Moving moving moving

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go….
kind of.

I’m moving today, luckily we have this one day of calm between yesterday’s rainy,icy, windy (I couldn’t get out of my car at one point, the winds were keeping the doors shut!) day and tomorrow’s forecast of 25cms of snow!

So I may be slightly absent for the next little while.

Also, I’m in the process of migrating things to a new host…and since I generally start new things without quite knowing what I am up to…well, I may be slightly absent for the next little while :)

oh…and I’m not taking a jet plane or anything…just moving about 15 minutes away by car…

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Black-focused public school in Toronto by 2009…What do you think?

Toronto trustees vote in favour of black-focused schools -Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“A proposal to create Canada’s first black-focused public school was approved by Toronto District School Board trustees Tuesday night.

They have recommended the creation of an alternative school that features a curriculum and teaching environment oriented around black history and culture.

Some parents have said they want to try something new because the current system isn’t working. As many as 40 per cent of black students don’t graduate from Toronto high schools.

Angela Wilson is a mother of two who has been at the forefront of a push for Afrocentric or black-focused schools for years.

“Make our education system better for everybody,” she said.

“It’s not a one size fits all education system. It’s actually working its way to be one size fits few — and the few that are successful do not look like me.”

Trustees were supposed to have discussed a report delivered last week that makes four major recommendations:

  • Open an Africentric alternative school in 2009.
  • Start a three-year pilot program in three other high schools.
  • Work with York University to improve school achievement.
  • Develop a plan to help failing students.

Supporters said those options will keep black students engaged and in school, but opponents said it will lead to greater isolation.

“I just feel being with a mixed group of people is better, you know, you get to learn different cultures, different aspects of different people, the way they live,” said Grade 10 student Terrin Smith-Williams.”

hmmmm….not sure what I think about this yet.

My gut feeling is that it is a cop out. It is a way of saying we are addressing issues of student learning without looking at the whole system.

Or…perhaps it is a step toward a new system. Creating student-centred schools that focus on the different communities they are in.

Like I said…still thinking…

What about you? What do you think about this proposal…ready to go next year!

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Request for techy feedback

Hi all

I am moving in, oh dear, 6 5 days counting today.

I have barely begun to pack.

My procrastination technique of choice is doing research, generally about something that does not have to do with my major project at hand.

So of course I decided to learn how to deal with CSS and have been researching that. Hence the changes to this space.

I began with a 3 column template (WordPress’ Sandbox) and played around with the link colours. It looked just lovely on my linux version of firefox (Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20071127 Firefox/ but when I got to work and looked at it through IE – ick. The left sidebar was superimposed on the main column.

So when I got home I switched to a 2-column skin for the Sandbox theme But since that also didn’t work in IE, according to my friend, I switched back to the 3-column number and have since added a few little fancy touches.

Does it work on your browser? If you could let me know that’d be great! I’m looking for feedback from different operating systems, different browsers, different resolutions….

So far epiphany and firefox (linux) are A-OK!

Update – Jan. 28: AND – ooh, very happy, it is now working on IE 7 :)

I think it has more to do with the resolution than the browser…is that possible?

ps – and if you have any suggestions on how to make a 3 column theme work through different OSs and browsers I’d really appreciate it! Please write them as if you were talking to a child :)

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Amen of the day on this US Martin Luther King jr Day

Jonathan Becker boldly reflects on LeaderTalk:

However, what troubles me more is the mounting evidence that even where we have managed to create diverse/integrated schools, there is extensive  within-school segregation by race. For example, students of colour are disproportionately:

  • overrepresented in special education;
  • underrepresented in gifted and talented programs;
  • underrepresented in the highest level academic tracks (including AP courses);
  • overrepresented in the population of students subject to serious discipline (suspension, expulsion, etc.);
  • under-served by highly qualified and/or highly experienced teachers.

Collectively, at the very least, I believe that these empirical facts amount to a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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A day at the park…literally

At the end of November I met Marc Tison (in case your school is like ours and myspace is blocked, here’s somewhere else to go), a pretty well known skateboarder from Montreal, and we got to talking about one of my students whose dream is to be a sponsored skateboarder. In fact, at the beginning of the year we drafted some long term goals to achieve this dream.

(I think about this student a lot because I fear sometimes that he’s going to leave school as soon as he legally can (next year). He’s 15, struggles greatly with reading, writing, and sustained listening, and all he wants to do is skateboard. At the beginning of the year he skipped class more often than he was there, but after a meeting with our VP to drive the point home, his mother and I quickly got on top of that – me by emailing her as soon as possible after I noticed him missing, and she by following through with consequences for skipping school at home. His family is incredibly supportive of him and the work that we do together. He’s a very lucky boy.)

Back to the story….Somehow through our conversation we came up with a plan where Marc would spend some time with him just skating, having fun, maybe teach him some tricks, and then that experience could potentially form the basis of a project at school. I liked the idea because not only would my student have a good time, but he would meet a well-known, sponsored skateboarder who also has a day job – dispelling his belief that he won’t need one if he gets sponsored. I spoke with my student’s mother, who loved the idea, and we set the plan in motion.

contemplating the first moveI showed up at my student’s house this morning and he was SHOCKED, to say the least! You should have seen the look on his face to see his teacher at his door on a Sunday morning! I told him that I had a friend who wanted to meet him and that he’d need his skateboard. His parents gave him permission to leave with me and off we went.

I think he remained a bit in shock, and was definitely shy, for much of the afternoon. At one point he came out of the skateboarding area to take a break and I told him that we only had about 30 minutes left before Marc had to leave. He looked at me with big eyes, threw his helmet back on his head, and rolled back down to join Marc.
we've all got our mountain to climb

He definitely took advantage of the rest of their time together. From where I was sitting it looked like they were working pretty hard at trying to do some kind of spinning trick (fakie nose something or other…it’s beyond me!). When he finally landed it he turned to look at Marc and did a ‘Yeah!‘, you know, hands balled in fists and elbows thrown back past the waist, and that made it worth it for me. I sure wish I had caught that on film.

'xplainin long

Marc gave my student a copy of Pipe Fiends: A Visual Overdose of Canada’s Most Infamous Skate Spot, a book he compiled and wrote with his friend Barry Walsh about ‘the pipe’ near the Olympic Stadium in Montreal (which I will be borrowing from him soon…) along with a whack of other fun stuff – stickers, posters, a t-shirt (‘cool, I hope it fits, I want to wear it tomorrow‘).

As soon as he got into my car at the end of it all there was NO DOUBT that he had enjoyed the afternoon at the skatepark with Marc. Non stop talking about what they spoke about (‘he said I had inspired him to try a trick he hadn’t done in 10 years and he even landed it!‘) and that he can’t wait until it’s nice out so he could go try out the pipe (poor guy, he’s going to have to wait a good 3 or 4 months before it’s nice out again in Montreal…).

So…where will we go from here?
I’m going to introduce him to podcasting so that publishing to his blog and his wiki pages becomes less of a struggle for him and today’s experience will be incorporated into those spaces. And since he is one of the older students in the class I will train him to teach the others how to do the same.

I’m also thinking that, as a stepping stone for proficiency with the microphone and talking to an audience, I may ask him to create some voice threads about the photos from today.

We could also possibly look at the idea of community and examine why Marc, an established skater, would want to spend time with him, someone just starting out.

I’d like to also plan some kind of post-day communication between my student and Marc – a thank you note at least, but hopefully something more in depth…but I will stop there and let my student continue with the planning (though I may offer some, er, suggestions). After all, it was his day :)

Major, MAJOR respect goes out to Marc for coming through on this little project that meant a lot for one kid and his teacher.

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