Tuesday, March 30, 2010

oh yes...

Almost there.

I am nerding out quite hardcoredly - papers are coming together, the semester is ending, I am feeling more peaceful, in a frantic, panic-flavoured way.
Oh yes.
And spring seems to be here. It's so good to get outside, especially with some kids, and feel the sun warm us! Hooray!
Onwards, friends.

PS - anyone want to read my History and Philosophy paper for me? Har har har...

Nerd out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

glub glub glub!

If I thought last week was busy - it's only Tuesday and I feel like I've had a couple of nervous breakdowns!

I have SIX major assignments due in the next two and a half weeks. I am working on them all - in fact, I just completed one tonight, so we're down to FIVE! YES! I feel pretty good about them all, and I just need to keep working really hard on them all to stay afloat. However, this leaves very little time to do anything other than schoolwork. I definitely feel like I'm up to my eyebrows. I haven't had anytime to read any of the inspiring blogs I love so much, even.


I'll just have to steal moments here and there to post when I can.

Nerding out HARD

Friday, March 19, 2010

end of the japanese visit

Well - our Japanese guests have gone home. This is a picture of the origami jumping frogs they taught us to make, in presentation to the students of the Ryerson School of ECE, on Monday.

It was an amazing experience. Wednesday was the biggest day of all with visits to the Gerrard Resource Centre in the morning, and Invest in Kids in the afternoon. The Gerrard Resource Centre is a family resource centre operated out of Ryerson University, and we went to see their site in a local school. Invest in Kids is a national charitable organization, dedicated to improving life for children in Canada by supporting parents. Both visits were pretty interesting, and I felt really lucky tagging along - I learned so much!

When we got back from Invest in Kids in the afternoon (which is a terrible story, but all worked out in the end) the faculty and students split up to do their own things. While the Ryerson faculty were going to have a serious dinner with the faculty from Urawa, we got to take the students out for dinner and to the ROM. We asked them what they wanted to eat and they requested that we go for POUTINE!!!! So we did. This is what we ate.

We took the subway to the ROM, which is free on Wednesday nights so that was pretty wonderful considering how large a group we were. In the short time that we had we passed through the dinosaurs, explored the Bat Cave and the interactive biosphere exhibit, and dropped them off at the hotel at the end of the night having had a really great time. I am totally wiped out however. I'm still sick, and after the intense push of mid-terms and projects and this - being responsible for folks all day with whom you don't share a verbal language, even with interpreters, is surprisingly exhausting - well, today I'm staying home. RELAXING. And probably doing some readings for school. WOW! What a week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I don't know about switching my blog hosting - it's so friendly over here and the blog would have a real different feel. maybe, maybe not - but I guess not for now...

I am totally wiped out - been working on a project that I haven't mentioned yet. Since it's March Break here in Toronto, and placement schools are closed, instead of taking a break and resting and getting a jump on things, I decided to add a pinch of crazy to my week.

A group of visitors from Urawa University in Japan, with which Ryerson has an ongoing connection, is visiting and I got hired on to coordinate our shenanigans and hang out with them. I've been organizing my face off for the last four weeks, on top of school and placement and being sick and everything else. They arrived on Sunday after a 13 hour flight, and we've had a jammed packed educational visit with them. Not that I had anything else to do.

Yesterday it was mostly exploring Ryerson and our ECE program, as well as our lab school the Early Learning Centre. Today it was more exploration of whats going on in our program, and then for a special treat, we went up to Bloorview Kids Rehab, the hospital, school and resource centre for children with extra support needs that my placement Nursery school just happens to be affiliated with. It helps that I worked there, and have many dear friends who have and still do. The folks there treated us supremely well, and gave us a great tour. We are LUCKY!!!

Tomorrow, more site visits and then dinner and the ROM - and then I get to fall exhausted into a puddle of jelly, sleep for twelve hours, and get back to my real life. We're giving a real whirlwind tour, since they're here for such a short amount of time, and it's making my head spin.

Speaking of heads however, I managed to do some fun homework today, in the middle of everything, and when I say fun I'm not even being sarcastic. An assignment in our History and Philosophy of ECE class (LOVE.IT.)is to make links between historical philosophers and everyday life, by examining TV programming for preschoolers and connect it to one of the educational philosophers we've been studying. Did you know that Sesame Street - our beloved Sesame Street - was designed as a televised Head Start program?!?!?!?!? Did you even?!?

Awesome. The idea grew out of a silly little cultural race, when the USSR beat the USA into space and North America FREAKED. Educators were blamed, who then blamed each other. College profs blamed high school teachers who blamed elementary school teachers - all the way down the line to preschool teachers and parents. The US government went ape, invested a ton of money in educational reform, and as part of the War on Poverty Head Start was born, and gave us Sesame Street. That's the nutshell - research away.

Anyway, today we got to analyze Sesame Street, and wow was it ever great. Apparently it is the most heavily researched educational program (not just TV program, but ed. program of any kind) EVER. And here we grew up thinking it was about Jim Henson and sharing and singing and spelling, with counting and stories and imaginary (but not really) wooly mammoths thrown in for good measure. Again, AWESOMENESS.

So, in my little Japanese whirlwind, I got to go to the awesomest rehab hospital for kids and visit their totally RAD Centre for the Arts AND watch TV (and admittedly think about it, and then write it all down). How cool is that? And all I have to do is turn into a puddle of goo after.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I'm thinking of moving this blog thingy over to wordpress. My very smart friend Nicole thought it might be a good idea. I've taken a look, and will think about it.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

baby teacher

I forgot to mention - yesterday morning I woke up laughing.

I had been dreaming of a teacher talking to his class, but all that was coming out of his mouth was " mahh mahh mahh, mahh mahh mahhmahh". As I slowly woke up, I realized that I could still hear him - ?? And then I realized it was the 11-month-old that I live with, yelling his head off in the kitchen, enjoying his breakfast. He's started singing through most of his meals.

I laughed and laughed - I got teaching on the brain.

Nerd OUt


It might be spring.

I finally got to get back to the Nursery School, feeling all better, and since the weather has been so glorious (+13 degrees Celsius!!! SUNNY!), we got dressed early (sans snowpants, since it's so warm) and had a blast playing outside. Here are some pics of our space, what we had set up, and the kids going berserk from a little wee touch of Canadian it-might-be-spring fever.

Wow, it felt good to be outside with them! They played a lot with the dried up leaves from last fall - the play ground was full of them. It was pretty amazing to catch S.J.'s leaf toss - my camera takes the darndest pictures!!

Hooray for outdoor play - I've been wishing and wishing...spring might be here!

nerd OUTside!

Monday, March 8, 2010

field trip!


Today we went on a field trip for my Creative Arts class. We went to Lillian H. Smith Public Library, the amazing children's library here in Toronto, at College and Spadina. The fourth floor of this crazy building houses a public rare children's books reference library called the Osborne Collection. It specializes in the development of English Children's Literature, and is made up of over 80000 "rare and notable children's books."


It was deeply deeply awesome. Leslie McGrath - one of the reference librarians who cares for and curates the Osborne collection - did an amazing presentation for us, basically taking us on a tour of the history of books, printing and children's literature in about 40 minutes. The Osborne collection was set up as a way to prevent revisionist history, and she described some of the unsavoury and downright awful things that are kept in the collection to show that yes, people at one time thought ________________ (fill in the blank with whatever dumb, backward idea you want). It's a brilliant thing that teaches not just about books and kid's lit, but also about attitudes and context and history and the shifting tide of our society.

It was really mind-blowing to see a cuneiform tablet from Mesopotamia, made 3000 years ago. It's the oldest thing in the Library!! Next on the list of awesomeness was a 600 year old book, hand-written and illuminated with ink and quill on animal skin. It's a book of Aesop's fables written from the fourteenth century! Whoa!!!! Then, it was pretty awesome to learn about why kids books were so gruesome in the 1600s, how the first English storybook that wasn't written to either terrorize kids or teach them manners was about bugs, and how Alice in Wonderland is the first example Leslie could find in the English language of a book that is written as a joke between the author and it's readers.

I'd tell you more but you should just go and check it out for yourselves if you can. It was really, really great.

book lovin' nerd OUT!

PS - I finished my papers! Yipeeee! I made it through! AND I'm healthy again. On to the next...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

hello mellow

After yesterday's post, you'd expect more harsh ravings about how bad it is over here, but today I am feeling decidedly mellow. And I'm feeling better.

Is it the sweet, sweet pages and pages and PAGES of educational theory, history and philosophy that I've been reading and trying to understand for these last papers, or the copious amounts of chamomile tea that I've been consuming to try to wrestle first a stomach flu and then a cold into submission, or the fact that the sun has shone for the last four days straight (four days I've been cooped up inside, I might mention - either banging my head away at said papers, in class endeavouring to follow what the prof was saying through the miasma of illness, or sleeping off that miasma, you choose they're all inside)? That sentence was long and convoluted enough for you to lose track of what that question mark was about. Why am I feeling so mellow?

Not sure, but sure glad it's stopped by.

Reading about play today, folks, since the last legs of this cold kept me away from the kiddies at placement AGAIN. Joan Almon wrote at length - and I mean long, for an article at 35 pages - about the importance of play. She's a Waldorf kindergarten wonder-star, part of the Alliance for Childhood, and describes play in her wonderfully long article that "creative play is a central activity in the lives of healthy children"(Almon, 2003, p.1) That's on page one, and the rest of it talks about the importance of making sure preschool is place where kids can play, as play is central to small humans becoming fully developed humans. She goes on to make a pretty strong case, as if a stronger case was needed than the one we already have. High stakes testing? Not good for kids or learning. Business models for education? Not good for kids or learning. Play? AWESOME for kids and learning. I'm paraphrasing - but that's what she's saying.

And I guess that's another reason I feel mellow. I am DOWN with these ideas. These are the ideas I live and breathe, and am readying to defend from an informed, academically backed point of view for, I imagine, THE REST OF MY LIFE.

From what you all out there in the classrooms everyday are telling me, it still needs defending. I'm DOWN with that too - to join with all you cool cats, you exhausted-from-the-demands-and-pressures-of-ridiculous-bureaucracies kittycats on the front lines of our children's chances. I'm IN. I'm DOWN. And I'm relaxed and ready and ripe.

I also have THREE and a HALF more years before I get MY OWN CLASS, survive my first year out there on my own. But, still feeling like an ally in the struggle. Learning all I can get into my head and heart to win over the folks who think that factory-izing our kids is the way to make a workable world to another way of thinking.


MeeeeOW! Chamomile all day is GOOD STUFF.

nerd out

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

in like several lions...

...and stomach flu, midterm papers and fever. And then another cold.

I started getting a little queasy last week, and came down with the stomach flu on Thursday after a feverish night. By the weekend I was feeling better, and was able to pretty much nail the paper we were working on about Maria Montessori and her method. Doing research from bed wasn't that bad, and I just wrote the thing all weekend.

While I'm glad it's done, working as dementedly on it as I did may not have been the best idea, as yesterday I woke up at 4am, coughing to beat the band and unable to get back to sleep. I went to school anyway, because I am a nerdy nerdster and had a crapload of stuff to do there anyway, and by the start of my Social Emotional Intelligence class I started feeling crappy again, and spent another night shivering and sweating in turns. F...

Anyway...early yesterday morning when I was barking up my lungs I tried to do some research for my other paper, and was reading The Hundred Languages of Children, edited by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini and George Forman, which is the totally rocking book that goes along with the exhibit by the same name that is touring all over, showing folks what Reggio Emilia schools are about. Check it. The book is a wonder - full of all kinds of things I feel like thinking about.

One thing - well, one of many - caught my feverish attention. In an interview about influences on their philosophy with Lella Gandini, Loris Malaguzzi - the director and philosopher of the Reggio Emilia approach - mentioned this crazy school that in the 1970's inspired the teachers who were setting up the schools in Reggio Emilia. It was a school in France that moved every 3 years "where the reconstruction of old, abandoned farmhouses would be the basis of the educational work with the children." (Edwards, Gandini & Forman, 1996, p. 52)

Ummm...hello? RAD! The idea blows the roof off my head - or is that just the pounding of my head cold? The thought of this wandering school, teaching through hands-on experience, coming upon old, falling-down, uncared for places and learning and growing and playing together and then leaving behind rebuilt, loved places...wow.

Anyways, I didn't go to the Nursery School today, so I don't have much fun stuff to report. I hope I'm better enough to go tomorrow. I miss it! Instead, I stayed in bed and slept, which felt great, and when I wasn't sleeping I read picture books, and then slept some more.

Maybe I'll go back and sleep now. I want to get RID OF THIS THING. All I can say is that this month had better end with candy and roses and gentle breezes and fun - or else that saying is full of doody.

nerd out.