Jan 14
Queues and Colonels

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Learning to read is not an easy task. For most of us, the process of reading is now intuitive. We have learned to read and we have forgotten how difficult that process was. Imagine, however, I gave you reading selection in a language that does not use the Latin alphabet. What do those symbols mean? How do they connect? Do you read the selection left to right or right to left? Top to bottom or bottom to top?

For our youngest students, they have already been on a multi-year journey of recognizing and learning symbols, blends, sounds and words. This is only the start of learning to read. What do those punctuation symbols mean? When do I take a breath? How do tonal inflections change the meaning? In English, we have the added complication of single words having double and sometimes contradictory meanings. The word ‘dust’ can mean both remove and add. We have words with multiple silent letters like ‘queue’ and words where the letters don’t match the sound like ‘colonel’. It is a wonder any of us learned to read the English language.

The big question, for many parents, is how do you support the process of learning to read at home? From my perspective, the number one thing you can do is to read daily to your child, no matter how old or young they are. In my house, we read to our kids when they were babies and we continue to take time for a ‘read aloud’ even though my oldest child is in middle school. Read. Read. Read.

For further tips and tricks on how to support the learning process of reading with your children, the Calgary Public Library is offering a session on January 25, from 7:30 – 8:30 PM entitled Kitchen Table Classroom: Helping Your Child Learn to Read, Grades K-2. The session promo suggests that educators and specialists will present “easy-to-implement and fun to use strategies for you and your child to do together”.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Jan 07
Go for the 'W'

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Happy New Year and welcome back! At times, we can all use a little extra motivation. You may be struggling after only a week of attempting a New Year’s resolution. The cold weather only motivates me to find a warm blanket and the daily COVID news does little to inspire.

Making the rounds on social media has been seven year old Callan Perks from Ontario. In late November, he won a contest to give a motivational pre-game speech to the Peterborough Petes hockey team. His speech has gone viral and has garnered him interviews with Ellen and Good Morning America. You will definitely want to look up ‘Coach Cal’ on YouTube to see his original speech along with his motivational words and style on various shows.

Coach Cal is only seven years old but in an innocent manner he uses his voice and his talents to motivate those around him to ‘Go for the W’. There is much to distract us but as we enter into 2022, let’s ‘Go for the W’ together. As a school, we look forward to supporting our students’ individual strengths and talents in order to bring out the best in their learning. We look forward to developing our expertise as educators, as we improve our professional skills. We look forward to working with you, our parent community, as partners in the learning journey of our students. I hope 2022 brings you and your child(ren) a great big ‘W’. We can do this.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Dec 17
Ring-a-Ling

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

This past week our Grades 3 – 5 students have been putting on mini handbell performances in the Forest, the common meeting area in our school. The students have demonstrated incredible joy when they take their assigned bell, count the musical beat and ring their bell at the right moment.

Watching a few performances, I was struck by the observation that every beat in the song is written as a chord (multiple notes at once). This is what gives handbells their beautiful sound. Our students were learning the joy of music but they were also learning how their individual role makes a difference within the collective musical process. Individual efforts come together in community to make something much bigger than ourselves.

This holiday season, I hope you and your family find the joy of making a difference in your community. For some that may mean volunteering or a random act of kindness but it doesn’t need to take considerable time or effort. Smile at a stranger, say thank you to a front line service worker or simply say Merry Christmas to a random person in a grocery store. Ring that one bell you have and watch the difference you can make.

From our myself and from our staff, I want to wish you all a safe, happy, relaxing and fun Winter Break. Merry Christmas!

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Dec 10
Extra Frosting Please

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Adding frosting to a cinnamon bun takes a something delicious and makes it even better. We have one more week of amazing learning left before the Winter Break but we thought we would add a little frosting to the learning as we put some festive cheer and community building into the mix.

Our team has come up with some ideas to make the school days next week have a little extra frosting. On Monday, it is backwards day. A perfect time to wear that hoodie with the hood at the front. Tuesday is hat day. Santa hats, ball caps or silly hats, the choice is up to you. Wednesday is your chance to wear your favorite sweater or a holiday sweater. This is my favorite day as I get to pull out my ugly Christmas Star Wars sweater. Thursday is festive colours day. Let’s fill our halls with red and green. Finally, on Friday, the perennial favourite, pajama day.

Our focus will still very much be on learning next week but with these fun little twists thrown into the mix. We encourage you to have fun at home with these days as well. What if supper on Monday started with a cookie or everyone sitting in different chairs? What fun hat might you pull off on Tuesday? Whatever you do, we hope you kind find little moments in your day next week to add in a little fun. The world can always use a little extra frosting in the day.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Dec 03
Deconstruction

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Do you remember when your child was very young and the most intriguing aspect of the gift you gave them was not the gift itself but the box it came in? As you watch that young child climb into the box, bang the box like a drum and wear the box on their head you are observing the complex interaction between creativity, curiosity and learning. The box was simply the engagement hook to enter into high-level brain activity. As children age, their intrigue over cardboard boxes likely wanes. However, I have a gift giving suggestion for your child this year that will likely create just as much interest and cost you less than a little stocking stuffer, possibly even free.

There are no shortage of amazing toys on the market encouraging children to construct. What if you gave a gift encouraging your child to deconstruct? Think of all those old and possibly broken electronics buried in your home somewhere. If you don’t have any old and broken electronics, try looking at online classified ads. Now imagine what your child will do when given an old VCR, telephone, camera or hair dryer and they are told they can take it apart to see what is inside. It is fully okay to deconstruct the product. Destroy it!

I’ve seen students do this very activity before. Their interest and engagement level skyrockets. Creativity is needed to figure out how to get the item taken apart. Curiosity abounds as they will not stop asking questions and wondering about their discoveries. Opportunities to learn and inspire will be activated without conscious awareness. The gift may be unorthodox compared to traditional gifts but I have a feeling that most children will be curious enough to start reaching for a screwdriver or pillars within minutes of opening it up. Possibly your own curiosity might just get the best of you and you will want to join in the fun.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 26
Digital Citizenship

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

We are all familiar with the notion of citizenship. By nature of where we were born or through a variety of life circumstances, we can all identify as citizens of somewhere. The notion of citizenship likely stirs thoughts of belonging, rights and responsibilities. In order for a society to function effectively and for citizens to feel safe, it takes citizens who know how to interact, in a collaborative manner, within the confines of the established rules and norms.

While we don’t often give it a second thought, we are also all citizens of a digital world. Digital citizenship doesn’t hold defined land boundaries, it doesn’t always adhere to established rules and norms and in the grand scheme of history, it is still a relatively new domain. However, knowing and understanding some basic boundaries for effective digital collaboration is still important.

All schools, within the CBE, have a digital citizenship plan outlining expectations for how our collective learning community is to interact in a digital environment. It sets parameters for learning, navigating and collaborating in digital spaces. Our school has recently updated our Digital Citizenship document, located on our website. It gives an overview as to the importance of teaching digital citizenship, our expectations for all of our digital interactions as a learning community (as students, staff and parents) and it gives resources you can access at home for supporting this conversation further. I hope that you are able to take a moment to review this document in the coming week and to think about your role as a citizen within a highly networked and digital world. We will be taking time in the coming weeks to review appropriate sections of this document with our students.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal ​

Nov 19
Yahtzee

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

I love playing board games. I know many of you have a similar passion. In my house, there is no shortage of games we love to play. There are traditional games like Rummy, Monopoly and Risk and there are more recent games like Pandemic, Azul and Welcome To…. From a teaching and learning perspective, I believe board games have incredible potential to engage the mind while still having fun.

One would be hard pressed to find a game that doesn’t have an element of mathematical or critical thinking as its foundation. Take a traditional game like Yahtzee. What connections can you see to mathematics? There are obvious connections like adding and matching. However, there is also skip counting, quantifying, subitizing (quickly knowing a number without counting), numerical strategizing, and probability. Your children may enjoy different games but take a moment to think of how much learning is involved in the process. Uno teaches numerical recognition and matching. Skip-Bo teaches ordinals. For older students, games like Scrabble teach spelling and enhanced vocabulary but also numerical problem solving in an attempt to reach higher scores.

We would love to have families share out examples of games they love to play by posting the titles on Twitter using the tag #SKSBoardgames. By sharing with others we can create a community repository of suggestions that engage at home learning in a fun way. In the meantime, take time this weekend to blow the dust off of an old game and get ready to yell, ‘Yahtzee’.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 12
Honouring Uniqueness

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Last week I was excited to share our Sibylla Kiddle – Who We Are document. I hope you had a chance to read it this past week and that you were able to see many of those statements reflected in the life of our school. For example, this past week we gave hundreds and hundreds of food items to the Veteran’s Food Bank of Calgary. You can see a picture on our Twitter account @KiddleCBE. This is a great example of ‘Body (To Do) – Our actions are centered on positively impacting others through acts of service, respect and kindness’. Thank you for your generosity and helping your children enter into this type of learning.

This upcoming week, I want to focus on ‘Spirit (To Be) – Our attitudes promote both personal and collective well-being while respecting inclusivity, diversity and the uniqueness of others’. We all have people in our lives that bring unique skills, personalities and characteristics to the world. Some people are experts at building houses. Some can sing in an opera. Some have shown boundless resilience in the face of adversity. We all have something that makes us unique that is worth celebrating.

A few of our students have something in particular that makes them unique. They have Type One Diabetes. This upcoming Sunday is World Diabetes Day. As a way of honouring the uniqueness and awesomeness of our students who thrive in the face of diabetes, we have chosen to recognize World Diabetes Day by having students wear blue to school on Monday, November 15. This allows our school community to honor the uniqueness of individuals, it allows our students to learn a little bit more about what it means to live with diabetes and it allows students impacted by diabetes to feel supported by their peers. Our teachers will be taking a moment on Monday to educate students on the topic of diabetes. Wearing blue is just one way we can stand together as a school community to support each other and celebrate our individual uniqueness. Below is a write up from one of parents that we wanted to share.

This is a day where we not only celebrate the strength and resiliency of our daughter but we reflect and appreciate how far the management of this disease has come. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. In 1921, Banting and McLeod injected 5 year old Teddy Ryder, who weighed 26 lbs at the time, at the University of Toronto. Teddy went on to live 71 more years. Prior to this, there was no treatment, or management of Diabetes. We celebrate the tireless efforts of families and friends fundraising for a cure, and doctors and researchers trying to find a final solution, a cure. We celebrate our community for understanding that this does not set our daughter apart, it merely is a daily, sometimes hourly reminder that it takes a village to raise our children and I am thankful for the support.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 05
Who We Are

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Common questions I heard when we first opened Sibylla Kiddle School were, “What’s your vision for the school? What will the foundational beliefs of the school be? What will make Sibylla Kiddle School unique?” Generically, those are easy questions to answer. We ascribe to the three values of the CBE. “Students come first. Learning is our central purpose. Public education serves the common good.” At the same time, answering those questions specifically, for our context, is difficult to do on day one. It almost feels like asking a new baby or toddler to describe what makes them unique and to have a sense of who they want to be when they ‘grow up’.

Over the past year, our staff have wrestled with these questions. We have taken time to deeply reflect on who we are as educators. We have dissected foundational resources such as the Alberta Program of Studies and the CBE’s Education Plan. We have critically observed our emerging school community and culture to note both emergent and key themes. We have sought inspiration from the life of Sibylla Kiddle. All of this has been done in order better understand who we are and who we aspire to be.

After compiling and synthesizing a mountain of qualitative data, we have written a document we simply call, “Who We Are”. We believe this document paints a picture of both who we are as a learning community and who we hope to become over the course of many years. Throughout the course of the coming year, I hope to take time in the Weekly Updates to highlight each section of this work. For now, I encourage you to simply read it as posted on our website. I hope it gives you a clearer picture of what we believe and what learning is built upon in our school.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 29
Creativity and the Brain

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

As a child, the crowning achievement of Halloween was finding that one house in the neighbourhood that gave out full-sized chocolate bars. Of course, that crown would be a little tarnished if it ended up being a Crispy Crunch and a little more polished if that chocolate bar happened to be a Coffee Crisp.

As an adult, the fun of Halloween, for me, is in the visible creativity of peoples’ imaginations. Walking the halls of our school today I saw a pilot, a scientist and no shortage of princesses. There never seems to be a shortage of creativity in all that surrounds this day.

Albert Einstein says that “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Renowned educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom’s research laid the groundwork for theorizing that creativity is the most complex form of the cognitive domain. I love the juxtaposition in the most complex form of thinking also being the most fun.

Fostering creativity as form of brain development within the home is relatively easy compared to teaching a child how to read or solving a mathematical equation. This is because children will naturally engage in creative play. When they build a fort, play house, colour abstract worlds or develop imaginative stories with their stuffies as the central character, they are engaged in creativity, the most complex form of brain development.

This Halloween, keep that costume on a little longer. Dress up with your kids. Name your pumpkin and tell stories of its adventures before meeting you. You may find this challenging, because it is challenging. This is as complex as rocket science; so be an astronaut, have fun and be creative.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


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