Thursday, 10 March 2016

Our foray into Virtual Field Trips

We've had our Lifesize unit for several years now but it only recently was moved onto a mobile structure. As a result, since January we have participated 5 virtual field trips from 3 different content providers.

1. Royal Botanical Gardens
We've been fortunate to tap into 3 different vfts from Karin at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Teachers have commented that Karin is extremely knowledgeable, well organized, and able to adapt to each teacher's needs. I would highly recommend vfts with the Royal Botanical Gardens, especially these three that we participated in.

a) Chocolate: From Treasure to Treat
Our first vft with Royal Botanical Gardens, we learned how adept Karin is at changing technologies on the fly. Karin incorporates video, photos, and specimens into her talk. Students enjoyed being able to try the cacao bean, and the nibs although many students took a bit more than they could handle. It was a great lesson for the Foods and Nutrition 9 class and spilled over into the next day's lesson as they tested different chocolates.

b) How far has your food travelled?
Another virtual field trip we did with the Foods 9 class. In this lesson, Karin spoke about the distances food travels. Students had map work to do and a lot of math to figure out which was excellent to see the cross curricular tie-ins. The conversation towards the end of the presentation was extremely enlightening and a good starting point to richer conversation in class.

c) Healing plants
This virtual field trip we did with our Outdoor Education 9 class. This class is an academy class and they were working on putting toether their flora/fauna of BC books together so Karin's presentation worked perfectly. Students had pieces of fresh rosemary, garlic, oregano, sage, and aloe vera to touch and smell as Karin led the students through the uses of these plants. She also talked about the environmental issues of harvesting these plants.

2. Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This was the first time I had dialed into a bridge and thankfully I had a teacher troubleshoot it for me because I would have been flustered doing it by myself. Now that I know how the bridge works, it won't be as daunting next time.

a) Let Freedom Ring
With this virtual field trip we decided to look at the civil rights movement through art to compliment the novel, In the Heat of the Night, that the English 9 class was reading. What I loved about this vft is that Nancy took us around the museum on her mobile unit and our students could see other people looking at various pieces of art. While we were being wheeled around, students could ask to stop and find out more about a certain piece of art.

3. Sheffield Museum

We did one vft last year and it was with Marty at the Sheffield Museum. Marty is extremely knowledgeable and entertaining and I really wanted to do a virtual field trip with him again.  I knew we had the perfect grade 8 class to work with Marty this year and so we managed to schedule a presentation just before spring break.

a) Meet the Medieval Peasant
With this virtual field trip, Marty plays the role of Andrew the Medieval peasant and he manages to do this without breaking character. This grade 8 class had been looking forward to meeting Andrew and it was hard to contain their excitement. Marty manages to convey an incredible amount of information in an extremely entertaining fashion. The students asked very good questions and Marty didn't even hesitate when answering. Students willingly participated in a medieval dance while peasant Andrew played live music.


If you have the opportunity to participate in or organize I virtual field trip, I highly recommend it. A fabulous resource is

Saturday, 5 March 2016

PAX questions for #YAbookchat

Join us on March 6th at 6pm PST/9pm EST to discuss Pax.

Q1 What words do you associate with this image after having read Pax?
Q2 Comment on the quote, "People should tell the truth about what war costs".

Q3 Setting: both time and place are ubiquitous and we can discuss that. Did you have a visual/image of where and when the novel takes place? Share.

Q4 Vola is such a layered character. What did you like best about her?

Q5 Peter's mother liked that a phoenix rises from its own ashes. Why include this idea in the book?

Q6 At what point did you know that Pax was going to stay in the woods?

Q7 What do you envision Peter doing next?

Q8 Overall, did you like this book? Why or why not?

March's #yabookchat titles and blurbs

Blurbs and images are from Goodreads. You can vote for the one your want to read here.

1. Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
When Maisie Winters wakes up, she’s in the hospital. The last thing she remembers is running through the hills of her neighborhood one misty morning. Slowly, she puts the pieces together. Before she could make it home, a storm gathered. Lightning hit a power line and sparks rained down, the hot-burning electrical fire consuming her. Destroying her face. Where her nose, cheeks, and chin used to be, now there is…nothing.

Maisie’s lucky enough to qualify for a rare medical treatment: a face transplant. At least, everyone says she’s lucky. But with someone else’s features staring back at her in the mirror, Maisie looks—and feels—like a stranger. 

2. Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to society -- again. She's strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can't solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but also allows her to imitate other people's voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her "Mad Miss Mimic" behind her back...and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another.
London in 1872 is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo's brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst and his new business partner Francis Thornfax are frontrunners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdose. As the violence closes in around her Leo must find the links but first she must find her voice 

3. Titans by Victoria Scott
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them. But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all.


4. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February's reads

What I read in February. Certainly didn't read a book a day, but I did read some fabulous books.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Kady and Ezra have just broken up and now the end of the world as they know it is upon them. Told in a variety of texts, this well crafted book outlines AI going haywire. Great read of romance, science fiction, and suspenseful adventure.

2. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon is gay but he hasn't told anyone yet, except a boy he has met online who just happens to attend the same school as Simon. Things quickly take a turn for the worst when Simon forgets to sign out of his email on a school computer. A great read.

3. Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Mattie walked away from her best friend a year ago, or did she? Mattie betrays all her friends throughout the novel. Always difficult to like a book when you can't stand the main character.

4. The Memory of Light by Francisco X Stork
Vicky wakes up in the hospital realizing that her suicide attempt failed. the novel follows Vicky as she becomes aware of her depression and the steps she must take to deal with it. A very honest look at depression but I found it very difficult to get to know Vicky.

5. Losers Take All by David Klass
Jack's new principal has decided every student must belong to an athletic team. Jack and his friends aren't really fans of the new policy and decide to form their own soccer team whose goal is to lose. A quirky and refreshing take on the drive to win championships.

6. The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
Harper is trying to deal with her mother's cancer but everything is falling apart around her. When Declan returns to town, Harper needs to decide if she's still the same Harper that fell in love with Declan.

7. Stick by Michael Harmon
Stick has lost his love of playing football. Preston is the school scapegoat. An unlikely friendship blossoms between the two and they help each other through the mine fields of life. An absolutely fabulous read.

8. Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
An accident leaves Maisie with parts of her face missing. Maisie makes the decision to get a partial face transplant. Everyone keeps telling Maisie how lucky she is but she certainly doesn't feel lucky. She can't look at the stranger in the mirror or deal with her friends and family because she doesn't know who she really is anymore. Great novel for middle school and high school students.

9. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Peppi is new to the school and has found her place within the art club. The trouble with being a member of the art club is that you can't be friends with someone, like Jaime, in the rival club, the science club. When the rivalry gets out of hand, Peppi decides to talk to Jaime and try to put an end to the fighting. I can see why this graphic novel is so popular; it's a wonderful read.

10. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Peter rescued Pax when he was a kit but now Peter has to abandon Pax. Wrecked with guilt for what he has done, Peter is determined to trek back and find Pax. Meanwhile, Pax has to learn how to be a fox. A brilliant read illustrated by the great Jon Klassen

11. Prince S by Mikayla Spence

I don't usually mention picture books but I had to review this one. Spence is a former student of our school district and her picture book is stunning. Prince S doesn't want to be a prince, he wants to be a princess and attempts to be just that. A great addition to any library.

12. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Vicky wakes up after a failed suicide attempt. The reader follows Vicky as she deals with her suicide attempt and tries to get to the bottom of her depression. A different approach to depression and suicide but a very real book that I think most teens will enjoy.

13. Losers Take All by David Klass
Jack's school is sport crazy, so much so that the new principal has decreed that every student must be on a sports team. Jack and his friends aren't fans of the new rule and decide that their soccer team is going to be the best - at losing. A very good read.

14. Ms. Marvel by G Willow Wilson
I finally wrestled the first Ms. Marvel away from my boys and I can see why they love it. Kamala is an ordinary girl who suddenly has been given superpowers that she has to learn how to control. I'm looking forward to reading the rest in this series.

15. Superheroes Don't Eat Veggie Burgers by Gretchen Kelley
Charlie's in middle school and everything is changing. The icing on the cake is Charlie's science teacher who hands out journals and expects Charlie to write something other than lab reports in it. A different book that sadly falls a tad too short.