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December 05
A Season of Fun

​A post by Student Council members, Tiantian, Maia and their Student Council sponsor, Ms. Marshall


We have MULTIPLE events happening this month.  The virtue we are talking about in morning messages this week is giving. The holidays are coming up and it is just as important to give gifts as it is to receive them. You don't have to go out and buy something as a thank you.  You can give something like good behaviour to your parents and teachers.  You can give someone a smile. You can ask someone to play.

Please participate in our Festive December Events: 

Food bank donations ( December 4-18 ):

Please bring canned or dry foods.  The class that collects the largest amount of cans for the food bank will win an pizza / ice cream party.  

Mitten tree (December 4-22):

We will be collecting scarves, toques, mittens, gloves  and socks for those who do not have them.  New and gently used items are perfect!

Decorate your Classroom Door (December 4-22):

Decorate your classroom door with winter scenes or seasonal celebrations.  

Don't forget about Tea with the Principal (December 8 at 9:15 - 10:15 am ) and The Winter Concert (December 13 at 1:30 and 6:30)

Thank you! Happy holidays!


November 22
The Winter Concert is Coming

​​A post by Marlis MacAulay, our Music Teacher

Check out the information to plan for the holiday season of celebration.  Links are provided to facilitate home practice.

Winter Concert 2017 Parent  Teacher Resources.pdfWinter Concert 2017 Parent Teacher Resources.pdfWelcome Christmas Updated Lyrics.pdfWelcome Christmas Updated Lyrics.pdfChoir Winter Concert Information 2017.pdfChoir Winter Concert Information 2017.pdf

Winter Concert Choir Information The choir will be singing several songs on the Winter Concert. The choir will start the concert and then all students in the school will be involved in performances with their class. 

Date: Wednesday, December 13th Concert Times: 1:30 & 6:30 pm (students need to be at both performances) 

Dress Rehearsal: Tuesday, December 12th @ 12:20 in the GYM and then with school at 1:15pm 

Regular practice – every Tuesday at LUNCH

Concert Dress: Festive colours – red, green, black or white. 

The winter concert is based on the Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, so dress can be fun and colourful in the spirit of the book. 

To help your child practice for the concert you can go online to: 1. Sing We Now of Christmas – 2 part arrangement by Christi Miller 2. Hot Cup of Cocoa 3. It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas (work on learning the words.) There are versions of this song sung by Bing Crosby and Perry Como but not one exactly like our version! 

Party: To celebrate the work of the students this term, on December 19th we will do a small party during our final choir practice. If you can send a treat to share that would be appreciated. Students will still eat their regular lunch and then come to choir. A treat that is not messy and can be eaten without utensils is best. Thank you! 

District Event: The dates for the Vancouver District Choral Festival have just been confirmed. The concerts will be on March 5- 8. Our choir will be assigned a date in January. This is an evening event at John Oliver High School (41st Ave & Fraser St). Elementary choirs from all over Vancouver perform. The music for the two mass pieces will be available for our first rehearsal on January 9th. I look forward to seeing you at the concert. If you have any questions, please contact me at

November 19
The Virtues Project

Each morning student leaders from The University Hill Elementary Student Council do the morning messages.  An important part of this message is a focus on a weekly virtue.  The Virtues Project was founded in Canada in 1991 by Linda Kavelin-Popov, Dr. Dan Popov and John Kavelin.  It is an initiative that has taken in hold in more than 100 countries.  The goal is to create a global revolution based on kindness, justice and integrity. It was honoured in the United Nations during The Year of the Family as a model global program for families of all cultures.  

Please take the time to talk to your child about the weekly virtue.  Stay posted for blogs by student leaders on this topic.  

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November 16
Reconciling Assessment & Reporting Practices with the New Curriculum

​This post in reprinted from the professional blog Inquire2Empower (

Reconciling Assessment & Reporting Practices with the New Curriculum in British Columbia​

The implementation of the New Curriculum in British Columbia has garnered a lot of attention throughout the world.  Our population is made up of Canadians, immigrants and refugees from many different places, with many different schooling traditions.  In my little school of only 328 students, we have 34 home languages.  Yet what we are doing to prepare our students for the demands of the 21st Century is bringing good results.  


 Students are encouraged to ask the key questions laid out so effectively by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser in The Spirals of Inquiry.

  • Where am I now in my learning?
  • Where am I going next?
  • What do I need to get there?

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Suzanne Hoffman, Superintendent, Learning Transformation, Ministry of Education emphasizes the significance of "unveiling the hidden curriculum" by deliberately teaching and assessing core competencies.  Deliberate instruction and reflection of  communication, thinking and personal / social responsibility skills have the power to transform lives of our students (SAHoffman, Nov. 15, 2017).  Mandatory self assessment demonstrates that core competencies are important enough to be measured and help students to learn about themselves as learners, to develop the skills required for collaboration and to supports the creation meaningful goals.  

Aside from the students themselves, teachers have the most significant impact on the students in their classrooms.   Teachers in British Columbia have a high level of professionalism.  They  are well educated and have regular access to professional development and opportunities for collaboration.  As John A.C. Hattie aptly states in Visible Learning for Teachers:  Maximizing Impact on Learning " (2013)  "...those teachers who are students of their own impact, are the teachers who are the most influential in raising students' achievement."    By making learning intentions explicit, teachers help their students to learn intended learning outcomes, as well as the strategies of how to learn.   The development of scoring rubrics with students or  a review of criteria prior to assignments or marking, helps students to understand expectations and plan their time.  The challenge for teachers is to determine those strategies and practices that will enable students to ask complex questions, problem solve, work collaboratively and persevere to find answers and discover future possibilities.

In the new curriculum students are given far more responsibility for their own learning.  One rationale is to improve student engagement in school.  Another is to create students who will be able to respond to the demands of the 21st century.  My son works as a designer in Lululemon's "Whitespace" with engineers, scientists and technologists.  Beyond the frosted glass and carded access, he is researching how clothes impact physical performance and the mental and emotional perception of athletic ability.  The goal is to respond to trends, create markets and tailor sports clothing for 4-10 years down the road.  To our amazement as his parents, the childhood fascination with lego, trials riding, downhill riding, skiing, snowboarding and the construction of death defying jumps were the things that provided some of the rudimentary learning required for the job.  We can't predict all of the jobs in the future, but the new curriculum sets out to enable students to ask and respond to tough questions and learn through engagement in the things they find fascinating.    Students are now responsible for assuming responsibility for their learning, engaging with peers to learn cooperatively and participating in evaluating their progress.  

In the not so distant past, teachers aspired to be a fountain of knowledge and rushed in to speed up the process of answering questions or finishing explanations expeditiously.  Jon Saphier,  recently featured in a Webinar sponsored by Corwin (Nov. 13, 2017), suggested three ways to make learning visible and deeper:  Turn and talk.  Explain. Restate.  In the new Curriculum, we want students to take the time to think about difficult problems, to be comfortable being stuck, to engage in dialogue, to ask peers to explain their thinking, and to persevere until they discover their answers. 


The shift from summative to formative assessment is necessary to assist students in this new role.  In order for our students to take more responsibility for their learning, they require ongoing feedback embedded in their daily instruction.  The focus is not on one letter grade but movement along a continuum to demonstrate growth in student learning.  The initial response was the development of paper based portfolios that allowed students to self select items to demonstrate learning outcomes.  The accessibility of technology has added several other layers and possibilities with the addition of pictures, videos and attachments with comment.  

The Surrey School District has been using FreshGrade for the past four years to facilitate the collection of online portfolios to provide what Sir Ken Robinson calls "a continuous glimpse into each child's progress that parents and students can share".  It is one of the possible online applications that BC teachers like for the ease of use by young children and the inclusion of BC Performance standards.  The VSB is currently exploring how Office365 can be used in conjunction with various applications to fascilitate learning, store and showcase student work from entry in Kindergarten to graduation in Grade 12.  All school districts in British Columbia are developing reporting directives for implementation in September 2018 that will mesh with the new curriculum.




Reporting has always included the aspect of what students are able to do, the areas that require future attention and the ways of supporting students.  The opportunities introduced by implementation of the new curriculum in British Columbia are the source of many conversations with colleagues, students and parents about how our system in British Columbia can become even better.  Let the learning continue...

Formal assessments continue to play a role in providing feedback about students and  Provincial assessments , National and International assessments provide a snapshot of student performance in key areas and, over time, can help to monitor key outcomes of B.C.’s education system.

From the Ministry of Education Website:

B.C. students participate in three types of large-scale assessment:

  • Classroom Assessment is an integral part of the instructional process and can serve as meaningful sources of information about student learning.
  • Provincial Assessments:
  • National and international assessments measure reading, math and science skills of B.C. students. Various age ranges participate and student achievement levels are compared with other provinces or countries.
November 15
Kids Asking Questions

​Reprinted from professional blog by Carrie Froese dated Nov. 13, 2017 - Inquire2Empower

Kids Asking Questions​

Inquiry is a natural response of a young child to life.  When my son and daughter were young, I remember the exhaustion of trying to keep them safe in the midst of it.  My son was a bold explorer, scaling rocks to butt heads with young goats in Stanley Park, blazing trails in Mundy Park on his bike and on Grouse Mountain with his snowboard.  My daughter was a fearless follower of her brother’s careful instruction to crawl out of the crib and keep up with her older brother in new adventures everywhere they went.  Clogged drains were explained away as doing Science and our family repertoire of good stories are plentiful and filled with laughter of past and present exploits.  Both kids have emerged into adults who continue to question and explore new pathways to make discoveries.


My question as a administrator is much the same as when my kids were young.  How can we support children in continuing the habit of asking questions and developing strategies to find the answers to their questions?  I’m not thinking so much of school completion and continuing on to post-secondary, which may be a by-product, but the intrinsic reward that comes with the discovery.  “Eureka!” is always followed by an exclamation point for good reason.  There is an excitement that comes with discovery about something you care about. I want children to maintain the same level of engagement that they enter kindergarten with.  I believe everyone should teach kindergarten at some point, if even for a day.  The questions come hard and fast and “no I won’t answer it for you even if you are pulling on my sweater”.  In kindergarten, the challenge isn’t getting children to ask questions, it is teaching them ways to discover their own their own answers.


My pathway to discovering the power of inquiry to engage learners was through my own professional development.  Maureen Dockendorf, who has been instrumental in the inclusion of inquiry curriculum in British Columbia, invited me to an inquiry group early on in my career.  Each member in the inquiry group went through the process of defining a question of professional interest, refined it and came up with a plan to discover possibilities.  We were responsible for reporting back to the group so reflection of our learning was an integral part of the process.  The inquiry led me to ask my students about their learning.  It made me a better teacher by creating a high level of engagement and a relationship with students that went beyond interest in their lives to develop relationship and enhance learning.  It helped me to invest in students as learners and helping them to learn strategies to learn throughout their lives.  Yes, lifelong learning has become a buzz word but the essence is developing a population that is interested and invested in their work and their life.

I recently had a group of students in the gym for a Camp Read event.  Yes, reading on floating islands of mats with no shoes on is still exciting.  We chatted about inquiry and I put out a banner for students to record their questions..  These were some of them.

Why is the ocean so full?

Why do people go to school to learn?

What was the first moon landing like?

Why is a slug “nature’s hotdog”?

What are “nature’s french fries”?

Why did the first mushroom decide to grow?

How do plants start?

What was the first food on earth?

Why do birds and bats fly into Ms. Froese’s window that faces north?

Why do dogs chase cats?

Why did the sun start?

How do birds fly?

Why don’t some people respect other people?

Was there outer space before the Big Bang?

How was gravity made?

Why does earth have air but other planets don’t?

Are ghosts real?

How was the first iPad made?

How do we grow?

How come some animals started living like people?

Why are there seasons?


Finding the answer to each question lends itself to a great opportunity for personal learning.  It is also an opportunity to develop the core competencies and content goals in the New British Columbia Curriculum.  Although the framing and publication of the B.C. curriculum is new, the research and implementation of these practices are not.   Linda Kaser, Judy Halbert and Helen Timperley explain the essence of educational change in British Columbia, Canada with finesse:  “((I)nnovation floats on a sea of inquiry and curiosity is a driver for change.” (2014 CSE – A framework for transforming learning in schools:  Innovation and the spiral of inquiry ).  This is what has enabled British Columbia to emerge as a leader in educational practices and achievement worldwide.

November 08
UHill News - Nov. 8, 2017

School newsletters are emailed home to parents and to date have been included as an attachment on the website.  It was a great suggestion to include the information as a blog post.  From now on the newsletter will also be included in the School News and tweeted on the UHill Twitter handle.  Unfortunately the pictures don't copy onto this blog.                             

Nov. 8, 2017

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thanks for the active participation in recent conferences and regularly throughout the school – before, during and after school hours.  We appreciate the teamwork in supporting your child’s learning.  I’m delighted with the excitement generated by The Usborne Book Fair.  It’s great to see that reading has such an important place in our school community.  Daily reading encourages not only the development of reading skills but shared experiences and conversations, perspective taking and lifelong enjoyment.

Just a reminder that you are welcome to attend the University Hill Elementary Remembrance Day Service tomorrow at 11 am.  Students will be remembering the people who have made sacrifices to maintain the Canadian vision of human rights for all and aspirations for lasting peace in the world.   Students have been preparing art and performances for this event. 

Friday, Nov.10th is a non-instructional day for students and a day of professional learning for staff.  Teachers are developing strategies to fully implement the new British Columbia Curriculum.  Should you have any questions about the new curriculum, I happy to have a private conversation or group conversation.  The next Time for Tea with the Principal is scheduled for December 8th from 9:15 am to 10:15 am.  This is another opportunity to chat with parents and myself.  The December 8th session topic will be assessment and evaluation.  Please come!

The portables have now been relocated and are in the process of being refurbished for student use in other schools.  The standard process is for the VSB Grounds Department to restore the site to the original condition, which was grass field.  There are a number of other proposals that are being made by teachers, students and parents.  Check out the School News on the University Hill Elementary website to read about the VSB Garden Guidelines and the possibilities.  The deadline for proposals for approval by the VSB Grounds Department is December 1st if we are going to have anything put in place by Spring 2108. 

Please remember to check the UHill Elementary website regularly for up to date school news , tweets of interesting articles (you don’t have to have a Twitter account) and pictures of students engaged in learning who have parent permission (indicated on the Media Release form sent home at the beginning of the year).  The PAC website is another important source of information for you to access about upcoming meetings and opportunities.

Sincerely Your Principal, Ms. Carrie Froese

November 08
Planning the Space from Vacated Portables - Brainstorming

​A number of suggestions have been made about possibilities for the land where the two portables were removed from the University Hill Elementary School site.

1.  The VSB Grounds plan was to restore the land and seed it with grass to become part of the field again.

2.  Accessible garden with a sprinkler system on a timer.  See last blog post for details and VSB Garden Guidelines​.

3.  The idea of creating a circle of large stones or a medicine wheel has been suggested to allow classes to have an outdoor classroom space, incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and have additional outdoor seating spaces for breaks.

Martin Brokenleg has been instrumental in framing some of the thinking around Indegenous ways of knowing.  His llifelong work on The Circle of Courage represents key learnings around key understandings of basic needs of children and the teachings of the medicine wheel.  Check out the link to learn more.

4.  More Playground equipment

5.  A greenhouse.  Not within VSB guidelines

6.  An space with fruit trees and bushes.  Not within VSB guidelines.

Proposals to the VSB Grounds Department are required by December 1, 2017 in order for them to be in place in Spring 2018.

Keep the ideas coming.  Student Council is encouraging all classes to have feedback boxes in their classrooms. See Ms. Froese for shoeboxes.

October 30
​Thinking About Learning in the Outdoor Classroom

The re-conditioned portables are en-route to schools who require the additional classroom space.  This leaves us with an opportunity to ask questions, problem solve and decide on the best way to use this space. 


Over the years, teachers, parents and students have been asking some questions like:

            How can we get more sunlight on the garden boxes to extend growing times?

            Can we build more garden boxes?

            How can we maximize outdoor learning opportunities?

            How can we help students to connect what they are observing outdoors to curriculum?

            How can we integrate Indigenous ways of knowing into daily learning?

            Where is the ideal spot for an outdoor classroom meeting spot?

            Can we provide outdoor seating for an entire classroom?


Geoff Pearmain, the foremen of the Vancouver School Board Grounds department has been able to provide us with some direction.  There is a VSB Garden Policy that we must follow.  Safety is the first concern in this policy and free-standing buildings, sheds, greenhouses, log or tree trunk seating are not permitted.  Nootka, Norquay and Shaughnessy have all designed some outdoor classroom areas on their school grounds.  Stone picnic tables or buried rocks are used to seat classes of students for outdoor lessons and discussions. 


There is a woodwork teacher at Tupper Secondary School has done some of the work for us.  He has designed a composter, garden boxes and a storage box that follow VSB Code and can be purchased.  Although we can only install 6 garden boxes per year, we can create a short term and a long-term plan.  For Year One, we could install the limestone pad for the 15 boxes, build 6 new garden boxes and move the four existing boxes for a total of 10 garden boxes.  In Year 2, another 6 boxes could be added for a total of 16 boxes. The limestone pads allow the gardens to be accessible to all students.  We are at an advantage that there are pre-existing pathways.

Another possibility is to match teachers and the various growing spaces around the school.  Joan Phoenix would likely assume responsibility for the Butterfly Garden.  Two other teachers may assume responsibility for the raised beds behide classes on the west side of the school.  Other teachers may assume responsibility for the beds close to the Daycare.  Then the decision could be made about relocating our four garden beds and how many to new garden boxes to have built by students taking Woodworking at Tupper Secondary School.  

The large VSB storage container will remain on site for storage.  Some community gardens integrate these containers into the garden area by painting them.   The VSB painters would prime the area and perhaps we could invite an artist to design a mural with our students to make it fit aesthetically into the garden area.  A recent discovery is that there was no water supply to the portables.  We may want to consider a self watering system to ensure maintainance of the garden.  

Now is the time to talk about the possibilities and come up with plans. 


​If we want plans implemented by Spring 2018, we need to submit a proposal to the VSB Grounds Department for approval by December 1, 2017.

October 21
Walk N' Roll Week Celebration

​Both the University Hill Elementary and Norma Rose Point School Communities will celebrating Walk N' Roll Week.  Teachers have handed out passports. Participating students will iimproving their fitness, helping the environment AND trying to earn a class Ice Cream Party.  Free tune ups will be offered after school on Monday.  Check out the link for the many ways to participate.  


Mustafa Aktar is our amazing and exceptionally enthusiast coordinator.  Please him to volunteer to support these community activities.

Mustafa Akhtar 
Coordinator, Community Programs and Outreach
Community Development | Campus and Community Planning
The University of British Columbia | Vancouver CampusWalknRoll_Flyer_Oct20171.pdfWalknRoll_Flyer_Oct20171.pdf
Room 3331, CIRS Building 2260 West Mall | Vancouver BC | V6T 1Z4 Canada
Phone 604 822 2278 | @UTownUBC​

October 09
The Art of Thankfulness

There were lots to be thankful for at University Hill this week.  Teacher sponsors of the Track and Field team braved the cold with students to help students develop endurance and running technique.  Teachers, parents, students and cardboard came together for the Cardboard Challenge – an afternoon of creativity, innovation, and frustration unfolded before our eyes along with the stories of the process and perseverance required in the pursuit of completing projects housed in the imagination.  Turkeys danced, songs were sung, and poems were performed for parents in Ms. Dakin’s room.  The smell of fresh applesauce wafted from Akemi’s room.  Andrea’s Grade 2’s made the lightest and fluffiest pumpkin tarts.  Ms. Marlis sent home students with their new recorders to begin the task of learning how music is made.  It is quite appropriate that we also celebrated World Teachers’ Day on Thursday.  We are thankful to our teachers for the wealth of opportunities they provide for students to engage in their learning.  


I look forward to seeing you at fall conferences on October 24th and 25th.   Be sure to keep on the lookout for the form with your time to attend.


Please encourage your child to practice gratefulness on a regular basis.  Research tells us that daily thanks gives us a sense of optimism, good mental health and positive relationships.​ 

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Welcome to the University Hill Elementary School principal's blog.