job is to create a job and budget. Listed below are various jobs and monthly wages. Canadian Salary ranges.
You have two choices:
1. The Rate Hub website helps you understand your financial needs, plan a budget,  find credit, make money, and set goals.
This website, Canadian Salary Survey, gives annual salaries. You will have to figure out how much you will earn monthly in order to plan your future. Pay Scale offers the same information.
2. Choose your job (see the chart below) and write down your *annual* salary and figure out a budget as a new graduate and an adult.

Scholarships and Bursaries
Many students benefit from scholarships and bursaries. (See the Scholarships Canada website)
Students must apply online. Applicants must be encouraged to talk to guidance counsellors. Also, they need to do a search including the university/college they want to attend. Scholarships and bursaries are given by businesses such as TD Canada Trust Student Services - TD Canada Trust Scholarships, accessed by a Google search:
It is up to the student to apply and seek these resources. Scholarships and bursaries are based on specific criteria and qualifying details: your agricultural involvement, athletic involvement, extracurricular activity, leadership roles, school or community service, have a general disability. The majority are based on high marks.
Living Expenses
Students can find information about living inexpensively. Suite 101 has some good pointers.
Ask an Find Youth Employment for information. The Youth Apprenticeship webpage gives points and help for those who need support.

Plan a budget: you can visit  which will allow you to determine mortgages, budgets and the like. Affordability calculators,  Credit card basics.
In the table on are some guesstimates of monthly expenses.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The new Health and Physical Education curriculum draws out the homophobics

Monday, February 23, 2015

The New Ontario Health & Phys. Ed. Curriculum - 2015

It's about time that Ontario revamped its Health & Phys. Ed. Curriculum. The last one, created in 1998, is outdated and fails to cover new technologies (e.g., texting, Internet safety), as well as mental health issues and healthy living.
Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, while teen pregnancies are down in 2014.
Even some elementary school students have sent sexually explicit pictures of themselves to someone online, while 11 per cent of Grade 10 students and about 14 per cent of those in Grade 11 say they have sent a sext, according to a 2015 study, *Young Canadians in a Wired World.
There is much that the previous iteration of the document included: identifying body parts for the wee ones, and understanding bodily functions, changes in society (such as same-sex marriage, transgender, and gender differences,) and the changing family.

What the education minister explained, is that our grandchildren are experiencing puberty at earlier ages than before. Kids need to know what is happening to their bodies. (This education begins in grade 4.)

Unfortunately, many parents do not talk about 'sex', nor do they educate children about body parts, how to say no, how to avoid predators, how to take control of their bodies. It is up to parents to interpret the world for their children, and convey information on values, culture, religion and identity. They can build on this, using the handouts from the ministry. Too many kids are sucked into harm, by those who prey on their ignorance. Unless a kid never watches TV, or goes on a computer, they are vulnerable.

The press conference was a hoot. The media seemed to be trying to create controversy where none should exist. The minister patiently explained that they'd been speaking to stakeholders since 2007, which includes the publicly-funded Catholic Boards. Not that I think Catholics should have their own system, not on taxpayer dollars, but that is the situation.


These are the specific topics, by grade and strand.

Resource Documents Specific to this Subject for Parents

*Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Life Online

Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Life Online report coverThis report is drawn from a national survey of Canadian youth conducted by MediaSmarts in 2013. The classroom-based survey of 5,436 students in grades 4 through 11, in every province and territory, examined the role of networked technologies in young people’s lives. Life Online(the first in a series of reports from the survey) focuses on what youth are doing online, what sites they’re going to, their attitudes towards online safety, household rules on Internet use and unplugging from digital technologies.

Executive Summary (PDF)

Full Report (PDF)

Gr 9-12 pdf  Gr 1-8 .pdf
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