April 25th was International Pay It Forward Day.  The term “pay it forward” is well known from a movie in which a young boy tries to change the world as part of a class assignment.  He did 3 great things for 3 people in need and then they in turn were supposed to go on and pay it forward to 3 more people each.

While we did not have the time to plan anything huge to change a life, we decided to fill the day with tons of little things that might make others smile.  So we hit the streets of Maple Ridge armed with balloons and high fives.  


Check out this amazing list of all we accomplished:

      • we wrote encouraging positive messages on the sidewalks and streets
      • we left little toys and a card on the doorsteps of houses
      • we greeted everyone we met with a smile and a willingness to chat
      • we handed out stickers and pencils to kids we met
      • we visited local businesses and complimented them
      • we handed out balloons with positive messages on them
      • we organized a bottle drive as a fundraiser and are planning to donate the money to a local shelter or rehab center
      • we planned on picking up litter at the local park but we ran out of time (another time for sure!)



I’m so proud of the courage that my class   displayed in talking to strangers for an entire day.  They embraced this day of action with enthusiasm and pushed themselves to go outside their comfort zones to reach out to others.  


After we returned to the school we debriefed about the day.  One student said “It was awkward but it was also fun.  A lot of the people responded with a smile but they were also kind of confused.”  Many of the students commented on how open the kids were but how many of the adults refused the gifts or ignored them.  One student responded saying, “It was harder than I thought to try to make people happy.  I was enthusiastic at first but some people are kind of scary. I hope we made a difference.”


I hope so too, even if that difference is only in our class.  It made me wonder, at what point do we as adults become so closed off to the joy around us?  I want to always live life with the openness to embrace the world around me.

Have you ever given or received a random act of kindness?

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Tayden found this video and shared it with the class.  What do you think?

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I would like you to follow the link below to a collection of the world’s ugliest animals as published by the Mother Nature Network.  Once you are there, please follow these steps:





  1. Explore the 13 different animals in the list.
  2. Choose 1 that is most interesting to you.
  3. Read the information in the article carefully.  Take notes in WORD and cite your source.
  4. Follow any links provided.  Take notes in WORD and cite your source.
  5. Write a blog post with 1 long paragraph or 2 shorter paragraphs about this animal.  Make sure this is done in your own words.
  6. Add images and links back to your sources.
  7. Have a peer review your post.
  8. Publish your post.

Here is the link to the collection:

13 of the Ugliest Animals on the Planet

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We have been looking at Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear and in scene three there are some fantastic insults flying around.  So I decided to capitalize on Shakespeare’s creativity and do a lesson on insults.

We began by watching a clip from Hook, where Peter Pan is having a hard time using his imagination and gets into a fight with Ruffio.


Then we used a Shakespearean word list, similar to this one, to piece together our own insults in small groups.  We picked the best 10 insults from each group, elected a spokesperson and let the battle begin.  Check out this video to watch how it unfolded.

Shakespearian Insult Battle from Sharon deVries on Vimeo.


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Last Friday was Twin and Triplet day, a fundraiser for BC Cancer Society.  Here are a few great pictures from the day:


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A colleague, Teri Potma, gave me the amazing idea of using the board game Settlers of Catan to kick off our next big idea in social studies.  We are going to be looking at resources, trade, exploration and economy in connection to Canada and a variety of ancient civilizations.  Briefly, Settlers of Catan is a game where players attempt to settle and build on a new land full of resources.  The roll of the dice impacts which resources are collected at each turn and there is a lot of strategy and trading that goes into building settlements, roads, and cities.

At the end of the game I asked students to respond with a simple question:

What can we learn about resources, exploration, and trade from the game Settlers of Catan?

Check out these GENIUS responses!

  • Some resources are very rare and some are easy to get.
  • You don’t always have everything you need to build.
  • You need to do a lot of trading to get what you want… It takes a long time to get enough resources to build stuff.
  • If something is rare enough you will have to make a very good deal for it.
  • When a resource is rare, it gets expensive and more people need it.
  • If a resource is used a lot, then it can go rare.
  • Trading helps, but others have separate agendas.
  • Some people will not trade.
  • It is important to have strategies and a plan.
  • You want to have what the others don’t have.
  • Build where you can get lots of resources and then you can trade.


The next class we had a great conversation about how to apply these ideas to the modern world.  We asked questions like:

  • Which resources are rare and which are plentiful in Canada?
  • What types of resources have become rare in different countries in the world?
  • What types of resources are in high demand in different countries in the world?
  • Can labor, specifically child labor, be a resource or commodity?
  • What are the results of trade agreements?
  • What are the results of broken trade agreements?
  • What are the reasons behind the decision to go to war?

Again I was very impressed with the quality and depth of thought that this game inspired in my fabulous group of seventh graders!  I highly recommend Settlers of Catan as an inspiring jumping off point in socials  :)

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I’ve been reading a lot about Genius Hour and talking to a few colleagues who have either done it or want to do it.  I’m still exploring exactly what it will look like for us but I wanted to have a place to gather ideas and suggestions and anything else that might help.


Cool Tools for School

Questions to Ask Yourself

If anyone has any great resources or ideas, I’d love to hear about them!!


*UPDATED – A few resources for me to check out:






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I think it’s really important to prepare for something like Anti-Bullying Day so that it doesn’t just become a fun excuse to wear a pink shirt to school.  Bullying is, and has been, a hot topic in education so rather than present my own ideas on bullying I wanted to hear from my students and have a candid discussion about bullying.

We started our class with the question:

What is bullying?

Here are their responses.

The next question we looked at was:

Do you think that bullying happens at our school?  How do you know this?  What is your evidence?

After sharing our opinions and evidence we thought about:

In what other settings do you think bullying happens?

Here are their responses:

*Note to self as a teacher:  The “think, pair. share” strategy we used for most of these questions was excellent but “thinking” is a job that requires perseverance and perseverance should be taught explicitly.

After talking about the settings in which bullying occurs we talked about:

What are the effects of bullying?

Here are the Delver’s responses:

I was very impressed with the insightfulness in their responses so far.  To follow this up I asked the question:

Do you think it is possible to eliminate bullying?

Students were asked to line up according to how strongly they felt about their yes or no answer.  This activity elicited a lot of questions back at me from the students.  My favorite was: “Miss deVries, are we talking about in this school or everywhere in the world?”  We decided to do two response lines, one for eliminating bullying in the world and one for eliminating it in our school.  No one felt strongly that bullying can be eliminated in either setting but many more students were closer to yes in the setting of their school.  When I asked why they thought our responses differed, they told me that it was because they felt like they had power to affect their school but no control over what people in the rest of the world were doing.  Again, very insightful!

We ended the activity by watching an amazing animated poem by Shane Koyczan.  It is a powerful portrayal of bullying and its effects. Watch the video below:


What have you done in your classes to prepare for Anti-Bullying Day?  Are their any other questions that you think we should have addressed?


Stay tuned for the follow up from our next class:

What can people do to limit the amount of bullying?  What can people do to help repair the effects of bullying?


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Congratulations to Paytyn on her Cutting Competition!  Here are a few shots of her in action: