Monday, November 18, 2019

Translators and Parent-Teacher Interviews

Last week, my school (and many others) held parent-teacher interviews. Often, teacher-librarians use this time to run a book fair. Not me. My role during parent-teacher interviews is the "translator wrangler". Let me explain. Because our school has a high percentage of families that do not speak English at home, we need to employ a large number of translators. We hired five Cantonese/Mandarin translators for Thursday, November 14 and three for Friday November 15 (during the day). With large class sizes, these times during the official parent-teacher interview evening can only be ten minutes long, so that everyone can have a chance to see the home room teacher. If the interview goes overtime, the translator will be late for their next group. This causes an unfortunate domino effect. My task is to escort the translators to their next appointment at the right time and place.

This is a necessary job but not always a pleasant one. I have to cut conversations, end important discussions, and rudely interrupt. Teachers might appreciate my role in the abstract, but more than once last week, my presence was met with a frown and a plea for "just one more minute". Interviews with translators always go more slowly, as it takes twice the time to convey information.

Thank goodness for those translators! Their job is not easy. They briefly meet the educator and the family and then must listen closely, comprehend the main message given by the teacher, translate it (and any complex educational terminology, such as IEP), ensure it is understood by the parent, and then do it back again in reverse order. That's a lot in a ten-minute block. We try our best to take care of our translators by building in breaks, offering them dinner, and scheduling sessions that are close geographically in the building so they don't have to walk too much.

Sometimes I wish there was a better way to arrange these progress report card home-school conversations, with more time to talk, but many possible suggestions come with their own drawbacks, especially when you need to include translators in the equation.

  • Other schools pick a different day other than Thursday night, to avoid the competition for finding translators, but the issue around short times and big topics still applies. 
  • Stretching interviews over multiple days would mean longer times to talk, but factor in sibling coordination and this complicates things, as well as leads to teacher exhaustion with several late nights instead of one, and raises costs for gathering translators for many nights. 
  • Online translators (such as Google Translate) do not always provide an accurate interpretation of messages. 
  • Asking parents to find their own personal interpreters to bring along isn't fair or equitable, especially if some of the information being shared is highly private and personal; parents may not want their work friends or relatives to know all the details of their child's progress in school, even if they can find someone can knows enough English to translate thoroughly. 
One alteration we did try on Friday was to announce the time on the PA system, because sometimes I'd become delayed in checking on all five translators and we would invariably be a bit late. I'll have to check with the teachers to see if the "PA vs personal presence" made a difference.

One positive outcome of this translator escorting - for the first time ever, I hit 25 000 steps on my FitBit!

Monday, November 11, 2019

60 Years

There were so many potential topics for this week's blog. Each one was deferred or dismissed for various reasons. (For instance, I'll write about creating better questions at a later date because my brain is still processing all I learned at Francine and Stephanie's excellent TC2 workshop last Friday.)

At the risk of getting too personal too often, today's blog post will be about the main event from this weekend: my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. I planned a surprise lunch for them at a local restaurant (thank you Mandarin Scarborough location!) and invited friends and family. Mom and Dad were very surprised and my Dad in particular was effusive in his thanks for arranging it all.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day - November 10, 1959

Mom and Dad - a more recent photo

The best gift that the attendees provided was their presence. It's so hard to arrange to see relatives and friends but I'm so grateful that the occasion - an anniversary party - was a joyous one. Too often, the only time I see some of these people is at a funeral. When we compared notes about the last time we had seen each other, they were at events like my parents' 50th anniversary (in 2009), Mom's 75th+1 birthday party (in 2012), or at the family reunion organized by my cousin Margaret the year my Uncle John died (in 2013). It seems like we were due for a get-together.

If these gatherings are so wonderful, then why don't they happen more regularly?
I think it's for a few reasons. It's challenging, with our busy lives, to arrange these meetings unless it's for a special occasion. It can be hard to coordinate schedules and takes a lot of organizing. Family and friends move away, and it may take Herculean efforts to travel to a central location. (My sister and brother-in-law flew all the way from Calgary for just the weekend so they could attend the anniversary celebration) These gatherings also depend on certain "social lynch-pins" to keep families together. When those unifying people die, it's hard to find someone with the same familial magnetism to reunite groups. It's also difficult to find locations and activities that will meet the needs of different generations of people. As it was, the room at the Mandarin was a little tight for maneuvering around to socialize at length.

I asked our guests to write a favourite memory related to my parents on sheets that will eventually form the basis of a commemorative album I'm compiling. Not everyone wrote something but those that did shared some great moments from the past that I myself had completely forgotten. You never know what banal activity for you is something special to others. The scrapbook album is an attempt to preserve some of those memories, which is super-important as my parents don't remember as much as they used to when they were younger.

Sixty years is a long time. A lot has happened to the pair of them since they first rescheduled their August wedding date because my father nearly died in a fire at the airport in their home country of British Guiana. (He actually got special permission to be released from the hospital to attend his own wedding in November. Remind me to relate the full story on here one day - it's a great tale of perspectives, perseverance, and media literacy.) They've had ups and downs but they are still together, with enough spirit to drive their children bonkers. I hope that many of you experience that kind of long-lasting love and devotion. May you have someone who looks at you the way my dad looks at my mom in this photo taken at the party.

Dad and Mom at the anniversary party

Monday, November 4, 2019

Hit By A Car

I have no clue how to begin today's blog post.

Thanking people for their well wishes and notes of concern?
Alerting readers that today's post will be quite personal?
The audience is wide, with different entry points.
The story itself also has different entry points.
So I'll start at the beginning.

James has always walked our kids to school. Once they were no longer in elementary school, he walked them to the bus stop so they could hop on the TTC to get to high school. My son Peter is in Grade 12. This'll be the last year of this tradition.

While crossing the street, James and Peter were hit by a car. I took a photo of the intersection where it happened a few days later and annotated it so people would understand.

The light was green and the walk signal was on. Two cars made a left hand turn  in front of James and Peter and drove westbound as they were crossing the street. Once James and Peter were about half way through the intersection (having made it across the eastbound Sheppard Avenue lanes), a third car, following the other two, hit them right as they were moving across the westbound Sheppard Avenue lanes. 

Peter was clipped by the side-view mirror on the driver's side. James was hit full on by the car. He was thrown onto the hood of the car. When the car stopped, he rolled off the hood and fell on the street. (James just recalls turning his head and seeing the car coming at him. Peter was the one who filled in these details for me later because he saw his dad get hit.) James had the breath knocked out of him and when he touched his hand to his head, it was covered in blood.

The driver and her husband stopped the car and got out to attend to James. Almost no one was thinking very clearly at this point, except for a man who witnessed the accident and gave James his business card and told James to call him if he needed a bystander that saw everything that happened to give a report. Peter, who had seen James get hit by the car, told his dad that he was okay and got on the bus and went to school. It was only once he was at school that Peter realized that his arm was hurting him. James got into the car with the couple, drove back to our house to let his mother (who was visiting us from Maryland) know that he was going to the hospital and not to worry. Then, the three of them went to the hospital. The couple in the car stayed with James in the hospital while he got checked out. It took about two hours. There were no broken bones. James had a slight cut on his head and was told to be monitored for signs of a concussion. He was given some pills to help with muscle pain and the couple took him home.

James decided not to phone me at work. He said he didn't want me to worry. I phoned home after work to let him know that I was bringing home his birthday surprise and, if possible, to meet me at the front door to receive it. All he said was that he had some news to share but that he'd wait until I got home.

I don't want to sidetrack the story, but I have to take a minute to share the birthday surprise. It was the most magnificent cake. It was created by Kris from Amazing Crazy Sweets ( after months of deliberation. Kris and Amy, whose children attend the school where I teach, make incredible cakes and cupcakes. I wanted them to make a role-playing game themed cake for James, but I wasn't sure what to do. Kris' fondant creatures are so detailed and adorable that James tends to keep them instead of eating them. A 20-sided dice was too complicated. This is a replica of the version 3.5 player's handbook for Dungeons and Dragons, probably the most famous RPG ever. I was excited to share this surprise with James, so I never suspected that there was anything amiss. (Back to the original story.)

As you can imagine, I was shocked when I first heard around 5:00 pm about what happened. I was also a bit dismayed when I heard that no one had bothered to call the police or ambulance at the time. I contacted my colleague because her fiance is a police officer and we needed advice on the next steps to take. I was also flummoxed that Peter went to school immediately after getting hit by a car. His right arm was sore and he hadn't been seen by a doctor at that point. I took him to the clinic, and then to the after-hours clinic at the hospital, where I read a sign that said "If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, report to the Emergency Department". We spent 2.5 hours at the ER (5:30 - 8:00 pm) and thankfully, x-rays showed that there were no broken bones. I returned home with my son, who was still pretty shaken up by the experience. I ate some dinner and then I drove James to the Toronto East area Collision Centre to make an official report. That night, I set an alarm to wake James up every few hours to ensure he was coherent. As I joked, it's tough when the person who is supposed to be the "attendant" is less clear than the "patient". I don't do well with interrupted sleep.

How do you tell people your loved ones have been hit by a car without freaking them out? It's not like it was a secret, but I didn't want to worry people unnecessarily. Thank goodness for social media. I let my staff know via our What's App channel the night it happened, so they'd understand why I might look like a zombie the next day. I talked about it with James and two days after it happened, I posted a note on Facebook and Twitter. I did not expect the avalanche of responses I received. Peter's friends who follow me on Twitter phoned him to see how he was. Family, friends, colleagues, former colleagues and acquaintances sent messages of condolence, concern, and questions. It was very sweet, but a little overwhelming too. So, apologies if I didn't reply right away to your texts, DMs or tweets.
There were questions about the driver, and if there will be any consequences, or charges, etc. James has the driver's phone number and address (but not the licence plate). Thankfully it was not a hit-and-run. The couple live in the neighbourhood. They are genuinely remorseful for what happened, and also a little scared that they could be sued or charged. (They've been to the house a couple of times, bringing fruit trays and flowers - and/but I suspect they also have a lawyer because at one point they asked if James would sign something saying that he was completely fine. Don't worry - he didn't.)

The biggest question people have is: how are you and how are they?

Me? I'm actually doing quite well. People have checked in on me, given me gifts, hugged me. I learned about the event long after it happened. I was a little miffed that I was not informed immediately but it may have helped make it more of a story to me, something not quite real.

James and Peter?

Physically, they are both surprisingly well. They have no bruises or broken bones. James is sore. He is walking with a slight limp and he says his back and legs ache.

Mentally and emotionally, I think the accident has made a bigger impact. They no longer cross on that side of the street. Both of them are a lot more skittish around cars. When I'm driving, they comment on how fast the cars are travelling and jump if a car turns too closely near them. Walking in the parking lot shows that they are timid and not confident; it makes them nervous.

There are a few reasons why they were able to walk away from this experience relatively unscathed. One - because the cars were at a stop light and just making the turn from a standstill, they didn't have the chance to accelerate. James has done research (as he tends to do) and he estimates that the car was probably going about 30 km/hr when it hit him. The faster the car is going, the more likely it is that the pedestrian will be seriously injured or killed. Two - I think that James' good physical health (he does a simpler version of Cross Fit three times a week) helped his body tolerate the impact. Three - I think that some higher power (God? guardian angel?) was looking out for them.

So now what? James had to cancel his planned trip to an awesome gaming convention in Wisconsin (and all that yummy ice cream and cheese) because of the concussion monitoring. He has done a ton of research about car accidents against pedestrians - did you know that in Toronto, 6 people a day are hit by cars? 40 people a year die in Toronto after being struck by cars. James is on a mission to make that particular intersection safer - someone was hit and killed there in 2011 and daily he sees cars making illegal U turns to avoid waiting at the light.

Endings are just as hard to write as beginnings. Often I'll close a blog post with a tie-in to education or I'll illuminate one of the key themes or reiterate the main message. This time I'll end just feeling very grateful that I've got my entire family safe and sound.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Making Kindergarten Media Projects with Meaning

I had two great topics that I considered writing about today. I couldn't do both, so I made one into a Twitter thread (see and the other I've shared here.

I love teaching media. It's so interesting, for me and for the students. We rarely do the same thing twice. For our kindergarten students, we've established and reviewed the foundation definition. Usually we'd jump into using Webkinz, but this year, based on their capabilities and interests, I wanted to try something different.

Room 110 is a small but energetic group with students that have very focused affinities for certain topics. The class is obsessed with dinosaurs, so our "making media" project is for them to make their own stuffed dinosaur toy.

They selected dinosaur outlines and chose their favourite colours for the fabric two weeks ago. Last week, they cut out the pattern and traced the pattern on the fabric. They were a bit scared to see the pins that were needed to hold two pieces of fabric together. This coming week, we'll use fabric scissors to cut out the dinosaur shapes, and then they'll use the library sewing machine to stitch the two pieces together and stuff them with batting. Our media conversations might centre around the audience and fictionalizing dinosaurs.

Room K2 is a classroom that was a combination of two different groups. They took a while to become cohesive - they used to play only with their friends from the previous class but now they are mixing much more freely. Since they didn't have as many shared experiences or likes, Jen Cadavez, their ECE, suggested we take advantage of their common interest in Ernie, the school library skinny pig. Students always visited him and fed him hay - why not make some media related to him? We plan on making a book but before we do, we needed some close-up time with the potential main character. Two weeks ago, we opened the cage and passed around Ernie while he snuggled in his sleep sack. Last week, we sketched Ernie as he wandered freely around his cage. This linked so well with our recent school-wide PD where the TED talk we watched encouraged us to spend more time in the learning zone (failing, trying new things, discovering strategies) than in the performance zone (demonstrating our solidified knowledge, sharing the end result). This was even true for Mrs. Cadavez.

Our next steps will involve some non-fiction research reading/viewing and our book might tie in information about skinny pigs with strategies for dealing with anxiety (i.e. "Don't Be Scared Ernie" can explain that Ernie is fearful because he is a "prey" animal, not a predator. Some of his strategies - like hiding in his "pigloo" or having treats to lure him out - can connect to ways students get scared and what they can do to reduce stress). Media conversations may touch on choosing what we do and don't put in books and different ways of showing the same thing.

Room K1 consists of some keen lead learners and quiet but equally interested collaborators. One of their class routines involves watching a couple of videos just after lunch to settle everyone down and get ready for the afternoon. One of the videos they like to see is called "Mystery Box". They sing along to the song and joyfully respond to the clues that indicate what is in the box.

One day, it hit us like a lightning bolt - why not make our own Mystery Box video?
This project is taking a little bit longer. One week, a small team painted the Mystery Box so it'd look like the one in the video we know. The next week,we recorded the class singing the Mystery Box theme. The following week, we learned how the box can turn on the video through stop-motion animation. Last week, a small team of kindergartens used an iPhone, tripod, and sto-mo app to film the first part of the video, where the box turns.

The students have decided that what will appear in the Mystery Box is a book. They've already broken down the book into its composite parts (cover, paper, pictures, words), which is a neat media conversation. Future talks for media will involve production values (because Super Simple Songs, with 18.4 million subscribers on YouTube, has more experience and resources than we do to make these things), audience and comparing videos.

Thank you to the classroom kindergarten teachers for being so supportive of this media unit (and our library unit on leaders and followers) - Stephen Tong, Jenny Chiu, and Diana Lung. Thank you to our ECEs for going along on this unpredictable learning ride - Jennifer Balido-Cadavez and Thess (Maria Theresa) Isidro. Thanks to our principal for being interested in what the students are doing and tolerating office visits to give updates - Matthew Webbe. Most of all, thanks to the students for inspiring these ideas and making media projects with personal significance and meaning. (And Happy Diwali to those who celebrated this past weekend!)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Good Gets Great with Free Feedback from Friends

I share.
It's what I do.
I share what's going on at school, even when it's not going well.
I share ideas and book recommendations and appreciations for wonderful people.

Today I'll share five people (or technically four people and an app) that provided some tips that really improved some projects of mine.

1) Rhonda Jenkins and Peggy Ashbrook - STEAM Project on Book Stands

Rhonda posted this great video and series of images sharing her 3D printed book stands. I said I'd share the tweet with the Grade 2s that I see for STEAM class, because they are designing book stands and could use more inspiration.

Peggy Ashbrook, a wonderful early childhood scientist education expert I met while at NAMLE in June, continued to interact with me as I contemplated my next steps with my students. She gave advice about how to allow students to work with metal ...
... and she diplomatically steered me back on the student inquiry track when I was tempted to give them a "here's how to do it" lesson.

Thank you Peggy and Rhonda for helping me create opportunities for the students to discover for themselves how to design and develop their prototypes.

2) Molly Dettmann - Authority Unit for Library and Media

Those who know me realize that I was probably already drawn to this tweet because it included references to costumes.
The wonderful thing is that Molly agreed to dialogue, even though she's teaching high school English in Oklahoma. I'm designing this unit from scratch and it will be helpful to have fresh pairs of eyes on the plan as it is evolving. I sent an overview to Molly (and to Neil Andersen, president of AML who expressed interest in the topic, and Matthew Webbe, my principal) via email. Neil has already replied with a few good question prompts. I look forward to hearing how Molly and her students will explore the concept of authority - they are doing a trial for a historical figure, for example. I hope her ideas and any suggestions she has will improve my own unit.

3) Richard Reid - Education Institute on Advocacy and the School Library Learning Commons

Last Thursday, Richard and I led a webinar for the Ontario Library Association's Education Institute on the Advocacy Toolkit.

I don't know how Richard does it. He had a hectic time at school, was in Thunder Bay for another OLA event the day before the webinar, and still organized the slide deck so it made it sound like he and I had practiced for ages before presenting. Richard, thanks for the self-esteem boost and believing that I would be capable despite being not as well-versed on the source material as I would have liked.

4) Vote Compass - Upcoming Federal Election

Today, the day this blog post goes live, Monday October 21, 2019, is election day in Canada. I take voting seriously and I was really torn about how I should vote. Vote Compass is a website managed by CBC that asks the user questions about issues, parties, and leaders, and then places you on a grid in comparison to the parties represented in your riding.

I won't share the results of my Vote Compass poll, but it did help me inform my decision. Thanks for the overview of the issues relevant to the federal government and the clear, non-partisan way of presenting the data. The website is

5) An Old Friend - A Big Project

Sorry for being so vague, but I didn't get permission from this person to post. I emailed him out of the blue because he had the experience and knowledge to answer a question I had about a project I was undertaking. He's busy but he answered right away, gave TONS of useful feedback (which means more work for me but it'll make the project 100% better) and has committed to Skyping with me to give verbal feedback. The best part is that we get to reconnect. (I think the last time we saw each other face to face was in 2011?) Thanks for giving so much of yourself so freely.

Yes, part of the wonders of feedback is that you need to be open to what you are told and interested in making improvements, but without people willing and honest enough to give you feedback that helps, I'd be talking to the void. Thank you to everyone (and I should have included my principal, who gave me useful feedback on my ALP and potential next steps) for helping me continue to grow professionally.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Calming Tool Corner

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate!

Friday was a Professional Activity Day for us and, as usual, I planned to accomplish a lot more than I was able to do. Darn! On Sunday, we hosted Thanksgiving Dinner for my parents, brother, and mother-in-law. As the deacon mentioned in his homily at church earlier that morning, these holidays can be a source of stress.

Stress is something that even young children need to learn how cope with and address. I notice that each year, it feels like students struggle more with how to regulate their emotions and transport themselves into a state where it is optimal for learning. Unfortunately, there's no "magic potion" that can quickly and automatically solve these problems. Occasionally, it's an event that has happened outside the teacher's control (such as an incident at recess or at home) that dis-regulates students and the impact can last much longer than the trigger.

One method I've been experimenting with to help students calm themselves down is by providing a "calming tool" area. If students are feeling stressed or dis-regulated, they can grab one of these items to help them regain their composure. I've added a few new items this year. I thought it might be a helpful exercise to list what I have, consider how it sometimes helps and brainstorm what more I can do.

On the left is a toy that my son obtained long ago and was no longer interested in keeping. When you turn it upside-down, the liquids bubble and flow into the other compartments. Students can watch the colours merge into the others and switch spots.

On the right is a toddler puzzle that involves different kinds of locks. Users can unhook, twist, unlatch and tinker with the various closures to reveal what's behind the doors and covers.

To the left is one of my fabric fidget mazes. Lisa Noble taught me how to make a fidget maze at the ECOO BIT18 conference in Niagara Falls and since then I've made dozens and dozens of them. There is a small bead sewn inside the square and users can find the bead and work it between all the paths created by the stitched words and shapes.

To the right is a gadget that I don't know the official name of - the Sonsuh website says it's a "tangle brain tool". It can be snapped apart and together and shaped into different configurations. I bought it recently along with some "Boinks" (which I forgot to take a photo of) - a simple tool consisting of a mesh tube with a marble stitched inside. People can push the marble up and down the tube while feeling the texture of the material that encases the marble.

 To the left are two Koosh balls. I own a lot of Koosh balls but in the past, I never left them out for student use. (Students can be very rough with my supplies, as my earless and horn-shredded unicorn toys can attest!) Koosh are not as easy to purchase as they used to be but I like them because even hard throws will not hurt someone if they are hit. I bought a new Koosh to add to my collection and deliberately left the price tag on it so students would be aware about how much the items they use actually cost, in the hopes that they will use it more carefully and appreciate the presence of it in the school library learning commons. (This topic is somewhat related to my Treasure Mountain Canada think tank paper - read more about that in a few months.)

To the right are Yankee Candle car air fresheners in little mock plastic jars. My students really like taking them and inhaling the scent deeply. Farah Wadia, our Grade 7-8 teacher, has a much more environmentally friendly way to use smell to help her students become more tranquil; she has fresh mint, lemongrass or lavender that she crushes and has available for her students. These scent jars are so popular that some have been stolen from the library.

Below is a colouring book. I'm not a fan of making colouring pages a mandatory task during instructional time - there's so many more enriching activities that students can partake in as part of school (see this link - if I can find it before the blog post goes live - about how we could be doing so much more than just holiday-related arts and crafts - ETA: thank you Aviva Dunsiger for the link!) but this colouring book is an available option for students to use to settle their emotions down. It's a popular recess time activity for some students; however, this option is the most contentious of my choices for calming down during class time. I had a pair of Grade 2 students who really, really like to colour and draw as a way for them to calm down - but they get so into the colouring (and chatting with each other as they colour) during the lesson that they end up distracting others and tuning out of the lesson that they claim they'll listen to as they colour. (Giving them reminders and then asking them to put their colouring away for 5 minutes led one student to crumple up and destroy the drawing she had been creating just minutes prior.)

Many of these "tools" are used as "toys" during recess and that's okay. I try to use the term "tools" so that students understand that they aren't to be used as a way to tune out the teacher during a lesson but help them refocus. Many of these tools are visual, olfactory, or tactile. (I didn't include the flexible seating like the wobbly chairs or bean bag chair, but they can count too.) Auditory tools are a little trickier because I still want students to attend to a piece of the lesson while they recoup their well-being. (I ordered noise-cancelling headphones with some of my Scholastic Book Fair money - time will tell if those were a good pick.)

Farah and other classroom teachers also use mindful techniques such as guided breathing and relaxation exercises with their students. I don't use those techniques as much, even though they are very calming, because as a specialist teacher with only 40 minutes, I don't always have the luxury of time and it is, more often than not, just a couple of students that need calming down instead of the whole group. (I feel guilty typing those previous words because of the phrase "what's necessary for some is beneficial for all" and everyone can get something positive out of a meditation session.) Maybe I need to reconsider my position on whole-group relaxation.

My husband shakes his head and wonders aloud at the current state of society when many students need the equivalent of a pacifier to soothe themselves. I am curious about the causes but more concerned with addressing the issues - recently I had a Grade 4 student crawl under his desk and refuse to come out; when I was finally able to coax him out and talk to him, he explained that he was upset because "someone took his answer" during a short class discussion. That response doesn't feel typical in a junior division class, especially because there already exist structures and routines that allow for dealing with this particular phenomenon (patting yourself on the chest when the answer is given publicly demonstrates to the teacher and the rest of the class that you, the student, had the same idea that was just presented). Having said that, I can either metaphorically "curse the rain" or "bring an umbrella". Bring out the umbrellas, the rain boots and rain coats - mental health and well-being is important and needs to be dealt with thoughtfully and sensitively. Wish us luck in the journey.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Orange Shirts, Purple Patches and EULAs

This will be a short post, because I filled my weekend with other events and like many students in Ontario, I thought I'd have a longer-than-usual time away from school.

Schools were going to close Monday if CUPE did not reach a contract agreement. Happy news - negotiations were successful and therefore they will not go on strike. I'd like to pretend that my purple patches have something to do with it. Similar to ETFO's "Red for Ed" initiative to wear red clothing on Fridays, CUPE workers in schools encouraged supporters to wear purple on Wednesdays. Purple isn't the most common colour people have in their closets, so a few teachers at my school discussed creating purple patches to wear in solidarity. Tina Voltsinis designed a great badge to print using t-shirt transfer sheets, but the purple textile I bought for the purpose didn't work, so instead I sewed a simplified version of the image.

I'm glad that all parties reached a satisfactory settlement, although I was looking forward to a day focused just on marking, weeding and display making. 

Jen Giffen (@VirtualGiff) made a good tweet about the situation online.

This makes for a good segue into what I was doing on Saturday.
Digital citizenship and media literacy can go hand in hand. It's the start of Media Literacy Week in Canada. The president of the AML, Neil Andersen, and I were at the Malvern branch of the Toronto Public Library with a table of free goodies and information for parents and community members.

Alas, we didn't have many people approach us for information. It's too bad, because we had a lot of great things to offer. Jennifer Casa-Todd already mentioned some of the MediaSmarts resources on her blog post. The Association of Media Literacy is making public a new and improved redesign to their website. On it are some brand-new EULA posters. EULA stands for End User Licensing Agreements - those legal documents that consumers often skip over and blindly press "Agree" to before using a product. These posters turn those EULAs into easily understandable and visually appealing infographics.

Media is everywhere and used frequently in schools. (Media literacy education endeavors to learn through and about media.) I used several different media texts in three different lessons I taught or co-taught for Orange Shirt Day, a day meant to remember the Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada and treated shamefully. (This is just a brief overview of the materials I used.)

For the kindergarten students, I used the episode of "Grandpa's Drum" from the great TV show, "Molly of Denali".

For the junior division students, I read the book "The Boy Who Walked Backwards".

For the intermediate division students, I had them look at "Secret Path" by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, as well as the impactful video shared via Twitter of the 50 metre long ceremonial cloth unveiled with names of all the children who died in residential schools (that they know of).

Were my lessons perfect? No. I wish I had done more in advance to discuss the great aspects of Wendat culture and the culture of other Indigenous groups before delving into the atrocities committed against them. However, we made connections that I hope to elaborate on in future lessons. Failures are meant as learning experiences (as the final image in this blog post, my first attempt at making fabric badges, shows). 

Happy Media Literacy Week!