Aqua Fun Academy
Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Inclusive Literature

On this week’s Tutor Thursday we will discuss the importance of inclusive literature. As we educate younger minds, we need to be very intentional about the resources we have in our classrooms, our libraries and our lessons.

Our communities are becoming more multicultural and it is important to include diversity within the curriculum. It allows for all members in a classroom to share a sense of belonging. It is also important for our more homogenous communities, as it allows for the individual to learn about others and develop a better understanding of our fellow human beings.

Here’s our go-to list for some awesome books you can share with your students, children, and friends.

Inclusive Literature

FamiliesTutor Thursday

Susan Kuklin

(Grades 4 – 5)

Combining interviews and engaging color photos, this book shows the diversity of families in America. Includes mixed-race, immigrant, two-dad, two-mom and single parent families and families for whom religion is a focal point.

This book includes the LGBT community, and people of different race and religion. It teaches students about the different types of families that exist.

Tutor ThursdayMuskrat Will be Swimming

Cheryl Savageau

(Grades 1 – 5)

A heartwarming tale of the lesson a girl learns from a Seneca creation story her grandfather tells her — a lesson of knowing who you are and staying strong in the face of hurtful criticism.

This book addresses issues of self-identity and native American culture. It teaches students how ancient tales of native American cultures can be utilized to help children find their way in the world.

Gracefully GraysonTutor Thursday

Ami Polonsky

(Grades 5 – 7)

Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson has the tools to let her inner light shine.

This book addresses LGBT identities. It teaches students about the power of inclusion, and acceptance.

Tutor ThursdayToday I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day

Jamie Lee Curtis

(Grades 1 – 8)

“Today I feel silly. Mom says it’s the heat.
I put rouge on the cat and gloves on my feet.
I ate noodles for breakfast and pancakes at night.
I dressed like a star and was quite a sight. Today I am sad, my mood’s heavy and gray…”A storybook that examines at the wide range of human emotions. The girl in the book describes the possible moods that everyone can experience each day.The book helps students explore, identify, and have fun with their ever-changing moods. This book can be used to help students be aware of their emotions and can lead to a self-regulation discussion.

The Diamond Willow Walking StickTutor Thursday

Leah Marie Dorion (Norman Fleury)

(Grades 3 – 6)

A young Métis boy learns from his grandparents about the importance of generosity. Their belief in the circle of life extends to sharing what you have without reservation, as your return will be fourfold. The boy learns from the example of both of his grandparents and observes the respect in which they are held in the community. Eventually he must put this belief into practice himself by giving away his most treasured possession, the diamond willow walking stick.

This book addresses topics on generosity and the Metis culture. It informs students of other cultures.

King & King 

Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

(Grades 1 – 5)

One day, a queen decides she’s had enough of ruling, and it’s time for her son to find a suitable princess and get married. The prince agrees, though he’s never much cared for princesses… and none of the ones who show up manage to change his opinion. Then in walks the last princess, beautiful golden-haired Princess Madeleine–and her brother, Prince Lee. It’s love at first sight, and the two princes, known as King & King, live happily ever after.This book addresses gender stereotypes and teaches children to be open to everybody’s differences.

Until out next Tutor Thursday!


Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Chest Position

On today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday our key point is to ‘keep your body as close to the surface of the water as possible’.

Butterfly is an advanced stroke that requires a lot of coordination, and well-developed strength in both the arms and legs. Let’s look at breathing and timing for butterfly.

When breathing the positioning of our chest in the water dictates how effectively we will be able to come up for air. Furthermore, the positioning of our chest also allows the swimmer to develop a natural rhythm.

A common mistake amongst beginners is starting with their head and chest too low into the water at the beginning of the stroke. What we are striving for is to keep the head just under the surface of the water, and the chest almost level with the surface.

As we go into the stroke, the chest drops slightly with the downbeat of the hips, and returns to the surface of the water on the second downbeat of the legs. Making a wave or ‘s’ motion with the body.

By returning the chest to the surface of the water, we decrease the amount of work required to pull the head up to breathe. For those of you who have been swimming for some time, swimming is all about efficiency! By focusing on bringing the chest back up on the second down beat of the legs, we decrease the amount of energy used to bring our head up. This provides the swimmer with more energy to complete longer distances, as butterfly can be a more physically taxing stroke in comparison to simple strokes like front crawl or back crawl.

To practice adjusting the body, perform a front float and focus on maintaining the position of the chest. Well that’s a wrap for this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next week!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Meeting Students’ Needs

On this week’s Tutor Thursday we are going to discuss some of the methods we use to help reach primary students’ needs.

After reading Student Success, Differentiated Instruction Educators’ Package (2010), we have developed three steps that will help us increase effectiveness in meeting students’ needs.

  1. Differentiation to Help Students Demonstrate their Learning (Product)
    • We will make sure to provide a task that allows students to easily vary the complexity or the form of the task for different learners.
    • Some examples are:
      • Choice Boards
        • This structure provides students with choice but all the choices address the same learning goal and are evaluated using the same Tutor Thursdayassessment criteria.
      • Cubing
        • This structure differentiates instruction based on the students’ readiness, learning preference or interest.
      • Learning Contracts
        • This structure provides differentiation by allowing learning goals and evaluation criteria to be developed by the teacher and student.
      • Tiering
        • Creating more than one version of the task in order to provide different levels according to students’ levels of readiness.

Differentiated instructional materials allow students to demonstrate their learning to the best of their abilities, which would give me the opportunity to properly assess students’ new knowledge.

  1. Differentiation to Help Students Learn (Process)
    • In a differentiated classroom, teachers provide different instructional methods to help students learn.
      In our classroom, we make sure to constantly change up the instructional methods. Here are some examples:

      • Jigsaw activities, Think Pair Share
      • Graphic organizers
      • Checklists with clear learning goals
      • Anticipation guides, exit cards, thinking routines
      • Self and peer assessments

Differentiated teaching tools allow students to see learning from a variety of perspectives and give them the opportunity to succeed.Tutor Thursdays

  1. Differentiation to Enhance the Conditions for Learning (Environment)
    • In a differentiated classroom, students are frequently grouped and regrouped based on their readiness to learn a concept, interest in a concept, learning preferences in working with a concept, and environmental or social sensitivities.

The different group settings allow students to be in the best possible learning environment for that specific activity, which gives the students the opportunity to excel to their highest potential. We will make sure that students are given this opportunity.

(Differentiated Instruction Educator’s Package, 2010)

Thanks for reading this week’s Tutor Thursday!

Meeting Students' Needs

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Goal Setting | Aqua Fun Academy

This Tutor Thursday we are going to discuss education and the value of teaching goal setting to students. Goal setting is a fundamental skill which is applicable to various facets of life. We touched on the use of this skill on a Swimming Fit Friday. For more on that see the link at the bottom of the article.

Tutoring ThursdaysGoal setting includes the understanding of how to plan for short and long term goals, setting tangible and realistic goals, and taking the responsibility to act and then self-evaluate the results from each goal. Unfortunately, many teachers do not emphasize the importance of goal setting in their classroom because they are simply so focused on content-knowledge of their own course.

Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, presents the idea that people lead their lives with one of the two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. According to Dweck, the fixed mindset is “believing that your qualities are carved in stone,” while the growth mindset is “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” Moreover, Dweck expands on this idea and states: “the passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.”

This idea of the growth mindset is the core for student success. If a student is able to have long-term goals and not give up on them (even if they fail a test in school and so on), the student will, by the end, reach his/her objective.

The key here is to incorporate goal setting and trial and error in the classroom as one of our 21st century skills as it is an essential skill for living in the world and it is omitted in most core courses (such as mathematics, science, etc). If a student is able to fail many times, but get back up and continue to search for a way of how he/she will solve the problem, then, we as teachers, have given the student the right preparation to live and work in the world today.

Now, the question is: how do we (the teachers) prepare the students to have this skill? And how will we assess that the students were able to understand and apply this skill to their lives?

Just keep reading, until next weeks’ Tutor Thursday!


In reference to the beginning of our Tutor Thursday I present to you, Goal Setting in Practice: https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-fit-friday-goal-setting/


Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.


Goal Setting

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Universal Design for Learning

This Tutor Thursday we will break down the Five Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles.

“The aim of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is to provide access to the curriculum for all students, and to assist educators in designing products and environments to make them accessible to everyone, regardless of age, skills, or situation” –Learning for All, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an Ontario program with universal application.

The five principles are based on the core concepts of UDL: universality and equity; flexibility and inclusiveness; an appropriately designed space; simplicity; and safety (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013).

  1. Use differentiated learning to give students the opportunity to show their understanding.
  • Meeting the needs of each student is an important part of the universal design for learning. By differentiating activities and assessments, students have the ability to show their understanding in a variety of ways. This allows students to maximize their ability to progress and reach their potential as well as it creates equity in the classroom.
  1. Be flexible and open to changing or accommodating student tasks, ongoing assessment, teaching strategies, and student materials.
  • Our students come with a variety of needs. It is important to use materials that vary in level of difficulty or form, and that are relevant for every student. Students should be provided with rich learning tasks that include problem solving, real-world applications, and social justice topics, where teachers are flexible to engage in such activities with the students.
  1. Minimize distractions, such as noise, behavioral distractions, and classroom setup.
  • It is important for teachers to be consistent with noise levels, behavior rules, and the classroom organization because it provides access to learning for all

    The five principles are based on the core concepts of UDL: universality and equity; flexibility and inclusiveness; an appropriately designed space; simplicity; and safety.

  1. Be clear when communicating expectations; ensure that all students understand.
  • In order to keep all learning styles included, instructions and expectations should be presented in a variety of ways: communicated orally, visually, and written (success criteria on the board). Learning goals should be constructed in collaboration with students and using student-friendly language. The teacher should also provide ongoing feedback throughout the assignment.
  1. Provide an inclusive and safe learning environment.
  • In order for every child to learn, they must feel safe both physically and emotionally. The classroom environment should teach students how to care for others and their belongings as well as how to respect one another. The atmosphere should be inclusive so that all students are able to learn to their full potential. Teachers should praise each student daily and issues that occur in the classroom should be addressed immediately.

Well that was the Five Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles. Until next Tutor Thursday!

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Building Confidence

On this week’s Tutor Thursday, we’re going to discuss how tutoring helps students to build confidence specifically in regards to testing.

In our last article we spoke about customized learning and the benefits. Let’s quickly recap what those are.

Tutor Thursday

The three different learning styles.

  • Lessons geared to students’ learning styles.
  • Provides opportunities to improve other learning styles.
  • Provides students with the tools to progress in their subjects.
  • Students learn how they learn.
  • Students feel more confident throughout their performance.
  • All students learn differently.

NOTE: the big three learning styles are audible, visual, and kinesthetic (or tactile).

One of the most very basic things a tutoring environment offers is effective practice.

There is a continuous dialogue between the tutor and the student to assist the student in their understanding. Tutoring provides a setting in which there is minimal consequence for making mistakes.

Tutor ThursdayThe lessons are stylized to maximize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. The current education system is not flexible in its evaluation of their students. Often these standard tests cater to a specific learning style, leaving some students behind.

Through the form of mock testing, the tutor can introduce students to testing situations, allowing them to learn to cope with the feelings and emotions often experienced during a test. Furthermore, students get feedback right after the test is completed. This provides another opportunity for learning where the tutor can hone in on areas of difficulty and either re-frame or review. Performing well on a test is like working out a muscle: you must exercise it properly to improve!

As parents and educators we can sympathize with our students, with the understanding that standardized testing may leave students behind. It is one of goals of Aqua Fun Academy to bridge the gap so that no one gets left behind.

Until our next Tutor Thursday! Happy Learning!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Getting Started

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to go all the way back to the beginning. We’re going to discuss how to get started on your own swimming journey for those of you who have never been in the water before.

Approaching a swimming pool can be an anxiety-ridden task. With this carefully constructed list I hope you’ll be encouraged to join us in the water, whether that be at our Aqua Fun Academy facilities or at your own local community centers!

This starts with wearing proper and comfortable swim attire:

  • Swimming Tip TuesdayFor clients we recommend a one-piece swimsuit or a two-piece with strong elasticity around the chest and/or waistline.
  • As a woman I tend to buy my one-piece swimsuits one size or a half size tighter. This is because over the course of a season the elastic of the suit will loosen. This allows me to have a longer wearing suit.
  • Swimming Tip Tuesday, Pro Tips to keep your swimsuit in long lasting form:
    • Store in a separate bag from your towel.
    • Hand wash with gentle soaps (no detergents) in cold water.
    • Hang to dry.
    • Avoid facility provided bathing suit dryers as those wear out the fabric.
  • Goggles for those with more sensitive eyes.
  • Swim caps, you can purchase from your local Sport Chek or SportingLife.
  • Some professionals will recommend nose plugs. I personally discourage the use of nose plugs, just because you want to be able to breathe through both your mouth and nose during swimming. However, the swimmer’s comfort comes first.

Understanding your needs as a new swimmer is important, so feel free to ask your AFA instructors what they recommend.

Know your pool, and start in the shallow end. Here are some tips to identify which end of the pool is shallow: Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Ask the lifeguard / instructor on deck which end of the pool is shallow.
  • Look out for “shallow” or “no diving signs”.
  • Some pools have a dark line that divides the pool into shallow and deep. Note that this line will cross through the lines dividing the lanes.
  • Locate a ramp to enter (these are always on the shallow end of the pool).

Know your pool, there are different types of pools:

  • Therapy pools or pools specifically for younger children are warm (note: therapy pools are not the same as hot tubs).
  • Pools used for length swims are on the cooler side (so exercising individuals do not overheat).
  • Shower before entering the pool to help adjust to the water temperature before your swim.

For those of us worried about how the water will affect our hair & skin look below:

  • Swim caps are good to keep some water out. You can purchase from your local Sport Chek or SportingLife.
  • For swimmers with thick and luscious hair I highly recommend using a clarifying shampoo to help take the chlorine out.
  • Don’t have time for a heavy duty wash? Be sure to rinse your hair after your swims.
  • Always rinse after a swim and moisturize, pick up a strong moisturizing body lotion to help keep skin healthy and hydrated. (The water tends to dry out the skin after extended duration (hours) in the water).

Until out NEXT Swimming Tip Tuesday!





Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Float & Recovery

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to come back to basics and talk about back floats and recovery.

Floating on our back can be unsettling for new swimmers because they experience difficulty standing back up or recovering. Today we are going to look at the mechanics of getting into a relaxed back float and how to get up.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFloating always reminds me of an old episode of Magic School Bus in which they take a piece of bread and throw it over top of the lake and it floats, another student takes another piece of bread and crumples it into a ball, to the students surprise it sinks to the bottom of the lake.

We want to be like that first piece of bread. Flat on top of the water, and taking up as much space as we can. This can be accomplished by putting our arms above our head at 10 and 2 (as if we are on a clock), and we will put our feet at 5 & 7 or further apart depending on the swimmer’s flexibility.

Once we are in position, we are going to bend at the knees and slowly lean back onto the water. There are a few things we want to keep in mind when we are leaning back.

  • To push our legs up slowly
  • Don’t worry about maintaining your arms at the exact points above
  • Remember to push your tummy up

Some equipment we can use for those who want a little added support.Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Dumbbells
  • Noodle
  • Or the assistance of an AFA instructor

Recovery refers to the way in which we get our feet back on the ground.

While in our float position we want to do the following:

  • Bend the knees
  • Bring your bent knees up towards your chest
  • Pull your arms in towards your knees to make more of a ball shape
  • Push your feet down towards the ground

Note: while bending your knees you may sink a bit, be prepared to blow bubbles or hold your breath for up to 3 seconds.

Remember you can practice this and more during our Adult classes. AFA instructors will help you get back on your feet every time!

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Customized Learning

On this week’s Tutor Thursday we are going to discuss customized learning and its benefits for the student. Before we do that though, let’s review what we discussed on Feedback last Tutor Thursday:

  • Tutoring allows for lots of constructive feedback.
  • Dialogue between the tutor and the student leads to a clearer understanding of material.
  • Students feel more confident throughout their performance.
  • Students learn how they learn.
  • Students know what to ask to get to that high level of understanding.
  • All students learn differently.

Tutor ThursdayKeeping in mind that all students learn differently, customization can have a large impact on the students’ development and overall success. Due to the nature of the relationship between the tutor and the student, the tutor has time to customize their lesson plans to the students’ learning styles.

The big three learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (or tactile). That being said, these groupings are not always mutually exclusive, and there tends to be overlap. People are usually some combination of the three.

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday presents: The three different learning styles.

Through customization, it is also possible for the tutor to assist students with developing the weaker aspects of their learning style. For it is through practice that we improve, and sometimes encountering our weakness are unavoidable. Especially since our students are often tested in the same standard format in school.

By developing their weakness into strengths, we increase students’ chances of success in a fairly rigid and uncompromising world. As parents, teachers, and educators, giving our children the tools to go out into the world and get what’s there. As well for us at Aqua Fun Academy that is not just our dream, that is our goal.

The students benefit the most when constructive feedback and customized learning are employed regularly in their continuous learning process. Until next Tutor Thursday!


Customized Learning

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Why Tutoring?

The benefits of tutoring are endless! For today’s Tutor Thursday we will talk about feedback & the acceptance of mistakes.

In a large classroom it’s easy to get lost in the pace of the lesson plan. Teachers are obligated to deliver an entire curriculum on a preset schedule, leaving little room for extra help. Students are presented the information, given limited practice time and feedback time. Later a test is distributed to gauge if the students understood and can apply the information.

Because every student processes information at different rates, this system is not perfect for every student. As a matter of fact, things can fall apart as early as the presentation of information due to the lack of feedback built in.

The school system is often a mistake adverse environment. In simple terms, students are often embarrassed for making mistakes in front of their peers. This experience takes away from the learning process, as students remain silent instead of eagerly asking questions for clarity on the subject.Tutoring Thursday

In a tutoring environment the student can ask as many questions as needed. The student can also ask to be shown the material in different ways, whether that be through sample questions, through the use of materials, visual representations and so on. The student can actively engage with the tutor and have a conversation on the material. For it is through dialogue that we find holes with our logic and demonstrate part of our understanding. This dialogue also promotes confidence as students tackle questions. They begin to understand what it is they need to process the information.

As someone wise beyond their years told me:

“You’re going to school to learn a subject, not know a subject. If you feel like you know everything, you’ve already messed up”.

Tutoring ThursdayTutoring helps students realize this important fact. Furthermore it creates an environment where one can make mistakes and utilize the feedback system. Mistakes are part of how we learn to do something correctly. As the wonderful Miss Frizzle would say “it’s time to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

Until our next Tutor Thursday!