Saturday, 17 December 2011

Weeks 14 & 15 - The Countdown is on!

So here I am.  Three days from now I'll be arriving in Montreal, the halfway point on my journey back home for the holidays.  Before we get to that though let's see what's been going on for the last two weeks!

This is a random picture of the mail pickup truck.  I thought it was interesting to see the little modification to the tires so that there is a little bit more traction.  There is a massive amount of ice on the roads right now so this is probably a very good idea.

Last Saturday was our school Christmas party at Omerone's house.  It was an interesting evening.  The food was pretty good (Omerine and Raymond are an older french couple and definitely know how to cook!).  I'm glad that some of the younger people were there so that I had some people to talk to.  It gets a little awkward for me sometimes when I'm surrounded by older people and little children.  At one point though someone busted out their accordion and people started singing Christmas carols. This was my cue to hit the dusty trail...  Anyway, I had been warned that there would be massive amounts of food so I decided that I would make some Ciabatta as an accompaniment to the main course.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them and Omerine was quite happy to have the extras.

I think they turned out reasonably well considering I haven't made these in over 2 years.  Although they weren't as airy as I wanted.  Next time I'll have to let them rise more.

One of the interesting additions to our school was a new ornament designed by the art teacher called the Northern Lights.

It's a fairly interesting construct made from pieces of green and purple glass wired together.  It's quite nice when the light illuminates the glass.

Over the last couple weekends (last weekend and this weekend) I have been working on making Christmas cookies for all the students.  I thought it would be nice to have the teachers come down on the last day of class and get some for all their students.  I made them some sugar cookies, belgium cookies and mexican wedding cakes.  I think in total there was around 200-250 made.  This week Nancy came in and lent me a hand!  It was nice having her there since decorating the sugar cookies on my own generally becomes very tedious and makes me question my 'good ideas.'

Here is the Maestro in the middle of decorating some cookies.  She brought some of the kids in too and they have fun decorating too. :)

Finally, here are some of the interesting things I have bought while I've been here.  Some of these are made from soap stone, others are made from bone or some other type of stone.  It seems a little strange to me that no one carves things out of wood, but it kinda makes sense though since there aren't that many trees around here, and the ones we have are soft wood.

Anyway, this is it! The next time I post I will most likely be sitting in Delhi with a nice mug of hot chocolate and a cookie!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Weeks 12 & 13 - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Well, just like most of my favorite television shows, I decided to take last week off of posting.  Unlike the mass media, my inactivity was not due to the American Thanksgiving weekend, but rather the complete lack of anything of note happening!  Over the period of two weeks though, I actually did some stuff that was interesting.

On a personal note, I am quite happy that Movember is over since now I am able to shave off my ridiculous looking mustache. Although as my mom would point out, all I need is a sombrero, a poncho and a sash of bullets and I'll be ready for an old school Mexican standoff.

But allow me to back things up a bit.  November 26th was Heather's birthday.  We had a small gathering at Gillians house and made pizza for dinner.  Nancy also brought over the stuff to make Sushi and I made a tray of Eclairs.  Fortunately eclairs are very easy to make and really aren't too time consuming. 

 Everyone had a good time and a few people had a little too much to drink.  I hadn't thought that they had drank too much more than me, but they were in pretty rough shape the next day and I was fine (I actually went to school and did some work).  The highlight was definitely when Gillian spit her drink across the room.  I was watching her as she did it and I really wasn't sure what was going on.  Apparently she heard someone say something funny and she couldn't help it.  I also learned that some of my fellows have interesting talents.

Recently I have been going to the gym trying to get into better shape.  I usually go around 3-4 times a week although some times it is hard since it's so bloody cold outside.  Last Wednesday when I came home I looked up and noticed that the Northern lights were out.  It was pretty neat! I got a picture of it, but sadly I didn't have any sort of tripod and it was exceedingly cold outside making it hard to sit still and take the picture.

When I go home for Christmas I'll grab one of my SD cards for my other camera.  I bought an 8gig SD card from amazon for $15 but apparently my camera is too old to recognize the chip and I haven't been able to use it!  On a positive note though, it's only a little bit over two weeks until I jump on a plane and come home!! It's all very exciting.  I have seen a few people around here hanging Christmas lights on their houses as well.

This is one of the houses across the street from me.  It's nice to see everyone getting into the holiday spirit!  I'm thinking next week I will get started on my Christmas cookie workshop.  I discovered that on December 20th it is a day when classes have activities or Christmas parties so I thought it would be fun if we had cookies available that we could take around to all the kids!  Since there's around 200 students I think I'm going to have to get started early! I think 2 weeks should do it no problem though since I will have some helpers as well!  That fact is probably a good thing since decorating can get tedious and makes me want to shoot myself sometimes..haha

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Week 11 - I Don't have the Powaaa!

This week was a pretty average week, aside from one major difference.  The Village shut down power to the school and our apartments from 8:30 - 10:30 on both Wednesday and Friday.  As a result, there were no classes until after lunch.  This was a little bit weird to me since I ended up missing 8 periods.  It was kind of nice though since my Wednesday and Friday classes are both usually very busy.

Last Friday I started tumbling some rocks using the schools Lortone Big Rock 3lb Tumbler.  Over September I collected a bunch of rocks on my walks and decided that it might be nice to smooth them out and make them shiny!  I finished the first round using the course grit this Friday and it was amazing how smooth they already are.  I started the medium grit and I have high hopes for the final result.  I think I may even order one off of amazon.  They usually run around $160 on amazon, but it seems like it would be a worthy investment.

Another interesting thing that we did in the lab was to try out our new static electricity generator.  Heather was using it for her physical science class, but I thought my sec.5 Science class could probably learn something from this experience as well.  Here's a picture of one student using the ball.

I also used the static ball.  We used a chair to elevate ourselves off of the ground as recommended in the guide.  Unfortunately standing too close to the metal parts of the chair tended to cause static shocks that started to feel fairly uncomfortable.  I'm not sure why but I ended up getting shocked 5 times more than everyone else!

Early in the week it was actually a little exciting.  The weather started to warm up and reached around +2C.  This was great since it was warm and sunny, and also caused a lot of the snow to melt!  Unfortunately, after this it cooled down to -6C and all of the water generated from melting snow solidified into ice.  This started to make by walk to school a little more interesting, but it would soon be followed by the following:

This storm dropped about 3-4 inches of snow in a very short period of time. It sucked having a bunch of snow back, but at least I didn't have to worry about falling on my face crossing the road anymore!  I should mention that this picture was taken around 2:45pm.  It's a little bit depressing, but it starts to get dark around 3 and is usually completely dark by 3:30-3:45.

On another plus side I got my second grocery order from Marche Daoust, and all I have to say is this place rocks! Aside from the fact that I asked for 12" tortillas and got 8" ones, everything else was spot on.  Also, unlike IGA online their produce and meat are FRESH.  In addition, as a result of the Northern Healthy Eating Program, my $185 bill ended up costing me $82.  Which is great considering I bought all kinds of meat, vegetables, fruit and meat.  My grocery bills are in fact cheaper here than they are in the South!  I'm just afraid of the fact that I will definitely run out of food cargo well before the end of the year.

Since this month is Movember I have decided to grow a mustache in honor of prostate cancer awareness.  I cheated a little bit though and grew a goatee with it.   

It feels weird having this again.  I can't wait to shave, my face is itchy!!

On a last note, only 4 more weeks until I go and get a Big Mac :)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Week 10 - A Long Weekend...

This was a bit of a boring week in that nothing terribly interesting happened.  Friday was Remembrance Day/James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement anniversary.  As a result Friday was a holiday and it was only a 4 day week at school.

On Friday I went in to school to try and get some work done.  I had been coming down with a cold on Tuesday night so I didn't stay for too long on Friday since I was still pretty tired.  There was a bit of a storm on Friday morning and Heather was worried that her Circus guest may not be able to get on the plane for Montreal.  The storm dissipated for a while though and everyone got out no problem!  Although I did find it quite humorous that the weather network said it was 3C and partly cloudy and then when I looked out my window it was friggin' snowing!

Anyway, I ended up going for a walk on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday it snowed too much and the dogs were hiding underneath the houses.  On Sunday though it was much nicer out and I was joined by this happy little fellow:

I made a few steaks for dinner this week and I saved the fat and grissel for him.  He seemed more than happy to have it! I figure that the dogs here have pretty low body fat and they can always use more, especially since Winter will soon be here in full force.

While I was out I came across a traditional tent.  Apparently people just set them up and leave them as they sometimes just go out and sleep in the tent on nice days.

Since I had so much time off I decided that I would do some baking as well :)  I still had a bunch of wild blueberries left from when I first went picking.

Here is one of two bags that I collected off of the slopes.  I decided that I would use them to make myself some danishes.

Finally, I figured I would give everyone a snow update.  It's been a little difficult to gauge exactly how much snow is on the ground since the winds blow it around so much.  The least amount is probably 4-6 inches and the deepest is about 8-10 inches.  I was a little tempted to build a snow dragon or something since we had all this wet snow, but I got too lazy and played Mass Effect 2 instead.  Here is what the country side looks like now.

This week should be busy since we all have to get ready for report cards.  Term 1 ends on November 23.  It should also be interesting since Mark and Nancy will be away for meetings next week.  Hopefully everything will run okay without them!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Week 9 - Snowed In!!

So this week started off with a Bang with our Halloween event at school and lil trick or treaters at night.  In the afternoon on Monday all classes were cancelled and the kids had a Jack O Lantern carving and Scarecrow making competition.  Since I don't have a homeroom I helped out with three of the classes that I usually see.  It was pretty fun and the kids had a pretty good time.  I lent one class my carving implement and let them go at it.  They did a great job and ended up winning the best pumpkin!

After that we went home and got ready for the little kids.  We figured it would be more effective to have Halloween as a group so then we could pool our resources.  I had a Zombie Costume, Heather was a mad scientist and Jeanne was a Smirf (too bad I didn't get a picture of that).  I still recall being mad as a kid when mom used to make me wear a coat over my costume. George River EVERYONE was wearing a coat! (That's what happens when it's -8 outside and there's 6" of snow on the ground).

At about 8:00pm there was a gathering in the community centre for their Halloween event.  Basically a ton of people get dressed up and kinda hang out in a big circle.  The Centre community judges the best costumes and give away prizes.  First place was $800, Second was $600 and third was $400.  They also had a bunch of $100 and $200 prizes.

If you look closely there is someone near the middle wearing a blue bathing suit and bunny ears.  That was actually one of my students and he won second prize! It was a complete surprise to everyone since he's such a tough guy.  We all got a pretty good laugh out of it though. :)

Later on in the week I decided to give the gym another try (I had to wait a few days and heal from my first time).  It's been 2 months since I've done any weight lifting and it was a little rough getting back into it.  I think I'll be okay to restart my 3 day program in a couple of weeks.  It's nice that the gym is soo close to my house.  It's actually even close than the one that I went to in Burlington; I can walk there in 4 minutes.  The place is set up pretty good too! Although I do think that they tried to cram as much possible equipment into this room as possible!!

At school I got my Secondary 5 class (they are the ones in their last year of school) to design and execute an experiment on their own.  I was happy to see that they did a great job of it! They're finally starting to take a step towards independence!

Minimaali was very proud of her first experiment!

The last thing that I did last week was to go for a walk to the fire site.  This time I was joined by a new dog.  Not sure what his name was, but he was nice! I've decided that from now on instead of chucking my bread ends in the garbage I'm going to save them for my canine companions.  Better for them to eat it than for it to go to waste in the dump.

Anyway, it was another exciting week in George River, but the countdown is on!! Only 6 more weeks to go until I head South for Christmas break.  Also, the Christmas shopping has begun! Oh how I love the internet :D

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Week 8 - Happy Halloween!

We started this week off with our Terry Fox event on Monday afternoon.  We canceled classes in the afternoon and used the time to show all the teacher challenges.  The school really pulled together to raise money and the total was way above our goal! We had donations of cash and also donations of items that people bid on or bought raffle tickets for.  Our goal this year was $1000, but what we actually made was:

Although I should say that this was the total at the assembly.  There were still a few things that were for sale that hasn't been totaled.  Its possible that we actually made $3000.  This totally beats last years total of $1600!

Some of the cool events that were included were: Gillian got a mullet, Mark got his leg waxed, Josh got his head shaved and Anne took some pies in the face! (students totally enjoy abusing their teachers..)

I love the creativity that some of these kids have :) Here's a poster that they made to remind everyone to donate so Gillian could get her mullet.

Here's a great action shot of Anne taking one to the face.  I love the expressions of joy on everyones face! I actually took a 5min video of her pies in the face, so I'll have to upload that to youtube asap.

After the challenges we all went on a 4Km walk around town.  It was nice, although it was a little bit cool.  On the plus side it didn't snow/rain and the winds were calm!

For the rest of the week there was a big focus on decorating for Halloween.  There were some great doors from the secondary classes.  Although as Josh would point out, his and my doors were the crappiest...which was soo true.
Here's some of my favorite doors!

This is Ali's door.  He's the new secondary french teacher that we had been missing.  I like how his kids used a picture of his head for the scarecrow!

This is Jeanne's door.  Another Secondary french teacher.  I like how she is pacman and is eating her students!

And finally, this is Heather's door.  if you're wondering what the mummy's are, they're toilet paper wrapped barbies! lol

It's been a pretty good week so far.  The kids I was having a lot of trouble with finally calmed down and are actually progressing quite well!

In my Secondary 4 class I have actually been able to maintain a 3 week advance on the material we need to cover.  Given that we are ahead I have been making them learn extra stuff that isn't in their curriculum....muhahaha! If only they knew they would be rather upset.  They are struggling a little bit with some of it since its a little bit harder than what they are used to.  I have come to the opinion though that this is a great way of running the program for the following reasons.  First, it will make them more knowledgeable.  For the kids that actually want to go to Montreal to go to College, they will need the extra skills to do well.  Second, having harder material requires them to become experts at the easier material (which they are actually graded on).  If I stopped at what they only needed to learn they would think it was too hard.  If I give them something much harder, they start  thinking the other stuff is easy!

I ended up talking to the Ped councellor about being ahead on the material.  She was surprised and wanted to know what I was doing that was working so well.  As I sit back and think about it, I don't think I'm actually doing anything special.  My room is layed back.  I want them to learn and will help them to do so.  They eat in class, talk to each other, help each other and we all talk.  It's not a matter of cracking the whip and making everyone follow a rigid schedule.  These kids come ready to learn and ready to succeed.  I believe that it is their attitude and the fact that they want to do well that had been allowing them to do so.  Not to say that they don't get off track and have lazy days, because that would be a lie.  It would also be a lie though to give the impression that I am also not the same way at times.  How can I get upset at them for being human and being themselves?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Week 7 - Food = Love

This week for me was all about the Terry Fox Challenge.  Our school has a goal to raise $1000 for the Terry Fox foundation.  At the beginning of the week we were sitting around $515 or something like that.  Not too bad, about half way there, but we only had the rest of the week to get it done!  During our fire gathering the week before, one of my students asked me if I could help their class organize a movie night.  I thought it would be fun so I agreed.  Besides, I had the added bonus that if we managed to raise at least $450 then Gillian would be getting her hair cut into a mullet for the challenge :)

Evidently I should have thought things through since planning the movie night actually requires a significant amount of work.  After school for Tuesday-Thursday I stayed after school to help make our goods for the canteen.  The kids were a fantastic help though and they were there after school with me everyday.  Not always the same ones, but there was always plenty of help to go around.

We even managed to get some free child labor.  Here's a picture of Nikita's little one giving her mom a helping hand!

I think we managed to make 100 and something bags of popcorn and around 150 cookies.  We ended up selling cookies, popcorn, yogurt tubes and juice boxes.  The main event was on Thursday night.  From 7-9 was Cars 2 for the Primary kids and 9-11 was Captain America for the Secondary kids.  It seems odd to me, but we actually managed to sell more movie tickets and food to the Primaries than to the Secondaries.  We set up everything in the Agora which actually worked out perfectly!

All in all the movie night was a great success! Fueled by the incentive to get Gillian her mullet our class managed to raise a whopping $695.  Given the additional donations our school is currently sitting past $1300!  Our goal was to beat last years amount.  Heather also organized a dance for Friday night, so I am excited to see how much money they were able to raise.

On Thursday I had a double period with one of my Science classes.  Since we just finished our unit on Chemical and Physical changes I thought I would take them to the kitchen for a more practical lesson.  We made pretzels and the kids had a short worksheet to complete that tested their ability to recognize what sort of changes were occurring at different stages in the process.  This worked out very well and the kids managed to correctly identify the type of change that was occurring.  From my experiences throughout the week I have noticed that the kids tend to work a lot better when food is involved.  The other thing I noticed is that you are able to build a much better rapport with the kids when they see you as something other than that guy who bugs them to do work all the time.  I had a great time working with the kids after school, I just wish I could get them to work that hard IN the classroom.

The last thing I did this week was make a Birthday Cake for Mark's birthday.  Nancy wanted to have a little get together for him and I asked her if she would like a cake.  For a change I didn't have to worry about nut allergies!!! She said that he really likes Maple and Walnuts so I made just a regular Genoese Sponge cake.  I candied some Walnuts and added some maple syrup to the resulting Walnut infused sugar syrup to make it a maple walnut sugar syrup.  This delicious liquid was then used to moisten the dry as dust cake.  Afterwards I made a Maple flavoured Italian buttercream.  Everyone enjoyed it and I was happy to make it! I enjoy being able to exercise my creativity and I wasn't rushed in doing it either.  To be honest it has actually been around 2 years since I've made this sponge recipe so I'm happy that it actually turned out properly (aside from the fact that I didn't like my pan with parchment and the cake stuck to the pan very severely).

Well, my piping and chocolate writing needs a little work...but overall I was satisfied with the end product.  Nancy swears I could make a killing off of selling my baked goods.  Too much work for me, but if someone else wants to try it I am more than happy to give them some lessons!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Week 6 - It's a Caribou kinda place

So Monday was Thanksgiving.  It was kinda nice having a three day weekend, although I didn't manage to get as much work done as I would have liked!  This year, since I was only cooking for me, I made Turkey legs (since dark meat is far superior to white meat, and also I can eat the turkey legs like Fred Flinstone), smashed potatoes, yorkshire puddings and corn. It's great making my own dinners since I can always have corn for my vegetable!
So the pie is not whole since I decided to try a piece for breakfast :) What can I say, my Dad has instilled a strong belief in Quality Control.

Later on during the week I was excited to get, what Gillian would refer to as, a blob of Caribou.  It was interesting to do a small amount of butchery on it.  It is a very red lean meat.  No visible fat and only a slight amount of marbling but the meat itself was quite tender. Even cutting across the grain didn't take very much effort.

After this fine example of butchery I used my Mom's kitchen aid attachment to grind the meat down.  The ultimate goal was to create some Caribou Burgers.

As you can see, this attachment works very well.  I even made sure to refrigerate the blade and attachments so that it would minimize the heat created through friction.  Last time I ground meat I had to stop and re-cool my attachments since they were getting too hot.  The burgers actually turned out very well; Caribou has a great taste.

On Saturday I went for a ride on Mark's boat.  He definitely puts the pal back in principal...haha.  It was a good time and the day was just beautiful.  It was completely sunny here and around 10-15C.  We went on a little bit of a seal hunt.  We managed to spot a few but couldn't keep up with them.  It was interesting to learn the methodology.  Apparently when you see them you don't want to shoot to kill, you just want them to go under.  When they resurface you try and make them go under again without getting a deep breath.  They can actually swim very far on a single breath.  The goal is to get closer and closer to them so that you aren't too far away by the time you actually shoot them.  It is very hard though since you never know when they're going to pop or where.  If you manage to shoot em, you then have a spear that you use to harpoon them and drag them back to the boat.  Seems interesting, hopefully I'll get another chance to try it out!

For dinner on Saturday we had another fire.  On the way to the camp spot we actually attracted our canine companions again.  A little bit up the road there is a stream by some of the houses that someone was using to clean off a Caribou skull they got.

Sammy seemed to be quite interested in the horn, but I think he knew better than to try dragging it out of the water.  This fire was actually a bigger event than last time.  There were around 20 people there and we made some food, had some drinks and had a lot of laughs.  The best time was from Gillians attempts to prove that she can be Sciencey.  It was fun, although I'm still waiting for her to show me how the rock is going to sublimate and turn into a gas. lol

Monday, 10 October 2011

Week 5 - Snow and Fire it bad that I don't actually remember what I did this week? lol.  This week was pretty typical, pretty much just the usual teaching routine, with a little bit of KSB messing up my pay to add a little spice to my life.  The cool thing was that the weekend gave us even more snow so there was around 1-2 inches on the ground.  It looks nice and it really wasn't too cold out.

Here's the view from my house across the road to Gillian's house.

Although the snow was fun, it didn't really last too long. On throughout the week it warmed up and over the weekend it was warm and a little rainy which took care of all the snow.

One of the excellent things that happened this week was that I actually got some mail! My parents sent me a nice letter and sent me a little bag of tea, which was great since I only had two types and they were both Chinese.  Ashleys package also came which was very exciting since it contained some awesome stuff! I got a new pair of crocks which came in quite handy so I had some school shoes.  I also got a cheese grater which was nice since I've been using a microplane to grate my cheese and let me tell you, it takes a long time.  I also got some reeces and this great sweet bits and bites (which are gone now...), stickers (which I used on the last math test I graded), chili powder (that I used this week for chili) and gears of war 3!!!! :) I've been waiting a while that that one! Ashley is just the bestest girlfriend ever!

Friday night dinner club was good.  This week heather made some delicious Veggie burgers, Gillian made a salad and I made some extremely large buns.  I think I got carried away since these suckers would have been big enough for a 1lb burger.  After dinner we followed up with some breaking bad, which was actually a good idea since I missed an episode and ended up being a little lost.

Saturday was my relax day, and since I had been playing Gears since Wednesday it was time to finish her off.  What an excellent game.  For once a series has not disappointed me in the least.  Strong story line, good conclusion, excellent game play (albeit a little easy since I played on Hardcore and finished in around 12-15 hours.  Anyway, after peeling myself away from the xbox, I had a fire with Gillian, Heather, Nancy and some little children.

I took a few pictures on the way.  It was a very nice night out, not too cold.  I'm really going to have to figure out what kind of trees these are.  I'm not used to coniferous trees changing color (except in acidic conditions..)

On our way up to the fire site Heather and I picked up some canine companions.  It is still weird to me that there are always so many random dogs just walking around.  Its also kinda odd that that the dogs themselves are all very friendly.  This is one fact that I do enjoy though.  I love dogs and the fact that you can hang out with them pretty much whenever you want is great.  Especially since I'm not currently willing to adopt a dog at this point.

But here is Heather and Gillian with one of our random dogs.  The fire was great.  We actually spent around 4 or 5 hours out there.  Nancy came around 8 or 9 I think? She had some delicious little packets of food that she cooked over the fire.  I tried one that was sliced Caribou with Onions.  It was quite good, not too gamy like when I tried Venison. It was a great day! We're hoping that the weather will be nice this Friday so we can have Friday dinner out in the woods.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Week 4 - A Celebration of Education.

So week 4 was our celebration of education.  It was an event that we planned for Annie Popert, the new Director General of the Kativik School Board.  It was a great event! We had the Kindergarten kids get   I hup on stage to sing a song, some of the older students went up and gave us a demonstration of drum dancing and throat singing, we introduced our new School Mascot and had a Skype conversation with a former student who is in Montreal finishing off his last credits of high-school.  I particularly enjoyed the Skype call.  He told the students that their education is extremely important and they should not give up.  When they come down to Montreal it will be difficult since they will be homesick and want to leave.  He told them to just stick in there and they can achieve incredible things.  I was glad that he told them all this.  It is what we have all been telling them all year, but it is different when it comes from a fellow student! I hope that this will give the graduating class the extra drive they need to cross the finish line!

Not exactly the best picture.  My camera had a herd time compensating for the low light, but you get the idea.  That's Nancy on the stage as MC.  She's really good at that sort of thing and it's amazing how she can switch between English, French and Inuktitut with ease.  A lot of parents came in which was great! and many of them said that they have a good time.

The rest of the week was pretty calm and we just went about business as usual.  On Tuesday we introduced our new school logo.  Everyone had a t-shirt with the logo on it so we all wore them.  The logo was designed by one of the students and then recreated by professionals.  The students won a prize for his ingenuity. The green splash is the northern lights.  The sled is the students traveling off into the future being pulled/supported by parents, community and the school.

 I did however do an Inventory of our Chemical closet in the Science Lab and have several concerns.  Primarily was the fact that the old Science Ped. Councellor went through the closet and said that anything in there is safe to go down the drain.  Upon finishing my inventory I know that this is wrong unless we are comfortable with killing everyone in the town and blowing up the school.  Since those two are not options, my next step is to identify the hazards of all the materials and have a booklet within the closet so that no one accidentally does something dangerous.  There are some chemicals in there that have to be used in the fumehood since just breathing in the fumes or dust can be hazardous to your health.

Aside from that Gillian Heather and I had a very nice dinner on Friday night.  We had pasta with a white sauce, spinach salad and garlic bread.  I love having these dinners every week, it lets us all unwind and have some great food!  Everyone enjoyed the fact that I pretty much took the loaf of bread out of the oven and then ran across the street with it.  Nothing like a fresh loaf!  After dinner we started watching Breaking Bad.  This is an awesome show!  I'm definitely going to get it when I come home in December.  I like how the show is very serious, but just the the way the main character is and the things that happen you have to laugh sometimes.

On Saturday morning I awoke to find that the ground had a nice little carpet of snow.  I personally thought that it was too early for snow since it is only October 1, but this is apparently normal for this time of the year.  At least it makes me think about Christmas!

In the afternoon Heather Gillian Joetta and I went for a walk down to the water.  It was kind of nice since the water was actually in this time! Usually it just looks like a big pile of mud. In this picture you can see some people decided to go out for a canoe ride.

We stopped off at the co-op on the way back and I had a look at some of the items for sale.  There are some very interesting carvings, but some of the excellent ones are also quite expensive.  I saw one that I liked, but it was around $200.  How expensive things are makes sense though given how much supplies cost here.  I walked past the gas station and saw that fuel is $1.55/L.  I'm so glad I don't have a car out here!

A little bit after getting back Gillian took me on an ATV tour of the outer reaches of the town.  It was awesome! There are a lot of good scenic places to see once you get out of town.  I unfortunately forgot my camera, but Gillian had hers so I can post when she sends me the pictures.  All in all it was a good week.  Next week one of my classes writes their first test.  I'm hoping they all do very well!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Week 3 - The Big Boat

So, week 3 started off much like week 2 did.  Although now I'm starting to settle in more and I have a better idea of where the curriculum is heading.  I signed up for several committees at the school including the: Celebration of Education, Christmas, Graduation and the End of the Year BBQ.  In addition to those, some of my colleagues and I are interested in running a Math Olympics and a Career Fair.  This is in an attempt to get the kids interested in school and to be more aware of what their options are.  Hopefully it will all give them something to work towards.

On Wednesday there was a boat that came into the harbor.  It wasn't the usual cargo ship though, it was a passenger boat with people who are on a Northern tour.  Our village was one of their stops along the way.  This sort of thing is apparently pretty rare and we ended up closing the school at 2pm so the kids could go and check things out.  I've noticed that not much goes on around here so the kids are generally extremely nosey when something is going on, even if it is something minor.  There was a little thing going on at the community center, so the tourists headed over that way after they had a tour of the village.  There were a couple of girls throat singing and we watched a video from the National Film Board on the Annanacks which is one of the dominant family names here.  In the main hallway the people from the town actually set up some tables to sell the things that they have made.  There were carvings, these odd looking knives, parkas, caribou skin gloves and hats.  Some of it was okay and some was extremely well made.

Here's a picture of some of the carvings that they had for sale.  They were made from stone or horn/bone.  I found them interesting, but not worth buying considering the fact that my father's work is far superior.  I may end up getting something eventually though so that I can support the local economy.

Thursday was a pretty normal day, but the kids were a little off.  I think it may be due to the boat being here and the fact that they had an early day on Wednesday.  Friday was actually an excellent day, but strangely I didn't do much teaching.  We had a firedrill just before lunch.  After lunch my class watched a movie with some of the other senior classes called Stand and Deliver. I had never seen it, but it was a fantastic movie about math in an Eastern LA school.  We're hoping the kids got the message that if they try and are committed to learning they can succeed!  I also realized that South Park did a spoof on the movie in Season 12 in an Episode called "Eek a Penis."

Today I'm going to go for a Hike with a few of the other teachers.  Hopefully I will be able to pick some of the blackberries and then I can make a filling out of them for some danishes.

Next week one of the education directors is coming to check out the school.  This is why we're going to be having the Celebration of Education event.  It will run from around 6pm until probably around 8 or so.  Should be interesting.  Definitely going to take some pictures of that so stay tuned!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Week 2 - A Crash Course on Teaching

So this week was my first "full" week of teaching.  The crash-course part of my experience may be due to the fact that teacher's college in Ontario does not really give you everything you need to be a teacher in Quebec, much less the North.  There are several odd differences that I noticed.

1. The teachers here have the students on facebook.  Strange, I know. In teacher's college they kept telling us that the kids are going to want out contact information and want to add us to facebook, but not to do it! Well, here they do! Although the teachers use it as a tool for monitoring their behavior and sometimes to remind them to go to sleep, do their homework and to come to class.

2. If I was going to consider taking my class outside I would need to have a file folders worth of paper work to do so in Ontario.  Here, if you want to take your class outside you pretty much just tell the Secretary and then off you go.

So it's been a little odd for me being here, especially since this is my first week of teaching...ever! well...on my own at least, but I think given some time things will in fact get better.  Talking with the other teachers has been very useful though since I get to learn from their experiences.  They often have a lot of good ideas that have worked well in the past for them that I would not have even thought of on my own.

Friday was a Pedagogy day this week and myself and 5 other teachers took some time to set up the science lab.  The lab here actually has an impressive array of equipment, most of which is not being used.  I saw microscopes, dissecting microscopes, a centrifuge, a static electricity generator and a large assortment of models and kits.  Given the large amount of free time that exists at the end of the year, I think I may try and take advantage of some of these things.

After school Gillian decided to have a few of us over for a weekly dinner night.  This week they wanted to do pizza so I actually started my dough on our lunch break and finished it off when I got home.  We had dinner and talked about random stuff and played this weird Inuit game that I've never heard of, but the kids are apparently pretty addicted to it.

So this game is called ruk-shuk and it's basically about making little stone towers.  You pick out different coloured stones and they are worth a certain amount of points.  The ones that are worth more points are actually oddly shaped and much harder to stack on top of each other which is why they're worth more points.  On the left is Joetta and on the right is Heather.  Joetta teaches special ed. and Heather is my Math/Science counter part.  Its a fun game, but its also pretty frustrating since the towers tend to fall down quite easily.

Now that its the weekend I'm going to start making some more lesson plans for the next couple weeks and spend some time just relaxing and watching t.v. and playing some xbox.

I've had some requests to see what the apartment looks like here.  I actually made a video using my computer, but when I tried to upload it to youtube the stupid server rejected the file.  I managed to send it to Ashley through skype though so she'll post it on my account whenever she gets the chance.

** Update - Ashley uploaded my video onto my youtube account.  You can watch it here **

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Week 1 in Kangiqsualujjuaq

Alright, here I am at the end of my first week (kinda).  Friday was kinda cool, one of the teachers (Luc) sent out a mass email to everyone about having a get together at his place.  Given the fact that I had absolutely nothing else I do I figured I would go.  I got there around 7:30 and realized immediately that I was surrounded by francophones.  Aww well, I guess it's time to brush up on my French.  Fortunately there is another teacher (Heather) that came and she speaks no French whatsoever which made me feel a little bit better...haha.

Anyway, I left Luc's house around 12:45 and went to bed!  Somehow I managed to sleep in until almost 10! it's been a long time since that has happened.  Feeling well rested I decided that I would climb some mountain! I was especially motivated given that it is Blueberry season here and I want some berries!

On my way through town I snapped some pictures.

Here's the grocery store called the northern Co-op.  There's actually another place just like this one down the road a bit and it sells pretty much the same stuff.  I believe I mentioned before that the North has the secret to dieting with Chips costing about $7 a bag and pop costing $21 a case (12 pack)  well here's the proof!

I actually haven't had much food lately and I'm too cheap to pay the exorbitant prices that I see in this store.  I did however break down and buy a bag of chips.  At 5.49 it was a steal!

Here's a picture of my house.  There's actually 4 of us living here, but the apartments are pretty spacious.  Including myself there are 3 new teachers in here.  Its not much to look at from the outside but they are actually pretty nice on the inside.  My whole place has new hardwood and they repainted the walls.  The rust looking tank on the side is my water tank.  They come around every day (except Sunday) to bring water and take away sewage.

And now here is a stop sign.  I thoroughly enjoy the fact that even though we are in Quebec the signs are in English and Inuktitut, not French...haha

On my hike I decided to get some wild blueberries (so I can make a pie when my stuff gets here).  In general the blueberries are everywhere so to speak, but not in a high density.  Every so often though you will stumble on a patch like this one which makes gathering much easier.  I managed to get a medium Ziploc full.  Not quite enough for my purposes but very close!  Maybe I'll get more tomorrow if it doesn't rain.

Finally, we have a semi-panoramic picture of Kangiqsualujjuaq that I made from stitching together several pictures I took from the top of the mountain.  I also labeled it somewhat so that you can get the idea of where everything is in the town.

I figure next I'll put up some pictures of my house and my classroom, although I might wait until my stuff gets here before I do that. Both look a little bit sad at the moment.