Dear friends and supporters of Reading for the Love of It,
We hope that you and your loved ones are continuing to stay safe during these challenging times. We know that as educators, whether you are in school or teaching in a virtual world, you are working in unprecedented conditions, trying to maintain a standard of education with significantly altered resources and expectations. As volunteer organizers of this association and teachers ourselves, we are very cognizant of the immense pressures you face daily and the feelings of enormous stress you have been under since schools reopened.
As we work our way through the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the East York-Scarborough (EYS) Reading Association has changed its course to match the needs of our intended Reading for the Love of It (RFTLOI) participants. Making the decision to cancel the in-person 2021 conference in what should have been its 45th year was a difficult one for all of us. We held on to hope until the obvious decision was clear. We knew in our hearts that what we offer you, our delegates, cannot be recreated virtually. Our conference does not just offer professional development. Reading for the Love of It is an experience!
The EYS Reading Association wants to continue being there for you with reminders of why we are here and how we are lifelong learners. In keeping with our mission statement, and through our commitment “to improving the quality of literacy instruction and encouraging the development of a lifelong interest in reading,” we have offered many special events and surprise guests throughout the year. We are so pleased that so many of you have tuned in to see our guest speakers. Please keep an eye on our social media platforms for more to come.
The EYS Reading Association looks forward to our in-person Reading for the Love of It conference in 2022. We wish you all the best in the last few weeks of the 2020-2021 school year.
Teaching in a Virtual Classroom
Lifelong learner, multi-tasker, problem-solver, program coordinator, entertainer, and now add, coder, tech support, IT support, and administrator. These are just some of the qualities and positions Virtual Teachers possess! No matter the amount of years you have been teaching (from this year being your first or twenty-first) this 2020-2021 school year has definitely been like no other. No matter whether you are a virtual or in-person educator, teaching in a pandemic has made us re-learn teaching once more! Here are some tips and tricks to teaching in a virtual classroom.
ELP – Kayla Featherstone, TCDSB
One of the first virtual educating curves I encountered was teaching children how to use Zoom controls and tools. We began by learning how to mute/unmute microphones. I used visual cards as support and created virtual classroom motivators like happy fingers and virtual high-fives. Students in my virtual classroom enjoy “Show and Share.” It is a great ice-breaker for all of us to learn more about one another and each other’s interests. We also have “Fun Fridays” where we invite guests into our virtual classroom to extend the learning experience.
Primary – Kate Jarencio, TCDSB
Staring at a screen all day is tough as adults, so our students need a variety of visual stimulants in combination with tactile and physical activities. Teacher Bitmojis have taken over the virtual classroom! For my weekly homework board, each week is a new Bitmoji of me in a seasonal costume with the Google Slides background colours changing each week! This adds a little spice to homework versus looking at a white Google Slide over and over again.
Primary – Stefanie Lenzo, TCDSB
This daily online morning exercise is one I do with my students while they are waiting for their peers to log on. Students pick which Bitmoji number they are feeling that day through the chat box. A 10-minute timer is set for this activity. When the timer rings, I pick 3 students to express what number they are feeling. This activity creates a sense of community within our virtual classroom. It is a fantastic way to start off the morning!
Junior/Intermediate – Joyce Reich, TCDSB
As a virtual teacher for older students, my goal is to ensure that students are engaged and having fun regard-less of the platform they are using to learn. Digital tools such as Jamboard and breakout rooms allow students to collaborate with one another while they are learning. They are able to feel and build a sense of community with their classmates despite the fact that they are inter-acting with one another through a computer screen. As well, I use websites such as KnowledgeHook and Kahoot to help students review concepts we are learning about in class. Rather than simple worksheets, students are able to practise important skills and master concepts in an enjoyable way!
Through it all, the most significant lesson that we are re-learning through this virtual teaching journey is the importance of self-care. As educators, we always put our students first, but the pandemic teaching “burnout” is very real! It may have taken us some time to readjust to this new learning environment, but we are finally figuring it out. The self-care advice we all need to take: take off-screen breaks, engage in physical activity, get out-side, connect with teaching communities (online/in per-son), and dedicate one weekend day to anything other than school! Remember... we are teachers, we can get through anything!
The Virtual Learning Platform – Real World Benefits
Sir Ken Robinson once said, “This isn’t what I do, this is who I am. This defines me. When I do this, I feel I am at my most natural and authentic self.” What I am is a lifelong learner. I naturally gravitated to the Virtual Learning opportunity and was eager to apply and work collaboratively with students in the Virtual Learning Environment. Our class is composed of learners coming from various locations within Toronto. We have come together in a virtual setting to interact and communicate with each other as we work through the Grade eight programme.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD Edu-cation Directorate says, “Rather than just learning to read, 21st century literacy is about reading to learn and developing that capacity and motivation to identify, understand, interpret, create, and communicate knowledge.” If we are to learn the skills of the 21st century, then the virtual learning platform is another tool with which to enable the learning capacities: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication to grow, to be applied, and to transfer knowledge as we solve real-time problems. These are the skills necessary for the future of our students and are inherent within the platform. In this way, the challenges within the VLE can be viewed as real-time minor glitches, intrinsic to the process of learning.
I am thoroughly enjoying the role that I play in the virtual learning environment. Students are engaged in learning, interruptions are limited to Internet connections, PDF lessons and activities are posted so that students have 24 hours per day and 7 days a week access. Addition-ally, editing and correction of writ-ten work can occur in real time on the document, which leads to many ‘aha’ and teachable moments.
Since the students are almost always online, they have direct access to online primary and secondary resources, dictionary, and thesaurus and this saves time, as compared to traditional writing, using a pen and paper. Teachers, parents, and students have multiple venues for communication with each other including access to email, the stream, the meeting chat room, and the private chats in documents and this equates to immediate two-way feedback. The virtual online experience has truly been a satisfying and a welcomed learning experience, one in which I would not hesitate to do again.
St. Anne’s Catholic Academy School of Virtual Learning Grade 8 Section 01
Recommended Blogs for Reading for the Love of It Teachers
Past and present speaker at the Reading for the Love of It conference, Margaret Boersma prepared a reading list specific to the issues of this past year, to work on mindful practices that focus on creating well-being and focus for students and teachers alike.
Take the time to check out these web links:
Google Doesn’t Work for Everything!
Why the Current School System Doesn’t Serve Us and What we can Do about It
Deep Learning at Home Video Series for children: free during Covid, fun 20-minute SEL lessons for children with activities extending beyond screen time; great family discussion prompters: Identifying Emotions, Expanding Emotional Vocabulary, Dealing with Emotions, Perspective Training and coming soon, Growth Mindset training.
Interested in joining a Facebook Group specifically for teachers and administrators in which Margaret provides regular free training? Join SEL for Teachers: Empowering Students to Learn
Interested in working with Margaret inside a program specifically for school staff? Changing Life through the Screen: How to Develop and Transfer a Sense of Wellbeing and Emotional Stability
District and School Programs available. Please contact us at www.creativeeducationinaction.com to set up a call.
Margaret Boersma, OCT is an instructional coach, speaker, educational consultant and trainer. Her varied career in 35 years of teaching, combined with her expertise in social/emotional learning (SEL), allows her to assimilate the affective domain (people skills) with academic curriculum goals. Having trained extensively in the arts, and with Dr. Eric Jensen in brain compatible pedagogy, Margaret’s heart is to transform classroom practice to enable students and teachers to thrive. Her innovative training programs result in students acquiring leadership and communication skills while becoming compassionate citizens. Her experience in teacher training extends to Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, India and New Zealand/Australia.
Support Your Local Independent Bookshop
As educators and readers, among the many lessons learned during the pan-demic, is that we must protect and support local independent bookshops.
Most every city across Canada has “indie” bookshops. There may be one just around the corner from your school or home. Know where they are located and find ways to make your book purchases with them instead of Amazon or the big box-style books stores. You may also find that some of the smaller bookshops carry some specialized publications that you cannot find anywhere else.
Your local bookshop is as much about community-building as they are about selling books, and they have learned that through this pandemic, having an online presence has become mandatory to their survival. You can find online maps that highlight Canadian Indie bookshops, including those from whom you can even order for delivery.
Since the EYS Reading Association is based in the Greater Toronto Area, we are happy to share a brief list of local shops as part of this article:
To find your local indie book-shops in locations across Can-ada, here are a few web links that you might find helpful:
Please remember! Independent bookshops matter. And they are needed now more than ever.
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
Did You Know?
The East York-Scarborough (EYS) Reading Association is committed to improving the quality of literacy instruction and encouraging the development of a lifelong interest in reading.
In the Beginning...
In the 1960’s, a group of educators came together from two of the legacy Boards of the Toronto District School Board: East York and Scarborough, along with the Metropolitan Separate School Board (EY and Scarborough regions), now the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Their mandate was to promote literacy, through an affiliation with the International Reading Association (IRA). They established the East York-Scarborough Reading Council and held meetings and workshops in local schools and Board offices.
This group of dedicated volunteers, comprised of teachers, consultants, administrators, superintendents, and resource personnel initiated a yearly program of literacy events, the highlight being the annual Reading for the Love of It conference.
The First Conference
The EYS Reading Council held its first annual reading conference at Samuel Hearne Senior P.S. and Oakridge Jr. P.S. on February 14, 1975. It was expected that 750 teachers would attend the one-day event on a designated professional activity day. There were five large group sessions and 33 small group workshops. Reading for the Love of It was born. Reading awards were given to teachers and staff who had demonstrated leadership in the field of reading. The annual conference has been held every year since 1975, apart from 1988 when the International Reading Association Convention was held in Toronto in May of that year and we chose to combine our efforts, and this year, 2021, due to the global pandemic.
2021 would have marked the 45th anniversary for the conference.
The Conference has grown from a few hundred local delegates to upwards of 4,000 delegates from across the country, making it the largest literacy conference in Canada. Reading for the Love of It is hosted at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto.
How is the Association organized today?
The EYS Reading Association became incorporated in 1989 as a non-profit organization. Again, our mandate is a commitment to furthering the goals of literacy education, by improving the quality of literacy instruction and encouraging a lifelong love of reading.
The Association is comprised of volunteer educators drawn from the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Toronto District School Board who meet monthly, in addition to other sub-committees that oversee the variety of activities conducted by the association including the annual conference, twice annual newsletter, and Outreach efforts to sup-port local, national, and international literacy-based charities.
Now you know!
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
We Missed #RFTLOI 2021!
At the beginning of 2021, the EYS Reading Association social media feeds were full of memories from attending the annual Reading for the Love of It conference, which sadly had to be cancelled this year.
Our sights are now set on February 24th and 25th, 2022. We will be returning to the newly renovated Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto for an in-person conference and trade show once more!
“Hope to be there in person next year” – Christine D Mo
“Thank you for all you do! See you next year!” – Anne Beamish of Marymount Academy in Montreal, Québec.
See You At #RFTLOI 2022!
Reading for the Love of It presents …
On December 10, 2020, the EYS Reading Association was pleased to launch an adapted initiative to provide educational opportunities for educators from coast-to-coast-to-coast, offering complementary webinars over a number of months by celebrated authors and literacy experts affiliated with the Reading for the Love of It (RFTLOI) conference.
Our goal was to stand by our mandate of improving the quality of literacy instruction whilst encouraging the development of a lifelong interest in reading.
We wish to acknowledge the authors who generously gifted their time to give back to teachers with presentations that were creative, informative, sensitive, and fun.
- Adrienne Gear
- Maria Martella
- Kenneth Oppel
- Larry Swartz
- Barbara Reid
- David A Robertson
- Kevin Sylvester
We hope that the teachers who participated in both the live webinars, and those who visited our YouTube channel for the recorded versions, enjoyed these opportunities.
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
Literacy Experts at Reading for the Love of It!
One of the most exciting aspects of attending the Reading for the Love of It (RFTLOI) conference is visiting the exhibitors’ display. RFTLOI would not be the same at all without the support and presence of all the amazing publishers, bookshops, and literacy & learning experts who participate every year.
Thousands of educators wander through the exhibit booths, looking forward to meeting publishers, book sellers, authors, illustrators, and storytellers, while buying some learning tools and books, and having them autographed. All in one place for two days!
We would like to acknowledge and recognize those organizations, all of whom have struggled this past year with the lockdowns, closures, purchasing cutbacks and minimized visibility, both at their places of business and at conferences like ours.
Reading for the Love of It Exhibitors who have supported our organization over the years. Web links included in PDF copy of the newsletter. Pay their sites a visit and find out what is new!
These literary organizations enhance the in-person experience for teachers who attend the Reading for the Love of It conference. We look forward to continuing our relationship with them, profiling them in conjunction with our conference, and bringing teachers to visit them and make purchases at their RFTLOI booths.
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
Calling all Teacher Candidates & Retired Teachers: Volunteer Hosts needed for Reading for the Love of It 2022
The East York-Scarborough (EYS) Reading Association is now busy planning the 2022 Reading for the Love of It conference which will be held on Thursday, February 24th and Friday, February 25th, 2022, 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 2022 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 Rebecca Toombs and Stephanie Shore at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
EYSRA Executive Members
Sheraton Centre – Conference Hotel Update
During the pandemic, The Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto, managed by Marriott International, officially closed its doors, but took advantage of that time to conduct some pretty amazing renovations to its main entrance areas and lobby. Re-opening again in the fall of 2021, guests will be greeted with a new and modernized look.
Furthermore, Marriott International has implemented a new Meetings & Events initiative called Connect with Confidence. This initiative highlights their new meeting and event protocols at their hotels around the world and is based on 5 key pillars:
- Commitment to Clean: enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the hotel, including public spaces, guest rooms and meeting spaces.
- Contact Lite Experience: leveraging technology to give attendees the choice on how to interact with hotel associates.
- Hybrid Meetings: providing options with technology and AV partners that enable meeting planners’ custom solutions to best suit their needs.
- Physical Distancing: reimagining spaces to enable more distance in accordance with best practices and local guidelines.
- Redesigned Food & Beverage: offering a wide variety of food & beverage options including prepack-aged, grab & go and plated service.
This initiative was announced via a Press Release on August 11, 2020 at the following web link:
“Our Commitment to Clean is guiding everything from how we keep our guests and associates safe to how we begin to welcome back event and meetings business,” said Ray Bennett, Chief Global Officer, Global Operations, Marriott International and Chair of the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council. “Our Global Cleanliness Council is working with us to tackle the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and what that means for an event or meeting at a hotel.
Having experts in the area of hygiene, food safety, infectious disease, and infection prevention has been enormously beneficial in helping us think through everything we can do to support organization as they begin to envision, plan and execute future meetings and events of all sizes.”
We are very pleased with the Sheraton Hotel initiatives. Knowing that their meeting and event protocols will be applied to Reading for the Love of It 2022 provides all of us with a sense of security and comfort.
Article by Erica Townson, EYSRA
The Gift of Literacy
The Giuseppe Budaci Literacy Bursary, in the amount of CAD$300, was established in the memory of Giuseppe (Joe) Budaci, father to Isabella Giuseppe, a teacher and volunteer host for many years at the Reading for the Love of It annual conference.
“A proud and honourable man, Giuseppe immigrated to Canada like so many others with the hope and the dream of providing a better future for his young family. Because of Giuseppe’s endearing and charismatic qualities, anyone who met Giuseppe was instantly drawn to him. A loving, dedicated, and generous man, Giuseppe was the happiest when he was able to share a glass of wine or food with his cherished family and close friends.
Like so many others from his generation, Giuseppe was not afforded the opportunity of an education. At the tender age of seven he was withdrawn from school to work on a farm to help support a family of ten, which was not uncommon for that time. The GREATEST regret in his life was the inability to read, due to no fault of his own.
No challenge proved insurmountable for Giuseppe. He was a prisoner in World War II and was fortunate to survive and rebuild his life. And later, when he was injured in a construction accident and left partially disabled, he was left with no choice but to learn a new trade to support his family. Time and time again, the company went bankrupt yet, undeterred, he would start all over again.
The loss of his beloved wife, Constance, proved to be heartbreaking, but he continued to strive to overcome and deal with this great loss. Through his tenacious endeavours and hard work, he was overjoyed when he was able to acknowledge with pride and humility, his children’s achievements afforded to them through education.
The hope with this bursary was to recognize, honour, and pay tribute to a man who loved life and recognized the importance of an education and the precious gift of reading.” *
Isabella’s wish was to aid someone in achieving their lifelong dreams and hopes through the gift of literacy.
This wish was recently granted as the bursary was awarded to Iqbal Ahmad. Iqbal is a Yazidi refugee from Iraq. She is an intelligent, lovely, motivated, 14-year-old who was nominated by Faheema Qaaydi, her settlement worker at JIAS Toronto.
With this bursary, Iqbal was able to purchase resources such as books, workbooks, apps, and other resources that will improve her skills in reading and writing.
It is an incredible comfort Isabella, that Giuseppe Budaci’s legacy will help to build Iqbal’s literacy dreams!
Written by Erica Townson, EYSRA
*Isabella Budaci, Teacher, Volunteer Host at Reading for the Love of It
Outreach is the EYS Reading Association’s effort to reach out to charitable organizations involved in worthy literacy endeavours. With your donations via our 2020/2021 webinar series, you can help us provide for local, national, and international literacy-based programs. This year’s recipients include:
Local: The Children’s Book Bank
The Children’s Book Bank provides free books and literacy support to children and families in high need neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Book Bank also provides books and literacy materials through community centres, schools, health clinics and social agencies throughout the city. Our donation supports these efforts. Book donations are also welcome!
National: The Arctic Rose Foundation
Founded by Inuit singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark, The Arctic Rose Foundation instills hope for Northern Inuit, First Nations and Metis children, youth and their families through the creation of physically, emotionally, mentally, culturally safe places and the provision of holistic, adaptable programming that engages, nurtures and supports them in healthy and meaningful ways. Our donation supports the Messy Book Program, the Youth Leadership & Mentor Program, and the ᑲᒪᔩᑦ (Kamajiit) Program.
International: The Free Reading Program
The Free Reading Program provides free online Foundations to Level 6 Reading, Language & Grammar program that kids love. This year we will be supporting literacy programs in Athens, Greece. Our donation supports the purchase of dual language books for displaced children and their families.
Thank you for sharing our commitment to making a difference for these charitable organizations we are supporting in 2020-2021!
EYS Reading Association
Special Edition 2020-2021 Great Reads
- Hamnet and Judith by Maggie O'Farrell
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
- Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
- Africville by Jeffrey Colvin
- Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson
- 5 Little Indians by Michelle Good
- Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy by Gary Barwin
- Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
- Consent by Annabel Lyon
- Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
Great Reads list is compiled by Jose Molina, EYSRA
Must Read Books for Grades 7-9
“Middle-grade fiction refers to books written for readers between the ages of 8 and 12, while young adult fiction refers to books written for readers roughly between the ages of 12 and 18. The terms reflect the reading level, world view, thematic interests, and maturity of readers.”
Written by MasterClass
Middle grade readers need a wide assortment of classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction page-turners. These books are generally shorter than Young Adult to account for younger children’s shorter attention spans. Although they do not necessarily shy away from tough subjects, they generally avoid the graphic depiction of them.
Finding engaging and age-appropriate books for middle grade readers is not easy. They need a wide assortment of classic and contemporary fiction and non-fiction “page-turners” to keep them engaged. Ideally the options should cover issues that students can relate to as they transition from elementary to middle school.
Here is our inside look at a list of book titles for your consideration.
- Bloom by Kenneth Oppel
- Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow
- Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen
- The Barren Grounds by David A Robertson
- Dear Martin by Nic Stone
- Stamped (For Kids) by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
- Jon Le Bon by Alex A.
Article by Tanya Reilly-Primaylon
Help us Celebrate Excellence in Literacy Teaching!
The East York-Scarborough Reading Association is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Reading Awards. Three awards will be presented. A teacher from each of our Association’s founding school boards, T.C.D.S.B. and T.D.S.B., will be honoured, and a third award will be given to an educator from any other school or school board in Ontario.
Reading Awards will be presented at the annual Reading for the Love of It conference Awards Banquet dinner on the evening of Thursday, February 24th, 2022. Each award winner will receive a complimentary full conference registration package to the 2022 Reading for the Love of It conference, two tickets to the Awards Banquet, and a $100 gift certificate to purchase books.
Take this opportunity to help us celebrate excellence in literacy instruction by nominating on or before Monday, December 6th, 2021. To be eligible for this award the teacher will have:
- demonstrated a lasting influence on student learning through innovative teaching
- shared literacy expertise with colleagues (mentoring, presenting workshops)
- contributed to literacy newsletters and/or professional journals or the equivalent
- been nominated by at least two colleagues (with separate nomination forms, please)
Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your URL to complete our nomination form:
Nominations in writing (paper or electronic) will also be accepted. They may be submitted electronically to email@example.com or mailed to EYS Reading Association, 1315 Lawrence Avenue East, #309, Toronto, ON, M3A 3R3.
All submissions must be received by 5pm, Monday, December 6th, 2021.
Please be sure to include the name of the school and school board where the nominees work, along with full contact details.
Awards Committee Chair and Past President
Plan to Attend:
Reading for the Love of It 2022 Conference
We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, February 24th and Friday, February 25th, 2022 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, downtown Toronto.
Click on the Register link in the fall of 2021!
We recommend that you register early!
Visit us online and see what people are saying about Reading for the Love of It
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