Margin Notes

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM MARGIN NOTES

Dec
22

In our final post of 2022 we would like to thank you for your following and wish you a restful and joyful holiday. We hope you enjoy great company, food, and of course, a book you’ve been waiting to read! We look forward to connecting with you in 2023!

 

BURNING THE NEW YEAR

By Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.

Notes friends tied to the doorknob,

transparent scarlet paper,

sizzle like moth wings,

marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,

lists of vegetables, partial poems.

Orange swirling flame of days,

so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,

an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.

I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,

only the things I didn’t do

crackle after the blazing dies.

TRY THIS TOMORROW: MOODY MENTORS

Dec
01

I love it when my nightly scrolling is productive. Twitter can be a fantastic resource for inspiration and sharing ideas. Kate McCook (@KMcCookEnglish) so generously shared her idea of moody mentors. Here are the steps she outlines:

  1. I decided to focus on how to add mood to our pieces.
  2. I pulled out two favorite mentor texts, the openings to the memoirs The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls & Educated by Tara Westover, and called them “Moody Mentor Texts”
  3. I handed students a list of mood words & we defined new ones.
  4. We identified moods in each piece.
  5. We identified writing moves each author used to create the moods we noticed.
  6. We reassessed our drafts to see if we had established mood (and what mood)
  7. We chose two “Moody Mini Moves” to emulate in our own drafts.

I loved this idea so I tracked down the two mentors listed. Here are some excerpts:

Text #1

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Chapter 1: A Woman on the Street

I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.

Mom stood fifteen feet away. She had tied rags around her shoulders to keep out the spring chill and was picking through the trash while her dog, a black-and-white terrier mix, played at her feet. Mom’s gestures were all familiar — the way she tilted her head and thrust out her lower lip when studying items of potential value that she’d hoisted out of the Dumpster, the way her eyes widened with childish glee when she found something she liked. Her long hair was streaked with gray, tangled and matted, and her eyes had sunk deep into their sockets, but still she reminded me of the mom she’d been when I was a kid, swan-diving off cliffs and painting in the desert and reading Shakespeare aloud. Her cheekbones were still high and strong, but the skin was parched and ruddy from all those winters and summers exposed to the elements. To the people walking by, she probably looked like any of the thousands of homeless people in New York City.

It had been months since I laid eyes on Mom, and when she looked up, I was overcome with panic that she’d see me and call out my name, and that someone on the way to the same party would spot us together and Mom would introduce herself and my secret would be out.

I slid down in the seat and asked the driver to turn around and take me home to Park Avenue.

The taxi pulled up in front of my building, the doorman held the door for me, and the elevator man took me up to my floor. My husband was working late, as he did most nights, and the apartment was silent except for the click of my heels on the polished wood floor. I was still rattled from seeing Mom, the unexpectedness of coming across her, the sight of her rooting happily through the Dumpster. I put some Vivaldi on, hoping the music would settle me down.

I looked around the room. There were the turn-of-the-century bronze-and-silver vases and the old books with worn leather spines that I’d collected at flea markets. There were the Georgian maps I’d had framed, the Persian rugs, and the overstuffed leather armchair I liked to sink into at the end of the day. I’d tried to make a home for myself here, tried to turn the apartment into the sort of place where the person I wanted to be would live. But I could never enjoy the room without worrying about Mom and Dad huddled on a sidewalk grate somewhere. I fretted about them, but I was embarrassed by them, too, and ashamed of myself for wearing pearls and living on Park Avenue while my parents were busy keeping warm and finding something to eat.

What could I do? I’d tried to help them countless times, but Dad would insist they didn’t need anything, and Mom would ask for something silly, like a perfume atomizer or a membership in a health club. They said that they were living the way they wanted to.

After ducking down in the taxi so Mom wouldn’t see me, I hated myself — hated my antiques, my clothes, and my apartment. I had to do something, so I called a friend of Mom’s and left a message. It was our system of staying in touch. It always took Mom a few days to get back to me, but when I heard from her, she sounded, as always, cheerful and casual, as though we’d had lunch the day before. I told her I wanted to see her and suggested she drop by the apartment, but she wanted to go to a restaurant. She loved eating out, so we agreed to meet for lunch at her favorite Chinese restaurant.

 

 

Text #2

 

Educated by Tara Westover

After Dad took up preaching against milk, Grandma jammed her fridge full of it. She and Grandpa only drank skim but pretty soon it was all there – two percent, whole, even chocolate. She seemed to believe this was an important line to hold.

Breakfast became a test of loyalty. Every morning, my family sat around a large square table and ate either seven-¬grain cereal, with honey and molasses, or seven-grain pancakes, also with honey and molasses. Because there were nine of us, the pancakes were never cooked all the way through. I didn’t mind the cereal if I could soak it in milk, letting the cream gather up the grist and seep into the pellets, but since the revelation we’d been having it with water. It was like eating a bowl of mud.

It wasn’t long before I began to think of all that milk spoiling in Grandma’s fridge. Then I got into the habit of skipping breakfast each morning and going straight to the barn. I’d slop the pigs and fill the trough for the cows and horses, then I’d hop over the corral fence, loop around the barn and step through Grandma’s side door.

On one such morning, as I sat at the counter watching Grandma pour a bowl of cornflakes, she said, “How would you like to go to school?”

“I wouldn’t like it,” I said.

“How do you know,” she barked. “You ain’t never tried it.”

She poured the milk and handed me the bowl, then she perched at the bar, directly across from me, and watched as I shoveled spoonfuls into my mouth.

“We’re leaving tomorrow for Arizona,” she told me, but I already knew. She and Grandpa always went to Arizona when the weather began to turn. Grandpa said he was too old for Idaho winters; the cold put an ache in his bones. “Get yourself up real early,” Grandma said, “around five, and we’ll take you with us. Put you in school.”

I shifted on my stool. I tried to imagine school but couldn’t. Instead I pictured Sunday school, which I attended each week and which I hated. A boy named Aaron had told all the girls that I couldn’t read because I didn’t go to school, and now none of them would talk to me.

“Dad said I can go?” I said.

“No,” Grandma said. “But we’ll be long gone by the time he realizes you’re missing.” She sat my bowl in the sink and gazed out the window.

Grandma was a force of nature – impatient, aggressive, self-possessed. To look at her was to take a step back. She dyed her hair black and this intensified her already severe features, especially her eyebrows, which she smeared on each morning in thick, inky arches. She drew them too large and this made her face seem stretched. They were also drawn too high and draped the rest of her features into an expression of boredom, almost sarcasm.

“You should be in school,” she said.

“Won’t Dad just make you bring me back?” I said.

 

 

Text #3:

Here is a link to a blog post on mood with more moody mentor texts from poetry and pop cultures videos. The clip from One of Us is Lying could spark a book talk!

If you have another moody mentor, leave it in the comments!

TRY THIS TOMORROW: WHAT I’VE BEEN STREAMING

Oct
13

Scrolling Twitter one night, I saw a post shared from a bookstore titled “I want to get back into reading, I’ve been streaming”. The image, found here, matches readers with titles based on shows they have enjoyed. I often use conversation about television as a gateway to recommending books to students and this took it to a new level.  Other sources have similar lists to promote books based on TV entertainment.

 

Penguin has a list of “What to Read Next Based on Your Fav Netflix Shows”.

Epic Reads has a list of “36 Books to Read After Binge-Watching ‘Never Have I Ever’”.

Teaspoon of Adventure has a list of “Book to Read After Your Latest Netflix Binge”.

Try it:

  • Have students come up with a list of popular TV shows and research titles that are similar.
  • Have students pick one TV show and brainstorm similar titles they have read.
  • Have students look at your classroom library and pair titles with TV shows.
  • Have students match their current read with a TV show or movie.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: PICTURE BOOKS THAT DELIGHT part 1

Oct
04

Picture books are delightful. I can’t get enough of them (which proves that there is no age limit for enjoying picture books). Once a month, during the school year, I am going to pull together some picture books available on SORA that are just a delight to read. I encourage you to share them with your students. You never know what conversations might be sparked, and what insights might be found.

Enjoy!

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LITERACY EVENTS OCTOBER 2022

Sep
29

October 2-8

News Media CanadaNational Newspaper Week Every year, during the first full week of October, newspapers across North America celebrate National Newspaper Week to recognize the people who work tirelessly to bring the news to their communities. Newspaper journalism – both local and national – is critically important, especially in the reality in which we live. Now, more than ever, newspapers matter.

October 24-28

Media Literacy Week is an annual event promoting digital media literacy across Canada, taking place each October. Schools, libraries, museums and community groups organize events and activities throughout the week.

 

October 3-November 14

The Global Read Aloud

The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be.

OCTOBER 26 – 7:30-8:30 PM ADT

Kelly Fritsch & Anne McGuire authors of We Move Together. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. A kinship text for families, schools, and libraries to facilitate conversations about disability, accessibility, social justice, and community building. This event is free to the public. Register for tickets

 

For more events, please check out our Literacy Events Calendar.

PHOTO ESSAYS

Sep
15

Photo essays are a powerful form of multimodal writing. I fell in love with them when I was introduced to James Mollison and his incredibly important books: “Where Children Sleep” and “Where Children Play”. These books show, through pictures and words, the inequities of children’s lived experiences around the globe.

When I show these photo essays to teachers and students, they are equally struck by how profound a form of writing it can be. This usually leads to students wanting to write their own photo essays.

So, together as a class, we co-constructed “What makes a quality photo essay?”. We read lots of examples – both in book form and digitally – and answered the following questions:

What do you notice about the photo essay?

How would you define “Photo Essay”?

What makes a quality photo essay?

Some of the books we read were:

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison

James and Other Apes by James Mollison

Before Their Time: The World of Child Labour by David L. Parker

Earth Then and Now: Amazing Images of a Changing World by Fred Pearce

We also looked at digital photo essays that I compiled on a SWAY so the students could view them on their own devices.

Since students will be creating digital photo essays, it’s important that you show them different online tools that they can use. Canva, SWAY, Powerpoint, and Piktochart were the ones we explored.

I find that the photo essays students create tell a lot about themselves and how they view the world. Spending some time on personal photo essays at the beginning of the school year would be a great way to explore identity.

LITERACY EVENTS SEPTEMBER 2022

Sep
07

Here are some literacy events taking place in September 2022.

September 8th

International Literacy DaySince 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.”

 

September 15th – ish

International Dot Day “Imagine the power and potential of millions of people around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites. I hope you will join the growing global community of creativity champions using their talents, gifts and energy to move the world to a better place.”

 

September 18-24

Banned Books Week “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Check out these events, and more, on our ASD-W Margin Notes Literacy K-12 SharePoint.

 

SUMMER SORA SERIES RECOMMENDS THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS BY MARIEKA MIJKAMP 

Aug
12

This Is Where It Ends is a beautifully written novel following the events of a school shooting. Readers follow the lives of the people closest to the shooter and how they are affected throughout his terror. The reader is placed into the lives of five separate students and learn the relationship they had with the shooter and how it feels to have no power in a terrifying situation. 

This novel highlights the life of public-school students and the constant fear that they face with the rise of school shooting. It shows that no one is safe in this kind of position, not even family. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and makes you wish you had another book to follow each of the characters.  

Tyler Browne is the shooter. This is a familiar name as you flip the pages and immerse yourself into this story. This Is Where It Ends puts the fear that the students feel within you. Your heart will break for anyone who has been affected by, or lost a child to, school shootings. Rather than chapters, the plot follows a timeline, the 54 minutes that feel like a lifetime to the students and teachers at this school. There are many trigger warnings of course, with school shootings and the loss of children or student.  On the same note, there are gory details about people being shot – which is hard for an audience to read when they are so deep into the story.  

A reader who enjoys reading fiction that reflects current events should definitely read this title. 

My name is Chloe Despres, and I am a grade 11 student at Leo Hayes high school. I enjoy reading and writing during my free time and being with my family. Reading has become a new passion of mine and consumes my time, as does Book Tok. I work a lot so hanging out with my family and my dog is my escape and calm! 

 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: THREE TOOLS FOR TALK 

Jun
23

In their resource, Breathing New Life into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen guide educators on how to use book clubs to create a culture of reading.  

When students are placed together to carry conversation, the discussion might begin with the question “What do we talk about?” One response suggestion in this resource is to offer the three tools of talk. This strategy can help learners who struggle to find ideas worth sharing along with those who have ideas but need support to start a conversation. 

What’s on your mind? 

This question can start a conversation with any thought, sticky-note or quote to break the silence and teach learners that their ideas are valuable. It might be a thought about a character, an important event, an interesting detail etc.  

Audacious Questioning 

All group members can ask questions that may or may not have answers. The questions could be why something happened, what others predict will happen next, help to clear up confusion or ask about an event. Students can write sticky notes with questions as they arise in reading and bring them to the discussion or ask as the discussion progresses. 

Author’s Moves 

Once students learn to read like a writer, they know how to see the craft moves of an author. Students can discuss these moves together. They could talk about the structure, the language, the perspectives, the theme etc.  

Once you introduce, model and practice the three tools for talking, you can individualize feedback and support to groups when you notice which area they are leaving out of discussions or support them in including a variety of subtopics in each branch. 

If you are interested in learning more about starting, running and assessing book clubs, this title offers a practical guide to your teaching. The mini-lessons, tracking suggestions and immediately applicable advice is invaluable. 

Cherry-Paul, S., & Johansen, D. (2019). Breathing New Life into book clubs. Heinemann Educational Books. 

 

 

JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE BY TAE KELLER

Jun
21

There are just some authors who are an immediate “yes”. Tae Keller has become one of those authors for me, ever since reading her Newbery Medal winning novel “When You Trap a Tiger“. So, when I found out that she had a new middle grade novel coming out on April 26th, I pre-ordered it. And, let me tell you, it does not disappoint.

Mallory, the narrator of the story, is so real and raw. I love how we are privy to all of her thoughts, insecurities, and feelings. She is a complicated character and is not simply “good or bad”. The shame and guilt she feels over her actions and those of her friends is written with sensitivity, and I certainly felt empathy for her- despite the fact that as a parent and a teacher I wanted to tell her to give her head a shake many times.

This is a story of bullying, aliens (yes, I said “aliens”), being the “new kid”, standing up for what is right, and speaking up for others EVEN when it makes you stick out. This novel would be an amazing read aloud for a grade 6 or 7 class.

I highly recommend you add this to your TBR stack of summer reads. And if you haven’t read “When you Trap a Tiger”, add that one too!