Must-See August Events in Toronto

The last month of summer is around the corner and it brings lots of fun social events, festivals and happening across the city. Most of these events celebrate cultural diversity, with music, people and cuisine from all over the world.

Most of the activities are free and open to the public. Check out this list of must-see August events prepared by ILAC and we guarantee you will never forget your summer in Toronto.

1. VELD Music Festival: August 1-2, 2015

Future Music Festival 2013Attend the VELD Music Festival this August. It is all about fun, great electronic music and good vibes. Over the weekend you’ll be able to relax and listen to electronic music and great performances by a variety of musicians. Do not forget to manage your time by picking your favourite artists. This festival in Downsview Park, will be followed by an after-party.

2. Taste of the Danforth: August 7-9, 2015 *FREE

New Danforth Avenue Sign

The Taste of the Danforth festival is an annual celebration of Greek culture, taking place in Toronto’s Greektown.

Come to listen to great music, taste amazing food, learn traditional dances and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

The Taste of Danforth’s 2013 Zorba dance holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest. In 2014, the “Largest Tug of War” and “Most People Participating in a Standing Long Jump in 8 Hours” also set Guinness World Records.

This year there will be more fun challenges: the “Most People to Eat an Olive in 8 Hours” and the “Most People to Make a Penalty Kick in 8 Hours”. Practice your kick now!

3. Sail-In Cinema: August 20-22, 2015

Sugar BeachToronto’s beautiful Sugar Beach, located close to the Distillery District, is going to transform its chaise-longues and pink umbrellas into an outdoor movie theatre. This year’s theme is the 80s. The movies will be projected in a unique way. Two-sided screens will be floating in the water, so you will be able to watch movies from the beach or from the water.

4. Canadian National Exhibition: August 21 – September 7, 2015

ferris wheel - long exposure

One of North America’s largest annual fairs, the 18 day-long Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) offers amusement park rides, live entertainment, food, shopping, concerts, performances and special events.

If you are an airplane enthusiast, get ready for a jaw-dropping experience at the Canadian International Air Show on the last weekend of summer. The pilots will perform daredevil loop-de-loops and synchronized manoeuvres.

5. Toronto Chinatown Festival: August 22-23, 2015 *FREE

the dragon is always present : flower festival, grant street, china town,  san francisco (2014)Visiting Toronto’s Chinatown Festival is an exciting experience for anybody. This beautiful part of the city is located in Downtown Toronto. This event celebrates Chinese culture and will include lion dances, Kung Fu performances, delicious Chinese street food and an exhibition of traditional Chinese art and crafts. Time of the event: Saturday: Noon–11pm and Sunday: 11am–8pm.

6. Buskerfest: August 27-30, 2015 *FREE

Fire Dancer

Buskerfest for Epilepsy is the festival which traditionally closes the major summer festivals in Toronto. There are going to be over 130 street performers from all over the world.

Craziness is in the air, with numerous clowns, acrobats, puppets and jugglers performing simultaneously on the Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood.

Gabriela Jandova

from ILAC English Tips


5 Must-See August Events in Vancouver

Sounds of drums, salsa moves and the taste of delicious food are coming your way this August with a host of fun public events and festivals.

Check out the list of must-see activities happening in Vancouver this August and make sure to attend them all.

1. Vancouver Pride Parade: August 2, 2015 *FREE

Vancouver Pride 2009Once a year, hundreds of people parade through the city celebrating gender diversity. This year, the Vancouver Pride Parade‘s theme is “Gender Superheroes”. Basically, it encourages Pride participants to dress up like a role model whose behaviour or success inspired them to be proud and helped to find their identity. It can be anyone – a friend, family member or a superhero.

2. Salsa Nights at Robson Square: July 5 – August 30, 2015 *FREE

Salsa Saturday @ Loring Pasta Bar
Do you love Latin music and salsa? Then move your hips to the salsa rhythm at Robson Square every Sunday afternoon in July and August!

Free salsa lessons with experienced trainers, open for all comers at 3 PM, will be followed by onstage performances by professional salsa dancers. Colourful outfits, delicious food, great dance moves and a great atmosphere – that’s what Salsa Nights are all about!

3. Summer Zipline at Queen Elizabeth Park: May – September, 2015

Becoming Superman!! – Zip-lining at Biwako ValleyQueen Elizabeth Park is in the geographical heart of Vancouver and it is the highest point in the city. This year, Vancouverites celebrate the park’s 75th anniversary by constructing a zipline. The line is built between two towers. The launch tower is located besides the Bloedel Conservatory and the landing tower is on the side of Quarry Gardens. The slide is fixed at 152 meters above sea level, so it allows you to see the whole city, including places such as English Bay, North Shore Mountains and Quarry Gardens.

4. Food Cart Festival: June 28 – September 6, 2015

Komodo Food Truck
For street food lovers, we have found a Food Cart Festival. This Festival is the major gathering of street food in Vancouver. More than 20 top food carts will be presented by Vancity, Arrival and The Streetfood Vancouver Society. This event is going to be held at the Olympic Village and it will also include live music performances, markets and fun activities for everybody.

Food Cart Fest will take place every Sunday in the summer from 12pm-5pm at 215 West 1st Avenue.

5. Brahm’s Tam Drum Circle at Third Beach: Every Sunny Tuesday *FREE

If you play drums – or any instrument – bring it with you to Brahm’s Tam Drum Circle at Third Beach. Many drummers and dancers will fill the park to honour the Tam Tams. Every Tuesday you can feel this amazing atmosphere in Stanley Park.

Brahms’s Tam Drum Circle was founded by Brahm, who was inspired by his experiences with Montreal’s family based Tam Tam gatherings. This year will be the 8th Tam Drum Circle.

Most of the mentioned activities are free, but remember that every donation towards local communities and the city also helps to support every of these event.

Gabriela Jandova

from ILAC English Tips

Students Help Design School Supplies for Staples: Let’s Get Students Involved

Staples Back to School Council

Students should be involved in their education. They can also change their world. I’m excited about filling my son’s locker with items from Staples because they are PRACTICAL. (The Designed by Students locker shelf below is so unique, I was like — why didn’t some adult think of that?)

Staples worked with Ron Clark’s students (pictured above) and others around the country during this past school year. The result is a new line of back-to-school products designed by kids.

Staples worked with Ron Clark’s students (pictured above) and others around the country during this past school year. The result is a new line of back-to-school products designed by kids.

It is great to see companies empower students to think and contribute to the world. Two of my favorite items are the floating locker shelves and the Big Pen Pencil Case. (Both are pictured at the bottom of this post.)

Watch the Students Pitch Their Products

The video from launch day is inspirational. (Embedded below.) Some of the key points he mentioned:

    • The proposal and prototyping process. This is an essential part of design.
    • The authentic audience. How can we help students work with local companies in this way to bring designs to the marketplace. When Staples did this, they are showing other businesses and leading with their actions that students can be partners in the design process. Talk about empowering students! When you take your ideas to local or large companies – share this.
    • The pitch. In the video, you’ll see students pitching the products they designed. The art of the “elevator pitch” and proposing the awesome lap desk, the Big Pen, binders without rings, the cool locker shelf, and a redesigned backpack. (Watch the video!)
If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

The Floating Locker Shelves

These floating locker shelves are going in my 8th graders locker. When I saw them, I was wondering why no one ever thought of this before. ;-)

These floating locker shelves are going in my 8th graders locker.

The Big Pen Pencil Case

You can get all kinds of pens to go in this pencil case, but here’s the thing - the pencil case IS a pen and IS a pencil sharpener. For the kids who forget things, this is a HUGE step forward. Another must-have for my son.

You can get all kinds of pens to go in this pencil case, but here’s the thing – the pencil case IS a pen and IS a pencil sharpener. For the kids who forget things, this is a HUGE step forward. Another must-have for my son.

Check out the whole Staples Back to School Line at:

See my favorite office supplies and how I use them in my classroom at: Top 10 Cool Things to Buy at Staples

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

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3 Ways I’ve Seen Bullying Stopped

Four and a half years I lived bullying. I cried every day after school when I made it to the respite of my room at home. I often ask myself what I would have done if my bedroom weren’t my solitude? What if I couldn’t get away? Even if bullying “goes away” the scars don’t. How can I be in my forties and still be feeling the aftershock of when I was 14?

3 Way's I've seen

“What are several real ways you’ve seen bullying reduced?” This month’s question as part of Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education is hard. I’ll share three things that worked with a disclaimer. I am sharing what I’ve seen WORK. Consult with a counselor (like I have) if you’re helping your children through bullying. Every situation is different. If your child is depressed or suicidal GET HELP IMMEDIATELY. Bullying is serious. Don’t ignore it. These are three things I’ve seen work. They may not work in your situation.

In today’s challenge, Cathy Rubin has asked for several real ways I’ve seen bullying reduced.

1 – Learn to Defend Yourself

When bullied between fifth and ninth grades, no one came to my rescue. I came to my rescue. I remember the day it happened. I bounded into homeroom in ninth grade. “Miss Mean Girl” made a cutting remark about my outfit as she did every day. I looked at her and said,

“You know what – I don’t care. I honestly don’t care what you think anymore.”

And I didn’t. And that was it – I was free. I don’t know where the ability to no longer care appeared. Was it the self-confidence my parents instilled in me? Was it prayer? Was it maturity?  When dealing with mean taunts – bullies often select people who care what they think. When you stop caring, they may stop bullying you. For me, it stopped when I stopped caring.

We let my son take Tae Kwon Do lessons. His bullying ended the day he stood up for himself. Again, this is controversial and doesn’t work for everyone but it helped him. They stopped hitting him when he hit back one time.

2 – Empower Bystanders

The research-based Olweus Method relies on empowering bystanders. Sadly, telling adults about the bullying often makes it worse.

Once a boy was physically hurting his classmates. He pretended to be joking, but he wouldn’t stop. He left bruises.

The girls talked to adults. The adults told them the behavior was unacceptable.

The girls took it to heart. It happened again. Three of the girls went to the principal and told him what happened. They stood up for their friend. The bullying stopped.

Another time, a student saw bullying on Facebook against a classmate. She took a screenshot.  It was stopped.

Empowering bystanders is hard. Because the person being bullied isn’t the one telling, it can help.

3 – Set Expectations

I remember an anti-bullying rally held by a school counselor. It opened up conversations about how children should expect to be treated. Several issues came to light that had been going on that could then be handled. Often rallies, assemblies, or conversations about the treating each other with respect– helps. In this case, a rally started conversations that stopped several instances of bullying before they escalated.

Bullying is Never OK

But even as I share these three things I’ve seen work, scars remain. Even if bullying is “handled” doesn’t make it ok.

Bullying is one of those things that hurts everyone involved. The “victim” must forgive and move on. Those who bully, if not helped, often become criminals.

Every single person matters and deserves respect. That respect starts with having conversations about things that matter. Eradicating bullying matters. Creating a positive school culture free of fear matters. Just because something is hard to handle doesn’t mean we have an excuse to stop making progress.

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How to Improve Your English Through Mass Media

Learning English as a second language can be a bit overwhelming and quite an arduous task. Most students have hard time understanding native English speakers especially if they have learned from books and are trying to apply their knowledge in the real world.

Thankfully, we live in an information age where we can easily access tons of resources in just one click. In this article, we have compiled a list of 5 forms of mass media which are, in our opinion, the most effective, hassle-free, low-cost and fun way to improve your English.

1. Movies


Movies are the all-time king of entertainment and watching them is one of the best methods for learning English. You can pick up many expressions and new vocabulary, a genuine accent, as well as the non-verbal communication that goes along with everyday conversation. If you are not very familiar with watching English movies without the help of dubbing or subtitles in your own language, you should probably start experimenting with watching your favourite Hollywood movies in English. By watching movies in English, you learn words in context and hear their pronunciation. You also learn real English, not simply textbook English, and you can pick up different accents and slang. If you have a movie you really like, watch it with English subtitles first. When watching it the second time, try to switch the captions off. This way you can develop the habit of watching movies as they really are, i.e. in real English.

2. News

Evening watching televisionThe English you hear when listening to or watching the news will definitely deviate from the English you hear when watching movies. “News” English is quite dry, fact-oriented, and information rich, and those facts and information are being delivered within a short period of time. Most of the news is usually presented without subtitles, which makes it even harder for a non-native speaker to understand. If you want to improve at understanding the news, start by reading newspapers. Then watch high-quality news channels, such as BBC News, CBC News, CNN, Financial Times etc. You can also find news videos on YouTube, so that you can watch them again and again until you understand the gist.

3. TV shows

My Favorite TED Talk
There are so many entertaining TV shows, programs and sitcoms (situation comedies) to watch. You can simply choose any that interest you. There are also many TV shows with famous hosts and TV presenters. The most popular ones are Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and others. A recent ILAC survey showed that most international students choose to watch the extremely popular TV conferences, TED Talks. is one of the most popular sites with tons of unique presentations in which people from different backgrounds share their ideas and knowledge. Best of all, you can watch it any time. The topics vary from top-notch robot technology to “the joy of surfing in ice-cold water”, so surely you will find something that inspires you. Most of the presentations last from 5 to 20 minutes. Some have subtitles. When watching these videos, you can also learn presentation skills and cultivate your vocabulary on a chosen topic.

4. Music

listening_soloMusic is a universal language. Songs make it easier to learn the language. When singing and repeating lyrics to your favourite song, you are already working on your English pronunciation. Google the lyrics on the internet and follow along as a song plays. Karaoke is also a great way to improve your English, as it allows you to learn the lyrics and practice pronunciation while pretending that you are a rock star.

5. Radio and Podcasts


Radio and podcasts can be challenging to understand, because you don’t have visual support, as you do when watching movies or TV shows.

On the other hand, listening to the radio or podcast is quite useful, especially if you are preparing for the listening sections of IELTS or TOEFL exams. The more native speech you listen to, the more you understand.

Even if you don’t understand 100% of what is being said, your brain gets used to the rhythms of English and you can improve your listening skills without even noticing.

ILAC produces its own English podcasts to help international students learn new vocabulary and grammar, or just improve their listening skills. Subscribe to the ILAC educational podcast channel on iTunes and Podomatic.

If you devote enough time to every form of the above-mentioned mass media, you will definitely make your English fluent and have no problems understanding native speakers.

Alena Khabibullina and Ai Watanabe

from ILAC English Tips

DON’T MISS IT: Teachers Leading Teachers Online Conference Starts Thursday

July 16-20, 2015 (Live and Video Recordings Available)

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 6.46.49 PM

Join the best PD experience of the summer! Teachers Leading Teachers Conference begins on Thursday. I will present Differentiating Instruction with Technology, at 9:30 am EDT Friday. Many amazing educators will be presenting: Kathy Cassidy, Jackie Gerstein, Pernille Ripp, Beth Hammett, Trevor Muir, Diana Gettman Flores, Erin Klein, Nick Provenzano, Starr Stackstein, Michelle Baldwin, and more!! (See schedule below.)

Do you want to MOTIVATE and ENGAGE students?

Are you trying to get ready for school  and wish someone would just give you step-by-step how-tos?

Are you tired of hearing presenters who haven’t been in the classroom and you just want practical advice that you can use immediately?

The Teachers Leading Teachers Summit will share strategies and play-by-play advice to start your classroom right from day one.

If you’re willing to do the work, this online conference will be a GAME CHANGER for you and your classroom.

You can start the school year with momentum and get better results.

Register now to save your place.

Who is speaking?

These live events will be recorded so you can view them later. (Times shown in EDT.)

  • Thursday, July 16 1-4 pm Registration and Opening

Friday, July 17, 2015

  • 8:30 am – 9:30 am Pernille Ripp — Creating Passionate Readers Workshop
  • 9:30 am – 10:30 am Vicki Davis – Differentiating Instruction with Technology
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Beth Hammett – The Future of Education: Adaptive Learning in the 21st Century Classroom
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Royan Lee – Sketchnoting Like It’s 2015
  • 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm Trevor Muir – School in the Real World: Authentic Ed and PBL
  • 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Diana Gettman Flores – Using Rubik’s Cubes as Math Manipulatives and Motivators in the Classroom

Saturday, July 18, 2015

  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Michele Daniel-Shenk & Diana Hewitt – Science Sparks Design Challenge
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Tim Twynn – Lights, Camera, Broadcast: Lessons Learned from a Student Run News Broadcast
  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Dr. Jackie Gerstein – Are You an Educator With a Growth Mindset?
  • 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Rebecca Leech – Personalized Learning to Improve Graduation Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Sunday, July 19, 2015

  • 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – Jessica Alessio – 1,2,3 Magic: Getting Rid of Gimmicks and Getting Back to Instruction
  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Amanda Dykes – STEM Across the Curriculum
  • 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Diana Hale – Creating and Environment conducive to Creativity
  • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Shira Loewenstein & Melanie Eisen – Growing as a Teacher Leader
  • 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Erin Klein – Personalize Instruction for All Learners and Create a Brain-Friendly, Blended Learning Space that is Student Centric
  • 10:00 pm – 11:00 pm Nick Provenzano – Creating a Genius Every Hour: 20 Time in Education

Monday, July 20, 2015

  • 9:00 am – 10:00 am Elisa Waingort – Engaging Readers not Leveling Lives
  • 10:00 am – 11:00 am Kathy Cassidy – The World Really is Watching: The Importance of Audience in Learning
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Starr Stackstein – Getting Rid of Grades for Better Student Learning
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Meenoo Rami – Teacher Practice in a Connected World
  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Michelle Baldwin – The Connected Classroom: Amplifying Student Voice

What does it cost?

$149.00 plus a processing fee of $9.19.

How do I sign up?

Click here to register.

Here’s a Rundown of What You’ll Be Learning

  • Creating Passionate Reading Environments
  • How to Differentiate and Reach Every Learner
  • Using Adaptive Learning Environments to Promote Student Success
  • Sketchnoting Your Thinking to Explain Concepts
  • Concrete Tools and Tips for Dynamic Project Based Learning that Engage Learners
  • Creating Engineering Design Challenges with Literature
  • Mastering Your Growth Mindset
  • Personalizing Learning to Improve Graduation Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
  • How to Decrease Undesirable Behaviors, Rules and Routines without Gimmicks
  • How to Create Membership Loops and an Innovative Classroom Architecture
  • A Game Plan for Integrating STEM Across the Curriculum
  • Creating a Classroom Community that will Supercharge Creativity
  • 4 Powerful Pathways for Teacher-Leaders
  • Unleashing Brain-Friendly Blended Learning Spaces
  • Creating a Student-Centric Classroom
  • A Slam Dunk Way to Engage Reluctant Readers without Leveling
  • Creating a Worldwide Audience for Student Work
  • Helping Students Become Effective Digital Citizens
  • How to Connect Students and Supercharge Student Voice

Sign me up!

No travel required. Just sign up and join online. It is going to be a fantastic conference. Hat tip to John Spencer and AJ Juliani for putting this stellar cast together.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How Iron Chef Lesson Plans Make Cooperative Learning Awesome

A new Every Classroom Matters episode

Click to play Jon Corippo and Iron Chef Lesson Plans Every Classroom Matters episode

In this episode, the inventor of “Iron Chef” lesson design, Jon Corippo shares with Vicki his remix of the jigsaw cooperative learning method.  Iron Chef Lesson Design with American Idol peer feedback may just be your favorite new cooperative learning method. (You can’t make this stuff up! 😉)

Important Takeaways for Listeners

  • John opens the show by denouncing a mode of teaching used by many that exasperates him and bores students.
  • He critiques traditional jigsaw methods.
  • The “secret ingredient” idea can help you link together the presentation.
  • Jon giveds examples of Iron Chef lesson plans with history, science, literature, math, grammar, and how to add spice to book reports.
  • How do you fully engage students who work quickly?
  • How can you grade easily?
  • How do you supercharge peer feedback?
  • How can you use this to help kids appreciate each other’s strengths?
  • What are other ways teachers get kids excited about learning?
  • How can you incorporate formative assessment?
  • How to make the top 20 Grammar errors exciting with Iron Chef lesson design.

This Iron Chef episode is for all of you out there using cooperative learningChromebooks or Google Apps for Education. You can also use this method with Office 365, Keynote, and Prezi. Scroll down for a great quote to pin.

Free Educator Resources

Interview Links

What Teachers Say

Listener, Leslie Ihrig (5th-grade teacher) says,

“I’ve used this with literature and social studies. Works great. In addition to adding excitement to the lesson, kids are meeting presentation standards.”
See Leslie’s Jigsaw on forming a new nation in the US.

Thanks to my Facebook friends for pointing out:

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

Want to talk about Iron Chef Lesson Design?

If you want to talk about the show, join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

"Teaching should take you up to something." Jon Corippo, Inventor, Iron Chef Lesson Design

“Teaching should take you up to something.” Jon Corippo, Inventor, Iron Chef Lesson Design

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