BCHS 4th Annual Mental Health Symposium

On Wednesday April 19th Bishop Carroll’s Mental Wellness Team, Spectrum Club and Jack.org partnered together to put on our school 4th annual Mental Health Symposium.
mentalhealt4

(see 1st, 2nd, 3rd)

Our fabulous, student run event,  involved 100 participants from four different schools in the Calgary area. Participants were encouraged to participate in a number of mental wellness activities including building gratitude baskets, sketching to the fabulous tunes of our very own Kate Stevens, making a button with the Spectrum Club  and being the first to view the launch of the The BCHS 3rd Annual “WE DON’T SAY ” Campaign.

Our students were reminded that everyone experiences “Mental Health”, however at least 1/5 Canadians will experience Mental Illness in their lifetime.

mentalhealth5

One of our morning keynote speakers  was Calgary teen Maggie Harder who was the original initiator of the  Amazon Suicide Shirt Campaign which took place in January 2016. Maggie spoke to our students about the fact that language matters, and it’s important to stand up (in a positive and constructive way) for what you believe is important.

mental health 6

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ART THERAPY: We All Wear a Mask

One of the innovative projects I am pleased to work on this year involves a collaboration between myself, another counselling colleague and our art teacher. BCHS Spectrum Club’s mission is to bring people together and spread a message of love … Continue reading

Dr. Alec Couros- continues to inspire me

 

January 14, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:

 

As a former student participant in #Etmooc2013 I would love to nominate Dr. Alec Couros for the Teaching Award of Excellence for Flexible Learning. I joined #Etmooc in January 2013 as a relative rookie to the field of educational technology. As a high school counsellor from Calgary, I had no formal training related to educational technology but had wanted to learn how to connect with my students in a meaningful manner. I was very nervous to jump into a world I had never known, and wasn’t sure if I belonged. Thankfully I entered an environment where we were encouraged to ask questions. We could go back and review videos, Google Hangouts, Blackboard Collaborate sessions and Open Source course notes as often as we wanted and on our own time lines. This helped individuals like myself who were full time professionals and parents, explore their new environment on their own terms. Dr. Couros and the rest of this team had a very approachable demeanor which was always patient. The key phrase was “take what you need, when you need it”.

 

 

They say that a manager directs and a leader encourages those around them to stretch their wings and become all that they can be. By this definition I would definitely say that Dr. Alec Couros is a true leader. Dr. Couros encourages all of his students to take what they learn from the experiences he facilitates online and go out into their worlds and apply their skills. Since the end of #Etmooc I have continued to connect with my colleagues through a number of off-shoot projects which developed based on connections I made through #Etmooc. First I am a regular vlogger for the Fellowship of the Openspokes https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/116395158372553895482 . A community of vloggers from around the world who ask questions and offer support to each other around teaching and learning.
Second I was involved in the planning committee for another cmooc the Open Online Experience OOE13 https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102207059956192791361 This project was inspired by #Etmooc with many of the participants being both former students and professionals recommend by Dr Corous.
Finally we, the students of #Etmooc, have maintained an active Post #Etmooc community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111431081834171225314 which has continued to connect through twitter chats, hash tags, Google + and Google Hangouts. We organize both twitter chats and Google Hangouts to continue to maintain and facilitate the personal connections that Dr. Couros modeled were so critical to educators during our #Etmooc experience.

 

My connections with Dr. Couros continue to impact my career. This year I have taken a position as an English teacher and coordinator of international relations in Tarui, Japan. The PLN (professional learning network) that I developed under Dr. Couros’ tutelage, continues to provide me with support and suggestions on the other side of the world. I am truly grateful that I was able to learn the skills to connect online before my move as I can not image how much more isolated I would feel without them.

 

Dr. Alec Couros is a leader, a visionary and a role model. I am truly honored to have participated in one of his courses and I feel that he has demonstrated exemplary skill in providing flexible learning.

 

Sincerely,

 

Erin Luong

Making Ripples Around the World

Gandhi

I am working in Japan this year and I have chosen to take a MOOC on Social Psychology while I am away. Now I chose the course before I decided to move, but I think that fate stepped in because the content of this course seems so relevant to me right now.

Every little positive thing we do, no matter how insignificant it might be has the power to create a powerful change. The following TED talk clearly demonstrates this.

Life is about more than forcing your own position, its about trying to find a clearer view of both sides. I often tell students that as a counsellor I am a helicopter flying above their forest of trees.

This week I am helping a Calgary student start a ripple right here in Japan. Before I left Calgary I was told about the Marisa Project http://www.themarisaproject.org/ and given a book to bring with me. The theme of the Marisa Project is: Dreams aren’t only for sleeping. This morning I shared the book with my staff at Fuwa Junior High. They have agreed to participate and help me fill a book of dreams to bring back to Canada.

I am excited as this little ripple will strengthen the bond staff and students feel between Calgary and Tarui.

Lessons for a New School Counsellor … an ongoing dialogue for this school year

As I spend time in Japan this year, I have made an opening for a brand new counsellor to work at Bishop Carroll. I have also left behind a dear friend who is going to make sure that “the new guy” has a fantastic first experience.

Lessons for a New School Counsellor … an ongoing dialogue for this school year.

Connecting the World’s Classrooms Through Online Collaboration

One of the things that I love most about #Etmooc (yes, I know it’s been three months but I’m still singing its praises) was the way it encouraged all of us to become reflective practitioners and life long learners.

I try to think: What I’m currently doing in my classroom might already be working well- but we need to be constantly playing around to find ways to make it better and more relevant to my students http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Letter_from_a_Hybrid_Student.html

In the spirit of lifelong learning and collaboration a number of us have come together to form a post #etmooc reading group which chooses monthly themes and topics to read, reflect and discuss. Over the past month we’ve been contemplating 21st century publishing at all grade levels. It sometimes amazes me how much educators from the wide of a range have in common, as well as some of the differences in openness and access each age group must account for when they plan their lessons and student learning assignments.

This morning I was fortunate to be able to participate in the post #etmooc group hangout (which I must thank Rhonda Jessen @rljessen for moderating).

I loved this meeting as it involved educators from elementary all the way up to post secondary- as well as a few members of the HYBRID PEDAGOGY digital journal team, Jesse Strommel and Sean Morris. If you are not familiar with the HYBRID PEDAGOGY digital journal, I would highly recommend checking out the link below. http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/CFP_K12_Dialogue.html

As well, if you have a topic you are passionate about related to educational pedagogy I would recommend you submit an article to the publication. This team is willing to review any article, whether from elementary, secondary or post -secondary, and work with the author until you have developed a publishable piece of work.

Next month I will be leaving for a one year contract in Japan. The purpose of my position is to liaise between the Calgary and Japanese school boards. I am hoping that one of the ways that I can facilitate this is through collaborative projects between my Japanese and Canadian students.
tarui2
One of the things that I appreciate most about my #etmooc pln is the safety I feel in being able to ask for help and suggestions. Since I had access to amazing minds spanning from many backgrounds and areas I decided to ask the group if they had any suggestions. I received the following ideas which I will try to explore over the next few months:

1) Using Google docs
http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/10_Tips_for_Google_Docs.html
Some of the benefits of google docs are that they allow for asynchronous collaboration from a variety of sites. As well, if given the link, students can contribute to the document without having to register as a google member.

2) Etherpad

http://etherpad.org/

This program is similar to a Google Doc. Etherpad allows you to edit documents collaboratively in real-time, much like a live multi-player editor that runs in your browser. Studnets can write articles with peers from around the world, all working on the same document at the same time.
3) Draft
https://draftin.com/
When using Google Doc, collaborators overwrite the master copy. However, when you share your document using Draft, any changes your collaborator makes are on their own copy of the document, and you get to accept or ignore each individual change they make.

4) Blogging
There are a variety of servers which can be used for blogging.
http://kidblog.org/home/
Kidblog provides teachers with the tools to help students safely navigate the digital – and increasingly social – online landscape. Kidblog allows students to exercise digital citizenship within a secure, private classroom blogging space. All blog are private only to the class by default, teachers can then choose which items can be shared publically.
http://edublogs.org/
Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts. This account appears to be easier to use than word press.
Once you register for an edublog account teachers can create a class and monitor/moderate all content, forums and threaded discussions, Wikis, ePortfolios, and more
http://wordpress.com/

The blog site that I am currently using, it is not overly secure for classroom use, however I am planning to have my son blog about our experience in Japan to practice his English writing while we are away. He’ll be in grade 3 next year and would love to share his work with others. Check him out at http://erinluong21.wordpress.com/

5) Skype
https://login.skype.com/login
Skype; is a popular, easy to use and reliable (Voice over Internet Protocol) program, that allows you call and talk to other Skype users, video chat; and more for free over the internet. Skype supports conference calls up to 25 people at a time. Skype also supports video chat between two people for free. Screen sharing and group video calling is available for Premium subscribers between a maximum of 10 people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype

As I am open to collaboration and connecting with colleagues from around the worId I may also want to look into applying for a flat classroom, collaborative project for next year. http://flatclassroomproject.ning.com/

I am so excited about being able to experiment and play.

If you have any others suggestions or words of wisdom around student collaboration feel free to drop me a line and share.

Sayonara for now

Reach Out- Social Media Helping to Relieve Tension in Times of Pressure

Yesterday I woke up to a surreal situation. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, my hometown, the place where I have lived since birth, was declared to be in a state of emergency due to flooding. I heard it on the news and then went straight to my twitter account to gain all the latest up to date information.

The first thing everyone I know did was touch base with each other and make sure that everyone was ok. – Thankfully everyone I knew was safe, even if they had to be evacuated. I had many conversations like the following:

Verena Roberts ‏‪@verenanz‬ 20 Jun 

‪@deirdrebailey Just checking in on you… ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@SSpellmanCann ‪@Stephkrammer
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. Erin Luong ‏‪@EHordyskiLuong‬ 21 Jun 

‪@verenanz thanks for checking on… How about u?
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.
Susan Spellman Cann ‏‪@SSpellmanCann
21 Jun
‪@verenanz ‪@deirdrebailey ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@Stephkrammer thx for checking hope all are safe

Thanks to the power of social media, my family from all over the world had heard about the flooding (even my father in Kuwait and uncle in New Zealand had heard the news), but I was also able to reassure everyone that my family was ok.

My mom and stepdad live on the opposite side of the city. Flooding made it impossible for us to physically reach each other, but texting and phones helped us feel connected.
sandy beach
An uncle from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, called to give our family advice around plumbing and keeping our drinking water safe. I was very touched that he took the time to reach out to us, and also awed by the power of social media.

Throughout the day I was constantly receiving updates via twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and email not only about the tragedy and loss of property and park space (here are a few pics from a few blocks from my house) …

mckenzie fish creek

mckenzie golf coures

mckenzie lake
But also of inspiration and hope as I learned about other citizens, as well as students from my own high school I teach at, who were coming together to support our community.

student

rescue

I had forgotten that the military does more than go over seas. I was so grateful to see the tanks driving in to help out.
army

Volunteers were helping out all over supporting our vulnerable citizens and animals around the area. The big cats from the Calgary Zoo were even moved into the court house for safe keeping as Princess Island is totally under water.
lions

Requests for volunteer support were both given and accepted on social media sites such as Twitter and Kijiji. An email from my church in the evening asking for sleeping bags and supplies was met with a quick response.

Now 24 hours later I can’t imagine how much more isolated and scared my family would have felt if we did not have all of these 21st century connections. Personally I am thankful that my family is both safe and plugged in this evening.

Sending love and prayers out over the net to all those affected by the Alberta floods.

Erin