West Langley Elementary is a community of amazing staff, students and parents dedicated to “engaging students in authentic learning empowered by technology.” We are for learners willing to take risks and accept challenges; a cooperative community promoting knowledge, self worth, adaptability, mutual respect, global understanding and the pursuit of life-long learning. West Langley is a place where students can truly R.O.A.R.!
So we’re ROARing a little differently this week. Instead of focusing on picture-friendly events, and the more experiential learning events that take place here every week, we’re going to do a ROAR that is entirely devoted to student writing. Some of the work you’re about to see is still in draft form, some is polished. Some has been produced with adult support, some not. All of it demonstrates the range of thinking, and of expression, we see every day in our students. And all of it is worthy of admiration. Enjoy.
- Mr. Masigan’s class opens the show with some poetry, and some persuasive writing. Apparently, homework is OK (sometimes), and activities help ensure the best New Year’s Eve ever. In the interest of balance and fairness, though, we have included some samples that are not so positive on the homework front.
- Mrs. Senften’s class were learning about and experimenting with metaphor and simile, poetic comparisons that link patently unlike ideas. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, when you dig into student poetry, ‘…you never know what you’re gonna get!’
This class is also working on nonfiction writing, but descriptive/persuasive this time.
- Mrs. McLeod’s class examined the life and death of a potato chip as they worked to understand the human digestive system. Here’s one student’s Potato Chip’s Story:
They’re also working on fractured fairy tales, retellings of familiar fairy tales with a modern, innovative, or otherwise unexpected twist:
- In Mrs. Janzen’s class, students have been writing poetry, too. Some is metaphor- and simile-based, and some is autobiographical.
- Mrs. Gorseth’s students wrote speculative stories about what happens to teachers when they’re away:
- Mrs. Powar’s class selected some work they are particularly proud of. There are book jackets, descriptive writing and personal stories. I think the hoverphone would be particularly helpful when I’m trying to walk the dogs, holding an umbrella, and someone I have to talk to calls….
- Mrs. O’Byrne’s and Mrs. Bentley’s students are doing some creative writing. What would you do if you woke up invisible? Note that some students use technology to remove the added challenge of handwriting. I would love to have had that option when I was in elementary school. Writing with my hands was difficult, and I always got ‘Needs Improvement’ on it, regardless of my ideas.
- Ms. Hall’s students wanted to share some journal entries. In the youngest grades, spelling words we know how to say is a challenge; especially with the multitude of exceptions to what pass as ‘rules’ in English spelling. Illustrations to help support a writer’s meaning are helpful to the reader, just like using pictures for clues when we read a difficult new text can be helpful.
- Mrs. Alsop’s class are working on writing news stories about their days. It is interesting how kids can write about themselves so easily at this age – that’s something that gets harder for them as they get older, I’ve found.
- Last but not least, Mrs. Gordon’s students are also doing some journal writing. Again, it’s autobiographical, and some students have used an adult to help with forming letters, as they’re just acquiring that skill sometimes. Having a scribe helps developing writers get their meaning across, without spelling or letter formation interfering. The third of these is inspired by a great little book the class read, where a young exclamation point was trying to figure out his place in the (grammatical) world. Note this writer’s use of . ! and ? marks. Cool!
Have a great weekend!
- Mrs. Powar’s class were working on communication, teamwork and movement in the gym as they tried to get all the way across the gym without letting anyone on their team touch the floor. Interestingly, when they were asked to complete the task in silence, their time to cross sped up considerably, and there were way fewer accidental ‘falls into the water.’ Perhaps too many captains on one ship is even more counterproductive than we might think.
- Ms. Hall’s class have been working on some combined curricula. These butterflies are working on both visual art skills and on multiplication. Notice that each wing is spotted with an even number. Some students went even further, with the bottom of the wing showing twice as many spots as the top halves. There is also teamwork involved in these, as each side of the butterfly was completed by a different student. They had to collaborate, negotiate and communicate as they made their designs. There’s also some learning about symmetry going on here, even if the students don’t know it yet.
- Mr. Masigan’s class did an investigation of the environmental cost of making an iPhone.Ironically, they’re using iPhones to tell us about the impact of iPhones. And we’re a school that prides itself on using technology to enhance student learning. Which it does. 🙂 Students are working on gaining a broad view of the world, and on looking at complex issues from a wide range of perspectives. Important things often aren’t simple, after all. Watch for more on this one on a future edition.
- Before Christmas, Mrs. O’Byrne & Mrs. Bentley’s class went to Lochiel school to experience an example of what schools were like in the days of the pioneers. Students used PicCollage to build posters that demonstrated similarities and differences between school then and school now. Some things haven’t changed a lot, and others are unrecognizable.
- Students in music class are working on some technical, musical terminology these days, singing a song about sweet food, and blending it with learning about crescendoes, forte and piano, staccatto and more. Here’s a sample!
Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome back. We’re looking forward to sharing a whole new range of learning experiences with you.
- We came back to a ‘sort of’ snowfall, and made the most of it, with a few sleds on the hill beside the school. Even more engaging, though, was how some students got to playing with the runoff and meltwater, experimenting with erosion, finding the fall line on our gravel field, and figuring out just how much hydraulic pressure a wall made of gravel can withstand (not a lot). This is the sort of hands-on learning play that inspires me, and that makes me remember causing some significant erosion in the backyard when I was a grade 4 student living in southern Ontario.
- It was a nostalgic week for me, as Mrs. Janzen’s students worked on an art project that also brought back memories of my years in the east. They painted winter scenes with cardinals, those bright red birds that we don’t get here in southwestern BC. Students worked on their technique using acrylic paint on canvas panels – more challenging than paper, because ‘it has dimples, so you have to work harder to get the paint everywhere.’ That difficulty was made up for, though, by the fact that acrylic was easier to paint with than watercolours, because watercolours ‘come out thinner so it’s hard to get the colours you want. They’re see-through.’
- We’ve had spiders and elves, and now we have another set of school guests for a while. On Thursday, we took delivery of xxx salmon eggs to Ms. Hall’s care. She and Mrs. Gorseth’s classes (with others visiting, no doubt) will rear the eggs until they are of a size that can be released as fry into a local stream. Right now they aren’t much to look at, I suppose, but it will be fascinating to watch them go through their various developmental stages. We learned a few interesting facts about them when they arrived. Apparently, ‘The eggs age by the degrees in the water’ to the point that I believe a student told me that they could, theoretically, stay alive for years until conditions were right for hatching. Also, ‘salmon eyes look black.’
- Mrs. Gorseth’s and Mrs. Powar’s classes had a great time at Flip City Gymnastics on Wednesday. They learned about various movements, safety (of course) and tried out a number of new (for some) movements. They got to try out the speed track, trampoline, trapeze and foam pit, and they learned movements like star jumps, split jumps and flips. Sounds like fun!
- Mrs. Alsop’s class are working on 3-dimensional design, and used recycled materials to build a variety of 3-D objets d’art. They experimented with shape, sound, construction, and saved a bunch of perfectly good building materials from the recyclers!
- Once again, we have exceeded expectations with the Christmas Bureau campaign. Thanks to the generosity of West Langley families, we provided gifts and food hampers (and very impressive ones, too) for three families in Langley. A team of parents and students made the deliveries on Thursday, and both the recipients and the Lions involved were very moved. To top all that off, we had so much donated that we were also able to make significant general donations to the Food Bank and the Christmas Bureau. Congratulations and thank you, West Langley.
- Mrs. Alsop’s class have written applications to be reindeer. It is wonderful to see their writing develop. Some of them are already working on letting their sense of humour come through in their writing.
- The WE Day Students have done a remarkable job, with help from their parents, at both their global and local campaigns. The Rafiki and Bake Sale proceeds from last week totalled nearly $850. That’s enough to buy 17 goats already. Take pride in the difference we are making in the world. Thank you for your generosity, and we hope you enjoyed the baking!
Thanks to all of you for your support in our battery drive, too! Before Christmas, we delivered approximately 60 kg of batteries – 2142 of them – to be recylced appropriately, and to generate donations to UNICEF as an added benefit. We will do a collection again in the new year, probably after Spring Break. In the meantime, save up those dead batteries.
- On Tuesday, Mrs. O’Byrne and her grade 2 class, along with a dedicated group of parent volunteers, made the trek down to Lochiel School in Campbell Valley Park. There they experienced a pioneer Christmas. Students came prepared for ‘pioneering’ with their best outfits and open minds. Miss Terry (not ‘Mrs.’, mind you) did some sums with them, and a Christmas craft. They learned about what life was like in a one-room school, where everyone had to be in the same class, and where there wasn’t even a water tap. Instead, students had to go out to the well to get water, and share a family cup.
- Mrs. Gorseth’s students spent time preparing and then sharing slide presentations on their favourite animals. I got to attend many of them, and they were very impressive. I learned about Flying Squirrels, Armadillos, Killer Whales, Ants and more. Who knew that armadillos swim by holding their breath and walking across the bottom, or that flying squirrels have perfectly square proportions when they are gliding through the air? Students learned about more than just their animals of choice, too. They also learned how to make slideshows using google slides on the computer. They added words, backgrounds, pictures, transitions, and a big smiley-face at the end (some of them, at least). And to top it off, they practised speaking in front of a group of their peers, a stressful job for some!
- There were festive decorations all over the place this week, with classes making gingerbread houses, reindeer, ornaments and more. An intrepid group of parents came in and assembled all the gingerbread houses for Ms. Hall’s class, and an even braver group were here to help with the icing (can you say ‘sticky?’) and decorating. I can’t show much, because some are possibly surprises, but I did get permission to show these.
- As we approach the end of my first year at West Langley, I’d like to thank everyone at the school for being so fantastic. I have been privileged to work with a great group of teachers and support staff, excited and exciting students, and supportive families. The spirit of learning and willingness to try new things are both inspiring and invigorating to work with. Keep doing what you do, and have a great holiday! Stay safe, have fun, and try something totally new.
- On Tuesday, Sand Northrup, the One Woman Circus came to share with us her show Fit to be Tried. Some of our luckier students (and principals) got to participate in physical activities that were fun, challenging, and great exercise, despite being ‘easy’. OK, to be fair, the ribbon thing isn’t totally easy. Cameron did a great job on the unicycle, grade 6 and Kindergarten kids worked together to get rubber chickens through hoops, and some of us learned to team juggle. It has given us some great ideas for physical education classes later in the year. In fact, lots of kids were asking to try the juggling activities in the gym that very same day. We want to thank the PAC for supporting us in bringing these Arts Starts acts to the school. We’re looking forward to two more, too: Purple Pirate Entertainment and West Coast Chamber Music.
- Over the week, beginning with Monday, some classes participated in the Hour of Code, an international school activity which introduces students to computer coding. They try to solve a set of problems using pre-built snippets of computer code (rather than just using the mouse like a video game controller). One group were trying to get a character from Frozen to trace out a snowflake. When things didn’t go well, they had to debug the instructions they had given the computer and try again. Every failure was informative and helped them correct their work to move forward. Mrs. Janzen brought the idea to the school, and her class took part on Monday. Then, armed with their new (or refined) knowledge of coding, they went to Mrs. Gorseth’s and Mrs. Hall’s classes to to help them with their own coding challenges. Here are some of the students’ comments:
“I interact with objects on the screen using code.””If we get it too wrong, we need to try again.”
- The Amazing Race in Mrs. McLeod’s room is a multidisciplinary learning experience for students. Students are learning geography, on the surface, but when we look into the adventure more deeply, we realize that they are learning about how to do research without a recipe to follow, how to function as a team while being sure to use the strengths of each team member, and how to solve widely varying problems with the ‘pressure’ of competition making the task a bit tougher. In one challenge, they play an online game where they have to help a Haitian family survive or thrive for four seasons. They have to balance lifestyle, workload, education, healthcare and food & water. THey found that if they maintained an ‘excellent’ standard of living, they ran out of money, and if they didn’t look after their families, the quality of life dropped and health issues increased. The challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that unpredictable events like hurricanes could come up and change their careful plans. Once they got past that challenge, they had to engineer a house that met UN standards, challenging their design and construction skills.
“I keep playing and dying, and I run out of money.”
“I had to send them to work, then when they got sick, send them to the clinic. But they also had book clubs and played soccer.”
- Thursday was our annual Christmas Concert, and saw students sharing songs and a play inspired by the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. The house was full for both afternoon and evening shows, and the audience was treated to quite the show. The show went off almost without a hitch in the afternoon, and the evening show went just as smoothly. Students did a great job, from memorizing lines, to singing multi-part choral pieces, and playing a couple of well-known Christmas tunes as a band. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Toy Traders, the stage setup and takedown crews, Mr. & Mrs. Gorseth for the custom-built Snoopy House, teachers for shuffling their already-hectic schedules, and the incomparable Mrs. Schmidt for coordinating it al. And of course we want to thank all our families for supporting and attending the shows. Having a real audience brings up the students’ performances dramatically, and it is an important learning experience for them to be on stage and performing.
- Donations to help our Christmas Bureau families have been pouring in. The food tables are near-collapse, the gift boxes are full, and our hearts are brimming, too! I feel privileged to be able to work with such a strong community. The value such community-mindedness adds to our society as a whole can’t be understated, and this school is doing an amazing job of showing kids how to care.
The Countdown is on!
- We’ve had a couple of rooms invaded this week. Before Mrs. Gordon’s students even got in the door on Tuesday, they’d spotted a red-clad visitor in their classroom. They’ve been honoured with the presence of an Elf on the Shelf. Every day, that elf moves somewhere else, which is magical, because, as one of the students told me, “You can’t touch it, because that takes its magic away!” Another student said, “Her name is Selfie because she likes to take pictures of herself.” The students drew pictures of her as well!
Mrs. Gorseth’s class also has an eflish visitor this month. When I asked Radek about it, he told me, “He has been doing silly things and watching us lots. At night he reports to the North Pole. I’m good anyways, so it isn’t changing what I do. We just came in today and he was playing battleship with Snoopy, so we wrote about it.”
- In Mrs. Alsop’s class I was lucky enough to stop by and learn about ten frames. They didn’t have those when I was in school. We used them to make up different arrangments of numbers that make 10. Then we made an equation out of numbers to go with it. One example was 4+6=10 and another was 4+2+2+2=10. Some students upped the ante with a 12-frame instead. What equation do you see there?
- Classes, staff, everyone has been busy preparing for next week’s Christmas Program, inspired by Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! The music is getting better by the day, the decorations are coming together, and the set is almost ready. We want to thank the crew of parents who have volunteered to come in Monday morning to help set up the stage, and those who have volunteered to help take it back down on Friday morning. We’re getting excited!
- As part of Social Studies, Mrs. O’Byrne’s and Mrs. Bentley’s students came around and interviewed a number of helpers in the school about their roles and responsibilities. They came into my office and recorded me on video for the interview. I felt like a big deal! Once they had all gathered their information, they made posters on PicCollage to share what they learned. It was an opportunity for students to think about the different roles that adults in a school fill, and how their backgrounds and responsibilities are all different. It was interesting to note what details the students felt were important about each of their interview subjects.
- Students in Ms. Hall’s class were doing some really neat printmaking on Friday, etching, rolling on ink, and then stamping their prints onto cards. There were creative challenges, when students found out that their prints would look ‘backwards’ from what they drew. They did all this with help from their teacher and with a helper from the Langley Centennial Museum.
- The grade 7 students have holiday raffle tickets on sale now. Check the display case outside the gym to see what’s what, and then find the closest grade 7 to buy your ticket. We want to say a special Thank You to Raffle donors & raffle ticket information.
- The Scholastic Book Fair ended on Friday morning. There was lots of excitement about it, and lots of sales. We’re thinking there were in excess of $2000 in sales, which equates to a nice fund for the library. Thank you for doing some of your shopping at the Fair.
- Rafikis are coming, if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that is a symbol of a gift for a young family in the developing world.