Stop Disasters Game

It’s no secret that natural disasters have a huge impact on people’s livelihoods and the surrounding environment. Although millions of people are affected every year, we can reduce the human, physical and financial cost of disasters by understanding the risks of applying the best methods of prevention and mitigation.

In our unit on natural disasters, students played a game that tasked them with managing the impacts of a natural disaster of their choice. They played realistic disaster scenarios and their role was to plan and construct a safer environment for their town in order to minimize the damage of the natural disaster.

Students needed to know how the natural disaster formed and the risks it posed in order to prepare for what was to come. They started out with a set budget and had to determine where to spend it. It’s not hard to spend money, but it is difficult choosing which areas to protect, where to place your defences and how to save as many lives as possible.

With multiple playthroughs, students gained a better understanding of the logistics and factors involved in preparing for such terrible events. They began to realize that they didn’t have an infinite amount of money, they had to carefully consider all options, and they often had to make very difficult decisions. Overall, it was an engaging experience that forced students to think about the consequences their actions carry and how the decisions they make directly involve the people they are trying to save.

Creating a Student Book Review Website

A good book puts us in conversation with a compelling character, offers a new perspective, takes us places. It can teach us new things about our world and ourselves, make a lasting impression on our lives, or help us get through a global pandemic and accompanying lockdowns. But when presented in school, reading can sometimes be treated like an onerous chore, a burdensome task that one needs to get through—and get past. Obviously, this is not usually how we want young people to view reading.

One of the ways to address this is to offer more choice — albeit curated — to student readers, and to help them learn to make informed choices about their reading, now and in the future. The “book club model,” as opposed to an exclusive focus on common class texts, is increasingly incorporated into high school English classrooms for this very reason.

In this year’s Grade English 9 English class, most students read two novels during the octomester, and they had opportunities to share and receive recommendations from their classmates. In journals, student-teacher conferences, and even with their families, students practiced important comprehension and thinking skills as they discussed and made connections to their reading. Then as a final assignment, they each contributed a multimedia book review to create a book review website for a peer audience. Writing and publishing their reviews, however, was not just about summarizing or sharing opinions on a book; it was about helping to create a community of readers, in which teenagers are empowered to read.

Choosing the right book may be a start, but students also learned to use a range of strategies, from using an audiobook to summarizing and asking questions, as they read. Reading can be hard, and there might even be parts of a favourite book that are hard—or boring, confusing, or otherwise unenjoyable. In our English course, readers were encouraged to prepare for this, and to acknowledge it in their reviews as needed. Reviewers have also included some advice, where relevant, about what those who are interested in a particular book might want to learn more about first. It is our hope that the reviews will be helpful to other students as they make their own choices.

The site is a work in progress, and will continue to be updated and expanded with more student reviews, created in different courses as well as purely out of interest. In the future it will hopefully also see the addition of various features like grade-level and interest filtering and feedback, request, and submission forms. But for now, the Grade 9 English book reviews have the spotlight.

YMCA Academy Student Book Review Website

Creating with Code


In Introduction to Computer Studies we have spent the past week working with python, a simple programming language that is the basis for many programs and games that some may be familiar with. We have been creating basic programs that allow users to input commands and interact with the program. This includes a question and guessing game where users are trying to guess what the computer is “thinking of.” It can be a challenging unit for some learners, but most find it the most rewarding because they have a list of products to look back at and see how far they’ve come.

Covid Films and Movie Posters


These are certainly interesting times with a lot to process. In our communications technology course we’ve taken it upon ourselves to unpack some of that by making movies about our time during the pandemic. The movies ranged from documentaries to post apocalyptic science fiction themes. They were done with care, taking physical distancing and safety precautions into account. We all had a lot of fun, and learned so much about the movie-making process, such as filming, editing, and voice overs.

Virtual Worlds: Minecraft Club Promo Video!

Our Virtual World is now 6 months old! To celebrate we decided to create a short promotional video to showcase all the amazing and creative things our students have built. I am looking forward to what else we will achieve this year as the club has grown significantly since the start of the school year. If you are interested in the history of the Minecraft club you can see some of our previous blogposts.

Minecraft: Building Virtual Worlds – The Origin story of our Minecraft world!
Virtual Worlds: A Home away from Home – Building and Living in a Virtual World during COVID-19 Shutdown.
Virtual Worlds: The Great Wall Initiative – Securing the frontier, and the start of group adventures.
Virtual Worlds: Building a Community Village – How to build a community village and helping new players.

Enjoy the video!