Category Archives: volunteers

Summer and Schooling

With Summer School starting and as someone who loved summer time classes both as a student and when teaching at three well respected Universities my wish to all taking summer classes is that the paperwork which may precede you into the programs be placed aside and each of you win points on your participation and on your own merit! And students- don’t “struggle in silence”- for we as Educators can not help the students who leave us “uninformed.” 

#Summerschool2017  #Teachingtact #ESL  #EFL  #ENGLISHK-12  #reflectiveteaching

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

with respect for Dickens & “best of times”

just chill!  Yeah, right! After 2 days of a computer shutting itself off in the a.m. and returning to action in the late afternoon, wasn’t feeling like chilling.  Funny though, cause I am not one to blog daily, nor to feel a need to text constantly etc.  But, this machine is also our telephone, and without that aspect the atmosphere was more frozen than “chill”.

– so now for some best times: best time to begin learning grammar?  Grade 2, right along with other reading skills- so that it, the practical labeling of sentence parts, becomes almost automatic.

– best time to read to a preschooler? anytime* and all the time, whenever you can make the time

– best time to begin working on an assigned project – Now- right now- to have time to review it before handing it in!

– best time to volunteer and get in those required (high school) credit hours? here I’m going to surprise you with a caveat: when you can truly make the commitment… volunteering is a job, not just an “easy credit” and the place you offer to volunteer at/with will depend on your participation…

– best time to share a smile? as soon as you see someone, and a wave, and a wink if it feels right…

–  best of times?- Oh, that will be another page-

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For anyone wondering *and in honour of grammar week- http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/grammar/adjectives-and-adverbs/14/anytime-vs-any-time/

keep learning!

 

All about Libraries

  Did you know that one of the best places to find material for research projects is in a library?  Yes, because I am writing at my computer and you aren’t sitting right beside me, this becomes a rhetorical question, however, I mean it, literally.  So many students have shared with me the simple fact that “they hardly ever go” to a library anymore, and I know this affects their ability to discern useful material, select valid websites, and focus their writing within a category.  You see, with major search engines doing some of this work for the students,  many rely heavily on quick clicks and popular categories to link to fast homework help;  physically navigating a library takes time.  Getting children comfortable with the space can begin a lifelong appreciation for public spaces; particularly public spaces wherein the individual can find respite, camaraderie, knowledge, and history.

I know with March break looming many families who are not planning on leaving this city will be looking for activities that can be educational and cost efficient.  Do consider a trip to the library, and if you have not yet visited Toronto’s Research Library, located just north of Bloor on Yonge street, what a great time to go.  It is true, you will not be able to borrow books from this particular location, however the grandeur of the space makes the trip a positive experience.  http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=LIB018   And if you are not regularly visiting the downtown core, you now have a destination spot from where to continue, while playing tourist.

Another tip I share with students and their families is the Museum and Arts Pass available through various library branches.  This is an amazing deal http://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/new_to_canada/2010/02/take-a-break-and-visit-torontos-best-museums-for-free.html   At my local branch the evening these passes are distributed the lineup for the lottery is three persons thick! Check your local branch for dates and times.  http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/museum-arts-passes/conditions.jsp

I love hearing feedback from families who report not only did their younger children enjoy the trip to a library or attend a free feature, but that they as parents, had rekindled their interest in returning.   For junior and senior high school students libraries are great places to do volunteer work.   

http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/programs-and-classes/featured/march-break.jsp

One final tip, The Reference Library also has a mini-bookstore, staffed by volunteers.  This message today is a Thank You to the thoughtful volunteers who allowed me to quickly enter the store (they weren’t officially open for the day at that moment) and snag some great finds earlier this week.   I am always on the lookout for material I can share.  And should you have any books (in good condition) that you believe others could use, consider donating them by using the drop box near the store.  A great way to recycle while helping the Library raise funds.

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.

Summer and Volunteer hours

Often I discuss basics relating to education, and volunteering is one of the better ways to gain experiential knowledge.

I love sharing great websites- what makes a website great?

When a website does offer helpful information in an easy to apply format-

The following comes from Patricia Rossi, America’s Etiquette and Protocol Coach,who is based in Florida, and her comments relating to “Intern Success Secrets” apply to the many students here in Toronto who are gaining community service hours this summer. 

Some tips to help you get ahead:

  • Be professional. Take your responsibilities seriously and treat your internship as if it were a full-time job.
  • Dress for success. Make sure you dress appropriately by observing what your co-workers are wearing. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
  • Be punctual. Make sure you show up for work on time, including after lunch and breaks. Tardiness is not a quality potential employers are looking for. Also, do your best to avoid missing work. If you must take time off, be sure to request permission in advance.
  • Develop a good rapport with the boss. Don’t complain about the tasks you are given and even offer to do the project no one else wants to do. Don’t underestimate a menial chore, as it is just one more task that teaches you how an office works.
  • Find a balance. Be proactive by identifying office needs. This will demonstrate initiative and motivation. But, be sure to find a nice balance so you don’t appear to be a brown-nose or overly confident.
  • Approach your work with enthusiasm. Even though some projects may not appear too exciting, your eagerness may convince supervisors to give you bigger responsibilities.
    • Watch for growth and training opportunities. If there is a project that interests you, ask a supervisor if there is anything you can do to help. Let them know your interest in the project. Never stop learning!
    • Build a network. Be polite and courteous to everyone and establish valuable connections. Getting to know people in the company may lead to great opportunities. Try to set up informational interviews with various staff members. Always avoid office gossip.
    • Relax and have some fun. An internship probably won’t make you rich, but it has the potential to be very rewarding. Make the most of your experience and it will help get you started on the right career path.

    Wishing you much happiness and success!