North Vancouver School District #44

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District #44

Archives for Instructional Practice

Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) Memorandum of Understanding

At the December 10th Public Board Meeting the motion to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding with Deakin University to formalize the relationship between our two educational institutions and to support continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest was moved and carried.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 8.36.39 AMFor the past three years our School District has hosted pre-service teachers from Deakin University who are equivalent to a third or fourth year education student at a Canadian University. These student teachers spend three weeks teaching in our classrooms as part of their course “Teaching in a Global World”. As a result of their participation, Australian pre-service teachers are gaining a deeper understanding of teaching practices in Canada.

Feedback has been positive from the pre-service teachers, their Canadian sponsor teachers, and our students. Through this partnership there are increased professional opportunities to learn from each other through open discussion and the sharing of expertise. The exchanging of educational resource materials that are of mutual interest and academic staff collaboration in research are further areas to  be considered.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 8.36.09 AMThe Memorandum of Understanding sets out the intent to enter into a cooperative relationship with the aim of developing and fostering academic links between our two institutions.

Class Acts: A celebration of education in North Vancouver School District – Week 1

As Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in North Vancouver School District comes to a close it is time to reflect on the past two weeks of events and recognize the efforts of everyone involved in helping to make this a special celebration of the teaching and learning in our school district. A special thanks to this year’s Class Acts committee Chanin Leoni, Ray Bodnaruk, Yolande Martinello, Scott Stanley, Jane Lagden Holborne, Victoria Miles, and Bill Piggott. We sincerely appreciate the work of the committee in coordinating the many events held during this period of celebration.

Intermediate Music Festival / Band & Strings Festival

Last week we held the Intermediate Music Festival at Centennial Theatre and the Band and Strings Festival in the Lucas Gym. Both festivals were well received and well-attended. The Intermediate Music Festival featured groups from 16 different schools – thank you to Michele Denny and Margaret Inglis who spearheaded the festival and coordinated all the groups. The Band and Strings festival involved school groups from our elementary schools performing for one another over two days and was a great opportunity for listening and sharing and to receive feedback and suggestions from the Adjudicator, Lasse Leslie. Thanks to Bill Piggott for organizing this event. We recognize the many hours of planning that goes into these festivals, and of course the practicing that happens behind the scenes leading up to the performances. We are extremely proud of both these events which highlight the talents of our students and teachers. Congratulations to all who participated this year!

Exhibition of student artwork

Over 500 people attended the celebration of the Artists for Kids afterschool art programs and the exhibition of artwork created by students of the 2013-14 Art Enrichment Programs at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. Thank you to Daylen Luchsinger and Yolande Martinello who organized both of these showcases of student art which were thoroughly enjoyed by the students, parents, and staff.


District Student Leadership Council Forum on Assessment – March 12, 2014

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014 student groups from our secondary schools participated in a forum hosted by our District Student Leadership Council called “Assessing Our Assessment”. This forum took place at the Education Services Centre and provided a unique opportunity for students to share their ideas and discuss how assessment impacts the way they learn.

Gathering student perspectives on assessment is timely as we continue to examine the processes we use to gather information on learning and performance. Assessment is one of our Four Pillars of Educational Practice and was recently the focus of our Designs 2014 professional development series. It was one of the main topics of discussion during Curriculum Implementation Day in January and the new Handbook for Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting was published in February. This handbook was developed to support teachers in developing consistent and effective assessment practices that will enhance student learning and achievement.

We were pleased to hear the student voice on how assessment impacts their learning and efficacy in the classroom as part of our Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in North Vancouver School District. Information gathered from this student-led forum will be presented to the School District, the Board of Education and the Ministry.

DSLC Forum 2014

Designs Series 2014 – focus on assessment

Once again the School District’s Designs Series drew a record number of participants.  This popular series continues to grow each year as a mainstay of the district’s professional development in-service.  We were delighted to see so many school teams and Family of School (FOS) teams interested in pursuing discussions around assessment from Curriculum Implementation Day.Design 2014

The focus of the 2014 Designs series was North Vancouver School District’s new Communicating Student Learning: Handbook for Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting, a document which focuses on Ten Principles of Assessment and the year-long assessment cycle. Each of the three part series focused on one aspect of the cycle:  creating balanced and authentic assessments, stating learning targets, providing quality formative assessment and effectively using peer and self-assessment.


Teachers were provided with many practical tips and resources to continue their professional growth in the area of assessment.  Many thanks to the District Assessment Team, a very dedicated group of educators, who were instrumental in developing the plans for both Curriculum Implementation Day and the Designs 2014 Series.    Our staff are encouraged to watch for more information and in-service opportunities related to the Assessment handbook in the late spring 2014.

Teacher group

Teachers can access the Assessment Handbook on the portal  >> District >> Learning Services >> Resources >> Service Delivery Models.

Making the Challenge: fuelling learning with invention

MakerPhoto1 7Feb14

February 24, 2014

At the February 7th District-wide professional day, some 40 educators chose to take part in a “learning by doing” Maker Day experience to activate their creative imaginations and tap into their tinkering skills.

In true maker style, the half-day event challenged small groups to collaborate on inventing a prototype to assist homeless citizens with their needs for shelter, warmth, mobility, personal security, nutrition, hygiene or social connections. The prototype could address any one of these needs, or a combination of them at once.

Using the basic tools and resources provided, the groups created a number of purposeful prototypes including two transportable shelters (one even had a special place for a pet) and a mobile shower/clothes washing and washroom facility. A mock-up design for a parking metre featured a sensory grid so that if a homeless person wanted family to know they were safe, they could put their palm on the metre to relay a communication to their family.  The idea included an electrically activated thermal capacity for a blanket to be wrapped around the metre and warmed.

This inventive professional development event also featured presentations by Vancouver Mini-Maker Faire and an introduction to the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager.

With their own Maker Day experience under their tool belt, the educators who participated in this professional development option are now equipped to help spread maker-inspired project-based learning possibilities back to their schools.



It’s My Future – A Student Forum

On November 6, 2013 Vancouver’s Gladstone Secondary School hosted a student forum by The Learning Partnership called “It’s My Future”. Students from Metro Vancouver area schools were invited to discuss how they think education should be improved. Members of our North Vancouver District Student Leadership Council participated in the event and Seycove Secondary School grade 11 student Mikaela Brown was quoted in the Vancouver Sun: View Article

Mikaela’s suggestion was to introduce a class in financial management to teach about credit cards, mortgage and debt. Other student ideas included internships, specialized schools, and a more flexible timetable.

I was pleased to attend this event along with a number of my Superintendent colleagues and was impressed with the thoughtful contributions of our students.

The Learning Partnership holds several student forums across Canada and is currently conducting a national student survey on the Canadian education system.

Canadian School Library Day – October 28


The theme for Canadian Library Month 2013 is Libraries Connect/Bibliothèques branchées. The key word here is clearly “connecting” – connecting to our communities, connecting people to resources, connecting people to each other, connecting our ideas, our thoughts, and our opinions. And it is important to mention that this is connecting in all types of libraries: public, school, special, academic. There is also a strong connection between public and school libraries as they work together to support students in an informal and formal learning environment.

On School Library Day on October 28th, everyone is invited to participate in D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read). Here are some details on D.E.A.R.:   BC Teacher Librarians Association’s Drop Everything and Read Day

DEAR 2013

WHO? You, your friends, family members, colleagues, classmates, coworkers…

WHERE? Wherever you are: classroom, hallways, office…

WHEN? Monday, October 28, 2013; 11:00 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.

HOW? Stop whatever it is that you are doing and…just read!

WHY? Because the love of reading is a beautiful, valuable, lifelong habit that everyone should enjoy, every day.

More information available here:

Literacy 44 eBook Launch

At the Education and Programs Standing Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, our District Literacy Team unveiled the online version of Literacy 44! The Literacy 44 eBook Launch presentation included steps to navigating the eBook resource and hands-on demonstrations of several new comprehensive literacy lesson plans for primary, intermediate, and secondary classrooms.

A total of 65 teachers, department heads, family of schools leaders, lead teachers, and administrators attended this widely anticipated session and learned about the teaching tools, student support materials, and interactive books on the new digital eBook.

Thank you to Joanne Robertson, Kathleen Barter, Kate Lechleiter, Gretchen Tolfo, Ann Copp, Kat Thomson, and Tristan Crowther who presented at the meeting.

For more information about the Literacy 44 eBook please contact Kathleen Barter ( or Ann Copp (

Canyon Heights Artists

I was pleased to be invited to the display of student art work at Canyon Heights earlier this month.

Under the direction of their classroom teacher, Marly Haller, the students created astonishing animal masks.  A few of these wonderful pieces are shown below.


The students learned a complex process using clay, painting and glazing to create life-like representations of a wide array of animals.

In addition to their art work, the students were also engaged in research related to their chosen animal.

The students’ work was on display throughout the week and received many deserving compliments.

New Zealand educator and researcher Adrian Smith visits NVSD

L > R Anami Naths, Adrian Smith and Marcia Garries

May, 2013

It’s always a welcome opportunity when we can assist with international research to further knowledge and improvements to education. In May, the School District welcomed Adrian Smith, the principal of One Tree Point School in Northland New Zealand. For five days in a five-month long research expedition, Adrian chose to visit the North Vancouver School District to observe our gifted programmes in action and learn more about  our Aboriginal education initiatives.

During his visit, Adrian shared with us that where he teaches in New Zealand, the student population is approximately 80% Maori. There is a realization of the need for a shift towards creating and enhancing programs that address the needs of gifted and talented Aboriginal students. Recognition of their leadership and cultural uniqueness, particularly through storytelling, music and dance, has marked the work to date in New Zealand, but that is only the beginning. A broader approach to successful strategies is still needed locally and globally in education to serve these students.