Page 1

may 2016

sd38.bc.ca & richmond-news.com


art swirls around Quilchena for 40th anniversary By Christopher Sun

Inspired by visiting some of Vancouver’s Biennale art projects, Richmond’s Quilchena Elementary school students have created their own permanently-installed public art to celebrate the school’s 40th anniversary. The word ‘biennale’ is an Italian word meaning every other year and is commonly used to describe a largescale art exhibition. Students from Grades 3 to 7 participated in Vancouver Biennale’s Big Ideas in-

Chairperson’s message............ 3 Art/Superintendent message .. 4 Coding........................................ 5

school program, which provided the school a financial grant and an artist to help them explore and create their own art pieces. “Identity, place and time was the overarching theme,” explained principal Janet Powell. “The kids started out by investigating their own families; how over time their own families came to Richmond. We then turned it to the school as we are celebrating our 40th anniversary

Science ................................. 6/7 Leadership ................................ 8 Math........................................... 9

this year.” After learning and sharing their findings about their families, students were asked what Quilchena Elementary school and its school nickname (the Cyclones) means to them. Their next assignment was to come up with images, sentences or phrases to show what they want a visitor to their school to know about

Circle........................................ 10 News........................................ 11

cont. on › page 4

E2 may 2016


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may 2016

richmond school board Trustees sandra nixon Trustee snixon@sd38.bc.ca

Jonathan ho Trustee jho@sd38.bc.ca

dr. eric yung Trustee eyung@sd38.bc.ca

mrs. debbie Tablotney chairperson dtablotney@sd38.bc.ca

Ken hamaguchi Trustee khamaguchi@sd38.bc.ca

alice wong Trustee awong@sd38.bc.ca

ms. donna sargent Vice chairperson dsargent@sd38.bc.ca

richmond school district no. 38 7811 Granville avenue richmond, bc V6y 3e3 Phone: 604.668.6000 Fax: 604.233.0150 sd38.bc.ca

edcom news: The educate and communicate newspaper is published by the richmond news on behalf of the Communications Department of the Richmond School District No. 38. edcom news us intended for the parents of the Richmond School District students and includes information on upcoming events, district projects and school based activities. edcom news is produced at no cost to the Richmond School District. Commercial advertising in the publication does not imply endorsement by the Richmond School District No. 38.

a message from the chairperson On behalf of the Richmond Board of Education, I am excited about this edition of EdCom. It is an opportunity to highlight the changes to our current curriculum and learning in the 21st century for students, parents and community members. Classrooms of today have and continue to change in many positive ways. Gone are the rows of desks, blackboards, chalk and brushes, out dated textbooks and the teacher at the head of the class sharing his or her knowledge. Today, classrooms are vibrant hubs of learning with students discussing and problem solving collectively while using technology among other tools to facilitate their learning. The teacher is actively engaged with the students, challenging them to seek and explore information they are curious about, while encouraging them to think critically and express themselves creatively. What a welcome change to the classrooms of bygone days when students were to hold their knowledge while raising their hand to give the answer the teacher was looking for. We are hoping you enjoy reading this publication and learning about the ways our classrooms are transforming to meet the needs of students in preparing for adulthood in this rapidly changing world.

For more information, or to provide feedback or article suggestions, contact David Sadler, Communications and Marketing Manager School District No. 38 at 604.668.6000 x3399 or dsadler@sd38.bc.ca. All stories written by Graeme Wood.


For information on advertising please contact: rob akimow, director of advertising richmond news 604.249.3340 or rakimow@richmond-news.com

debbie Tablotney Chairperson, Richmond Board of Education

200-8211 ackroyd road, richmond bc V6X 3K8 Phone: 604.270.8031 Fax: 604.270.2248 Publisher: Pierre Pelletier —ppelletier@richmond-news.com director of advertising: Rob akimow — rakimow@richmond-news.com editor: Eve Edmonds — eedmonds@richmond-news.com


E4 may 2016


‹ from page 1

them and their school. This then lead to how they can express that explanation in art and what it would look like. This is where their imaginations went a little wild, noted Powell.

Shaan. “Our message is that Quilchena Cyclones are united as a community that respects you as a friend. Grade 6 student Mariam and her partners created puzzle pieces as their design, explaining that like a puzzle piece, each person on earth is of a different shape, size and colour.

“They came up with some wonderful ideas that would cost millions of dollars,” Powell said with laughter. “The students were then told it had to be two dimensional, not three.” One of the ideas was a 25foot inukshuk, welcoming all who visit the school. The students then chose to express themselves by creating 60 pavers, with artwork created by students collaborating with each other. The pavers will be placed near the main entrance and the inukshuk will be represented in one of them. “We chose the symbol of two inukshuks holding the world,” said Grade 5 student

“Each piece, linking with a distinctive piece, is like everyone who is part of our community accepting others,” Mariam said. “As our community grows, the puzzle will seem like it is almost completed, but really, it feels as if this puzzle representing Quilchena community is never ending because whoever comes along on our journey building the puzzle is always welcome to join.” Having over half the entire school participate in this project is an example of Quilchena Elementary

school’s educators embracing the new educational curriculum’s applied design section, which includes researching and creating. “The process has been extremely powerful as students have done personal reflections and participated in group discussions to try to put into symbols and words what our school means to them,” Powell said. “They drew, sculpted and collaged to make mock-ups of their designs. Students have developed their inquiry, communication and problem-solving skills in order to hone their ideas and agree on a design and message.” Quilchena Elementary school’s 40th anniversary celebration will be held on May 27th, which is when the pavers will be formally unveiled.



As a newcomer to the Richmond School District, I continue to be impressed by the variety of learning experiences that are made available to our students. Dedicated staff in our schools are working to prepare our students to be “future ready” for a world that will look very differently from today. In order to ensure that our children can participate meaningfully as global citizens in

We will continue to move ahead in the implementation of the new curriculum and the design of new ways of teaching and learning. There are already many examples of exciting new activities and lessons occurring across our district. Our teachers and administrators are demonstrating exemplary provincial leadership! It is an exciting time to be part of the transformation of education – we will continue to work together to ensure that Richmond students have the skills and experience they will need to be positive contributors in a dynamic world!

sherry elwood Superintendent of Schools



both workplaces and communities of the future, learning needs to look differently today! As a district, we will continue to focus on supporting all learners to be successful in tomorrow’s world.



superintendent’s message

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may 2016


The next LoGicaL step to LearninG By Christopher Sun

Brandon Sekhon and Anthony Irwin were a little anxious to learn coding when they started Grades 3 and 4 last September, but their apprehension disappeared when they found it to be child’s play.

commands, such as using the letter ‘L’ to go left and ‘F’ to go forward, the kids wrote commands on paper and then physically followed the commands on the carpet, to see if their coding made sense.

Last fall, Diefenbaker teacher Margaret Choinski decided to teach her Grades 3/4 class coding after attending a professional development day seminar on the subject. She wanted to find something challenging to teach her class that produced tangible results and coding fit the bill. But first, she had to put to rest any preconceived notions regarding what coding is.

“It’s very logical problem solving,” Choinski said. “It’s connecting real life math to school.”

“I thought it was going to be difficult,” Brandon said. “When Mrs. Choinski said we are going to learn coding, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we are coding a computer?’” “When I heard about it, I thought it was all about ones and zeros,” Anthony added. To show what coding is about, Choinski introduced the class to a grid carpet with letters, numbers, pictures and colours. After the students agreed on

The math component became even more apparent when the lesson went from the grid carpet to the computer. Students were introduced to a math coding game called Turtle Pond, where the objective is to get the turtle into the pond, within a set time. Grid marks can be removed and obstacles can be added in higher levels, requiring the use of angles to make the game more challenging. This introduces students to geometry and measurement.

Grade 3 student Brandon Sekhon, left, and Grade 4 student Anthony Irwin. ELL [English Language Learner] kids were able to quickly understand it and everybody got good at it.”

Some students found coding challenging as it takes patience and lots of trial and error, but others found it easy while others still enjoyed it so much they took further courses on coding at the Richmond Public Library.

The new provincial educational curriculum puts an emphasis on applying reading, writing and arithmetic to the real world, and coding fits into that perfectly, Choinski added, who has been teaching for 25 years.

“Everybody loved it,” Choinski said. “The

“There are lots of jobs that are computer


based,” Choinski said. “Knowing how they work is useful for everybody.” And while math is a huge component in coding, Brandon, who enjoys playing video games and is interested in designing them, didn’t even notice it. “I don’t think there is much math involved,” Brandon said. “It was just a lot of fun.”

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E6 may 2016


Liu goes for triple GoLd, chan on quest to conQUer cancer By Graeme Wood

On the top floor of his family’s townhouse is where Grade 12 Palmer secondary school student Ray Liu brainstorms his ideas, amidst a sea of electronic supplies and tools. As impressive as his science fair projects have been over the past few years, is his equally impressive mastering of the tools that help craft those inventions and innovations. “I never took electronics. I kind of grew past that,” said Liu, who is planning to attend the Canada-Wide Science Fair this month in Montreal, where he hopes to earn a third consecutive gold medal. He will be joined by one other Richmond student. “It may be a bit messy. All

my parents say is ‘don’t burn the house down,’” chuckled Liu, who does, in fact, keep a fire extinguisher next to his workbench, or rather his bed. Liu has innovated a standard 3D printer to make it more energy efficient and potentially easier to print products. His printer uses a composite material of solvent polymer and carbon fibre, which is stored as a liquid in a compartment but quickly hardens when it comes out of the nozzle. Standard 3D printers heat plastic and then spit out the product. “My printing process doesn’t use any heat,” said Liu. To boot, his products are stronger than normal 3D

printers. Liu had grown tired of printing too many things and overheating his original printer. “Because I use the composite material, there are no heating elements,” he said. One of the problems his new printer has is a lower resolution rate than regular printers. Liu said he’s examining evaporation rates of the solvent, which could allow him to reduce the nozzle size, thus increasing the resolution of printed products. Liu has already won eight regional science fair competitions on top of his two national gold medals. Last year he built a laser-based nonlethal weapon.

Ray Liu with his 2014 and 2015 national science fair medals. Liu, who professes to be “pretty good with computers,” has scored perfect grades in physics and math classes. He’s off to engineering school at the University of B.C. this September.

Burnett secondary school teacher Sam Jessa helped students get to the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair earlier this year, where Liu won his all-expenses paid trip to the national fair in Montreal.


may 2016

The regional science fair was a perfect opportunity to allow science-focused students to explore the new curriculum, noted Jessa.

Chan also won a trip to the national fair, joining Liu as the only two Richmond students at the exclusive event.

“With the new curriculum changing, I had the kids do their own inquiry,” said Jessa.

“I was really surprised because all the projects around me were excellent,” said Chan, who was supervised by Jessa after being one of her students in Grade 8.

So, whereas in the past a teacher may have directed students in a certain direction, Jessa allowed the students to choose their own projects so long as they demonstrated learning. “Students picked a problem around the world or a topic that’s of interest. Then they developed questions around the subject and found an innovation that will solve the problem,” said Jessa. One of Jessa’s former students at Burnett was Grade 11 student Vanessa Chan, who helped the BC Cancer Agency recognize genetic variants of longterm survivors of pancreatic cancer.


She was able to sequence hereditary pancreatic genes by analyzing tumour samples and comparing them to normal tissue. In working on the project, Chan was able to demonstrate all of the critical fundamentals of senior biology classes, however she also went above and beyond what was expected of her — exactly what the new curriculum is designed to do.

Burnett student Vanessa Chan, pictured here at her stand at the national science fair in Montreal in May, researched genetic variations in pancreatic cancer survivors for her award-winning project.

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E8 may 2016


students find their voice with new curriculum By Graeme Wood

ice-breaker games, a group cha cha slide, and, of course, a healthy lunch with cupcakes at the end.

Grade 10 Burnett secondary school student Kishoore Ramanathan is a leader among leaders, having helped organize the first Richmond Student Voice Conference April 8 at City Centre Community Centre.

Notably, feedback from the students will be shared with the Ministry of Education, the district, administrators, school employees and teachers so adults can better understand the needs of students.

“The overall mood was what I loved there, and there were a lot of positive feelings,” said Ramanathan. The conference was a follow-up workshop to last October’s provincial B.C. Student Voice Conference, for which Ramanathan also participated in, representing her Richmond School District colleagues.

Information gained will help form future school policies.

come, to help adult educators better understand student perspectives.

Conference co-organizer Anne GillrieCarre, a district administrator, said student-led conferences help empower youth to envision how they can become participants in the new curriculum — designed, in part, to allow students to focus on their strengths and engage in learning that also teaches others.

“You see more students getting involved. For instance, now I’m involved in committees. Students want to know what they’re learning, and they want to choose what they learn,“ said Ramanathan.

Ramanathan expects to participate in more conferences in the years to

Richmond’s conference at the new community centre involved about 130

Grade 10-12 students from across the district and the Richmond City Centre Leadership Program. They participated in fun and engaging leadership activities and brainstormed how to become a better role model in the school community and beyond. “We’re trying to get student voices heard,” said Ramanathan. The day-long conference also featured

“Seeing the change in how student voices are perceived was positive. Everyone involved in this youth leadership process is very determined,” noted Ramanathan. Specifically, students also brainstormed and discussed ideas around how the district can better prepare students for post-secondary studies and the work of work, how the schools and community can help support students have a healthy balance in all areas of their personal “wellness wheels” (financial, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, and occupational).

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may 2016


multiple fun strategies employed in new math classes By Christopher Sun

At least two teachers at DeBeck Elementary School have thrown out the textbooks when it comes to teaching math as they embrace a somewhat new way to teach the often feared subject. Sara Lai and Cynthia Clarke both teach a Grade 2 and 3 combined class, and in anticipation of the new education curriculum coming in September, the two are already teaching math by using real life examples. “Many math concepts were previously taught through rote memory and algorithms, but the new curriculum enables us to explore multiple strategies,” Clarke said. Lai added, “Instead of always sitting inside our classroom and completing math work at our desks, we are going out into alternative learning environments and applying math principles in different ways.” Recently, the two classrooms worked on a bottle drive project with proceeds going towards purchasing new books. The students collected bottles and cans, estimated the total, classified and sorted them according to capacity, figured out how much each can and bottle was worth, tallied, and represented their numbers in different ways. The teachers then visited a recycling depot and netted $44.70. The exercise allowed the students to learn and practice skip counting, estimating, problem solving, number operations and

the basics of money, along with financial literacy.

To reassure skeptical parents and show how this slightly different way of teaching math is effective, the teachers and staff held a math night and about 50 families attended.

The students then used book catalogues to “spend” this money. “They learned that buying books in a package was cheaper than buying books separately,” “Kids are so excited to do math now, it’s amazing,” Lai said. “This activity allowed students to think about the value of the money that we raised and how to spend Clarke said, a teacher of 35 years. it wisely.” Another exercise brought the students into the gym but not for a physical education class. They explored different math concepts like measurement by figuring out the size of the gym and various types of equipment, such as the diameter of a basketball. “We are finding different ways to introduce math concepts to the kids so they can understand them better by relating them to life experiences,” Clarke said. “The new curriculum places more emphasis on real world application of what they learn.” And the students say they are enjoying it. “My friends and I are excited to learn math in different ways,” said Vanita. “My friends and I love our new math curriculum because it is really fun.” “We all love our new math because it is fun to do,” said Gabby. “We feel excited and joyful during math.”

Grade 2 students Isaiah and Amira.

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E10 may 2016


connecting to the classroom and classmates comes full circle at currie By Graeme Wood

Mr.T’s class at General Currie elementary school is talking in circles these days. Now that may seem unproductive so let’s put a little context behind. As part of focusing on the competencies of the new curriculum, teacher James Thesiger’s class is incorporating talking and teaching circles into its weekly routine. The circles, held indoors or on the

General Currie elementary teacher James Thesiger jots down all the great ideas from his students, including Elise Charpentier, right.

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grass field, serve as a moment of reflection for the Grade 6/7 students. On one sunny day, on a freshly cut patch of grass, the students were asked by Thesiger to rate how their days had been going and how they felt. Answers could vary and if anyone wasn’t willing to speak much, they didn’t have to. The students passed around a small glass turtle to symbolize their turn to speak. “I think that class circle is important because I believe it helps our classroom community grow and develop together as we learn all the new wonders of the world and ourselves. Class circle makes us feel connected with our peers and it allows us to understand and support each other with our struggles and successes,” said Jasmine, one of Thesiger’s students. After students were done sharing their thoughts, feelings and/or ideas, they were asked by Thesiger to brainstorm ideas for preparing for a school play. Students paired up to discuss what an actor needs to do to have a good performance. Ideas were shared and Thesiger wrote them down on a white board. For instance, student Ale Montoto noted an actor must memorize lines ahead of time in order to have a successful play.

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Thesiger called the circle a “sacred place” whereby learning occurs in a holistic manner. The circle assists Thesiger in facilitating student-led ideas and shows him what issues are on the minds of students. “This approach to teaching has been an excellent way to strengthen our student’s mental well-being and build social and community health,” said Thesiger. Helping Thesiger achieve more holistic teaching methods are various teaching methods that have been accepted by the new curriculum guidelines, such as Play is the Way, Mind Up curriculum, Circle Forward and the First Peoples Principles of Learning.

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“The new curriculum has inspired us to collaborate and design instruction that includes all of our students in engaging ways in which they have learned to value themselves, each other, and the community with which they are a part of,” said Thesiger. Aside from facilitating principles of the new curriculum, “class circle” is also a time for students to clear their minds and unwind, if needed. “We are all dealing with a lot of stress, adults and students alike. We have busy lives and lots going on” said Thesiger.

may 2016



here are just some of the 2016 newsmaKers for the richmond school district By Graeme Wood

Westwind elementary school students made the front page of the Richmond News on Feb. 26 for their Comic-Con 2016 event, which exemplified how kids were participating in the new curriculum. Grade 4 debeck elementary school student Terrence wang bagged a pair of first place medals at the Pacific Northwest Regional Yo-Yo Championship in Seattle in February. Leadership students at cambie secondary school raised money for the Richmond Food Bank at a leadership challenge at the Richmond Olympic Oval on March 2. In early March, students from across the city celebrated Education Week, with events ranging from school plays, skills competitions, art displays, Science Jam and public open houses. Grade 5 debeck elementary school student sherry Tian will be representing the province in the U.S.A.’s most

prestigious girls’ chess tournament, the 13th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational (SPFGI) in St. Loius this July after becoming a provincial champion in March. It was announced on April 5 that Grade 12 steveston-London secondary student diego san Pedro was off to Oregon State University to join its golf team. Students at Lord byng elementary school cut their hair for kids with cancer on April 11. Richmond-based Wigs for Kids BC helped organize the event that also raised over $500. On April 22, Earth Day, woodward elementary school students made the front page of the Richmond News for their efforts in building an outdoor (green) classroom. On May 5, mcmath students made headlines in the Richmond News, after hosting a sleepover fundraiser to raise money for homeless people in

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Palmer secondary school students emma Lu and Jana caine created the Glass Half Full Foundation to raise awareness about the importance of public water fountains. Their foundation was featured in the Richmond News on May 4. On May 11 students from spul’u’kwuks elementary school raised money and

sent inspirational messages to the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire. The mcnair secondary school blood and bone marrow drive was held at the school gym on May 12 to find a donor for Joshua weekes, a DeBeck student who has recently fallen ill to a rare form of leukemia. Students across the district have raised money and sent letters of inspiration to Josh since his story became known.

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E12 may 2016


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Profile for Richmond News

EdCom News May 2016  

EdCom News May 2016