Friday, October 28, 2005

Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, October 27, was Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill. Just wanted to show you a sampling of what Members of Parliament said in the House of Commons yesterday to mark the event (a testiment to the lobbying of literacy advocates!). The first few are statements made by members and the last one is a question that was asked during Question Period:

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating Literacy Action Day. Advocates from Nova Scotia and every corner of Canada are here to press for a desperately needed pan-Canadian literacy plan to develop a quality adult literacy and education system, to address barriers to learning and social inclusion, to develop and share knowledge and to develop partnerships for a learning society.

Of Canadians aged 16 to 65, 42% lack minimum literacy skills. Studies show a 1% rise in literacy skills will drive a 2.5% increase in labour productivity and a 1.5% increase in GDP. That is $13 billion each and every year.

It is bad enough that the federal government imposes GST on books. To expand the GST to include books and CD-ROMs makes a mockery of the limited literacy support from the government. This counterproductive measure must be reversed and more resources invested in a comprehensive literacy plan in the upcoming budget.

The private member's bill that I will be introducing will remove GST from books and pamphlets. It is a small step toward helping increase literacy in Canada.

Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on this Literacy Action Day I want to pay tribute to all those involved in adult literacy.

In my riding of Trois-Rivières, there are several literacy groups including COMSEP and Ebyôn.

Several hundred people participate in their workshops, which are run by a number of volunteers. Helping adults to learn to read gives them the keys to the world.

What is more, the participants become more informed on economic, social, political and cultural issues and meet new people, thereby making important social connections.

Attending the literacy and popular education workshops helps participants become aware of their problems, find suitable solutions and take action to improve their lot.

We wish the literacy groups many more years of success.

Mr. Mario Silva (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, overall Canada performs well internationally on measures of education and skills. Nonetheless, many Canadian adults lack the literacy and other essential skill capacities such as communication and teamwork needed to fully participate in and benefit from current Canadian society.

In a lifelong learning culture, strong literacy and other essential skills are key. Literacy and essential skills are central to the social and economic development of Canada. In the context of Literacy Action Day, what is the Government of Canada's commitment to literacy and other essential skills?

Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of State (Human Resources Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today being Literacy Action Day, I would first like to congratulate the community groups, and the provinces and territories for all the work they do on behalf of the people who have problems reading and writing.

I also want to congratulate everyone who is taking steps to learn how to read and write.

In the last budget the Minister of Finance has given $30 million to the national literacy secretariat. I am pleased to announce today that 19 groups from across Canada will meet next week for two days for a comprehensive strategy on literacy.


For more information on Literacy Action Day click HERE.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

SFLO on the news!

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you all know that at the end of the 6:00 evening news last night on CJOH following the birthday/anniversary announcements, the anchor, Max Keeping, mentioned our Reading Circles at 88 Main Street and the Rideau Library and explained what they were about. CJOH showed the Frontier College logo and our phone number to contact if parents were interested in enrolling their children.

Check out the closing note on the CJOH site HERE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Message from an Alumnus

This just in: a few inspiring words from former SFLO tutor and OT member, Theresa ("T-bird") Sedore. Motivated by her wonderful experiences in Ottawa, Theresa has now signed up to volunteer with Lakehead Students for Literacy while at Teachers' College in the T-dot B-dot.

Here's what Theresa has to say....

Thank you, Frontier College for all the experiences you have allowed me to grow through. I worked with Frontier College for three years through a variety of programs offered in Ottawa. Now I am in Thunder Bay completing Teachers' College. As I prepare for my first placement, I am overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge I have aquired from Frontier College. For instance, one of my course requirements is Language Arts/Literacy Education: all of the topics we cover address experiences I have faced through my experiences with Frontier College. This has provided confidence towards teaching the subject of Language Arts as well as other subjects. I want to thank everyone who has supported me through my experiences and most of all let you know that I still value every moment I have had as a volunteer. I can't wait until my next experience with this organization and the wonderful people that lead and support the volunteers.
--Theresa Sedore

Monday, October 24, 2005

Toronto Star Series on Ontario math and literacy push

Seeing many of our volunteers are interested in teaching - I thought this series might be of interest. The Toronto Star is doing monthly reports from a Grade 7 class in - you guessed it - Toronto.

PUBLICATION: The Toronto Star
DATE: 2005.10.24
BYLINE: Tess Kalinowski

Visiting the front lines of Ontario's math and literacy push; Program geared to what kids read Students design magazine pieces

The Star is visiting a Grade 7 class in Northern Lights Public School regularly this year to see what Ontario's push on literacy and math looks like on the ground. This is the first of our monthly reports.

Nadia MacKinnon has taught a range of elementary grades in the last six years. Each had its rewards.

But Grade 7 has a special appeal. Her students seem to be at a magical stage of development and discovery.

"They're growing up and they're realizing what the world is all about. I can have an impact on what they think about their world. They can be very introspective and insightful about things," says MacKinnon, who for a second year is teaching Grade 7 at Northern Lights Public School in Aurora.

That charm is also a teacher's challenge, even before you factor in the hormones of 12- and 13-year-olds.

MacKinnon takes advantage of the considerable teacher training opportunities at the York District School Board, a leader in professional development. She's been studying the different ways in which students learn. Back in August, she couldn't wait to get back to class so she could put some of that information to work addressing the individual learning styles of her students.

Back then, she expected a big class and she got it. She has 30 students, including several with special needs, and there could be more by the end of the year because Northern Lights is in a new, growing neighbourhood.

To ensure each of them tastes success, MacKinnon has deliberately chosen materials and activities that allow kids to absorb information and express what they've learned in different ways. For many children, performing a song or skit might be a better expression of their learning than a traditional written test.

For teachers across the province, this year brings a fresh focus on math and literacy as part of a new push initiated by the provincial government, which has poured more resources into these areas and added 1,200 elementary teachers alone to help struggling students.

For MacKinnon, this month's writing unit called Magazine Mania is as appealing to kids who like to draw as it is to those who enjoy reading and writing. The students are expected to design their own magazine pieces, advertising and editorial copy, including visual elements. "The end goal is to give them exposure to different types of writing, not just essays. This is the kind of writing they're going to encounter most in their lifetime," says MacKinnon.

The students have already begun working on their advertisements and they've been instructed to find a partner so they can critique one another's drafts. "Group work is huge for different types of learners."

A quick scuffling and scraping of chairs and most kids have buddied up. But clearly one boy's feelings are hurt because his friend has chosen another partner. Before she can begin overseeing the work of her students, MacKinnon must help one kid negotiate a new alliance.

Each student has received what MacKinnon calls a "rubric" - a planner that will guide the students through the steps and checkpoints of creating a persuasive ad.

The products the students have chosen to advertise reflect the quirks of 12-year-old brains. There's a time-travelling skateboard and a fantasy world where kids can go to engage in "real life" role-playing games. Some, like the glow-in-the-dark basketball equipment and clothing, address what a Grade 7 student perceives to be a real gap in the marketplace.

As the students review their ad copy and illustrations, MacKinnon moves about the room prompting the teams to rethink their approach where necessary, encouraging a pair of girls to cut back on the text in their ad and depend more on headlines and images to grab the viewer's attention. She coaches them in peer evaluation. "Please be accurate and honest about it," she cautions.

MacKinnon never sits down at her own desk.

When it's time to move on to a study of the novel Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech, the chairs are again rearranged, this time in groups of five. This is the class's third literature circle. There will be six before the year is out. In each circle, every student has a role discussion director, real world connector, concept challenger, vocabulary builder or illustrator. Everyone gets to develop a different skill.

Following the discussion, they return to their desks to write a summary of what they've talked about but the volume doesn't diminish much.

At each transition in the day, MacKinnon gives clear, direct instructions and then asks the class to feed them back to her.

When the bell goes, lunch is no different. Students can eat at their desks just as long as they have healthy snacks, says their teacher with an indulgent smile.

Exhaustion is inevitable some days, says MacKinnon. "September and October always feel busier because lots of time is spent reinforcing routines and making sure that all students needs are assessed.

"It takes time to figure out what kind of learners they are."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Family Conference a Success

Just a quick note to say that I popped by the Family Conference yesterday to check out the Frontier Ottawa booth - very impressive! Hopefully we'll get some new learners. Also, we had the chance to meet some other people involved in working with youth and discussed the possibility of some new partnerships.

All very exciting!


PS: Favourite thing that I saw at one of the other booths was a book based on the Three Little Pigs, but reversed. Instead it's three little wolves and this big pig shows up and tries to huff and puff their house down. Very cute.

Frontier Ottawa October Newsletter

Hi everyone,

Here is your first installment of the Students for Literacy Ottawa

In this issue:

(1) Taking it to the Hill for Literacy Action Day - October 27
(2) Scrabble at the Pub - October 30
(3) Volunteer Fair at Ottawa U - November 3
(4) Off and Running ! (Programs Update)
(5) Positions Still Available

Sounds like everything is off to a good start! I look forward to
hearing all about it on the 30th.



...full text follows....

(1) Taking it to the Hill
For Literacy Action Day

Thursday, October 27th, 2005 is Literacy Action Day (LAD) on Parliament Hill. Representatives of literacy organizations from across the country—from board members to learners to volunteers like you—will gather to call on our MP’s and ask for their support of literacy initiatives in Canada.

Frontier College is looking for four volunteers from SFLO who are interested in taking part in this special day. If you are interested, please let Lyndsay know ASAP (with emphasis on the ASAP!).

(2) Scrabble at the Pub
Sunday, October 30th, 2005 – 8:00pm

Time to get together and chat about how your first few sessions have been going, meet some of your fellow volunteers and—most importantly—learn the beautiful game that we affectionately call “Speed Scrabble.”

Join as at the Oak on Laurier (between Cumberland and King Edward, just steps from the Ottawa U campus) for a pint or coffee or whatever suits your fancy. We’ve reserved the basement room, so just head down the stairs that are directly to the right of the entrance hallway.

(3) Volunteer Fair at Ottawa U
Thursday, November 3, 2005 – 10:00am – 3:00pm

We’ll be recruiting volunteers in the Ottawa U Uni Centre on Thursday, November 3 from 10:00am to 3:00pm. If you have an hour to spare and you wouldn’t mind sitting at a table with one of our OT members and passing out brochures to interested students, please let Lyndsay know. (p. 294.9419 or If you’re passing through the UniCentre on that day, be sure to stop by and say “hi!”

(4) Off and Running!
Centretown, Reception House, and Rideau Library all started program activities this week. So far so good! Our 88 Main St. program begins this Saturday, October 29 and Sawmill Creek will follow on Tuesday, November 1.

(5) Positions Still Available
Just a reminder that we’re still recruiting more volunteers for our Sawmill program (Tuesdays from 3:10pm to 4:10pm) and our Arch Street program (Thursdays, from 12:20pm to 1:00pm, beginning in January). If you have any friends or connections who may be interested in participating, don’t hesitate to refer them!

We’re also looking for a Carleton Rep. And a Communications Officer to join the Organizational Team (OT). Talk to Lyndsay! This could be the position for you…

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tis the Season...

At the Friday training last week, Halloween activities at Saunders farm came up (ie: haunted wagon rides, hedge mazes etc...). My CD warehouse newsletter had a piece on it, so if any of you were interested in more information here it is:

CD Warehouse is selling discounted tickets to "Haunting Season" at Saunders Farm

From Oct. 1st - 31st Saunders Farm is transformed into Canada’s most eerie-sistible Farm attraction. Spook-tacular haunted hayrides, parades, puppets, live shows, 11 mazes and strolling characters combine to create awesome thrills for all.

Discounted Tickets at CD Warehouse

Admit One Brave Soul
$15 discount ticket

Admit One Lil' Monster
(Child 2 - 10 years old)
$10 discount ticket

Tickets are valid from October 1 - 31.

For More Information on Saunders Farm visit:

You can, of course, just get tickets there as well.

We also chatted on break at that training about the Haunted Walk tour of Ottawa. One of the other Carleton Clubs is organizing a discount walk as one of their events. Info here:

The Haunted Walk of Ottawa: Halloween Tour
October 25, 2005 --> 7:00pm
Presented by the Carleton University Criminology & Criminal Justice Society. Be one of the first 20 members to sign up and save $2.00! Cost is $10.00 for members after the first 20 and also for non-members. Deadline to sign up is October 21, 2005. Email Laura at or drop by the CUCCJS office at C567 Loeb.
(Certified Club Event)


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A little colour for your Tuesday!

Hi everyone,

I did a little "Rideau Reading Circle" themed collage with some of the stuff from last year to motivate everyone who is starting tutoring this week.

See you all soon,


Monday, October 17, 2005

Literacy Advocacy

Hey everyone,

Couple advocacy links and tidbits.

At training on Saturday Lyndsay mentioned the literacy petition that the Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL) started last year. For those of you interested in more information, or who are motivated to pass it around your classes/amongst your friends to get signatures you can get a copy HERE. Frontier College also recently issued a press release on it which is available HERE.

She also mentioned Literacy Action Day, where Literacy Organizations and learners from across Canada come to Parliament Hill to talk to Ministers, MPs and Senators about the importance of literacy. Some quick searching online seems to inform me that it is being held on October 27th this year. For those interested in more information, you can check that out HERE.

Finally, for those of you keen on keeping up with what the federal government is doing about literacy, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has a "What's New in Literacy Page" which you can check out HERE.

Bye for now,


Centretown's First Day a Success!

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to put up a quick post to let you know that the Pre-School Reading Circle at the Centretown Community Health Centre had a very successful first day. Lorna did a great job as the Circle Leader this morning and the children had a great time.

Here's to the rest of our programs starting just as well!


In the News Today...

Hi everyone,

Happy Monday. Quite a bit in the news today about literacy. The article below particularly peaked my interest. Also a reminder that today is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - ending child poverty in Canada - National Day of Action (look a few posts down for information on that). This week is also Citizenship Week. For more info on that, you can visit the Government's Citizenship and Immigration website HERE. But in short, Canada’s Citizenship Week is celebrated each year during the third week of October. This celebration is an opportunity to recognize the value of citizenship and immigration. During this week we focus on the privileges, rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Finally, one of our uOttawa volunteers sent the following information on an event regarding helping children in war-torn areas:

On October 22, 2005, people in 32 cities around the world will take to the streets for the children of northern Uganda. Every night and every morning, up to 40,000 children walk for their lives to avoid abduction by rebels.

Join us in Ottawa as we walk to tell their story. See for more details, or email
for more details, or email



PUBLICATION: The Toronto Star
DATE: 2005.10.17
BYLINE: Carol Goar

Economist prefers ABC to PhD

As a university professor, Jean-Francois Tremblay is pleased to see Ottawa and the provinces investing in post-secondary education after a 10-year hiatus.

But as an economist, he is not convinced that pouring more public money into universities and colleges is the best way to boost Canada's economic growth.

Tremblay and his colleague, Serge Coulombe, who teach economics at the University of Ottawa, have just completed a study for the C.D. Howe Institute, which shows that improving literacy among lower-income citizens would have a greater impact on Canada's standard of living than producing more highly educated graduates.

"While increasing resources in the education system would undoubtedly improve outcomes to some extent, it is not clear that it would be the most cost-effective strategy to generate more skills," the authors conclude. "Our research - novel because it is based on direct measures of skills rather than the usual crude proxies of educational attainment - strongly suggests that there are potentially large payoffs from investment in less glamorous sectors."

By most international measures, Canada has a high-quality education system. Yet Canadians do not perform particularly well in standardized tests of literacy and numeracy. In a 14-nation survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada ranked a less-than-impressive eighth, behind the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. What's more, Canada's score peaked in 1975, then began a long decline.

A mediocre literacy rating drags down a country's productivity more than a mid-place ranking in university enrolment, Tremblay explained. Conversely, an increase in average literacy produces a greater economic benefit than an upswing in university degrees.

He and Coulombe demonstrate in their paper that a 1 per cent jump in Canada's literacy score, relative to the international average, would boost national productivity by 2.5 per cent and raise per capita gross domestic product by 1.5 per cent. (Details of their methodology can be found at

Economists have never managed to draw such a strong empirical link between years of schooling and labour productivity. "The big surprise in our research was that literacy scores were such a clear indicator of growth," Tremblay said. "We also found that skills at the bottom of the economic spectrum matter most."

Their findings have important policy implications.

First, governments can't afford to treat adult learning as an afterthought. The single most effective step policy-makers could take to improve the country's economic performance would be to help those trapped in low-skill jobs or unable to find work.

One way to do it would be to offer employers tax incentives to provide workplace training. A second possibility would be to provide school boards with more resources for basic literacy programs. A third option would be to make skill acquisition a central component of Canada's employment insurance and welfare programs.

Next, elementary and secondary schools have to do a better job of equipping students to read, write, comprehend and use information.

Tremblay is not sure whether the problem stems from teaching practices or levels of classroom funding. That is why he thinks it is essential for all schools to conduct comparable literacy tests and make their results publicly available. Once educators know what works, they'll be able to refine their methods to raise performance levels.

Third, Canada needs to rethink its immigrant selection criteria.

Rather than recruiting highly educated newcomers who may take years to find a job in their field, Ottawa should be looking for applicants with the skills the country needs. "Schooling is not the same as skills," Tremblay pointed out.

Finally, Ottawa and the provinces have to set aside their jurisdictional battles over education and training.

Under the current arrangements, elementary and secondary schooling are a provincial responsibility, post-secondary education is managed by the provinces but jointly funded and both levels of government deliver job training. This has led to balkanization, wasted resources and debilitating friction.

Tremblay wishes he knew how to solve this problem. "It's a sensitive issue, for sure."

Ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum will find some of Coulombe and Tremblay's prescriptions hard to swallow.

The economists call for subsidized child care - considered an unaffordable frill by many right wingers - on the grounds that raising women's literacy is one of the smartest investments a society can make. At the same time, they advocate school choice - anathema to many left wingers - on the grounds that increased competition among educators would improve literacy levels.

They are guided by what works, not what is politically fashionable.

Canada needs more of this kind of open-minded research.

Carol Goar's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Recruitment and Program Update


Training is done and the programs at Centretown, Reception House and Rideau Library are starting next week. For those of you volunteering at Centretown who don't have your police checks back yet, hold tight - we'll let you know as soon as they are returned so you can get started.

The Reading Circle at 88 Main will start NEXT Saturday (the 29th) and the Sawmill After-School Program will start in November.

The Arch Street Reading Circle is now scheduled to begin in January, given that we are still looking for some more volunteers. It's a wonderful program, it just seems to be at a difficult time and location for people, so if you know of anyone interested in volunteering, please have them contact us.

For detailed information on our programming, please go to the Frontier College Ottawa Page. If you have (or know) children who would like to participate in our programs, they are all free. But you do have to register. Again, please go to the Frontier College Ottawa Page for more information.

Finally, on the events front we'll be at the Family Conference next weekend at Immaculata High School to (hopefully) recruit some learners for our programs. We'll also be back at the University of Ottawa on November 3 to do some more recruiting and promotion of our club and programs.

Finally, we hope to see some of our volunteers out at our first Meeting/Pub and Speed Scrabble night at the end of the month on October 30.

Happy Reading!


Pirate Scrabble - and other motivations to play!


Found some stuff online to get you guys motivated to play Scrabble. As you may have gathered from training, Scrabble Night in Canada is Frontier College's big annual fundraiser. Students for Literacy in Ottawa is planning to do an event in February, but thought we'd get you thinking about Scrabble a bit before hand. We are also going to be having monthly pubs/meetings where, among other things, we'll be playing Speed Scrabble. If you've never played, you will soon discover it's addictive.

But onwards with this Scrabble themed post. To begin with, check out Pirate Scrabble:

Some other fun things to try out online are Pholph's Scrabble Score Generator v1.0 where you can quickly determine the point score for any word. I tried my name and, much like when we did Human Scrabble in Toronto, found out I wasn't worth too much :(

For those of you desperately wanting to play or practice who are lamenting the fact that you do not have a Scrabble board - fear not. You can download an emergency Scrabble Board and letters HERE.

For those wanting to brush up on tricky words, or simply pick up some tips, you can check out Scrabble Junction. There is also a lengthy links page here, linking to other Scrabble resources online.

Finally, you can also practice at Scrabble Blast! a link posted to the blog previously by Lyndsay.

Happy Scrabbling! (Which I don't think would count as a word if we were actually playing...)


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Fifth Annual Kids' Lit Gala and Brian Doyle event

When we were at the Rideau Library today for training I picked up the Ottawa Public Library Guide. One of the events listed caught my eye:

The Fifth Annual Kids' Lit Gala

The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and the Ottawa Children's Literature Roundtable (OCLR) invite fans of children's literature to the fifth annual Kids' Lit Gala on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in The Chamber at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome!

Suzanne Pinel, otherwise known as children's entertainer Marie Soleil, is once again serving as emcee. Sign language interpretation will be provided in English and French. The evening will feature readings by many local authors including:

Jan Andrews (with illustrator Susan Rennick Joliffe) - The Twelve Days of Summer
Lysette Brochu - Myriam, the Devourer of Books
Brenda Chapman - Running Scared
Alan Cumyn - After Sylvia
J. Fitzgerald McCurdy - The Fire Demons: The Mole Wars Book 1
Rachna Gilmore - The Sower Tales
Shari Graydon - In Your Face: the Culture of Beauty and You
Michel Lavoie - Les yeux de feu
Heidi Schmidt - Too Many Murkles

Leishman Books will have copies of all the featured books for sale and author signings will take place.

The Kids' Lit Gala is generously sponsored by Capital Parent Newspaper.


Lyndsay also mentioned an event with Brian Doyle. So I found that info online as follows:

MASC Arts Awards
Celebrating Passion and Commitment to the Arts, by and for Young People
Tuesday, October 25
7:00 p.m. (Auditorium)
Free admission

The annual ceremony of the Multicultural Arts for Students and Communities (MASC) celebrates the arts-dance, drama, music, literary and visual arts. Young people will be honoured for their dedication to the arts. Award-winning author Brian Doyle will be guest speaker. Bilingual.

Information: 613-725-9119

For those of you reading thinking to yourselves "Who is this guy?" Click HERE for some info!


Fun with Rhyming, Poems and Storytelling

We talked at training a bit about the power of rhymes, songs and poems to help kids learn to read. After feeling a bit left out at Friday's training because I was the only one there who hadn't read "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service, I found it online and gave it a read. Feel free to click on it and peruse if you've also never heard of it.

For nostalgia sake, I also found Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee online so here it is:

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some I don't know what I'll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup.

While surfing around for these, I also came across Robert Munch's website. For those interested in ideas for storytelling, you can download him telling some of his classics (Paperbag Princess, Mortimer, Something Good etc...). As Lyndsay mentioned, you can also hear Mem Fox tell some of her tales on her site HERE.

Finally, if you check out our blog profile, you'll notice some of the books we talked about listed.... If anyone has any other favorites let me know!

Good luck to everyone as you get started in your programs next week and remember to HAVE FUN!


Sawmill Creek in the News!

Okay! You have to LOOK for it, but....

Every now and then I browse through to see what's going on in the city. Came across this in their local news section. You'll notice one of our partners is lending a hand.....

COMMUNITY • October 07, 2005
Hurricane Katrina – Schools Helping Schools Fund
Posted by mcollins

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board schools have collected $5,364.10 to date for children affected by Hurricane Katrina. Metcalfe Public School Principal Mike Chartrand organized the Hurricane Katrina – Schools Helping Schools Fund, after seeing the devastating effects of the flooding. In response, Blossom Park Public School, Carson Grove Elementary School, Castor Valley Elementary School, Centennial Public School, Clifford Bowey Public School, Dunlop Public School, Elizabeth Park Public School, Emily Carr Middle School, Fielding Drive Public School, Glen Ogilvie Public School, Greely Elementary School, Hilson Avenue Public School, Metcalfe Public School, Sawmill Creek Elementary School, Severn Avenue Public School, and W.
Erskine Johnston Public School immediately started collecting loose change. Funds collected from staff, students, and parents will go toward purchasing learning materials for displaced students from New Orleans who are enrolled at the Houston Independent School District.

Other schools also wanted to join relief efforts. Katimavik Elementary School filled 100 backpacks with books, stuffed animals, school supplies, clothing and toiletries donated by the school community. Notes of comfort were also included. Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa helped to transport the backpacks to Louisiana. Terry Fox Elementary School's 369 students collected more than 1,000 books for the Kids to Kids - A Flood of Books project organized by the Ottawa Public Library for Katrina survivors.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thoughts on the links between poverty and literacy

Hey everyone,

Got home from training tonight and found the following message in my inbox courtesy of Carleton:

"October 17, 2005 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - ending child poverty in Canada - National Day of Action. It is also "Wrap it in White Day" - the White Band is the symbol of the Make Poverty History Campaign and wearing it in 2005 is about sending a message that you want to end poverty. Canada's campaign to end poverty calls for critical and meaningful policy change. Here is what we want in 14 words:

More and Better Aid. Trade Justice. Cancel the Debt. End Child Poverty in Canada.

WUSC Carleton and other campus groups invite you to join us on Monday, October 17 2005 in the Tory Quad at Carleton University between 12 and 5 pm to join together in the fight against poverty. There will be information booths, live music and many other displays and activities - and the White Bands will be available. In the centre of the Tory Quad we will be holding a Cardboard Village. Students will be asked to live in cardboard box for the day, as a visual representation of poverty. Any students interested should email We will also be holding a food drive so we encourage you to bring with you any non-perishable food items.

Between 11:30am-1:00pm there will also be demonstrations in the Residence Dining Hall.

Also, at 7pm there will be a special showing of "Life and Debt" in the Commons Grille in the Residence Commons. Everyone is welcome!

All students are requested to wear white on October 17th to show their support for the campaign.

For more information, please visit or
contact WUSC Carleton at"


Anyway, got me thinking about the links between poverty and literacy. Lyndsay passed out one of the Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL) fact sheets on the issue tonight at training. You can find it online HERE. Basically, it provides some facts about how Canada's high rate of illiteracy/undereducation is not simply an eduation problem. It is a symptom of deep and widespread social inequality created, in large part, by poverty.

For those of you at training tonight, Lyndsay also mentioned another Fact Sheet from MCL on literacy and families. You can find that one HERE.

Looking forward to meeting more of you tomorrow at our second training.


LG of Ontario's Literacy Initiatives

Hi everyone,

On a bit of a blogging role today. At Frontier College's Summer Leadership Forum, Lyndsay, myself and other volunteers from across Canada had the opportunity to meet the event's keynote speaker, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Hon. James K. Bartleman. He is quite involved in literacy initiatives, particularly targeted at high needs Aboriginal communities in Northern Ontario (and now the north generally). He's organized book drives for northern libraries, has a twinning program between Toronto Schools and schools on northern Ontario reserves, and also coordinated summer literacy camps. Anyone interested can find more information on his literacy initiatives HERE.

Looking forward to seeing all the new volunteers either tonight or tomorrow at training!


Book Relief

Check this link out: Book Relief. It`s an organization providing books to children who are Hurricane Katrina and Rita survivors. From what I read quickly they appear to be an American non-profit that generally provide books to high-needs, low income children.

Book Club on the bus


Article from the Edmonton Journal about a library initiative there that`s pretty creative...

Another fun initiative (that COULD include books and buses) is BookCrossing. You can check out their Ottawa site at:

Basically with this, people register books they`ve read and don`t need anymore with this site stating where they will leave them and then `release` them into the wild. Someone who is interested in reading the book picks it up.


Read 'n' Ride - Edmonton Public Library to start book clubs on city buses
DATE: 2005.10.13

EDMONTON (CP) _ Book clubs meeting on comfortable home sofas or plush coffee shop chairs will relocate to the vibrating seats of a city bus if a proposed literacy program succeeds.

The Edmonton Public Library, in conjunction with Edmonton Transit Services, hopes to launch Read `n' Ride book clubs next spring.

Sherryl Petterson, manager of marketing and communications for the Edmonton Public Library, said the point is to build on a trend that already exists in the city.

``Some buses apparently do have groups of people who have formed book clubs,'' Petterson said. ``We know that there is a bus that comes through the Riverbend area that has a number of people who were all strangers that read on the bus. They started riding together and talking about books. They even loan each other books.''

Library and transit officials will introduce the idea next week during National Library Week to see if it generates interest.

Members of the bus-riding book clubs could have access to members-only events and private reading lists, Petterson said.

Although the book club program won't begin until 2006, staff plan to celebrate this year's National Library Week by offering commuters a good read.

Ride `n' Read will dole out free books at five Edmonton locations from October 17 to 21. The program aims to promote adult literacy.

A Statistics Canada report released in May said 42 per cent of Canadians aged 16 to 65 have low-level literacy skills.

``From the library's perspective, it's just to get more people to read anything,'' Petterson said. ``We're handing out free books that day so people can choose whatever they want.

``From transit's perspective they know people that read on the bus have a more enjoyable ride. It gets them to work relaxed. It gets them home relaxed.''

(Edmonton Journal)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Looking forward to seeing everyone at training this weekend

As we`re coming up to training weekend just thought I`d post a quick note to say that everyone on the OT is looking forward to seeing all the new volunteers at training - especially after having the chance to meet many of you during the interviews (colour me impressed!)

This year is shaping up well and we can`t wait to get started in the next few weeks.

See you all Friday or Saturday!

Club Status Officially Renewed at Carleton!

Hey team!

Students for Literacy in Ottawa/Frontier College is now officially recertified as a Club at Carleton. The Clubs and Societies Page was updated and (yay!) we're listed. Check out Clubs and Societies at For those of you interested about events on campus, they also have an events page that you can check out.

For those of you reading who are uOttawa students, fear not! We are also an official club at the University of Ottawa as well.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Literacy Statistics

At the info sessions we talked a little bit about the state of literacy in Canada. We mentioned that there had been a new study out in May 2005. It`s called the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey. If any of you are interested in more info you can find it here:

We`re still looking for a few more volunteers

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update to let you know that volunteer recruitment is going great. We`ve had some wonderful people come forward to volunteer and can`t wait for programs to get underway this fall. Look forward to seeing all the new volunteers at training next weekend.

We are still looking for a few more volunteers for the Arch Street and Sawmill Programs. Information as follows:

Arch Street Public School Lunch-time Reading Circle
Thursdays: 12:20-1:00
A chance to work with children in Grades One -Three

Sawmill Creek Elementary School After-school program
Tuesdays: 3:15-4:15
A chance to work with students in Grades four-six

If you`re interested, or know someone who is interested, have them get in touch with us!


Ottawa Senators are doing literacy work

Always nice to know about other groups out there working for literacy!

Excerpt from the weekly Sens fans e-newsletter.

Teachers: Encourage and motivate your students to experience the joy
of reading. Scotiabank Read to Succeed is a literacy initiative
presented free of charge by the Ottawa Senators designed to teach
elementary school students the importance of reading. The goals of the
program are to generate excitement, reward participation and provide
classes the opportunity to win class visits from Spartacat and Ottawa
Senators players.

A free literacy initiative presented by centre Jason Spezza and the
Ottawa Senators, Spelling with Spezza focuses on the importance of
spelling to elementary schools. The program generates excitement,
rewards participation and provides students from eastern Ontario and
western Quebec the opportunity to win class visits from the star
centre himself. In addition, each month 19 boys and 19 girls will be
awarded prizes for perfect spelling.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Robert Munsch might come to your house!


Thought this was cool - For all the Robert Munsch fans out there...

National contest will see lucky Canadian family get exclusive visit from author Robert Munsch
PUBLICATION: The Guardian (Charlottetown)
DATE: 2005.10.06

Beloved Canadian children's author Robert Munsch will make a special visit to one lucky Canadian family this January, thanks to a contest being organized by ABC Canada Literacy Foundation.

Munsch is honorary chair of ABC Canada Family Literacy Day, scheduled for Jan. 27, which encourages parents and their children to read and learn together. This contest gives any family in the country the chance to have him visit their own Family Literacy Day party on Monday, Jan. 23, to kick off a week of FLD activities.

"I can't wait to find out where I''ll be going and with what family and friends I'll be celebrating Family Literacy Day," says Munsch in a recent news release.

To enter the contest, families only need to fill out a form, describing what activities they are planning for their FLD party. Entry forms are available on the ABC Canada website, and must be received by ABC Canada by 5 p.m. EST, on Dec. 9.

The contest winner will be announced the first week of January 2006. "Robert's been a wonderful honorary chair for us, and there's nothing he likes better than to share stories with children and their parents," says Christine Featherstone, ABC CANADA President and chief executive officer.

"This contest provides a unique opportunity for a family and their friends to meet Robert face−to−face."

Family entries (one entry per family) will be judged for the originality and creativity of the activities they plan to have during their upcoming Family Literacy Day party.

Anyone who would like more details on the contest or who is looking for the official entry forms should visit the website:− People are also invited to contact ABC Canada by phone at 416−442−2998 or 1−800−303−1004, info@abc−

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ottawa Citizen Raise a Reader Page.

Hey guys,

I thought this was cool. Maybe we can have one of our programs submit something?


PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.10.02

Children's book report contributions to the Raise-a-Reader page return Sunday November 6th

Raise-a-Reader is a CanWest Global Foundation program to encourage literacy, especially among children.

The Ottawa Citizen Raise-a-Reader page appears on the first Sunday of every month. Children are invited to participate with book reports and drawings. Class submissions may not include more than 10 individual reports, and the Citizen cannot guarantee all reports will be used.

Please e-mail your submissions to or mail them to: Raise-a-Reader, C/0 Louise Rachlis, Ottawa Citizen Advertising Features Department, 1101 Baxter Road, Ottawa, Ont. K2C 3M4.