May 22

What is a Digital Footprint?

Today students were introduced to the concept of a Digital Footprint.  We used the example of tracks left by animals and how we can use our own deductive capabilities to infer quite a lot about an animal based on its tracks.

The same is true for us when we go online.  The sites we visit, the comments we post, the videos we upload, the games we play, all of those things create a digital footprint that can tell people about us and will exist online for a very long time.  We tied this in to the concept of responsibilities and discussed what our responsibilities are to ourselves and to others online.

Our grade 3 and 4 students came up with some of the following ideas;

Our students are getting the foundation they need to navigate the sometimes scary world of the internet in a safe and responsible way.

 

May 16

The OJCS Rocked the Reading Challenge!!

The OJCS is incredibly proud of all of our students and teachers who put in a big effort for their classroom book tallies.  As a school, we read over 6300 books in English, French and Hebrew!!!

The OJCS has never had so many books in circulation.

What a typical grade 3 book returns pile looks like. Photo by student Jack Greenberg.

I am very excited to announce that the entire school will be treated to a pizza party on Friday June 14th.  Because of that, this 80s throwback has been stuck in my head for weeks!

Students should be very proud of their amazing accomplishment.

May 7

You’re Never Too Young to Start Thinking Critically

“Don’t believe everything you read” parents often scold their kids, and we are giving them the skills to do exactly that!  Grade 2 came for a visit to learn about how to use critical thinking and the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why) when evaluating if information on a website is credible or not.

I was impressed at how quickly this group of grade 2s suspected that our website was indeed a fake (I guess it isn’t that much of a surprise, their teacher is media savvy Ann-Lynn!)  Working through a checklist of questions, we investigated the credibility of the website as a group.

This group of students are already demonstrating that they are extremely capable of thinking critically and they will grow into students who won’t be easily duped online.

March 29

Detective Club Hears From CSIS!

Our Detective Club kids were absolutely thrilled to get gifts from ‘Detective D’, a CSIS representative who sent a box of gifts to school on Thursday.

In it were some incredible real CSIS pins and a personal letter to our Detective Club leaders Mia and Yardayna.

 

Our Detective Club students all received real CSIS fingerprint clearing wipes and spy manuals!

It was an amazing day for everybody and we are very grateful to Detective D and CSIS for helping our clubbers get excited about their future careers as secret agents!

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March 29

The OJCS Scholastic Book Fair Starts Next Wednesday!!

The OJCS Scholastic Book Fair runs Wednesday April 3rd to Friday April 5th and again Sunday April 7th!  Funds from this fair will be used to buy new books for our French Department!  Be sure to send the kiddies to school with some money so that they can bring home a shiny new book.  Also, parents, please feel free to visit the fair before or after school or even if you drop in during the day.

Teachers will have a class wish list board set up when you enter the chapel so that you can buy a book to contribute to your child’s classroom library.

We are very excited about this event and appreciate all the support!

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March 25

Unpacking Hana’s Suitcase with Playwright and Author Emil Sher

 

The OJCS 5-8 students were very fortunate to get a visit from author and playwright Emil Sher today.  Emil adapted the powerful Holocaust story of Hana Brady from the book Hana’s Suitcase for the stage.  Emil went over the book with our students and went into detail about the choices you make when writing for the stage.

An example of this was an explanation about the artistic choices that he made when trying to show the systematic dehumanization of Jewish people for an audience in a way that can be felt by the audience without having to show each crushing law individually.  He explained how seeing the actress playing Hana in a classroom setting first getting her books taken away, and then her notebook, and then finally the pencil itself by a faceless man in a suit conveyed the pain and demoralization that Hana went through.

Students engaged in a discussion segment about the moral impossibility of choosing who lives and dies in a made-up scenario.  Do you choose someone who is 5 years old to live over someone who is elderly?  How do those choices feel?

Emil asked students to remember that like adapting a book for the stage, life comes down to the choices we make every single day.

 

March 15

Social Media and Our Relationships

Grades 6, 7, and 8 visited the library this week for a lesson on the effects of social media on our personal relationships.  Whether they are allowed legally to be on certain platforms or not (most require you to be at least 13), the reality is that most middle schoolers are on Snapchat, Instagram, Tic Toc, or other social media.  By grade 8 social media has become completely enmeshed with daily life and plays a huge role in friend dramas.

This workshop started off by having students discuss what are some benefits of social media.  What they love about it.  Many students mentioned their ability to connect with family and friends far away, as well as feeling like they are safe and can always get in touch with someone when they need them.  Then we discussed what some of the drawbacks were that they or their friends personally experienced.  This included feeling angry seeing snaps of friends out without you, feeling jealous that others have more followers, and being constantly distracted.  Everyone was eager to share during these discussions.

We moved on to oversharing and how it can be harmful to post things in the heat of the moment, post things that will leave a permanent stain on your digital footprint, or post things that can even put your safety at risk.

The next concept was something called ‘Red Flag Feelings’ and was an important concept defined as follows;

red flag feeling is when something happens on digital media that makes you feel uncomfortable, worried, sad, or anxious. It is a warning that something might be wrong. (commonsense.org)

We discussed how to approach these bad feelings by reflecting on their cause and trying to come up with strategic ways to cope with them.  We divided into four groups.  Each group was given a scenario and had to identify both feelings and possible responses and then share out their answers.

 

I genuinely hope that they will take the tools from this lesson with them into their daily lives and can better understand their feelings when difficult situations arise.

For resources on this lesson please visit common sense education.

March 5

The Rings of Responsibility

Today I hosted two workshops, one with grade 3 and one with grade 4.  Our topic was a biggie… RESPONSIBILITY.  More specifically, it is about how we can become responsible digital citizens.

We watched a video of a stone being dropped into still water.  Through this we learned that each action and word has a ripple effect that extends from SELF to COMMUNITY to WORLD.

The class broke into three groups, self, community and world and discussed what each of those kind of responsibilities looked like.

We then played a game where I read out statements such as “I only use Apps and Websites that are ok for people my age” and students had to decide which ring to physically stand in.

After that we got more practice by using a handout which asked more questions of a similar nature.

This lesson was created by the brilliant educators at common sense education.  They are leaders in the field of digital citizenship education.  I highly encourage teachers to take advantage of the amazing resources available on that site.

February 6

Black History Month in the Library

The world celebrates Black History Month in February and the library has a great collection of books to support teachers on this topic.

A few notable ones…

 

The story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel.  A wonderful book to share with grades 2 and up.  These two men connected through their shared experience of discrimination.  A powerful story about equality that even younger readers can handle.

 

 

 

 

 

This book is part of the brilliant Who Was series which covers important biographies for beginning readers.  I could see this book being used as a read-aloud this month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book explains what the Underground Railroad was and what life was like traveling on it.  A book that could lead to an activity of students writing short fiction pieces where they imagine the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

A graphic novel biography about Mandela for middle schoolers.  Action packed, informative, and highly recommended!

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February 1

Practicing Proper Notetaking Skills

I met with students in grades 3 and 4 this week to practice the art of proper notetaking.  Something which can come so naturally for adults is really a skill that needs to be taught and practiced so that bad habits don’t form early.

I’ve heard many middle schoolers tell me that they cut and paste from various websites while taking notes and then put it all together for their final project.  That is a fast-track route to a zero for plagiarism!  Many are not aware that there is anything wrong with this method.  By starting with younger grades I am hoping to catch them before it starts.

We decided to use books for this exercise so that students could practice using the table of contents and indexes to find the information they were looking for.  They then had to write their notes in their own words and keep track of their sources using a bibliography template.

 

We also watched this helpful video about how to figure out what is and is not important to our research questions when researching.

Let me assure you that this wasn’t as boring of a workshop as it sounds. The grade 3s especially got into it and some chose to work over recess, which was wonderful.  They are all on the right track now!