June 5

Emma is Librarian for a Day!

I was lucky to have some very special help in the library today.  Emma won our teacher raffle prize of ‘Librarian for a Day’.  And what an amazing librarian she was!

First she chose books to read to the Early Beginnings preschool JK class.  The kids loved hearing her tell them a story.

She even let them vote on their second book.  She knew they’d like to be able to choose for themselves.

At recess she worked with our Grade 1s on making bookmarks, which turned out beautifully.

She then did a book display in our upstairs hallway which all of her classmates will be able to see.

She then checked in a cart of books and shelved them!

She also created a beautiful Rainbow Magic Book Display.

It was a great day and so much fun!

 

May 29

Helping Students Find a Healthy Tech and Life Balance

I met with Grade 5 on Monday for a workshop about finding media balance.  They are only a few months away from middle school, and when that starts, a big part of the social life of a tween moves online.  But how much time they devote to social media, video games, and youtube, should really depend on finding their own healthy balance.  A place where they feel at their best.  A big part of that is thinking maturely and critically about the emotional impact of too much media.

It was great to hear so many students talk openly about how spending too much time playing video games makes them feel angry and frustrated.  Or about how they would prefer to be playing with their friends at the park then spending time on a screen.  It was also great to hear the positives of media… that for some, watching youtube helps them feel relaxed and happy.  Or making tic toc videos is a creative endeavour that they enjoy doing with friends.  It is important that children have the self-awareness to realize the impact that it has on them both good and bad, rather than there being a negative or nagging message coming at them that they spend too much time online.

Each student created a plan for a perfect day on paper made up of activities (both media and non-media) that would help them to feel their most balanced.  For each student this will look different and it is important that there is no judgement attached.  There is no right and wrong here, but there is a balance that feels right for most of us.  I should note though, that for students dealing with a video game or technology addiction, further steps and support will be needed to get them to that healthy place.

Ms. Thompson will be having each of her students write a blog post about a few reflection questions that I handed out to them.  I am very excited to hear more from them on this topic.

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.