Monthly Archives: March 2015

Jane-Finch mini-documentary

And now for something a little different.

This is a mini-documentary about Jane and Finch, produced by a Ryerson student, Eunice Kim. I believe it aired on the Ryerson radio station.

“I tried to capture the spirit of Jane and Finch and its amazing people through the power of radio,” wrote Eunice in her description of the clip.

She did this by talking to members of a certain Jane-Finch community group. Yes, this means you get to hear me mangle my words a few times during the course of this recording. It turns out that I’ve got a voice made for silent movies.

Obviously, I can’t really be too objective about this mini-documentary. Having admitted that, I think it’s quite polished and worth a listen.

If you like what you hear, this mini-doc was nominated for an upper-year award at Ryerson. Show Eunice your appreciation by voting for it here.

How to improve our children’s reading and writing skills?

Here is some interesting news concerning childhood literacy and education.

On February 24, 2015, there was a press conference held in Toronto to present the results of a Model School project. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) sponsored the cost of teacher training by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) for schools located at Walpole Island and Kettle and Stony Point First Nations in Ontario.

The program started by training the teachers how to properly instruct reading and writing. The project schools then set up a ninety minute period at the start of every day dedicated to reading and writing.

The pilot program started in 2010, and cost about 1.5 million dollars to run until it ended in 2014. Close to five hundred students from kindergarten to Grade 6 participated.

The results were eye-opening. Prior to the program, only 33 per cent of third grade students at these schools met or exceeded provincial standards for writing. Four years later, 91 per cent of Grade 3 students had met or exceeded those standards. Compare this to Ontario-wide results, where 70 percent of Grade Three students meet or surpass those standards.

OISE’s Dean Julia O’Sullivan said “the results were phenomenal by any stretch of the imagination.”

It is curious that a key component of the program was to train teachers how to properly teach reading and writing. Is this just a problem with teachers at those particular schools?

One wonders because Grade 3 results for ten schools located in the Jane-Finch area show that only six schools have 70 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard in either reading or writing. Three schools meet the 70 percent standard for both.

What accounts for the differences? Is it a question of how various teachers have been trained? A question of how resources are shared between schools within the same area? If this pilot project was brought into these Jane-Finch schools, would we see the same “phenomenal” results?