Category Archives: spirit, fun, sharing, learning, practice and more

Ta dah duh! and almost done:

RECYCLING: School  term almost complete-

Yup- some lessons were better received than others; some assemblies produced more active participation on part of the student body, some after school events had nearly full turnout and others simply fizzled- what were the secret recipes which made for the better showings and ought to be replicated in some fashion next year and which events though dynamic were actually situation specific and must remain so? Each classroom teacher is actively reviewing the term, and admidst the minor chaos which end of a school year inevitably brings, the final reviews, those marks! and the promotions, is the very real organizing and reflecting not only about the students but always too about one’s own teching experience.  Many will discover they didn’t take any time off throughout the year and will determine to save some focused lessons for the on call supply teacher to be shared next academic year! For in the hustle and bustle that is a school most educators simply “keep on going” knowing that there is a purpose to the summer- to catch up, refocus, read, review, and indeed- unwind!

“the merry month of May” went by quickly this year, and as it nears completion so does another school year.  June may hold the expected exams but for many classes and educators the refections and clean ups have begun.  Here is hoping the chatter in the various lunchrooms, staff and student alike, is filled with that wonderful bittersweet tone of excitement for the upcoming months tinged with recognition that the year is being well spent , friendships made, and learning indeed took place.  Best regards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best wishes

January 2013!

 

   Yes, I have heard that there are people who find the number 13 scary- but I love the idea of the century moving into its teens- having worked with students through the middle years and been privy to the wonderful changes that occur as childhood becomes youth and movement towards independence grows – I have seen the maturing that the teen years do bring.  Also the experimenting and the challenging, that we as adults come to recognize as part of this growing.

 

In my cultural background, 13 is a lucky number.  It is a recognized time for children to begin the formal understanding of adult community and when many ceremonies publicly enhance this recognition.  Perhaps on a global level, throughout this year, 2013, we adults can extend our understanding of how little we truly know, and encourage the youths around us to continue to strive for greater knowledge, to remain curious, to not be afraid to challenge “accepted” wisdoms and to respect themselves and their dreams – especially necessary as it is a “tough world out there” and being able to – here I will defer to a well-respected former public figure for a quote: “ Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway” (Eleanor Roosevelt) can often be one of the more difficult things to accomplish.

 

  Simple wishes then for the 2013 Academic Year:  for everyone to keep growing. 

 

As always,

 

   Best regards.

 

          Alison (Ali the English Tutor)

 

 

Unusual ways to celebrate Mother’s day-home and school + freebies

https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog?msource=SOMDD12TW12   This site offers ways to help others in need; purchase a cow and feed a community!

http://www.ploughshares.org/mothers-day?gclid=CMiK5Yun868CFbMEQAodrCALVg

Mother’s Day is May 13, 2012 ( for a list of other dates around the world see below) . It’s easy to send a thoughtful and personalized gift, letting the mother in your life know that you share her wish for a more peaceful, nuclear-free world.

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/mothersday/mothers_day  Ok these recipes look so amazing; they are almost non-traditional!

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/04/mothers-day-giving-back_n_1478942.html  find 10 suggestions for giving back-http://www.womenforwomen.org/campaigns-for-women/mothers-day.php?src=MD2012PS&gclid=CKTxsauu868CFY0BQAodbVZsZA – helping to build lives post war…

http://www.helpothers.org/cards.php  smile cards have been going around since 2003

speaking of going around- Mother’s day around the world alphabetically organized: http://www.whsv.com/seasonal/misc/42915822.html

More on the history plus some trivia listed under fun facts; http://www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/mothers-day-history.htm

and for school kids everywhere: for elementary grades

freebies from: http://mrsrubinsclass.blogspot.ca/2012/05/wow.html 

slightly older children may like to help pick out the flowers in addition to creating their own arts and crafts;   http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/mothersdaygiftsartscrafstideaskidskidsprojects.html

 I have seen the beautiful creations made by a local florist –

  ask for Yien at  http://www.ellisflowers.ca/about-us/our-team    remember to place an order in advance so they can be delivered fresh and on time http://www.ellisflowers.ca/products

Enjoy the day, whether celebrating this week or on one of the other dates globally; Mother’s Day is officially declared:  http://projectbritain.com/mothers/index.html

And if you are like me – the more homemade the gift the better!

 

March Break Ideas

http://cookit.e2bn.org/recipes/

When I find a great site I like to share it! Are you at home this week and thinking of activities to do with your children over March Break? In addition to the many great institutions that have hands-on activities for the week, cooking together at home is an opportunity to share creativity- boys and girls can enjoy selecting the food products, planning the meals and helping with the clean up.  Reading a recipe IS reading and incorporates math and science too!  Plus when you go to a website such as the one offered above, you may compare food choices from earlier times with popular foods today. 

Hope people are getting outside too and enjoying the mild Toronto weather. 

as always, best regards, from Ali the English Tutor-

ps I am here over the break and open for students daytime as well as after school and weekends.  Also now offering lessons over SKYPE  at mytutoringspace1 . 

Other activities:

http://ebw.evergreen.ca/        Evergreen Brick Works-    you can cook here too!

http://www.rom.on.ca/marchbreak/     The Rom has a sale on!

http://www.ago.net/grange-historic-kitchen-tours    Have you been to the AGO but missed the Grange?

http://www.ago.net/teenager-hamlet-screening-and-qa-with-artist-margaux-williamson     have a student in high school working on HAMLET?

http://www.ago.net/march-break-2012     Specials for the week at the Art Gallery of Ontario

http://maplesyrupfest.com/        The Maple Syrup Festival is really sweet!

http://www.hhof.com/htmlNewsPromo/newsMarchBreak.shtml      Hockey Hall of Fame- then lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory

http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/calendar/marchbreak/     March Break means SUPER DOGS at the Science Centre

Two weeks into this school year…

But who is counting? Well, I am…

That first week for many is so confusing and I always enjoy recognizing when a return to routine and a little  bit of order appears to have entered; students grow visibly calmer- and their parents- sometimes the relief is tangible.

Both a mom and an educator I am privy to the early morning hustle, the rush out the door with that wonderful mix of hope and determination that students can exude.   And thankfully, I am occasionally at home at just the right time to listen to what did transpire during their day.  Only occasionally though, for as a tutor, my time in the early evenings may be spoken for and occupied with students.  I have learned the real meaning of quality time, and how to stay put as one or the other child opens up and shares knowledge of who he or she is becoming.

Third Year University and Grade Twelve- amazing- and they look at me and ask me if I feel old…Older I say, and realize yet again, that the best part about being an educator is being curious to learn more about almost everything, and to have students who are willing to share ideas that may be very different from mine and therefore definitely worth discussing.

Today was my birthday- how exciting to look forward to the rest of the year.

Sound and light shows

Given the flooding that recently hit the east coast I now realize that the storm I was listening to and seeing flash across my otherwise calm skies managed to leave a great deal of damage in its wake.  This note was written on Saturday evening, August 27th, and upon wakening to news of the flood I hesitated to share it… see post script as well, thank you …

It’s raining, it’s pouring and the last thing I want to do is fall asleep and start snoring…I confess, I LIKE a good rain storm.  The sound and light show this past hour has been terrific, rock concert loud with electricity appearing to be bouncing off the lower than usual flying planes on route to landing.  And I am the only one on my street standing outside revelling in it! It could come from my enjoyment of movies, where rain is such an often used symbol for change, but I; I don’t know, but ever since I first learned about Thor and the others who might be wreaking havoc or simply playing a game of bowling in the sky I have enjoyed contemplating what (other than the scientific facts) might be going on up in the skies. Which brings me back to the Humanities, the wonderful fables, analogies, myths, legends, archetypal legends, and narratives that suggest how rain is both a fertility symbol (plants do need rain to grow) and a cleansing, quieting prelude to new beginnings.  The images are strong and can be found throughout cultures- My front door was wide open, and Nature’s Rain Stick was helping me plan for tomorrow-

The News of Hurricane Irene brought home the strong potent reminder that “Nature” can be a lot more than merely entertaining.  While I had enjoyed the power that the sky was sharing, and been distracted from personal worries by the local storm (Toronto was not affected by Hurricane Irene) many were experiencing horrific scenes:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/irenes-death-toll-jumps-as-us-towns-battle-floods-millions-wait-for-power/article2145442/

“We were expecting heavy rains,” said Bobbi-Jean Jeun of Clarksville, a hamlet near Albany, N.Y. “We were expecting flooding. We weren’t expecting devastation. It looks like somebody set a bomb off.”

Irene killed at least five people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The first known casualty was a woman who died trying to cross a swollen river in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The death toll for 11 eastern U.S. states had stood at 21 as of Sunday night, then rose sharply to at least 38 as bodies were pulled from floodwaters and people were struck by falling trees or electrocuted by downed power…”  (Globe and Mail see ink above)

Not exactly the simple poetry of idyllic walks or fantastic dreams- a harsh reminder to respect nature and our place within it. 

 

 

On the need to clarify –

On the need to clarify-

I keep this page amongst other pages in a simple file folder for students and parents of students to read.

I do not know who to attribute the original work to- any ideas? thank you as always, best regards,

Please right-click on the reading to enlarge – can you relate?

What’s important?

What’s important? Students (regardless of age) ask this question all the time. Along with, “why do we have to read this?” and “what difference does it make?” And I really want to answer – YOU- You are what’s important. And somehow I have to make you see this, and believe that learning involves relating to the material from a personal perspective, not merely what I or others might say about the work.

We spend so much time in formal classroom situations reminding students to take notes, prepare for tests and quizzes, and to accept marks as the basis for evaluating learning. I wonder though if enough time is actually spent on questioning why some students tune out and choose NOT to demonstrate knowledge. Teaching privately has given me the opportunity to listen when a student “simply doesn’t relate” to a reading that is on their school’s curriculum, Often this is because the reading has been offered as a stand- alone, and not integrated into a whole with other parts of the program. Yet many of the texts do require context to be fully understood. I think often of an experience I had when interning at the New -York Historical Society.

A teacher brought her inner city class to the museum and upon meeting me (then a docent ready to conduct a program) declared loudly ” I hope you can do something with these dullards!” and promptly disappeared for coffee. Fortunately this teacher was an extreme case- most teachers appreciated the out of classroom experience and the chance to broaden not only the students’ but also their own perspective. That teacher though, had made it clear to all in the vicinity that she placed little value on the field trip and even less value on her students’ feelings. Yet the arts, and the study of the humanities, deal precisely with feelings and the opportunity to encourage empathy. The affective stance is important not only for creative growth, but also to build bridges between communities and encourage understanding of different view points. That particular teacher chose not to be involved- ok- but labelling her students “dullards” had been the real shocker. For the record, they were a pleasure to work with. I was able to have them make connections for me and suggest why the exhibit might be relevant to ANYTHING they had been learning in class to that date. And by getting the students involved they taught me about their school and I came to realize that the teacher hadn’t wanted the field trip- a parent had donated the excursion as a “gift” to the class. It may have been that enforced action that had irritated that teacher so strongly; in similar fashion students can reject being told that a text has value.

A caveat: not everyone will find books relaxing or a way to indulge in a mini-escape. Not everyone will become “a reader”. But everyone can be encouraged to question an author’s purpose, to actively listen to the author’s point of view and to present an opinion in a clear, informed manner. This is what academic writing insists upon.

fingerprints

Almost every article that I have read lately states we are supposed to be “authentic” and these readings have left me confused…are the writers suggesting that “authentic ” is a NEW concept? I tell students that as they find their voice their writing will become like a fingerprint, suggestive of who they are and what they are comfortable speaking up for.  But until they find that voice they must try on many styles, and have fun playing devil’s advocate- debating a concept on the side they might disagree with, challenging themselves to think through the opposite set of arguments and come up with support, practice writing from different perspectives, and try reading aloud, hearing the sounds of the words and listening for patterns as they speak – one of the best forms of proof reading.  Mostly though, I want each and every student to know their opinion is valued- but please, go back to the source and find the support in the reading, the research, the notes, and use the sources to back up the opinion- practice- and the writing is bound to improve.

SHARING OPPORTUNITY!

OPPORTUNITY

by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

THIS I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:–

There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;

And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged

A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords

Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner

Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle’s edge,

And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel–

That blue blade that the king’s son bears, — but this

Blunt thing–!” he snapped and flung it from his hand,

And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,

And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,

Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,

And ran and snatched it, and with battle shout

Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,

And saved a great cause that heroic day.

“Opportunity” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.