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.

Day 97: A Day at the Film Academy (Jennifer Harbott, Delta Film Academy)

Last Wednesday, we invited 32 Grade 7 students into the Delta Film Academy for “A Day at the Academy” in hopes of inspiring students to engage in the creative world of story telling. Students had the opportunity to chat with our primary instructors and track the process of how a script materializes on screen. They first had a workshop with Film Acting Academy instructor, Richard Cox, about the journey of the actor and participated in the comedic scene work that our students have been working on. They then watched the scene come to life on set where our production instructors, Garnet Campbell and Sandra Almond, along with our students, directed and produced the scene into polished work. To take a look at the scenes that were shot, follow the link below.

“The Squirrel” Scene:

Film has a way of drawing in students from all walks of life to engage with stories from their own lives and imagination. We have had students join the Film Academy for many reasons but mostly, they are here because it is a place where they feel like they belong; where they are free to completely be themselves on and off the screen.

I am collecting testimonials from my students about the program. I have attached a few of them here, for people to read first hand how the Film Acting students feel about the program.

I hope that this provides a wee snapshot of what we do here at the Film Academy.

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I love the Acting Academy because it’s such a safe place to express our passion for acting. This is my second year in the film acting academy and so far I feel like I have grown so much as an actor, and with the help from my instructors I feel like I have more confidence and faith in my craft. I was doing a monologue at the time and at the end my instructor Richard told me that he could see a future for me in acting and that I was one to look out for and that was so exciting for me, it inspired me to go out and get what I want.

-Sabrina Valana


The academy offers so many opportunities especially to meet people in the business, hearing their story and experiences. Even if you’re not sure acting is your “thing” the academy is a space where you can explore your abilities and limitations free of scrutiny. Giving you the chance to push yourself to better and expand upon skills you may acquire.

-Emma Davis


When I first came to Delta Film Academy, I had a basic understanding of scene work. After being in the Delta Film Academy for a few months, I noticed that my scene work had improved significantly, and that I had gained a good understanding of the film industry. For me, the best part of Academy is being in a supportive environment with people who have similar goals and interests.

-Camryn Smith


I have been on both sides: acting and production. Walking into production and not know much was hard but with knowledgeable teachers and hard work I am now a master of sound, editing and lighting. Being on the acting side has helped me to broaden my charter development, become more emotionally vulnerable and focused.

-Bryson Stoughton

Day 96: Pink Shirt Day & Anti-Bullying Week (Tonia MacGregor, South Delta Secondary)

South Delta Secondary School has been participating in Anti-Bullying Week this week, with the highlight being Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, Feb. 25.


Today for Pink Shirt Day our school held the following ‘events':

Cotton candy and pink lemonade for those wearing pink!

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Locker compliments

Insult / compliment baloon pop


D.O.V.E booth

Earlier in the week we had a pledge photo booth and free hugs.

The event went really well and student enjoyed going the extra mile to make this week (so far) very memorable.

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Day 95: (Kayla Hamalanin, Softball Academy Coordinator)

This year we had a new player join the Softball Academy at Seaquam Secondary. When I say ‘new player’, I mean the sport of softball was entirely foreign to her, but without question she dove right into!  It was challenging at first. Most of the girls who are a part of the academy already knew how to throw, catch and hit the ball, and more than anything I was a bit concerned for this young ladies safety!  Yet, each day she was determined to become apart of the team and to pick up the skills of softball. Week after week, she made leaps in her progress. In the fall, I decided to take the academy to the Grouse Grind for some physical and mental testing. She struggled. There were times where I thought she wanted to opt out, climb back down the mountain. She was close to tears at many parts of the Grind. She never complained and she never backed down. I was there next to her pushing her, supporting her, encouraging her that she could do this. She was the last one to get to the top of the Grind, but you should have seen the smile on her face! This was a huge accomplishment for her. She knew with determination and drive, she could beat anything. She  has transferred this drive into her days at the academy. After five months, I can proudly say, she can throw, catch and hit the ball. Last night I had the opportunity to sit down with her parents during parent teacher interviews. It was only the second time I had met with them and they were very curious about how their daughter was doing in this new sport. I was so proud to tell her parents how incredible it has been to watch her develop in the academy! The huge smiles that developed on their faces, my heart was overjoyed. To be apart of such a wonderful journey of this young girl has made me believe that with a little faith, nothing is out of limits for our students!

Day 94: Documenting Grade One Learning Using iPads (Alana Tesan & Kelli Lundie, Annieville Elementary)

Since getting the district iPad crate (5 iPad minis) earlier this year, we have toyed around with lots of different ways to use them with our Grade 1’s. We use apps to practice sight words. We have tried a few math apps. The students love using Osmo ( We knew that we wanted to do something different though.

We decided to teach our students to document their own learning. We already take tons and tons of pictures all day long. However, these are pictures of learning that is significant to us – something that shows growth in a students thinking, something that is an “a ha” moment for someone. By documenting their own learning, we hoped that our students would take pictures of learning that held a sense of purpose and was in some way important to them.

Our Grade 1’s already knew how to take pictures using an iPad. We divided up our students, assigned small groups to specific iPads, and created albums for each of these students on their iPad so that they could keep track of their own documentation. From here, the students knew that they could, without asking for permission, get their iPad and document their learning at any point in time throughout each day.  This documentation is up to the individual students.  There are no rules about what images must be or may be photographed, as long as it is their own learning and is important or meaningful to them.

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Here are some images of learning that have been important to our students:

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From here, we knew that we didn’t want this learning to simply live on the iPads. How could our students share this learning and documentation that was so important to them with others? We thought that perhaps by connecting these significant moments at school with our students life at home, we could do this.

So, we created our new books:


Every Friday, each Grade 1 student takes a few minutes to review the documentation in their own iPad album. Which ones are they most proud of? Which pieces of learning are they excited to share? They each choose one piece which we then print out for them. From here, each student writes a few sentences about their learning that is shown in the picture. Some questions that we ask to help guide their thinking are:

What did you do?

What are you proud of?

Why do you want to share it?

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Our Grade 1 students take their books home each Friday to share their learning with their families. We encourage parents to comment on their child’s learning as well if they would like.

It is our hope that through this documentation and sharing, our students will feel a sense of purpose to their learning, and that they can be proud of their thinking, ideas, and achievements. We also hope that the sharing of this documentation opens a window into the learning that happens at school, and begins a conversation between the parent and child about this learning and their discoveries.


Alana and Kelli

Day 93: Five Idea Friday (Neil Stephenson, Director of Learning Services)

Hello Delta Folks – here are a few of the blog posts, web links and resources that have caught my eye lately. I hope you might find something in here that’s useful for you:

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 7.49.11 PM1. Socratic Smackdown. This free lesson idea from the “Institute of Play” provides teachers with the resources necessary to set up a ‘gamified’ version of a classroom debate. It is described as “a versatile discussion-based humanities game to practice argumentation around any text or topic for grades 6 through 12“.

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On the site there is an additional resource called Math Blast:  “A rocket-launching math board game to boost understanding of integers, operations and absolute value for grades 6 through 8.

2. I came across a great tweet this week sharing a list of 100+ videos that could be used in class with students. The videos are arranged into different categories for you. This first tweet was followed by another great list: A 2nd list of videos organized into Creativity, Wonder, Motivation, and Perseverance.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 8.36.16 PM3. The UK-Based Non-Fiction resource publisher, DK, has just released a beautiful looking resource called DKFindout.

This looks like a fantastic research site for elementary students, with great images and embedded multimedia . It’s a free resource right now – I’m not sure if that is going to change in the future.

4. Using the QFT. I have recently posted about a fantastic resource called the Question Formulation Technique. This free resource from the Right Question Institute provide a structure for the development of question development and improvement. Interestingly, this week I came across a blog post written by a teacher using the technique, and some of the tweaks they’ve done to use the QFT with their students. This post is taken from a blog called Inquire Within which has a number of other great posts on the site.

5. Google’s Location Information. If you use any Google Tools, there’s a chance that Google has stored some of your location information on their servers. This site from Google will allow you to see any location information that Google has from you.  If you are wondering how to turn off the ability for Google to track your location data, this link will help you. 

Day 92: Used Book Sale at Pebble Hill Traditional School

On January 28th Pebble Hill Traditional had a Used Book Sale. Money raised from the sale went toward sponsoring a classroom for a school in Tekera, Uganda. Families were asked to bring in any unwanted children’s books that we could use to sell at the Book Sale. All the books were priced at $1. It was a great way to discard surplus books while supporting students in Uganda, Africa. We had over 1000 books donated, all in beautiful condition. Pebble Hill’s “Me to We/Green Team” were in charge of running all aspects of the Book Sale.

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Students were so excited to see the many, many books beautifully displayed, especially when they saw another student purchase the book(s) they had donated for the sale. It was so popular that we had to extend the sale to the following day. We raised $730 from the Used Book Sale for the Tekera Primary School.