Time flies when you’re having fun, or at least that’s the what the old adage says. And at Sir Adam Beck, we’re having fun! If only the weather would cooperate just a little…
Everyone Has a Story…
As we move into May we reflect on weeks just gone by and weeks to come. The Silver Birch Reading group wrapped up their months of reading through the various Canadiana that The Forest of Reading organization selected for this year’s books. Students enjoyed both fiction and non-fiction works covering many different topics and highlighting exciting journeys into different places with wonderful characters and edgy plots. If you follow us on Twitter (@siradambeck) you would have noticed the picture of the very full Silver Birch tree on our bulletin board. The tree is so full of silver leaves that indeed it is truly a ‘silver wonder’ of the Sir Adam Beck kind! Well done readers! To wrap up The Forest of Reading program a number of our more committed readers will be heading down to The Harbourfront Centre for the awards ceremony for The Silver Birch Fiction award! The students also get to meet authors, do some activities and perhaps even get an autograph or two from their favourite authors! Thank you to Mme El Boury for accompanying these readers down to the festival!
‘Everyone Has a Story’ is the theme of our second ‘Read for a Day’ event on May 17th. The ancient art of storytelling will be the filter we will use to captivate young minds and hearts with the spirit of reading. And to highlight the event we’ve invited renowned storyteller, Bob Barton to share his storytelling skills with our students! We are looking forward to his presentation! Also, teachers will allow students to read independently in both the AM and PM as well as provide other opportunities for their students to embrace reading as an essential part of their lives.
The Toronto Public Library will also be hosting various presentations to the students in our library learning commons. The students have access to the library throughout the summer months and our TPL librarians have showcased the kid’s portal on the TPL’s website. Also, junior students have learned how to use TPL’s Overdrive feature so that they can download books on their devices and read electronically!
Please do ask your children about the event and keep on reading with your kids! Limit your child’s screen time and help them become absorbed in a good fiction or non-fiction book, graphic novel, or comic!
As we move into the final three months of the year, new opportunities for learning and collaborating spring up! The podcast group’s first podcast will be uploaded shortly and they have some plans to interview different people and talk about different events here at SAB over the next three months. As mentioned in a previous post, this is completely driven by student voice! They generate their own topics and they write, direct and produce the final product. Mr. Gard is simply the technical advisor!
The Silver Birch Club is wrapping up another year by voting on favourite titles in both the fiction and non-fiction categories. Some students will be going to the Forest of Reading awards in May for the Silver Birch Fiction winner. This event will be held at The Harbourfront Centre. Mme El Boury is excited to attend with them! What a great way to celebrate Canadian fiction with hundreds of other students!
If you weren’t aware, Sir Adam Beck shares a very special relationship with The Toronto Public Library (largest public library system in the world!) via their Alderwood Branch. We share common space and our teacher-librarian and the staff of TPL work closely together to program different events for the students of SAB. Coming in May, Alderwood will have access to some special pop-up labs. These labs will include virtual reality headsets and programs and various pieces of technology that are cutting edge. Wait for the announcment!
On another note, Kerry Morton, Alderwood’s Branch Head, will be retiring this month! Kerry has put in 40 years of serving people in The Toronto Public Library system. She was the first Branch Head of Alderwood’s new location in the Alderwood complex which Sir Adam Beck shares along with Toronto Parks and Recreation. She has been an invaluable support to our students and staff over the years here and she will be sorely missed! We welcome Anne Campbell as the new Branch Head of Alderwood!
We look forward to finishing up our Innovator’s Club held every Wednesday after school in the school learning common’s conference room. Students have been busy working through Micro:Bit projects, working with Root Robots and Sphero computers. The club ends on the last Wednesday of the month.
We launched our first ever ‘Read for a Day’ event on March 8th with the goal of emphasizing the importance of reading and giving students an opportunity to explore different ways they can read. Author Philip Roy presented from several of his works in both French and English and he brought along some of his folk art to help capture the imagination of the students. As one student noted: ” I can be both an author and artist at the same time!”
Writing requires planning…
Along with Philip’s presentations, The Toronto Public Library offered an overview of a couple of their new online resources, including their revamped kids site and their ebook download service called OverDrive. The junior students were excited by this opportunity and one class even brought their own personal devices to access OverDrive using their TPL card and their PIN during the day. The primary students were treated to some interactive ebook presentations and some sing-alongs that everyone seemed to enjoy.
Throughout the day teachers and students were participating in independent reading, shared reading, read-alouds and teachers were able to present to their classes different resources that the students have access to from both home and school, including BrainPOP and the TDSB’s very own Virtual Library.
May 17th – Read for a Day!
As we move into the final chapter of our school year, we have several exciting items that we want to share with you. Firstly, our next ‘Read for a Day’ event will be held May 17th! Please do engage Mr. Gard or any other teacher with ideas you may have that would make this day even more successful! We are tentatively looking for different well known local people – celebrities are welcome! – to come and read from a favourite book! Please do let us know if you have a contact and could arrange for this person to come and read at some point during the above date.
Secondly, a number of our Silver Birch club members will be attending the awards ceremony for fiction reading at The Harbourfront Centre in May. This is an exciting opportunity for our students to join hundreds of other students to celebrate the authors who will be given the coveted Silver Birch Fiction award. Imagine joining a large crowd of excited readers in a venue like The Harbourfront Centre!
As always, the Sir Adam Beck Library Learning Commons is a great place for students to explore topics that excite them, and ideas that need to be energized. Please remind your daughter or son to ask Mr. Gard or one of The Toronto Public Library librarians for help with their work, regardless of what that may mean. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll definitely find someone who does!
February is always a busy month of the year. Heading into this month we are celebrating CARNAVAL as a whole student body with lots of different winter activities and traditional Carnaval foods. And this month we celebrate African Heritage month with The Toronto Public Library offering a couple of programs to help inform students and our community of the rich heritage of history and culture that these various communities bring to our school and our city. Be sure to check out the latest opportunities for students at the library in the coming weeks.
The Forest of Reading program has launched and dozens of students have started reading the various Canadian English and French fiction and non-fiction material in The Silver Birch and Blue Spruce programs for students in K-5. Students meet twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays during first lunch. If your child is involved, please be sure to ask them about their reading experiences!
We kicked off several other clubs with one more coming in the next few weeks. The podcasting club has met several times to refine their ‘radio personas’ and hone their scripts for their very first podcast. We hope to have this podcast published in the next week, or so. These podcasts are all student-driven! The students have plans to interview other students and teachers and touch on subjects that interest them.
Also, The Innovator’s Club started on Wednesday. Students were introduced to the basics of Micro:Bit technology. Once we figure out how to use them more confidently, we’ll branch out into some cool projects! Two grade 6 students from John English are also helping to support this club. In fact, I hope to have these two students lead this group through many of the sessions. Thanks to Phil and Sam for volunteering their time and their expertise to the younger students at Sir Adam Beck!
Looking forward we are excited to host our very first Read for a Day event. On March 8th, we will be asking all students and staff to read, read, and read some more. We have an author coming to present to the primary and junior English and French students. He will focus on presenting his experiences on various topics related to our eco-school theme. We’re excited to have him present his material! Also, The Toronto Public Library will be hosting various sessions on their new website for children – lots of cool resources! And, of course, students will be able to read independently, or with a partner, or via read alouds throughout the day. What a way to head into the March Break – experiencing reading as a community!
It’s a brand new year with brand new opportunities for students! Below you will find information about two separate clubs that will begin this month! Please note that both clubs require parent consent, especially with The Innovator’s Club because it will be an after-school program. Further, the Innovator’s Club will also require the student to have his/her own Micro:Bit card. You can find more information below.
The Silver Birch Reading Club
The Silver Birch Reading Club is an annual tradition at Sir Adam Beck. Silver Birch is part of the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program that encourages students from all ages to read both French and English fiction and non-fiction books from Canadian authors. Students who read a certain number of books get to choose their favourite book from the fiction and non-fiction sections and vote for that book during the voting period in April.
In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. – Mortimer Adler –
We have offered The Silver Birch program to students in grades 3-5 in both English and French. Mmes El Boury and Rovas help to facilitate the French program while Mr. Gard and the TPL staff help to facilitate the English program. Students select a book they would like to read and then return the book for another title once they’ve finished reading. Students are encouraged to read as many of the books as they can during the duration of the program. The program ends in April.
Start Date: January 15th – Introduction
Frequency: Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:50 – 12:20 PM until the end of April
The Innovator’s Club
We are launching a new club this year. The ‘Innovator’s Club’ will focus on working Micro:Bit cards. These electronic devices provide many opportunities for students to learn how to code and then use this code for different creations. During the course of this club, students will have an opportunity to create and innovate using the Micro:Bit. It’s a great way to witness the fruits of coding using an inexpensive device.
This club will run every Wednesday after school from 3:45 PM until 5 PM beginning January 30. Students will meet Mr. Gard in the SAB Library Learning Commons. Students in grades 3-5 who wish to participate will need to purchase a Micro:Bit card. This club is for Sir Adam Beck students only. Find the details below:
Please return the attached form to Mr. Gard by January 25th
Students will require a Micro:Bit Go Box (includes a Micro:Bit, USB cable, and battery pack) Approximate value: $25.00
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!
The holidays are just around the corner and there’s so much happening at Sir Adam Beck! Many of you experienced some holiday spirit when you visited our annual Winter Bazaar. Sir Adam Beck was buzzing with the typical sounds you hear when large groups of people from the community come together to share stories, purchase holiday gifts, and taste the various treats that were offered by both vendors and our School Council. A huge big thanks to our School Council for their tremendous efforts organizing and directing the efforts of many for Sir Adam Beck’s 65-year-old tradition. Such a delight!
Next week is Hour of Code Week! Teachers at SAB are gearing up to make sure their students get even more opportunities to code. Currently, all grade 1 to 5 students are coding in STEM class. And in the next little while, all of these students will be working with robots to apply their coding knowledge in real-world projects. If you want to help your children code at home there are a number of resources they can use. Even Google will use their Home Page as a jump off to various coding activities. In the past, they’ve added one coding activity a day for the whole month of December – and the students love the broad range of activities that are offered for coding.
Here are some suggested sites for your very own Hour of Code at Home:
Speaking of robots and coding, students in grades 1-5 will be working on various projects with a real-world application. Students will get an opportunity to develop deeper critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaboration skills through their work in these projects with a curriculum connection to Data Management and Probability in Mathematics, and Structures and Mechanisms in the Science curriculum.
Junior students will be working with Root Robots. These robots are built to survive in student use contexts and offer many different opportunities to challenge students with their problem solving and critical thinking skills via the plethora of built-in sensors the robots have including touch sensors, light and sound sensors. Also, the robots can be coded to draw on dry erase or vinyl sheets with a dry erase marker to create shapes determined by their coding.
Students can progress through the coding software via 3 levels with each level offering a progressively challenging coding context. Students can begin with graphical coding, move into computational coding and in the later grades explore full-text coding using Apple’s Swift programming language. In short, this robot rules! For more of what Root can do, visit this page.
New French and English Coding Books
Thanks to a visit to The Toronto District School Board’s Book Fair we were able to purchase some much-needed non-fiction books in STEM topics and First Nations history. Students will be able to find these books in the library stacks now!
Also, we’ve picked up some coding books for younger readers exploring some of the more difficult concepts of coding, and some coding books providing resources using Scratch. Again, all books are available!
March – National Reading Month
If you didn’t already know, March is National Reading Month. A number of teachers and the Alderwood Branch of The Toronto Public Library are partnering together to offer some great activities highlighting the importance of reading! Stay tuned for more information!
The Forest of Reading Book Club
The Forest of Reading Book Club will begin in the New Year. Many great fiction and non-fiction books from Canadian authors will be featured. Students will get an opportunity to spend one day a week at lunch in the library learning commons reading as many of these books as possible! The book club runs until the first or second week of April.
There’s always something new going on at SAB’s Library Learning Commons (SLLC)! The Toronto Public Library staff have been busy presenting Hallowe’en stories, arranging some visits for the primary FI students from Reptilia, and we’ve updated our conference room to include an interactive panel. We continue to build our current SLLC into a true learning commons by adding resources, changing the space and slowly changing the philosophy about what a school library learning commons should ‘look’ and ‘feel’ like.
We’re also providing some resources that will be used in both the SLLC and Mr. Gard’s STEM program. One such resource we’ll be using this year is a kit from SAM Labs that allows students to build devices that can be controlled through a wireless connection.
SAM Labs kits are bursting with wireless electronic blocks that each have a personality of their own. From lights to motors to sliders to buzzers, every Bluetooth-enabled block can connect to the others via the app to do something different. Press a button to turn a light on! Use a light sensor to activate an alarm! With the app, students can code the behaviours of blocks in any way they can imagine, enabling them to make anything from simple reactions to complex creations in minutes. (SAM Labs)
Using iPads students will be able to build devices with purpose! Talk about hands-on fun that incorporates critical thinking, problem solving and innovation!
Stay tuned next month when we reveal another device that we include in our SLLC space and in our school’s STEM program.