Nominingue 2016

Enjoying the lake at Nominingue

Enjoying the lake at Nominingue

All students from group 24 and 13 from group 22 spent 5 days at camp Nominingue last week. What a great way to start the new school year! They were accompanied by three teachers. It was an English immersion week during which students could take part in several outdoor activities. Everyone seemed to have a great time. I know I did.

In order to know what they really thought, I asked my students to write something about their experience at Nominingue. It could be almost anything: their opinion about the camp, an account of something that happened, a poem, etc. These texts will appear here as comments.

They like school so much, daytime’s not enough!

Weeks ago, my 8th-graders convinced me that we should all spend a night at school (They had heard that I had done it in the past). This sleepover (a misnomer if there ever was one!) took place last week. We started with dinner around 18:30, followed by many activities we had discussed and chosen in class, from  volleyball to a horror movie to several games of schoolwide hide and seek, and much more. We left school around 7:30 in the morning after an exciting night during which very few students got any sleep (the teacher sure didn’t). As usual, students will leave their thoughts in the comment section below.

Holes – Fate

My 7th-graders have been reading the novel Holes by Louis Sachar (We’re about halfway through the book). They’ve been answering a lot of questions about their reading. It’s now time for them to write a text. Here is the question they had to answer:

In the book, Stanley and his family half-jokingly blame their misfortunes on Stanley’s “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great grandfather.”

Question: Do you believe in fate — that people are lucky or unlucky — or do you believe, as Mr. Pendanski tells the boys, that we are all responsible for ourselves and our destinies?

Granted, it’s not an easy question. I explained it until everybody understood it (or so I thought) and I told them they would first have to find out what their beliefs were before they could write their text.


My grade-10 students and I have talked about feminism for 4 classes. Students had to do some research at home to clarify certain aspects of this topic. That information was then shared in class during discussions.

Today my students have to answer the following questions in writing:

What is feminism ?
Is it still relevant today ?

Main objective in terms of English: their thoughts should be clearly expressed and easily understood and show a good understanding of the topic.

As usual, you will find their texts as comments to this post by clicking on the speech bubble next to the title.

Michael Vey – Imagine…

For this second text, I asked my 8th-graders to write about loyalty (a recurrent theme in the M.Vey series), but they were really not inspired and dreaded having to come up with something smart to say about this topic (To Marjorie-2014: That sentence does not mean I think you, the class, are not smart, but rather that you didn’t feel like making an effort to think about that particular topic in order to come up with something smart to say about it 😉 ). So I made a deal with them. If they could suggest something better (for them) but still acceptable (for me), we would forget about loyalty. They did, and so we did.

They now have to choose between:

  1. Imagine what’s going to happen next. Include not only events, but also how some characters, or relationships between characters, might evolve.
  2. Imagine a new character that would come and help the Electroclan, and tell us about him/her (age, physical traits, personality, history, power, etc.).

Let’s see where their imagination will take us…

Michael Vey – Hatred

My 8th-graders just finished reading the first volume in the Michael Vey series. I asked them to answer the following questions:

Do you think hatred is the most powerful emotion there is ? (Develop your ideas and give us examples, from the book, if possible, but not only.)

Do you think there are ways to avoid hate ? (To avoid feeling it or making others feel it)

Should Canada increase immigration ?

Over the last 5 or 6 months, immigration has become a hot topic in Canada, due to the Syrian crisis (but not only), a slow economy and, of course, a federal election campaign. I thought it was a good time to ask my 10th-graders what their thoughts on the topic were. To help them get started with their reflection, I suggested they read pp.14-15 of this document: Informed debate.

Let’s see what they have to say…

No Man’s Land

To mark Remembrance Day this year, I had one of my classes watch the movie No Man’s Land. This 2001 war drama is set in the midst of the Bosnian war (1992-1995) and is a parable, about that particular context, of course, but also about the absurdity of war in general.

Two wounded soldiers, a Bosniak (Čiki) and a Bosnian Serb (Nino) are caught between their lines in an abandonned trench, in a struggle for survival. They can’t find a solution to their predicament because they can’t get past the fact that they are from opposite sides, even after having discovered that they are from the same town (and once went out with the same girl).

There is also a French Peacekeeper from UNPROFOR who would like to help but is denied the authorization by his British commander who worries about the British media on site.

The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001.

I love this movie. Starting with what seems like a simple situation (two men in a trench and a third one who wants to help), the author manages, with a clever use of humour and drama, to show us how absurd that conflict really was. That film is one of the reasons I visited Sarajevo and Mostar in 2013.

As comments to this post (to read them, click on the little speech bubble at the top right of this text), I asked my students to tell me what they thought that movie said about war, to mention two scenes that support their idea (briefly but clearly explaining) and to give their general opinion of the movie.