The Forest of Reading program will begin in January 2019. Students in grades 3-5 will have the incredible opportunity to read Canadian authors – both French and English – and extend their reading prowess by reading as many of the selected books in 3 months. Sir Adam Beck has participated in this program for well over a decade. The Toronto Public Library Staff of the Alderwood branch partner with us to facilitate the program and together we add both fiction and non-fiction materials to our library written and illustrated by Canadian authors. Students in the grades mentioned above will be able to come twice a week during their lunch periods to choose books, read and re-select as necessary. The goal of The Forest of Reading program is to get as many students reading as many books from the selections listed below. If they read five titles in a given category they get to vote for their favourite book in April. Student voice is so important in this reading program that authors covet this beloved prize of being selected ‘best book’ by student readers.
Beginning in the new year SAB will be launching two new creative teams to explore and highlight all that goes on here at Sir Adam Beck. We are currently looking for students who want to capture all of these news stories using the sound and visual mediums.
SABSound was an inspiration a number of years ago that never fully launched for various reasons. We are, however, happy to bring this podcasting initiative back to life! Since Student Voice is something we respect at SAB we want to make sure that you hear and see it in full swing in the new year. Students will focus on interviewing other students on various topics, including favourite books that students read and want to recommend, as well as events that various classrooms will participate in and host.
Also, we will be introducing a Movie Making element as well. Once we get going we’ll be working with students to determine what it is that we need to explore and record via movie making. Lots of exciting stuff coming to SAB in January!
Students were eager to participate in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week at Sir Adam Beck JS! In just about every classroom on one day or another, you would find students engaged in coding using various platforms from Scratch to Tynker and LightBot to other coding activities made available to students from Code.org. A Big Thank you to every teacher who went out of his/her comfort zone to encourage students to code. Much was learned, and gained through this empowering experience.
Why code? Not every student will end up with a career that involves professional coding. We code for different reasons, some obvious, and some not so obvious. Computational Thinking is the ‘buzz phrase’ for the philosophy behind coding in education. We encourage coding because coding helps to develop some crucial skills that lead to computational thinking. This kind of thinking can apply to just about every problem, simple, or complex, that we face in our modern world. When we encourage students to develop computational thinking skills we are asking them to perform logic, apply algorithms, decompose, recognize patterns, abstract and evaluate. These are skills that are easily transferred to STEM. These skills are often developed in collaborative environments and require ‘soft skills.’ Students are expected to persevere through various tasks, to collaborate, imagine solutions and use and develop creative thinking. Again, skills that are required in every day living.
At Sir Adam Beck we believe that the earlier we start to develop these skills the more likely the students will develop deep learning in these skill areas. More and more research is showing that the earlier we expose children to these concepts – often taught in a STEM setting – the more likely they will become successful in those same subjects later in their more advanced school years. And perhaps more importantly, students develop a positive attitude towards science, math and engineering that stays with them in later years.
We could go into great detail here about the benefits of coding in a young student’s school career, however, suffice it to say, coding is alive and well at Sir Adam Beck and will be for the foreseeable future! Currently, all grade 1-5 students are coding on a regular basis, and some kindergarten classes are beginning to introduce coding in simple ways as well. And this coding is being taught in the context of STEM. STEM education at Sir Adam Beck follows the principle that young children should be exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science in a cogent and powerful way. This exposure should introduce to them real-world scenarios in a setting where students are free to explore various problems from different angles in a supportive, encouraging environment.
“Although young children often show great natural curiosity about the world and remarkable capacity to learn on their own, they need adult assistance to foster, guide, and build on their interests to ensure adequate early STEM experiences.”
How can you help develop a positive attitude towards STEM at home? Every time you are out with your children you have an opportunity to engage them in discussions about STEM. Talk about buildings and their particular design, the weather and why it changes so quickly, or why we need green spaces in a city space. You can also develop positive discussions around math and science by assuring your children that these subject areas are NOT reserved for the few – skills in math and science are not innate. We can develop these skills by persevering, taking risks and learning from our failures. Do math and science together! There are many opportunities to engage your children in family time where everyone works together to solve a problem. It’s time well spent and it will pay dividends in the future!
By the end of the week, your child will come home with a TDSB Library Learnmark. The Library Learnmark contains all of the online resources (reading, French and English encyclopedia’s) that the TDSB has compiled for use either at home or at school.