Friday, 19 September 2014

Back to School...Finally!

Well, it's been quite a school start up here in BC this year. Last night the majority of teachers in the province voted to ratify a tentative deal between teachers and the employer. That meant that today, finally, after lockouts, job action and weeks of picket duty, teachers went to work to set up classrooms for students on Monday.

So much to do in so little time, but that's okay! I'm happy to be going back to work in the ECC.

What's ahead for the ECC this year? Well, we are starting out with the same teaching team that we ended with last year. Mrs. Patterson is once again teaching a grade 5/6/7 split in Cache Creek, Ms Marlow has a grade 4/5 split in Ashcroft, Mr. Lewis has switched to a grade 6/7 class in Lytton and I return to the first grade I ever taught - grade 7! - here in Lillooet. It's great to have an existing, experienced team in place and ready to go!

In the spring, the team had decided to go with the theme of Myths, Legends and Folklore for our first set of Online Literature Circles. No specific dates in place for when we start with that, but I can't wait to meet with the team and see what books and stories they found to go with that theme. I have two really good novels that I can't wait to share. Both are available on audiobook CDs so we can put our eight iPods to good use again this year!!

Because of the grade changes, I'm going to shift the focus for my digital photography lessons. In the past, I've focused on the Elements of Design (line, texture, shape, colour, etc.) from the Visual Arts curriculum but as most students have already been in the ECC and had those lessons, and as they are older and the curriculum shifts a bit with age, I think I'd like to focus on the Principles of Design (balance, contrast, emphasis, harmony, etc.) to begin with. These concepts are more difficult to grasp, but I think that by doing one concept per lesson per week that the students will do well. I know that the group I have in my classroom are particularly skilled visually - many very artistic kids! - so I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do!!

One other really cool, new thing that the teacher team is doing this year is engaging in a collaborative teacher inquiry.  This year, the team is using teacher inquiry to look at how to use technology to deepen meaningful connections between students in different schools with a focus on peer learning. This inquiry is based on the notion of the ECC as a learning community and the desire to grow from current successes. I spent some time going through my Masters coursework on teacher inquiry and action research and I think that, as a team, we can engage in some very meaningful and powerful learning to improve our practice and improve student learning in the ECC. More to come!

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