After rather a wild night of birthday celebrations (we had some friends to the house who were on a birthday road trip), I managed to catch the 5:18 a.m. sunrise... and a good shot of the still-fairly-new house next door!
One of our friends brought "Cowboy", her labradoodle, who accompanied us everywhere... even our selfies!
And now... a few quiet, peaceful days until the arrival of Alex and Simon, who fly in next week as unaccompanied minors, and stay a few weeks -- hurrah!
Departing the crazy, busy airport that is YYZ, I managed to catch a few photos of YTZ, too, as we departed to the south east. Covered by concrete, buildings sprouted everywhere below. But less than two hours later, I looked out the window again to see green, green everywhere, with a touch of red and gold. And when we touched down, the only plane on the tarmac, I knew that I had finally landed once again... in dearest Charlottetown, PEI!
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of couch-surfing, and catching up with various friends and projects in Toronto before heading off to PEI for the summer. I haven't been real good at keeping up with the blogging during this time, but now, as I sit in Pearson's terminal 3, awaiting my flight to CYYG, let me take a few moments on the mercifully free but painfully slow wifi to write a bit about the 3-day math workshop for teachers which I attended last week.
Tempting as it was to skip the session and instead spend the day at Canada's Wonderland, which was literally a stone's throw from the High School where the workshops were being held, I was a good little teacher, and went to learn about setting up an effective math program in the intermediate grades.
Melissa and Shahana from Durham Board offered up lots of laughs and also several practical, engaging strategies for organizing, assessing and teaching math to Grades 7 & 8 students. Before this session, I had been more than a little worried about how I was going to manage in this latest challenge: I'm heading into an intermediate school this September to teach Grade 7&8 Math and Science!
Those who know me will be peeling themselves off the floor after a fit of guffaws at this point in order to keep reading and find out how such a miracle could possibly occur; You see, as a rule, I don't do Science. (No, really, it's a deal breaker: In the past, I simply wouldn't accept any jobs where Science was a major component, and in those rare instances where I was responsible for teaching my own Science, I would farm this "great curriculum unit planning and teaching opportunity" out to my student teachers.) Furthermore, as the long road to my finally-completed pilot license shows, Math is also not my forte. And, although I did teacher Grade 7 my first two years of teaching, and even have some VP experience in a school with intermediate students, it's been a long time since I've worked with this strange beast that is the intermediate learner, and when I did, it was always in a K-8 integrated model, where I had my own class, and developed a strong relationship with the students, teaching them most if not all subjects.
So how did I end up teaching rotary Math and Science for Grade 7 and 8? Well, I knew I wanted to go back to my intermediate "roots" (having started my career in intermediate, I've been keen to go back and try it again now nearly 20 years later...), and when an opportunity came up that was relatively close to home, I decided to go for it, realizing it was time to meet this final challenge vis-a-vis the math and science.
We began our three days with a frank conversation about math phobia (both teachers' and students'), and the impact of this reality on many students' mathematical abilities and confidence by the time they reach the intermediate years. Making "math monsters" (or "creatures" -- a little less insinuating of math phobia) was suggested as a first day of school activity, so that students could share their personal feelings about math in a creative way -- stop cringing, all you non-arts people; alternate activities were suggested, too! ;-P
I loved this "easing in" to the program, and was grateful for the patience and encouragement of the teachers around me, many of whom were in fact quite comfortable teaching math, and who spent some time throughout the three days teaching me a little bit about integers and other horrible mathy things!!
A number of NCTM resources were shared (I so have to get my hands on some of those to read over the summer!!!), and we spent considerable time actually DOING some math as well as talking about it. We also spent some time exploring D2L, which I will definitely be using next year!
Two things I will definitely take away from this session are the Problem Solving Folders (a 3-panel folder students make, which includes the 4-step PS process, some criteria for effective thinking, problem solving and communication, and a space for feedback and self assessment), and the Bubble Experiment, where students research "superbubble" recipes, then make said bubble recipe, and see what is the largest object they can ensconce within a bubble.
My former supt (now retired) lives in Maple, and was kind enough to let me stay with her. I got to meet her totally sweet, ancient mother (who rides one of those cool little elevator chairs up and down the stairs), and meet some really neat families she was interviewing for a life-changing project she is involved in the Jane and Finch area. AND, we did a little shopping at the teacher store in Richmond Hill; on the way home, we saw an amazingly brilliant rainbow!
I'm glad I went to the Math workshop: Canada's Wonderland has cool rollercoasters and other rides, but the best ride of all will be when I return to the classroom in September, and Melissa and Shahana equipped me with the confidence and more than a few practical tools to prepare for said ride!
Anyone who knows me knows how I love the Toronto Islands. This afternoon I had the opportunity to visit the islands with a friend; we took some photos from Algonquin at sunset, before catching our ferry home... then a few more of the ferry, and then some on the ferry!
Then on the way home city side, we caught the tail end of the Germany celebrations at Dundas square!
The great thing about the Lakeshore is that it offers something for everyone -- truly, whether I turn left or right out of my building's driveway, whether I walk, bike or TTC it, I can drink tea, meet with colleagues or friends/family, shop for fresh produce, gourmet chocolate or Kleenex, drugs and toilet paper, I can swim, do laundry, eat Indian, Thai and Mexican, I can fly airplanes and more.... all along the Lakeshore!!!
person at Birds and Beans next door, I headed off in the opposite direction, to meet some fellow parents of multiples: three sets of twins and one set of triplets enjoyed an afternoon of soaking and soccer at the splashpad on Lakeshore, near Dixie.
Back at home later on, I met a friend for dinner -- Thai! Just short walk from my building, still on the Lakeshore, in the other direction once again.
The next morning, it was off to the Airport, also along Lakeshore, to go flying...
(Flying pics -- click to enlarge)
Upon biking back home after flying, I enjoyed lunch on the balcony of my apartment overlooking the Lake and the CN Tower I had just encircled at 2000 ft., and celebrated my good fortune at having found a place to call home along the Lakeshore.
How do you stick up for your girlfriend and protect her from "predators" when she's a few thousand km away, and the predators are her students? Lol!
After a week surrounded by two million LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Toronto last month, Tats headed off to a small town in another province this month for a flight-related job, and the contrast couldn't be starker: In Ontario, we just elected our first female premier, who also happens to be a lesbian. In PEI, Canada's last province to bring about marriage equality, real live same-sex married couples are few and far between. To complicate matters further, aviation is a notoriously homophobic industry as it is (although the tides are slowly turning even in the cockpit, it would seem).
So, being a female pilot is challenging enough. Being a gay female pilot on PEI is a whole other level of interesting. Additionally being the only flight instructor on the island, surrounded by straight, male pilots, most of whom have probably never flown with a woman or an LGBTQ pilot before, is something else entirely!!!
Having flown out there for a few summers now, I can honestly say that most of the guys are great and lots of fun. And the flying community -- many of whom are eager to upgrade their ratings and have been desperately awaiting the arrival of a flight instructor -- has been super supportive of Tats' arrival on the island.
But when one of them tells her she's "cute" and has a "sexy" name, I want to POUNCE on him and yell, "dude, that's MY girlfriend -- BACK OFF!"
Having had the luxury of being "out" now for almost three years, I sometimes forget that there are places -- even in Canada -- where some people don't understand the concept of homosexuality and same sex couples. Could it be that this guy really doesn't know that his flight instructor "flies for the other airline", so to speak???!!! ;-P
Then again, as Tats herself pointed out when we were discussing the issue, does it really matter? I mean, seriously, who tries to pick up their flight instructor (oops, oh, wait..., hehe... yea, but at least I waited a few lessons. And brought her expensive cheese. And wrote her beautiful, endearing emails. And sent her links to obscure Romanian gypsy wedding songs!!!)
Anyway, Tats -- ever the professional -- wasn't sure how to handle the situation, and just threw her hands up in exasperation as she shared the tale with me. So, in the absence of a good, old-fashioned, in-person street scrap, where I stick up for my girl and beat the other guy up, let me send a virtual message in no uncertain terms:
Go ArGermantinya!!!! :D
Day One of "Supplies for the Supply Teacher", one of ETFO's Summer Academy sessions, found us engaged in one of my old favourite lessons: After spending the morning on Classroom Mangement, the OTs build Grebigols out of found objects in the afternoon.
Want to learn more about music, or refresh your already existing knowledge and skills? Summer offers a great time for parents and teachers alike to explore some new apps, and today I want to tell you about two great music apps the boys and I have been playing around with...
The first app, by LMuse Ltd., is part of a suite of music learning apps for children. The funky cats (also featured in the company's "Treble Cat" and "Bass Cat" apps) appeal to all ages, but are particularly well suited to younger crowd. As a teacher, I can see myself using this app as a centre in my music classroom, with a few iPads and headphones, for Grades 3-6.
Rhythm Cats offers a fun way for students to learn and practise common rhythms, using a series of game-like lessons organized into stages that are unlocked as players progress through the stages. Players use a green button on the screen, tapping the rhythm to play along with the admittedly catchy tunes.
My sons both noted that they liked that the app was not too hard, and that the "fun characters" (the cats) made the app fun to play. My only complaint is that the app is very touch-sensitive (as it needs to be for such a thing), and with the protective cover on my kids' iPads, I found the green button didn't always work as well as I had hoped. (i.e. I frequently "failed" levels because the app had not recorded my taps properly, due to the protective film my kids have covering the screens on their apps!)
Overall, both kids and parents enjoyed this well-executed app; Rhythm Cats offers a fun way for children of all ages to learn to sight read rhythms, and I am looking forward to checking out LMuse's other music apps!!
For the more serious aspiring musician, Rhymicity offers a robust and customizable rhythm-reading challenge. Thousands of flashcards that include a combination of rests and notes in a variety of time signatures are organized into ten levels, which feature progressive lessons and a challenge at the end of each level.
As a teacher, I found Rhymicity more suited to older students. Although the app includes tutorials and feedback, Alex and Simon (who are 10) found it a little challenging to figure out on their own. I would probably use this app with Intermediate (Grades 6-8) or high school students.
In celebration of this summer's flight training on Prince Edward Island (no, really, it's finally happening!!), I thought I'd share a little video of a formation flight over the Island from last Friday, June 27, at sunset.
Piper Cherokee C-FVLA -- Pilot: Colin Corbett
Bellanca Citabria C-FFQK -- Pilot: Jim Ewing, Passenger: Eric Brookins
Cameras: Colin Corbett, Eric Brookins Video Production: Colin Corbett
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.