Monthly Archives: March 2010

Violence in schools – again.

And from the CBC website, an incident near Toronto:

She said it was common knowledge at school that the suspect carried a knife.

How can it be “common knowledge at school” that a kid carried a knife?   Something broke down here.  And now another teen is dead.




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Watch the hands go up when asked about bullying.

This is what our kids are feeling in schools today.  This morning.  This afternoon.  Tomorrow.

Click here and watch this video.  It’s important.



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How educators can make schools safer

I love Edutopia.  I hope many of you know of it already, and for of you who don’t?  Have a look:

I have many educational videos on my iPhone that I download from them, and I also subscribe to an RSS feed that let’s me see every day what news they have.  Today, they had yet another one  that is very much worthy of sharing.

The final summary paragraph includes a foundational line for me:  “Create a culture of respect.”

We’re trying to reestablish  that in our schools.  Certainly the Guiding Principles that were adopted last year create a foundation for just that.  Having said that, I think I might alter my foundational line by adding two lines to it:  “Create, and maintain, a culture of respect.”

Read the full article here.



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Homework – good or bad?

Interesting question, as I sit here with my grade 8 kid who was up at 5am to finish homework from last night and who is up still now after 10pm doing homework from today…

But – I *do* think homework is a good thing … in high school.  And “homework” is good in elementary school too, in my books.  Little play on words  there – it must be late.  Yes, “in my books” because homework *could* be defined as simply:  reading.

The elementary school in my ward has done some interesting things this year.  An Olympics styled reading competition, and a move to trying reading as the primary assigned homework.

Today’s Gazette has an interesting article found here.

Reading is the foundation … well, it’s just The Foundation.  If kids can read, and if they enjoy reading, they have the basis to learn.

We’re lucky in my house.  Or maybe we made our own luck here – but our guys simply love to read.  We have hundreds if not thousands of books here.  And we read together as a family – still.  Remember – my guys are 13 and 14 years old – and we’ll still have my talented wife reading aloud with all of us.  Nobody does voices better than her.  🙂

So maybe reading should be  the mainstay of homework in elementary school.  And in high school?  Well, this is where they have to learn to plan and to manage a workload.  It’s 10:15pm – my 13 year old is finishing up for the day.  He produces top-of-the-line work – but me thinks he’s got some work to do on time management.

Wouldn’t that be a practical theme for a high school class?  Time Management?  Project Management?  🙂



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Some fun with Jackson Pollock

What to do with that smartboard in your classroom?

Want to have some fun with it, and teach a little American art history?

Check out this post:

Links to the Jackson Pollock whiteboard and some ideas on how to integrate into a lesson or three.  It’s actually quite fun.  🙂



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What’s the deal with that PC resolution?

And why do I care?

It’s not what many may think.

I suggested a ways back that I thought it may improve communications with Parent’s Committee if instead of just sitting in the audience and listening, that a commissioner or two might sit at their table and really communicate, ie: participate in the meeting.

But hey – maybe it was a stupid idea.  I am 100% open to the idea that maybe this may just not be a good idea.

So why do I keep bringing it up?

Well, because it has not yet been dealt with.  At this stage, Parent’s Committee has passed a resolution – a unanimous resolution, asking to have two commissioners attend and participate in their Jan and Feb meetings – as a trial.

The chair of PC sent the invitation to the chair of council. The chair of council indicated to the chair of PC that it would not happen.  Obviously – it is March now!  It has not happened.

The issue that I have has nothing to do with the actual resolution and/or the idea of having commissioners at the PC table – maybe it’s a good idea; maybe it’s a stinker.  I don’t know. I still have the feeling that communications is in fact a two way street, and that communications may be better if commissioners could take part and not just watch, but hey – again – maybe it’s a bad idea – but again – THIS IS NOT MY POINT!

My point is this:  If PC passes a resolution asking Council to send representatives to partake and sit at the table of PC meetings on a trial basis for Jan and Feb, then COUNCIL has to respond.  The chair of council is the official spokesperson – the chair relays the decision of council; the chair DOES NOT DECIDE anything here;  COUNCIL DECIDES.

So – has the PC resolution come to council?  Nope.

Yes, I know – the whole thing came up at an executive committee meeting where it was erroneously reported that the resolution had never actually been taken to a vote.  That was fixed – there had in fact been a vote – with a unanimous resolution.

Then another report circulated, suggesting that council had in fact already discussed the resolution.  The reality is that it hasn’t – the resolution from PC has never been brought to the table for commissioners to decide on anything.  Mis-communications happen and they always will – I have no issue with that.  But hold up a sec – I have been called out at meeting after meeting now – and for what?  I have no “goal” or “hidden agenda” here – and there are no politics involved here either.

The PC passed a resolution.  The council must respond by resolution.

If we don’t keep the basic rules straight, we’re just not going to get very far at all.

Bill 88 has nothing to do with this.  Commissioners always have had the right to speak and still *do* have the right to speak. (See extracts from the Education Act below.)

In fact, it is not just our right; it is our duty to speak.

So – is PC the right forum for it?  Maybe!  Maybe not!  But how does a resolution from PC asking council something get treated?  By council answering via resolution – no one can argue that one.  Well, I guess someone could argue it, but…  🙂



Extracts from the education act:

S.175.1 (last paragraph) which hasn’t changed:

“This section must not be construed so as to restrict the freedom
of speech inherent in a commissioner’s function

And S.176.1, which defines the role of commissioners:

176.1. The members of the council of commissioners shall exercise
their functions and powers with a view to improving the educational
services provided for by this Act and by the basic school regulations
made by the Government. To that end, the role of the members of the
council of commissioners includes

(1) informing the council of the needs and expectations of the
population of their electoral division or their sector, as part of
their contribution to defining the school board’s directions and
(2) seeing to the relevance and quality of the educational services
offered by the school board;
(3) making sure that the school board’s human, material and financial
resources are managed effectively and efficiently;
(4) carrying out any mandate entrusted to them by the council of
commissioners, on a proposal by the chair, for the purpose of
providing information to the other council members on any specific

2008, c. 29, s. 19.

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A terribly sad case… is there anything to learn from it?

The coroner’s inquest into the death of a 12 year old boy last year after he was punched in the chest by a school mate is scheduled to conclude today.

See the story in the Gazette here.

It seems that the unfortunate child had a heart condition, and that he and the parents were aware of it and took precautions to keep this boy safe.

But he died.  And he died after being struck while at school.

Every day, children have conflicts at school.  Every day, there are fights.  Every day, children are bullied at school.  Every day, bad things happen.

Can we do anything to stop it?

The sad answer is probably “no”.  But – are we doing everything, and I mean *everything* that we can do to reduce the number of incidents that occur?  The sadder answer, I believe, is still “no”.

We have behavior codes.  If you have a child in school, have a look at their agenda – the behavior code is probably in there.  Read it – what it describes is probably a pretty fantastic environment.  But is it the reality?  Is it enforced?

I guess the bottom line is that if we accept abhorrent behavior, then implicitly, we condone it.  And I would say that we even encourage it.

It’s time to step back and look at what we have.  It’s time to ask:  “Is this the best that we can do?”

It’s time to up the requirement from all of us.



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