French for the Future
French for the Future is a national non-profit organization to promote the value of bilingualism to Canadian students in grades 7 through 12.
Founded by John Ralston Saul and Lisa Balfour Bowen in 1997, the association sponsors activities that include local forums for French-language students to gather and engage with each other in French, an annual National Ambassador Youth Forum, a five-day event hosted by different cities across Canada, and a national essay contest offering postsecondary scholarships as prizes. The awards program honours individuals who have made outstanding contributions to bilingualism in Canada; the John Ralston Saul Award for 2013 was awarded to Canada’s men’s World Championship skater Patrick Chan to honour his efforts in learning French as a second language.
The Web site contains details on events and programs, as well as a good list of resources.
Passport for Life
Passport for Life is a new online tool developed by Physical and Health Education Canada to help Canadian educators promote physical literacy among students. The program includes online segments and a physical skills component to be administered during physical education classes.
The program was launched in September in grade 3 to 6 phys ed classes across the country. A module for grades 7 to 9 is being piloted this year, with a release planned for the fall of 2014. Developers are currently working on a version for secondary schools.
Passport for Life is financed in part by Sport Canada.
Documentary Highlights Shannen Koostachin’s Crusade
In September, a new National Film Board film by acclaimed First Nations filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Like her 2012 documentary, People of the Kattawapiskat River, the film, titled Hi-Ho Mistahey! features the community of Attawapiskat. This time, she focuses on the story of Shannen Koostachin, the 14-year-old activist who drew media attention with her crusade for better schools for Aboriginal children. Shannen’s life was tragically cut short after a fatal car accident, but her vision was taken up by committed young leaders and continues under the banner of Shannen’s Dream.
The film also screened in October at the 2013 ImagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto and opened theatrically at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in November.
Science Web site for Teens
This recently-launched Web site features a fantastic array of videos, interactive games and articles on science, technology, engineering and math for young people. Sparticl was created by Twin City Public Television in Minneapolis with the goal of engaging teens in the sciences, and hopes to expand over time with content from new partners. Material on the site is from recognized sources like National Geographic and has been selected and reviewed by a team of experts. A section for parents outlines operating guidelines and privacy settings. Most important, the content is educational and engaging, despite a U.S. bias in some areas, and there are opportunities for users to interact with others.
Ethical Use of the Internet
A new program from Media Smarts was released in October to mark Cyber Security Month. Stay on the Path: Teaching Kids to be Safe and Ethical Online Portal Page is geared to teachers and parents, and includes tipsheets and lesson plans to help them teach children how to be safe online. The portal was posted October 4, 2013 on the Blog area of the home page.
New guidelines and resources on cyber safety and media literacy are regularly posted on the Web site, so it is worth checking back often.