Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 334 - Burnt

Another busy day. We had a staff meeting after school, ate supper, walked the dogs in the rain and then put on dry pj's. As I was changing I realized I had yet to take a picture today. I brought my camera downstairs and started hunting for possibilities. I bypassed the dogs snuggled up together and decided to try capturing the ashes in the wood stove. I figured they were as burnt as I was feeling.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 333 - Sleepy Visitors

I'm cheating a little as these pictures are from yesterday. I took them after I'd already posted for the day but these two are such cuties that I couldn't resist including their pics in my blog. Our friends, Catherine and Stephanie, joined us for lunch yesterday and brought their two little ones with them. Although they were both having a sleepy Sunday they were very well behaved. Little 'A' is above trying to stay awake while her mom sings "Ba Ba Black Sheep" to her. As hard as she may have tried to stay away she just couldn't keep those little eyelids open. Handsome 'A' managed to keep those beautiful green eyes (Yes Philip they are green.) open a while longer but gave in just before leaving.
It was nice to visit with friends and snuggle with the little ones. Hopefully, we'll be able to get together again sometime soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 332 - Opening the books

Although the last week has been busy it's also been lots of fun and in its own way, relaxing. I've had a bit of a break from correcting and prep. However, it's now Sunday and with Monday just around the corner it's time to open the school books once again and get back to work. Thankfully, I have lunch with friends and a Grey Cup game to mix in with the work.

Day 331 - Snowy Firsts

The forecasted 1 cm of snow seemed to have multiplied. Added to the accumulation of yesterday it made enough for snowshoeing. Only November 27th and we headed out to the farm and put on our snowshoes for the first time this winter. We tracked through the fluffy snow as more flakes dropped from the sky and the dogs romped around the field. They wore their coats for the first time but the extra weight didn't seem to slow them down at all. They had a great time breaking trail, stepping on the back of our snowshoes and catching snowballs. It's days like today that make icy roads and shoveling worthwhile.

Day 330 - Gracious Greeter

Yesterday I was in the role of the presenter. Today, I get to be a participant at the QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers) conference. It's a chance for the English teachers of Quebec to learn about new ideas, projects and materials that are available. There is a variety of short workshops throughout the day as well as a showcase room full of teacher goodies. Companies carrying educational material come to the conference and display their material. Teachers can purchase items at the conference or pick up a catalogue.
It's a big event and the Palais des Congres in Montreal is set up to welcome thousands of teachers. To make sure that we don't get lost on our way to the conference there are greeters set up at different points. The gracious greeter above has been doing this job for quite a few years. We see him every year we go and each time we see him he's wearing a smile and guiding people with a cheerful voice. It's refreshing to see such enthusiasm in his greeting whether it's the first person of the day or the 500th. I just can't help but smile when I see him so I thought I'd share that smile with you.

Day 329 - Shiny Art

In Montreal today giving a SMARTboard workshop at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. Each time I'm in the building I admire the piece of art hanging in the lobby near the escalators. To be honest, I've never taken the time to look up the name of the art piece or its artist. The piece consists of little metal pieces, slighty bent, hanging from the ceiling. When you see it as a whole it looks like a flock of shiny birds. I was kind of in a rush so I didn't take off my zoom lens to get that shot. Guess I'll need to do that next time I visit. I'll have to take the time to find out more about the art piece as well. Anyway, I really like this piece because of its shininess as well as the colours reflected in the metal. The lines in various directions give the feeling of movement. For me it shows how a very simple concept can be beautiful.

Day 328 - YUCK!

I've been fighting a cold for the last week. Now, there are definitely a lot worse things than having a cold and I can't complain because I don't get them often. I can be tough and put up with the stuffy nose and sore throat but I dread the moment when the coughing starts. Not because it hurts or keeps me awake but because it means I have to take cough syrup and I HATE cough medicine. As soon as I pick up the bottle I start making faces and dreading the moment the yucky stuff hits my mouth. Heck, just writing about it is causing a reaction so I'll stop here. Stay healthy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 327 - Looking inward and outward

Kids and teachers are tired and anxious for portfolio presentations to be done. It's an interesting process that allows both teachers and students to look inward and reflect on their progress. However, it can be stressful for some. Of course the weather's not helping lift spirits. We had snow and freezing rain yesterday and then it rained ALL day today. Kids were 'locked' inside once again and the school yard now looks like one big old gray slushy. I took this pic just before leaving school. It was 4:30 and already DARK. This is what the staffroom window looked like from the inside, looking outward....big sigh. But...the sun will come out tomorrow...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 326 - Look way up and I'll call Rusty

If you are a Canadian and of a certain age, you would recognize the title of this shot as being the opener from a popular children's show called "The Friendly Giant." The giraffe's name was Jerome and his trusty side-kick was a rooster named Rusty. This fellow was made by one of our Pre-K students as a decoration for the upcoming Scholastic Book Fair. The theme this year is "safari". Each class contributes decorations to liven up the atmosphere of the sale. The kids are definitely looking up to the fun ahead at the fair.

Day 325 - First Snowman

While putting the finishing touches on our winter garage, we noticed that our wee neighbours (Alice - 2 1/2 and Marie Laurence 1 1/2) had built their first snowman of the year. We kind of giggled as this icy fellow is the same size as they are. Maybe not a spectacular photo but a spectacular "first" for the young ladies!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 324 - Happiness is . . .

With the busy week and the early sunsets we haven't been out to the farm for a week. We made it out there this afternoon and as you can see from Dexter's rapturous face, he was thrilled! The two of them raced around, wrestled, only stopping now and again for a little snow snack. They are now snuggled up on their beds snoozing; probably dreaming of their next winter romp.

Day 323 - In the name of Science

One of our Grade 4 classes was working on simple machines today. Their first task was to create a catapult to launch marshmallows at their teacher. They had to figure out the technique that would get their marshmallow to the target. Miss C. reminded her students that safety must come first as she placed on her own safety goggles. The kids had a great time and were quite innovative. Luckily for Miss C., none of them hit their mark but they got pretty close. Those who achieved the most distance and accuracy demonstrated their technique for the other students. The experiment was followed by a discussion of the 3 classes of levers and then they built various simple machines with Lego kits. It's a hands-on learning experience I'm sure they won't soon forget.

Day 322 - Report Card Blues

As I said in an earlier entry, it's report card time. It's been a long, busy and exhausting week. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday! Was up late working on reports and not feeling very inspired. I decided I'd take a picture of what was keeping me away from my blog. Marking, putting in marks and writing comments were giving me the report card blues. Hence why I decided to use the cyanotype effect. Lastly, report card week would not be complete without a little Diet Dr. Pepper to keep me going. On a positive note, it was great to be able to record the improvement a number of our Grade 6's have made.

Day 321 - Young ingenuity

Worked with our PreK once again this morning. It's great to watch the kids work together. There are honestly times that I can't tell who's having more fun, the little ones or big ones. Today, one group was designing robots. One pair of young creative minds came up with the idea of putting folded paper under the cap so it would give when pushed, just like a real one. I figured I had to capture their thinking in photo.

Day 320 - Shadows

Went out again with my students to see what they could capture. Once again they showed their gift at 'seeing' unique possibilities. I put all our pictures on my computer and although I know I didn't take this one I don't know which one of my creative youngsters is responsible. I'm not too worried though as I'm sure they'll let me know who's responsible. With winter quickly approaching I'm pretty sure this will be one of our last snowless pictures for awhile.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 319 - Prayer Flags

Being that our school's name is Everest we take advantage of any opportunity to teach the students about the mountain and its significance in our school name. Today we had a visit from Maxime Jean. He and his team successfully reached the top of Mount Everest in 2004. He talked to the students about the adventure and stressed the importance of patience, perseverance, teamwork, preparation and believing in oneself. On May 16, 1974 while in Kindergarten, Maxime drew a picture of himself climbing Everest. On the exact date, 30 years later his dream became reality as he reached Everest's summit. His experience is an amazing example of how a person can take control of their destiny.
The picture above captures Tibetan prayer flags. These flags can be seen all around Mount Everest. I've included a little exerpt from Wikipedia to explain their significance. The flags are hung in a specific order - Blue (sky/space), White (air/wind), Red (fire), Green (water) and Yellow (earth). Each colour represents one of the five elements and is associated with specific traditions and prayers. They are hung up in sets of five with the blue be at the highest point and the yellow at the lowest.

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to 'gods,' a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

By hanging flags in high places the "Wind Horse" will carry the blessings depicted on the flags to all beings. As wind passes over the surface of the flags which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the Mantras.

The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life's changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle. - Wikipedia

Day 318 - Honouring the Loggers

I seem to be posting late these days. Life is busy with marking, report cards, portfolios and the day to day stuff. The week ahead promises to be even busier. I'm posting tonight so I can at least start the week off on the right foot. The good news is that after this week things should slow down slightly and I'll have more time to contemplate my photos and write my entries.
Managed a little fresh air and took a walk in Old Quebec again. This statue was tucked in between two buildings and caught my eye as I walked by. Due to parked cars I wasn't able to get all the logs in the photo. This statue was placed here in honour of the logger. To be honest we didn't have a long time to stop and read so I don't know much more about it. I guess I'll have to go back. The great part of living in Quebec City is that you can be a tourist year round.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 317 - Determination

Saw these two young men outside the school trying to reach a loose branch that was stuck in the tree. It was fun to see them using various strategies to get their prize stick. I just happened to be outside taking pictures when I spied them. It was fun because they didn't even realize I was there snapping pictures of their adventure. Their determination made them oblivious to anything else. Fortunately, their hard work seemed to pay off and they finally managed to get the stick down. Unfortunately, I had other tasks calling me so I wasn't able to 'stick' around to see the finish. However, when I came back outside the stick and the boys were gone. I'm choosing to believe they left together.

Day 316 - Visiting Photographer

My students are quite excited about being published later this year. We've made a good start on the writing and they're ALWAYS ready to take out the cameras and shoot some photos. I think the hardest part of this project for me is going to be choosing ONLY 12 photos. Actually, I get to choose 25 before Christmas and Monique gets to narrow it down further. We've only been out a couple of times and I've already seen quite a few good pictures.
This one caught my eye because Chloe, with the help of 'A' was able to set up a photo that shows emotion. The importance of emotion was something Monique talked about a lot while visiting our class. It's nice to see the students taking what they learn and applying it. Although this is my photo blog, I hope to post more pictures from young visiting photographers as they capture the world around them.

Day 315 - Remember

Giving thanks was a big part of today's Remembrance Day Assembly at school. The students in my class helped sell poppies, bear the flags, lay the wreaths, do the music and cue the digital stories. It is so important to help students understand the symbolism and history of the day. One fifth of our population has a parent(s) who serve in the Armed Forces be it Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. The students take great pride in being part of the ritual. I take great pride in them for doing such a respectful job.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 314 - Custode or Pyx?

I was at my school today as a consultant. It was my second session working with Cycle 3 students. Two of our classes have been learning about antiques. As part of the LES (Learning and Evaluation Situation) they were to bring an antique from home and record a VoiceThread about it. It was interesting to see what some students consider as antique. One student actually brought in a Walkman! As I was discussing the experience with some fellow teachers we caught ourselves asking, "What makes something an antique? How old does it need to be?" I guess that's a question to investigate.
One of the objects brought by a student was a pyx. A pyx is a container for the reserved host; especially : a small round metal receptacle used to carry the Eucharist to the sick. She knew it was "une custode" in French and thought that it was the same word in English, only pronounced differently. We decided to do a little research online and found that the word we were looking for was pyx. Imagine, learning something at school.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 313 - Cindy's First Poppy

Thursday is Remembrance Day and as always we'll be having a ceremony. Each year we try to make it more meaningful to the kids. This year I decided to make up a digital photostory using a touching story I found on the internet. I've included it for anyone interested in using the idea. 'N' kindly helped me by posing for some of the pictures in the story.

Cindy’s First Poppy

Narrator – It was a cold windy afternoon in November. Cindy was on the bus coming home from school. The School bus passed the grocery store and the bank as it did every day. But today Cindy saw something different. The older children on the bus were talking and pointing. Cindy listened to them but was puzzled.
When Cindy got off the bus, she ran into her house. She quickly took off her coat, hat and boots. Her grandpa was visiting so she hurried over to him, grabbed his hand and pulled him into the living room.

Cindy – Grandpa, I saw a man dressed in a uniform giving away red flowers. The man was wearing a red flower just like the one you have on your shirt. The older kids on the bus were talking about the man and the war. They called it Novenbrance Day. What were they talking about?

Grandpa – Well Cindy, first of all it’s called Remembrance Day. I will be happy to tell you what it is all about.

Grandpa – The man that you saw in the uniform was once a brave soldier. Many soldiers have fought in different wars throughout history. You see, wars are not just stories of the past, they are going on right now in other countries. Wars are fought for many different reasons: to protect our freedom, sometimes to change things, but most of all to keep peace throughout the world.

Cindy – I see Grandpa, but what are the red flowers for?

Grandpa – The red flowers that the soldier was giving away are called Poppies. In return for the Poppy, people give him money. The money is used to help soldiers and their families.

Cindy – Why do they give Poppies and not some other flower?

Grandpa – They chose the Poppy because the worst fighting in history took place in an area called Flanders, in a country called Belgium. In the spring, while the war was still going on, Poppies bloomed in the fields that were destroyed by the war. The soldiers were amazed that something so beautiful as the Poppy could grow in such an ugly wasteland.

Grandpa then reached for the Poppy on his shirt and unpinned it. He held it carefully in his hand and stared at it for a second and then continued.

Grandpa – That is why the Poppy became a symbol of Remembrance of the war. Our soldiers have fought very hard for peace and they left us with the job of keeping it. We must learn to live peacefully everyday, not just with our neighbors but with the entire world. I have a little poem that I like to tell people about Remembrance Day. Would you like to hear it Cindy?

Cindy – Yes

Grandpa – We wear a Poppy in November
To show that we’re proud
And that we remember.

Cindy looked at her grandpa then turned and ran to her room. Grandpa was puzzled. Cindy returned with her hands full of coins and said,

Cindy – Grandpa, can I go get you a Poppy now?

Grandpa – You certainly can Cindy. You certainly can!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 312 - Story Hunting

The Moniques, Monique Polak and Monique Dykstra, came to our class today to share their expertise of writing and photography. They are part of the Quebec Roots program and are mentoring my class. My class is working towards completing a twelve page photo essay about their community. The pages will include different types of writing, poems, interviews, lists, with complimentary photos. The Moniques were very inspiring and helpful today and we're well on our way.
I captured 'S' as she was listening intently about 'hunting' for stories. I've put two versions of the photo here. I prefer the black and white and Peg likes the colour. What about you?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 311 - Winterizing

It was a mild but cool fall day so we decided to finish winterizing the yard. One of the jobs that needed to be done was putting up the winter fences. Since we lost an hour due to the time change today, we finished our work just as it was getting dark. After bringing in all the tools I took my camera out to take some pictures of the fence. I had some technical difficulties but managed to get a few pictures. I chose the one above, not for its technical perfection but for the interesting results it gave.

Day 310 - City Hall

Went for a walk in Old Quebec. It was surprisingly crowded for this time of year. We walked around for awhile and snapped a few pictures. I decided to take out the wide angle lens and give it a try. I got this picture of City Hall. I still find it amazing how much the lens can take in at such a short distance. It's not the best pic as there's some distortion on the sides and it's not level. Oh well, a few more things to work on. Luckily, I really enjoy the practice.

Day 309 - Q reflections

It's been a busy week. Report cards are just around the corner, I have workshops to prepare and just trying to keep up with the regular preparation, marking and home stuff. Saw an interesting picture of a Q-Tip while looking at photographs with my students today. I decided to use it as inspiration for today's pic. I like the double reflection on the glass. I think I might try using this subject again but with a macro lens instead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 308 - Bad Banana

This may look like a slug but it's a rotting Dole banana. It caught my eye while I was walking through the field. I think it's in pretty good shape for being rotten. Hopefully as it decomposes it'll give it's nutrients to the earth because the kid who chucked it definitely didn't benefit from its potassium.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 307 - Resourcefulness

Had the chance to visit my old school today to meet with a couple of teachers. As I was driving I remembered the nearby high school and their creative use of an old train. The high school has a football team and they needed changing rooms. Their resourcefulness led them to use two old train cars. They've been renovated inside and spray painted on the outside. I decided to drop by after my meeting, take a closer look and snap a few pictures.

Day 306 - Bad Petal Day

Left my picture too late once again. I headed out to the backyard and looked for some possibilities. We haven't quite finished cleaning out the gardens in the back so these poor guys are still standing. I admire their strength to stand even if they've been beaten by the wind and the frost. My mind wondered as it sometimes does and I found myself thinking, "We have bad hair days. I wonder if flowers have bad petal days?"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 305 - Taking Control

Had a busy day and was feeling pretty tired by the time we got home. Decided around 9 that it was time to take today's picture and post it. November's a hectic month and I usually feel like I'm losing control at some point. Okay, truth be known, this happens during other months as well. Dexter was hanging out downstairs when I arrived with my camera. I figured today's theme would be taking control rather than losing it. I'll save the losing it for later this month.

p.s. Don't worry, Dexter doesn't usually have access to the remote control. This was a posed picture and no animals were hurt or killed in the process.