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Diefenbaker Elementary students James Wang, 12 (black hoodie) and William Huo, 11 (yellow hoodie) employ their math skills as they learn basic coding skills to control the Sphero. (photo credit Lauren Kramer)
Richmond Kids LEARN TO CODE with Sphero By Lauren Kramer
A series of robots the size of tennis balls are circulating through the Richmond School District’s elementary and high schools, teaching students about computer programming and the coding behind the technology so widely used today.
“It’s a really neat thing to watch kids learn to do this, and they catch on to it incredibly quickly,” he said. “It’s empowering for them to program it with a code and realize that they’re able to control a sphero or a robot, with the coding they’ve done.”
Sphero, the little robotic, is controlled by block-based coding written by students on an iPad app called Tickle, and Chris Loat, the district’s teacher consultant for technology integration, is loving the children’s reactions.
Many students in the district from Grade 1 up to Grade 9 are being exposed to Sphero, an open-ended app whose task complexity changes depending on the age of the kids using it. While they’re learning about repeat statements and writing coding functions, they’re also developing their soft skills, Loat said. “What I really
Chairperson’s message............. 3 Career Programs....................... 4 Energy Awareness..................... 5
Volleyball Tournament............... 6 First Nations Learning.............. 7 The Alberta Field Trip................ 9
like about this program is that they’re learning skills like cooperation, critical thinking and problem solving, too.” In the process, they’re writing codes that will make the Sphero move in different directions, navigate along a specific path, change colours, change directions or hop up and down. Students write the code depending on the challenge presented to them, engaging problem solving and trial and error along the way.
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Cross Country Fun Run........... 10
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A Message from the Chairperson On behalf of the Richmond Board of Education, I am proud to present our latest edition of EdCom to our students, parents and community. These stories are about our district and about the dedicated people that make a difference each day. EdCom is a valuable platform on which we can deliver stories about success, perseverance, dedication and teamwork while providing an opportunity for our schools, staff and students to share and celebrate their accomplishments. Countless hours are committed behind the scenes to accomplish so much and often times this dedication goes unrecognized. I am excited that we have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on a few of these individuals and recognize them for their great work. It is essential to note that EdCom is produced at no cost to the Richmond School District and the commercial advertising in this publication does not imply endorsement by our District. I hope that you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did. Sincerely, Debbie Tablotney Chairperson, Richmond Board of Education
Diefenbaker Elementary students Noreen Chan and Mandale Sin, both 12, learn how to use coding to manipulate the sphero. Credit: Lauren Kramer ‹ from page 1
Block-based coding was specially designed for kids to learn basic coding skills, Loat explained. “It’s not the hard coding people in the real world are doing. It teaches them the process of coding and a little about the computer programming and coding behind all the technology our society uses.” The school district has around 60 spheros, all of them introduced in September 2016. Loat will be spending three weeks per school and will visit at least half of the schools in the district over the course of the school year. “The kids will have several opportunities to work with the spheros during that time,” he said. “First we’ll introduce it to them so they can learn how the block-based coding app works – basically, it’s like putting puzzle pieces together. After that, we’ll provide challenges for them to accomplish in teams or pairs.”
Apprenticeship CAREER PROGRAMS Give Richmond Students a JUMPSTART By Lauren Kramer
If there’s one thing Jessica Regan wants to communicate to Richmond’s high school student population, it’s that there are a lot of trades looking for young apprentices.
the student’s school and work schedule. Those who qualify, get 16 high school credits (the equivalent of four high school classes) and register their hours with the ITA.
“Almost all of the 113 trades are in demand, but with some of them you can walk onto the jobsite tomorrow,” said the secondary school apprenticeship facilitator.
Brighter Mechanical, a Richmond plumbing company, has been actively taking on apprentices over the past two years.
Every trade requires a specific number of work hours and training before a new hire can obtain certification. With the Accelerated Enrollment in Industry Training (ACE IT) program, students age 15 through 19 can get a jumpstart on that process by getting high school credits for their trade work, as well as hours towards apprenticeship certification in the particular trade of their choice. As well, participating students who complete 900 hours by an age cut-off date qualify for a $1,000 award from the Industry Trading Authority (ITA), the governing body regulating trade certification.
“Last year we had three students with them who received the ITA award, and this year we have an additional two,” Regan said. “They’re a fantastic company that believes in giving young people a chance, mentoring young Richmond students and giving them employment.”
The Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) program is available to students who already have paid work in the trades, Regan explained.
“We bring on young students and like to train them the Brighter way,” he said, adding that salaries for new hires start at $13 per hour, and there’s immediate participation in the company’s benefits, incentives and bonuses.
“You can’t just be volunteering – you have to have a certified trade employer paying the student.” Regan liaisons between the employer, ITA, and the Richmond School District to register students for the SSA program, which is delivered through Richmond Virtual School and is designed to be flexible to fit
Ian Schutz, manager of crew development for Brighter Mechanical, said the company is always looking for people who are accountable, work well in a team and take pride in what they do.
“Participating in the program has been a fantastic experience for us and we’re really happy with the progress of the five students we’ve taken on. We hope they’ll go through their whole apprenticeship with us and continue on with us after that, too.”
ENERGY AWARENESS Programs Boost SUSTAINABILITY at Richmond Schools By Lauren Kramer
When the Natural Club at McMath heard about the Richmond School District’s Energy Cup Competition last year, the group of 30 students was determined to win. After all, their club was all about sustainability and making a difference to the planet. They got to work putting up announcements reminding students and staff to power out, encouraging those who noticed power wastage in the school to report it, and creating a program for an Earth Week at the school. That program included Walk to School Wednesday, Meatless Monday and other initiatives, putting McMath in first place for the school district’s Energy Cup. “Students are competitive and they wanted to let the district and other schools know about the excellent activities and sustainability leadership happening at our school,” said Andrea Phillpotts, a teacher at the school who oversaw the club’s activities. “The contest asked us to post evidence on a daily basis and showed who was winning the challenge through a website with race car graphics. The gorgeous homemade trophy we won is an inspiration to keep on being sustainable throughout the year.” The Richmond School District’s Energy Engagement Program is four years old and includes projects like Lights Out Lunches and Burr Day, held annually in February, when students are encouraged to bundle
up and think about energy conservation in their schools. The friendly Energy Cup competitions help engage students in these and other activities, and this year Hamilton elementary was the recipient of the elementary schools’ Energy Showdown. Prizes like water bottle filling stations, field trips to Science World and DreamRider Theatre tickets have helped motivate students to participate and the Energy Engagement Program has produced some significant results. Energy Shutdowns, where the schools are encouraged to unplug and shut down lights and other electronic devices over winter and spring breaks, save the district $26,000 over winter break and $20,000 over spring break. Thirty-three Richmond schools participated in the seven energy engagement campaigns held in the 2015-2016 school year and the district paid out $22,800 in eco-wise grants to various schools. Feedback from the students indicated that Dining in the Dark was the most popular of the energy saving campaigns and
identified waste/recycling and active transportation as goals for future campaigns. And over a two-week period, the Energy Cup challenge alone resulted in a four percent energy savings. At McMath, one of the long-term changes generated by the Energy Cup was putting in a work order to have the gym lights repaired. “The lights were designed to shut off if a motion detector sensed the gym was unoccupied,” said Phillpotts. “A PE teacher noticed this energy saving detector was broken and that energy was being wasted. The repair saves energy to this day!”
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190 - 7000 Minoru Blvd. Richmond, BC V6Y 3Z5 604-279-7020 | rcrg.org
Registration Information About the Christmas Fund
What Do I Need to Bring?
The Richmond Christmas Fund is a non-religious, non-discriminatory program operated by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. We provide assistance to low-income individuals and families living in Richmond, BC, who do not have the financial means to celebrate the holidays.
All applicants must bring the following:
What Will I Receive? The Christmas Fund provides eligible individuals and families with grocery gift certificates, up to a maximum of four per household (while daily supplies last). Families with children 12 and under may also choose gifts for their children from our Toy Room. Teenagers aged 13 to 17 receive gift cards.
Registration and Toy Pick-Up Dates
Picture ID for yourself CareCards for all family members being registered Proof of Richmond residency, such as a hydro bill, rent receipt,
driver’s license, or BCID An original document that proves you are currently enrolled in
at least one of the following government income assistance programs: BC Child Care Subsidy • BC Housing Rental Assistance Program BC Disability Assistance • Guaranteed Income Supplement BC Employment and Assistance • Shelter AID for Elderly Renters BC Family Bonus • City of Richmond Recreation Fee Subsidy
Christmas Fund registration is held at the Richmond Caring Place, 7000 Minoru Boulevard. The building opens at 8:00am.
You will not qualify without the required documentation.
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VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT Engages Elementary Students By Lauren Kramer
This year marks the sixth year that the Richmond School District has held its City Centre Classic Volleyball Tournament, a single-day event in midNovember in which some 500 elementary students participated last year. This year’s event will take place on two campuses: MacNeill and Steveston-London, with Grade 6 and 7 co-ed teams drawn from as many as 26 local elementary schools. “The purpose of our tournament is to use volleyball as a means to connect and celebrate various members of our community – students, parents, educators and community partners,” said Raymond Yoo, a Homma elementary teacher and one of the tournament organizers. “Students benefit from the tournament by engaging in social opportunities, by positive influence from high school leaders and coaches, by building relationships with community partners and by receiving support from family members in a fun, physically active sporting environment.” Yoo is hoping to secure the participation of the RCMP and Fire Rescue in the final match, where mixed teams help engage the players and build support. “Their participation is valuable because the kids look up to them as role models,” he said.
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Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable item for donation to the Richmond Food Bank and revenue from the concessions at all three sites will be donated to three charities. “The parents and administrative assistants who run the concessions get to decide which charities, but our only request is that the organizations represent local, national and international charities,” Yoo explained. Last year the Richmond Food Bank, Richmond Animal Protection Society, Red Cross, and Plan International were the recipients of the revenue.
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That the tournament has been a success is evident in its growth over the years. Originally six schools came together in the tournament’s first year, but last year there were 26 schools and 56 teams. Yoo has worked closely with MacNeill athletic director Herj Ghaug and Steveston-London athletic director Roxie Lewin to take care of scheduling, planning and logistics for the tournament. But he gives most of the credit to the work of volunteers. “They are the only reason the tournament is so successful – the behind-the-scenes work of the coaches, high school leaders, athletic directors, parents and community partners,” he said.
First Nations LEARNING When the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology unveiled its exhibit The City Before the City in collaboration with the Musqueam First Nation, a teaching kit was a key part of extending the exhibit. The exhibit had taken three years to research and assemble, and that teaching kit was an invaluable insurance policy that even after the exhibit was over, the knowledge the Musqueam had shared would continue to be available to teachers and their students. The cross-curricular kit designed for Kindergarten through Grade 12 students entered into circulation in September. It’s now available to teachers in the Richmond School District via loan from MOA, and the teaching resource will soon be available online. “What distinguishes this material is the fact that it was created by the Musqueam community using their voices and their history,” said Jill Baird curator of education at MOA. “We saw that material like this was lacking, it didn’t exist. So we’ve come up with something new, something inventive.”
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First Nations LEARNING ..cont
Among a rich array of hands-on activities, the kit contains belongings – as opposed to artifacts -- made by community members and teaches students the relevance of ancient technology in the 20th century. Of great significance, the kit contains materials that will also expose students and teachers to the language of Musqueam. Baird and her team have been demonstrating parts of the teaching kit to teachers during professional development days. One of its most popular components is a timeline that unrolls to give students an idea of what 10,000 years looks like. “It comes with timeline cards and the goal is that students arrange those cards chronologically, identify the important dates and clip the cards onto the timeline,” Baird explained. “To unroll that timeline you have to get out of the classroom, and maybe even out of the school. It’s a great visual asset that quickly communicates how long the Musqueam have been on this land.” While there have been other First Nations teaching kits in the past, this is the first one that extensively involved voices from the Musqueam community, said Lynn Wainright, a teacher consultant specializing in indigenous education. After learning about the Musqueam Teaching Kit at UBC in the Spring, Wainright helped introduce it to Richmond teachers.
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“I thought it was tremendous, and I knew we had to get this into the hands of teachers in the district. With this kit, teachers will be using an authentic resource and children will be learning directly from local indigenous people, as opposed to learning about them,” she said. There are three hard copy versions of the Musqueam Teaching Kit available to date and an online version will be released imminently. How much of it teachers use will be at their discretion, Wainright said, “but it’s a really excellent fit for our new curriculum. I’ll work with teachers in January to pilot and document some of the lessons, and share it with other teachers so they will know how it can be used.” Baird and her team went to great efforts to ensure the kit would not become quickly outdated and hope it will be in circulation for ten years.
Errington Students Take an ALBERTA FIELD TRIP By Lauren Kramer
It’s one thing to learn about dinosaurs and indigenous history in the classroom. But head out into the field, and the learning takes on a whole new dimension. That’s what the two Grade 6 and 7 classes at Errington elementary discovered in September when they embarked on their Alberta Experience. Flying into Calgary, they spent four days touring a series of sites including Heads Smashed in Buffalo Jump, the Badlands, Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, the Glenbow Museum and the Calgary Zoo. “The kids absolutely loved it,” said Ann Tolley, a teacher at Errington Elementary. “We’ve got a student population whose families do a lot of international travel, but a lot of the children hadn’t seen other parts of Canada, and the learning they experienced was incredible.” During their time in Alberta the students participated in workshops, handled fossils, toured live archaeological digs and bonded with their classmates and teachers. “The families of the interpreters we met at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump participated in the film we saw and they could answer any question the kids asked,” she continued. Benson Ni, an 11-year-old student in Grade 7, was cont. on › page 10 awed by the site.
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“We met an actual Blackfoot tribe member, and learned how to hunt like a Blackfoot, what tools they used and how they made clothing. It was great,” he said. This was also the trip highlight for his classmate Kaitlin Ng, 12. “You get to see the artifacts, learn how the Blackfoot tribe hunted buffalo and learn about the buffalo,” she said. “It was fun going with my friends.” Isabella Wong, another Grade 7 student, loved the Royal Tyrrell Museum. “I’d never been to a dinosaur museum before and it was cool looking at the fossils and dinosaur bones,” she said. “I learned that dinosaurs have been extinct for a really long time.” The Alberta trips were designed around the new B.C. curriculum’s emphasis on learning through real-world situations and hands-on experience.
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Students learned about evolution, natural selection, extinction, the scientific process using fossil records and geological dating, the earth changing over time, human interaction with the environment and aboriginal perspectives.
The annual Richmond Elementary Schools Cross-Country Fun Run
A photo finish at the annual Richmond Elementary Schools Cross-Country Fun Run was exactly what Teagan Ng, Lianna Holz and Lexy Shury had planned for.
The standout runners put their friendship first when the 1.3 kilometre Grade 7 girls race took place on Oct. 12 at Minoru Park.
After years of competing against other and taking turns atop of the podium, the trio decided to cross the finish line simultaneously and share first place honours. And yes, they are that good to determine exactly how the race would conclude.
“We have been going back and forth for first and second place for a long time,” smiled Ng, a student at Dixon Elementary. “(Lianna) has probably come first more than me but I have as well for a couple of times too. So we decided to tie this year. It makes us feel good rather than coming first, second and third.”
Ng and Holz had plotted out their strategy in the days leading up to the race.
“We think friends are more important,” explained Holz, who attends Thompson Elementary. “It creates good memories and that’s why we wanted to do it.”
All three will eventually receive first place ribbons after (left to right) Lianna Holz, Lexy Shury and Teagan Ng decided to share top honours in their final race at the annual Richmond Elementary Schools Cross-Country Fun Run.
Teagan Ng, Lianna Holz and Lexy Shury reach the finish line together in the Grade 7 girls race.
What the girls weren’t initially counting on was Shury joining them. The Westward Elementary student battled her way through traffic in the Minoru trails to join her two friends. All play on the same Richmond Strikers U13 Metro soccer team.
The only one else aware of the girls’ intentions was Ng’s mom Carrie who happened to be a volunteer that day. She informed Dixon teacher/coach Lee Hunter what they had planned. “At the time, I only knew about Teagan and Lianna. I just wanted him to know they were crossing the finish line together.”
“Lots of people were pushing me around, especially when we were in the trees because it’s such a narrow path,” laughed Shury. “I was just trying to keep up with them because I knew they were going to tie.”
Hunter, who was honoured earlier this year by the Richmond Sports Council for over two decades of volunteer work supporting athletics in local elementary schools, marvelled at how these girls had put their friendships ahead of personal glory.
“It was mid-run when we told her about our plan,” added Ng. “We asked Lexy if she wanted to tie and do this dance (as we crossed the finish line) that me and Lianna had made up.”
“All three are very talented athletes and this was the way they wanted their final race to end,” said Hunter. “One of the goals we tell our students to strive for is ‘compassionate competition.’ That’s what these girls went out and did.”
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EdCom News October 2016