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Sunday, August 15, 2010 - North Shore News - A19

page 20

Get organized. page 23

Fight the summer slide. page 24

Technology in the classroom.

get ready

A special section of the

for back to school







istoric Proportion

Win Tickets to “Walking with the Dinosaurs” Run, don’t walk into Capilano Mall and enter to WIN tickets to the 7pm “Walking with the Dinosaurs” show on Friday, August 27 at Rogers Arena. Enter at the Lottery/Information Centre. No purchase necessary. One entry per person. Contest closes 6 pm, August 26, 2010.

A20 - North Shore News - Sunday, August 15, 2010

back to school

Organization: a learned skill Go for gold and join the Cypress Ski Club!

Ski programs for all ages 6 and up! 12 week programs starting Jan. 9, 2011 Register at for further information contact Paul Hothersall, Program Director 778-227-5547 |

SO you’ve finally settled into a workable summertime routine with the kids and everything is about to change again. In just a few weeks, the kids head back to class, and that means back to morning chaos, homework disorganization, and dealing with massive amounts of information between school and home. Amy Morris is a single mom of two teenagers and founder of She says being organized is a learned skill that is developed over time. With guidance and practice, kids can develop an effective approach to becoming organized. Here are a few of her tips. Five Ways To Keep Kids Organized ■ Hub of the House — Create a central location to hang a bulletin board that will hold important school and family information. Teach kids to update the calendar upon receiving new information and get in the habit of checking it the night before for the following day’s activities so that they can prepare in advance.

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organized parent sets a good example. Morris’s website stores, in a unique, simplified, and easy to use format, important family information: school schedules and extracurricular activities, social and sport information, and medical, just to name a few, and it is all available in a central location that can be accessed anytime and anywhere, from any computer, iPad, or smart phone.

an organized manner. It will be crucial to them at exam time, especially if midterm and end of year final exams are inclusive of all the material covered to date. Organization is an excellent opportunity for kids to gain self-confidence and independence and not lose their sanity or you, yours. is a comprehensive website created by a mom for moms, dads, children, caregivers, grandparents and families to organize and keep track of emergency data, medical records, school information, activity schedules and more. The website enables smart planning and keeps track of all the important pieces of information in one accessible place. Forget burgeoning bulletin boards, refrigerator door disasters and nasty desk messes. Versatility of use and access anywhere are key. Practical examples of the desirability — even the necessity — of having instant access electronically to your family’s information include needing to supply data to a medical office or a drug store while at their facility. Just connect and look up whatever you need using your Blackberry, iPhone , iPod Touch, iPad or any electronic device that allows Internet access.

■ Organize Backpacks — A backpack is your child’s personal assistant. Teach them how to keep it neatly organized by only filling them with necessary school day items and keeping out unnecessary loose papers, non-school items and liquids. ■ Make Lists — Teaching kids to make and prioritize lists will provide them with a greater sense of accomplishment. As they complete items and their lists become smaller, they will feel more productive and will have a greater sense of satisfaction in themselves. Kids will take ownership of their tasks, shape their own time and gain greater independence. ■ Student File Storage — Teach your kids to sort and effectively file school papers in


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Sunday, August 15, 2010 - North Shore News - A21

back to school





photo submitted

THE Gaba gang hits the stage at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Sept. 11 and 12, for Yo Gaba Gaba!: There’s a Party in My City!

It’s time for Yo Gabba Gabba! FRESH off a headlining performance at The White House, a charttopping album, and an appearance at Coachella that garnered rave reviews, DJ Lance Rock and the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba! are heading back on the road. Yo Gabba Gabba Live!: There’s a Party in My City! hits the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 11 and 12. Yo Gabba Gabba!, the TV show, premiered in the U.S. on Nickelodeon in August, 2007 and currently ranks as one of

the most popular children series on television. It infuses retrostyle and beat-driven music to teach simple life lessons through music. The series stars DJ Lance Rock (Lance Robertson) and a cast of colorful characters, including: Brobee, the little green one; Foofa, the pink flower bubble; Muno, the red Cyclops; Toodee, the blue catdragon and Plex, the yellow robot. A-list names in movies, television, music and sports have guest starred in the groundbreaking show, including Jack Black, Rachel Dratch, Melora Hardin, Tony Hawk, Biz Markie, Jack McBrayer, MGMT, Mark Mothersbaugh,

The Roots, Andy Samberg, Amy Sedaris, The Shins, Amare Stoudemire, The Ting Tings, Jimmy Eat World and Elijah Wood, among others. The show hits the road with a state-of-the-art production featuring music, singing, dancing and animation. It’s an interactive experience that offers audience members of all ages the opportunity to witness their favorite characters come to life. Joining the characters on stage will be hip-hop legend Biz Markie to teach kids how to beat box with “Biz’s Beat of the Day.” Special guests will join the party on stage for the Super Music Friends Show and Dancey Dance segments.

While in town, the Gabba Gang will partner with Child Find to further their efforts to bring home missing children in Vancouver. In addition, $1 from every ticket sold for Yo Gabba Gabba Live!: There’s a Party in My City! in Vancouver will be donated to the local Child Find affiliate. Yo Gabba Gabba! performs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Saturday, Sept. 11 and Sunday, Sept. 12. Tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster. Want to win tickets? Send your name and contact information to dlancaster@, for your chance to win tickets to Yo Gabba Gabba Live!: There’s a Party in My City!








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A22 - North Shore News - Sunday, August 15, 2010

back to school

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Go green when going back IT takes a lot of textbooks, paper and pencils to make good grades. There isn’t just more homework in September, there’s more waste, too. This September, teach your kids an important lesson about reducing their environmental impact. Jodi Helmer, author of The Green Year, suggests these tips for making the return to school more eco-friendly: ■ Buy recycled school supplies: Stock the kids’ backpacks with notebooks, binders, paper and printer cartridges made from recycled materials. Choose school supplies with as little packaging as possible (30 per cent of the waste in our landfills comes from product packaging) and buy in bulk, if possible. Go through last year’s school supplies to see which items can be used again this year ■ Shop for back-to-school clothes online: Letting your fingers do the shopping is better for the environment. On average, e-commerce warehouses use 1 ⁄16 the energy of a bricks-andmortar store. Each minute spent driving to the mall uses 20 times more energy than a minute spent shopping online. Instead of driving to

the mall, fill your virtual shopping cart with back-to-school clothes ■ Pack a waste-free lunch: Over 10 billion yogurt cups and 3.6 billion drink pouches end up in the landfill every year. Try packing a waste-free lunch. Seal sandwiches in reusable containers, fill a thermos with soup and pack it all in a reusable lunch bag. ■ Talk about green options for back-toschool transportation: You can have a huge impact on the environment if you use public transportation or arrange a carpool. Depending on how far it is to school, you might want to consider letting your kids ride their bikes or skateboards. A walking buddy is also a good option, especially if you can pair younger kids with an older student at the same school. The Green Year provides 365 simple and inexpensive eco-friendly ideas for each day of the year. Organized by date, the green living tips suggest small changes and environmentally friendly ideas that make a big green impact. The Green Year is more than a calendar. It offers practical, affordable and engaging activities that help make going green a blessing rather than a burden.


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Sunday, August 15, 2010 - North Shore News - A23

back to school

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Fighting the summer slide How to remember lessons longer

WHEN students take their seats in class starting in September, the first three weeks will be just to review everything they’ve forgotten over summer.

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STUDENTS Celina Correia and Ryan Shokravi learn math and language skills from Christina Hagg at the Oxford Learning Centre on Lonsdale. starts. That will help address some anxiety students might have about returning, she said, as well as prepare them so the

transition back to school is a lot easier. She said there’s lots of students who come in for tutoring in August just for that.

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But with better studying, Grade 1 and fourth-yearuniversity students alike can remember more of what they learn the first time, say experts. For that, it helps to understand how memory works, said John Nesbit, an educational psychology instructor at Simon Fraser University. “Within a day, much of what you learned within the previous day is already gone,” he said. “As time goes forward, the amount of loss decreases, the rate of forgetting slows down.” The best way to combat that, said Nesbit, is to review material a day after you learn it, not before a test. Then, as time goes on, review it less often, exactly the opposite of what many of his own students do. It also helps when students actively think about what they’re reading. That can involve writing a summary of a chapter on a book, or just asking questions or thinking

critically of whatever the subject is. If there’s one thing parents can do, said Nesbit, it’s talk to their kids about what they learn at school, so they are forced to review it the same day and think about it critically. “When I say talk to them, really ask them. Have a conversation about it — not just what they learned in school today, but try to get into the topic more and have the child explain what they know,” he said. Not always easy, admitted Nesbit. Telsey Shroff, centre director at the Oxford Learning Centre in North Vancouver, agreed that it’s always best to start homework the day it’s assigned, when everything is fresh in the mind. She also suggested students develop a specific time they do homework every day and schedule their homework and test studying plans. “Then it becomes a habit, you’re not distracted by T.V. shows or a game coming up,” she said, adding good organization can make studying a lot less painful. Still, even the best students will forget a lot of their homework during the summer, and she said now is a good time to start reviewing old material before school

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A24 - North Shore News - Sunday, August 15, 2010

back to school

The upside of technology in the classroom Jennifer Luther

MORE and more people are walking around with personal electronic devices in hand, and for educators, this could either be a very good or a very bad thing. The advantages of the growing technological field are numerous, and these can extend directly into the classroom, according to Simon Fraser University assistant professor of education Alyssa Wise. “I certainly think that there are really good, educationallyvaluable ways to engage with both laptops and the Internet.” Educators on the North Shore have been trying to keep up with technological changes for years by teaching children how to type and produce spreadsheets, among

other things. More recently, both the North and West Vancouver School Districts have been revising policies and guidelines to reflect the changing educational environment. “We are clearly in a state of transition,” says Chris Kennedy, deputy superintendent at the West Vancouver School District, in an email, “More and more students are bringing their personally owned devices (PODs) to school to support their learning.” The board has invested in a secure wireless network that will allow students to log in using their own devices, to meet with the rise, said Kennedy. “It is likely that within a couple years that all students will either have their own device or one supplied by the school in grades 4-12 . . . These devices might be iPhones or BlackBerrys, or they may be laptops or iPads, or something that we haven’t yet envisioned.

What we are trying to do is create a network, so regardless of the tools students bring they can access content and learning opportunities.” Wise cites laptop simulations as a potential way that teachers could make effective use of personal devices, for example in the sciences where students can have a hard time understanding abstract laws and concepts. Laptops can also be used to access online student communities, create virtual fieldtrips, and communicate directly with experts in particular fields of study, according to the professor. Even cellphones, notorious classroom distractions, can be used to assist students, “Some of the newer phones can actually do quite a bit of things,” Wise says. “I’ve seen teachers use them for data collection, so students are going and looking for plants in a biology class, and they’re taking notes with their mobile device which is not as unwieldy as bringing out a computer, and they’re able to just jot down measurements which they can then share with the class as a whole later.” On the other hand, recent studies have shown that PODs can pose problems in the focused atmosphere of a classroom. One study in particular, published by Cornell University’s Human-

Computer Interaction Group, found that longer web browsing sessions during class tended to lead to lower grades. A related study found that email and instant messaging were among the primary uses of the laptops by students. But when network access was limited to force focus on instructor-recommended content, productivity was boosted. These findings could point to a need to rein in the use of personal computers in the classroom. Internet capabilities on PODs (as well as other features such as video chat), could provide a myriad of ways for students to distract themselves and others. The NVSD lists on its website that interfering with the learning of others is unacceptable. Personal laptop use is not specifically addressed in district policies, but the potential for students to surf the internet during class time could not only cause the owner to lose focus, but also the children sitting nearby who can see the screen. Teachers in the NVSD are the primary decision-makers, according to policy, about what kinds of technology are permissible in class. Under the NVSD’s guidelines: “Classroom teachers may prohibit, restrict or regulate See Students page 25

NEWS file photo

IF students are restricted to using their laptops, personally owned devices, iPads and other technology for course work, rather than for surfing the net and instant messaging, studies have shown the technology is helpful.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010 - North Shore News - A25

back to school

Sibling scraps eased by team comaraderie Terry Peters

FROM the top of the heap to the bottom in one school year. That is how the transition from elementary school to high school felt. I had enjoyed three years of roaming the halls of General Crerar elementary school without the harassment of my two older brothers but that was over. I was going to be joining them in high school. As if the dodging of sibling attacks wasn’t hard enough at home, now I would have to be on guard for it in the hallways of school as well. I’m not such a revisionist that I would deny I prompted many of the brotherly battles around the house but at least there I could count on my parents stepping in to break up the fight. Things would be different at Winston Churchill high school, and I knew it. Like most teenage boys I seemed to be in a constant state of growth. Shirt sleeves were

always creeping up my arms and shoes would go from too loose to too tight in a month. Being the youngest of three boys meant my wardrobe mainly consisted of what they had passed along. Those handed down clothes would make me that much easier to spot. As the summer ended and school loomed ever closer my apprehension grew. My brothers were less than helpful with the transition and like most other new students I struggled to find my classrooms, forgot my locker combination and was intimidated about finding a place to sit in the cafeteria. But then a strange thing happened. My steadily increasing body mass prompted a suggestion that I try out for the junior football team. Somewhat fearfully I donned my gym strip and showed up for practice. Amid a group of equally uncoordinated tryouts I surprisingly stood out and made the team. Suddenly I had a new alliance with my brothers who both played for the school as well. A common language of tackling

Students and teachers find solutions together From page 24 use of personally-owned devices.� Handsworth secondary school in North Vancouver exemplifies a type of adjustment that schools are making in order to help teachers clearly define user guidelines. The school’s website lists policies about devices such as cell phones, and specifically addresses the use of technology during testing. Though enforcement of school policies might seem like the best way to guarantee attentiveness, Wise offers a more practical approach. “The problem with students being distracted and looking at things other than what is trying to be taught unfortunately is not limited just to technology; if you have a laptop that has the Internet on it, obviously you’ve got a lot more options to distract yourself. “But a lot of times where that’s coming from is that the students aren’t engaged with what’s going on in the first place . . . You certainly can restrict use of laptops I suppose, but at the same time, if lots of students are bringing them in, it might be more useful to think about how you can engage students in interacting

with the technology in ways that would support learning.� The net effect of PODs in the classroom, it seems, is determined by the ability of teachers and students to properly make use of it.

and blitzing sparked unheard of camaraderie. The after-school practices lead to occasional walks home together and the double-header games were shared moments. By the end of the football season we were fighting less and talking more. Before I knew it I discovered that we could actually get along and started to benefit from the advice they could give me. The stigma of high school now behind me, I embarked on a new experience of actually liking school and finding my own way through those challenging teen years with two role models close at hand.

photo submitted

TERRY, John and Allen Peters found friendship through football practice.



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A26 - North Shore News - Sunday, August 15, 2010

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Back to School #1_2010  
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Back to school on the North Shore