Becoming an Inquiry Teacher

By , November 16, 2016 9:33 pm

Last year as I taught the new CHW3M and CHY4U courses I set for myself some personal challenges:

  1. try to implement the curriculum changes as fully as possible.
  2. try to bring inquiry into each lesson in some way.

I spent a lot of time with the curriculum document – it’s heavy but it’s all marked up now.

I can’t say that I was fully successful, but I’m proud of the efforts I did make. I took a lot of mental notes on what to change next time.

Here are some pointers I’ve developed to help me keep up the challenge and to communicate to other interested people what I am doing. Note: this PPT changes a lot as I add new things and develop my thinking.

The transition is hard but it’s worthwhile.

Becoming an Inquiry Teacher (Nov. 28 update)

 

 

Ottawa

By , November 6, 2016 9:45 pm

I recently had the pleasure of a short visit to Ottawa. Val joined me after the OHASSTA conference. Preparations are definitely on for Canada 150 – the 150th birthday of our country, in case you didn’t know. There’s construction everywhere – it feels like Toronto.

The weather was absolutely perfect for fall and there were still some red, orange and yellow leaves. The scenery around Parliament Hill is worth the trip.

 

parliament hill resized

courtesy of Val Dodge

 

 

You can tell who is holding the camera

We had an interesting visit to the War Museum.  The special exhibit Deadly Skies – Air War, 1914 – 1918  was really informative. I learned so much about all kinds of uses of air technology in the war: balloons, zeppelins, airplanes for battle, airplanes for observation. I looked at detailed reconnaissance maps made from aerial photos. I saw how even the Red Cross got into the spirit of battle by selling little pieces of destroyed German zeppelins to raise funds. Overall, though I found it fascinating, I was saddened by the overwhelming realization of how far war pushes technology. When the war started pilots were dropping bombs out of their planes by hand. By war’s end, there were multiple types of bombs and they were massive.

For my last year’s grade 12 students who inquired into “was World War I really a world war?”, I’d like to report that the air war actually began in the Far East when Japan bombed the  warships at port in the German territory of Tsingtao in China in 1914.

Wakamiya

Wakamiya, Japanese ship carrying airplanes that attacked Tsingtao. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Tsingtao

 

A word about the architecture of the War Museum: it is meant to throw you off somewhat, but I felt it to the maximum. I had to leave after spending too much time in its bunker-like lower level where all the tanks, trucks, and artillery pieces are kept. While we were there they were setting up for a Habitat for Humanity gala. Quite the incongruous setting. They called it ‘Steel Toes and Stilettos.” Well, I’m sure they raised a lot of money for a good cause.

Auction from Habitat’s 2015 gala.

 

Hallway leading downwards to lower hall in War Museum.

 

Having spent a lot of time photographing the National Gallery from the outside on Saturday, we made it in on Sunday. It’s a beautiful building,  but once again, I found that I reacted negatively to all the concrete. On the plus side, we enjoyed the Toronto-centric exhibit Cutline: The Photography Archives of the Globe and Mail (that national newspaper). This photo shows the proposed extension of Eglinton Avenue east of Brentcliffe Road. My mom should appreciate this – her new condo complex is located approximately where the CPR line meets the extension. Of course this photo is pre-Inn on the Park (opened 1963) as well as pre-condo (2004). The two streets of houses north of the extension appear to be Thursfield Crescent and Rykert Crescent. The western portion of the extension was actually built in 1956, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eglinton_Avenue.

 

Don Mills and Eglinton

Photo courtesy of Val Dodge

Val keeps saying he’d like to return to Ottawa in the summer some day. I don’t think next July 1st, 2017 will be a good time – it’s apparently booked up already!

 

Halloween

By , October 30, 2016 4:16 pm

Most people know I am not a great fan of Halloween. Not really sure why – maybe because I don’t like answering the doorbell.

I thought Val was on the same wavelength as me, save for the little batman costume that he has for Fletch and the ceramic pumpkin that he puts on the front porch. Both of these things he brought to the marriage. I brought two sets of dishes.

However, in preparation for his first Halloween (which was Friday Oct. 28) at his new company, he went overboard. It was an extravaganza weeks in the making. Yes, I yelled at him a lot during the preparation, most of which was spent in our garage. Yes, when I finally saw it I said he was “f….ing crazy.”

When he commits, he commits. But I love him for it. For a full explanation of his process, visit Val’s blog, valdodge.com

Val's_car

What I Did This Summer

By , September 9, 2016 6:11 pm

No, this is not my back-to-school English assignment. This is an update for those who actually read my blog and think I do something interesting. Really, such people exist? I did not have a super thrilling summer but I enjoyed it a lot and got relaxed and ready to come back to school.

Highlights (most photos are courtesy of Val Dodge):

  • a week in Cornwall working on E learning CHY4U with our amazing team.

 

  • a week on Bowen Island, BC with  Val. We got the deluxe tour from my cousin Emilie and her family. Bowen is a beautiful, artistic place full of nature, scenery and relaxation! And very friendly people. I even went on a boat, four times: twice on the ferry, twice on the water taxi to Granville Island in Vancouver. The public market there is still one of my favourite places in Canada. Emilie is the curator at The Gallery at Artisan Square where she puts together incredible exhibits. DSC01615

dsc01547

  • One concert per summer: two years ago, Tom Petty. Last year, Def Leppard. This year, Chilliwack at the Dock Dance on Bowen Island. It was a complete surprise that they were playing while we were there. Val and I both like Chilliwack, who are from Vancouver, not said town. No, I did not get tickets to The Tragically Hip. Wish I had been there in Toronto. Kingston would have been far too emotional.

dsc01654

  • Olympics: I wasn’t going to watch – I just wasn’t into Rio. However, I did give in and watch a lot, minus opening and closing ceremonies. Like everyone else in Canada, I OD’d on swimming, athletics and volleyball. CBC did a really professional job, I thought. NBC was excessively pro-American, as usual. I thought Elliotte Friedman, York Mills grad, did a great job at the swimming and diving.

 

 

  • Lowlight – a pinched nerve in my neck that kept me in pain for a lot of the summer.  Thanks to my pilates instructor, Neesa Kenemy at Pilates Process on Danforth, for giving me custom rehab. Thanks to my chiropractor, Dr. Tim Marshall, and massage therapist, Sheila Sotto, at Bayview Chiropractic. These people are amazing at what they do.

 

  • Because my neck was in such good hands I was able to ride more than usual this summer. Thanks to Cyncee and Anne at Sunnybrook Stables.  My wonderful riding partner, Julie C., is a joy.

Yukon

Vinny

KC

 

Reading Highlights

It was a mixed bag of books this summer. For school I read Smart and Scattered Teens, a guide to developing executive skills in teenagers (thanks to my amazing boss, Jenessa Dworet) , and Grit, a self-help book (which I don’t usually enjoy) on passion and perseverance (thanks to VP Mira Wong). I think I’m pretty gritty and organized – I read them for the kids.

For myself, I stuck to history.

I tend to enjoy single subject histories, such as Salt, so I was intrigued by Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton when I saw it on the New York Times Book Review’s list of 10 best non-fiction books of 2015 last Christmas. It didn’t disappoint. Incredibly detailed and broad in scope, the very thorough book traces the worldwide influences of this seemingly innocuous plant. It’s a story that meshes with slavery and imperialism so it’s not a happy one. But when do I ever read happy books?

Mary’s Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome was also on the above-mentioned top ten list. She is a highly entertaining writer, even on a topic that could be seen as boring. It’s quite a feat for anyone endeavouring to write a manageable overview of Roman history. While she does leave a lot out, she grabs the reader’s interest with humourous stories that capture the mood of an era so that she doesn’t have to spill all the plodding (or, in Rome’s case, plotting) details. With a focus on a few characters, such as Tiberius Gracchus, she manages to paint a feeling of a time.  I think my interpretations of people such as Julius Caesar and Augustus have, in the past, been more generous than hers. Now I’m doing a bit of re-thinking. Too bad I won’t be teaching World History to 1500 this year.

 

  • Sudoku: I will admit that I am an addict. I spent a lot more time than I should have this summer playing. I told Val that if I ever beg him to put Sudoku on my laptop he should ignore me.

 

Illustration by Mark Stamaty. Click image to expand. (Slate)

 

Last Day of School and Canada Day

By , July 3, 2016 6:23 pm

Human-made March Break

By , March 16, 2016 9:41 am

I usually take a few pictures of whatever looks pseudo-alive on our visit to the cottage at March Break. This year I went in the opposite direction, searching out macro snapshots of manufactured items. See if you can identify the following:

reflectors, fence measurements, road safety sign, fence label, pattern on telephone box, wire coil, fence hinge, community mailboxes.

The Sixth Extinction – Book Review

By , January 31, 2016 5:48 pm

 

 

Elizabeth Kolbert’s book was a welcome Christmas gift from Mr. Mahoney. He knows I like science and the environment and good writing. I promptly read it in a few days after Christmas was over when I was recovering from eating so much.

Reading Kolbert’s book on mass extinctions of species, one must wonder whether the earth will ever recover from humans’ folly. Or rather, will species, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves out of luck, out of habitat, out of oxygen, out of adaptation techniques, whatever.

Ask the bats of North America, frogs and toads throughout the world, long lost mastadons, or coral in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Kolbert chooses an interesting array of animals and plants to survey in her quest to verify if we really are in the midst of another in a series of mass extinctions that have occurred throughout earth’s history. Accordingly, as a science journalist, not a scientist, she must seek out the advice and guidance of many leading scientists, including a lot of geologists.

I particularly appreciated the geologic angle given my interest in Charles Darwin. Darwin, the father of evolution by means of natural selection, was influenced by the work of Charles Lyell. Lyell was an early geologist that proposed that earth changes slowly over time. Kolbert brings him into the extinction argument as he was one of the first people to propose a theory of how extinctions actually work. She spends a lot of well worth it time tracing the history of the theory of extinction. One wouldn’t think that was interesting but it was.

I feel guilty about saying that I enjoyed this book immensely. A resident of this current world should not be happy about a book that makes it clear how much we have changed it, for the worse. While Kolbert doesn’t focus in on climate change specifically, she does give a lot of attention to ocean acidification, a topic not too many of us know about, and one that is a sort of correlation to climate change. I was never particularly interested. Now I’ll definitely want to watch David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef, recently on CBC.

It’s not a book that offers solutions. For that, readers might want to follow up with something like Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything.  For a vegan such as myself, the book that really got me on the road to thinking about how the environment affects my daily life through food is Michael Pollan’s 2006 masterwork, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’m not critical of Kolbert for not suggesting how to solve our problem. What she is doing is changing attitudes, something that is absolutely necessary before behaviour can be changed. Near the end of the book she tells the sad stories of a certain raven and a very particular rhino. You really have to read the book to appreciate how poignant they are.

Like Mary Roach, author of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, an investigation into the human digestive system (previously reviewed on this blog), Elizabeth Kolbert knows how to use her talents as a writer along with her skill as a researcher to bring a subject alive (no pun intended in this case).

The Sixth Extinction: highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

Last Day of Class – January 2016

By , January 31, 2016 12:53 pm

Here are some pics from our last day, sadly. Great class:)

CHW3M Course Survey

By , January 25, 2016 1:58 pm

Please follow this link to the course survey.

 

Many thanks:)

 

Ms. G

Historical Thinking Concepts in an Inquiry-Based Classroom

By , January 19, 2016 12:22 pm

OISE – Jan. 19, 2016

Thanks for attending. Please feel free to email me at risa@cabal.org if you have any questions.

Here are the two parts of my presentation:

OISE_Part1_Jan_2016_Historical_Thinking_Inquiry_Classroom

OISE_Part2_Jan_2016_Historical_Thinking_Inquiry_Classroom

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