Sunday, September 28, 2008

Almost Two Months in Iqaluit

All is quiet here on Sundays except for the builders across the street. They even work Sundays. I guess you have to take advantage of the good weather while it is here in order to get things done before the snows really arrive.
We had our school Terry Fox Walk on Friday(Sept 26) and had milder weather for it. We walked a circle around the main roads of the city and back to our school. It stopped a lot of traffic and lots of people came outside to cheer the children on. It did seem a bit strange walking in ski jackets and gloves. When we got back to school they gave the kids a longer recess. Seemed just like back home.

No classes on September 29th as we had a staff inservice day on Picturing Writing. I love the program already cuz I get to play with watercolour paints. My students love it too. We hadn't done much except play with the paints on dry paper and wet paper. We did have the priviledge of learning more under the program developer herself- Beth Olshansky. She came to our class for an hour every day and worked with the children. She focused on the sky and how it changes during the different times of day. They did paintings of twilight and sunset. They also started to write about their paintings too. We will soon have enough work together for them to each have their first published book. Check out some of their paintings.

These are pictures of Twilight up in the North done by grade 1 and 2 students. The picture below is a finished Sunset page for one of their books which will be called Painting the Sky.I am very proud of my little artists.

Leaving you with a real Iqaluit sunset. No snow today!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Snow in September

One minute you couldn't see down the hill to the airport and the next the sky is clear again!

I wasn't expecting to dig out my boots, ski jacket and gloves so soon. We has small snow showers on Sunday (the 14th). Looked out my window one minute to a clear view and a whiteout the next. It was over as soon as it arrived. It has snowed on and off all week since.

When we got up Tuesday(16th) morning there was a couple inches of snow on the ground. I was on duty all day and had to deal with snowball. I should say dirtballs because our playground is all sand and gravel. We do not have pavement only days here. No pavement to speak of anywhere around the school. By supper time there was no snow around but it keeps coming back in spurts. We did have a high wind warning on Wednesday night. The buildings rocked and rolled all night. Being up on stilts means these buildings move a bit in strong winds. I got rocked to sleep that night.
See the metal posts that hold our building up. We live on the top floor, too!

This was the sunrise on Thirsday morning. It was like the sun painted the ground with a golden paintbrush.The mountains in the distance look beautiful with their white dusting of snow. You can actually see the snow showers coming off in the distance when the cloud cover is not too low.
That's all from "way North of Nova Scotia" This week!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Starting Over Again

Wow! It is hard to believe that I have been here almost 4 weeks now. It was strange walking into a different school and trying to set up a new classroom. The school looks like a big octagonal marshmallow in the center of town. It is are located across from the main grocery store, too. At noon and supper time we even have some traffic. There are no traffic lights. We have lots of 3 and 4 way stops. The speed limit is 40km/hr or 30 in front of the hospital. Jacques has a hard time keeping down under those speeds after spending years doing so much highway driving. We have already gotten into a daily routine. He goes to work at 5 or 6 and then is back to pick me up at 7:30. Check out his vehicle. It is a good thing it is 4 wheel drive as the roads are real rough out here. We have checked out most of the roads in town but haven't gone all the way out the Road to Nowhere. I'll need a couple gravol for that road!
Well back to school life. Classes start at 8:45 am and we sing O'Canada partly in Inuktitut then french and finally in English. I haven't retained any Inuktitut yet. All the children take off their outdoor shoes at the entrance and carry them to class. Imagine trying to do that at Kingston School. I have a class of 21 students. There are 8 grade 2 students and 13 grade 1's. They only have 1/2 day Kindergarten so many of the children are not as ready for grade 1 as those with full days in primary in NS. Different systems. They do provide a lot of materials for the classroom. I have oodles of math manipulative's compared to back home. My class was well supplied with books and other materials. This picture is the bulletin board outside my room.

We finish our morning at 11:50 when everyone goes home for lunch. We have 3 buses to take those that do not walk or get picked up. I had one student just stay on the playground the first day because she just wanted to swing. That afternoon when we got her on the bus she didn't get home. They found her on a playground in her neighbourhood on the swings. We have to make sure she gets to the bus daily. My students call me Donna. It was very strange when they called my name for the first few days. It's a Hey Donna here and a Hey Donna there! We get recess at 10:30 and the children have snack time before we go out. We provide Cheez Whiz and crackers for those without snacks. There are also apples and oranges as well. The picture below is my Word Wall and the shelves where my students leave indoor shoes and snacks.

Everyone is back in class at 1:05. It gives Jacques and I enough time to go for lunch at home or out to one of the restaurants. We usually end up at the Snack because it is quick and the often serve Quebec style food. My class has language lessons at 1:05 everyday. Some go for French and the others go for Inuktitut. Every second day I pick them up from language and take them to Gym, I get 1/2 hour prep on Day 1 and an hour prep on Day 2. They only get music if I sing to them...poor kids! Thank goodness I brought a couple tapes and Cd's with me. Send me children's music, ladies! Below is our carpet area with my calendar and math board

Our school day ends at 3:45. Boy am I exhausted by then. We have staff meetings on Thursdays after school. I usually get home around 5:00 or 6:00 depending when Jacques comes to get me. It is too far a walk up the hill after school . This picture shows our reading and listening area with pillows and carpet. Every table seats 4 students. The gap in the wall is a space to go into the next classroom. We have cupboards and shelves blocking it from both sides. The room is a weird shape. (all rooms are weird shapes)I am excited about getting my student computers up and running. I have a teacher computer with a colour printer. I can even photocopy pages on it. All student materials are supplied by the school. We have a storage room where we go and get what ever materials we think we will use in our room. I found lots of supplies in my room so had lots to get me started the first week of classes. There is a little side room on the right side of my class if you are entering the room. I can set up a painting area there for art or have quiet assessment time with students. I have a fully stocked art cabinet so I am set to be creative!This picture shows more white boards and my math bulletin board.
I have oodles of math manipulatives in the bookcase and beside it. I do not have to go searching the school for math supplies because I have most everything I need at my fingertips.

This is my little area with storage and a work area plus 2 sinks. I have a blackboard, too.

Check out the only window in my class. It is like we are in a boat with this porthole.

My Bank of computers which are yet to be hooked up. Below is the teacher's corner where I get to work once the students have gone home. Hope you liked the tour of my class. I am enjoying setting up a whole new class and experience.

Catch you again in a week or 2. I have started watching the procedure they go through when building a house up here in the North. One is just getting started across the street from our apartment.