Friday, January 31, 2014

Two books to help children cope with bereavement

New on their website: a review of two beautifully illustrated books aimed at helping children deal with the death of a loved one. 'Saying Goodbye to Hare' and 'Remembering Hare' have been written by Carol Lee, who knows first-hand what it's like to help children cope with death after her husband, Andy, died when their children were just seven and nine. 

These activity sheets complement 'Saying Goodbye to Hare' and 'Remembering Hare', and have been created with the help of Stevi Cumming, a creative and therapeutic art specialist, and brought to life by the beautiful artwork of Donna Bell. They are designed to be used alongside the book. Download the activity sheets (PDF format).

Free downloads

Sochi 2014 Olympic Youth Photo/Video Blog

Canadian Olympic School Program Newsletter

Sochi 2014 Youth Photo/Video Blog

In order to process all of the requests we receive from young fans showing their support for athletes, we have created a “GO CANADA: Youth Cheer on Canadian Athletes” running photo/video blog that will be hosted on (or for French) during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games which will go live on February 4. Not only will this blog be viewable to fans across the country, it will also be shared with our athletes competing in Sochi via social media, and will be running in Canada Olympic

Lots of ways to read
about the Olympics!

 House in the Olympic Park for Team Canada athletes, staff and family to view throughout their time in Sochi.
In order to submit content to the blog, please do one of the following:
  1. PREFERRED: Visit the blog page at, click on the “GO CANADA: Youth Cheer on Canadian Athletes” blog, and upload your photo or video for approval. Once approved, it will show up on the blog’s stream. 
  2. PREFERRED: Tweet a photo @CDNOlympicTeam using the hashtag #OlympicEDU, with no other links in the tweet. We suggest creating a “group” twitter account (eg. For your class, school or family), managed by an adult, to submit the photo. This will ensure that your submission will be reviewed and posted on the blog as soon as possible. 
  3. PREFERRED: Post your video on Youtube, then paste the url link for the video into the photo blog submission box We suggest creating a “group” Youtube account (eg. For your class, school or family), managed by an adult, to submit the video. This will ensure that your submission will be reviewed and posted on the blog as soon as possible. 
  4. Send an email with an attached photo or a link to a Youtube video to using the subject line “Photo Blog Submission”. This will take a longer time to review and post on the blog, so please try doing steps 1, 2 and 3 first.
 Please keep in mind the following guidelines for blog submissions:
  1. Only photos in .jpg form and video files in .avi, .flv, .mp4 and .wav will be accepted.
  2. Files must be maximum 250 MB to upload to the blog. If your photo is larger than this, please follow the instructions in step 2 above. If your video is larger than this, please follow this instructions in step 3 above.
  3. If you want to submit letters written to the Team or to athletes, please take a photo of them, and follow the instructions for submitting photos.
  4. This is a youth, school and family-oriented blog. Please be respectful and conscious of your audience when posting to the blog.
Here are some suggestions for effective blog posts to ensure your hard work is seen by our athletes, team and all of Canada! We will be taking the best submissions and using them for events and interviews at Canada Olympic House in Sochi!
  1. Make your posts visually appealing! Encourage your students or children to also include drawings and/or pictures if they wish to write letters.
  2. The more content, the better! Have your class or family create individual letters, drawings, etc. as well a group photo or video.
  3. Consider making use of our Canadian Olympic School Program resources for your posts! Show us your class or family’s creative take on the GO CANADA Bulletin Board (available at or our Olympic decorations (
Finally, for sending letters to athletes, the best chance of them being seen by the athletes before or during the Games is through this blog. If you would still like to send the letters directly to athletes, please send them to the Canadian Olympic Committee the address below, and we will do our best to deliver them to athletes after they have returned from Sochi.

ATTN: Sandra Sassine
Canadian Olympic Committee
500, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest
Montréal, Québec
H2Z 2A5

The Education Team

Friday, January 17, 2014

Principal bullying; teacher evaluation TPAs

School principal bullying and bias in teacher evaluation. I'd never thought about it before. Most of my principals did their due diligence. In Ontario you are either acceptable or not acceptable.
When I was teaching they had four levels. You could never achieve the top category, not unless you 'walked on water.' I finally came to terms with this. These days it is pass or fail. If you fail, there is a template for that! Usually, it means that your competencies are lacking, and they must come up with a plan to help you improve.

I taught beside a man who was having a nervous breakdown. I was asked to watch him for signs. He would bang his yard stick on the desks of students who would talk back to him. It was a terrible situation. Eventually, he took long-term disability.

Ontario has a standard TPA:

Teacher Performance Appraisal System

Mandatory Provincial Forms

The Domains for teacher assessment

  • Commitment to pupils and pupil learning
  • Professional knowledge
  • Teaching practice
  • Leadership and Community
  • Ongoing professional learning


Overall Rating of Teacher’s Performance

(Check the appropriate box.)

[_]  Satisfactory

 [_] Unsatisfactory (If the teacher receives an Unsatisfactory rating, an Improvement Plan will also be developed.)

Bully Principal Costs Fortune | Workplace Bullying Institute 

  1.   Cached
    The Myths (And Truths) of Teacher Evaluation Kenneth D Peterson.

Being a single parent: what teachers should know

Anaphylactic allergies in schools: Sabrina's law

When I was teaching, we would create peanut-free classrooms. Then, entire schools began to go peanut-free. Parents created lists of foods families could avoid in putting together a child's lunch. (See: Safe Snacks)
 Unfortunately, I fear it might give parents a false sense of security. We stopped 'accommodating' anaphylactic children, sending them out of the classroom when a peer brings a PB&J sandwich, to sending out the offending child with the sandwich. We figured out safe snacks, and safe party cupcakes, and many vigilant parents, those without allergic kids, would go out of their way to read labels. This took the onus away from the child with the allergy to be vigilant.

Sabrina's Law was passed to create accommodations for children with severe allergies.
Anaphylaxis: Sabrina's Law Introduction. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can be life threatening; it requires avoidance strategies and immediate .
I cannot imagine how difficult this would be for a parent.
I cannot imagine how difficult this would be for a school. With more kids developing allergies, it will come to the point when kids are unable to eat lunch, or have snacks at school, without teachers checking out each product. This means parents sending along product listings in original packaging.

Some parents, those without allergies, are unable to understand the severity of the issue. There is no such thing as a peanut-free, or allergen-free environment. It is up to the parents to determine how to best protect their anaphylactic child. I cannot imagine risking a child's life, knowing that there are anaphylactic risks. Eliminating dairy and eggs school-wide seems impossible.
We've had students allergic to food substances, as well as wasps, bees, and so on.

A food allergy can be a terrifying problem for a young student. In Hamilton, Ontario , one parent believes it is 'discrimination.' Her child is severely allergic to dairy and eggs.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games - teacher's guides

As the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games approach, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is excited to announce the launch of the 2013-2014 Canadian Olympic School Program (COSP) resources. During the month of February, Canada’s top athletes will be taking on the world. The COC encourages you to leverage the excitement surrounding the upcoming Games by making use of these resources in your classroom.
We kept track of medal wins

The COSP resources are available to download free of charge. The resources are aimed at sparking discussions about values, telling athlete stories that inspire, and encouraging students to work together to find creative solutions to suggested challenges and current issues.
Teacher's Guide

 The GO CANADA Bulletin Board provides your class with an interactive display to help you and your students follow all the action from Sochi. The My Podium Pages student journal allows each student to connect personally with the Games while critically reflecting on different components of the Olympic Winter Games schedule, activities and sport events.

This year’s program also includes expansions of the COSP’s successful past resources dealing with mental fitness, body image and physical activity. All resources feature stories, quotes and advice from Canadian Olympians to help motivate students to strive for their best in everything they do, whether it be trying out for the school play, learning a new musical instrument or playing a pick-up game of hockey with friends.
We clipped articles: did current events reports

Wrote articles using the 5 W's

We did biographies of athletes

We wrote poems of all sorts

Teaching reading is far more complex than we think; teachers have to be as tricky as their students

It requires a multi-modal approach. My daughter, who taught herself to read at age 3, was such a well-behaved student. I was friends with her school librarian and we conspired in gr. 1 to find The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was a tough time for all of us.
Not 'strange' but reflects decoding statagies
peculiar to certain readers.
chapter books she would read. Caitlin wanted to fit in, and preferred to choose the picture books all her friends were reading. Eventually, she would bring home

That said, any reader who doesn't fall within the average, has a hard time in classrooms. I had a student, a non-reader and in a gr. 1/2 split class, who was able to copy upside down from her friends work. I remember this as clearly as could be. She was learning disabled, and had learned to cope. Teachers have to be as tricky as their students. We must be vigilant, and identify as early as possible issues with our students.
Another clue to learning disabled symptoms are children who do not print well. Again, this must be differentiated from the student who simply has poor fine muscle skills, but a writer who writes very slowly can clue us in. It is all a matter of clueing in to these subtle signals.

This dear young man was finally tested, at my insistence, and it was concluded that since he was unable to copy down short notes on homework assignments, it was my fault as a teacher. Apparently, the teacher who taught him the previous year, in gr. 3, 'perceived no problems'. This was a male teacher, intent on making the principal's list, with little background in special education. As a special education specialist, I was usually given a lot of special needs kids. They taught me to fight, on their behalf, buck the system, and speak truth to power.
Nothing to do with brains,
but with reading skills.

Some parent eschew a special education identification.
Some principals don't want special needs kids identified (there were days when lists were moot, since special education classes were being reduced and lists were too long).
Some parents blame the teacher (despite a background and successful teaching career).

I found that having an appropriate special education designation gave the student extra support. It allowed parents to access smaller class sizes, and specially trained special education teachers.

It is crucial, too, that those who identify special needs in the area of literacy, that they not simply provide teachers with a checklist of this to do, for example, with ADHD learners.

It requires a portfolio of teaching strategies, not just a single one. This is why the Whole Language movement bombed. It left out many learners who needed more than an holistic approach. Teachers were poorly trained in this strategy, as much as teachers should all have special education training.

Instructional Strategies <= read more here

Poor readers need to be taught the shapes and sounds of letters, those with dyslexia can be taught using all capital letters, for example. It is all in the font! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ontario unveils $4-M math upgrade plan amid demands for overhaul

It's not the teachers, it's the curriculum and the math texts.
Seriously, as one educated man wrote: "What kind of math hell is this?"
For the kids who cannot grasp investigative or discovery math strategies, they miss out. If they cannot invent a strategy, they give up. It's the kids most at-risk who give up. We need to teach kids to memorize formulae, which allows them to solve problems in a systematic manner.
Those who do not know their times tables, cannot invent a solution. The further behind they get, the worse students they become.

They cannot comprehend that the 'correct' answer is:

106 ÷ 5 = 32
Some said: 160/30 with a remainder of 10.
Is this ridiculous or not? It boils down to when one should use division, regrouping, and why. Not creating ways to solve math problems.

Ontario unveils $4-M math upgrade plan amid demands for overhaul 
Education Minister Liz Sandals said Wednesday the province will help pay for more current teachers to take advanced qualifications courses in math. It will also make sure people in the new two-year teachers’ college program spend more time learning to teach math.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Delete cyberbullying: message from the EU

Published on 18 Nov 2013
Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally, they have a right to privacy. We all share a collective responsibility to guarantee these rights are enforced and enable children and young people to play, learn, develop, and participate, both offline and online.

In Europe, statistics and figures show, that about one in four children experience cyberbullying at some point in their lives. The impact of cyberbullying on victims is well known; it affects their self-esteem, school performance and can even lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Cyberbullying also has an impact on perpetrators, bystanders, parents and schools. Therefore this video is intended as a tool for all concerned:

Parents: Teach your kids empathy and talk with them about their online activities.
Teachers: Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel and develop an antibullying charter in your school.
 Kids: If you witness cyberbullying, report it and offer your support.

 Funded by the European Union Daphne programme, as part of the #DeleteCyberbullying project, COFACE and its partners aim at raising awareness about the issue of cyberbullying, what can be done to prevent and tackle it. More.....

Our objective is that this short educational video is seen by as many people as possible, because only together can we achieve what we set out to do, Delete Cyberbullying.
 Join us, take a stand against cyberbullying and speak out for our children's right to be safe.
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