Sunday, August 20, 2017

Parents 50th Anniversary

Here is a small Magazine I made for my parents.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

We Scare Hunger 2014

I took this image

from this website after I watched this video from John Oliver (warning some *&^@@ language)
After you have stopped laughing over the circus peanuts and the insane build up of this holiday I need to tell you about We Scare Hunger.
The idea is simple.  As you grow older you should not be going out for Halloween for yourself.  Do it for someone else.  Imagine if most of the Middle school kids that are out for candy did this activity first.  For those of you who did not watch the video here is a snapshot.  Get dressed up, go door to door asking for food items for your local food bank instead of candy. 

I know that this brings instant credibility to teens in my school.  At Sargent Park we on average raise up to 2500 items for our local food bank Winnipeg Harvest.  I used to be proud of that fact.  I was until this year.  My twins Colin and Alex have done this twice.  Once in Grade 7 and this year in Grade 8. 
This year they did our block and one other side of another block.  Approx 60 houses in just over an hour.  Together in about 90 minutes they collected over 100 items.  This was not difficult.  Approximate math is an item a minute.  Let's use this to figure out how big this could get.

I teach 150 kids.  If 100 go out for 90 minutes they could get... 100 x 90 is 9000 items of food for the food bank.  I on average only get 2500.  Not horrible but you see why I am a wee bit disappointed. 

My other problem is this.  My twins go to the largest Grade 7-8 school in the city.  Almost 1000 kids in those two grades.  We had no kids come by our house doing We Scare Hunger.  This is a sad statement on how opportunities are missed.  One in 5 kids in Winnipeg live below the poverty line and many use food banks.  

More math.  If my kids school did this like we do at Sargent Park.  60% would be out doing We Scare Hunger.  If they all went out for 90 minutes and.... so 600 x 90 is 5400 items of food for Winnipeg Harvest.

We need to empower kids to be difference makers.  School leadership needs to rally their students to want to go out and make a difference.  You all can do the math.  How many 7th and 8th graders do you have around your house.  Do they really need all that sugar? Put those costumes to good use.  Help your local food bank. 5000 teens at 90 minutes each makes 450000 items of food going to those who need it. 

Kids can make a difference

CyberSleuthing is cool

Friday was Halloween and people all around the school were getting dressed up.  I donned my usual pylon outfit which was made from my outrageous orange shirt and a cone strapped to my head.  Film to follow! That is not the story.

 My math teaching partner was a pi rate and had a fantastic costume on.... this still is not the story.  What the story is comes from what she found in her pocket from Value village.  No it was not $2000 it was a vehicle registration from 1978.

Here is what I found out.  The car registered was a 1962 Plymouth Valiant
This was a cool find to begin with but what else could I find from this piece of paper almost 40 years old....
Well it had an address.  588 Gertrude Ave. Hey that is close by my house.  Just over a few miles to the east.  Time for Google again.Thanks to street view this is the house that the car lived at.

 This was getting too cool for school. Talk about your digital presence on the internet.  All of this information from a 1978 registration card.  Only one piece left... the driver.  Who was Anne Steen of 588 Gertrude Ave who drove a 2 door Plymouth Valiant? Once again Google would give me answers.

Anne Steen from the Obituary from 2006 was an interesting lady who tried to run for public office, ended up working for Government and retired to Vancouver......... but here is where the story takes a turn.  Her niece and I worked at a restaurant in Osborne Village in the 1990's.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL.  Wow all of this from 15 minutes of detective work and a computer.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blowing off the Dust

Can you believe it after almost 3 years I am compelled to blog.  Why is that? What has churned up my insides with awesomeness that I have to blog.  Well one name Darren Kuropatwa.  I was blessed this morning to sit in on his session about using images in teaching.  I have seen it all before but Darren being Darren kicked it up a notch.

Before I go into detail with the cool tools from Darren I should really talk about blogging and my lack of it. 

Personally I have not had time.... no I have not made time for blogging or twitter as of late.  Life at school changed with new roles and responsibilities.  I am in charge of our school lunch canteen.  I feed 300 kids various things every day.  It takes up every lunch hour during the school year.  I am not complaining but there went 55 minutes of reflection time. Life at home with 3 teen age boys also tends to get in the way of things.  Choice too comes into play when perhaps I want to spend time with my family and wife or training for a marathon instead of writing and reflecting.  Anyways perhaps this is a reason to write too.  Make time for quick reflection and let some of the goodness and badness out.

Even though I still have maintained student blogs every year since 2007 or maybe 2006 they really did not evolve with the time.  Their main purpose was to build a sense of community and keep the room transparent 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  In recent years students have started to look at the blog a digital paper. 

That was never its intent.  I feel that as my momentum slowed down and I started to learn less so did the purpose at the blog and the students attitude towards it.  For blogs this year to be successful they need to evolve and be what they once were.  Something cool and different that no one else does.  Using new tools to create this community within the blog itself might be the answer.  Many tools that Darren talked about today will allow students to use the blog as a canvas to showcase their learning in ways not yet done in this province and perhaps country.  I am ready to open some eyes again, my students, my colleagues and my PLN.  These kids are ready to show off what they know and l need to be there to help them do this. 

Bringing Blogging Back
So how do we bring blogging back, get that reflection and thinking and create a digital document.  I think it stems from the reason I have not been blogging.  Time.  Kids need to be able to get something created quickly but at the same time do something well.  What if kids use the blog as a digital folder, still do scribeposts but do it in a way that is more efficient.  I had been expecting kids to create scribepost in the same way that Darren and I had been doing for almost a decade.  Life changes and so do the assignments.

I am going to incorporate more video and audio into the blogs.  When kids see the new tools that are out there they should get enthused about blogging and scribing as their older brothers and sisters did years ago.  So what am I going to use? Good question.  What can I use is a better question.  The lab that is attached to my room is so old (How old is it?) that hamsters currently are used to power them by spinning a wheel. 7 year old Dell PC's can type but event that is difficult when the browsers that are on them do not support the java or flash that sites are using. So most of this work will have to be done at home.  For something to be done at home there had better be some kickass apps to use so that I get the use of the thumbs not the video games.

That will be another post but until then I will tease you with this.  Mozilla Popcorn
Imagine making a video in class on an Ipad and uploading it to the spmath youtube account.  
Then at home using Popcorn to add overlayers of links to other places where you could learn about the subject, images and links to more math info and even just some light hearted photos showing elements of the lesson.  This is pop up video meets youtube or any other video on the web.  This can be the driving force of the scribe post with its layers and the blog is the canvas where these videos will live.  
Wish me luck.  Jumping in with two feet!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Run for Diabetes 2012

Hi everyone. Here is a small letter I have sent to some explaining why I am running the 2012 Run for Diabetes on September 3rd. Hi Everyone While most of you will be enjoying the September long weekend at the cottage or in your back yard! IMG_0625
I will be running the Run for Diabetes 2012 The North West Company Half Marathon on September 3rd. This run will be in support of my son Colin that has Type 1 Diabetes. IMG_0807
It has been just over a year now since Colin was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The year has been smooth and for an eleven year old kid Colin is showing tremendous strength and resilience. He receives insulin 3 times a day and has even started to self administer the needles. New Morning Routine Mixing Insulin
 Colin however does go through some periods of "Why Me". He has always been a healthy child and is active and looks after himself. He sees his twin and older brother with no issues and sometimes struggles wondering why he was chosen to be the child with "health issues." This is tough for a kid. Strangely enough of my three children Colin has always been best suited to coping and dealing with challenges. This year Colin will continue to play competitive basketball and soccer and run track. Diabetes does not stop kids from being active it just requires new routines and awareness of when your body needs insulin or sugar. IMG_5044
For the most part as a family we have helped Colin lead a normal life and have controlled his blood sugar levels properly. Sometimes we do miscalculate and his numbers either go down or up substantially. We have been blessed and lucky that this first year has gone so smoothly. That being said Jackie and I still wake up every morning and check to see that he is breathing normally and not in a Diabetic Coma (when the blood sugar dips very low over night). Every morning we go into his room watch his breathing and breath a sigh of relief. While giving insulin is some what mathematical the body is constantly changing. We are always vigilant about Colin's growing and changes and hope our calculations are correct.

Thanks for your time and I hope you can support my run this September. If you are unable to pledge online I would gladly come by and pick up your donation.


Here is the electronic pledge information. You have been invited to pledge for Chris Harbeck in support of Canadian Diabetes Association.  Secure online donations can be made at the Running Room Events web site with your credit card. An electronic tax receipt will be sent to you by email. Please click here to make a secure online donation.

 For more information about the Run for Diabetes 2012 The North West Company Half Marathon, or to join us on Monday September 3, 2012, please visit this link.

Some facts about Diabetes
  • Over 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes.
  • The incidence rate of type 1 diabetes is rising by three to five per cent in Canada; the greatest rise occurs in five to nine year olds. 
  •  Living with type 1 diabetes requires approximately 1,460 needles a year (based on four injections per day) and 2,190 finger pokes a year to test blood sugar levels. 
  • The World Health Organization indicates five to ten per cent of a nation’s health budget is spent on diabetes.
  • Diabetes and its complications cost the Canadian economy more than $17.4 billion a year. 
  For more information about Diabetes please see this link at the JDRF website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vow Of Silence

Cross posted at Embracing Citizenship

Free the Children have an annual awareness campaign called The Vow of Silence

The main goal for the Grade 8 Teaching team at Sargent Park was to make our students aware of why it is important to stand in solidarity with the millions of child labourers in the world.

The Students in our school need to know that they do not need to  stand by while children are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights.

The Vow of Silence is a way to make them aware.  So on November 30th this year all of the Grade 8 students and many of their classmates went silent for a day.  In the school teachers did not talk, annoucments were not read and silence reigned over all.  It was amazing.  For a loonie or a toonie the students were allowed and encouraged not to talk, use cellphones, text, connect on the internet for a day.  Many passed the test.  Hallways were silent during classtime, during class change and even during lunch.  Ordering lunch was difficult when you do not have a voice but students managed to communicate even without a voice.

The Grade 8 team passed out information for other teachers to use in their classes.  Articles talking about the exploitation of children around the world were used as language arts and social studies lessons.  As a school we became more aware.

At the end of the day when it was all over students and staff were more aware of what was going on around the world. We had also raised over $300 for Free the Children. 

Did you take the Vow of Silence this year? It is never to late.
Here is what our day sounded and looked like.

I Will Statements

Cross Posted at Embracing Citizenship

In preparation for their citizenship unit this year we got the students to come up with I will statements.  We had them watch Spencer West and the Kielburgers from previous We Day Events.  Following the videos we brainstormed, did some group work and allowed the students to come up with statements of I Will... Each of these statements were supposed to be large and transformative for them. All of the statements did not end up being as grand as we planned.  I think this works in our favour.  It will allow us to revisit them in the future, see which statements were weak or easily accomplished and which ones withstood time and are still ongoing.

Here is the video we produced with their I will statements.