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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 2, October 2006

Yours for the asking

Hands on: An elementary school teachers’ manual

Have you ever felt you didn't have the knowledge or the skills to do the kind of job in the classroom you knew you should be doing? Have you ever wished you had chosen another profession? Have you ever wanted to be a better teacher—maybe a great one? There is a new resource available that is practical, philosophical, and blunt, and it is guaranteed to help you become the best teacher you can be.

Even better, it is not written by someone who left teaching because they were lousy at it. It is written by a teacher who has been praised by parents, professionals, and kids, and who has spent 37 years in schools. As a former student recently commented, "Mrs. Paul’s class was where I really learned things." Hands on will explain how to be a life-changing force in your classroom. Sample chapters include: Behaviour management, Working with parents, How not to be boring, and Why teachers quit plus there are detailed chapters on teaching language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Although the curriculum references are specific to elementary schools, this manual will stimulate all teachers to improve their classroom practices.

To order a copy, send a cheque for $23.99 ($19.99 + $4 S&H) payable to Margaret Paul, 509 St. Patrick Street, Victoria, BC V8S 4X4.

Volunteer opportunity—Study buddy tutors

Volunteer as a Study Buddy tutor and help a Little Sister reach or surpass her academic goals! Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland (www.bigsisters.bc.ca) is currently seeking volunteers to participate in their Big Sisters Study Buddy Program for one hour a week for a minimum of six months.

The Study Buddy Program offers Little Sisters (ages 7–17) the educational support and guidance they need by matching them in a one-to-one relationship with a volunteer tutor. The Little Sisters in this program have demonstrated a need for extra help with their schoolwork, and could benefit from the one-to-one tutoring assistance this program offers. With the support of a Big Sister Study Buddy, Little Sisters are encouraged and equipped to improve their educational performance and meet their academic goals, which contributes to their overall sense of self-esteem.

If you are a woman who is 19 years of age or older, has a high school diploma, some post-secondary education (completed or in-progress), and some experience helping others learn, please contact Elske Hopcraft at 604-873-4525, ext. 301, e-mail studybuddy@bigsisters.bc.ca.

Kids’ discovery workshops

Kids’ discoveries at Vancouver Museum and Science World workshops parallel, or even exceed, real-world sustainability science.

Picture this: wacky-looking scraps of bright metallic cardboard held together by sticky tape that brought a stone to nearly 200šF in two minutes, using only the sun. It doesn’t look like a conventional solar oven, more like a science-fiction movie prop. It was created, not by a film-studio artist, but by an 11-year-old attending Vancouver Museum’s workshops. Solar ovens have commercial potential, and might even reduce forest fires, if we can convince campers to use them.

Another scene is not from a Silicon Valley board room, where the Tesla electric sports car is nearing final engineering work. Six gifted young people discuss the merits of various energy sources for a vehicle of the future. And, just like Popular Mechanics editors, they decide that the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle isn’t as practical as a solar-powered battery vehicle. The group’s average age is probably 12, and the scene is actually at Pinewood Elementary School in Delta. The Tesla electric car is the first production car created by software and computer engineers, spurred on by the hit feature documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car?

Here’s another example: Wired magazine featured a light-concentrator based on supercomputer calculations programmed by math wizards. These math geniuses’ parabolic dishes will allow a solar panel to exceed its usual performance. At the 30 Days of Sustainability event at Science World, a young boy created a parabolic panel that allowed his model electric car to run without direct sunlight. The car worked in the shade and at a good speed relative to other solar cars running under full sun! Check out Marek’s Curve with Google.

Why are we adults throwing alkaline batteries away? All landfills will eventually leak and that toxic sludge will bubble up in our children’s drinking water and litigation lawyers will issue class action writs, decades from now. Adults don’t know this, but scores of preteens in Vancouver attending Solar Power Roadshow’s workshops have experimented with everything from gravity to freezing temperatures to revive single-use batteries. Students who succeeded in bringing used batteries back to 1.5 volts have shared their methods with others. Vancouver now has dozens of potential recycling entrepreneurs, since a new brand-name alkaline retails for $2 each.

Consider allowing elementary school students to investigate sustainable energy technology without showing already existing adult-world models because there are useful discoveries being made by preteens, as we’ve seen in Solar Power Roadshow’s free-form workshops.

For more information, contact Rob Matthies at 604-739-7717 or robert04mat@yahoo.com.

Tigers and dragons—China and India for kids

Bring your class/group (children aged 2–9) down to Gastown this fall to experience Tigers and Dragons—China and India for Kids. Tigers and Dragons is the first exhibit produced by Kids Around the World Children’s Museum Society.

Our goal is to create a permanent children’s museum to celebrate countries and cultures around the world and the ‘world’ in our city.

School group visits are going to be amazing. They will start with a chance for kids to look at the globe and find out where China and India are and where their own ancestors are from. There will be plenty of time for free play in the exhibit (including a make-and-take), plus a chance to do some Animal Yoga and learn to say and write some Chinese and Indian words. The 90-minute program ends with a story time.

We will also offer a range of pre- and post-trip activities that teachers can do with their class.

For more details about this colourful hands-on exhibit and to sign up for our newsletter, visit our web site at www.kidsaroundtheworld.ca.

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