Students Speak Through Music

Tracking Change Tracking ChangeIn the elective, Tracking Change, students are in the midst of composing a music track that connects to a social justice movement for change. Students have composed music tracks that connect to issues of education, equality, anti-bullying, and animal rights. The complexity of these issues is further highlighted by the multiple layers and texture of the compositions themselves.

Seeing these tracks on the computer screen and seeing the students working collaboratively and creatively is inspiring. The issues, while different, are linked. Students somehow find ways to connect to one another throughout the process. Using Apple’s GarageBand, it’s amazing to see and hear how students have managed to create a track that speaks to us through music.

A visit to Humber College Studios introduced students to the exciting world of sound engineering. It was interesting to learn that our work with loops, controlling dynamics, balance, and instrument recording were similar to what was being done in a professional studio.

Since our visit to Humber, students have begun editing their final tracks. Instrument levels are being adjusted, voices are being recorded, loops are being softened. The tracks are growing and changing just like the issues they represent.

Now in our eighth week, some students have decided to take their tracks another step further. In order to really drive home their messages, some are incorporating the music tracks into an iMovie project.

It is incredible to observe this creative process and to see how passionate the students are when it comes to creating a track for change.

Who knows where the next couple of weeks will lead us? Stay tuned!

Matina Mosun
Music teacher

Learning from Paddle Tennis

Starting in April, twenty lucky grade 7 and 8 students joined a Paddle Tennis elective at Kingsway Platform Tennis Club. We’ve enjoyed the elective and have learned many new skills. We wanted to share some of the Habits of Mind, Body and Action we’ve learned during our time playing Paddle Tennis.


Persist

During Paddle Tennis, all of the students had to persist. Whether we were new to the sport, or had played many times before, we all had to persist to play Paddle Tennis. If you were new to the sport you had to persist during drills and rallies to keep up to more advanced players. If you already knew the sport you had to persist by being patient and encouraging to new players.

Share what you know

During Paddle Tennis, we also had to share what we knew about the sport. All of the students had different things they were great at and things they could improve. Drills helped improve things we didn’t know and when we had already mastered something, we would help students who were still having trouble. Rallying with players at all levels taught us different techniques and strategies. More advanced students were a great help during games.

Overall, Paddle Tennis has been a great experience for everybody and wouldn’t be the same without our amazing teachers and instructors: Ms. Marcynuk, Ms. Silverberg, Ms. Gibson, and Mr. Rogers. We hope to continue Paddle Tennis in the future at KCS. We have made memories and learned things we will never forget. We can’t wait to return to Kingsway Platform Tennis Club to grow on our knowledge of the sport. See you on the courts!

Sing a Song of KCS

SongwritingThis year has been the grade 6s first year with electives and we weren’t sure what to expect. Every Wednesday, for two hours, our group of three girls go down to the music room and try to write a KCS school song. Most people might think that songwriting isn’t very interesting (that’s what the three of us in the elective thought before) but it is the most amazing and fun grade 6 experience that we have ever had. All week we look forward to sitting down with all the instruments and playing whatever we want because there’s no wrong answer. Our goal is to write the KCS school song within 10 weeks and our progress has been incredible. The first three weeks, we brainstormed ideas of what KCS felt like, looked like, smelled like and meant to us and we came up with many sheets expressing our feelings. The fourth week, a singer/songwriter named Jennifer Foster came in and helped us a lot with how to write a song and which notes to use to give the overall warm feeling that we wanted for the song. Some of the words that the four of us kept coming up with were: warm, family, community, friendship and laughter because these words all describe KCS. We also wanted to include that you don’t have to be someone specific and you don’t have to change yourself to go to KCS. This experience has been one of the most educational, interesting, and fun experiences that we have ever had. None of us can believe how much work you can get done even while laughing and having so much fun.

Learning for the Love of It

Paddle Tennis KCS Elective 2013

Paddle Tennis Elective
photo credit: Mary Gaudet/Etobicoke Guardian

I can remember the day I found my passion. To the extent that we can help spark it, we want our students to find theirs.

Third term clubs and teams have started – twenty-nine opportunities in the areas of academics, arts, athletics and citizenship. Scheduled so students can do as much as their hearts desire, our keenest students pursue up to ten offerings each term in each of our Four Doors to Learning.

Many dozens of ‘Brainiacs’ (independent student-initiated projects) plus leadership and service projects are in full swing. Feel like creating a whole new language, or creating a comic that spoofs James Bond? That’s what a group of boys in grade 4 have shown they’re inclined to do. How about organizing a food drive, like a group of girls in grade 2? A boy in grade 5 is creating a video game that the class can use in its upcoming unit on the human body. And compelled by the desire to make a difference, a group of grade 7 students is organising KCS’ participation in a global Vow of Silence, an awareness-raising effort that allows children to ‘speak’ on behalf of those silenced by unacceptable circumstance. Giving time, encouragement and guidance so students can pursue what moves them has created a virtual deluge of learning

Third term also marks the start of our much-anticipated electives program for students in grades 6 to 8. Every Wednesday these students break out of the routine, learning just for the love of it. Joining an elective of their choosing, here is what these disparate delighted groups are up to:

  1. Receiving instruction in and cooking meals for a local youth shelter
  2. Creating a dramatic presentation from beginning to end
  3. Learning, playing and spreading the word about paddle tennis
  4. Geocaching (www.geocaching.com) and putting KCS on the international geocaching map
  5. Composing a school song
  6. Composing songs to promote social justice
  7. Receiving expert coaching in baseball, then providing that instruction to young KCS students
  8. Creating Renaissance art
  9. Building and programming robots to face challenges

And because we’re pretty tireless, a brand new opportunity for students in grades 4 to 8 with a special kind of passion is being revealed this Friday…

The day I found my passion was the day my life became defined by commitment to lifelong learning. This is our wish for our students. Let the sparks fly.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

More than Spring has Sprung at KCS

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

The warm sunshine, return of the robins, dancing daffodils and burgeoning tree buds weren’t the only new arrivals to recently grace our community. Though the emphatic entrance of spring was deeply appreciated, something else has awoken that even topped the weather for its sheer delight.

After years in our thoughts, dormant but developing, KCS is now proud to offer electives, electives with some significant twists, twists that had many of the grade 6 students, who get first crack at this opportunity, beside themselves with excitement.

A general introduction to electives was in last week’s parent e-newsletter Stay Connected. They’re designed for students to just learn for the love of it, learn by choice, not for marks, nor because the Ministry of Education says you must. It’s a time to develop the Habits of Mind, Body and Action that indisputably set us up to be successful. And it’s a time to offer an unlimited array of meaningful learning. If teachers and students can dream it, they now have time to do it. Directly connected to our school mission of developing lifelong learners, it’s designed to stoke the flames that fuel lifelong learning.

Judging from my small group of third-language learners, it’s working.

Students in grade 6 were given eight electives to choose from. Based on their choices, the forty-two students are now in one of six electives for 100 minutes each week of third term. One group is learning to cook from Chef Cirillo of Cirillo’s Culinary Academy. The result of their labours this past week was a mouth-watering chicken cacciatore dish that went directly to a youth shelter. Another group is engaged in geocaching. Enriched technology, art and drama are also taking place. And my group has each student learning the foreign language of their choice. Concurrently, (and thanks the significant help of Rosetta Stone language learning software), the students are learning the following languages: Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Filipino. Just because they want to.

Some of you may have read Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How finding your passion changes everything. He’s right, of course. The bulk of his book exposes the far too common disconnect between the regular school day and finding one’s passion, as if passion only has relevance in extra-curricular pursuits. Not here.

One of my students announced he was going to try to learn enough Mandarin to use it exclusively with the flight attendant on an upcoming family trip (hmm, not sure how that will go but keen to know!) To achieve his goal he has asked if he can use the software at home and if there are apps he can download on his iPad.

Lifelong learner, check.