CambridgeLearns February 28, 2015

CLICK HERE to view this week at Cambridge Elementary in TWEETS!


Students, staff, and parents had a great time viewing this video about accountability at yesterday’s assembly. As a school, we have continued to discuss the importance of being a Cambridge STAR: Safe, Thoughtful, Accountable, and Respectful. We’ve done this by encouraging students and classes to reflect on what these words mean, what they look like, and to share their understanding through video. We will move to the next virtue, Respect, in April and invite students to create videos to show what respect means to them. Please watch and discuss this video with your child.


IMG_7571The best part of the work I do in schools is visiting classrooms and participating in the learning taking place.

Something that has become evident to me is that students are just like adults: they thrive when doing work that is interesting and meaningful. As adults, we value our time and consider it precious. We don’t tolerate requests to do tasks that are irrelevant to us. We demand to know WHY we are doing what we are doing. BUT…

Do we treat students’ time the same way?

Do we ensure that students see the relevance of the work we ask them to do?

Is the work we ask students to do in fact relevant?

How do we react to students who express (in various ways) that the work they do in class is not personally meaningful?

Do we pay attention to these reactions and what do they mean?

This past week during class visits, I noticed students in several classes engaged in hands-on, meaningful, and interesting learning experiences.

My first learning story comes from a visit to Mr. Stemler’s grade seven classroom. If you have ever had the chance to visit, this classroom is all things ancient civilizations and art. One aspect of the classroom that really caught my attention was a VERY large display in the corner of the room. It’s a large map of Greece, covered by tiny velcro strips with game pieces attached. Intrigued, I asked a student about it, and here’s what I heard:

I couldn’t believe how much this student knew about Greek mythology and how excited he was to talk about his learning. Even more, as I later walked down the hallway with a group of boys from the class, they continued to excitedly talk about future quests in game. As a school principal, the sweetest sound you can hear is children passionately discussing and sharing the learning taking place in their class.

My second learning story comes from our Science Fair which took place this past week. What resonated with me was the talk of the judges. One mentioned that they most impressed with how well students were able to communicate why they conducted their science experiments and what they learned. Another judge stated, and I love this quote, “There is student DNA all over these projects.” The inside joke about a Science Fair is that it’s often about which parent is most passionate about the project, instead of which student. We appreciate that our parents gave the right kind of support: asking the right questions, helping their children gather supplies, supervising experiments at home, and assisting with the documentation of evidence.

Mostly though, a Science Fair is great because it’s hands-on, it’s inquiry based, students can take complete ownership of the topic and how it is investigated, and learning is VERY visible.

My third learning story comes from Ms. Lim’s grade seven classroom. Weeks back, something shiny in the corner of the room caught my attention. It was an insulated fish tank housing salmon eggs. Students were excited to carefully peel back the insulation to show me the treasures within.

IMG_8779Ms. Lim shares, “In January, we began the Salmon In The Classroom project with 110 coho eggs. For the first few weeks, they didn’t do very much, and the students became impatient waiting for something to happen.  Every morning, their first question to me was “Have they hatched yet???”  We invited many other classes in to see the eggs and shared what we had learned, but we really wanted them to hatch.  Finally that day came!  We stopped everything we were doing and watched as the alevin wiggled their way out of their eggs and into the tank.”

During a later visit, the excitement in the room was palpable and I knew the reason why: the alevin were beginning to emerge from their eggs. What happened next was incredible to me. Ms. Lim showed a video to the class, but not just any video. This video was taken with a Polaroid cube camera enclosed in a waterproof case. The video allowed student to experience life from inside the tank. We talk a lot about transformational use of technology, and this is a great example.

IMG_9260My final learning story is about a group of self-directed girls. Back in January, a group of girls in grade 4 and 5 approached me about putting together a dance group. They wanted to make an announcement and invite anyone interested to meet. Soon, the group could be seen meeting on their own time back on our gravel field putting together a dance routine. They did this all with no adult support. As performance day approached, the girls asked if they could be supervised in the gym as they rehearsed. What I noticed is how positive, supportive, and confident the older students were and how they were sharing their passions with others. I also noticed how the younger girls tried over and over to master the dance steps. Yesterday, the group performed and many parents, friends, and grandparents attended. As you can tell from the video, the girls had great fun sharing all they had learned.

Learning stories are wonderful because they put the focus where it should be – on the love of learning rather than on marks and grades. Learning stories are also a reminder than if one is interested and meaningfully engaged, then learning doesn’t feel like learning at all! Continued thanks to our staff members at Cambridge who open the doors to meaningful and personally relevant learning opportunities for our students.




YMCA Preschool

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 12.03.03 PM


2-PAC Meeting – 7:00 p.m.
3-Safe Schools Presentation for Grade 7 students – 1:30 p.m.
4-Division 2 field trip to Game Ready Fitness – 11:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
6-Grade 7 Skills and Trades field trip – Kwantlen Polytechnic University
9-20-Spring Break
25-Grade 7 Parent Night at Sullivan Heights Seconday – 7:00-8:00 pm*
*School tours are available at 6:15 and 6:30 p.m.
31-Assembly – 1:30 p.m.

2-Fine Arts Performance: Fizzical Fizzicks – 9:00 a.m.
2-Term 2 Student Learning Communications – Original Date: March 6, 2015
3-Good Friday Holiday – Classes not in session
6-Easter Monday Holiday – Classes not in session
9-HUB Cycling Program – Grade 4 and 5 classes – Day 1
14-Division 25 and 26 to Historic Stewart Farm
15-Division 23 and 24 to Historic Stewart Farm
15-HUB Cycling Program – Grade 4 and 5 classes – Day 2
20-PAC Meeting – 7:00 p.m.
21-Spring Portraits, Class, Team, and Panorama photos – All Day
29 – Grade 4 classes to Grouse Mountain
30-Assembly – 8:45 a.m.
30-Ready, Set, Learn – 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
30-Running Club Ends

1-Professional Day
12-Grade 2 classes to Grouse Mountain
14-Fine Arts Performance: Magician Sheldon Casavant – 9:00 a.m.
18-Victoria Day Holiday – Classes not in session
21-Grade 4 classes to Capilano Suspension Bridge
22-Spring Family Fun Fair – 5:00-8:00 p.m.
25-Professional Day
27-Grade 5 classes to Britannia Mine
28-Assembly – 8:45 a.m.
29-Talent Show – 1:00 p.m.

1-Parent “Thank You” Tea
1-PAC Meeting (AGM) – 7:00 p.m.
3-Kindergarten Introduction Parent Meeting
4-New Kindergarten Student Visits
12-Sports Day
19-Grade 7 Assembly
25-Last Day Before Summer Holiday
25-Final Assembly
25-Early Dismissal 1:30 p.m.
25-Term 3 Student Learning Communications


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