ETFO’s multi-year strategy to address violence in schools

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

As part of their multi-year strategy to address  violence in schools, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario released a short video outlining teachers’ rights and responsibilities if they encounter violence in the workplace.


Watch the video:

Find more information about the strategy, including brochures and posters on the ETFO site.


August 17, 2017 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

Fun Science Experiment: Soil Your Undies

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

The Globe and Mail recently reported a cool soil test that would make a fun back-to-school science experiment. Devised by the Soil Conservation Council, the Soil Your Undies test allows farmers & gardeners to measure the amount of nutrients in their soil.

All you need is a pair of new, undyed white cotton briefs. Bury the briefs in your garden and then dig them up 2 months later. If the briefs have been eaten up, you have good quality soil.

Read the full article to learn more about the test.


August 16, 2017 at 9:20 am Leave a comment

Does project-based learning (PBL) raise student achievement?

From Judy Chyung, Librarian – TDSB Professional Library

“Researchers in Michigan show that project-based learning (PBL) in high-poverty communities can produce statistically significant gains in social studies and informational reading”

The study involved grade 2 students from a high poverty, low performing school. The students were randomly divided into two groups. One group was taught social studies using the project-based units (the experimental or PBL group). The other group had traditional instruction ( the control group).  Both groups were given 80 social studies lessons over the course of the year.

The  study showed that “in the PBL group, gains were 63 percent higher for social studies and 23 percent higher for informational reading than in the control group.

Check out the full article in Edutopia.


August 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

How new students are getting ready for Kindergarten

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

A recent article in The Globe and Mail discusses the value of Kindergarten preparation programs in teaching new students core self-regulation skills that will help them succeed when they start Kindergarten in a few weeks.

The program profiled in the article is called School’s Cool and is run by the YMCA for the Durham District School Board.

The soon-to-be kindergartners learn to put up their hands to ask questions, wait their turn and put away their belongings.

Read the full article online.

Also check out The Bridge to Kindergarten from the Professional Library for more Kindergarten prep strategies.

August 14, 2017 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

New OECD Report: Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students

On Wednesday, August 9th, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the OECD released a new report: Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students

The report tracks strategies used in 6 Canadian provinces and territories, as well as Australia and New Zealand, to prioritize success for Indigenous students.

While some of these areas are making progress, there is still a lot of work to be done to make a marked difference in the lives of Indigenous children and youth.

The report emphasizes the importance of quality early childhood education, forging strong relationships with Indigenous leaders and communities, and supporting teachers in developing cultural competence.

A summary of the report was compiled by Andreas Schleicher on the OECD blog.

The Professional Library has some resources to help educators continue this work and provide a positive educational experience for Indigenous students:

We also carry material to help educators teach about the experiences and traditions of Indigenous peoples:

August 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: A Day of Signs and Wonders

The ninth in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.
Next up is A Day of Signs and Wonders by Kit Pearson

The Haiku Review

Bold and brash strokes / Meeting cool watercolours / Signs of what’s to come

Major Players

  • Emily, future artist Emily Carr who loves animals, playing outside and hates wearing pinafores
  • Kitty, also known as Kathleen O’Reilly, Emily’s prim and proper neighbour who unexpectedly invites her over for the day

One-Sentence Summary
When a young Emily Carr unexpectedly runs into neighbour Kitty O’Reilly one morning, the two girls decide to spend the day together, and learn important lessons of friendship and respect, both for each other and themselves.  

Historical Backstory
Using the publications and diaries of the real life Emily Carr and Kathleen O’Reilly, Kit Pearson imagines what would have happened if the two girls — and actual neighbours — met. She also provides some more information at the novel’s end of her protagonists’ future.

Kid List Connections
A Day of Signs and Wonders is set during the same time period as Maud, although on the other side of Canada. Both books are written in a similar tone and address themes of female friendship.

Quick Quotes
“Before Kitty could say more, Emily had dipped her brush in the water and then onto a cake of paint. Kitty watched in astonishment as Emily rapidly painted the boats, boathouse, wharf, water, and sky in bold strokes, her brush darting from colour to colour without being cleaned in between” (p. 61).

What’d I think?

8/10 ravens named George
A Day of Signs and Wonders is a beautiful little sketch of a single day in the lives of two young girls. The story feels as airy and ethereal as the watercolour paintings the two girls make early in the book. Kit Pearson does a nice job depicting the girls’ contrasting personalities. I also appreciated the realistic depiction of mental health. Both protagonists, Kitty and Emily, grapple with complicated emotions and it’s nice to see young girls who aren’t always feeling happy and behaving the “proper” way. A lovely introduction to the life of Emily Carr and an interesting case study in integrity, and how decisions you make when you’re young can impact your later self.

Check out the other posts in this series:

August 10, 2017 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Research shows Ontario’s two-year, full-day kindergarten has lasting benefits

From Judy A. Librarian, Reference and Collection Management

Ontario’s investment in an innovative 2-year full-day kindergarten program appears to be paying off.  Preliminary findings from research at OISE show that this unique program “has lasting benefits for children’s behaviour as well as their learning.” Not only did students in this program score higher on reading, writing and number knowledge than those in a half-day program, but their scores stayed higher until the end of Grade 2. The children also scored higher on self-regulation, an important predictor of long-term academic success.

Ontario’s model is unique in 3 respects:

  • Childcare and kindergarten programs are integrated though a teaching team of a registered Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and a kindergarten teacher
  • Ontario’s program involves a new curriculum with a play-based approach to learning that moves away from teacher-centered, rote learning approaches and whole class instruction
  • It involves two years of full-time attendance with the same educators, beginning at age four

TDSB staff who would like to read more can log on to the TDSB Google drive and have a look at our resource lists on kindergarten or self-regulation in children.

Happy reading!

August 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

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