Alberta School Library Council’s Blog

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week May 3-May 10, 2014

November 30, 2013 (0 Comments)

Book Week is a great and relatively inexpensive way to have a well known Canadian author visit your school or library. The cost per reading is $150.00 plus a Shared Tour Cost of $50.00.
Applications are now open to host an author, illustrator or storyteller visit during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2014.

TD Canadian Children's Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children's books and the importance of reading and stories. Jill Bryant, author and Kathy Stinson, author will be visiting schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres in Alberta in May 2014. Find out more and register at:

Every year, readings are given in schools, libraries and other public venues across Alberta. Authors connect with children and teens during Book Week. Meeting an author can encourage children to create their own stories and provide them with an avenue to explore their own creativity. Register now the deadline is December 31.



Rocky Mountain Book Awards

November 30, 2013 (0 Comments)

Have you registered your school for the Rocky Mountain Book Award? This reader's choice award designed for students in grades 4-7 is supported by the Alberta School Library Council. Further information can be found at

Inquiring Minds Want to Read and Write: Framing Curriculum and Instruction as Inquiry

October 30, 2013 (0 Comments)

Want to engage and excite your students in reading and writing? Wondering how to use the Inquiry process to deepen your instruction? Renowned author, researcher and presenter Jeffery Wilhelm will be presenting an interactive workshop designed to build a community of readers and writers in your classroom.

"This interactive workshop will pursue several strands:
1) What is inquiry and why does this structure engage and assist learners? You will examine inquiry, and how inquiry contexts embed assistance in literacy, deep conceptual understanding, and naturally lead to social action.

2) How can we reframe units we already teach as problems to be solved through the use of “Big” or “Essential” Questions?

3) How can we use questioning and discussion techniques to make reading and writing activities into a form of inquiry? It will examine inquiry approaches to curriculum and instruction, from reframing curriculum through essential questions to frontloading and effective questioning at the lesson level. Special attention will be given to approaches for helping students use inquiry strategies to comprehend text, ways to facilitate powerful inquiry driven discussions, and methods for creatingmeaningful assessments that drive literacy learning.

4) How can we use inquiry to create a community of learners working for social action and service? Dr. Wilhelm will discuss how group work/differentiation combined with inquiry, deep conceptual understanding, and social action creates a community and network or learners doing significant work together."

Dr. Jeffrey Wilhelm is an internationally-known educator, author, and presenter. A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Dr. Wilhelm is currently Professor of English Education at Boise State University. He is the founding director of the Maine Writing Project and the Boise State Writing Project. He has authored or co-authored 17 texts about literacy teaching and has won the two top research awards in English Education.  

The School Library Learning Commons: More than a new coat of paint and flexible furnishings!

July 09, 2013 (2 Comments)

I have been watching with some interest over the past few years as schools throughout the province struggle with the transformation from traditional school library models to a learning commons philosophy. This transformation is supported by Alberta Education's Guide to Education: ECS to Grade 12 2013-2014, which clearly states that "students in Alberta schools should have access to effective school library services such as a learning commons approach integrated with instructional programs. Such integration improves student opportunities for achieving a basic education (p.69)." In an effort to comply with this mandate, some school boards in the province are providing funding incentives to convert from a traditional school library model to a learning commons. However, in most schools that I have visited, that funding is being used to paint the walls and purchase flexible furnishings. Although esthetic changes to the school library are nice, in my opinion, most schools are forgetting the fundamental premise that IT IS GREAT STAFF, NOT GREAT STUFF that lead to a successful school learning commons initiative. A more careful reading of this Alberta Education document reveals that "to promote integration, opportunities for cooperative planning between teachers and teacher–librarians should be provided (p.69)." How can this possibly happen, when 90% of schools throughout the province do not even have a qualified teacher-librarian on staff (Alberta Education (2010), School Library Survey Summary of Results, p. 2)? This initiative, like so many others, is doomed to fail unless schools have the understanding and the financial support to hire qualified, passionate teacher-librarians with a clear vision of the school library not as a repository of books, but as the physical and virtual space where collaborative, personalized, inquiry-based teaching and learning opportunities take place on a daily basis.These quality educational experiences are something no new paint job or flexible furnishings will ever be able to provide.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Kaleidoscope 2012

February 25, 2013 (0 Comments)

Should I sign up and go?  Do the benefits of attending Kaleidoscope, outweigh the cost and the merits of  keeping my nose to the grindstone and tackling some of those items on my overloaded To Do list at school? It’s a tough question. Well, I signed up & went.

Starting late on a Thursday evening after a day’s work, and after only an hour of being immersed in a conference of like-minded literacy lovers, I knew I’d made the right choice. Hearing AVI’s account of what makes good writing, David Bouchard tell of his discovery of his native heritage, or how Carol Gardner’s love of her dog Zelda became a multi-million dollar business—instantly I caught the enthusiasm and love of learning, and new ideas and plans began percolating for my own school. Wonderful fodder to bring books alive were Gail Bowen’s advice on the importance of a dynamite first impression, Lois Donovan’s perspective on historical fiction, Jeff Buick’s forays into transmedia, and how Marty Chan as a little boy survived small prairie town prejudices. In-between-sessions and together-lunches, became opportunities to connect. I felt a sense of belonging; my knowledge extended and diversified.

Whether Kaleidoscope, Teachers’ Convention, or an Alberta Library Conference, I am quite convinced of the value of community in experience, and the synergy gained from in-person collaboration surrounding shared interests. When my training and experience as a teacher librarian entwines with the collective wisdom of skill, passion and success in the literary world, all the better.  Thank you Kaleidoscope organizers for the planning and effort that went into this event. To me it made a difference in my practice, and rejuvenated my perspective. Time well spent. How did it make a difference for you?

Shirley McGowan is a teacher-librarian and Learning Leader, Research and Technology at Queen Elizabeth High School in Calgary.


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Edmonton School Combines Books and Breakfast in Successful Reading Program

Many schools offer literacy programs in and around Edmonton, Alberta, but Dunluce Public School at 11735 162nd Ave might be the only school that combines a reading club with breakfast.

Teachers say that offering breakfast is a vital part of the project, but that the chance to read with an adult is what makes the reading program so effective. “In our demographic, we have families that don’t speak English at home,” says Charlene Banjac, a Grade 2 French immersion teacher and volunteer. “Literacy is so important and some of these children haven’t had the families that were able to read with them at home in those crucial years.”

The program is incredibly effective. According to teachers and parent volunteers, students who couldn’t write full sentences are writing pages of paragraphs after about a year of extra help.

Read more about Dunluce’s program here.

New Issue of School Libraries in Canada

Celebrating Science and Technology can be accessed at