Documenting our journey as a PYP school within Rocky View Schools

Archive for the category “Community”

Grade 1 PYP at PWE Cafe Chat

Next up in our PYP Cafe Chat podcast series is our remarkable Grade 1 team! Mrs. James, Ms. Mrak, Mrs. Schiltz and Mr. Morey sat down to talk about their priorities, passions and pursuits in education (spoiler alert – I think you’d ALL like to be students in their playful classrooms!). Grab your tea, coffee, hot chocolate or whatever your cafe drink of choice may be, curl up and listen to these incredible educators share their insights.

We encourage you to leave comments once you’ve had a chance to listen to the podcast to keep the conversation going! For your reference – the school that Jeff talks about, Opal School, is based in Portland, Oregon, and most of our staff have had the opportunity to travel to it in order to engage in professional learning around playful inquiry.

Happy listening!


Kindergarten PYP at PWE Cafe Chat

For the beginning of 2019, we here at Prairie Waters wanted to share a bit of teacher and student perspective on what being involved in teaching and learning of the PYP at PWE means for all of us. This is a follow up to the video we created last year to tell the story of Prairie Waters:

This next monthly series will be a chance for each grade team to sit down for a Cafe Chat podcast and share their passions, curiosities and hope for education here at Prairie Waters. It’s an opportunity for you to get to know our staff just a little bit better, and feel their enthusiasm for and commitment to their work and their learners every single day we are in the school learning community. We hope that this will spark more points of conversation for you to reach out and engage with all of us here at the school and get to know how YOU can be involved in the exciting experiences happening here at Prairie Waters on a daily basis!

First up, is our wonderful Kindergarten team! Ms. Echtner and Ms. Michie sat down to chat a bit about the early years and their thoughts and perspectives of what matters (and who matters) when considering a successful learning journey. Grab a beverage, cozy up and take a listen to what they have to say! Please feel free to leave any comments you may wish to add to the conversation once you have heard their thoughts.


One of the biggest challenges we face each year here at Prairie Waters is family turnout for our PYP Parent Information Evenings. We have tried:

  • Several different session times – one during the school day, one in the evening
  • Early in the school year
  • Connected to the first round of 3 way conferences held in the school early in December
  • Later in the evening
  • Child care for those families that need to bring their kids
  • Constant communication through various sources: School Newsletter, Twitter and Facebook accounts, postings on our school website and on the school sign outside of the building, paper invitations sent home with every student, posts on classroom blogs and Twitter accounts
  • Luring/bribing (however you choose to see it ūüėČ ) with the promise of treats
  • Save the Date cards at the end of the previous year
  • Advertising at our Kindergarten orientation evening and information sessions during staggered entry

The list goes on…each year, we try something new or different in order to boost attendance, and each year, our turnout is less than ideal. This year, I hope, was the turning point for that…

Last year, we put it out to staff to think of creative ways to present our Parent Information evening in order to increase interest and attendance, one of the ideas that was very enthusiastically suggested, was an IGNITE inspired event, where small groups of teachers would talk for 10 minutes on a specific element of the programme, so parents would get a snippet of information, and then hopefully have their curiosity sparked in order to come learn more, or engage in further conversation with our staff either right after the event, or moving forward into the school year. In years previous, it has just been the pedagogical leadership team who would present to the parents, but we all agreed as a staff that in order for parents to see the value of this programme, that it needed to be a united front. Parents need to see that we are ALL invested and care deeply about what we do here as PYP educators. So this year, approximately 95% of our teaching staff signed up to help out in some capacity on the evening of PYP IGNITE; either by leading a session, helping with our student ambassadors who welcomed our guests into the building, assisting with room setup, food prep, or just being another supportive body in the room.

We¬†had¬†been promoting this event since the end of last school year, and this year, when the RSVP’s were rolling in, we were JACKED! We had about 80 people RSVP to attend the evening!

Unfortunately, on the evening of IGNITE, only about 20-25 parents out of that group of 80 RSVP’s attended. While disappointing, we still count it as a success. Why, you ask? Because so far, it has been our best attended parent information session to date! The parents that were here with us RAVED about the experience, and said how glad they were that they attended. They told us they¬†would definitely be spreading the word to other parents that they need to come to the next session. Another reason we counted it as a success; we had a few faces in the audience from our Rocky View Schools family who wanted to learn more about the programme, and consider how it benefits students. We’re always happy when we can build awareness and understanding about the PYP and its impacts on student learning.

We’re hopeful that the buzz generated from this event carries forward into our next parent information session, and that we’ll begin to see our attendance increase with each new event!

Because who doesn’t love a surprise awesome dance party?¬†(Click that link to check it out!)


Engaging with our local and global community

One of our goals on our 2015/2016 School Education Plan, as well as part of our commitment to the IB, is finding ways to sustainably and authentically engage with our community, both locally and globally. To provide opportunities for our students to interact with the people in these communities, and know that their actions can make a noticeable impact for the betterment of every community.


We are seeking ways to network and create partnerships with community members, organizations and businesses and collaboratively think of creative ways we can work together to make Chestermere a better place than it already is. One initiative we’ve started up this year is¬†Lunch Box Talks.¬†An opportunity for students to work on many different skills when engaging in a conversation with an adult.

  • Communication skills – active listening and participation in a discussion around a particular topic. Not only responding to questions, but asking your own to maintain a flow of conversation
  • Networking skills – developing relationships to expand students resource bank when needing to access people in the future
  • Social skills/professional skills – understanding the etiquette of a conversation, waiting for someone to finish speaking before taking your turn. The importance of eye contact and body language, firm handshakes to introduce and end the conversation

A grade 2 class participated in the #lunchboxtalks inaugural event in October, and this month, two grade 5 classes took the opportunity to meet with local community members to focus their conversation on community involvement and improvement. Ideas were shared, questions were brought up and everyone was engaged in a meaningful dialogue about how we can work together to continue to build Chestermere to be the best it can be. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; from community members, staff and students! Take a look at the reflections of 5T and 5W after their Lunch Box Talks last Friday.

We invite all of you to come and join us for a future Lunch Box Talks! Our next date is scheduled for January 22, and upcoming dates will be shared soon! If you are able to come out and have lunch with some of our students and engage in conversation while you lunch together, please contact Jen Friske ( We’d love to have your voice be a part of the conversations!

While we encourage donations to our local food bank year-round to help support less fortunate families in our community, December is our month to make a big push for contributions. This year, our Grade 1’s have ramped it up a little bit by creating Christmas cards to give to the Food bank to include in their hampers that they will bring to families in need. Beyond the food bank, many other classes in the school are going to make Christmas cards to deliver to the doorsteps of the people who share the neighbourhood with us. A random act of surprise kindness for the residents of our neighbourhood to come home to, to show that we care and appreciate the community we live in.


Last Saturday was World Hello Day. On Friday, our school celebrated the occasion with a whole school assembly to share many of the languages that we use to say hello in our school.

In addition to our own ways of saying hello, Prairie Waters received a very special hello from half-way around the world, from Nakwamekwi High School. A school being built by past Rocky View School staff members in order to allow boys and girls from a very remote area of Turkana, Kenya to access secondary education (currently, less than 9% of the Kenyan population have completed their secondary education). Our school felt that this was a very worthwhile partnership to jump on board with to help support the construction of the school site. The project we have focused our support on is the construction of the school’s library and ICT lab. Through various fundraising initiatives that our student council will take leadership of this year, we hope to continue to raise funds for the construction team at NHS to complete the library and lab sometime in 2016. World Hello Day was a great way to kickstart our year of collaboration! We got a hello message from NHS


and we sent back our own video of the whole school waving and saying hello back to them via their Facebook Page.

Our first fundraising effort is a Book Swap! Quite fitting with our financial aid intended to build a library on the school grounds. Families have been asked to donate previously enjoyed books they have at home and on the evenings of learning conferences on December 2 and 3, the books will be sold for a buck a book. Families can enjoy some ‘new’ books to read at home, and the money raised will go to our partnership with NHS. We’re looking forward to our continued collaboration with the school, and hope that someday soon we can get some videos of the boys and girls at the school and some pictures or videos of the library that we have helped to build to deepen our relationship with this other community on the other side of the world. What better way to bring people together than sharing a love and value for access high quality books!

We’re off to a good start for engaging our community in a variety of partnerships! It will be exciting to see how those relationships blossom and flourish over the course of this year and into the future as well!

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