Thursday, January 28, 2016

Censorship, Banning, Freedom and All Things Canadian...

It’s almost February. My favourite library month because with February comes Freedom To Read Week (Feb 21-27). It’s a week to talk about intellectual freedom, free speech and how those basic principles uphold our democratic society. Freedom to Read is at the very heart of most of things we hold dear in this society...

In my experience as a teacher, teacher-librarian and general person-at-large in society, I have always found the topics of censorship and freedom to be highly engaging with most demographic groups in society (almost everyone has an opinion on banning, censorship, freedom and rights).

I hope that this month, my educator friends out there will take some time to bring Freedom to Read week to the attention of their students and learning communities. I urge you to highlight book banning in as many ways as possible so our students can develop their own opinions about what Freedom to Read should mean and look like in our society.

Here are (just a few) interesting links about Freedom to Read Week (FTR) and Censorship:

Here is Sherman Alexie  speaking about book banning. He is the 2014 Most Challenged author in the USA.  (1:36 minutes).

If you would like more FTR resources, give me a shout. Or if you have some FTR resources or ideas to share, I’d love to hear them. Please send them my way!

Stay Reading (whatever you want),

Monday, January 25, 2016

Improving Reading Comprehension: The Power of Access and Choice

This presentation came my way today...thank you to Clearview Public Schools for sharing. The presentation is based on the work of Dr. Richard Allington--who, for those of you who don't know, is a  major, MAJOR guru in teaching reading.

I encourage you to take a quick flip through this slide deck if you're at all interested in thinking about reading, literacy and schools...

I hope you enjoy!


BTW- While I love the entire presentation, my top 6 favourite slides are: 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 30. 

Which slides speak to you? 

P.S. Richard Allington is also the author of my favourite SHORT article on what a great literacy program looks like. Click here to read it. It's delightful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Penny Kittle: Why Students Don't Read What is Assigned in Class

For those of you have been speaking with me in person, you know that Penny Kittle's work has been on my mind lately. This video is worth a quick view, if only to provoke thought and discussion...

Penny Kittle: Why Students Don't Read What is Assigned in Class

If you liked the video above and want more, here's another one that is similar, but features high school boys talking about reading. 

Boys & Reading 2013

...any thoughts?

Monday, January 18, 2016

What is a Library Learning Commons? How do I get one?

Want to improve reading? Increase technology integration? Create makerspaces? Enhance pedagogy... or improve any other facet of your school….the library learning commons could be your answer!

All of these foci (and most others) can be supported by adopting  a library learning commons philosophy in your school. A learning commons is not about shelves with wheels, or even about books. Library learning commons are about improving and supporting teaching and learning in schools. Here are a  few key ideas that were developed in a recent webinar I attended on Library Learning Commons:

  • The library learning commons is philosophy, not just physical location.
  • Every school will (should) have a different way of understanding what a learning commons is.
  • The focus on a learning commons is always on teaching and learning.
  • Supports collaborative planning and teaching.
  • It should work with your school plan and learning goals, not be an ‘add on.’

As you can see from above, a properly set up library learning commons is a powerful positive force on learning. If you are interested in talking or thinking about developing the learning commons approach in your school, you may find the following links interesting:

For those of you who know me, you know I am a LIBRARY LOVER and a part of that means I love talking about libraries and learning commons. If you would like to continue this conversation, please give me a shout.


P.S.  A note about the webinar:
The webinar I attended was the first of a six-part series entitled,  “How Does the New Policy Influence Us in Our Daily Learning Commons Adventures?" offered by the CRCPD. There are 5 more webinars in this series. The next one is Jan 28 @4:30.  I will continue to host them at central office. Contact me if you are interested in joining me. A link to a recording of the Jan 14th presentation is here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tracking Data for Students with ISPs

I have just returned from a school where I was talking about how to track data (and then use it!) for students who are on ISPs. The challenge in most secondary schools is that ISP students have a number of teachers throughout the day/ week.

Before I go any further, I will say that please make sure you are complying with FOIP and that you do not use students' names on forms stored in the Google cloud. If you have questions about what this means, contact me, an administrator, etc…

With that warning out of the way, let’s proceed.

So, what do I do with my (fictional) student Jimmy in my somewhat large-ish secondary school? How he is doing with his behavior, executive function or basic learner attributes? This is challenging data to collect from each teacher individually...but if we could get that data easily and then have a way to visualize it efficiently, could we use that information to set more effective interventions? For example (and this is only ONE example), I want to track Jimmy’s behaviour/attitudes in the following areas:
  • Jimmy turns in assignments on time.
  • Jimmy brings appropriate materials to class.
  • Jimmy is in class on time.
  • Jimmy accepts consequences of his behavior.
  • In general, Jimmy had a _____ day today in class.

This is what I am pulling off the top of my head...maybe you want to track other things...but you get the idea…

So I create a Google form. The ORDER of the questions  is important, because in the end I want to be able to track/visualize Jimmy’s behaviour over time. I want to monitor his behaviour, intervene when necessary, and share that data with all interested parties, including Jimmy. Here is the final product, a MOTION GRAPH...the horizontal axis I set to default to TIME. On the vertical axis I can select one of the behaviours I am tracking from the list above. When I “play” this motion graph I can see behaviour tracked over time. Notice that each circle represents a person who has been filling out the form (Science teacher, Jimmy, etc.). Take a moment to play around with the motion graph below.

The MOTION table ABOVE was created from the form response sheet in Google sheets. BELOW is a look at the original form. PLEASE NOTE: the order of the questions and the numerical responses on the behaviour questions are important in creating this form, if you want to end up with a motion graph at the end. Also, this is a sample from the OLD forms, the new FORMS has an even better date function, so you won’t have to input actual dates, respondents can simply select the date from a drop down calendar.

Now, all I need to do is send out an email on a schedule to collect info. For those of you using Exchange, here is a link to how to schedule sending email. That way you can get your emails ready in advance and just schedule them to go out when you need them to...

Here are a few other links that might be interesting:
EIPS Learner Attributes (descriptors and scales from elementary report card, but useful for all ages)
List of 33 Executive Functions (a handout I have collected in my teacher travels)

Anyway, I present this as food for thought...what things would you like to track over time? Would being able to visualize the data help? EIPS folks feel free to give me a call or an email if you’d like some help setting something like this (or something different) up!