Thursday, 29 October 2015

Working on goals: Presenting

One of my goals for this school year was to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and take more of a leadership role outside of the school. On Friday, October 23rd, I presented at the BC teacher librarian's conference, Charting New Paths, in Surrey.

To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. I managed to get very little sleep Thursday night, thanks in part to a loud group partying at 2 am but also because I was running through my entire presentation in my mind. My presentation was on "Fostering Collaboration" which is the part of my job I get most animated about and love to bits so I really shouldn't have been so nervous as I was talking about something I love. However, as we all know, logic just doesn't not quell the nervousness that an introvert feels about public speaking. When I was grabbing a bite to eat at breakfast, I noticed my colleagues all relaxed and chatting and I thought, "Wow, wouldn't that be nice? What on earth was I thinking?" During my presentation, I managed to go through 17 shades of red but after it was all done, I'm happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone. Indeed, I think presenting at a teacher librarian conference is the best scenario for a nervous presenter. As one person commented to me, "It's like speaking with family."

I'm already planning on attending next year's conference and am toying with the idea of presenting again. I have also been approached by the BCTEA provincial specialist association to present at their conference about how a teacher librarian can collaborate with a shop teacher. Either way, I think my nerves will have recovered by then. That being said, my LSA has already tapped me to do a condensed version of my presentation during one of our monthly meetings. I guess I do have a presentation already put together and red is a lovely colour.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Student Vote part two

After much planning and teaching, our 2015 Student Vote finally came to an exciting end on Monday October 19th, with our student body lining up in the library to vote. Running a parallel vote is always exhausting but incredibly exciting at the same time. As students came in to vote, I was amazed to hear the articulate, politically accurate conversations that were being had.

Our  library was transformed into a polling station on the Friday before the vote and students andstaff commented on how official it all looked. The day of the vote, we had our leadership students acting as clerks while I went down to classes and escorted them to the library to vote. As I picked up each class, I reminded them to bring their student card as they would need some form of
identification at the polling station. I also spoke about the process: producing i.d., receiving a ballot, marking the ballot with an X and folding it in thirds to place in the ballot box and explained that this was the exact same process that adults experience when they go to the polls. I stressed that adult voters vote behind cardboard voting blinds and place their ballots in a cardboard ballot box. I also explained that that's it, once you've voted nothing spectacular happens, no fireworks, but that participating in the democratic process is in itself pretty spectacular.

I had the leadership students count up the ballots and I must admit I was surprised by our election results.
     Karley Scott (Liberal)          329
     Dan Albas (Conservative)    173
     Robert Mellalieu (Green)       71
     Angelique Wood (NDP)         45 

We announced our Student Vote results on Tuesday, Oct 20th during our morning Mentorship block but before we made the announcement, I had teachers and students asking what the results were. I also had teachers comment that students who typically do not show interest in such activities, were asking for results. And that makes it all worthwhile.

Fall displays

We have been working really hard this year to change up our displays every two weeks. We are also trying not to duplicate any displays we have done in the past which is easier said than done.

All of the English teachers have agreed to let me put up displays in their classrooms. I pick non fiction books and picture books that stay in the classroom for two weeks. Some displays, like this one, have a theme while others do not. The teachers love having the books there for ELL students, and for students to read when they have some time. I love that my non fiction books and picture books are being used and read and that teachers are promoting these books

Banned book week is always a popular display and this year was no different.

We displayed books that have been banned in various places around the world and attached cards to them so that students could read why they were banned.

One of our first displays of the school year was the "Get in the game, read" display. I like this display because it allowed us to present both non fiction and fiction books. Sport books are often overlooked by our students and I think I need to book talk more sports related books in the future.

I love the addition of actual sports equipment - from basketball and baseball to chess and cards.

Canadian Thanksgiving is much earlier than its American counterpart. This year, Thanksgiving Monday was on October 12th and we put this display up for the beginning of October. We have a fabulous collection of cookbooks and thought this was the best way to highlight the books for our students. We even managed to find some decorative gourds to give the display a more festive feel.

We have launched a large Student Vote campaign this year, to coincide with the Canadian federal election. To go along with our school wide lessons, we made sure our library display also promoted Canadian government and politics. It will be very interesting to see how the students vote in our Student Vote.

We have just put up our Halloween display. Our window display features great non fiction and fiction reads. What I love about this window are all the little touches. There are cobwebs and spiders of course, but there is also purple fabric, potion bottles, and a crow interwoven into the display. We also stole the idea for pumpkin and Frankenstein book displays from the Red Deer Public Library, and have them throughout the Constable Neil Bruce Library's shelves.

We have also decided to try to add a little more flair to the library shelves but adding author quotes. Each author plate features a photo of the author, an interesting quote and their social media handles. We are hoping that those students who refuse to ask for assistance and  just peruse the shelves hoping that a great book will just jump out at them, will use the author quotes to help them find a fabulous read.

I am looking forward to what other displays we (and really I mean the library assistant) come up with over the next few months and the conversations that they generate.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Student Vote part one

My colleague, Ryan Holly, and I have wrapped a tiring but very rewarding week at school. Back in August the two of us sat down with our administrators and described what we wanted to do for the month of October: we wanted to spend one week with everyone in the school studying government and politics in preparation for our October 19th Student Vote. We also wanted to have an all candidates forum so that the students not only learned about the federal election but also experienced an actual political event.

Ryan and I knew that we were dreaming big but if you've met us, you know that we are political science geeks and very passionate about promoting civic education. We also knew that Student Vote and Civix would be providing a series of lessons for us to draw from. That being said, Ryan and I are both A type personalities and we were determined to create the best lessons to fit the students of CNB.

In the end we were pleased with the lessons we created and we received a lot of positive feedback from teachers. We were cognizant of the fact that not every teacher is comfortable teaching politics and made sure the lesson plans utilized Powerpoints and informative videos to alleviate any stress. What was causing a great deal of stress for Ryan and I was the all candidates forum we had planned for Thursday morning.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, it is always nerve wracking to have guests in the building. Questions starting swirling like: will the guests show up on time or will the students behave? We booked the gym Wednesday night in order to set up but things happen and it is hard to keep people out of the CNB gym. On Thursday morning, the day of the all candidates forum, I peered into the gym at 8:30 to see a volleyball practice in full swing and nothing set up. All I can say is that my colleagues are incredible as that gym was transformed in 20 minutes, complete with microphones for each of the speakers, a curtain backdrop behind the staging, and teacher chairs (complete with name tags) set up at the end of each row.

The candidates forum itself was fabulous. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the behaviour of the CNB student body as they listened intently and tried to restrain from clapping at the end of each and every response. I also greatly appreciated the candidates who took recognized their audience and spoke to the students about issues that matter to them. All four candidates (Dan Albas, Conservative; Robert Mellalieu, Green; Karley Scott, Liberal; Angelique Wood, NDP) from the Central Okanagan - Similkameen - Nicola riding attended. Each of the candidates spoke very eloquently and, most importantly, spoke highly of each other. After the forum, the candidates had some time to talk to students in the library which was an incredible opportunity - for both the candidates and the students.

We can't wait to see how the students vote on Oct 19th and compare our school vote to the outcome of the actual vote for the riding. I know Ryan and I are happy with how engaged the students have been in Student Vote but we both dream big and hope that these students will be engaged in politics and vote when they become adults.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Questions for Never, Always, Sometimes

If you would like to see what questions we are asking, here they are:

1. What impact did avoiding high school cliques and cliches have on Dave & Julia?

2. Which Never was the best? The worst? 

3. Dave and Julia's parents are constants throughout the novel. What impact do they have on Dave and Julia?

4. Dave sought Julia's help for his "promposal". And, how do they impact teens you know or in your school?

5. Let's talk about Dave and Gretchen's relationship. Thoughts?

6. What do you think will happen to Dave & Julia's relationship when they head off to college?