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Read-A-Thon, Black History Month

Topics covered in this post:


1. JICS Concussion Awareness Week

Monday, February 29 to Friday, March 4

Dr. Nick Reed, OAK Concussion Lab, Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy (UofT) kicked off our Concussion Awareness Week with a presentation to the Grade 1-6 classes. Each day this week, students are engaged in activities to learn more about concussion prevention, identification, and treatment. You can learn about some of the classroom activities by visiting our Instagram account @jackman_ics


2. Parent Education

If you missed the JICS Parent Education Event: The Importance of Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Concussions in our Children with Canada’s leading concussion expert, Dr. Charles Tator you can view it on our Parent Ed page. We highly recommend it as the information is valuable and addresses many misconceptions. Viewing it will help parents to engage in conversations with their child/ren about the concussion awareness learning that is happening at school.


3. JICS Read-A-Thon

March is a special month for the JICS Library! This year marks the 28th annual READ-A-THON Fundraiser! Read-a-thon forms were sent home this week. Students are encouraged to set personal reading goals, read each day, and collect pledges for their efforts. Funds collected at the end of the month will go toward replacing lost and broken books, purchasing new books, and supporting authors, illustrators and storytellers to visit with students.

We are so grateful to our supportive community! Donations of $25 or more will be rewarded with a personalized book plate placed in a new library book.

Additional information for parents:


4. Ukraine

The JICS Lab School is deeply saddened and upset by the situation in Ukraine and hopes that the senseless acts of violence against the people in Ukraine comes to an immediate end. Together as a diverse and caring community, we keep the brave people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers, hoping for an end to the unjustified Russian invasion. Many JICS families have deep connections to Ukraine and have been profoundly affected by these recent events. JICS stands with members of the Ukrainian community in Canada and express solidarity to the people in Ukraine. ​

What to Say to your Children

While we would all like our children to remain blissfully unaware of this frightening and deeply upsetting situation, we need to recognize that we cannot fully shield them. Children are very intuitive and perceptive: they may see information, hear other children or adults speaking about it, detect that their parent/s may be more concerned than usual and paying more attention to the news. Even if they don't fully understand, they may know something is happening. Providing children with age-appropriate information can help take away the confusion, and help them to feel better.

  • Let their questions take the lead

Our suggestion is that parents let the information their child/ren already have launch the conversation and then let them steer the discussion with their questions and concerns. Parents can begin by stating, “You may have heard something really sad is happening in Ukraine and I want to know what you heard.”

  • Talk about it more than once (if necessary)

Be sure your child/ren know they can ask you about difficult topics, because being able to talk about something intrinsically makes it less scary—and keep the lines of communication open. Returning to the topic with “check-ins” ensures that misconceptions are not developing due to misinformation from peers.

  • Keep it simple.

Limit exposure to the media and images to ensure your child/ren are only receiving age-appropriate information. Answer any questions in language they can understand.

  • Encourage them to express how they feel.

Listen to their worries and help them name their feelings.

  • Reassure them.

While you can acknowledge that what happened is scary, you want to reassure your child/ren with your words and behaviour. First, put it in perspective. You can explain that the reason the invasion is on the news so often is because it is such an unusual occurrence. Next you might want to paraphrase the famous Mr. Rogers quote: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” While there are bad people, there are many more good people who are working very hard to keep everyone safe. If developmentally appropriate, make a list with your child/ren of all the good people you know to show them what a great support system they have.

  • Model good coping skills.

You also want to show them that while the situation in Ukraine is scary, you are okay. Naturally as parents, we are going to be rattled and upset. Our children watch us very, very carefully to determine how they should feel about things. If our tone of voice conveys confidence, then our children are reassured. If you're not feeling confident, though, don't fake it. Being disingenuous can actually make children more unsettled, because they can sense when words don't line up with feelings. Instead, say that while you're frightened and sad, you're also comforted by knowing how many people are working hard to end the situation. Consistency is also important - keep your routines the same and keep life feeling normal.

JICS Social Worker, Ellie is a great resource to our students and families. Please connect with her if:

  • your child is unusually scared/distressed and fears are affecting their functioning at school or at home.

  • current events are triggering memories and feelings related to past difficult experiences your child went through.

  • you are unsure about the best way to approach this or another difficult topic with your child, but feel it is very important to discuss the issue with them.


5. Black History Month

Throughout the year and especially in February, each class and many specialty classes have engaged the students in lessons that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. Here are a few examples:

Grade 6

JICS students in every grade are participating in Black History Month lessons, festivities, and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. In the Grade 6 class, after reading The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which retells the story of African peoples’ arrival in North America in an empowering and truthful way, the students were inspired to revisit a project done by the JICS Class of 2020. They decided to make a new set of larger-than-life portraits of figures from Black History to display around the school.

With the help of Krista in the Library, we explored our beautiful collection of books about Black History, looking for lesser-known but inspiring figures from African-Canadian and African-American history.

After research and discussion, the Grade 6 students settled on a set of subjects for their portraits that reflect the diversity of Black identity, experience, and excellence. With the support of JICS Art Teacher, Tara, they have begun making the massive portraits.

Within a few weeks the whole school community will be able to learn about just a few of the many Black people who have made such remarkable contributions to our society.

Here is a preview of two of the portraits. We look forward to sharing the completed works with you soon.

Grade 4

This week, JICS parent Nairesiae and grandmother Njoki zoomed in to share what it was like growing up in Kenya and about the later journeying to Canada. In class, the students have been reading many books and having many deep discussions relevant to this important month. Their main focus has been on Black poets, specifically Gwendolyn Brooks, Bell Hooks and Langston Hughes. The children learned about both poets’ early lives, how they came to be writers, what they wrote about and the books they published over their lifetimes. They then had an opportunity to work in small groups to explore poems by Gwendolyn Brooks and present them to the class in the form of a Reader’s Theatre. Each group made decisions about how to read the poem aloud to the class in order to best communicate its meaning and the emotions in each piece. The Grade 4s have been reading, rereading and responding to a portion of Langston Hughes’ Dream Variation published as a beautiful picture book called That is My Dream. It is so beautiful, we would share it here with you:

To fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,

To whirl and to dance

Til the white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening

Beneath a tall tree

While night comes on gently,

Dark like me-

That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide

In the face of the sun,




Till the quick day is done.

Rest at pale evening

A tall slim tree…

Night coming tenderly

Black like me.

Grade 2

Kenneth Montague discussed his book "As We Rise: Photography From the Black Atlantic,” a photobook celebrating life across the African Diaspora. The Grade 2s had many rich questions and they learned about community, identity, and power. With Kenneth’s help, they unpacked some of the stunning photographs, shining a light on the reality of Black representation over time and why it is so important to represent identity positively.

Grade 1 & Art

Grade 1 students were inspired after Raadiyah read the lyrical picture book, "Change Sings: A Children's Anthem" by author and USA presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman and illustrator Loren Long. The class engaged in a discussion about the power of the words used in the book and the message of belonging throughout it. Together as a class, the students brainstormed words they thought were powerful. In collaboration with JICS Art Teacher, Tara, the students created inspiring artwork to design their powerful words.


Here are some photos of the various books read throughout this month in the library across different age-groups:


6. Final Days with Teacher Candidates

Beginning in September, we have adult students from the OISE MA in Child Study & Education Program (teacher education program) in our JK to Grade 6 classrooms. March 10 is the official last day for the Block 2 Teacher Candidates (1st year students) and we say good-bye to the Winter Interns (2nd year students) on Friday, March 11. We are grateful for their support in our classrooms and for learning alongside us about what is best for children. We wish them success as they continue their development as future teachers.


7. Dissemination

One way we fulfill our public purpose as Canada’s Lab School is to present at conferences, sharing our expertise and “starting conversations” to improve public school education. JICS Art Teacher, Tara recently co-presented at the Social Justice + Equity Speaker Series of the Ontario Art Education Association, creating a dialogue about the importance and methods for teachers to create safe spaces for 2SLGBTQQAI+ students in Art.


8. Upcoming March Events

Read-a-thon Month

Mon 14 to Fri 18 – March Break. School and Daycare closed.

Wed 16 – Purim (begins at sunset)

Thurs 17 – Purim

Mon 21 to Fri 25 – March Break. School closed. Daycare open.

Mon 21 – Nowruz

Mon 28 – Spring Term begins. Daycare opens at 8:00am. School arrival begins at 8:30am.

Thurs 31 – School-wide lice check.


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