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Teachers gear up for full day kindergarten

Kristina Campbell
Aug 27th, 2010

Kindergarten teachers, who are among the most organized creatures on the planet, will be preparing their classrooms for the kids' arrival after Labour Day

Teachers in school districts across BC will be back in their classrooms by next week, putting up posters, labelling toy bins, and laminating name tags. Children in every BC district - but only about half of all kindergarten-aged students - will attend full day kindergarten starting in September, 2010.

Today, a group of kindergarten teachers are sitting in on a full day kindergarten conference organized by the British Columbia Primary Teachers' Association (BCPTA). Topics include: "Show and tell... flat or fabulous?", about how to use the age-old concept of show and tell as a lesson in social responsibility, and "Cook up some science", an interactive session in which teachers will learn how to make kid-pleasing science experiments such as "elephants' toothpaste". One conference session also covers the topic of how to manage a K-1 split class, balancing the play-based learning of kindergarten with the reading-and-writing focus of Grade 1.

So what will the kids be doing for the extra two-and-a-half hours every day?

Hearing loss: a growing teen affliction

Kristina Campbell
Aug 20th, 2010

Behind-the-ear hearing aid; Photo courtesy of User:Nordelch (Wikimedia commons)

As if parents don't already have enough reasons to worry about their teens, a recent study has found that one adolescent problem is growing at an alarming rate: hearing loss.

A recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported a significant increase in the prevalence of hearing loss in US adolescents compared with their counterparts two decades ago. Researchers Shargorodsky, Curhan, Curhan, and Eavey examined the audiograms of nearly two thousand 12-to-19-year-olds in 2005-2006, and found that close to 20% had below-normal hearing ability. Only 15% of teens had the same problem in the period between 1988 and 1994.

Hearing loss is usually irreversible, and can affect a young person's educational achievement, not to mention his or her social interactions.

Combining BC school districts will not benefit communities or students

Geoff Johnson
Aug 4th, 2010

Photo courtesy of stick.xchng

Let's examine the ongoing discussion about amalgamating school districts, including the notion of a single centralized province wide and province run school district.   

Education historian Thomas Fleming said in a 1997 article that “examination of the educational past illustrates that, at times of educational and economic exigency, provincial governments have acted to reconfigure the size and numbers of school districts.”

This sounds painfully familiar.

For all the fuss about how many school districts there ought to be, none of the discussion has been about how to improve student achievement, how to improve graduation rates, or how to improve success rates for B.C.’s First Nations kids.

The  discussion is always about money, but not bout what's being done with the money. Just that more has to be retrieved from the system.

A matter of pride for VSB trustee

Mike Lombardi
Aug 3rd, 2010

Parks commissioner Sarah Blyth (left in red), Mayor Gregor Robertson, City Councillor Andrea Reimer, and School Board Trustee, Mike Lombardi pictured in a float at Sunday's Gay Pride Parade. (Photo provided by Mike Lombardi)

As a school trustee on the Vancouver School Board I was proud to be associated with the PRIDE 2010 themes of Celebrate, Liberate, and Educate. The VSB entry, a decorated old school bus, in the PRIDE parade focused on the ‘Educate and Liberate’ component of PRIDE celebrations.

 Five Vancouver school trustees including Patti Bacchus, Jane Bouey, Al Blakey,  Allan Wong, and me were joined in the parade by Superintendent of Schools Steve Cardwell, Associate Superintendent Lynn Green and more than 100 students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Report calls for First Nations control of First Nations education

Press Release
Jul 31st, 2010

Winnipeg (MB) – This month, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and First Nations Chiefs and delegates from across Canada confirmed a new comprehensive plan to directly address critical education needs facing First Nation communities.

“This is an important confirmation of the clear priority every First Nation leader places on education. We are all agreed on the way forward and the imperative of supporting all First Nations learners and improving education outcomes for our children,” National Chief Atleo stated.

“Education has been used as a weapon against us in the past, as during the residential schools era, but it can now be a tool to unlock the full potential of First Nations people and communities. In the spirit of the Federal government’s Apology for residential schools, we call on Canada to work with us to give life to our right to education. The resolution achieved by the First Nation leadership across Canada sets the vision and the path forward for this desperately needed progress,” he said.

'Don't ban sign language' says Deaf community at Vancouver Congress

Kristina Campbell
Jul 23rd, 2010

Thunderous applause and tears greeted presenters at the 21st International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED 2010), which was held in Vancouver this week, when they called for countries around the world to embrace sign-language-based educational programs for deaf students.

Congress participants, both deaf and hearing, celebrated the July 19th statement formally rejecting the resolutions made at the ICED 1880 Congress in Milan, which "removed the use of sign languages from educational programs for deaf around the world".

Independent centre aims to fill service gaps for those with special needs

Kristina Campbell
Jul 16th, 2010

The Down Syndrome Research Foundation's Executive Director, Dawn McKenna, with Fund Development Coordinator Natalie Morin

It all started with a physiotherapist named Jo Mills who became frustrated about the lack of support for kids who were born with intellectual disabilities.

The tipping point, apparently, was when she sent a boy with Down Syndrome to get his eyes tested, and he came back without a pair of glasses.

The story goes that Mills called the optometrist and demanded to know, "Would this child be wearing glasses right now if he did not have Down Syndrome?"

"Probably," came the meek answer.

Since then, Mills has become a lifelong advocate and supporter of those with intellectual disabilities, especially Down Syndrome. Mills, who passed away in 2008, was the founder of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation (DSRF), an organization whose goal is to help people with intellectual disabilities maximize their potential and engage with the community in meaningful ways.

Elected school boards beat the alternative

Kristina Campbell
Jul 12th, 2010

If you like the way your regional health authority board is working, the government’s review of the Vancouver school district will please you, writes Paul Willcocks in this guest editorial.  Wilcocks goes on to say:

No matter where you live, the report matters. It’s setting the stage for an overhaul of school boards that could make them much more like the health authorities. That is, unelected, less accountable, and focused on carrying out the government’s direction.

Vancouver’s trustees - like most trustees across the province - have complained that provincial funding has been inadequate to cover necessary costs. The government comptroller general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland was asked to review the district’s operations after trustees said they needed about $16 million more to cover education costs.

School's out for summer...except in schools with a "balanced calendar"

Kristina Campbell
Jul 8th, 2010

Summer days are here for most - but not all - students

Notebooks and duo tangs are already long forgotten as students across BC enjoy their first full week off of school. Whether the kids are out climbing on park playgrounds with hands sticky from ice cream, or hiding in dark, cool living rooms playing Wii, the summer holidays are well underway.

VSB approves budget, releases school closures list

Kristina Campbell
Jun 25th, 2010

The VSB's 2010/2011 budget was signed on Wednesday

Vancouver School Board (VSB) finalized its budget for next year - for better or for worse.

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