Thursday, February 28, 2008

Inspired by High School Meeting this week...

Thanks to Janet McKinley for sharing with us Churchill's independent reading program. The base for their beginning was Maryam Moayeri's book, Independent Minds Independent Readers which can be ordered from Pacific Edge Publishing. Participants also enjoyed learning about Byng's multiliteracies projects from Amy Hughes. The third great presentation was on vocabulary by Pam Hansen from Thompson. Pam referred to the September 2007 issue of Voices in the Middle. I also just found an interesting new book by Janet Allen on vocabulary, Inside Words: Tools for Teaching Academic Vocabulary, Grades 4-12.

I mentioned two great picture books with potential for high school students written by great authors and illustrators. The first I mentioned was The Tree of Life by Peter Sis who also wrote The Wall. The second was The Red Tree by Shaun Tan (also author of The Arrival) who I believe is coming to the Vancouver International Writers' Festival this year. Take a look at this site and order the free video from last year's festival featuring sessions with Margriet Ruurs and Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Barbara Kingsolver is definitely coming to UBC on May 29th!
Speaking ecologically, I currently am reading an interesting critically acclaimed coming of age novel set in in Olympia, Washington, The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. It's fascinating!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Now what is the main idea?

Okay! I admit it! I am watching the Oscars. You have to know I loved Juno but not heavy enough to win this year's Oscar! More miracles of technology as they announce Oscar winners from Baghdad! The winning song was from another excellent movie, Once, which you must see if you haven't!
One thing I like to find are great links. Here is one great link from the National Writing Project where you can find some interesting articles and resources. Someone told me she was afraid to read my blog because hours might pass as she hit my links. I am just reading Anita Shreve's Body Surfing, set in a former nunnery on the coast of New Hampshire. I have read a couple of her other novels set in this same house at different points in history-the most famous probably being Oprah's pick, The Pilot's Wife. Last weekend I read The Friday Night Knitting Club, not that I have knitted anything since I was a teeenager, but the book was set in New York City so it was a bit of nice trip with a cozy book.
Back on track, I was reading up on determining importance in the second edition of Mosaic of Thought this week, and it was noted how hard it sometimes is to find what's important in our own lives let alone a paragraph. As I looked around the many articles and open books around my cubicle it seemed to reinforce that idea. Just preparing a workshop on picture books and teaching writing traits, again I wondered what are the most important ideas I would want someone to come away with from the workshop? Obvious or not? Picture books are good for all ages for one thing! And that leads me to a wonderful new picture book, Shaun Tan's The Red Tree. It's beautiful! And to end, Lois Lowry (The Giver) and Melanie Watt(Scaredy Squirrel) and Mo Willems(Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) are coming to visit Kidsbooks very soon so check it out!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

In an earlier posting, New Books for Adult Reading, I mentioned the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I just finished reading it. What an inspiring story! Many of us feel frustrated by the state of the world but here is a man who has done something about it, one child at a time by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a must read. On the website you can also find out information about a project for children called Pennies for Peace. Just before this I read The Sleeping Budhha by Hamida Ghafour, an excellent book which gives you the history and current situation in Afghanistan interwoven with her own family history. One of the parts of teaching grade six that I enjoyed most was the ability to get my students thinking about the larger world and how they could help. Just after 911, my students and I discovered Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis which helped us understand a little bit of this situation. And of course another wonderful way to help our students understand and help the world is through UNICEF. Just contact Paula Gallo, our BC Manager for Development for more information at 604-874-3666 for workshops and how to get your students involved here in B.C.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I just read Click by a whole ton of writers. Linda Sue Park sets the stage with a girl mourning the death of her grandfather, a famous photographer. From her beginning with a gift that will take her to all the major continents, and the third chapter by Eoin Colfer(Artemis Fowl) who focuses on her brother the story spins out. Each of the award winning authors (both adult and children, though they all all popular authors with young adults) writes a chapter leading into interesting directions with Gregory Maguire tying up the pieces. I have to say I loved it and what a great example of how different authors take their own styles into the story. I am trying to think which was my favorite. I rather liked Ruth Ozeki's description of post war Japan. She is the author of last year Vancouver Reads winner, My Year of Meats. Trust Deborah Ellis to set hers in a prison, Russia, this time. I loved the international cast of writers who write in a variety of genres. And it is obvious that each writer did read all the preceding chapters. Not always quite believable but one has to make some artistic allowances! Grandpa definitely got around! Audience: Young Adult

web seminar on reluctant readers

Since I am very quilty of multi-tasking I am currently listening to a archived web seminar on When Kids Won’t Read: What Can Teachers Do?, featuring Teri Lesesne who is one of the leading experts on literature for children and adolescents. This is great and you can access this free as well. I think the easiest thing is to go to the NCTE Inbox Blog and just follow the links. You actually download the webcast.

Again here is the link to the latest NCTE Inbox. There will be another web seminar with Douglas Fisher on "All Teachers are Teachers of Reading But..." again sign up or getting the archived webcast is free! Really there are marvels technologically these days! In the inbox is lots of information about great ideas about celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday from primary to secondary-great lessons etc.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Literacy Day etc.

Friday we had a very successful Literacy Day with about 800 participants. Thanks to all the great presenters and attendees. Special thanks to our wonderful hosts at Killarney. And of course thanks to all the members of the VSB Literacy Team who organized and took care of many unseen details. Also thanks to our publishers who make this day even more fun!

Our keynotes were incredibly popular. Not surprising as Marvellous Mini-Lessons and The Write Genre have been favorite books in the project. I think there sessions showed even more clearly that having successful writing workshops in your classrooms, whatever level, are actually fun and not that complicated to execute successfully. If you would like to learn more please visit their websites. This is Lori's and this is the link to Paul's.

On a personal note I spent the weekend in Chemainus which included seeing a great one woman show Piaf Tonight. On a reading note, I just read the 2006 Newbery Award Winner, Criss Cross which I quite enjoyed.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

ASCD-I almost need to advertise

One of the bonuses of taking this position was learning about ASCD and realizing I really needed to join. As many of you know I am a long time member of the International Reading Association and I feel as if all schools should have someone with a membership. Whenever I go into Cavell Elementary it is so great to see The Reading Teacher journals in the staffroom where staff can access them.

For more general educational information I have to say I love ASCD's Educational Leadership where each issue focuses on some theme or subject area in education with excellent articles. Today I received my ASCD express which focused on parents and I figured out how I could give you access to this express edition as well as past ones. Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Non-fiction anyone?

Everyday it seems many interesting e-mails float into my inbox. Last night I received my NCTE in box. This NCTE inbox focussed on non-fiction. I found a couple of very good articles etc. about using non-fiction from primary to high school as well as information about some interesting books, kits etc. You can also go to the NCTE blog and this week's posting is on non-fiction. Have a look! I found a very interesting book on using non fiction in a different way in the English classroom: Reading in the Reel World: Teaching Documentaries and Other Non-Fiction Text.

Now if you would like some Canadian content and find out the best Canadian non-fiction for children take a visit to the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable website. Note Author fest is on today at UBC with some great local writers!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New books for adult reading!

Right now I am reading a fabulous book, Three Cups of Tea, which is about a mountaineer who ended up building schools in villages in remote areas of Pakistan.

While we are on books, I also just read Run by Ann Patchett. I really enjoyed this as well. I have to admit I am an Ann Patchett fan. Now that I think of it I also read another good book, Molokai, where we go with a seven year old to a leper colony in Hawaii in the late 1800's. How horrifying to accompany this child as she has to leave her family, but it is an uplifting book of hope plus you learn a bit of Hawaii history!

Welcome to my blog!

Well this is another attempt at mine to become technologically savvy! Some of you have been brave and visited my pbwiki and now here we are with a blog! Let's see this is my attempt to try this out! As this is my first attempt to blog I thought I would add a picture. This was taken when I visited the Heard Museum in Phoenix!