Friday, October 06, 2006

Frontier College speaks out in support of Canada’s learners, volunteers and literacy practitioners

Check out the media advisory here.

Be a Labourer-Teacher!

Hi everyone!

For more information on the Labourer-Teacher program, click here.


Number of Positions Available: Approximately 35

The Job: Labourer-Teachers work as paid manual labourers during the day on farms across Canada. In addition to this physical work, they volunteer their time to provide educational and recreational opportunities for their co-workers who are predominantly migrant farm workers from Mexico and the Caribbean.

Work Period: Mainly summer (May to Labour Day). Positions also available in the fall. The hours are long: in peak season often 12 hours per day, 6-7 days per week.

Pay: Generally minimum wage. The Labourer-Teacher Program assists participants with travel costs. Housing is provided.

Location: Rural workplaces, predominantly farms, in Ontario. Labourer-teachers
usually live onsite.

Suggested Qualifications:

• some post-secondary education
• experience with community development and volunteer organizations
• teaching/tutoring experience
• physical fitness
• background in physical labour/relevant physical pursuits
• ability to live and work closely with others, especially in multicultural settings
• knowledge of Spanish, French or other languages (helpful in most positions, but not mandatory)
• excellent judgement and interpersonal skills; high level of maturity
• demonstrated ability to work to high standards unsupervised and to take initiative

What You Get From This Program:

• Hard work, low pay, and the experience of a lifetime!
• intensive pre-placement training
• support during the placement
• new skills, and the chance to be a part of our second century of service

Deadline for Application: February 28, 2007. Mail, fax or email us a resume, a cover letter and names and phone numbers or three references. Interviews will be held across the country. We encourage people who have a Latino or Caribbean background to apply to our program.

Labourer-Teacher Program, Frontier College
Mail: 35 Jackes Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4T 1E2
Fax: 416-323-3522
More information is available on our Website:

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Volunteer Info Session!

That's right! Ladies and Gentlemen - here it is!

Our new volunteer info session will be held this coming Wednesday, October 4, 2006 at 7:00 PM in Tabaret Hall, room 329 at the University of Ottawa.

The information session will include background information on Frontier College and will give you anidea of your roles and responsibilties as a Frontier College volunteer. After the presentation, if you decide you are still interested in volunteering, you will be asked to fill out the necessary application forms and to stick around for an interview. Interviews are 20 minutes in length and will be conducted on site.

What to bring to the info session and application process:

Our application process involves: an applicatino form, an in-person interview, reference checks, and a police background check.

In order to make the application process as simple as possible, you are asked to bring along the following items:

- a pen or pencil and notepaper
- your fall/winter schedule
- the names and titles and day and evening phone numbers of 3 references. At least 2 of the references should be professional references. We cannot accept references from family or "significant others." Local phone numbers are preferred but not mandatory.
- two photocopied pieces of ID. Please photocopy front and back sides of your ID cards. Please bring along the original pieces of ID for verification. Your health card is not an acceptable piece of photo ID. ID such as your drivers lisence, passport, citizenship card etc... are acceptable.

Also, feel free to bring along any friends you think would be interested in the opportunity!

Thanks and look forward to seeing you all there! As an added "extra-special" bonus, those who show up will be able to meet our fabulous new intern Noorin! More on her in a bit :)


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

That's a lot of candles...

This Friday (September 15), Frontier College will be celebrating 107 years of volunteer literacy work. Info on their Toronto event HERE.

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

That's right. I learnt, courtesy of Read Alert, that today is Roald Dahl Day (in the UK)! And here I was thinking I'd have difficulty finding a good title for this post.

In a nutshell, if Roald Dahl was still alive, today would have been his 90th birthday. For more quick info on the Charlie and Chocolate Factory author, you can go here or here.

In celebration of this special day his b-day site, among other amusements, invites you to take the Roald Dahl Challenge. It invites you to do the following:

1. Wear something yellow – it was Roald's favourite colour!
2. Wear one or more items of clothing backwards.
3. Drop "gobblefunk"* into your conversations
(the unique language created by Roald and most commonly used by
the BFG).
4. Swap a Roald Dahl book with a friend.
5. Talk backwards.
6. Tell a silly joke – Roald loved swapping these with his kids.
7. Play an "unexpected" prank.
8. Give someone a treat – Roald was a great believer in treats, whether it was a bar of chocolate or a lovely surprise.
9. Write your own revolting rhyme.
10. Make up an Oompa Loompa dance and get all your friends to join in!

If you manage to complete the above, there is a certificate you can download to commemorate this monumental achievement.

Read Alert also had a few other amusements to share:

1. How Charlie and the Chocolate Factory should have ended.
2. How the Lord of the Rings should have ended.

In other news, Big A little a has a post listing a few new blogs of interest. Emily Reads caught my eye - she reviews books in Haiku! And The Brookshelf is worth a look too. Gotta love anyone who posts about Mo Willems (football references notwithstanding).

Finally, Gotta Book also has a fun oddaptation of Curious George here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Frontier College in Ottawa

Short note here to let you know that Frontier College in Ottawa will be starting its fall recruitment shortly. Our annual Organizational Team (OT) Retreat will be held this Saturday and more information will be forthcoming shortly afterwards regarding new volunteer info-sessions, interviews, training sessions and start dates. If you have questions in the meantime, let us know at ottawa(at)frontiercollege(dot)ca!

Last week I also had the chance to meet John Barron, the new Frontier College Community Coordinator for Ottawa/Kingston at the TD Investors Meeting at the Marriott on Kent Street in Ottawa where Frontier College had a table to accept donations. John, Matthew (one of our former Rideau Reading Circle volunteers) and myself collected a number of books, as well as some financial donations for Frontier College, both here and elsewhere in Canada.

More Ottawa info coming soon!

Literacy Updates

Okay, have a couple items of note to report.

As some blogs have noticed, last Friday was International Literacy Day. While I was derelict in my blogging duties, Frontier College marked the occasion with a renewed call for a National Literacy Action Plan.

Also, you may remember a few weeks ago I posted that Students for Literacy at Memorial had been selected as a finalist for the Canada Post Literacy Awards. The final were announced August 30. While they didn't win, we would still like to congratulate them again on making it that far. Also, take a moment to look through the winners for some tutoring motivation!

In other Frontier College related news, I also wanted to link to two stories here and here from this summer about the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario's Summer Literacy Camps for Aboriginal Children. These camps were done in partnership with Frontier College who, among other things, provided the camp counsellors. We've posted previously on the LG Camps and his other literacy initiatives here.

Thursday, September 28 is Raise a Reader Day - so mark your calendar. For information on activities in Ottawa please visit here. In short, the Raise-a-Reader campaign aims to increase awareness and raise money for children's literacy programs in Ottawa. The Ottawa Citizen and Children's Hospital organize it along with CanWest.

Finally, this year two Canadadian journalists tied to both be awarded the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit. The award program was founded in 1993 in honour of the late veteran broadcaster and writer Peter Gzowski who was a passionate champion for literacy and is open to all Canadian journalists working in any medium. To read the winning pieces please click HERE.

Two amusing distractions

Both of these were fun (courtesy of A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cosy).

If you have a moment, you can find out which Medieval Plague you have (in case it was keeping you up nights). After that, if you still have time to kill you can generate the title for your first blockbuster teen novel.

My best-selling young adult novel is Confessions of a Shopping Spree Hottie.
Take Your Very Own Best-Selling YA Novel today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Odds and Ends

So I'm planning on doing about three more posts today - this quick one summarizing some of the stuff that caught my eyes on the kidslit blogs, one on literacy issues and then a final one on Frontier College in Ottawa Updates. Reason for my radio silence over the last few days can be attributed to my being in Toronto for this and spending some of my (spare) time doing non-blog related Frontier stuff (more on that later).

But moving right along:

First off, a thanks to Jen Robinson for tagging us for Blog Day (August 30)! For more info on the annual event you can check out their official site HERE and the Technorati page on it HERE.

Over at Chicken Spaghetti there is a post and a link to further information on one of my favorite Children's Lit Topics: Pirates!

I include the above graphic in parial homage to my mother who knits kiddie sweaters for local craft-fairs around Ottawa. When Pirates of the Caribbean hit it big a few years back, she dutifully started knitting children's sweaters with the above - naturally in various different colours. Reviews were mixed. Many found them adorable. However, some felt it was inappropriate for her to be encouraging kids to join biker gangs :)

Chicken Spaghetti also had one of the best Poetry Friday posts I've seen to date. I mean, just last week I was like, totally wondering, what Britney's take was on William Blake.

But back for a moment to the realm of children's literature. Mother Reader has been compiling a list of the top children's books of 2006 to date. Jen Robinson has also added her pics here.

Finally, in older news, some stuff I had bookmarked to blog about last week but never got around to:

Create-a-word contest over at Mental Floss. In an odd tie-in to above commentary, one submission from a Marika, that caught my eye:

K-fed-ified: having your upcoming album be denigrated before anyone even hears it. Usually due to whom you’ve decided to marry for money.

My other favorite was a "plutonic relationship". This is a romantic relationship which has recently been downsized to "just friends."

I learnt from Critical Mass that I undercharged when I use to tutor in high school.

And in more serious news, Bart over at Bartograhy had a good post on intellectual freedom issues which linked to a group called AS IF that I was previously unaware of.

We're number one! - But not for long...

Hey, new OECD study out that ranks Canada as the top OECD country for university and college grads. But we come last for enrollment growth for the last decade. Story below from today's National Post.

PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE: 2006.09.12
BYLINE: Sarah Schmidt

Canadians best educated, but slipping: Enrolment declining

'You can see some countries are catching up and overtaking Canada ... you have to be careful' -- analyst Karine Tremblay talking about post-secondary schooling

OTTAWA - Canada's young people rank as the best educated in an international study of 30 countries, but the country's stagnant post-secondary education enrolment rate means they will soon be bumped out of top spot.

Fifty-three per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 34 have either a college diploma or a university degree, well above the 31% average for member countries of the Organization for Economic Co - operation and Development ( OECD ). But Canada comes last in enrolment growth in the past decade, according to the OECD 's newly released 2006 edition of Education at a Glance.

Total enrolment is up by 4% since 1995, but 2% of that growth is attributable to a change in the population and only 1% to an increase in the enrolment rate, the report states. This is in sharp contrast to gains made in other OECD countries, where there has been an overall average increase in enrolment of 49%, all attributable to a hike in the enrolment rate rather than demographic shifts.

The trend should be a wake-up call for Canada, OECD analyst Karine Tremblay said yesterday.

"As the rest of the OECD is improving, this is not the case for Canada," Ms. Tremblay said. "You're starting from a higher position, so it's fair that the rate of growth would be smaller. But other countries are really overtaking Canada."

Korea, in particular, is making great strides in broadening the reach of its education system. Forty-nine per cent of Koreans aged 25 to 34 have a post-secondary education, trailing Canada by only 4%. But in the past decade, enrolment in post-secondary education has increased by 59% even though its school-age population has dropped.

There could be economic consequences unless the pattern is reversed, said Ms. Tremblay, a member of the team that prepared the study.

"Future economic success in the new economy will be based on broad baseline qualifications. You can see some countries are catching up and overtaking Canada. You have a very good situation now, but you have to be careful," Ms. Tremblay said.

Herb O'Heron, senior analyst at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, has heard the message clearly.

"Many, many other countries are really increasing their enrolment numbers. That really to me is the cause for the greater concern. If we had a comparative and competitive advantage because of our post-secondary system years ago, that's certainly been eroded and many countries have surpassed us at the university level and graduate level," he said.

Mr. O'Heron said governments need to expand university opportunities as a key part of any economic strategy.

The report notes a decrease in the role of public funding in Canada's education systems. In 1995, 81.2% of the money that went to higher levels of education came from public sources. By 2003, the proportion of public money had dropped to 77.4%.

Only Japan, Australia, the United States and Korea contribute a smaller proportion of public dollars to all levels of education.

Canada also has room for improvement in the employment status of its best educated citizens.

Among those aged 25 to 64 with post-secondary education credentials, the unemployment rate was 4.7% in 2004. While this represents an improvement from a decade earlier, when the rate was 6.2%, it still remained above the 2004 OECD average of 3.9%.

The unemployment rate among this educated cohort was also lower in the United States in 2004 (3.3%) and Europe (4.2%).

"It may be a skills mismatch, or it may be connected to the broader economic situation," Ms. Tremblay said.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

100th Library Book Bash - Sept. 15

100th Library Book Bash
Friday, Sept. 15, 2006
on Sparks Street, near Bank
(Rain location entrance: 191 Sparks Street, CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre)

CBC and the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library invite you to join us and browse through more than 10,000 used books to find your favourites. Meet CBC hosts. Listen to live CBC radio in the making.

Join us from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Proceeds help the Every Child Ready To Read program, one of the many initiatives of the Ottawa Public Library.

Visit the Ottawa Public Library site for full details on their 100th anniversary celebrations.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Couple other recent posts of note

Read Alert pointed out recently that Banned Book Week is coming and offer THIS as a preview. I've only read four on the list - so perhaps I'll search out a few more.

Book Bans is one of a few items of interest Fuse 8 has put on notice! You can create your own Colbert "On Notice" board HERE.

There are also a few comilation lists out there now of kiddie blog sites. Check out this one and specifically this one (cause we're on it!). Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the links.

And some book reviews that made me smile...

- The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of School
- Eats, Shoots and Leaves for kids!


- A new Mo Willems' Book called Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know she was Extinct (reviewed here by MotherReader).

Finally - I had to include this link HERE. Gotta love an advertising campaign that gives you a free Whoopie Cushion.

Off to do a bit of tidying of the menus/lists on the site! I noticed some of my links no longer work and that Sally Apokedak has ceased to blog. And not like we did, she actually says she's leaving :(


August Edition of The Edge of the Forest

Just a quick post to let you all know that the August Edition of the Edge of the Forest is up. Check it out HERE. I particularly enjoyed the piece by Pam Coughlin from MotherReader.

The Edge of the Forest is a monthly online journal devoted to children's literature. We submitted an article for a previous issue. You can check that out HERE.

What I missed at the fair


Since I've been gone I have missed two carnivals of Children's Literature. For those wondering what a blog carnival is, please click HERE. We have submitted to some in the past and they are a great way to learn about other bloggers out there in the "kidlitosphere" and related fields (like literacy!)¸ To keep track of the Carnivals on Children's Literature, you can go HERE.

Anyway, the two I missed were:

The Fifth Carnival of Children's Literature over at Big A litte a and The Sixth Carnival of Children's Literature over at Castle of the Immaculate.

Some posts of interest, new blogs and things I learnt at the fairs:

1. Many cool lists were compiled this summer. Jen Robinson now has lists on her site of 200 Cool Girls and 175 Cool Boys of Children's Literature and Journey Woman has compiled a list of the Great Antagonists of Children's Literature.
2. Harry Potter might die (I've been under a rock). Liz B. at a Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy offered this post to carnival. Her post was based on one over at Chasing Ray (blog I didn't know about that I may start following) referring to a previous post there on the issue. Anyhoo, this all stems from some hints JK Rowling made WAY earlier this summer, but getting back to Liz's post, she asks about what other children's/YA books are there were the main character dies?
3. The Disco Mermaids introduced me to Blog or Dare.
4. Gotta Book asks the eternal question: Why Bother to Blog?
5. And courtesy of the Carnivals, I found THIS SITE. Which I will visit again. I like the book club set up (especially as my friend Krista and I are considering starting a book club...).

And now I've added to the collection of summer lists!

Anyway, next Carnival will be hosted by Wands and Words in September and Scholar's Blog (another Buffy fan!) will be hosting in October.

Another one joins the ranks of children's authors

Mary Higgins Clark will be writing a children's book entitled Ghost Ship: A Cape Cod Story. It will be published in April 2007. More information HERE and link courtesy of Read Alert.

In related news, I greatly enjoyed this post by Gregory K over at Gotta Book about "famous authors and the children's books they'd write." Think Moby Duck, A Tale of Two Kitties and The Old Man of the ABCs. If you have any other suggestions, you can add them to his comments section for the post :)

And while I never thought she was known, as is Clark, for her writing, the Magic of Books informs us that Jamie Lee Curtis is writing another children's book. This, of course, implies there were others, which was also news to me. So I learnt something today!


A bit about the Students for Literacy Movement

I know many of you sit at home asking the eternal question: Where did Students for Literacy come from?

Imagine my delight when, after months of tedious Internet surfing, I can provide you with the following link right HERE to answer you questions.


A couple literacy-related news stories

Hi everyone,

Three news stories of interest (and one postivite one!)

PUBLICATION: Kingston Whig-Standard (ON)
DATE: 2006.08.30
BYLINE: Ian Elliot

Board slashes literacy instructors by half

Literacy instructors with the Limestone District School Board fear cuts to their program will hobble their efforts to help students who are falling behind in class.

As part of a $3-million cost-cutting exercise to strike a balanced budget, the school board cut the number of literacy instructors. The instructors provide tutoring to students in kindergarten to Grade 3 who have been identified by their teachers as having a difficulty.

Eight of the 16 instructors will be given other positions with the board, but Robin Schock, one of those reassigned workers, fears the workload for the remaining eight will be too much and that they will be able to serve only half as many students as the roughly 1,200 children they collectively helped this past year.

"We have some concerns about this and we just don't think parents are aware that the board has done this," Schock said yesterday.

Schock said the instructors will be spread more thinly, will have to travel to more schools and, instead of seeing children daily, might only see them once every two days, which she says is a much less effective way of helping them with their reading.

"This mode of instruction is highly dysfunctional, lacking in effectiveness and creates instructor burnout," she said.

"Most importantly, students make very little progress as the ideal method of delivery is repetition every day for optimal results."

Ron Sharp, the director of education for the Limestone board, said the cuts were made reluctantly and that in the area of the literacy instructors, there were other programs and initiatives in schools that would soften the blow.

"It's not something the board wanted to do, and it was not an easy cut, but there are increased resources in other areas that teachers can use, and we have a 20-to-1 cap on class sizes in the early grades."

He noted that the board's budget philosophy was to target savings where they would be most effective and least disruptive, rather than make system-side cutbacks.

He said part of that was reassigning the eight remaining instructors to schools where they were most needed and away from schools that already score quite highly in the provincial reading and writing tests.

"We're putting these eight instructors where they are most needed, and while it is a different way of doing things, these instructors will not be working harder, they'll be working smarter," he said.

"I would rather have 16 literacy instructors than have eight, and so would everyone else at the board, but given the financial pressures that we're under, we're making the best of a bad situation."

Kingston trustee Heather Dixon, who is also the board chairwoman, said the board has made good progress in its standardized literacy test results, and the administration assured trustees that the cutback would be manageable.

"I'm a big supporter of literacy programs, but as trustees, we had to find the $3 million somewhere," she said, referring to the final round of cost-cutting that was required to finish the budget, which according to law must be balanced.

She noted trustees had their hands tied and had to cut programs because there is a provincial moratorium that forbids them from closing schools, even though they could save money doing so and put the savings into programs and new instructors.

Schock said she wants parents concerned with the cuts to make their concerns known both to the board and the provincial government, which provides money to school boards.

"Our primary concern is the children and the devastating effect this will have on the next generation's literacy skills," Schock said.


PUBLICATION: The Guardian (Charlottetown)
DATE: 2006.08.30

North Bay student researches family literacy this summer

Ashleigh McBain of North Bay, Ont., said farewell to her colleagues at UPEI earlier this month after spending the summer carrying out research in family literacy.

She is one of 11 undergraduate summer research assistants who received national awards this year from the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet). The network supports these awards to assist language and literacy students to acquire research skills in preparation for potential graduate work. They are presented to students in their second last year of a three-, four-, or five-year program.

McBain worked with Vianne Timmons, UPEI vice- president of academic development, on projects spanning a wide range of research topics, including knowledge translation, inclusion, and family literacy. In particular, she has been involved in a project called Families Learning Together.

From 2003 to 2006, researchers from UPEI have worked with 31 families to develop and implement a literacy program for aboriginal families in Atlantic Canada.

The project, also funded by CLLRNet, has sought to create a literacy program that embraces the significance of aboriginal culture in order to effectively promote family literacy within aboriginal communities. McBain has contributed to the final phase of this project.

"The UPEI community has made me feel very comfortable. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by many wonderful, intelligent people who have made my time at UPEI both interesting and enjoyable. This summer has been the experience of a lifetime," she says, adding that she found her experience at UPEI to be a valuable asset for her future career as an educator and a graduate student. She will be continuing her education in Nipissing University's bachelor of education program this fall.

PUBLICATION: Vancouver Sun
DATE: 2006.08.30
SECTION: Editorial
SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

ESL students need help to stay the course: Immigrant and refugee families should stress the need for education, while governments kick in adequate funding

For many prospective immigrants and refugees around the world, Canada represents a beacon of freedom and opportunity, a place where they, and especially their children, can seek a better life.

Canada feels similarly about immigrants and refugees, because through their contributions to society and the economy, they can better the lives of all Canadians.

But it now seems that this dream has become something of a nightmare, as many new Canadians are leaving school early and accepting low-paying jobs.

Indeed, according to a new report by University of British Columbia language and literacy professor Lee Gunderson, fully 40 per cent of English-as-a-Second Language students attending Vancouver high schools drop out before they graduate.

Gunderson followed 5,000 immigrant students between 1991 and 2001 and found the dropout rate was highest when students left ESL classes, because even otherwise good students suffered a significant loss of marks.

This suggests that our attempts to acculturate new Canadians has been less than successful, and also suggests that we clearly have a lot more work to do. After all, there is little point in encouraging people to move to Canada, only to have them -- and their children -- handicapped by their inability to communicate adequately.

The question, of course, is exactly what we need to do to ensure immigrants and refugee children have a shot at success. To begin with, we might need to review the five-year limit on ESL funding. (In B.C., students are expected to learn English within five years, so the province routinely stops funding for ESL classes after that point.) This is in contrast to French immersion students, who receive support from kindergarten to Grade 12.

But the level of funding is not the only issue here. Many immigrant students leave ESL classes even before the five-year period is up because they -- or their parents -- believe there is a stigma associated with ESL education. And there might well be, but the consequences of kids dropping out of high school are much greater.

As with any parents, immigrant and refugee parents clearly have a role to play in ensuring their children's success. This goes beyond ensuring that they stay in ESL classes: All too many parents themselves fail to learn English because they settle in areas where they can continuing speaking their native languages.

Yet literacy experts note that family literacy programs, where parents and children work together on their literacy skills, are instrumental in improving all family members' ability to communicate. Immigrant and refugee parents therefore owe it to their children to learn English.

Of course, not all immigrants and refugees are the same, and our programs for helping them should recognize that. For example, Gunderson found that ESL students from Taiwan and Hong Kong were as likely to graduate from high school as Canadian-born students, while Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking students had much lower graduation levels.

By way of explanation, Gunderson notes that many Chinese speakers come from wealthy families that value education. In contrast, many Spanish and Vietnamese speakers were refugees who had little education in their own countries. It stands to reason, then, that they would have very different attitudes toward education than students born in Canada.

Since the federal government decides who gets into the country, it needs to provide greater support to refugees and their families, as well as to immigrants who hail from countries that pay insufficient attention to education. And immigrants and refugees need to make the most of those supports, not just for themselves, but for the sake of their children, for whom they wish a better life.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Carleton Clubs has updated their site!

Hey everyone,

Be sure to check out the new Clubs and Societies Page at Carleton. Looking Sharp! And they list our blog as one of our contacts! I couldn't get them to do that last year!

Also entertaining (while I'm on a Carleton role) is the theme for orientation this year: Carletonopoly. My first year of undergrad the theme was Carleton Cabana. (I'll let you guess the year...I was there a bit more recently for my MA).

And, getting in on this "crazy blog thing" appears to be the CUSA executive.

Sorry for the delay today - Blogger seemed to not like me today.

More to come in a bit.