Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Save the Date for PERC's Annual Workshop

Annual In-service
for Librarians, Literacy Leaders, Educators
and anyone who is passionate about literacy!

It’s All About the Books!

Keynote Speaker: Sally Bender from Brandon, MB, will discuss trends and share new offerings in children’s and young adult literature.
Staff from Elm Creek School will share “I Love to Read Month” ideas.
Table Group Discussions with fellow educators/librarians/passionate literacy people! PERC members will be generating a list of questions, but if you have any burning question suggestions, please suggest in your registration email.

Where:         Carman United Church

When:          May 5, 2016

Time:            8:30 a.m. registration/refreshments to 3:15 p.m. Lunch is provided.

Please send your $75 registration/cheques payable to PERC to:
Barb Lepp Box 58, Carman, MB ROG OJO

or register by email to:

Monday, February 15, 2016

PERC is Giving Away FREE books in February

Congratulations to our first two winners of FREE books for #Ilovetoreadmonth!

Product DetailsProduct Details

New Twitter followers were entered in a draw for free books and our winners selected the books shown above.

Follow us on Twitter @percreads for updates on how you can win free books this month as well.

The next give-away will go to people who make a comment on any of our Blog posts! We have a great list of books for you to choose from.

Posted by Barb Lepp

Boys May be Interested in these Book Titles

Posted by Lisa Carlson, PERC Chairperson

In November of 2015, I submitted a grant proposal to purchase books specifically for the male students in my Grade 9 to 12 classes. I was generously awarded a grant by Prairie Rose School Division to purchase books.  My goal was to purchase a book for each boy I taught that would stay in my classroom for others to enjoy as well. For three weeks, I pestered, bugged and poked the boys in Grades 9 to 12 for suggestions of books they would like to see in my classroom. While unfortunately not every male student would give me an idea, I did get most to give suggestions of titles, authors or at the very least, a genre they preferred to read.

At the end of November, I spent three hours in McNally-Robinson selecting and ordering titles. It was a dream come true! Eventually I gathered just over seventy books! The staff was wonderful, very understanding, and patient with my running back and forth, and piling books in the various baskets.

Here is a list of books that were purchased:

Graphic Novels
The Walking Dead (volumes 1-7)
Avengers I and II
Jeff Smith
Bone series
Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet series
Max Brooks
Harlem Hellfighters
Gareth Hinds
Gareth Hinds
The Odyssey
Wayne Vansant
Red Baron
Sharon E. Mckayet et al.
War Brothers: The Graphic Novel
Boxers and Saints
Keenan and Fox
Dogs of War
Gun Snark
Attack of the Titans, Vol. 1 and 2
Sheila Keenan
Dogs of War

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Non-Fiction Titles
Simon Adams
World War 1 (Eyewitness Books)
Simon Adam
World War 2 (Eyewitness Books)
PK Publishing
Vietnam War
Lamar Underwood
250 Fishing Tips
Lamar Underwood
250 Hunting Tips
Michael Mooney
Life and Legend of Chris Kyle
Matt Doeden
War in Afghanistan
David Almond, et al.
The Great War
Bill O’Reilly
Hitler’s Last Days
Reggie Leach & Bobby Clark
Riverton Rifle
Gordie Howe
Mr. Hockey
Jeny Nguyen
Hunting for Food
Michael Grange
Basketball’s Greatest Stars
Jon Waldman
100 Things Jets Fans Should Know
Roland Lazenby
Michael Jordan: The Life
Michael Bargen
The Korean War
Jordan Tootoo
All the Way

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Fiction Titles
Jacqueline Guest
The Comic Book War (MYRCA nominee)
James Patterson
Dangerous Days of Daniel X
Michael Red Hill
Saving Houdini (MYRCA nominee)
Deborah Ellis
Off to War: Voices of Soldiers
Deborah Ellis
Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees
Wayne T. Batson
Isle of Swords
Wayne T. Batson
Isle of Fire
Darren Shan
Zom-B Series
Jem Meenaghan
Chasing Mavericks
Richard Scrimger
Zomboy (MYRCA nominee)
Richard Dean Myers
Eric Walters
Rule of Three series
Amie Kaufman
John Wilson
Wings of War (MYRCA nominee)

Friday, February 5, 2016

What I Would Tell My First-Year Teacher Self in 1998… Part II

Part II of a post from our PERC Chairperson Lisa Carlson. Check the earlier post for Part I.

5. Have Kids Set Their Own Reading Goals

In all my Reading is Thinking and English classes, students set their own reading goals at the beginning of the year. The goal includes the number of books they will read during that year (it is re-evaluated half-way through the year), along with a “challenge” goal. For the stronger readers, it might be to find a new author or to read a classic. For others, it might be to finish A book. I send a letter home to parents at the beginning of the year stating my expectations of the students (they select the majority of their reading and that they must read for two hours a week on their own time), which parents then sign and send back with the student. The students keep track of their reading minutes on clip boards that are passed around the beginning of each class. In the letter, I also explain why I have those expectations through using current statistics about the importance of reading. The minimum goal the students can select is five books in a year—their choice and I count books read in class. We keep track of the books on a piece of chart paper with stickers. I usually have the students in one class or another all year-long, so it works out to one book every two months. Ninety-percent of the kids make it every year. What I look for the most is an improvement from the previous year.

4. Provide Choice and Mentor Texts

Most of the time, I let the kids pick their books, then as they grow in confidence, I challenge them. For example, the graphic novel series Amulet has been a great starter series for the boys. I then encourage them to read Ender’s Game or The Giver.  I let kids read items that are “outside the box” as well, such as the Bible, their Driver’s Ed manual, and magazines (we negotiate what is equal to “a book”, depending on the magazine). In the last few years, in lieu of the standard whole class novel, I have used Reading Circles  with 12 to 15 choices. When selecting, I look for: fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, length, difficulty, etc.
When it comes to writing, I let the kids pick their writing topics, although depending on the unit, I may be choosing the genre when writing. I also have used Kelly Gallagher’s method of using mentor texts. I have found the writing has been of greater quality. I always do the writing assignment with the students as well and take the risk of sharing it with them. I stress that I am not expert, but again, it shows that I’m willing to take risks as well.

3. Listen to the Students’ Requests

When spending my budget for the year, I ask for suggestions from the students. In June, I put a page up in my room called: “Help Mrs. Carlson spend her budget” and “Mrs. Carlson’s Summer Reading List”. I have discovered new authors and genres through my students. I always try to focus on my “non-readers’” requests. I also make sure I save budget money for throughout the year in order to add onto sequels.

2. Be Flexible and Learn to Let Go

One of the hardest things I have done in the last few years is let go of The Lord of the Flies, The Giver, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I had an awesome Survivor game to go with The Lord of the Flies and great Layered Curriculums to go with The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird.  I replaced them with quality texts that work with our thematic units on “Human Rights/Racism”, “Dystopia” and “Social Justice”. By doing so, I am able to offer a wider range in texts to better suit each individual student. By having a number of books, the stronger students can go off and read as many books as they wish. I am then able to offer the more reluctant readers books at their reading level and a mixture of fiction, non-fiction and graphic novels.

1. Read Lots, Read Often and Read a Variety

YOU MUST BE A READER, TOO! That is SO, SO, SO incredibly important. While planning a presentation for a workshop on my classroom reading practices two years ago, I came to the sad realization that I don’t ever remember discussing with my high school or jr. high school English teachers what I liked to read. Just as teachers need reading mentors, students also need reading mentors. A teacher needs to have enough knowledge of Young Adult novels in order to give suggestions to all readers—male, female, strong, struggling—all readers. This may mean reading outside of your comfort zone and that’s ok. Did I enjoy The Hobbit? Nope, not at all, but I got one of my male students to read a book out of his comfort zone as well (I’m not a fantasy fan). I did discover my enjoyment of dystopia though after winning a gift certificate at a PERC workshop. The catch to winning it was to buy a book for your classroom for the boys and/or reluctant readers in your room. Enter: The Hunger Games and my appreciation of the dystopia genre.

I have shared a few of the ideas I have learned over the past several years. Now hear what my students have to say:
  • ·       Ask the kids what THEY want to read
  • ·       Use a variety of books and genres in the class
  • ·       NO boring books
  • ·       Do cool projects during the books/creative projects
  • ·       The teacher should read the books that interest the kids, too
  • ·       Suggest different books to the students
  • ·       Be enthusiastic about reading
  • ·       Be encouraging
  • ·       Give time to read in class--this really helps me want to read more at home (six students said this!)
  • ·       Have lots of books in class
  • ·       Having a goal at the beginning of the year really pushes you to meet that goal and read more
  • ·       Make it nice and quiet

 The Five PD Books I Would Save in a Fire:
  • ·       Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
  • ·       The Book Whisperer by Donayln Miller
  • ·       Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle
  • ·       Book Love by Penny Kittle
  • ·       Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher

Monday, February 1, 2016

What I Would Tell My First-Year Teacher Self in 1998…

Posted by PERC Chairperson Lisa Carlson

In the beginning…
I was one of the lucky high school kids. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher--ideally, a grade three teacher. After graduating from Arthur Meighen High School, and then Brandon University with a Major in English and a Minor in Elementary Education, my wanting to teach elementary school was confirmed.  After a year of subbing, I took a Grade 3 term position and quite enjoyed it. The next year, I was offered a job teaching at Elm Creek School.

My first permanent position was at both Elm Creek School and Wingham Hutterite Colony, where I taught Grade 7 Math, Gr. 9 Social Studies, Law, Psychology and various ELA classes. Due to the fact I was elementary trained, I had so much on-the-job learning to do. I tended to teach as I was taught: read, questions, read, questions, maybe a project, test. Class novels were always teacher selected. There may have been some choice in Literature Circles, but that was it for reading choices.

Reflecting back on my last sixteen years of being a high school teacher, here are the top ten pieces of advice I would give myself back in 1998:

10. Practice, Practice, Practice and Variety

I have learned to allow the students to learn from their mistakes. In my room, students are encouraged to fix any errors they may make and resubmit that work until the end of the semester, whether it be spelling/grammar errors in an essay or algebra questions in Grade 7 Math. I would also tell myself to use more mentor texts with my students as Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle suggest doing. They have many excellent (and already made!) mentor texts. Use more real-world texts (e.g. blogs, articles, “What in the World” current events newsletter).
In my English classes, I generally teach the following units:
Grade 9—”Heroes” and “The Future”, dystopia reading circles, Greek Mythology
Grade 10—”Human Rights/Racism”, reading circles, Romeo & Juliet
Grade 11—Writing, writing, writing*, “Banned Book Project”, Animal Farm/Advertising, Macbeth, Life-Work Portfolio (all-year project)
Grade 12—Writing, writing, exam practice, writing*, “Social Justice” reading circles, Hamlet or The Crucible, Life-Work Portfolio (all year project)
Weekly Word Study is also done through mini-lessons, individual practice and feedback and a small quiz. The reading of student-selected books are also encouraged in all classes.
*These writing units are based on Kelly Gallagher’s book, Write Like This.

9.  Use Social Media and Make Network Connections

Had social media existed back then, I would have used it:
·       Twitter—Donalyn Miller, Kelly Gallagher, Mr. Shu Reads, many authors like Rainbow Rowell and Neil Gaiman.
·       Facebook—The Book Whisperer; “What Cha’ Reading?” (Elm Creek Facebook group)
·       Pinterest--reading strategies, posters, book lists, “novel” ideas
·       Blogs—The Nerdy Book Club
·       Connect with more librarians (school, community), other colleagues (Professional Learning Groups), join a reading council like PERC and be active in an association like Manitoba Reading Association (MRA)

8. Give Students Time to Read in Class and Select Their Own Books

Donalyn Miller states in The Book Whisperer that if you give kids time to read in class, they will more likely read at home. IT’S TRUE!!!! I’ve had to give up units or parts of units, but it’s worth it! Not only do I give time to read in ELA class, but I also give time to read in History and other content-area classes as well.

7. Have a Classroom Library and Bond with Your Librarian(s)

First thing—HAVE a classroom library. I believe my students take my classroom library for granted in that they don’t realize not every high school English room has a classroom library as extensive as mine. At the last count, I estimated I have about one thousand books of all genres. Most of the books I have I have bought myself at book sales and thrift stores. Some have also been donated or purchased through school funds. Other classroom tips include:
  • ·       Buy fresh, “new” copies of the classics to make them more appealing.
  • ·       I organize my books by genre as kids tend to read only within a few genres. Our school library recently reorganized like this, as well, and it went over very well.
  • ·       Keep adding new (or new-to-you) books to your classroom library every year.
  • ·       Peruse second-hand stores.
  • ·       Check prices at bookstores and online—try to get the biggest bang for your buck. Rural areas often do not have local bookstores. Free shipping from online sites may be less expensive.
  • ·       Put a note in the school newsletter asking for donation of books, especially during spring cleaning time.
  • ·       Work together with your librarian(s) by giving them suggestions as to what is popular or what certain students are reading (especially those students who don’t read as much—really cater to them).

6. Adopt a Guru and Adapt

I have had incredible mentors in my teaching life: Barb Lepp (my first principal), Deb Russell (fellow teacher who mentored me in the classroom my first few years) and Carol Hryniuk-Adamov (university professor) who have challenged my thinking and how I teach. I have discovered my own personal PD heroes and gurus such as: Kelly Gallagher, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle and Tanny McGregor. I have read all their books, taken what I think will work in my classroom THAT year and adapted it to those individual students.

Come back later this week for the conclusion of Lisa's Top 10 Tips for Herself as a New Teacher.