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Parental Productivity

Grade 8 Welcome Letter

Grade 8 Welcome Letter


Dear Grade 8 Parents and Guardians, Welcome back! We hope you had a safe and enjoyable summer, and we look forward to getting to know you and your children this year. We will be the grade 8 homeroom teachers for this year. Below, you will find answers to many of the questions you may have about your child’s grade 8 year.

Want to print this letter (PDF)? 2016-06-29-grade-8-welcome-letter

Want to modify it for your own students (Word)? 2016-06-29-grade-8-welcome-letter

List of Teachers

Here is the list of your child’s teachers for this school year. The easiest way to contact us is by e-mail. The format for a teacher’s e-mail address is

  • Homeroom: Mrs. Kelley or Mr. Barr
  • English Language: Mrs. Kelley
  • French: Mr. Barr
  • Mathematics: Mr. Barr
  • Science and Technology: Mr. Marsh
  • History: Mlle Samaha
  • Geography: Mlle Samaha
  • Health: Mr. Barr
  • Physical Education: Ms. Dean
  • Dance: Ms. Dean
  • Drama: Ms. Dean
  • Music: Ms. Tremblay-Beaton
  • Visual Arts: Ms. Dean

Clear communication between parents and teachers is key to a successful year. As such, we would like to bring your attention to some of the ways that we can communicate about your child’s progress this school year.

School Supplies

In order to ensure your child’s success, the following supplies are recommended.

  • Pens, pencils, erasers
  • Binders (either one large binder with dividers, or several small binders)
  • Looseleaf paper or exercise book
  • Graph paper or exercise book
  • Calculator with visible operations, geometry set (ruler, protractor, compass)

Newsletters and Websites

  • Kelley and Mr. Barr begin each unit with a newsletter that outlines all of our learning goals in each strand. We also provide a list of activities that you can do with your child to help him/her better understand the concepts taught throughout the unit. The first one of these will come home as a paper copy; all subsequent newsletters will be posted on the class website.
  • The main Walter E. Harris website is ca/school/waltereharris. From here, the “Teacher Pages” link leads to the pages of each teacher
  • All of our leaning goals, success criteria, exemplars, mentor texts, rubrics, and major assignments will be organized by strand and posted on our websites. If you are curious about what we’re working on in class or have any questions about assignments, please check the websites out regularly.

Assignments and Evaluations

  • All marked assignments will be sent home with a rubric and percentage grade so you are aware of your child’s progress. We kindly ask that you sign and return the rubric the next day so that we know you saw the mark. Each child will keep his/her marked assignments in a portfolio at school. It is crucial to his/her success that you return the evaluations promptly. If you would like more time to look over the assignment, please write a note in the agenda.
  • Assignment due dates are not flexible unless there are extenuating circumstances. We will also send home a pink slip anytime work is not submitted on time, to ensure you are aware. The pink slip will be filled in by your child indicating which assignment was not submitted, the date, and the reason why. We ask that you kindly sign that return the pink slip the next day.


Mrs. Kelley and Mr. Barr


We also occasionally send home reminders and updates by e-mail. Please provide email addresses for any parents and guardians who would like to be contacted by e-mail.

Student’s Name:

Parent or Guardian’s Name Email Address


Quick, Healthy After-School Snacks

Quick, Healthy After-School Snacks


This is one of those pieces of advice that I really wish someone had told me sooner. Say, when we first had kids. Or when I moved into my first apartment.

Transitioning from one kid to two, it was difficult to get supper on the table on time. After sharing experiences with and seeking advice from a number of successful parents (at least, parents who seemed to have an idea of what they were doing), I have the feeling that most of the families around us eat supper around the 5 PM mark. That's also the time that our eldest tends to start getting grumpy, if she doesn't have something to snack on. Unfortunately, 5 PM suppers just aren't doable every day of the week.

When I was a kid, and supper was going to be late, my brothers, sisters and I would automatically start rummaging through the fridge and cupboards, looking for something quick to eat. When I realized that our two-and-a-half (then two) year-old was opening the fridge on her own looking for goodies, solving this problem became a priority.

So, to avoid all the crankiness and cupboard-searching, the solution we've found has been to make sure the 2.5-y.o. has a quicker, easier, healthier way to find food than searching through the fridge. In this case, that is to have some kind of snack food on the living room table. Steamed green beans and edamame are a current favourite. On weekends, it's often easier to cut up half a watermelon, or chop some celery with dip, and leave it out for the day.

I suspect the reason why it works is the same reason that drives her to the fridge in the first place: she's looking for the easiest food she can find. The upside has been that the crankiness is gone. And not just for the kids. We often find ourselves snacking on the same food as the older child, since we're usually hungry at that point as well.

We're still looking for solutions for days where our eldest has activities right after school. We've learned to keep a small zip-lock bag of cashews and raisins in the door handle by her carseat, and to bring a bottle of water with us, both of which help. But we're still looking for healthy eating choices for when we arrive home after 6 or 7 PM, and still need to go through supper and the whole bedtime routine. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Juicing for Four: Making Processed Food Work for Us

Juicing for Four: Making Processed Food Work for Us


It's been an interesting two years. Since having kids, Sharon and I have had less and less time to get things done. At the same time, it's made us focus a lot more on what's most important. One of the things we've prioritized is what we're eating, but it's gotten increasingly difficult to find time to make sure we're all eating healthy. After our second child was born, I sort of fell off the bandwagon with regards to making juice every morning, a habit I picked up after watching the documentary, Hungry for Change. (Those of you who've watched it might note that the juice in the picture goes against the principle of drinking mostly veggies with some fruit.)

After doing a bit of research, the solution I've been trying is to make juice in larger batches. Rather than make 1L of juice in the morning, I've been making 2-3L of juice once every couple evenings. From what I've read, you do lose nutrients this way. However, I feel it's still better than the alternative, namely, drinking juice once or twice a week.

The advantages have been immediately apparent: it cuts down preparation time in the morning, giving us a few more precious minutes in our rush to get out the door. I've been feeling more healthy, though I realize that's subjective and hard to quantify. And the big advantage has been in consistency. We've been drinking juice every day, rather than once every couple days.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings


Relaunching my personal site, after years of ignoring it. Here goes.