Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Critical Dialogue about two of the course readings

As the social justice class made me ponder on the notion of social justice in the classroom for hours after the class I find it only fitting that I comment on this reading. I did talk about social justice in an early post, but wanted to expand on my comments. I did comment on Tim's blog about this topic at an earlier date, but thought I should post my comments here. I too found this particular class very interesting. I have always believed it is of great importance to treat everyone equal, yet by our class discussion that day it seems as though treating everyone equal is almost an insult. As society changes, the definitions of some words change, and it seems as though the word equality has almost taken on a negative connotation. I could be mistaken, but that is my understanding. Equity seems to be on the forefront of social justice and social concern these days & therefore the term equity seems to represent what I believed equality represented. Interestingly enough equality (or the definition we think of) seems to fit into equity.

The second reading I want to reflect on is The Giver. Personally I did not care for this story, but can see the value of it as well. This story speaks to restrictions a society places on freedoms of choice, individuality, emotion, and human experience. Jonas (the main character) becomes the Receiver in the story. Jonas receives memories about the community and himself. As the story goes on Jonas cannot accept how his society is insensitive to the value of human life and as a result he decides to change things or at least try to change things. Jonas tries to bring emotions and color to society as he believes memories are important. As this story speaks about restrictions a society places on people I can see how this story could be deemed very controversial in some areas of the world. This story would be very good to use if talking about human rights, responsibilities and experiences that we have as Canadians. I am sure a good discussion regarding dystopias and utopias could also arise from the use of this story in the class. After I typed this posting I found a great website that could offer ideas on how to engage your students in a critical discussion about The Giver, so I edited this post to invite you to check out the link I have added on the left hand column regarding The Giver.


Literature Circles

I found literature circles a useful technique for teaching literature in the clsssroom. As we were not able to do too many circles due to the duration of our course I am not sure what I am to post about literature circles, so I will just post what I deem relevant. I found an amazing book on Literature Circles, in fact I believe it is the one Cathy used for our class. The book is called Literature Circles: Tools and Techniques to Inspire Reading Groups. When we engaged in the profiler role, question maker and highlighter roles for Mina's Spring of Colors I found that I was able to get a more well rounded report on the story which I believe enhanced my understanding of the story. I think if children also engaged in these types of assignments they would benefit.

Make sure to check out this book if you plan to use literature circles in your class. I encourage teachers to try and use literature circles as they have many benefits for students.

Exceprt from Literature Circles: Tools and Techniques to Inspire Reading Groups
"There are many benefits to using literature circles as part of your reading program. Not only do they contribute to improved reading ability in students, but they also help to develop better communication skills and a sense of community in the classroom," (Rogers, 6).

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Suggestions/ideas for teaching with
Mina's Spring of Colors

I thought it would be interesting to teach about Holi with the use of Mina's Spring of Colors. Students could do research on Holi. This research could either be an independent project or a small group project. After students have been given ample time to complete their research they could prepare a report that they would present to the class. The project could end by having a colorful celebration within the class (Holi?). This project would be a unit rather than a single lesson.

Another lesson that could be taught with Mina's Spring of Colors is having a discussion around the title of the story. When we discussed this story in our literature circles we had a discussion about the title and that is why I thought this might be a good lesson to do as well. When we were in our circles we began discussing what the title meant or what we thought it meant. Interestingly enough some of us thought the title represented the colors of Holi, while others thought the title had a deeper meaning. Some thought the title may represent the struggle Mina was having with finding her place within society and her culture, and once she found herself she blossomed into her true self/identity, hence the Spring of Colors. Honestly I do not know the answer to this question, but it makes for great dialogue & discovery!

Check out the fantastic link to Rachna Gilmore on the left. The link provides many ideas on how to incorporate this text within a class.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Evaluating Multicultural Literature: Summary

I chose to review the Lost Boys of Sudan for my multicultural literature evaluation assignment. Interestingly enough when I first viewed the story at the public library I thought it was quite a good story, however once we began talking social justice, diversity representation in texts and cultural representations I re-evaluated my thoughts about this book. With that said, it is not that I would never use this book in a class, but rather I would use it to talk about stereotyping, cultural equality and equity or the lack of equality and equity portrayed within the story.

I do not want to leave a bad impression about this book because it does have good qualities as well. I felt the illustrator for the majority of the book represented Sudanese people quite well. The story was about Sudanese boys and for the majority of the illustrations the Sudanese were the only main character focus within the illustrations. Furthermore, the author of the story portrayed an idea that Sudanese people were strong with determination and no matter what were going to survive their hardships and prosper. I thought this was a quality within the story because it did not show a minority culture as weak or unable to succeed when dealing with extreme circumstances.

However, the story took a twist about 3/4 of the way through, and so did the illustrations. One illustration in particular really bothered me. In fact it bothered me so much that I thought I should take a picture of it, post it to this blog and ask for your comments or feedback on it. What does the picture remind you of? Why? What image or cultural ideals are being portrayed through this image? Does this image contradict what I said in paragraph two of this blog? Why or why not? Given our discussion in class last week, do you think the author is a majority or minority culture? Why? How about the illustrator? Why? I do have ideas of my own which I will share later, but I thought it would be interesting to get some feedback first.

I look forward to dialogue about this posting!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Read Aloud

Description of Book: The story Whoever You Are by Mem Fox was my choice for my read aloud because I like the content of the story. "Everyday all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. And their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are just like you." (Taken from the slip cover of Whoever You Are).
Why I chose it: As I stated earlier I chose this story for my read aloud because of the content. I decided to do a post on it this morning because I reflected how this story would sit on the social justice conversation we had yesterday in class, and whether or not books portray equality or equity. I would argue that this particular story portrays both. When Fox begins her story she talks about children being the same (I think this is where she is trying to portray the equality of all children), but as she goes on with her story she talks about their differences (this is where she sends the message that children are recognized for their own distinct characteristics, hence I believe she is showing the equity each child has within the world). It is because this story portrays both the similarities and differences of children all over the world that I think Fox did a good job of using social justice within her story and maybe that is why I have always enjoyed this story and found it to be a good read. I recommend using this story within the classroom!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Literature Biography

I cannot remember the exact moment I began to love literature, but I do have fond memories of specific literature from my childhood. I remember when I was quite young my mother would read big books to me. In fact, I believe my mother still has her big books. The big books that she would read to me were the classic fairy tales, like Snow White and the Seven dwarfs and Cinderella. I remember how excited I felt when we would snuggle up on the couch to read these stories.

As years went on I began to read more by myself. I remember one of my favorites being This is the House where Jack lived. This story would be considered a repetition earlier reader story.

A few more years past and I remember indulging in chapter books. I read many series from Nancy Drew series to The Babysitters club to Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series. I would have to say this is one of my very favorite series. Janette Oke is a Canadian writer, which is appealing to Canadian teachers. Janette Oke was born during the depression and her writing focuses on the hardships of that era, the role women had and the sacrifices people had to make during that time. I don't want to give too much away in case someone wants to read the series, but the title Love comes Softly should be a clue. I believe there are 6 books in the series, but I could be mistaken as it was years ago I read it. I do know that a few years ago there was a movie made for the first book, Love Comes Softly. It is a great movie, but nowhere as great as the read!

Check out my link on the left hand column to view Janette Oke's bibliography.

Another fond memory I have about reading was from a summer family trip throughout BC and Alberta. I remember my mom reading The wizard of Oz to me. My parents thought it would distract me front he many miles we were driving, and they were right! I remember being very excited to get in the car and get rolling so we could open up our story and read another few chapters.

Throughout my late teen years I was too busy to read for pleasure, but when I became a mother I rekindled that love for pleasure reading. I read all the time to my children. In fact, I started the same tradition my parents had with me, which is that we weekly take a familiy trip to the library. Not only is this an inexpensive family outing, but it is a great place to unwind and let your imagination go. I love our weekly trips to the public library just as I did when I was a child!

Well that is the basis of my literature experience, I hope you had an interesting/insightful read as to how I came to love literature as I do today.

:) RIN

Friday, January 13, 2006

Recommended Bibliography

Based on the characters created by: Bourgeois Paulette and Brenda Clark. (1999). Franklin Says Sorry.

General Description: This story deals with Franklin having a secret told to him by a friend. However, Franklin cannot keep secrets. It deals with Franklin learning the lesson that if you are asked to keep a secret, keep a secret! Franklin finds himself in a big dilemma and has to get himself out of it. Franklin learns why it is so important to say you're sorry if you make a mistake and hurt someone's feelings. This story is great to use because many children in K-1 can connect with the character Franklin because they know who he is.
Grade Level Suitability: K-1
Links to BC Curriculum: Personal Development (Mental Well-Being)

Fox, Mem. (1997). Whoever You Are.

General Description: This story deals with multicultural issues. This story takes children on a journey around the world and explains that no matter where you are, or who you are that you are still the same as other people around the world. This book focuses on the fact that we are all equal. The story makes connections for the reader that unite the reader with other children. This is the book I used for my multicultural pick--- I will post a separate blog that elaborates on this specific book.
Grade Level Suitability: K-1
Links to BC Curriculum: Social Studies: Society and Culture

If you are interested check out the official Mem Fox website: http://www.memfox.com

Cuyler, Margery. (2001). Stop, Drop and Roll.

General Description: This story deals with fire prevention and safety. The story is about a little girl who worries about her home not being fire safe and how her parents and her make the home fire safe. They pick up matches, make sure the fire alarms are up and running with new batteries, and they produce a fire escape plan. This is a great story to use during fire prevention week.
Grade Level Suitability: K-4
Links to BC Curriculum: Personal Development (Safety and Injury Prevention)

Morttillaro, Nicole. (2005). Sun and Storms: Canadian Summer Weather.

General Description: This book deals with Canadian summer weather. The book is broke down into chapters. Chapters include: Sun and wind, rain and clouds, thunder and lightening, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, and wild weather facts. This book also has a glossary at the back of the book. Great for Canadian teachers because it deals with Canadian content!!!
Grade Level Suitability: 2-4
Links to BC Curriculum: Grade 4 Science

Munsch, Robert. (1986). Love You Forever.

General Description: This story is about a mother who loves her son. The story takes the reader on a journey through the boys life stages; newborn, toddler, youth, teenager, and adult. No matter what age the son is the mother still professes her love for her "baby boy". This story shows the long lasting love a parent has for their child. This is the book I chose for my favorite picture book--- I did a post earlier about this book, make sure to check it out!
Grade Level Suitability: K-1
Links to BC Curriculum: Personal Development (Mental Well-Being)

Schulz, Kathy. (2003). Always be Safe.

General Description: This story deals with being safe when doing activities. I really like this story because it deals with classroom issues like how to hold your scissors properly or else you might get hurt, as well as dealing with issues outside of the classroom. This story is a great way to introduce personal safety. For an extension have children offer their own ideas about an issue. Create an extension Be Safe book as a class.
Grade Level Suitability: K-2
Links to BC Curriculum: Personal Development (Safety and Injury Prevention)

Ward, Heather Patricia. (1994). I Promise I'll Find you.

General Description: This story takes the reader on a journey throughout the world. This story deals with separation from parents, and deals with fears that children may have as a result from the separation. This story reassures children that they will be reconnected with their parents. This would be a great story to read at the beginning of the year for kindergarten or grade one students.
Grade Level Suitability: K-1
Links to BC Curriculum: Social Studies: Society and Culture and/or Personal Development (Mental Well Being)

Williams, Mary. (2005). Brothers In Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

General Description: The story is about a boy who is 8 who returns home after a days work to find everything destroyed. The boy meets others who have been attacked and soon all the people are on a journey to find safety. The boys encourage each other, and support each other to live as they search to find a new home. The story is based on true live events about the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Grade Level Suitability: 3
Links to BC Curriculum: Social Studies

Friday, January 06, 2006


Love You Forever
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated By Sheila McGraw
Year of Publication: 1986

What Made this an important artifact of my reading history:
This book has become an important part of not only my reading history, but my current reads. I absolutely love this story! I believe I love it so much because I can connect with the love the mother has for her child. As my own children grow I still love them as my little babies. Quite often my son will be distraught because I still like to cuddle and rock him at night, and you know he's a big boy now...four, almost five he reminds me quite frequently. I believe this story will be one that will always rank high on my important reads list. I highly recommend it to any mothers, mommies to be, fathers, daddies to be and anyone who would like to read a story of warmth that will make their heart smile! :)

Reasons for reading this book/My reflective connections to this book:
The reason I first read this story is because my mother bought it for me when I was a mommy to be with my first child. My mom thought it would be a great read to read to my belly during my pregnancy. I have read, re-read, and re-read my copy so many times the pages are worn. My children can recite the entire story with me as I read... and the wonderful thing about that is just like me they never get bored of the read. Therefore, if I had to fall into one of Mitchell's(2003) reasons for reading categories I believe I would fall into the category of "seeing oneself" because as I stated early I see my love for my children just as the mother in the story seen her love for her son, unbreakable, enduring, and everlasting!
I love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.
~Robert Munsch~
For your Information:
Are you a Robert Munsch fan, check out the official Munsch site!!!

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