Margin Notes

Book Relay 2018-19

Oct
12

This year, 40 educators are participating in our Book Relay.  In teams of 5, readers will read and circulate a collection of titles.  We took pictures of their stacks before mailing them out.

Grades 6-8:

BR 1

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Winner! Winner! #ASDWReads…

Oct
03

Congratulations to Melissa Canam for being the winner of our draw for participating in #ASDWReads on Twitter for the month of September!  We will have your prize of a book in your hands ASAP.

To be in the draw for the month of October, snap a picture of a book you just finished and tag it with #ASDWReads on Twitter.  The more you read, the more entries you get-happy reading:)

September Stacks

Oct
03

We’ve been very busy visiting classrooms for book talks. Thanks to all the teachers who invited us into their classrooms to share some of our favourite titles with their students. We got some wonderful recommendations from them too! Here are some shots of our September Stacks:

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#ASDWReads

Sep
06

Since we had such a great time this summer looking at all the titles you shared on Twitter with the hashtag #ASDWSummerReads, we decided to continue the book love throughout the school year!  The hashtag is now #ASDWReads and we encourage you to snap a picture of the book you are enjoying then post it on Twitter and add #ASDWReads.

We gave away 5 books to teachers at the end of the summer and we will be drawing a name every month for a book to send to the lucky winner.  The more you post, the higher your chances are.  Happy reading!

Conversations About Artifacts of Learning- Inquiry Writing

Aug
15

This is a summary of this year’s final conversation about artifacts of student learning as part of our Visible Learning project with our colleagues Michelle Wuest and Shelley Hanson and their Grade 11 students at Leo Hayes High School.  You can read a description of the project here.

In order to make our own learning visible, we decided to follow a protocol based on the Project Zero See-Think-Wonder thinking routine to structure our conversations and capture our thinking and reflections.  We recorded the conversation and I have summarized our observations, wonderings, and reflections.

Description of Artifact

After brainstorming a list of their wonderings-questions they would like to know the answers to-Shelley’s students selected a question (from the list or on their own) to explore further in an inquiry writing piece.  Students were challenged to explore at least 3-4 different perspectives in their final pieces.

Shelley shared a mentor text with her students: “What Women Really Do in the Bathroom” which can be found on page 119 of Kelly Gallagher’s book, Write Like This or here. (more…)

Being the Change Week 3

Jul
16

This is the third week of #CyberPD and the focus is on Chapters 5 and 6 of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed.  You can read my previous #CyberPD reflections here and here.

Chapter 5 is about Finding Humanity in Ourselves and Others.  We are reminded that it is critical to recognize that “the social constructs under which we live can lead us to classify, label with symbols, and eventually dehumanize individuals and groups (p. 101).”  Sara suggests two important steps to counteract the resultant othering:

  • We fight these destructive forces by finding and examining our humanity first.
  • While we are working to build kids’ capacity for empathy, we can honor how they see the world.

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Student Self-Assessment, Mentor Texts, and Single Point Rubrics

Jul
11

After meeting with Michelle Wuest and Shelley Hanson yesterday to continue our conversation regarding making learning visible, we have an idea that comes from Michelle’s classroom that we want to share with you.

Writing teachers are always looking for ways to foster students’ motivation and capacity to self-assess. As Sandra Herbst explains, “Self-assessment teaches students how to self-monitor, especially when it is informed by clear criteria and samples or models. Students who self-monitor are developing and practicing the skills needed to be life-long, independent learners.” (more…)

Being the Change Week 2

Jul
09

This is Week 2 of #CyberPD and we are reading and sharing our thinking about Chapters 3 and 4 of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed.  You can read last week’s post here.

Chapter 3 focuses on Being Candid and we are reminded that “candor requires a self-awareness and sincerity that isn’t always easy and doesn’t always feel good in the moment (p. 42).”  As in the previous chapters, the lessons, Seeing Our Own Bias, Understanding Microaggressions, and Refusing to Let Others’ Biases Define Us, set the stage for honest dialogue and reflection.  Because this can be emotional and challenging work, Sara offers strategies from her own experiences:

  • Share personal stories.
  • Pause and be present.
  • Honor each student’s identity.
  • Unpack terms in context.
  • Try this work yourself first.

I’ve been reflecting on the inquiry-based nature of this work.  When we start with the lived experiences of participants, both teacher and students, we are able to identify, name, and understand our experiences as a community of learners.  When Sara begins a lesson by asking, “Has anyone heard or seen this word before?” she is sending the message that the audience has important ideas to share and that she values their contributions to the learning.  This is a small but powerful shift away from centering the voice of an “expert” in the dialogue by defining the term for the group. (more…)

Being the Change

Jul
04

This summer I am participating in #CyberPD, a community of learners who are gathering virtually to read Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed.  Many thanks to Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) and Michelle Nero (@litlearningzone) for organizing this learning opportunity.

In the Introduction to Being the Change, Sara Ahmed provides this context:

“This book is based on the idea that we can develop skills and habits to help us comprehend social issues and participate in relevant, transparent conversations.  Social comprehension, like academic comprehension, is how we make meaning from and mediate our relationship with the world.  We understand that the meaning making, or socialization, is learned, not inherited (p. xxv).”

She offers a few guiding principles for creating safe spaces where this kind of work can happen:

  • Do the Work Yourself First—and Often
  • Keep the Focus on the Kids, Not on You
  • Consider How You See Your Kids
  • Be OK with Silence and Discomfort (aka, Don’t “Save” Every Moment)
  • Decenter Your Normal
  • Enter with Humility
  • Remember that Progress Takes Time Effort, and Heart Work

I’ve been reflecting on these guiding principles and identifying the ones that come easily to me versus those that require more intention. Many of these principles challenge me to be more aware of the language I use and recognize that my language derives from the lens through which I see the world.  Does my language reveal my inherent biases and beliefs? Am I unintentionally centering my world view and marginalizing those whose experiences are different?

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Guest Writer Katie Prescott on Personalized Reading Goals

Jun
19

As an English teacher, I have always encouraged my students to read, but I had not found strategies that I felt “really worked”. After attending a PL Session with Jill, Melissa, and Kelly on how to increase the volume of reading in my high school English classroom, I set out with a mission. The very next day, I started showcasing a new novel with a small book talk at the beginning of each class. I made multiple trips to the FHS Library to take out books to bring into my classroom for these showcases. I pleaded (but it didn’t take much convincing) with one of our amazing librarians to order even more books that I heard about when Jill and Melissa came into my classes to give a “30 Books in 30 Minutes” presentation, which actually turned into an hour because once they start, they can’t stop!  Also, when I knew a student finished a book they liked, I had them tell the class about it too. I have never seen so many books flying out of my hands or from student to student. Simply just sharing books consistently, and with passion, was so effective. (more…)