March 21st – 25th

cool-bannerAs we look ahead to what can be classified as a long short week, we need to remember to keep our eye on what is important, and continue to support one another. Hopefully you are excited for parent/student/teacher conferences and the opportunity to sit beside your students as they share their growth with their parents. Every day you work tirelessly with your students and I hope you take some time Tuesday and Wednesday night to celebrate the great things going on in your rooms with the parents that come to visit you.


Thank you so much for the genuine feedback you gave me last week regarding On the Horizon.  Seven people responded to the survey, and each of you offered something that would make this blog better for you. Given that there is only so much I can write about, some weeks it will be a hit with you, while others might be a miss, that’s just the nature of a blog. What I’m excited about is that you continue to read On the Horizon and look at the links that may be beneficial to you.

This week I’d like to talk about side by side learning and the great things that have been occurring inside and outside of Hepburn School. Have a look at the pictures below and see what they make you think about. Is there side by side learning occurring at Hepburn School? Can you see evidence of student engagement with the grade 1’s? Do Ruth’s grade 8’s seem be involved in learning together? Next time you are in the staff room with them, ask them about these activities, and share some of the great things you are doing too!

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CdxdwEyUIAAK_KYThere is a bonus picture this week too, and it is evidence of adult learning. Jamie was at division office on Thursday for a learning facilitator meeting, and while they were there she received a copy of the book the LFs and some PSSD administrators put together earlier this year. We are so lucky to have Jamie in this role. Her dedication and commitment to adult and student learning is helping bring MPSC alive in our school.

Looking at all that side by side learning is very exciting! Here in learning link 1 the author writes about the importance of side by side learning between peers to help build engagement, something we continue to strive towards. In learning link 2 there are some resources for successful parent/teacher conferences. Do you think of these visits as an opportunity for side by side learning? What would you want to know if you were the parent of a child in your room? Finally, learning link 3 is a blog that discusses flexible seating in classrooms. I had sent this link earlier in the week, but for some reason it didn’t work.  Hopefully this one works better this time 🙂

On to what lies ahead in this busy week.


  • SRC/gr. 8 pep rallies to kick off Random Act of Kindness Week
  • Ryan & gr. 12’s gone all day to fundraise
  • Staff meeting 3:00


  • Parent/teacher conferences tonight


  • Grade 7 bake sale
  • Ron gone (am) Admin Planning Meeting
  • Second evening of parent/teacher conferences


  • Last day of school before Easter break


         First day of well deserved Easter break.

Create a great week everyone!

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March 14th – 18th

What does your cover sound like?
What does your cover sound like?

Another lovely weekend filled with warm weather and fun puddles to splash and play in! This time of year is always that little tease when we think we’ve turned the corner on winter, but Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve in the form of her own March madness! But, like my father used to say, enjoy each day for what it is and live one day at a time.

Great Music: I had an opportunity to see a great band Friday night in Saskatoon, they are a group that gets the crowd to the dance floor through a blend of their own original songs and covers of other great tunes. They have been able to develop their own unique sound, and they describe themselves as groove meisters who like to play their signature stubble funk and northern soul. Their reworked songs like Valerie, Sir Dukeand my favorite Seven Nations Army got me thinking about the way we make teaching strategies work for us.

What to Cover: 21st Century learning does not just apply to kids, in fact, I think the real beneficiaries are teachers because of the access we have to tremendous examples of great teaching online (Google is our friend!).  Just like great music, the art of great teaching is taking a terrific lesson that you either saw in person or online, or a strategy you read about or learned about at a PD, and remix it in a way that honors your style and meets the needs of your audience. We have a lot of resources at our finger tips, both in the form of printed material in our building and online, and we would be foolish not to at least have a “listen” to it. If it resonates with you, “cover it” in your own way that works for your students.

Jam Sessions and Concerts:  The best bands make it look effortless, and they are always the ones having fun on stage (did you ever see Eddie Van Halen with out a smile?). As we know, great music and great performances are a result of lots and lots of practice. Great teaching is no different. When you do find a strategy that you want to make your own, you need to give yourself permission to practice, practice, practice with your students. I sure hope that once you are comfortable with your “cover” of the strategy you took on you would invite people in to watch and learn. Who knows, maybe they will want to cover your strategy!

This week, learning link 1 takes a look at how to create a writers’ workshop in a high school classroom. How can you cover this song to make it work in your writing class, even if it is not a high school class?

Learning link 2 takes a look at how to “workshop” a math lesson as seen in a grade 5 classroom. This teacher has taken a strategy developed by someone else and made it work for her group. How can you make this work for yours?

And finally, learning link 3 is a video discussing Genius Hour, an approach to teaching that provides a path towards intrinsic learning. Two teachers are using Genius Hour right now in our school, and both have similarities and differences. Would you like to try this? What would your Genius Hour song sound like?

What’s Up This Week:


  • Lori is popping in for a school connect
  • Badminton practice after school


  • Ides of March
  • Ron & Bruce gone all day to ALT meeting
  • Badminton after school
  • Div II Basketball heading off to Osler


  • Gr. 7/8 Badminton team hosts Blaine Lake after school


  • Green Day!
  • Subway lunch day


  • Div II basketball playoffs, girls to Martensville, boys to Rosthern

As always, create a great week!

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March 7th – 11th

InnovationLooks like we have some warm weather heading our way, at least according to Environment Canada, make sure you bring your rubber boots and splash pants! And if that weather does not make you smile, then hopefully the amazing work by the people of our province does, as once again, Telemiracle was a huge success.  It is amazing to see what people who are engaged and motivated can do, $5.2 million, wow!

What a wonderful feeling in the school last week as the SRC brought our 7 – 12’s together in the name of winter competitions.  There was a buzz in the hallways, either about an erupting snow sculpture, a run-away sled pulled by an uber-competitive administrator, or a beautiful figure skating routine by a student and some guy in a flashy outfit. Regardless of the fact that team Captain America won (whoop, whoop!!!), it was obvious that the students were having a blast.  Hat’s off to the SRC for organizing such a wonderful event.

Now the challenge.  How do we capture that momentum and try our best to keep the kids excited about being at school?  What can you do first thing in the morning to pump up the kids about learning? How can you use recess and dinner time to connect with students you may not have had a chance to yet and see how things are going? What is the last thing you can say to them as they get ready to board the bus or walk home that will make them excited about tomorrow? Remember, we have that power.

In the first learning link, Eddy Zhong talks about creating and how teenagers just need to find that spark to make school meaningful and exciting. What could your students create beyond the typical PowerPoint?

Learning link number 2 is from Kayla Delzer (follow her @TopDogTeaching) who is a big believer in the importance of the classroom environment. She talks about her vision for her room, the steps she took (including the struggles), and where she is now. I know I’ve said this in the past, but I still believe it is not just the furniture that makes the learning environment, it’s the people in the room and the expectations and routines that lead to profound, side by side learning.

In the third learning link, as forwarded by Lori Jeschke in her weekly message, the question is asked by the student, “but how will I learn without grades?” For the past four years this is a subject that has been near and dear to Hepburn School since the leadership of Ruth, Jackie, and Neda Wilson (now at Rosthern High) took the middle years and some high school classes to a place where percentages went the way of the dodo bird. How does the message contained in the blog post resonate with what you are doing in your classes?

The final video I want to post is not directly connected to classroom learning, but I think it’s a terrific example of the things people can do when they are allowed to pursue their passions.  I never thought I’d see a machine like this, and like I posted on Twitter, my life wouldn’t be different without it, but it is a bit better because it I just watched this:

Here’s what’s going on this week:


  • Bruce away (am only), medical appt.
  • Grade 1 – 8 progress reports due
  • Division II basketball hosting Rosthern


  • Bruce & Tania away all day SERT meeting


  • Pizza lunch!
  • Ron away (tentative ~ am only) Admin Planning Meeting
  • Division II basketball travel to Osler


  • Sheppard’s Villa soup and bun lunch ($2 payable to Sandra before noon)


  • Bruce away (personal day)
  • Grade 1 – 8  Progress Reports sent out today

As always, create a great week!!!


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