Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Kids Lit and Election Humour

Hey again,

Alright - couple more things to post today. Came across a book review on Big A little a on a book whose title alone grabs you: Elephants Can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold

Also of note, for those always looking for kid's book ideas is the fact that the New York Public Library came out with its 2005 Recommended Reading List. (Info courtesy of Chicken Spaghetti)

On the Canadian Election front - just in case it was unclear whether Paul Martin liked children or not - you can now go to the Liberal Party website and download computer wallpaper of Martin reading I'll Love you Forever by Robert Munsch to children. (Please see my previous post on this very exciting issue).

Finally,courtesy of my current favourite Blog - Calgary Grit - here is some Dr. Seuss inspired election humour. I, however, feel obliged to point out that "The Night Before Christmas" was written by Clement Clark Moore (or not) but definitely not Dr. Seuss :)



Literacy Specialists in Schools

Hey everyone,

This article is part of a series in the Toronto Star. I posted a previous article from the series HERE.

Also of interest is this article in the Star last week. Provincial Premier Dalton McGuinty did a "State-of-the-Union-like" address at the close of the provincial legislature for the fall and listed "Ontario's challenges for '06" - one of which was addressing the large number of high school drop-outs.

Quoting the Premier "There are still far too many young people dropping out of high school. We still have to get class sizes down."

Appears to be on the right track.

That's all I have for now!


PUBLICATION: The Toronto Star
DATE: 2005.12.20
BYLINE: Tess Kalinowski
SOURCE: Toronto Star

Guiding kids to read; More Ontario schools adding literacy specialists to help hone students' skills A key weapon in province's fight to raise standards, writes Tess Kalinowski

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

Teacher Cathy Martino-Porretta isn't just an important ally to her colleagues at Northern Lights Public School.

She's a key piece of artillery in the Ontario government's fight to raise the standard of reading and writing in the province.

One of three special education resource teachers at the Aurora school, she's also the lead literacy teacher, which means she's a key support to all the students and teachers there.

The role of literacy teacher is being added to more Ontario schools as an additional support for struggling students and busy classroom teachers.

In addition to working directly with students in Grades 7 and 8, it is Martino-Porretta's job to co-ordinate special literacy initiatives and make sure classroom teachers have the time and expertise they need to hone students' skills.

The job also extends to the community. This fall she organized a family literacy night in which 280 parents and their children got a crash course in effective reading strategies directly from the experts - Northern Lights teachers.

Along with a team of teachers, Martino-Porretta helps develop new ways of engaging kids in reading and writing.

One idea she's been looking at is making car manuals available in the classroom and school library because research shows boys often enjoy non-fiction more than traditional classroom materials.

"It's non-traditional reading but it's still reading," she says.

But to teacher Nadia MacKinnon, it's Martino-Porretta's day-to-day help as a special education resource in her classroom that is key in preparing her Grade 7 students for higher education

"Collaboration with your colleagues just makes our individual teaching so much better. You feel supported and the students are getting the same message," said MacKinnon.

Martino-Porretta helps MacKinnon deliver a daily 20-minute dose of Guided Reading, a teaching technique that the York District School Board and others use at various grade levels to make sure students have the skills first to decode letters and then to understand what they're reading so they can communicate the ideas to others.

"It is not the old round robin," says Martino-Porretta, referring to the way previous generations learned to read with a class full of children following along in a book and taking turns reading words, sentences and paragraphs aloud.

By Grade 7 and 8 most students can decode the letters, so Martino-Porretta's Guided Reading sessions focus on comprehension.

While she's working with one group outside the classroom, MacKinnon will work with another inside the class. Every student gets Guided Reading instruction, not just struggling readers.

Earlier this month, Martino-Porretta worked with five students on a parody of the fairytale The Frog Prince. The students have already read the piece and discussed the story's plot and themes. Now their task is to write a summary showing what they took from the previous reading and discussion.

After reviewing the elements of a summary, including plot and characters, Martino-Porretta helps the students formulate a potential opening statement for their summaries.

"This is the story about a frog and a prince," suggests Connor Allen.

Gently the teacher helps the group build on Connor's idea. "This is a story about a frog who many people see as different than he is," says Brendan Henderson.

While the five students are busy writing their summaries, Martino-Porretta checks on each individual's progress.

"This is a good summary. You've got key ideas without giving too many details," she tells Dayna Star.

Reading is at the foundation of everything Northern Lights teachers do, says Martino-Porretta. All MacKinnon's students keep a reading log. They're expected to read for 30 minutes every evening and their parents have to sign off on that work.

Each month the students focus on a different genre November was non-fiction; December was picture books and January will be poetry. At the end of the month there will be a related activity such as writing a comparison between fiction and non-fiction books, or explaining the features of a picture book.

Because students may not have a selection of interesting reading material at home, MacKinnon makes selections from the school library.

"There's incredible research how about reading improves your writing skills," says MacKinnon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Carleton Charity Ball 06 & job postings of interest

Quick post courtesy of my Carleton inbox:

Swing in Style at the 19th Annual Carleton Students' Charity Ball!
On Saturday, February 4, 2006, get ready to 'Swing Bada Bing' at the 19th Annual Charity Ball at the Ottawa Congress Centre. Doors open at 8:30pm. This year's charities are the Sierra Club of Ottawa and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. Come out for a fancy night out on the town and support two wonderful causes!

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets will be available starting January 4th at the CUSA office, RRRA office, the Carleton Bookstore, Abstentions (res convenience store), and at promotional tables in Baker Lounge throughout the month. All proceeds go towards the charities.

For more information, to volunteer, or if you have any questions, check out our website at http://www.carleton.ca/charityball, or e-mail us at charity_ball@yahoo.ca.

Also, if any of you are on the hunt for employment - was on the Charity Village site earlier today and noticed that Laubach Literacy is looking for a Communications Officer. Also noticed some interesting stuff with Canada World Youth. Finally, I got an interesting one in my Yahoo inbox for Internship Placements at the International Bureau for Children's Rights. You can also find the information directly on their website.


Scary things online


Every now and then (in my quieter moments) I query "Literacy" on Blogger just to see what I come up with.

This one, courtesy of Life in Reality is a bit, um, worrying.

Besides the fact that the publicist seems to have suceeded in locating a second Fabio - when the entire world should agree that one is enough - there is the, um, fact that they appear to be encouraging folks not to read.

You can check out the full campaign here. It's a company that sells audio tapes. Their schpiel, once you listen to a snippit from Jarhead (available in your local library or bookstore, if by chance you may actually like to READ IT), basically says "why bother reading when you can listen to this audio book while driving, or while working out at the gym."

Good grief. The Blogger apparently came across it on the News8Austin Weather page on December 14. For a little irony - the other main story those blogging about literacy issues were concerned about last week that came across during my query was concerning this New York Times Article:

Literacy Falls for Graduates From College, Testing Finds
Published: December 16, 2005

Blogger sample on the issue for those interested HERE.

On a final "literacy search" note, came across this Canadian site, which may be of interest to some of you. Postings from someone doing their MA in Education. Her blurb:

I enrolled in the Masters of Education (Literacy Education) programme offered through MSVU, beginning in September 2004. In this blog, I will be attempting to outline what I have learned, and am continuing to learn, with regards to new literacies and new technologies.

She doesn't appear to post regularly, but is quite thoughtful when she does - providing some interesting sources.



Holiday Reading and more on the literacy stats

Hey cyber-world,

Piece of interest from today's news below on my favorite issue re: the links between literacy and other social issues - in this case, health and employment. On my personal literacy front thought I`d let you know I'm busy reading what is soon to be a classic: Sophie Kinsella's "Shopaholic and Sister".

Nothing like a bit of mindless reading for the Holidays. Was also interested to find out that Lynne Truss has another book out.

Some of you may know her as the Author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves - which is a book about the sorry state of grammar in the English Language. Her new book is entitled "Talk to the Hand" and the blurb on the book, courtesy of her website is:

Why hasn’t your nephew ever thanked you for your carefully selected gift? What makes your contractor think it’s fine to snub you in the midst of a major renovation? Why do crowds spawn selfishness? What accounts for the appalling treatment you receive in stores (if you’re lucky enough to get a clerk’s attention at all)? Most important, what will it take to roll back a culture that applauds those who are disrespectful? In a recent US survey, 79 percent of adults said that lack of courtesy was a serious problem. For anyone who’s fed up with the brutality inflicted by modern manners (or lack thereof), Talk to the Hand is a colorful call to arms—from the wittiest defender of the civilized world.

And on a bloggy note - I was very excited to learn how to not only post photos to the menu, but also link from them! Please take a moment to oooh and ahhh over the literacy site button at the bottom of the menu. In the near future I plan to play with banners on the site - thought I might try to add a Make Poverty History Banner even though the year's almost up (as a tester - WUSC Carleton, as well as the Student Associations, have been advocating the cause this year) and I am considering doing a short "Best of the SFLO blog" along the side.

I sense that you are all as excited about this as I am. Really.



PUBLICATION: Montreal Gazette
DATE: 2005.12.19
SOURCE: CanWest News Service

Literacy literally pays off: Leads to better jobs. Link found to health, quality of life: survey

Literacy pays, and in many ways.

Not surprisingly, Canadians with higher literary skills have higher rates of employment and earnings, according to a study by Statistics Canada. However, it also found they tend to be healthier than those with the lowest literacy levels, are more involved with their communities, and more likely to be taking courses to further upgrade their skills and knowledge.

In contrast, those with the lowest literary skills were also the least likely to be taking skills or education courses, suggesting those who most need to improve those skills are the least likely to do so.

"The people who have the skills are the people who are able to get training, especially employer-supported training, and thus able to maintain or increase their skills, while those who don't have the skills don't get that opportunity," Jean Pignal, national study manager for the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, said in an interview.

That suggests the gap between those who have good literacy skills and those who don't will widen, he said.

The survey of 23,000 Canadians age 16 and older "found a clear link between proficiency in literacy and an individual's employability," it said, noting people with low literacy skills tend to have lower rates of employment, and tend to work in occupations with lower skill requirements.

The survey, conducted in 2003, tested Canadian proficiency in four areas - prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy and problem-solving - and rated them from one, the lowest, to five, the highest.

Nationally, the employment rate rose with literacy skills.

For example, only 57 per cent of those with the lowest document literacy skills were employed, a proportion that rose to 70.2 per cent for those with the second-lowest level, to 76.4 for those at Level 3, and to 81 per cent for those at the top two levels.

The relationship between literacy and employment was widespread across the country.

About 62 per cent of employed Canadians had average document literacy scores at Level 3 or above, the threshold for coping in a knowledge-based world, it said. In contrast, more than 50 per cent of the unemployed had document literacy scores below Level 3.

"People who work in more knowledge-intensive jobs, including such occupations as accountants, lawyers, economists, medical doctors, mathematicians, architects, college and university educators, tend to have higher proficiency in literacy and numeracy," it said.

"In addition, the higher the proficiency in literacy, the more workers tend to earn, particularly women."

Nearly one-third of men who were earning at least $60,000 a year were at the highest level of prose literacy, while only 15 per cent were among those earning less than $20,000, it said.

"The difference was even greater for women," it said, noting about one-half of women earning $60,000 or more were at the highest level of prose literacy, compared with only 19 per cent who earned under $20,000.

There may also be a link between literacy and health, and in turn quality of life, the survey noted. Those who reported being in poor physical health scored lower in document literacy than did those reporting better health, it said. Also, about half of those over age 65 where the average document literacy score was at the lowest level, also reported being in poor physical health.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Forest of Reading


After reading through the piece from the Sault Star, thought I'd do a bit more reading about the Forest of Reading Awards from the Ontario Library Association.

The main page is HERE, which links to all of this years nominees.

As for a little bit of info on the program: There are six different award categories:

Ages 4 to 8
Grades Kindergarten to Grade 3

Ages 8 to 11
Grades 4 - 6

Ages 11 to 15
Grades 7 - 8

Grades 9 - 12

Adult Library Patrons of Any Age

Adult readers

Given the average age of our learners, I looked up a bit more info on the Blue Spruce Award and discovered:

It's a provincial primary reading program which brings recently published Canadian children's picture books to Ontario children ages 4 to 8 in kindergarten through to grade three.

Students peruse 10 nominated Canadian picture books and then vote for their favourite book. Based on student voting across the province, the best picture book is then selected and the author/illustrator is honoured with the Blue Spruce Award™.

The goals of the Blue Spruce Award™ program are:

- to promote reading for enjoyment and information among primary students
- to make students aware of quality Canadian picture books including Canadian authors and illustrators
- to develop the student's skill in evaluating a picture book based on story, text and pictures
- to provide opportunities for students to discuss the picture books in an authentic manner

More on this specific award HERE.


More on kids books and adult literacy news

Hi again,

Great story in yesterday's Sault Star about choosing books for children - aimed at parent's but quite useful for us.

In other news, New Brunswick released it's new Adult Literacy Strategy - so I've included a short article on that below.

For those interested in the blogging world - you may be thrilled as I was to find a reference to our little endeavour on another blog HERE. There are actually quite a few blogs out there on children's books (haven't found any others on literacy), but I may start listing a few along the side as they are good for inspiration re: choosing books and such.

DATE: 2005.12.13
BYLINE: Roxanne Rissenan
SOURCE: Special to The Star

Great books for great kids

During the holiday season one of the best things we can give to the children in our lives is the gift of literacy.

Books and reading are a wonderful way for children to experience the lives of other children and the world around them.

There are several important factors to take into account when buying a book for a child.

Knowing the age of the child, their interests and reading abilities are all important to consider when selecting a book.

Board, plastic and cloth books are wonderful for children under the age of three. At this age, a child is exploring the world with their entire body including their mouth. These types of books are sturdy and can last through many readings.

Books with high contrast pictures that will capture a baby's attention are an excellent choice. Plastic and cloth books have the added benefit of being wonderful bath toys.

Books by Julie Aigner-Clark, Margaret Rey and Dr. Seuss are great choices for babies.

Between the ages of three and five, children are more aware of the world around them and are becoming independent. Books with few or no words and high quality pictures allow a child to become the storyteller.

Titles by Frank Asch, Mercer Mayer and Jane Moncure are all wonderful choices for children this age.

School age children between four and eight are well on the road to reading and have usually developed interests in certain topics. Research in reading has found that boys prefer non-fiction books while girls prefer fiction. Graphic novels are of great interest to both boys and girls.

As with any book you are selecting for a child it is important to look through any graphic novel to ensure it is age appropriate. Chris Van Allsburg, Robert Munsch and Barbara Park have authored wonderful books for children. Books for pre-teens or 'tweens are wonderfully diverse and enjoyable.

At this age, children have definite preferences. Simply ask friends or family members what books they like to read. Some favourite authors for this age group are J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snickett, Mary Pope Osborne and Christopher Paolini.

The children's staff at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library is able to recommend books based on age, interest and reading level.

Another resource for locating great children's books is through the awards given to authors and illustrators of children's literature.

The Ontario Library Association sponsors the Forest of Reading awards, which recognizes books by Canadian authors and illustrators.

The best part is that Canadian children choose the winners; as a result these books are sure to delight all children.

The American Library Association sponsors both the John Newbery and Caldecott medals.

The names of these books can be found on the Internet or by asking the staff at the Children's desk in the library.

You can also take the opportunity to share the books you loved as a child this season.

And best of all books don't have to be assembled.

Roxanne Rissanen is the Children's Services Librarian at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. Contact her at (705) 759-5275 or r.rissanen@cityssm.on.ca


PUBLICATION: The Fredericton Daily Gleaner
DATE: 2005.12.14
BYLINE: JOEL O'KANE jokane@dailygleaner.com

Literacy plan is unveiled

The provincial government unveiled plans to beef up adult literacy and education programs Tuesday, one month after literacy advocates called New Brunswick's consistently low literacy skill levels embarrassing.

Training and Employment Development Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney said the Lord government will spend $2.6 million annually to help raise adult literacy rates, an increase of $1 million over prior levels.

The Quality Learning Agenda plan also includes meagre pay raises for adult literacy instructors, measures to help people attain necessary workplace skills and improvements for libraries, including buying more books.

Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick president Lynda Homer said she's pleased the government is finally putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to adult literacy and education.

"I think that it takes time to actually put your money where your values are and to recognize what steps you have to take to make that difference," she said.

Over the next 10 years, the government hopes to increase participation in adult education by 25 per cent and bring adult literacy levels to the national average. By 2012, the government also hopes to see New Brunswickers exceed the national average for percentage of the population who are registered library users.

But not everyone's impressed. Liberal education critic and Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak MLA Kelly Lamrock said the plan should have been in place years ago and does not do anything specific to help people.

"There is not one new dollar of new money and not one specific action," he said.

According to a Training and Employment Development official, wages for adult literacy instructors are going up to $14.14 an hour, at least a dollar higher than before. But hours are also being cut from 40 to 35 a week, meaning many instructors will see little difference in each paycheque.

Homer said she knows of instructors making wages as low as $10 an hour.

Blaney defended the small raise as a first step toward building regular pay increases in the future.

"There's no question it has been a long time - many, many years really - since our literacy instructors have received pay increases," she said.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Literacy, the election, odds and ends

Hi again,

Further to previous posts about how I would check if anything gets said about literacy during the federal election, I decided to check the websites of some of the main literacy organizations/advocates to see what, if anything, they had up.

Happily, Frontier College has some information on their page that you can check out HERE.

Other than that, the Movement for Canadian Literacy has some updated advocacy material on their page (what parliamentarians can do to promote literacy etc...)

While going through this, also came across some other literacy news that I had missed. In no particular order, some press releases and info of possible interest below:

ABC Canada and Starbucks Launch Gift of Words - November 21, 2005

StatsCan Daily - Building on our Competencies, the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey - November 30, 2005

Low literacy in workforce highlighted in Summary of StatsCan-OECD survey - December 8, 2005

New Stats reveal: Low Literacy saps Canadians and Economy, says ABC Canada Literacy Foundation - November 30, 2005



More on kids books

Hey all,

Was thinking on one of Lyndsay's previous posts about good children's books and did a bit of surfing about to see what else was out there inspiration-wise on the net.

Found a few interesting bits and pieces. One - on Amazon there is a ready made list of multi-cultural books. I remember last year sometimes having a bit of a challenge finding books representative of different cultures - so here are some ideas!

From the list, the only one I recognized was Stone Soup. I believe this is a re-done telling of the story, though I remember Donna Stewart from the Ottawa Storytellers, telling it at one of our January Conferences (coming up this Jan. 14 - save the date!).

Another site that makes some suggestions, as well as providing some ideas re: how to go about choosing a children's book is the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, which, like the Literacy Site, is also an American organization. Anyhoo, according to their site they are:

"a not-for-profit literacy organization created in 1997 by award-winning children's book authors and illustrators. The NCBLA’s main goal is to make issues related to young people's literacy, literature, and libraries an ongoing priority on our national agenda. We act as a freelance, nonpartisan advocate, creating and developing special projects and events that promote literacy, literature, libraries, and the arts; educating the public about practical literacy and education solutions; and ensuring young people's right to read."

Sounds good to me.

While I'm on a bit of a linking kick, there is also something out there called the Write4Kids Message Board, for any aspiring authors. Also good for just browsing for ideas.

Also, the LA Times, also has a Kids' Reading Room that is fun to check out.

And for those interested, I came across most of these sites via a Blog Site called Cachibachis, which provides odds and ends about children's illustrations and writing for kids.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Holiday Shopping that gives a little more...

Still looking for gifts for special people on your list? I just found out that The Literacy Site has a wide variety of Fair Trade items for sale. Every click on a website = another 1% of a book donated by corporate supporters AND certain purchases made on the site will result in book donations to literacy programs in the US. Not bad!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Kids, books and the federal election

Hey everyone,

Remember how a few posts back I mentioned that I'd keep my ears pierced for news about literacy in the federal election?

Well, not much yet. But on the "oh, that's so cute" front (and tied in to the Liberal childcare announcement, following the Conservative childcare announcement), Paul Martin made a special trip out to PEI to read "I love you forever" by Robert Munsch to some children.

For those not familiar with the book, you can check it out online at the link above and hear Robert Munsch read it to you - which is pretty cool. And here's a picture!

Anyway, This illicited excited wonderment and enthusiasm from Scott Feschuk — chief speechwriter to Paul Martin, who wrote about the event on the Liberal Party's official campaign blog on December 6:


2:48 PM - My dear, dear readers: we're at a Montessori on P.E.I. The Prime Minister is reading a story to children. And for some reason I am overcome with the urge to tell you that: I'll love you forever I'll like you for always As long as I'm living My babies you'll be.

3:01 PM - Update: The Montessori kids have got the PM hemmed in on a pretty serious policy issue: can snow angels fly? One boy in particular is of the view that they can. He's marshaling a strong theoretical case. Two girls in the back are countering his argument with an evidence-based attack in which they execute snow angels on the floor and then look around with expressions that say, "See? Still on the ground here." Let's settle this tonight on Countdown with Mike Duffy.

Indeed, it appears even some of the hardened media folks who travel around with the campaign were moved. Indeed, columnist Paul Well's in his blog wrote of the event on December 7:

I actually enjoyed watching the PM read a children's book called I'll Love You Forever to the preternaturally photogenic children. When things get this surreal, you might as well just go with it.

However, you'll note from the following photo that his attention span was a little shorter than the children's:

Not to be outdone, the Conservatives also had some photos of Stephen Harper with really, really cute kids too.

And on a more substantive front, I found this article from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:

PUBLICATION: The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
DATE: 2005.12.09

MPs ' drive collects 10,000 books

About 10,000 books have been donated to the Saskatchewan Literacy Network after a local member of Parliament spearheaded a campaign to collect books for the organization.

For the past month, Carol Skelton, the Conservative incumbent in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, and fellow Conservative MP Lynne Yelich, representing the Blackstrap constituency, have been collecting books.

On Thursday, they announced they had collected about 10,000 books.

"The books that have been collected during this book drive will be distributed to families and programs across the province," said Debbie Griffith, executive director of the Saskatchewan Literacy Network, in the release.

For all you NDPers out there, I didn't notice any photos of Jack Layton playing with children - but will be sure to post one when I see it.

Will keep you posted if anything comes up on the literacy front!



Update, December 14/05: Okay, I know I'm a little late on this - but in the interest of fairness, I feel compelled to tell you that the NDP came out with their commitments for children (read: daycare) on Monday. Info HERE. While I didn't find any photos of Jack Layton with kids on the website, I did catch him singing Christmas Carols with kids on the news on Monday night.

On a further point, as a former child athlete, I was interested to read about the Conservative promised for a Child Sport Tax Credit. I tend to think anything that encourages kids to be active is a good thing - ties in to health, more involvement in community - healthier kids are happier kids.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



I know, I know. I'm diverging from the literacy theme, but I found this online and just had to share:

And you can actually check out the game and HERE. If you click on the different "properties", they all link to somewhere!

Fun, fun.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

CBC Canada Reads picks announced!

Hey all,

Lyndsay informs me that yesterday, CBC announced its Canada Reads picks for 2006. The website with the list of books and panellists is available HERE.

Be sure to check it out. Each year five well-known Canadians each defend a Canadian book - fighting for their book to "win." I understand Lyndsay is most excited about John K. Samson of the Weakerthans--(also a professor and an author and who knows what else) defending her favourite Canadian book (Miriam Taeves--A Complicated Kindness). See if someone is defending one of your favorites!

Most relevant to the SFLO cause is the fact that each year Canada Reads benefits a literacy organization. This year proceeds from sales from the books in question from various sponsoring publishers will go to support Laubach Literacy.

Laubach was founded in 1970. Since that time, thousands of volunteer literacy tutors have used Laubach methods to help Canadian adults improve their reading and writing skills. LLC also certifies trainers to deliver training workshops to literacy volunteers across the country. Their motto is Each One Teach One. You can check out their site HERE.



Monday, December 05, 2005

Some thoughts from Rideau

Hi everyone,

Just thought I'd share a few nice moments we had at our final Reading Circle before exams and the holidays at the Rideau Library.

One of the mother's came to pick up her son and let me know that, of all the activities he has done since coming to Canada, he enjoys the Reading Circle the most. He tells his mom this is because "it's not like working - all we do is play games!" I assured her, we did indeed read with her child - which she knew. She told me she really appreciated the program and the opportunity it gave her son to practice reading. I've had the chance to read with him a few times this fall and have seen him improve and genuinely enjoy the books we read.

Another mother showed up to pick up her son, who refused to leave until we'd read his favorite book one more time. For those interested it was "I Stink" by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Jim McMullan.

Now, I'd never read this before - but what a great book - especially for boys! It's all about what the Garbage Truck does in his day (basically, he eats garbage, and this is why PHEW! he stinks!). It's full of bright pictures, words in different sizes for different emphasis and all sorts of sound effects as the Garbage truck goes through his day chomping your trash!

Can't help it - here's another picture:

As a group activity that day we read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with the volunteers (Ellen, Jessica and myself) and the children sharing the reading and passing the book around the group. Seeing the children move to ensure they maintained a "good view" of the pictures as the story moved around the circle was great - showing how much they got into the story.

Finally, to top if off, we had two special guests from the Seniors Residence next-door to the library drop by to see what our circle was all about. While they sat and observed for most of the time, I had a chance to talk with both of them - one use to teach children and now writes children's stories, and both were excited about the program happening so near their residence. Both were also very interested to hear about Frontier College/Students for Literacy and what else we do in Ottawa. Hopefully they will be back again to visit us when the circle starts again in January.

Anyway, I just found the day to be so much fun and so rewarding as a volunteer that I thought I'd share it with the rest of you!


Youth Volunteer Coalition

Newswire Press Release that caught my eye HERE

Justin Trudeau is heading up a coalition of youth oriented volunteer organizations pushing for more funding to allow these organizations to provide more opportunities for Youth to volunteer.

Their introductory (as posted on their website) are:

These NGOs, including some of the largest in the country, agree on the following point: that Canada cannot afford to lose the energy and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of young citizens each year who are ready to give several months of their lives to work as volunteers. Unfortunately, our NGOs lack the required resources, and the great majority of these young applicants are turned away. This little known reality must be brought urgently to the public attention. After considering various courses of action, the Coalition has decided to focus its efforts on presenting the greatest possible number of petitions to Parliament, through MPs and senators.

Anyhow, they have a website HERE where you can download their petition.



Sunday, December 04, 2005

Txt msging: a gr8 nu grmr XRcise?

Check out this fascinating lesson plan from CBBC on how to incorporate text messaging into classroom activities.

Can you reduce an entire book to a simple text message? This 13-year-old reader can:
"Lord of the Rings: I wnt my rng bak. U cnt hav it. Big fight. Rng in2 vlcno. End."
-Neil, 13, Crawley

Looking at text messaging (or at "msn speak") can be an interesting exercise in literacy. It's a good example of how different degrees of formality exist in the English language!

Globe and Mail's Special Kid Lit Feature

This weekend's Globe and Mail has a special 28-paged Kid Lit feature in its book section. Their selections seem pretty standard and North American, but there are some interesting tidbits, nonetheless. One of the articles, "Walking in a KidLit Wonderland" is available free online.

Does anybody else have any good books-as-gifts picks for the season?