Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't You Simply Love February!

February in Vancouver is a dull month, its highlights being the kind we Canadians celebrate quietly ... we don't have Carnevale or Mardi Gras but tend instead to pancakes like the British and chocolate for Valentine's. This year ... well, we may long for our quiet celebrations after this year where already the anticipation of the Olympics has us fretting about traffic and costs and disruptions to schooling. We Canadians persevere. That's what happens when you live in the colder or damper climates. No masks, street parties, and unfettered celebrations, as a rule. You just learn to wait February out and seek replenishment in the small pleasures of shared food, like pancakes and chocolate, flowers, good company, good things to read and watch, and the annual collective gatherings of educators, things like Winter Tonic.

For those of us preparing for February, there are lots of ways to replenish the spirit and lighten the mood in anticipation of Spring and the peace and quiet that must surely follow the hoopla and challenges of the Olympics here this year in Vancouver.

On Monday, February 1, 30 keen TLs are meeting for a mini-Pro D Day to do things digital, technical, and practical at McBride. We will savour the day with treats and make our way to hands-on lessons in weeding. This will be a fun day with special guests on Smartboards and Mentoring who have agreed happily, as is the way of TLs, to come to help out, alongside the usual MK and ME.

On Tuesday, February 9, many more TLs and others will gather at Gladstone after school for Winter Tonic, the annual "professional" evening that is simply more fun than work. And when the workshops are over, we have a visit from our new superintendent who is joining us for dinner -- reported to be an Italian feast in our quiet Canadian celebration of Carnevale. Decorations in the theme are spectacular this year, thanks to Shaughnessy art program. I can't wait to see the fantastic display of masks. All this and a year-long membership in the VTLA for $30. It's such a deal.

On Monday, February 15, the District Day, teachers in the district have a choice of venues and topics. These they can "shop" for by perusing the online Current Professional Development listings and registering through the VSB website. You might choose:
  • The Smartboard Academy at Livingstone
  • Technology Day, "Everything Digital" at Magee, with keynote Steve Cardwell in the afternoon
  • Assessment Day at the Italian Cultural Centre - registration by school group
  • ESL Focus Day at Tupper
  • Science Day at Hamber
  • and so on and so on and so on ... check out Pro D listings.

My work life in February is narrowed to supporting professional development in several venues, the biggest of which is the Technology Day at Magee, not that I want to press you ... but I do hope to see lots of TLs there. Workshops will include:

  • Web Writing and Design
  • Collaborative Internet Tools: Web 2.0 for Teaching and Learning
  • LEGO Robotics
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Simple Stop Motion Videos
  • Titanium Chef / Le chef titane: A Digital Game for Grades 6-8
  • Introduction to Digital Cameras
  • Introduction to Smartboards
  • Quickstart: OpenOffice and Google Docs
  • VSB Digital Library
  • Moodle
  • Picasa
David Brear, Alan Zisman, Brian Kerr, Bruno Vernier, Maryann Kempthorne, and many other Vancouver and local educators are lined up to provide a full array of digitally focussed enrichment opportunities. Stay tuned for more details, but do be sure to register online (it's under Registration there, see?) ... we need to be sure to have enough food.

It's the first one -- Web Writing and Design -- that I am most delighted to be offering. This worshop is designed to appeal to anyone who is personally interested in writing, in writing for the web, and in visually designing that web presence, as well as to TLs and teachers of English and Language Arts who acknowledge the new genre of writing for the web. The presenter is Amanda Grondahl who several of us met recently through the EastmeetsWest Book Club. Amanda is the designer of a downtown eastside women's book club and Intrepid Pens writers' workshop about which you can read in the blog attached to her website (click onto the DTES tab). She is also a freelance writer, editor, and design consultant and the granddaughter of a long-time now-retired Vancouver secondary science teacher. We think about acorns and trees when we work with Amanda.

Vancouver TLs and their various associations have provided support for Amanda's DTES projects; we follow their literary journeys with amazement and joy. We are learning as they go.

And yes, I know, this blog doesn't really use "web writing strategies" so I may just be attending this one myself. I have asked to have this workshop in the library.

Looking forward to seeing you at something this month.

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