Building a Community of Literacy Educators

The BC Literacy Council of the International Reading Association (BCLCIRA), commonly known as ReadingBC, has long been committed to improving student engagement in books and proficiency in literacy.  Members read journals such as The Reading Teacher, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, attend conferences and get together to discuss things they have tried in their classrooms and communities and the things they’d like to try.  Coming together with people with like minds is an energizing experience and lends itself to reflecting on practices that are tried and true and substantiated with research in the field.  Members have readily embraced  The International Literacy Association’s quest to start a worldwide Literacy Movement.

image For the 2015-2016 year, Reading BC (BCLCIRA) is trying to broaden participation and the diversity of ways that literacy leaders in British Columbia can engage with other literacy educators both in person and online.

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While it is increasingly difficult to organize and facilitate larger scale meetings due to high costs and increasing demands on our time, the ReadingBC executive committee has come up with some exciting opportunities to develop a variety of possibilities to engage in professional development and engage in community focused projects to advocate for literacy.

  • Join a ReadingBC Book Club.  Choose one of the books selected by members.  Form a book club with peers.
  • Participate in the discussion about a Book Club selection with colleagues via a TWITTERCHAT.
  • Read Spirals of Inquiry (Judy Halbert & Linda Kaser) and decide on an inquiry question to pursue with a group of colleagues.
  • Form a ReadingBC Community action focus to encourage children to engage in literacy activities or educate parents.
  • Form a Literacy Committee if you have a well established group wanting to commit to regular professional development and advocacy in your area.

Check out the link below for ideas BCLCILA Projects.final (3) copy and opportunities to join the International Literacy Association .  If you are a member of the International Literacy Association and live in British Columbia, you currently have a free membership to the provincial chapter, BCLCIRA / ReadingBC.  We have designated funding to help members get started from a grant from the Lower Mainland Council of The International Association (LOMCIRA), a local chapter before it went into dormancy.  Please check out the opportunities and send applications for funding or questions to the provincial coordinator at carriefroese@gmail.com or any of the other contacts on the website.

Hopefully this will forge some of the connections to continue building a community of literacy learners in British Columbia, and perhaps beyond.

Smart Change by Art Markman

Art Markman is not only an academic but personable and hence able to convey his message.  If the truth be known, I also like him BECAUSE he brought his mother to his presentation and book signing at The Learning and the Brain Conference in New York on Mother’s Day.  Every mother of a son realizes that being good to your Mommy is one of the criteria for true admiration and respect:D

Markman has also published Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership.  His most recent publication, Smart Change:  Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others continues to explore his work on understanding how the brain functions in developing new habits and maintaining old habits with automaticity.  Deeply ingrained habits do not require thinking to guide our actions.  This is why I have inadvertently headed on my expedited route to work when I’ve agreed to drop off a husband or son at the skytrain, even when he is sitting right beside me in the car.  The quest is to leverage the power of the brain to make the changes you want to make.  Interestingly several of the examples are related to diet, something many of us can relate to failures over the course of years.

The book is designed as a handbook for someone wanting to make a change in his/her life.  The Takeaways at the end of each chapter summarize key point.  Templates for a smart change journal are provided online (smartchangebook.com) or you can respond to prompts and questions in your own journal.   I have started the process and we’ll see how that goes.

Will You Read The Witches Malice?

My friend, David Hutchison, is working on his seventh draft of The Witches’ Malice.  I was honoured when he asked me to read the manuscript and give him feedback.  I was not entirely certain what that feedback should look like in order to be meaningful.  Years ago when I went to teach in China, I started to write my first blog.  I’ve written journals for my entire life but I’d never done anything so public.  I got lots of positive feedback which I found very empowering.  I did have one person comment that I must have been SO embarrassed that I spelt the word “massage” wrong repeatedly.  The spelling error was easily corrected.  The slap in the face wasn’t.  I very much wanted my feedback to be constructive and delivered respectfully.

My first strategy was to sit down with two different coloured highlighters.  One for mechanical errors and suggestions.  One to highlight strong description, powerful language and other elements that I thought were particularly well done.  This system quickly fell apart.  It slowed down my reading and enjoyment of the book.  It also focussed my attention too strongly on the mechanics and search for required corrections.  It felt like marking.  I decided I needed to adopt the stance of a reader and allow my perceptions to come out of that.

When we met to discuss the book, I chose a greasy spoon in East Van with spray paint on the walls and head banger music on the juke box that had survived from the 50’s.  It seemed like a plausible setting for witches plotting malice.  The conversation was about the biblical references to fallen angels, the Shakespearean witch, the depiction of experiencing loss through death, the root of malice, the building of belief and characterization.  It was fun!  Thanks to David for the experience and the honour and the greasy spoon breakfast in the witches’ den.  I believe that Hemingway did 49 drafts of Farewell To Arms.  Perhaps we’ll be doing it again 😀

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