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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 4, January/February 2008

Yours for the asking

The Boy Inside special education DVD

Teachers, parents, and students across BC will be interested to know that this week the Ministry of Education distributed copies of the critically acclaimed documentary DVD The Boy Inside, directed by Marianne Kaplan, and a study guide for teachers. The DVD chronicles a difficult school year for Adam, a 12-year-old boy who has Asperger Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Both the DVD and study guide aim to increase teacher and student understanding of Asperger Syndrome, and to foster a safe, supporting, and caring school environment. The DVDs have gone to each school district, to the superintendents/special education administrators, with the request that they develop their own distribution plan for their own district.

Me to We

Craig and Marc Kielburger have just released Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. This book focusses on shifting our thinking about the individual to the greater needs of our families, communities, and society. It is a completely interactive guide for teachers who want to encourage their students to become more involved in making a difference in the world.

The Kielburgers launched "National Me to We Day," on October 19, 2007, with 7,500 children from over 415 schools who gathered together to commit to making a change in our world. The momentum of National Me to We Day will continue through the Year of We—a year-long initiative connecting youth, families, and offices to their global community. To see the passion and excitement from that day, check out http://tinyurl.com/34ynht.

"Me to We" kits designed for educators are free to download from http://tinyurl.com/2kscql and provide a combination of tangible actions, innovative campaigns, and daily actions to help support international development work.

New teaching resource

New teaching resource for Grades 5–8 social science and history gets fantastic classroom response!

The Gathering Place: An Exploration of Canada’s Capital was delivered to schools across Canada in the fall of 2007, and feedback shows that 100% of participating educators would recommend the resource to others.

Part of the success of this free teaching resource is that it goes beyond dry facts and helps youth actively explore the capital in the context of who we are as a country and as a people. In fact, 98% of educators indicated that participation in the activities improved students’ understanding and sense of Canadian identity.

Educators consistently commented on how the activities got students really involved, were very interactive, and made tangible connections with the students’ lives. A strong theme throughout the feedback was the strength of the pedagogy in building higher-level thinking skills and supporting a learner-centred, activity-based education model (the introductory section has some excellent tips for encouraging effective group work).

Other key factors cited include the ease of use; the clear, modular format; the extensive curriculum connections; and the way the materials supported a wide variety of learning styles and adapted programs. Many respondents also pointed out how useful the materials were for new Canadian students, both from a content perspective and as a tool for developing communication skills.

Additional online support material is available at www.canadascapital.gc.ca/gatheringplace). The full resource can also be downloaded or order your free copy at www.classroomconnections.ca/resources. E-mail info@classroomconnections.ca.

This resource was initiated by the National Capital Commission and developed by Classroom Connections, a Canadian educational non-profit organization.

EnerAction makes learning about energy fun and empowering

GreenLearning announces new resource and workshops for BC Teachers. Energy is a hot topic, and often a complex one, but there are a growing number of curriculum resources available for teachers to choose from. EnerAction stands out among them. It is the latest offering in GreenLearning’s family of core curriculum resources on energy and the environment. Designed for Grades 4 to 7, EnerAction addresses curriculum expectations in science, social studies, language arts, fine arts, mathematics, and personal planning.

Fusing interactive eLearning with a powerful series of eleven lessons, this new resource seeks to provide students with a rich educational experience in energy. They learn where energy comes from, how energy use impacts the environment, and how we can make choices to use energy more wisely everyday. Consider these lessons, for example:

#4 Walk a Mile in My Shoes—By exploring the concept of an ecological footprint, students learn that simple lifestyle choices have a meaningful impact on the planet. They each create a paper foot of their own Carbon Critter and calculate the different impacts of its lifestyle choices and energy use.

#7 Lighting at School—Working as a class, students investigate the energy needed to light the classroom. With the help of the energy action figures—Electra, EnerGuy, Sparky, and the Carbon Critter—they use the carbon calculator to explore strategies to save energy and dollars, and to reduce kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions.

#9 The Home of the Future—Working in pairs, students become teams of architects determined to design an energy-efficient home of the future. They discover a range of ways to save energy at home, from changes in daily behaviour to the installation of energy-efficient appliances to landscaping decisions.

Aside from the lesson plans and accompanying student worksheets, EnerAction includes a teacher’s guide and curriculum tables as well as student backgrounders.

Professional development workshops on EnerAction and other resources are now available to teachers across BC. To arrange a workshop or sign up for one in your region, contact Johan Stroman, BC Director of GreenLearning, at johans@pembina.org or 604-886-7456.

To access EnerAction and learn more, visit www.greenlearning.ca.

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