U of T – TDSB – History Conference

By , April 13, 2017 9:14 am

Here is the brochure which lists all the workshops. You’ll need to choose your top 2 for each session. 


Please return permission forms to Ms. G ASAP = first come, first served (I can take 8 people). Bring your $5.00 as well.


Ms. G


An Open Letter to My Students and Their Parents

By , April 9, 2017 2:21 pm

Years ago, in the span of two weeks, my grade 11 students would take notes for a 5-paragraph essay on Egypt or Mesopotamia and produce the actual essay, including a draft. These days, time has slowed to a crawl and I have tried to adapt; I’ve changed the essay to a paragraph, and scaffolded it to a major degree, with the opportunity for feedback on an outline via comments on google docs.

Sadly, despite these adaptations, I have received a surprisingly low number of outlines. Now that the “deadline” has passed, I think I have received  16 out of 27.

What has happened? Or more accurately, I think, where has students’ time gone?

In the past, students didn’t spend 4-5 hours per day on social media.

If we think these phones aren’t harming students’ productivity, we are deluding ourselves. If we think these phones aren’t harming students’ ability to write, we are lying to ourselves.

I am seriously concerned about some students’ ability to be productive on any job, including paid work.

Students need to take responsibility for their own learning, which is precisely why I have increased my use of “assessment as and for learning”, wherein I give feedback but not necessarily marks as practice for upcoming assignments (as per the requirements of the Ontario curriculum). This Egypt or Mesopotamia paragraph will eventually be the first body paragraph in the students’ culminating essay at the end of the semester. Why wouldn’t students jump at the opportunity to get it done early and receive feedback from the teacher? The Ontario curriculum is designed for students to practice their skills. I am providing that opportunity. The fact that some students don’t want to take it really concerns me. That’s why I say they have to take responsibility. I’ve created the conditions in which they have the opportunity. They just have to do it.

Ultimately, it may be that paragraphs and essays aren’t the most engaging types of assessments. I get that. But I feel that after my nearly 20 years of teaching I have a position from which to judge what they need to work on most. I’m really trying to get my students to think, first and foremost. But I also believe that expressing themselves, both in terms of detailed evidence and strong arguments, in a formal written manner, is crucial for their future.

It seems to me that the culture we live in does not promote responsibility. I will keep trying to go against this current.






The Skating Season Is Over – Sigh

By , April 1, 2017 8:13 pm

As usual I’ve watched a lot of figure skating this season. Most happily I have watched Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in every competition. That all wrapped up today at the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

TV+SM_Worlds_2017 (Global News)

While it wasn’t their best free dance, it was a great feather in their cap for Tessa and Scott to win at Worlds  in the first year of their comeback. I cannot be happier that they have decided to return. CBC ran an interesting feature on them in which they said that in the past they had created some programs they felt were never finished. I hope they weren’t referring to “Carmen”, one of my favourites. This year’s program is an absolute masterpiece of understated elegance. Even nicer, they have such a contrast between their uptempo Prince short dance and their subdued, emotional free dance.

While ice dance is a scoring mystery, I am very confident in my own preferences. In Tessa and Scott’s absence I had transferred my loyalty to Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, perennial oh-so-close finishers. Much was made this year of their coaching and training locale changes. I had not been buying in until the free dance today. I thought she was much more understated than in the past (which I prefer). They opted not to go over the top, a good decision in that they finished fourth. Again, oh so close, but much better than last year. Apart from Tessa and Scott’s free dance, my favourite program of the year is Paul Poirier and Piper Gilles’ exquisitely sharp tango.  Paul can cool it with the moustache antics – their skating is plenty fine.

I had quite a few Patrick Chan moments as well this season, from the high of clean skating at Canadians to the low of flailing at Grand Prix finals. I thought his long program at World’s, while not clean, was a good culmination to a rough season. At least he ended on a relatively high note: great quad salchow, no stupid doubling of jumps, beautiful programs as usual. I’m very happy he finally has some quality coaching and some recognition that his mental game is not strong enough.

I have said to Val many times that it’s hard to be a Patrick Chan fan. At Canadian nationals this year after his fantastic long program I actually cried.

PC_SP_Worlds2017 (Toronto Star)

I have to give a shout out to Javier Fernandez (who I love as much for his skating as for his personality) for an incredible short program and to Yuzuru Hanyu (who I normally do not love) for a perfectly controlled free program when it really mattered. And of course, to Brian Orser for having three pupils in the medals and Marie France Dubreil and Patrice Lauzon for their amazing coaching of the gold and silver dance teams! Heartbreak for their American team who were sitting in third but sadly screwed up what was a mesmerizing program.

It was most interesting to see Tracy Wilson on the sidelines and in the kiss and cry area with her students. I used to really like her as a commentator for the insights she’d share. I’m kind of done with her now as I tend to disagree with her assessments. It’s nicer to see her coaching and sharing her technical  knowledge and artistic intuitiveness.

I look forward to seeing most of our amazing Canadian skaters at Stars on Ice in May.



Richard’s First Few Weeks

By , April 1, 2017 6:44 pm

Richard Parker has been doing well so far in his new life. Sure, he gets a lot of corrections – “Richard, get out of there; Richard, stop that; Richard, calm down; Richard, don’t eat that!” But he’s very easy going. He has gained a lot of weight already, so much so that he’s not a super skinny guy anymore.

Yesterday he had surgery to “fix” him. We were hoping it would calm him down somewhat. When he came back from the vet last night, he was insanely hungry and tried to eat and lick everything. Today he’s taking it easier and napping a lot.


Bailey also had surgery yesterday, his to remove most of his horribly rotten teeth. He is not quite feeling better yet so no pictures.



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