Video Games for Participation and Engagement.

Through the years there has been increase in conversations and transitions towards inclusion and the engagement of all students into activities and classes. You would think that the easiest core subject area to include all students and have everyone participate would be Physical Education. (commonly called gym)

This is however far from reality. Every teacher knows that student participation is dependent on many factors including the student and on the activity. Teachers know that motivating students to participate can sometimes be very tedious especially when you factor in being changed for the activity. Finally,  when you ask them why they are not participating often you will hear that either they don’t like the activity, that they are bored or that they do not want to play with Jimmy for some reason.

I have found this to a significant reality this year with my grade two/three class that I teach. Trying to make physical education fun and engaging was becoming a bit of a chore, however. Recently, I took a risk and the out come and payoff was spectacular. One of my grade two students asked if we, meaning the class could play “Just Dance”. I informed the student that we did not have an X-Box or a Wii in the school. The student told me that I was just to look up a song under “Just Dance” on YouTube.

I followed the directions I was given, thinking I am going to have to think of another activity quickly to transition too, as the boys and a couple of girls  in the class would not participate. Thank fully I was wrong, here is what I saw.

 

As I continue to learn about teaching physed to little ones I must ask,  what do you do, how do you keep students participating and active.

 

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Its not about doing more, Its about doing differently.

At the beginning of the school year the staff at Seba Beach School implemented a Numeracy program to better meet the needs of students as well as provide some interventions when necessary. I was fortunate to share a group with one of the other staff working with two groups. The first is a grade 8-9 group and the other is a grade 6-7 group, both with very different needs and abilities.

As I have worked with the groups we progressed through what would be classified as traditional methods of doing math, but as I worked at remembering some of the skills and techniques that I was helping my students with, I found myself becoming more embedded in my role as learner.  I researched different methods and techniques and found that my sense and understanding of numbers has increased. Also learning some of the techniques and tricks, as my students call them has caused a shift in the relationships I have with my students. As we learn together, the students are observing that adults are still capable and willing to learn. That learning is not only something that occurs when you are in school between the ages of 4 and 18.

I now look forward to my numeracy blocks with my students, not that I can impart knowledge, but that we can learn together to figure out how numbers, patterns and the relationships of numbers work. The only thing that I have found that is odd is how much time I spend on it. I would have never thought that I would be up till 11:00 pm playing on my Ipad learning different approaches to math.

If you have a technique or strategy that you would like to share please feel free to, I look forward to learning them.

Numeracy – washing away with “I can’t do math”

Numeracy is defined as the ability to reason and to apply simple numerical concepts. Basic numeracy skills consist of comprehending fundamental mathematics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For example, if one can understand simple mathematical equations such as, 2 + 2 = 4, then one would be considered possessing at least basic numeric knowledge.

Numbers are everywhere in the world and on a given any given day we do math without even thinking about it.  A numerically literate person can manage and respond to the mathematical demands of life. However, this is a skill that many take fo granted, there are a lot of individuals that struggle with Numeracy.

At Seba Beach School, we have collected data, that reveals that many of our students would benefit from a Numeracy program, somewhat similar to the literacy programthat we have in place. Similar to the Literacy program, the Numeracy programs philosophy is that students learn best when they are taught at their level, with students at their level, in small groups and that the basics need to be learned and understood before moving to a new concept.

To ensure that the students are working at the appropriate levels and that they are also being challenged, at the beginning of the year the literacy level of each student was assessed. After the students were assessed they were placed into groups with students that are at the same level and to this group was assigned an educational staff.1057072

In October the majority of students have been working on improving and fine tuning their skills and tools related to mental math. An example of this would the skills and tools that students can use to solve. Everyone chooses a specific method to complete a question, but the idea is not to have every student complete the question in the same way, but for students to be familiar with all of the techniques and choose the one that appeals the best to them. Below are three examples of this.

Rounding                                                    Breaking Down                                                           Counting On

74-38=                                                        74-38 =                                                                          74-38=

round up by 2 to get 40                       74- (30 & 8)                                                                  38 to 40 is up by 2

74-40 = 34                                                74-30 = 44                                                                   40 to 70 is up by 30

34 up by 2 is 36                                       44-8 = 36                                                                      70 to 74 is up by 4

Ans = 36                                                     Ans = 36                                                                       2+30+4 = Ans 36

Students are shown these as well as the traditional format and others and practice using them, then students are free to choose their method of preference.

Not only are the Numeracy groups great for interventions to assist children in Math, but the groups also allow for more individualized focus for where students need the help and alternative practice in an environment where competition is not present, because students are grouped based on abilities.

Personally, I know that the students that I am working with are having fun, and they are still being challenged to do better and make improvements in their skills. As well, since the groupings and the information being covered is directly tied and coordinated with the new JUMP math that is being used in all of our math classes, our students are seeing the continuity. If you have any questions or would like some information, please feel free to contact the school and ask for Mr. Ram or Mrs. Wong.

Staff are excited about the design and implementation of our Numeracy program and all of its possibilities. . We are looking forward to the successes of our students, to seeing the results of students being more independent and confident. Overall, the staff at Seba Beach are looking forward to making our belief and mindset that “ALL STUDENTS CAN LEARN” a reality.  Come, join us.

After School

On October 3rd, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) announced a five-year, $100 million “Believe in Kids” pledge to support a wide range of programs dedicated to the well-being of kids and youth. Since that date, RBC has donated $7.4 million to after-school and children’s mental health programs, announced Career Launch, a program to provide young people with community experiences and core workplace skills, and became the title sponsor of Sports Day in Canada.

In the west end of Parkland County and Parkland School Division, the commitment of RBC became a reality when RBC donated 35,000 dollars to Parkland School Division to be allocated for an After School Program at Seba Beach School. The program is delivered as a partnership between RBC, Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area.

The After School Program is hosted at Seba Beach School, however it is accessible to all of the students in the WEST (Wabamun, Entwistle, Seba Beach and Tomahawk) schools. The program started in the third week of September, with monthly calendars being sent out to inform members and participants the details of programming that will be available.

The range of activities are vast and vary from day to day, as they are geared to specific age groups and are focused on providing students with a structured, supervised and safe environment to work on skills and build self esteem.

Here is a small list of the programs that are offered:

  • Sports activities
  • Art activities
  • Leadership and mentorship training.
  • Safety Training
  • Citizenship and Social Skills activities.

The staff, students and parents of Seba Beach School are excited about the possibilities and outcomes of the After School Program and look forward to continuing our work with RBC and Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Edmonton.

Literacy – what it looks like in my back yard

DSCF0093The ability to communicate your thoughts is among one of the most important aspects that will determine your success in relationships, ability to make money, as well as your life. Without a proper supply of vocabulary, literary capacity, and determination to do better, you will have a very difficult time being independent. Language learning is perhaps one of the most difficult things to master, and so, mastering any language requires a great deal of practice, determination, and continual usage. With all of this in mind and understanding the needs of our students Seba Beach School has created and implemented a school wide literacy program. The basis behind the program is that students learn best when they are taught at their level, with students at their level, in small groups and that the basics need to be learned and understood before moving to a new concept. To ensure that the students are working at the appropriate levels and that they are also being challenged, at the beginning of the year the literacy level of each student was assessed.

After the students were assessed they were placed into groups with students that are at the same level and to this group was assigned an educational staff. For example for one month students will look at all of the skills and tools that one can use to sequence stories. The students will practice this using readings, story boards, and other methods that are relevant for group levels. Bi-weekly at the longest educational staff will meet as a group to discuss techniques, strategies that are successful, strategies that need to be changed, and how students are progressing and whether or not they are ready to move to the next skill. To measure the growth and improvement of each student they will be assessed once every reporting period this will provide us with the best possible information to plan for each student. To help and communicate with parents the school will post updates to the school website to share the skills and tools that the school is using. This will provide parents with ideas that can be used to continue the work that is happening at the school.

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Please fell free to access our information and share it if it is beneficial. If you are interested in the program please feel free to contact the school and ask for Mr. Ram, Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Melmoth.

Staff are excited about the Literacy program and all of its possibilities. . We are looking forward to the successes of our students, to seeing the results of students being more independent and confident. Overall, the staff at Seba Beach are looking forward to making our belief and mindset that “ALL STUDENTS CAN LEARN” a reality.  Come, join us.

Entering Year Three

As the summer comes to an end once again, I like many teachers are looking at the upcoming school year with anticipation and possibilities. I am entering my third year of being a school administrator. I can honestly say that it has been a challenge. I have learned many of the unknowns that Principals do and I have a significant amount to still learn. Over the past two years I have been faced with many elements to ensure change and growth at my school. Most recently it was the replacement of two senior teachers, but we have faced literacy issues, social and emotional issues, economic issues and student achievement issues. For the most part I have as has the school, played a reactive role in dealing with these issues however, this will be a new year with a new plan. A plan that will integrate important elements for the beginning instead of throughout the year.

Last year in response to issues that were faced by our students in regards to literacy. The teachers at Seba Beach worked diligently with colleagues at central office and other professionals to create a school literacy program for students from the grades 5-9. With significant planning and the assistance of 5 parents we at the school created a wonderful literacy program that saw gains for over 70% of our students. These improvements where across the board this improvements were in all areas such as comprehension, fluency, cause and affect and many other literacy domains.

With the great successes that we saw as a staff we have agreed to continue this program in the up coming year with the hopes to see the same gains for students and we are looking to implement a Numeracy program, school wide that will work on students skills and abilities in respect to mathematics.

Now some that may read this post would be say well obviously these are areas that we should be working on as they are the foundations of students learning, but look back into everything that teachers are doing. All of the new initiatives, the innovative ideas, the new applications of technology, the focus on 21st century skills. Sometimes as educators we need to look back not only at our own work loads but at those that we give students. We directly control, excuse the metaphor, how much is on a students plate, and if they cannot manage to eat the basics then how are we expecting them to enjoy all of the other gourmet items.

At Seba we have noticed a need to step back and take better and longer look at the two basics and therefore we will be highlighting them in our school for the next year and hopefully for years to come. Don’t get me wrong, we will still be implementing items here and there, but always ensuring that the focus is student achievement and student success.

If you have any questions about how we created or run our program please feel free to message me. 

Where I am From

I’m from where the island meets the ice, where hockey tackles rubgy from the kitchen table which is the center of the family

I am from the stove where the fragrances of the east entice the air and add spice to every decision and conversation. I am from the jasmine, saffron and the wild rose that seduce the senses and intrigue the soul.  The Hibiscus, the palm and the mango tree whose sturdy trunks and and yearly perseverance exists in everything I do and how it.

I am from the Elephant, The symbol of absolute and from the family. I am the Anna, the thumbi , the mama, the dada and the aaga. I am from the eat together, laugh together and it is never too late.Where ties are strong, secrets are deep, traditions are sacred and consequences are heavy.

I am from the old castle and from the hurricanes, where knowledge is everything and music is the beat of ones soul. I am from hard work and no expectations. I am Canadian, Fijian, Tamilian yet I am from a hybrid of the two worlds.

Where Roti, Ahlo Machari, Proygies, steak and pizza all meet on one plate.

I am Hindu, although I am not. I practice more a way of life and in that I am redneck as being stubborn and outspoken is a part of my way of life. I am of the first generation, who’s parents came with a dream and an idea. I am the outcome, successes, mistakes and reforms of that dream. I am who I am . . . I am Shawn.

This is a small activity that was given to me as part of a reflective exercise. It allows on to look back and see what I have have done both professionally and personally and has influenced those decisions. I am thankful for Ms. Stiles, from Jasper Place High School in Edmonton for introducing the idea. 

I would suggest this activity for not just teachers but for all people. Look back understand where you are from as it will tell you where you are going to be going.