Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogging to the Finish Line ..


August 25-26, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Byng Library, 3939 W 16th (west of Dunbar)

Maximum increased to 40 registrants

Register online

Space had been filling up briskly in the Summer Institute, "The Changing Landscape of School Libraries," and we were almost full when word came from Sandra Lee that James Henri, the travelling InfoLit guru, had had a mild stroke. That might explain why my emails had gone unanswered.

Even as Sandra and I have both been very concerned about his intense schedule, one that includes Vancouver, Victoria, PEI, Berkeley (IASL Conference), and Hong Kong before the end of August, we were both under orders to re-schedule, not cancel! What a guy -- all for the important work of spreading the gospel of information literacy and school libraries. James has undergone tests and his doctor is now allowing travel later in July.

We are confirmed for the new Vancouver location at Byng Secondary on 16th Avenue, three blocks west of Dunbar. The dates for the Summer Institute are August 25 and 26. If you have sent in a cheque and can come on these dates, please let my assistant Diane know, or you can register / de-register online. The online registration now reflects the date changes and is opened up again for up to 40 attendees, due to the popularity of the event. Whoo-hoo!

LIBE 477A (August 1999) Reunion!

When James gets here, he would like to meet up with "the summer LIBE 477A class of 1999" during his stay in Vancouver. Here's a game for you ... who can you identify?

This is a picture of us hamming it up for the camera
at U Hill Secondary in August 1999.

If you recognize anyone in the photo above, can you have him/her get in touch with me so we can set a date to compare progress notes on how succesfully we have been advancing and realizing our own information literate school communities. I do, by the way, know that the picture includes James, Daphne, Gwen, Val, Noel, and me ... but I don't have any contact info for for Noel and others.

Workshop: Faye Brownlie, June 20, DT:

Oral Language and Small Groups in the
Secondary English and Humanities Classroom

Faye's presentation was the usual: practical, engaging, thought-provoking, and designed to be something readily adapted to core curriculum teaching. It is, after all, not just English teachers who are responsible for engaging students with text and enhancing their thinking and understanding while they read.

Lit Circles are a strategy that, when used in English, encourage students to choose to read 2 to 6 novels (or non-fiction) from amongst a group of multiple copies of pre-selected titles with a range of readability. The novels are booktalked; randomly selected passages are read. The students are in groups, make their own choices, read at their own pace, engage in conversations, keep journals, but are never assigned roles. The Lit Circles unit would take a month; the objectives include building oral language proficiency, developing skills of self-awareness, reflection, and critical thinking, and enhancing engagement with reading and writing. What more could you ask for!

The conversations have rules: every voice will be heard, and if you pass someone by, the conversation will come back. Conversations focus initially on a student-selected passage or quote. Once everyone has spoken in response to the passage, the conversation is more open. The teacher takes a place in one discussion while other students read.

Assessment might focus on (1) the nature of the contributions -- interest in participation, insightfulness, inferential thinking, connections within and beyond the text, use of vocabulary, oral syntax, and ability to respond to others' comments; (2) social skills -- affirmation of others' contributions, patience, listening, prompting others, time-sharing; (3) personal skills -- engagement, interest, body language, enthusiasm, etc. Criteria for assessment are the subject of class discussion and is assessment for learning, providing students with descriptive feedback. Students are deeply engaged in self-assessment and questioning. They can say, "I will be able to think more deeply because I have shared ideas with others, and I think better for sharing than I could on my own."

Faye also demonstrated how the Lit Circle strategy is readily adapted to Poetry Circles where groups work with a poem and conversations focus on student-developed questions about the poem, its images, language, emotions, tone, theme, and so on; they then write a response to the poem.

Information Circles are great for enhancing student understanding of the content of Social Studies and Science. Group members read a passage, chapter, article, or book. They have a discussion that is prompted by their own thinking in the form of a sticky note comment, a selected quote, a completed graphic organizer -- the starting place is the personal response, question, or connection to the prompt. Groups may share highlights. The teacher observes and facilitates but does not lead. New reading choices generate a new cycle of reading, responding, and discussing.

For TLs, Lit Circles (as well as Poetry and Information Circles) offer opportunities for collaboration. Teachers unfamiliar with the strategy will appreciate your support in selecting novel titles, demonstrating the approach, and participating in the assessment. Science and Social Studies teachers might appreciate your finding appropriate articles and resources for the discussions.

Being a former teacher of English and Social Studies, I am thinking about ways to use the strategy for reading historical fiction (or pre-selected passages) to have students read and think more deeply about the Gold Rush, Immigration/New World experiences, the Industrial Revolution, Revolution in general, life in early Canada, the Victorian era here and in Britain, the various decades of the 20th century, wars, Enslavement, Middle Ages, Renaissance, First Nations, and the ways these and other relevant historical themes or topics "extend" or connect to the present day or other countries. Being a teacher-librarian, I am excited about the ways we can work collaboratively with teachers, students, and Circles.

Resources for further reading: Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Response – Brownlie; Student Diversity, 2nd ed – Brownlie, Schnellert, and Feniak.

For more ideas, see the page Denise is building on the wiki.



It is a Canadian K-12 Multicultural/Anti-Racist
Annotated Bibliography created by the

Multicultural Anti-Racist Book-Loving EducatorS (MARBLES)

The MARBLES Project was a response to the need for a Multicultural/Anti-racist annotated bibliography that focused on Canadian content and/or by Canadian authors, which reflected the lived experiences of the diverse backgrounds of our Vancouver students and families. Inspired by the 1997 Canada’s Year of Asia Pacific Multicultural Bibliography by the British Columbia Teacher-Librarian’s Association, this K-12 bibliography is a list of recommended fiction and non-fiction books from 1997 to the present.

A Portable Document Format (PDF) of this bibliography is available on the Vancouver School Board website under Programs / Libraries & Learning Resources / Resources / Booklists, or click here. The books from the list are available for loan from Vancouver elementary and secondary schools and can be searched through the VSB Webcat by title and author.

This bibliography is organic and is a work in progress. New annotations will be included by the MARBLES group on an ongoing basis. We hope that the richness and complexity in these books will encourage powerful dialogue and will assist elementary and secondary teachers, teacher-librarians and staff in their ongoing efforts to implement and maintain multicultural, anti-racism initiatives that are responsive to the diverse social and cultural needs of their school communities.


Thanks to teacher-librarians (from left front) Karen Cordiner, Colleen Tsoukalis, Bill Raikes, Pat Parungao, guest Moira at the end, Eileen Harrison, Annabelle Pendry, Angela, and Sylvia Zubke (right front). Patti Baldwin was unable to join us. It was their time, commitment to the project, and on-going efforts that have ensured the development of this bibliography.

Angela Brown
Anti-Racism & Diversity Consultant
Vancouver School Board

Have a great summer, everyone!

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