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February 14
Traffic Safety

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

Have you ever been driving or a passenger in a car where there doesn’t seem to be any real or enforced rules on the road? There are many reasons why this happens. If you are on a backcountry off-road trail, it can be the thrill of 4x4ing. Having no traffic rules can be convenient and allows us to get somewhere quicker or stop exactly where we need to be.

At the same time, while a lack of traffic rules may seem thrilling or convenient, they can also be terrifying, especially for pedestrians. Pedestrians are considerably more vulnerable that occupants of a car and a lack of rules results in driver’s behaviour being unpredictable and erratic. Pedestrians simply aren’t able to predict what a driver may do next.

There are many days before and after school when the street to the north of our school (Mapleton Drive) feels like one of those roads mentioned above. We recognize that the traffic infractions witnessed on this road are often made out of convenience. However, convenience is also putting our students, their families and caregivers at risk. These same behaviours are creating unnecessary congestion for our multiple bus routes and their drivers.

We are asking for everyone’s cooperation in ensuring road safety, particularly around our school during busy times. Mapleton Drive is a playground zone with multiple crosswalks, intersections, and large bus only zones. We want to make sure everyone’s child is safe, including yours.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

February 07
School Development Plan

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

A number of years ago there was a pop culture rage of 3D pictures. The apparently abstract looking posters consisted of a colourful montage of pixelated images. However, if you looked at the image in just the right way your eye would discover a very clear hidden 3D image contained within the picture. You can still find examples of these images on a website like magiceye.com.

Our School Development Plan is an important document for our school. It establishes a direction for our learning along with setting out goals, strategies and targets for what we want to achieve. If you take time to read the School Development Plan you will likely discover that it isn’t the most exciting read. It is, however, interesting to glance through. Much like a hidden 3D picture, the true image isn’t so much in the words written on the page but rather seen through a deeper lens by looking at the amazing learning happening throughout our building.

One of the recent steps we have taken is to establish a School Development Plan bulletin board sharing the document in student friendly language. It contains phrases such as; ‘I can write to share my ideas, thoughts and understanding’ or ‘I know what I am learning about and how to be successful.’ It is our hope that by making our school goals visible and relatable to students that they will develop greater ownership in the learning process and work together with us in our school based goals. Student friendly language lets them see past the noise of the adult written word and see the image contained within.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal 

January 31
Science & Sports

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

It’s Super Bowl Weekend! I write that as if I’m really looking forward to it but truthfully I had to look up who is playing in the big game. While the NFL isn’t my choice of sports to watch on a regular basis, I do enjoy watching championship games in almost any sport. I think it is my love competition when victory is on the line.

Thinking of sport reminds me of the incredible connections between science and sport. Choose virtually any aspect of any sport, there is likely a scientific connection. Think about how the shape, weight and material of our footwear can impact performance in very different ways. Ballet slippers wouldn’t be very effective for baseball and soccer cleats will seriously impede the speed of a hockey game. There was an online article just this week debating whether or not a new Nike runner should be banned from marathons as it claims to be the fastest runner ever made.

What sporting equipment do you have around your house that you could turn into a weekend science experiment with your children? It doesn’t need to be complicated. What ball can be thrown the furthest? What shoe will let you slide the furthest down an icy sidewalk? When jumping with a skipping rope, what floor surface gives you the most traction?

When it comes to learning, the experiment itself doesn’t really matter. The learning comes within the questions and ideas explored during and after the experiment. Why do you think we got that outcome? What if we tried…? How could we improve the equipment in order to…? What would a professional athlete think of our ideas? What would a scientist think?

If you happen to be watching the Super Bowl this weekend, be sure to join in the age old tradition of being an armchair critic, player and coach. However, at some point, try being an armchair scientist with your child. You may just discover an innovation that will lead to a winning championship.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal

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January 24
Report Cards

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

This past week I had the privilege of reading through numerous student report cards before they are made available on January 30. As a Principal, I felt great pride in the accomplishments of our students from the first reporting period. I get a front row seat in witnessing the learning growth our students have been experiencing over the past few months.

Report cards remind me a little bit of a door jamb I have in my home. Like many of you, every year, on my children’s birthday, we mark their height on the jamb. It becomes an anticipated moment of celebration seeing how the have grown and developed. That growth is often impossible to measure on a day-to-day basis but over time, at regular check-in intervals, the growth is obvious.

As you review your child’s report card this week, I encourage you to take time to celebrate their many accomplishments and strengths. Every one of our students has exemplars of their individual strengths noted in the comments. Likewise, this is also a good time to set achievable goals. Every one of our students has an area in which they could further develop their learning. Growth and development is at the heart of learning. What goals will your child set and how can you support them? Finally, a goal isn’t usually as successful unless it is accompanied by a plan or strategy for achievement. What strategies are suggested by your child’s teacher? What strategies do you and your child think can be fostered at home?

I also want to take this time to thank you to you as parents for your partnership in supporting student learning. When you read with your child, ask them questions, listen to their stories and provide enriched learning opportunities, you are making a significant difference in their overall development. Thank you.

We do want families to note that our report cards will be digital this year. The news story below has information about how to access your child’s report card through your MyCBE/PowerSchool account. We will also send a reminder to parents regarding online repot card availability once they are made accessible on January 30.

Sincerely,


Brad Emery
Principal

January 17
Thanks to those Involved in Making Science Is Everywhere a Success

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

As I shared with families last week, on Tuesday we had the opportunity to do a joint presentation with R.T. Alderman School on the topic of Scientific Learning to the Board of Trustees. As mentioned in that update, our theme was ‘Science is Everywhere’. I want to say a huge thank you to all the individuals involved in making this presentation a success. A particular thank you goes out to two of our students, Aiona and Kayden, for bringing their voice to the conversation, allowing school trustees to understand scientific learning from the perspective of a student.

You may recall last week I challenged families to intentionally consider and look for all the places where scientific learning intersects with their lives; remembering, science is everywhere. In education we call this interdisciplinary learning. This is the notion that subjects do not exist in isolation from one another but rather are interconnected in so many ways. How is math involved when reading a book? What role does written language play in music? How do cultural understandings impact physical education?

There is an idiom that suggests we can view something with rose-coloured glasses. What new learning might be sparked if you and your child wore math-coloured glasses this week? What if you chose to wear social studies coloured glasses or music coloured glasses? I suspect you will not only develop new perspectives of our world but you will also likely gather a repertoire of new questions that are worth exploring on a deeper level. What glasses will your family choose to wear this week?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

January 10
What is Science?

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

What is Science? Science is something that can be learned and yet at the same time there are so many aspects of science that we simply know or do without conscious thought. I don’t need to think about gravity or even fully understand gravity to know that my feet don’t go flying off of the trail when I’m on a hike. I don’t need to think about or understand my beating heart. We live fully immersed in a world of science whether we think about it or not.

This upcoming week, our school, along with RT Alderman School, has been asked to do a presentation for the Calgary Board of Education’s School Trustees on the topic of Scientific Learning. Principal Brenda Lewis and myself have been considering over the past few weeks what we will present and have synthesized our message down to the phrase, ‘Science is Everywhere’.

Our four key points include: We are scientists when we are curious. We are scientists when we are problem solvers. We are scientists when we collaborate and communicate. And, we are scientists when we are creative and innovative. As you know, these are the skills and competencies found at the forefront of the teaching and learning we do here at Maple Ridge School. Curiosity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation live within all subject areas. They form the pillars of scientific learning but they are also integral to all aspects of our lives.

What does science look like in your home? I encourage families to try an experiment over the coming week. How many times can you point out to your child that they are being a scientist?  When they choose clothing appropriate for the weather, they are being a scientist. When they try a new food, they are being a scientist. When pass a hockey puck, they are being a scientist. Imagine the current and future possibilities that exist for our children when they see themselves as scientists.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

December 20
Smiling

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

Yesterday, during our final carol singing, I had the chance to surprise the students by dressing up as Buddy the Elf. I am willing to guess that most people would agree that the movie ‘Elf’ ranks as one of the most loved Christmas movies of all time. Buddy’s personality, the slapstick humor, quick one-liners and the comedic irony all work together to create a classic movie experience.

However, I feel one of the things that is so appealing about Elf is the genuine smile Buddy constantly wears. The amazing thing about a smile is that they cost nothing but they give so much. Not only do smiles make the people around us feel good, they also release endorphins, making the giver feel great as well. Virtually every scientific study ever published on smiling espouses the immense health, social, economic and well-being benefits of smiling.

Our children often do a better job of teaching us about smiling than we do . As adults, this holiday season, let’s all take a few moments to consciously smile just a little bit more. It just may be the best gift you can give this season.

In the words of Buddy the Elf, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite thing.”

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

December 13
Science and Math Involved with Food

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

Chocolate frogs. Treacle tarts. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. The food that appears at this time of year seems as magical and unique as these delights from Harry Potter. It seems there are certain foods and treats that only show up in December. Gingerbread. Egg nog. Candy canes. Likely your family also has examples that are relatively unique to your home, culture and traditions.

With all the food that gets spread before us at this time of year, I start thinking about all the science and math involved with food. According to livescience.com: Did you know 30% of all food produced, never gets eaten? Watermelons in Japan are grown in glass jars, creating a square shape for easier refrigerator storage? Birds are unable to taste the spice in chili pepper seeds?

What science, math and food conversations might you engage in over the upcoming Winter Break? Can you discover what areas of the tongue are responsible for tasting salt, sweet, bitter and sour? Can you use math to double or half a recipe? How does temperature impact the state or taste of food? How do small amounts of simple chemicals such as salt and sugar completely enhance or destroy the taste of certain foods? Why? What are the impacts of the food choices we make with respect to our bodies, each other and our planet?

While the talk of food can lead us into some amazing science conversations, I want to take a moment to thank our families for showing their incredible kindness with respect to our food bank drive. Food bank donations are a great way to engage children in conversations about the social implications of food and to set a spark for the value of generosity. Our families have donated approximately 900 items of food this year. Thank you!

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

December 06
Challenging Learning Projects

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

Have you ever had the opportunity to dissect something? If you have, I am confident that you remember the moment fairly well. I was in Grade 7 when Mr. Fast, my science teacher, brought in worms smelling of formaldehyde. I remember placing the worm in an aluminum tray filled with a hard black, wax-like substance. We surgically sliced a lateral line down the worm before peeling and pinning back the skin to reveal the inside. There in front of me was the small but very real organs of an earthworm. The image in my head is almost vivid enough that I feel I could sketch what I saw from memory.

During our STEM night last evening, it occurred to me how often we engage students in learning projects involving a challenge where they need to put something together. Students build with LEGO, build wooden towers, put code together, and develop patterns. However, what I realized is how little time students take to dissect something, to take something apart, to look inside.

One of the activities we had during STEM night was a take apart station. Essentially, it was a station where students had the chance to dissect old and broken electronics. I stood back and watched the engagement of these students. It was like they were opening a present to try to find out what lay hidden inside. Each new layer brought more curiosity, questions being asked, observations and opportunities for learning.

When we take time to look inside the shell of something we begin to understand our world on a much deeper level. We become more aware, understanding and appreciative of the wonders, complexities and simplicities in our world. So this weekend why not take some time to have your child dissect that old VCR hidden under the stairs to see the incredible learning that lies inside.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal

November 29
Rich Learning Activities

Dear Parents of Maple Ridge School,

A number of years ago a cookbook was released called Deceptively Delicious. The author was trying to find ways to get her kids to eat healthier foods. The premise simply involved creatively slipping items like cauliflower puree into kid friendly foods like macaroni and cheese.

As an educator and as a parent I love to slip rich learning into activities in which students naturally love to engage. There are lots of pre-packaged products on the market which inherently have good learning outcomes embedded into the activity. Board games, building blocks, art tools and codeable robots are easy to find in stores and online. If your house is like mine, you probably already have a number of these items stored on shelves and stuffed into closets.

While all these items are great for learning, I’d like to offer some suggestions for low-cost / no-cost activities that have high learning value. Educational researchers have noted that the highest levels of learning occur when our brains are engaged in activities involving creativity.

Each of these activities involve creativity, learning and have a high engagement value. A perennial favourite is building a fort. Design planning, choosing materials and problem solving are all embedded in play.  Rather than playing a traditional card or board game, create a new game. Can you create a game involving 3 random objects? For example what game could be invented using a spoon, some socks and a paper clip? Maybe try creating a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I wonder if your child’s creativity could come up with a way to make delicious bacon chocolate chip cookies? (If you can successfully make those cookies, I’d be up for trying a few.)

The possibilities to embed simple and creative ideas into engaging learning are endless. If you need more examples for inspiration, I encourage you to attend our STEM night coming up on December 5 from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. It will be filled with many interactive activities for you and your child to engage in and try at home.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal

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 Brad Emery, Principal

 
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We’ve translated our School Development Plan into student friendly language and posted it so students can take ownership for their learning and be part of the direction we are headed as a school. https://t.co/yLrjK0qWbT

It was our pleasure to be able to share our love for science based learning with all of you. We are all scientists! #WeAreCBE https://t.co/VgOqLB9uES

RT @yyCBEdu: Kindergarten registration starts on Monday, Jan 20. New age requirements for this year: Children can register to start kindergarten in the fall of 2020 if they turn 5 years old on or before Dec. 31, 2020 https://t.co/HucOTdtDMG #yycbe #WeAreCBE https://t.co/mw8nSFEJJN

RT @yyCBEdu: Very cold temperatures are forecast for Calgary in the coming days that can make getting to and from school more challenging. Families are encouraged to ensure their children are prepared for the weather and are dressed appropriately https://t.co/VP7agviwuy #yycbe #WeAreCBE https://t.co/kUjKm8jUpk

RT @yyCBEdu: We are planning for all schools to be open as usual during the cold snap. If this changes for any reason, an update will be posted on our website, and parents should watch their email for any updates https://t.co/VP7agviwuy #yycbe #WeAreCBE https://t.co/vD32spavwu