Sunday, 20 May 2012

Grade 5 Camp ...

This past week, my third week in my new position, saw me heading off with three other teachers and one hundred 10 year old girls to Kamp Kiwanis for Grade 5 camp.  I love going on school camp, it's such a great way to get to know the students and experience things that you wouldn't otherwise be able to.  The students were all great and our main responsibility came with ensuring that the girls were dressed appropriately for the weather, which involved hats and lots of sunscreen on the first two days and jackets and long pants on the last day as it was snowing!  I was more than impressed with the Kamp K staff who were incredibly professional, energetic and engaging in their interactions with both the girls and teachers.  There were a couple of staff members from Australia and New Zealand, mostly GAP students which bought back all sorts of memories of my own GAP year in 1998, where I was the crazy, energetic activity leader whom the kids had a great time with.  Around the campfire (made with candles since there is currently a fire ban in place) at night, we sang 'repeat after me' songs, some of which I was familiar with from my GAP year and more than happy to join in with, however when the two Aussies performed an impromptu rendition of 'Waltzing Matilda' accompanied by an interpretive dance, I declined the offer to join in, citing that I was there purely as the camp photographer.  Over the three days, I took nearly 500 photos of the children and the landscape.  Obviously, it would be unprofessional of me to share the photos of the students, so here are a couple of the landscape, the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Techno whiz kids ...

Over my teaching career, I've been spoilt with having the latest technology available at nearly all the schools I've worked in.  My latest school is no exception.  Every student has their own MacBook to use, either owned by the student or leased from the school.  One-one laptop programs make teaching just so much easier with all students having access to computers all the time.

While I'm no luddite, I don't grasp new technologies nearly as quickly as kids do and I've been absolutely amazed by the technological capacities of my new class of Grade 5 girls.  Many of their projects have been presented using iMovie, a program of which I know the basics but am perplexed at how the kids manage to create their outstanding presentations.  Their use of Google Docs has also blown me away.  Just the other day, I growled at a group of girls, telling them that they only needed one laptop between the three of them.  "No Miss Davidson, we're working on a Google Doc!" and sure enough, each girl had the same document on their screen, all working simultaneously to write their part of a weather broadcast script.  For those students who aren't quite as productive when working on their laptops, there is a special program that allows me, on my laptop, to pull up a history of each student's computer on the spot so I can see if they are doing their learning task or playing a computer game.  The third big technology element is the use of a wiki as the main communication tool for parents.  All class information is posted on the wiki, along with student homework.  It's amazing how so much has changed in the past four years since I've worked with a one-one laptop program.  It only makes me wonder what changes will occur over the next few years.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dog walking ...

One of my worries about working full time was what to do with Abbey, knowing that both C and I would be away from home for 9-10 hours each day.  Mum told me about a dog walking service in Melbourne that her friend uses so I set out to find a similar service in Calgary and was amazed at the options that are available to dog owners everything from 'puppy pee break' services to dog walking and even doggy daycare.  The service we ended up choosing is called All Paws In, a local dog walking service.  Four days a week (our neighbour looks after Abbey one day a week), Ryan comes to our house in the middle of the day, picks up Abbey and whisks her, along with about 8 other dogs, off to a local off-leash park for an hour long walk.  Upon return, he gives her a treat bone I've left and leaves us a little note telling us the time Abbey was out (normally about 2.5 hours in total), where they went, whether or not she relieved herself and a little note about her adventures (my favourite so far has been Abbey played like crazy today!)  

Abbey on her walk with All Paws In (photo by Ryan of All Paws In)
It is a terrific service and gives me peace of mind knowing that Abbey is having fun and not bored at home, destroying our furniture!  In the evenings, she is often too tired for a another big walk but always keen for a cuddle and a play.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The first paddling adventure ...

The weather was so stunning in Calgary yesterday that I decided it was time for Abbey's first water adventure.  Since it was too hot and too far for her little legs to carry her, I strapped her into her bike basket and off to the Bow river we headed.  Once we came across a shallow area with no raging waters, we went wading into the freezing cold mountain water.  After a small moment of apprehension, Abbey jumped into the water and had a ball.  Following some play time, we headed into busy Prince's Island Park for a stroll amongst the sun-loving crowds.

View from our paddling spot

First taste of the mountain waters

Prince's Island Park

Beautiful island trees

The waterway between the park and the 'mainland'

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Two weeks in ...

There has been a considerable lack of blogging on my part over the past two weeks.  It's been over two years since I've really worked full time so my body and brain are taking some adjusting to getting back into the daily grind of leaving home early and not returning until late-ish.  It's been tough.  Especially when you throw a puppy, half marathon training and a thesis into the mix!  But, I'm loving every minute of it.  I knew that I missed the classroom but didn't realise just how much.  I love the interactions with the kids and the planning for their needs.  Even more, I'm loving the interactions with other teachers.  That was one of the things I really missed in my last job, just having other adults to chat to during the day and share ideas with.  All the staff have been so welcoming and it's so great to be on a team where everyone enjoys figuring out new ways to work with the kids and improve the teaching/learning process.  Coming into a new classroom this late in the year (only 6 weeks of school to go!) was always going to be a challenge but it hasn't been as stressful as I thought it would be.  It certainly doesn't feel like I have only been with my Grade 5 class for two weeks, they are a great group of kids and have been so helpful to me ("Miss Davidson, you forgot to _______!" is a routine call!)  We're off on camp this week which will be a great way to get to know the kids a little better before I say goodbye to them and they head off to Grade 6!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

'The Hunter' and some homesickness ...

At the end of last year, a friend of mine told me about the movie, 'The Hunter', and said that I must see it for the Tasmanian scenery is stunning.  Alas, by the time I arrived in Australia and looked for the movie, it had finished its screening.  I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to wait for it to come out on DVD, purchase it and watch it in Canada.  So you can imagine my surprise (and squeal of excitement) when C read out 'The Hunter' as he was browsing Calgary's movie selection hoping for a good Friday night movie to go see.  It began 10 minutes after we'd found it so we hightailed it down to the cinema (the Globe on 8th if you're in Calgary) to catch it. 

The movie was amazing.  The storyline was a little slow at times but I could have watched it for hours, just soaking up the wonderful cinematography of the Tasmanian wilderness.  I particularly loved the wide-sweeping shots of the Tasmanian button grass, my favourite plant!  Throughout the movie, I had pangs of homesickness - for my family and for Tasmania.  The whole idea of hunting for the Tasmanian tiger was a little cheesy but the acting and the scenery were simply spectacular. 

For those who don't know what button grass is, here's a picture ... isn't it just lovely?

If you're a CanAussie in Canada and want a taste of home, check it out at the cinema and if you're in Australia and want to see some of Tasmania's finest scenery, check out 'The Hunter' on DVD!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

First running event in a while ...

On Sunday, I participated in the first running event of my spring/summer running schedule.  It was the first running race I've run since I ran a 14km event in Hangzhou, China, back in 2009.  It was held in downtown Calgary, a 10km out and back course along the Bow river.  Being so close, my warm up was the bike ride to the event.  It was a smallish event, with just about 200 people running the 10km race and a few more running the 5km race.  The week before, I'd been reading in magazines and on blogs about the importance of sticking to your race plan which is a tricky thing to do when everyone seems to bolt out of the gates as soon as the gun goes off.  It is very tempting to take off with everyone else but I know only too well that demoralising feeling that comes when you get overtaken later in the race.  It's much better to start slow and then be the one doing the overtaking later towards the end.  Which is exactly what I did.  I still started out a little fast (having the Garmin GPS is amazing because you can see exactly how fast you are running) but managed to maintain that pace and overtake lots of people on the returning 5km.  The fastest I've ever run 10km is 58 minutes, but with the competitive atmosphere, I figured that I could run the race in about 55 minutes.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line in just over 51 minutes!  Sixth female in the whole race and second in my age group.  Wow!  I was absolutely stoked and am still on a high, two days later.  More 10km races, here I come!