Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Protecting Sex Offender’s Privacy Trumps Child Safety

In the realm of the ridiculous...from Canadians for Accountability

Jim Black, upset that a sex offender had his teaching certificate restored, was fined $1000 for publicizing his outrage. The Ontario College of Teachers, which is a self-regulating body much like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, has just released the findings of a disciplinary hearing against Jim Black.

Mr. Black was fined $1000 and banned from teaching for two years for disclosing confidential information about a hearing in which a convicted sexual offender had his teaching certificate restored. He was also publicly pilloried in the magazine Professionally Speaking, which is circulated to about 220,000 teachers in Ontario.

Discouraged by inaction, he sent his concerns to Ontario MPPs and to the media. In 2006, CTV picked up the story. The journalists reported that a repeat sexual offender with teenage students had been reinstated to teaching by the College. Mr. Black was interviewed as part of the story.

This organization, Canadians for Accountability, has been approached by 30 whistleblowers.

Bullying - something has to be done

But is this the solution?

Small claims rules prompt lawsuits against local school boards
Mar 30, 2010 A Law Times article reports that parents in Waterloo are using Small Claims Courts to sue school boards in cases of bullying.

A Facebook group for concerned parents, titled “Is Your Child Protected?” has attracted almost 500 members. Its founder Suzanne Borghese embraces the Small Claims Court, for which the limit increased to $25,000 this year, as an inexpensive and effective way to challenge anti-bullying programs she says aren’t working.

Brenda Bowlby, a partner at Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP, has worked with school boards for almost 30 years. She says they face a difficult balancing act when dealing with bullies and victims because of the duty of care they owe to both parties to act as a “reasonably careful or prudent parent.”  

There are solutions to bullying, it involves a lot of work, energy, education and effort on the part of students and teachers, and obviously, isn't working now.  Mind you, I was bullied by my principal in one school in which I worked. I imagine school boards don't like hearing about any of these issues. Principals are afraid to take action, they don't want to alienate parent and superintendent alike.

We talked about bullying in my classrooms. I wasn't afraid of being tough, and drawing a firm line across unacceptable behaviour.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blackboard blogging

I regularly like to read NEWS from other parts of the world. I am blessed. This man is working hard to spread the news in his part of Africa. We take for granted our technology and our benefits of living in a developed country. What a fabulous man! Click on the link for more photos.

What a fabulous way to teach others.

Liberian blogger uses blackboard to inform

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Sirleaf is driven by a passion to inform

Sirleaf in front of his blackboard Without a computer or a printing press, Alfred Sirleaf publishes daily news in Liberia's capital Monrovia. Motivated by the poverty that surrounds him, his mission is to provide people with free access to information.
Sirleaf is the creator of Daily Talk - a newspaper measuring two by three meters. It consists of three huge slate boards, which hang from a hinge outside his shack. Just before rush hour, he writes the news of the day up on these boards.
The project has been running for 10 years now, and Sirleaf calls himself the Blackboard Blogger. He is without doubt the first of his kind in Africa, and perhaps the world.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creative Writing Session #6

Our group dwindled from 11 to 6 to 3. This is a bit defeating, as we lose those disinterested, yet gain those who are suddenly keen. Of course, I am happy when they are paroled, and begin a new slate.

But I am finding I am learning from them, as much as we are sharing writing together.

From last week:

Homework: design a writing activity.
Share the activity they were going to design. Bring three words plus a scenario. 
Just like the 'good old days', only one did his homework!

He wrote on our board these words:

sychophant — insatiable — reviled — queried
With the condition that the story had to have closure.

I ended up writing a poem, being uninspired to write dialogue or a plot treatment.

There once was a player named Mick
Insatiable? queried his chick
His girlfriend reviled
All things he defiled
Sychophant wasn't his schtick

gave us a challenge, which he wrote, based on a chalenge from a friend:

Another read his story. We were challenged to write about a
 We each wrote a brief scenario, and read to one another. Here is mine, which I am working on!

Writing a novel/short story
How to write a Novel
See printed work from
We talked about putting plot, setting and character together.

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method —this is a fabulous analogy. Building up a conflict, resolution, further conflict. Well worth the read.

Rap analysis
We talked, briefly, about rhyming schemes. The dead, old, white guys established patterns. There were tricks: internal rhymes, iambic pentameter being the most popular in Shakespeare's time.

Most music is made up of 4 bars, and a measure of 8 bars, one usually has ending rhymes.
But the old folks, like the rappers, have internal rhymes, as well as external ones.   A B A B    or A B A D

The participant who usually writes rap has dropped out, and we didn't belabour the point, but it is worth mentioning.

It's like this, It's like this..
It's like fly in a room, scream, writing on walls
Swear this clone been havin' a ball
Claimin' themselves just before last call
Tic-a-tic-a-toc tic-a-tic-a-toc
Clock strikes twelve, clock strikes one
Smoking gun put these fools on the run
I know it's not that simple, I know it's not that hard
where's your goal

The dusty foot philosopher
Ripping up kilometers
Winking at you officers da dum da dum da dum
The dusty foot philosopher
Sicking up the monitor
Waking up the auditors da dum da dum da dum

[Verse 2]
And I've seen war and some,
Survived the slaughter son,
Kids play cops and robbers and not with the water guns,
So yeah yeah picture me,
And big brotherly,
Walking through the fire,
We came to claim our victory,
And I roll with a harder pen,
I might start a trend,
Beat down a wack MC cause you know there's a lot of them,

Brainstorm a list of 10 different:

Characters            Places            Objects
Animals            Jobs            Time Periods

Write a story based on one from each category.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Good writers have learned to write on computer, I heard at a writer's workshop. And many need to learn the keyboard shortcuts. I realized how much I use them myself. If you are using Word, for example, if you go to edit in the menu bar, you will spot that copy, cut, paste all have keyboard shortcuts that speed the writer up.
Copy => Ctrl + C
Cut => Ctrl + X
Paste => Ctrl + V

—DASH  SHIFT, option, for this keyboard shortcut.

(See handouts, Nancy Atwell's lessons 71 - dialogue)
I gave them a handout of how to punctuate dialogue.
Indenting, brackets, commas, and the like.

We spoke of the Muskoka Writer's Contest,  deadline May 10th, and we may choose to write a story together to submit as a group.


*Sycophancy means: Obsequious flattery; servility. False accusation; calumniation
; talebearing. The character or characteristic of a sycophant.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Creative Writing Session #5

Week 5 was fun.
I printed a letter they gave me from a friend who has published her book through lulu.com
She is happy with the process, but is adamant about finding a good editor if you self-publish.
We talked about dendrites, and the importance of stretching your brain, to keep it as flexible and tuned as our bodies. If you don't use your dendrites, you stagnate. It was an interesting Brain Research discussion (see slides 10/11). Often, students would ask, 'Why are we doing this?' The answer: to build dendrites!

Last session I had given the men recipe cards, for them to write down thing they would like to do in our sessions, or questions they have about writing.

Two had a couple of questions. One was about plot, moving ahead with setting, character, and putting it all together.  We had a bit of a discussion, and I promised to put some wise words together!

At left are the photo prompt cards we used last session. Each has either a cut out magazine picture or a noun, or word on it. They randomly pick 3 or 4 and write from those.

Next, we talked about each creating our own Writing Prompts.  I have made some and printed them on business card paper. They liked them. I found some ideas on Boggles World. I printed WordArt backs for the cards. I am quite pleased with them!

I made Word Prompts, too, right. I haven't used them yet!
They really liked the one that said, 'Write about a bathtub, stool, spaghetti, with compromise in the story'. My student wrote it on the whiteboard for us all.
It was quite funny, the result. I wrote a story, too. And I simply jotted the characters, (Andrew & Denise) and the plot: arguing about having spaghetti, that not being the real issue, and so on.

One student wrote a dialogue, another the setting for his story. We decided, next time, to create a work together, since each of us has skills in one or the other areas, and compromising on a story. Stay tuned!

Spinning InwardGuided Meditation: Exercise 16: The Ally Within, from a fabulous book I bought, Spinning Inward.(It is available more cheaply at Amazon.ca for Canadians.)

Product Details
We debriefed our journey, those who chose to share. I met M. Picard, as my ally in my journey when I did this exercise. One of my former students met his late grandfather in his journey when I did this meditation many years ago! t is a great one.

Using the handout… The Rules about THOUGHTS & Feelings – Lesson 10, Nancy Atwell, & 11, we did some writing about our 'ally' that we met in our guided journey. This is  a great resource for intermediate teachers!

We discussed what meaning can be had by infusing the text with our feelings.

Next, I gave each participant a pebble to write about. These I had collected about my property. I asked them to use the "S" words. I put up my poster of adjectives: (I saw this on a TV show many moons ago, when home with my children. I like this for a framework of writing.) I created the mind map on Inspiration software.


And they used these descripters to write about the pebble they held in their hand. As Atwell says, make sure you talk about THIS pebble, not 'a pebble', but what this pebble means to you, or the character you are developing. My Pen Men each wrote a great paragraph or two, which we shared.

The session went quickly. I am feeling more confident about providing curriculum that will encourage them to write. I don't want to be an authority figure, but a facilitator.

They have such wide-ranging desires, abilities, and goals as writers, which is normal in a group!

One new participant spoke of his grandfather, with whom he had recently made contact. I gave him a handout to give him some questions for his grandfather. I always had a great time asking students to write about their elders. 

This table is from a great article on Palliative Care Nursing. Honest! It was part of my research for a Hospice client!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reading! A flash mob video

What a really fun way to build school spirit!
So many of my students had issue with literacy. Everyone works hard to build it into a regular part of their day. This is a fabulous video!

Expressive Art Therapy


With great delight, I have been volunteering again with Expressive Art Therapist, Elke Scholz.

We have high school mentors, as well as two volunteers, myself and Mary, both of us trained in Foundations of Palliative Care course. We assist Elke, and mentor the children as they do the art therapy, the games, and the classes. The children all share their art work, they share their issues with one another. Certainly, support groups are a fabulous means by which children can find commonality in their issues. 

Above is a photo of our original group of high school mentors.

Our fall session for 8 - 10-year olds was a grand success.
Our session always begins by lighting a candle, and calling the group to circle by ringing the bells. 

I love working with the children, as does Mary.

We listen and learn as much as we can, sharing our experiences and being role models in experiencing the grief process.

Elke is a terrific artist, and leader, and she works in many mediums. The photo, left, is the clay sculpture one of our clients created.

This winter Hospice Muskoka is running another session, 10 weeks this time, for children 7 - 11 years old, who are facing bereavement issues.

We talk about the Valley of Grief that consumes us.

Grief can arise around any losses: divorce - loss of family, loss of a loved one, loss of a home, moving, or any other change.

For a child who loses a parent, they often end up having to move, or find changes in their lives that they cannot manage without help.

= Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote a great deal that makes sense for me.

In our group we share our grief, and the burden is less. We talk about ways to cope with stress. We play and we laugh, as well as crying.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grief was my teacher

We talk about the Valley of Grief that consumes us at Hospice Muskoka.
Once grief or any trauma enters your life you are changed. In this Valley everything overwhelms you from big changes (moving) to small events. I found, when grieving my mother's loss, that any small thing like bumping into something, or accidentally hurting myself, I experienced an uncontrollable anguish. I would grieve my loss again, as my emotions overwhelm.  Perceived hurts, whether true or imagined, cause overreactions like crying that I just couldn't explain. Now I understand that I was in the Valley. What I needed was a ladder to help me climb out. Instead, I kept working and ended up in a major depression.

Grief can arise around any losses: divorce - loss of family, loss of a loved one, loss of a home, moving, or any other change. I read a great deal about this when dealing with students. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote a great deal that makes sense for me. My 25-year teaching career helped me put the pieces together.

"You can't find peace until you find the pieces."
"Who loves you when you need them? - that's your family."

Being an adoptee, I know that family are the people that surround you with unconditional love.
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