Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Education- Small but mighty learning November 24, 2018

The following article was originally published in The Gateway newspaper, Sicamous, BC, June 2014.  I no longer teach at ERS, but the school continues to engage in innovative programs with some of the most skilled teachers in SD 83.  When I left, half the teachers had Masters degrees and a third of them were published authors!

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SMALL BUT MIGHTY LEARNING AT ERS.

© Shawn L. Bird 2014

Eagle River Secondary (ERS) has been the educational heart of Sicamous since students began learning on the property nearly a century ago. In recent years, declining enrolment has required the school to become creative in order to offer programs that keep students in town. These successful innovations are causing a stir throughout the province.

The changes have included offering grade specific Core classes (English, Social Studies, Math, and Science) in the mornings and multigrade electives in the afternoons. The electives have embraced the teachers’ varied passions, allowing students to learn through classes in geo-caching, horticulture, international cuisine, cake decorating, hockey, outdoor education and guitar as well as more traditional classes like volleyball, biology and art. Of special note is the Social Justice class, which has students in the community helping at the thrift store and Meals on Wheels, harvesting vegetables for the food bank, gardening, and collecting for various charities.

A new focus on flexible learning by the Ministry of Education became the key to Eagle River’s innovations. The school has been given freedom to develop unconventional approaches to timetabling and course offerings. As a result of the success of these efforts, ERS has been recognized by the provincial government as a flagship school of the BC Ed Plan. Grade eight and nine students have had the opportunity to learn together in their choice of six mixed Science/ Socials classes throughout the school year; grade ten will be added in 2014-15. These courses have provided hands on, project based learning exploring local plants, controversial issues, water, astronomy, sound, electricity, revolutions, world religions, and cultural fashions among other offerings.

ERS is also very active in Career Education initiatives. Students are able to earn credits for their work experience in their jobs outside of school. There are two ERS students working in the community as Secondary School Apprentices, collecting hours with BC’s Industry Training Authority and gaining high school credit while they work as a marine mechanic or electrician. ERS works with School District 83 to provide two other students with dual credits (both college and high school) for career training as an automotive repair technician or a hair dresser. These students do a semester or year of training at another SD83 school, and will return to ERS tograduate with their friends.

Students also have the opportunity to parlay their own interests into Independent Directed Study (IDS) blocks. Students develop a set of learning goals, based on existing Ministry courses, and then leave the building to explore. Presently a pair of students is doing an IDS in fly fishing, learning about insect and fish life cycles, creating flies, fishing, and recording their findings. This is science and physical education for real life! Other students have created IDS courses in music, mountain biking, fitness, and long boarding. ERS partnered with UBC’s Okanagan campus to offer Maker Day. This was a chance to explore creative thinking and problem solving by students and community members working in small, multi-age groups to create prototypes of inventions. Maker Day is a movement dedicated to inquiry learning. Three ERS teachers are working on Masters degrees at UBCO, and the university is keen to have greater involvement with the school.

Eagle River’s innovations are making waves. Schools from all over the province are calling or coming to see what is happening within the walls. With only 150 students in grades eight to twelve, ERS may be small, but it’s mighty. Great things are happening for Sicamous’s kids, and the province is taking

You can find the original article in situ here on page 8. GatewayJun2014-SmallMightp8.

Shawn L. Bird BA, MEd.

 

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poem-Micah August 2, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:05 pm
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Micah has questions

about ereaders and

the value of studying Shakespeare.

Micah has opinions

about math education

Stephen Harper

minimum wage

immigrant involvement in government

and politicized school districts that don’t put kids first.

Micah is young

but he is the future;

his critical thoughts

will shape a new nation.

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Sitting above the UBC Rose Garden today watching the ocean traffic, and reading while I waited for the art gallery to open, I met this thoughtful young man, and enjoyed an hour of conversation with him.  Don’t you just love those brief connections with intelligent, inquiring minds?

 

poem- Beatsalad at Woodhaven 2015 July 12, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:01 am
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Did the Beats start their sets on time?

I waited for the cool jazz, for a dancing upright bass in the dappled green, backed against hill,

cool beats, words playing with rhythm, strings and syllables descrying the human condition.

I waited, wondering why audience here must wait for audience there.  Thirty minutes late, dudes!

but when D-man struck a chord and finger-danced on guitar strings

I forgave jazz absence, tardiness, miserable neighbours, and cane wielding attendees being forced

to hobble down uneven lanes (blue bruises today from the straining).

At least this year it wasn’t raining, the splatter was patter of voices being cool in the heat.

The poets read The Beats or the wanna-be Beats or the bed-mates of Beats, and I watched

an ant wrestle a kernel of corn across the ground to their long ago voices.

I do not wrestle railway container cars, but that ant had high hopes, until he abandoned it

to drag off a fallen comrade whether for cannibal feast or sacred burial in Antshillvania, I didn’t care.

A week on campus, rock bed, longing for the man at home,

my heart gave up poetic posing. I admitted tonight my heart wasn’t in this verse game.

After more hobbling down the long, dangerously uneven lane

for someone walking with a cane, cursing parking and cars.

I turned at my old high school, gasping at the glinting copper sun that hung

a molten disk, poetic sky writing the poets under trees were missing,

like that sky was kissing me good-bye while I traced the highway north

with high apple pie in the sky hopes of my own.

 

poem- Measuring May 10, 2014

Video with my narration is in the previous post, but here’s the written version:

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Measuring

Shawn L. Bird

This is me.

The standardized test says,

“She’s a C.”

 

But no standardized test

can measure my capacity.

 

The provincial exam or S A T

does not evaluate my reality.

 

A test does not see

    my creativity

       my audacity

          my tenacity

             my congeniality

No test can reveal

                  my totality.

 

They say

a standardized test demands gravity,

but I say,

it is a depravity

to define our youth with such rationality!

 

This is me.

No standardized test can measure

who I will be.

 

 

video poem- Measuring

Here’s a video poem I made for a presentation on issues in standardized testing for my Faculty of Education Master’s class on assessment at University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus) (aka UBC-O).

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