Welcome back to all of our returning families and welcome to all of the new families that are joining us in 2021! It has been a very interesting ten months in the life of a school, there are many things that are different to be sure, but there are many things that remain the same. Our staff and students are happy to be teaching and learning at school! One of the biggest lessons after our school closure last spring was the fact that our teacher hearts are full when we can see and connect with our students. This is continuing to be true at the beginning of this calendar year. Whether we are connecting physically or virtually, those connection times matter!
We have learned a lot over the past ten months: how to create safe school spaces; how to present lessons in person and virtually; and how to engage our students and have school be some semblance of "normal" as much as that is possible.
What we see every day are happy, engaged students running, laughing, playing and learning!! As I visit classrooms and observe student works, I see many examples of our students growing and learning. There is progress in reading, writing, numeracy and in our other focus areas of critical and creative thinking. Our grade 4/5 class has just started a newspaper club and they plan to produce a paper called "The Growler". (our LM Wolf Mascot might have had something to do with the title!). Our grade 8's are once again about to present their ideas for a business to LM's Dragons as they enact our annual version of the Dragons' Den. Judging these ideas has always been a highlight of the year!
As a UNESCO school, our students continue to demonstrate their learning in human rights education, intercultural understanding, education for sustainable development and educating for peace. Here are some of the ways we make sure they do....
Prior to the holiday break, our service work included sending cards to Seniors at the Saul and Mirabel Simkin Center, raising funds to bring much needed gifts to Seniors who were alone at Christmas, collecting cereal, mittens and hats for our Mitten Tree to help a sister school in need and much, much more.
Next month, we are excited to have two guests who will part of our Linden Meadows students' school experience. Pembina Trails Indigenous Student Success Teacher, Kelli Wiebe, will be a consultant in residence during February and March. She will be here to support our work in honouring the TRC Calls to Action. Kelli will be working with our various grade levels to support their initiatives in answering the question, "What Does Meaningful Reconciliation Look Like?"
Mindfuness Coach, Speaker and Author, Keith MacPherson will be working with our Middle Years students on Mental Health and Wellness topics such as: Strategies for managing stress and anxiety; Coping with Loss and Grief; Emotions. Why We Need to Stick With Them; Finding Joy; Creating a Positive Attitude and Resilience. Keith is a familiar face at Linden Meadows as each year he teaches song writing to our grade 7 Performing Arts students as part of their fall camp experience.
On Februrary 1, we will be hosting our annual Kindergarten Information Night at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to meeting our new families, virtually. We plan to take you on a tour of our amazing school, share with you some programming highlights and introduce you to your child's teachers! See you then!
We are very excited about your child's return to school! Teaching is what we are passionate about! While Covid-19 has demanded that we do things differently, with a giant paradigm shift in how we gather as a school community, how we move about, and how we learn, we are confident that the Linden Meadows community will rise to this occasion. Our staff is committed to ensuring that we make the most of our time together as a learning community.
On July 31st, school received the provincial plan for re-opening schools and the Pembina Trails School Division's plan (https://www.pembinatrails..ca/Pages/Welcoming-our-students-back-in-September.aspx) was released on August 17th. Since that time, our staff has been hard at work determining what these measures will look like for our Linden Meadows students. Our goal is to ensure our school is safe and ready to welcome our students.
The Linden Meadows plan follows both provincial and divisional guidelines, as directed by Public Health and the Department of Education. It is a multi-layered approach to keeping students, staff and their families safe. It involves screening, physical distancing, handwashing, creating cohorts and the mandatory wearing of masks for all staff and students in grades 3 - 12, where physical distancing is not possible.
Please see our "Linden Meadows Return to School Plan" on the Linden Meadows website for the details of our framework that were guided by Shared Health and the Pembina Trails School Division plan.
Linden Meadows will be having a Staggered Start to School, with students whose last names begin with A - M on Tuesday, Sept 8th and students whose last names begin with N - Z on Wednesday, Sept 9th. All students are at school on Thursday, Sept 10th and Friday, Sept 11th. This staggered start will enable our staff to help students walk through our new Covid-19 protocols to help ensure that everyone is safe.
If ever there was a year of flexible thinking, perseverance, and strengthened relationships among students, staff and families, this would be it! My takeaways from this year continue to focus on the gratitude that I feel for this amazing community. As families, you have exhibited incredible strength and resiliency as we worked together in support of our Linden Meadows' students. While our hearts may be heavy with thoughts of things not being the same and the need to shift our thinking about school traditions, structures and more, I believe we can all feel hopeful about the future knowing that our community has met this challenge in ways that will leave us all stronger.
While there are many unknowns about what the fall will look like, what I do know is that our staff has been reflecting on what worked, what didn't, what we would do differently and how.
We are also very excited about the next school year! Linden Meadows, Laidlaw and Van Wellingham are all working together next year on a tri-school project in support of multiage classrooms with a focus on critical and creative thinking within an inclusive school enviroment.
Lastly, we look forward to the installation of our new playstructure that will be placed on the Muys Park grounds adjacent to Linden Meadows. This has been a multi-year project that our incredible Parent Advisory Council has undertaken, with special thanks to our chair and fundraiser extrordinaire, Mrs. Allison Zegalski. The vision of an inclusive play structure where all children can play together will finally happen in September 2020! A huge thanks to our Parent Advisory Council, generous community donors and school students and famlies.
It has been a busy fall term and with the winter break upon us, I want to extend a sincere thanks to our LM families and the community at large for their support of our new playground project. We surpassed our objective of raising 20,000. With the generous support of our families and the community at large, over 45,000 was raised! What an incredible effort by all! We are on track for breaking ground for the new inclusive playstructure for the summer of 2020. PAC chair Allison Zegalski has been writing grants and leading the fundraising campaign for this new phase of our play spaces at Linden Meadows. We want to thank Mrs. Zegalski and all of the parents who have worked tirelessly to support this work. Our vision of a playstructure for all students is soon to be a reality!
Welcome to all of our new and returning families at Linden Meadows School! We are looking forward to another wonderful year at Linden Meadows. We began our day today with our annual flag raising ceremony and once again the sun shone brightly! The energy of our returning students, staff and famlies was postive, warm and infectious! Such a great start!
We coming into this school year feeling very fortunate. At Linden Meadows we have incredible students and families who understand the importance of community and contributing in meaningful and collaborative ways. We are also very grateful to be working with such a hardworking and creative staff, dedicated to providing a deep learning experience for our students. Yesterday, during our opening session with staff we posed the question, "What impact do you want to have on your students and on the school culture and community?"
The time that we have with your children is precious and so very important. We take our commitment to their educational experience very seriously. We know and understand that feeling welcome, safe and connected is important to laying the foundation for learning. We also know that our students come to school ready to learn and every day is a beautiful opportunity to support them in becoming kind and caring individuals who are curious about the world around them.
2019-2020 awaits us and together we are committed to ensuring that this time we have together to learn and grow will leave a postive impact.
Over the course of this past school year, Linden Meadows teachers have been focused on professional learning to foster "rigouous and imaginative thinking." We have been reading and learning from OISE Associate Professor, Garfield Gini-Newman whose work connects critical and creative thinking across grade levels and subject areas. Teachers have been adapting their lessons and ideas to further engage student interest, stretch their thinking and support student perseverance with problems. We believe that students need foundational knowledge and also the opportunity to think deeply about this knowledge. As teachers, we directly teach thinking vocabulary and strategies for learning. Learning experiences are created that develop the habits of mind to keep students learning and growing, such as the work we have done previously in the area of growth mindsets. Over the next school year, we will continue to expand our repetoire of stratgies and deepen our understanding of Garfield's work. We look forward to our continued learning in this area.
Happy New Year to our Linden Meadows students and families. We hope that you had a restful holiday and enjoyed the time that you had together!
The new school year has opened with a joyfulness and learning! There were many excited faces as we reunited after the break. They say that you can sense a school or building climate when you walk through the door. I think that is true. Walking through these doors, you see staff and students faces lighting up when they see each other, excited sharing of stories and adventures and as sense of calm. In fact, as I type this, I can hear a student whistling while waiting for his older brother to finish his basketball practice! Over the past couple of days during my walkabouts, classrooms were buzzing with new projects, new books and new problems to puzzle over. On Thursday, we have grade 8 students who will be presenting their Dragon's Den business ideas to a panel of judges from the community. We can't wait to hear what they have come up with!
Our journey toward infusing inquiry into teaching and learning continues this month with a number of staff attending Dr. Peter Liljedahl's session on Creating Thinking Classrooms in mathematics. We look forward to sharing what they have learned at the next staff meeting.
Later this month, we will also continue our learning about the implementation of the Truth and Reconcilliation's Calls to Action. Our whole staff will gather on January 25 to participate in the Blanket Activity, a session that will be led by our Indigenous Student Learning Consultants and some Pembina Trails Indigenous students.
On November 12 our teachers gathered in the library to attend a session led by members of our leadership team. The topic, Creating Thinking Classrooms, was based on a professional development session that these teachers attended earlier in October by Garfield Gini-Newman, author of a book on teaching and learning by the same title. During the session, we examined how we can provide learning experiences for our students that engage them in critical thinking about the world around them. As we examine our data on student achievement, several common threads are emerging and directing our professional learning. What we notice is that when we create a focus area for the school, it has an impact. In the past, our school plans in the area of instruction have centered on mental math and estimation, teaching of reading strategies, building of reading comprehension, and supporting student writing and in these areas we have seen growth in student learning. We have turned our attention to problem-solving over the past couple of years and while students are making some gains, this continues to be a skill that challenges students.
Students need to know how to think critically when solving problems. Garfield Gini-Newman encouages us to probematize learning by engaging students in a real-world problem or question and to allow for students to struggle with a problem to help develop both perseverance and stamina for learning. Our learning with Mr. Gini-Newman will continue in December when he comes to Linden Meadows to work with small teaching teams during 90 minute blocks and again on April 25. We look forward to embedding deep thinking in our teaching and learning practices to help facilitate engagement and achievment.
At Linden Meadows our school's mission statement is "Inspiring Growth and Wonder!" We believe that students should be engaged in learning about meaningful and purposeful content, inspired by what they are learning and fearless about trying something new. Students need to have strong literacy and numeracy skills, be voracious problem-solvers and be curious about the world around them. As we work on our goals for the 2018-2019 school plan this month, we are asking ourselves, "How do we make our classrooms wonder-driven?" We look forward to sharing our school plan next month!
Linden Meadows' staff is busy getting ready to open our school doors and launch the 2018-2019 school year! We want to welcome our new families to the school and welcome back our returning families!
As we seek to connect to our school motto of "Inspiring Growth and Wonder", we look forward to fostering our students' curiousity through literacy learning. At Linden Meadows' we believe that the foundation for all learning is being literate in reading, writing,speaking, viewing, representing and responding. We value being literate in numeracy, problem-solving and mental math and we understand the importance of a school environment that fosters creativity, imagination, reflection and critical thinking. Our differences are a strength! At Linden Meadows' our work is to ensure that every individual feels accepted, valued and safe.
Our work is community work. Together, with our school families and the wider community, we will continue to create a school experience that is both joyful and meaningful. We can't wait to get started!
|No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!