Saturday, March 12, 2016

Drop The Pop Festivities - Part 1

Healthy foods are expensive in Nunavut, but strangely, junk foods are not.  Well, they do cost more when you compare the northern and southern prices, but within the territory, they're cheap.  Dangerously cheap.  Such as, it's cheaper to buy soft drinks than milk, water, and juice.  (One pop can costs about $2.50 in Arctic Bay).  The only time when it feels like you're paying a fortune is when you're buying a case of soft drinks.  These "cheap" prices have resulted in high consumption of sugary drinks and foods among the Inuit population, resulting in higher rates of tooth decay & diabetes. 
A long time ago, I mentioned that one could make huge sums of money importing pop on the summer sealift and selling them in the communities.  I suppose it would be better than having people hooked on alcohol and drugs, but drinking too much pop (soft drinks) is hazardous to your health.  The Government of Nunavut has been aware of this problem for a long time and have several health awareness programs in action to convince Nunavummiut to kick their "cola habit" and drink more healthy liquids.
March 7 - 11 was Drop the Pop Week for Nunavut schools.  It's the main awareness program that educates students the dangers of drinking too much sugary drinks and encourages youth to lower their pop consumption.  The program began in 2003.  The Inuujaq School staff had a meeting the week before to plan the healthy festivities.  Booklets & pamphlets would be given out, a poster contest would be organized, students would hopefully pledge not to drink pop for the week, and a healthy community breakfast would be held on Friday, the 11th.
I personally pledged to go "cold turkey" during the week.  On Sunday, March 6, I drank my "last" can of pop at dinnertime.
Before I continue with Drop the Pop, I would like to briefly focus on what my students have been studying for the last little while. 
The month of February was a very busy month for all my classes.  My Grade 10 English students finished the short stories unit and moved on to grammar.  The grammar exercises were divided into ten parts and covered a variety of topics, such as, word usage, writing complex sentences, synonyms, and comma use.  To combat feelings of monotony, we played Mad Libs, a hilarious fill-in-the-blanks word game, in between each part. 
My students then moved on to the feature film study.  I chose the same film I used last year: Lean On Me, starring Morgan Freeman.  I felt the film contained many life-important monologues from Morgan Freeman's character that my students needed to hear.  (The film is based on the true story of inner city principal Joe L. Clark).  The culminating activity was a class set of posters that explained what makes a good principal, teacher, and student.
By early March, we had just started the novel study.  My students this year would also be reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
My Grade 10 Social Studies students finished the Residential School Unit and had a review test.  The second half of the module looks at survivor stories, compensation timelines, and what needs to be done to break the cycle of abuse & neglect that's currently plaguing the Inuit & Aboriginal communities.
My students & I began a new unit: Living In A Globalizing World.  The Alberta-written textbook is quite thick and has enough content to last until the end of the semester.  (Nunavut's education curriculum closely follows Alberta's curriculum, though the government is working on developing more Inuit-centred materials).  This would be my first time using the newly purchased textbooks, and teacher resource binder.  I spent several days & weekends reading and preparing the material in advance.  By the second week of March, my students had learned about globalization, outsourcing, transnational corporations, and the rise of hip hop music as a global force. 
One transnational corporation we looked at was the fast food giant, McDonald's, and it's spread across the globe.  This also led us into a brief study about the appeal and dangers of fast food.  I extended the study by having my students watch the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me.
My Grade 11 students finished the Imperialism unit and moved on to the origins of the First World War.  I split the Imperialism unit test into two parts.  The tests covered imperialism all over the world, the African Slave Trade, the Anglo-Zulu War, the Oka Crisis, and modern problems in the DRC.  On the origins of the First World War, we examined the unifications of Italy & Germany, and the creation of the two alliances.
My guitarists spent the remaining month of February completing theory sheets, learning more chords and notes, and completing more performance tests.  For the performance tests, my students had to play several classic folk tunes like Frere Jacques, and Snake Charmer.  We tapped into our inner patriotism and learned the national anthems of Canada and the United States.  Before the end of the month, my guitarists submitted their lists of songs they wanted included in the class fake book.  ("A fake book is a collection of musical lead sheets intended to help a performer quickly and perform new songs." - Wikipedia).  I budgeted three weeks for research, formatting, printing, and binding the fake books.
On Tuesday, March 8, 3045 Army Cadet Corps was informed that our shooting team would be advancing to the Stage III Marksmanship Competition in Winnipeg.  They were delighted & excited by the news.  The competition will take place in mid-April.  Our shooters will be busy for the next month perfecting their shooting skills. 
Grade 7. Best attenders for the month of February.
High School students.
On Wednesday, March 9, Inuujaq School held its monthly attendance awards assembly in the gym.  The gathering also gave everyone a chance to participate in a Drop the Pop activity suggested by a Grade 8 student.  Vincen Oyukuluk had suggested attaching an empty hanging pop can to a two-foot high kick pole and see how high one could kick it with their feet.  He took one of school's high kick poles home to get it ready.  His Grade 8 teacher, John, gave him an Ottawa Senators puck for acknowledging his initiative, planning, and later, demonstration.
Vincen Oyukuluk prepares to kick.
The high kick pole was brought out after all the best attendance (for the month of February) certificates were given out.  I attached one of my GoPro cameras to the wooden pole to record all the action.  Vincen was the first one to step up and showcase his skills at the high kick.  John was the only teacher that did the high kick. 

Grade 8 teacher, John, tries his first high kick.
Romeyo Qavavauq.
Over a span of ten minutes, students across all grades came up and kicked the empty pop can as a way of emphasizing their commitment to dropping the pop.  (I'm sure there were some students who were just getting a kick from kicking the can).  The staff made sure the can was lowered to an acceptable height so that the younger kids could still touch the can with their foot.  There were plenty of hits, but a few misses.  I would have given the high kick a try if I was wearing more athletic clothing and not my formal attire.
Jessie Olayuk
There was a lot of cheering and clapping from the audience.  Plenty of photos were also taken.  I edited the raw footage I captured and made a short video.  I posted it to the school's Facebook page where it was well received by viewers.  (You can also view the video on YouTube).

To Be Continued . . .

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