What Your Elementary Child’s Teacher is Trying to Tell You on the Report Card

Parents can be confused by the wording in the elementary report card.

A friend was telling me about her daughter’s report card.  She told me that the teacher wrote that her daughter is taking a leadership role in the classroom.  I know her daughter so this surprised me.  I zoned out and thought to myself how nice it was that her daughter was coming around with her peers.  Then I heard her say that her daughter had been given an S in three sections of the learning skills. Specifically the section that would encompass leadership skills. This snapped me out of my daze.

“She got an S in three sections?”

“Yes, those are good right? It means satisfactory.”

“No a G is for good. An S is like the equivalent of saying meh. It’s not bad or good. It’s meh.”


Luckily she had photos of the report card on her phone so I could take a closer look.  My friend is smart.  Really smart.  She has four kids and has read many report cards in her day.  I learned that my friend didn’t know how to read a report card and I would bet that most parents don’t.

Why Staying Positive Can Confuse Parents

In a system where teachers can’t just tell it like it is for fear of hurting someone’s feelings it can be difficult to write a report card that blatantly states when a student is underperforming.  Instead the report card is full of qualifiers and tricky wording to keep the tone positive.  As a result, parents don’t know what the report card is really saying.  Teachers are most certainly not trying to hide anything or trick anyone; they just want to be as positive and encouraging as possible, but focussing only on the good can give parents the wrong impression. As a result, the bad is delivered vaguely and sometimes missed entirely by the reader.


How to Read the Report Card Like a Boss

There is a base comment which explains what is expected of an average student.  The average student would be in the B range.  From that base comment, the teacher will add qualifiers to indicate how the student does when measured against the average.  Qualifiers could indicate a student is higher or lower than the average.

Let’s use this base comment from the learning skills section – student takes a leadership role in group work settings.

This leadership role is what the curriculum says the average student should be able to do.  If this is what your report card says then you likely have a student who earns Gs in the learning skills. Congratulations! If there are other descriptors in the sentence then this is the most important part.

Descriptors that indicate that the student is not yet the average: some, sometimes, rarely, with assistance, with support, is working towards, is not yet able to, or any derivative of these words.  All these words tell the real story. They mean he doesn’t do it regularly so it isn’t an acquired skill yet.  If he can do it, but only with the teacher’s help, this means that he can’t yet do it.  For a skill to be truly mastered it needs to be done independently.

imagesWords that indicate the student does things better than average: always, thoroughly, consistently, and independently.

In the learning skills section of the report card the focus will be on two learning skills per term. The featured learning skills will be directly mentioned at the start of the comment. If your child receives an S or N the teacher will explain why in the comment, even if it’s not from the two featured skills for the term.

The same idea applies for subject comments. The grade will be your first indicator of how your child did and the comment will provide additional information. Look for the descriptors and qualifiers to tell you how they did on a particular concept.

The goal is for students to do things consistently and independently.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Teachers genuinely want your child to succeed. Look for the next steps in the report card comments as this is the teacher’s advice on what should be done to continue to move forward. They tell you as much as they can in the limited number of characters available to them in subject each box. The information is there, you just have to know how to read it!


Advice for New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, From a Bunch of Ten-Year-Olds

Today I learned that even our school-aged children have high hopes and expectations of our new Prime Minister.

It’s structured play time and  I’m wandering around the Kindergarten classroom in search of minds to mold.  So many minds, so little time.  imgres

Then I spot it.

Is that what I think it is?

A group of 3 boys are building something magnificent with blocks. They are feverish and animated in their words but they aren’t fighting.

Dear sweet Lord are they collaborating?

I slink closer. I want to hear what they are saying to each other while they build. I slither in. I’m three feet away, they sense my approach. I spin quickly on my heel pretending to be looking for a place to hang artwork. No one questions that I am not holding any art.

Their heads are back down and they are back at it.

I shuffle closer still. They are heated but in passion not anger.  Usually this type of emotion ends with one or all of them running up to tattle on someone. Sometimes even on them self. This is why I must remain unseen if I am going to get to hear their true conversation.

Kindergarteners’ Accidental Homage to a New Prime Minister Trudeau

It would appear that they have decided as a group that someone needs to blow on the flag to make it flap. One boy has decided that the clock needs numbers, a plain wooden circle is not enough. Another that trees would be a nice addition.

Now I have heard it all and, as usual, I am impressed.

These boys are building the Canadian Parliament Buildings. Mind blown. I knew this was Parliament from across the room. The ECE told me that it was all their idea and she hadn’t prompted them in any way. She did print a picture so they could model it for accuracy, but that’s why she’s awesome.


I ask them if they know how important this building is today because we are getting a new Prime Minister. They have no idea what a Prime Minister is and look at me with faces that say “don’t you have some artwork to hang?”

At 10:30 am I turn on the ceremony for my Grade 5 class.

I tell them it’s live and that they are watching history unfold. They are mesmerized. Did I just hear a pin drop?

When Trudeau finishes his oath they clap and cheer for him. When the throat singers giggle so do they. These kids are loving this and they are proud to be witnesses.

What Ten-Year-Olds Want From Their Prime Minister

Once he is sworn in, I have only one question for them. What do you hope our new Prime Minister will do for our country?

I know what you are thinking…chocolate milk to replace tap water, candy before bed, homework outlawed, or skate parks on every corner.

Not even close.

These students have legitimate and high hopes.

imgresOne student wants him to please let in more people from poor countries because she hasn’t seen her family in almost four years. “My cousin turned five and I have missed everything that happened in his life.”

“I wish he could stop the war in Yemen.”

“I hope he can stop Ebola.”

“If he made everything in the world free then people would stop killing.” The student then explains that people rob people because they have needs. Then the people who get robbed seek revenge because they too have needs and want their stuff back. She sums it all up by saying, “no money no fighting.”

All I can think is WOW.


Fireballs Are Flying Over Ottawa. Look Up!

Today I learned about something called a taurid. Not to be confused with torrid, of the well know affair.

How on Earth Did I Encounter a Taurid?

It isn’t even on Earth funny enough.

My husband yells to me to come quick because he just saw something strange in the sky.  I’m like oh not again…

Still watching out the window, he describes a long slow streak of green that stretched along our tree line then exploded into three trails over our garage.

According to my internet research, what he saw was a Taurid.

A what?

A South Taurid to be exact.

What is a Taurid?

A Taurid is an annual meteor shower.

We all know that space junk is floating up above us because saving the earth from it has been the plot of many Hollywood movies.


Courtesy of Google images.

This South Taurid is space garbage that is thought to be debris from Comet Encke.  The vast remnants of Encke are always there, but it isn’t until Earth travels through this particular belt that the pieces can barrel through into our atmosphere.  It takes a couple of weeks to pass through this belt so many pieces of junk come through annually.  Earth is in this belt right now so it is possible to see the comet chunks whizzing by with the naked eye.

This particular group of Taurids originates from the constellation Taurus the Bull.

These meteors are most active in October and November.


Thank You Suffragettes! I Like Voting.

Today I re-learned that in 1929 women were legally considered persons and that it’s acceptable to be late if the elderly lady beside you can tell you first hand accounts of Nellie McClung’s life. I am certain of this because I now have no recollection of where I was headed that day, but I do know that I have regretted getting off that bus for over 15 years.

Election Day has me thinking.

Memories are bubbling to the surface and reminding me of my university days.

As we were driving to the polling station I couldn’t recall any of the important dates relating to women and the right to vote. This bothered me because I should know.

imagesI took an assortment of gender studies classes in university, so for me this business of having the right to vote has a great backstory. I am aware that I owe this right to many very cool ladies who pushed the limits and often embarrassed their husbands with their radical ideas.

The textbooks that my classmates and I poured over featured women who would roll over in their graves if I squandered my right to vote today. There were many women who fought and rallied, but the ladies who stand out most in my mind today are the Famous 5.

The Impact the Famous Five Had on Women’s Right to Vote

These five ladies are famous for challenging the government to allow women to be considered “persons”. They knew that only when they were legally considered to be imagespersons would they be able to partake in public life. Up to that point the term persons exclusively referred to males, so they sought to have the definition reconsidered. In order for the government to take a petition seriously, it needed five signatures. The five women who put forth the petition were: Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, and Louise McKinney.  I get goosebumps just typing their names.  The government was unbending at first and shot down all their defences. In 1929, after two years of fighting and protesting, the Famous 5 were finally successful in changing the definition of persons to include women. The rest is history.

This Woman KNEW Nellie McLung

“Nellie was nice.” 

One day after university I was waiting at my bus stop. An elderly lady sat beside me and we ended up in a conversation that we continued on the bus.  Toward the end of the bus ride she asked me what I was studying and I told her about my gender studies classes and how interesting I found it all.  She then told me that her husband was friends with Nellie McClung and that Nellie used to visit their home. I was gobsmacked. I asked her what Nellie was like and she said she was nice. imagesLess than a minute later we were at my stop. Something in my head told me to stay on the bus with her but I was worried about being late so I bid her farewell.  The moment my feet hit the sidewalk I knew I had made a mistake. I should have stayed and talked more with her. I walked around the rest of the day in a haze of regret. For weeks I went back to my bus stop looking for that woman. I hoped to see her and ask her to tell me everything about the suffragette, but I never saw her again.

Since I didn’t listen to my inner voice, all I could gather from my primary source was that Nellie McClung was nice. NICE. So I leave it to my secondary sources to tell me how amazing she was for her accomplishments. Gulp. Regret.

I vote today because my vote matters to my country.  I also vote because I need to thank these ladies for all they did. Casting my vote is the simplest and most authentic way to show them my appreciation.

An Apple a Day Does Not Keep the Doctor Away: How My iPhone is Killing Me Slowly

Apple warned me about radiation in the manual. It would be a good idea for me to read manuals in the future. Thankfully there are some things we can do to heal our body from radiation damage.

iphone-userOur first house had a huge cell phone tower a few properties down.  I didn’t think much of it as I was young and ignorant of things that could harm us as we age.  I was still in my indestructible phase.  Eventually, the tower did start to bother me.  We moved and I just pray that no lasting problems are lurking inside us from our three years close to the tower.

My brother and I were talking recently about how humans are ravaging the earth.  I liken most of us to ants on a dropped popsicle – just frantically devouring what we can take for ourselves.  He asked me if I had read the instruction manual on my iPhone.  I hadn’t.  He told me that our phones emit radiation and we should try to limit our contact with the phones and our body.  I did not know this.

I care so much but I know so little.

I am addicted to texting and Scrabble – two things that have required me to hold onto my phone for long periods of time.  Can we undo radiation?

The Dangers Lurking in our Hand Held Devices and How Can we Avoid Them

My research has uncovered that some phones are worse than others and that there are a few things we can do to help protect ourselves from this radiation.

Some of the worst places to use your phone are in rooms with thick concrete walls, and in moving vehicles such as cars and trains where the phone needs to switch between towers to communicate.

For Apple phones, the user manual warns us to use carrying cases and belt-clips that hold the phone more than 5/8 inch from the body and the phone.  We should aim the dock connector area of the phone towards our shoulder to increase the space between this antenna and our body.  For iPads, we are warned to put it in Portrait mode with the home button at the bottom to decrease the frequency that our hand goes near the antenna which is at the top edge.

Chart showing how phones compare to each other in terms of radiation.

Chart showing how phones compare to each other in terms of radiation.

Blackberry warns that we should keep the phone at least 0.98 inch from our body. The Torch is the same with specific warnings about keeping it away from pregnant women’s abdomens or the abdomens of teenage girls.

Motorola warns that the phone should be kept at least an inch from the body.

Hurray For the Good Guys!

An Israeli company designed an app that will detect radiation and warn when the user is close to it.  This is brilliant.  Apple banned this app from their phones.  I guess they thought it wold be bad for business.

2 Ways to Avoid Health Damage Caused by Cell Phone Use

Phones are a way of life now and they are not going anywhere.  There a couple of things that we can do to offset the radiation and hope that it works: images

  1. Turn off your wireless router at night to minimize exposure to radiation.
  2. Eat green vegetables and get a good night’s sleep in a dark room to enhance natural repair of DNA that may have been damaged by radiation.


Do I Own a Piece of the Earth’s Core?

When I bought my first house I had no idea what I was doing.

I called the listing agent of the house I liked rather than get my own agent.  I think that was my first mistake.  I didn’t ask any of the questions that I should have and I always suspected that the agent “stretched the truth” a couple of times.  I asked her if anyone else was interested in the property and she said yes.  I am certain she used this as a scare tactic to get me to put in an offer quickly.  A couple of years after I sold it the house burned down.  A neighbour who still lives on that street told me the new owners were away for the weekend and their dogs were in a kennel so everyone was safe.  Since they were conveniently out of town I secretly suspected that maybe they burned it down to get the insurance money, but the old neighbour told me they didn’t have insurance.  Yikes!  I still drive by the smoke damaged house and no one seems to live there so I am very curious as to what happened with it all.

How far down do I own?

How far down do I own?

We have a much better real estate agent now.  He helped us sell the first house and find the second one.  I have no negative feelings over the purchase of our second home.  I recently called him to ask him a very random question.

Is There is a Chance That I Own a Bit of Heaven and Hell?

My question was, when a person owns property, how far down into the earth do they own? Do I own a piece of the earth’s core? Or Hell? And how far up do I own for that matter? Slice of Heaven?

He didn’t know but said that it would be on my deed to the land because every purchase is different.

Monsanto and Aspartame, the Bonny and Clyde of our Pantries

Rather than researching which brands are affiliated with Monsanto it would be easier to find out which ones aren’t. It would make my next trip to the grocery store easier. I see many name brands that we use on a regular basis like Campbell’s, Heinz, Hellmans, Nabisco, Nature Valley, Quaker, V8, Kellogg’s, and Kraft on the list of manufacturers who are linked to Monsanto.

At one point in my life, I was drinking one can of diet Pepsi every day.  It had to be very cold, in a short glass, and with just the right amount of ice.  Too much ice could ruin it and not enough ice could ruin it.  Many factors could ruin the fizziness of the pop so I had it down to a science.

The monkey on my back.

The monkey on my back.

I would put my pop drinking off until night time so I could look forward to it all day and the risk of having a second can was low.   I would have one can of pop each night at 8pm.  I did this for many years.

Aspartame is Socially Acceptable Heroin

I had a socially acceptable monkey on my back.

Then one day I cracked open my diet Pepsi and after my first couple of sips I felt shoots of pain behind my eyes.  I figured I was dehydrated so I drank a glass of water.

The next night, and the next night, I got the same pains behind my eyes right after my first few sips so I started drinking a glass of water before my can of diet Pepsi.  I made excuses like my stress doesn’t surface until I relax at night with my diet Pepsi – this must be a stress headache.  Then I tried drinking two glasses of water before the diet Pepsi but nothing was working.  I had to face facts that it had been weeks and there was a direct correlation between me drinking diet Pepsi and getting immediate headaches.

People had been trying to scare me for years, telling me the horrors of aspartame but I was hooked and didn’t care – but now I was scared.  I decided to do an experiment and though it was hard, at 8pm one night I did not drink my diet Pepsi.  The headache never came that night. I did the experiment the next night and no headache again, then the night after that I drank one and the pains came.  It was official, this Pepsi was affecting me negatively.

It was a rough go but I have not had a sip of diet Pepsi in over a year.  I still really want one though.

It may sound silly but kicking that habit was one of the hardest things I have done. Social temptations were everywhere: one sip won’t kill me, oh but the bottle is open and I will end up just pouring it out, I bought it for you though.  It was hard but now the people in my life know that I am serious.

Here is the list of companies that use ingredients grown with Monsanto seeds.

Here is the list of companies that use ingredients grown with Monsanto seeds.

Monsanto is the New Aspartame

Around the same time as quitting pop, I started getting worried about preservatives and what else is in my food.  I have made some small changes in what we eat.  Some of the changes being: having our own chickens, growing our own vegetables, and not eating deli or processed meats anymore, and eating the other fresh meats less frequently.  It is just a small change but I think long run it may help us.

I am confused about this Monsanto uproar and I don’t know enough details to be an expert.  I read about it often but there is so much conflicting information.  I can gather without a doubt though, that Monsanto is bad for the planet.

I just read the popular Monsanto company boycott list.  These companies are not owned by Monsanto but they sell their genetically modified seeds to the farmers grow their ingredients. Sounds just as scary to me.

Are people actually boycotting this huge company called Monsanto?