Oct 14
RTA STEM Challenge #1

       RTA Students and Staff embarked on the first school wide STEM Challenge of the year.  

  •        Students were divided in 5 different teams within their Homeroom Class: Green, Blue, Purple, Gold and Grey Team. 
  •        Each team is competing for points which will go towards the RTA Science Olympics in the spring. 
  •        Students will also have an opportunity to work as a larger team, joining different grades throughout the year.​

RTA STEM Challenge #1

RTA School Wide Stem Challenge SOCT 

The SOCT – The Single Object Collision Test 

  • RTA's first STEM challenge has been created in spirit of NASA’s recent DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) planetary defence mission - where NASA crashed a 610 kg (the weight of a car) spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos at a distance of 10 600 000 km from earth. 
  • The DART Spacecraft was launched on the 24 November 2021 and crashed into Dimorphos close to a year later September 26, 2022, the space craft was hurled into the Dimorphos as an asteroid impact planetary saving device.

The Challenge:

  • Your team has been tasked with creating a 3 Popsicle stick gizmo that will be projected to an “asteroid” (ball) that will be in the centre of your room. 
  • You will need to Brainstorm with your crew and plan before you are given materials to build your gizmo and projectile device. 
  • Grades 5-6 need to hit the “asteroid” 
  • Grades 7-9 need to stick to the “asteroid” 

Materials: • Asteroid 1 per class Per group grades 5-9 • 8 popsicle sticks 3 must be made into the “projectile” • 1 m of tape • 8 popsicle sticks in total • 2 elastics Per group grades 7 - 9 • Small piece of Velcro 7- 9 

Each team will have 2 attempts at success (NASA had only one and they had to wait a year to see if their single shot worked​.

Jun 19
National Indigenous Peoples' Day

National Indigenous Peoples' Day:

National Indigenous Peoples' Day is honoured annually on June 21st, marking the beginning of summer solstice. In Indigenous communities, summer solstice signifies a time of renewal and ceremonies which are connected to the seasons, land and spirituality. National Indigenous Peoples Day is for all Canadians to recognize the diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in Canada. It is a day for communities to come together and acknowledge Indigenous peoples contributions, both historical and contemporary. It is important to honour the traditional territory on which we live and the original peoples of this land.

While we acknowledge the significance of this day, teachers will be thoughtful to include rich learning opportunities that live through the disciplines, and connect to ongoing, long-term work to honour and learn from Indigenous knowledge systems, languages and histories.

As part of our ongoing work, several RTA teachers will be also be working with an Indigenous Education Leader at Carburn Park over the next couple of weeks, continuing to grow and to connect our sacred space to rich and meaningful learning.

Community Resources for RTA families:

While this learning is embedded each and every day at RTA, in all subjects and disciplines, teachers, staff and students will be mindful to take some extra time to celebrate and to share stories.

Grade 5 & 6

  • Students will visit Carburn Park in these last couple of weeks, revisiting their sacred spot and sharing stories.

Grade 7

  • Grade 7 students will visit Carburn Park in the PM
  • Students will eat lunch and then identify 5-6 local plants that Indigenous people used and learned about in class.
Grade 8
  • Indigenous Summer Solstice Virtual Presentation 
  • Science – Grade 8 students will be exploring the Indigenous Perspective on Science (Two-eyed seeing and what is indigenous place). We will also be exploring various Indigenous perspectives on the Northern Lights. 
  • Humanities – Grade 8 students will learn the importance of the summer solstice to Indigenous communities and do some writing inspired by summer-themed art and music.

Grade 9

​Physical Education

  • ​All PE classes will be participating in two traditional Indigenous Games.  
  • The background and history of the games will be shared prior to playing Lacrosse and Sticks.
  • Lacrosse Legend

We are so happy to be able to share this very important work,

Brenda Lewis 


Feb 15
February 23, 2022 is Pink Shirt Day at RTA

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 is Pink Shirt Day

Two Nova Scotia high school students inspired Pink Shirt Day by organizing their fellow students to wear pink in support of a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Pink Shirt Day is a time to encourage Albertans to stand up to bullying when they see it in schools, communities, workplaces, at home and online.

Show you care by checking in with one another. Learn #WhereToTurn if you or someone you know is experiencing bullying:

RTA Pink Shirt Day Plan:

Grade 5 & 6

Teachers will use the following tools in our classes along with discussions, skits, and materials (sock and apple, crumpled up paper:

Grade 7

  • On Feb. 14th, 15th and 16th, Gr. 7 students are invited to bring their own shirt for tie dye learning at lunchtime 
  • Students are making wear-pink reminder posters for our school hallways
  • On Feb. 23rd, a committee of interested students will circle the grade seven hallway offering face painting and pink ribbons 

Grade 8

  • Teachers will spend some time discussing the origin of Pink Shirt Day – watch the video about what Pink Shirt day is all about and the purpose of the day
  • Read the poem “To this day"
  • Students will participate a couple of activities from the attached document
  • Reviewing the difference between rude, mean, and bullying 

Grade 9

  • Teachers are focusing to be how to act with integrity. 
  • Teacher will be relating integrity to Indigenous injustices and the importance of being informed on difficult topics.
  • Students will create 1 Google slide to represent a Canadian Black person's contributions to society - we will share a couple of the slides daily to focus on how history is written and how that may lead to misrepresentations of people.
  • Starting next week, students look at the "Heart" & "Spirit" part of Indigenous Medicine Wheel 
    • We plan to relate this to integrity and kindness
    • We are going to look at CBE's Student Code of Conduct, specifically, Student Responsibilities for Promoting Positive Behaviours
    • We are going to select items from this calendar to focus on daily until the month of February. 
  • We also are going to ask for student input on what they can do to recognize Pink Shirt Day.

 


Nov 22
RTA November SDP Planning

     After reviewing the diagnostic assessments and locally designed screens gathered in September and October, RTA staff met on Friday, November 12, 2021, to design lessons which incorporate high impact strategies connected to the School Development Goals: Literacy, Numeracy and Wellness.

The RAVENS Learning Agenda:

Wellness SDP Goal:

  • Students' critical reflection about belonging will increase.
    • ​Micro Goal: Students will learn how they can help everyone belong.


TASK 1: Report Card RESULTS Stem Unpacking

In our SDP, we are using the Report Card Stem, Results 3: Citizenship | Exercises democratic rights and responsibilities within the learning community as a measure of student wellness.  

Purpose: we need to create a common grade team indicator scale for the Report Card Stem

Learning Leader, Mr. Lee shared examples of how he embeds the Results into classroom task design, including conversations and writing reflections.

In grade teams, teachers created  a rubric, providing grade team criteria for the following indicators: 

  • EX: Exemplary Strengths 
  • EV: Evident Strengths 
  • EM: Emerging Strengths 
  • SR: Network of Supports Required 


CBE Reporting and Assessment Document – Results 3: Citizenship | Exercises democratic rights and responsibilities within the learning community 

  • Contributes to events of common concern 
  • Advocates for self, others, and the common good 
  • Takes responsibility and action to help the group work smoothly 
  • Adheres to community expectations and personal convictions in conducting and representing learning 

Teachers will shared the common rubric with students.

TASK 2: Science Fair Planning

Purpose: In grade teams, teachers created a Science Fair Checklist for students and families to help them organize and chuck the learning tasks, requirements and deadlines.

TASK 3: Literacy and Numeracy PLC (Professional Learning Communities)

Literacy Goal 2021-22 |Students' achievement in managing and evaluating information and ideas will increase.

  • Micro Goal #1: Students will be able to paraphrase and summarize key ideas, concepts and information.
  • Micro Goal #2: Students will develop and build their vocabulary.
     

Mathematics Goal 2021-22 new | Student achievement in understanding and expressing patterns and relations will increase.

  • Micro Goal: Students will be able to express and solve problems using equations

​Purpose: To review students' assessment data aligned with our SDP and to plan the next steps.

Teachers divided into the Numeracy or Literacy Teams.

STEP 1: Document data observations and data needs.  

  • What are some strategies that we can use for our students at risk? 
  • Where they at risk last year? 
  • Does the data match what I see in the classroom? 
  • Did the format of the data gathering (ie. Test environment) affect the results?  
  • Do I need to gather more data in a different way? 
  • Do we need to look at last year's data? 


STEP 2: Identify the next step. We need to design/focus/etc. 

STEP 3: What is the action plan? 

STEP 4: What is the homework?

Yours in learning,

Brenda Lewis

Oct 14
RTA September SDP Planning

As a principal, non-instructional days can be a bit nerve-wracking, as I am responsible for leading professional development. It is a job that I take very seriously. At RTA, we want to be the best educators that we can be for your students. 

Much of our Professional Development connects directly to our School Development Goals (SDP): literacy, numeracy and wellness. It is an opportunity to meet in teams, to learn, to review resources, to collaborate, to invite keynote speakers, to watch resources, and to learn from one another. As a Science School, we also spend some of this valuable professional learning time to develop our computer literacy skills (learning how to incorporate technologies such as Lego Mindstorms, Python Coding, Arduinos, etc., into our task design), as well as improving our understanding of Science Inquiry. 

As we continue our SDP journey this year, focusing on improving student literacy (managing information), improving student numeracy (NEW GOAL: patterns), and increasing student wellness (sense of belonging), teachers met on Friday, October 8th, to develop common assessment criteria for the RTA benchmark checklists. 

October 8, 2021 | ​Teacher Professional Development Agenda: 

Long-term Goal: 

Teachers: At the end of October, teachers will complete student checklist for Literacy (managing information), Numeracy (patterns), and Wellness. 

Students: At the end of October, students to complete a checklist for wellness. 

​Teachers will identify if a student is: 

  • on target (green)
  • at risk (yellow) 
  • needs support (red) 

Students will identify if they are:

  • on target (green)
  • at risk (yellow) 
  • needs support (red) 

Wellness Work

  1. The Work - in teams - Grade 5-7 and Grade 8-9 - teachers will design a wellness rubric, determining common criteria for each category. What does a green, yellow and red mean?
  2. The Plan - in teams, teachers will determine how they will introduce the wellness goal? How will you support students in their self-assessment of wellness?
  3. The Action - at the end of October (Oct. 25- Oct. 28), teachers will complete a checklist for students; and students will self-assess themselves.
  4. Data Analysis - on November 5, teachers will review and reflect upon the data, determining the next steps. 

Literacy/Numeracy Work

  1. The Work – in teams – Grade 5-6 Literacy/Numeracy, Grade 7-9 Literacy/Numeracy - teachers will review and tweak the literacy/numeracy rubrics, aligning them with the outcomes in the Programs of Study. Teachers will decide upon common criteria for each category. What does a green, yellow and red mean?
  2. The Plan - in teams, teachers will determine how they will introduce the literacy/numeracy goals.
  3. The Action - at the end of October (Oct. 25- Oct. 28), teachers will complete a checklist for students.
  4. Data Analysis - on November 5, teachers will review and reflect upon the data, determining the next steps. 

Thank you for sharing in this learning adventure,

Brenda Lewis

 


Sep 18
September Start | A Principal's Journey

As an educator, I always look forward to September:  leaves turning colour; a cool crispness kisses the air; new groups of students, heading to class, excited to learn and to make new friends, sparking school supplies (did I mention that I love school supplies!), an assortment of clubs & athletics … the possibilities seem endless.

Since the first day of school, I have met so many new students and I have welcomed so many previous students. It never ceases to amaze me how much change happens over a couple of months. Everyone seems taller, older, and much, much more mature.

As a principal, I have an amazing job – I get to teach and learn with teachers and students. Sometimes, I get to sneak into classrooms and become lost in the learning. While other times, I get to work, one-on-one with children or with small groups of students. Whether it's helping with math, recommending an awesome book, practicing regulation strategies, or helping with wellness (puzzles, tea, and putty are some of my favourites), I enjoy my quality time with your children. A huge thank you!

As a team, RTA teachers have already met to discuss field trips, athletics, computer literacy, science fair and our school development plan (in addition to team planning and school organization).

RTA Science Fair: All students will create a RTA Science Fair project. The Science Fair Project looks different in each grade. In grade 5, there is more structure, while in grades 7-9, students focus more on innovation. Some grades may use a digital format, while others may allow mini-trifolds. The majority of the Science Fair Project will be completed in the classroom. Grade team teachers work closely together to support students in brainstorming ideas, formating, researching, interpreting, gathering data, etc.

RTA SDP: Within the SDP (school development plan), we continue to focus on improving LITERACY – managing information in all disciplines and WELLNESS – creating a sense of belonging. With access to immediate information, how to we support students with online research, in selecting rich and reputable texts, in evaluating resources, and in synthesizing understanding?  As a staff, we also brainstormed: What does it means to belong? How can we tell if a student belongs to a community? What words do students use, what actions do we see, if they feel like they belong?

In addition to the learning, RTA students are already running in cross country, bumping in volleyball, and kicking in soccer. Both inside and out, our students are connecting to the community.

We are looking forward to our Meet the Teacher this week as well. This will be an opportunity for families to meet with teachers, glimpsing into the classroom learning (D2L Classroom Shell; PowerSchool, Science Fair, Field Trips and classroom rules and routines).

A huge thank you to all of the families for your kind words and your support in this exciting September Start time.

Brenda Lewis 


Jun 07
​Spring is in the air: Peer Pressure in Middle School

As summer approaches, it is easy to forget that our young students have a lot on their mind. While many children are excited about the upcoming break, they are also worried about their learning, their friends and the changes that the next year will bring.

With the arrival of the warm air and long hours of sunshine, middle school students often struggle in making sense of their world, especially as their world is quickly changing, and they are sometimes exposed to risky behaviors and peer pressure.

​As a team at RTA, we support students with making good decisions and learning from their mistakes. This support also includes working with students and families in building understanding and resiliency, while fostering confidence and promoting safety. 

This can be confusing for some students. We need to work together as a community; we need to introduce dialogue where students feel safe and can ask questions. As parents, you are your child's expert, and we invite your support.

​Peer Pressure excerpt from My Health Alberta Network https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abl0972&lang=en-ca

What makes kids vulnerable to peer pressure?

The one thing that seems to make all adolescents vulnerable to peer pressure is simply being in this age range. They're just doing what kids their age (middle school to high school) do. Research suggests that peer pressure can be especially difficult to resist because, at this stage of their lives, lots of kids:

  • Want to fit in and be like the kids they admire.
  • Want to do what other kids are doing, and have what other kids have.
  • Don't want to feel awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Are afraid of being rejected or made fun of.
  • Don't know how to get out of a pressure situation.
  • Aren't sure what they really want.

What can parents do to help?

As normal as it is for adolescents to go along with their peers, it can be just as normal for parents to take their children's challenging behaviour personally. Just try to remember that kids aren't so much rejecting you as they are trying to establish their own identity.

Whether your child is the most popular kid in class or is someone who has few friends, peer pressure can push him or her to do unhealthy things.

Adolescents still need a parent's help to make good decisions—even if they don't act like it.

Help them become the people you hope they can be by helping them learn to:

  • Say "no." It can be hard to resist the pressure to engage in risky behaviour when other kids are doing it too. Before your kids find themselves in one of these situations, role-play with them. Help your kids figure out how to respond when someone says to them, "Come on and have a drink with us. It's way more fun than studying. Or are you too chicken?" or "I really like you a lot. Let's text each other some pictures of ourselves naked. It's called sexting. Everybody's doing it."
  • Develop good self-esteem. Take time to praise your child and celebrate his or her achievements. Children who feel good about themselves are more able to resist negative peer pressure and make better choices.
  • Choose their friends wisely. This means online friends too. Lots of people (peers and adults) try to pressure kids to make bad choices. But if your children have friends with good values and good self-esteem, they can help your kids make sense of new technology, stay away from risky behaviour, and resist unwanted peer pressure.
  • Create special code words. These are special words your children can use when they want your help but don't want their friends to know they're asking you for it. For example, if they don't feel comfortable at a party, your children can call or text you with an agreed-upon phrase like, "Mom, I have a really bad earache. Can you come get me?"
  • Use you as an excuse. Let your kids know that if they ever face peer pressure they don't know how to resist, they can always refuse by blaming you: "My parents will ground me for a month if I do that."
 ​​And you can help yourself by learning to:
  • Stay calm. If your children want to do something you don't agree with, try not to overreact. Dying their hair purple or wearing sloppy clothes can seem like your children are rebelling. Compare this kind of behaviour with how your kids are doing in school, who their friends are, and how maturely they usually behave. If they're doing well in these other areas, try not to get upset, and resist the urge to judge or lecture them.
  • Stay informed. Pay attention to the substances that kids this age are using, the way they dress, and how they're using the latest cell phones, social media, and other technologies. The more you know, the better you can protect your kids and help them learn to make good decisions.
  • ​Stay in your kids' lives. Even though they may not act like it, most children this age still listen to their parents. Keep talking to them—about their interests, accomplishments, and friends; about the music they listen to; and about the things that bother them.

Calgary Youthlink | Conversation Starter Kits: Facts and Tips for Families

https://youthlinkcalgary.com/conversations/

I would also encourage families to explore the amazing videos on the Calgary Youthlink Website:
  • Say No
  • Vaping
  • Gang Recruitment
  • Special Photo
  • Pass it on

As always, we want to work together will families in supporting students' learning with fostering a safe and secure learning environment. We are more than happy to meet with families if they have any questions or suggestions in making RTA the best school in Calgary.

Kind regards,

Brenda Lewis​


May 12
Readapting to Online Learning

​A friend of mine, Jason Hartl, the principal of Dr. Martha Cohen, recently shared an article​ entitled: Learning from Home: Top Ten Tips for Parents to Keep Kids on Track​, from the STEM website Mindfuel.

Online learning requires more than just putting the curriculum onto tablets, we need to find engaging ways to teach kids and ensure they are learning and having fun, said Cassy Weber, CEO of MindFuel.

Tips to keeping kids engaged online:

1. Limit distractions and make sure the space is functional.

2. Encourage regular breaks and stretching, and remember mental health is just as important as physical health.

3. Turn learning into a game for a change of pace.

4. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher and class.

5. Encourage your child to enhance their learning and try to learn something new.

6. Allow for flexibility in your child’s learning schedule.

7. Setting goals and rewarding success goes a long way.

8. Find ways to do things together throughout the day.

9. Take your child’s learning outside when possible.

10. Incorporate regular classroom activities into your child’s day.

Children thrive on routine. Chances are there are regular activities your student’s teacher plans throughout the week. Maybe there’s a theme for certain days of the week, or a certain activity they do together such as reading a book chapter at the end of the day. 

At-home learning is a new reality Canadian students may face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Please see visit the website for more information.

Kind regards,

Brenda





​​

Dec 07
Moonshot Thinking

Moonshot Thinking

“Moonshots" are the incredible, seemingly impossible, ideas that change our world.

Dr. Gray, RT Alderman's amazing Music and Band Director, excitedly shared Moonshot thinking with me this year. An avid learner, I immediately began to research this new concept, a concept that I hadn't heard of before. Immediately, I was hooked.

In his 1962 speech at Rice University, John F. Kennedy stated: “We choose to go to the moon this decade." Despite the barriers and obstacles, Kennedy believed that humanity was going to accomplish something incredible.

Moonshot thinking involves embracing the chaos and uncertainty and changing the world (hmm... does this sound familiar?)  It's about better thinking: thinking bigger; thinking smarter and thinking faster. It's about thinking different. Moonshot thinking is only limited by imagination.

Moonshot thinking is when “you choose a huge problem, such as climate change, and propose to create a radical solution to the problem using disruptive technology. For this to happen you have to abandon the idea of creating a 10% incremental improvement and focus on a solution that will bring ten times (X10) improvements, or solve it completely" (Alayon)

Moonshot Thinking Framework

  1. Moonshot Thinking
  2. Moonshot Launch
  3. Moonshot Landing
  4. Transform Yourself

“Moonshots live in that place between audacious projects and pure science fiction" (Villafuerte). When I listen to our students' and our staff's learning, their conversations, their research, their brainstorming and their ideas, I realize that moonshot thinking lives and breathes at RT Alderman.

Each and everyday, I humbled and in awe of being part of the moonthinking!

Brenda Lewis

  • Leading the future | Moonshot thinking by Peter Fisk at the GeniusWorks.Com.
  • Understanding Moonshot Thinking by David Alayon.
  • Google X Head on Moonshots: 10X Is Easier Than 10 Percent by Fitz Villafuerte.​


Oct 26
October Message

Fostering a Sense of Belonging

“Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them."

 – Rita Levi-Montalcini (Italian Neurophysiologist)

As part of our SDP (School Development Plan), we have identified “fostering a sense of belonging," as our wellness goal at RTA.

In addition to disrupting student learning in the spring, the COVID pandemic has also unbalanced our connectedness to community. Teachers and students moved to a different type of learning, prioritizing well-being in a world of unknown. Teachers and students were separated from their peers, their friends, their teachers, and their school.

And while September has brought a new normalcy, we recognize that fostering a sense of belonging remains at priority.

Currently we have 74 students in HUB online learning, they are part of the RTA community; we have 22 Homeroom Cohorts, they are part of the RTA community; we have 4 HUB teachers, they are part of the RTA community; we have 2 EAs, a resource teacher, 4 office staff members, 4 caretakers, 1 library, 8 lunchroom staff, 2 PE and 1 Music teacher, they are part of the RTA community.

We are working very hard to create a sense of community in the building – a sense of community amongst the students, the staff and our families. The PE team has begun recognizing monthly Homerooms; in school and online classes are participating in our monthly STEM challenges; and, Ms. Grey has invited both in school and HUB students to present during our Remembrance Day Assembly. As always, we are open to ideas and suggestions as well. This is important work and we need everyone's support.

We will continue to have regular class meetings and check-ins, at all grade levels. This may take the form of a sharing circle or a conversation in grade 9. We will continue to invite student voice, through surveys and self-reflection and journaling.  We will continue to grow and to learn together.

Brenda Lewis

 



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CBE parents/guardians, watch your inbox for a letter from the Minister of Education regarding access to in-person learning. https://t.co/A2tKoYIlih #yycbe https://t.co/y5pO4p5G2h

There are no classes for CBE students on Friday, Nov. 25, because it’s a system-wide non-instructional day. Have a great long weekend! #WeAreCBE https://t.co/dZCQzZ4rJA

Students at @WillowParkCBE worked with artist and author Vivek Shraya to create a short promotional video in connection to Vivek's new book – Revenge of the Racoons. Check it out: https://t.co/Ei06Ulk5tW #WeAreCBE

CBE parents/guardians, watch your inbox for information from the Chief and Senior Medical Officers of Health in Alberta about influenza circulating in the province & measures individuals can take to reduce the spread/lessen the impact in schools https://t.co/hETIuEDknh #yycbe https://t.co/S5AxW9QgXP

RT @elboyacbe: Math and art…a beautiful combination! #wearecbe@yyCBEduhttps://t.co/Ekakdzn9l9