Fresh Grade

Grades and percentages have been the mainstay of our school reporting since the industrial revolution. What we received in school as students ourselves is all we know to compare our children’s progress to. What you are not aware of is that there is so much more to seeing into your child’s learning and many different ways to let you know your child’s progress in their journey of learning in the classroom.

During the past 2 months, as a Middle School staff, we have created “Action Teams” to explore better ways of doing various aspects of our Middle School program. One of the areas that we have a team exploring is in the area of assessment and reporting to parents. When teachers write report cards, they reflect on and weigh the assessment collected and make a decision on what percentage would be most suitably reflect a student’s learning. What percentages fail to do is describe how that student got to that point. I know that our current model of reporting does not adequately portrait the good teaching and learning that I see happening in every classroom every school day here at Langley Christian School.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if teachers could give parents frequent portals of viewing into their children’s good learning on a daily basis?

Well, guess what, there is a way!

Our Action Team has been researching a new product called “Fresh Grade”. Fresh Grade is a locally BC created assessment tool which allows teachers and students to upload content (pictures, videos, audio, documents, etc) to a student portfolio. Students are able to set goals and work towards achieving them at their own pace. With more descriptive feedback and communication between the teacher and student, students achieve the required skill or concept more easily. What is even better is that this communication can be passed on to parents as well. 

I get inspired when I see glimpses of change on the horizon in education. Here are a couple short clips of what a superintendent and a principal see in Fresh Grade.

A couple of teachers on this Action Team are so inspired that they are starting to use Fresh Grade for the third term this year. If you are a parent with a child in their class you may get a request to load the app. Please check out the website and let me know what you think.



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GDC Therapy

Earlier this week, my oldest daughter Kaleesha, sent me a Youtube clip to prepare me to put away my iPad when the kids are all home for the holidays next week. It is hilarious, but at the same time it is very true. As we enter the Christmas holidays, I trust we will all keep a balanced screen time and model good digital citizenship for our families. Make real time connections with family that is with you in your home and take advantage of our great technology and face-time your loved ones that are afar.  Merry Christmas


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Rooting for the Villain?

store frontI am the father of two daughters, which means I am under constant scrutiny about what I wear. They don’t really care what I think, it’s all about if my clothing I wear makes them look good in public.

Heaven forbid I don’t look “cool”.

Because obviously I would embarrass them if their friends saw us together.

Christmas presents and birthday presents are always interesting because they usually have me receiving “trendy” clothing and merchandise.  Often I have to look at my wife for her approving nod before I can show how excited I am about the gift. Lately, brand names like Volcom, Hurley, Ripcurl, adorn my closet and dresser drawers.

I will be honest; I don’t pull out my iPad and research the company mission statements for all the brand names I wear. I rely on my friends and fellow workers to keep me in the loop if a brand name represents something counter cultural to what I represent as a person.Every once in a while, a brand name surfaces and starts to be popular in our society.

Here is a brand that you may be interested in knowing more about…

Zumiez is a popular store in Langley that sells all kinds of current brand names merchandise. One line that they carry is called Crooks and Castles. hoodie Crooks and Castles market wallets, luggage, t-shirts, hats, and hoodies.  If you didn’t know any better you could buy or maybe have already bought some of this apparel for your son or daughter. This company is blatant on promoting a lifestyle and worldview that is not congruent with our school and our school culture.

Here is what you may not know:

Crooks & Castles promotes a dark image, both in its designs and philosophy. Their mission statement posted on the official website explains that growing up in Los Angeles, living a “villainous lifestyle”, inspires the brand.  Crooks & Castles’ designs reflect themes of violence and street hustling, emblazoned with depictions of gold chains, nude women, snakes and bandits, and slogans such as “Ain’t No Such Thing as Halfway Crooks.”

Here is their mission statement, go ahead, give it a read:

Not all of their clothing and merchandise is “in your face” with negative concepts, some items have very cool graphics and trendy logos. However, the lingering question is, do you support what the company represents and what your money is supporting?

In our middle school we have decided that we do not support nor wish to promote this company, and consequently, have asked our students not to wear “Crooks & Castles” clothing and merchandise.

We are hoping that you can also help us by spreading the word and letting other parents know the back-story to what this company promotes.

I am aware that there are other companies that have bad practices, knock off designs and poor employee management — and these can be difficult to be identify or spot.  However, when a company is blatant and upfront with their philosophy and story, then we need to also be upfront and blatant with our story, which is counter cultural to theirs.

What do you think?  Do the brands that we sport say something about who we are? I know that I will be looking a little more closely at labels I choose to wear.

Maybe there are other brand names that we need to be aware of?  You can help us out with a comment below about them.

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Christian Schools Canada Leadership Conference 2014

Recently the administration of our school attended a Leadership Conference. The keynote speaker was Jamie Smith, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College. His keynote addresses were based on his book “Imagining the Kingdom”.

Jamie challenged us with the idea of Christian education being a Re-narration of the Bible for our students. His challenge for us was to capture the imagination of our students. He postulated that the way into the heart is through the body and the way into the body is through story and that as humans, we tell ourselves stories in order to live.

As Christians, our worldview is carried in story, images, legends, and telling these stories captures our imagination. To help us with this we can form micro practices that will have macro affects with students. Liturgy or rehearsed action can be in the form of communal practice. The more we have communal practice, the greater effect we can have on our lives and our student’s lives.

An easy micro practice for us is in the area of prayer. St Ignatius of Loyola developed a mode of prayerful reflection often referred to as the Daily Examen. Often prayed at lunchtime and the end of day, the Examen has five simple aspects: become aware of God’s presence, review the day with gratitude, pay attention to your emotions, choose one feature of the day and pray for it, look forward to tomorrow.

My take away from the conference was this: pay attention to the details of what we do here in our Christian school every day, because the small things matter.

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Digitally Unplug

Summer is upon us and now it is time to relax and unwind. A big component of our GDC curriculum is finding a balance in your life between your onscreen time and off screen time. Recently I had my first real MMO (massively multiplayer online) gaming experience. About four weeks ago some of my staff thought it a good idea to engage some of our students in the game Clash of Clans. It has been enlightening for me to feel the addiction these games generate. The whole concept of screen time balance was foreign to me prior to the start of this game. The first two weeks, I could not get off the screen, I was consumed by the allure of building bigger villages, developing stronger defences and building stronger troops. It is week four, I am finally now realizing that I will never win nor get to a place I can feel like I have arrived in the game.

Recently the National Post newspaper published on article on game addiction in China. There are now 400 rehabilitation centres for the Internet addicted and China is among the first countries to classify Internet addiction as a clinical disorder. The article went on to describe one resident the once played for 40 days straight, no stopping, no eating, and no washing.

I will follow our Good Digital Citizenship pillars and unplug myself from the game. I will leave my devices at home, load up my boat, drive to the west side a Vancouver Island and go fishing. I will be back sometime in August.  See you then, and I hope you will unplug your devices, your children’s devices and get outdoors!

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iGods Part 2

Lately I have been reflecting on the words in the final chapter that Craig Detweiler put in his book “iGods”. He writes a chapter on Escaping Technology: To the Wilderness, here he describes the benefits of going offline and stepping outside our zone of wifi coverage to truly experience God as he intended us to. We are becoming like fish that no longer notice the water they live in, we don’t realize just how many electronic messages we are processing via our smartphones. By taking a step back, we can see if we are in fact dependent on technology, we can also test our commitments in our lives and help us realize what matters most to us.

“As we hurtle toward an unknown future with technology, we must plan some conscious pauses and be willing to use a mute button in our lives. Surely if Jesus felt the need to seek time away from the crowds, we could survive a day or even a week without social media, right?”(iGods page 219)

My Daughter Briel recently sent me a YouTube clip called “look Up” that really spoke to me and helps put this concept into perspective, if you have 3 minutes, check it out:

I love this quote that Craig wrote in the book on page 225, if sums up this post for me:

“We celebrate technology as a gift but resist the temptation to prostrate ourselves before it. We must not let it fashion and mold us into its insistent (now!), efficient (faster!), and greedy (more!) image. We are made for more than information processing.”

One part of our Good Digital Citizenship Curriculum is to help our students find a healthy balance between screen time and actual face to face play time. As parents you can be the curators of play and imagination by building in pauses away from technology for your children.

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Spring Break is upon us, I am looking forward to being able to decompress, relax and do some reading. This Spring Break I will be reading the book “iGods” by Craig Detweiler. Just to give you a snippet of what he writes about, I quote: ”Our devices demand our attention. MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle notes how the current generation is “among the first to grow up with an expectation of continuous connection: always on, and always on them.” We have embraced this shift largely without considering the implications. Our basic philosophy has been summarized by William Powers: It’s good to be connected, and it’s bad to be disconnected. He describes us as “digital maximalists” operating under a basic maxim, “the more you connect, the better off you are.” Powers notes, “We never sat down and consciously decided that this was the code we would live by. There was no discussion, no referendum or show of hands. It just sort of happened, as if by tacit agreement or silent oath. “From now on, I will strive to be as connected as possible at all times.” I write this book because I want to pause and question the aphorism. This is an effort to step back, slow down, and take a long view of where we’ve been and where we’re heading.” page 7

I am excited to read the rest and share more incites with you. Have a great break and we will see you in April.

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Fostering Resilience in Our Children

Last night, we hosted another “Partnering with Parents” evening at our school. We had our school counsellor Estera Boldut do a presentation on fostering resilience in our children. This session was a follow up to our last Parent Night with Darren Laur and his presentation on social media. Estera presented Seven C’s for fostering resilience to our parents. Her focus was on creating competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control. I have posted her notes for you to go over and learn from. If you have any comments, please post them and I will get Estera to answer them for you on my blog.


Fostering resilience

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Good Digital Citizenship Week Student Survey Results

I am excited to have Jonathan Zuidhof as my guest blogger this week. Jonathan is a Grade 6 teacher at our school; he is helping our Education Forum this year being instrumental in analyzing our student surveys from our special emphasis week in October. Here is his post:

In late October the students of Langley Christian Middle School (LCMS) participated in a Good Digital Citizenship (GDC) emphasis week. Throughout the week, the students had an opportunity to explore our 8 pillars of GDC. After the week was over, the students completed a survey, providing feedback on their experiences. As our Education Forum was analyzing the feedback, we realized it would be beneficial for the wider school community to learn from the survey results.

Throughout Good Digital Citizenship week at LCMS a big highlight for me as a teacher was watching different grades working together. Especially when it comes to technology, the older students typically have more experience and are able to share important aspects of Good Digital Citizenship with the younger students. Another highlight was the evidence that many of these conversations surrounding the digital world are happening at home. Students were able to share with their groups some of the guidelines and discussions that were present in their homes.

The surveys revealed that students highlighted many areas in which they gained more insight, but three areas topped the list. First, the importance of setting up your privacy settings correctly. Second, finding a healthy balance with screen time. Third, using discernment before posting online, sending emails, or sending text messages. These are three very important aspects of being good digital citizens, now the challenging part comes for the students as they work to turn these insights into action.

So where do we go from here? We continue the conversation at home and at school, working to guide young people in our school community towards Christ like discernment. At school, the teachers are striving to incorporate the 8 pillars of Good Digital Citizenship into their curriculum. LCMS will continue to look for opportunities, like the presentation by Darren Laur, to educate staff, students, and parents of the digital world. We also value input from our school community. Please let us know on an ongoing basis of ideas or feedback you have for the staff at LCMS.

LCMS community, we thank you for joining in this journey with us!

Jonathan Zuidhof

Grade 6 Teacher at LCMS

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The White Hatter

This week we had a presentation for our Middle School student body on personal protection and internet safety. The presentation was done by Darren Laur, a staff sergeant in the Victoria Police Department and a specialist in ‘Internet and Social Media Safety’.  Darren is also known as a “White Hatter”. A White Hatter is a computer hacker intended to improve security.  Darren came into our gym wearing his white hat and he uses the persona of the “White Hatter” to convey a real life and dynamic talk to his audience. Darren is a master at knowing the secrets of creepers, cappers, stalkers, RATs, cramming and sextortionists. He conveys real solutions for our youth to not only be safe and but also continue all the positive things that they are doing online.  His talk hit on the pillars of the good digital citizenship curriculum that our Middle School initiated this year.

Darren also led an evening session for our parent community. Darren was able to convey good strategies for parents in dealing with their children and technology. His presentation offered sound advice for device management, social networking pitfalls and creating healthy home environments.

Darren taught parents a four step approach helping their children. The steps include:

A) Good supervision of child device use by implementing monitoring software. Darren offered several good sources for that like

B) Good participation with their children on devices and internet, has videos to help parents

C) Get to know the language of social networks and texting, is a site that can aid parents

D) Set boundaries for children around device use, device location, and taking devices out of the bedroom.

Darren has a lot of good resources for parents listed on his blog site, check it out at:    (just click on the resources tab)

Here at Langley Christian School, we believe that the school and home have to work together to accomplish our goal of creating good digital citizenship in our students.

If you were able to attend the Partnering with Parents Evening session with Darren, I would love to hear what you thought of the workshop. Comment below or send me an email!

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