Upstream

It’s September 3, 2012 – Summer Learning, Day 60. I’ve been proud to produce a blog about learning every day this summer. I appreciate those who have followed along and shared their comments. Knowing that others were supporting me kept me writing on days that I perhaps didn’t feel up to it.

I have not posted a blog the past few days because I essentially “unplugged” myself during an annual camping trip with a friend, a tradition that has now hit twenty years. No laptop, no iPad, just a cell phone for emergencies.

For the first time, we camped at beautiful Haynes Point in Osoyoos. Haynes Point is a campground that sits on a sand spit that juts out into Osoyoos Lake. It was beautiful and the weather was spectacular! But just because I was unplugged didn’t mean that learning wasn’t taking place.  Shortly after our arrival, I noticed a dead salmon floating in the water right by our campsite. Salmon in Lake Osoyoos?  I quickly learned that Lake Okanagan, Skaha Lake, Lake Vaseux and Osoyoos Lake are all connected and drain into a river system in Washington State that eventually leads to the Pacific Ocean. The salmon return this year is expected to be close to 250,000, compared to a low of about 10,000 in the 1990’s.

As for the rest of the trip, it was great to get away for a few days, visit a few wineries, and take a deep breath before the start of a busy and exciting school year.

While this might mark the end of this learning project, I know new learning is just around the corner…it always is!

A praying mantis says hello.

Thornhaven Estates Winery

Campfire at Haynes Point with Osoyoos in the background.

Haynes Point (centre left) juts out into Osoyoos Lake.

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Discovery and Recollection

It’s August 29, 2012. On the drive home from school tonight, I listened to “The World Today” on CKNW, something I like to do from time to time. Depending on the topic of the day, I may listen, try a different station, listen to a CD, or just enjoy the silence. The topic of the radio show today was fascinating; I learned all about the expedition to search for Sir John Franklin’s two ships lost in 1845 quest to find the Northwest Passage.

I thought about a couple of things as I listened.

First, while we continue to push the envelope of space exploration, there is much we still don’t know or have yet to discover right here on our own planet. Not only have they not found Franklin’s two lost ships, but there are stories almost every day regarding new discoveries. Earlier this month, researchers found a new family of spiders in an Oregon cave. About a month ago, a never-before creature called the “Blind Snake” was found in Brazil (though it is more closely related to frogs and salamanders).  What else is out there waiting to be discovered?

More importantly, a second thought popped into my head that hadn’t for a long time. I recalled when I was much younger, driving in the car with my dad. I remember he would listen to (what I thought to be) lame talk shows on the radio while I sat in the passenger seat wanting him to change the station so I could listen to music. I didn’t bother to think that perhaps he was listening because he found it interesting. Now here I was…driving…listening to people talk on the radio. Looking back, I realize that I disagreed with many decisions my parents made. I think I was like most children; I didn’t have the ability to take perspective. I also now understand that although my parents weren’t perfect, all the decisions they made about raising me and my four sisters were made out of love, even though it may not have seemed like it at the time.

As a parent to three of my own children now, this understanding is important. It reminds me to do my best to be patient with them when they disagree with my decisions, and to not only show them that I love them, but to tell them as well.

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Paying it Forward

Image Source: Vancouver Province

It’s August 28, 2012. There’s something soothing about routines. Routines ground us in this fast-paced, busy world. My morning routine involves quiet time (which might be the only such time for me during the day) and a read of the morning paper. Today, a particular story resonated for me; the story of Lesley Ord. The Vancouver Province has been running a week-long series on the maternity ward at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. In the story, Ord recalls the premature delivery of her child in 2009 and the exemplary work and care of nurses at the hospital over the four weeks that followed. Ord now offers free photography for new parents in the ward – a beautiful example of paying it forward.

Reading this story brings back the vivid memory of our time in the hospital during the delivery of our oldest son, now 16. We were young and to be completely honest, I was scared. We relied on the wonderful nurses at Royal Columbian Hospital to get help us get through the 18 hours of labour.

But most importantly, reading about Lesley Ord this morning shows that no matter who we are, we don’t get through life without at least a little support from those around us.

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Braced!

It’s August 27, 2012. It really is true that you never know when you are going to learn something new! My son Sam got braces “installed”. Incredibly, it only took an hour. Orthodontists are now using a technique whereby they first create a mold of the mouth and the brackets and wires are all pre-assembled and installed on the mold for fit, then onto the actual teeth.

Let the straightening begin!

Mold with bracket locations marked out.

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(More) Passing Time

Jake’s 16th Birthday

It’s August 26, 2012. It was celebration day today – my son Jake’s 16th Birthday. I always look forward to having friends and family over to celebrate special events like this. My children’s birthdays are also times when I look back and realize how quickly time has passed. I spent some time watching old movies of when my kids were younger. I found one of my favourite clips and thought I would share it today.

Side note…the screaming child in the background is Sam, a very colicky baby for the first 8 months of his life.

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Who Owns the Learning

It’s August 25, 2012. Today I read a great book called Who Owns the Learning by Alan November. My wheels are turning and I want to share the “Digital Learning Farm” model and the student jobs that essentially take students from “being passive receptors of information into active drivers of their educational experiences and designers of their educational goals” (November, 2012, p.20). Student jobs include:

  • Tutorial Designers
  • Student Scribes
  • Student Researchers
  • Global Communicators and Collaborators

Through the many examples shared in the book, I learned many different ways educators are using basic strategies and technology tools to create interesting and authentic learning experiences for students. Now, I am anxious to my learning with others!

November, A. (2012). Who Owns the Learning. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press.

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Happiest Place on Earth

It’s August 24, 2012. I’d like to say that I just returned from Disneyland…but that wouldn’t be true. Today, my daughter Kate and niece Grace arrived back from Disneyland with their moms. Kate had been before, but was so little she couldn’t go on most of the rides. It was a first for Grace.

It was so nice to hear how great a time they had, but it was even better for me to have everyone home again. To the girls, it certainly sounded like the Happiest Place on Earth!

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White Knuckles

It’s August 23, 2012. Today was another first for me. My oldest son, Jake, turned 16 today and he got his learners driving permit! Looking back,  everything seemed so simple when my children were younger. Now it seems with each passing year, raising them becomes more and more complicated…braces, high school, girlfriends, curfews, and now driving.

Our morning started with a trip to the motor vehicle branch. Jake took the test and passed. On our way home, I pulled over somewhere a little more quiet and let Jake take the wheel for the first time. For his first drive, he did quite well but I have to admit I was nervous. Watching a new driver reminds me how complex a task driving is. Jake would focus on staying between the lines and not notice that his speed was increasing, then he would focus on his speed and forget to signal. It’s all part of learning and automaticity takes time.

Jake’s first fill-up

Street legal

It reminds me of when a was a student teacher, observing experienced teachers teach and manage a class. I would sit there in awe and think to myself, “They just make it look so easy and natural.” It’s incredible when with much practice, much of what we do becomes automatic.

Safe travels!

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Family…and Paradise

It’s August 22, 2012. Part of the day was spent at school, continuing work on tasks to prepare for our first day back. The second part of the day was a very pleasant get-together at Redwoods Park in Surrey with many staff members from Georges Vanier Elementary.

It was great to see everyone and to meet a new member of our family…Sarah Baxter’s baby, Tyson.

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What I think I noticed most was how happy everyone was to be together again. Sure, summer is a time to get away and relax, but when you work closely with people and do challenging work together, it creates a bond. That bond was evident today!

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I spent quite a bit of time learning about one adventure in particular – that of one of our great Education Assistants, Sandy Wood.

Sandy and her family travel to the west coast of Vancouver Island, then take their boat and water taxi to a very remote location. So remote, she affectionately refers to the location as “our beach”. They bring everything they need, craft a shelter from the wood they find on the beach, and spend two weeks reconnecting with each other and mother nature. As I heard her story and saw the pictures, I realized why she spoke often about this place she and her family have been traveling to for the past 17 summers. I guess when you find paradise, you go back whenever you can!

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TEAM!

Sundeep and I with then Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Stephanie Cadieux

It’s August 21, 2012. It was another day at school and another day of getting back into the swing of things. After ample time to decompress after a hectic school year, it is an adjustment to go back to school. Part of what makes this adjustment easier is working with great people. I’m fortunate because we have these people at Georges Vanier Elementary (@georgesvanier36).

One of those people is our Vice-Principal, Sundeep Chohan (@skc99). I think we make a great team. We are so like-minded and our personalities so compliment each other. We laugh and we learn from each other. When times are tough, we work through issues together.

Reconnecting today after a summer apart, I was reminded my friend and colleague is a big reason why when I leave for school in the morning, I never say I’m going to “work”.

Thanks Sundeep!

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