Margin Notes

Young Canada Reads at Fredericton High School


Here at Margin Notes, we love the opportunity to celebrate students as reading ambassadors, so we were very excited to hear that four Fredericton High School students are participating in the local youth version of CBC’s Canada Reads. Each reader has chosen a Canadian novel to champion:

Sarah Kelly – Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Juliette Tristant-Akret – All the Things We Leave Behind by Riel Nason

Patricia Forestell – Saint and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Jake Dow- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

You can hear them talk about their books on CBC’s Information Morning this week and you can show your support by voting for them on the CBC Facebook page until Friday. Their book pitches will be aired on the Daily Roar video announcements at FHS this week as well.

These four students are doing an outstanding job representing FHS and youth in general as articulate and insightful readers. We are very appreciative that CBC Fredericton has created a forum for teens to engage in authentic reading talk and we look forward to seeing how this programme grows!

You can read more on the CBC Website

Spread the word to your fellow book lovers!

Mind The Gap


Last week, during a professional learning session with a group of middle school teachers, we provided copies of the inspiring resource Passionate Readers by Pernille Ripp.  As we read the section “Teacher as a Reading Role Model,” one question that made us stop and think was, “What are your own book gaps?  What do you not read?” We circled around that question for quite a while, pondering how our own reading preferences may inadvertently cause us to be gate-keepers when building classroom libraries, recommending books, and presenting book talks.  We realized we all have preferences and gaps and if we don’t recognize and address them, we are unintentionally narrowing the impact we have on readers and by missing opportunities of getting the right book into the hands of a student because we are missing entire genres.

Pernille Ripp believes, and we agree, that if we don’t acknowledge our own book gaps, we become more of a genre lover than a book lover.  This is okay in our own reading lives but not as a teacher of readers.


As a team, we identified our own reading gaps and tried to address them:

Jill: I naturally gravitate toward realistic fiction and historical fiction. I love to read books, both (more…)

Spinning by Tillie Walden


I do not often read graphic novels, but after reading Spinning by Tillie Walden, I was left wondering why not.

This graphic memoir spans almost a decade of Tillie Walden’s life over almost 400 pages, which may sound and look like a lot to students, but her story is so engaging that it is impossible to stop once you start. Words and images combine to transport you to the world of competitive figure skating, which truthfully, sounds quite terrifying (the skating moms alone would have made me run). Walden shares stories of testing, coaches, teammates, performance anxiety and the ways all of this affected both her skating and her understanding of herself.

But, as all good coming of age stories do, Walden’s story touches on many other topics. Woven in against the backdrop of the rink, are Walden’s experiences with bullying, family dynamics, (more…)

When You Teach A Reader Instead Of The Book


This morning I was reading a chapter of Nancie Atwell and Anne Atwell Merkel’s The Reading Zone which includes Daniel Pennac’s, “The Reader’s Bill of Rights”.

The Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes
Daniel Pennac (1992)

I took a few minutes to think about how great it would be if this was the reality for all our students, especially #10, the (more…)

Teaching Talk


Recently I had the opportunity to read Kara Pranikoff’s Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Conversation and Thinking which questions the traditional practices of classroom talk and asks teachers to re-think their role in that talk.

As teachers we know that conversation is a way students construct meaning and Pranikoff urges teachers to let students to become increasingly independent in their talk. She explains how the ultimate goal in larger-group conversations is for students to simply speak when they have something to say…like in the social talk at recess or at the end of the day when students are at their lockers. In these settings, students do not require an adult to mediate or monitor their discussion. This needs to be (more…)

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman


Inside a now/then/now/then chronological order, we follow Ingrid as she was then: a child travelling all over Europe with her opera star mother where life was, “beautiful and bright, and everyday soared with music” to now, where she is 17 and on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at risk teens: addicts, runaways, and her.

In a series of letters she writes to her mother while trying to survive in the wilderness, Ingrid reveals the secrets of her life and comes to terms with the trauma she has experienced. With the help of an eclectic group of wilderness campers, Ingrid slowly finds both her voice, and a purpose in the experience. Near the end of her 21-day camp experience, she writes to her mother: “I get it now. Peak Wilderness is geared to breaking down your barriers – physical, psychological, mental. Bringing you face-to-face with the best and worst of yourself, teaching you things you didn’t know about yourself, facing your demons. My demon is you.” (more…)

Welcome To Margin Notes


We’re happy you stopped by.

Those of you who know us, know we are passionate about all things literacy and are always looking for ways to connect and collaborate.  We hope this blog will be a space for sharing and learning.

Over time, the blog will evolve and grow but our current vision is for Margin Notes to be a place where we make our own learning visible, invite conversation, recommend books and resources, and celebrate literacy.

When we started working together as a team this year, we sat down and compiled our shared beliefs about literacy.  Then, following Warren Berger’s advice, we turned them into (more…)