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PS News

Canada Post Delivers to the Classroom
Canada Post has delivered thousands of free resource kits to elementary classrooms across Canada to help students with letter writing, proper addressing of envelopes, and other activities that strengthen their reading and writing skills.

The kits, part of Canada Post’s School Program, are in the form of bright red cardboard "mailboxes". More than 10,000 teachers in 2,800 schools registered for the 1999-2000 school year.

The lead item of the program is the Pen Pal register, a national letter-exchange service for students in Grades 3 to 6. It provides a secure, computer-based process that matches students according to their age, gender, grade level, geographic location and personal interests and hobbies. letters.jpg (31485 bytes)

The school program also includes lesson guides for teachers and the Santa letter-writing activity. Canada Post’s web site features information about the school program, and includes activities for students such as How to Write a Letter, How to Start a Stamp Club and Creating Your Own Greeting Card.

All materials have been carefully reviewed and approved by a national advisory committee of teachers and education experts to ensure that they deliver the greatest educational value.

The program was announced in May of 1999 through an information mailing and fax to every elementary school in Canada. Responding schools received a School Program Kit featuring curriculum-based activities and lesson ideas suitable for Grades 2-7, as well as registration information for the Pen Pal Program. Registration for the program is closed for the 1999-2000 school year, but schools will be advised of the next registration period in the spring of the year 2000.

Teachers can find samples of activities and lesson guides at Canada Post’s web site at

Classical Pursuits
Classical Pursuits is a summer learning vacation at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, that offers people from across North America a chance to immerse themselves for a week in the great classics of music, philosophy and literature.

The heart of the program is a two-hour conversation each morning guided by a tutor who asks interpretative questions and follows up on what participants say. Relying on the text, participants work together toward the author’s intent and evaluate its possible meaning to their lives. There are a variety of optional related cultural activities offered such as plays, literary cabarets, tours of art collections, dinners and leisure activities.

Classical Pursuits is based on the premise that an advanced degree or knowledge of the techniques of scholarly analysis are not needed to understand great works of art.

Participants read the book or listen to the music on their own, prior to beginning the week-long study. Lively discussions and spirited inquiry begun in the classroom can continue over lunch.

In July 1999, the week-long program offered Plato’s Republic, Dante’s Inferno, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

In the summer of 2000 – the program’s third year – Classical Pursuits plans to extend its offerings to seven seminar options. During the week of July 16-22, small groups will discuss St. Augustine’s Confessions, Dante’s Purgatorio, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra and three treatments of Death in Venice (Mann, Britten and Visconti). Those registered for Hamlet can expect a trip to Stratford to see the play and meet the cast.

For further information, call 1-877-633-2555 or visit the University of Toronto web site at


New Web Site Helps Teachers With New Ontario Curriculum
A new web site is providing teachers with resources to help teach the new Ontario curriculum.

EduLinks – at – has been designed by teachers for teachers, and is sponsored by TVOntario.

For the first phase, there are resources available in five subject areas at the Grade 9 level – Canadian and World Studies, English, Mathematics, Science and Technological Education. Each subject area is divided into three to five strands and relevant links are accessed from each in an easy-to-read block format. A general resources section is included below most of the strands and the Ministry of Education expectations are outlined in each one.

Future plans for the site include comprehensive units of study, complete with lesson plans and assessment tools.

Visitors to the site can also participate in discussion forums to ask questions or talk about how they have used EduLinks resources in their classrooms. The web site also allows teachers to submit materials they have used.

To ask a question or make a suggestion about developing the web site, e-mail


The China Experience
When July comes around a group of Ontario teachers head to the province of Jiangsu in eastern China to teach English to their Chinese counterparts. The China Experience started in 1997 thanks to the leadership of two Hamilton elementary school principals, Donna Quigley and Lauren Tindall, and is gaining in popularity every year both in China and in Ontario.

"Our group of Ontario teachers has grown from eight in 1997 to 45 this year," said project leader Donna Quigley. "In terms of professional development, the experience has no equals. We return to Canada with increased empathy and understanding of the challenges faced by our immigrant students and their families. We also share new perspectives with our Canadian colleagues."

Participants in the China Experience go as volunteers, paying their own way and donating their teaching services in exchange for meals and accommodation. They often work in large, thriving cities rarely visited by tourists. They teach a custom made-in-Ontario curriculum that Chinese teachers are eager to learn and share with their students and colleagues.

"Half a year has passed since we said good-bye this summer. I often talk with my friends and my students about you and the English lessons you taught," said Chinese teacher He Jing. "Some methods learned from you are being used in my class. I think my students enjoy English lessons. Some of them like it much better than before."

For more information on the China Experience, contact Donna Quigley in Hamilton at 905-549-1339.


Space Day 2000
On May 4, 2000, teachers and students of Grades 4 to 6 from across North America will have an opportunity to meet on the Internet to tackle some of the most critical problems of living and working in space.

earth.jpg (33170 bytes) The event is Space Day 2000, designated to encourage people of all ages to advance science, mathematics and technology education and to underscore the extraordinary achievements and opportunities of space exploration.

The key educational element of Space Day 2000 is a series of design challenges created by Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its partner organizations, which include the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. The design projects challenge students to find solutions to real problems associated with living and working in space such as creating a special exercise machine for use in microgravity, the construction of a water purification system, how to deal with communication emergencies, and the design of sports and games that can be played in microgravity.

A series of electronic lessons are now available to students at the Space Day web site at The lessons will help them design teams to solve some of the design challenges. The web site creates a virtual environment where students and teachers can find information and exchange ideas with other students and with experts in space exploration.

May 4, 2000 will feature a live, interactive webcast that will showcase student solutions to the design challenges. During the webcast, experts from a host of fields will be on hand to answer questions about living and working in space.

Teachers can find more information about the design challenges and Space Day 2000 by visiting


U.S. Elementary Teachers Face Tougher Testing
U.S. accreditation authorities will phase in tough new licensing exams for elementary teachers by 2002.

At present, elementary school teachers in most states are required to have only a general knowledge of curriculum. The new exams will test new teachers on a more thorough knowledge of core subjects in the curriculum, as well as creative teaching techniques.

States will begin receiving the tests sometime in 2000 and teachers in some states are expected to begin taking the tests in three years.

The program is being introduced by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). ETS exams are already used in 36 states. NCATE currently accredits nearly half of the teacher education programs in the U.S.

For more information about the joint ETS/NCATE program, visit the NCATE web site at or the ETS web site at