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!