What Now? Moving Forward in a Changed Learning Landscape
How are reading and/or learning resources helping to support new directions in education?
If you have experiences or perspectives you would like to share, please submit an article to our newsletter. Topics to consider may include:
skills recovery after online teaching
fostering a love of reading with students
Indigenous history and ways of knowing
affirming LGBTQ+ identities in the classroom
environmental literacy and climate change
anti-oppression pedagogy in education
supporting student mental health
and possible others.
Educators and literacy experts are invited to share their experience by submitting an article that addresses the above theme. Your submission may be published in either our Fall/Winter 2022 and/or Spring/Summer 2023 newsletter, both dedicated to this theme.
A submission now for either issue, qualifies you to win a 2-day basic registration pass to the 2023 Reading for the Love of It conference taking place on Thursday, February 23 and Friday, February 24.
Articles should be a maximum of 200-250 words and if possible include accompanying high resolution artwork or photos (JPEG files are fine). Submissions can be forwarded electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, November 28, 2022 (Fall/Winter 2022) or Monday, April 10, 2023 (Spring/Summer 2023). Please include all contact details.
We look forward to hearing from you!
— Natasha Serba, Newsletter Chair
What Now? Moving Forward in a Changed Learning Landscape
Greetings book lovers!
The Reading for the Love of It (RFTLOI) volunteer team would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support and dedication to the love of reading.
Natasha Serba and her Newsletter Committee have been busy pulling together this issue’s interesting and thought provoking articles under the theme of “What Now? Moving Forward in a Changed Learning Landscape.” With all the challenges we’ve faced over the past two years as readers and educators, we hope the pieces we’ve selected provide you with a bit of inspiration and guidance in these tough and fast-changing times.
In keeping with our newsletter theme, we have an outstanding conference lined up for you in 2023. Tanya Reilly-Primaylon, Programme Chair, and her committee, have put together a stellar list of keynote speakers and professional development opportunities. The conference kicks off Wednesday, February 22nd with the Welcome Reception and AGM. The event will be a wonderful opportunity to meet presenters in attendance, delegates from all over Canada, and members of the RFTLOI volunteer team.
Entertainment will be provided by our special guests, The Hip Hop HeadUcatorz, a group of Ontario Teachers who use Hip Hop sounds and culture to inspire and engage students.
Thursday morning starts with our breakfast keynote speaker, David A. Robertson, the celebrated author, and 2021 recipient of the Writer’s Union of Canada’s Freedom to Read Award. Distinguished speaker, activist, and author of Gutter Child, Jael Richardson is Thursday’s luncheon keynote.
Join us Thursday evening for our banquet and awards dinner featuring the incredible Cree born writer, poet, and lawyer, Michelle Good who was awarded the 2020 Governor General’s Literacy Award Winner for her novel, Five Little Indians.
Friday’s breakfast speaker is Nadia L. Hohn, award-winning author of Malaika’s Costume and many other engaging stories. Our final keynote and Friday lunch speaker is Ashley Spires, author of The Most Magnificent Thing. Be sure not to miss any of these wonderful writers!
We have many other great learning opportunities over the two days of the conference. You can attend general sessions offered by talented authors and inspiring educators such as Adrienne Gear, Lori Jamison, Rabia Khokhar, Ruth Ohi, Pernille Ripp, Ted Staunton, and Larry Swartz, to name just a few. For more detailed conference information and updates visit our website at www.readingfortheloveofit.com.
As the days get colder, please check out our fall and winter reading booklist section of this newsletter and keep the love of reading going until we can meet again in February.
Students, literally, at a loss for words in this digital age
Our classroom realities have shifted and we, as educators, have to adapt to this new learning landscape as we move forward in the 21st century classroom. It is so important, now more than ever before, that we help foster soft skills that are slowly fading in our post pandemic digitally driven world.
Online learning has changed the way we communicate and connect in classrooms. Technology is now readily available in all schools and the idea of literacy has been redefined. Digital literacy is the new norm and resources have gone beyond a hardcopy. Reading and resources are crucial in supporting new directions in education; however, it’s the way we use those resources and communicate about those resources that needs attention.
With this new learning landscape students are at a higher risk of losing the art of communication. Presentation skills are in jeopardy as a result of the pandemic. Both communication and presentation skills have been adversely impacted. Students have learned to hide behind a mask or a screen and are increasingly shying away from face-to-face communication. As educators, we can accept and embrace this new learning platform if we are cognizant of the continuing development of the whole individual to help students attain long-term success in all aspects of their lives. This all begins with us, in the classroom, re-teaching communication skills and encouraging students to step out of “pandemic thinking” and face new situations that may be uncomfortable for them. Focusing on communication in classrooms not only empowers students and builds confidence; it also creates connections between their peers and their teachers. This connection creates a safe space where their thoughts are validated. The positive results of strengthening these relationships and having students’ authentic voice heard are truly astounding. We need to humanize the classroom again and revolutionize education through conversation. That means to reconnect, we must first disconnect. We are more than a virtual conversation; we are social creatures that need real-life connection; the pandemic has opened our eyes to that.
I have been teaching as a TDSB Secondary Teacher for the last 25 years and in tune with this disconnection crisis that began to brew about 10-15 years ago with the rise of cell phones and social media platforms; something that has steadily infiltrated education and continues to this day. From that first moment, I knew the classroom environment and curriculum focus needed restructuring.
I teach Psychology, French and Drama and I continually find new creative ways to make communication my focus in each subject area. Very quickly, word spreads amongst the students that anyone who takes a class with me is encouraged to speak and participate in class discussions. For some, this is a major challenge. Reaching the students that find it difficult and seeing them thrive proves not only rewarding but it is the reason I continue to teach. Fast forward to a post-pandemic classroom and the emergence of a new learning landscape that changes our perception of the way we teach, and the way students learn. Now more than ever before, we understand how the digital age is making students illiterate in human communication. We need to ask ourselves, more than ever before, “What Now?”
I focus on the significance of the communication-driven classroom. This new learning landscape has ignited in me an even stronger desire to act and speak up.
Article by Domenica Mimma Hehus, Secondary Teacher: George S Henry Academy, TDSB
Join Domenica at the Reading for the Love of It conference on February 23rd and 24th. She will speak on this issue and share ideas to take back to your classroom in a session entitled: Rediscovering Face-To-Face Communication in the 21st Century Digital Classroom
“Writing gives us the written words, but speaking gives us a whole new toolbox – Eye Contact, Body Language, Tone Of Voice, Vulnerability, Passion, Authenticity.” TED TALKS:The Official Guide to Public Speaking
Fostering a Love of Reading in the Arts Based Classroom
Last year I completed my first full year as a grade 1 teacher. I was excited, energetic, and very much overwhelmed by the seemingly daunting responsibility of teaching my students how to read. Where to start? What to do? How to do it? When I met one-on-one with my students at the beginning of the year, I learned that many of them had a fear or dislike of reading, and a few had already concluded that they were “not good at it”. With this feedback, I knew it was important to foster a love of reading in my classroom.
Without hesitation, I leaned heavily into my Arts background and focused on high engagement activities. In addition to reading rich and interesting books, we found ways to perform our reading material as a class. For example, we created audio recordings of different works such as “A Dark, Dark Tale” set to sound effects and dramatic music which my students begged to listen to everyday and couldn’t wait for me to post on our google classroom. Words came alive in our weekly poems where we learned to convey meaning using voice inflection and whole-body movements and we often had a weekly gig performing for our librarian.
By the end of the year, everyone had made good progress with reading both academically and emotionally. Would I do things differently next time? Absolutely! I am more experienced now and have developed new skills of my own. What I wouldn’t change is using the Arts to create a classroom environment filled with joy and excitement and I encourage everyone to give it a try. If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere. Your students will let you know what’s working and inspire your next steps.
Article by Constance Levitt A teacher with the TDSB
Top Eight Easy Ways to Bring Climate Action Into Your Classroom
Climate change – it’s daunting, it’s frustrating, and it feels unsolvable. But innovation begins with a pursuit for knowledge and a culture of experimentation – and the classroom is where innovators emerge. The next generation of leaders is still in the classroom, and teachers have the opportunity to spark excitement towards tackling issues around climate change. But what does climate change education look like, and how can teachers integrate environmental awareness into their curriculum?
The answers are simpler than you’d expect.
Sign up for EcoSchools Canada Whether or not you decide to pursue EcoSchools Platinum certification, EcoSchools Canada is an excellent source of climate action and sustainability lessons and activities for all grade levels, and in both French and English. EcoSchools is free, and teachers can sign up anytime throughout the school year.
Take Your Students Outside Spending even a small amount of time outdoors each day can help support mental health and fosters an appreciation for nature. This type of relationship with nature helps put into perspective the importance of reciprocity with the environment and builds a personal connection with nature. Take your students outdoors and ask them to find a quite spot, away from their classmates, to sit and pay close attention to what’s going on around them. What do they hear? What do they smell? What does the grass feel like? How does this exercise make them feel?
Create Collaborative Mural with your Students One way to bridge the gap between climate action and the arts is to facilitate a collaborative mural with your class. Start by instigating a lesson or group discussion. Afterwards, invite your students to share their learnings on a large canvas or paper banner. Once complete, the banner can be displayed in your school or classroom for the remainder of the year, reminding students of the unique perspectives that exist within their classroom community.
Start an Indoor Gardening Project Planting indoors can be as simple as you want to make it. Having students plant seeds is an excellent, hands-on way to facilitate conversations about science, food security, or pollinators. Students will watch and care for their sprouts, which helps to build direct connections to course content.
Start a GOOS Paper Bin A bin of paper that is “Good on One Side” is a simple and useful way to engage directly with sustainability within your class. Students may take or leave paper that has been used on one side but blank on the other, encouraging students to reduce their paper waste and reuse paper that is no longer needed. And if you’ve signed up to EcoSchools this action will earn you points!
Promote Waste-Free Lunches Waste free lunches can be a fun and engaging way to show students that they have the power to take climate action in their daily lives. But to really inspire your students to participate, it’s important to discuss the effects of waste on the environment, as well as how to properly recycle and compost. An easy way to teach elementary- aged children is to register for the Trash Tracker Program. A member of The Gaia Project team will visit your class and facilitate a hands-on session about waste – a perfect (and easy) start to launching a waste-free lunch program in your class!
Bring Environmental Literacy into Your Classroom Books are an amazing resource! Environmental literature exists for all grade-levels and can be easily integrated into course curriculum, making it a perfect way to broaden your students’ perspectives on scientific and social environmental topics. Select a book for your students to read or challenge them to find an environmental book that aligns with their personal interests.
Request a 50 Climate Actions Scratch Poster from The Gaia Project Available for Kindergarten to grade 12, the 50 Climate Actions Scratch Poster is a free resource offered to schools. Challenge your students to complete climate actions such as packing litterless lunches, unplugging devices, and starting a classroom compost. Students will scratch each action off the poster after they are achieved. How many climate actions can your students take this year?
Taking climate action doesn’t have to be complicated, and even small actions are worth celebrating. When young people learn that they are capable of making a positive impact within their communities they are empowered to do just that. When their efforts are recognized, they become inspired. And when they are taught that solutions to climate change are within their reach, they believe it.
Article Excerpt from The Gaia Project by Katelyn Plant,
Marketing & Communications Manager
When we first began our journey with unplugged coding, we wanted to incorporate our love of picture books and mathematics (specifically the coding expectations). Having experienced how impactful books can be in supporting students in making connections, and understanding other areas in the curriculum, such as mathematics and science, we knew that students would really begin to understand the language of coding, as well as have a love for reading.
A rich picture book can give educators a strong base to build a variety of lessons. You can then take all that new and budding knowledge and transfer it to another area (e.g., coding expectations in math or science). For example, texts like “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats enable students to make connections to seasonal changes that they are noticing. These connections and thoughts can transfer to rich and meaningful opportunities for students across various curriculum areas. In Mathematics (coding), students could:
Create a sequential event that shows the different clothing that they would need for themselves to play in the snow
Create a sequential event to show all the items you need to build a snow person
Create a repeating coding event, where students need to find out how many snowballs of different sizes, they would need to create a snowperson to represent every person in the class.
One of the biggest lessons we are taking with us after pandemic learning is the importance of a good, strong picture book that helps meet multiple curriculum expectations.
Article by Lesley Pike and Melissa Seco,
Teachers at the TDSB
Join Lesley and Melissa at Reading for the Love of It 2023.
The Inclusion of Indigenous Voices, Perspectives and Books in Education
“The Truth about Stories is that’s all we are” Thomas King *1 reminds us. Stories shape how we think, how we learn from each other and how we behaved in the past.
When the Newcomers came to this land, our Ancestors tried to tell them of our ways, of the ‘Good Life on Turtle Island’. The Newcomers however believed in the printed word and were deaf to their words. Many considered our Elders as “savages” and “pagan”. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that publishers saw the value (monetary?) of printing and publishing Stories from our Elders. Publishing remains one of the best ways to share our Stories.
Today, Indigenous authors and illustrators are producing publications for all ages and in all genres. They provide more of the Story of this Land. History books have been written by non-Indigenous authors and in many respects are one-sided. Indigenous publications offer all readers access to our Languages and our Teachings.
Educating with Truth and a view towards Reconciliation is vital if we are to learn to Respect and Honour the Land and the Peoples of this Land. Indigenous and non-Indigenous publishers are providing a new tome of literature to help All of Us learn and live a Good Life as our Ancestors have told us. Keep reading! Our stories are for YOU!
And please remember to support Indigenous publishers and booksellers.
Article by Wahwahbiginojii, Dr. David Anderson, Indigenous Education Consultant with GoodMinds.com
Dr. Dave Anderson, whose spirit name is Wahwahbiginojii, is Bear Clan of Dene and Anishinabek descent born in Atikokan, Ontario. *1 King, Thomas (2003). The Truth About Stories. House of Anansi Press: Toronto, ON
Outreach is the EYS Reading Association’s effort to support charitable organizations involved in worthy literacy endeavours.
Your participation in the conference, not only helps us provide for local, national, and international literacy-based programs, but helps to make a positive impact by spreading the Love of Reading!
In 2022-2023 we have chosen to support the following charities:
60 Million Girls, is a Montreal-based public foundation dedicated to girls’ education in developing countries.
The Children’s Book Bank provides free books and literacy support to children and families in high-needs neighbourhoods. Some programs offered include Storytimes, dictionaries for newcomers, teen book bank, and leadership training for teens.
Jessie’s: The June Callwood Centre for Young Women has a mission to nurture the healthy development of pregnant teenagers, young parents, and their children by providing programming such as parenting groups, individualized high school programs of study, community education and more.
StoryBook Ottawa partners with in-need elementary schools by gifting children a book of their choice, each year.
The Children’s Book Bank provides free books and literacy support to children and families in high-needs neighbourhoods. Some programs offered include story times, dictionaries for newcomers, teen book bank, and leadership training for teens.
One World Schoolhouse – Storytime Trail is an outdoor reading adventure for elementary children. They also provide a literacy program in the Eastern Caribbean.
The SILT Fund – Supporting Indigenous Libraries Today was initially established by GoodMinds.com to raise money for the Six Nations Public Library and their $15 million-dollar new building and archives. They realized that a huge need for a library existed in hundreds of Indigenous communities across Canada. More than 90% of Indigenous communities do not have any public library at all.
If you would like to make a direct donation to our list of 2022-2023 fund recipients, our Outreach team will be staffing tables at the conference on February 23rd and 24th and will provide an opportunity to contribute to these worthy literacy-based charities.
All funds collected on-site will be distributed evenly across all the chosen organizations. In exchange for your donation, we will gift you with a Reading for the Love of It book bag, which you can use to hold your many purchases from the exhibitors’ display!
Let’s all make a difference in encouraging the development of a lifelong interest in reading!
Teachers Must Be Prioritized in Reading Recovery Efforts
School districts across the country are seeking solutions to improve devastatingly low reading scores. Pandemic learning loss, and the literacy crisis it has worsened, is directly linked to systemic barriers and inequities. As a result, students from low socioeconomic communities are twice as likely to read below grade level in Canada.
To help students break down barriers and achieve grade-level reading, recovery plans must prioritize equitable access to qualified teachers.
Decades of research highlight how access to experienced teachers has a direct impact on a student’s academic achievement. Whether it is teaching in a classroom or direct tutoring instruction with a student, teachers provide the highest ratio of learning outcomes. Districts can prioritize teachers in reading recovery efforts by:
Providing teachers with evidence-based resources: When surveying 500+ teachers, 97% identified that they need more support in place to help their students achieve grade-level reading. When asked what resource would be the most helpful, teachers, as well as research, overwhelmingly identified 1:1 tutoring by qualified teachers.
Addressing growing demands: Despite recommending 1:1 tutoring, only 16% of teachers shared they could complete it with all their students. This is not surprising given 87% of teachers identified burnout in their schools and 84% had experienced staffing shortages. By addressing teacher burnout, Districts can positively impact a teacher’s well-being and by doing so, avoid negative impacts on a student’s learning journey.
Leverage data to improve equitable access: Districts can leverage data to understand the inequities within their district and the opportunities to address them. By leveraging technology, Districts can bring qualified teachers to these underserved communities and amplify classroom teaching efforts to further reading recovery.
Elementary school teachers are the first to detect problems, develop solutions, and advocate for what their students need. If we intend to accelerate reading recovery, we must prioritize teachers in each step of our literacy solutions.
Article by Melanie Rodriguez
Director, Marketing and Social Impact
...Don’t miss our 2023 Superstar Speakers
including Randell Adjei, Greg Birkett, Colinda Clyne, Rachel Cooke, David Costello, Sara Florence Davidson, Adrienne Gear, Sharon Hampson & Randi Hampson, Lori Jamison, Marthe Jocelyn, Rabia Khokhar, Kathy Lundy, Jeff Nathan, Ruth Ohi, Kenneth Oppel, Barbara Reid, Pernille Ripp, Ted Staunton, Larry Swartz, Kevin Sylvester, and a special return feature of the all-day Apple Education classroom workshops.
Volunteer Hosts needed for Reading for the Love of It 2023
The East York-Scarborough (EYS) Reading Association is now busy planning the 2023 Reading for the Love of It conference which will be held on Thursday, February 23rd and Friday, February 24th, 2023, at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto.
As we continue to plan next year’s conference, we are seeking Teacher Candidates and Retired Teachers who would be interested in volunteering as hosts at the 2023 conference. Volunteer hosts will have the unique opportunity to introduce and thank our guest workshop session speakers, oversee, and limit room capacity, as well as distribute and collect feedback forms. Prior to or following volunteer assignments, hosts will be able to attend sessions offered at the conference AND visit the Publishers Display.
If you are interested in this unique volunteer opportunity, please contact email@example.com for more information. Volunteer hosts will be needed on either or both days of the conference.
We hope you can join us for what is sure to be another fantastic and inspiring conference!
Maximize your conference experience by using our Reading for the Love of It mobile conference app featuring speaker information and any applicable handouts/reference material, session schedules, exhibitor lists, maps and much more! Best of all, it’s accessible from all devices with an Internet browser: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even desktops.
How to Access our RFTLOI2023 Mobile Conference Guide App:
Go to http://eventmobi.com/rftloi2023/ on your Internet browser to instantly access the app. OR You can download EventMobi from the App Store. Once on your mobile device, you can access the Reading for the Love of It conference app by entering the code rftloi2023.
If you download the App Store version of rftloi2023, you will be alerted on any conference updates such as author book signings on the show floor.