Monday, 18 December 2017

Focusing on Love and Respect at Albert School

This fall Albert staff set out to create a climate of belonging, where children feel safe, respected and valued.  As a staff we wanted to craft an environment that emphasizes high expectations for all, with rules that are predictable, consistent and fair. We embraced The Seven Sacred Teachings as our overarching focus. These are teachings that are based on First Nations cultural tradition that draw attention to human conduct towards others. Each of the teachings honours one of the basic virtues that is fundamental to living a full and healthy life: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth. Our aim is to help students attain these characteristics and flourish in school and in life.

Mr. Stevenson, our Grade 4/5 teacher, suggested we begin with the virtue of love.  He reminded us that everything evolves out of love. He expressed that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else. His students taught our entire student body what it means to show love. Each student came up before the school and stated what love means to them. They explained that the eagle is the animal representation of love. His class created beautiful eagles to put up around our school to remind us that only the eagle has the ability to fly higher than any other animal and the strength to carry all of the other teachings.

Elder Dixon also played a huge role in helping our students learn about this virtue.  She shared the importance to loving yourself first and said that you have to be right with yourself and happy on your own, before you can love anyone else.  She helped students understand that in order to have lasting connections with people, you have to build trust, live with integrity, show compassion and forgiveness. This is the essence of love.

It would be impossible to create a positive learning environment without respect.  The Grade 5/6 class, led by Mr. Fraser and Mr. Burzminski taught our student body that respect is reflected in how you treat each other on a daily basis. They created a video to show the school the meaning of respect  It emphasized that respect means acting in a way that shows you care. It is not about doing things to hurt someone because you don’t feel happy. It is about valuing others and treating others how you would want to be treated.  Special thanks to Mrs. Agecoutay-Sweet, who also shared a powerful message about respect with our students.

Since we have been focusing on The Seven Sacred Teachings we have seen a lot of progress. It takes a great deal of time, effort and commitment to create and maintain a positive school culture, but nothing could be more rewarding than learning from one another and growing stronger together!  

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Engagement at Albert Community School

I came to Albert Community School in North Central Regina three months ago with a heart that was extremely grateful and a desire to make a difference. I am a brand new Vice Principal so I found the first three months to be a pretty steep learning curve.  However, with each day that passes,  I am feeling more comfortable and am very happy here.

Empowering children to live with perseverance and to see what is possible is what I aspire to do as an educator and an administrator.

I am happiest when I am working on something that I feel will have a valuable impact. Currently I have begun working on two projects at Albert.  The first is to engage students in reading and writing - and by this I mean deeply engage them.  This project is called "Albert Authors" and has just started to take off.  I am encouraged by the excitement and momentum that is evolving around literacy in our building.  I hope to document this on my blog. 

The second project involves increasing attendance and raising awareness about the importance of attendance.  In January, I will be working on a video with students who are reluctant attenders. The hope here is to engage students who are not engaging.  I'm excited to see where this goes!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Students Wanting to Inspire Other Students to Become Lifelong Readers

200 Book Project

Our 200 Book Project is taking off!! Thank you to everyone who has donated books to this project.  We have collected 117 books in just four days!  They are all in such good shape and many of them look brand new.  It was very moving to watch the students SO excited to share their books!

Our class will write another letter to our Pen pals in Garden Hill, MB next week.  They have no idea this is coming, but we are going to be able to send them a BEAUTIFUL CLASSROOM LIBRARY!!!  Thank you parents for supporting your children's efforts.

Here are a few pictures of the project so far.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017



Our class began a new project last week! For the past four weeks we have been learning about a community called Garden Hill First Nations.  A month ago we became Pen pals with a Grade 4 class at the elementary school there.  Each student in our classroom got the name of another student and wrote them a letter.

During this time we began a study of their community.  We have learned that this is a remote fly-in community located on Island Lake in Northern Manitoba, approximately 600 km northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It is accessible only by plane, winter ice roads or by boat.
There are approximately 2,776 people in this community. Most people speak Ojibway-Cree or English.  Their population is growing rapidly and has increased by almost 50% since 2006.   

As we continued researching this First Nations community we learned their language, customs and traditions remain strong there. Hunting and fishing is important part of their culture. Trap lines that were assigned by families centuries ago are still being used today. 

We also read that they have a shortage of housing, a lack of infrastructure and only one store – a food store.  They do not have a community centre, or a library.  This led to some interesting discussion about how people in this community get food, clothing, shelter, books, etc.

We talked about what it would be like to grow up in a community where you would not have the same amenities or level of access to these things that students who live here do.  This generated a great discussion.  We stopped for a bit when a student asked how do you think they get books to read? 
I tried to capture parts of the conversation after this.  Here is how it went. 

“Maybe they could buy them at the store, but if there is only one store then they probably don’t have very many books to choose from. (Nohva)   
Maybe we could send them books.”  Annelle
Maybe we could bring books from home that we don’t need or read anymore and we could send them to them. (Jenna)
We could put them in the mail. (Johnathon)
We could ask them what their favorite book is?  (Johannah)
I would like to bring books to help with this. (Keaton)
We can send them things to put their books in.  (Jenna)
I think we should try to give them 200 books and give them a library like ours. (Alex)
I think I have some books that I don’t read anymore that I could donate. (Braedy)
I have some books too. (Easton)
We could make this our project. (Lily)
I think we should give them books that are in good shape. (David)  
We probably all have some books that we don’t need anymore. (Ibrahim)
Maybe we could send them some books from our classroom library (Henry)
I have some Robert Munsch books and some others that they might like. (Micah)
Maybe we could send them some Fancy Nancy books. (Ella)
I think they would love the books, if we sent some to them. (Jax) 
They might even love reading if they had new books! (Nolan)
How can we afford to send them? It might be expensive? (Caden)
Maybe someone might be going to Manitoba and we could send them with them. (Mason) If everyone brought five books and Mrs. Gilroy gave them 80 we would have enough. (Mason)
We could write letters to Canada Post to see if they could help us mail them. (Brynlee.)
Maybe we could send the books by airplane. (Kevin)
We could write a letter to other people to ask for help to mail them. (Hannah)

So far, this is where we are at in our discussions.  Annelle brought several books in this morning to kick our project off.  Please feel free to chat with your child about this. I will keep you posted as our project progresses.  If your family is able to donate some books that would be wonderful. 

Thank you for your continued support!


Jorie Gilroy

Friday, 7 April 2017

Engaging Students While They Build Fluency and Comprehension Skills

Grade 2 students became VERY excited and enthusiastic about reading this week when they were presented with the opportunity to participate in Reader’s Theatre. 

The goal of Reader’s Theatre is to enhance students' reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading with a purpose. 

The format for this provides an opportunity for students to develop comprehension and fluency through multiple readings of the text.  They are encouraged to use expression, intonation, and inflection when rehearsing the text.

Reader’s Theater is a fantastic way to create interest and enthusiasm in reading. We have begun working on four different plays.  
Students were excited to memorize their lines. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

Jack MacKenzie Oratory

The highlight of the week has been poetry in our classroom! Students worked hard memorizing various poems and many wrote their own.  Today the Jack MacKenzie 2017 Oratory was held in our gym.  A boy and girl from our class represented our room and both did a fantastic job of presenting their poems.  We have been working on speaking with clarity, expression, phrasing, and volume. 

We have also begun a new unit in math.  In this unit students will be learning about measurement. They will also learn to read a calendar and develop an understanding of linear measurement, distance around and mass.  We began this unit with a friendly competition to see who could measure the most body parts. Students worked with a partner to trace themselves and then used their ruler to practice measuring in centimeters.

We also measured Mr. Clarke

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Literacy Games Night - Building Community With Food Friends and Fun!

Several students have been asking me if I would consider organizing another Literacy Games Night. This event was a great way to enjoy getting to know other families in our school while incorporating reading and math into our evening.  
Here are a few pictures from our last event.
 Grade 1&2 families were invited to this.  
There were over one hundred people in attendance.  
 Games are a great way to encourage communication, teamwork, cooperation, critical thinking, literacy and math development.
Parents, teachers and students had a wonderful time together!
It is amazing how much reading and math you can do 
while playing a game!

Highlights of the evening included 
great food, making new friends and board games of course.

We have been focusing on getting ready for "Celebration of Learning" this month, but if there is enough interest I would love to plan another Literacy Games Night after that. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Celebration of Learning - Student-led Conference

Celebration of Learning – Student-led Conference

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Conference time is quickly approaching. This an important part of our school’s evaluation and reporting process. We invite you to attend a Celebration of Learning, which is a student-led conference that will take place on March 22, 2017 from 4:00 – 7:00 PM.

The goal of Celebration of Learning is to offer concrete and meaningful examples of your child’s progress. This type of conference provides students with an opportunity to assume responsibility for informing their parents of how they are doing while engaging them in communicating the learning process. Your child will lead you through a variety of activities that have been designed to help him/her demonstrate their progress in various subject areas. 

It is not necessary to have a set schedule for this type of conference, as several students can go through the activities at the same time. I will be present in the classroom to answer any questions that you may have about your child's progress. Celebration of Learning typically takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.  I hope you will be able to join us for this opportunity to celebrate your child’s growth and development!


Ms. Gilroy

Saturday, 18 February 2017

You Matter - Staff/Teacher Appreciation Week

You Matter - Staff Appreciation Week

This past week the students in my classroom have been working on a special project to acknowledge the AMAZING staff members at Jack MacKenzie who work so hard, day in and day out to make our school a great place to be. 

Winston Churchill once said "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."  The staff at our school give SO much of themselves, all of the time.  It doesn't matter where you look, there is always someone putting in time and effort to make a difference for students. I have often wondered how I got so incredibly lucky to have the good fortune of being able to work with so many people who care so much.  

We started a new project in my room called "You Matter."  
We are working on Gr. 2 Health Outcome: USC2.1  - Demonstrate a basic understanding of how thoughts, feelings, and actions influence health and well-being. 
This project was inspired by Angela Maiers, who is an education and technology specialist, who shares how these two words can change a life.  She talks about why, no matter how busy our lives are we need to make sure that the people know that they matter. Here is her video in case you would like to hear more. 
Ted Talk -You Matter - Video                                                                                       
                                                                                                              - Angela Maiers

Each student in our room wrote a "You Matter" letter to one staff member who has made a positive difference in their life.  

We put up a bulletin board with a "You Matter" letter to everyone who works at our school.

As a class we talked about how we can let people know they are appreciated and valued.

We discussed what this might look like, and how we could let people know that they matter. We looked at Angela Maier's "Treat Cart" idea and decided to make our own cart for the staff.  Here is a list of ideas that students came up with. 

Then we began to work on the things that we wanted to add to the cart.  On Monday students made carrot cupcakes with a parent volunteer. 

 On Tuesday we made puff wheat cake. 

    Mr. Clarke is an excellent cook, so we asked him if he could      help. He was awesome with this group of students and turned the   whole thing into a math lesson!  It was fantastic to watch!

After the puff wheat was cut, students added some ribbon that says "Thank You."

There was a buzz in our room and it was easy to see that students were engaged and excited.  They began making signs with nice messages on them for the staff and started decorating the "You Matter" cart! 


One student suggested that we give out a bookmark that we gave out at our "Books Before Bedtime" night. 

The kids added ribbon and practiced reading them, so that they could share the message on it.  

This is what the cart looked like when we were finished. 

    Mrs. Reoch stopped by to say hello, so she was our first recipient. Her smile was inspiring and it was exciting to watch the kids reaction to their efforts. 

This was a fun project!  Many of the students asked it we could keep doing it.  I'm not sure where things will go from here, but I hope they have learned that they have influence, and their actions can make a positive difference.  

Last week we also recorded a video message for each staff member. We are in the process of finishing up this iMovie. We will post it when it is done.