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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.
January 28, 2013
Ottawa….Through its Imagineaction program, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is pleased to partner once again with the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCU), the Public Lending Right Commission (PLRC) and Indigo Books & Music in the project called Listen, I read – 2nd edition.
Teachers are invited to send in their applications as of today and can do so online at http://www.imagine-action.ca Regis.tration is free and open to all Canadian teachers. There are a limited number of opportunities, so please register early.
Listen, I read aims to:
promote contemporary Canadian literature and reading;
acquaint students with literacy issues; and
use the arts to help youth find their voices as citizens.
“The initiative was a tremendous success last year involving over 1,000 students from Grades 1 to 12 in 38 schools across Canada reading books and connecting with 18 different authors who are recipients of the highly esteemed Governor General’s Literary Awards,” says CTF President Paul Taillefer. “We were delighted to read the teachers’ positive evaluations in which they claim the initiative provided students with authentic learning.”
More information in this short article and video.
Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the CTF, the CCU and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Listen, I read project was originally launched in 2011 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Public Lending Right Commission, the 75th anniversary of the Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGs), the UN International Year of Youth and the UN Literacy Decade.
The CTF Imagineaction program aims to engage young people in social action projects tied to their school and local communities. More information: http://www.imagine-action.ca
As a teacher and avid reader, one of the things I love most about a school holiday is having uninterrupted spans of time to read for pleasure. Over Christmas break this year, I read some great books, and one of my favorites was Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. One passage in particular stuck with me. Here, the mysterious man in the grey suit talks about storytellers and the craft of storytelling:
“There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.” (p. 505).
I’m a teacher-librarian, so it’s no surprise that I was drawn to a passage about stories and storytelling. Re-reading this passage makes me think about the Alberta School Library Council’s Kaleidoscope Conference, held this past November in Calgary. I sat in on some fabulous author talks, and the power of story was very much at the forefront of discussions. Rosa Jordan spoke about how stories can empower children. Lois Donovan discussed the role of story in developing historical understanding. Jeff Buick demonstrated how transliteracy can offer exciting opportunities for readers to immerse themselves within a story, and Marty Chan’s gentle humour was a reminder that despite differences in culture, background or history, there is something of the universal in the stories we tell.
Such is the power of literature. I’ve always believed that one of the great things about a book is that it gives us a safe space to explore the themes and ideas that intrigue us, excite us, scare us, make us nervous or uncomfortable. Through stories we get to experience the wild circus of human experience. For kids, that’s especially important. Literature helps young people grapple with the Really Big Questions associated with developmental tasks of childhood and adolescence.
Stories – both real and imagined – also help us to twist the lens and see things from a new perspective. Exposure to different points of view is important. The Alberta social studies program of studies, for example, is all about recognizing alternative points of view. Seeing the world through the kaleidoscope of literature helps kids to develop empathy, and respect for those who see things from a different perspective. These are valuable life skills.
The man in the grey suit is right: storytelling is an important kind of magic. What does that mean for us as teacher-librarians? Our professional roles are complex, and we’re called upon to wear many different hats. But I think one hat is most important. This is the hat we wear to ensure that kids can connect with the literature and stories that will move them and drive them. That’s no simple task. Issues of equity, access and intellectual freedom – not to mention budget constraints – can challenge our ability to expose kids to the circus of human experience.
Whether we call our space a learning commons or a library, whether the delivery mechanism is paper or digital, as teacher-librarians we’re stewards of stories. Some of those stories are unfolding around us in real time. Some, like The Night Circus, are constructs of the imagination. All of those stories await a listener, and it’s our job to help the ear to find the tale – to ensure that our children, through the stories of our collective experience, find their blood and self and purpose. There’s magic in that, after all.
Nancy Prentice is the teacher-librarian at Forest Lawn High School in Calgary.
by Dr. Lesley Farmer, VP Association Relations
What happens when almost three hundred school librarians, library educators, and vendors from 48 countries gather in Qatar? Lots! From discussions about global literature to puppets, from technology slams to bookmaking for children, from author presentations and branding to online community building, from henna painting to sword dancing.
The 41st annual conference and and 1th research forum of the IASL was held in Doha, Qatar, November 12-15, 2012. Attendees included public and private schools (a surprisingly strong contingency of international school librarians), library researchers and educators, as well as authors and vendors. Almost a quarter of attendees came from Qatar. Out-of-country participants were greeted at the airport, and whisked to their hotels. Even before the conference officially began, some folks enjoyed local landmarks such as the National Museum of Islamic Art, or shopped at the local high-end shopping mall. On subsequent days, buses transported attendees to the conference center in Education City, going early to escape rush hour traffic.
The opening day brought greetings from local dignitaries, including past IFLA President Claudia Lux, who is now in charge of creating Qatar’s national library. Featured keynoter Eppo van Nispen shared his enthusiasm for creativity and innovation in libraries as he ran through hundreds of slides, even capturing opening activities. He spearheaded the effots to create an internationally acclaimed innovative Dutch public library with no rules. Qatari child dancing groups also graced the stage.
The following days also began with riviting keynote speakers. Joyce Valenza showed how emerging technologies could deepen the library experience and collaboration. Stephen Krashen shared several studies as he emphasized the need for free reading and well stocked libraries, particularly as an effective and equitable way to insure literacy. Iranian Dr. Mahran Kamrava reviewed research processes, and emphasized its international aspects. The last day also featured a fascinating panel of authors and ilustrators, moderated by Laurie H. Anderson. All of these top-notch speakers presented at additional sessions, so attendees were able to interact with them on several occasions.
Over fify concurrent sessions filled the rest of the days. While most presentations were given in English, an Arabic strand was also offered. Several themes emerged from the talks:
• Cross-cultural issues: global and digital citizenship, bilingual programs, the use of Arablish (txting in ersatz Arabic using Roman letters and numerals)
• Librarian roles: as change agents, advocates, models of happiness, writing supporters, leaders, and other reimagined roles
• Information literacy: as it is addressed in International Baccalaureate schools, building collaborative learning communities, using TRAILS, impact of library space. Web 1.0, InfoLit India, ICT skills, college readiness
• Reading motivation: meeting boys’ needs, using blogs, bookmaking, book shows, storytelling, personalized literacy programs, imagining history, trickster tales and the GiggleIT project
• Research: evaluating IASL conference attendance patterns, next generation school libraries, perceptions about ideal tehcnology learning spaces, U.S. school library advocacy literature, school library environment assessment in international schools, ontological models of school librarianship, children’s reading experiences, global case studies on literacies and libraries, a training toolkit for school libraries in developing countries, teacher librarian program information needs, collecting data about school libraries internationally, use of web 2.0 to support student inquiry
• Technology: QR codes, wikis, elearning, audio programs and zines, social networks, infographics, Zotero, Google sites, digital reading, mind mapping tools. Joyce Valenza’s technology slam gave the audience the opportunity to share their favorite websites.
The general business meeting include officer reports, and the election of new officers. In addition, lunch meetings enables SIG members and regions to talk about current activities and issues. The Research SIG’s definition of school libraries, and a new research agenda, were a featured topic. Groups had ideas for improving the IASL website, identifying liaisons and partners, increasing advocacy, and expanding training opportunities.
About a dozen vendors shared their wares throughout the conference; several gave demonstrations about their products. Some sponsored authors, who were a big hit – especially Chris Bradford in his samurai costume complete with sword. Conference attendees also had a chance to visit two international schools’ libraries, and chat with authors in the process.
All of these learning experiences about school librarianship were balanced with bountiful meals, often featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. An open-air cultural evening enabled attendees to enjoy more dancing, live music, regional food, and local crafts. Of course, the bidding was lively after the annual conference dinner at the live auction. Throughout these events, librarians networked actively, a sure sign of a successful conference.
As is the case with all IASL conferences, new friends were made, great ideas were shared, a renewed sense of commitment to the school community and the profession was evident. More than a third of attendees were first-timers, and many of them are already making their plans to attend the 2013 IASL conference in Bali.
Dr. Lesley Farmer, VP Association Relations
California State University Long Beach
Librarianship Program/ Dept. of ASEC
Following a suspenseful few weeks, the 2012 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award was given to La saison des pluies written by Mario Brassard and illustrated by Suana Verelst. The author and illustrator were presented with a $25,000 prize at the eighth annual awards ceremony held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on November 6, 2012. The event was co-organized by TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC).
The jury was won over by this moving tale of a seven-year-old boy dealing with the death of his father. The book tackles the issue of death and ends with a glimmer of hope. From the very the first page, the reader is caught up in the drama that upends the main character's life. The grieving process in the book is expressed through the child's own words, to a heart-breaking effect. The accompanying illustrations expressively depict his confusion and despair.
"Reading ignites the imaginations of young readers while fostering their personal development. Supporting and encouraging quality children's literature is to invest in our youth, who are the future of our society," said Christine Marchildon, Senior Vice-President, Branch Banking and Chair, Quebec Market TD Bank Group. "This poignant work tackles a complex and delicate subject in a heartfelt and straightforward way."
La saison des pluies was selected from among the following finalists:
L'amélanchier, written by Denis Côté and illustrated by Anne Sol (published by Planète Rebelle).
Lapin-Chagrin et les jours d'Elko, written by Sylvie Nicolas and illustrated by Marion Arbona ( published by Éditions du Phoenix, initial publication at Éditions Trampoline).
Le monde de Théo, written by Louis Émond and illustrated by Philippe Béha (published by Éditions Hurtubise).
Mots doux pour endormir la nuit, written by Jacques Pasquet and illustrated by Marion Arbona (published by Planète Rebelle).
"The quality of the works submitted is undeniable. We would like to congratulate all of the finalists and applaud La saison des pluies for winning the 2012 Canadian Children's Literature Award," said Charlotte Teeple, Executive Director of the Canadian Children's Book Centre. "This touching work, which also won the Prix jeunesse des libraires 2012, leaves no one unmoved and deals with a difficult subject exceptionally well."
The jury's selection criteria included the quality of the writing and illustrations, the overall literary contribution and the work's impact on young readers. To be eligible, works must be original French Canadian publications in any genre, for youth aged 0 to 12 years old. A $25,000 prize will also be presented to an English Canadian work to be announced at the awards ceremony on November 21, 2012.
This year, the prestigious jury was made up of Michel Clément, Education Consultant; Danièle Courchesne, teacher; Rosette d'Aragon, Children's Literature Program Developer; Susane Duchesne, Book Seller and President of Ibby Canada; and Claude Simard, retired professor.
About the author
Mario Brassard was born in the town of Sainte-Flore in the Mauricie region of Quebec. After completing his literary studies, he embarked on a professional writing career. A born poet, his first two volumes were met with critical acclaim and won a number of awards. As he continued to hone his poetic skills, he made his entry into the field of children's literature, releasing two novels published by Soulières Éditeur, including La saison des pluies. He now devotes himself to writing full-time at his home in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes.
About the illustrator
Suana Verelst was born in Belgium and studied drawing and painting before settling in Canada. She studied art history, fine arts and graphic design in Montreal. She has illustrated various children's books in Quebec, the United States, Belgium and France and has received many awards for her outstanding work. A number of her illustrations have been featured in leading exhibitions.
About the Canadian Children's Book Centre
The Canadian Children's Book Centre is a national non-profit organization and registered charity founded in 1976 to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. For further information, please visit http://www.bookcentre.ca/programmes.
Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library
How should teacher librarians or instructional leaders engage in action research to improve their school library and benefit students' learning? This book provides the answers.Teacher librarians need to get directly involved with the research process in the learning commons in order to create actions and strategies that will enhance student learning—and benefit their own professional development as well as demonstrate accountability through their action research efforts. This book provides practical tips and work spaces for educators at the local, state, and national levels, clearly modeling and explaining the process and the tools for conducting action research in a school library setting that will identify the program's strengths and weaknesses. The author coalesces current expert opinions on the topic of action research in the school library environment and highlighting what other teacher librarians in the field have identified as the pros and cons of using the process. Readers are directed to focus on mitigating the "cons" through the use of specific working pages and templates and by initially exploring "five favorite" links, thereby encouraging those who are new to action research to try what might otherwise seem a daunting process. School principals K–12 who read this book will be better equipped to support their teacher librarians and teachers in this important professional process.
• Supplies invaluable insights from experts and practitioners on the subject of action research
• Provides a clear model of the process in action
• Directs readers to additional resources that facilitate effective action research and timely topics for school library research, such as time management and technology in learning
Students create digital projects with images, music, videos, and websites to win an iPad Mini or annual subscription to one of Rosen Digital's online databases
New York (Feb 27, 2013) -- Help your students harness their creative energies while putting their 21st-century skills to use with a new contest from ThingLink and Rosen Digital. Students in grades K-12 can create Interactive ThingLink images, providing the opportunity to explore their interests and passions, connect multiple resources into a cohesive presentation, and share their projects with a large community. Visit ThingLinkContest.com for more information.
ThingLink allows students to connect audio, video, images, websites, and text into one interactive image presentation. Projects deepen learning as students delve into content through research to present knowledge and ideas as they learn while practicing digital literacy skills of image creation and selection, content curation, tagging, and sharing.
"ThingLink is o ne of my favorite and most frequently used tools because it supports active student participation and requires users to construct ideas as they create," says Susan Oxnevad, Instructional Technology Facilitator and educator for 26 years. "The tool can be very useful for designing and implementing the types of deep learning experiences required by the Common Core and it is also an effective way to help students develop digital literacy skills. ThingLink is fun, flexible, and intuitive!"
Eligibility: All students K-12 are eligible to enter. Teachers and parents may enter an image on a student's behalf.
Submission Deadline: Images may be submitted through May 1, 2013. Enter images at ThingLinkContest.com.
Winners will be announced on May 15, 2013.
Categories: There are 10 categories:
My Favorite Books or Authors
Science -- Think Like a Scientist!
Health & Well-being -- You, Your Family, Your Friends
Environment -- The World Around Us
Community -- Volunteering & Making a Difference
Money Smarts -- Earning, Saving, Spending
Art & Music -- Express Yourself!
Sports -- Game On!
History & Social Studies -- From Yesterday to Today
Animals -- Furry, Friendly, & Fierce
Students can enter as many images as they like. All entries are viewable on ThingLink.com.
Voting: Friends and family can vote on their favorite images by using a "touch" icon on a ThingLink image. The most "touches" counts for a portion of the score. A team of educational advisors will review entries and determine winners.
Prizes: One iPad Mini will be awarded to the top winner in each category. The winning school in each category will also receive one Rosen database subscription for a year (Teen Health & Wellness, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, or the PowerKnowledge Science Suite). Certificates will be awarded to second and third place winners in each category.