Category Archives: Education

Generation Lockdown

The other day I walked into a Winnipeg kindergarten class just as the teacher was instructing the four and five-year-olds in her room about how they should behave during the lockdown drill that was going to happen in a few minutes.  I thought how sad it was that such little children needed to be educated in the steps to take should a dangerous person with deadly intent enter their school building. How did it make them feel ? 

On Wednesday night we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery for a special showing of the Cannes Lions International Festival film that features all the award-winning advertisements for the past year. One that really made an impression on me was a public service announcement by the organization March For Our Lives.

A school girl instructs warehouse workers in active shooter protocol

It shows a schoolgirl named Kayleigh giving adults in a warehouse work area a training session on how to survive an active shooter event. The employees in the advertisement at first seem a bit amused that a young girl has come to talk to them. But as she solemnly instructs the adults in how to recognize different kinds of gunfire sounds, how to hide from a shooter, how to barricade doorways and ultimately escape by breaking windows, the faces of the people around her register shock and sadness. You can tell they are thinking, “What kind of world do we live in that a little girl needs to know these things?”

The advertisement titled Generation Lockdown reminds viewers that lockdown drills have become commonplace in schools ever since the Columbine High School shooting twenty years ago.

The ad ends by asking people to learn more about a variety of gun control measures being proposed in the United States that would prevent dangerous people from getting guns.  The organization that made the ad says 95% of school kids beginning at age five are now trained in what to do in active shooter situations because they have to be prepared for them to happen at any time. 

You can watch Generation Lockdown here.

You can find out when you can see the Cannes Lions film at the Winnipeg Art Gallery here. 

Other posts……..

Duck and Cover

Best of the Cannes Lions

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Filed under Childhood, Education, winnipeg art gallery

Overheard in Winnipeg Grade One Classrooms This Week

Bulletin board display in one of the schools I visit

Story 1

I am waiting for a post-observation chat with the student-teacher I am supervising when a child approaches her.  He is getting ready to go out for recess. 

Child:  Miss P could you please tie my shoes for me?’

Miss P:  Sure I can. 

She bends down and starts tying his laces.

Miss P:  It’s pretty cold and icy out today.  Don’t you have any boots? 

Child:  How long is a week?

Miss P:  A week is seven days. 

Child: Then I have to wait seven days to get boots because that’s when my Mom says the cheque will come.

A poster I saw in the hallway of a school I visited last week

Story 2

I am visiting with my student teacher when a mother comes in to talk to the classroom teacher. 

Parent:  I just wanted to let you know I have to move again but I will try to find a place close by so my daughter can keep coming to school here.  

Teacher:   I am glad you came in today because  I have a report that we have been waiting for a long time for you to sign. It is about a special education plan we want to put in place to help your daughter with her reading. 

Parent:  She read a book to me the other day and I nearly cried. 

Teacher: (Speaking softly and putting her hand gently on the mother’s arm) Yes her reading is getting a little better but she needs to come to school more often if we want her to make some real progress. 

Parent:  I know. I try.  But some days I just don’t feel that well and it’s too hard for me to get her ready and walk her to school. 

Other posts……….

The First Shall Be Last

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The First Shall Be Last

 The media was filled with stories yesterday about Manitoba school students’ abysmal results on standardized achievement tests. Sadly Manitoba is coming in dead last in some academic categories. Why?  I suspect it’s because we come in dead first in so many other ways.  Here is where we excel!

1) We are the province with the highest child poverty rate. I wonder if a lack of proper clothing, food and shelter could possibly impact a child’s learning?

Minimalism an art piece about Manitoba’s high incarceration rate by Kent Monkman

2) We are the province with the highest incarceration rate. I wonder if having a family member in prison could possibly impact a child’s learning?

The Scoop a painting by Kent Monkman shows indigenous children being taken away to foster and adoptive homes

3) We are the province with the highest number of children in foster care. I wonder if being separated from your family or worried about a parent who is struggling with life challenges, could possibly impact a child’s learning?

Mural on the wall of one of the schools I have visited

This month I am in inner-city Winnipeg elementary school classrooms every day evaluating student teachers.  I could write a long list of things I’ve seen related to Manitoba’s three big problems that would break your heart.  I could also write another long list of things I’ve seen caring educators do to try and help kids impacted by Manitoba’s three big problems. 

I strongly suspect that if we can improve our dismal scores as a province in the areas of poverty, incarceration and foster care we will improve our academic scores too.  

Other posts…………

Overheard in Winnipeg Grade One Classrooms This Week

Five Things I Believe About Learning


My Mom Starts School


Filed under Education

A Recipe Book That Brings Back Memories

My aunt has been downsizing for a move and during the process, she found this recipe book I gave her for Christmas one year. I made the recipe books with my grade three class. We put them together as a fundraiser for the Junior Red Cross. I was curious about the Junior Red Cross and found out it was an international organization for kids that operated in conjunction with the Red Cross from 1919 to 1980.

Initially, they raised funds for nurseries for war orphans but during the late 1950s and early 1960s when my grade three class was involved, much of the money Canadian school children raised went to the Crippled Children’s Fund to pay for medical treatment for children in each province with physical disabilities. Remember this was a time when the polio vaccine was just starting to be used and there was no universal health care. My grade three teacher Mrs Kihn had obviously enrolled our class in the charitable efforts of the Junior Red Cross and selling our recipe books was a fundraiser. I can’t recall how much we charged for each book but I certainly remember making them. It was a long tedious process.

We put two little balls of plasticine on our desks and stuck a pencil in each one. Then we slid first the back cover, and then each of the forty-five pages of the book and the front cover one by one over the pencils which had been placed exactly the right distance apart. When we were done our teacher carefully slid the compiled recipe books off the pencils and inserted the plastic rings to hold them together. I think we each made five books to sell and let me tell you it took a long time. We had obviously brought recipes from home that our mothers had written out and sent along with us to school. At age eight I’d certainly never made sweet and sour spareribs and I am sure little Herby Peters who went on to become the managing partner of a large Winnipeg law firm had never made date cake. Our teacher Mrs Kihn must have typed all those recipes onto mimeograph sheets and copied them all on an old Gestetner machine. Then she will have cut them apart with a paper cutter and punched holes in each sheet. A laborious task indeed! And there were forty children in our class who each made five recipe books. That’s 200 hundred recipe books Mrs. Kihn prepared for us to put together. 

My grade three class at the Kornelson School in Steinbach. I am second from the left in the second last row and Herby is in the middle of the girls in the back row. 

Mrs Kihn went to great lengths to help her students become civic-minded young people who were motivated to help others. I don’t think I fully appreciated that when I was sliding all those pages over the pencils on the second floor of the old Kornelson School in Steinbach.  Now I do!

Other posts………

My Polio Vaccines

Kornelson School Memories

Duck and Cover

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Filed under Childhood, Education, Health

5 Things I Believe About Learning

For a professional development session last week I was asked to make a list of things I believe about learning.  After lots of deliberation here is what I decided were my core beliefs.

My husband and son playing chess at our kitchen table in Hong Kong

  1. We learn best by being active participants.  We learn by doing, by exploring, making mistakes and asking questions.

    Children in my classroom who worked together to make a mural for the poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

  2. We learn from each other. Learning is a collaborative and social experience.

    Practicing my sketching skills in Old Market Square Winnipeg

  3. Learning should be challenging, satisfying and joyful.

    Our son learning about Canadian history at Lower Fort Garry near Winnipeg

  4. Learning is about making connections- personal connections,  historical connections, textual connections, cross-curricular connections, and community connections.

    My Mom learning Tai chi in Hong Kong

  5. Learning is life long. 

Other posts……..

Counting on Their Fingers

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Improving Education in Manitoba


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5 Things I Believe About Children

I will attend a professional development session this afternoon related to my job as a university education faculty advisor. To prepare I’ve been asked to write a list of beliefs I have about children.  Deciding what to include in my list was quite a bit harder than I thought, but after plenty of consideration here is what I came up with.

Children at a school I visited in Vietnam

  1. I believe all children are unique and their individuality must be acknowledged and respected.

    Dave and me with our older son

  2. I believe all children are entitled to love, a safe and secure home, a quality education and the physical necessities of life.

    My husband Dave with the basketball team he coached at a school on the Hopi Nation in Arizona

  3. I believe all children have potential and deserve an opportunity to develop that potential

    My husband Dave with kids he taught in Jamaica

  4. I believe adults have much to learn from children.

    With my first class of students in 1974

  5. I believe children are our future and investing heavily in their health, education and well being is of benefit to all of society. 

I’d love to know one thing you believe about children. 

Other posts………..

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli

What’s an Amauti

I’m Glad My Taxes Are Paying For This


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Look What He’s Doing Now!

I am always fascinated to learn what my former students are doing. Last week I was delighted to get a glimpse into the current life of  Justin Bong Kwan who was in my grade five class in Hong Kong in 2003.

My grade five class in Hong Kong in 2003. Justin is in the back row third from the left. 

Justin and I maintain a social media connection and he read a blog post I had written about my feelings regarding the current political situation in Hong Kong.  He thought I might be interested in some articles he has published recently on related topics and he sent me the links to them.

Giving Justin a hug the day of his high school graduation

After high school, Justin received degrees from the London School of Economics and Politics, Durham University and City University in Hong Kong. He is now a practicing barrister in Hong Kong. Besides his law career, Justin does freelance writing and I read these four articles of his with great interest.

Justin’s opinion piece in the South China Morning Post was about the triad’s connections to the current demonstrations and the role they have played in politics in the past. It took me on a little walk through Chinese history, a subject I learned so much about as I prepared to teach it to Justin’s fifth-grade social studies class.

In an article in the Hong Kong Free Press Justin looks at what might be an alternative to the contentious extradition bill that sparked the current demonstrations initially.

 Another piece published in the Brussels Times highlights the irony of the EU’s position on Hong Kong’s extradition bill. 

A fourth piece in the South China Morning Post looks at how British capitalism and the Chinese work ethic have combined to make Hong Kong the unique place it is. 

Justin is an excellent writer, obviously a great critical thinker, and has established a career for himself in two fields. It makes me pretty proud, especially when he told me in a recent message that he credits me with giving him the ‘writing bug’  in grade five. 

Here are a few posts about some of my other former students.  I’d love to know what more of them are doing and where life’s path has taken them. 

She’s Done It Again

Ivan Is Here

Multi-Tasking- Wisdom From a Former Student

My Students in New York

Meeting Our Students in Toronto

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Filed under Education, Hong Kong