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!)ΒΈ 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.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Bee Sharp!

(As opposed to the B- Flats)

In seriousness, new initiative recently announced by ABC Canada for International Literacy Day on September 8, 2006.

They have launched a new website called My Bee in a Box. Basically, they want kids - either at home or in school - to participate in non-competitive spelling bee's on September 8th in honour of International Literacy Day and to promote awareness for literacy. All the materials are available online - including a list of various word games which may be of interest to tutors.

I'm a little bummed that I'm probably too old to receive some of the "bee-lated" merchandise.

Otherwise its all quite bee-lightful.

Sorry. I'll stop this now :)

Two final and totally unrelated links of interest. To those of you (like me) who have always toyed with the idea of writing a novel someday, you may find this post quite good. I was unfamiliar with the blog, so thanks again to Jen Robinson for drawing it to my attention.

And you can go HERE to find out what celebrities you look like. Thanks to A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy for that one.

I found a literacy blog! (And a couple belated thank yous)

I hope she's just on holidays like me because Adrienne's blog "The Literacy Loop" looks like it has potential.

And a thank you to her for adding us to her "Literacy Links" section. Also belated thank yous go out HERE and HERE. Was thrilled by the recognition and the book was beautiful.

Finally, I note the addition of a new blogger on FrontierVSpot. Hi Sandi! Hope you'll be actively joining us in the blogosphere soon :) I'll add the link when you guys are ready.

Students for Literacy at Memorial - finalist for the Canada Post Awards!

So I've posted about the Canada Post Literacy Awards before and there is also a quick link to their site along the side of this blog in the Tutor Resources Section.

Anyhoo, the finalists have been selected and the winners will be announced at the end of August (which, given the date today is likely coming soon).

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Students for Literacy at Memorial University is one of the finalists in the Community Leadership category! According to the website:

Students for Literacy @ Memorial University, St. John's, NL
The members of this student society volunteer their time and talents year-round to help learners of all ages. In addition to tutoring adults in a variety of community settings, Students for Literacy developed the Kids on Kampus program, which brings children to the University for workshops that demonstrate how much fun learning can be.

We'll keep our fingers crossed.

As we start to gear up for another great year of volunteering, all the finalists offer great motivation and inspiration as to why it is important to get involved in literacy. Learn about the other finalists here!

Each winner in the Individual Achievement and Educator categories will receive a notebook computer and winners in the Community Leadership category receive cash awards of $2,000.

If you are looking for other motivating stories, you may also wish to check out the Council of the Federation Literacy Award Winners here. Direct link to info on the award here.

Basically, the Council of the Federation is composed of all the Premiers of Canada's provinces and territories. And I'm actually kind of stoked by this list on their site which lists their six initiatives. The literacy award is right up there with initiatives like the Advisory Panel on the Fiscal Imbalance. It's the little things like this (and this) that give a literacy tutor hope.


"How I Spent My Summer Vacation"

Also known as my "In case you were wondering what happened to me since late April" Post.

I give you the following options:

1. Strange lady gave me an apple. I just woke up and met this really cute guy.
2. Like many others, I was simply far too upset about the new state of Pluto to blog.
3. I was paying homage to some of my favorite non-kiddie lit bloggers, and doing my best impression of Andrew Coyne.
4. Pricked my finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. See point one.
5. Was too overcome with excitement at the prospect of a Season 8 of Buffy to blog (seriously, this is very cool).
6. Fell down a rabbit hole. Adventure ensued. Just back.
7. Was suspended for failing to do my summer reading.
8. Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, That started from this tropic port (Okay, Ottawa, but suspend disbelief), aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailin' man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for a three hour tour. A three hour tour.
9. I tried to go to Trent's literacy conference again and had less success than last time.
10. Ran off with Lyndsay's "Summer Reading, Naked Blog" man. But didn't work out so I'm back.

But seriously, you ask, where was I? Finishing my MA in Political Science. And now it's done. Done. DONE!!! The paper (on electoral reform in Canada) is handed in and I'm just waiting for the result (which is far less stressful than still writing it). AND, on top of that (and related to it) I have what promises to be a wonderful part-time job on select weekends as a facilitator with the Ontario Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform. This sadly means I will be less involved with the reading circles next year (I don't think its fair to commit to volunteering if I know I can't be there regularly because the kids get attached to you). However, I hope to stay involved with some of the other Organizational Team (OT) work here with Frontier College in Ottawa. And I hope to get back into the blog swing of things and hopefully have a few of the the new OTers join in too.

That said, I'll stop breaking that cardinal rule of blogging (don't apologize for being absent because people generally don't care why you weren't there) and get on with it.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Just One More Book!! - KidLit Podcasts

I'm sampling a podcast from the new-ish Website, and pleased to find that they're making reference to A Company of Fools and the Stratford Festival. (Canadian content!)

It's a neat idea! Thanks, guys.

(Now I want to read, Hamlet for Kids!)