Day 121: North Delta’s Older Guidance Group (OGG) Makes a Difference (Bryarley Gillis, Counsellor, North Delta Secondary)

North Delta Secondary’s Older Guidance Group (OGG) is a group of grade 11 students who are working towards promoting healthy relationships and safe schools in Delta. Recently, they visited Elementary Feeder Schools to give presentations to all grade 6 and 7 classes about preventing bullying and creating a healthy school environment. The sixteen grade 11 students went through a rigorous 2-day training process with The Red Cross’s Beyond the Hurt Program. It was an amazing accomplishment for these grade 11 students to present for an entire morning (three hours) with the aim of educating younger students on healthy relationships through direct instruction, activities, games, discussion, and multimedia.


The OGG members kept students interested and engaged by making the lessons fun and by sharing their own personal stories. They were able to make individual connections with the younger students and make them feel more comfortable with their transition to North Delta Secondary for next year. Ms. Gillis and Ms. Cipriano are the teacher sponsors and could not have been more proud of the OGG.

“To see the amount of time and effort these grade 11’s have put into preparing and delivering these presentations really makes me feel overjoyed with what they have accomplished. The younger students demonstrated their comfort levels in the classes by sharing their stories, asking questions and contributing their insights,” said Ms. Gillis.


The elementary students gave the OGG lots of positive feedback including this comment written by a grade 7: “It was a very fun experience. They were really nice and I learned a lot about what I can do to prevent bullying. I am really looking forward to going to ND next year.”

The OGG members include: Aaron Cabebe, Angela Knowles, Rachelle Castillo, Jasmine Sidhu, Riya Arora, Jesneet Nanner, Manroop Sahota, Jada Beaton, Deepak Ranouta, Liveleen Khunkhun, Meghan Bola, Parwaz Brar, Josh Catubay, Mohkam Malhi, Priyansh Malik and Ramneek Kang. In the future, they will be organizing more activities to connect with the junior students including the ND grade 7 tour in May.

Day 120: Basketball Like You Haven’t Seen Before (Heather Johnson, Mainstream Support Teacher Ecole South Park & Cliff Drive)

The students at Ecole South Park Elementary recently experienced an incredibly fun week of basketball in a way most never have: in wheelchairs. One of our teachers, Christa Schultz, made arrangements with the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society (BCWBS) to come back to the school for a return visit, and each time has been a real highlight of our students’ physical education programming. For a flat fee (about $2 per student), BCWBS rented the school a class set of sport wheelchairs for a week and provided 2 days of expert coaching by BCWBC coaches, who tailored the lessons to each group’s age range. The students were taught safe wheelchair use practices and worked on a variety of skill-building activities and games before they were allowed to play basketball. The basketball rules are pretty straightforward: once a player has the ball, they are allowed to perform two pushes on the wheels then they must pass the ball to another player. Each team’s goalie – who is not in a wheelchair – has the job of holding a large bucket for the student players to either throw the ball into or dunk it in. Yes, I said dunk, which happened many times over as the students became very skilled very quickly during their sessions and were able to maneuver their wheelchairs very close to the goalie! Each class had the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball twice during this week, and there were many, many inspiring moments of play and competition.

Basketball Like You Haven’t Seen Before from DSD37 on Vimeo.

The BCWBS is an organization dedicated to supporting the development, promotion, and growth of wheelchair basketball in BC by providing quality leadership, programs, and services for all who wish to participate. Part of the week’s message for our students was that while this was a very different and exciting way to experience this sport, not everyone can simply get up out of the chair and walk away when it’s over. It was a really positive and interactive way to provide students and staff with a valuable education and awareness experience.

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South Park, like all other elementary schools in our district, has a proud history of inclusion and integration of our students with special needs. One of our students, Nicola (she’s the one in the red sweatshirt), is actively involved in wheelchair sports herself.   She has been involved with the Greater Vancouver Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Club (GVWWB) for the past few years, has done a video training promotion with them for their website and plays regularly in a local league. She brought her own sports wheelchair, provided by the GVWWB, to these sessions, which definitely put her at a bit of an advantage over her peer competitors! A take- away message for all involved in the week’s activities?   Participation in sport is a possibility, no matter your age, mobility challenges or ability level. We’d like to extend our thanks once again to BCWBS for this opportunity – our students (ok, and some staff!) had a fantastic time!

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Please follow this link for more information on how to book your own wheelchair basketball experience:

Day 119: First Steps in Classroom Redesign (Tina Doukas, Gibson Elementary)

Last week, I took the plunge and moved some furniture.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how to change the classroom space over the last year.  In fact, on Tuesday, I presented to my UBC cohort about the connections between self-regulated learning, inquiry and a positive learning environment.  I want to create a collaborative classroom community, where students are engaged in inquiry.  To achieve this, I’d like my intermediate classroom to look a little more primary.

So finally, it was time for some action.  I recruited some muscle (husband) and some positive energy (youngest daughter…  who loves coming into my classroom), and we got busy.  My goal for the evening was to create a reading corner;  this meant moving my entire “teacher corner” to accommodate the configuration.  Holy smokes, I have accumulated a lot of stuff.   Another goal will be to cull my resources to create more space. But that can wait until next week…

OK, so here is my corner before:


And here it is after:

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In two hours of hard work, we created the beginning of something that students have been asking for:  a cozy corner.  I see it as a reading space, a class meeting/teaching space,  and a space for teamwork.  It’s certainly not done, but it’s a start… I am working on acquiring a lovely 1985 sofa from my sister’s living room, and there will hopefully be more carpet squares from my fantastic brother-in-law, who is happy to divert carpet samples from the dumpster at his workplace, to my classroom.  The other novel idea I’ve had is to bring in some stumps as stools.  There are currently three large stumps in my driveway that are drying out.  I’m not sure if they will be suitable, but it would be great to bring some natural materials into our institutional setting.  I am so grateful for the free stuff!

The old study carrel was painted by students before spring break with the support of an amazing class parent, who helped them collaborate to create a bright, welcoming spot.  Students will use it as a calm down spot, or quiet work space, if they are feeling emotionally stressed.   When I was in school, I remember the study carrel being punishment, dark, dreary and isolated;  so I certainly wanted the unit to be more of a choice destination.  The student ownership involved in painting it themselves hopefully will make it a more positive space.

Where is my desk?  I still have it, but I’ve placed it in the opposite corner for now.  I don’t think I can live without it.  However, there are currently two teacher desks in my room, as I often have a student teacher, and this year, I also have a teaching partner.  By September, the second desk will be gone, to create more space.  Overall, I think the teacher stuff is already occupying less real estate, but there is certainly more that can be reduced.


Here is the handout I shared during my presentation, which has some great research links:

Revisioning the Intermediate Classroom Space

There is so much more to do, to foster inquiry, creativity, collaboration and community. Taking the first step last night was huge, and it will definitely lead to more change…  Next step?  Tables instead of desks and cubby storage.  I wonder, where can I find these for free?

Day 118: Delta students take The Pledge (Mary Zuccaro, Energy Specialist)

Throughout the District, Green Teams gathered and took the Energy Conservation Pledge to commit to a more sustainable world to live in and to reducing our carbon footprint.


Fifteen schools in the district signed a commitment to the Energy Pledge: Cliff Drive, Chalmers, English Bluff, Gibson, Hawthorne, Heath, Ladner, Neilson Grove, Pebble Hill, South Park, Delta Secondary, North Delta Secondary, Sands Secondary, Seaquam, and South Delta Secondary

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Green Teams can earn grant money to help fund other conservation campaigns within their schools. This group of passionate students and teachers strive to make our world a better place to live!

Day 117: Imagination Come to Life (Michele Caplan, Ecole Elementaire Richardson Elementary)

What happens when elementary and secondary students (and teachers) work together on school projects? Personal, original, and meaningful learning occurs! Richardson Elementary and North Delta Secondary students have been working together to support each other in their studies. Grade three students, in Mrs. Caplan’s and Mr. Stafford’s classes, recently completed a Language Arts unit studying Robert Hangrove’s Mr. Men and Little Miss books, culminating with the creation of an original character and story. Ms. Inglin’s high school drama students (Acting 10-12 Block B) then read the stories and turned them into living works of art by creating short plays based on the characters. The young authors and their peers were invited to visit the high school theatre and watch the students present a dramatic interpretation of the stories.

As the plays were being presented, I couldn’t decide where to look. Should I focus on our former students who were now grown up and acting with humor, emotion and fearlessness? The problem was, I could barely look away from the faces of our own students as they watched wide-eyed and shamelessly grinning when their own characters were brought to life. The pride and joy on the faces of our young students was absolutely heartwarming. More so, the energy in the room reaffirmed the powerful learning that emerges when a students’ work has meaning, extended purpose and is valued by peers of all ages. There is nothing more magical then watching our own imaginations’ come to life!

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Day 116: Five Idea Friday (Neil Stephenson, Director of Learning Services)

Hello Delta Staff! Here’s another round up of some of the resources and links that have been catching my attention lately:

1. Dr. Jo Boaler is a math professor at Stanford University, and a proponent of the importance of students having a growth mindset  around mathematics. Her website, Youcubed, has a wide range of resources for teaching mathematics.

Among these resources is a free, online course on learning math. It’s designed for learners of any age – kids to adults – and it combines recent work in brain research with it’s impact on math. If interested, you can sign up for the course, and take it at your own pace. 

purpose-of-questions2. A Guide to Questioning in the Classroom.  This blog post shares ideas and strategies around questioning in the classrooms. It talks about both teacher and student questions.

3.  Make sure every student LEARNS. A great, concise blog post on structuring effective feedback for learning. Thanks to Satnam Chahal for sharing this one on twitter.

4. Google Cultural Institute. Fantastic content for teaching Social Studies and Art, Google recently launched a Cultural Institute website that shares digitized resources from hundred’s of the world’s museum’s, galleries and historical collections.

5. Need a simple timer? In a google search box put “set timer {x} minutes”. Very useful!

Day 115: The Jarvis Zone Room (Christy Domonkos, Jarvis Elementary / co-written with Heather Johnson)

There are a couple of terms being used in some of our schools these days that you may have heard: Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). These two concepts have emerged from a growing body of research that is finding that many of our students benefit from having intermittent or regular opportunities for movement breaks and individual or small group social skill instruction. The mainstream support teacher at Jarvis Elementary, Christy Domonkos, has a strong interest in supporting these needs in the students she supports, as well as others at her school. Last year she had the opportunity to attend a series of workshops with the author of the book, The Zones of Regulation (the Zones), and has since become certified as an instructor for this program. In a nutshell, “The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behaviour approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.” (

This year, in consultation with the district occupational therapist, Jan Quinn, Christy has developed the Zone Room at Jarvis Elementary. This is a space where students are able to work with an education assistant (EA) to learn and utilize strategies for increasing their levels of self-regulation. This has been a low-budget initiative (there was an initial budget of $150), and has incorporated some supplies already available within the school as well as some donated materials. All EAs working with these students have been trained by Christy and Jan in order to learn more about the four Zones:

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The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions. A person may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, explosive behavior, devastation, or terror when in the Red Zone. A person is described as “out of control” if in the Red Zone.

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions; however, one has some control when they are in the Yellow Zone.  A person may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, the wiggles, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone.

The Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. A person may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone.  This is the zone where optimal learning occurs.

The Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness, such as when one feels sad, tired, sick, or bored.  (


These strategies have been linked to school-wide SEL goals, and since most students visiting the Zone Room have individual education plans (IEPs) to support their learning needs, the Zones and the Zone Room are included as objectives and strategies in their IEP goals.

To facilitate the use of Zones language by everyone, Christy recently held a school-wide assembly using a slideshow and video clips to teach and demonstrate the various emotional states of the Zones of Regulation. This helped increase the understanding of the entire school population that personal emotional control and self-regulation must be learned and practiced. Christy and the school counsellor, Arlene Bradley, are additionally collaborating to teach lessons about the Zones in the classrooms, as this program supports the district-wide initiative of the creation of SRL spaces to support all students with challenging behaviours.

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When students and staff visit the Zone Room, they identify which zone they are in using a coloured ball system and staff sign in to track the time of day and specific activities the students perform. This data collection is helpful with identification of behavioural triggers (ex: a particular subject, like math, or transitions between activities) as well as what types of activities the student finds most effective and calming. After the student reports that they are in the Green Zone, they return to class. This typically happens within 5 – 20 minutes, based on individual need, so the students are out of class for relatively short periods of time. Zone tracking may continue within the classroom for some students, depending on their mood or behavioural presentation that day. Once back in the classroom, students are encouraged to use colour-coded strategy cards designed by Christy along with “tools” from the classroom-based toolkits to support their self-regulation throughout the rest of the day.


Christy consults weekly with the school-based behavioural EA, Tanya Hume, EAs working with the students and classroom teachers in order to review each student’s and the program’s progress. These conversations are extremely helpful with being able to proactively implement strategies that help reduce anxiety and escalating behavioural outbursts, such as allowing students to use the space to take a break. The Zone Room is already having a positive impact: students are increasingly able to stay in class longer where they are able to work on their IEP goals in-class and learn more effectively. The University of British Columbia has also been in consultation with Jarvis Elementary for observation and tracking long-term self-regulated learning for students in the primary classrooms.


What started as a strategy for mainstream support students is becoming more accepted as a school-wide support with posters in every classroom, and Christy is hopeful that they will be able to maintain the program and room for the coming years to support self-regulated learning of all students.



Day 114: Mentorship in Action (Tashi Kirincic, Coordinator of Teacher Mentorship)

Delta’s Mentorship Program from DSD37 on Vimeo.


Delta’s Mentorship Program began in January 2012 with four goals:

  • Increase learner success through innovative teaching
  • Positively impact the efficacy and teaching of both the protégés and the mentors
  • Foster a culture of collaboration and professional learning within the school as well as across the district
  • Increase retention of skilled teachers

Currently there are 65 teachers involved in the Mentorship Program, 23 teacher mentors and 42 teacher protégés.  The participants work in teams of 2-3 mentors and 4-10 protégés. They meet several times throughout the school year to work and learn together.

At the Meet & Greet Welcome Dinner for new teachers in October 2014, Cory Ziebarth, one of Delta’s Teacher Mentors, described the Mentorship Program as “growth, learning and a safe place.” Both the protégés and mentors who are involved in the program value the creation of a safe space for all participants to take risks, be open about their growth as professionals and share their learning.  Underscoring all of the work done in the Mentorship Program is the inquiry question: How can we best support our peers so that they embrace and model wise practice? The teachers involved in mentoring this year have addressed educational issues such as assessment, report cards, communicating with parents and staff, self-regulation, classroom management, and end-in-mind planning.

This video highlights the reciprocal nature of the learning relationship between mentors and protégés and illustrates how, together, these teachers are striving to enrich and expand their practice to improve the learning experience of all Delta students.

Day 113: Reflections from February Pro-D Day (Satnam Chahal, District Vice Principal, Learning Services)

During our last District-wide professional learning day, a number of Kindergarten teachers, student teachers and support workers from across the District gathered together at Annieville Elementary School to collaboratively explore, share and extend their understandings of what being culturally inclusive and responsive can look like in our everyday classrooms.

We began our day with Diane Jubinville, District Vice-Principal of Aboriginal Education, and Peggy Plumstead-McCleod, the new Curriculum Implementation Teacher Mentor in the Aboriginal Education Department. Diane and Peggy worked with the group to review 10 Ways of Weaving Aboriginal Perspectives into the Curriculum and to introduce to the group a primary resource recently created at the District level for primary classrooms. This resource, called Sqwiqw’l Centres is a Coast Salish themed oral language program, modeled after Talking Tables. The Delta School District and Tsawwassen First Nation collaborated on this project and first presented it at the First Nation Steering Committee (FNESC) Conference in December. The feedback for the resource has been positive and all schools in Delta will be receiving a kit.

Jason Hodgins, District Early Learning Coordinator, then facilitated reflection time and conversation amongst the group in regards to key principles of culturally reflective education. The importance of engaging with students’ cultural heritage and identities in inclusive and deliberate ways was emphasized within each small group’s subsequent responses and reflections.

In the afternoon, Satnam Chahal, District Vice Principal – Learning Services, shared data information with the group in regards to the cultural and linguistic diversity within our District. He explained the efforts underway to support schools, students and families through supplementary services provided by Settlement Workers in Schools (funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada) and Multicultural Workers. Satnam also shared the Diversity Matters website as a useful reference for teachers and support staff who are aiming to educate themselves about various cultures and cultural celebrations.

Rupinder Sidhu, District Multicultural Worker (elementary), then led the group through an abbreviated version of the popular workshop Punjabi 101. The workshop provided participants with a brief overview of Punjabi culture, language, history, family, celebrations and traditional dress.

Finally, in the afternoon, participants rotated through two hands-on learning stations. One station focused on Aboriginal art and the second focused on Punjabi cooking (making roti). Participants were able to take back materials to their schools including:

  1. The Sqwiqw’l oral language development kits
  2. Kindergarten kitchen materials to make Roti

Day 112: Computer Games Created by Sands Secondary and Gray Elementary Students (By Josh Sentes, Nick Raposo and Noah Deteves, Sands Secondary School)

Follow-uping to teacher Nicole Cruz’s post, this was written by Sands students Josh Sentes, Nick Raposo and Noah Deteves.

“By basing this game off of iconic mobile games that the kids were likely to interact with it allowed them to better relate with the concept of the game. I believe we were able to capture their attention with the game we created. In our game you use the arrow keys to maneuver a cannon that you use to stop incoming pirates from stealing a CD. Our reasoning behind using physical “Pirates” and a CD is more to give the kids a face behind Piracy and allows them to grasp the concept of piracy. It allowed them to further understand what we were saying when we told them about piracy and why copyright infringement is bad. Even though the children were troublesome I felt as if they enjoyed playing the game because of what we based it on. We based this game on various high score games that allowed users to play the game to compete with their friends and other people in their classroom. By using this model we felt as if the kids would relate to it better because it is alike to such games as “Flappy Bird” and “Piano Tiles”. I feel as if the reason kids couldn’t turn away was because they had the urge to prove to their friends that they were better than them at the game. We really hope we were able to convey our point across to them.”