Friday, 7 September 2018

Ready to Begin A New School Year


My journey this past year at Albert, my first year as a VP there, has been the most fulfilling one of my career.  Getting back to work for some isn’t always easy, but I couldn’t be more grateful to be returning to Albert Community School. 

Our little school located in North Central Regina, in the highest area of crime in the city with extremely high poverty rates, is truly a special place.  Every day I go into a building that shines, no matter where you look. Whether it’s the gleaming floors and walls that the school custodians so carefully took hours getting ready, or the beautiful smile that radiates from our office secretary’s face, or the teachers and support staff who are working so hard to get their classrooms ready for our students, This school is filled with amazing people. There is a feeling that permeates our building. It is a sense of warmth, caring, and dedication. It is the people who make the difference here.  It is the people here who will change lives this year. Their desire to do the best they can for the students and families they serve is nothing short of incredible.  

This past week we had a number of in-services that we hoped would be helpful to our staff this coming year.  I was really grateful for Carol Christie-Beach’s presentation on Wellness and Child Protection.  She thoughtfully crafted an insightful presentation that would be useful for any staff in our division.  I usually hope for one takeaway.  I felt like everything she had to say was meaningful and relevant! 

We have made it our goal to focus on numeracy this year.  We reached out to our division's Student Achievement Numeracy Coordinator Shayne McMillen last spring to speak to our staff this fall and he didn’t disappoint!  He engaged us with a practical presentation, and introduced our staff to the latest resources and apps.

We were fortunate to have two of our own staff share their knowledge and passion this week. Megan Saunders our SLP presented a workshop on how poverty affects oral language and literacy development. Our Grade 5/6 teacher, Payden Fraser, gave a top shelf presentation on Google Classroom. Going paperless looks like it could have many advantages! It was an informative week for sure, with lots of learning and laughs. 

When I walked through the halls visiting teachers on Friday afternoon after returning from our staff lunch, it was encouraging to see how excited staff was for their students to arrive on Monday, It feels like our Albert family is ready for another school year.  

I couldn’t end this post without saying how fortunate I feel to be working alongside our leader, Blair. This would quickly become a novel if I were to list all of the things I am thankful for about him.  His patience and willingness to share his knowledge, insight, and experience with me, day in and day out is invaluable.  He always does this with a smile.  When times are tough he stays calm and collected.  He has an excellent sense of humor which is something I am extremely grateful for… and so another year begins!  I feel very blessed to have been placed at this school.


Jorie Gilroy

Friday, 18 May 2018

Albert School’s New Classroom Library!


For years research has shown the benefits of surrounding children with a collection of books that captures their attention, and captivates their imaginations. It is not surprising to note, that the more contact children have with books, the better readers they become. Classroom libraries are a vital ingredient in improving reading performance and serve a critical role in literacy development.

This past month the students in Ms. Niskala’s Grade 1 & 2 classroom, at Albert Community School, received a Classroom Library!  It houses over 400 new, culturally relevant, age-appropriate books, thanks to a generous donation from Wheaton Kia and United Way.     

Classroom Libraries are part of United Way Regina’s four pillar approach, which focuses on all children reaching Grade Level Reading proficiency by Grade 3. One of the ways that the United Way strives to achieve this, is by increasing the access students have to the books and resources they need to succeed.  


In addition to providing books, United Way and Wheaton Kia recognize the important role that the physical space plays in fostering a love of literacy. Bright pillows, colourful cushions, book shelves, benches and a book nook were also purchased to create more than just a storage space for these books, instead an inviting setting, where children feel compelled to stay and engage in reading.  

A great deal of time and thought was put in by Ms. Niskala, to design an impactful learning environment that encourages exploration and promotes literacy. With the addition of these new resources, students have more choice than ever before.  The new area inspires conversation, interaction, independence and inquiry. It is not surprising to hear that visiting the new classroom library has become a favoured activity in this room. The students LOVE their new books and their new space!

We are immensely thankful to United Way Regina and Wheaton Kia for this new Classroom Library.  It will play a key role in engaging readers and encouraging students to reach their full potential!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Focusing on Love and Respect at Albert School

This fall Albert staff set out to create a climate of belonging, where children feel safe, respected and valued.  As a staff we wanted to craft an environment that emphasizes high expectations for all, with rules that are predictable, consistent and fair. We embraced The Seven Sacred Teachings as our overarching focus. These are teachings that are based on First Nations cultural tradition that draw attention to human conduct towards others. Each of the teachings honours one of the basic virtues that is fundamental to living a full and healthy life: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth. Our aim is to help students attain these characteristics and flourish in school and in life.

Mr. Stevenson, our Grade 4/5 teacher, suggested we begin with the virtue of love.  He reminded us that everything evolves out of love. He expressed that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else. His students taught our entire student body what it means to show love. Each student came up before the school and stated what love means to them. They explained that the eagle is the animal representation of love. His class created beautiful eagles to put up around our school to remind us that only the eagle has the ability to fly higher than any other animal and the strength to carry all of the other teachings.



Elder Dixon also played a huge role in helping our students learn about this virtue.  She shared the importance to loving yourself first and said that you have to be right with yourself and happy on your own, before you can love anyone else.  She helped students understand that in order to have lasting connections with people, you have to build trust, live with integrity, show compassion and forgiveness. This is the essence of love.



It would be impossible to create a positive learning environment without respect.  The Grade 5/6 class, led by Mr. Fraser and Mr. Burzminski taught our student body that respect is reflected in how you treat each other on a daily basis. They created a video to show the school the meaning of respect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bxkya5C_18  It emphasized that respect means acting in a way that shows you care. It is not about doing things to hurt someone because you don’t feel happy. It is about valuing others and treating others how you would want to be treated.  Special thanks to Mrs. Agecoutay-Sweet, who also shared a powerful message about respect with our students.

Since we have been focusing on The Seven Sacred Teachings we have seen a lot of progress. It takes a great deal of time, effort and commitment to create and maintain a positive school culture, but nothing could be more rewarding than learning from one another and growing stronger together!  



Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Engagement at Albert Community School



I came to Albert Community School in North Central Regina three months ago with a heart that was extremely grateful and a desire to make a difference. I am a brand new Vice Principal so I found the first three months to be a pretty steep learning curve.  However, with each day that passes,  I am feeling more comfortable and am very happy here.

Empowering children to live with perseverance and to see what is possible is what I aspire to do as an educator and an administrator.

I am happiest when I am working on something that I feel will have a valuable impact. Currently I have begun working on two projects at Albert.  The first is to engage students in reading and writing - and by this I mean deeply engage them.  This project is called "Albert Authors" and has just started to take off.  I am encouraged by the excitement and momentum that is evolving around literacy in our building.  I hope to document this on my blog. 

The second project involves increasing attendance and raising awareness about the importance of attendance.  In January, I will be working on a video with students who are reluctant attenders. The hope here is to engage students who are not engaging.  I'm excited to see where this goes!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Students Wanting to Inspire Other Students to Become Lifelong Readers

200 Book Project

Our 200 Book Project is taking off!! Thank you to everyone who has donated books to this project.  We have collected 117 books in just four days!  They are all in such good shape and many of them look brand new.  It was very moving to watch the students SO excited to share their books!

Our class will write another letter to our Pen pals in Garden Hill, MB next week.  They have no idea this is coming, but we are going to be able to send them a BEAUTIFUL CLASSROOM LIBRARY!!!  Thank you parents for supporting your children's efforts.

Here are a few pictures of the project so far.






Tuesday, 2 May 2017

THE 200 BOOK PROJECT

THE 200 BOOK PROJECT



Our class began a new project last week! For the past four weeks we have been learning about a community called Garden Hill First Nations.  A month ago we became Pen pals with a Grade 4 class at the elementary school there.  Each student in our classroom got the name of another student and wrote them a letter.

During this time we began a study of their community.  We have learned that this is a remote fly-in community located on Island Lake in Northern Manitoba, approximately 600 km northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It is accessible only by plane, winter ice roads or by boat.
There are approximately 2,776 people in this community. Most people speak Ojibway-Cree or English.  Their population is growing rapidly and has increased by almost 50% since 2006.   

As we continued researching this First Nations community we learned their language, customs and traditions remain strong there. Hunting and fishing is important part of their culture. Trap lines that were assigned by families centuries ago are still being used today. 

We also read that they have a shortage of housing, a lack of infrastructure and only one store – a food store.  They do not have a community centre, or a library.  This led to some interesting discussion about how people in this community get food, clothing, shelter, books, etc.

We talked about what it would be like to grow up in a community where you would not have the same amenities or level of access to these things that students who live here do.  This generated a great discussion.  We stopped for a bit when a student asked how do you think they get books to read? 
I tried to capture parts of the conversation after this.  Here is how it went. 

“Maybe they could buy them at the store, but if there is only one store then they probably don’t have very many books to choose from. (Nohva)   
Maybe we could send them books.”  Annelle
Maybe we could bring books from home that we don’t need or read anymore and we could send them to them. (Jenna)
We could put them in the mail. (Johnathon)
We could ask them what their favorite book is?  (Johannah)
I would like to bring books to help with this. (Keaton)
We can send them things to put their books in.  (Jenna)
I think we should try to give them 200 books and give them a library like ours. (Alex)
I think I have some books that I don’t read anymore that I could donate. (Braedy)
I have some books too. (Easton)
We could make this our project. (Lily)
I think we should give them books that are in good shape. (David)  
We probably all have some books that we don’t need anymore. (Ibrahim)
Maybe we could send them some books from our classroom library (Henry)
I have some Robert Munsch books and some others that they might like. (Micah)
Maybe we could send them some Fancy Nancy books. (Ella)
I think they would love the books, if we sent some to them. (Jax) 
They might even love reading if they had new books! (Nolan)
How can we afford to send them? It might be expensive? (Caden)
Maybe someone might be going to Manitoba and we could send them with them. (Mason) If everyone brought five books and Mrs. Gilroy gave them 80 we would have enough. (Mason)
We could write letters to Canada Post to see if they could help us mail them. (Brynlee.)
Maybe we could send the books by airplane. (Kevin)
We could write a letter to other people to ask for help to mail them. (Hannah)

So far, this is where we are at in our discussions.  Annelle brought several books in this morning to kick our project off.  Please feel free to chat with your child about this. I will keep you posted as our project progresses.  If your family is able to donate some books that would be wonderful. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Jorie Gilroy

Friday, 7 April 2017

Engaging Students While They Build Fluency and Comprehension Skills


Grade 2 students became VERY excited and enthusiastic about reading this week when they were presented with the opportunity to participate in Reader’s Theatre. 


The goal of Reader’s Theatre is to enhance students' reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading with a purpose. 


The format for this provides an opportunity for students to develop comprehension and fluency through multiple readings of the text.  They are encouraged to use expression, intonation, and inflection when rehearsing the text.


Reader’s Theater is a fantastic way to create interest and enthusiasm in reading. We have begun working on four different plays.  
Students were excited to memorize their lines. 






Friday, 31 March 2017

Jack MacKenzie Oratory

The highlight of the week has been poetry in our classroom! Students worked hard memorizing various poems and many wrote their own.  Today the Jack MacKenzie 2017 Oratory was held in our gym.  A boy and girl from our class represented our room and both did a fantastic job of presenting their poems.  We have been working on speaking with clarity, expression, phrasing, and volume. 


We have also begun a new unit in math.  In this unit students will be learning about measurement. They will also learn to read a calendar and develop an understanding of linear measurement, distance around and mass.  We began this unit with a friendly competition to see who could measure the most body parts. Students worked with a partner to trace themselves and then used their ruler to practice measuring in centimeters.




We also measured Mr. Clarke







Thursday, 9 March 2017

Literacy Games Night - Building Community With Food Friends and Fun!

Several students have been asking me if I would consider organizing another Literacy Games Night. This event was a great way to enjoy getting to know other families in our school while incorporating reading and math into our evening.  
Here are a few pictures from our last event.
 Grade 1&2 families were invited to this.  
There were over one hundred people in attendance.  
 Games are a great way to encourage communication, teamwork, cooperation, critical thinking, literacy and math development.
Parents, teachers and students had a wonderful time together!
It is amazing how much reading and math you can do 
while playing a game!

Highlights of the evening included 
great food, making new friends and board games of course.

We have been focusing on getting ready for "Celebration of Learning" this month, but if there is enough interest I would love to plan another Literacy Games Night after that. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Celebration of Learning - Student-led Conference

       
Celebration of Learning – Student-led Conference

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Conference time is quickly approaching. This an important part of our school’s evaluation and reporting process. We invite you to attend a Celebration of Learning, which is a student-led conference that will take place on March 22, 2017 from 4:00 – 7:00 PM.

The goal of Celebration of Learning is to offer concrete and meaningful examples of your child’s progress. This type of conference provides students with an opportunity to assume responsibility for informing their parents of how they are doing while engaging them in communicating the learning process. Your child will lead you through a variety of activities that have been designed to help him/her demonstrate their progress in various subject areas. 

It is not necessary to have a set schedule for this type of conference, as several students can go through the activities at the same time. I will be present in the classroom to answer any questions that you may have about your child's progress. Celebration of Learning typically takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.  I hope you will be able to join us for this opportunity to celebrate your child’s growth and development!

Sincerely,

Ms. Gilroy