An Architecture of Learning


Mandalas created by Div. 1 students






From our Leaving Ceremony on June 19, 2015

Dear Grade 7’s,

Congratulations on your completion of elementary school! I feel your excitement so strongly, and this is one of the wonderful things about teaching grade 7. I witness and relive what it’s like to have so much ahead… so much possibility… so much anticipation as you begin stepping out into the world as your own person.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this school year. We’ve learned and played and lived in community. We’ve been part of an architecture of learning and teaching; and this architecture is a highly social one. As we learn, we teach each other, and this is where the magic happens. We have a framework, and each of you will continue to develop it as you move forward.

Prior knowledge and experiences are what we build on, and the more we know and experience, the more easily we can learn. You’ve done a lot of building this year — brain-storming, sharing writing, debating, storytelling, poetry slamming, presenting, crafting, acting, problem solving, planning Sports Day stations and so much more!

You have worked hard, you have been kind, you’ve taken risks and you’ve challenged yourselves. And most of all, you’ve shown that you care, and that what you do in school matters to you.

Grade 7’s, thank you for your smiles, thank you for playing along, thank you for your hard work and thank you for supporting each other. Thank you to your wonderful parents who have supported you and our school, with so much devotion.

Grade 7’s, I wish you all a rich and satisfying high school experience. I will miss you. Here is a parting thought for you, inspired by my esteemed online teacher friend, @grammasheri : “Connect kindly and learn life together.”

Ms. Angel


Mandalas created by Div. 1 students


Musings on Term 2

falling-star-156507_640Welcome back, Division 1! It’s good to be back at school to get ready for all the learning we’ll be doing this term!

I’m looking forward to publishing more writing on your blogs. Hopefully, the school internet will be more reliable once our bandwidth will be increased next month. It’ll make it easier to demonstrate and perform blog functions at school, and to share our ideas, creativity and comments.

How did your reading go over the break? I’ve read the better part of two novels, one of which I’m still reading:  “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr. This book has been on many “Best Books of 2014” lists this past year. It centres on two teenagers, a girl (who is blind) and lives in France, and a boy who lives in Germany, all during the 2nd World War. It is beautifully written with short chapters that go back and forth between the experiences of each protagonist. Eventually their fates will come together. I will donate the book to the class library when I finish it.

I’ve also read a book about the logic of learning & teaching history. Due to the passage of time and decay of materials, historians always work with incomplete data from which to make meaning. Here’s a quotation from the book that shows the challenge that historians face:

“A more realistic interpretation might be provided by the following method. Take a Jackson Pollock painting and cut it into a jigsaw puzzle with a hundred thousand pieces. Throw away all the corner pieces, two thirds of the edge pieces, and one half of the rest. What remains is a little closer to the problems that historians actually study.”— David H. Fischer

Other highlights this term will include the Science Fair in February, and expanding our study of the human journey in ancient times in Social Studies. As we progress to learning about the ancient civilizations in the Middle East and Egypt, I’m including a link below, as promised, to the National Geographic film called “Journey of Man; A Genetic Odyssey!” Yes, we truly are all related.

Please make a comment at the end of this post to let us know what you have read over the break, as well as any other thoughts you may have about the term, history, science, etc. Looking forward to hearing from you,

Ms. Angel

A New School Year


Image sourced from Creative Commons

To the Division 1 class of 2014/15:

I write this before having met you, and I want you to know how much I look forward to spending this school year together. Due to the strike, we had a rocky ending last year, and a late and unusual start this year. This has been a part of my education about the ways of the world; and I invite you to consider how this has affected you. For instance, what is the role of school in your lives, what is government’s responsibility to us, and what is our responsibility to government?

I look forward to hearing and reading your thoughts and opinions about many other things too. We will be on a learning journey together, and where we go entirely depends on us. In this classroom, I highly encourage you to ask questions, to think, and discuss your learning with your peers. Of course, we will be guided by the grade 7 curriculum, and it is my hope and intention that what we study will, as much as possible, be enjoyable, meaningful and important to you. In my opinion, learning involves:

  • imagination
  • fun
  • creativity
  • open-mindedness
  • cooperation
  • collaboration
  • discussion
  • happy accidents
  • reflection
  • evaluation
  • checking in with ourselves
  • practice, practice, practice
  • struggle
  • friendship
  • concentration
  • organization
  • trust
  • acceptance….

What can you add to the list? I look forward (I know I’ve said this many times already) to hearing all you have to say. I really do enjoy virtually all of the curriculum. There is so much to be learned, and it is my sincere hope that we can do it in a fun and creative way this year. I love to:

  • explore issues in Social Studies
  • learn how the world works and think like a hands-on scientist
  • sing French songs
  • read & discuss novels together
  • write and publish stories, learnings and opinions on our class blog
    (these could take the form of media such as video & podcasts, too)
  • make visually compelling art
  • and so much more

Here are some books that I have read this summer (I’d love to know what you’ve read, too):

  • The Headmaster’s Wager, by Vincent Lam
  • Ready Player One, by Earnest Cline
    (about the intersection of a virtual reality game & real life)
  • The Master Puppeteer, by Katherine Paterson
  • The Land of Maquinna, by Ian Mahood
    (about Vancouver Island First Nations & Chief Maquinna)
  • Middlemarch, by George Elliott
  • Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  • Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
    (the last 3 titles are old classics that I downloaded  free on my iPad)

…So now you know, I love learning & teaching.

I also love art (sometimes I even make it), reading, the natural world, folk & world music, riding my bike, swimming, yoga and cooking & eating good food with family and friends. Environmental issues concern me deeply. I am married to someone who also loves to learn, and we have grown children.

And now I turn it over to you. What can you tell me about your learning journey, your interests, your hopes for the school year? Looking forward to reading what you have to say! If you click on the “Language Arts” at the top of the blog, you will find the writing ideas page that we looked at in class for “A Letter to Ms. Angel.”

Ms. Angel

In the meantime, please comment below.

• Name some qualities or conditions that encourage learning
• Name some books and authors that you’ve read over the summer.

By commenting, you will leave your email address, and I’ll then be able to sign you up for the blog. Your comments will not immediately appear here, because your parents will need to sign consent forms before I post them. Thanks, Div. 1!