26. March 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: School Life · Tags:

Every year the children in Senior Kindergarten go on a “Shakespearean Adventure”.  Many may think that the children are too young to understand the complexities of the plot, and the ‘flowery language’.  You would be surprised!  Each class, over the many years I have taught Shakespeare, have remembered the numerous characters, laughed at the foolishness they portray, and along the way embraced the moral values embedded in such tales.Exposing young children to such wonderful language and literature will inspire them to become better writers, become aware of cultural references, and assist them when they return to Shakespeare in their later years.  Being introduced to literary classics now, by retelling the stories, will enable them to become familiar with the plot and characters, and give them a strong foundation to build their future understandings on.Starting with the life of Shakespeare, there is a wonderful opportunity to introduce history first hand, as the children explore the clothes Elizabethans wore, the houses they lived in, the differences in the lives of children then and now. This year, using a quill and ink to write, is a particular fascination, along with the burning down of the original Globe Theatre, and rats (who were thought to be involved in the spreading of The Plague) has provoked many questions.  The children have begun creating using plasticine, pen and ink, paint, collage materials, block and building rods to build their own understandings.In the block area The Globe has begun to be recreated, including a trapdoor, “For the actors to magically appear.”  Constructing The Globe Theatre in our ‘loose parts’ area has led to much problem solving, as the children voiced, “How can I make a circle, because these rods are all straight?”  Exploring the material, and realising the rods would bend, has led to a circular three levelled structure, complete with rectangular stage.  In our Studio the children have been painting portraits of Shakespeare, and also ladies and gentlemen’s clothes from Shakespeare’s time.  In our drama area the children have begun re-enacting some scenes from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, as well as creating their own puppets. Tatiana and her fairies, seems very popular!Over the coming weeks the children will explore, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, and building on from our box project, create a Globe Theatre for all our community to enjoy.

If you have any ideas, objects of interest, or thoughts on what our curriculum in this area could include, we would love to hear from you.  

Thank you to Richland Academy’s Inquiry Animator and Grade 4 and 5 Math Teacher, Ms. Megan Pearson, for sharing her insights and the inspired math work of her students with Inquiry Minds We welcome your feedback!

“’Innovation must be part and parcel of the ordinary, the norm, if not routine.’ This presents a formidable new challenge: how to develop citizens who not only possess up-to-date knowledge but are able to participate in the creation of new knowledge as a normal part of their lives.” –Scardemalia and Bereiter

Sal Khan, creator of Khan Academy has thousands of videos that explain all kinds of concepts in math, science and even history!  By breaking down concepts into step by step instructions, with examples, he makes difficult to understand ideas, understandable.

During some parts of our math program, the Grades 4 and 5 classes “flipped the classroom,” using Khan Academy videos at home for instruction, and using class time for collaborative and individual practice.  Using a program called Educreations, students are creating their own Khan Academy–style videos, explaining and breaking down how to convert units of measurement, a concept they have struggled to gain a full understanding of. By thinking about how we might teach a concept, we also examine how we, and others, might better learn and understand it, because we are forced to deconstruct and examine its parts more closely than we may have otherwise been inclined to do.

We at Inquiring Minds encourage you to find a few minutes out of your day to read this insightful post by author Warren Berger. Mr. Berger is the author of a booked called, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. In this article, Mr. Berger reflects on the beliefs of Albert Einstein surrounding the importance of questioning as a skill, and considers how schools are building this capacity in students.

With Badminton and Ball Hockey competitions taking place later this month, we can reflect upon what our Huskies have accomplished on the basketball court, and what we hope they will achieve looking forward.  The Huskies entered two teams into the SSAF Basketball competition: an Under-10 team, and an Under-12 team.Both teams played in their respective tournaments at the Hoopdome at Downsview Park; and worked hard, showed competitive yet sportsmanlike behavior, and made it to the Quarter-finals of both events. Awesome!This was a great achievement for our Huskies, and in both tournaments we lost in those finals to teams from UMS. For the U-12s, UMS simply had a much larger team and ultimately ran us down; and for the U-10s, we battled right to the final buzzer and only lost by one point. Both teams won 3 of their 4 round-robin games, and this placed them into 2nd place in their divisions, thus launching them into the Quarters. Coach Pearson was magnificent as coach for both events, and got the players ready to compete at the level they ultimately did, and has paved the way for future successes in player development for next year at Richland.Other schools commented on how well we played and our overall development, so our Huskies have much to be proud of. Many thanks to our Grade 4 girls as well, who played up on the U-12 team. They learned a lot and competed well, even when playing against players a little bigger.Teamwork, cooperation, fair play, hustle and determination, were all Husky trademarks for these tournaments. The building blocks are now in place for the future.Looking ahead, the Huskies are currently training for the SSAF Badminton Tournament and the Ball Hockey Tournaments in a few weeks.  We look forward to sharing their success, and supporting our teams as they represent Richland Academy.  These are two new events for our school, so it will be great competitive experience for our students.Go Huskies Go!

As the Director of Community Life at Richland Academy, I was elated to be part of initial conversations regarding an expansion to the school. That was nearly three years ago now.  We immersed ourselves in researching the elements essential for a 21st century learning facility, and strove to create a Reggio-inspired space that Richland could grow into.  We had a substantial wish list!Over the next few years, dreams began to become reality with architectural renderings and aspirational designs, still honouring the ideals of a Reggio-inspired school while working with the practicalities of our existing property. There were planning meetings with the Town, planning meetings with the construction company, and planning meetings with Richland’s own community. There were trips to see flooring and tiles.  There were discussions about the surface of the stairs and the finish on the doors.  I have unrolled the architectural drawings more times than I can recall, and yet still it was all never quite real.  Until now.It has been 6 months since we first broke ground to construct the two-storey, 20,000 square foot expansion onto our school; and I suspect no one marvels more than I do at the almost daily changes to Richland.  It’s difficult to remember what the space looked like before the concrete footings were poured; and then before the steel framework; and then before the window frames; and then, and then, and then…it continues to evolve and those wonderful ideas of a school filled with light and open spaces for learning are unfolding in front of us.Despite this unbearable winter, the construction crew has kept to the schedule and soon the bricks will be laid and the floors completed.  The crew will then focus on the interior of the building, and it won’t be so easy to see the daily changes.  I can tell you, what awaits us inside will be incredible. The café will have a built in gas fireplace for gathering around; the main floor classrooms will have their own doors opening onto the green space; the Learning Commons will house books and technology in one space for research and collaboration; and light will flood the building from all angles.  I can’t wait!In the months ahead, there will be packing and moving and thoughtful consideration about our environment.  We are going to transform every part of Richland – the existing and the newly constructed – to be a space that reflects the incredible learning taking place.
Thus far, this is what I have learned from Richland’s expansion:

  • Remember why you’re doing it – create a space that inspires learning.
  • Bureaucracy is a process.  Persevere.
  • You can use ceiling tiles to determine the measurements of a room.
  • Just because floors can be purple, doesn’t mean they should.
  • Humans can make awesome things when they work together.

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to contribute to this space, and to know that for years to come young people will grow and thrive within it.  I encourage you to watch our journey as it unfolds over the coming months, and to celebrate with us in September when we inhabit this extraordinary new space.

Inquiring Minds is delighted to share today’s post, which was written by one of Richland Academy’s Grade Three students.  X.M. read this piece on our morning announcements today, and we are very proud of him for taking the initiative to share this important message from his perspective.The seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is today, April 2, 2014. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day. Autism Speaks is an organization that celebrates ‘Light It Up Blue’ along with the International Autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day. ‘Light It Up Blue’ is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores, including the CN tower will “go blue”. This year I am proud to say that Richland is wearing blue and our social media sites are blue today too.

Kids with autism often can’t make connections that other kids make easily. Many kids who have autism have trouble understanding what emotions look like and what other kids are thinking. They might act in a way that seems unusual, and it can be hard to understand why they’re doing it. Imagine trying to understand what your teacher is saying if you didn’t know what her words really mean.Some kids who have mild symptoms will graduate high school and may go to college and live on their own. Some are super bright such as those with Asperger’s syndrome. These include famous people like Alexander Graham Bell (telephone inventor) and Albert Einstein, who have been thought to have Aspergers. But many will always need some kind of help. But all will have brighter futures when they have the support and understanding of their families, doctors, teachers, therapists, and friends. So be sure to be a friend!

Thanks Richland Academy for supporting Autism Awareness Day.



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