Day 108: Pi Day at South Park Elementary

Pi Day is March 14 (3-14) and it is the perfect day for celebrating all things math related.  It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase to students that math is all around us in everything we do.

On Friday, March 13, the students at South Park met in family teams – mixed ages from Kindergarten to Grade 7 – to do a variety of Pi related math activities.  Some groups graphed Pi and turned it into an art project, some made bead bracelets with each bead representing a digit in Pi, and some measured the circumference of bubbles or made a Pi chain.  Whatever the project was, all students had fun while doing these math-related activities!

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To have your own fun on Pi Day, try some of these at-home activities:
Bake a pie

Create a Pi Chain – Materials needed: coloured paper (10 different colours), scissors, tape/glue/staplesDirections: Cut strips from the coloured paper. Choose a colour to represent each of the digits from 0-9. Join the strips of paper together in the order of the digits of pi, for as many digits as you want – see how long you can go! You can also try this activity with different coloured beads and string to make a pi necklace!

Create a Pi Sentence “How I wish I could fabricate an abacus.” Do you notice anything interesting about this sentence? Each of the words consists of the same number of letters as the first 8 numbers that make up π! Ask everyone in your family to come up with a “pi sentence” and see who can create the longest or funniest sentence.

Discover Pi at HomeMaterials needed: string, measuring tape/ruler, circular objects found at homeDirections: Find a few circular objects around your house (plates, jars, etc.). Using the string or measuring tape, measure all the way around the object (if using string, find the length that will go all the way around the object once, and measure that length with the ruler) – this is called the circumference. Next, measure all the way across the circular part at its longest length – this is called the diameter. Now take the circumference and divide by the diameter using a calculator – how close did you get to π? See who in your family can get the closest!

Get insPIred by books! Fun with π isn’t just limited to math problems. Take a family trip to the library! Younger readers will enjoy the book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander, for a fun adventure involving π! Older readers may find the book Born on a Blue Day interesting, the memoir of Daniel Tammet, who has memorized over 20,000 digits of π.

And check out this hilarious video

Day 107: #SD37 Students volunteers at Salvation Army’s Harbour Light Centre

The Delta School District’s Youth Empowerment students had the opportunity to go to The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light Centre on March 6th. We had limited space available for the students, and the response to volunteer their time was amazing. 15 students from ND, BU SE and DL went to the Harbour Light Centre to serve lunch to the residents of the downtown eastside. Upon arrival, the students were given a brief ‘run down’ in regards to the expectations of the day. Putting on their aprons, the YEP students bussed tables, served meals and cleaned up behind the very appreciative residents of the downtown eastside. “A big round of applause for the volunteers!” would echo through the serving hall, followed by loud cheers and applause from staff and residents every 10 minutes. Thus, motivating our students to work harder.

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The day came to a close with speeches from two former residents of the downtown eastside. They shared their stories of how they were once living on the cold, wet streets of Vancouver. Addicted to drugs and alcohol, looking for their next “fix” with no hope of recovery. Their heartfelt stories provided therapy for the gentlemen sharing them, and inspiration to the Youth Empowerment students listening. What a powerful and enlightening experience for our students.

Day 106: World Read Aloud Day 2015 (Lynda Tyler, Holly Elementary School)

This week, my Grade ¾ class was fortunate enough to celebrate World Read Aloud Day (the first Wednesday in March) with two Skype author visits. I found out about the program through Skype in the Classroom, but the details were all arranged through the Author Appearance Coordinator at Penguin Books.

On Thursday, we met author Julie Salamon. Although she has traditionally written for adults, her new book, Cat in the City, is a children’s book. It chronicles the true story of a cat in New York City, named Pretty Boy, who lived in the East Village. He did not have one specific owner; he belonged to the entire neighbourhood. Although we are only halfway through the book, the students are really enjoying Julie’s descriptive writing, and the amazing illustrations by Jill Weber. Julie gave the students some excellent advice about becoming a better writer.

  1. Read a lot! Read what you love.
  2. Write, write, and write! Don’t hold back. She suggests writing from different points of view. For example, if you write from the point of view of the mother, the next day you should write from the point of view of the dog or a child etc. It will help you have a better picture of the entire story.
  3. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It took Julie ten tries to get her first book published.

The students also told Julie about our “Tiny Kittens in the Classroom” project. She was very impressed with the work they had done and the success of their fundraiser (a whopping $1522.05).


On Friday morning, we met Matthew Ward, author of The Fantastic Family Whipple. This book is about a boy named Arthur, who is a misfit, in a family of World Record breakers. My students love the crazy characters and the unpredictable events. According to Matt, he is the world’s slowest writer. It took him ten years to write two books. The whole time he was writing the Fantastic Family Whipple and its sequel, he was afraid that someone else was going to write a book with the same idea. When the first book was finished, he presented it to a publisher and it was accepted in four days! Matt also talked to the kids about his personal world record-breaking attempts, Disneyland and his favourite sport, soccer.


Matthew Ward showing the kids a photo of his elementary school class trying to break the record for most kids in a VW van.

Although these two Skype events were in celebration of W.R.A.D. 2015, Penguin offers Skype visits throughout the year. Not only is it an excellent way for kids to make a personal connection with an author, it can increase students’ motivation for reading and writing. I know my students have a new appreciation for both of these books!

If you would like more information, visit:





Day 104: Cozy Day at South Park Elementary

In February we participated in cozy day at South Park Elementary. We turned down the heat, bundled up tight and made energy conservation announcements.

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Here is what three Grade 4 students had to say about Cozy Day:

– Cozy Day is when you put all your coats and stuff on inside because they turn the heat off and you have to keep warm. It was fun, it was fun to see everyone doing it and all the different ways people bundled up to stay warm, some wore pajamas!

– Cozy day was weird because I was hot, the school seemed hotter, I was sorry I wore so many layers!

– If you want to save more money, turn out the lights, don’t waste paper, don’t buy books for classes that they will never read, don’t paint, weatherstrip the doors and windows and don’t keep the doors open to the outside when no one is there!

Thank you,

From Aiden, Kira, Meghan

Age 9


Day 103: North Delta Secondary students compete in popsicle bridge building contest

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (Delta/Richmond Chapter) held their annual Popsicle Bridge Building contest at Landsdowne Mall in Richmond this past weekend.

For a second year in a row, North Delta Secondary sent two teams into the competition. Betty Huang, Sandra Hu, and Luyao Zhou formed one team and Ashley Visente and Johanna De Los Santos formed the other. These students spent two months collaborating and making prototypes during their time at home and after school. They tested and re-tested their designs and on game day brought their bridges into the competition. Throughout this entire learning process, gentle guidance was provided by their physics teachers Menolly Lysne, and Favian Yee, but much of their research and designs were done on their own.

At first Ashley and Johanna were quite reluctant at entering into the contest. After some convincing they decided they would have some fun and go for it. The bridge that Ashley and Johanna built held 30 lbs. A solid accomplishment for their first attempt and being reluctant.

Betty, Sandra, and Luyao are part of North Delta’s International Student Program. The bridge they built was able to hold 80 lbs. This 80 lbs press would go on to place 2nd in their age category (Gr 11 & 12). The prize was $100 to be split between the three of them. This too was a first for them and they were extremely excited of their entry. Well done!

Last year, North Delta Secondary placed 2nd and 3rd in the same category. It is Science Technology Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) competitions such as the APEG Bridge Contest, the Kwantlen Science Challenge, and the South Fraser Regional Science Fair that push the boundaries of the classroom and give North Delta students opportunities to apply their learning and problem solving abilities.  Overall, the North Delta Science Department is extremely proud of these five senior students for their efforts in finding the courage to enter a competition in such a public arena. Well done girls!

Day 102: Gibson Gratitude and Welcome Poles

“All that I am, all that I see, all that I’ve been, and all that I’ll ever be, is a blessing, It’s so amazing. And I’m grateful for it all.”

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These words of gratitude captured in the “Grateful Song” are written on the Gratitude Poles in Gibson Elementary School library. These poles are the culmination of Gibson’s SEL Inquiry, to develop a collaborative school art project that develops students identity and expression of gratitude created in fashion of the Coast Salish Welcome Poles.

For the past two years, Gibson Elementary has focused on the Aboriginal Education Enhancement goal that all students will demonstrate a deeper understanding and appreciation of the histories and cultures of Aboriginal Communities. Through Aboriginal story telling and art students are able to identify the key elements of Aboriginal knowledge and to acknowledge that we share the land of the Coast Salish Peoples. Our school goal is to have Aboriginal culture reflected in Gibson classrooms and hallways and celebrated in a positive and inclusive manner.

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Today, there was a special ceremony commemorating the installation of the Welcome Posts in the Gibson Elementary School Library.


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Gibson Elementary School is located in the culture area of the Northwest Coast Salish people which was determined by the abundance of cedar and salmon. The Coast Salish people carved “House Posts” which were the main supports holding up the longhouse or “Welcome Posts”, posts found on the outside of their home. The two colourful poles that hug the doors of our library are titled “Gratitude” and “Welcome”, “Cedar” and “Salmon.” They are inspired by the beautifully carved red cedar welcome poles, carved by Artist Susan Point, that welcome visitors to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre and to the tradition lands of the Coast Salish People.


Artist Statement:

Drawing on Coast Salish design elements, I have used traditional materials of dyed wool (Felt), buttons, cedar and salmon to incorporate place-based learning.

The poles are a reflection of collaborative effort and identity. Each student at Gibson has made either a button badge or painted a craft stick and has their name written on them. The collage of primary colours on the “Gratitude Cedar Pole” represent the colourful expression of happiness and gratitude that is also reflected in the word of gratitude written on the pole. The cross beam is painted with a ribbon of gratitude and has a collection of cedar pucks. At the end of the beam is a clay grizzly cub, representing the Gibson Grizzly Mascot.

On the other side of the library we have the “Welcome Salmon Poles”. These poles are largely in blues and greens. The felt badges represent the water from the Fraser river. Rocks and clay salmon adorn the crossbeam connecting us to the Coast Salish history and the salmon that were once so plentiful in the area.

Day 101: Beach Grove Snake Hibernaculum (Anne Kent, Beach Grove Elementary teacher)

I would like to share with you something very exciting that happened this past week at Beach Grove Elementary: our students learned that they do have a voice, and that if they use it, someone will listen!

kids with postersWe are very lucky at Beach Grove, as our school is surrounded by nature. Next door there are nesting Great Horned owls and Bald eagles, and just down the street is Boundary Bay Beach. To take advantage of this, the school has been bringing kids outdoors to experience and explore nature in their own backyard. We call it “Beach School”. Currently I run this program with another teacher, Paige Skinner.

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Last week, I received an alarming email from a retired Beach Grove staff member, Sue Earles, who previously ran the Beach School program. She was in contact with the municipality because notices went up that the dike was being restructured, and the rockery on the beach was going to be moved.

Sue and I both knew of an existing hibernaculum (underground dens where snakes hibernate) in this exact spot. Personally, my kids have explored this beach for years, catching and releasing dozens and dozens of snakes. With Beach Grove School, all the students have discovered it as well, and it is always a highlight when we go down and find the snakes slithering around.

Upon advising the municipality that the hibernaculum existed, Sue wasn’t given a lot of hope that much could be done at this late date. Environmental assessments had already been done (they missed it). But finally they told her that a biologist would come and be there when excavation occurred.

The students, upon hearing about the restructuring, were devastated. A small group of children decided, on their own (during off school hours), to mount a poster campaign to stop the construction. They drew dozens of posters and plastered them on the fences leading up to the dike and on the giant proposal sign. Personally, I thought it was too late, the tractors were coming the next day – of course, I didn’t say this to the children.

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We were shocked the next day when the Project Manager of the site (Kevin Osman) showed up at our school. He told us that he was extremely touched by the display; he could not believe that kids would care that much about the snakes. He brought with him some pictures that he took (in colour and enlarged) to show the biologist carefully catching the snakes, and him helping her. He wanted the kids to know that he would do everything he could to ensure that the snakes were captured and relocated to a safe place before commencing with the project. He even posted his pictures along side the kids on the proposal sign – with a hand written note saying, “the snakes are saved”.



None of us expected what came next. The first day, they collected 85 snakes. A good number we thought. The biologist returned the next day and the number rose to over 300. The third day, a total of about 550 snakes had been captured! That is a very significant population of snakes – if the children hadn’t gotten involved, and the snakes were not safely removed, the ecosystem for kms would have been adversely affected. Snakes are both predator and prey – many different species would have been affected by the loss. ben and snakes

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Those snakes were brought to Wildlife Rescue in Burnaby, and were put into dark containers, to again hibernate until the weather warmed up sufficiently. At that time they are to be returned to the same area and released. The Project Manager assured me that he would do his best to inform us as to when it was going to happen.

The children of Beach Grove are ecstatic! They feel personally connected to this habitat, and they feel personally responsible for helping to save the snakes.

I think it is very powerful for children to know that they can make a difference!


Anne Kent, Teacher

Beach Grove Elementary

Day 100: Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Final School Assembly (Paul Massie, Seaquam Secondary)

As part of the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) – a program which sees high school students research and present on social issues affecting their community and on local charities trying to make a difference – young people from Seaquam Secondary School came together today to engage their peers with passionate presentations on some incredible work being done in our own backyard. In teams, our students have been taking part in YPI by researching social problems in our community and creating engaging and persuasive presentations on a local charity they believe is best placed to tackle the issues they care about. At the YPI Final School Presentation Assembly, the winning teams from each class delivered their presentation in front of a large audience and a panel of judges, with one team’s charity ultimately being selected as the recipient of the $5000 grant.IMG_7900



The project started in January with the students identifying their personal values and from their identifying a social service charity which worked in an area where services are provided to disadvantaged individuals (poverty, homelessness, people with disabilities, abuse, etc.). They then went on to qualify the charity against the project criteria (registered with Revenue Canada, social services, grass roots and local). Students then contacted their charity and did research via a site visit to determine how the charity would use the $5,000 award.

The Winning Team:

Students Danielle, Kiva, Emma, Rasha

“Before this project, we weren’t as aware of the various issues within our society. When started researching all the possible charities, we weren’t exactly sure of what our goals were. After assessing our own lives, we decided to choose a charity that we found was overlooked. When we came across Reach, a charity that has helped over 1000 autistic children and their families, we were immediately inspired by the depth of their programs and their philosophies. Reach is truly an inspiring place. They do everything in their power to help autistic children, and the extensiveness of their expertise is truly remarkable. They believe that no child should be held back by a disability, and that every child deserves to reach their full potential. Even though we were unable to meet any of the kids on our site visit, as the communications director took us on a tour and told us about all of the programs Reach has to offer, it blew us away. The stories she shared were amazing, and hearing her say all of these positive things made us want to make a difference in the world ourselves. When we won the $5000 grant today, we were all thrilled, and we are so happy that our charity will be able to help so many with the money. Overall, our experience with YPI was truly inspiring, and we all hope to increase our awareness of the issues within our community, and more importantly, to get involved.”


Day 99: Green Bricks Presentation at Holly Elementary

On Friday, Feb 27 classes at Holly Elementary were treated to a morning of presentations by the Green Bricks Education Society. Students enjoyed a very interactive & hands-on presentation about sustainable land use and recycling…the timing of which was great, since the installation of the new recycling bins at all schools in the district.


Students practiced distinguishing what items are to be placed in which bin, or recycling bag, and were explained the importance and benefits of sustainability in their school and community.

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Green Bricks will be presenting at other schools across the district in the upcoming months. For more information, visit their website at:


Day 98: Math Ambassadors (Janet Lauman, Principal, Richardson Elementary)

Leadership that is growth oriented, appropriate, and distributed widely within the school community has a real likelihood of positively affecting all members of the community in a lasting way.  Our Coordinator of Inquiry, Marnie Hunter, along with teacher leaders Sharon Cruz and Janet Henri have been working hard with eight grade 7 student leaders this year on a new school initiative.   See Marnie’s words below:

In the words of Confucius, “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I’ll understand”.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.31.00 PMHere at Richardson Elementary, we are embarking upon a significant and exciting learning journey into the realm of numeracy. As a staff, we have begun to really focus on deepening and strengthening our own pedagogical understanding of the big math ideas in the new math curriculum. We have worked to develop optimal learning situations for our students using various lessons and manipulatives. Overall, our goal is to increase student engagement and achievement in mathematics. What better way to accomplish this task than to involve our students in the process?

Therefore, we have devoted time, energy, and various resources to create a student group of math teachers. This group of grade 7 English and French Immersion students are Richardson’s “Math Ambassadors”, and their role is to collaborate with teachers and other students in order to facilitate numeracy skills.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.31.17 PMWe are very excited about our school’s new vision.  And our ambassadors are key players in creating an energetic, fun atmosphere for Richardson students where numeracy is promoted as being a valuable, lifelong skill. Students and teachers alike are on this learning journey in mathematics. We are only at the beginning of our quest, and we eagerly look forward to what unfolds.