Monday, January 9, 2017

Looking Back and Forward

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a good time to look back and reflect and also to look forward to the year ahead. When you look at your "reading year," what were your successes? What were your challenges? How will 2017 be different for you?

If I reflect on some of my successes last year, I would include these:    
  • I spent more time in classrooms sharing books with students in 2016! Thanks to invites from friends, I was able to chat with middle years students about their reading preferences and to share some of my favourites. I hope to continue in 2017.
  • I read a lot of books! I have developed a real love for picture books, middle years books, and young adult literature. I actually will more often choose to read "children's" books rather than "adult" books.  I do not like the terms used to describe books as being for children or for adults. I know I read "adult" books long before I was an adult and referring to picture books as "children's" books prevents far too many people from reading really great books. Definitely come to the 4th Adolescent Literacy Summit in  April to hear Pernille Ripp speak about how she uses picture books in her middle years classroom. 
  • Being able to see literacy growth in children teaches us a lot about how we can develop literacy skills. I am fortunate to have grandchildren for my hands-on research. My five-year-old granddaughter shares her picture books with me, often calling to remind Grandma to bring back a book as she wants to read it again! Although she doesn't officially read yet (starts K in 2017), I wanted to introduce her to non-fiction so I bought her the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs. By summer she had several more non-fiction titles and she explained to me she was now very "sciency" so I could buy more science books. I bought Chris Hadfield's The Darkest Dark  and Ada Twist Scientist because Grandma still loves picture books! Watching a child develop literacy skills makes me pay much closer attention to tips and tools to develop listening, reading and comprehension skills.    

I had many new experiences related to literacy this year as well. Let me share some with you:
  • I expanded my Twitter world. I have been tweeting for a few years, but in the past year and a half I have really developed a PLN through Twitter. I now often have conversations with authors and I know authors want comments on their books. I have received book plates, bookmarks, free books, and book bags from authors I have met through Twitter. I especially enjoyed meeting Jon Klassen @burstofbeaden in Winnipeg in December. Twitter  is my social media of choice!
  • In July, I officially became the Provincial Co-ordinator for the International Literacy Association in Manitoba.  Full of trepidation, knowing I would never fill the shoes of my predecessor Carol Hryniuk-Adamov, I traveled to Boston to the ILA Convention along with a number of other Manitoba participants. What an experience! The conference was mind-boggling--if you have an opportunity to attend, GO! But it was also intimidating to see such big names in literacy, to meet some idols, and to recognize how lacking I really was to fulfill the role of Co-ordinator. However, I am determined to simply do the best that I can and to trust the wisdom provided by my predecessor and others. Meeting and working with literacy leaders--teachers, reading specialists, authors--has been inspiring and fulfilling and I hope to learn more from many of you in the next years of my three-year term.
  • Another foray I have made to increase my knowledge base concerning literacy is listening to podcasts and webinars. Jennifer Serravello, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Jennifer Gonzalez, Jon Spencer, Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker are my teachers and I have learned so much from them! I participate in School Library Journal webinars which led me to Canadian publishers that I was unaware of and a number of great Canadian books. I learned about Kate Messner's writing process as she answered student questions in a Google Hangout. Mo Willems’ and Jason Reynolds’ interviews on The Yarn podcast are not to be missed. Dav Pilkey has a great interview on Scholastic's blog. Students should hear from these authors! I love the audio or video presentations as I can listen and watch anytime that suits me. I register ahead of time for the webinars and then get the link, but being a participant in real time is also cool.
Image result for theyarnpodcast   
  • The last item I want to share with you involves FaceBook. I used FB as a personal connection with friends and family, but I have discovered really useful conversations and information can be found on it if you follow sites such as Notice and Note Book Club, Global Read Aloud, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). I especially love it when I see my MB literacy friends recommending strategies or book titles on these sites 
I hope you take some time to look back at your year in reading and consider your successes and how you might challenge yourself to meet some new goals for your classroom or your own children. Even if you don't take time to list them, let your reflections guide you as you plan for the upcoming term. We are growing readers !

I would appreciate your conversation on Twitter @percreads or @barblepp or by leaving comments on this blog. Don’t forget to follow  ILA online or @ILAToday and save the date for ILA2017 in Orlando, FL July 15-17th.

(An edited version of this blog post was provided to @RCGW for their newsletter.)

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