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Happy Halloween! October 31, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in School Events.
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Today was a great day of Rebels’ school spirit.  Students of all grades came dressed inspired by their ghoulish thoughts and many teachers got in the act as well.  Events included the Leadership students lunch hour costume contest, the Southpoint photo shoot, and the Social Studies Deparments’ annual homage to notables from both recent and ancient history!  Below you will find a small sample of photos from today’s haunted fashion runway as a sample of some of the great work that went into costumes.  For more photos you will have to wait for the yearbook!

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Homecoming October 27, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in Good News.
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There have been many questions about the impact of the Teachers’s strike.  Many parents have been been concerned about their child’s progress and are somewhat relieved to hear through the media that reports will be issued from the schools.  What those reports look like and the extent of the  information included, is yet to be determined.

For the students, while some are concerned about receiving their marks, largely their concerns have been over the impact on student activities.  One of the most consistent questions that has been presented to the Administration is whether the annual Homecoming Formal will still happen.

We know how important this event is to our students, some have waited 3 long years looking forward to this Rebel tradition.   We are also aware that many of our students have already picked out dresses and suits in preparation for this wonderful evening. 

We are happy to report that Homecoming 2011 will be available to our grade 11 and 12 students again.  With the uncertainty created by Phase One of the teachers’ job action, a group of dedicated student leaders have taken on the planning of this event.  These students are collaborating to make this event a memorable experience for their peers. 

This year’s event will take place on November 23, 2011 at the Metrotwon Hilton at the same cost as which students have paid previously.  Please stay tuned as more information becomes available.

School Groups at Work October 24, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in School Events.
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Last week I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of our largest clubs at Burnaby South.  The interact club now has over 100 members who meet regularly to plan activities.  These activities nearly always involve the students working towards the benefit of others.  Whether they are planning Christmas Shoe Boxes or acting as ambassadors at a Burnaby South/BCSD evening function, this group of students is always happy to help.

Here are some photos of their lunch where they hosted representatives of the Kiwanis Club for a feast of noodles and rice.  Before eating they also enjoyed some time playing a series of ice-breaker games that emphasized teamwork and fun.

Interact Lunch

Teambuilding Activities

Mr Kwan

Lunch Activities October 19, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in School Life.
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You may be wondering “What do students do at Lunch?”  The activities that students participate in is as diverse as the student population at our school.  The gyms are always a busy place and today was no exception as you can see that several students kept themselves busy in a range of activities.

Table Tennis Club

Students and staff participating together in the Table Tennis Club.

Another group of students taking the initiative of a pick-up basketball game.

Pick-Up Bball

And multiple groups share some space playing soccer.

Futbol

It was great to see so many students sharing the gyms and keeping active by their own choices today at lunch.

Questions, Questions, Questions… October 17, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in General.
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Recently,  Ms. Hari recognized there was a need to help keep parents of graduation students informed.  The result of her observation was our first Grad Parent Information night (click here to view the presentation). 

Last Thursday we had nearly 160 parents attend an information session that covered topics such as Provincial Graduation requirements, Scholarships and school sanctioned Grad activities.  The evening went smoothly and the formal presentation was followed by a general Question and Answer period.

Not surprisingly many questions surrounded concerns about the impact that the teachers’ strike may have on graduating students. There were number of questions and a high level of concern stressing to us that now, more than ever, communication from the school is a vital connection between home and students.  Yes, many students are fantastic at bringing home messages and passing on important information.  However, based on the questions we fielded Thursday night, we realized that regardless of how great our students are, we can always find new ways to get the message out.

On Thursday we told parents about our email listserve, the school’s Twitter account as well as Facebook, and if you are reading this, you are already aware of the Admin Blog!  One avenue to help with those questions is that we will take questions that you have and post responses to try and answer your queries.  Chances are, if you have a question in mind, someone else has been wondering the same thing!

So, send us your questions (yes students can ask too!) using either the Twitter account, Facebook or by commenting on one of the posts here and we will do our best to answer them.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Why join our PLN? September 18, 2011

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The first question you may be asking is “What is a PLN?”  For those familiar with our school community here at South you have likely heard the term PLC but not PLN.   PLC is a Professional Learning Community and is a very important part of our school community.  Throughout the school year we devote an hour a week where teachers commit to exploring innovative strategies to improve student learning.  While they invest their time in this activity, our students are engaged in peer led activities involving social awareness, healthy living and for our senior students, peer to peer course support for the subject of their choosing.

The PLN is similar in strategy but different in delivery.  My PLN is my Professional Learning Network.  This is a network created by me, for my personal and professional growth and I connect with these largely through Social Media.  Specifically – Twitter and LinkedIn,  Facebook and more recently GooglePlus.

Through this media I can access the experience of educators and childcare workers around the world.  Many times I have received advice and support  while engaging in discussions with people who are experiencing similar challenges or pushing new ideas that help support student learning forward.

Last year we launched our school Twitter account.  A great way to help keep our community informed about life at school and now we launched our school’s Facebook page.  These two initiatives are meant to be more that just information sites.  Afterall, if that is all we intended we could have directed you to the school website!  Our intention is to provide another way for our community to connect and respond to what is happening in our school.  For the school Twitter feed click here.  For the school Facebook page click here.

Please feel free to ask questions, post comments and engage in our school through these two sites.  As your questions and comments come in, we have an opportunity to respond to your thoughts and concerns.  I look forward to creating our own PLN right here at South.

So, Whats New? September 8, 2011

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Here we are, another year is upon us.  In fact, we are on the eve of the final day of the first week!

As you are all aware many of the opening procedures have changed as a result of the current Job Action.  With any change in past practice there is a period adjustment.  Despite the challenge that this shift in practice could have presented the students were cooperative and their patience over the past 3 days is greatly appreciated! By the end of the day today all students had the opportunity to receive a locker, agenda, photo information and pay fees.

The really great part of this process was the opportunity to see and interact with all of our students.  In a building of nearly 1800 it can be busy, so getting an opportunity for the Administration to have a few minutes with several hundred students each was great.  (I have to confess that Mr. Li and Ms Hari along with members of our office team took the bulk of the shifts!).   I can’t reiterate enough that the patience and pleasant attitude of the students helped make the opening go smoothly.

Moving forward we have our grade assemblies beginning Friday and continuing through until Monday.  I look forward to these each year as it is another opportunity to connect with our students and start the year off on a positive note.  For all the school information you can check our website click here, follow us on twitter or find us on facebook.

Until the next post…enjoy the sun, keep smiling and have a great start to your school year!

You haven’t posted in a while… May 18, 2011

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As many educators will say, the time between spring break and the end of the year seems to go by all too quickly.  This is certainly the feeling I have this year.

It is hard to believe that we are down to the final few weeks of classes and I find the Burnaby South class of 2011 in the midst of the traditional celebrations.  Friday night was their Dinner/Dance and next Thursday May 26 they will cross the stage as part of the School Leaving Ceremonies.

It was at the dinner/dance that a student mentioned that I hadn’t posted in a while and I have to admit he is correct.  In the past month we have had so much to celebrate at South with Choir winning Gold at the Fraser Valley Kiwanis Music Festival, the Tennis, Badminton and Senior Girls Soccer teams all winning District Championship banners all while students were writing AP exams and teachers were preparing students for whatever challenges they may face after the completion of courses in June.  The Green Team promoted environmental sustainability and Leadership held Pink Week in an effort to support their Anti-Bullying campaign.

While all of these great activities were taking place the schedule is being built for next year, including course selections and timetable building.  A group of teachers is exploring ways in which students can pursue their interests and passions through Personalized Learning opportunities and Student Government is in the final stages of preparing for RebelFest.

These are just a sampling of all the great things that have been happening since my last post.  There are many other events, field trips and activities that our students and staff have represented South proudly in.  If you know of some of these topics, please add them by posting a response to this entry or send them to our Twitter account @bbysouthsd41

But what if they forget? April 4, 2011

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To begin, this post is not about the 1 week vs 2 week debate.  There are many pro’s and con’s for each and I will leave that discussion for another time and place.  This post is about learning.  There are many different ways to describe what learning looks like.

I recently had the opportunity to consider one view of learning when someone pulled me aside over the recent Spring Break and asked whether I thought a 2 week Spring Break was tough on students because “so many of them will have forgotten what they had learned prior to the break”.

What I am concerned with, is the notion that students could have “forgotten what they had learned prior to the break”. Regardless of the whether a break is 1 week, 2 weeks or 9 weeks – the thought that people will have “forgotten what they had learned ” is concerning to me.  I would counter that if that is truly the case then the student (regardless of age) never learned the material in the first place.

What I think happens is that the students fall out of the routines that the shape their days while attending school.  This forgotten patter is something we see in September when it takes a class or two (or in some cases a week or two) to settle into the routine of school and the current structures of learning found in schools.

This is very different than “forgetting what they had learned” especially when we consider the Learning Outcomes that are explored throughout a school year.  In most subjects, and courses, the curriculum builds on material learned in the previous level. This material is not always restricted within the subjects, as a great deal is learned through cross-curricular instruction (basically instruction that covers many subjects for example writing an essay in Science will help develop skills learned in Humanities).  When students can apply the knowledge and skills gained in a particular course or through a series of courses then have learned something.  If this material is forgotten in a matter of weeks then it was probably never learned in the first place.

With this perspective of learning in mind, I believe, that after a break, students will be able to apply knowledge and/or skills acquired prior to leaving.

What does it all mean? March 9, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in General.
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Over the past year there has been a great deal of public discussion about education and what is best for student learning.  In this post I will try to provide some background information that may help you develop a clearer picture of some of the great things that are happening in classrooms around the SD41.  You may have heard talk about changes in education as the world around us changes.  Some of the terms you may have heard, among others, probably include:

Personalized Learning

21st Century Learning

Independent Directed Studies (IDS)

As your familiarity of these terms will vary I included links for each of those sections.  If you are completely new to this (and that is completely understandable) your ability to choose which links to click or to skip them altogether  has allowed you to personalize your learning!

Personally I am not convinced that the term 21st Century Learning captures the full meaning of what we are doing.  This is not meant to devalue  the great research and time devoted to this title, I simply prefer the term Personalized Learning in the 21st Century.  Or, to take it a step further, I am even more comfortable with the notion that we are personalizing learning in changing times. I prefer this because we live in an era that is changing so quickly that students (and educators) are learning with rapidly advancing technology.  Due to the rapid nature of this change, it is challenging to predict  what the world will be like for our students ten years from now let alone throughout the 21st Century.

IDS courses allow students to pursue their personal interests, with the guidance and facilitation of a teacher.  To me this is a perfect example of personalizing learning in changing times because this form of learning puts the student squarely in the driver’s seat of the learning.

The descriptions above are by no means exhaustive nor definitive as there are teachers, administrators, parents and students who are actively exploring what those terms look like and mean to learners across SD41.  If you are reading this and you have your own definition or examples of those terms, I encourage you to include those in the comments section to help push the thinking forward on what is best for learning. (more…)