Category Archives: Education

Merry Christmas From My Bitmoji

christmas bitmojiOne of the student teachers I visited as part of my job for the University of Winnipeg put together the most engaging power points to guide her grade five and six students through her lessons. She had created a bitmoji of herself and the character always showed up somewhere on the power point slide in a relevant way.  For example if the lesson was about solving a scientific mystery the bitmoji of my student teacher might be carrying a magnifying glass. The grade five and six students absolutely LOVED this!  They were always so excited to see a new bitmoji of their teacher.

bitmoji christmasI had seen bitmoji’s before but had no idea how to make one.  I decided to teach myself.  I downloaded the app to create one on my I- phone, took my photo and then made a few changes to the bitmoji my photo created. marylou bitmoji christmasI am not really sure my bitmoji looks like me but here I am bitmoji style wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Other posts…….

Christmas in Different Places

My First Christmas Without My Mom

I’m Trying to Draw Cartoons


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Filed under Art, Education

Words To Live By- Be Nice

in grade five six classI photographed  this bulletin board  in one of the Winnipeg classrooms I have been visiting in the last six weeks.  I mentioned how much I liked it to the teacher and she said the motto had become a sort of touchstone for the class.  They referred to it often and the teacher was always happy when she heard students reminding each other about the ideas in the motto.  

Although the message  is aimed at kids  I think it has wisdom for adults too.  It doesn’t matter if we have the nicest house, or the best job, or the fittest body, or the prettiest face, or the highest income.  Those things don’t  make us nice people.  What does matter is whether we are friendly and generous and happy and honest and kind.  

Other posts……..

Living Intentionally


The Salmon Saved Him


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Filed under Education, Reflections

Include Me Please

I walked into a classroom recently where the student teacher I supervise for the university had made a sorting chart with the children.  On one side was the label NATURAL and on the other MANMADE.   In each section of the chart the children had pasted appropriate items.  In the lesson I was observing, my student teacher was talking about community helpers and referred to them as firemen, policemen and garbage men.  

In our post lesson conference I mentioned that MADE BY PEOPLE would have been a better chart heading than MANMADE  and that words like firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers were more inclusive than firemen, policemen and garbagemen.   Apparently my student teacher’s exclusive language had already been pointed out by the regular classroom teacher and my student was a little embarrassed about unconciously slipping back into using terminology that might send the wrong message to the girls in the class or children who may not be sure about their gender identity. In another class I visited, the student teacher was leading a science lesson on the characteristics of animals.  Every single time an animal was mentioned she referred to it as ‘he’.  In the post lesson conference I suggested that perhaps the word ‘she’ could have been used equally when referring to animals or a more neutral ‘it’ could have been used. The student agreed completely telling me how dedicated she was to feminist ideals. She thanked me for pointing out the exclusivity of her language.  

Language is a powerful thing and using exclusive language in even little ways sends a subtle message to some children that they aren’t included.  We’ve come a long way since my childhood when exclusively male language was the norm but there is still reason to be vigilant about trying to raise a new generation for whom the use of inclusive language is a natural thing. 

Other posts……….

I Remember When……..

Proud of the New Words to Canada’s National Anthem

From Pale and Weak to Platoon Commander



Filed under Education

Imitating Emily

emily's art grade fours winnipegI was visiting a grade three and four class in one of Winnipeg’s inner city schools as part of my job as a university faculty advisor and I saw these marvelous paintings on the wall in a classroom where one of my students is doing her practicum. The classroom teacher had introduced the children to the work of the great Canadian artist Emily Carr and then led them through a step by step process to create their own artworks in Emily’s style. emily carr winnipeg school grade 3:4The display in the classroom included photos to show how the children had experimented with color mixing, learned about contour drawing and looked very carefully at Emily’s paintings of trees. They experimented with layering shades of the same color and thought carefully about every brush stroke. emily carr grade 3:4The children had also written stories about what it might be like to spend time alone in a British Columbia forest the way Emily Carr did. imitating emily carrEmily is always a favorite subject for children when I take them on tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  I tell them about her menangerie of animals that included a pet monkey.  Her animals accompained her into the forest when she went out in her little trailer she called The Elephant to camp amongst the trees and do her artwork.   emily carr display winnipeg classroom

A writer in Macleans magazine who eulogized Emily Carr after she died entitled her obituary She Made Trees Dance.  So did the amazing students in a grade three four classroom in inner city Winnipeg who inspired by Emily and guided by a creative and enthusiastic teacher made trees come to life just like Emily did. 

The photos of the students’ work have been posted here with their teacher’s permission. 

Other posts……..

Talk About Defying Convention

Old Sun and Emily Carr

Klee Wyck- May Your Spirit Dance


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Filed under Art, Childhood, Education

In The Footsteps of Tom Thompson

hospice erie shoresThe day after my brother -in-law John’s funeral in Leamington, Ontario we toured the hospice where he had spent the last days of his life.  What a beautiful place!  Spacious light-filled rooms with private patios, fireplaces, desks and every amenity a resident or their family might need.  A grand piano to bring music into the building, a sunny garden room, a play area for children, a diningroom and kitchen where staff provided snacks and made to order meals to residents and their families, a library, and a special room for loved ones to rest or sleep or gather to talk. The morning we were there a group of women was busy creating the handmade quilts they stitch for every person who spends time at the hospice. 

children's art leamington hospiceThere was lots of beautiful art on the walls but I was particularly drawn to a display of work by middle school students.  They had studied Canada’s famous Group of Seven artists and then created their own paintings in that style to display in the hospice to cheer those who came there. group of seven kids projectA plaque on the wall explained their project and its name In The Footsteps of Tom Thompson.  Thompson was the founder of the Group of Seven art collective. 

art by kids leamington hospiceI love children’s art and the work at the hospice was especially meaningful because I knew how much my brother-in-law John had enjoyed art too. footsteps thom thompson

Other posts…….

Stopping By Woods

Through the Eyes of a Child

Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival 

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Filed under Art, Education, Health

What A Difference A Smile and A Hello Can Make!

One of the first pieces of advice I always give the student teachers I mentor is that when their students enter the classroom they try to give each one a smile, a hello and make a comment or personal connection with them.  

With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong

Now there is scientific evidence this is effective. A new study shows that when teachers routinely greet students and say their name, make eye contact, provide a high five, handshake or thumbs up and/or give a few words of encouragement it sets a more positive tone for the day, increases student engagement and reduces the amount of disruptive behavior. In an article by Youki Terada she notes the study showed that when students feel welcome in their classroom they put more energy and effort into learning. 

With our waiter at a restaurant in Lisbon

I’m wondering if this would have implications in other areas.  If I’m friendly and smile at a waiter in a restaurant will I get better service? If I smile at people at the gym and say good morning will it improve the quality of their workout?  If I make a personal comment to someone in the church library when I volunteer there will it make them more likely to return for more books?  If  I say hello to the person beside me on the bus or in the bus shack will they have a better day? If I smile and greet people who serve me in businesses will they give me better service and feel better about their jobs? 

Isn’t it great that everyone can easily smile and greet people in a friendly way and there is scientific evidence it will make a difference?

Other posts………

Be Present

What is Your Body Saying? 



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Filed under Education

Indoctrination or Teaching?

What is the difference between indoctrination and teaching? Some recent posts by my friend and fellow blogger The Meanderer has me pondering that question particularly in the realm of religious education.  I received a comprehensive religious education in church, at home, and in the private religious post secondary university where I was a student. Was I being indoctrinated or taught? 

The church I attended as a child

It seems to me the key difference between indoctrination and teaching is that when you are teaching someone you are providing them with an opportunity to explore ideas, information, beliefs and knowledge and you are allowing them to ask questions, have different opinions, argue and come to their own conclusions.  But when you are indoctrinating someone you are simply supplying them with the ideas, information, beliefs and knowledge in a didactic way and they are not allowed to question, or argue or demand evidence. 

I think I had some experiences in my religious education that were a form of indoctrination, but generally in my home and church and in particular at the faith-based university I attended, we were taught and not indoctrinated.  I also realize that others who had the same religious educational experiences I did might view them very differently in retrospect, even people in my own family. 

My friend The Meanderer suggests that parents who provide for religious educational experiences for their children may be engaging in a form of abuse.  I would contend that while indoctrination is abusive, teaching is not, and that religious teaching does in fact have the potential to be a positive influence in someone’s life. 

Other posts………

Tolerating Other Christians

Is It Wrong to Die For Your Faith? 

Not My Kind of God



Filed under Education, Religion