Sunday, January 31, 2010

Life Has a Way!

Sometimes we are reminded of the quirky ways of life. As a well-seasoned educator who has been actively involved in both school and district contexts in a large urban system, I simply know lots of people ... and I love the chance and outcomes of the serendipitous. I am the Liaison Chair for our provincial teacher-librarians' association precisely because I love "liaising" which means seeing and working with the connections amongst educators with common interests and passions, issues, organizations, and so on.

Actually my thoughts about "liaising" are the prelude to the news I have about three recently-published books written by two friends of mine. One was my former student teacher at Gladstone; the other, a teacher-librarian for whom I have tremendous respect, one of the venerable ones. The shared interest of my two friends is in building high-school reading cultures, one as an English teacher and the other as a TL. Although they didn't teach at the same school and they'd never met, one had transformed the program of the other through a workshop she had given several years before. The former student teacher, Maryam Moayeri, had gone on to become an award-winning educator and is now a PhD candidate at UBC. The TL, for reasons of program protection, is published under the pseudonym Jean Lawrence. The teaching resource has three volumes and is called A School of Readers, published by Pacific Edge Publishing (see their Language Arts section).

Oh! In case you didn't know, I love my job! It's not just the liaising part. One of the best parts is that there is joy in being able to "enable" things; with the release time I can provide, things can be made to happen ... so I asked if the two would like to meet to put together and co-present a literacy conference workshop on promoting young adult reading.

Who knew! You put that much talent, passion, and commitment together and look what happens. Maryam's original book that had prompted the workshop she gave several years earlier that my friend Jean had attended was in need of updating; Jean's rich extension of the project provided new materials. The two worked quietly over the last two years and -- ta-da -- they have co-authored A School of Readers.

In an as-yet-unpublished article about the books, Jean Lawrence writes:
Research clearly indicates the importance of recreational reading to language and literacy development, leading to such skills as increased vocabulary, more accurate spelling, and a more sophisticated comprehension of sentence structure. Stephen Krashen describes the effectiveness of free reading: "Children become better readers by reading .... [Those] who don't read for pleasure have an extremely tough time developing the language and literacy competencies necessary to succeed in today's world." It was such questions and the desire to create a school of readers that lead [us] to co-author these three new resources.
Congratulations, Jean and Maryam. Who knew? Well, as you can imagine, I do have an answer for that question. How could this not have been the outcome of so much depth of knowledge and understanding of what works with YA readers? It remains a joy for me to come to your library at lunch, Jean, and push my way through the browsers to find you in the midst. For the doubters, teenages are reading in droves! For the educational anthropologists, I can provide the evidence.

1 comment:

Maryam said...

Thanks for the kind words Moira. It has truly been a pleasure to work with Jean and I'm so glad you introduced us.