Student Leadership: Literacy in Action
This is the time of year that we enjoy the changing of the leaves and the crisp days of autumn; more importantly longer evenings and cozy weekends to snuggle up and read. As our 44th Annual Reading for the Love of It Conference nears, I hope our fall/winter newsletter inspires you to find time for yourself and pick up a book to read. You will learn about the work of some incredible student leaders. I am sure you will feel confident in the fact that the work we do as teachers can motivate young people into action.
Harry S. Truman said, "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." The theme for this newsletter, “Student Leadership: Literacy in Action”, complements the goal of our Association to "improve the quality of literacy instruction and to encourage the development of a lifelong interest in reading". Student Leaders across Canada and throughout the world are making lasting changes in their schools and communities by refusing to be a part of “a generation of passive bystanders.” Many of them are inspired by the work you do.
We are very excited about this year’s outstanding conference line up. Liz Blake, Programme Chair, and her committee have been hard at work planning what promises to be an exhilarating two days of professional development. Our striking Thursday line-up of keynote speakers include the award-winning journalist, author, and first Indigenous woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures, Tanya Talaga, sharing All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward. The author and illustrator of more than 45 books for children, including the New York Times bestselling The I Love You Book, The Earth Book, and The Thankful Book, Todd Parr will provide the Thursday lunch Keynote. We also welcome distinguished broadcast journalist, winner of Scotiabank-Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award, Esi Edugyan, as our Reading Awards Banquet speaker. The Friday breakfast speaker is Andrea Beaty, the author of the popular Questioneers series, and our lunch speaker is Max Eisen, the incredible 2019 Canada Reads winner for his account of his time at Auschwitz in his novel, By Chance Alone.
We invite you to begin your conference experience at our Welcome Reception and AGM on the evening of Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 where you can meet and greet presenters in attendance, delegates who have travelled from near and far, and EYSRA committee members. All conference attendees are welcome to join us on Thursday morning as we kick off the 44th Reading for the Love of It conference with a Special Opening featuring an Indigenous Presentation by Suzanne and Cedar Smoke, followed by the Tanya Talaga keynote.
Choose from a large array of general sessions being offered by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, Mary Bigler, Lori Jamison, Pernille Ripp, Ted Staunton and Larry Swartz, just to name a few. For more detailed conference information visit our website at www.readingfortheloveofit.com.
Don’t forget, our convenient EventMobi Mobile Conference Guide App is available to you, so pack your electronic devices and navigate your way through RFTLOI 2020!
Looking forward to seeing you in February! Until then, wishing you happy days filled with good books and Reading, just for the Love of It!
Patisserie for a Day
Picture books, easy read and authentic situations are the main components in my French as a second language program. One project that was a huge success in my classroom was our Patisserie day.
Using Diya Lim’s* book Amandine adore les galettes des rois as a starting point, we transformed our classroom into a patisserie for a day where students were selling multicultural treats to their classmates, teachers and parents. First, we read and understood the adventures of Amandine. Throughout the reading, we worked on different reading strategies, created a vocabulary list, identified the main characters and reviewed how to engage in a meaningful dialogue.
Students were then invited to form small groups, choose their favourite character, write a possible dialogue that could happen between each of the characters, create a menu, name their patisserie and prepare some delicious treats. On the BIG day, students opened their patisseries and demonstrated such confidence in their interactions.
Throughout this project, my role as a teacher was to provide my students with the appropriate tools to be successful. We created anchor charts of possible dialogues, vocabulary sheets and dedicated some time to practice our communication skills. Students were the lead of this project. I was there to guide them when necessary.
I believe if you are passionate about something, students feed off of your energy and they will start developing an intrinsic motivation towards the task at hand. Children’s literature and baking are two of my favorite things, so when I found this book, I was totally hooked. I truly believe because of my passion and excitement for this book, my student’s engagement was much higher, and the result was a great success. Let’s not forget that food is always a great selling point to any student!
* Diya Lim will be providing presentations at Reading for the Love of It 2020.
Article by: Karine El-Chacra, Elementary FSL Teacher
Enseignante de Français langue seconde primaire
St. Maria Goretti Catholic SchoolB
7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
How often have you found a book that seems so tailored to your mindset and experiences? A book that knows the ups and downs of adolescent life? Well, Sean Covey’s inspiring handbook titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens has been the most convenient source of guidance that I have encountered in my day to day life. In this book, Covey shares his knowledge about the 7 Habits that all teens should strive to live for, using not only his own experiences but the relatable and honest anecdotes of his readers. It has been custom made for the teen mind which generates an easy read that will make you re-think your routines, relationships, goals, and so many more aspects of life that you probably haven’t thought about before reading this book. It will positively affect many generations of teenage minds. The segments are attention grabbers from beginning to end.
Personally, after reading a chapter of this book, it was hard to put it down. I started to picture the goals I could set and the personal victories I could achieve. As a high school student, this could not have come at a better time. Not only did I implement these proactive habits into my studies, but into my personal relationships as well. I am delighted to say that the results surprised me. Using the “Baby Steps” that are provided at the end of each chapter made improving my schedules and routines that much easier.
I highly recommend this to the vast population of social media-addicted, drama-inflicted teens out there. The habits will continue to help you in your everyday life, and with enough practice, you can turn the constructive and advantageous pages into reality.
Article by Stephanie De Castro
Grade 9 Student at Senator O’Connor College School
Primary Leadership through Literacy
Empowering students from a young age is vital in their development, both in their academic and social lives. One way to do this in the primary classroom is by teaching leadership through literacy. I like to start off the school year by teaching and modeling positive habits through Sean Covey’s book series The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. The main book, as well as the 7-part collection, outlines seven different tools that students can use to take on a leadership role in their lives, by using fun and furry animal friends to deliver the messages. I embed the book’s themes all throughout the classroom, like with my “Put First Things First” homework board. I also have the students recite the book’s mantras all year long.
Once students have some leadership tools in their proverbial toolboxes, I also like to promote leadership in my primary classroom through learning buddies! While reading buddies are a long standing tradition in elementary schools, my colleague and I like to use the platform for different learning experiences where the partners take turns leading each other in new learning opportunities. Some weeks it will be my primary students taking charge by teaching their intermediate buddy a science concept in a STEAM activity, other times the intermediate students will be asking for feedback on a poetry writing assignment. Later in the year, we will have both classes reading different versions of the same book to compare and contrast with each other. We like using R.J. Palacio’s novel Wonder and accompanying picture book We’re All Wonders.
Another way to teach leadership through literacy in the primary grades is to keep your classroom library stocked with books that teach students about life’s real heroes. After studying books like Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery, by Jeanette Winter, primary students are inspired to see that young children just like them are capable of making great changes in the world around them.
Promoting leadership through literacy in my primary classroom has been such a game changer for me. With each new story we read, comes opportunities to practice reading strategy skills and increase comprehension. This builds students’ self-confidence and opens their minds to new possibilities they never thought imaginable, both in their academic and personal lives. My students take more ownership for their actions, feel more empowered to take academic risks, and have so much pride in their school work. I hope you will join me in using the power of a good book to make positive change, and create your own classroom of primary leaders!
Other books I love for primary leadership include:
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Girls Do Good by Jos Dirkx
Article by Keleigh Jenkins
St. Martin de Porres Catholic School
Student Trustee Promotes Human Rights
In October 2019, Taylor Dallin, a student trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), and a Grade 12 student at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, provided a very compelling presentation regarding the Board's controversial Code of Conduct policy. She argued that the TCDSB was not including protection for discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression, aligning with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Section 5 of the human rights code stipulates that “every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.”
Taylor argued that the board must ensure schools are a welcoming place for all students. She reminded board members, who didn’t support adding the terms, that inclusion could help save lives, and reminded them that Transgender individuals are at a greater risk for suicide. Her efforts were featured in an article with The Toronto Star and The Catholic Register.
Initially, a subcommittee of the board voted and passed a motion to its terms as they currently appeared in the board’s code of conduct, which governs students and staff, but it would not include protection for discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, marital status and family status. However, days later, this motion was overturned. The trustees ultimately voted to amend the board’s code of conduct to include gender issues and family status, aligning itself with the provincial Code of Conduct.
Taylor expressed her joy that the board’s code had been amended with the understanding that more work still needed to be done to support all students.
“I’m very happy that the Trustees voted to include the four terms in the code of Conduct; however, we must remember that our work has only begun. Now it’s time to put our words into action and strive to end homophobia and transphobia in our schools.”
Her efforts to advocate for the rights of at-risk students were admirable. She demonstrated incredible leadership in the face of adversity, and her push for this change was inspiring and just.
Visit Taylor Dallin’s Twitter feed for a thread about the TCDSB Code of Conduct issue at https://twitter.com/Taylor__Dallin/status/1189746557224132609
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
Greta Thunberg – An Inspiring Young Leader for our Times
Greta Thunberg was born in 2003. In August 2018, this fifteen-year-old Swedish student decided not to go to school one day to raise awareness about the climate crisis. This simple action has since sparked a global movement called Fridays For Future, inspiring students to go on strike to demand action from our political leaders in support of our planet, forcing governments to listen.
School strikes for climate action have now taken place in more than 150 countries involving millions of students. Greta has spoken at climate rallies across Europe, and at the United Nations COP24 in Poland, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. In September 2019, she spoke in New York City at the UN Climate Action Summit. Greta won the prestigious Prix Liberté and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She is a vegan, and does not fly, in order to live a low-carbon life.
No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference shares the groundbreaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who has become the voice of a generation, including her historic address to the United Nations.
Collecting Greta’s speeches that have made history across the globe, from the United Nations to Capitol Hill, and at mass street protests, supports a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet. She has also demonstrated that no matter how young you are, you have the capacity to be a leader and make a difference.
Article by Erica Townson
Outreach Initiatives – Sharing the Love
The East York-Scarborough Reading Association is proud to bring the Reading for the Love of It conference to educators and readers every year. It is a celebration of literacy and the power of story. It is also the largest literacy conference in Canada. It is the most vibrant and dynamic example of our commitment to supporting the love of reading and the development of literacy skills in young people.
In addition to this signature event, the East York-Scarborough Reading Association also demonstrates its commitment by providing financial support to local, national, and international organizations that support literacy and the love of reading. A portion of the proceeds of the conference are donated to organizations that do great work in our local communities and around the world in support of literacy. This means that by attending Reading for the Love of It you are not only engaging in valuable professional learning that you can take back to your students, but you are also helping to support the efforts of many organizations that support literacy learning and the love of reading.
The Forgiveness Project runs book club programmes with incarcerated youth to teach the value of forgiveness and to create a more positive path forward.
Sistering is a multi-service agency for marginalized women in Toronto. Our donation will provide picture books for these women and their children.
National Reading Campaign has a mission to make reading a national priority in Canada and to create a society in which everyone has an equal opportunity to become a lifelong reader.
First Book Canada provides books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.
Cotlands supports children, educators, and parents in South Africa by providing access to quality play-based learning experiences that support early childhood development.
Hestia Hellas is a non-profit organization in Athens, Greece that offers a range of services to displaced persons including language and literacy classes. Our donation was directed to the purchase of dual-language books for refugee children and families.
3rd Vice President and Outreach Chair, EYSRA
Two members of the East York-Scarborough Reading Association retired in 2019: Jane Milligan, who provided 31 years of service, and Brian Svenningsen, 11 years of service.
We are very grateful to have had these two wonderful individuals participate in the association’s activities as volunteer board members for so many years.
Jane recently wrote to our organization. We are happy to share the following excerpt from her correspondence:
“EYSRA has become a terrific part of my career having allowed me to develop many friendships over the years and led me to attend many conferences in the US and overseas. I have been deeply enriched through my connection with the EYSRA and hope my students received the benefit of me as a teacher in Reading clinic and ultimately as an ESL teacher. Reading for the Love of It contributed immensely to the enjoyment of my career as a teacher both in elementary and in secondary teaching. Thank you to everyone for enriching my life and my career as a teacher. I am sure you all will recognize if you haven’t already, the large part East York Scarborough Reading Association has played and will continue to play in your lives and the lives of your students.”
The EYSRA Executive wishes you both well in your future endeavours.
Great Fall & Winter Reads
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
Aria by Nazanine Hozar
Bina by Anakana Schofield
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
Bunny by Mona Awad
Great Reads list is compiled by Jose Molina, EYSRA
Youth Literacy Leadership Abounds in Public Libraries
Many young students take advantage of the opportunity to secure volunteer hours and gain experience for job and school applications by volunteering at local library branches. This can involve planning and delivery of programs for other teens, the creation, development and promotion of library programs, collections, publications and managing space for teens. Tutoring services are amongst the many options that might be possible.
By example, the Toronto Public Library Leading to Reading program is a literacy-based program that assists children in Grades 1-6 who are struggling with reading.
Through the assistance of adult and teen volunteers, the Leading to Reading program strives to turn reading and learning into a fun and positive experience. The program relies heavily on the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers admitted to the program are paired off with a child who they meet with once a week, for an hour, at the library. Under the supervision and guidance of Leading to Reading staff, the volunteer assists the child with further developing their reading skills.
Volunteering with this program can be an extremely rewarding experience for both the volunteer and the child with whom they work. Helping children to gain experience and confidence in their reading ability will have a far reaching and lifelong impact. It will also provide volunteers with a sense of achievement that they have helped their community. Volunteering with Leading to Reading is about giving your skills, time and energy freely and with enthusiasm.
"Volunteering with the Youth Advisory Group has given me opportunities to express my own opinions and be part of my library's community. I've been lucky to volunteer with like-minded students to help improve the library experience for teens and all library visitors."
- Arden, Youth Advisory Group volunteer
This kind of student leadership demonstrates literacy in action.
Interested students should be encouraged to check with their local library on how they might be able to demonstrate their student leadership by sharing their literacy skills.
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
Plan to Attend:
Reading for the Love of It 2020 Conference
We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st, 2020 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, downtown Toronto.
Click on the Register link at www.readingfortheloveofit.com
We recommend that you register early!
Visit us online and see what people are saying about Reading for the Love of It
Return to Homepage