Quantitatively Measuring Peace


November was “Peace Month” at the Academy and every class worked on a peace-related project. Alex and Arnold’s Grade 9 math classes learned about one way of quantitatively measuring peace : the Global Peace Index (GPI) published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Students reflected on the validity of such a measure. They then used their data management skills to investigate how different factors are correlated with GPI.

The Grade 9s collected data using the GPI Score Map, as well as using their research skills to find data sets related to factors of their interest. They then used scatter plots and lines of best fit in google sheets to analyze correlation between the factors of their choosing and GPI.

Our classes came up with some very insightful ideas about what might correlate with GPI. Is the amount of protected terrestrial area in a country correlated to its GPI score? What about a country’s carbon footprint? Or the number of McDonalds in a country? Check out our findings!

Here’s what some students had to say about the project:

“I compared my chosen factor to GPI to see if they had a correlation, put it into a scatter plot and explained and described the correlation between the two. I learned how to write math on a computer and how to write scatter plots too. Math is related to peace because we need to factor the amount of peace in a country.”

“I wrote down the data, I was moral support and a whole lot of other things. This project was really rough but at the end of the day I am taking it as a learning experience.”

“I enjoyed doing this with my partner and we did a great job asking each other and my partner helped me if I am having trouble when finding the big mac index with certain countries. I would definitely do a good job with my partner in the future.”

Middle School: Haunted House

What is the Haunted House?
Our class created a haunted train that we called the Train to Corpses (TTC). When you went through all of the stations, you exited the train and were in a fashion show. Staff and students came through our haunted house and used a pretend Presto card as their ticket to come in. The train was a replica of a TTC subway car, except it had fake dead bodies! We set up the chairs in the room to look like the chairs in the subway car and even had marked accessible seating. We had posters and advertisements. We made our own subway map and displayed it above the doors. We made large subway doors. Zoe’s Media Arts class made soundscapes of ‘creepy subway’ sounds and we played that along with a video with the point of view of riding on the front of the subway. We had LED lights and Georgia flickered the lights when people came in. MJ, John and Dayna dressed up as TTC workers too!

The fashion show was in a long hallway. We set up a LED starlight and played upbeat fashion show music. We had homemade ghosts hanging from the ceiling, spider webs throughout and a bloody sign welcoming people to the fashion show. As people came through, Elliott met them and encouraged them to strut down the runway, passing Mark who was hiding in a box. Mark did a jump scare and slammed the door as people were leaving.

Process of making the haunted house
We spoke about what we wanted the theme of the haunted house to be. We discussed some of the roles and responsibilities to create it. We then each did a job and when we finished, we would help another person who needed support. Each of us had our own task:

  • Samuel: Painting, taped posters, Train to Corpses (TTC) sign and played a corpse during the haunted house
  • Elliott: Co-created and presented the fashion show section of the haunted house with Mark
  • Shea: During the haunted house I was in the subway train and did creepy jump scares
  • Georgia: I made the doors for the haunted house and worked with Matteo and helped to tape up everything on the day of the haunted house. I sort of helped out wherever I was needed. On the day of the haunted house I flickered the lights to create a creepy vibe.
  • Matteo: I painted the subway doors. During the haunted house I wore a mask and shook the chair to scare people.
  • Charlie P.: I painted the subway platform using egg cartons and yellow paint. My job for the haunted house was to tour groups through the subway car.
  • Nico: I created the ‘next station’ signs and helped other people with their jobs. I was the subway expert and shared specific details about the TTC so our subway looked real! During the haunted house I was a train conductor and yelled out the subway stops as groups were touring through.
  • Charlos: I created the posters, painted the subway doors, hung up the different sections of the fashion show and hung up the posters I created. During the haunted house I scared people as they were going through and covered Dayna in spider webs.
  • Mark: I helped to paint parts of the fashion show props. During the haunted house I did a jump scare and toured people through the fashion show section.
  • Julian: I helped MJ put up ghosts on the ceiling in the fashion show. I also made the Train to Corpses map with creepy stations. During the haunted house I ushered people to Charlie P.
  • Alex: I hung up accessible seating signs. I put spiders on the floor. During the haunted house I did my creepy double jointed arm thing as I was collecting students tickets.
  • Rhys: I painted one of the doors with Charlie C. and made a body sketch that we put on the ground of the haunted house. I helped MJ and Julian put up the ghosts. During the haunted house I acted on the TTC car and followed people out.

Favourite moment

I liked how we set it all up! It was a big haunted display with fake blood. I liked how we collaborated with each other and worked together to put on a haunted house for the whole school – Shea

I liked painting – Samuel

I liked making the haunted house and being able to talk to friends at the same time – Georgia

I liked to scare the teachers! I liked using Charlie P. to trace as a dead body – Rhys

Written by: Middle school students

The Power of Yet – Growth & Fixed Mindset Exhibition


This assignment was about reminding students their job is to become the person they want to be- citizens who can and should meaningfully contribute something important to the world.
And…how can they start doing this? With the ‘Power of Yet!’

A simple way to start changing to a growth mindset is by the use of a little word, yet –
a realization that some things are worth waiting for and those things take work. No one can be expected to change their mindset overnight. We all have fixed mindsets about certain things without even realizing it. Changing your mindset is a process. It’s not always easy. It takes patience, coaching and lots of practice but the power of this small word allows for success.

In our Learning Strategies class, we learned about the ‘Power of Yet’ and Growth & Fixed Mindsets. We talked about the things we were not able to do before and have since learned how to do, how to reframe mistakes as examples to the class and make sure to use the word yet in frustrating situations. Every student then chose a creative way to promote these concepts-through slideshows, videos, drawings, word art.

“I chose a happy face word art for my assignment because it is a positive image and I covered it with positive words. It fits in with the theme of the Growth Mindset. While I was thinking of words I wanted to give them a bit of flare. Also, there are different fonts because I wanted to shake it up and make the words more interesting.” – S.R.

“I picked these videos because I think they are great and they tell good things about getting things wrong and how we try to make them right. For example, sometimes we think we don’t know the whole song but once we try to sing it, we realize that we do know the song.” – J.G.

“I picked the ‘Power of Yet’ music video by CJ Luckey to include in my assignment because it was inspiring and very helpful. It is very positive with powerful words. Every person will now think positively about themselves and other people and kids will be happy.” – J.G.E.

Here’s the link to a student produced video:

(Movie Compilation by Oliver R. and Lucas F.)

Test Anxiety and Study Habits

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
The time leading up to your test can often be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Being in a high-pressured situation can actually deplete or take away from your working memory and reduce your academic performance.

We call this choking.

Choking is not exclusive to kids/students, but is also experienced by adults. This form of anxiety is seen everywhere and in everyday life, but let’s just focus on academia.
It is not unusual for students to feel anxious about school, sitting a test or even having to do a presentation. The issue now is what can we do to help reduce our academic anxiety? Here are my favourite tips for dealing with academic anxiety:

  • Practise positive study habits and stay organized
    • Make use of study tools.
    • No crash studying.
    • Review your material often.
    • Use a bullet journal or an agenda to help stay on course.
  • Practise self-care
    • Go for walks in your community with a friend, your parents or take the family dog for a walk.
    • Exercise.
    • Have a well-balance diet and get enough sleep.
  • Talk about your worries with someone
    • Talking about stressful situations can help put things into perspective and help to find solutions.
  • Write about it
    • Writing about your worries can help to reduce mental distress and improve your overall well-being.
    • Bonus: Writing about positive feelings, such as things in your life that you are grateful for or proud of, can also help to reduce anxiety and depression.

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
To decrease the stress and anxiety that we feel before upcoming tests, it helps to feel prepared and organized. As mentioned above, leaving studying to the last minute is not the best way to do this. There are some great ways that we can spend the semester/octomester preparing for upcoming tests, evaluations, and culminating projects. Here are a few great options to try:

  • Create an ideal study environment
    • This will look different for everyone based on their learning styles and strengths. Some will need a clear work surface with no distractions and a checklist, others may thrive with a laptop on the couch and music in the background. Know what works well for you, and create that environment when you need to study.
  • Maintain lists
    • It’s important to have a to-do list that you can see in order to prioritize your assignments, activities, and study time. It’s also satisfying to cross off the items on your list!
    • It can also be helpful to keep a separate list of things that occupy your mind while you are trying to study. These can be worries that pop up, or other things that you want or need to do. Keeping a blank piece of paper beside you (or a separate app/tab on the computer) allows you to notice these thoughts, track them, continue studying, and return to these thoughts later.
  • Review materials
    • Studying doesn’t just mean re-reading slideshows or re-writing notes. Teachers at the Academy preset their information in multiple ways to cater to all learning styles.
    • You can re-read or re-write if that works for you, but you can also review additional resources provided by your teachers, watch the lesson again if it was an online recorded lesson, answer bonus questions, or even create your own questions!
  • Focus on Main Ideas
    • If a word, topic, or subject is mentioned more than once, that implies importance! Pay attention to the themes that repeat and try to further your understanding in those areas.
  • Note-Taking
    • If you are taking notes in class or while watching a video, keep the notes brief. You want to be able to communicate your thoughts without missing more content.
    • Use short sentences and abbreviations rather than whole sentences.

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
There isn’t one method that will work well for everyone, and the methods that work for you may change as you get older. Try different techniques and see what works best for you. You can read some more Study Habits tips and tricks here. If you ever have questions about how to study, where to access more resources, or want to discuss your test anxiety, remember you can reach out to your teachers, support staff, and the guidance counsellor.

Written by:
Brydie Smith – Educational Assistant
Jamie Banton – Student Life Counsellor

Culture Club: The online global village

 

Culture Club has successfully achieved three Google Hangouts! This partnership between YMCA Academy students and Braemar College international high school students began before March Break, and we are thrilled to see it continue throughout our online learning platform! Each week, 15-18 students have fun conversations about different countries, food, and music through cultural exchange!

The world is a global village that is home to over 7.7 billion people! This opportunity allows for us to connect with others. However, not all humans take advantage of this worldwide friendship pool and are generally afraid of other cultures due to lack of exposure. Fortunately, we can debunk stereotypes about different people by listening and learning from them!

A YMCA 10th grader said, “I love Culture Club! It has let me meet high school students from all over the world – like Kenya and Russia! I like the same music as some of the girls!” One Braemar student, grade 11, commented, “This club is really great practice for my English with native speakers. I feel more confident talking to the nice teens. It also makes me feel less bored during quarantine because I am in a homestay in Toronto away from my family.”

Culture Club puts an emphasis on exchanging ones’ values and stories in a polite manner without judgment. Exchange implies equality, where groups do not have to sacrifice their individuality and instead can practice being more accepting to the beauty found in diversity. Students’ insight about their home countries also allows them to become positive ambassadors that spread a proud image of their homeland through their personality.

Culture Club is also important for students discussing their OWN culture! They can test their limits about what they already know and discover new questions about what they would like to talk to their parents or guardians about. Having students reflect on their upbringing and life chapters allows them to summarize important lessons they’ve learned. In all, it is our great pleasure that we align forces and share the importance of cultural exchange with our students, so they can take on new perspectives in their thinking and become more well-rounded individuals.