Topics covered in this post:
Book Night: March 2, 7pm
chag Purim sameach
Toronto Public Health Letter for Parents
Black History Month
Parent Ed Feb 18: Addressing Racism & Anti-Black Racism - Thank you & Recording
Parent Ed March 25: Book and Ticket Event
Thank you JICS Parents
PHOTOS: Pink Shirt Day
PHOTOS: Outdoor Play
Upcoming February Events
Upcoming March Events
1. Book Night - a live stream family event
Tuesday, March 2nd at 7:00pm
Join us for our first virtual Book Night! Tune in at 7pm for an evening of stories and exciting surprises during this live stream event to help us kick-off the JICS read-a-thon for the month of March! We recommend setting up a device prior to 7pm with external speakers or by connecting it to a TV if possible to ensure everyone in your family can hear and see the entirety of this event.
You can view the live stream from our JICS YouTube page by clicking this link:
RSVP to receive email reminders with the live stream link!
2. chag Purim sameach
May this Purim bring fun, laughter and celebration to your life!
3. Toronto Public Health Letter to Parents
Please click below to read a letter to school communities from Toronto Public Health regarding COVID-19 variants of concern and updates to the TPH school screening tool. All of these changes have been reflected in the JICS Screening Form since our return to in-person learning.
4. School Closure
The UofT Snow Closure Info Line is no longer in service: 416-978-7669
The JICS Lab School is closed when the University of Toronto is closed due to inclement weather. Information about the status of UofT can be found here: https://www.utoronto.ca/campus-status
In the event that the Lab School is closed due to inclement weather, JICS parents will also be notified by email and on the JICS Twitter feed (www.JICSfamily.com) by 7:00am.
5. Black History Month
Each year in February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.
You will have heard from your child’s classroom teacher about some of the ways we will celebrate, and continue to learn, about Black History Month. We are holding a school-wide assembly to celebrate Black history on February 26 with storyteller Sandra Whiting.
We thought you might also be interested to know how other grades and specialty classes are contributing to our learning in developmentally appropriate ways. As always what unfolds in our classrooms is responsive to the children, their current interests, knowledge and developmental readiness.
Here is some information on Black History Month drawn from the Government of Canada website https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html
A well-loved book in Nursery West is Chris Raschka’s Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. The children all had fun listening to Charlie’s Parker’s music this month! We continue to share stories that feature black families and Black characters as protagonist, not only in February, but throughout the year.
We have been having Dance Parties in Nursery East! Some of the different beats and artists we have been listening to include calypso, Afro beats, soca, and old and new reggae - featuring Bob Marley, Marshal Montano, Kes the Band, Fuse ODG, and many more. We have focused on learning a dance from Ghana called Azonto. This dance involves a set of hand movements that either mimic everyday activities or are meant to amuse the audience. It began simply with one- and two-step movements but has evolved into a more complex dance, miming the ironing of clothes, washing up, driving, swimming, and other activities. We have also been reading some beautiful storybooks, such as The Snowy Day, I Love My Hair, and Jake Makes a World.
The JKs are celebrating and acknowledging Black History Month through story, music, and art. JKs have enjoyed many rich diverse picture books throughout the school year. One picture book in particular, Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, taught us to love ourselves no matter our skin tone. Another book, Hair Love was shared by a JK student and her dad.
JKs embraced Black Excellence through music and art. In partnership with Suzanne, JKs explored various sounds of music from the Caribbean and West Africa. They danced, listened and shared their feelings when dancing to soca, calypso and reggae. JKs engaged in the art form of two black artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Odili Donald Odita. We are excited to continue on this journey of embracing diversity.
We continue a practice of intentionally selecting books and stories that represent a rich diversity of voice, experience, and central characters of colour. In February we make those selections more explicit to the children, highlighting Black Canadians’ contributions to our communities and culture.
Throughout the year, we have looked beyond the Western/Euro-centric body of art and artists when looking for inspiration and excellence, to highlight the work of Black and other Artists of Colour.
We integrate African creation and sky stories into our astronomy unit alongside Norse and Greek myths and First Nations creation stories.
We have, and will continue to welcome parents and staff outside the SK to share their stories, experiences and ideas about the importance of Black History Month and what it means to them, via Zoom, continuing through March.
We have loved the focus on black creators, artists, singers and musicians shared in our Music and Drama classes, and regular listen to, dance, and explore their contributions during class time.
We make time and room for honest, age-appropriate conversations as they arise – such as when a child recently asked a visiting parent “Why do we celebrate Black History Month?”
Throughout the school year we have been exploring the power of words and have spent some time reading books about influential Black activists and authors who used their words to bring about change. Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, was a powerful timely example of how we can use our words and led to many rich discussions as we worked our way through the poem.
We have spent time unpacking questions the children have around who Martin Luther King Jr. was, what racism is and moving from questions to celebrations of our differences.
In connection with our Library program and exploration of books, we have spent time exploring various artists and styles of music – the children have particularly enjoyed listening to steel pan, calypso and soca.
We have used our challenge of reading 100 books for the 100 days of school to build in a rich array of books that highlight various voices, experiences, and characters.
In Grade Two, the children have been researching and celebrating famous Black heroes that have made a positive impact in our world. Through picture books, special guests, music, videos, and discussions, the Grade Twos shared questions about race, identity, and standing up for the rights of others. While online, we were so fortunate to have Eli and his mother Nicole share a reading of “Africville.” This was followed by a detailed interview by Eli with his grandfather about growing up in Canada and helping other Black-Canadian protect their rights. Rich discussions and reflections were sparked by such stories as the children were inspired by Viola Desmond, Oscar Peterson, Katherine Johnson, Misty Copeland, Katherine Dunham, Mae Jemison, and Trombone Shorty. As a classroom community we look forward to continuing our exploration and celebration of Black heroes in our community.
The class has celebrated Black History Month through exploring stories, poems, the work of Black artists, learning about ‘unheard’ voices of Black history and the Black community, and more. Our conversations began online in January after we listened to the inspiring words of Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb. The children’s interpretations of the meaning behind her words gives much hope for the future and led to wonderful discussion about identity, light, and dark, and some of the issues facing society today. During Library, students have been learning about some of the “unheard”, less “famous” voices of Canadian Black History, such as Mary Ann Shadd, Willie O’Ree, and Devon Clunis. Through learning about the amazing things these Canadians have done, the students realized the significance of their contributions and the importance of acting as allies in broadcasting their voices. In Art, the students have interpreted art pieces from numerous black artists from the past and present, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Horace Pippin, and Kara Walker. Students have used the art styles and techniques of these Black artists to inspire their own artwork. We also had the chance to learn about the rhythms of African drumming from master drummer Kwasi Dunyo! Stories such as Carter Reads the Newspaper, Sulwe, More Than Anything Else, and others have offered the children opportunities to discuss important ideas related to confidence, empowerment, fairness, and equality. We look forward to continuing our journey and learning more with each day.
We began our studies of Black History by discussing why it is critical to learn about this topic as well as learning about how history is recorded and how power can impact opportunity or who is recognized and honored.
This year we are focusing on Black Excellence. Our goal is to introduce the students to the achievements of Black people across a diverse range of professions.
To date we have explored stories, videos, art activities and of course, discussion.
The Grade 4s have learned about the following individuals thus far:
Alma Woodsey Thomas
The Williams Sisters
Fred Van Vleet
Black scientists, astronauts and mathematicians from NASA: Robert Satcher, Guion Bluford, Mae Jemison and Mary Jackson.
The Grade 5s are acknowledging and celebrating Black History Month with a focus on Black Excellence. They are exploring this theme through first person biographies, interviews and other relevant forms of media, with a focus on the Canadian experience. This week we have been learning about Black Canadian difference makers such as Devon Clunis, who was the first Black chief of police appointed in Canada. They have listened to and discussed books read aloud from the Little Leaders and Little Legends series. The children are working on a research project at home about a Black Canadian. They will share what they learn in an oral presentation to their classmates during the month of March.
Grade 6 students listened to and analyzed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the March on Washington, as well as Amanda Gorman’s poem from President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ inauguration. They created posters with their favourite quotes and reflections on either of the pieces.
Students learned about many Black women and men who may not