Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Year New Citizenship Curriculum

Well it is the end of October, the temperature is cooling off here in Manitoba but it is rising inside the Grade 8 classes at Sargent Park School.  We are embarking on our fourth year of Teaching Citizenship and we have added a few new twists.

One of the first twists is that we have asked the students to participate in an activity called Halloween for Hunger.

We have had 3 meetings with the students so far.  Of the 140 that we teach between 60 and 70 are willing to do this activity.  Wow if each student brings in 10 items for our food bank that would be over 700 items.  Our class food drives have been successful so far and we have brought in between 100 and 200 items.  I am proud of our students.  Great cause too.  Helping hunger at Halloween instead of helping tooth decay.

This year we are a We School.  This means that we get to participate in We Day in Winnipeg and do activities for Free the Children.  This has opened up many opportunities for our students to see the power of youth in action. We get to take 45 students to this event.  So they are showing us actions they are doing to be chosen.  Sadly there will be lots of competition. and not enough seats.  The rest of the rooms will watch the simulcast on Much Music back at the school.

Here is what we have done so far....

To inspire the students about the power of humanity we showed this X-Factor Australia clip. If  you have not seen it you need to. Warning you will need some kleenex at the end.  Powerful stuff. When showing this to your students stop it at the 50 second mark.  Talk about what they have seen then play the rest of the video.  (The crafting of this video by X-factor is also worth noting.  For a film class it is amazing how powerful the soundtrack and editing is)

Our first We Day activities focused around Spencer West and Craig Keilburger.  Spencer is a motivational speaker for a group called Me to We.  It is affiliated with Free the Children and pushes youth to become active in their community and around the world.  We showed a video of Spencer

Following that we had the kids read a biography of Spencer we had found online.  The students read the biography and highlighted the key words.  We are going to have them put all the words into a Word splash like a Wordle.

Once the students complete this task they are doing a few different activities, found on the second page of the document.  Most importantly we want the kids to go from I COULD to I WILL statements.  Following the I WILL statements we will take a photo of the students eyes and I WILL statement over their mouths.  This will be made into a movie and photo mosaic like the one found at this Ewan McIntosh post. Instead of hands we will use our I WILL statements.  It should be powerful.
We also introduced the students to Craig Keilburger.  In my opinion one of the most important Canadians of all time.  At such a young age Craig is the founder and spark behind the Free the Children Organization.  This is a group he started when he was but.... 11 years old.

As we were studying and learning about Craig the idea was to draw parallels between his life and the lives of my students.  We used a 3 column approach to attack this issue.  I found a biography of Craig online and the students read and watched the video to find out key characteristics about Craig's life and passions. It was interesting to see all the interest in what he had accomplished and to see them struggle to see similarities between what their lives are like and what his has been.  Once the students had done this note taking we asked them to choose 4 character traits they admire in Craig and write a few sentences explaining why they had chosen them.

Lots of work for a morning but it was amazing.  I had two classes in my room.  That is 70 students.  All of them were on task and talking about what we were doing and the people they had just met on video and print.

We will continue this lesson on Monday morning.  Following this we will show Pay It Forward and inspire the students to do Random Acts of Kindness!! Wow they will really start to change soon!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Updates and a Citizenship Curriculum?

Keeping a internal promise I made this summer I am trying to blog more this year.  One of the things I will do is to do monthly updates on my pedagogy and goings on at school.  Welcome to the end of my first month.

In math we started a collaborative project with two schools in Ontario.  My posts were all under the Mantario Running tag at the Sargent Park Mathzone.  I am grateful to my two Ontario schools who also participated.  I need to apologize about my fizzling out at the end.  We managed to incorporate a good deal of a ratio, rate and proportion unit around our cross country seasons.  Now that cross country season is over I hope to connect with Andy and Heather's classes in eluminate and do some creative problem solving.

Speaking of running.  Did you know that my Cross Country team won all four categories eligable to us this year.  Fantastic running and they trained over 3500 kms collectively.  Great job runners! Here is our map.

View Mantario Running in a larger map

Our next Math Unit will be on graphing.  I have found two great lessons from NCTM that fit into our Citizenship Project this year.  I am looking forward to pushing my students to learn graphing and learn about world issues at the same time.  Amazing how things fall into our laps sometimes.

Speaking of Citizenship, Sargent Park, is part of WeDay this year.

This is so exciting.  If you are interested in teaching responsibility and citizenship to your students their website is where you need to go.  I am amazed by what the Free the Children organization presents to teachers and students.  We still will be doing our old favorites to build citizenship this year.  Pay it Forward, 25 Cents a Day and 2 Minutes to Make a Difference. But we are adding more fabulous things this year.  We will do a Halloween Foodbank Drive.  Instead of going out and asking for candy students will have a choice to go to their neighbours and ask for donations of canned goods to take to a foodbank.

Amazingly enough October was our foodbank drive month.  Kismit again!! In November we will do the Vow of Silence that is to educate the students about children who are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights.

It seems like so much to do in so little time but with a team effort we can build the leaders of tomorrow and teach the curriculum too. With that in mind I have started a new blog. Very much in its infancy but a place for my students to go when they are trying to make a difference. Titled Embracing Citizenship it will be a hub and information stop for this new Citizenship Curriculum my team and I are creating at Sargent Park School. Wow all of that in September.... so much time still to go and we are filled to the rim with goodness. Looking forward to October and November.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hard Drive Failure

cc licensed flickr photo shared by hindesite

I never thought I would say this but.... please back up your backup!! A few weeks ago I had a catastrophic hard drive meltdown.  Not on my aging MBP but on my brand new Lacie External Hard Drive.  Here is how it unfolded.

I was sitting in my working spot uploading photos to my Aperture Libraries when my Lacie fell over on the carpet.  It did not fall off a table, or even 6 cms nope it just fell over onto the carpet.  I was not all that worried till I heard the tell tale sound of clicking.... OMG you have to be kidding me.

I tried to recover anything from the drive, took it into the shop but was told it was a HD failure.  On that drive were 2 years of photos:(

Such a simple accident can ruin so many memories.  Not everything was lost. I had most photos on flickr so I used photo grabbr to get most of them back to a new HD.  What I could not find on flickr I found on my Time Machine backup in the basement.  Out of 5000+ photos I only lost about 250 but that is 250 to many.  I recommend that all of us who use external drives find other drives to back up all photos on. 

I am now putting my raw masters onto a different usb hard drive after putting them onto the Lacie.  I really do not want to relive that weekend over again.