Favourite Language Arts Links

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Graduation and Beyond

Today I sat down and reconfigured my blog.  Now that I have a work blog I find it hard to get back and just blog for the sake of blogging, personal blogging, sharing my vulnerabilities.  But my life has changed and my children are graduated and moving ahead with their lives.   I am feeling nostalgic and want to move ahead with them...to reach out and study something new, exciting and invigorating, to follow, and perhaps not to lead. Oh to be a student again, to listen, inspire and create!  Having adopted a learning commons vision over the past three years in our district library,  it was good to learn, inspire and lead.

Creating vision takes time, as does encouraging your team to stay inspired, motivated and working towards that vision.  At times I remember feeling that roadblocks were an important part of the process; sometimes painful, but mostly gratifying at the end.  Staying committed to the culture of building a learning commons, has required faithfulness and resilience.  Ideation is second nature to me, and so dreaming BIG for my team was, and still is, really important.  But there is that still small part of me where I long to let go, and just be a follower and not a leader.  Grace and surrender are an essential part of learning.  And then there is time to just rest, read and dream.

Sometimes I think I am an adrenaline junkie,  or maybe simply attention deficit?  I do know that staying the path is important, as is listening to the inner child.  I am trusting that one design leads to another in our learning commons, that change will keep happening for the right reasons and not because I need change for change sake.  I am excited about the next step, about learning whatever it takes to keep building, following, and leading in the learning commons!



Friday, May 23, 2014

Blessings!



Today I am encouraged!
Ten years ago I started working at HCS schools.
I initiated relationships and learned how to be a follower and a leader.
I discovered the joys of learning and working from home.
I homeschooled my son for 7 years and watched him grow, struggle and lean on the Lord.
I saw families united, and I watched families struggle with divisiveness.
I saw children fail, and I saw children thrive and blossom.
I saw grief, and I heard laughter, singing and joy.
I learned the value of praying as an individual, family and as an institution.
I learned the value of community.
I learned how to listen.
I am still learning how to evaluate, assess and encourage.
I still make mistakes.
I am still growing in the wisdom of the Lord.
I am still on the path towards maturity in Christ.
But I am encouraged.
I find joy, peace, love and inspiration in my daily walk with God.
I am blessed!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Reading Strategies

http://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/a-quiet-corner.jpg
Students who school at home have a distinctive advantage over students who learn in brick and mortar when it comes to reading. They have the most obvious motivator: TIME! But there are other strategies and skills which need to be in place before reading can take hold. Sharing strategies implies that you have a core foundation of skills. But in order to become an effective reader all students need to acquire a sequence of skill sets before they can read.
  • Sequencing skills
  • Making judgements from images and spoken word
  • Noticing details
  • Deciphering story structure: i.e. beginning, middle and end
Open ended story telling comes from teaching children to read using: previewing/prediction skills; asking open ended questions about the story sequence and characters; details in the story and the main ideas; as well as drawing conclusions.  Story telling should be an interactive process,  with your youngster sharing the story more than yourself.

Check out these great video clips on establishing pre -reading skills from the A.L.A.  Encouraging your pre schooler to think out loud, or responding to open ended questions will help them become engaged with the words and images on the page.   Role modelling the joy of reading will enhance parent/child attachment, and he or she will be more motivated to see reading as a delightful opportunity to engage with you,  and with the written word.

Read to your younger children on a daily basis,  or share your favourite audio books from our E library if you are needing a break :) To discover the importance of why reading aloud to older children is also valuable read this great Mindshift article. 

Next encourage your student to recognize letters and print.  Once your student has learned the alphabet using supplementary aids like Reading Eggs (subscription with our school), Starfall  or reading games with ABCYA they are on the way to retain fluency and learn some reading comprehension skills.  Start them on a sequenced set of readers which will help them retain and learn basic vocabulary and simple sentences.  If your student does not develop these early sequential phonemic skills, talk to your teacher for ideas on how to help improve your student's reading skills which will lead to better strategies.

Once your student has these basic skills include lessons for your primary student to start learning the strategies required to become a good reader.  Lesson plans on this Teacher Vision page along with this Reading Rocket's page will help teach semantic mapping skills, story structure and summarizing ability.  Encourage your fourth grade student to decipher fiction from non fiction using Scholastic's BookFlix, another wonderful subscription from our school.  For all subscription usernames and passwords please check with your teacher.

Do you have a favourite reading tool which you have found to really enhance the process?  Please share with us!

God Bless
Pippa



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Conviction to Lead


In the last five years my new, best reading topic is leadership or business.  I am often blessed reading how God uses His story to bring certain characters into the spotlight to serve.  These characters may have undergone several struggles or hardships in their lives, but time and time again are forced to lead from a heart of conviction.

In the book The Conviction to Lead  by Albert Mohler, twenty-five principles of leadership are shared from a Biblical perspective.  Many of these principles may have been shared in other business books, but within this book all passages are presented with Biblical evidence.

The 25 principles include:

  • Purpose
  • Belief leads to Action
  • Convictional Intelligence
  • Leadership is Narrative
  • Leaders understand all world views
  • Leaders have Passion to lead
  • Leaders are Thinkers
  • Leaders are Teachers
  • Leadership is all about Character
  • Leaders are Credible
  • Leaders are Communicators
  • Leaders are Readers (LOVE this one)
  • Leaders understand that Power is not an end to Itself
  • Leaders are Managers
  • Leaders are Speakers
  • Leaders serve and act as Stewards
  • Leaders can make Decisions
  • Leaders have Moral Virtues
  • Leaders know how to use Media to deliver a Message
  • Leaders know how to Write
  • Leaders understand the Digital World and use it for Discipleship
  • Leaders know how to use Time wisely
  • Leaders know how to Endure
  • Leaders know they will Die and need to be replaced with others of conviction
  • Leaders have a Legacy. 
Do you know leaders who personify these traits?  Whether teacher, parent, student or school principal,  God can use all of us if we stay true to our convictions.

Blessings
Pippa



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reading Differences or Gifts!

Words are a gift no matter how we read them.

This wonderful video shares the beauty of words and stories from the mind of a Dyslexic.  Experiencing Dyslexia in my family I have advocated for many years on behalf of my children to help them assimilate the written world within their day to day existence. What may appear so easy for one child, may be so horribly difficult for another!  Yet the majority of teachers do not teach students in multi-sensory ways, to be able to recognize the cadency in a sentence.  Sequential learning is something that needs to be integrated on a daily basis both with sounds and with words.  It is very hard to do in a brick and mortar classroom.

These wonderful role models share their confidence despite having experienced so many obstacles in their path towards learning.  Having read Malcolm Gladwell's book David and Goliath, it was so encouraging to hear how the role of being straitjacketed or treated as an underdog is actually an advantage to overcoming such disadvantages, and learning compensatory skills to think "outside of the box" may actually be a gift.

Many home-schoolers are Dyslexic.   Many have struggled to stay within the constraints of a brick and mortar classroom.  With the use of technologies such as reading aids, speech recognition software, multi sensory tools, audiobooks available in e format, changeable fonts, and focus on verbal skills to bring out confidence,  students CAN overcome great feats.  Dyslexia is not the challenge it was in the past.  Having raised a Dyslexic student who also struggled with anxiety as a result of being misunderstood, I have a huge heart for all students who struggle in this area.   

Some ideas to foster in your child.

Go the long road to work out a system which works for your students, encourage, read to them, engage literacy and role model reading on a daily basis.   Find their gifts, and help them appreciate the written word regardless of how they learn.  Listening to stories is just as wonderful as reading them!  The power of the spoken word is so ENCOURAGING.

You are blessed to be the parent of a Dyslexic child!  I am blessed to see my son read and write essays albeit slowly, with precision and a "wordsmith's" creativity in his grade 12 year!

Thanks to Ted Talks for sharing this video.  It is well worth an hour of your time.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I think therefore I blog

Thankful for my network
Thankful for my network (Photo credit: krossbow)

Three years ago when I began my adventure on Twitter, I was amazed at how I could find such value added professional development at my fingertips.  Having blogged for a few years as a teacher librarian for a distance learning school,  I realized that having VOICE was something that resonated deeply within me, and many of my colleagues and students.  I had taught my students  about academic authority, sharing ones passion and reflecting accuracy and currency (all those lovely teacher librarianship question's).  But now the crunch was up!  Could I role model that myself? Could I learn all these weird and wonderful hashtags, how would I engage in virtual chats, and could I make friends with strangers? 
Three years later I am loving the ENGAGEMENT!  Discovering curation and sharing on Scoopit, Twitter, and other social networks like Ning,  has widened my knowledge base, helped me research pertinent scholarly articles, archive for my patrons, and also help me make friends.  One of these friends and fellow teacher librarian from England Elizabeth Hutchinson   collaborated via blog and virtual classroom with our campus and distance learning grade 6/7 students, on Chocolate Lily and Kate Greenaway children's' books.  We hoped our students would imbibe cultural sensitivities and global awareness as they studied the language similarities and differences between England and Canada.  We laughed at our accents, shared our silly phrases, and reached out to connect on a heart level around picture books.
On our Ning (a private social network within our distance learning school) we teach digital citizenship skills, such as media sharing, blogging, discuss issues such as cyber bullying, collaborate in online book clubs and participate in events such as our Innovator's Challenge.  We trust and value our relationship within this private and safe community.  
So what I hope to share from this conversation is how we can have virtual relationships using social media.  I was in a library advocacy workshop recently,  and I heard the presenter share that social media is not a place for advocacy.  I would strongly disagree!  Enjoying ten years as a virtual teacher librarian... this is my world and most of my students' world.
I do believe that we are called to reach out, love, respect and accept one another regardless of our background.  As Gust Mees @KnolInfos my Twitter friend shared  we thought it would be pertinent to create a multilingual social media dictionary for other educators to share their thoughts on the positive and community forming bases for social media.  We can do that in 30 words or in 3 characters.  The choice of words we use can either build up or bring down.  It would be cognizant of different languages, ethnic and religious backgrounds.  Thankfully on Twitter I have seen mostly positive encouragement!  I have also seen poetry in reduction.  As a wordsmith in hiding I LOVE it! We welcome your thoughts!  Thanks Gust Mees@KnolInfos for starting a blog to collaborate on such thoughts!
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